A couple weekends ago, my husband and I headed up to the mountains for our fifth anniversary. It was our first getaway as a couple since our honeymoon. It was perfect. We stayed at a darling bed and breakfast, ate way too much good food, and did not much else. Throughout the weekend, I constantly came back to the thought that this was really, really good for us. It's important for all married couples to have times of relaxation and enjoyment together, but it struck me as especially needed for a couple who has undergone difficult emotional trauma.
Couples who have gone through the loss of a child (pregnancy loss included) have a much higher divorce rate for a reason. After our second loss, I found myself utterly surprised by how altered our marriage had become. I found myself avoiding my husband because he had become a reminder of the pain of our losses. I couldn't even look at him without the sharp reminder of the babies we lost. There was a part of me to felt that it would be easier if we were no longer together, if I no longer had him around as a constant reminder. If we went our separate ways, it would would be so much easier to pretend our losses never existed, and without that constant reminder, then maybe the pain would be a little less.
These were all fleeting thoughts, of course, nothing I ever dwelt on. And they were most certainly lies. The pain of separating from my husband, the only person who knew and loved the children we lost as intimately as I did, would have only brought more pain to our losses. (Not to mention the pain it would bring to our living child, to our families, and to every other aspect of our lives.) No matter how much I tried, no matter what lengths I would have gone through, it would have been futile to try to ignore the pain of our losses anyway; it's much healthier to confront and heal that pain and we could only truly do that together.
When I think of the short lives of four miscarried children, I want them to have meaning. I want them to, despite the pain of loss, bring good into the world and that starts right here with their family. What good would come from their short lives and deaths if they put a wedge between their parents?
Looking back at the most difficult points of our marriage after loss, it's so very clear how Satan uses our times of pain and weakness. Christian marriages are reflection of the beauty and goodness of God. The procreative aspect of those marriages is a very visible sign to the world of power of love. When something goes wrong with the life-giving element of marriage (be it infertility or loss), doubts creep in as to the validity of the marriage, or if not the validity at least the value.
And then there is the guilt. One member of the couple usually feels all the weight and blame of loss and fertility issues. Even when there is no no firm diagnosis, the woman usually pulls the guilt upon herself. It's hard to bridge that gap, to feel like infertility/loss is happening go both of you together instead of one of you pushing it upon the other. It's easy to believe that you are at fault, preventing your partner from having the children they deserve, wondering if he isn't better off with someone else who can give him living children. Humans are bodies and souls and as much as we'd like to separate our spiritual life, the brokenness of the body can often lead to brokenness in the soul.
Four losses in less than a year and a half. Surgery. Another pregnancy. I wish I could say that this pregnancy has helped to heal our wounds, and I'm still hopeful that after the birth of our child the healing will come, but so far it's only seemed to deepen them. Or at least call attention to them in a way that is no longer possible to ignore. The wounds are still there, but our approach is different. We're no longer pulling away from each other, but turning toward one another in our sorrow. We grieve differently, my husband more stoic and silent, my tears and pain more visible and vocal, but instead of letting those differences pull us apart, we're learning to care for each other's individual needs. I feel guilty that my body failed to nurture our children, David feels helpless as he watches me continue to go through trauma he would do anything to relieve. Together we're working on finding other fruits and creative outlets for our marriage, so that it's value doesn't hinge solely on our fertility.
As we sat up in our room the mountains, we talked about our favorite moments and the blessings of our first five years of marriage. The conversation was more somber than we would have ever expected it to be. Between mentioning milestones and cherished memories, there were long pauses where we silently thought about the sorrows and struggles which, at least numerically, outnumber the hallmark moments. But reflecting on those difficult times gave us the ability to rejoice in the strength and durability of our marriage, the flexibility we'd found and the lessons we've learned. We understood the importance of leaving room in for God (and for heartache and tragedy and time to rebuild) in our future goals, of setting priorities instead of milestones, and thinking eternally,