The phone call came on a Monday afternoon. That morning's blood test results were in. My hcg count had dropped. It was over.
And just like that, I was carried back five years. Loss was not just that one season of life that I had moved beyond. It had invaded my world again.
Only this time, it has been different. It has been easier in some ways. Not as shocking to my faith. Not as traumatic physically. Not as alien to anything I had experienced before.
But in some ways, it has been harder, and I'm realizing that a lot is because I'm older now. I was in my late thirties for my other losses. Now I'm 44, and loss in my forties feels very different than loss in my thirties. Maybe some of these will resonate with you, too.
It feels lonelier. Most of my 40-something peers are not trying to have babies anymore. Their kids are in middle school, not diapers. They have moved beyond the baby phase and their families are complete. Because there are fewer women in their forties trying to conceive, there are fewer women in their forties dealing with loss (although the risk is greater), and fewer who understand what I feel.
It feels foolish. Yes, the risk is greater. I know that, and we still prayed for another baby. I still had hope when I saw those two lines. And now I feel foolish for trying, for hoping, and for grieving. I feel like I "should have" been prepared for a loss and protected my heart...or that I should not have tried in the first place.
It feels selfish. After all, I've had my rainbow. I have two beautiful children on earth and now, having lost another, I feel like I have asked for too much, instead of being content with the miracles I have already been given.
It feels hopeless. When a woman in her twenties, or even thirties, has a loss, it is common for people to tell her, "You're young, you'll have more children." It's insensitive, because it ignores her grief for this child, but there is a kernel of truth in it, and many women do go on to have a healthy pregnancy after loss. And when you are missing your baby and longing to feel life in your womb, it does give hope. But you don't hear that so much in your forties, because let's face it, there's not as much time. It's easy for others to hear of a later-in-life loss and immediately assume that a) it's because you're old, and b) God is telling you it's time to stop trying (as many people said about Michelle Duggar after their loss when she was 45). It's easy to assume that yourself, too.
That how it feels. Lonely. Foolish. Selfish. Hopeless.
But it's not how it is. Not according to God's word, which I have been clinging to these past two weeks. If you also feel this way, whatever your age, take comfort in His truth.
It feels lonely, but I am not alone. God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), and his nearness has been very apparent in these recent days. Also, there is a community out there, both online and in real life, that I can turn to for support.
It feels foolish, but God's definition is different. The Bible ascribes the title of "fool" to those who reject his word (Proverbs 1:7) and deny God's existence (Psalm 14:1), not for those who throw themselves on his mercy. Hope against all odds, when you beg him to intervene, is not foolish. It is courageous.
It feels hopeless, but I must remember that my hope is not in having children or any earthly blessing, but in God. And God is bigger than any naysayers out there about having babies later in life (and he seems to specialize in that particular problem anyway - see Genesis 21:1-5 and Luke 1:5-23). But even if he says no, he is still good, and if my hope is in him and not in what I want him to give me...
I will survive.
Have you lost a baby at an "advanced maternal age"? How are you doing?