Mataniah Elam

This post is raw. Full of God’s sweet love alongside of deep sadness. We just had a miscarriage. Our first. Something I prayed so hard that I would never experience, such a painful and heart wrenching road to walk. I want to tell the story from beginning to end, in all it’s raw pain and beauty-because even in the pain, God’s sweet, sweet love was present, and has kept me from going off the deep end. Some moments, that’s all that holds us together from completely losing it. God’s grace and love.

The story begins back a few months-at the end of March. My husband and I were married on April 12, and he has an alarm on his phone to alert him two weeks beforehand so he has time to think of a gift or date night plan. 🙂 He was struggling to think of what to give me, and so he asked the One who knows all: “Lord, what should I give her for our anniversary?”  and he felt the Lord reply kindly “Why don’t you give her a baby?” Which is a funny thing- we don’t use birth control so we purposefully leave that decision in God’s hands anyway. I had just had my first period after our fourth child, about 18 months post partum. Hubby pondered God’s idea and thought “Well, I’ll give her a pregnancy test. The only place I know to get those is Dollar General.” He told me that God had told him what to give me, and that he needed to go to Dollar General for it. That was pretty funny-I had quite the time talking to God about what on earth hubby could get for an anniversary gift from such a place. Hubby kept trying to go to the store, but it didn’t work out until we were camping for Passover on the week of our anniversary. He got it just in time.  On our anniversary he handed me the test, with a sweet and eager little smirk on his face. We both knew that this was God’s doing, and I eagerly took the test. Positive! Oh, we were so happy- giddy even. 5 children! A handful! We had our 8 year old come in and check that we read the test correctly. 😉 She was so excited as well, and we told each child right away. We calculated baby’s due date to be the same day as my husband’s birthday, another special treat! That evening hubby and I took a walk around the campground, sharing the testimony of God’s sweet gift with other friends who were camping also. I didn’t have any crazy pregnancy symptoms, other than my milk supply dropping slightly for A. I have never had super strong symptoms from pregnancy, I am very thankful for this! We finished up the week of camping and headed home.

Over the next two weeks I had no special symptoms, other than an occasional feeling of implantation type discomfort. A couple weeks after our camping trip my friend and I planned a yard work day, and we kept busy all day, mowing, hammering posts in, stretching fencing, and hoeing the garden. I was tired, but felt very satisfied in what we accomplished. The next morning I woke up to some light bleeding. My first thought was “NO, NO, this is NOT happening.” That morning I took things as easy as possible, lying around and not lifting anything. The spotting did not let up, however. I struggled to keep from inwardly panicking, and tried to downplay to my children that I was sticking so close to the couch. We kept praying over the baby, declaring life, healing, and interceding for this little life that God had purposed from the beginning. After two days of this, I was emotionally exhausted as well as physically feeling like I had been hit by a truck. On the third day, I felt that I couldn’t continue this way forever, that I was going to have to live life and just trust that if baby was going to live, I would be able to take care of my other children also. I still rested a lot that day, and did a few extremely light household type things, avoiding lifting or stairs. It was the 7 week mark in the pregnancy. Later that evening, the bleeding suddenly spiked and I began passing clots. At this point I totally lost hope for life-I assumed this was good bye to our baby. Hubby and I were very distraught, and I’m so thankful Hubby was home at that moment to hold me so we could mourn together. After a while, we decided to tell the other children. One was very matter of fact-“God gave this baby, so this baby can’t die.”.  Another was absolutely heartbroken and wailed in our arms. The others were too young to understand. We kept praying for life, for a miracle- even though it was such an feeling of whiplash between grief and faith that it felt cruel to even try. I’ve never been in such a faith battle before. I still don’t know what to quite do with it. My God is good, and I will praise Him no matter what. On one hand we had people standing with us saying “We will pray for life, even when it doesn’t seem like that’s what’s happening.” and on the other hand we had people crying with us. Several people told us stories of how they had bled heavily during their pregnancy, and yet their baby survived and was healthy and happy. So on one hand, we were being given hope-but meanwhile my bleeding kept increasing, and I just had a feeling the battle was over. I will be brutally honest-after the point when the clots started, I mostly didn’t want to pray for life any longer. It was a battle to keep praying, and even then my heart wasn’t fully in it. I just wanted to know for sure one way or the other, to not have the emotional whiplash of going back and forth. After 3 days of passing increasingly larger clots, the bleeding slowed back down to light spotting again. I never did see anything that resembled a child, and that makes me wonder how old Mataniah was when he/she passed away-perhaps much sooner than the 7 weeks the bleeding started. My strength began to return, which was a huge relief. I didn’t realize before how hard a miscarriage hits in every way possible- physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Thankfully others had warned me about women mentally beating themselves up with the “what ifs” during a miscarriage that I mostly didn’t allow myself to go there. My midwife helped me with that also, reassuring me it wasn’t my fault. I have in the past mowed and done lawn and garden work until 9 months pregnant without issue, so it wasn’t unusual for me to work hard outside and expect everything to be fine. The part I have struggled with is the faith part- what if I had more faith when we were praying for life?? What if I chose to believe life when everything pointed to death? But as my husband is continually reassuring me, one can not live that way. I must trust God for faith, and not think it’s something I make happen on my own or condemn myself for not having. I know God will be glorified through little Mataniah’s life, no matter how big of a victory the enemy thinks he has won.  Therefore I will not give the enemy the pleasure of binding me with condemnation or fear. The victory belongs to God. Period.

After the bleeding stopped, I took a pregnancy test-the line indicating the presence of HcG was almost indistinguishable, barely visible in only the brightest of light and at the correct angle. At this point I knew. My husband decided to keep hope until I tested and there was no line. A few days later I took another test and there was no visible line at all. We were surrounded during this time with people who care-who desire to support us. Most of them did a great job. If you ever want to know what NOT to do for a women who is miscarrying, do not tell her God wanted another angel. Do not try to comfort her by saying “Oh, don’t worry, you’ve already got four children, at least you know you can have another.”  I was so horrified by some “comforts”, it was all I could do to not let my jaw drop. Very eye opening. These ladies didn’t understand, and I hold no hurt towards them. It just amazed me, shocked me, that one would think of that as a strong comfort! The ones who reached out to us who knew just how to comfort were those who have been there, as is often the case with grief. You have to experience it to know how to love in that time. Several women who have experienced miscarriage, as well as a couple men who went through it with their wives, reached out to comfort us and offer their support and counsel. Something that was recurring was the advice to name our baby. This seemed more and more important to me as days went by. It was difficult and painful to refer to our sweet little one as “The baby we lost”. I began searching for names that held special meaning based on the situation. I wanted a gender neutral name, one that would fit when I meet my baby in heaven.  None of the names I found were gender neutral, so after a while I gave up on finding one, and just focused on finding one with significant meaning. I found the name Mataniah, meaning “gift of God”, and Elam, meaning “Hidden, eternal, or forever”. To my sweet surprise, when I looked more closely at the name Mataniah, it is a name that can be for male or female. I also thought of the nickname “Mattie”, which I’ve heard used for both genders. This was very comforting to me. Hubby was very gracious to me during this time of processing, talking through things together and discussing possible names.

Our baby, Mataniah Elam- Gift of God hidden in eternity, has been with Jesus for four weeks now. I still struggle with faith-the big fat WHY. I know God did not want this baby to die, so I kick against this happening. It should not have happened. The enemy got a victory here, so it would seem.  But we see things now very dimly, like through one way glass-you can sort of see a shadow, but not very many details. I know God will be glorified through Mataniah’s little life, and some day, one day-I will understand what happened fully. Until then, I must keep throwing myself upon the mercy and love of God, resting in Him. I am thankful He loves me even when I’m struggling, even in the moments where I just crumple in His arms weeping for the life that was cut short. I know He is weeping with me. I know He weeps at every life that is over too soon. He is my comfort and my stronghold, in Him will I trust.