Option B: How to Rise Above Disappointment
This year is six years, six years since we lost our first baby, six years since the toilet clotted blood.
Last week was National Infertility Awareness Week and it pulls me back to the memories like my eyes to the scene of a car crash.
I can see myself on the floor. Praying. Begging. Being willing to do anything not to lose him.
What kinds of bargains we try and make with God in those moments.
I don’t know if it was a him, but I imagine it so.
So many times I blamed myself.
Shouldn’t have been working so hard. Shouldn’t have been so stressed.
Should have been more careful taking the antibiotics. I was speaking at a church when the tube almost burst.
Three days of agonizing waiting. Tests. They sent me home, a wreck, unsure of what was happening. “Some bleeding is normal in the first trimester.” Like I was a crazy person. This didn’t feel normal.
So much blood in the toilet I was afraid to get up and pee.
I thought maybe I could hold him in, stop it all from happening. Confused, shaken. I felt faint.
God was just a word I breathed through sobs, just a plea.
I had faith, oh I had faith. I spoke it, I declared it. I commanded it. Prayed the Scripture right over that slightly swollen belly. Willed it so.
And still more blood.
I almost didn’t let them do the surgery. It felt wrong, it felt like they were taking him from me, I couldn’t grasp that he was already gone.
We were going to name him. We had a name. It began with a J.
This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.
Something dies, something dies inside you.
Dates that will always be marked under skin on a place people can’t see.
Tiny tattoos of our loss. You walk around and the world can’t see them, can’t see their marks on your soul. You look fine, you laugh.
You remember them even though know one else will remember them.
April and May used to be my most favorite months. They still are, but they are laced with hardness too.
Those first few days, empty.
Breathe, move, exist, eat, cry, sleep, sex, repeat.
The second ectopic I was more prepared. I told myself I was more prepared. It made it better, easier. I told myself this.
But it wasn’t.
Because I’d done all the right things this time. For a year and a half.
Prayed all the prayers.
Eaten all the foods. So many freaking pumpkin seeds.
Did the traumatic surgery.
Meditation. Make your body ready fertility yoga. Acupuncture. Hold on. Let go.
If one more person tells me when I let go it will happen, I will strangle them. (It happened to my friend….)
I’m sure it did. I smile through clenched teeth. There is no formula.
Sometimes you do all the right things and it still doesn’t work out. We all have our disappointments, our hope deferred.
Strange the things you remember.
Hospital smell: iodine and pine sol.
Black X marks on my abdomen. Like I was a roasted pig ready for carving.
Jesus you’re here too right, you’re here too?
You don’t get to die you don’t get to.
Tell me again why?
You have to live. Trust me.
I want to die. I said it, I think. It scared me. It scared my husband. My husband made me take it back.
I still meant it.
But I believe too much in redemption. I love a good story, after all.
This can’t be how the story ends.
That would be a shitty ending.
And I’m just not up for that.
Most days I don’t go here, I don’t. It’s too much. It’s too dark.
I live, I love, I find joy, I go to spin class, I breathe. I throw baby showers for other friends. I dance at weddings. I counsel others. I am good at this.
I am resilient.
But fear and hope, fear and hope, they are cyclical. And grief a constant and fickle companion.
She doesn’t always listen, she wearies me with her unpredictability.
I’ve often wondered how people do it without God. I can’t.
God isn’t doing this to me. I left that gnarled, twisty belief a long time ago- it was poison.
I cry into the down comforter. It looks like splashes of rain on concrete.
But I know that I know, that I know, that I know, I will be a mother.
This promise has dug deep roots inside me, a strong and sturdy tree. Unbendable.
The world can everything from me but my belief, it rises and it rises, it floats above the onslaught of despair. @saritahartz
Jesus, out there, extending His hand, inviting me to breakfast. I can almost smell coals on the fire.
Steady yourself here. Still loved one.
Even through worry, even through doubt, even through faithlessness.
I can’t give up hope. Hope is all I have.
I think resilient hope has three important qualities: honestly grieving, time, and pressing in.
One thing that defines resilient people is they believe that things will one day get better. They believe this pain is impermanent. @saritahartz
They believe they will overcome this challenge, they believe laughter and joy can belong to them again. They are the ones who make it out of this dark maze, beaten, but head held high.
Belief is a life-line.
I know that belief is true.
Leaned into, they led me out into a morning where the wild geese flew overhead and the hummingbird hummed and I could slowly feel God come close again.
He was always there. But I could just feel Him now.
He leads me to a verse:
I do not know the way he knits the bones in the womb and I do not know the works of him who made everything. I can’t understand his timing.
I can only know He makes impossibilities out of nothing.
As my friend told me recently: If it isn’t good, it isn’t the end of the story.
I believe it. I believe it. It took me a long time, but it’s in me now. Truth. It rises.
It tells the other side of the story.
It tells me:
Don’t give up, keep going to the back porch, keep tending that secret garden, keep drinking from the well.
One day you will notice the roses in your garden are blooming full and yellow. One day you will notice you aren’t so sad. One day you will see beauty again.
It doesn’t mean I have expectations of outcomes or timing or how or what, it just means in this new day I will find new Mercy.
Option B is to find joy anyway, to look for it.
The rustling of the oak tree leaves. The swatch of sunlight across my face. The wildflowers bending in the breeze. The hummingbird with the red breast, a tiny airplane of color and sound, trusting there will always be food.
Rosie lying on the cool rock in the sun, her eyes almost closed.
The arugula pushing through dirt in the garden. Spring comes. Rain and rain and rain and then one day. Sun.
Life finds a way.
He is ever Present and He is Peace. I am still. I drink of it, this secret garden, I stop, I soak, this is the only way I know to rise strong, to hope again.
I have more capacity. More empathy. For myself, for others. That is a gift. I am so grateful.
Good can still be found.
Open your eyes. Open your eyes. Find it. Write it down. It doesn’t mean they are any less to us, it doesn’t mean we don’t honor their memory.
We honor in living, in being made more beautiful by their barely grazed touch on our lives.
How do you rise above disappointment?