Archive for August, 2016

There’s Joy in the Mourning

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On January 1st 2009 we experienced our first miscarriage.

My wife and I were on a cruise with her family, and it was nearing the end of the adventure, one day left.  It was at about 12:30 am on New Year’s Day and we were in the middle of an ocean somewhere in the Caribbean. My wife had gone to bed early as the New Year’s celebrations went on into the night.  I stayed up a bit later, then came back to the room around midnight.  The memory of every moment surrounding the next hour or so still haunts me today.  I came in and something was wrong.  Pale, weak, crying.  There was my wife suffering alone, and no matter how close I was now, she still felt so alone. I remember her face, seeing the sadness in her eyes as our hope faded away into the darkness.  She was a nurse and she knew what was happening.  She also knew she was losing blood and her blood sugar was low.  I ran to my mother in laws room who had been a maternity nurse for 30+ years to get some help.  She came quickly and sent me off to the buffet to get some brownies or something with sugar to help with the blood sugar.

Typing this brings it all back. That’s 7 years ago now, but every moment seems to flood back in detail. I ran back to the room with a small plate, and I remember looking off the ship into the middle of blackness.  Feeling so hopeless and so broken.  I was so sad.  It wasn’t three weeks before that night that we had passed the 3 month “safe” mark and decided as a Christmas gift to tell the family and the world of our new, and first pregnancy.  We discussed names, and guessed the sex.  We talked with my siblings about hand me downs and what we would definitely need and not need to buy.  We discussed everything.  It consumed us with joy.

As I sprinted along the deck going to get some needed food for her this all came back but hit me like shattered glass and I ran with tears falling over my shoulders. At this moment my concern would rest with my wife.  We had support through her mother, and we were safe.  She was going to be okay physically but I knew how her heart had wrapped around this little gift of a child.  I knew how her hopes were laces like praying fingers through the details of the next few months.  I knew that this was a loss larger than we could handle alone.  (God is Faithful)

We mourned through the night. We sat heavy and silent for hours. We cried and slept into the morning. Jan 1st 2009 we sat on the deck of the ship in the sun.  Very quiet.  The beginning of our new year was broken and sad.  We were just so sad while the world celebrated the birth of a new year around us.

(There’s hope in front of me

For the following few weeks I told some family and friends of the loss. My wife kept away from people so she wouldn’t have to hear reminders or condolences.  They knew and she knew.

Little did I know that this deep pain would bring so much joy. I couldn’t see the plan then.  We were frustrated and lost, but we never lost faith.  We were confused but never got angry with God.  We were hurt.  We told Him.  We were desperately sad.  He heard our cries and saw our tears.  We gave our fears, and hope and sorrow to Him to find rest and eventually we did.

In an odd turn of events we found the starting to our new year to be powerfully moving, and full of beautiful change in the midst of our loss.   We found a new fervor for our faith, a new closeness with each other, a fresh desire to dive deeper into our faith and heavier need for prayer, a desire to seek solace in scripture.  All that led to a fullness in our lives, but not to joy… our joy was yet to come.

I remember early in April my wife started to feel the weight of frustration again. Getting pregnant again didn’t have the ease for us it seemed to have for others and we wanted desperately to have a child.  Then that moment came.  I was asked to go get some pregnancy tests from the local pharmacy and I came back with a no-name brand package.  She rolled her eyes and couldn’t believe I cheaped out for this event.  She tried….It read positive.  I was sent back out for a name brand type now. The next morning we tried again and again, it read positive.  There should be joy now… right?  We should be elated.  We watch all these posts on social media where the wife surprises her hubby with a positive stick.  He goes crazy, and they cry tears of joy.  Not us.  We didn’t even let our hearts beat for a moment. We talked with false excitement but our hearts were guarded.  For the following few months we were scared, nervous, expectant but defensive.  There was truly no joy in the process at all until we reached the 4 month mark.  Until a doctor could tell us that we were in a safe place and we could celebrate. Slowly our hope started to rise, and we began to dream.  We shared with friends and family again, and their elation gave us some freedom to celebrate.

Sometimes I watch a video I made on December 25th 2008.  It’s our announcement video.  The whole family slowly catches onto our surprise and they scream and cry and dance….  If we only knew then what we know now.  But that video gives me joy.  I now know that about 6 days after that video we would be very broken, and feel so alone, a price we seemed to have had to pay for unspeakable joy.  God is Faithful.

18970_247262615939_6256683_nOne year later on January 9th 2010 we gave birth to our first little girl.  Keziah Jordyn Burnham.  An incredibly big baby who screamed with life and colic for the next 6 months.  A little girl that has changed everything about me.  Everything.  My passions, my life, my dreams, my direction, my desires, my hope. On January 9th I looked down at this little bundle the nurse handed me, full of slime, guk, blood, and eye cream, matted wet hair and I felt unrelenting joy. This is what God had in store. This is what He wanted me to have. God is Faithful.

Now I don’t pretend to think that God made our miscarriage happen. I don’t know what goes on outside of my understanding.  I know we are living in a broken world.  I know that things happen that we can never understand, that don’t make sense, that don’t seem to have a purpose or a plan.  I know that I rarely have any answers, but on that day I knew one thing was certain.  This was God’s plan.  Whatever we went through was worth it, whatever it took to get this little girl into my arms – it was worth it. God is Faithful.

These little arms that screamed to be hugged, little legs that begged to be chased, little fingers that I needed to teach to play piano, or write stories. Little eyes that needed guidance, little ears that needed protection.  A rapidly pumping heart that needed guarding.  All of this was ours.  Joy, unrelenting.  Joy, unspeakable.   Tears flowed from my eyes as I looked at this little baby, knowing that without our great loss, she would have never been in my arms. My God, is faithful.

Today Kezzy is 6. We sat together not too long ago to talk about life in a very real way.  I explained that before she was born that mommy had a little baby in her tummy.  “I don’t know why babe, but I’m thankful.  I know that if that never happened, then you and me wouldn’t be sitting here talking.  I would have loved that baby, but I never would have known you, loved you, played with you, danced with you.  You are my Joy in the mourning.”  Kezzy looked at me as I welled up and said in a quiet voice “I’m glad that God took that baby to heaven, so I could be your little girl.”  Perfection. God, you are faithful.

A year after Kezzy we experienced another loss. We were guarded again for this one, and never went public as my wife couldn’t handle the pain of another loss in front of family and friends.   She suffered in silence for some time.  I told some family in private and we wept together, prayed together.  Again the sadness swept over us and like a heavy blanket on a roaring fire and snuffed out our joy for some time.  In all of it, I never forgot my lesson I learned in our first loss.  There was something great coming.  There was someone incredible just on the horizon.  It took us two years but we were once again blessed with our second little girl.  Zoey Belle Burnham. God is Faithful.

This one wild, funny, crazy endlessly sweet little girl has sent my world into more bliss that I expected.  When we wrestle and play I couldn’t imagine any other little baby… She’s exactly what I could hope for or dream of.  Exactly what I needed and wanted. God is Faithful.

I truly don’t know how all this works, I don’t know the divine plan in it all. I know in the midst of the pain it’s impossible to see joy.  In the darkest moments of life, any light just seems to hurt.  I know from our now 6 miscarriages that there’s no ease, no freedom from tears.  But I also know that through those most difficult times we found incredible joy.

Our happiness is lost in the moments of getting pregnant. Any couple who has suffered multiple miscarriages knows how painful even a positive reading can be.  The day to day expectation of loss is heartbreaking.  We refuse to connect, refuse to think of names or give life to that future.  It is a desperate time that can drag on for months and be stolen away from you in an instant.

This isn’t a plea to find joy in your mourning. It’s just a word of hope that you will.

Mourn. Feel that loss.  We have, we do, we will.  Even as I type I feel sorrow for the losses we’ve had, those unknown faces I would have loved.  But know also that there is hope beyond your situation.  There is joy on the horizon.  There is a future in front of you that you can’t even imagine.

Now as I type this, I have a little frame beside me I got for my birthday. We have been low on funds lately and I was out of work for 6 months so our birthday gifts involved paying bills with limited funds and celebrating a meal together.  But my kids and wife got me this little wooden frame.  Inside is a picture of me and my two little girls hugging me on either side with wild smiles.  Our three elated faces smushed into this little wooden frame.  I don’t know what that picture would look like without our miscarriages, but I know what it looks like with them, and I’m filled with joy.

UPDATE: thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump.  My wife  leans in closer,  trying to hear the sound of a little healthy heartbeat over the shouts of our 4 and 6 year old scrapping joyously in the doctors office. I get a call from her in my silent office where she excitedly describes the sound of our little heartbeat pulsing rapidly. There’s finally joy in her voice.  Hope has returned to a very saddened and frustrated heart.  After 4 years,  and many prayers… My God is faithful. Just a month after writing this we discover we are pregnant. And after a few more months of fear,  we find ourselves finally, after many years,  in a place where we can celebrate new life…. Thump-thump,  thump-thump…. Can’t wait to meet you little baby, I’m going to be an amazing daddy. 

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Ecclesiastes 11:5

“Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God who is working in everything.”