Built and Rebuilt

A Story of Redemption After Miscarriage.

This is a picture that I drew of Gabriel. It is how I have always pictured him in my mind.

This is a long post. It won’t be relevant to all of my readers. But there are many who are walking through the tragedy of miscarriage and need to know that they are not alone. For some reason, miscarriage isn’t talked about. Perhaps we feel shame. Maybe we feel our sadness may burden others. So we just don’t talk about it. This can leave us feeling ashamed, sad, and alone…very alone. I know I felt that way.

So here is my story of Gabriel. His life was’t his to live, but his story is mine to steward.

This is an interesting week for Team Thompson. October 6th was the due date given to the baby that we lost in February 2018. We had named the baby Gabriel.

3 years ago this week God gave me a very vivid dream. I had it 3 times in a row that night. Each time God woke me up and declared with urgency “I am protecting Gabriel!” I didn’t know what God meant. But, if He woke me up with the same message 3 times in 1 night, it was important enough for me to write down and remember.

February 2018 was rough. I have a daughter who is medically fragile, and she was in the hospital for almost a week. I never left her side, in spite of having discomfort with my pregnancy. My daughter needed me, so I would have to get help for myself later.

“Later” was a terrible day. I loved ultrasound day when I was pregnant with my other 3 children! There had never been a complication detected on an ultrasound, so I felt comfortable going to see my little peanut alone. In hindsight, I wish my husband had been there to deflect some of the daggers that went straight for my heart.

The ultrasound technician told me that she didn’t know what she was looking at. The one thing she knew for sure is that Gabriel didn’t have a heartbeat. The doctor offered to send me home with some medication to “take care of it” (trigger my body to miscarry). It? It! His name is Gabriel and there was a promise on His life! God spoke it before he was conceived! Offended, I politely declined the invitation to miscarry my son because I wanted to seek God and stand on the word He gave me.

“Protecting Gabriel”. I knew He would. I’ve seen miracles. I know my God. I’ve judged Him faithful. My faith is unmovable and steadfast. But could it withstand the onslaught of the 2 weeks of fire that followed?

I sat alone in the car after that ultrasound and cried. “You are the God of the impossible”, I prayed. “What do you want me to do? I will fight. I will pray. I will rebuke. I will declare. I will contend. I will surrender. Just tell me what to do! I can’t do this without you!”

His answer surprised me. “Stand. Stand your ground. Don’t fight. The battle is mine. Just stand.”

But what does “standing” look like? I didn’t know. For the next 11 days I went on an emotional rollercoaster as I struggled to comprehending “standing” when my body and mind just wanted to “sit down” for a second.

Standing looked like refusing to doubt Gods sovereignty. Standing looked like calling friends to help me pray through the intense battle in my mind. Standing sometimes looked like crying out to God for mercy during sleepless nights. It looked like refusing to let my circumstance dictate my expectations. It also looked like making a conscious effort to keep myself aligned with Gods truth and not my symptoms. It looked like praise. God calls praise “a sacrifice” because it is a choice to praise Him when we are in the valley.

As the date of my follow up ultrasound approached I found myself exhausted. I didn’t know how I would manage to find the courage to look at the monitor. I cried out to God for mercy. Yet, I never doubted God’s goodness or his ability to perform a miracle in my body.

On the way to my appointment God reminded me of a favorite verse in Jeremiah. It was a strange “pep talk” from the Lord. I wouldn’t know why He chose that verse until later.

Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.

I focused on His words to me as Travis and I walked hand-in-hand to the ultrasound room. I prayed once again for God to give me the courage to look at the screen. I was expecting to miraculously see a beating heart. I held my breath and turned to look.

Nothing. No change. No heartbeat. Just a hollow sack containing cells that should have been Gabriel.

“Death, loss, and destruction” became more than just a plan of the enemy. They became a tangible feeling. After my D/E, “empty” also became a tangible feeling. I didn’t know that having my uterus vacuumed would result in my body feeling just so empty. If I was a doctor I would have named a syndrome after that feeling. “Sudden Tragic Empty Womb Syndrome”. I wasn’t sure that this self-diagnosed syndrome had a cure. It felt fatal. My baby was dead, and I now felt dead inside.

That night in the shower I shared my grief with God. I felt injustice. Of all of the things, what topped my list of injustice was that it was my sons 7th birthday. I had to tell him that he lost his brother in his birthday. The next day was his birthday party. What was I going to wear? If I didn’t wear maternity clothes then I would have to explain to everybody what had happened. Not at a party. It was too much. Was there no mercy for the broken-hearted?

Yet in my grief God spoke. He often speaks in the shower. God gave me a simple invitation. He said that He is the God of “today”. When I had my D/E, my pregnancy was now officially “yesterday”. God invited me to partner with Him in the new things that He was doing because it was a new day. He invited me to follow Him FORWARD.

His invitation didn’t feel anecdotal. It didn’t feel like he was trying to put a Band-Aid on an arterial bleed. He wasn’t testing my faith. He wasn’t promising me that suddenly I wouldn’t feel sad anymore. He wasn’t asking me not to grieve my loss. He was simply speaking life-giving perspective at my point of tragedy.

In His mercy He offered to lead me out of my fatal syndrome, if I would allow Him. Getting stuck here was a choice. I could get stuck in “yesterday” where there was death, loss, destruction, and emptiness, or I could simply take His hand and let Him lead me forward out of it.

But how could I trust the God that had allowed my baby to die? How could I take His hand? He spoke over my son that he would be protected, then my son died. Did God change His mind? Had I done something wrong? Trusting God suddenly seemed risky. Where was my unshakable faith?

Yet hope was calling out to me from tomorrow. I had to try to trust, even if it was risky.

I knelt in the shower with my hands in the air as a sign of surrender. I chose to let my God lead me out. I asked for courage and strength. I declared that yesterday was gone and that I would willingly align with Gods new plan for me for today. I cried and cried and cried.

Surrender didn’t cancel out the pounding of on my heart of my unanswered questions. Like a robber beats down a door to steal valuables, the questions beat on my heart. They threatened to steal what was valuable to me…hope. Why did God speak to me in a dream and tell me that He was protecting Gabriel? Why did He give me such a bizarre verse in Jeremiah that morning? Mostly, I needed my Father to answer my hearts biggest question: “was I faithful”.

Four years have passed and I still don’t know why I had the dream. I may never know. I continue to ask God to show me what I might have missed. However, God did address my other 2 questions. As always, His answers came in surprising ways. God knows just how to communicate to me in a way that I will understand. He “gets” me.

I got out of the shower and picked up my bible. I looked up Jeremiah 31:3. It seemed weird that God gave me that verse. There must have been SOME reason He had given me that verse for that baby on that day. Jeremiah 31:3 reminds me that I have always been loved and that God is kind. I needed that reminder going in to my appointment. However, after my appointment I needed to know that I would be ok, and that I would know joy again.

That’s when I saw it. The very next verse says: “I will build you up and you will be rebuilt. And again you will dance among the joyful.”

Built up and rebuilt. Joyful. There it was. My weird God knew that I needed to know that I wasn’t stuck here. Grief wouldn’t leave a permanent mark on me. God was rebuilding me! There was a promise of joy! Not just joy, but dancing with joy! I visualized myself dancing among the ashes as God made beauty out of them. Wow. How amazing to walk out of a tragedy dancing!

A few things were settled. I wasn’t stuck. He was leading me forward out of yesterday and into today. Today was a new day. Today I was rebuilt and dancing. Today there was JOY for me! But, I still needed to hear from God whether I was faithful in the trial. I wanted so desperately to be found faithful.

Have you ever heard of a “push present”? I hadn’t. I’m pretty sure that if I had known what it was then my husband would have been in a load of trouble! I pushed out 3 babies and evidently he was supposed to give me something for it. My kiddos are such little treasures themselves that I always felt that they were my present. Now I come to find out I could get a baby AND a present? Hmmmmm.

I may be the only person who was new to the concept of a push present. I had to look it up. Evidently, a push present is a gift given to a mom to reward her for a job well done pushing out a baby. The thought is that a mom goes through a lot carrying and birthing a baby. There is pain. There is risk. Our bodies get wrecked. It is exhausting. The theory is that we are deserving of a little something extra for being willing to endure this.

I had taken the risk. I had carried a baby. I had gained the weight. I had 6 weeks of morning sickness. My boobs hurt. I endured the embarrassment of having to do a “no baby” announcement only 2 weeks after doing our “baby announcement”. We had medical bills for the pregnancy. A vacuum had sucked out my baby, but I still gave birth. It felt like injustice. If I didn’t have a baby in my arms then how would I gauge what “a job well done” looked like?

The night Of my D/E I laid in bed exhausted. I didn’t think there were any tears left in my body yet I couldn’t stop crying. Again and again I wondered if God would answer me and how he would tell me If I had been faithful in this trial.

That’s when Weird God did something else weird. I closed my eyes for just a minute. When I did, I saw the beautifully wrapped present. It was pink and gold with a white bow. I can still see it now. There was a tag with writing on it. I pictured myself reading the tag. It simply said “push present”. I definitely got the impression that it was tuning from God. Curious, I grabbed my phone so I could see if a push present was a real thing.

As I read the definition I was wrecked. Wrecked with the love of a Father who would stop at nothing to love me in my grief. It was like he knew exactly how to communicate to me that he found me faithful. He reached down from heaven and touched me on earth. I had been faithful. God himself found me deserving of a push present. Weird God used a concept I had never heard of before to communicate an answer to my deepest question during my darkest hour.

In the days that followed many beautiful people reached out to me. I was so touched by the outpouring of love. I think many friends were surprised that I was moving forward and not stuck. Many said “how are you really doing”. I didn’t know how to help them understand that I really really really really was full of hope. Sadness was there, but hope had become bigger than sadness. God allowed me to bypass a traditional long grief cycle by inviting me to let Him lead me through it. I wasn’t stuck in the sadness. Sadness was there. I courageously addressed the sadness and didn’t turn a blind eye to it. But the sadness had lost it’s sting. I was above the sadness addressing it, not in it.

The best part of the story? That beautifully wrapped pink and gold push present is now tangible. Her name is Gabrielle Joy. She is named after her big brother, and after the joy that came from being rebuilt. As I held her in my arms for the first time 2 years ago I became aware of a new syndrome. “Sudden Tangible Redemption Syndrome”. Gabby was born the same week that we lost Gabriel the year before. I am certain that God knew that February was a month that needed to be redeemed for us.

In closing, I didn’t get stuck. I moved on to joy without looking back. I chose to not ignore the sadness of loss, but to allow God to change my perspective on the sadness. I took a risk and trusted the God that seemingly had allowed my unborn baby to die. God is still rebuilding me. But I have learned the art of dancing among the joyful.

If you have experienced the pain of miscarriage, you are not alone. Im so deeply sorry. I see you. I understand the shame, fear, and sadness. I know why Mothers Day is hard for you. Whether you had to push your baby out or had it suctioned out, you are deserving of a push present. You are not flawed. You are valuable and worthy of love. It takes courage to let others in to our struggles. Vulnerability is risky. What if we are judged? But if you cant see Gods hand leading you out of your sadness, please allow others to be His hand for you. If you need to talk, please reach out to me.