17 Sep Wonder Woman or Woman of Wonder
by Caroline Pignat
Caroline Pignat is a freelance writer from Kanata, Ontario. This article was first published on Life Canada News. It is reprinted with permission.
I was trying to be that superhuman Wonderwoman, that all-powerful mother-wife-teacher-daughter-sister-volunteer-coach. I was organized. I had goals. Spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, financially, everything was rolling according to my plans.
Marry my high school sweetheart, Tony. Check. Buy a house in the suburbs. Check. Have a baby. Liam. Check. Graduate from teacher’s college. Check. Pray daily. Check. Go to church. Check. Join a gym. Check (still working on the ‘attend it regularly’ part).
By the time Liam turned three, Tony and I talked about trying for the next baby. “Four years is a good spread for kids,” I said. He agreed. Get pregnant again. Check.
At my three month prenatal appointment, the doctor seemed concerned. “I am going to send you for an ultrasound,” she said, scanning the results of the last blood test, “…today.” I didn’t like the sound of that. When the ultrasound technician examined me, her silence was far more uncomfortable than my full bladder.
“What’s wrong?” I asked craning my neck to see the screen. She advised me to go back to my doctor and promised to fax the ultrasound over that day.
You just know something’s wrong when they are that efficient.
My doctor read me the results. Her voice was clinical, detached as she read from the file, “.. so it is not a viable pregnancy,” she concluded looking up.
“What?” I asked, afraid to hear more. “What do you mean?” Bed rest? Early maternity leave?
“It means there is nothing living.”
I felt sick. Nothing living? My head was spinning.
“..but we did see two masses,” she continued.
“….could have been twins…”
“…or possibly tumors that will need…”
TUMORS? What is she saying?
I don’t remember leaving the office or stumbling to my car. I sat behind the wheel, shaking, and out of habit, rubbed my tummy. Her words rang in my ears.. nothing living… twins… or tumors. I felt like throwing up.
After the miscarriage, the hospital doctor told me the masses were not cancerous and she sent me home with a clean bill of health. But I was far from being well. I felt stripped, barren– physically, emotionally, and spiritually emptied.
Was there something I could have done? Did I do something wrong? Why did God let this happen? Why did he let me get pregnant if he was just going to take it away?
I was full of questions and resentment. I wanted answers and when I couldn’t hear any, I blamed God for it all. I stopped praying. I stopped journaling. I stopped going to church. I stopped hoping in a God that would let me down.
Tony dealt with the loss by saying it was like I was never pregnant. Friends and family told me we could try again. And after a week or so, no one mentioned it anymore. But I still hurt, and it hurt more to hurt alone.
During that time, Tony and I struggled. We deal with problems differently, and I couldn’t believe he was just acting like nothing happened. I needed him to listen. He needed me to let it go. For months we argued. A lot. “Don’t stack the dishwasher like that!” “Do you have to squeeze the toothpaste in the middle?!” “Put the damn sock IN the basket, is that too much to ask?”
Everything we did, we did with attitude until one day we’d had enough. It all boiled over and we finally talked about the real problem.
It was much easier to stay angry with God. I didn’t have to see him over breakfast, or call him to get milk, or tell him about Liam’s day. God and I never had it out, and so it simmered on the back burner for three more years. And life went on.
I learned a lot during those years. I learned that one of every four pregnancies miscarry. I learned that many of my close friends, neighbours, and co-workers had also experienced miscarriages. And I learned that I was not alone. By taking a chance and sharing my story, I found understanding and compassion that can only come from someone who has been there. Someone who knows.
One friend told me she’d planted a tree, another named the child, while others created memory boxes, or held special ceremonies. It didn’t matter what it was, the key, they said was to find a way, your way, to acknowledge the babies and to let them go. So in the stillness of one bright morning, with my tattered, long forgotten journal, I found my way. I wrote my children a poem
It felt wonderful to let it all go. Yet, for months after, I still couldn’t shake a deep sense of loss. I knew it wasn’t about the babies anymore. So what was it? I blamed the lingering sadness on not having that job, or this success. I blamed it on weight gain. I blamed it on bad hair days, a pantyhose run, a pile of dirty dishes. There was always something I could find to justify my mood.
I was running on empty, and the emptier I felt, the more I ran. I was trying to be Wonderwoman again. I took on committees, attended courses, coached Liam’s soccer. I made budgets, wrote out recipes, joined the gym– again (but never went). I checked off goal lists a mile long, as if everything I was doing would make up for what lacked in my being, but nothing ever did.
In between ‘to-do checks’ I stopped in at Second Cup. The fire was blazing. The big, comfy chair beside it was empty. I sat there, staring into the fire, and thought about the way my life was going. I still felt deeply sad. Only now, I was tired too. What is wrong with me? I must be losing my mind.
Then it came to me. No. you have lost your spirit. That was it!
The miscarriage was my wake up call, my first major loss in life. Something beyond my control. Something I could not understand or rationalize. Something, like it or not, I just had to accept. It tested the strength and endurance of my faith. My heart had moved beyond the grief, but had my faith?
I had turned from God the first time things got rough. Not only that, I blamed him for it. And then gave him the silent treatment for three years. People live through much, much worse and still keep a vibrant faith– why hadn’t I?
I sipped my coffee and thought about what my relationship with God was like before the miscarriage. Go to church, check. Daily prayer, check. Take courses, check. Retreats, journaling, choirs, check. No wonder it crumbled in a crisis– that wasn’t relationship, that was a spiritual checklist. Sure, I totally trusted God then. It was easy to when things were going my way. But was that really trust? It occurred to me that perhaps my ‘solid faith’ was not all I had thought– a realization that left me feeling even worse.
Even if I could go back to how it was, I thought, would that be enough for me now? I didn’t think so. That faith was a hand-me down faith from my parents. Perfect for guiding my formative years, like training wheels. Now I was on my own. Now I had to make it my own. And it all came down to one thing– trust. Do I trust God? Could I give him control of my life? Am I willing to ride even if it means hurting sometimes? Do I trust that He knows what I need?
I left the shop with more questions than when I went in. But I felt a small glimmer of hope, something I hadn’t felt in over three years.
When I got home there was a message on the machine, it was Lynn, an old church friend. I hadn’t heard from her in ages. “I’m planning a retreat weekend, and your name popped into my head. I’d love for you to give a talk…”- I was stunned. Me? – “…on Your Relationship With God,” she continued. I smirked to myself. What relationship? No way. I wasn’t going to get up in front of all those old friends and tell them how bad it really was, was I?
Lynn was on the machine, but God was calling. Asking me to trust Him now. To chance a relationship with Him again. To believe He knows best. To accept His love. To follow His way. He called in the midst of my questions, despite all my doubts and fears. For He knew that was where true trust is. If I didn’t doubt, if I had absolute certainty, if I could do it all myself… I would not need to trust.
“…oh, and Proverbs 3:5 is the theme of our weekend,” Lynn concluded. “Gimme a call. Bye.”
For a moment, I thought about deleting the message. Say I never got it. My finger rested on the button. But I was curious. Proverbs 3:5? I didn’t know that one. I scrounged around the bottom drawer and dug up my bible. It had been awhile. The passage read: “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
I picked up the phone, called Lynn, and told God “yes.”
For the first time, I was seeing my life as something to appreciate, not control. I finally realized God wasn’t calling me to be ‘Wonderwoman,’ but as his ‘woman of wonder,’ marveling at all He has done through, with, and for me, life with Him truly can be super.
One year later, my beautiful daughter, Marion, was born.
Trust in God’s plan for me…Check.