For the last several months, Niels and I have had two things on our mind: getting pregnant and celebrating Christmas with Dutch Dad and Mom. Two babies. Our baby and the Christ child.
Niels and I know that good things come to those who wait. In fact, Niels' wedding band is engraved with the words, "worth the wait." Almost five months into our marriage, I am certain that Niels was worth every minute of the 35 years, six months, and 14 days I waited to marry him.
Because of our age, we talked about our desire to start our family sooner rather than later. We were thrilled to discover we were pregnant in early October, just 11 weeks after we were married. Our joy was short lived, when we miscarried at 5 1/2 weeks. Niels has been such rock to me in our grief, allowing me my sad days and helping me remember all our blessings. One thing he said that has really helped my mindset is the reminder that God has blessed us with so much this year--travel, finding each other, the financial means to pay for a wedding and two homes all year. He had to save something for next year.
As November turned to December, Niels reminded me of this again. We thought if we were pregnant in December, we would tell his parents by putting notes in their stockings. When my period came, I was disappointed for the missed opportunity. They live 6,000 miles away and we won't see them until next Christmas. This would be their only time to see me pregnant with their first grandchild, even if I wasn't showing yet. I was feeling tired and sick all week and felt bad for not being where I wanted to be with all the holiday planning. I wanted everything to be perfect for our first Christmas together.
Friday morning when I woke up, I was bleeding. We called my OB and they said to go to the ER. It was a busy day, so we ended up being there from 11:30 to almost 9. They were a little worried about my blood pressure, which was 104/45. They took some blood and came back to tell us we were pregnant. We were shocked, excited and nervous. We're 5 1/2 weeks, exactly where we were when we miscarried on October 15.
They discharged me with a diagnosis of either a threatened miscarriage or early ectopic pregnancy. I had orders of bedrest for two days when they would check my HCG levels again. For two days my mind raced with the hope of a Christmas baby after all, and fear that I would miscarry again. In the meantime, our radio played a constant stream of songs about another Christmas baby.
Sunday morning we headed to hospital for my blood test. We waited at the lab for the results. We prayed for a big number. The level should be doubling daily at this point in a healthy pregnancy. But, much to our dismay, the number went down and we were told the baby was not viable. We're devastated, again, but we are together, and because it is not ectopic, I am safe.
Niels parents had their own troubles. Weather and customs delays caused them to miss the last leg of their flight, so instead of arriving on the 23rd, they arrived on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, their luggage has yet to arrive. But they are here and they are safe.
Last night we went to the Christmas Eve service. I was doing pretty well. The pain was tolerable for the moment, and I was able to focus on the service. But when we started singing songs about The Baby, I began to weep for our baby. Niels' mom leaned over, her own cheeks wet with tears, hugged me and said, "I'm so sorry." And after such loss, there really are no other words to say.
Losing two babies this year has changed my perspective of the Christmas story. I identify with Mary more than ever. And I understand the greatness of the Gift. I want so much to hold my babies. I want so much to nurture them in my womb. I want so much to hear their cries as they enter this world. I believe that all life is sacred, and so I celebrate the very short lives they lived.
God didn't give us the son we wanted for Christmas, but He gave us His Son. I wouldn't willingly give up my babies, but God gave up His Son, for the greater good, and the gift of That Baby is life that never ends.
Sleep in heavenly peace, little ones.