A few weeks ago my sister went on a mission trip to Honduras. I asked her to write down this story so I could share it here.
One of the most heart breaking text messages I ever received was from my sister. "On my way to the ER. I think I am losing the baby."
I cannot tell you what it's like to be the big sister who takes her protective role over the baby sister very seriously. I have always been afraid since the first time I saw her sweet little red head that something would hurt her. She was born with problems with her hips that required bilateral casts and a bar between her little baby shoes. I think that's where this fear came from. I worried when she learned to drive, when she totaled her car, when she had her babies. It's just what I do.
That text message immediately made my heart pound, tears stream. My sweet little sister's heart was going to ache for the rest of her life for her fifth child, who I knew she loved as deeply as her four boys from the moment she found out that sweet baby was headed into their family.
The distance from SC to VA and life occurring with work, kids, and an upcoming mission trip kept me feeling helplessly and stuck at home when all I wanted was to drop everything and drive to Virginia. One hug to be sure she was ok. Her husband, our brother (who also has experienced this very same pain from the loss of twins) and Mom rushed in to help. She had the support she needed, but my heart longed to hug her and just know she was ok.
I wondered if I should let someone else take my place on the trip, but people who had experienced the loss of miscarriage were jumping into my sister's situation and were amazing and supportive and I knew she was being supported by those who could help more.
A few weeks later we headed to Honduras with our team. I saw God work in amazing ways through many different people and many different specific ways. There is no denying He had purpose for each individual on the team. But, the final day of clinics in Limon he showed me His specific plan for my trip. He wanted to show me how significantly HE KNOWS our situations and HE CARES. He wanted to show me that I can depend on Him that our pain will be used for His purpose and His glory!
I was triaging patients into the clinic and a woman caught my eye on the front porch. She was bending over holding her abdomen and appeared to be near passing out sitting on the porch. I think someone with her came to the door as I did. I asked the interpreter to find out if she was ok. Her husband was very worried for her so we asked for her to come in ahead of others in line. She sat in the chair in front of me for her vitals. Her head hung over to the point I could not make eye contact with her and I had to bend down and contort my body to attempt eye contact. She was grasping across her abdomen. I didn't expect normal vitals, but they were. Still worried, I let one of the other nurses know so she could get her back to the Doctor quickly if possible. We were so busy with other patients I didn't see her walk back by and on to the pharmacy when she finished with the Doctor.
A while later I looked up to again see the same woman in the same place sitting on the porch. Again, holding her abdomen and this time appeared to be closer to passing out. I asked the Interpreter, "Did she see the Doctor? What did he tell her was wrong?" Then went out to help. She had to be assisted in by 2 people. A new set of vitals...again normal. The doctor came to the front room to check her over. He ordered IV fluids. He mentioned that he felt she was very depressed. She had just had a stillborn baby a few months ago. Oh how that caught my heart.
I started an IV on her. She made no eye contact. Even with the language barrier almost every patient and I tried to communicate with our eyes and our smiles. The interpreter would interpret but she only gave a few words of direct answers and nothing more. We had very little communication with her family. As soon as she could she rolled to face wall. It was a very awkward silence. We don't have IV pumps, so we stay right there with the patient so the IV never runs dry. I tried a few times with the interpreter to make idle chit chat but she didn't feel up to it. One of the college students on the team and I were sitting together talking when I saw the patient try to sneak a look at our whereabouts in the room as she wiped tears away from her eyes. I could tell she hoped I hadn't seen them but I had. I got her a tissue and held her hand for a moment. I wanted to cry, too. Her ache is like my sister's ache. I wish she could know I care. I didn't say anything but prayed in my heart. I motioned for her husband to come in the room and gave him a chair so he could hold her hand. I could tell he was worried and didn't want to be in the way. I reassured him he was not in the way and she needed him. He just stared at her and held her hand as she faced the wall again. The interpreter came by to check in. I asked him if she was ok. She said she was. Nothing more and rolled back to the wall. Then suddenly, rolled to her back crying and proclaimed something in anguish with her arms stretched out. "What did she say? What's wrong?" Her husband jumped up to her side. She said "Her life has no purpose, no meaning."
Finally, I had to say something. Would discussing it make it worse? It was the elephant in the room. I decided based on the work I do supporting families through some of the hardest conversations during the hardest times in their lives at home as a Palliative Care nurse that God did not bring me to Honduras and place a family who hurts like my family in my path not once, but TWICE to just sit there and not say anything.
I asked the interpreter to tell her I know what happened to her. I can't imagine her pain, but I am a mother and it has to be the worst thing that could ever happen. But I know she is a believer. And I know that God loves her and that her baby was in HIS arms in heaven and she will see her and hold her someday. I believe God does have a purpose and a plan for her life, He promises that in His word and he will restore her. He will use her story to help others know Him. I asked if I could pray with them. The husband began to pray. I have no idea what he was saying but it was intimate and beautiful and the interpreter saw no need to translate. He tapped me on the arm for my prayer. And it was God who spoke so I don't know exactly what came out of my mouth to be honest. She later returned her face to the wall. I felt defeated. Would Satan destroy this woman? Did our prayers make a difference? Will she ever smile again? Will my sister enter this despair?
I asked the interpreter if he had some time and he asked the husband my questions. I almost couldn't breathe when he described that they had 4 boys and the baby was full term. The doctor placed her baby in her arms. Unkown to her until that moment that her baby was dead and that it was her girl. My sister has 4 boys and the Doctor's best ultrasound revealed that she lost her baby...also a girl.
When I shared with the husband that fact, he got an astonished look on his face. We talked about how difficult it has been for his wife. That she lost all energy and could no longer care for the children and she was always sad. One of the interpreters got news of their story and shared with me that he and his wife had lost a baby at just a few months old. I asked him to share his story with the husband. He needed to hear how God restored their lives. Another nurse relieved me for lunch. I went upstairs and allowed the tears I was holding back to finally fall in the bathroom. I saw my husband and told him what was going on and told him nothing would stop me from hugging my sister when I got home, I was headed to Virginia. I told him I shouldn't be here, I should be there. My sister needed me.
I went back downstairs and the Interpreter said the patient wanted to talk to me. She was now sitting on the side of the table and looked me directly in my eyes. She asked me to tell her about my sister. She asked if my sister was sad. She asked how did I know if she was going to be ok. I told her my sister was sad and so are we. And that I know without a doubt that she and my sister are going to be sad for a very long time. But I know that with God's strength they both will get up every single day, love their children and their husbands and little by little God will use this terrible event to strengthen their faith. He will use this to help them both to strengthen other women who hurt and one day we all will really stand before Jesus and we will hold those babies again. But until then, we have to trust that she's with Him. Her little two year old came up and laid his head in her husband's lap. She pointed at him and said she had to do it for them. She told me her husband was a good man. She began to sob. I grabbed hold of her in a hug and I sobbed in a way I haven't ever cried before with a stranger. My heart broke for her, and for my sister.
But then, when the tears were over, there was a smile. The renewed spirit in the room was tangible. Her husband also seemed renewed. I asked if my sister could write to her. I hoped they could heal together. She agreed. I saw her outside and gave a final hug. Still she had a smile. She left different than she entered. That's what God can do!
My sister is ok. I got to hug her last weekend. She is writing our new friend by email that the foundation lead pastor promised to deliver when he takes other groups to Limon. I will not forget to pray for our friend because her pain is my sister's pain. I have faith that these women both will rise from the ashes of this pain and God will use them beyond anything they could have imagined.
Revelations 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes AND DEATH SHALL BE NO MORE, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. For the former things have passed away. My favorite verse.