How To Lose a Baby and Keep Your Higher Power

By Halina Newberry Grant 05/20/16

That is what recovery has given me; the ability to feel Gratitude and Love even in the worst, darkest and most desperate moments of life.

How To Lose a Baby and Keep Your Higher Power

The first time I lost a baby I discovered that my Higher Power was Santa Claus.

This came as a surprise to me because I never pictured the Guy with a beard, red suit and seasonal powers when I prayed, meditated or chanted. I didn’t picture anyone at all. I thought I believed in an Energy that we were all a part of that I tapped into, in one way or another. A little science-y, a little spiritual. Logical. 

I wasn’t raised with a Judeo-Christian idea of God—my parents taught me that what people called "God" was more like a Universal Life Force—not a judgmental man who lived on clouds in the sky (or the North Pole, for that matter). And the energy I felt when I held hands with a fellow in a meeting or when I prayed wasn’t something I associated with magic or superstition. 

But when I was well into my second trimester and got the call telling me that one of the babies I was carrying had severe heart defects and chromosomal abnormalities—and shortly thereafter when I lost him—I discovered that the higher power that I was angry with was indeed a God who filled stockings for people when they were good and gave coal when they were bad, and that I was being punished for something he had seen either when I was sleeping or when I was awake.

And that one question that we’re not supposed to ask floated to my consciousness and cried over and over and over:

“Why, why, why, why?” 

Hadn’t I been good enough? Hadn’t I done everything right? Hadn’t I followed the rules? If not, please tell me where I messed up so that I can avoid this depth of pain, loss and despair. 

When I called my sponsor—a long-timer in my fellowship—and said, “I feel abandoned by God. I feel like everything I believed or thought I believed has been ripped out of my body and I’m a deflated balloon with no hope for air, let alone helium, to keep me from lying limp on the floor,” she gave me a raft to cling to. She told me that it was my higher power’s job to define itself for me. It was not my job to define God, or whatever I wanted to call It. I am a mere human being, and if I believe there to be something bigger than me—some Power or Force or Energy that is the Seed or Germ of life—my little brain couldn’t possibly conceive of its power. 

This reminded me of something my first sponsor said to me in my first year in recovery. She was ten years my junior and we had nothing in common, but she had what I wanted and—as it turned out—what I needed. As she took me through the Big Book, she had me write on the top of page 10: “If I think I know all there is to know about my Higher Power, then my conception is too small.” 

Armed with the wisdom of two women and the legacy of recovery that came before them, I let go of everything I thought I knew and just allowed what was already there to be what it was, rather than trying to define it with my limited human mind. 

Then, two years later, I lost another baby. 

This time it was a lurching, wrenching, insides-emptying-out-of-me kind of miscarriage in my 13th week—when we thought we were in the clear. All tests and ultrasounds were fine, showing a healthy heartbeat and another little girl. Then, out of the 2 am blue, my baby left me—not ready for this mortal world. I again asked that question I’m not supposed to ask: 

“Why, why, why, why, why?”

No answer came in the bathroom between moans and wails. No answers came in the ambulance, or in the ER, or in the OR after two blood transfusions. No answers came in the solitude of medicated post-op, or in the recovery room. The doctors had no answers. The machines had no answers. Life had no answers.

But the life I have built in recovery did have relief.

In the ambulance, I felt my husband’s hand on my forehead telling me that I was not alone, and I felt gratitude. My niece happened to be staying with us at the time and she could take care of our daughter, and I felt gratitude. I called my sponsor from the ER and I felt gratitude. My cousin drove from Orange County at 3 am to help, and I was filled with gratitude. I sent texts to fellows and I felt gratitude. I sent emails to friends and I felt gratitude. I was surrounded by people who love me, who dropped everything to show their love for me, and I felt the love. I asked for help and for their prayers and light to shine for me, so that I could see my way through. 

That is what recovery has given me—the ability to feel Gratitude and Love even in the worst, darkest and most desperate moments of life, and when I am lost in darkness, the Willingness and Courage to ask for help to find my way out. 

The old me—before recovery—would have handled it. Figured it out. I would have shut down and isolated, alone in my pain that no one could understand or help with, and I would have done everything I could think of to avoid feeling. 

But I know now the only way to be open enough to feel the tingles of bliss when I hear my toddler’s manic laughter and the waves of pride when she masters a new skill and the swell of emotion at her soft curls and long eyelashes, is to also be open to the pain of living and the darkness that proves the light of life. 

Just for today, my Higher Power is those things that I can only experience if I am truly living: Gratitude, Love and the Courage to live another day despite the loss or pain or grief that life promises. And those things are all bigger than me, so they are my Higher Power and they are God. 

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