Tender Mercies Even In Heartache

Monday, March 18, 2019

To read about what I learned from my anxiety and grief click on these links: anxiety and grief

 Photo by Pinakeen Bhatt on Unsplash

Jenny from @brokentobeautiful on Instagram shares about a Japanese art called Kintsugi where broken pottery is mended with gold lacquer. The result is beautiful. Through this process something beautiful is created out of something that is broken.

Our lives are like that. We experience trials that break us. But, there is still hope and as we reach towards that light of hope, no matter how small at first, we can become something so beautiful.

This is the story of the experience that broke me. That caused me to sink into my shell and allow my anxiety to get to me. The story of how my grief kept me from reaching out. It is also the story of how I realized I still had strength, love, and support and how I slowly over time, came to see the light, and moved towards it until I reached the place where I felt I could reach out, and then continued until I started my hope to inspire others.

All my life I wanted to be a mom more than anything. I remember as a little girl lining up all my dolls and tucking each one in for bedtime. As I grew, I became aware that finding the right person to marry and getting married was something that took time. That it did not always happen and that it could take time to find someone. So, with the goal that I had gained as a 15-year old, I began to pursue my education. I focused on my educational goal, only taking a break when I felt called to serve a mission for my church for 18 months.

Shortly after my mission, I did meet someone who I still love so much.  We got married and together we looked forward to starting a family together. Perhaps I was naive though. It was easier for me to patiently wait to find someone to marry but for some reason it was much harder for me to think I'd actually have a hard time getting pregnant, but I did. I did not get pregnant right away. And I struggled with it. I wondered why I was going through this trial, why what I wanted most, a child, was being kept from me. I questioned my worth and I often became discouraged. I would not wish any trial on anyone and this one especially is one that tugs at my heart every time I see someone else going through it. Hang in there, I do not know what direction or path the Lord has for you, but I know that even in the midst of your deepest heartache He still loves you, and He is still there. 

Some time passed and we saw an infertility specialist. We ran a few tests and after discussing things with him, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility which pretty much means we had no answers. I felt aimless, my goal completely something that I had no control over. I felt helpless, yet I kept trying to keep hope within me, because what else could I do?

We began saving for infertility treatments. When nothing worked, we continued to save money, trying decide what direction we wanted to go next, more treatments or pursue adoption. In some ways the indecisiveness and not knowing what to do next, the uncertainty of it all was excruciatingly difficult. Knowing what I know now about how important clarity within goals/life is, I can see a small part of why this period of uncertainty was so difficult for me, my only focus during this time was on trying to have a family, I had no other goal or clear direction that I wanted to go. And I felt like I had no control over the situation. Please know that even if you can't change the circumstance, that doesn't mean that there is no hope for a better life and it doesn't mean you don't have any control over your life. When I think about being stuck in a circumstance, I am reminded of Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning and survivor of the Holocaust. He said, "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." The changing of ourselves can be quite a process though, so be patient with yourself. Such changes rarely happen overnight, for me it was also a process, even as my situation evolved, I was still gripped with uncertainty.

In the midst of it all though, I became pregnant. We were so excited, beyond excited. We went to the doctor’s office for the first time filled with that excitement and hope. We got to see the heart beating of this little baby inside of me and I was filled with so much love. We told everyone about this beautiful little baby. We began to prepare the house for a little one coming into our life.

But, this was not the end of our trial. I went on a trip with my friends to celebrate a birthday. And while on that trip, I noticed some bleeding, not much blood but enough that I worried. I searched for info and I found out that this is not entirely uncommon even with pregnancies with no complications, but I still was concerned. I went home the next day, talked with my husband about it and we went in for the doctor’s appointment that I had already had scheduled.

As we told the nurse, she was not concerned. As I said, it’s not uncommon. We went over all the blood work I had done, everything came out well, no signs of a problem. Then the nurse did an ultrasound to check the growth of the baby. There was nothing, the nurse could not find the baby’s heartbeat. I don’t think I can adequately express the fear and anxiety that filled me. How thankful I am that my husband was there with me, holding my hand as the nurse left to go get the doctor, especially when the doctor confirmed what I already felt, there was no heartbeat anymore, we had lost the baby. 

I allowed that fear and anxiety to stay with me. The grief that I felt overwhelmed me and kept me from accepting all the lessons that I had learned about trials and growth as a teenager. Yes, I was experiencing grief again, but this time it was harder for me to accept. I turned to my husband for support but I did not really reach out to anyone else. Every period that I had each month was a reminder of the child I had lost. For a while I didn't want to grow. I didn't want to step outside my comfort zone. I came to hate statistics because I was told that it was common for someone to get pregnant within a year after a miscarriage. Yet, that did not happen for me and I began to think it was some kind of fluke that I had gotten pregnant in the first place. I had no control over getting pregnant again and even if I did get pregnant again, I had no control of whether or not the baby would stay with me. I want you to know, that even during this time of grief and uncertainty, the Lord's tender mercies were around me, whether or not I was willing to see them at the time. I was still blessed with a loving and supportive husband, in some ways our relationship became stronger. I was blessed with a mom who stayed close to me through it all, who understood what it was like to lose a child. My in-laws were around and shared their love for us. And my sister was quick to respond and be there for me, with gifts and ways to help shift my focus from what was going on if only for a small moment. 

It was a couple of years later that my husband and I found ourselves still unsure of what direction we should go. We prayed to know if we should move on from fertility treatments. We prayed to know if adoption was the way that our children would come to us. We knew we would be happy with either answer as long as our children came to us. Yet, we were still not receiving an answer on which direction to go. 

In the midst of uncertainty, I found out that I was pregnant. This time we proceeded with more caution. I still felt such exceedingly great joy and gratitude for this little baby within me, but I still was guarded. We waited until the baby was past the point we had lost the first baby, before we told our family and it was not until we found out we were having a little girl that we announced it to everyone else. Even until we gave birth, I was filled with anxiety about whether or not I would lose her. In fact, even now that that beautiful little girl is now 5 years old with two younger sisters, I still have to constantly remind myself and pray often that she will be okay as she leaves for school. My fears, my anxiety did not just leave with the birth of my daughter. They are still there, still feelings that I need to remind myself are just feelings. My daughter is a beautiful, thriving, strong-willed, yet reserved little girl. She is smart and so amazing and I could not be happier to be her mom. 

Yet even now, several years later, I still feel the tugging on my heart, tears still come to my eyes as I write this, because I still miss my little baby who I never got to hold.

I tell you this story because I want you to know that being able to feel joy is still possible. And it is okay to feel joy, it is okay to feel grief, it is okay to cry. I want you to know that even in the midst of extreme heartache for me, I still was able to find gratitude and love. I want you to know that change takes time. I want you to know that even after experiencing such difficulties, you can still learn from them, grow from them, learn to love and have hope again. Sometimes it just takes time. Even though you have feelings that pull you under for a time, be patient with yourself, because you can come up for air again. And you can take a leap and fly.

I want you to know that even though I may still have anxiety, I am still able to live my life fully and with intention. I am able to feel again even though there was a time that I felt that I could not feel, in fact I did not want to feel. And I want you to know that because I have gone through the things I have that I now have an even greater desire to love and inspire hope in others.

My hope is that you will join me as I continue to share with you my experiences. As I share with you about how I started coming out of that time period in my life when I did not reach out to others, when I did not want to feel and grow.

I hope that you can learn from my story, find a connection with me, and invite hope into your own life. I hope that you'll start to see that beauty can be found even in the brokenness and that when you start to pick up the pieces and put them together, you find something even more beautiful then before. 

In a coming post, I will share with you the long process of learning how to step outside my comfort zone again. 

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