Joy Comes in the Mourning - amandakarisphoto.com

Joy Comes in the Mourning

An Emotional and Personal Oregon Coast Couples Session

couple kisses in oregon mist
Images by the incredible human and incredibly talented Rebekah Leona Photography

“I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

I never expected 2021 to unfold the way it did. Even though I tend to consistently jump to worst-case scenarios in any given situation, I was still blindsided. My husband, Christian, and I hoped this would be the year we started our family. We felt 4 years was a sufficient time for “just the two of us.” Many had shared that there would never be a “perfect” time to have kids and that you’ll never feel fully ready. But we knew we were as ready as we’d ever be. I was surprised and overcome with joy when I found out on March 16th, 2021 that I was pregnant. Immediately, as any mother will tell you, my entire worldview shifted. I began making plans and every event coming up in the next year was seen through a different lens. I told my husband that same day and we started planning how we were going to tell both of our parents. After all, this would be the first grand-baby! We knew this news had to be delivered in person. I was able to fly to Kentucky from Arizona the next week (aka the longest week of my life keeping this from my mother) to tell them in person. The following week, Christian’s parents came in from Pennsylvania for his sister’s wedding, and we were able to share with his family. These are still happy memories and moments I will forever treasure. I am so thankful that we shared with our immediate family and close friends when we did. Every life is a miracle and deserves to be celebrated.

My first appointment confirmed my pregnancy and put my due date around November 4th of this year. As a self-diagnosed and recovering pessimist, my mind immediately jumped to all the things that could go wrong. I strived with everything in me to mitigate those risks. Yet, I felt a voice inside me reminding me to have faith and trust that our God is a good God. Hoping this meant everything would work out the way I wanted it to, I worked hard to change my usual anxious and fearful thought patterns. My second appointment was the first ultrasound, and since we were guessing I was around 7 weeks at the time, we were excited to hear the heartbeat! Unfortunately, that moment never came. Doctors said it might be too early to see or hear anything, so we scheduled another ultrasound for two weeks later before confirming a miscarriage. That was truly the longest two weeks of my life. Waiting to see if my dreams were coming true or if I was being robbed of all hope. I constantly wavered between faith and fear, not really knowing how to feel. I went numb and spent most of those two weeks in a state of shock. My mother came out to be with me for the next appointment, for which I am so grateful. For a few days, I was able to stay distracted while showing my mom around our beautiful state. But eventually April 15th came around. The appointment confirmed what I knew it my heart already – we would not be having a baby this fall.

The baby had stopped growing around 6 weeks and there was still no heartbeat. There was really no specific reason that doctors could pinpoint, it was “just one of those things.” The hopeful optimism I had desperately clung to those first two weeks after finding out I was pregnant was officially gone. Yet, faith remained. I felt the presence and closeness of the Lord in a way that I had never before as He comforted me and gave me strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. There are a few options presented to women in my situation, but Christian and I decided that surgery would be best for us. I had a D & C on April 20th and then was sent home with little to no understanding of what the next weeks and months would bring. I was given the impression that because there was no specific reason they could find of why this happened, that things should be fine within a few days and my body would be back to “normal” within a month. That was not the case. I was so unprepared for the intense amount of grief that would follow me throughout this year. Every woman that goes through this, which is probably a lot of women you know (1 in 4 do), processes it differently. One way is not better than another, or so my therapist tells me.

Even though I knew how much I loved the little jellybean I was blessed to carry for a bit, I was surprised by how deeply I grieved the loss. The first month, especially Mother’s Day two weeks later, was hell. Looking back, it is only by the grace of God I was able to continue running my business. It is very common to question God when things like this happen, but His answer remained consistent. “Trust me. I am working all things together for your good,” (Romans 8:28). How could this be? This sure didn’t feel good. It felt completely unfair and cruel. But if I believe God is a good God on my best days, how meaningless would that be if He wasn’t good even on my worst days? So I was left with a daily choice that doesn’t always get easier with time – to trust.

Trust that God can work this for good in ways that I may never know or understand. Trust that His nearness is my good (Psalm 73:28). Trust that despite all odds, I can have joy in knowing that He is near. I have found all of these things to be true over the past several months. Grief is a bit of a rollercoaster, and there are days that are more difficult than others- even 9 months later. But God has been so, so good to continue to hold me close every day and reveal more of Himself to me. This is how I have made it through this most challenging year, and can hold hope for the future. The week of our would-be due date, Christian and I had the opportunity to take a trip up the Pacific Northwest Coast to spend time together and see the most beautiful landscapes. I booked a photo session for us during this time as a way to commemorate and celebrate our little jellybean. I wanted it to be a visual representation of what we’ve learned this year- that our God can give us so many moments of joy even amidst our deep sorrow. Holding that tension is difficult, but there is beauty. I share all of this with the hope to encourage someone who has gone or is going through something similar. Know that you are not alone, and joy is coming. Keep pressing into God. He is near and He is good.

Love, Amanda

couple pose on cliffs of oregon coast
pacific northwest coastline

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