I ordered my favorite drink, a spicy chai that I can’t get in Texas. The barista steamed the milk and tea and asked me how my day was, and for a moment I almost forgot, almost answered a simple “good, thanks.”
But then I remembered the blood at 3:30am, the frightening realization that my body was letting go, disposing of life conceived. The disturbing sensation of a soft, budding human plopping out of my body, flushed away like ordinary waste. I remembered sitting there on the toilet, alone, for over an hour, wishing I was home, that my husband was there with me.
“I’ve had better days,” I said.
And the thought crossed my mind, what if the burdens we bear were visible for all to see, for our friends and family, the people at church, the stranger at the store: the miscarriage, the sickness, the abuse, the depression, the lost job, the wayward child, the addiction, or last night’s fight? What if these things were plainly seen, our unspoken prayer requests written in bold? Would we not be more kind and compassionate toward one another? More patient and longsuffering? More connected? Prone to fall on our knees and pray? More aware that we are all laboring in sorrow, groaning for the fullness of redemption?
I was in Colorado when it happened, just me and my daughter were visiting my sister. It started bright red, half-dollar size, and then it continued—slowly building, slowly bleeding. I texted my midwife, described my symptoms and the shade of red. There was nothing I could do but wait, wait to see what my body was doing.
The hardest part was not knowing what was happening, being away from my medical providers, away from my husband and the comfort of my home. I was scared it would hurt, that I’d wake in a pool of blood, that I would start hemorrhaging and have to go to the emergency room. Not knowing, it’s always the hardest part.
I miscarried the next night. I woke up to blood, but it wasn’t pooled around me. The passing itself was not painful, but the cramps were kin to contractions. The heavy bleeding and cramping lasted for two days, and then it was just like a regular period, just like that it was over. Two months of tiredness and nausea for nothing. Two months of planning for a new life now gone. The most of two months expelled in two days. How hard it is to build, and how easy to destroy.
My greatest consolation in that hour of darkness was walking back to my room and seeing my sweet daughter sleeping, her little body zipped up in fleece pajamas. I watched her breathing softly, achingly grateful for her life, that she had made it through the womb to the other side.
I could ask God why. Why did you stop knitting this baby together in my womb, stop forming the inward parts? Why were there no days fashioned for this one, only ten weeks written in your book? But to ask this is to ask the impossible, for why do any of us die? In mother’s womb or mother’s arms? In hospitals or cars? As children or parents or grandparents alike? Death is never timely or fair, never easy to swallow. Death is ruthless. It will always break us.
It’s been like this since the Beginning. Through one man’s sin death entered the world, and like wildfire death has spread to us all, consumed and destroyed, for we all have sinned. But there is One who conquered sin through one act of righteousness, the Great Sacrifice. His obedience unto death brings life and grace to many, makes beauty from ashes. And until His kingdom come, till death finally dies, we will ache and groan in our bondage to corruption. All of creation mutters and cries. In pangs of childbirth we await His glorious return and reign, for only then will we be completely set free, and Death will no longer break us.
Most days I’m fine. I miscarried naturally without any medical intervention, and for that I am truly grateful. My mindset has adjusted back to our normal life of three, with no other children on the horizon. Yet when I see a pregnant woman I still feel a twinge, a jab of sadness in the gut, an emptiness where my baby used to be. I reckon it will only get easier with time. Most things do. And maybe when May 4th rolls around it will just be another day, or maybe I will cry because my baby would have been born that day. We all process loss differently, all formulas aside, often in unexpected ways.
So instead I ask, where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence, O God? For you were there, in the dark of hours of morning, when I was alone and scared and losing the life formed inside me. You know all of my days, that my first pregnancy would end in life on October 18th, and my second in death on October 8th. Yet even in my sorrow, in the shadow of death, your hand shall lead me and hold me, and somehow you make the night as light about me. The darkness cannot hide from you, nor I from your Spirit. Thanks be to God.
Blood on cotton. Paper. Water.
Red that shouldn’t have run for seven more months.
Blood unto death.
Blood on flesh. Tree. Earth.
Red that runs for eternity, atones for the sins of many.
Blood unto life.