BAM Family

BAM Family

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Miscarriage and Faith: Searching for Beauty

It was January 15, only about two weeks since I learned about my miscarriage. I hadn't even shared about our miscarriage publicly yet, only privately. My prayers were still raw and desperate, crying out, "Why did this happen, Lord? Why? Is it something I did? What are you trying to teach me, show me?"

There was no answer.

Then, that morning, I got this email:
Hi friends.
So it's been heavy on my heart to launch a Mother Grief Support Group. Once a month. No heavy pressure. No agenda. Just honest leading, sharing and experiences surrounding miscarriage and child loss. The Lord has put you two on my heart as co-leaders. The Motherhood Collective would do all the behind the scenes leg work (leader manuals, location, publicity, etc) you would just be asked to guide, listen, share and lead.
Would you think/pray about this?
I know there is a need.

I stared at my computer, shocked, stunned. I didn't even know what to think.

I remembered a story, the one about the man born blind. The disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” And Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him" (John 9:2-3).

In thinking about this story, I bitterly scoffed, wondering if the man was angry--I had to suffer my entire life JUST so God could get the glory?!

Did my baby die so God could get the glory? 

This thought just makes me feel ill, and really, I don't think it is true. I don't believe God makes bad things happen just so he can swoop in, save us, and get the glory. 

Ultimately though, bad things do happen, like the man born blind. The man didn't cause his blindness; the parents didn't cause his blindness. The blindness simply happened. It was bad, evil; it caused great suffering in their family. 

But Jesus gave them a new perspective. He showed this family how suffering could be used to bring glory to God. 

As I stared at my email, I realized that this was more than an invitation from The Motherhood Collective: this was an answer to my prayer, my prayer of "why?" 
Maybe it wasn't the answer. But it was an answer. 

It was also an invitation to deeper trust, deeper faith, deeper love. An invitation to life in the midst of death.   

I felt conflicted.

If I was really honest, I would much rather be pregnant than be the leader of a miscarriage support group. Selfish, but true.

But I felt a stir of life and of hope. I felt like I should say yes but not in a I-know-this-is-the-right-thing-to-do kind of way.

I wanted to say yes because my heart and soul were desperate for "right." And saying yes, to walk with other women as they journey though the valley of grief, seemed right.
I told one of my best friends about the invitation to lead this group and said, "I am thinking of the verse 'He makes everything beautiful in his own time.' So, maybe this is the start of something beautiful, even though it really, really sucks right now. How's that for honest?"
Someone once said, your calling is where your passion and burden meet. 
The email was a call. So, I wrote a reply, and this is what I said: 

I would be honored to be a part of leading this group. I would prefer to start in March though as my miscarriage was very recent and I still need some time to grieve and find perspective myself. Thank you for asking me. I hope the  Lord will use this heartache to help bring healing to others.

So, now it's March. And through much prayer and planning, our first meeting of The Motherhood Collective Grief Support Group will meet tomorrow afternoon. I don't know who will show up or exactly what I will say but I, along with my co-leader, Julie, am happy excited honored humbled to be part of this. God is showing me many things, including how this truth is starting to manifest itself in my life: 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

My pain, my heartache, my suffering is real, but God is at work in my life.  He has promised to make "Everything beautiful in its own time" (Ecc. 3:11) and I am walking with him, searching for beauty. 


You can read more about my journey here: 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Meng Menu: Two Weeks of dinners!

Here is our dinner menu for the next two weeks. I am patting myself on the back for a job well done at the grocery store today! I saved $59.63 with Kroger savings and coupons (24%!) for a grand total of $191.24. 

That is $95.62 a week! WHAT???

Granted, I usually make 1-2 small shopping trips in week two but I am really pleased with my shopping today. 

Here is what we are eating: 

Sunday: Chicken pot pie
Monday: Waffles, breakfast sausage**, fruit
Tuesday: Baked cod, baked potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: Parmesan chicken, parmesan rice, steamed broccoli w/ garlic butter
Thursday: Lasagna, garden salad
Friday: Out to eat

Saturday: Grilled chicken breasts, baked beans, carrots and celery

Sunday: Sloppy joes, baked fries, Green beans
Monday: BLTs, chips, apples
Tuesday:  Cheesy chicken rice casserole, steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Sliders, baked fries, carrots
Thursday: Spaghetti w/Italian sausage, salad
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Pancakes, breakfast sausage**, fruit

**Did you know you can bake your breakfast sausage? I just discovered this. I slice the roll of sausage into 10-12 rounds (shaping them slightly with my hands) and bake them on a foil lined sheet pan at 400 for 15ish  minutes. Perfect, fast, and no greasy splatters on the stove!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meng Menu: Two weeks!

Wow! Those two weeks went fast. Last night I was like, "Aw man! I have to go big grocery shopping tomorrow!" 

Meal planning for two weeks is a bit of work: 
First I look at the weekly Kroger ad for our local store. 
Once I see what is on sale, I check the coupons I have. I am not a huge coupon-er, but Kroger sends me regular coupons so I see what I have on hand each week before I plan my menu. 
Next, I check to see what I already have in the fridge, freezer and pantry so that I can utilize what I already have on hand. 
Then I start planning my meals based on all the previous steps. Whew! It takes me about an hour or  so. But after that, I don't have to have the what-am-I-going-to-make-for-dinner-tonight debate every night for the next two weeks. 

I did pretty well shopping today: I spent $240 and change today so about $120/week. Not bad at all!  

Here is what we are eating for dinner for the next two weeks:

Sunday: Cheesy chicken rice casserole, steamed broccoli
Monday: beef tips and gravy, mashed potatoes, corn
Tuesday: Grilled pork chops, parmesan rice, green beans
Wednesday: Hot dogs, chips, carrots
Thursday: Sausage and kale pasta
Friday: Out to eat

Saturday: Beef fajitas

Sunday: Sloppy joes, baked fries, apples
Monday: Waffles, sausage, fruit
Tuesday:  Grilled pork chops, roasted potatoes, salad
Wednesday: Baked cod, cheesy mashed potatoes, green beans
Thursday: Chicken and broccoli alfredo
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Chicken pot pie

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Miscarriage and Faith: Walking through the Valley

Note: Candid discussion of miscarriage. 

Grief is a strange land.

Before I miscarried, I thought grief was kind of like sadness: a feeling that overcomes a person but a feeling that can be analyzed and dismissed when one is ready to move on.

But grief is not like that. It is a destination that you are thrust into, a place that you can't leave no matter how much you want to leave until your grief slowly releases its grip on you.

When I first learned that I had miscarried, I felt numb. I remember laying on my bed and trying to pray but I had no words.

Psalm 23:4 came to my mind: 

Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…

In my mind's eye, I saw this Valley: razor sharp mountains, void of any vegetation, pierced the sky. The Valley was dusky, dark, grey. The path jutted sharply into shadows--I couldn't see beyond a few steps. But I knew the way was full of pain, deep physical and emotional pain.

I DON'T WANT THIS PATH! I DIDN'T CHOOSE THIS PATH! My mind screamed. I mentally dug in my heels…
I wouldn't go.
I would not walk.

But there wasn't another way. I couldn't make my HCG levels rise. I couldn't make the bleeding stop. I couldn't make the baby live. The baby was dead.

This was The. Only. Way.

...I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

Brittany, He whispered to my soul. I am already there, in the Valley.

But this did not comfort me. The Valley was an evil place; God's presence could not change that. All I could think was if God is already there, I didn't want to follow.

My lowest point was the day I filled a prescription to induce the miscarriage. A week had passed and though I was still bleeding lightly, my numbers were falling very slowly. My midwife recommended that I use misoprostol to "help the process along."

After we went to CVS to get the drugs (and a strong prescription pain killer), Aaron and I stopped by Kroger to get some Motrin. From what I had read online about other women's experience with misoprostol, I couldn't have enough pain killers.

I numbly bought the medicine and started walking back to the car, waiting for a bus to pass before I crossed the street.

This thought entered my mind, unbidden: If I got hit by a bus then I wouldn't have to go through this.

Then: Wow! I just had a suicidal thought. I am in a really, really bad place.

I really didn't want to get hit by a bus, or die. But I cannot express more clearly how much I did not want to go though this, to walk this path, to go through this valley.

Please be with me. Please be with me. Pleasebewithme….

The misoprostol didn't work.
The midwife called in a second dose.
I took it again the next day.
It didn't work.

By this time, I was so messed up with drugs and grief that my whole GI system rebelled against me for a few days. I felt terrible.

I went in for another blood test (number 3? or 4?).My HGC levels had dropped over 100 points. Finally, some good news (so ironic..)!  It had been over two weeks since I first found out. From everything I read online, the miscarriage would be over soon.

The new semester started at Liberty and I started teaching again.
I went grocery shopping.
I took my boys to school.
I publicly shared about our miscarriage.
I wrote about suffering and thankfulness in the midst of grief.

I had days where I laid on the couch all day.
I had functional days.
I had bad days where I cried my eyes out when I saw ANOTHER freakin' "we're preggo!" announcement on Facebook.
I had good days when I smiled and laughed with friends and talked objectively about the miscarriage and my grief.

I was ready to move on. I wanted to move on. I wanted to leave the Valley.

But the bleeding went on and on and on. Two weeks slipped into three. Then four. Then five.

It was now February, over a month since the miscarriage began.

I snapped.

"I can't stand it!" I screamed to my husband. "You don't understand. This has to end! I can't move on until it ends! You don't know what it's like to bleed and bleed and bleed and see red every time you go to the bathroom!  When will it END?!"

I felt utterly alone. My pain was bound up in my body, without any meaningful release. I couldn't give it away if I wanted to. No one could carry this burden with me. NO ONE understood.

Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death . . . You are with me…

The verse had become a mantra, playing over and over again in my mind. At times it comforted me. Other times, it frustrated me. 

On the night of my outburst, I saw this verse in a new light. God wasn't just with me, beside me. He had promised that his Spirit was within me, inside my soul--inside my body, my body that was filled with so much pain, physical and emotional. 

He was with me, inside my body--feeling, suffering, mourning, grieving, walking with me.

I used to think that when God walked with a person through hard times, the darkness of that person's path would somehow be filled with His light. 

My path through the valley was not filled with light.  It was very dark, and at times, I didn't feel God's presence at all. But in the darkness, along this journey of death, He was there. 

Three days after I said "I can't stand it any more!" my bleeding stopped. Two weeks later and another blood test later (7? 8?), I found out that my numbers were at 0.

It was finally over. 

I will fear no evil, for You are with me…

At the beginning of my miscarriage, I was filled with fear: fear of pain, fear of grief, fear of loss, fear of hemorrhage, fear of the disgusting horror that is miscarriage. 

At the end, I realized that the evil I feared did not ever manifest itself.  My bleeding was long, but never heavy. I had cramps but they were mild when compared to the worst menstural cramps I had experienced in my life. My emotional pain, though debilitating, was not devastating. 

I would heal. 
I am healing. 

Today is March 1st. I am wishing myself a Happy New Year.

Because on January 1st… and then on February 1st I was going through hell.

The Valley is a place that I had to travel through. Sometimes I think I have reached the other side; other days, I know I am still there. But there is light.
Because You are with me…

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