I have a disassembled cherry wood crib in the back of my closet. I am trying to decide if I should sell it, which makes sense if I’m not going to use it anymore. But that’s where it gets complicated.
I bought the crib for my daughter, who was conceived three years after my husband and I naively declared that we were “ready” to start a family. She was born in April 2012 and put the crib to good use. After her first birthday, we started trying to get pregnant again. Months of disappointment and failed fertility treatments followed. Our doctor said we could continue treatments, but the odds of achieving pregnancy were low. By that point, I’d shed enough tears over our “unexplained subfertility,” so we took a break from fertility interventions. Our daughter, now two, moved out of the crib, so I disassembled it and put it away.
I Don’t Want to Get Over You
A year later, I started to feel hopeful about other dreams. Maybe we’d be okay if our daughter was an only child. I could let go of the crib and God would be with us, right? But before I found a new home for it, I got a surprise—a late period and a positive pregnancy test. We were so happy! The life in my womb felt like a pure gift. And I thanked God that we kept the crib.
During my ninth week, I started bleeding. I miscarried on January 1, 2016. Two days later, I passed my baby’s little body. We buried him or her by some bluffs at the beach on a stormy afternoon. Though my whole world had changed—that crib was still in my closet when we got home.
The physical recovery from miscarriage necessitates a convalescence that is both a blessing and a curse. There is privacy for grieving the loss of a pregnancy that most of your friends didn’t know about, but that makes the sorrow more isolating. I coped by listening to music. I played an antiphony of The National’s “Sorrow” and Sandra McCracken’s “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” on repeat. The National’s song gave voice to the reality of my grief: “Sorrow found me when I was young. Sorrow waited, sorrow won. Sorrow, they put me on the pill. It’s in my honey, it’s in my milk… ‘Cause I don’t want to get over you. I don’t want to get over you.” In my grief, I needed that honesty. I didn’t need pious platitudes or assurances that I’d get pregnant again. Things were not the way they were supposed to be. Even my “honey and milk” had been tainted by sorrow. My baby died, and I couldn’t stop—still can’t stop—singing, “I don’t want to get over you; I don’t want to get over you.”
We Will Feast and Weep No More
The other half of the antiphony requires faith: “We will feast in the house of Zion; we will sing with our hearts restored. He has done great things, we will say together; we will feast and weep no more.” This song points to Isaiah’s promises for the redeemed. The Lord will swallow up death and wipe away all tears (Is 25:8). His redeemed will not be consumed, for they are precious in his eyes (Is 43:1-4). He will create a new heavens and a new earth, and no more shall there be an infant who lives but a few days (Is 65:17-20). In Isaiah’s song, sorrow doesn’t win.
I need Isaiah’s song to be true precisely because The National’s song is honest. I need a God who doesn’t just “get over” my dead baby, who doesn’t “get over” the spoiling of his good things. I need a God who defeats the spoiler and restores the good, One who can accomplish the end of sorrow.
Faith is hard, because God’s people don’t experience Isaiah 65 yet. Instead, we wait. Sorrow and hope remain mingled in the present. I cling to hope in the God who makes Isaiah 65 promises, but today I get another encounter with the disassembled crib in my closet. As months pass, the hope offered by my doctor that “the most common outcome after miscarriage is a healthy pregnancy ” is fading. But the promise of Isaiah 43 echoes with a deeper resonance. We will pass through the fire, but we will not be consumed, because “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is 43:1-2). I am desperate for that love—for that wild hope—but the more I lean into it, the more I feel my vulnerability. Maybe this is what it feels like to pass through the purifying flood of sorrow that sweeps away my agenda and still hear, “I am with you.”
So, what should I do with the crib? Maybe I will sell it, because I could get over the crib without getting over my baby. I can let go because, through the work of Christ, God has defeated the spoiler and at Christ’s return, He will raise the dead to life and bury sorrow forever. Or maybe I will keep it as a symbol of my identification with a waiting people who have freedom to cry out, “How long?” Maybe it will remind me to keeping crying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
Pamela is a native Midwestern anglophile currently living in California. She attends Christ Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara, where her husband happens to be the pastor. She and her family enjoy brewing high-maintenance coffee, never having to scrape ice off of car windshields, and road trips up the 1. She is currently completing an MA in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary.