On Monday the ultrasound tech handed me our last picture of Baby Gjertsen. My placenta didn’t attach properly and the baby died at 11 weeks, 1 day. My obgyn hugged me and prayed for me and said it was a common cause of miscarriage, but it feels like my body has betrayed us again. And so we say goodbye, again, in a familiar ritual of tears, calls, texts, memory boxes, Scripture searching, and prayers.
Taken one at a time, our miscarriages and failure-to-implant results are not that discouraging, but if I look at them all at once—4 attempts, 9 embryos—it’s overwhelming. We thought our 2:5 ratio of healthy kids to pregnancies was bad going into the adoption process, so if it didn’t work the first couple times, it wouldn’t be that different from where we were coming from. But as it turned out, it was worse.
I asked God whether He was telling us to stop trying, and we just weren’t listening before. The physical evidence is so negative. But weighed against a certainty of calling to adopt in our hearts and spirits, which our minds also approved, I think we must defer to what we feel God called us to do, and indeed, what brings us joy to do. And there is no evidence that anything that has gone wrong so far would jeopardize future pregnancies. The doc at the NEDC is reviewing our history to decide whether or not we can try another embryo adoption. We’re prepared to accept whatever he decides.
God grafted this baby into our family tree by His kindness, and miraculous power, and He took him or her away from us by His sovereign and kind will. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), but it’s really hard to discern how this was good from our perspective.
Here I am encouraged by Puritan Thomas Watson, who explains that attaining godly contentment is difficult because it requires us to fight against our natural inclinations: “As for a man to deny his own wisdom, and see himself blind. As to have his own will, and have it melted into the will of God.” I have no understanding for how this was wise, but I am depending on what I know of God’s character to reassure me that His will was good, and it is perfect, and He is using it for His glory. And I am looking forward to seeing, someday, how His glorious plan was unfolding, even now, for our good. So I’ll accept that I am blind, and He is wise, and I will melt my will into His, trusting that His is far better.
Please pray for us to continue in this mindset, because it is easy to start looking at ourselves instead of the Savior and veer off into regret, self-pity, and despondency. Pray for us like Paul prayed for the church in Thessalonica:
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess. 1:11-12
We signed up for this, and our massively faithful God is sustaining us through it. We asked God to challenge us with a faith journey that was bigger than us and that we could live out, however it turned out, in front of our kids. We already knew what it was like to have problems conceiving, to have a special needs child, to miscarry and to lose a child, and we saw how God was faithful and gracious and drew us closer to Him through these trials. So we weighed the fear of death, emptiness, and loss and said our God was greater than all these things. We’ve been put to the test on this, but we are still clinging to Christ as our treasure. We are still seeking “to take up the cross, and follow Christ, not only in golden—but in bloody paths” (Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment).