Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Three Reasons to Give Thanks, Our Story Continued


As November draws to a close, I can’t help but remember that this month might have been our first baby’s fourth birthday. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enter the month of Thanksgiving without remembering the life that wasn’t ours to hold here on Earth.

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of our journey.

Today, it’s been about two months since we thought that we would be having another baby, our third. I never wanted to add another chapter to our story about miscarriage and loss.

But, God.

I keep being reminded that God’s divine timing is not ours.

Andrew and I are loving each stage with our almost 22 month old, on-the-go, cute-as-can-be, into everything, toddler, Marshall. He is funny and fast and just so lovable. We definitely want to have more children, if God chooses, and we recently thought that dream was coming true for us.

In September, I took three positive home pregnancy tests. And another at my doctors office to be sure. Pure excitement, amazement and happy shock! I couldn’t wait to share the incredible news with Andrew. We looked at each other in disbelief, hugged and cried tears of joy. Marshall was going to be a big brother! We couldn’t be happier.

The thing with having ever experienced a miscarriage, even after delivering a healthy baby, is that the fear and uncertainty doesn’t leave you. The “what if’s” are always there, looming, in the back of your mind. It overshadows your joy. It makes you halfheartedly believe. You try to be all-in excited, but your heart still remembers the hurt and the heartbreak you once knew, at a familiar time in the past. I wanted those worry-filled thoughts to disappear. To stop whispering doubt into my ear. To stop robbing me of the happiness of this moment. But it kept hanging around.

We daydreamed about welcoming a new baby into our family. We celebrated with pizza (fancy, I know). We started strategizing how to make additional room in our home. And we prayed. And we talked about our excitement and about our fears. We hoped and prayed that God wouldn’t allow us to walk down the road of loss again.

My first ultrasound was scheduled the following week (per my request), when we would be a little over seven weeks pregnant. I simply could not wait to see our tiny growing baby on the screen and see that precious little heart beating. Then, and only then, would I be able to rest a little easier and fully bask in the joy of this pregnancy. I needed to see it to believe it.

The day before our ultrasound, however, I knew something wasn’t right. In addition, I didn’t “feel” very pregnant in general, except for some occasional nausea. I told myself not to freak out and that every pregnancy is different. It was still early. I was just going to wait to see the doctor the next day.

We drove to the appointment, which is at the same hospital where Marshall was born, and we got ready to see our tiny new baby for the first time. Except, there was no baby on the screen. My womb looked empty. The technician kindly told us that she could not see a developing pregnancy and that she was going to go talk to the doctor. When the technician came back, she performed a second ultrasound to be sure. Then the doctor came in and confirmed the news we didn’t want to hear.

How could this be?

How could I be pregnant, but there not be a baby growing inside of me?

Miscarriage.

That ugly word.

Again.

Something didn’t go right. The baby we thought was developing, simply was not. Almost as quickly as we learned that we were pregnant, we were faced with the reality that we weren’t anymore.

I had blood work done to be sure. And a follow up appointment. And more blood work.

The verdict: miscarriage. There was nothing we could do to stop it or explain it. Our hearts were once again left broken and wondering why.

Why put our hearts and our hopes through that? Why get us excited and looking forward to another dream coming true, only to have it trampled and stolen so quickly away? Why must we relive such sadness and disappointment, a second time over? It doesn’t make sense. After experiencing the joy and answered prayer of allowing us to be Marshall’s parents, why revisit that place of deep loss?

His ways are not our ways.

I couldn’t utter a word on the drive home. I sobbed in Andrew’s arms when he held me in our kitchen, while Marshall played in the other room. How was I supposed to get through this day? How was I supposed to move forward? Why was this happening? Again. What a cruel trick. I felt so foolish. Foolish for believing. Foolish for hoping it to be true and for all to be well. Foolish for allowing myself to dream and to be excited.

When Marshall took a nap, I buried myself under a blanket and fell asleep. When I woke, somehow I felt better. Like it was all a dream. Like I knew that this was the way God wanted it to be and everything was in His very capable hands. I was reminded that I have been given a husband and a son and a beautiful life, and most importantly, the life-giving gift of salvation. I had to get up, keep going and hope again. A simple and ridiculously hard truth.

I can’t say that it doesn’t hurt, deeply, because it does. It stings. In moments that I don’t expect. But, the fact that I have my husband of eleven years, walking the same road beside me, and our beautiful son to take care of, makes it somehow easier and more bearable. God has always been so very good to us, in the good times and in the difficult times. I know that God is in control, through it all, and that I can trust him. Even when it doesn’t make sense to me. Even when I wish things had gone very differently.

I am truly amazed at how tangibly God has been surrounding me during these days and weeks. The Sunday before our ultrasound, our new pastor started a series entitled “Seasons.” It couldn’t have been more timely. Trusting God, no matter the circumstances. I felt like the message was just for us. The worship team sang “Thy Will Be Done,” by Hilary Scott. A song that has been narrating my life for weeks prior to all of this.

Three days after our ultrasound didn’t go as hoped, I attended the More Than Enough women’s conference with guest speaker Angie Smith. I first heard Angie speak on Mother’s Day, 2014, while we were still in a season of intense waiting to get pregnant, after our first miscarriage in 2012. I knew I would be in for some serious heart stirring. That was an understatement. On the drive there, I was able to share my heartbreak and pray with a dear friend, who could not have been a more perfect listening ear and compassionate heart. Her words and understanding surrounded me with such love and comfort. During the conference, the stories that were shared about reliance on our Heavenly Father during utter heartbreak and unthinkable loss were nothing short of inspiring, and so specific to what I was going through, that very day. I knew God had planned it, long before I purchased my ticket. Later in the conference “Thy Will Be done” was played. That same song, twice in one week. Once before and once after I found out that I miscarried.

I’m listening, God.

“I know you see me. I know you hear me, Lord. Your plans are for me. Goodness you have in store. Thy will be done.” That song has been speaking to my heart continually.

There are many moments that I have felt the hand of God holding me and healing my wounded heart. Through people I’ve had conversations with, a blog I came across, messages at church, songs, the sweet laugh of my son, the love of family and friends. It’s been a much different experience than our first miscarriage. Not because I’m any less sad or any less disappointed. I was in a very different place, prior to having our son, not knowing if I would get pregnant at all and be able to experience having a child. All of the praise and glory goes to God for his good gifts! I don’t deserve His love and mercy and pure abundance. I am overwhelmed by His goodness and grace. Such grace.

I’m sharing my story, in hopes that maybe it will help someone else. I also share it to proclaim that it’s only because of Jesus Christ that I’m able to get up every day. Before, during and after all of this. My life isn’t perfect - far from it. I have struggles and I’ve had to face some very difficult days throughout my life. Days that, were it not for my relationship with my Creator, my Heavenly Father, the Giver of Life, I don’t know how I would handle it. He is my Living Hope. He is the reason I have joy. True joy. Not just putting on a smile and pretending. Even during the hurt, I have hope. How can this be? Because I am loved and cherished and held by the God of the universe.

I wear three rings now. One with the birthstone or due date month of each of my three children. I get to cuddle and look into the eyes of one of those sweet children, every day. And I look forward to meeting our two precious gifts in Heaven. Three reasons to thank God.

I don’t really know how to close this. To be continued. Because I don’t know what the future holds. Anymore than I knew what the future held a few weeks ago. I’m learning, daily, that as much as I might try, I’m not in control. Of anything. Only God is. And I’m grateful for that, because if I was in control, oh, the mess I’d have made of my life by now. Thank you, LORD, that You are in control, and that You know what’s best for us. You truly are a good, good, Father, and you are so perfect in all of your ways. (Another song that gets to me every time is “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin.)

If you have known the pain of loss, my prayer is that the God of all comfort will heal your heart. I also pray that if you don’t already know Him, that you would pursue a relationship with God, your Heavenly Father, who loves you like crazy. I’m proof that you can love Him and you can trust Him. He created you and knows your heart. He also knows what it’s like to have His heart broken, because He watched His only Son, Jesus, die for you and me. The ultimate gift of love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Coming Home


Today, I'm honored to be featured in a series called "Coming Home" on one of my favorite blogs, Clover Lane. Years before I became a mom, I began following Clover Lane and was drawn to Sarah's style of parenting (a mom of six children), and her honesty about life, family and her faith. She also has great recipes, reading recommendations and tips on organization. A lot that I admire.

If you'd like to read my story about becoming a stay at home mom click here.

Sarah, thank you for inviting me to be part of this beautiful series that celebrates motherhood!