New Mercies

Can a loving God understand the depth of a mother’s pain?

by Laura A. Baggett

His name was James.

At sixteen weeks, my pregnancy was going fine, and I did all the right things. But one day when I went in for a routine ultrasound, there was no heartbeat.

For the next thirty-six hours, I agonized in a hospital room while my body was forced into labor so I could deliver my very premature dead baby.

I got to hold him. That was the most precious and only moment I had with my third son. My doctor told me he had no medical reason that James died in my womb.

 Hard goodbye

The funeral was a blur. I don’t know who was there. I was escorted to a simple gravesite. I sat down and looked hazy through tears at a beautiful white casket covered in lace. My preacher’s words were no comfort.

When it came time to put my rose on the smallest casket I had ever seen, I threw myself on it instead and wailed. My husband tried to pick me up while I screamed, “No!”

Why did my son have to die?

 Depression and anger

I fell into a tremendous pit of postpartum depression, followed by cycles of mania. I was angry at myself, at my husband, at the whole world — but especially at my God.

God knits a person together in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13); why did He stop knitting James?

I never did get an answer.

 Emotional extremes

My cycles of depression and mania worsened over the next two years. I went from highs of not feeling any sadness, living on little sleep, accomplishing many tasks to deep lows of not wanting to move, much less get out of bed.

I heard things that weren’t there. I saw things out of the corner of my eyes. I became paranoid. I believed demons followed me and made fun of me. I was preoccupied with suicide. I had several hospitalizations for my mood swings and suicidal ideation.

 Suicide plan

Yes, I did consider suicide. Even though I had two other beautiful sons and a loving husband, my thoughts were preoccupied with James and his death.

I wanted to be with him, so I filled all my prescriptions and set a date. I planned to die on the sixth of February 2008, one year after I delivered my dead baby James.

 Therapy

During my times in the hospital, I spoke about my loss with the chaplain and my pastor. I spoke about it with my therapist. Finally, I improved enough so that I didn’t want to kill myself, and was released. After my last hospitalization, I was referred to another therapist and started weekly sessions with a counselor, my pastor, and a caseworker.

People told me that I shouldn’t be angry with God, that I should be over it. But with the help of my therapist, I discovered that my anger needed allowance. I didn’t need to be told how not to feel. I needed to feel my anger and express it.

 Private mourning

I expressed it by writing. I started a journal. I wrote and wrote, about everything and anything but especially about my anger. Hurt, disappointment, sorrow, and sometimes rage toward God filled my quiet time.

I allotted time to mourn every day just to function — an hour after the boys went to bed. I spent it writing, praying, and crying. These were my wrestling times in which I let God know how enraged I was at Him for taking my baby away from me. I wrote how He could never understand the pain of a woman losing a life in her womb. I told the Creator how mean it was to create something just to take it away.

And I begged God to show me mercy. I needed it; I craved it as women crave motherhood. I demanded God to show me how far, how wide, and how deep His mercy goes. I needed to know that it was OK to be angry with Him.

 Bible comfort

I not only prayed and wrote to relieve my anger, I also read. In the Bible, I started in the book of Psalms. I circled Psalm 5: “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray” (Psalm 5:2, NIV).

I held onto verses like this that mention lamenting to the Lord, as well as those like Psalm 32:7: “You are my hiding place” (NIV).

That thought fascinated me. I desired a hiding place, a place of refuge: “In the shelter of your presence you hide [those who take refuge in you]” (Psalm 31:20a). A smidgen of comfort came from those words in the Bible — the first comfort I felt in a long time.

Divine revelations

Now, four years later, I am free from anger over James’ death. I still don’t know why my son had to die; I probably won’t find out until I’m in eternity one day. God showed me that His mercy is new every morning by loving me all the way through the hurt, the anger, the bitterness, and the sorrow. He provided me with a wonderful family that loves and cares for me, as well as a supportive pastor, therapist, and caseworker.

I needed a merciful God to show me that I can be angry with Him for a time.

God told me to keep praying — even the angry, bitter prayers — and told my heart that He loves to hear from me just as I love talking to my children.

In His mercy, God patiently waited for me to get over my anger. My Creator took the blame.

The lesson I learned was life changing. God allowed my son to die and allowed my anger, and He proved to me that no matter what happens, I am still His daughter.