Friday, April 6, 2012

Grieving Good Friday's Child

It's ironic, I know, that the woman who gave birth to those 4 little munchkins on the right (in UNDER 4 years, mind you) used to struggle with infertility.  But there was a time, nearly a decade ago now, when I thought I might never be a mom.  For two years, I endured every marital embarrassment and every invasive medical test my doctors could throw at the problem, but with no clear results.

Unexplained infertility.

Then in February of 2003, I had a glimmer of hope - a brief, positive pregnancy that ended on the day I discovered it.  Valentine's Day.  Tyler and I were out of town with friends, and trying to keep our baby-making ordeal under wraps.  I swallowed a handful of Motrin and grieved quietly in the condo bathroom.

The following month, we were out with friends celebrating my birthday.  On the way home from dinner, I told Tyler I thought I was pregnant again.  We stopped by a drugstore to pick up a pregnancy test, which I took the minute we got home.  But I was too chicken to look at the results.

I waited on the couch, pleading with God for a positive test, while Tyler went to check the stick.  He was taking forever, so finally I yelled at him, "What does it say!?"

"Um, I don't know!"

"What do you mean you don't know!?!"

I ran into the bathroom and looked over his shoulder.  And realized that I didn't know either.  There were two lines, but one looked so faint, it was hard to tell.  We jumped in the car, sans shoes, and drove back to the drugstore with test in hand.

"What do you think this means?" I asked the pharmacist.

He wasn't sure either.  He broke open another test box and re-read the instructions.  "Well, I think it means you're pregnant.  But here, why don't you take a few more."

I bought a handful of pregnancy tests, all different brands, and took them home to try.  One more test that night and another two thing in the morning confirmed that I was, indeed pregnant.  Tyler and I were beside ourselves with excitement, and I spent the rest of the day floating around in a happy fog.

Until I saw the blood.

The doctor checked and assured me that I was still pregnant and that a little spotting was normal.  After some calculations, she set my due date at December 21.  I was ecstatic.  The best Christmas present ever.

A few days later, we drove to Stone Mountain to surprise Tyler's parents with the news.  Shock, hugs, laughter, and tears.  It was everything the "big announcement" is supposed to be.  We spent the rest of the evening together dreaming of our future child and grandchild.

The next day was Good Friday.  Our entire family was coming to the house for Easter.  It was my first time hosting a holiday, and I had an extensive grocery list to knock out that afternoon.  I decided to drive the extra distance to the "good" grocery store, and along the way I found myself talking to my stomach and the baby inside.  I can't remember for the life of me what I said, and I know I should've felt like an idiot.  But all I remember was how happy I felt driving to the store on a gorgeous spring day, blathering on to the little life I was carrying.

Thirty minutes later, I was standing in the produce department when my phone rang.  It was my doctor, calling to tell me that my pregnancy wasn't going to be a viable one.  My progesterone levels were dismal and, knowing that we were going into a holiday weekend, she didn't want me to be alarmed and alone when the bleeding started.

Instead I was alarmed and alone in the middle of the produce department. 

I staggered though the check-out line, holding it together until the groceries were loaded and I was safely tucked back into my car.  And then I lost it.  I don't remember the drive home; only stumbling through the door and into Tyler's arms, sobbing and overwhelmed by grief.

Later, we drove to my parent's church for a Good Friday service.  Tyler had called them earlier to tell them I was pregnant.  Or not.  It wasn't much of an announcement, although both Mom and Dad felt I needed to hold on to some hope.  But my brand-new mother's intuition knew it wasn't to be.  I stood in worship that evening, understanding in a way I never had before the grief that the Father must of felt when He surrendered His Son to death.  By the end of the evening, I had surrendered my child as well.  The miscarriage came and ended quickly, over by Saturday morning.

I decided to name the baby Abigail.  I also named my Valentine's baby: Samuel.  I think some of the people around me thought I was crazy.  I'd hardly been pregnant with either of these children.  Sure, it was okay to be sad about not being pregnant anymore, but to identify the loss as children?  I'm not sure anyone really understood.

Which was unfathomable to me.  In my circle of friends, most oppose abortion.  They believe that life begins at conception.  Why then, were they surprised when I grieved for my babies, and for the promise of life that I'd lost?

We went on to lose a third child, Isaac, who I clung to for nine agonizing weeks, although the doctor gave me little hope of success.  His loss was the most devastating, and the most physically painful, though again, I don't know that many understood the depth of my grief.  Had I been further along, had I been able to hold child in my arms before surrendering him to heaven, I think it would've made sense to people. 

I read a statement the other day on Facebook.  Something about how if scientists were to discover one living cell on a distant planet, they would proclaim to have found life elsewhere in the universe.  But one living cell in the uterus of a woman?  It's a blob.  A mass of disposable cells.

I'm not sure we can have it both ways.  I'm not making an argument for or against abortion, here.  This isn't about political or social issues.  It's about grief.  My grief.  Personally, I believe that life begins at conception. 


Today is Good Friday, the day I always remember my little Abigail.  But Good Friday doesn't mark the end.  Sunday is coming.

I believe that I will see my babies again in heaven someday, that I will recognize and rejoice with them.

Because praise the Lord, Sunday is coming.

10 comments:

Carol Feretich said...

Kari, your beautiful heartbreaking story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. You are an awesome mom and I am so happy that you are blessed with four precious children and I am so sorry for your loss of the three who came before them. My love and prayers are with you.

Christine Ward said...

Beautifully written Kari. It brought tears to my eyes once again. I praise God for the precious 4 He has blessed you with here on earth and the 3 that will be with you in Heaven!

Erika said...

I didn't know you had an Isaac, too. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love the way Good Friday reminds of us all that is fallen and Easter of all that will be redeemed.

"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth...Never again will there be an infant who lives but a few days..." Isaiah 65:17 and 20

MindyMac said...

Just think, when we get to heaven, there will be 6 more little Mattingly and MacDonald children running around together! What a glorious day it will be to be reunited with these children who never knew any of the pain and suffering of this world!

Montgomery Family said...

i love you, friend! i'm thankful for walking through many years and seasons of friendship together.

Erin said...

Thank you for your words, Kari. A good friend of mine recently lost her baby at 9 or so weeks. I am thankful to understand a little more of what that is like, because I know that she is still grieving, and I think I can love and care for her a little better now.

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda (Nina's Nest) said...

I'm teary and speechless (for once). So sweet.....so meaningful....Linda

A.M. Mama said...

Thank you for sharing your heart in this beautiful post. I love you. Thank you for writing something so personal yet sooo helpful for all of us.

Two Shades of Pink said...

Oh my heart hurts and rejoices at the same time reading this. I hurt because of your pain but I rejoice at the hope you have in our King. And I think naming your precious babies gives such value to their short little lives. And I am full of emotion knowing you think of your Abigail on Good Friday. I am still blown away with your gift of writing...you can make me laugh and make me that cleansing, purifying kind of cry. I love your heart, Kari.