Twenty Weeks

Twenty weeks agon we went with worried thoughts and feelings to the hospital for the ultrasound I had to have every other week from now on. We already knew our daughter wasn’t growing well and that that was most likely due to a placenta that didn’t work optimally. As soon as we had heard that, I started taking aspirin, totally slowed down and consciously enjoyed every little movement I felt in my belly. On Friday I had felt her quite strongly.

On Saturday we attended a funeral. A friend from the past had died and I felt quite unsettled. I met other friends there and told them I was pregnant again. One said: ‘wow, death and new life’. And that was how I felt. I was so happy with new life inside of me and so full of grief about the death of this dear father of young children. But meanwhile I felt insecure. That week I had had a strong strange urge to prepare. I bought clothes in premature sizes, made sure that the crib was ready and its lining washed.

Monday, exactly twenty weeks ago today. I hadn’t slept much because I was so nervous. We had prayed so hard for her to grow, to stay safely in my belly until she was strong and big enough to be born. My husband was also very nervous. ‘I feel as if I have to do a very important exam’, he said. I was relieved that we were feeling the same way, but it also made me feel even more nervous.

And then the ultrasound. Dead silence. Litterally. Shock. Disbelief and knowing at the same time. No! God, no! Lord, this can’t be! And at the same time knowing that this is really happening. Lord, help! What should we do? How do I tell my children? Will my marriage be strong enough? We already have been through so much and wonderfully overcame, will we make it through this? And how on earth should I give birth to a dead baby? What is going happen?

And now, twenty weeks have gone by. We had to go through it. We made choices. We deliberately allowed each other to mourn in our own way, to give each other space to talk or stay silent, to cry or not. We said to each other that we would be ourselves and that we would be honest. And no, we did not feel God was near. We had no idea how this could have happened and how to live on. And we still sometimes respond in ways we never thought we would. We discovered things we didn’t know about ourselves and each other. And now and then waves of grief come washing over each of us, but seldom at the same time.

But, looking back, seeing that every week was different, seeing how I was wrestling with God and His promises that did not seem to apply to Amanda, I can surprisingly surely say that He did not leave me alone for one second. I did not feel Him. My grief was too big to feel anything but grief. But I didn’t fall to pieces. I am still here. I am still walking, although often stumbling on my journey. Every time I fell, I stood up again and decided to think about the times that I did know for sure. Again and again I prayed: God, show me that you are here. You know me, right? You know that I want to find You, but I just can’t. I can not find the rest to sit and wait.

And He did! In numerous ways. Through a whatsapp message, a postcard, an email, a song, a bible verse, a thought, something I read or heard somewhere, something I suddenly remembered. All those things together give me a clear sense now of: no, I was not abandoned. He did not let me go.

Last week I heard a song from a Dutch band called Lev and after realizing what I wrote above, I can now sing it along:
Als er niets meer klopt, klopt het hart van God. God die overwint, Hij is met ons. Dus laat de hoop niet los. Los van wat er komt, komt er redding, want God is met ons. It is actually not possible to litterally translate this, because in Dutch we say: ‘When nothing beats anymore’, meaning that nothing makes sense anymore. And we use that word ‘klopt’ (beat) also for the beating of a heart. So this line would in English mean something like this:

‘If nothing makes sense anymore, God heart still beats. God who overcame, He is with us. So don’t let go of hope. Despite of what may come, there’s salvation, for God is with us.’

First published in Dutch on August 7, 2017

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