I am honored and proud to introduce my husband, David, to you all. We are sharing a journal entry with you that David wrote while he was in the hospital waiting room as I was undergoing emergency surgery earlier this month for an ectopic pregnancy. If you aren’t familiar with an ectopic pregnancy, it is where a baby begins to grow and develop outside of the womb, most often in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies are rare, yet are potentially life threatening situations for the mother. This is the second time we have been dealt this unlucky diagnosis, the first time occurring exactly 2 years and 1 day prior. The first ectopic pregnancy also resulted in emergency surgery and I lost my right fallopian tube along with the baby. This time, the doctors diagnosed us early and tried to “treat” the ectopic pregnancy and save my remaining fallopian tube with an injection of Methotrexate, which is a chemotherapy drug that targets and destroys rapidly dividing cells. I say “treat” because it’s the nice way of saying terminate. Although Methotrexate is 90% effective at “treating” an ectopic pregnancy, our little fighter was truly resilient and continued to grow and develop in spite of the poison and adversity thrown their way. We prayed for a miracle and for God to move the baby to my womb where they would be safe, but on Monday February 5, 2018 the situation became life-threatening and I was quickly rushed into surgery to stop any internal bleeding, terminate our much wanted pregnancy, and remove my only remaining fallopian tube and our hope of ever naturally conceiving again. David and I decided to share this intimate journal entry with you because there are not many male perspectives on pregnancy loss and grief out there. David has been my rock and he is truly the strongest, most selfless, serving, and loving person I have ever known. I know his words, pain, and perspective- although weighty- have immense purpose and carry an undeniable hope.
This is a very heavy read (You’ve been warned!), but we hope by being transparent about our journey and our process it will continue to normalize the grieving experience and allow others to find strength in knowing they are not alone.
I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m sad and angry and…a little numb. This feels like déjà vu. Once again, I’m sitting here in the second floor waiting room at the hospital after just saying goodbye to Lindsay as they wheel her off to the operating room.
It’s hard to believe it’s been practically two years to the day since I said the same goodbye to the love of my life, the strongest and most courageous person I’ve ever known, the woman who has been through hell and has always kept hope, my wife who is now carrying our 8th child. Our child we had prayed for, who we’ve loved, who we had hoped and believed to see this August, who has been growing, whose heartbeat we just saw on an ultrasound an hour ago…but also saw that they didn’t make it into her womb before starting to grow. So once again, our child could kill my wife.
In a few moments a doctor will cut our child out of her body and they will die along with our hope of ever naturally conceiving again, but Lindsay will most likely live. Everything inside me is twisted with the pain of death for our child and gratitude for my wife’s life. Our kid is destined to die like this or if we let them grow a little longer, they would rupture her fallopian tube, Lindsay would die of internal bleeding, and then they would still die. It’s unavoidable and I feel helpless.
But I don’t want to think about the gravity of this situation right now. This is all normal. You’ll get over it, David. Don’t uncontrollably cry in front of all these strangers sitting around you. So I’ll just sit here for around 2-3 hours scrolling through Facebook, looking at the news, trying to keep my mind off the fact that we just authorized a doctor to separate our child from their mother and will likely put them in a bag labeled “biohazard waste”. That will be the grave of two of our children now. But I don’t want to think about that. I can’t.
In a few minutes our parents who had the joy to birth us, raise us, and watch us grow will come to the hospital and try to comfort us when once again, we have had that hope of joy ripped away from us. Then our friends and coworkers will tell us they’re sorry, that they hate this for us, they may even bring us food, and they’ll say they are praying for us. I’m thankful for them. I’m so thankful for family and friends. It’s good to know there are people in our lives who care for us. But unfortunately, they can’t change this right now.
Oh God…it feels like nothing really helps. Because at the end of today, we’ll go home once again and sit in silence knowing that there’s one less heartbeat in our home. Lindsay and I will have to deal with the pain of the loss, the pain of recovery, the pain of “hope deferred”, and the grief for trust in God’s wisdom and power and knowledge and goodness and love. We will sit there, staring at a wall or our phones or a tv, hoping that if we stare long enough, the faithful healer, Time, will ease the pain. So we’ll wait once again.
And as we wait, I’ll try to ease the pain faster for her. She’s always been so resilient through each loss and hardship, and she probably doesn’t even need me to do anything…but I’m her husband after all. I want to be strong even though I feel weak because I’ve failed to protect my wife from pain once again. So I’ll try to make up for that failure by trying to make jokes, find good food, movies to watch, things to do, or even book a vacation to get her out of the house. But we’ve been here before – it doesn’t really work. No matter what I do, I can’t change the reality of what we’ve been through today and I can’t take her pain for her.
But I have the thought, “maybe God will ease the pain, maybe He will show us some grand revelation, maybe He will show us a path forward that can result in Joy”…but then the doubt comes, “but…He didn’t care enough to stop the pain to begin with, He doesn’t care about you if He let eight of your kids die before you even got to meet them, He can’t even help your baby implant in the right place, what makes you think He would care to intervene now?”
I don’t know, because maybe…just maybe, He will. So I’ll fight to suspend my disbelief as I always do. Let the dust settle. Maybe I don’t see clearly right now. Maybe my human mind is too small. Maybe I don’t understand the intersection of the fallen nature of this world and His sovereignty. Maybe I’ll see it all differently later. Or maybe…I’m just an idiot who is hoping for Hope when there is none. Maybe I’m just afraid of believing all this pain is meaningless, that we are utterly alone, and that when we get home tonight, staring off blankly at whatever and waiting on time to heal, we are the only two people in this pain. Maybe. But I can’t shake what I’ve known of Him in the past. I feel like I’ve seen too much of Him to believe that. There are people who know Him going through horrific things every day. We aren’t the first ones to suffer. And they’ve kept the faith. Maybe, once again, I can too. I just don’t know.
There’s a song I’ve been listening too recently called “Madness” by the band Citizens & Saints. It’s the only honest words I’ve been able to say to Him over the past week and it’s the best expression of what I feel right now. Most of the song is expressing relentless despair, but the second verse shows a small turn to comfort in the midst of it. The writer doesn’t try to say he is now happy, or hopeful, or even okay with the way things are going. All he settles on for now is that he is not alone.
“This world’s so cruel, down to it’s core
I’m drowning in doubt like never before
I thought with time, the wounds would all heal
But still there are days when they’re all that I feel
Yet the more I live, the more that I see
The hurt I have isn’t only on me
You can feel it too, and You know what I need,
An anchored Rock in a wicked sea”
This is truly a wicked sea.
But is being anchored enough? What if the waves keep getting bigger?
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
What if I can’t hold on any longer and I get torn away and swallowed up by them?
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28)
Ok, so I’m secure ultimately. But how can I survive right now?
“Surely I Am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)
But will knowing I’m not alone in my hurt be enough? How can I have hope that I’ll ever feel joy again?
“You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:21)
I’m not convinced yet. But maybe I will be.
Our parents will be arriving any minute now and then the doctor will tell me to come back and see Lindsay as she wakes up. I’ll look at her and have that tangled up emotion of grief and gratitude. She’ll show her strength like she always does, even though she’s hopped up on meds and just went through one of the worst and most traumatic things ever. Then we’ll drive home and try to continue, day after day through ebbs and flows, this fight for faith in the midst of the pain. Maybe that’s what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he told Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12)
The song ends with:
“The constant ache of all this grief
Pressing me down, but it’s never defeat
‘Cause when I reach the end of my years
I’ll lift from the grave and I’ll bury my tears
And I will see You face to face
With brand-new eyes and a finished faith”
If you are interested in hearing “Madness” in full, click here.
If you have lost a child or can relate in some way, there is another song that another band wrote when the lead singer had a still-born named “Zion” that I’ve found to be cathartic. Click here.