It had been six months since we found out that Simeon had gone to be with the Lord. I had started feeling nauseous and it seems like overnight my stomach had tripled in size. I wasn’t surprised when the pregnancy test showed positive.
I was such a mixture of excitement and anxiety. We were so grateful to once again be adding to our family, but the reality of loss was still so close to our hearts that I was constantly aware of the possibility that we would miscarry again.
When I went in to see the doctor for my first appointment at eight weeks I was knotted up with nerves. The last time I had gone in for an ultrasound was when we were told that Simeon’s heart was no longer beating. I had been praying all morning that God would be continuing to work out trust in my own heart in whatever He had for us.
As soon as our newest little one was picked up by the sonograph I heard the technician say, “There is the baby. And there is baby’s heartbeat.” I’m sure the slow exhale that followed those wonderful words was the first normal breath that I had taken all day. I could feel tension leaving my body as I praised God through tears for this gift of life before us.
The weeks that followed were filled with dreaming about our future. I frequently took out the ultrasound photo of the baby and just stared at the words “fetal heart rate.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude every time I thought about the life God had chosen to place inside of me. We started to really make plans for what our summer would look like as we welcomed another precious life into our home. I felt nauseous all day long week after week. It was a strange experience, as I had never had morning sickness with any of my other pregnancies. But as awful as I felt each day, I welcomed the constant reminder that new life was inside of me.
A few weeks later I went in for my next check-up. The midwife came into the room where I was waiting with the Doppler and started searching for the heartbeat. I was so excited. Although I had seen the heartbeat at our precious appointment, I was thrilled for the opportunity to hear it! It was a sound I had been longing to hear for the nine long months since we were told that we would never hear Simeon’s little heart.
But every time the midwife thought she had picked it up, she would lose it again. She tried for what seemed like a decade and finally suggested that I use the bathroom to see if listening for the heartbeat with an empty bladder would yield better results. After several people tried with several different devices for over an hour they finally brought back in the bedside ultrasound, hoping they would be able to at least see the heartbeat on the monitor. The midwife assured me that this happens all the time, and that sometimes when babies are this small they are able to hide from the Doppler. But those words didn’t do anything to comfort my anxious heart or still my shaking body.
Finally, almost an hour and a half of searching later they were able to pick up the image of our tiny one’s pulse. Relief washed over me again.
When I arrived at home that afternoon, Jesse had already put the kids down for naps and needed to head back to the office. I spent the next two hours sitting by myself in the dark and finally allowed my heart to fully calm down after having such a stressful appointment. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t strong enough to go through that again. I didn’t have what it takes to experience the loss of another child. And I was so thankful that I had left that appointment with the assurance that our little one was fine.
I begged and prayed that God would protect this little one and increase my trust in Him. But, I was convicted by how quickly I had allowed worry to take root in my heart. I knew that no matter what God had in store for me I didn’t want to be consumed with worry and fear. Over the next few days I poured over Scripture and poured out my heart to the Lord as I bit by bit replaced the ache of worry with the steadfastness of His peace.
The night following that appointment, as I was lying in bed, I felt our little one move around inside of me for the first… and probably the last time.
A week and a half later, I went in for another ultrasound. My midwife thought that I was measuring a few weeks ahead of my due date and wanted another ultrasound to verify that the due date I had been given was accurate. I was glad to have another chance to see how our sweet baby was growing and to finally hear the sound of that tiny heartbeat.
When I went in for the appointment I held my breath as I saw the sonographer tense while she tried in vain to pick up the heartbeat. I felt a wave of dread wash over me as I realized that I was on this road again. This newest addition to our family would not grow up on earth. Here was another birthday we could never celebrate. Another hand that I would never hold on this side of eternity. The weight of the pain was crushing and excruciating.
I drove home in tears. When I arrive home I sank into our couch and wept with my husband. We only had a short time together before he had to head back to work and I had to pack for the kids and I as we were heading out on our High School Winter Retreat in a few hours. As I put our kids down for naps, Jayden hugged me tight and through tears said, “Oh mommy, I am so sad that my sister baby will not be born to our family. I miss her with all my heart. Can we pick a name for her that means ‘My Lord is singing?’ I will always love her.”
My heart broke again.
Two weeks later I went in for a check up. My doctor said because of how far along I was and because my body did not respond at all to our previous miscarriage, it was unlikely that my body would be able to respond this time. She told me that if my body did respond to our loss, the amount of blood I would lose would be so excessive it would be hard to tell when it might reach the point where it would require “life preserving surgery.” We decided that it would be best to schedule a D&C for the next week.
Two days before my surgery, I began having contractions and I realized that my body had indeed recognized the loss. It was sudden and scary and almost midnight. A dear friend came over to stay at our house so we could keep the kids asleep while Jesse and I drove to the hospital. By the time we got there I had lost so much blood I could hardly walk. They printed out a band for me in the ER and when asked to verify that my name and birth date were correct I was so light-headed I couldn’t even read it.
I was wheeled into a room where my blood was drawn in order to determine how much I had lost, and I was given an IV to replenish the fluid in my body. A short while later a doctor came in to discuss what course of action we should take. Within a few minutes I had delivered our little one. The nurse brought her over to me and asked if I wanted the opportunity to see her.
As I held our sweet baby in my hand I was in awe. She was so perfect. For a moment all I could think of was how masterful of a creator God is and how thankful I was that He had seen fit to bring her into our lives for those fourteen weeks. I didn’t think I would ever be able to stop stroking her cheek or counting those beautiful fingers and toes. And I knew that even though I would not be able to bring her home and watch her grow I loved her completely.
It was one of the most devastating and yet treasured moments of my life. My time with her couldn’t last forever, as I still had to go into surgery in order to stop the bleeding, but I know that cherished time of holding my baby in my hand is something I will never forget. I would never have chosen for the circumstances of our miscarriage to unfold as they did, but in every detail it was so clear that God was doing what was for our good and His glory.
We chose to name her Odelle. I had been searching for names for the past several weeks whose meaning had something to do with singing to the Lord or God being our song in order to honor Jayden’s precious and thoughtful request. In Hebrew, Odelle means “sing praise to the Lord.”
While my heart doesn’t always feel like singing these days, her name is such a dear reminder that our God is so worthy to be praised. And while day after day I continue on in the life that God has for me, I will choose to sing praise to the Lord, despite my circumstances and despite my pain, because “He is my chosen portion and my cup. [He] holds my lot.” And I will choose to believe as David declares in Psalm 16 that “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” He is my God, and I have no good apart from Him. Therefore, my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices.
You Will Not Abandon My Soul
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.