Moving forward in Faith after loss

written by our friend Caitlyn Joiner, #waitinginhopestories 

>>With october and "national pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month" wrapping up we wanted to step forward with you. So What does it look like, how do i step forward after...? where do i go from here in the pain. Ladies, has it been days, months or years since the loss? Time does not heal wounds, only Jesus can help them heal. The healing does not mean forgotten, but hopefully WITHIN US WE ARE forever changed. we pray we are more faithful and hopeful that our Lord jesus christ can be enough even in the midst and in the next steps after painful losses of our beloved babies in heaven. the waiting in hope team has a team of angel babies waiting to be joined with their momma's one day. Thank you caitlyn for your VULNERABILITY in sharing your rough and tender places.

Nothing can prepare you for what that moment feels like... 

the sucker punch to the gut when you realize all the dreams and plans you couldn’t stop thinking about are not coming to fruition. For me, the fear started to creep in with a little spotting on Thursday. With a phone call to the doctor, and no other symptoms, they assured me all was normal. When I woke up Friday morning to a sea of red I knew my fears were becoming reality. At 10am we went to the doctor’s office for what was supposed to be my 12 week appointment. Still holding on to that glimmer of hope my husband and I prayed, and the doctor came in. She started the ultrasound, and for the first time she didn’t turn the monitor towards me. I could tell immediately from her face. So could Chris. We both sat silently for what seemed like decades while she did a thorough examination to be sure, and then said confidently,

“I’m so sorry. I can’t find a heartbeat.” 

The rest of the appointment is kind of a blur.

No tears. No emotion really.  A hug to reaffirm ourselves, “We’ll be ok.” A few options from the doctor about what to do next. A surgery scheduled, and we were thoughtfully escorted out the side door so we didn’t have to see anyone in the waiting room. I didn’t technically leave there that day any different physically than I had come in, but at the same time, everything had changed.

The next 3 days were horrible. Honestly, the worst. Having the ultrasound Friday mixed everything up internally and my body was trying to move the process along itself. Labor pains started and I spent the rest of the weekend in and out of the bathroom and bed, praying I didn’t have to flush my baby down the toilet, and that I made it to my scheduled D&C Monday morning. By God’s grace, through all the pain, and man did it hurt, I made it to Monday. I walked in with child and walked out no longer carrying. That dream died. It was finished. And I’m sure the enemy of my soul wanted me to be finished too.

Losing a baby in any way is heartbreaking, and hard, and emotional, and a total nightmare become reality. Please don’t hear me cheapen your loss or the hurt from your own experience. But for those of us who have gained our little miracles with some extra fertility help, when we lose those babies there is a bit more to process than just “trying again when we feel ready.”  This was the worst part for me. I somehow knew with confidence, even in the midst of my pain, that God was in this. I knew God was for me. That there was something wrong and He was protecting us. That He had a different plan. But dang, my desire to be a mom hadn’t changed and the thought of starting the whole process over again had me in shambles. I thought we were moving past this part. Past the waiting. Past the treatments. Past the emotional rollercoaster of trying that was stealing our intimacy and making me a crazy wife. Past the questions of, “will we have biological children and should we adopt?” to celebrating the fact that we were going to be parents! And then, no. Back to square one.

I remember going back to the doctor for our follow-up appointment a few weeks later. I love her, but I remember her clearly saying something that hit me like a ton of bricks. “Caitlyn, do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” So there we were again, faced with all the same “issues” and a little more complexity due to miscarriage. I sat in her office and cried as I explained, “it’s not the loss of my baby that’s the hardest for me. I’m dealing with that. It’s that we even have to be sitting here talking about all this again, this soon. The uncertainty and fear of what’s next is eating me alive.”

So, there you have it. That’s my story. If I ended it there, with my doctor basically calling me (or the choices we were making) INSANE that would be pretty tragic.

But praise God, that’s not the end. He wasn’t going to let me sit in my pain alone, but lead me on a journey through that pain, to deeper understanding that JESUS IS MORE, AND HE IS ENOUGH.

After that day at the doctor I had some choices to make. Was I going to let fear and bitterness cripple me or was I going to truly surrender my future to God? For me, this was not a one time decision, but more often a moment by moment conscious choice. As I walked by the 378385 pregnant girls in the grocery store I had to pray, and surrender, and ask the Lord to show me all I had to be thankful for and not let bitterness or envy take root. When I saw the sweet family in line for ice cream while on our date, I had to take a deep breath and allow myself to dream and pray for the grace to wait in hope. As we considered treatment again, I had to chose faith over fear and trust that no matter what the outcome, Jesus would not leave or forsake me. He was my rock, my steady ground, my firm foundation. But Jesus wasn’t always easy to get along with… we also had quite a few knock down drag out fights as I processed and wanted all my WHY'S answered. This was all part of me truly believing, with depth and assurance, that He really loves me and JESUS IS MORE.

This may sound super morbid, but for me to really face my fears, I had to go to the darkest places and name them, reveal what the fears were: 

  • What if I never get pregnant? JESUS IS MORE. 
  • What if I have another miscarriage? JESUS IS MORE. 
  • What if I have a stillborn? JESUS IS MORE. 
  • What if I have a baby with a disability? JESUS IS MORE. 
  • What if our adoption fails? JESUS IS MORE.

I had to really believe not just with my head, but with my heart, “Jesus, in all of these situations you are not absent. You are holy, and on your throne, and working all things for my good because I love you and have been called according to your purpose. God please use me. Use my story. Use my fear and turn it into faith so that I could know you more. Please help me to see your perspective this side of heaven. That I would be grateful and joyful and hopeful! That I would have an ear for only you. That if you lead us down a road to try again for pregnancy that my trust would be in you alone and I would accept the outcome confident that it is your very best for me/us. JESUS, YOU ARE MORE.”

For those of you who can identify with my story and are wishing you couldn’t, I’m so so sorry. I’m sorry for the loss of your sweet babe, that dream. I’m sorry you have to be on this journey. I know it’s not one you would choose. But take heart, God has not abandoned you in your pain. It’s easy to think if it didn't hurt it would be better, but remember, even Jesus had moments on earth where he wished "this cup would pass from Him.” BUT, for your good, your righteousness, your oneness with God, HE ENDURED THE CROSS.

He will use this and bring purpose to your tears. Your story might not look like you want it to, I know mine doesn’t. But the more we claim His goodness and sovereignty over our stories the more He can use us and bring fullness of joy to our lives.

So, how do you move forward in faith after loss?

Take one day at a time.

One decision at a time.

One offering of hope at a time.

One thought captive at a time.

One sacrifice of praise at a time.

And build that trust in the One who already knows what the perfect future holds. Do not be a slave to fear, but allow your faith in the only One who will satisfy to grow knowing JESUS IS MORE.

"The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning... It's time to sing your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me... Let me be singing when the evening comes!"
(10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman) 

*Thanks to our writer Caitlyn Joiner for sharing today. Caitlyn is a lover of Atlanta, Georgia where her and her husband, Chris reside and serve full-time with CRU along side their 2 girls. Their journey included Primary and Secondary infertility thanks to PCOS.

-Waiting in HOPE- Moving forward in Faith after loss