Someone said to me recently, “When you experience the loss of a child, you start to see that loss all over the place.” In some ways, that’s true. I’d be reading an author’s bio and it mentioned that she lost a child as an infant. Or talking with the barista at the grocery store Starbucks who asks how many kids you have and, when sharing your story, tells you that there’s another regular customer (in a pretty small town) who also just lost his baby. It’s sad, but it does kind of jump out at you when you’re going through it. What’s that saying… when you’re a hammer, everything’s a nail? When you’ve lost your baby, other baby-loss seems to fall in your lap.
But sometimes, there actually is an increase in the losses taking place. I’m blessed to belong to a small-ish group of confessional Lutheran wives and moms on Facebook. I say small-ish because there are just over 200 of us… not a little classroom full of people, but not one of those multi-thousands parenting boards, either. And our church body isn’t super huge – then throw in our more conservative theological viewpoints – it has a feeling of being a close-knit community despite the 200 people.
There are always a handful of early, first trimester miscarriages. Unfortunately in this fallen world, that’s a pretty common occurrence, even though it’s incredibly sad when it happens. But since we lost Sebastian on February 7th, there have been two or three more stillbirths, about the same number of miscarriages (including a pretty traumatic one), and a mom who had a placental abruption at 36 weeks while in labor and almost lost not only her child, but her own life as well (thank You, Lord, in Your great mercy, for sparing both of their lives). From within this group, I’ve had many moms reach out to me and say, “This happened to us, too.” Outside of this group I know of a couple more moms who just recently had late third trimester losses as well.
This repetition… it’s awful.
The knowing what these moms are going though from the silent doppler or motionless ultrasound, to the lost feeling of how do you prepare for this delivery. Showing up at the hospital to be induced to deliver your silent child – seeing that stupid flower taped to the door so that everyone who enters knows that a loss is about to happen or has taken place. Holding your lifeless child – you brand newly born baby who just looks like a sleeping newborn at first, but is so much more floppy because no muscles are working, your child whose body quickly begins to cool outside your body and loses what pink he had to look purple, almost bruised. The looks you get from your doctor and nurses, your visitors. They eye you to see how you’re doing to determine how they should be doing.
Every time I hear another mom was told, “I’m sorry – we can’t find a heartbeat,” I know what she’s about to face. There’s not really anything you can do to help prepare her. In some ways, you don’t want to – you don’t want to take away the innocence with which she and her husband are entering this most terrible night. The only thing you can do? Pray. Earnestly, desperately, longingly pray.
I don’t remember if I mentioned this before. Chatting with my midwife after my appointment a week ago, I mentioned how horrible this has been – seeing these women, so many, going through this lately. In a 3.5 week period, 3 different women married to 3 different pastors in our small denomination lost babies after 30 weeks. Tonight’s loss is a church organist. These other losses are among church work families, too. WHY? I don’t expect that there’s any kind of special treatment or favor earned because of service to the church. I don’t mean it to seem that way. It just seems to be concentrating right now in our small denomination, and then even more so in the leadership of this small denomination. My midwife mentioned that it doesn’t surprise her at all – and that she’s seeing these major life and health struggles among Christians and those with a gift of healing (doctors, nurses, midwives) lately. She believes that Satan is attacking those who cling to Christ and do His work, a desperate attempt to try and steal Christ’s followers away from Him in our anger and despair and hurt and pain. But Christ holds us, He clings to us, He comes to us in His Word. All the more reason that we should desire to run to that Word regularly where He speaks to us His comfort and His peace even in the worst of times.
Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word
- Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Curb those who fain by craft and sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.
- Lord Jesus Christ, Thy pow’r make known,
For Thou art Lord of lords alone;
Defend Thy Christendom that we
My evermore sing praise to Thee.
- Oh Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth.
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life. Amen.
Martin Luther, 1541
Erhalt uns, Herr