I am a mother, but I don’t have a child to hug. I can’t brag about my baby’s first steps, the first day of school, or graduation. I have no photographs. But I am a mother. My children are in heaven.
After only two months of “trying,” my husband and I were thrilled when our first pregnancy test came up positive. We couldn’t believe our good fortune. Although I was terribly sick throughout the first trimester, our enthusiasm for this new journey never wavered.
Life and death
After experiencing extreme stomach growth in my second trimester, we were relieved — although slightly overwhelmed — to discover at 18 weeks that we had not one, but two little ones growing in my womb. We embraced the news with enthusiasm, slightly tempered by the knowledge of the road ahead. Things were definitely about to change. Fortunately, we didn’t really know what the road ahead held.
Just prior to 20 weeks — after only two weeks of getting to know our twins — our world was shattered when my water broke and I went into pre-term labor. To this day, the words I heard that night echo in my head.
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do.”
That night, I held my sweet baby girls for the first and last time.
Everything stripped away
After losing our girls, Avery and Sophie, I went into survival mode. I wandered around with empty arms and an empty heart. My saggy stomach and full, aching breasts were just some of the reminders of the dreams that had been lost so quickly.
Although I was functioning in the most basic sense of the word, in the months that followed I felt like I was drowning. Nothing could pull me out. I was angry, confused, and struggling with how to deal with my grief. I felt very alone.
My identity was stripped away. My job, which I had found so fulfilling only days before, felt empty. Instead of being something I eagerly talked about and engaged in, it was a chore. I had to go to work, but I found no joy in it.
I was still a wife, but even that couldn’t take the smallest edge off the pain. My husband had an unbreakable commitment that sent him across the country for six months. Although still part of a couple, I was completely on my own. And he was alone too, working through his grief in hectic and unfamiliar surroundings.
What I knew about God
I found myself questioning God for the first time in my life. I am a logical person, and have lived my life that way. To me, if God says something, it's true. Therefore, there is no room for questions. But in the months following the loss of our daughters, I fought to reconcile what I knew about God with what I felt about him.
I knew that he loved me and had a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). I knew that he had promised to never leave me or forsake me (Joshua 1:5). But I no longer felt either to be true. I felt that if I questioned him, he would certainly walk away from me — if he had not already done so.
I realized that some of these promises I knew about God had a big “if” attached to them in my mind. In my thinking, however unintentionally, the promises were conditional. God would never leave me or forsake me if I never got angry with him. He would never turn his back on me as long as I never shouted questions at him.
In a time when I was so full of anger and questions, I was sure that he had turned his back on me. In my mind, he had every right to do so. My journal was filled with anguish, raw emotions, and fury.
God’s promises do not change
As time went on, God clearly showed me that he had never left me. Instead, he waited until I was ready for him. He showed me how He had walked the journey with me. Only then did I realize the full extent of what He meant with His promises.
Not only did He refuse to leave — He was an active participant in my life. He cried as I shouted in pain, He sheltered me when I could take no more. He whispered encouragement when I lay alone in the dark at night. It was only when I stepped away that I felt the separation. I created the distance between us; he never did.
God’s promises are not conditional. The strength of his promise lies in what he can do, not what I can do. I can choose to distance myself from God. I can have unconfessed sin in my life that takes away the closeness of our relationship, but I cannot alter the truth of his promises. My questions don't lessen who he is. My times of doubt do not diminish his strength.
I know now that when my heart cries out in unendurable pain, the sound of it does not drive him away. He pulls me in close and whispers the promises I have read so many times, but am only beginning to truly understand. He loves me in ways I haven’t even dreamed of yet, and he will never leave me.
As my husband and I walk our journey of grief, we continue to see that God is walking every step along with us. He walked with us through the shock and raw pain of our initial loss. He was there as the ache of another pregnancy loss shook us to the core. He is still journeying with us as we deal with all the emotions that a third pregnancy brings. And I know, regardless of the outcome, that he will continue to walk this journey with us. God is bigger than my questions. His promises do not change. As I place my life in his hands, I will not be disappointed.