Meaning: God’s comfort
“The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire’. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel…They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.’ I was cupbearer to the king.” Nehemiah 1: 1-6, 10
As I watched the bright red blood, the cherry-colored clots and the unidentified pink tissue swirl around in the water, I remember thinking, “Why me?”. I had just come to a realization that my purpose on earth was to share my testimony in order to be a source of refuge and voice for others who suffer like I did. I thought that my major traumas were forever a part of me BUT behind me. Nonetheless, because we have very little control in this life, our first baby was taken up into heaven; never having a chance to breathe the air here on earth.
Once I started telling friends and family about the miscarriage, I quickly realized that most of them had the same sense of “Why her?” that I did. Because I knew that they knew that I had suicidal thoughts in the past, in many ways, I felt like a bull in a china shop. The first 2 weeks consisted of everyone pouring in support and checking on me daily to make sure I was “okay” (or to make sure I hadn’t jumped off a cliff yet). After that, there were still calls and check-ins here and there, but everyone had largely “moved on”. Still, I found myself trying to prove that I was capable of getting through this tragedy in a healthy way. I immediately immersed myself in God’s word. I joined a grief group at my church. I did devotionals for pregnancy loss. I desperately tried to find purpose behind the loss. And in a lot of ways, I was very successful. I managed to go back to work after a few days and, once my body healed, I started working out again. I created a blog to continue to work in the purpose that God revealed to me months earlier.
On the flip side, through all of the “healthy coping”, I cried myself to sleep many nights. I cried in the shower. I cried on my way to work. I cried in the bathroom at work. I cried on the way home from work. I cried all the time for two months. All of the research and advise that I found stated that this was a totally normal process. The only thing is that I often felt alone in my grief. My husband (fiance at the time) did not experience a loss in the same way that I did. We lost our baby, Nehemiah, after 6 weeks of pregnancy. That was not enough time for him to form any real bond with the baby in the same way that I already had. I honestly did not expect anyone else outside of him to feel anywhere close to the way I did. So, even though I recognized that endless crying was a normal part of grief, I frequently held myself to an imaginary standard. A deadline for which I would need to eventually pull it together and start to move on like everyone else.
However, because we really, REALLY have very little control in this life, I found myself facing that deadline sooner than expected. In the weeks following Nehemiah’s death, my husband and I talked in detail about when would be a good time to try for a baby in the future. I knew that I wanted to try again soon but I wanted to wait until we were officially married. He leaned more towards waiting a few years (for financial reasons). But, we both agreed that we would wait to try again for a while. Two months after we lost Nehemiah, God blessed us with the surprise of our lives; I was pregnant again!
I would say that denial is an understatement. We were not trying for another baby. As a matter of fact, my cycle had not gone back to normal and I had no idea when that would happen. The crying had tapered off, I was setting new life goals and I was training for the Texans Cheerleader tryouts in April. A week before tryouts, I started feeling really crappy. I didn’t feel sick, but I was feeling run down and I remember being concerned that my body was looking worse rather than better; despite my strict diet and two-a-day workouts. I even went to the allergist because I was convinced that I had a dietary allergy which was causing me to bloat and retain weight. I did not consider pregnancy at all.
It wasn’t until after attending a kickboxing class with my husband that I realized that there might be something else going on. We were talking and laughing after the class and I did an air kick. When my leg came back down, I felt a mysteriously familiar cramp in the front of my stomach. I remembered this feeling from the previous pregnancy. My eyebrows lifted but I didn’t say anything to him. The next morning, I woke up at 4am (also familiar as I continuously woke up every morning at 4am with Nehemiah) feeling extremely nauseous. I popped out of bed, peed in a cup and drove to the 24-hour Walmart (with my pee in an open cup in my hand). I dipped the test in the parking lot and started praying: “God, please be with me right now. I don’t know how this can be possible but either way I am trusting you.” And through teary eyes, I saw two red lines on the test! Elated and confused, I sped home and walked through the door just in time for my husband’s alarm to go off. I held the test up as he walked closer to me and then I cried like a baby in his arms.
In all my gratitude and happiness, there was an extreme sense of fear. No one knows this fear like a woman who has lost a baby before. There is absolutely no way to prepare your heart or your mind for a pregnancy after a miscarriage. The emotional weight of the ongoing grief from losing Nehemiah compounded with the extreme fear of losing this baby. On top of that, I felt that the grief deadline had hit me like a sack of bricks once my friends and family began to find out about the pregnancy. Everyone was so happy for us. I felt like I needed to be happy all the time. How ungrateful would I have to be in order to continue to be miserable about my lost child when God had blessed us with another one, without us even trying?
After we made it to the second trimester, the extreme fear of losing the baby subsided a bit. Even when I gave birth to my healthy baby girl, I continued to find it hard to hold back my grief for Nehemiah. I was facing two polarizing life events at the same time. Mourning the loss of one child and celebrating the life of another. As the years go on since the loss of Nehemiah and the birth of my daughter, I am constantly reminded (thanks to my mother’s kind words) that Nehemiah is our first born and our ever-present angel baby. Nehemiah’s name means God’s comfort. Through the pain of loss, the fear of losing, and the uncertainty of the future, Nehemiah is with us and the comfort of God resides with us always.
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she would be taken care of” Rev 12:1-6
January 2022 Update
I'm so overwhelmed by the amazing feedback I've gotten over the years for writing this post. Connections have been made that are so genuine and so pure. Since publishing this story, I've learned that more women have experienced pregnancy loss or infertility than I realized. One of the things that got me through this second pregnancy was my faith in God. I created a Pregnancy After Miscarriage devotional to help someone else out there who is going through what I went through in 2019. I encourage you to check it out my free Sneak Peak and spread the word to friends and family about this amazing resource!