I shared a story in church a few months ago that I hadn’t shared widely prior to that morning. It was kind of a big deal, standing at the pulpit, telling my story.
We’d decided as a church to “mark time” together during the liturgical season of Ordinary Time–that long, uneventful season from Pentecost to Advent–by sharing stories of the ways we individually keep track of time, the significant events in our lives that have shaped the way we see the world. These can be beautiful moments, but usually, if we’re honest, it’s the painful ones that we remember most vividly. The painful ones that keep coming back to us.
After I shared my story, a friend of mine, someone who is also a writer, asked me if I was planning to write the story out to share it more publicly. I said no, probably not, because while I’m pretty comfortable with strangers reading things that I write, I’m aware that much of what I write for public consumption has been tweaked and edited in such a way as to distance myself from the message. Most of what I write isn’t personal, even when it may seem personal.
There is something about being vulnerable I just don’t like. But my friend thinks that it’s important for us as writers to be as vulnerable and honest as we can because that is what offers hope to the world. Hope to the world.
She really thinks that voicing our pain and our trials and our struggles–being honest when life is hard–and saying me, too, is the way we offer hope.
Maybe there is hope here.
This is the story I told our church:
On Labor Day 2013, I was six weeks pregnant and I had a miscarriage.
I called my doctor, and we decided that it was a textbook case and as long as nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen, I didn’t need to go to the hospital or even make an appointment for his office–which was good, because I didn’t feel like sitting in a doctor’s office, crying my eyes out. I could barely talk to my mom on the phone to relay the news.
This was the week of our revival at our church. I went to every service but I didn’t tell anyone who superficially asked how I was doing.
I had never experienced loss like that before, though many of my friends had. It was a difficult and dark time, to put it in the most generous terms possible, and I decided, within days, that I never wanted to be pregnant again. My eldest daughter, my sweet girl, would be enough. I couldn’t risk this kind of heartbreak again. I wasn’t strong enough. I cried a lot.
A week later, I was dry heaving on runs and throwing up, and so I did go to the doctor. I found out that there were two embryos in my uterus. A nonviable embryo, which had caused the miscarriage symptoms, and an embryo with a heartbeat. It was good news, shocking news, and also nerve-wracking news. There was reasonable concern about this pregnancy, and it was considered high risk.
You might not know this about me, but I am a worrier. And not just a little bit. A lot. So this whole “high risk” business was excruciating. It weighed me down. Every day. I came to terms with every worst case scenario I could think of. And I still worried.
I worried in Advent as I began to share the news that we were pregnant. As friends and family expressed excitement, I worried inside. I couldn’t be excited because I was afraid.
I worried through the season of Christmas when we had our ultrasound and found out the baby would be a girl. Even her on-screen health didn’t reassure me very much.
I kept worrying through Epiphany and then Lent began. Would she come early, like her sister, and be a Lent baby, or during Easter? I wasn’t the only one wondering. My OB didn’t think I’d make it past Palm Sunday.
She arrived April 25, the Friday after Easter.
Our baby girl’s first name means “light.”
Her middle name means “pearl.”
Two of Jesus’s images for the Kingdom—a light in the darkness, the pearl of great price.
All of that—the darkness and light, the worry and the pearl of great price—is wrapped up in Labor Day for me.