by Heidi Sias
We sat in the car in stunned silence during what seemed like the longest ride home we’d ever taken. The doctor’s words kept echoing in my head: “I’m very sorry to tell you that your baby’s heart has stopped beating.” Was this really happening? Did I do something that caused this? How would we tell our mothers that their first grandchild had died? My thoughts swirled as I thought about this roller coaster ride we’d been on for two months.
Two months earlier, my eyes stared at the two very clear lines on the pregnancy test. Could it be that I was finally pregnant? We would get to add a life to the sacred union God had joined a year and a half ago. This would change our lives completely. Would I make a good mom? I began to think about all the things I could teach our child about God’s promises.
I thought about all the things we needed to provide for our child. I thought about simply holding and loving our child, feeling his or her soft skin against my cheek. We shared the news with our family, friends and the congregation. Everyone was thrilled for us. We received many notes of congratulations, and our moms started to buy small gifts for our unborn child. Then I started hearing pregnancy stories from friends, one after another. Though I felt tired and a bit nauseous, I didn’t feel the extreme fatigue and morning sickness my friends related in their stories so I felt I was very fortunate.
At my first prenatal visit, even though they couldn’t hear the heartbeat on the audio device, they said everything looked great, and we could see the heart fluttering quickly on the ultrasound. I was relieved that everything was going smoothly. Then a few weeks later, the tiredness and nausea slowly faded away. I told myself it was because I was nearing the end of my first trimester, but deep down I wondered if something could be wrong.
It came time for my second prenatal visit, and I prayed this time they would hear the heartbeat on audio so I would know everything was ok. They didn’t. They did an ultrasound, and the technician was very quiet. He said the doctor would be coming to talk to my husband and me. We knew what he was going to say but still held out hope that maybe we were wrong. Tears formed in my eyes as I wondered why this had happened to us.
Since my body was still “protecting” the pregnancy, we now needed to take measures to prevent me from getting sick from infection. I spent the next day at home, waiting to go back to the doctor the next day. It was one of the longest days of my life. I wanted this child, and I didn’t want them to take it, while at the same time I wanted some closure to it all since I knew the child had died.
Tears would well up in my eyes all day as I thought of all the things I would miss in raising a child. I mourned never getting to hold my child and not being able to offer comfort as death drew near. I wondered if God didn’t think we would make good parents. I questioned why we don’t deserve a child when so many people have children they don’t even want. The word deserve echoed in my head, and I snapped back into reality. I knew all of these questions were the wrong questions and would never give me the right answers. My answer, my truth, would come from only one place: Christ. Apart from Christ, all we deserve is death and hell, but in Christ, we have life and salvation. In Holy Scripture, we hear about God’s promises to us–promises He can’t, and won’t, break.
I remembered how God promises He won’t give us more than we can bear and will give us the strength we need to endure the suffering of this life (Phil. 4:13). He gives us His Word and Sacraments to strengthen us in this life to bear these things and tells us to find Him there. God tells us His grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9), and the light of His Gospel drives away the darkness of sin, death and fear.
Though we mourn the death of our little one, we know God’s promises are true and we have nothing to fear. We know that God’s Word is powerful and entered the ears of our child to bring salvation and peace. God promises He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6) and promises He will work all things for good (Rom. 8:28). I definitely don’t understand how this could work for good but also trust in God’s promise that He has a reason for taking our child. I can rest in the confidence of the resurrection of Christ, commending our child to God’s mercy.
God also blesses us with all of the people in the Body of Christ He has given to offer us comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5). When we go through sufferings, it gives us the ability to then comfort one another in the Body of Christ. Just as we received many messages of congratulations when we announced our exciting news, we received even more messages of comfort when we announced our sad news. We were truly overwhelmed by how so many others mourned along with us and reached out to us with Christ’s love through their extreme generosity.
Our friends pointed us to Christ and His promises through their words and their merciful works, and this is the greatest gift someone can give. Through this, they reminded us how God blesses us in this life with faith and contentment in all things through our trust in His promises, even in the midst of our sufferings.
About the Author: Heidi Sias is a member of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Colstrip, Mont.