Tiffany Beaver, the author of this post is a missionary member of our church and a teaching assistant at the University of South Carolina. She and her husband Benjamin live in Columbia.
Dear Sisters Struggling to have Children:
When I was a kid, I thought God just planted babies in women’s tummies. So I didn’t understand why mom was so dumbfounded when she found out she was pregnant with my little brother–God just put him in there!
Growing up I knew my mom had two miscarriages. But aside from this knowledge, I didn’t spend much time trying to understand what it would be like to be pregnant or to lose a baby. Though I knew a few people who struggled to conceive or experienced miscarriages, it never hit close to home. I definitely never thought I would later find myself living through those same experiences.
After two years of marriage, my husband and I decided it was time to start trying to have a baby. Because we are both pursuing PhD’s, we thought it would be prudent if we could time things out for the baby to be born in the summer. If it didn’t work out we’d take a break and try again the following year. We were naïve enough to think that if we did the “right” things, getting pregnant would be easy.
When we didn’t get pregnant during the “ideal” months, we decided to trust God’s timing would be better than our own and continued to try. We kept trying month after month for a year. We experienced frustration. Friends and family who weren’t even trying got pregnant. It didn’t seem fair. Some people just looked at each other and got pregnant. But we couldn’t. After a year, I went to the doctor, who encouraged us and also ordered some tests for us. One was a routine pregnancy test.
Strangely, although the test came back negative, I was, in fact, unknowingly pregnant.
We found out after several confusing weeks filled with numerous symptoms that conflicted with the test that said I wasn’t. We were, of course, extremely excited. Along with a sense of success after trying for a year, the timing seemed perfect. The due date was right after the Spring semester and we would have all summer to figure out how to be parents. On top of all that, my brother and sister-in-law were expecting within a few weeks of us. The thought of two cousins so close in age was especially thrilling.
Then on October 13, sitting in a church gathering, a pastor spoke from Ecclesiastes 3 about how we all want to think we are in control of our lives, but this is merely an illusion. There is a season for everything – including weeping and mourning. These seasons are inevitable. One phone call or conversation can change everything. I remember thinking “I hope this sermon isn’t meant specifically for me.”
The Conversation that Changes Everything
The next morning of October 14, my husband and I experienced that “one conversation that changes everything.” We watched an ultrasound screen zoom in on an image that will forever be burned into my mind. She said “there’s your baby…” and then silence. After a pause, she spoke the words I so greatly feared, “I’m looking really hard, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” They hit like a ton of bricks. It was as if in that moment, all of our hopes were shredded to pieces. The image lingered on the screen, our baby that we will never have the privilege of knowing. The following day I had surgery to remove the baby’s body from inside mine.
My overall emotions over the next weeks were mostly sadness, grief and disappointment. I wasn’t really angry so much as hurting. About a week after the miscarriage, I wrote a blog post to process what I was thinking and feeling. You can read the entire post here but here are some excerpts:
- Deeper than the grief, I cling to the goodness and the grace of a Heavenly Father who grieves with us and mourns with us, and who sees the big picture of eternity even when the tiny corner of the picture I’m seeing is blurred from tears…
- For some reason, He has allowed this particular sorrow to be a part of my story. I not only hope, but I fully believe, that in some way the loss of this child will bring glory and fame to Jesus. I don’t know how yet, but that’s just how Jesus works…
- He left Heaven to inhabit this world, and He made a way for broken people to join His family. He is working to restore what has been broken. But the restoration isn’t yet complete…
- As for me, as I continue to trust in the goodness of God, I will echo the words of Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b)
Even knowing all of this truth, things haven’t been easy. The holidays were difficult, as family members were expecting babies. There was a period where it seemed like everyone was telling me they were pregnant. As much as I wanted to be overjoyed, I just wasn’t. Each announcement was like a stab – a reminder we lost our baby. Well-meaning people who said things like “Next time will be better” made things worse…because God never promised us there would be a first time…and he never promised there would be a next time. Facebook was incredibly difficult. It seemed like every other post was someone announcing they were pregnant, revealing the gender of their baby, or announcing the birth of their child. I wanted to be excited for these friends, but I couldn’t.
Jesus is Enough
Yet in the midst of all of this, even when tendencies to be angry or bitter finally started to emerge, I was reminded that Jesus is enough. Even if I never have children, Jesus is enough. No matter what the Lord gives or the Lord takes away, Jesus is enough.
To my sisters struggling to have children, please rest in the knowledge that Jesus knows your heart. He knows your fears, your disappointments, and your longings. And even on the days when it’s really hard to believe it, He truly is enough. Please don’t long for children more than you long for Jesus. All of the children in the world cannot replace the love He has for you and the relationship He wants with you. And no matter how it goes, He never promised we would be spared from pain, but He did promise that we never have to face the pain alone. He’s here with you in the pain. And you can rest in Him.