There is an ultrasound picture folded and hidden in the corner of Matt's bottom drawer.
I'm not sure who tucked it away.
Exactly one week after we signed the contract with Apple, we found out we were expecting. A sweet little surprise that left us reeling with fear and excitement. The reality of which literally brought me to my knees. For the next month we took a few deep breaths and reimagined what moving across the country would mean.
I was overwhelmed. And ecstatic. And terrified. And so, so happy.
I clung to this verse. I found courage in it.
He carries us in His arms. He holds us close to his heart. He has a special gentleness towards mommas and their babies. He gets it. He knows this thing that we do... the growing and birthing and caring for tiny people is glorious and also impossibly difficult.
And when I imagined moving away from all of our support and having a baby shortly there after... this verse was my stake in the ground.
We already had names picked out for either gender... and I was so anxious to find out if this little sweet pea was a boy or a girl. I was thinking probably girl. The first few weeks of this pregnancy already felt so different than my experience with Oliver. Different symptoms. Less nausea. It bolstered my conviction that this little babe was a girl. And Oh. My. My mind runs wild thinking about adding a little girl to our family. Seeing Matt snuggle and twirl and dance with his daughter. Watching Oliver grow into a protective older brother.
We started praying for this tiny person. Believing for her. Hoping big things for her.
She was due to arrive Christmas Day of this year.
And unlike with Oliver, we were quick to share the news. Our sweet friends helped me make a "Big Brother" shirt for Oliver on the fly. We wanted to celebrate with all of our people, before we moved across the country. I didn't even think twice about telling people. I never even hesitated.
My first OB appointment was scheduled for the week before we moved. The image on the ultrasound screen was not what we expected. A tiny, obscure form on a grainy screen. Significantly less developed than it should have been. My OB cautiously offered us hope, maybe my dates were off, maybe implantation was delayed, maybe we would see growth over the next week.
I began to miscarry that evening.
Matt picked me up from the Sheraton at midnight where my college-roommates and soul-sisters and I were supposed to be having our last big fling before the move. I couldn't stop crying.
Over the course of the next week, in between visits to the doctor and the ER, we closed the door on our first home, shipped all of our belongings to California, and said tearful goodbyes to precious family and friends.
No one told me that grief felt so like fear, or that the pressure of a broken, swollen heart inside your chest makes it difficult to breathe, or that you wrap your arms around yourself, not because grief makes you cold, but because you need to literally hold yourself together.
I had a professor in graduate school, who commented one time that as humans, we are meaning-making machines. We are hard wired to try to make sense of things, to understand purpose, to identify cause and effect, to put the puzzle pieces together.
It is so human.
And yet, it caught me off guard... how desperate I was, and am, to find meaning in this loss. All my questions begin with "Why..."
My OB in California gently, and firmly, insisted that it was nothing I had done. We talked chromosomes and genetics and the delicate process of matching them up. We talked percentages (as many as 20 percent of pregnancies are miscarried). And Matt is quick to remind me that babies are born every day that have been exposed to drugs and alcohol and other toxins, and that anything I did that I now call in to question (from warm baths to caffeinated drinks) were not the cause of the miscarriage.
The ache is quieter now. The throbbing in gentler.
But every single one of my "Why..." questions linger.
We are meaning-makers, by design.
I have no ribbon with which I can neatly bind up this heart ache. There is no simple, soothing explanation. And I let the grief wash over me.
And ankle deep in those waters, I sense Jesus cupping my face in both of his hands, lifting my gaze to meet the sorrow that fills his eyes too. I see Him embracing Matt. Really wrapping him up. And I can hear the tears in his voice when He whispers, "I am so, so deeply sorry. I will take such tender care of her."
No explanation is offered.
I know that God is good.
I know that God is for me, and for Matt, and for every being that springs to life within our family.
I know that He could have prevented this miscarriage and and delivered our sweet baby safely into my arms on Christmas day. And that He did not.
I am learning to hold all three of these truths in the same hand.
Trust is not a game.
He carries us in His arms. He holds us close to his heart. He has a special gentleness towards mommas and their babies.
This song that captures my experience with grief, as I've wrestled with what it means for the joy of the Lord to be my strength. We have most definitely found ourselves at the end of our rope. We are trusting and reminding ourselves to trust that God will continue to be big enough to hold us when it hurts.