Everyone is on a journey.
This was a defining moment in mine...
The story of our twins cannot be separated from the story of our precious Zaccheus "Titus". They are interwoven. One would not be without the other...
In January of 2007 I was five months pregnant with my second child. I had always wanted my children to be two years apart and I was joyfully anticipating this addition to our family. I just knew that this baby was a boy and I was immediately drawn to two names: Zaccheus and Titus. My pregnancy was wonderful (don't hate me but I'm one of those women who LOVE being pregnant). My first pregnancy had been absolutely beautiful--everything I asked the Lord for and I entered into this one with the same wonderful expectations.
Looking back, I now know when the problems started, but I didn't recognize them then. I had traveled out of state to visit my grandparents for New Year's and it was there that I began to experience painful side aches. My pain tolerance is fairly high, though, and I didn't consider the pain to be enough to warrant a doctor's visit and since I was already out of town, I just figured I would see my doctor as soon as I returned home.
I will never forget that visit to the doctor's office. The nurse came in to check the heartbeat and couldn't find it. I wasn't worried, I thought fleetingly that maybe she was inexperienced or the baby was lower. Then the midwife came in and when she couldn't find the heartbeat either a slow realization began to wash over me. A cold, clammy feeling of fear gripped my heart. I knew when she looked at me with eyes filled with pity that something was terribly wrong. She left to order an ultrasound and I was alone in that small sterile room for what seemed like hours. And I prayed my heart out. I asked God to revive my baby's heart. I summoned up all the faith I could muster and I believed that the ultrasound would show life. It did not. And no one would just tell me that my baby wasn't alive. They didn't say a word. They only gave me instructions on where to go next. Back to the little room. Alone. For what seemed like another hour of tortured silence. It was just me and my frantic prayers, clinging to my Jesus, desperate for a miracle.
I remember the look on my husband's face when he met me back at home. The doctor had advised me to return to the hospital to deliver the baby and when we arrived our pastors were already there along with many people in our church family. A peace came on me in that instant and I knew God was with me. Joel and I decided that we wanted everyone to pray for a miracle. We believed that God could cause Titus' heart to leap back to life. What a tremendous testimony this miracle would be and what glory it would bring to our God! He could do it! So we prayed in faith and we fully expected the last ultrasound to reveal our miracle. It was completely silent.
The peace that God gave me didn't leave right away, but I was in such a fog of pain that I don't remember much about the delivery. Only that it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Giving birth to my first child had been an incredibly joyous experience (yes, I did actually say that)! I had a natural birth for my first one and it was amazing to feel my body painfully labor with the purpose of bringing life into this world. There was so much joyful expectancy that time! This labor, however, was torturous. I knew that I was not laboring to bring forth a baby that would nurse at my bre_st, but one that would lie still in my arms. When they brought us our little Titus, I remember thinking he looked just like his daddy. A five month old baby with absolutely perfect little fingers and toes and his daddy's nose.
In that moment, I was overcome by a pain so real and so deep that I didn't know what to do with it. I wanted to hold my baby longer, but I was scared, so scared, of how much losing him hurt. I was frightened by the fierceness of the bond I had made with him already in my womb. I had never felt an emotion this strong and this debilitating before. I let them take him away. I still cry when I think about that. I wish I could have held him just a little longer. I wish I would have had a proper burial for him. I wish...
I remember the kind words of the midwife that attended Titus' birth. Her eyes had held compassion as she told me, "You will make it through this and your faith in God will be stronger. Somehow I know that your faith will carry you."
My God did carry me. I ran to him because he is the only one I have ever ran to. I ran to him with my anger, my questions, and my pain. "God, why? Why did you take him when we did everything right? When we prayed the prayer of faith and asked that he would live in your name? God, I want to believe in miracles, but how?"
I remember many nights of uncontrollable sobbing and of desperately seeking an answer from God. And finally, one night I remember him visiting me. I had been rocking my first born to sleep and as he fell asleep in my arms, the painful longing to hold Titus overwhelmed me once again. The tears began flowing and my heart was devastated, "Jesus, I've lost my son, my son, my son..." Then I finally felt the gentle presence of my Savior enter the room. I felt him kneel beside me and in my mind's eye I saw a flash of his eyes--filled with a pain that mirrored my own, glistening with tears.
I heard him gently say, "Oh my child, I know the pain you feel. I understand."
Without thinking I lashed out, "But, God, I lost my son! How could you understand?"
Then he said something I will never forget, "Because I had lost my son, too."
And that's when I felt it. I felt Jesus take the burden of my pain upon himself. I felt him mourn for my loss. I felt his spirit grieving for me like the most faithful friend, the most loyal lover. And I let him take it. The pain, the hurt, the ache, the doubt. He wanted it all. He didn't want me to carry it.
Does that mean I never mourned again after that? No, I mourned and I still do. But it is a different kind of mourning. It isn't without hope. It isn't without faith. It isn't without the knowledge that my Jesus understands. It isn't without the certainty that I am dearly loved by my Savior and trust that He will always make all things work together for my good.
I am thankful that God let me carry my precious Titus in my womb for five months. His life was not without purpose. The miracle of Titus became the miracle of a stronger faith, a closer walk, a deeper comfort in the love of my God.
Six months later, God blessed us with our twins. Not to replace the one we'd lost, but to bring us restoration. Again, he was speaking to us, urging us,
"Trust in ME with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." (Psalm 3:5).
***If you have had a miscarriage and are in need of prayer or a listening ear, please feel free to e-mail me at joyefuljourneyATgmailDOTcom.