When our first child, Allie, was a year old, I miscarried a pregnancy of 8 weeks. Generally, when we told people about it, they seemed to shrug it off, after all, it was only 8 weeks. We never let anyone know that we had dreams of this baby, and that secretly we had a name for her, Elizabeth. People wouldn’t understand how we could choose a name without knowing from the doctors whether it was a boy or girl, and they certainly wouldn’t understand how we could connect with our child’s spirit without it having more of a formed body. Because of the overall indifference, and refusal to acknowledge my early pregnancy loss as important, we hid it from people.
Sadly, for thee years, our little girl had become nothing more than a secret, but in November of 2007 that all changed. A friend shared with me the story of her own pregnancy loss, and with our common ground I felt compelled to tell her about Elizabeth. I never expected the feelings of peace that swept over me. As I spoke Elizabeth’s name, I released her from that hiding place, I set her free to do what she was meant to do.
Suddenly, I realized that other women felt the same way I did, isolated and hushed by the world about something that was so deeply a part of us. I wanted to make a way for these women to share their stories. These children were a part of them, and now they are a part of heaven. I found a flyer for a Bible-based miscarriage and infant-loss class, and I knew that I needed to do something. I contacted them to ask if I could donate quilts for some of the women who lost their pregnancy’s, as a means of showing support, and acknowledging the life of their child. After speaking with them, I decided I wanted to teach the class, but first I would need to go through it. I never expected the healing that was to come. In the Bible study, I found peace in places that I never expected, and it even went beyond my pregnancy loss.
For many unsuccessful years, I had searched for healing from the sorrows of my childhood, but nothing seemed to go deep enough to even touch it. Somehow, God began using our Elizabeth to heal me from the most painful memories of my life: an abusive childhood, losing both my parents, forgiving the mistakes of the people who raised me in their place, and letting go of my deep resentment for what I felt God had done to me. The miscarriage class was a safe place for me to say, “You know, God, it just isn’t fair, and I don’t understand it,” but I didn’t just stop there at the resentment, I went one step further and heard God’s response to that, saying to me, “I know you don’t understand all these things, but it doesn’t mean that the story stops with your sorrow, it goes even further to reveal your healing, the person you’ve become as a result of this, the difference I can make in other’s lives through your healing and your new life in Christ.”
After completing my pregnancy-loss Bible study, I was surprised to discover some wonderful news–I was pregnant again! After four years of infertility, a miracle had happened. The beginning of my pregnancy was terrifying. Since we had lost Elizabeth, all those fears of losing this pregnancy overwhelmed me. In time, I came to realize that God wanted me to put all my trust in Him, no matter where the pregnancy would take my life, I needed to trust that He knew what He was doing. So, I accepted His promise from Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I knew I had to trust Him, and so I did my best. Well, it was more like the kind of trust where you say, “Okay, you can drive, but I’m still holding the map.”
When I first shared the news of the baby with my daughter who was five-years-old, she had some news of her own to share, “Momma, I have some bad news, some really bad news…I don’t like babies.” However, it wasn’t long before she changed her mind about that, and by the time I was 15 weeks along, she was nuzzling and blowing on my stomach everyday, and saying “Goodnight, Sammi!” Which, by the way, is what she named the baby. Although I’m not sure why, soon we were all calling the baby Sammi.
I was so excited when I first felt a little butterfly fluttering. I mostly felt it when Jack played his guitar, or when Allie came over to jiggle my stomach. I’d say, “Stop! You’re making Sammi dizzy!” And she would just laugh hysterically. Expecting the baby had become our new way of life. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we planned. On September 5, we delivered Sammi at 18 weeks. And on September 18, we buried our Samantha Grace. We can’t tell you what happened, and we don’t know why. I can’t explain God’s plan or reasoning when He does things that seem so outrageously different then what we expected, but I do know that God’s peace is with me still the same. I know that somehow, I feel calm in the middle of all this.
Just a few days after I delivered Sammi, I was holding our 3-month-old kitten, which had fallen asleep in my arms. As I carried him into our room, I broke down when I realized how empty my arms felt, but not just my arms, my womb was empty, and then there is this hole in my heart longing for that baby to still be a part of me. I know that God still loves me, and I know that God loves our Sammi, and that Sammi’s life has a purpose. It was not some random senseless loss, and just because I can’t wrap my mind around God’s plan doesn‘t mean Sammi’s life and death have no purpose. Sometimes it isn’t about understanding God’s plan. Sometimes it’s just about accepting it for what it is, and letting God do what He needs to do. Would it change anything if we understood?
The Word tells us:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb…”–Jeremiah 1:5
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together…. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” —Psalms 139:13-16
I have no question as to whether or not my Elizabeth or Sammi truly existed. When someone asks me, “How many children do you have?” I have no shame in admitting that I have three daughters, only two are in Heaven. I know that before the Bible study, Elizabeth was simply a secret, and now, both my girls are touching lives everywhere.
©2008, Kristie Verret,
Mom to Alicen, Born to Heaven: Elizabeth, & Sammi
Web site: Born to Heaven
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