Weeping at night, joy in the morning

by Heather Walton

May 20 passed without me realizing it. How did it happen? I did think about it that day, but I didn’t make the connection that it was an anniversary.

Three years ago, on May 20, I had life-saving surgery for me, and life-ending surgery for my precious little one. I had an ectopic pregnancy, and was hemorrhaging. It was such a difficult thing to go through, such a loss. The grief that followed was thick, intense, pervasive, and destructive.

Yet here I am. Life has gone on. Life has been good, fruitful, purposeful, and even joyful. A big part of that is that God granted us our rainbow baby, Emma Noelle, who is 17 months old now.

On May 20 this year, I shared a story during a special song service at church. One of the songs was Because He Lives. I related how that song had been sung in church the week after we lost our baby. The second verse goes like this:

How sweet to hold our newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day, because He lives

For many months to follow, I could not sing that song without crying tears of sadness and loss. But now, by God’s grace, I can sing that song. I still cry at times, but the tears are different. As I sing, “How sweet to hold our newborn baby and feel the pride and joy she gives,” I feel bittersweet tears of loss overpowered by tears of gratitude that the Creator has given us a second chance at parenting.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NLT)

The Scar is Almost Gone

broken heart with bandaidToday I realized that the scar is almost gone. I hadn’t paid attention in awhile, and the fact that my memory has faded surprised me even more than the fact that the physical reminder has diminished. I’m thankful to God that He heals all kinds of pain — physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Almost exactly three years ago, I got pregnant. I wasn’t expecting to have any more children, because I thought I was too old. I was newly remarried, and though I love children, it wasn’t in my plan to have another child at that time. I had a demanding career and was in the midst of blending a family. I remember looking at the two pink lines on the test in absolute disbelief. This was the only time I had ever not been thrilled to see a positive reaction on a pregnancy test.

My husband, however, was ecstatic. And it didn’t take long for me to catch his enthusiasm. We started discussing names and making plans. On Mother’s Day, we shared the news. A couple weeks later, though, I started bleeding. I called the doctor’s office and they reassured me that this could be perfectly normal, and they advised me to wait till my first appointment, which was still a couple weeks away. I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right, so they set up an appointment for me to come in that day.

I’ll never forget seeing the ultrasound. The tech was looking around, saying she didn’t see anything in my uterus. But I saw something, something I knew was a baby, and I asked her about it.

“Where is that?” I asked, expectantly.

“In you right tube,” she responded.

I had an ectopic pregnancy. A precious little one, nestled in my womb, just in the wrong location. I was advised that I would have to terminate the pregnancy, because this was a life-threatening situation. They planned to give me a substance that would expel the fertilized egg from my body.

I had worked for several years in the pro-life movement and this did not sit well with me. My husband and I, along with family, friends, and church members, prayed that God would move the baby to the uterus. Our miracle did not take place. The day was approaching for the procedure, and I knew I couldn’t do it. I prayed I wouldn’t have to.

On May 20, 2015, two days after I got the dreadful news, I started having terrible cramping. We went to the ER and found out that I was in danger of having the tube rupture, and that it was too late for the planned procedure because my baby had a heartbeat. I would have to have surgery. As the hours progressed, I began to have worse symptoms and was rushed into surgery to potentially save my life, while at the same time ending the life of my unborn child.

The grief that followed was more powerful than any I have experienced before or since. It impacted every area of my life. To escape, I poured myself into my work, which distanced me from my family and friends. Grief can be consuming, destructive, and relentless, especially if you keep God and your support system at a distance.

What pulled me out of my grief? About a year later, I took another pregnancy test and saw a second faint line. I’ll never forget the euphoria and thankfulness I felt, and the assurance that God was granting me a second chance. I knew deep down that this baby would be healthy.

Finding out I was pregnant and experiencing the joys of each new milestone did not completely alleviate the grief. And there was some sadness attached to this pregnancy, as during the pregnancy, I miscarried Emma’s twin.

Our little rainbow baby could not replace her older sibling whom we had lost, but she sure has brought us so much joy! Having lost a child before having her has made us appreciate her even more than we would have otherwise. Every once in awhile, I still have the twinges of grief, as Emma could have had a sibling a year older and a twin. But it has greatly diminished, just as the ugly physical scar that used to greet me regularly in the mirror, has also faded.

If you’re grieving, please give yourself permission to be real, and please draw close to the Lord, instead of holding Him at a distance or pushing Him away. And remember that the scars of grief never go away, because you have lost someone or something of great value. However, one day you may just wake up and realize that the pain has diminished and that the scars have faded, serving as a gentle memorial to something precious.

Holidays have a gift for the grieving

By Heather Walton

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am gong there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place I am going.” John 14: 1-4

Christmas Tree 2015

 

It’s almost Christmas—the “most wonderful time of the year.” However, for many people, this is a time when grief is highlighted. That special loved one is conspicuously absent in the midst of all the cheer. Perhaps this is the first Christmas without someone special, or perhaps it’s one in a string of many, but that may not lessen the pain. Whether the loved one was lost through death or a falling out, whether that loved one was human or a furry friend, whether a child had been born, unborn, or maybe just longed for, the holiday season can be less merry for you than for those around you.

A few Christmases ago I had just started going through the divorce process, and my kids had to leave to be with their dad’s side of the family at 2 p.m. Christmas Day. Some family and good friends invited me over, because they didn’t want me to be alone. It was so nice of them to include me, but I remember just being miserable and wanting to go home. Here I was, hanging out with families, but I was all alone. I really wasn’t in the Christmas spirit that year, and I was relieved when New Year’s came and went.

 

This year is not like that one for me. This year I am very happily married and I’m looking forward to Christmas. But there is still the heaviness of grief as my would-have-been due date approaches in early January. Honestly, I’m tired of grieving. I keep thinking I’ve turned a corner. But as I wrapped a baby gift for a friend this morning, the heaviness returned. This time of year, there is much to remind me that our baby is gone. We are celebrating the Savior’s birth, and there are a lot of songs about the “Baby” Jesus. Our little girl’s middle name would have been Noelle, and Noel is a popular word at Christmas.

 

But in both of these situations, and in anyone’s situation during a time of grief, the above Scriptures, which I read this morning in my Bible study, apply. In John 14, Jesus was addressing His disciples at the last supper, after He had told them that He would be betrayed and that He was going someplace where they couldn’t follow. Jesus comforted them, telling them that they should trust in Him and that He was going away to prepare a place for them.

 

Heaven is the place to which He referred. In heaven, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there is no death, no divorce, no disease, no miscarriage, no ectopic pregnancy, no separation, no falling out, no sadness, no anger, no bitterness, no grief. In heaven, we will be reunited with many of the loved ones we have lost if they were followers of Christ or if they were children. In heaven, we will not feel the pain of separation or loss. The heaviness I feel over the loss of a child, the loneliness I felt over the loss of a marriage, and whatever grief you may feel over your losses will simply not be there anymore.

 

Jesus has asked us to trust Him on this. Since I have trusted Him with my life and my eternity, this really isn’t asking too much. And just because I choose to trust Him on this, that doesn’t mean that the heaviness is gone.

 

And even if this Christmas is hard for you because you have lost someone precious to you, remember that without Christmas, there would be no Easter. And Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, which is what makes eternal life possible for us and for our loved ones. Without Christmas, there would be no hope to recover our losses or to heal from them. Even through great trials and grief, Christmas is a gift.

Thankful for much

By Heather Walton

As today is a day to highlight that for which we are thankful, I want to share some of the blessings in my life.

  1. Twenty-two years ago, I met a man who changed my life and my eternity. His name is Jesus, and He is my creator, my savior, my best friend, and my reason for living. He has given me the promise of eternal life in heaven, which is beyond imagining, and He has given me an abundant life now, which I never could have predicted for myself.
  2. A year ago today, Terry and I got our marriage license. We’ve been married for eleven months, and I never cease to be amazed by how much we love each other. It’s an incredible thing to love and to be loved, to be married to my best friend, to spend my life with someone who has such similar goals, hopes, and dreams, and to experience a second chance at love.
  3. Though I experienced the loss of our unborn children this year, I am so blessed to have given birth to four healthy children and to have three step-children. My life is filled with kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  4. My family and in-laws are wonderful people who help me, listen to me, and regularly show me love.
  5. I have many supportive friends who have helped me through difficult times and have rejoiced with me through good times. I know that I can call on several godly women for counsel and understanding.
  6. God has chosen to use me to develop a ministry to families looking for educational alternatives. In 2013, I began a school that I thought would be very small, but it has grown to 82 children in preschool through high school. I was not the most likely candidate to run a school, and I had no idea what God had in store, but I believe that’s exactly why He chose me–so He alone would get the glory.
  7. Though I initially had a good deal of strife with my ex-husband, we are now able to work together in a civil manner to co-parent our children, and this is to their benefit.
  8. I live in America. This is a true blessing, as long as we can keep our perspective on heavenly treasures, rather than earthly treasures. I am thankful to live in a free country where I have all my needs met. There are many great countries in the world, but I am glad to be an American.
  9. I am healthy. This is often taken for granted, but it should never be. I have known so many people who have battled great illnesses, some of whom lost the earthly battle at young ages. So in their honor, I will appreciate my own health.
  10. I have a roof over my head, a full fridge and pantry, a running vehicle, and plenty of clothes. Though I have gone without a paycheck from time to time, I have never gone without having my needs met.
  11. I have two children waiting for me in heaven, who will never experience any of the pain of this life. I don’t have to worry about whether they will accept Christ, because they are already in His presence. This doesn’t minimize the fact that I wish they were in my arms, but I am looking for the good in the situation.
  12. I have been blessed with grief. Over the past few years, I have experienced some of the most difficult situations of my life, and I have become a more compassionate, understanding person because of it. Though I would trade the situations that caused the grief, I wouldn’t trade the growth they have brought.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015! To God be the glory; great things he has done!

Family Photo 11-15

Dear Jellybean: In Honor of My Children in Heaven on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

1 in 4 is not statisticDear Jellybean,

It’s been five months since we lost you. We are not even at your due date yet, and I suspect the grief I feel is going to intensify as we approach the first week of January, when you were due. Usually when people grieve, the grief diminishes over time, but when a person loses an unborn child, I think that the grief has to get worse as the due date approaches, and then perhaps it can become less intense. I really won’t know how that goes for me for awhile.

Even though it’s been five months, losing you is still fresh. In July, you were joined by your younger sibling, and that was heartbreaking for us as well. You got to welcome that child into heaven, and someday you will welcome your daddy and me too. In the meantime, I believe Abba has called me to share our story here, to help others who are grieving the loss of their babies. God has promised to work everything for good, and this is one of the ways He’s doing that. If our sadness can be used to help others grow closer to God, then I will be grateful that it hasn’t been for nothing.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, the first one I’ve “celebrated.” I never even knew such a day existed before. But I’m glad that President Reagan and others thought that it was important to celebrate the lives of those who never got a chance to be born, or who died soon after birth. It really is important to do that, because their lives matter, and your life matters, my sweet child, and your younger sibling’s life matters. I say that in the present tense–not the past tense–because you’re really more alive than I am or that any of us on earth are, because you are in the world God created us for. We think we see clearly here on earth, but we really live in the Shadowlands, as the Apostle Paul and C.S. Lewis referred to this world.

I’ll be honest and tell you that, for a few months, I really tried my best to forget. I would never want to forget my own child, but really, it was just too painful to remember. So I got really busy with other things. I didn’t do it on purpose, but deep down, I knew what I was doing. I think a lot of people do that. And, really, I don’t have any memories of you, aside from the effect you had on my body and one ultrasound image that only exists in my mind, since we never got any printouts. I remember finding out I was pregnant. I remember telling Daddy. I remember him praying for you, talking to you, and kissing my tummy each day. We had only a few short weeks when we actually knew you existed, before the devastating news came that you would never be born in this world.

It’s going to be okay though. We know that we will get to be with you for eternity. We don’t ever have to question whether you will spend your eternity with Jesus. Though living without you seems like a tragedy, it’s really a tragedy for Christian parents to spend eternity without their children, because they chose to live a life contrary to their parents’ faith. We don’t have to worry about that with you, though, and for that we can be thankful.

One of these days, we will be there with you. Until then, know that we love you.

Love,

Mommy

%d bloggers like this: