by Dandi Moyers
Mallory, I was sitting in church last night praying about Ron
and you when God reminded me about a difficult time not too long
ago that He had brought me through.
Dennis and I were married three months when I became pregnant. It was a surprise because we were planning to wait a couple of years before having kids, but we were both very excited. Dennis was in the Air Force and had three months until his military commitment was completed, so we had medical coverage until then. I saw the base OB and had an ultra-sound at 12 weeks. The baby was growing and I was eagerly anticipating the first movements. I was sure I was going to have a little boy. A tiny little version of Dennis toddling around the house. I imagined all sorts of fun we would have together and started making plans for his future.
When I told my friends and family about our big news, everyone was thrilled, everyone, except Ruth. Ruth and I had become fast friends after Dennis and I had first met, and I considered her one of my closest. So close, in fact, I asked her to be the matron of honor at my wedding. The fact that her reaction to my news was less than exuberant eluded me. I was so excited that I did not see the pain that my pregnancy was causing her.
A few days after we announced that we were expecting Ruth told me that something was bothering her and that we needed to talk. It was not long into the conversation that I realized that she was angry at me and hurt that I could be so callous as to her feelings. Her anger toward me was so strong and her bitterness so deep that I was puzzled. At this time, many of our friends were having children. It seemed as if we had a baby shower almost every other month at our church for almost a year. Ruth always seemed happy about the baby boom happening around her, so her reaction to my news dumbfounded me. I knew that she was unable to get pregnant. She had been trying for almost seven years, agonizing over the fact that she may never give birth, then I have the nerve to go and get pregnant just after getting married. Her attitude was "Dandi gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants and nanny-nanny-poo-poo to anyone else."
After listening to her vent for about a half hour it occurred to me that I was not the focus of her rage. She was mad at God. Mad that He was willingly giving me something that she so desperately wanted. What made me so deserving and her so undeserving of God's favor?
I told her that God's will for our lives is more satisfying than anything we could want, and that striving after that which God does not intend for us only makes our lives unhappy. She said that she wanted a baby more than anything else, even more than God's will. I was shocked. I so strongly believed that only God's plan could bring satisfaction and contentment that her response frightened me. I desperately wanted for her to understand that His ways are higher and more noble, that we do not know what the future holds, that only he knows. I told her that I if I had to lose the baby for her to realize this truth, that it would be worth it. She guaranteed me that nothing could change the way she feels, but she now realized that her frustration and anger were not because of me.
At about 16 weeks Dennis' enlistment ended and for two months was unable to find a job. During that time I was not under a doctor's care but felt that since everything was going well I did not need to worry. He finally got a job that provided health care at a local HMO. This particular group had five OB's that shared all the patients. I was to see a different doctor at each visit so that when the time came to deliver I would be aquainted with whichever doctor was on call.
At my first appointment I was a little over 5 months. They reviewed my diet and prescribed pre-natal vitamins, took my blood pressure and I actually got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the very first time. The doctor asked if movement was normal. I said yes. In fact it had only been the week before that I had felt the fluttering for the very first time.
My subsequent visits were about the same. The heart rate stayed at a strong 150-155 bpm and the doctor assured me that everything was going well. At 31 weeks I had my scheduled check and this doctor (whom I had not seen previously) noticed that no lab work had been done since I had begun receiving care at the group. The baby's heart rate at this visit was 132 bpm, which concerned me, but the doctor assured me that the heart rate will fluctuate between 120-160 bpm and that 132 bpm was absolutely normal. Because he did not find the 12 week ultra-sound in the records from the base hospital the doctor scheduled me for a ultra-sound to check the baby's size and progress.
My appointment was for the following Friday, the 13th of July. I could hardly stand the wait. During the last few weeks I was beginning to wonder if the baby was O.K.. I had never been pregnant before and was unsure about how much I should be feeling the baby. The doctors seemed to think everything was normal, so I pushed my worries aside, not wanting to be a neurotic mommy. The ultra-sound was just what I needed to put my fears to rest.
Dennis accompanied me to the appointment. I was disappointed that he was not allowed to go into the ultra-sound room with me until all the necessary measurements were taken. The technician assured us that as soon as she was finished Dennis could come in and see his baby. She led me to a small, dark room and after helping lie down on the table began the test. The screen was tilted toward me so that I could see the images as she was working. Soon after she began, she turned the screen away from me and asked me why the doctor had ordered the test. I told her that he just wanted to check the size and weight to confirm the due date. She began to look upset, almost irritated, it seemed. I asked if anything was wrong. She said that nothing was wrong, she just wanted to go get one of the doctors that was studying to become an OB to look at my ultra-sound, for the experience. She asked if I was agreeable to that and I gave my consent.
Before she even said a word I knew that something was wrong. She was lying. I could tell by the look in her eyes. As she walked out of the room I asked the Lord what was wrong. I don't think I really expected an answer. I think I was just kind of including God in what was happening. But I did receive an answer. It came almost before I asked. I didn't hear anything audibly or even receive a sentence in my mind. It was as if God just dropped this chunk of knowledge into my head. One second I was clueless, the next second I knew that my baby was dead. My words to Ruth that one afternoon rang in my ears; "If I have to lose this baby for you to understand that God's will for you is more important than any one thing that you desire, it would be worth it."
The doctor and technician came in, re-did the test and acted as if nothing was wrong. They asked me to join my husband in the waiting room. The doctor wanted to speak with us. While we waited I told him that I thought the baby was dead. He didn't say much, but just held my hand until the nurse came for us.
She led us to another exam room and told us the doctor would be with us soon. I'm not sure how long we had to wait but I remember that we prayed together. We asked God to give us strength and to honor His word that says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
We gave thanks that we have a God that loves us enough to comfort
us in time of need, asked him to let us be a witness to those
who don't know Christ, an encouragement to our brothers and sisters
in faith and expected his peace to carry us through.
The doctor came in and confirmed what God had already revealed and explained what needed to be done. He was not willing to take the baby by C-section, preferring to deliver it by induction as soon as possible. I decided to wait until Monday. I just wanted a chance to go to church and pray with my friends before going ahead with the delivery.
We had phoned ahead, so our pastor, Rick, was already aware of the situation when we arrived at the church after we left the doctor's office. We needed some advice about how to tell the rest of the body, what to do about funeral arrangements and all the things you never think you'll have to deal with. Ruth and her husband were there working so I asked them to come into the pastor's office. After our "big talk" earlier in the year, Ruth had become wrapped up in the baby. I think she was more excited about it than I was. She fussed over me like a mother hen, so when I told her the baby was gone it was hard for her to take. She fell to her knees and began sobbing. I didn't know how to comfort her. She told me later that it was as if someone had punched her in the stomach, it hurt so bad. I don't know if I was numb or if God simply sustained me, but I didn't cry.
That evening, as Dennis and I settled into bed The reality of losing our baby hit us. There wouldn't be a little Dennis to toddle around our house, no scribbled pictures to hang on the refrigerator door and there would be no plans for the future of this baby. We held each other and cried.
Each night that week Dennis had read aloud one chapter from Psalms. The five nights preceding had all been psalms of woe and lamentations about how terrible life is.
I could not relate, my life was great. But that night, when my life seemed darkest, the psalmist sang of how wonderful God was.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate -
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.
The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the pine trees.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the coneys.
The moon marks off the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
Then man goes out to his work,
to his labor until evening.
How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number -
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face, they are terrified;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works-
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.
But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.
Praise the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD. (Psalm 104)
After hearing this I realized that though I felt as if my world
had been ripped apart for no apparent reason, the creator of the
universe was unchanged. He was still awesome, powerful, just,
merciful and wise. His love for me is deeper and more profound
than any I could ever know. How could I ask Him why? When I gave
Him my life it was for ever, to do with as He willed to bring
glory to His Son Jesus. He never guaranteed me a husband, children,
a home, wealth or even happiness. He did promise to be with me
always and to never give me anything that I was unable to bear.
He gave me His Spirit to strengthen, guide, comfort and protect
me. He gave me His word to teach me. He gave me brothers and sisters
to encourage me and he gave me hope for a future that He alone
As I continued to think about this I began to feel blessed that God had given me this situation. I know it sounds weird, but if someone had to go through this I feel honored that God let it be me. There were several women in the church that were pregnant at the same time and it could have been them. I was thankful that they were spared this pain, but also grateful that in this pain God's peace was so freely given to me.
On Sunday I worshipped the Lord with more intimacy, intensity, and conviction of heart than ever before. By Monday I was filled with peace, joy and true thanksgiving for how great a God I serve.
The induction and delivery took two and a half days. We were surrounded by family and friends who continually held us up in prayer. On July 18, 1990 I gave birth to a beautiful red-haired baby girl. We named her Marissa Ruth Moyers. At a small graveside ceremony on Monday, July 21st we celebrated the short life that God had given her.
Through this the Lord has changed me in ways I never could have imagined. I have learned that God's Word is faithful and that it is in life's tragedies that we find life's purpose. I was not the only person changed by Marissa's death. Ruth came to realize that God's ways are higher than her own. She began to trust in God's design for her life. Because she was unable to bear a child of her own she was able to open her home and her heart to a dying little foster child named Vanessa. Ruth's acceptance of God's will saved Vanessa's life and perhaps many more.
The effects of Marissa's life and death have been felt by many. God has used this tragedy to comfort and teach, to encourage to and to show that He does indeed work all things together for the good of those called according to His plan.
I hope that during this difficult time you too can be encouraged by the testimony of Marissa's life. God is faithful to do all He has promised in His word.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:34)
"The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace."
Grace be with you,
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