Saturday, October 18, 2008

round 3, fight

"They can't find a heartbeat. They sent me in for an ultrasound. There's no baby."

"What?!?" In the middle of a number of things at work, I had almost forgotten that Kari had gone in for her routine 12-week checkup.

I couldn't think. And yet it seemed like my mind was racing at the same time. It must have been a mistake. Sometimes they just can't find the heartbeat with those little machines they use. But wait, there was the ultrasound.

"What do you mean?"

"There's no heartbeat. I don't know what to do. I can't even cry. I'm just numb."


"So they tried to find a heartbeat, and when they couldn't they sent you to get an ultrasound?"

"Right. They couldn't find it. Then they thought they heard a flutter so they sent me in for an ultrasound. But they said it looks like the baby stopped growing at 8 or 9 weeks."

I was just silent. Absolutely stunned. Totally blindsided. I can't really find better words to use than those. I described the first experience in a similar way (this is our 3rd miscarriage in a row), and this experience was of course similar.

And yet it was so different. The absolutely stunned from the 1st experience just seems to pale in comparison with the absolutely stunned from the 3rd. (The 2nd experience was just different happened much earlier in the pregnancy and we had many more warning signs) There were absolutely no warning signs with this one. It was a routine checkup. And Kari was the farthest along with this one. 12 weeks. We were so close to being "in the clear."

So close.

Of course, I guess you're never really in the clear when it comes to a life. To this day I still go into Mason's room after he's asleep, pick up his little wrist, and count the pulses from his little beating heart. It's not so much because I'm overly worried about his well-being, but it keeps me amazed at the fragility of that little life. There is absolutely no reason why those lungs should keep sucking in air...and that heart should keep on beating...except for God Himself sustaining that life. Why He hasn't done that for Mason's 3 unborn siblings, I'm not sure.

I left work and rushed to the hospital. I found Kari in a room discussing the situation with our doctor while Mason played on the floor. A good guy, our doctor. God bless those doctors who work so hard at also being good counselors. No doctor can escape the situation of also having to do some counseling. However not every doctor understands the importance of being well-rounded in this way, especially on top of everything else to be concerned about.

I shook his hand and could see on his face that he hurt for us. As I got to know him I became convinced that those emotions were sincere. The conversation was somewhat of a blur, but he presented our options for testing and tried to instill some hope in us in the process.

We went home.

The experience of being emotionally drained is relative. I thought I had experienced emotional drainage plenty of times before, however I don't think I have ever been as emotionally emptied as I was after this experience. My perspective on life was suddenly through a lens of sadness. Sadness can be a pretty complex emotion. But it can be very simple too. This seemed to be more of a simple sadness. Not necessarily depression. Not necessarily anger. Not necessarily regret, or even resentment. Just sadness. Maybe some hopelessness. Certainly some helplessness. Lost. Confused. In the dark. Where do we go now? What do we do? What if Mason ends up being an only child? What about adoption? I don't want to adopt. Or at least I'm just not ready to adopt. What if we can't have any more kids and we never find out why?

So many questions. No answers.

The next day Kari had a D & C, a surgical operation to remove the baby and tissue from her uterus. Everything went fine. There's nothing abnormal about her uterus. The doctor presented this as good news. And it is. But our first reactions were actually ones of frustration. We still have no answers to what's going on.

So we wait. In the midst of all the pain involved in these experiences over the last six months, waiting is still perhaps the hardest part.

And during this period I'm finding that I'm having to choose to fight. Against the temptation to lose hope. Against the temptation to question God. Against the temptation to fall into some sort of depression because life is turning out to be so different than what we had dreamed it to be. Fighting these temptations becomes harder with every miscarriage. However it also becomes all the more necessary in order to stay afloat.

I don't say all of this so that you will feel bad for us. I think I say all of this simply because I desire to be known. I assume that if you got this far it's because you care for us and are praying for us. I guess I just want to communicate a little more deeply what the experience has been like. I pray that some good can come from it. However even if no one reads this, it's just plain therapeutic for me to express these things in writing. It helps me process the confusion.

Let me also take the chance to recognize those of you who have been loving on us. Thank you so much for the calls, texts, flowers, and meals. In particular, the Elgards have been absolutely amazing. Both Robin and Josh have watched Mason for us the first three days after it happened. Robin has coordinated meals with other amazing friends from church, and she was there throughout Kari's surgery. Robs, I hope you're reading this because you need to know how much we love and appreciate you. I really don't know what we would have done if you weren't there for us in those amazing ways. I thank God for friends like you two.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. Prayer is such a mystery to me, but I know it's powerful. We don't take it lightly when we're told we are being prayed for. We know it's the only way to get through these things and come out on the other side. We've also been encouraged by this verse, which has been quoted to us by numerous friends: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

I'll end this long post with a poem that has been near and dear to our hearts through all this, posted also on Kari's blog. I'm not usually one to pay attention to poetry, but this one hit the spot at the right time for us.

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said,"Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I relate
hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no,' to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
as my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.

You'd never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still "Wait".

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31


Ben & Kristi Graves said...

aww, joel. my heart is breaking for you and kari. you are definitely in my prayers, and i hope that you can find some answers soon. hugs from japan!!!!

Linda said...


I'm so sorry to hear of another loss for you two. I pray you can get some answers soon and that you won't have to go through this experience again.

Lots of love and prayers,

Elgard said...

Therapeutic indeed! We love you all and continue to pray for God's grace and strength to be yours in abundance.

Katy said...

What precious words, Joel. My heart goes out to you and Kari and I lift you and your sweet family to our Father who is the only one with all the answers. I pray God's embrace and love during this time. Thanks for sharing your story.

the keith fam said...

tears come as I read your blog for it was not that long ago that we lost 3 precious pregnancies in a row as well.
know that you will make it, that your love will survive, your family will survive and most importantly, your faith will survive.
He knows you and He loves you!

much love to your family, from ours!

Janice said...

Joel, I read this through tears, emotions of love for you and Kari, of sadness for your losses, and of deep gratitude toward God that you are honoring the Lord, questioning and seeking Him during this road of waiting, of wandering, until He shows you what is next. I love you and am praying constantly for you guys. The poem is priceless. Thank you for sharing your heart.

The Smittys said...

Hi Joel, Mark and I had no idea the pain that you guys were going through, and I suppose we don't fully understand it at all. We are praying now for you and your little family. Just the other day I saw a picture of you and Mark at the GAC New Years Eve celebration some time ago. It made me miss you guys! We do love you and are praying for you during all this craziness. Thanks for being open about your struggles, I believe that others can and will be changed because of what God is doing in your lives right now. Mark and Em

thekeller4 said...

Joel, I read Robin's blog and saw her reference to yours. Thank you for sharing your pain and frustration and unbelievable loss. I'm so sorry for your pain and the loss of these 3 little ones. We will definitely be praying for you, Kari, Mason, and God's plan for your family. May His peace be with you in the waiting. Karen K

Lindsay said...

Sending you lots of penguin love and prayers!!

Anne said...

Joel-Thank you for sharing your sadness and pouring your heart out
to us.We wait too for God's answer
for your family and know,absolutely,His plan is the very best we could ask or want.
Keep trusting. We love you.Awesome
poem!(and a tear-jerker)

The Botmas said...

God has plans to use you guys more than you know. your response to all this is is amazing. you will be blessed and will be able to bless others more than you know.