by Stephanie Olson, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Unfortunately, I know a bit about the pain of such a loss, so I wanted to share my story with you.
When my husband and I were married for about a year, we decided we were going to begin our family. We are both very much type A personalities, so when it came time to begin our families, we knew exactly when we were going to have children and how many we’d have, and frankly, we were prepared to tell God the sex each baby should be and in what order they’d each arrive. We were here to help God in whatever way we needed to. We read all of the books on the most efficient way to have a baby. I mean, we knew the basics, if you know what I mean, but there are really things you should do to increase the likelihood of conceiving. Anyway, I digress; we were planners.
Sure enough, we became pregnant right away, and all was right in the world. I was diligent about everything–what I put in my body, exercising, and staying healthy. This baby was going to be healthy.
One day–it was a Tuesday–I went to the doctor for a routine prenatal appointment. I was in my fifth month, and I couldn’t wait to hear that heartbeat. As the doctor put the Doppler on my bulging belly, I listened intently. Nothing. She didn’t seem concerned, though; apparently, a few of the machines’ cords would go bad, and there were times you couldn’t hear the heartbeat right away. She ran to get another Doppler, and we tried again. Nothing. Again. Nothing.
Fear started to creep in. She immediately ordered an ultrasound, and my husband met me at the hospital. Our greatest fears were realized. Our baby had died. Our perfect child, our perfect plan was gone. And then we were told that because I was so far along, I would have to go to the hospital and deliver my baby. No joy, no balloons, no visitors, no life. I was devastated.
Before Eric and I went to the hospital, we stopped by my parents so they could feed us and spend some time with us. My mom and dad prayed with us, and then she played us a song that had been significant to me in the past. It was called “He Never Failed Me Yet.”
I will sing of God’s mercy.
Every day every hour He gives me power
I will sing And give thanks to Thee
For all the dangers, toils & snares that He has brought me out
He is my God And I’ll serve Him
No matter what the test
Trust and never doubt Jesus will surely bring you out
He never failed me yet
I have to tell you, I recoiled at hearing that song. The words made me cringe. How in the world could that be true, because right now, right here, God was failing me, or so I thought. That night we went into the hospital, and I delivered a baby boy the size of my hand. I was angry, hurt, and confused. I would like to say that in the next few days I turned to Jesus and all was well, but that wouldn’t be true. During this time in my life, I was a practicing alcoholic. And although I had quit drinking during my pregnancy, after our loss, it was the alcohol that I turned to for my healing, not Jesus. I drank the pain away and did everything in my power to numb the feelings. In my mind, God had failed me.
People, trying to be kind and say something profound, were often very hurtful. “It was God’s will that your baby died.” “Don’t worry, you’ll have others.” “It was God’s way of correcting a mistake.” The pain was overwhelming.
Eric and I waited about two years before we tried to have another baby, and when we did, we had an extremely uneventful pregnancy that resulted in a beautiful baby girl, Noel. I was terrified that something would happen to Noel when I was pregnant with her. I remember driving home one day and praying that God would protect the baby I was carrying. I’ll never forget that day, because after I prayed, I felt such a tremendous peace and in my spirit felt the Lord say, “Your baby is safe, and this is my promise to you.” As I looked up, there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky. In fact, we had a rainbow painted directly over her crib in the nursery.
Even though that baby was safe and we were both under the impression the loss of our first pregnancy was a horrific fluke, we realized it wasn’t when we tried to have a baby after Noel. We lost that baby, and once again, I drank the pain away.
Eventually I got sober, and we tried again. We lost two more babies after that. But this time, it was different. I was sober, and instead of being angry and drunk, I turned to Jesus in my pain. I pressed so deeply into Him. I read His word for comfort. I cried and cried. I told Him how angry I was. I buried my hurt in His lap and allowed Him to heal my pain. And what I learned was that the song was true. He had never failed me.
Listen, God loves you. Was it God’s will that my babies died? No! Absolutely not. Does God cause bad things to happen to us? We are in a fallen world–there is sin, and we have an enemy who has come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” He hates us, he hates you, and he wants to see you destroyed. But Jesus? Jesus loves us more than we can ever comprehend. He loves us with a love beyond measure, and when we are hurting, He grieves with us.
Psalm 56:8 says,“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” He loves us so much that He collects our tears!