Finding Joy in Suffering
When you consider that one in four pregnancies are lost to miscarriage, and there are an estimated 24,000 babies delivered stillborn annually in the United States alone, you quickly realize there are a lot of grieving families. If you are among them, author Rosemary Pope wants you to know you are not alone.Rhonda Robinson sat with the first-time author as she shared her journey of multiple pregnancy losses, including a stillborn and infant death, and her book Joy in Suffering.
RR: Your book, Joy in the Suffering is a memoir, could you tell us a little bit about your story?
Rosemary Pope: My husband and I met in high school. We were high school sweethearts and we got married right after I graduated high school. I graduated, turned 18, and a month later we got married. Then about a year and a half into our marriage is when we got pregnant with our first.
We weren’t exactly trying, but it happened. We were excited. Everything seemed to go along really smoothly. And then about seven and a half months, at an appointment, is when we couldn’t find a heartbeat. And we’d found out that he had passed away.
And that was a pretty big shock.
I had prayed throughout for the health of him and everything throughout the pregnancy. And then just for those prayers to not come true, the way that I had prayed, it definitely rocked us.
He was born in April of ’09. And then I found out I was pregnant in May of 2010. About halfway through that pregnancy. We had found out that our little girl was not going to make it. Completely different circumstances than the first one. The first one, we actually never found out why like none of the test results showed what happened. And with our daughter, it was very physically obvious. No one would have to tell me, and I could see on the sonogram. Something doesn’t look right here. We found out at the 20-week scan that she wasn’t gonna make it.
We were presented with the option to terminate. I actually considered it heavily and went back and forth. Because I had just had a stillborn. And here I am going through the nightmare again. And I wanted it to be over with. I wanted to be pregnant with a healthy baby that I could raise. But ultimately I wanted this child and I wanted to be her mom and raise her. And so the only way I could see that happening was to pray that God would heal her. And if I would have went with my fleshly desire, I guess you could say to terminate, then I would be stealing that opportunity away in not allowing God to heal her. If he saw fit, of course, in doing so. I had to be okay with whatever the outcome was gonna be.
But it’s definitely a decision I’ve never regretted, ever.
I ended up going into labor early with her at 31 weeks. And on my own, my body just went to preterm labor. And that day in the hospital room was probably one, if I could go back and relive a day in my entire life, it would be that day. As crazy as it sounds, knowing that this baby girl is not going to live, just being surrounded by family and friends getting to love on her.
She lived for about five and a half hours. It felt like the presence of God was just so thick in that room. Sometimes even my pastor will bring that day up, in his sermons. That was just a really, really neat day, even though we knew she wasn’t gonna live. After, after she passed away, I actually didn’t want to be pregnant again because all my experiences of being pregnant were really scary and stressful and not good outcomes.
I’ve just felt God telling me, try again, just try again. And trust me, just trust me.
And so I was like, okay, what do I have to lose? You know? So we trusted Him and we got pregnant fairly easily and ended up having a very smooth pregnancy and delivered our Buddy who is now eight. We delivered him in March of 2012, about a year after, about the time he turned one, we decided to grow our family again. And we got pregnant. But about seven and a half weeks into that pregnancy, I lost that baby.
I had hemorrhaged a lot and ended up needing two blood transfusions. It took a while for my body to recover from all that. And then I got pregnant sooner than what we had anticipated. We just wanted my body to heal from that last miscarriage. And so we ended up getting pregnant, but on Christmas day of 2013, I was about five weeks, I miscarried that baby as well.
Then we went to the doctor, he confirmed, yes, you’ve miscarried and said, just wait a month and try again. And we did, and we got pregnant again and had another really easy pregnancy. And that’s our Lucy, Lucy Joy. She’ll be six next month. And then after her, came Casey, he is three. And then this past May we delivered or I delivered Engi Love. She is five months old.
RR: Wonderful. So it took a lot of, it took a lot of strength to face having another baby didn’t it?
Rosemary Pope: It did. Even with our last one, Engi, that pregnancy, even though I had already gone through two pregnancies in a row of very easy pregnancies. Considerably. And not really any complications. That fear still wants to creep in and take over my thoughts.
RR: When you’re having you’re facing having another baby and you’re dealing with all of those fears and anxieties and that kind of thing, it’s hard. It’s hard to decide what you’re going to have for dinner when your hormones are so out of sorts. So what did you do to keep your mind on Christ, the new renewing of your mind? How did you keep your mind on the path that it needed to be on in order to keep you sane and healthy and whole spiritually and physically?
Rosemary Pope: I’ve had late-term losses, and I’ve had early losses. For me personally, the hardest time is actually in the early pregnancy, like the first half of pregnancy, because you can’t feel the baby. And even when you start to build a baby, you don’t necessarily feel your baby consistently all the time.
When I was pregnant with Buddy, my eight-year-old, I actually bought a Doppler. So I could listen to his heartbeat at home. And I used it a lot, but this last pregnancy, I got it out again. I think I was around 13 or 14 weeks and I could not find her heartbeat. And I just had to be like, Rosie, put this thing away, do not use this thing. Because it actually was having a negative effect.
So the hardest time for me is just that first half. I actually had created what I call biblical affirmation cards. And I had reached out to some friends and some people that have read my book and just asked them, what are some scriptures they turn to during times they’re feeling fear or anxiety. So they shared scriptures and I looked up some more and created some scripture affirmation cards and to look at and read, just as a reminder of putting everything to God and just try reminding myself to trust him. I had put them on like a ring and would just flip through them. But you could put on anywhere like in your car as a bookmark or whatever. That was a way that would help me get through those times is just to put scripture in front of myself as a reminder to trust God. And also just listen to music.
Most definitely praying. It’s an act of giving it to God. It would give me peace. Sometimes that fear would still creep back in another time. And so I’d just give it to God. Again, it wasn’t one of those things where I just gave it to him one time and expected to not have to deal with it again.
RR: It is an ongoing fight, isn’t it?
Rosemary Pope: It is.
RR: What would you like to tell your former self during that time? If you could write her a letter to get her through, what would you say to her?
Rosemary Pope: I don’t wish pregnancy loss or miscarriage or anything on anyone. But just know having that feeling. I’m not alone. That’s so I would probably empathize with her and you know, just let her know, you know, I know this is super hard. What you’re going through, and it’s going to be hard, and you’re going to have hard days.
It is okay to smile again.
You know, you’re given this one life and to try to just live each day to the best that you can. Basically being intentional with your days, even some days that intention is, I intend to just sit here and cry and work through this grief. That may be to just try to give it to God again.
Order your copy of Joy in Suffering by Rosemary Pope
Rhonda Robinson is a speaker and the author of Freefall: Holding Onto Faith When the Unthinkable Strikes, offering women spiritual wisdom to transform the darkness into a season of profound change and emerge with vision and purpose. Learn more at rhondarobinson.tv
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