Empty Womb, Empty Arms

We don’t like to talk about grief very much. We aren’t good at it. We avoid bringing up the loved one and the events around their death, not realizing that ignoring it hurts more than talking about it. We quote platitudes that are often false and think to ourselves that a little more faith or prayer, or less sin, may have kept the person alive. We are bad at death. We are bad at loss. We are bad at grief.

So we keep our griefs private. We don’t advertise our mental illness, or our loved one’s debilitating disease, or our stifling financial burden. We smile and try to act normal. Or we isolate ourselves and blame others for not having an intuitive knowledge of what’s going on. Loneliness makes our grief heavier and the spiral of breaking continues.

There are socially acceptable griefs, that are more easily shared and understood. A parent dying. A lost job. A divorce. Some griefs, though, are harder to talk about, either because they involve more intimate disclosure, or because they open you up to more unhelpful or hurtful comments. Not that any situation is safe from such comments, but some seem to be more of a magnet for ignorant feedback. Man, so many rabbit trails to explore later.

Anyway, this is an update on a more hidden grief. Not secret, most of our loved ones, maybe all of them, know. Hidden in the sense of intimate. Easy to ignore until it breaks out for some reason and makes itself felt again. Let’s talk about infertility and miscarriage.

I never thought about the possibility of infertility affecting me. I have six siblings, five living. None of my aunts or uncles or grandparents had difficulty conceiving, or at least they all had children. There isn’t a history of it in Fred’s family either. And yet it took us a year, and then almost three years, to conceive. If you haven’t been here, it is heart wrenching. Each period is like a neon sign pointing out the obvious. Still no children. People ask what you are waiting for, assuming that this simple task (getting pregnant) is in your total control. In case you are under that delusion, it isn’t. God opens and closes the womb. After our first miscarriage (which I’ll come back to), we waited over a year before we started the doctor appointments. It’s not like there weren’t life complications that could have been preventing pregnancy. Surely it was just physical and emotional stress getting in the way. But each month the blood came, so we finally started testing.

A year later every test was done and every treatment tried, short of IUI or IVF. Nothing wrong. But still no baby. Okay, so it’s not that we should be changing something, it is purely in God’s hands. Which is good to know, that we are healthy. Healthy, barren. Both. Hoping and longing. Both. Grieving the empty womb. Empty arms.
(This went long so I will make miscarriage it’s own post).

I wrote this poem last year on a rough night. This seemed like an appropriate place for it.

The blood comes, my heart drops,
The answer’s no again.
Am I missing something You want or
is this part of Your plan-
A piece to some larger puzzle that I
do not understand?

I grow weary of questions,
“So how many, one or two?”
“I guess you don’t want babies”
Or “You’re waiting, good for you.”
Do I tell them of my heartbreak,
One who early looked on You?

We’ve done all of the right things,
We’re healthy, loving, kind.
Advice still comes, some welcome,
Some stings from hearts left blind,
thoughtless in its flippancy, blame
casually assigned.

This barrenness deserves the name,
for empty womb and arms
display the blessing that’s withheld
like rainless, dusty farms.
How can we fill the earth for You
if You withhold such charms?

It isn’t that I’m faithless
or without peace in this,
but I do still hurt and struggle
with the pieces that I miss.
With children born unwanted,
in homes touched by Satan’s kiss.

Why should babes be slaughtered?
Why should children be abused?
Why are infants born addicted
or on the world by parents loosed?
Why are those wombs open?
Is this by You produced?

copyright Jonelle Liddell 2016

7 thoughts on “Empty Womb, Empty Arms

  1. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and feelings so well. I never understood the heartache of miscarriage or barrenness until Rafael and I married. In a year and a half we experienced 4 miscarriages, and now, nothing except blood every month. I understand a small piece of yours and Fred’s deep ache and at the same moment the depth of your aching is not possible to imagine. God often brings you to my heart and mind and I pray for you often. I love you my dear friend. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  2. I know the pain and loneliness you feel, in 10 years and two beautiful daughters I lost 4 children. No one knows why but I do know that when I get to Heaven I will get to know and love all my children.
    Sorry for your sorrows, trust in the Lord only He can comfort and heal. Love you Suzie in Sequim

  3. Jonelle, thank you for sharing. I have been praying for you and Fred especially for this issue this past week. I love you. Penny

  4. Thank you for sharing! We often want to ask how you are and what we can pray for or how we can help; but are afraid to intrude or be insensitive. So out of fear we say nothing. We pray and hope God opens your womb or gives you some answers. Always in our thoughts. Flerchingers

  5. Jonelle; you are a beautiful and sensitive writer but more importantly a very special human being. I love your spirit and pray that God will use all of this heartbreak in your life to help and enrich others because of this place where He is allowing you to walk and grow. May He redeem it all for your good and His glory. May His love surround you and Fred. ❤

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