I was six weeks pregnant with our ninth child in this picture above. Here in the desert that was so barren but so beautiful. We had traveled there to celebrate a marriage that represented God fulfilling the promise laid out in Isaiah 41 “I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water ion the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.” (NLT) Little did I know that weeks down the road, I would find myself in a desert, and desperately hoping to find springs welling up in the midst of it.
I had been eagerly awaiting my first “meeting” of our ninth child via ultrasound. I was 11 weeks pregnant and I couldn’t believe I was already almost done with my first trimester. Some people had spoken that they thought I would be pregnant with twins, and I eagerly awaited to see if this might be true. I told Danny as I left the house, either way, I just want to see a heartbeat and a healthy baby.
I didn’t see a heartbeat.
Instead I saw a vastly underdeveloped baby. And no beautiful throb, throb throb on the ultrasound screen. The technician “captured” just straight lines going across the screen.
“There’s no heartbeat.” I told her.
She said she couldn’t talk about it but the doctor would see me shortly.
I sat in the waiting room and cried. Sniffled behind my mask, trying to not make a scene, sitting there by myself, knowing the inevitable but waiting what seemed like an eternity to hear the definite.
I choked through interactions with the rest of the office personnel. Waves of grief and loss and disappointment rushing over me. I left that office sobbing.
Now that I knew the reality that our baby had actually died three weeks prior, it all made sense. The sudden disappearance of nausea. The rush of returned energy I had the week prior. My hair falling out. My lack of a baby bulge that seemed like it should have been growing more by then.
I cried through the whole rest of the day. Distractedly I tended to children and helped online schoolers with their work. Danny started texting friends and family...
I couldn’t talk about it, I wanted to retreat into my own little world of grief and sorrow. I was in a desert, a parched place. The bleak surroundings all blurred together.
But streams of water started to well up in that place. I was powerless to move myself out of the barren heights, but the trickle of refreshment and sustenance sprung up right there. Meals delivered to the house. Cards. Stuffed animals for grieving older siblings. A hotel reservation from a friend so that I could get away for two days, take the medication to kick my body into “labor” and pass the baby. Special gifts, and extra spending money, and prayers and love and sympathy. Jesus, the Living Water, was welling up right there in the midst of our barrenness, and He was doing it through His people. “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will from from within them.” (John 7:38)
We named “her” Sky Philia Iverson. SKY because we never got to meet her up close and personal but living life with the backdrop of her brief presence brought joy and life and beauty to ours. Philia because this Greek word means “brotherly love and kindness” and the passing of her life brought the Philia love of Christ’s family around us to encourage and support us in such a deep and powerful way. Her life had meaning, if not to simply show up the love of God’s family in the midst of this desert.
I don’t know how long it will feel barren here in this place of grief, but I know that the Lord will provide rivers to well up in this place to nourish us and refresh us along the way. Grief is not a place to be “gotten out of” but rather a place to find the ever-present comfort of our Savior IN.