Friday, November 08, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: Embracing Joy

"When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad." 
- Psalm 14:7b

I read this verse the other day, and then I stopped and read it again.  I'm sure I've seen the words of this exact sentence many times before, glossing over what seems to be an obvious point of instruction:  when God blesses you, be thankful.  Or to put it another way, when things are going better than they were, be happy.  It should be a no-brainer, an easy command to follow, and yet I realized for me, it is not.

God has restored my fortunes.  He's answered our prayers and given us a third daughter, one we will meet, Lord-willing, in just a few weeks.  It is a sweet, beautiful, healing thing to be pregnant again after a miscarriage, but I'll be honest.  That's not where my heart's been living most of the past eight months.  While I've certainly felt joy and gladness many times, I haven't camped out there.  

Instead, I've been living with fear of more loss and grief to come, sometimes a deep, crippling terror, but more often a subtle, gripping sense that something could go wrong at any moment.  I wake up every morning wondering, Is she still with us?  Soon, a kick or punch reassures me, but it doesn't take long until things are still, and I wonder again.  It happens so often I don't even notice it most of the time, but the fear is there, constant.  

When joy does bubble up, when sweet friends surprise me with a day of pre-baby pampering, when Ellie talks about how she can't wait to hold her baby sister, the fearful thoughts are not far behind.  How would you return these baby gifts if she dies?  What it would be like to explain to Ellie that Baby Sister is gone forever? 

I think of dear friends who'd give anything to just be pregnant right now, who struggle daily with the burden of unanswered prayers, and I feel guilty that I can't simply rejoice in what I've been given.  It seems like it should be so easy.  But the truth is, it's not.  I struggle to embrace joy, knowing full well that sometimes joy dies, that the greatest gifts can also become the greatest losses.

I know God is patient with my fearful soul, but I also know He doesn't desire me to live in fear.  So I am praying for help with the most basic of commands, that I might see that God has restored my fortunes, that I might, quite simply, be glad.

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