16th Sip

MAMA BEAR>

Below is what I shared on March 18, 2017:

“A kind Facebook friend I haven’t even had the chance to meet in person yet sent me this beautiful mug shortly before I miscarried. I was prepared to want to hide it away in a dark corner, to give it away, or maybe even smash it. But I love it even more now. It reminds me that I am a mother––that I carried a life for 7 and a half short weeks, a life I hope to meet someday. It reminds me that Heaven is more personal now, and that this earth is not my home. It reminds me of my hopes and dreams, and that God is good. 

“It also reminds me of the things I’ve learned about myself. I have always been a second (self-inflicted) mama grizzly bear for my siblings and all those I love, and carry a heavy and impossible weight that comes with constantly trying to protect, prevent, and keep safe. I have had a lifelong fear and dread of loss. In a way, I pre-mourn every loss I fear every day. It’s part of what makes me love the way I do, but it can be agonizing, too. 

“I’ve never heard about the stress and worry that comes with being pregnant. Parenting, yes. But I was supposed to be glowing, right? Instead, I was overcome with dread and fear that something wasn’t right. I’ve heard many stories where the mom just knew something wasn’t right… of course, you hope and pray that you’re wrong. But somehow our bodies know even before our hearts do. This was supposed to be the time when a baby is safest and most well cared for, and yet it was completely out of my control. Even my best efforts––eating well, getting plenty of sleep, taking my vitamins, getting protein, drinking water, sleeping on my side long before I even had to––could’t keep this baby safe, the way I wanted it to be safe. And that was a hard pill for me to swallow. But it has been surprisingly freeing, too. 

“There are so many facets to grief. So many factors that it would be naive to try to pinpoint one single reason as to why bad (or good) things happen. But I do know that God and his goodness are infused in to every detail, and that is enough for me. 

“I watched ‘The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe’ again on Netflix the other night, and there is a line that portrays one of my favorite facets of God’s character. Mr. Tumnus finds Lucy watching Aslan leave and says, ‘We’ll see him again. In time… One day he’ll be here, and the next he won’t. But you musn’t press him. After all, he is not a tame lion.’ Lucy replies, ‘No. But he is good.’ And that is the conclusion of the matter.”

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15th Sip

MISOPROSTOL>

I shared this late night on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

“I feel like I can talk a little now––not just to share a bit of the often unspoken details behind a miscarriage, but also to first say THANK YOU to everyone that took the time to pray, comment, message, call, text… this outpouring of love, support, shared loss, and acknowledgment of sorrow did more good for my heart than I will ever be able to put in to words. I don’t know how I will begin to thank you all. It was an integral part of what got me through today. 

“Hardest and saddest day of my life to date. Misoprostol is NO JOKE. It was an ugly, disgusting and painful day. There’s no other way to say it. After about 7 hours of constant and consuming pain (which is fairly short, according to the in-depth and terrifying research I’m glad I did on the medication before hand), we said a heartbreakingly short and unorthodox ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to what was left of our tiny, but very loved baby. Matt was a rock for me today. After battling through the physical pain, I’m now navigating the emotional ramifications of this experience. I’ve realized what I’m mourning most are the moments I won’t be able to pour my love into that child. But my tears aren’t from anger or confusion. It is well with my soul. Where was I when the foundations of the earth were laid? Or who shut in the sea with doors, and made clouds its garment? Who told the ocean ‘You can come this far, and no farther. Here, your proud waves shall stay.’ Who commands the morning? Where does light dwell? Can I send out lightning, give channels to the rain, give a mind its understanding, or provide for the raven when its young ones cry out? Who am I, if not for Him?

“I found this quote on Pinterest and it made me cry because it puts my sorrow in to words: 

“‘Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.’ -Kathy Parker

“I don’t have a way to button this thought up, because there are so many facets to sorrow, pain, grief, and loss that I’m just becoming acquainted with in an entirely new way. I just started reading a book called ‘And Still She Laughs’ by Kate Merrick about her experience with losing their daughter to cancer a few years ago. It’s one of the most profound assessments of grief, bitterness, selfishness, humanity, and the goodness of God I’ve ever come across. I get an early read through thanks to a wonderful friend who dropped it by today––I think its release date is within the next few weeks. EVERYONE should read it. For me, it couldn’t have come at a better time. My mom also shared an incredible quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“‘There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.’ -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Thank you again. I will never forget the way everyone rallied and shared of themselves to carry Matt and I through this day. We are clinging to each other, and God has already begun our healing. If I haven’t gotten back to your message or text, I promise I will. And to all of you that have gone through this or a similar experience, or anything that has caused you pain and grief, you are not alone and I am so sorry for your hurt. We have this hope.”

 

14th Sip

HEARTBEAT>

When you hear the words, ‘There is no heartbeat,” the trapdoor opens and you fall. –Pinterest

Below is what I shared on March 3 (technically March 4… it was after midnight):

After feeling like something wasn’t right for the last week and having some abnormal and worrisome symptoms, I had my OB at Castle squeeze me in for an appointment today and we found out that the baby did indeed stop developing last week––about two days after my ultrasound, somewhere around 7 weeks and 5 days from what we could tell. I had already felt like something might be wrong by the time we went in for that first ultrasound, but everything appeared to be going along fine at the time. Needless to say, I am so very heavy hearted, but Matt and I are resting in the peace, love and perfect timing of a good God. 

I’ve recently learned that 50% of pregnancies don’t make it to full term, and that in most cases it occurs early enough that women aren’t aware they are even pregnant. But when you do know, it’s a kind of pain and grief that makes you want to hide––as does most grief and pain, it seems–and this is when we need each other most. I have recently seen several girlfriends go through the heartbreak of a miscarriage, and we women need not feel alone in our sorrow. I plan to talk about it, for the next mother that finds herself in the midst of heartbreak, identity crisis, fear, disappointment, and the unknown. I’m not much good for a conversation tonight, or maybe even for the next little bit… but I am so thankful for the outpouring of love I have already received tonight. 

Matt has also shared some absolutely beautiful words that I feel capture our hearts better than I can right now. 

He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Matt:

Some difficult news to report: Our baby’s developing heart stopped pulsing between 7 and 8 weeks pregnant. Double confirmed this afternoon. I wouldn’t normally burden anyone with bad news like this, but Emily Beth and I did make the pregnancy public some days ago. I’m sure there are lots of untold stories among us of this nature, and maybe we can all find refuge somewhere in this happening. I know one thing, God is in charge. I have seen his timing in my lifetime so much, so I need to take mountaintop moments as well as the valleys. I was thinking today about how life is a battleground. Once you are here walking around, as well as the whole process of coming into this world. A beautiful, tragic, wonderful, desperate war. And you have to think like a seasoned soldier sometimes to grasp any sort of big picture. I saw a lot in that light today, and so did Emily Beth. Feel free to share anything in this time if you wish. Maybe part of these experiences are for us to come together and comfort each other. Love to all in Christ, and have a great weekend.

The outpouring of love and prayer we received as a result of these posts was completely overwhelming and I don’t know that I could have made it through that weekend as peacefully as I did without that support. God uses others to comfort us. Society is so focused on “bae goals, squad goals, body goals, life goals,” and ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. It’s 100% self-serving and doesn’t leave much room for the messy bits, and that is when we need each other most. The rest is gravy. Real love means walking through the darkness together, even if the darkness lingers throughout our lives. We are meant to care for each other, without any contingencies or expiration dates. Life is meaningless otherwise. It is a war, and we are all comrades. We won’t all make it out alive or in one piece, and we need to carry each other to safety when the bombs go off.

J.S. Park has a quote that gets to the nitty-gritty of what I’m trying to say about love:

The major problem is that many Christians will do Christian things around God, but not with God. We wear a morality-suit or a grace-suit or a cool-Christian-blogger-persona, as if any of these things have anything to do with God himself. Unless our faith is making us more joyful, nuanced, well-rounded, and willing to reach out to those unlike us, then it’s not a faith worth having, and not the one Jesus died for.

 

13th Sip

PREGNANT>

Matt and I decided to announce our pregnancy early. I always knew that if something were to go wrong, I would talk about it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it or act like it never happened. I believe life begins the moment cells begin dividing and constitutes as something worth celebrating, as well as mourning.

I planned a quick photo shoot with my friend Emily Turner and we staged it so that Matt would think we were helping her out with fresh photos for her website. Mid shoot and shaking with excitement, I pulled out the positive pregnancy test and onesie. It was priceless. I’ll never forget how Matt hooted, “My boys can swim!”

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We knew from day one that this baby belonged to the Lord, and like Hannah (Samuel’s mother in the Bible), I was keenly aware that I needed to dedicate my baby back to the Lord before he or she even arrived. Also like Hannah, I have ached to be a mother for about as long as I’ve known my own name.

I think somehow I knew all along. Of course you always hope for the best. But somehow my body knew. They say most miscarriages occur because of chromosomal imbalances, so maybe somewhere deep inside, in an unexplainable corridor of my heart, God was helping me sense what was coming so that I could begin to prepare for it.

I first shared my fear on March 1:

“All I can think about is this baby inside of me. I wish I could have an ultrasound every day. So many questions. Are you doing okay, my precious baby? Is your heart still beating away? Are you growing and moving your tiny, little almost hands and feet, and hiccuping like all the pregnancy apps say you might? Yes, I have several. I’m just 8 weeks and 2 days today, but I already feel like I’ve been pregnant forever and should have a tummy and feel you kicking. All I can do is pray. And pray, I do. I know the odds, but I’m cheering you on, sweet baby. I will be from now till the last breath I take.”

I suppose this post can stand for the purpose of warning against fear. Sometimes God gives us a sixth sense about things, and for that I am grateful. But as someone that has struggled with a chronic sense of impending doom and worst-case-scenario, I’ve seen how it can steal my joy. And I can see how it might steal my joy when I find out I am pregnant again. Perfect love casts out all fear. This experience has shown me more than ever that I am loved. I compare it to an onion. As with so many things in life, I am slowly peeling back the layers on this particular onion. This is one layer. A very important one. Each layer takes you deeper, and reveals things that sting your eyes and make you cry. But with every sheet, more of your heart becomes revealed and available.

Let’s keep peeling.

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12th Sip

MISCARRIAGE>

I found out I was pregnant on February 4, 2017. I was about 2 weeks pregnant at that point. Though baby measured a bit small, my 8 week ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat of 156 bpm. I had started spotting two days before and was prepared for the worst already. My relief mingled with dread. Two days later, I knew something wasn’t right, and a last-minute ultrasound a week later showed my worst fear. A scenario I had never even considered. Baby had stopped developing shortly after my first ultrasound.

I shared the experience on Facebook and Instagram, and realized I need to put it all here. I hope another bereaved mama can take comfort in knowing she’s not alone. No statistics can take away the pain, but sharing each other’s grief does much more for healing than I had previously realized.

I’ll be sharing them how I posted them on Facebook and Instagram. 13th Sip will be the beginning.

Love, Emily Beth

11th Sip

RECONCILIATION>

Matt and I recently had a heart-to-heart about the complexity of life. How for each man’s win there is another man’s loss. The context is that we were watching Gladiator, which I had never seen before, and the harsh reality of the history of the world was so stark. Man against man. Mortal combat. The taking of life for power. This is what sin reduces us to. It goes all the way back to the beginning of sin, when Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him out of jealousy. Actually, it began when Lucifer became jealous of God. Gladiator is a very poignant example of the repercussion of that struggle.

It shows up in everyday life. I recently got a new job for which I wasn’t the only applicant. One person gets their dream job; others don’t. Matt was just cast for a commercial—an audition he really threw himself into, and his effort paid off; others also gave of their own time and hearts but didn’t get the part. What does that all mean? How do you reconcile the connection between one person’s “success” and another person’s “failure” ?

Desmond Doss’s story is about the hit the big screen. I watched a short interview with Andrew Garfield, who plays Doss in the upcoming Mel Gibson film Hacksaw Ridge. He said that Doss was more of a “conscientious cooperator” than a “conscientious objector.” I liked that. It’s compelling to ponder what it would look like if the entire world decided not to bear arms against each other. But that’s not realistic. Sin was introduced into the world, and, as a result, history from the time of the Old Testament is riddled with war and the taking of life, sometimes with “good” intentions. Crusades, per se. How do you reconcile the connection between the loss of life for the purpose of saving life?

Mid-movie and somewhere deep in the crevices of our conversation, Matt pulled up a monologue by Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams in the movie Amistad. Adams explains to the court that the South reconciled slavery in Biblical terms, arguing that there had been subordinates from the beginning of time, and that there had never been a civilized society in which a settlement did not thrive upon the labor of another—in theory, that slavery is God-ordained and that even in Eden one was pronounced subordinate to the other. The South further argued that, as war and antagonism are the natural states of man, so is slavery—in its purpose and in its inevitability.

Adams disagreed. He believed that the natural state of man is freedom. How could we reconcile slavery with what Adams termed “that annoyingly embarrassing document,” the Declaration of Independence, which states that all men are created equal? I would further question how we could reconcile slavery with the words of Jesus indicating that the whole law is summed up in loving our neighbor as ourself.

Back to Doss. His conviction not to take up arms for himself was not something he imposed upon the rest of the United States military. He simply remembered seeing the story of Cain and Abel depicted on a framed sampler as a child and being appalled that one brother could rise up against the other. His personal conviction against the evil of killing—against sin—began as a child. Woe be it to the man—or yes, of course, woman—who doesn’t live by what he or she believes.

That point is made so beautifully in the telling of the story of Desmond Doss, as it is in the story of King David or any other battle that has ever been fought and won. Or fought and lost. Inconceivably, God blesses the conscientious objector, and God blesses the warrior. Or perhaps God blesses obedience.

It’s important to remember that slavery, at its core, is not about race. It is about power. So it was with Maximus in Gladiator or Joseph in Egypt. Jealousy over power was the cause of enslavement. The cause of estrangement. The cause of death. Jealousy implies belief that one is better or more deserving than certain outcomes indicate. That one deserves the win and the other the loss.

This is not so.

Jesus washed feet. His disciples were appalled, embarrassed, and confused. In some churches, we remember that story, that moment that quietly became one of the most crucial and pivotal moments in Christian history, by washing each other’s feet once a month. Clean feet washed in the privacy of church walls. We choose whose feet we wash; if we push ourselves to wash the feet of someone who makes us uncomfortable, we pat ourselves on the back for having been selfless and Christlike. I’ve been there. I know from experience.

We stand up from that kneeling position, leave the dirty water in a bucket, sanitize our hands, and continue on self-absorbed.

Jesus wasn’t simply telling us to wash each other’s feet. He was telling us to embrace humility. Servanthood. Yes, in a way, slavery. He was begging us to completely let go of the notion that we can somehow expect others to serve us. It’s not an equation of “serve and be served.” It is not a causal relationship. It simply is. Serve.

In doing so, we find that equality is not the problem. The need for equality equates to the inception of selfishness. It is a different kind of moral problem than we think. Inequality is not the problem. We are the problem. Our sin. Our selfishness.

Matt takes the time to be moved and broken by these complexities. He challenges me to be kinder and more loving—to give the benefit of the doubt and to see the intrinsic value in others. He challenges me to be humble and to give all the glory to the Lord for every win and every loss. Those are seemingly cliche’ phrases that represent something unspeakably beautiful, and I am so thankful. He leads me by example.

We closed the night by expressing the thought that even though there are elements and dimensions to this life that we can’t begin to process, we have hope. The laughter is ordained along with the pain. We left a few questions hanging to chew on: What are we to do when we know the world is crumbling and the end is closer than ever? How do we smile through that? How do we enjoy the good when there is so much bad? What is a Christian to do?

As usual, C.S. Lewis eloquently sums up the essence of the dilemma:

“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” (Mere Christianity, goodreads.com)

10th Sip

SPACE> This is one of my favorite pictures from when I was a kid. I was only seven, but already so angsty and aware. I remember this day, and not feeling pretty. It was a good day over all, but I’d wanted to be a Pilgrim, and I suppose had been chosen to be an Indian.
I 13307262_10153615641285418_4602644751822447816_nwanted to be taken seriously. Since day one of Emily-Beth-meets-world, my intuitive mother saw all and met each bout of emotional intensity with loving reality and wisdom. My distress was self-inflicted and adorably premature. I laugh at it fondly in hindsight, but the truth is that those worries are still a part of me. Here are some thoughts I would love to tell my little self: I remember a friend talking a few years ago about her realization that it is okay to take up space. It was in the context of body image, self esteem, and contentment (struggles I’m well acquainted with, and which I’m learning are bi-products of selflessness). Your shape has been given to you for a reason. Fill the space you’re in. Fill it well, and with kindness. Take up all of your space.Take it up with grace, and with purpose. God shaped your space, the body you’ve been given and the heart that moves it. If we can stop obsessing over our area of square inches, we will find that our volume is what really matters.

‪#‎beingawomanmeans‬ ‪#‎littlewomenbecomewomen‬‪#‎kindness‬ ‪#‎purpose‬ ‪#‎volumeoverarea‬ ‪#‎characterovercurves‬