I was laying in a white lounge chair at the end of a row of 5 pregnant women. The woman next to me was a sweet sweet friend from church, her head cocked toward mine in anticipation. The others were strangers to me. There was powdery, white sand under the edge of our chairs and a motionless, crystal blue lagoon ahead. The water lapped with the fierceness of a week old puppy. We were encased by a cave of protection. I couldn’t take my eyes off the lush greenery around us and was overcome by the blessing of being in the space.
Leading the women and our stoically quiet husbands to the sandy calm was a guide with dark brown hair, pulled back with a strand spilling onto the left side of her face. She navigated us through hallways of corporate nothingness and then through crowds of human chaos. Our daughter was there in the chaos crying out with a skinned knee. She reached for me and I swooped her into my arms, over a bulged belly. I made it better and she was gone.
Once in our chairs, this faceless leader stood, ankle deep in the blue, and spoke confidently about the plan. The doctor would arrive shortly and would deliver all the babies in one fell swoop. The natural, holistic medications they had given all the women the week before were preparing our bodies for this moment. My sweet sweet friend looked at me with calm irritation and explained that neither of us had been present for this magic medication and therefore would likely not deliver that day. I knew she was right. But, despite my initial feelings of shock and wonder at my pregnant state, I became aware that my bulging belly wasn’t ready to deliver. It wasn’t half as big as the other bellies. And I explained to her that I hadn’t felt any contractions or kicking from my baby. She was surprised and I started doubting. I started acknowledging the truth of my pregnant state.
The doctor arrived and my friend looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes. The twinkle of a woman knowing she would soon give birth. I couldn’t find the twinkle in myself. The doctor was handsome and smiled with his eyes. I looked at him and knew he wouldn’t be attending to me the way he would to the other women. In that moment of clarity, strong hands massaged my shoulders. Tim was with me, but the hands weren’t his. As the man, whose face I didn’t ever see, massaged, I knew my baby wasn’t going to meet this world. I would leave childless. Speaking those words aloud wasn’t possible, but my deep insides knew. My heart starting cracking. And I woke up.
That was this morning. 6:00am woke me with a jolt and I whispered a small piece of my dream to a half sleeping Tim. I lifted myself out of bed and closed the closet door to get dressed for my morning gym routine. As I blindly fumbled for a t-shirt, the weight of what happened in that protective lagoon dominated all of me. I looked down at my flat stomach and sobbed. I grieved a dream that wasn’t real. But it was. As I stood in the closet, with Tim eventually discovering my mess and holding me from behind, I knew just how real it was. For both of us. Tim didn’t tell me it was okay. He didn’t encourage me to go spinning and plug through. He knows it’s not okay. It just IS.
For all of us in our varying degrees of struggle, those are the moments that sneak up and remind us. They don’t visit often, but when they do, it’s unexpected and raw. They prevent us from burying, which is perhaps God’s role. By design, God knows burying will bring despair and He would rather us welcome sadness for what it is and recognize its importance for healing and forward movement. We’re learning to embrace the sadness and give ourselves grace when it overpowers. Because when we do that, the goodness flows back in and fills us again. And if we welcome it, we might just feel the strong hands of an all knowing Father massaging our pain.