“This is a hard place,” my caring nurse said to me as she watched tears steadily stream down my face. I quickly responded with, “No, it can be, but when it’s good- it’s so good!” The tears originally began after hearing the sound of a strong heartbeat through another patient’s wall. It triggered feelings from my loss and what I could no longer hear. Yet, in my heart I was rejoicing with that Mama on the other side for the fact that God allows us to be a part of His story as He creates new life.
I am now keenly aware of every person in the OBGYN office. I see women with full bellies pass by, young women with nervous smiles, clueless looking men, and older women whose bodies are experiencing the result of their maturation… and I too see women like me. This isn’t a club I would’ve ever asked to join, but I am honored and grateful for it. While I see these women, I can also see all of this as good. This is all a part of God’s design, and it’s a story in which I know the ending.
I remember visiting this same office before I lost my baby, even before I was a mother myself, and I would see women with tears. I would say a short prayer for them, and it was truly sincere. I could empathize with their pain. But now, now I am these women. I share their heart. Whether we have a similar story or not, I know their tears and what triggers them too. My prayers are no longer of sympathy or empathy, but of an earnest request that God would bring us peace and give us desires of their heart no matter how creative His response may be. I know they too have dreams that have been crushed and pain that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how much time passes. I sit in my waiting room chair and mourn too, and long to be on the other side of this, on the side where there is only joy. Yet as we wear flesh we receive a gift in which we can experience both joy and sorrow, and though they are such different emotions they can still be intertwined.
The joy of the OBGYN office, am I right? I love my doctor and her nurse, really and truly. My doctor now feels like the dearest of friends because she’s known me in my greatest joy and deepest pain. In those literal and exact moments, she was there, not just metaphorically either. So why does this place, my OBGYN office, sometimes feel like the worst place on earth? Really it’s just a microcosm for this broken and beautiful world that we are all traversing. This office fully reveals the tension that exists between life and death, between mourning and dancing, and how neither is fully realized without the other. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but they are both so deeply felt.
I remember after my first great break-up and heartbreak in college you could hear Feist’s song “I Feel It All” from any direction that I traveled, blaring through my car’s speakers. Sorrow brings about a deeper sense of joy, I have found. Psychology Today writer Leon F. Seltzer said, “So yes, undoubtedly—though only rarely with the same intensity—you can feel two different things at the same time.” I’ve heard several mothers in the last few weeks explain this phenomenon in light of losing a child to miscarriage or stillbirth; however, I don’t think this phenomenon is unique to only this type of loss. My personal explanation is that we need them both, and God in His all knowing wisdom gifts us with this mysterious capacity for dual emotions. In fact, we need to feel it all. The more deeply we feel sorrow the greater capacity we have to feel joy, and carry that light into the broken world. Let’s embrace every feeling and see them all as opportunities to glorify God, even in the OBGYN office.
“Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes…” ― Frederick Buechner