• Lindsey Norine

My Darkest Corners of Grief

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Hope through Infertility and Miscarriage

My Darkest Corners of Grief

Hope Through Infertility and Miscarriage

It was November of 2014, and the text box sat empty, staring at me. I wondered whether we should bother to send out Christmas cards at all that year. I was so tired of the torrent of perfect, smiling faces that poured into our mailbox every December; these beautiful Shutterfly cards masterfully engineered to hide every flaw. “Merry and bright!” Exclaimed one card, next to a couple whom I knew for a fact had spent a lot of time in therapy that year. “Peace on Earth!” says another, the parents with their hands on their toddler who WE ALL KNEW was an actual hurricane in a three-year-old’s body. I got so tired of these perfectly polished snapshots. And that year I was feeling anything but grateful, thankful, or blessed.

My fingers jabbed the keys harder than necessary as I finally typed, “Despite their best and constant efforts, Carter and Lindsey have failed to make a baby. Again. Check back next year.” Our smiling faces under the overly honest words revealed the truth—we were not where we thought we would be by now. I laughed at the thought of the overly-nosy Susans of my church reading the gold cursive writing and realizing what it said, their eyebrows flying up.

Although I had written the words as a joke, they revealed the truth I was beginning to believe about myself. What did we have to show for another year? No one seemed interested in the business I had started, what I was learning, or how I was actually doing. The prodding questions always revolved around one thing. I became adept at my short, polite answer for when we would start our family. I wanted to unleash the weight of our pain, spew the truth all over them and let them stand there in the awkwardness. Instead I would grit my teeth and give a little smile, secretly wishing the asker would have an inconvenient road closure on the way home or maybe step on a Lego.

It felt as though no one cared to see me as I really was— childless, devastated, and afraid.

After trying to get pregnant for two years, we received many rounds of testing and were given the frustrating diagnosis of “unexplained infertility.” The desire to be a mother had been banging around in my heart since I was a child, and I felt like a failure.

When the second line—positive—finally arrived on a pregnancy test months later, I fell to my knees and praised God on our bathroom floor. The weeks that followed were sheer joy. It is a precious pocket of time that I savor in my memory, full of pure hope and untarnished gratitude.

The future of parenthood unrolled before us—a sparkling promise of colors brighter than before, riches of love deeper than we had ever known.

I miscarried in the emergency room, a cold and monotoned doctor telling me there was nothing I could have done, it was perfectly normal. I already knew, I had seen it on the face of the ultrasound tech. She patiently answered my many questions and told me I would have to wait for the doctor’s prognosis. But her eyes had been filled with a sad empathy, and she looked away before murmuring, “Good luck.”

Three dark weeks of processing pain followed. We had only begun to explore the depths of our grief when I discovered the unthinkable. I was pregnant again. It felt like waking from a terrible dream, relief flooded my senses as I saw that God’s good plan for us was still intact. We would have a baby after all. My battered hope slowly regained confidence.

I wish I could tell you that my luck with ultrasounds had changed. Two words, “Something’s wrong,” and my fragile strength crumbled. A week later, our second baby was gone.

Five months of pregnancy and all I had to show for it were two positive pregnancy tests and baby announcement photos that would never see the light of day. Maybe this is all I would ever be—an invisible mother with empty arms, destined to forever bite back hot, bitter tears when a baby waved at me in the grocery store.

This lie whispered to me from every dark corner until I believed it fully.

I spent much of the two years between our miscarriages and the birth of our daughter fumbling around in the darkness of depression. My grief was an unwieldy weight that demanded my attention nearly all the time. For weeks, I would wake up and have to remind myself our babies were gone. It was enough to never want to get out of bed at all, but that wasn’t an option. So I would turn on a worship song and tell myself I needed to be on my feet by the time the song was over. I sang with a broken voice, the curtains drawn and baby clothes hidden from sight.

But, even while I was too busy looking at my anguish to see him, God was quietly unveiling his perfect provision. While I angrily questioned whether God had a plan for me, He was enacting a beautiful one that would lead to sweetness I could not yet comprehend. He was sowing the seeds of deeper relationships with Himself, my husband, and my future children. Jesus had seen and counted every tear we shed over our lost babies. He collected them in His hands and whispered, “I know, dear child. I have already made this right in Heaven. I have gone before you and laid your path. Wait on my perfect timing.”

A couple months after our miscarriages, a mentor looked me in the eyes over our coffee and asked, “Can you heal from this without having a healthy baby?” There it was, the hard truth spoken by the Holy Spirit through the lips of a loving friend.

I was waiting for a healthy baby to wash me clean of all my pain. I had made an idol of my imagined child, setting the full weight of my hope on their fragile existence.

That night God called me to Psalm 130:6, which says, “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than the watchman longs for the dawn.”

The force of my longing finally shifted from a full nursery to a full relationship with the Lord. And as surely as the morning came each new day, God delivered me from the shadowy house of broken and weary disappointment I had built for myself. He made me new again, with overflowing joy. I learned to pick up my faith more often than my fear. I forgave my body, forgave myself, and forgave God.

Even on the worst days when the waves of emotions crashed over my head, I knew God’s promises had the final word. The reality of Christ’s love does not allow our emotions to be king. The creator of all things showed me that he sees me, loves me, and was already carrying my future for me. He invited me to pry open my fists and lay down the enormous fear I was carrying.I handed my burden over to him, with trembling and tears, and he let me rest. I looked around with new eyes and saw the green pasture we were already living in.

In the emergency room awaiting the news of our first loss, I remember having the strongest sense of peace. I was sure the doctor was going to waltz in any second and let me know everything was fine. “Your baby and you baby will be okay,” I heard from the Holy Spirit over and over. When the doctor instead told us that our worst fears were coming true, I felt betrayed. How could God lie to me like that? After the second loss, I shared with my dad how angry I felt God had intentionally deceived me and then let me go through it all again so quickly.

“Lindsey,” he said with tenderness, “Your baby is okay. Both of them are. Better than okay. God is holding them in heaven right now, perfected in his light.”

I sniffled at this, comforted by the thought of the most perfect Father holding my babies. “But what about me?” I sobbed. “I am NOT OKAY.”

“Well, God keeps his promises. So you can be assured that you will be in time, pumpkin.”

He was right.

Habbakuk 3:17-19 says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

I remember the day I finally erased this passage from our blackboard above the kitchen table where it had been for years. I was holding Vera in my arms and thought back to where we had been. Sure enough, we had tread on high mountains, even before we knew of our daughter’s life. We had crossed the deep waters of pain to find our feet on the holy ground of healing through Christ’s sufficient grace.

My brokenness was covered, mended, and fortified by holy iron.

God continues to bless us by using our story of waiting and loss to encourage others. If you have gone through a miscarriage or infant loss, please hear me saying that your baby is known, loved, held, and perfected in Heaven. Whether it happened yesterday or thirty years ago, it’s okay to feel like you can’t let go. I want to loudly affirm your pain—it is valid, and others are wrong if they patronize or minimize. I mourn with you. I feel their entire lives as well, the empty space of what might have been.

If you haven’t walked through the pain of miscarriage or infant loss first hand, you can still do the holy work of being a comfort to one who has. Just sit in the pain with your grieving friend. Sit there and let her wail, scream, or be silent and simply show her she is not alone. We can hold the corners of our grief together. We can ask each other if our babies had names and say them out loud. We can pray for each other and petition for deliverance to the holy ground of healing. We can look each other in the eyes and speak truth until the enemy slinks away and only God's good promises remain.

THAT is the Christmas card I wanted to send to everyone this year. I wanted it to say “I wish I could sit in your living room with you, drink a bottle of wine, laugh until our guts hurt, cry over the sharp edges of this broken world, and remind you that our faithful Lord is in the middle of orchestrating his sovereign plan over your life.” For some reason Carter didn’t think that would fit very well on the card…

So in leu of the living room wine, I will just remind you that God sees you. You are known and deeply loved. The creator of all things has called you by name, redeemed you, and will carry your burden if you will only let him. He is bigger than the darkness, and he will have the final word, my friends. You will be okay. Lean into him with your full weight and keep watch in the night. The light is coming, even to the darkest corners of your grief.

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