“Today would have been my due date.”
I started stringing these seven words together eight months ago, unsure if I’d ever share them beyond immediate family and close friends. But here we are.
This story is hard to share, and for many it will be hard to read. But when God leads me to a place of vulnerability, my answer is and will always be “yes.”
My first pregnancy with now-7-year-old, Bella came and went with ease. Six years later, Mike and I were surprised it took more than a year to conceive again. My 35 year-old body sure didn’t feel much different than a 29-year-old’s, but it was much more complicated the second time around.
We stayed steady, we prayed hard. And we were thrilled to learn I was pregnant on August 29, 2016.
Overjoyed as our family’s future came into focus, we began to dream. Bella would be a big sister! We would have another kid in the house! Ooooh, would it be another redhead?!
I began counting the days until we could safely share the good news with Bella, family, friends.
On Friday, September 9, the spotting started.
My doctors, nurses, midwife and friends assured me it was normal, common even – but when the pain kicked in on Sunday, September 11, Mike and I knew it was time to head down to Riverside for help.
It was the longest car ride of my life. Hope began to fade as my body, heart and soul bled. Amidst a flurry of prayer texts, a loving friend shared a good word: “Jesus is right there with you – and He knows what it feels like to bleed out.”
The ER staff at Riverside was compassionate and gentle, and went to great lengths not to give us false hope. The ER doctor wouldn’t even permit the ultrasound tech to share what she saw on screen.
Every breath became a plea for my child’s life as we waited for the bad news. In my heart, I knew our baby was gone.
“There’s a strong heartbeat!” the doctor said with a casual smile as she pulled back the curtain. I burst into tears. Shocked and confused, she tried to comfort me and told Mike that crying wasn’t the response she expected.
I reassured her they were tears of joy – that in my heart, I knew – “my baby came back to life.” We all laughed and cried, astounded at God’s goodness.
With a clean bill of health and a follow-up scheduled for Wednesday, the pregnancy finally became real for us. We made plans to tell Bella that week, I started a nursery board on Pinterest, and Mike pulled the crib out of storage. We even started referring to the baby as “he” – because “it” was just too weird! These were resurrection days, full of life for us.
I was giddily distracted at my appointment on Wednesday. I nodded impatiently as my doctor reminded me to cut back the coffee and skip the deli turkey. Yep, yep, yep… get to the ultrasound already! He gave a due date of April 30 using a funky cardboard birth chart wheel that had to be from 1970 and moved toward the little green screen.
As I tilted toward the monitor when the moment came, I felt a pause in my spirit. I heard God’s voice whisper, “My love, prepare your heart.”
“Well… I’m… I’m having a little trouble finding a heartbeat…” my doctor stuttered nervously in his kindest, most cautious voice. The screen showed the same. We expected a little blinking light, but found only darkness. An emergency 3D ultrasound confirmed it.
Our baby was gone. Again.
The days and months after my miscarriage were a blur of pain, grief, and despair. I couldn’t find the words – they were too painful to speak, to write, even to think most days.
Despite my best efforts to crawl into isolation and never emerge, I was surrounded by the loving arms of my faith community. Family. Friends. My CR peeps. Small group members. Huddle sisters. Even the nurses from my doctor’s office sent notes of encouragement and prayer.
No one told me to dig deeper or try harder. No one said “it’ll be ok,” “you’ll get over it,” or “it gets easier.” They seemed to know they’d never truly understand – so they just met me there in the mess of my grief and lifted me up into the arms of The Father.
Surrendering to God’s plan was not instantaneous. I was angry. So angry, I didn’t know if it would ever be the same between God and me. But I knew He was good, and deep down, I still trusted His character.
So I kept pressing into Him, sometimes fighting mad. Why did I get pregnant at all? Aren’t you the Healer? Why bring him back to life and give me hope, just to take him away again? Why? Why?! Why? Sometimes it felt like I was screaming at air, but I know now that I was demanding answers to the wrong questions.
In time, I realized my anger toward God was misdirected. I still don’t know why He decided to take my baby home to Heaven first, but I find peace knowing he was born straight into the loving arms of Jesus – and that I will see him again.
Can you imagine? Jesus was the first face he saw when he opened his eyes in Glory. He will never feel pain, never know loss. He will only know freedom – life as God always intended for us. So much grace.
It was in these moments of clarity that God invited me to focus on the miracle of our baby’s very brief resurrection life.
And so, we named him Lazarus.
Shortly after we gave him a name, my prayers changed. I stopped asking “Why?” and started asking, “What now, God?”
Well, He answered – and it’s about to change everything.
For years now, I’ve been learning to defend myself against spiritual “lions” who seek to kill and destroy – and I’ve done my best to teach others how to do the same. But that’s not what God wants from me anymore. He’s pulling me from the defensive line – because He wants me on offense, helping to prepare the way.
You see, God doesn’t want us to keep our eyes on the enemy. He wants our eyes firmly fixed on HIM, The Lion of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, the One who sends those other lions scampering back to hell where they belong.
So, I’m coming into agreement with what God says about me as His child.
He says I’m not a victim, but victorious. He says I’m strong, full of the abundant life He’s given me. He says I’m anointed to change the world with my words – commissioned and qualified for Kingdom work. Not by my own strength, but because of Christ’s strength in me.
Friends, whatever you’re facing today, be it infertility, loss, fear, addiction, anger, anxiety, or something you have yet to name – I encourage you to look at yourself and your circumstances through God’s eyes. If you don’t know what He thinks of you, please ask Him to reveal it to you. It may not explain why, but it will be your undoing, in the very best kind of way.
The past nine months were at all not what I hoped for. And yet in many ways, they have been so much more than I ever could have hoped for. I had no choice but to be fully dependent on God, and to choose His timing and His plans over my own, again and again. It’s in these times of waiting that God is working, teaching us to trust Him before revealing what He’s really up to.
My friends, it’s worth the wait. He is worth the wait. He keeps His promises, every time. You can trust Him.
So today, I grieve. I think this day will always be hard. I miss Lazarus, and I lament that I’ll never see his face this side of Heaven. I feel every excruciating bit of the loss again today, with no apologies. And I know God grieves with me.
But tomorrow? Tomorrow, we’re doing a new thing, God and me.
He has uniquely positioned me for Kingdom work that I simply wouldn’t have been brave enough to do without the wisdom and perspective I gleaned along this journey. I’m stepping out in faith and confidence, fully obedient to His call on my life.
Whatever happens, whatever the outcome – God is with me; I cannot fail.
And so, this will be my last post on Taming Lions. (At least for now.)
This new adventure will require margin, and margin requires pruning. (Yuck.) So I’m choosing to stop doing anything that distracts from what God is trying to do in and through me, even the things that I love. It’s painful. But I know it will be worth it.
If you’d like to see where God is calling me, here’s a glimpse: www.briteaton.com
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14
Thank you for going on this journey with me, liontamers.
Yours in Christ,