Where to even begin…
I remember, what seems to be a distant past now, my wife and I talking about having a child. Young and naïve, yet we both “knew” that our time had come to start trying. After weighing out multiple factors, we both agreed that it would be best. More often than not, we heard how difficult it is to get pregnant and that it takes multiple attempts. Some, unfortunately, are unable to even have children. Yet for us, all it took was one try and two weeks later, we were both hovering over three pregnancy tests, just to make sure we were 100% certain.
And what an onslaught of emotions and thoughts the news brought to us and all the close people around us. For many, it was joyous news. For others, a surprised yet distant congratulatory gesture. As for myself, despite agreeing with my wife to have a child, there was a mixture of emotions. Perhaps it was the brevity between discussing and conception? Perhaps it was a revelation into my heart’s honest desires? Over time, the confusion settled into acceptance and anticipation for an uprooting of what I currently knew as life. Although I was more distant from the child, other fathers assured me that it is “normal” for guys to be more distant than the mothers carrying this new and fragile life.
I recently realized that I previously viewed life as a mere biological process. There is indeed a deeper intimacy when making love, but the process of creating life to me was male sperm, female egg, fusing together to make an embryo, housed in a mother’s womb, nurtured until the time of birth. Little did I know how fragile this life can be: the heartbeat seen at only seven weeks, a loud, rapid, thump heard and seen in the ultrasound; the development from an acorn into an avocado size fetus, with visible head, arms and legs, moving and pumping. These moments of seeing the actual baby was when my heart and mind jumped within, in amazement at how this life could be living, forming, and growing in my wife’s little tummy.
Sixteen weeks in, we were hoping to find out the gender. However, the baby was an active one, squirming around, not giving us a chance to see clear results. Thus, we were informed we would have to wait until 20 weeks, knowing that the progress of growth was completely normal and on track. And then on July 25th, 2016, news more shocking than the first time my wife told me she was pregnant was shared with us.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but your baby did not make it.”
Confusion. Shock. Sadness. Relief? Concern. Worry.
The emotions and thoughts at that moment are… Unspeakable. It is one thing if there were complications ahead of time. It is one thing if it was in the first trimester when the probability is higher. It is one thing if you don’t post on Instagram a food belly sharing all the hope and anticipation of starting a family, only a couple weeks before finding out. Unspeakable.
Yet over the coming weeks, we had to speak. We had to speak with family, who had a mixture of responses. Some were supportive, some were difficult. We had to speak with doctors and administrative assistants to figure out how to handle this fetal demise (FD), a term we became very acquainted with. We had to speak with each other, making sure we were doing alright, making sure, without really knowing, that everything will be alright.
The next week after would have to be one of the most difficult times of my life. Not only did I have to bear the news of losing a child, but I had to see my precious wife go under, what should have been a simple one-day procedure, an intense recovery in the ICU. I had to manage family communications and temperature during this process. I had to make sure that my wife would believe that everything was okay, while masking the knowledge of reading clinical studies on the mortality rate of disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC) for second trimester FD. What seemed like ages, was a mere handful of days. And the next couple weeks, managing the supportive community we had, managing the responses, all seemed like one big mind ****.
The Real Fear…
It was only a couple weeks ago, that all the thoughts and emotions, compartmentalized, repressed, began clearing air. And the deepest pain and fear that I faced finally surfaced. Yes, I did lose an unborn child, something I wish nobody would have to experience. However, I also faced watching the slightest possibility of losing the person closest to me, my wife. We were too young to be in an ICU, too young to be hooked up onto IV lines and receiving blood transfusions. It was too early in our marriage to be in this situation.
This is a pain that I have never experienced before. And that goes after holding my father in my arms as he had a myocardial infarction, riding in an ambulance, seeing him intubated also in the ICU. It goes after rushing to the emergency department with my mother for her to receive a cervical neck surgery because there was a high probability for her to be paralyzed the neck down. It goes after any other broken relationship; it goes after all the let downs in life. It goes after nearly losing my own life.
… And the Real Love
When we talk about love, it is mostly in contexts of positive emotions, passion, warmth. Love is movie scenes and media we’ve drowned our subconscious minds in. However, I tasted a kind of love that I couldn’t even imagine. It is the love in the form of pain. It is love in the form of fear. Never have I loved someone so much, to feel a fraction of these kinds of emotions and thoughts. The fact that someone you love can be lost, when made a reality and forced into your hands, is something unparalleled.
And that brings me somewhat full circle. It is not a great answer, and the recent events of my life will continue to remain a mystery to some degree. But the revelations, are undeniable.
Life. Life is not something we own. Life is not something we can manufacture or control. Life is not simple. What I once believed was just biological, I now see how much of it is spiritual. I see how much of a correlation there is between the God I believe in being the Creator of life, and how much this living God is a part of each life. From the unborn and born child, to the healthy and near-death wife. It was hard to believe when I read in the Bible that God would open and close the wombs of individual women and even more so entire nations. Yet, this is still true to this day. There are countless women even in my own circle who must face this loss, who must face “miscarriages”. And the fact that it is even labeled a miscarriage shows our view on this loss of life. And it is more painful for our generation because we believe that we create life. We believe that it is in our control. We believe that living a long and healthy life in this affluent country is our will and our choice. Yet, all it takes is one hiccup, where what seemed like such a pleasant story, comes crashing down. God is the giver of life. To begin to even fathom how can God, one being, be the Creator of seven billion people just in this moment of history, not including the billions that came before, is unfathomable. Yet, it does not deny. It is not something to take for granted.
Love. This epiphany only came while writing this piece—that the kind of love in pain is so expressly seen in the love of God and Christ. This love will always be a mystery, yet it is exciting as pieces of it are discovered. To know the love of God through pain, though I only tasted the possibility of the loss, I can’t imagine that pain if, God forbid, it would ever come to fruition. And what that pain would be is an indescribable fraction of the pain and loss that God and Christ had to endure. And this loss, we confess for the love of others, for the love of the body of Christ. I can’t daresay that I would ever sacrifice my wife’s life for the sake of someone else. That love, is unimaginable. That love is God. And to begin to think that I somewhat understand or comprehend this love? To begin to act that I know this love? There is no way in my human mind and experience, I can even taste a bit of that.
Peace. There’s another biblical passage that speaks about peace, and it is the peace of God that transcends understanding. I’ve definitely tasted morsels of this peace in the past. Yet, this most recent trial gave me something really to chew on. This peace really confused me, which made the transcendental understanding even more real. Normally, I would have wanted to retaliate, curse God, deny and doubt God’s existence and goodness. I would have wanted to numb my thoughts and emotions by drowning myself in drunkenness. Yet, despite these desires being there, I knew that I didn’t want to resort to these reactions. In the back of my mind, I thought, “What’s the point?” When I know I’ll most likely return to the same place I started off at. And through it all, despite the minimal out lash, the numbing of my mind with movies and games, I knew there was a deeper peace even I was uncertain of. This made me realize that knowing God, yes it strips away some of the worldly pleasures and fun, but knowing God also strips away some of the deepest pains and hurts that most people would not be able to bear.
Where to end…
It has only been a few weeks, and my wife and I are certainly in a much better place. We are sure and have been warned that some of the biggest pain comes when everyone else around us seems to have returned to “normal” life, while there may be some lingering pains. However, we both have this peace that transcends understanding, I have my wife whom I love immensely, and we both have our lives right now.
We are not sure what other trials will come our way. But one thing is for sure, is that I know how fleeting this life is. I know how short amount of time we both have. I know this life is not mine and that at any moment, it can be gone. With that, I want to live with even greater love. I want to live with even greater peace. I want to live the best life that I can, knowing it is nothing but a breath in the wind.
There is hope. There is a lot of hope. There is hope because God is real. Without God, all of this would end as just an experience. Something to “make me stronger”. My unborn child will just be an unborn child and nothing more. My pains, the peace, and love, would be nothing more than hormonal and chemical reactions. Perhaps just coping mechanisms. My life, would be nothing more than an accident. But I believe in a living God. I believe that there is hope. There is a greater love. There is a greater end.