Solidarity in Suffering
"Suffering allows others the opportunity to share heroic acts of love. So often, suffering can lead to growth in charity and in love for the those near the one who suffers. Christian charity will continue to exist as long as we have suffering. 'Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.'"
You may remember when I spoke about starting a support group for women who have suffered a miscarriage back at the end of May on the due date of our baby girl, Ezraela Eaven (who I miscarried back on December 31, 2013 when I was 18 weeks pregnant}. The summer seemed to go by at lightening speed. In late July, after speaking with several women who I knew that had experienced a miscarriage, I began the group, "Miscarriage Not Anonymous" on Facebook. Personally, this group has provided me a bevy of support, encouragement and a safe place to cry or vent. I have been in awe of the stories that the women have shared and so very grateful for the encouragement they have provided in just a mere 2 months.
I polled the group and found there was an interest in taking this group to a new level, a face to face meeting. This way we could put a face with a name (not just some random Facebook picture) and really get to know the women we are supporting. We set our first group meeting for this past Sunday, September 21st. Leading up to the event, I was faced with the challenge of how to let our church know about the group's first meeting.
Something you may not know about me is that I am co-leader of the CREATE Art Team at our church. My role has included me doing live paintings and speaking often in front of the church on any given Sunday morning. At first it was a little nerve wracking, but after doing it a few times, it wasn't that big of a deal. After I lost Ezraela, it was as if a clamp was put over my mouth to prevent me from speaking. At the beginning, most Sundays I was a hot mess and there was no way I could have gotten up in front of church to speak without bawling like a baby. And even recently, I have had to leave the service because I was saddened because I was not holding a three month old in my arms. I even went to great lengths to have another friend, who had a miscarriage with her first child, speak in church to bring awareness about it because I couldn't. However, when it came to announcing our first support group meeting, I knew I had to step up to the plate. I had to tell my story.
|My Sweet Ezraela Eaven|
This is the story I told:
"Suffering allows others the opportunity to share heroic acts of love. So often, suffering can lead to growth in charity and in love for the those near the one who suffers. Christian charity will continue to exist as long as we have suffering. 'Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.'" (Quote from this blog.)
Almost a year ago I stood before this church and told you about my battle with a chronic illness called interstitial cystitis. What you didn't know is earlier that week I took a pregnancy test that was positive. My daughter, Alexandria, and I made a big presentation to my husband with cupcakes that said, "Baby" and her wearing a "I'm a big sister shirt." In November, after waiting the prescribed three month period, we breathed a sigh of relief and announced on Facebook that we were having a baby. After being exhausted for months, around mid-December I felt a new energy and was excited that my "nesting" period was coming early.
December 31 I had my 18 week appointment. When the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat I told myself not to worry. The same thing happened with Alexandria. It meant I was going to get an ultrasound and possibly find out the sex of the baby early. My excitement faded when the ultrasound tech got quiet after she failed to find a heartbeat. The doctor came and confirmed that my baby was dead. I had to be admitted into the hospital and because I was so far along I had to deliver my baby. On December 31st, close to midnight, I delivered my baby girl, Ezraela Eaven. Ezraela meaning, "God is my help" and Eaven meaning, "Fair radiance." I held my baby that night and after the nurses took her away I fell into a fitful sleep. When I woke up I was greeted with "Happy New Year" pictures on Facebook and realized my nightmare wasn't over.
My nightmare continued for days, weeks, months (and to be honest some days continues now). I went through the emotional roller coaster of being angry with God (trust me, we had words), feeling pain at the arrival of so many beautiful babies and the memory of holding my own dead child and being so very tired.
Through my grief journey I have found hope. The Revolution Mom's Group and a few other friends, mostly from this community, have been my life line. They brought me food, let me cry on their shoulder, took Alexandria at the last minute, where mighty counselors and confidants. Most importantly, they let me talk, were silent when needed, but gave me invaluable advice to help me press on. There is a solidarity when other friends and mothers surround you and comfort you when you experience something so awful. This is the true picture of the church.
In the past year my sister in law has had four miscarriages and int he past few months I have had two close friends that have lost babies as well. This has always been a topic that has been faux pas to talk about and I feel my current purpose in life is to change that. No one should be alone in their suffering. It breaks my heart that there are women who sit in silence during their miscarriage or stillbirth grief. It shouldn't be like this.
I feel like everyone should have the support like I experienced from this community, so I did something about it. I started a private and secure Facebook group called, "Miscarriage Not Anonymous." I named the group this because I feel like a woman who has had a miscarriage feels shame. She feels like she can't talk about it and has to hide her grief and feelings. Our group is a place to vent, be angry, cry, weep, wail and laugh. There will be no judgement allowed and every post is private to our group only. The group is limited to the Kentucky/Indiana area. If you or someone you know has suffered this way, please contact me. We are having our first meeting on September 21st from 6-8. If you need more information you can contact me or firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Revolution Facebook page. This is not necessarily a "church" group, so anyone, from any walk of life is welcome. Thank you for being the Revolution to me.
As you can imagine, this was not an easy thing for me to do. During the first service when I got to the part describing when I held Ezraela in my arms, I kept picturing her lifeless body and I just couldn't take it, so I began to sob in between my words. Without hesitation, our pastor's wife, who happened to be singing in the worship team that morning, came up behind me and said, "You've got this." Of course, that made the tears come down more hastily because she was demonstrating in front of the entire church exactly what I had been talking about. But I made it. I got choked up a little bit during the second service, but I looked around and saw the faces of all of my sweet friends and felt like I was talking to my family.
After I spoke in the first service a gray haired lady walked up up to me with tears streaming down her face. She told me that she too had lost a child and so many years later, you could tell it still grieved her. She took my hand and told me thank you. It was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. Then another mother came up to me and just hugged me. After a few minutes she told me that there was a girl that had a miscarriage on the same day that she lost a son and every year, on that day, they grieve together. When I created the group I hadn't thought of people who had lost children when they were 10, 18 or 27, but I knew that these women needed a safe place too.
Before I spoke in the second service I saw that a midwife, who is actually part of the group that I use (Women Care in Clarksville, IN. I highly recommend them), came in with her family. She regularly goes to our church, but as soon as I walked in I knew there was a reason why she was there. After the service she came over and gave me a hug. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I was able to tell her, "Thank you, I know you didn't deliver Ezraela, but your office is amazing and I really appreciated the support they gave me." After we were both down crying, she asked me how large I wanted this group to be. I told her, "I hope we blow it up." She said, "Good because I had three women just this week that have had a miscarriage and I have no where to send them. You don't care if I send them to you?" I didn't.
I do not understand why I am not holding an almost four month old baby right now. I can almost picture her in my arms. I do not understand why I have had to go through this grief and have spent so many nights in tears. I don't know what God is going to do with this group or how he will use it, but I do know he will bring healing. It may not be (as it never usually is) in the way that I would like it to be. It may not be in the vision that I have for my life. But he will do it. As he has done it. He's kind of good like that.
We had our first meeting this past Sunday and two other women were there. It was intimate and personal. There were a lot of tears and a lot of laughter. Most of all there was a lot of love. The sweetest thing one of the women said to us at the end of the meeting was, "I pray for you all. I really do. I pray for you." She knows our pain and she knows our struggles. And she comes beside us as we come beside her to comfort her, pray for her and support her. And that my friends, is what it is all about.