Archive for September, 2012
Our miscarriages occurred at really pivotal moments in our lives: every single one of them. Our first miscarriage occurred while we were coping with the final year of our time in seminary. What was supposed to be a time of celebration after 4 years of discipline and study turned into a nightmare. Eight weeks into the pregnancy and there was no heartbeat. Our second occurred while we were being appointed with our current organization to do pastoral ministry in Spain. The very week of our appointment my wife miscarried. This one had no signs of life at six weeks. Needless to say, our appointment was less than the ideal celebration we had anticipated. We had to slap on fake smiles for a truckload of pictures. Yippee.
Our third failure was particularly painful. We were living our final days in Illinois and were just about ready to leave for the great adventure of overseas life. 8 weeks along, the doctor in the states gave us the nod of approval for our pregnancy. My wife was taking blood thinners and a mountain of meds. It seemed like the doctors really believed that we had just had a couple of flukes; the first two were just plain bad luck, or so they said. I vividly can recall this third medical specialist praying over my wife’s womb. It really felt like this would finally come through. Even the doctor believes and is praying for us. God would finally give us our gift.
Two weeks after landing in Spain, our knew doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. This one was 9 weeks along when it died. New tests on the miscarried fetus showed that it had been a chromosomal issue. Although it wasn’t our last miscarriage, I feel like this was probably the most devastating of all four for my wife. Cross-cultural adjustment requires an incredible amount of energy and stamina, especially at the first, and we had to deal with a third loss. How on earth were we going to survive the emotional and marital torment of a third miscarriage, another surgery, a new job, a new home, a new church, and new language learning, all at the same time?
For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the third miscarriage today. Why didn’t God allow my wife to receive that special gift? Why did it happen RIGHT after we arrived? Why us? I know the right theological answers, but for whatever reason they don’t help me today.
When you are infertile, you take an inordinate amount of verbal abuse. Not too long ago we shared with a near relative about our recent miscarriage, their reaction broadsided us. “The fact that you didn’t share with us this sooner breaks our hearts. We really are crushed that you don’t love us enough to tell us these things.” In other words, we are bad people because we chose to mourn privately and only later tell certain members of our family. Instead of sharing their condolences, they added to our pain by shaming us.
As I have watched my wife suffer through her infertility, I am realizing more and more that is my responsibility to protect her from ridiculous comments like these. It’s not that I don’t love the people who open their yappers before they think, it’s just that I have a greater responsibility to protect my wife right now. Maybe some day I will be able to take on the world and rebuke such choice words, but for now I have a different role.
Ephesians 5 talks about love that feeds and takes care of our spouses like we feed and take care of our bodies. Right now, my wife is deeply wounded, and I must stop do what I can to stop the bleeding. In this particular situation, that has meant that I have had to put up boundaries with these particular relatives. It’s not that we don’t love them. It’s not that we don’t forgive their insensitive comments. But love and forgiveness doesn’t always mean we must set ourselves up for more abuse. If they cannot but criticize our decisions in the midst of our sadness, we simply will not open ourselves to them for now. In other words, our infertility story is shut off to them. We will only share further in safe environments.