The Purpose of our Miscarriage: Niss' Perspective
This is a photo of 3 other girlfriends and I; one of us will have at least one miscarriage in our lifetime.
In this case, that 1 is me.
Trigger warning: please keep in mind that this is a miscarriage story and can provoke strong emotions. Praying for you, friend.
Late last year my husband, Hec, and I decided to start trying to expand our family of 2. In February of this year, I remember visiting my primary care doctor because like many other women of color I suffer from a certain vitamin deficiency that results in lethargy. I asked the doc to check my blood to test if my vitamin level had plummeted to dangerous levels again. Still remember casually mentioning that my husband and I had started trying conceiving and she immediately said, "oh wonderful, but be patient-- conceiving can take up to a year." "Got it, doc." I remember going through the weekend wondering if I would have to get back on the high dose of vitamin again like years prior. That Monday I received the call that changed my life. The doctor said, "Hi Anissa, we received your lab results. *insert a smiley pause* "Ummm, so... you're pregnant!" Even she was surprised (haha). I was COMPLETELY SHOCKED-- I already had it in my mind that it could be up to a year before we could conceive. My world was completely shook. Still remember staring out the window and thinking, "WHAT??!" Emotions overtook me completely-- happiness, fear, excitement, fear again, happiness again, joyfulness, shock, some excitement again, a little more fear-- you name it, I felt it-- after all, I was now pregnant. For a couple hours, only God, the doc, and I knew the miraculous news and it was surreal. It's an inexplicable feeling. My 1st child and I chilled by ourselves until Daddy arrived home. I vividly remember seeing him pull up to our home and looking out from the kitchen window and thinking to myself, "his world is about to change and he doesn't even have a slight clue." I then broke the news to him in a cute way and it was picture perfect (I'll spare the sappy details). It was truly a historic moment for our family and will never forget.
During the days to follow I suffered from extreme exhaustion and many new symptoms that now made sense since I was carrying a child. It was like a whole new world! The little baby filled our hearts to the brim but drained my energy like I had never experienced before. All I wanted to do was sleep and chill in bed. Once I'd get home from work, I'd go straight to bed. It was extremely difficult to fake acting upbeat or normal because it was secret only some of our closest loved ones knew. Listen, let me tell you if you did not know, women are the strongest beings on this planet (with or without children ). For 3 months I felt like the worst family member, friend (feel like I definitely lost a few), acquaintance, colleague/employee, church member/spiritual leader, community member/advocate, you name it-- that was me-- feeling the worst because I did not want to prematurely announce to everyone, "I'm pregnant with our first child, world!" As expected, my OBGYN recommended we wait to announce until after the first trimester (after week 12). So for weeks I had to suck it up and act normal knowing that a miracle was growing inside my womb.
Speaking of the OBGYN, my wonderful husband, accompanied me to every single appointment. We are that one couple who documents everything so of course, we recorded the first moment that the doc heard our baby's precious heartbeat. It was so loud and fast-- it was as if he was saying, "Hi Mama and Daddy, I'm here--I already love you with ALL my heart!" It was the most beautiful sound we had ever heard.
Backing up a little, around last late summer/early fall, my husband and I heard the strong calling from God Himself to start our own ministry in 2018. This meant we would not accept any new board positions at the church plant, Arise SDA, that we helped found with many of our other spiritual brothers and sisters. We knew this would draw scrutiny and criticism, but the planning continued-- including planning for the expansion of our family to include a future ministry partner. So when we found out we were pregnant, we were like, "wow, God- we see and hear you!" We officially launched Project 126 three days after we found out we were with child.
To back up even more, when I launched DC Adventists for Social Action in December 2014, another difficult situation struck our family. That was another time I had to fake being okay to those who were not aware-- woo, that was difficult. The timing was not a coincidence and I know it was the enemy that wanted to bring me down and that he did, but not for long. You see, the enemy did not want me to form this group to fight against injustices because he thrives and feeds off of that. He enjoys seeing our brothers and sisters suffer at the hand of his helpers. He hates it when we try to combat evil with good. I did not let the enemy keep me down-- instead, I clung to God like never before and fought through the pain to make sure the ministry would move forward. And it did.
When we launched Project 126, the trauma from that specific past experience resurfaced, and I remember thinking, "uh oh, the enemy is definitely not going to like this new ministry and will throw weapon(s) of destruction-- at what point and how we don't know, but I know it's coming. He will try to destroy what God has specifically called us to do."
Throughout the pregnancy, I felt a nagging feeling come over me several times-- a feeling that something was not right. It was awful, but I would just pray for God to soothe me. One day in early April I was completely overcome with that strong nagging emotion that I scared myself. In the midst of that pain, fear, uncertainty, I loudly heard God give me a specific prayer to speak to Him (yeah, I know-- mind blown). The prayer was, "Lord, I feel like something is terribly wrong with our precious child. If so, please allow me to naturally release it if it's indeed true." The peace that came over me after I prayed that is inexplicable. But that re-confirmed that it was from God because He is the only one who can provide that kind of the supernatural peace. I remember telling my husband and Mama I had prayed that prayer and they thought I was completely out of my mind.
We (Project 126) were supposed to go to New Jersey to have our inaugural Project 126 seminar that very same week, but things rapidly fell apart and looking back I know it was all in God's divine plan. He did not want us to go out of town because little did we know at the time that it would be the last weekend with our precious first born. By the time the weekend had arrived, I thought I had a bad case of gas (spoiler: it wasn't gas) -- it only got worse, which leads us to the second week of April. That particular night was extremely painful, but I still thought it was a bloated belly. I woke my husband up the next morning at 3:00 A.M. and told him to immediately take me to the ER. As I spoke to my doc on the phone it happened. Those who have experienced it, know exactly what I am referring to. I called my mother and she wanted to accompany us to the hospital. This is another part of the greater picture-- you see, my mom used to live 30-45 min away on the other side of town, but miraculously sold her home late last year and moved 7 min away from me... in the direction of the hospital closest to me. Let that soak in--nothing is a coincidence--truly. It was God that gave me the strength to endure the massive pain as we picked my mama up and drove to the hospital. We reached the ER and it was a scene from a movie or TV drama, except I was the protagonist this time. They immediately got me onto a stretcher and rolled me in-- it was so intense that I had not even registered or received an ID band. What happened after that was the worst physical pain I had ever been in, but God made sure to send all of His angels to care for me. God, himself, was in that room with me-- I know because I felt it in the midst of all the emotional and physical pain. Dr. S, Nurse CJ, and Nurse Tech Allison at MedStar Montgomery General Hospital were on duty that night for ME. They tended to and treated me like I was their old friend. They were extremely attentive, caring, gentle, sweet, compassionate, loving-- I truly saw Jesus in them. Get this, this medical facility isn't even a Christian affiliated. I will never forget their level of professionalism, loving spirit, expertise, and the gaze of genuine care they had in their eyes. I'll never forget. The OBGYN, Dr. Gaye, was also a God-send. It gives me the goosebumps because she looked me in the eyes with such compassion and said, "Anissa, unfortunately, this happens more often than not. Many women we know go through this. I don't know if you are spiritual, but I believe it's God's way of naturally releasing what was not going to survive or be extremely ill in the future." You can only imagine my eyes and my family's (they were all big). That's when the Holy Spirit pushed me and said, "tell her about your specific prayer last week." I did and then it was her turn for her eyes to grow the size of golf balls. It was such a warm spiritual moment-- right there in the middle of my pain in a cold hospital. It is in that hospital that I thanked God for answering my prayer-- one day before the end of my 1st trimester. Who knows what our baby had, but God answered. God knows best even when it hurts our core. I will forever be indebted to those medical professionals who treated me with God's love-- so much so that weeks after I wrote them a personal note to thank them for being my angels. Hope they know how much my family and I appreciate them.
Within hours I was cleared to be released from the hospital. What happened after that is also inexplicable. The amount of peace I had was not humanly possible. The first worship song that popped in my head as I exited the hospital was, "Even When It Hurts" by Hillsong United. This is the part of the song I had on repeat in my heart and mind:
Even when my strength is lost
I'll praise you
Even when I have no song
I'll praise you
Even when it's hard to find the words
Louder then I'll sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
Even when the fight seems lost
I'll praise you
Even when it hurts like hell
I'll praise you
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I'll sing your praise
I will only sing your praise
My husband and Mama could not believe my strength. I couldn't either-- it was ALL God.
Mind you-- there were two major things going on that very same week. 1) my husband was leading a spiritual week during the evenings for a group of children we love dearly. 2) it was my last week of work as a federal contractor, which meant I had a lot of work to complete before starting my new job that following Monday. Intense week in all sense of the word. BUT GOD. He gave me supernatural strength and had another nagging feeling-- this time it was that my husband had to go speak/deliver God's message to the kids that very same evening. I could not shake the feeling and basically forced my husband to go preach. The topic for that specific evening? Having FAITH in God. I am convinced that he was preaching a timely message for at least one child who desperately needed it that night and also for himself (who was completely broken). He did it with God's help and one day, in Heaven, we will see who needed that message that evening. Note: the sweet children were so concerned for me since they knew I had been in the hospital (don't worry, they didn't know the specifics) and made cards for us (insert happy tears). Cannot wait to read them one of these days.
As for me, that first evening, my Mama was with me. Mothers are such angels-- where would we be without our angel Mamas or loved ones who have taken the place of our Mamas? She took care of me with such love and never thought it would be possible to love her even more than I already did. But my love for her grew even more deeply.
Backing up a little, after leaving the hospital, I text messaged two close friends who had gone through miscarriages, and other close friends to pray for us. That's when one of my friends who had gone through several miscarriages sprung into action and later that afternoon, before Hec left to the church, text messaged me saying there was something outside on our stoop. I opened the door and there was a huge gift bag. It was a personalized care package with some of our favorite snacks, gift cards, Psalm coloring set, and a tea mug that says, "I will walk by faith even when I cannot see." 2 Corinthians 5:7. So beautiful. What had we done to deserve the loving people He has placed lives? She told me, "A friend did this for me when I lost one of my children so I knew I had to pass it on." Wow, thank you from the bottom of my hearts, my dearest friend. Now it is MY turn to pass it on to another woman who will lose a child in the future. :( Wish we didn't live in such a sinful world where babies die or there are illnesses, but ONE DAY we will all live happily in Heaven with all of our children who have passed.
I am eternally grateful to our loved ones who showered us with love when they found out. The flowers, gifts, prayers, meals, love, hugs, more love, and for shedding tears with us. We love you so much-- more than we could ever explain.
Back to my last week on the job; I had to take a couple days off, but by that Friday I was already back in the office. Crazy, I know, but God gave me the boost of energy and strength I needed in order to wrap up my old position. By this time I had shared the sad news with my entire work team and the amount of love I received was overwhelming. I saved the emails/notes because I'll forever treasure them-- a few of my colleagues, who I did not know believed in God sent me beautiful Bible verses. When I got to work on Friday there was a touching card, handcrafted origami, and a gift card for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (spa or hotel stay). Have to share this side story-- I know it's awkward to give condolences especially if you feel uncomfortable doing so-- well, one of my male colleagues kept walking near my desk, as if he wanted to say something to me, and finally stopped to speak to me. He stammered, "H-h-i Anissa, I-I just want you to know that I-I am so sorry for your loss and wanted to tell you something... My Mom lost a baby too but then had us, two healthy boys. Everything will be okay with you too." It was a moment I will never forget-- ever. To those who know my insane career journey/story-- you see, God has led me to be with this group of professionals. I survived that workday because of God and colleagues. Later that afternoon Hec and I left to the Eastern Shore for some healing.
The ocean, God's creation, is a healing tool-- something about salt water and sun. We cried our hearts out, spoke to God, sat in silence, and cried some more. We recharged, thanks to God and my family, and were ready to start the new work week-- for me, a new permanent position (no longer a contractor) with the same group.
I remember my new boss asking me, "are you sure you want to start less than a week after your tragic loss? We do not mind if you take as much time as you need-- in fact, we want you to." I wanted to start the new position because it would be better than being at home alone over thinking and feeling low. So, I started my new journey. That first day, I know some of my colleagues (that I had not gotten to know previously and did not know about miscarriage), probably thought I was a super shy/stuck up/lame new colleague. Ha. I was not in the mood to be social, but they had a welcome lunch for me (sigh...yeah, I know...). Had to suck it up, but did not do a good job at all. The lesson in that (that I was reminded of) is that we always need to treat others kindly because we do not know what battles they are facing. Anyways, I made it through the week with God's help, the help of loved ones, and some of my colleagues. I'm telling you, I know God lead me to be employed here because the amount of compassion I received from my bosses and others was like nothing before (at work). To the extent that one of my colleagues, who also went through this, held me as we had a good cry together. She then spoke a prophetic word and I strongly believe God asked her to deliver that message to me. Thank you, colleague friend. I will never forget.
...And just as my 1st week on the job had ended I had entered the road to healing, we received the call that my Wuela (Abuela/grandmother) was rushed to the ER. I had that sinking feeling that she wouldn't make it out of this ER visit alive so I tried to mentally prepare my Mom and packed funeral clothes and clothing for a week stay. We drove to New Jersey after work and we knew it was only a matter of time. Even though my Wuela wasn't exactly healthy, she also definitely was not on her deathbed prior to the hospitalization-- so you can only imagine the shock when the doc communicated that she was brain dead. My Mama, Uncle and I were there with her that last night. I was glued to the monitors watching the heartbeat and pressure decrease hour after hour. I had never watched someone die before and it's another one of those inexplicable experiences. As time drew closer, our Aunt (Wuela's sister), Wuela's beloved cousin (they were like sisters), and their spouses arrived to say their final goodbyes/see you laters. We kissed her, spoke to her, told her we loved her, caressed her until the heart monitor flat lined. Another one of those moments that you see on the movies/TV dramas. My Wuela died exactly two weeks after we lost our baby. Exactly two weeks. We lost two generations in the matter of two weeks. You can only imagine how my heartfelt and still feels at times. Note: I documented (through a series of black and white photos) the entire death process as taboo as it is, but won't be sharing anytime soon.
Mind you, I had just begun my new position at work and here I was asking to work remotely from another state. They all agreed to it. In what world does an employer have that much understanding and empathy? I know a couple of my previous employers would not have been that understanding-- especially on the 2nd week on the job. If that's not God, I don't know what is. God ordains every single step of our lives.
The days after my Wuela departed this world felt like a blur-- we had to plan the life celebration, select flowers, purchase items to personalize events, all those logistics that you have to complete with a broken heart. It was not easy, but are so thankful to my Uncle's wife, Aunt Hilda, for all her help/leadership in this. She kept us on track throughout it all. Thank you, Titi Hilda. It also helped that my cousin's baby, Kendrick, would visit and brought us all joy and smiles. Love you, Kendrick.
As the life celebration approached, I received word that some of my [non-blood family] were going to travel up to New Jersey to be with us [insert tears]-- including a huge surprise I received the day of the life celebration. It is nice to have a million acquaintances, but to have a few friends who are like family is a blessing like none other. A true embodiment of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. I love you 6 more than words can express.
To say April 2018 was life changing and painful is an understatement. BUT GOD.
Heavyhearted and feeling worn/beat-up, we trudged forward with the new ministry God called us to go forth with. May 2018 felt like a blur -- many friends hung out with us/loved on us, not knowing what had happened to us in April. Thank you for bringing smiles to our faces and laughter to our heart, friends. We were still scheduled to move forward with the Spiritual Gifts Weekend Seminar with Rise Up Church in Manassas the first weekend of June and at times it was extremely difficult to continue preparing for it, BUT GOD helped us through every step.
The 1st day (of the weekend seminar) arrived and it was no coincidence that it was one of the most heaviest (in terms of workload at our 9 to 5) for Hec and I. BUT GOD. We arrived to the Rise Up Church that evening and Hec had the 1st sermon/message entitled, "The Test of Purpose." I think you know where I'm going with this. Friends, I can barely describe the fire Hec had in his belly and spirit when he delivered that message that evening. It had been a while since I had seen that extreme holy fire in Hec-- it gave me the goosebumps. I am telling you, it was so passionate, raw, real, and powerful, that I felt like shooting out of my seat to yell "Hallelujah!" Except I did it internally (true to the introvert that I am). I was shouting, hollering, and crying-- all inside. Haha. Okay, I'll calm down now. But in all seriousness, Hec wouldn't have preached at our original first weekend seminar like that because he would not have experienced the most difficult "test of purpose (of our ministry)" by then. At Rise Up? He did. I do not take that lightly; neither does Hec. Just like that children's week of prayer, he preached at the night of our miscarriage, I also knew/know that someone that evening at Rise Up needed that very specific message with that amount of conviction coming from Hec's lips (inspired by God). We will see what impact it had when we get to Heaven-- cannot wait!
We spent Friday and Saturday (Sabbath) with the Rise Up family and being it was our first actual weekend ministering in that format there were nerves throughout the weekend. BUT GOD. He led us through it in a powerful way and ended up being more blessed than probably the participants themselves. Thank you, Rise Up Church, for embracing us the way you did, participating, getting out of your comfort zones (don't hate me for those activities...haha), and blessing us with your presence. You gave me that last push I needed to share this deeply personal and spiritual experience with everyone. We will never forget the first church we had this experience with so thank you! A special THANK YOU to Pastor Ovalle and Tati for believing in our God-given ministry and for being supportive and patient with us-- not knowing what we were going through during that weekend.
During one of my post-miscarriage doctor appointments, the doctor and I were conversing about how society is so deathly afraid...of speaking about death. She said, too many miscarriages are a source of shame, embarrassment, and other negative things associated with it because (in her opinion) it's not something we speak about openly. We speak openly about births, other joyful moments, but not something as natural (although painful and sad) as death. We need to change that for a myriad of reasons. Let's be open about our painful experiences and how God came through for us. Let's testify to edify. I struggled to share this, but God's still small (sometimes big) voice kept prodding me to share. It makes me uncomfortable/uneasy that people who dislike us and have an intrusive spirit will read this, but the desire to help others in the struggle completely outweighs those feelings. Also, I Googled other women's miscarriage stories and there are many out there-- such courageous women. I want to be one of them. And that's why I am sharing my story to help someone else out there, whether it be a woman or man with another tough life situation. Just know that God is for us and not against us. He's got us under His wing. I've heard people say, "Do not tell people going through a hellish time that God is in control." While I agree there is a time and place for everything, I knew and still know that God ordains every single minute detail in my life because HE IS IN CONTROL. I trust in Him that He knew what was best when He allowed our precious baby and my Abuela to take their last breaths in April. The spiritual lessons and applications have been abundant so far and know that God is not finished yet. We will continue moving forward with Project 126 (remember, you can invite us to your church or leadership group!), the ministry God called us to do in this season of our life, no matter what other "weapons of destruction" are thrown at us. God will continue turning around for good, what the devil intends for bad. He will do the same for you too, friend. He definitely will.
I am also not finished blogging on this subject and will most likely have a part II and possibly part III. Plus I am trying to convince Hec to blog the man's perspective in a miscarriage story. It's needed, right?
We are all in this together. If you ever want to chat (or let us know what you thought about this blog post-- which my husband says I should develop into a book-- haha, I know this was longgg and it wasn't even half of it), please drop us a message in the [contact] section or text/Facebook/Instagram/email me.