A Word on Thoughts and Prayers

After every tragic – and preventable – mass shooting, the offering of “thoughts and prayers” via Twitter and other social media platforms has become customary. Following swiftly behind is the derision of these offered “thoughts and prayers.” While I tend to agree with the perspective that many of those offering these thoughts and prayers – particularly GOP officials and supporters – are dangerously hypocritical, I have also felt torn by the shredding of “thoughts and prayers” as political rhetoric with no inherent power or value. Continue reading “A Word on Thoughts and Prayers”

Angel Babies

“Oh, Joanna.”

“The baby stopped growing at five weeks. There is no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.”

Andy and I stared at the ultrasound screen, searching for hope. But there was nothing. The strangest part is we were devastated, but we weren’t surprised. Instead of being filled with joy about my pregnancy, I had been consumed with worry and fear for eight weeks. I couldn’t sleep at night. When my doctor told us the news, it almost made sense.

I couldn’t stop the train of self-blame running through my mind. Was it something I ate? The thyroid test I put off too long? A work out I tried? Stress? Weak prayers?

Fear and doubt followed soon after. Would I be able to have more children?

There were bouts of total calm and random attacks of uncontrollable crying. There were waves of gratitude. For Carter. For Andy. For an early not late-term miscarriage. For those who prayed for our family. For Christ and the comforting touch of the Spirit.

The miscarriage happened when I was at the EPAPA graduation, celebrating with former students and colleagues. Between speeches, hugs, pictures and laughter, I ran to the bathroom every few minutes as my body bled. Though the clash of conflicting feelings was jarring, this timing felt like a tremendous blessing.

The EPAPA community of students, parents and teachers became my second family when I worked there. My students will always be my babies – even if they think they’re so grown –  and my colleagues became my closest friends. Graduation was a reuniting of family members in a celebration of dreams fulfilled. The love and joy of the occasion lifted my heart and spirits. I was genuinely happy. It’s crazy, but having a miscarriage during graduation gave me the love, hope and strength to endure my heartbreak. God truly works in mysterious – and perfect – ways.

He blessed Andy and me in other ways as well.

When Carter was a newborn, he used to smile and babble up into the corners of our room, gazing intently at nothing my eyes could see. I think he was talking with angels.

A few weeks before the devastating doctor’s appointment, Andy and I lay in bed trying to put Carter to sleep, but Carter goofballed around. At one point, he played at our feet laughing hysterically and babbling toward the corner of our bedroom. Andy and I laughed, flabbergasted because we had done nothing funny. Carter Bao Bao, I remember asking him, Are you playing with your baby brother? He’ll be here with you soon.

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Carter told dad the big news with his Big Brother shoes. We will save them with hope it will happen one day.
I believe we live as spirit beings before we are born to gain our physical bodies. I felt sure that the baby’s spirit had come down to pay his big brother a visit.

After the miscarriage, I couldn’t stop thinking about this bedtime moment. Was it the baby coming to say hi, I’ll be with you soon? Or was the baby saying goodbye, see you in heaven? Had his spirit entered the embryo developing inside me? Did the baby I lost have a spirit? Or was it just a collection of dividing cells?

One day, Andy hugged me and whispered, Our baby’s spirit didn’t come down yet. We didn’t lose one of our children. A feeling of peace washed over me. I knew he was right.

And like that, I began to heal and feel hope again.

I know I have a Father in Heaven who watches out for me. He sends me angels. I have Carter. I have Andy. I have family and friends who lift me with love. I have so many people to love. Even in times of deep pain, God finds ways to ease the burdens and give me peace.

I hope that my angel babies are still up there waiting to come down to join my family. They will come when the time is right.