Losing is hard to do.

Everyone has lost something at some point in his life. Championship game against the rival. Board game against your sibling. A memento given to you by your grandfather before he passed away. And then there is losing a mom, dad, best friend, sibling, child. Winning is great and gives a most wonderful euphoria, but losing is hard and challenging. No matter what we’ve lost, we are stretched at the core as we struggle against pain and confusion and mountain of why’s and other questions wondering what could have been.

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Baby E at 13 weeks in utero. Big Brothers were super excited.

This picture showed up on my Time Hop today, and there couldn’t be a better time. That was one of my favorite pregnancies because I’d finally learned to give thanks for each hiccup, kick, jab, roll, heartbeat. Baby E (or Tiny Banana as we call him) had several family members eagerly awaiting his arrival in June 2014. It’s rather ironic that that this photo showed up today.

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They’re just so excited to be big brothers! Learning about his size and abilities each week thrilled these guys.

This week I would have been pregnant with baby #6. That’s right. Would have been. Baby number six. In fact, I would have been 14 weeks pregnant on Wednesday of this week, which is why these pictures seem so perfect right now and brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had three miscarriages now. Two of them occurred between the Medium Banana and Tiny Banana. The most recent happened the day after Thanksgiving this year, and I’d had a feeling it was coming for about a week; something just wasn’t right. Then on Black Friday, the day really was blackened for Stephen and me. I went into labor at 12 weeks, 2 days. I spent Friday in the comfort of my own home, but on Saturday everything got hazy from too much blood loss and I had to go to the ER.

I made it back home that evening to three little boys who wanted to hug their mama and ask why I had so many cotton balls stuck to my inner arms. We couldn’t bear to tell them yet; it was still too hard even for us to wrap our minds around. “I can’t do this anymore,” I told Stephen. “I don’t want to do this ever again.” Even now the tears flow as I remember how it feels when my body rejects a pregnancy, the pain that envelopes me physically and emotionally. Losing sucks.

I almost feel ridiculous writing about losing three babies that I never met considering the fact that I have relatives who have lost children they were able to hold, squeeze, and watch grow. Honestly, my testimony seems so small in light of their suffering. Yet, I feel compelled to share my journey anyhow. If those family members read, please know that it is with humility that I submit this to anyone, and I don’t ever venture to assume that my pain is any greater than your own. Just different.

This last pregnancy caught us completely by surprise; Tiny Banana would have a brother/sister two years younger than himself, and that’s just what happened with Big and Medium. Sometimes I was kind of excited about TB having someone so close in age to him. After all, he is four years younger than MB, and I kind of wanted him to have a play mate that would grow up to be his BFF just like the relationship shared between his two older brothers. But alas, TB is the last baby that I birth; the anxiety of losing another baby is so great that I don’t want to endure it again. Yet I find myself thankful for this and even the other two pregnancies that ended before I even had an opportunity to feel movement.

What” you might be asking, “is there to be thankful for in this?” But I’m practicing gratitude, remember?

Since I like lists, I am highly tempted at this point to make a bulleted list just because I think it looks pretty, but I think I’ll spare you.

I am so thankful that when I found out I was pregnant (Surprise, Ashley! You’re having another one!!!), that even though I felt shock, I immediately began to pray fervently to the Lord God for the ability to trust in Him. Miscarriage terrifies me. I’m not lying. I’d already lost two, and I was feeling a bit panicked about the prospect of losing a third (remember that anxiety disorder I mentioned?). So every day was a battle for my mind and heart to trust in Christ, to meditate on Scriptures that tell me He is in control, that He knows all things that will happen, that He is with me now and always and will never leave me or forsake me. Yes! Focus!

I’m so thankful that when I told a handful of folks so that I could have their prayers and emotional support, they delivered. They were gracious, kind, and also heaped Scriptural reminders on me so that I could focus on truth instead of fear.

I’m grateful that the fears I faced during this pregnancy drove me to seek Christ more. For it is when we seek Him with all our heart that we will find Him and learn more about His ways (though not all of His ways, much to our chagrin). How wonderful it was that my Creator and the One who was knitting together my little one would remind me that He can see all that is going on even when I cannot! The nearness of God is my good. So very, very good.

I’m so thankful that my husband never looks at me with disdain or annoyance when I have my fits of fear or tears (those seem to flow often) and tells me to get over it, or that crying never helps anything. He just holds me. Oh, how I love that. His arms are so strong, and his heartbeat is so loud, and when he holds me close the world melts away. God is so good to give me such an amazing man to care for me.

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One of my favorite pictures with Stephen. Love him I do.

At this moment in time I’m so thankful that TB is taking a nap and the older boys are outside playing so that I can write this in peace as I blubber over the words I type. The screen is so blurry!

I’m beyond thankful for the people of Grace Baptist Church. Oh, my goodness, I am so grateful for them! We emailed our pastors to share with them our situation, and we received so many responses in return. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have sent messages, brought us meals for eight days, watched/taken the kiddos so I can rest, prayed, and cleaned. To know that I have a community of family members who are willing to serve is so comforting. My recovery has taken longer than expected, and the help continues to come pouring in.

Finally, I’m thankful that my babies are with Jesus. I take tremendous comfort in the Scriptures (because I believe them to be the inerrant word of God Himself) when I read passages like this…

Then Nathan went to [King David’s] house. And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:15-23 ESV)

Additionally, I appreciate Jon Piper’s thoughts on the topic, which you can read and listen to here: Theologically Speaking: Infant Death He discusses the fact that a grandchild died in utero at full term just hours before being born.

The point I’m trying to make is this: Losing babies sucks, and it is so super hard to endure. BUT you know what? The substance of my hope is not in having a husband, three boys, a house, an amazing job, or even in that vacation next summer that I can’t wait to enjoy. Nope. My hope is in Jesus Christ and His righteousness. At the end of the day, at the end of my life, His absolute perfect obedience to His Father, His atoning death and subsequent resurrection, and my faith in Him to cover my sins and take away the wrath of God forever is ultimately all that I have. He’s why I face each day. He’s why I wake up and get out of bed when I’d rather roll over and ignore the world. Jesus Christ faced so much more suffering that I can possibly imagine when He took on the sins of the whole world, that my suffering pales in comparison, yet my suffering is never in vain. My pastor reminded us that what has been taken from us in this life (our three babies, for example) will be returned to us in heaven, and he reminded us of the following passage:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

What grace! What joy! I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by the love of God even now. Hopefully by now you understand that I’m not rejoicing that my babies are dead and that all is bright and shiny in the world with happy unicorns and glittery rainbows. We are upset about the death of our three children, and we are grieving. We never asked for this pain or for death. It’s not our plan to have any more children at this point, and so there seems to be additional grief in that aspect. All I’m saying is that as I’m learning to practice gratitude, I know that in every situation I must and will find a reason to rejoice in Christ. He is the Giver of life, and He decides when a life will end. He is Creator and Sustainer. Losing is hard, but Jesus is with me all the time, to the very ends of the earth. He promised it. And so I’m thankful for it.

I’m thankful that you’ve “listened” to my grieving heart. I prayed continually as I wrote for God’s wisdom, and that you might be blessed.

Ashley

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40 comments

  1. Tabitha Ellis · December 8, 2015

    Beautiful Ashley. So proud of you for being so open and honest. I hope it leads others to seeing Christ through their grief as you have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Thanks, Tabitha. I have the same prayers.

      Like

  2. Joy Jenkins · December 8, 2015

    So sorry for your loss, well losses, actually. I can’t imagine the pain. But I do know the grace and the hope that carries you, and I rejoice with you in the knowledge that God’s got this and He’s got you. Thanks for sharing your pain in order to help others.

    Like

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Thanks, Joy. I appreciate your comments.

      Like

  3. Nicole McCurdy · December 8, 2015

    Ashley, first I am so sorry for your losses. I truly don’t believe that there is a difference in the losses of children. As a parents the bond is so great with our children no matter when we lost them.
    Second, I am so thankful for your strength and trust in God alone as your Comforter. I know that this was extremely hard to write but know that your words were the much needed reminder I needed today. I am reminded of a quote I read before:
    “The gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.
    “Milton Vincent”

    Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    And let us exalt His name together!
    I sought the Lord, and He answered me
    And delivered me from all my fears.
    Those who look to Him are radiant,
    And their faces shall never be ashamed.
    This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    And saved him out of all his troubles.
    The angel of the Lord encamps
    Around those who fear him, and delivers them.
    Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
    Psalm 34:3-8

    I am Praying for you my sister,
    Nicole

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Nicole! Thank you so much for sharing that quote from Milton Vincent. Is that in a book? I’m very curious to read more from him!

      Like

      • Nicole McCurdy · December 8, 2015

        It was a quote in Glimpses of Grace, by Furmen. The book is ok but the quote is great.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Heather · December 8, 2015

    Weird, my screen is blurry too.

    Thank you for sharing this. You’re right. Losing sucks. Thank you for being a beautiful reminder that practicing gratitude is something we all need to work on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Thanks, Heather. I appreciate you taking the time to read.

      Like

  5. Shelley · December 8, 2015

    Beautiful post! My prayers will continue to be with you and your family!! Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Shelley, I’m so thankful for your friendship and your prayers! I’m thankful that you have been praying since the beginning!

      Like

  6. Effie Demertzis · December 8, 2015

    What a wonderful post, Ashley! I am so sorry for your loss – I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. You are all in our prayers. I have been practicing gratitude as well – writing in my journal daily about the things we have to be grateful for. It really helps to focus on those things – it brings peace to your heart and soul, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      I agree, Effie. A thankful heart is a joyful heart. 🙂

      Like

  7. Savannah · December 8, 2015

    What a beautiful post Ashley.. I can’t imagine this pain but we will continue to keep you in our prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amy Lanier · December 8, 2015

    I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. Beautiful words, Ashley. I’m so thankful to know we all end up together in thr end if we love, follow, and accept Jesus as our Savior. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      That’s exactly right, Amy. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  9. Haley Devine Miedema · December 8, 2015

    This is such a great reflection of your heart and a window into your soul (the friend I have yet to meet!). Thank you for your raw honesty and the way you have lead your heart back to God’s Word, even when it wanted to wander in so many different directions. I have seen this kind of grief as well and while it is so painful and hard, grief and sorrow are some of the only things that bridge the gap of different cultures, races, languages, countries, backgrounds, preferences, etc…that and the Cross. May you bring your grief to the Cross (the only place for real healing to begin) and that this process would bless others as you walk this road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      One day we’ll get to meet, Haley! Thanks for your thoughts and your prayers. 🙂

      Like

  10. Larissa Arias · December 8, 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing! The Lord is using your testimony! It was the shake up I needed today to get a correct perspective and I know that it is helping many others reframe their issues too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Oh, thanks, Larissa! I’m so thankful you found it to be a blessing; that’s why I was writing. May God Himself be praised!

      Like

  11. Marilyn · December 8, 2015

    Ashley this is beautiful. Thank you for bearing your soul and heart to the world. It helped me to stop and praise God for the many blessings in my life.
    I have had to stop and count the blessings many times in the past few weeks.
    We are blessed to know The Lord Jesus Christ in a real personal way. You are do right, we need to have a grateful heart. Love you Ashley. So sorry for your loss. I pray you continue to feel the love of your family, friends and The Lord as you heal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Thanks, Marilyn. You’re one of those friends!

      Like

  12. Barbara M. · December 8, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your heart and sharing where your peace comes from. You have shared so eloquently and I’m sure others will find real hope in what you have said. In the arms of Jesus is the only place where we can find real peace and rest. When something like this happens, it can be a daily struggle until the emotions begin to fade even though the memories don’t. We never forget those little ones we’ve lost or the pain, but the pain does seem to fade and get easier over time, as you’ve already experienced previously. I remember losing our little one very vividly. I remember lying in my bed in sheer agony just praying that the bleeding and pain wasn’t leading to the loss of our child as the ultrasound had already so clearly showed. I was praying for a miracle that never happened… in my human eyes. But God knew what He was doing and did perform that miracle. He made that baby whole on the other side of heaven. I trust his foreknowledge better than mine. I can’t see one second into my future, but He sees my life in its completion just as He saw the life of our little ones in completion. Praise God that He only wants what is best for us and our little ones. I am grateful that Jesus is caring for my little one until I can meet up with him or her one day in heaven. I really couldn’t think of Anyone more able and better suited to care for my baby than Jesus. And I’m glad my little one never had to suffer unnecessarily with what I never knew might have been wrong with him or her. I am thankful that God did work His miracle, even if I haven’t seen it yet. Prayers to you as you face Tiny Banana being your last child. So many blessings among so many hurts. Love to you, dear Ashley!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Thanks, Barbara, for your sweet words! I think I remember that you also had a miscarriage, maybe it came up in previous conversations. You’ve said so many other words that I wanted to say, but I figured that if I went on too much longer it would just be rambling. I love you, friend.

      Like

  13. Mark B. Johnson · December 8, 2015

    Wow!! I’m not very strong in English but your post hit me right between my eyes. Continuing to pray for lord’s guidance and comforting love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 8, 2015

      Awe, Mark, I’m so glad you stopped by and took the time to read. Thanks for praying for us as well!

      Like

  14. Rose Billock · December 8, 2015

    What a great reminder that even , and especially, during hard times God is always there pulling us in. Thank you for sharing, this is something we can never hear enough. Practicing Gratitude, i must keep on practicing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The Mommy · December 8, 2015

    Ashley, I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to be candid. I will be praying for you! Please know that on some level, I can relate and therefore, I am always here if you need anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Rejoiced Over · December 9, 2015

    Ashley,
    I had so hoped for a different answer. My screen is blurry, too, and my heart hurts for you, Steven and your bananas as you mourn your little ones. Thank you for sharing your heart — and your hope. Though we don’t know the fullness of His plans, we can’t see the purposes, you are a tool in His hand to bring hope, encouragement and healing to others. Continue to bravely share the joys, the triumphs, the battles and the scars, dear sister. You are in my prayers as we walk this path until He calls us Home —
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley B · December 10, 2015

      Susie, your comments are so kind. Thank you for taking the time to read and to pray for us.

      Like

  17. thephilosophersbride · December 12, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your heart and this blog. It made me cry for you and for myself, and there is such great comfort in knowing our sweet babies are with Jesus. We lost our 5th baby in January, but there has been gratitude, grace and beauty within the pain. We are praying for your family.

    Like

    • Ashley B · December 14, 2015

      Thanks for your prayers, Rosie. Congrats on your new sweet little girl.

      Like

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  19. Jennifer Giddens McLeod · December 15, 2015

    Beautifully written, Ashley. I remember having a discussion with my 2nd oldest child just after we had lost our 3rd baby in just 15 months. She asked me if it was ok to be mad at God. I told her God had not done this to us. He hadn’t caused us to lose 3 babies. Bad things happen because there is sin in the world. He knew this was going to happen and He allowed it for whatever reasons. We have to trust Him. I said more things, but ended it with telling her that being mad is normal, but we can’t stay there for long because that’s exactly what Satan wants us to do. Still praying for all of you!

    Like

    • Ashley B · December 15, 2015

      Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! I love that you shared with your kiddos.

      Like

  20. Pingback: The Secret of the Secret Bump | practicinggratitudeblog
  21. Very cool, and very happy to see this! One question I haven't been able to find the answer to yet, is there a usage limit for Google Tag Manager similar to that of Google Analytics Standard's 10 million monthly pageviews?

    Like

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