The day I found out that I was going to be a mother changed my life forever. I remember the two red lines on the test, and that it was a Sunday, and my husband was wearing a white t-shirt. It was January 2015, and I was pregnant.
I’d imagined this moment countless times, yet nothing had prepared me for the mix of emotions that overtook me – amid the excitement and happiness, the sense that life as I’d known it was about to be turned upside down was overwhelming. I walked in the small park near our house in an attempt to settle my nerves; I prayed, and felt a quiet peace.
And life was turned upside down, but not as I expected.
At our 12-week scan, the ultrasound showed that the baby had died at nine weeks, a missed miscarriage. Everything was thrown into chaos, the grief all-consuming. The trauma of losing our baby had a devastating effect on my mental health, and I developed an anxiety disorder which tormented me for months. In what felt like a cruel twist, I watched friends and family members have healthy pregnancies and babies, born right around what should have been our due date.
Through the gut-wrenching pain, anxiety and anger, I felt God’s presence so deeply. I clung to every Bible verse that spoke hope, and drew immense comfort from the prayers and encouragement of friends. After months of suffering I went for therapy, and eventually started to break free from the fear that gripped me.
And finally, in October, I saw two lines again, and I cried and felt no joy, only unready and guilty. It was only when I saw the small, blurred shape of my daughter kicking around on the 12-week scan that I started to let myself feel joy again. We had our happy ending and she was born six months later, our sweet July baby.
Having a child changes you in a thousand ways, yet the loss of our first baby changed me more. I am not the person I was before, and I lost my faith as I knew it. I thought God had a good plan for my life, yet this terrible thing happened to me. God had not saved my baby despite my prayers, so how could I trust that prayer worked at all? All the Christian answers I’d once spouted no longer made sense. Just as my body changed and stretched to make room for a child, my faith too was irrevocably changed, as I made room for suffering and doubt.
The storm ceased, as it always does, and I found peace as I worked through my grief. But these days, I find it really hard to pray. I’m more questioning and more cynical, and wholly uncertain about what kind of Christian I am. And yet, I still love God. I believe He is good and He loves me to the very depth of me, and at the moment, that’s enough.
Recently, I heard a wise man say: “You’ve got to have faith to doubt with hope”. And that’s pretty much how I feel right now, a hopeful, faithful doubter, with fewer answers than I started with, but that’s okay. My faith is wider and more accommodating; less sure, but still hopeful.
We named our daughter Faith.