This post is part of Prodigal Magazine’s series on Travel stories.

 

And then we discovered we were pregnant.

Our church – where Brian was a pastor – was in a difficult time of crisis back in 2005, our friends were hurting, lives were breaking apart. In just a few short days, we were supposed to lead a team of 24 teenagers to Germany on a mission trip. Everything was upside down at the time, nothing was stable, not even our address as we put our plans for a cross-country move on hold, our hearts sorely bruised, I wore disillusionment like a cloak, and we were very, very tired.

And, then we found ourselves expecting a baby. It took a few days for it to sink in. And then we were so happy. We were suddenly dreaming of our baby, discussing names, imagining our back bedroom as a nursery, making and adjusting our plans for this small life.  I told Brian that this baby was a gift from God, a special kiss from heaven for us, for such a time as this, new life and all that.

Typical to me at the time, we did not tell a soul except our parents.  The plan was to keep it quiet for another week, until we were 12 weeks along. Two days before we were to leave for Germany, I went for my first ultrasound, a routine date confirmation. The technician looked at the screen. Then, she said, matter-of-factly, like we were discussing the weather: “Well, it doesn’t look to me like this baby will live. It will probably be dead in a week or two. Let’s book you for a D&C.”

That night, we laid on the floor in our bedroom, we couldn’t even manage to get into the bed or onto the couch. Brian was flat on his back, crying, tears pooling in his ears, while the ceiling fan hummed above us, I was curled up against him, soaking his shirt with my sorrow. We wanted to call our fellow pastors, we wanted to call the church, we wanted to cancel the Germany trip. Our half-packed suitcases lay beside us. We wanted someone to mourn with us, to be present with us, I unpacked and repacked, over and over, we felt so horribly, terribly alone in our grief, it was yet another loss in this season of loss, and I could not, could not, could not bear it.

But, in my fear, in my pride, and in my distrust of community, we never told anyone. I called the doctor’s office and cancelled the D&C, gently explaining that I could not be the one to say when the pregnancy was over. If it was going to end, it was going to be naturally for me, that felt right. They made it clear to me that I was very foolish.

The next morning, we were at the church, organising the team, reassuring parents, checking passports, calming dramatic teenagers, loading luggage, then flying to Chicago, to Heathrow, to Bonn. We were far from home, in the throes of a womb-deep sorrow. 

I loved those kids like family. I still don’t know if they could possibly understand how deeply I loved them, how much comfort we drew from their normalcy, their weirdness, even their rebelliousness, during the days ahead. Every distraction, every mission-trip-disaster, was cause for relief, I wandered through the markets on cobblestone streets, I ate cherries outside of Beethoven’s childhood home, I withdrew, performed the minimums of supervision, I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the end, I didn’t know what to expect, I tried to pray, I tried to believe in miracles.

Maybe the doctors were wrong? Maybe we could keep this one, this one time?  Maybe God would show up and change this for us? Please? pleasepleasepleaseplease I talked to the baby every moment, willing him (because by now I was sure it was a boy, you see) to hold on, praying that, somehow, I could keep him. But I knew we wouldn’t, somehow, I knew it was already over.

I stood in the streets of Bonn, and I asked God if he had forgotten me, if he had forgotten us.

There was no answer.

We slept in hostels and pensions for those two weeks. After busy days, running around, open air meetings, driving the autobahn at white-knuckle speeds, getting to know our German and American hosts, listening to my husband preach through interpreters, and hosting barbeques in the former east Germany, we would settle all the teens into their rooms, and retreat to our spartan quarters. We clung to each other in the darkness, not talking, so tired, so scared, just waiting. There were no words left now.

On the way home, somewhere over the Atlantic, I started to bleed. But it slowed, and we landed, we returned the kids to their parents and went home to our empty Texas rancher. Two days later, labour started. I rocked on my hands and knees in our living room, Brian rubbing my back, we were scared and alone. We had our baby, together, just us two, after three hours, our suitcases weren’t put away yet.

That Sunday, I was empty and invisible in every way, and the suitcases were still in the corner of our room.  Church was crowded and loud, especially near the stage where we stood after the dismissal. I looked up, and I saw Pastor Karen looking at me, so intently. She had been the pastor at this church, years ago, and was back for visit. We didn’t know each other well, Brian came on staff after she had already left for a new work, but we were acquainted, we saw her every time she came through town, we liked her. I felt drawn to her, somehow, but we never really talked. But that Sunday, she had me in her sights, I could see, she crossed the auditorium, she crouched close to me, her face right close to mine. She held my hands in hers, and, without preamble, whispered that she felt that God had told her something about me, and she wanted to share it. I shrugged, hadn’t God forgotten me? I was unconvinced.

“I looked across the room at you and God showed me that your heart is broken, and you are weary. And,” she lifted my chin and looked me straight in the face, she meant it, I saw this belief, this white-hot knowing, in her, “he wants me to tell you that you are not forgotten.

“You are not forgotten.”

She said,“Now you know, don’t you? can a mother forget her child? But even if mothers forget, God will never forget you – never. Look, he’s written your names on the backs of his hands.” She wrapped her arms around me, like a mother does, pulled me close to her, she whispered again, “You are loved.”

I rested my head on her shoulder, it was my benediction and release, that day I went home, I put away the suitcases, and stood in my quiet house, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, and I pulled out the moving boxes, we were going home to Canada.

[sarah]

 

In which {love looks like} sawdust swirling
In which there is something big buried here in the small words
thank you for sharing...
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  • Oh, Sarah.  My sweet friend.  This is beautiful.  And I needed this.

  • Jen

    Thank you, thank you so much, for sharing.  I wept the entire way through.  I lost my baby, all alone at home, his father a world away in Africa, no one else knew.  And I thought God forgot me, too, and was callous to my suffering.  But I know now that he was not, and that he never left me.  I’m so sorry for your loss, grateful for God’s presence to you.

  • Recca327

    Gut-wrenching and so true and beautifully written. Thank you for.sharing from that place.

  • Thank you so much for telling your story, Sarah. You are certainly loved and not forgotten by our great God.

  • And God speaks through the heartache of a dear voice on the world wide web. Thank you for sharing your hurt, your heart and, in the process, God’s words. He does not forget His children no matter how deep the hurt, does he!? How sweet and strange that word feels today. Thank you.

  • I’m in love with those moments when we get the chance to be Jesus to each other. I feel that desire to pack boxes and go home too.

    Thank you for your heart on this.

  • beautiful. thank you for sharing.

  • Oh sweetie.  Thank you SO much for sharing your heart.  Too many of us keep these things to ourselves and I think we need to share them more.  We all feel alone when we go through this, and we are SO NOT!  Hugs!!

  • What a comfort to know that God sees our struggles and meet us in the midst of them. I’m so sorry to hear about your pain and sorrow, especially the loneliness of it. 

  • I heard God whispering to me in this, too. Thank you.

  • no words…beautiful expression of God’s faithfulness to us-even when we don’t feel it

  • WendyPaineMiller

    Talking to me today. I was at Disney for one of mine.

    Not forgotten.
    ~ Wendy

  • Grace Masters

    This is beautiful.  That’s not the word.  it made me cry.  It is overwhelming.  Wow Sarah! How did you keep going?  Its the keeping on keeping on through it all, not giving in.  And not running away.  It made me cry.  I am not forgotten. Thank You God, I am not forgotten

    • You are never forgotten, Grace, thanksgiving indeed.

      • Grace Masters

        Thank you.

  • Jenny

    Your story gave me goose bumps! I am so sorry for your loss. I too have had a miscarriage and went in for an ultrasound to find out my baby was no longer…it is heart breaking. I have two beautiful boys now though and they are that much more special to me! Thank you for sharing.

  • Lovefeasttable

    Beautiful…from start to finish. 
    ~kristin

  • Vanderbiltwife

    This is so beautiful I nearly burst into tears. I am so sorry for your loss, for the insensitive medical personnel, but so grateful that your friend OBEYED God when He told her to speak. THOSE are the moments. 

  • Beautiful, beautiful, Sarah. I have tears in my eyes. Maybe I needed that reminder, too?

    Also, I am horrified by the way that doctor’s office treated you. Where was the tech’s compassion?

    • I don’t know but it was a pretty awful experience from start to finish with them. 

  • Fiona Merrick

    Beautiful words which made me cry. I’m so sorry for all that you went through. I’ve had four miscarriages and empathise with you so much, especially the inability to share the news with others and draw comfort from community. Thank you, Sarah xxx

    • Thank you, Fiona. I’ve have lost four babies as well, it’s never easy, but it’s even harder when we isolate, I know. Praying for you as well, sister.

  • So powerful. Thank you, Sarah.

  • Pingback: In Which You Are Not Forgotten « 4th & Bedford Church of Christ()

  • Wow – chills…

  • Oh my, that was a lot to carry all alone. I had a miscarriage while my husband was out of the country and thankfully had a Christian nurse who did my ultrasound and loved me like a mother. But really, for me, what stuck out the most is the way that woman had the courage to tell you what God was saying. I’ve had to do this many times and often with trembling hands and heart and it gives me even more courage to be ready when He speaks again. But also what she said. Both my parents have forgotten me and her word to you actually spoke to me. We are not forgotten, even though it feels that way sometimes.Lovely story as always Sarah, your words sing off the page.

    • Yes, I’ve often remembered those words, and it’s given me the guts to speak out when it’s my turn, too. 

    • Handsfull

      Oh Shelly… my parents haven’t forgotten me, they’ve chosen to shut me out of their lives.  And that verse (among others) is one that has spoken to (and been spoken to) me often.  I’m glad you had someone who could care for you like I’m sure you wished your mother was. 
      Hugs to you from another parent-less mother!

  • Beautiful. I lost my first baby in miscarriage more than 18 years ago. There will always be a bit of a dull ache in that loss. When the doc was done walking me through it, he wrote VOID in big letters across my medical chart. I thought I was going to fall apart right then and there. 

    A few days later it was Easter Sunday. Husband had to work. I fought the temptation to stay home in bed, but up I got, going through the motions of going to church. No one knew. And somehow that day I heard God’s voice too. “In the spring, you’ll have a rose,” that big yet small voice inside promised. 

    The following Easter, our baby girl was dedicated at the Easter church service.

    We named her Rose. 

    (hug)

    • That is a beautiful, beautiful redemption there, Pam. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Ok, I’m a mess now … You girls and your beautiful stories. I love this: “In the spring, you’ll have a rose.” When I click “like’ on your Rose’s picture, I will know this part of the story. Wow.

  • pastordt

    Oh.My.Gosh. This one brought tears, hot tears, grateful tears, recognition tears. Thank God for women who will see visions, hear words and share them. And thank God for THIS woman, you, who can write it all down so very, very well.

  • Tears. Haven’t been through anything like this, but I know what its like to feel forgotten by God. Bless that woman for acting on the urging in her heart. How many times do we NOT go say the words we are supposed to say. “You are loved. You are not forgotten.” Beautiful post.

  • Reading your story, I’m struck again with gratitude for women like Pastor Karen who are strong in Christ, who sense the moving of His Spirit, who are gifted to speak mercy and grace and truth into our wounded souls …

    • Me, too, Linda. Thankful for women that truly “see” us.

  • keep. writing. beautiful.

  • Amazing. 

  • Love you, Sarah.

  • Sarah.  As always, I am undone by your writing.  I lost a baby 7 months ago.  I processed through the loss, wrote and painted and wept, hugged my little girl that much tighter.  Almost worse than the loss, for me, was the way I was treated by the doctor’s office where I got an ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage.  Having been accustomed to midwifery care, I was shocked when the receptionist cheerfully asked me my “due date” after I had told her I was having a miscarriage and when the doctor suggested that “I could always have more kids.”  So, I’m so sorry about the way that tech spoke to you… treating something sacred as nothing. And I’m proud that you followed your gut and opted not to get the D&C.  What a horrible time… thanks for sharing.

  • Melody Young

    thank you.  I will never forget our little Angel- that is his/her name…we were so excited and we told everyone, then baby went home week 8 or so, and no one understood, but God did not forget us.  Helps to hear someone else’s story- no matter how many others there may be, each one cannot be replaced, and the grief heals but doesn’t go away this side of heaven- it’s part of the war-wounds and God understands.

  • Lebessey

    Oh Sarah, you capture the emotions so well.  Thanks for sharing.  

  • Mindi

    Thank you for sharing your story, how God was present with you with all of the losses and brokenness. I needed to read this today.

  • emily wierenga

    oh, my sweet, sweet sarah. how i wish i could hold you, and your sorrow and make everything right again. trent and i too. we bled our baby out, too, and that night i saw a vision of her in heaven. and oh, she was/is beautiful. i cannot wait until the day when we wrap them close and smell their hair and know them real. love you.

  • Pam

    Sarah, I’m new to your blog and I just wanted to say how this touched my heart. Thank you so much for sharing this tender moment. We don’t always understand why we are going through what we do, but as you have shown so beautifully, He doesn’t forget about us. We all need that assurance from time to time. I know I do.

  • Sharon O

    Ok so now I am crying… I wish I could give you a ‘personal hug’. God be with you.

  • Oh.  This is beautiful.  And exactly what I needed to hear.  Our first baby, she was stillborn at 31 weeks in November, cause unknown.  We named her Eve.  I am pregnant again now, 24 weeks along, and I am afraid.  I needed to read this.  Thank you.

    Also, I am so sorry for your loss.  But thank you for being so open, so vulnerable.  Big hugs.

  • Laura

    So beautiful and so heartbreaking. Thank you so much for sharing your life.

  • I am so sorry for all you’ve gone through. But thanks for sharing and being real.

  • I am crying. I am so moved by your story, and thankful that you share the excruciating, the loneliness of how it feels to be abandoned by God.

    Although I have not experienced the pain of losing a baby, I am in a place where I needed to hear that same message. God has not forgotten me. He has not forgotten me.

    Thank you.

  • Keith and Jamie Lorenz

    Strange, our miscarriage story is remarkably similar. First baby, we didn’t tell anyone at all, we were moving between states, lost the baby while we were in between our old home and our new home. We were all alone and so heartbroken and yet God was with us.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for this.  I’ve loved so many of your posts, but this one touches me deeply right now.  None of us are forgotten.

  • Glenda Childers

    I am sorry for your loss. It thrills me that God met you through this loving and caring pastor. Those same verses comforted me on one of the worst days of my life.

  • Stephanie

    You made me cry. 

    I sensed your pain through every word. 

    I also rejoiced in the redemption, the message of hope in the midst of great sorrow. 

    God is good – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

  • RobinRachelle

    Oh Sarah, I’m so sorry you and your husband had to go through that alone. I suffered a miscarriage last month, and I don’t know what I would have done without the prays, and food, and hugs from the body of Christ who mourned with my husband and I. I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for community during this time of sorrow.  There was a time not long ago when I reflexively answered questions of “How are you?” with the standard “I’m fine. Everything is great.” Thank God, I’ve learned that living in dependence on Christ and community requires more openness and vulnerability than that. I reached out when I was in pain, and was embraced. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Jenn

    A reminder I needed today, thank you. We never are forgotten are we? In the middle of being so overwhelmed it’s hard to see, but it’s true – God cares, he loves, he see’s every tear and he holds us always close to his heart.

  • oh, dear one. beautiful and gut-wrenching.

    thanking god for the “pastor karens” in our lives.

  • O my goodness. Tears, tears, tears …

    You are so brave and beautiful. I didn’t know this part of your story. I love you even more.

  • Jen

    Thank you for this, Sarah. I happened to read this as I was at home waiting to lose my first baby. Like you, I had refused a d&c, choosing to do it at home, with my husband. We had tried for a year for our baby, and I just couldn’t be the one to say when it was time for her to leave (I’m convinced she was a girl, although I was just 11weeks). I too, was basically told it was the wrong choice (it wasn’t). Anyway, this post really spoke to me, and I didn’t feel so alone after that. Even now, I still re-read it from time to time, just to remind me that I am not forgotten. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story.