I woke up like this. It always makes me laugh when I see shirts and hashtags like this. I take a look at myself, my growing bump of 28 weeks and think “NO WAY, DID I WAKE UP LIKE THIS!” It has been such a long journey. Five years of infertility to get pregnant once and loose sweet Oliver. Several more failed IUI’s. Another year and pregnant again but loosing Emery after our first round of IVF. 200+ shots that either I or Nick gave to me. More vitamins, different minerals, oils, blood draws and acupuncture. Even eating the core of several pineapples. Late nights reading any and every article on how to become pregnant and that’s only after learning what all the BCP, TTC, BFP, BFN, DPO, HCG, HSG…. (seriously I could go on) acronyms meant.
All of that, got me here. Sitting on the couch with my laptop, feeling two precious little girls moving inside me. But while this is the moment I have waited for, I have friends that are miscarrying, others grieving the loss of family members and some that still have empty wombs that long to feel life. And my heart just breaks for them and I feel completely helpless. I’ve been there and I still can’t figure out what to say. Saying nothing isn’t an option because I remember the loneliness and feeling like no one understands. But I don’t need to come up with my own words when God has so sufficiently provided His own words already.
Romans 12:12 ” Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Revelation 2:10 “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
Psalm 112:6-7 “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
Psalm 29:11 “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
These are the words I read when I’m still scared to walk into the ultrasound room for fear of bad news. These are the words I read when I miss my babies in Heaven. His words are the words I sing over my doubts. His words are the words I pray over you today, my friends.
You are not alone.
Today is my 30th birthday. A day I thought 7 years ago seemed like forever away. I made a personal goal to start our family before I turned the big 3-0. I figured I would at least be able to have children by then. After all it was SEVEN years away! Every year and every birthday since I have felt this overwhelming sense of pressure. I felt like my time was running out, like my window of opportunity was closing. But our ways are not always God’s ways, are they? He has a funny way of breaking us and all the expectations we put on ourselves and our lives. He reminds me that He is in control and always has been.
Today, on my 30th birthday, I am 17 weeks pregnant and carry two (YES, TWO!) precious gifts from God. And I have so many different emotions going on; Some to which I can probably blame on the hormones. I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement for making it this far. For seeing our two babies in multiple ultrasounds growing healthy and strong! For actually getting to the point of thinking that this could really finally be happening for us. I’m also fighting this sense of fear. Fear of what could happen and the what if’s that are so out of my control. And I almost get embarrassed to even share our good news because I don’t want to hurt anyone. I know how it feels, especially around the holidays, after you have seen one too many pregnancy announcements on Facebook. I started this blog because I didn’t think anyone should have to walk through infertility or miscarriage alone. I wanted to help others and give them hope. But God is showing me that our story doesn’t have to end in pain and loss to accomplish this. Isn’t this what professing hope is all about?! Because that’s just it. God can turn your sorrow into joy. Your mourning into laughter.
If we hadn’t had fertility issues, if we hadn’t lost Oliver and then Emery, we wouldn’t have twin babes in my womb right now. Was this God’s ultimate plan for us? I don’t think so. When Adam and Eve were created in a perfect world without sin, there was no pain. That was God’s ultimate plan for us. But that doesn’t mean God can’t use that pain to bring about something great. He can use anything, even the worst parts can be restored. What the devil intended to harm us, God intended it for our good.
There is so much more that I want to share with you about our journey, the IVF process and getting pregnant after loss but that will be for another time. I guess what I wanted most to share with you all today is my gratitude. So many have been praying for so long for us. And I am in awe at all the people I have never even met who have been diligently holding Nick and I in their prayers. I started this blog to help others but it is you others who have helped me.
God is so so good. And I can’t keep it to myself. We’ve been given a double portion.
Fear. It’s that one thing that can send shivers down your spine and paralyze your present. And it’s not from God. It’s not of God. God wants nothing to do with it.
I’ve been really wrestling with this one. Isn’t is so easy to fall into fear. Fear of the future, the biopsy results, being alone, living life without having children of your own. I find myself being halted daily by thoughts of what if’s. But this isn’t how God wants us to live. This isn’t a life reflecting the grace of a Savior. When we become Christians we accept the fact that Jesus died for our sins and that means accepting the fact that we aren’t going to be punished for anything we have done wrong. He took it all. But it’s easy to wander and wonder. It’s easy to start to believe the lie that maybe the bad things happening to us are our fault. That somehow we deserve all this pain and suffering and grief.
But I won’t have it. I’m tired of believing these lies. So I’m going to reread these scriptures until it becomes so engrained in my brain that fear has no room. There is no fear in love. And GOD IS LOVE.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,”
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do no be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
How do I even put into words what this past year has been for us. Oliver made such an impact on our lives and we have grown so much from our knowing him.
Last year to celebrate Oliver’s life we planted an oak tree in our backyard. We chose an oak tree because of the words from Isaiah 61:3.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
We wanted something to remind us that this is not over. That God does and will restore. That He can take something that is seemingly awful and use it for His glory. In a year I have made some amazing friends. Friends who pick me up when I’m down, hold me when I cry and pray for me when they don’t know what to say. In a year I have learned just how many others have gone through infertility, miscarriage and infant loss. I hate that we have such a painful commonality but we share something – something that can’t be explained – for that I am grateful. In a year God has taught me to seek Him in the waiting. As hard as that can be at times it’s the only way I can turn my sorrow into joy. My despair into hope. God has proven himself faithful in that He is bringing us through the hard times. I have felt His nearness. He has never left us. And although it’s been a hard year, He has brought about so many God-inspired moments that fill our lives with joy and remind us of His unending love.
I watched the seasons change, leaves fall from Oliver’s tree and yet God is still the same (Hebrews 13:8). Though I may not know why certain things happen. Though I can’t see the outcome. God knows. God sees. And He will make everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3)
Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Oliver, my sweet son. You have reached and filled places in my heart I never knew were there. I miss you, I do. But I know that Heaven is the safest, sweetest place for you to be. I’m counting down the days until we meet again and I’m going to try to live every one of them with unshakable faith knowing God’s in control.
I have an app on my phone of daily devotionals. This one was too good not to share. The app is called DVO and you can download it here.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Ps 34:18 (NLT)
“Have you ever fainted? Or been severely winded? Passed out? The feeling of going down and losing control of your responses and senses, watching the world slowly fade from colour to black… it’s frightening. You lose all sense of space and time, and you’re forced along by whatever has gripped you. All you are aware of is you and your pain.
Dark, confused, nauseated, tight chest, numb legs…
When you start to ‘come to’ and you realise that the blotchy shapes around you could be people, that the itch on your hand and shoulder could be someone else’s hands holding you, gently shaking you awake, making sure you’re breathing… another emotion floods you. There’s no word for it… but it’s a connectedness. “I am not alone and someone is helping me.” It doesn’t take away the pain, it doesn’t fix a broken leg, or heal a disease, but it strengthens the heart and cures the spirit.
A bond forms between people who experience each other on the brink of life. To know someone in their most vulnerable, stripped away moment is intimate and sacred. A silent knowing forms and there are no words to communicate what’s been shared.
Life takes interesting turns and none of us are immune to the sudden blows that assault our personhood, spirits and hearts. But in those moments, something beautiful takes place. Pain blinds us and takes our breath away, for a time we can’t see or hear or feel, but when we come to, we realise that God was there the whole time. And in this intimate, raw moment of uncertainty and pain and vulnerability, you look God square in the eye, feel His breath on your face, His embrace holding you up and His love filling your chest – rock solid.
As time goes by, the wound heals and you find your feet again. You may not ever wish your experience on someone else, but you wouldn’t change that moment with God for anything in the world. Beauty from ashes, life from death. A great paradox.
I don’t know why bad things happen, I don’t know why some prayers seem to get answered and others don’t… but I know that in your moment of heartache, God is there. All the questions in the world cannot drown out the love and grace He pours into that sacred moment. So hold it tight.
Broken hearted? Open your eyes, breathe… God is close.”
It’s been a couple weeks now since my Hope Mommies retreat in Texas. I have wanted to write about my experiences but every time I try, I find that my words come short of the love that was shown, the support that was given and the friendships that were made. Fifty-some other mothers. Fifty-some other stories of loss. Fifty-some other babies in Heaven with mine.
I didn’t find out about the retreat until close to the end of registration. But I felt the want, no, the NEED to go. Before the retreat I was feeling very alone. Like I was the only one in the world grieving a baby I never got to hold; A life I never got to meet face to face. I felt like I was going crazy and everyone was just watching, waiting for my breakdown. I felt like I shouldn’t be crying this much, sad this much, dwelling on my losses this much. Everyone else was over it, so why wasn’t I?
I got to the retreat Friday evening feeling literally sick with anxiety. What if they think I’m silly for crying about my Oliver who only grew inside me for 12 weeks? And even worse, what if they think I’m crazy for naming Emery Gene even though she was just a blighted ovum and she never had a heartbeat?
We sat down for supper and all my fears fell away. I was in a safe place. We listened to each others stories. Cried over photographs of our babies. And rejoiced in knowing that our babies were all up in Heaven together. We had some praise and worship time during the weekend I remember picturing all of our babies in Heaven worshiping the same God we were worshiping. Doing the very thing they and we are created for. To worship our creator. What more could a mother want for her child than to be with Jesus. Isn’t that the ultimate goal, after all?
I was also struggling before the retreat with how to be me again. How to get life back to normal. How to not make people feel awkward around me. But I felt different and couldn’t go back to the same old me. Then another mom said it was ok; that this was the NEW normal and I can’t control how and what other people are feeling. And she was so right! I will never be able to go back to the “me” before this experience. This experience has changed me. My babies have changed me and that’s ok! As much as it hurts and as much as I want to hold my children in my arms I have found a greater relationship with God. I’ve had to seek Him on purpose. Isn’t all of life just a journey to His heart? The storms come and the valleys come but isn’t it all worth it knowing that this is not the end? That Jesus died for us to be reborn and live forever with Him?
Psalm 139:13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
I think the best things I took away from the weekend were that I’m allowed to still be grieving. That I need to give myself a break when I have bad days and forgive myself when I don’t respond the way I want to respond. To realize that God knew my children before He made them and He still chose to do so. That God still has a purpose for me, during my grieving and after my grieving. That as much as He knows and loves my children, He knows and loves me. He has seen all the days that are still before me and I am never EVER alone.
I went to the retreat with fifty-some strangers and left with fifty-some sisters.
Here is a short video Hope Mommies put together from the retreat.
Ok, here it goes. Since my last post, I became a mommy of two Heavenly babies. We were able to get pregnant again and then forced to give her up again. I really struggled and am still struggling with it. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the whole thing. How did this happen again and how did I even live beyond it? After Oliver I couldn’t imagine going through another miscarriage. But then we did.
I became pregnant right around the time of Oliver’s due date. I felt like it was a sign. Like God was truly turning my sorrow into joy. We rejoiced and thanked God for such a miracle baby. I was pregnant but ultrasound after ultrasound and still no heartbeat. The doctors were so quick to use words like miscarriage and D&C and even gave me the option of aborting our baby. But I wasn’t having it. I just kept thinking how God is going to use this baby. The doctors will see soon enough. They will realize that this is our miracle baby. I wanted to wait it out. So weeks went by and several ultrasounds passed. I just kept praying for a miracle and believing whole heartedly that this is not how it’s supposed to end. But then it did.
Where was my miracle?
This time around my grief was different than with Oliver. We were never able to see a heartbeat. We were never able to attach our grief to anything tangible. We didn’t receive a pathology report telling us about the gender of our baby. Doctors used words like “empty sac” and “there’s nothing there” and I actually started to believe that for a while. The word empty was the perfect description for how I was feeling. I thought if I pretended like a baby was never conceived it wouldn’t hurt as much.
Wrong. I was still hurting and grieving and I felt silly for doing so for something that “wasn’t there”. Am I crazy?
NO! There wasn’t a something there. There was a SOMEONE! A tiny little embryo that God created and knew. A life that although was short, was a life that mattered. Not only to Nick and I but to God. He watched as this life attached itself to my body for protection. He saw as my body created a safe place for this life to grow. And He saw when this life, our child, left her earthly home for her Heavenly one.
I was praying so hard for a miracle. Begging God to do something. And that’s when I realized. Just yesterday as I was driving into the snow covered sunset. I did receive a miracle and I receive a miracle everyday.
Jesus. The Cross. Grace. And then more grace.
The definition of impregnate is: to make pregnant, fertilize, to fill throughout, saturate, permeate. What if we prayed as hard for God’s will as we do for God’s miracles? What if I prayed as much to be filled with Christ as I do to be filled with a child? For God to permeate my very being to be used by Him and through Him. No matter what our need, no matter what we think we are without, God can fill it. He creates and He fills and He saturates that empty space. And as much I yearn for our babies, don’t you believe God yearns even more for us?
Tomorrow I leave for a retreat organized by Hope Mommies. I’m so excited and slightly nervous. I’ll get to meet other mommies with different stories than mine but a similar kind of loss. Ladies that I have prayed for and have had praying for me. Some who even know my babies’ names. I’m so grateful for this organization and their love they shower over my life. If you or someone you know has suffered miscarriage or infant loss, I highly recommend becoming a part of the group. Their support through these past months has been amazing and God is turning truly turning sorrow into joy.
It’s a daily decision. To wake up and be fill by Him. To be covered by His Grace and know that no matter what I will face that day God has already seen me through it. He is my strength and my portion. He is grace upon grace upon grace.
It’s here. November. Cold, dreary, days. Hope blown away with the leaves.
I used to paint quite a bit. I was even originally signed up to graduate with a degree in Fine Arts. I loved those painting classes. Blasting music that my business-major-fiance thought was really strange. Getting lost in the merging colors and pouring emotion into thick brushstrokes. Paint under my nails and almost always, somehow, in my hair. Then, finally, a piece of the painting would turn out exactly how I wanted it and I would treat that corner of my painting as off limits. As soon as I would get it how I wanted I wouldn’t touch it again. I guarded it.
My professor would comment in his passing bys, “kill your darlings”. But I didn’t want to. Get rid of the part of the painting I thought was done? That was the part that I actually liked. So I painted around it, trying to finish the rest of the painting. To mesh my darling with the world around it. But it never worked. EVER. I would always come to the end of my painting hating the outcome and completely painting over everything. A clean slate. Nick would always ask what in the world I was doing?! Why would I just paint over everything? All that work and time? For nothing? But painting to me was never the final piece. It was the journey, the experience, the feelings I had while painting. I think that’s why it’s called a work of art.
I had a “random” memory of this the other night while trying to quiet my thoughts. Turn off the lights in my head. I have been upset, counting the days until Oliver’s due date. Watching other mothers who were due around the same time take maternity photos and finalizing little touches to their nursery. It’s been harder than I thought. And then God spoke.
“Kill your darlings”
Instantly I knew what God was saying. I have been holding onto Oliver and the life I had seen for him. The places I wanted to take him. The stories I had wanted to tell him. Stories about his heritage, about how his dad and I met, about how we had prayed for him for years and God finally brought him to us. I haven’t fully given Oliver over to God. I want to keep this piece for myself. I am guarding the thing that is most precious to me. And it’s not just Oliver but the whole idea of having a family of our own. I saw a glimpse of what it could have been and I’m struggling with the surrender. I’m holding on to this picture of Nick and I and our baby.
“Kill your darlings, give me the broken pieces and I will make them whole”
There is a hole in my life that He wants to make whole. I know that it’s a process and until I give God the piece that I like the most, that I guard with my life, He will not be able to complete His work in me. Until I surrender it all over to Him, how will I ever feel whole. A clean slate. He can take this part of me and although I don’t see how it fits into my life, He has already used it. For He is the Creator. And who am I to question? He has already seen the big picture. The whole work.
I am but canvas.
Soaking up the words to this song. Repeating it. Singing it. Professing it.
There’s not a prayer I’ve prayed
That You haven’t heard
Not a tear I’ve shed
That You didn’t feel
You’re the God who comes to raise the dead
I know You’ll raise me up again
I know You’ll raise me up again
Who can praise You from the grave
to see the life you gave
Just to see the life you gave
Just to see the life you gave
Every fear in me You’ve put to rest
It’s the song sing I bring
Of Your faithfulness
And every tear has led my feet to stand
Where the ocean meets the land
Where the ocean meets the land
Sink or swim I’m diving in
Where the river starts rushing
Where my heart starts beating
For the rhythms of the testing
And the songs of the trials
I will lift a cry up to You
Sung with hope inside my eyes
Sink or swim I’m diving in
To the passion of Your heart
Where love starts
I lift my hands if my hands fail me
I’ll bend my knees if my knees grow weak
I’ll raise my voice and sing, I’ll sing
I know that You love me
Give me a song to sing
And I will sing it.
God doesn’t love me.
What have I done to deserve this?
There is no hope.
What is the point?
Why would a God that can do anything, keep me from becoming a mother?
Why them and not me?
All these; thoughts and questions that have run through my head within the past month. Why is it so hard for me to keep perspective? It is so tough to stay positive in a world where so many bad things happen to so many people. How can I profess that He is good when I’m surrounded by so much ugly?
Time is billowing forward. The sunflowers folded over with the weight of their beauty. A single maple tree burns crimson and the sun sneaks to bed a little earlier every night. Fall is just a couple cold mornings away. It seems everything is mockingly counting down the days until November. I miss Oliver. I think about him everyday. And it’s easy to listen to the devils voice. To become bitter. Angry. Resentful. But this isn’t what God wants for me. He wants me to count it all joy (James 1:2) and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). But how is that possible?
I have run the whole gamut of emotions and found that living in fear, doubt, self-pity… that’s no way to live. It’s true, dealing with infertility, focusing so much on what I do not have, can easily become my idol. It is a constant worry.
Am I eating right? Drinking right? Taking the right vitamins? Am I lifting too much? Stressed too much?
And soon it’s all consuming and everything I do, say, think about brings me back to childless. Emptiness. But how can I call myself a Christian and be empty? Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Christ lives in me and is with me. Why do I so easily forget?
And then, why would He still want me? I’ve been so unworthy. Always forgetting. Never having eyes to see all the ways He loves me. Pursues me. He is always there, and always has been. I can’t live a life being full of God and emptied with fear. For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). He has given me a sound mind. He has given me the ability to choose to be happy. To choose to see good. To choose to wake up everyday knowing that God has me, holds me here in this moment and that it won’t be wasted. And that is enough.