A Christmas Fogged with Grief

By Elizabeth Witmer

PC: Unsplash
“Father, I haven’t been following You or relying on You as I should. Please help me to find
closeness with you as I turn my focus back on You and seek you more. Revive my heart again.”
“Lord, I’m not sure exactly how to begin or even what I’m asking for right now. I feel like there is some distance between us and I’m not sure exactly why. Please rid me of my self-
centeredness and give me a more tender, compassionate heart.”
“Father, I have wandered away from You. Teach me how to communicate better with You.”

These are just a few excerpts from my prayer journal in the fall of 2013. I had no idea
how God would answer these requests and this searching for a deeper relationship with Him.

It was November 11, 2013, and my husband and I were excited and a little nervous to be
having our first ultrasound to finally see our first baby. We were in for a big surprise when the ultrasound tech announced that I was carrying—not one—but two babies.

December 7, 2013, I finally had an appointment with my doctor. I was feeling anxious all
day, which I just chalked up to being nervous about all the questions I had to ask. My mom
drove with me to meet my husband for the appointment. We spent some time going over
some questions in the first few minutes of the appointment. Then it was time to hear the
heartbeats. It took longer than it usually did. My anxiousness grew, all I could hear was my
own heart pounding faster and faster, and as time passed, I could see concern on the doctor’s face as well. She offered to get another doctor to try or send me for an ultrasound. I wanted the ultrasound. I needed to see that my babies were fine. 

The doctor’s office was just a couple miles from the hospital, and as we made our way through the heavy afternoon traffic, we just prayed the whole way there. My husband was the only one allowed to go back with me for the ultrasound. The tech was silent as she did a short scan. I could see the babies, still and quiet, at the bottom of the screen. 

The tech left without a word. My husband and I just looked at each other. We didn’t want to say it, but we knew. A doctor came in with a serious face and said, “I’m sorry. There are no heartbeats.” It was the most devastating thing I had ever heard. I curled up on the table and my husband held me as we sobbed.

At that moment, I knew I had a choice to make. Turn my back on God and blame him for this or cling to him like I never had before. 

By his grace, I chose to cling to God. I looked at my husband and asked him, “How are we going to get through this?” “One second at a time,” he said. The details of what must come next were terrifying. But all I could do was just keep walking forward into it. I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t change any of this.

My mom came in and informed us that our two little ones were both boys. The doctors
suspected twin-to-twin transfusion—a rare condition that affects pregnancies in which identical twins share the same placenta. One baby receives too much blood through the umbilical cord and one receives too little. In some cases, one twin may survive. In other cases, like ours, neither baby is able to live.

We drove home to get a few things then went back to the hospital. The next 24 hours were the longest and hardest of my life. Around 5:30 pm the next evening, our tiny babies were born.

Brendan Lewis was 6.1 ounces and Micah Lee was 9.5 ounces. So tiny, yet so perfectly
formed. I didn’t know I could feel such deep sorrow and yet still feel the joy of being their
mother. The nurses that night were wonderful as they gently washed their little bodies and
made prints of their feet and hands. 

Leaving the hospital without them the next day was almost unbearable. I broke down when I saw another mother with a car seat on her lap being wheeled out the front doors. All I had in my lap were two little stuffed teddy bears wrapped in a receiving blanket. The nurse quickly turned around and took us another way.

I don’t remember much about that Christmas. It was fogged over with grief.

I had to somehow pick up and go on with life with two little pieces of me missing. I had to go back to work. I had to come face to face with jealousy as everywhere I went there were pregnant women and mothers with infants. 

I had to learn how to communicate honestly with people about what had happened and how I was feeling. I learned how to pray “not my will but Yours be done" as I began to pray that someday there would be a living baby in my arms. 

I had to cling to the promises I had memorized since I was a child and trust that they held true even when I didn’t feel their comfort.

A new year began and I went on praying and struggling and hoping. Just a few days
after what would have been my due date with the twins, I began having some unusual spotting and pain. When it continued through the night and into the next morning, I knew I had to get it checked out. So it was back to the hospital where all the memories were still too fresh. An ultrasound and blood test revealed that I had an ectopic pregnancy. I couldn’t believe it. 

How could this happen after all we had already been through and when we weren’t even trying to get pregnant again yet?! That night, I faced surgery to remove a mass the size of a golf ball in a fallopian tube that is usually as thin as a pencil and the loss of another baby we would never get to know. It was like all the healing I had begun to have was rubbed raw again. 

By a miracle from God’s hand, the tube that was affected was saved. And life went on. Healing began again, very slowly. I will forever be thankful for all the family and friends—old and new—who came alongside us, prayed for us, and walked with us.

On September 17, 2015, a precious baby boy joined our family. And on April 18, 2018,
we introduced him to his new baby sister. My cup is full and running over.

I will never forget the three little ones who wait for us in heaven, and I can’t wait to see
them and hold them. Their lives were not a mistake or without purpose. Many people,
believers and unbelievers, got a front row seat to watch us walk through these events. God
was faithful to us and by his grace and love, we were able to remain faithful to him and give
testimony to his faithfulness and sovereignty. 

We will never fully know how lives may have been changed by what we went through. We were given a small window into how God can work all things together for his good when one of my coworkers accepted Christ after months of talking and questions and sharing what God was doing in our lives through our journey. It felt like eternal redemption the night we sat and watched her be baptized at her church. 

God used it all to change me too. Because of our story, I am the person and the mother
that I am today. It has made my relationship with my Savior stronger. I know Him in a far
different way than I did six years ago.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...” Romans 8:28-29a).

Elizabeth Witmer has been married to Jon for 7 years and is mother to Peyton and Eliana. She enjoys early morning quiet times with her Bible—when she can get up before everyone else. When her days aren’t full with taking care of her family and home, she enjoys baking, reading, and horseback riding. She loves teaching children about the Bible. 


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