October is Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness Month. During October, Project Pomegranate welcomes our friend and fellow traveler Elizabeth Hagan, as a guest blogger. Her book, Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility, a story which was also punctuated by miscarriage, will be released on December 6, 2016. If you missed her first post about why she took on this project, you can read it here.
Please also consider sharing Though the Darkness Gather Round: Devotions about Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Loss! You can purchase here or here!
If you missed Elizabeth Hagan’s first excerpt of her book Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility about her first miscarriage, you can read it here. Today she writes about the experience of learning that she miscarried again in between worship and a church council meeting.
Two months passed. My thirtieth birthday neared. Of course I would be pregnant by thirty! What couple in love like us wasn’t?
One morning, much to my glee, I started to feel sick, just like at Thanksgiving. Best of all, my period was late too. My body hurt. Kitchen smells that used to be my favorites, such as bananas and cheese, now repulsed me. Something was up . . .
Sunday morning came. In the hours that followed, I stumbled through my sermon on the deadly sin of anger for our special Lenten series, losing my place several times. . . .
I felt happy when the sermon was over so I could sit down. I said the benediction and dismissed everyone to go downstairs to enjoy our weekly potluck after worship. I felt silly for having expectations, but I was sure there would be a cake. There wasn’t. I needed to eat my own words I’d just preached on anger as I peered over the dessert table. Someone told me that since we’d just had one for my first anniversary I didn’t need another one. Really? Most of all, I felt so stupid for giving the church emotional control over my birthday. Oh, and we weren’t done yet. Next came church council!
I ran to my upstairs office on the third floor of the building to grab my calendar and a few notes before walking down the hall, where a potentially contentious gathering awaited me. We’d make in the next hour or two what I thought were important decisions about the future of the church and its leadership.
Would we pay a new nursery worker, or would we find more church volunteers for Sunday school? Would we send out a memo to the other renters in the building about the missing locks on the paper towel closet, or would we ignore the fact that some renters seemed to be stealing them? Would we merge the worship committee with the hospitality committee, or would we leave them as separate entities in the by-laws? Such were the makings of what it took to manage life together in this community, the community that I was in charge of leading.
Making one last stop in the bathroom in between my office and the meeting room, I shut the door, hoping to put my “I’m a professional” face on. I decided to go into the bathroom stall as well. It was going to be a long meeting. The printed agenda was already two pages long, and that was only if additional items weren’t added to it (and they usually were!).
Yet as I pulled down my pants, I saw the horror: my period. Bleeding over two weeks late again, bleeding harder than I’d ever experienced in any other cycle. A particular dream was over. A child was lost. My child. My hopes, my planning (that I’d be popping out a baby by 2011!), my sharing the good news with friends—these dreams were all crushed as I sat alone on the toilet in the women’s bathroom. I could get pregnant again. Or could I? Though I heard several church council members inquiring in the hallway outside the door, “Where is Elizabeth? Where is the pastor? We need to start the meeting now,” I just sat there. I couldn’t move. I felt the pain throb all over.
Did anything else really matter in that moment? Did my pain matter to my church? I wanted it to. But I didn’t think it did. What they needed from me was strength and what I defined as “professionalism.”
So, as much as I wanted to wail and wail and tell the whole world what had happened to me again, I bit my tongue. I shut up my tears. I found a tampon under the sink—protection I’d hoped I would not be using again for many months—and washed my hands. I unlocked the door, gulped in a breath of air, and robotically moved myself down the hall toward the church council.
“Let’s have a prayer before we begin, shall we?”