baby micah.

NAMING MICAH

When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Eliza and found out that she was a girl, we felt strongly about the name Eliza Rose but also had the name Micah on the table. Micah had originally been our boy name through two pregnancies, but we also loved the name for a girl. That same night, I had a dream that we had three girls: Lydia, Eliza, and our littlest, Micah. 

I woke up that next morning and felt so strongly: The Lord is saying don’t be afraid to have three girls, and you’re supposed to have one more: Micah.

Micah is Hebrew for the phrase “who is like God?” We also loved the name because it comes from the same root word as Michael (Kevin’s middle name) and Michelle (Kevin’s mother’s name.) Open handed but confident, from that moment I had held onto a vision of our family. Months after Eliza was born, Kevin and I couldn’t wait to be pregnant again and have our Micah—boy or girl—and complete our family.

LIFE BEFORE MICAH

Leading up to December, we had entered a dark season for reasons that I will keep confidential on this platform. I was exhausted from nights without sleep and I felt scared and anxious leading up to the days of my missed period. On our first pregnancy test we saw the smallest, faintest line. I’ll never forget that night when around 9pm, Kevin left for the store to get more pregnancy tests. The next one showed an even fainter line—but the line was still there. After processing it all, we decided to tell no one but planned to take another test a few days later to confirm. 

On the morning of December 7, I took another pregnancy test and left it in the bathroom. Kevin and I swooped up our two daughters to bring them back to see the results and celebrate the news: a solid line! “There’s a baby in mommy’s belly!!!” The four of us cheered, danced, and celebrated! Over the next several weeks and through the holidays we shared our news with friends and family. My baby bump showed quickly. I had all the symptoms. Our family felt complete.

Immediately we started calling the baby Micah.

LIFE WITH MICAH

Despite it being a challenging season, there were also sweet moments that Micah experienced with us. Micah helped me turn 30 years old and celebrate entering a new decade! Micah gave us hope for the year 2021 after a really difficult 2020. One part of this last month that I never want to forget was the first time Lydia, at 2 ½ years old, ever asked to pray before a meal or before bedtime started the week before our miscarriage. She insisted on praying and would pray: Dear Lord, please help the baby in Mommy’s belly, thank you for Baby Micah, I pray she grows and is born. Amen. Hallelujah! (Lydia Evelyn, I will never forget your first genuine prayer. I am so sorry that God didn’t answer it the way we wanted.) 

The week leading up to our miscarriage was one of the most emotionally exhausting weeks of my life. But Micah was with me for every single heartbeat. For every sleepless night. For every helpless prayer. Micah brought me comfort and gave me hope. After a week of traumatic and hurtful events that I will not record, on Wednesday, January 6, a sweet friend took my kids for a few hours and sent me off to have time with Jesus. I wrote these words: 

In 2020 I am leaving behind regret. I am leaving behind what could have been, the grief of loss that surrounded me from every side. 

In 2021, I will be marked by freedom. I will be marked by embracing my humanness. By embracing my limitations and my capacity. By wholly accepting the gospel as I am – not for what I can achieve. May my weaknesses be Your Glory. 

.

THE DAY WE LOST MICAH

Lydia woke us up at 6am on Thursday, January 7, just like she had most mornings the past month. Yet instead of having Kevin go tell her to say in her room one more hour, I had this sudden urge to be with her. I said out loud: “I want to hold my baby.” I asked Kevin if he would bring her back to bed with us. In a very rare moment for my never-stop-moving toddler, she climbed in bed with me and just hugged me and told me she loved me. We didn’t stop holding each other and telling the other I love you for about 15 minutes. That was a gift. I got my usual morning cuddles in with Eliza and started getting ready for my morning doctor’s appointment. This appointment was supposed to be the point of relief after a really emotionally exhausting week. 

And for about 5 seconds, I had that relief. Kevin, Lydia and Eliza were on FaceTime as the sonogram tech started the sonogram. Immediately, we saw Micah.

“Look Lydia and Eliza!” I said out loud over the phone. “There’s baby Micah!” 

There are really no words to describe what happened next. To experience the joy of seeing your baby on the screen and sharing that joy with your other children – to the shock and confusion of hearing a sonogram tech say the words: “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”

I was stunned to silence. The only words I could mutter were: “Are you sure?”

As Kevin’s hands went to his eyes hiding tears, I saw Lydia’s face in the corner. I heard her sweet voice ask, “What happened to baby Micah?” 

I took a deep breath. To help my oldest daughter understand, I had to speak into existence the truth that still hadn’t hit me. “Baby Micah died.” 

I collected my sonogram picture of baby Micah and was ushered into another room. Kevin and I stayed on the phone and cried together until my mom came to pick up the girls from our house, and Kevin stayed on the phone through all the next steps. We decided to choose the pill option with the hopes of inducing miscarriage and avoiding surgery if possible. We asked all the questions we could think of during the appointment, including, “Is there anything we could have done to prevent or cause this?” and “Is there any chance our baby’s heart will start beating again?”

As soon as I arrived at home Kevin and I just held each other and cried. After a few calls and texts, we agreed that we wanted to go pick up our girls, clear out our work schedules, and take the medicine later that day.

I was almost 10 weeks on a third pregnancy and had passed the point of hiding my bump. The hardest part was that Lydia could see the baby in my belly. We had to explain to her that baby Micah wouldn’t be in my belly anymore but instead would be in heaven with Jesus. Having to remind her of this constantly for the first two days became one of the hardest parts. (But her accepting and telling me she now longer sees a baby in my belly was just as hard.)

After putting the girls down for their afternoon naps, Kevin and I sat in the quiet of our living room. We processed all of our emotions and as much grief as we could verbalize. When it became time to take the medicine, I broke down. There was something about the actual act of vaginally inserting pills that made it feel so final. Not to mention I was really scared for what was to come. We decided in that moment to just stop and pray. We wept together and cried out to God, but in our prayers, we just couldn’t stop thanking God for Micah and for the time that we did have with this baby, for the season that we did carry this child in. This little life was beyond a gift to us for nearly 10 weeks. This little life changed us. 

We lamented what could have been and quickly our prayers turned into talking directly to Micah.

Micah, we love you… we were so excited when we found out about you… thank you for comforting us and bringing us joy in one of the darkest seasons of our life… we wish we could have met you, held you, heard your first cry, seen your first smile, seen you take your first steps, and raised you. We promise you, Micah, we will never forget you. We will never forget the time you were with us. You will always be a part of our family and always in our hearts. We can’t wait to meet you and hold you in heaven. We rejoice that the first time you opened your eyes, you saw Jesus. But Micah, we miss you…

When we said everything that we could think to say and everything we could think to pray, we took our first step forward. With Kevin at my side in the bathroom around 4pm on one of the longest days of our lives, we inserted the medicine. Eliza woke up a few minutes later and that evening playing with our children provided the most beautiful distraction.

A few friends dropped off meals, some essentials, and some surprises that comforted us in the moment. Tears and numbness rotated in waves. Nausea set in quickly and I couldn’t eat much but a green smoothie sustained me. Around the girls’ bedtime at 8pm, the cramping began. Fortunately, it wasn’t until after they went to sleep that I saw my first drop of bright red blood.

We set up a heating pad near the living room couch, got some blankets, lit a candle, and turned on The Voice season finale. And for the next few hours, that’s where we remained. My husband held me and every 15-30 minutes we paused the show, went to the bathroom, and Kevin held my hand through it all. While we were never able to see at the time, in hindsight, we are both pretty sure of the moment when the clotting blood passing was the worst. I wept on the toilet and cried out each of the three times when the passing was at its climax. 

We weren’t sure how long the night would last, but thankfully cramping ceased around 11pm and the night ended with me falling asleep on Kevin exhausted on the couch.

LIFE WITHOUT MICAH

I woke up the next morning around 6am, surprised I was able to sleep that long. As soon as I stood up, I was shocked. My stomach had already shrunk. My morning sickness felt different. I felt postpartum. I felt very similar to the day after I gave birth to Lydia and Eliza, except that today I woke up without Micah. 

And I felt the weight in my heart. I felt the loss. Like someone was missing. Grief overtook me, but as the day went on, so did the healing, both physically and emotionally. I cried a lot. My mom dropped off soup and helped with my kids while my sister, who works in health care, also came over. I drilled her on any possible medical and genetic question I could have surrounding pregnancy and miscarriage, which helped to make logical sense of our loss. Later, one of my best friends from high school who had also been through a miscarriage came over. We cried over our angel babies and the empty feeling of our arms, we processed similar fears, temporarily carrying the weight of the loss being our faults and the helplessness we felt in the darkest moments. Then later that night, I hopped on Zoom with three of my best friends who know me better than I know myself to have a beer and cheers to baby Micah’s sweet life, even amid the loss. I knew I was ready for my first beer when it didn’t feel like an escape, but instead, an outward symbol of acceptance.

Over the weekend we continued to take space to just be together as a family. Mostly, when my kids were awake, I could hold it together. But when they were asleep, Kevin and I just fell apart. We’ve had to process and grieve the loss in so many more ways than I would have imagined. At the same breath, we have been completely in awe of the community that has come around us. From meals to coffee to flowers to texts and phone calls and prayers. The love we’ve experienced from our community during this season has changed us forever.

Lydia and Eliza’s sweet presence has been healing and comforting. I am so sad and miss carrying Micah and miss the life we could have had with him or her, but I am also overwhelmed with gratitude that I carried this baby during a really dark and challenging 10 weeks for unrelated personal reasons. Every day of Micah’s life served extraordinary purpose for me.

We’re not angry at God, we feel comforted by His love and grace.
We don’t feel alone, in fact our community has surrounded us.
But we just feel really sad. We miss Micah. 

In the almost 12 years I’ve known Kevin, I had never seen him like that. I had never seen him weep uncontrollably like he did. His emotion was what first brought the emotion out of me. We have grieved similar in some ways, and different in others, but the level of heartbreak we have both experienced has been the same. Despite a really hard week and a continued grief journey, we feel God with us, we see His blessings. We were gifted with space to be together. As the weekend came to an end, we grieved that as well because it felt like the time we got to “be” with and bond with Micah. Moving on to our busy lives felt like we were losing even more of what we will never get back. But we knew we needed to move forward. To push past the triggers and the ways we wanted to run away. But we found comfort that we will hold Micah in our hearts for the rest of our time on earth until we hold him or her in heaven.

ETERNITY WITH MICAH

Speaking of heaven, Kevin and I had always joked that he wanted a gender “surprise.” Meaning, during one of our pregnancies he wanted to be surprised by the gender when we met the baby after delivery. But knowing me, I am one of those people that needs to and loves finding out the gender at our 20-week ultrasound. We don’t know if Micah was a boy or a girl, but now we’ve joked that Kevin will finally get his surprise when we meet Micah in heaven! I can just imagine being there when Kevin arrives, or Kevin being there when I arrive, and shouting out, “Micah is a girl!” or “Micah is a boy!” What a sweet moment that will be! 

Micah means “who is like God?” We have found that phrase to be true in this season. God alone restores our joy in the midst of our sorrow. Our hope and trust in Him allows sadness and peace to coexist. We have seen that there is no community like the community of God, coming around someone as they suffer and value the human life we carried, no matter how brief. The meaning of Micah’s name reminds us to look up to God in the midst of our doubts and remember that His ways are higher, His plans are greater. He is worthy of our love, our trust, our all. There is no one like our God.

Kevin and I feel blessed beyond measure that we get to raise our two beautiful daughters in this lifetime, and now we can’t wait to meet our angel baby in the next. It’s been waves of really hard and sad, and waves of peace and comfort, but overall, we are doing well. Thanks to those who have entered the journey with us.

We love you, baby Micah. 

THE TREE.

Eliza, I need to tell you something. This tree is really important to me.

Instantly tears started welling up in my eyes and emotion overtook what I thought would be a simple moment. I couldn’t even get the rest of the words out as I spoke to my 7-month old daughter. 

I looked up and saw my two-year-old, Lydia, ahead, climbing on rocks with her dada. I held Eliza close and blinked through tears as I looked back at the tree and tried to get my words out. 

Do you remember our friend Jackie? Well, three years ago we came here just two weeks after her dada died. 

I paused again. Instantly my mind was filled with memories of those few weeks. The call from Jackie. The hospital. The funeral. Her decision to still come on our Work Week at Young Life’s Clearwater Cove—leading up to the clearest memory of all. A few nights in, during the scheduled “15 minutes of silence,” we sat down and wept together under the stars. I had no words, only prayers. 

This tree was planted in memory of Jackie’s dada.

I finally got the few words out, took a deep breath, wiped away a few more tears, and continued to tell Eliza the rest of the story. How Greg, who oversees landscaping at Clearwater Cove, came to me with the idea to let Jackie pick out the type of tree and the location to plant in memory of her father who had just died suddenly in a car accident. I remember seeing Jackie pick it out and plant it into the ground.

The tree.
a sign of life,
in the midst of
grief.

More than just showing Eliza this tree for the first time at this special place, this week at camp wasn’t supposed to happen. It was supposed to get canceled, just like everything else. I was overcome by tears in many moments throughout the week just being there. At Young Life Camp. In the midst of a pandemic. Not taking a single day for granted.

The losses of this season haven’t been easy for any of us, and some of us have lost more than others. This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. 

THE TREE IN THE GARDEN.

The Bible starts out telling us about a different tree. The tree of life that holds the knowledge of good and evil. God created humankind through Adam and Eve and gave them complete freedom in the garden with only one rule: do not eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15). Yet they were convinced by the Enemy’s promise for God-like wisdom and chose to eat the fruit from the tree and disobey God (Genesis 3:6).

The Enemy was wrong. The Enemy had deceived them. Instead of becoming like God, Adam and Eve were overcome by guilt, shame, brokenness, and fear. 

Because humankind turned away from God, sin entered the world. And because we continue to turn away from God every day, choosing to listen to the voice of the Accuser and give in to the desires of our flesh, sin reigns.

I don’t think I need to convince you that we live in a world still today where guilt, shame, brokenness, and fear reign. From a competitive pressure to be the best, the smartest, the prettiest or have the most—and we fall short of unreachable expectations—we are covered in guilt (you haven’t done enough) and shame (you’ll never be enough). Within a country that is so polarized that we are making the simple fact of ending racism or wearing a mask during a pandemic something that’s political—and no systemic solutions in sight—we are broken. And in the midst of it all, we are consumed by fear

I was listening to a new PitBull song recently and his words struck me: The only thing that spreads faster than any virus is fear. I think I shouted an “Amen!” back at PitBull through my car stereo the first time I ever heard that song. There’s never been a time in my life where I’ve seen this more present than during COVID-19. Our world is controlled by fear.

where is our
hope?
Where is our sign of life
in the midst of our
grief? 

THE TREE ON THE HILL.

When sin entered the world, God had a plan for restoration that involved another tree. Jesus was killed on a Cross, a tree stripped of roots and branches. In this undeserving death God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Hallelujah. 

Through faith in Christ, we are made right with God and our relationship with Him is restored! He frees us from guilt, shame, brokenness and fear through His blood shed on the Cross.  

This tree is now our
sign of life
in the midst of our
grief. 

And friends, this is good news. We have life and hope in the midst of the never-ending trials of this world because our hope is in a God who rose from the dead and is making things new. We believe that we were not merely created for a comfortable and happy life, a life that comes and goes like a breath in time, but we believe that God created us for a greater purpose. He has promised for those of us who believe in Him that as we put away our sin and love others, He will produce in us love, joy, and peace in place of our brokenness. 

He doesn’t just remove our sin. He redeems it. And as He rose from the dead, He calls us to rise.

Will you rise redeemed with me in the midst of your fear? Will you choose positivity and gratitude in the midst of a dark season of guilt, shame, or brokenness? Will you strive for peace with those around you, instead of division? Will you choose to believe that “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6)?

Will you hold on to our sign of life (Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection) in the midst of our grief? 

He has called us higher than simply getting through. Just as He is the vine, and He has called us to be the branches and to bear fruit—fruit that will last (John 15:1-17). He has called us to pursue hospitality and love in the midst of physical distancing (Romans 12:13). He has called us to fight for racial justice in the midst of racism in our systems (Romans 2:11). He has called us to stand firm in our faith and use our voices to speak the truth in love, being a light to the world (Ephesians 6:13, Matthew 5:14).

I read this quote recently, written before COVID-19, but I believe it applies well: “Our goal in life is not simply to survive the current hard thing in hopes that it will be our last. Rather, we endure whatever God has for us to the very end, believing God’s promises even when we can’t see the outcome” (Risen Motherhood).

If you’re still reading, I pray there is something God has for you in all of this to encourage you. Take a deep breath. Go outside and sit in the shade under a tree. My friend, as He speaks, listenHe is our life

pandemic milestone.

It’s not a wedding, or a graduation, or a funeral, or the birth of a child. This milestone may seem small on the outside, or small from the casual smile and shrug when you ask me. But the truth is that it hit me deep in the soul. My first milestone to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic: my daughter’s second birthday.

Two months ago, many in Kansas said that May 15 would be the date that things would start to get better. While some stay-at-home orders have lifted, it’s not the end, and it turns out we are nowhere close to an end in sight.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I have it good. My family is beyond blessed. But the purpose of this writing and this processing is an effort to not play the “comparative suffering” game. In my own circumstances, I am processing loss and change. I must grieve.

 

O U R . G R I E F .

I’m grieving that the last two months of Lydia’s second year of life, she didn’t hug nor play with many of her favorite people. She didn’t go to many of her favorite places. No kids church, no toddler gymnastics, no parks, no visit to see her grandparents in Texas, no play dates or babysitters, no chance to be the flower girl in our friends’ wedding, no softball or baseball games… the list could go on.

The things I am missing out on as an adult pale in comparison to the loss I feel for my daughter. My heart aches for her. It hurts. I feel a weight that is hard to explain. The pain I feel for Lydia’s loss of life’s experiences, diversity of people, sports, and activity is multitudes more than my own loss.

Day by day, I make an effort to focus on the positives. But for a moment, I can’t escape from what’s been hard. Like the moment when, during a “social distance” dinner with friends in our driveway, Lydia knew to keep a distance before I even told her. She learned from imitating the actions she saw everyone else doing to keep a distance. Or the moment when she asked if her two best friends could come to her birthday party, but she’s too young to understand why the answer is no. Or when she asks to go to the gym and upon hearing it’s closed, she responds with a prayer: Please God, open the gym! I admit that her prayer has more faith than my own.

And while she is too young to understand a global pandemic or perhaps even recognize a daily difference, more than it’s hurting her, it’s hurting me.

Outside of social media and select family, now for over two months, some of our closest friends aren’t seeing the beautiful young girl that she has grown into over the past few months.

They’ve never heard her sweet excited voice speak in full sentences or sing entire songs.
They’ve never heard her use the words please, thank you, I’m sorry, great job, I’m proud of you, and I love you—words in her daily vocabulary.
They’ve never heard her makes jokes just to get you to laugh.
They’ve never seen her use her newfound imagination to play “make believe.”

So much has happened in her little life. She picked up a ball bat and took a swing for the first time. And let’s not forget the fact that she’s potty trained! They’ve never seen her pride and joy every time she makes it to the potty, just waiting for mama and dada’s celebration and her piece of chocolate reward.

I wish they could see.

 

O U R . T I M E .

Some days the quarantine feels like life has paused.
like we’ve slowed down,
and
we can appreciate the simpler moments.

But as this milestone passed us,
it reminded me that
time
doesn’t
stand still.

Time moves forward no matter how much we try to slow it down.

No matter how many things are canceled
no matter how many free evenings and weekends we have

Time moves on.

Which is why, I must remind myself of truth: these losses are not worth dwelling on. Time goes far too quickly to dwell on the things you can’t control.

I must grieve,
yes,
and then
let go.

I must move on.

I must let go of the what-ifs and could-have-been and remember what is eternally important.

.

This quarantine has been an incredible opportunity to teach Lydia real life skills and to rejoice in the simple pleasures of life. Every night, we recite our family motto together: “We are the Tietz Family,” Kevin and I start, “and in this family we…”

Lydia usually prefers to finish it herself. “We live simply, give more, and expect less… because we have all we need in Jesus.”

She may have it memorized, but that doesn’t mean she knows what it means. Well, not yet. We are planting seeds that one day, we pray, will bear fruit.

We are modeling a family that eats meals together, takes care of each other, laughs together, prays together, reads God’s Word together, exercises together, takes care of our home and yard together, forgives, celebrates, and loves.

We are modeling a family that endures. We don’t always get what we want, and not everything in life will be in our control. We have to be brave when things are hard. We have to ask for God’s help when we are afraid.

We have to remember to live simply, give more, and expect less.
Why?
Because we really, truly, have all we need in Jesus.
and
for eternity
that’s what counts.

Lord, help me let go.

 

O U R . H O P E . 

On April 29, 2019, I started reading the Bible chronologically with the hopes of finishing it in a year. 364 days later, I finished Revelation 22, the last chapter.

I was reminded in that chapter of our eternal hope. The timing was fitting. By the way, this is how the entire Bible ends:

‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:16-17, 20)

Jesus reminds us that He is the promised one, the one that fulfilled all the laws and all the prophecies from of old. And we are reminded that those who want Jesus, get Jesus. The one who is thirsty can come to Him, drink from the water of life without price.

There is no price to pay,
no checklist of things we must do,
or we must achieve,
or we must get right before we come.

We get to come without price because Jesus paid the price for our sin on the CrossAnd He promises that He will come again.

.

So when we see the pandemic at hand, the death count rising, with no end in sight
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we read yet another headline of a racially driven murder
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we feel helpless to comfort friends, spouses, children, or parents, those we love the most
Come, Lord Jesus!
When our private thoughts and actions are exposed, and we must confess our own sin
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we hold walls up to others or self-harm because it feels like the only thing we can control
Come, Lord Jesus!

When we teach our kids that we have “all we need in Jesus,” this is what we mean: All of our hope, our joy, and our satisfaction is found not in material things. It’s found not in the exhilarating experiences of life like sporting events or big parties. Whether homebound or traveling the world, whether richer or poorer, whether sickness or health, no matter our circumstances, our hope in Jesus is one thing that doesn’t change, even when our world changes.

.

So as I reflect on Lydia’s second birthday and let go of birthday party hopes and dreams, or what could have been for her these last few months, I am reminded of the opportunity to point my daughter to her ultimate hope. No matter the trials she faces in her life on this earth, may those seeds be planted, that even she has all she needs – not in mama or dada or birthday cake or balloons – but in Jesus.

In Lydia’s heart, mind, and soul
Come, Lord Jesus.

baby two.

As I write, I’m sitting and looking out a window of our guest house on Table Rock Lake. To the west, I see a beautiful sunset, colors of pink, orange, yellow and blue painted across the sky, shadowing the Ozark Mountains. One glance to the east, and I see rain pouring onto the lake from a distance.

Such is life.

With one look you see the beautiful blessings that God provides, and in the next glance you see the brokenness of the world we live in.

I feel this tension every day, and especially in this moment as I sit down to write and process the fact that I am 14 weeks pregnant with my second child. I see the sunset. 14 weeks. Out of the first trimester. Out of the higher risk for miscarriage. Into the second trimester, just six weeks away from finding out the gender of our baby, and just 26 weeks away from meeting him or her face to face.

The next glance.

Since arriving at Young Life Camp three weeks ago for our summer assignment, two friends from my church community back home have lost babies through miscarriage. I see the rain. I feel the brokenness. I wish I could stop their storms. I wish I could trade places with them some days just to take away their hurt, their grief, their fear.

but
here
I
am

experiencing the beautiful sunset and merely glancing at the storm from a distance.

To be honest, I didn’t want to write this. I fought guilt in posting a photo of pregnancy. These two friends with recent losses aren’t the only ones I’m walking life with experiencing pregnancy loss or infertility. There are many more. The last thing I want is to be a trigger for others pain and grief. It makes me want to run and hide and pretend that I’m not experiencing the incredible blessing of having a second child that will be only 19 months apart from our first.

It’s hard to admit that I inflict shame on myself for experiencing this blessing when I have absolutely no control over my circumstances or those of others when it comes to fertility. But what I do know is this: In the midst of the broken world we live in, I have a God who redeems.

I have a God who sees the beginning and the end.
I have a God who is writing my story and their stories perfectly for His good and His glory.
While it may not seem good right now, I have a God that will see it through in His perfect timing.
He will calm their storms and bring them to the shelter of His presence and His peace.
He will redeem the hurt, the pain, the fear, and the grief, and they will rise redeemed.

With eyes wide open to the blessings of my circumstances, here’s my story.

 

F I N D I N G . O U T .

Kevin and I have always dreamed of having kids close in age. I grew up with three siblings within four years of each other, including having a twin. I have wonderful memories of childhood and still love how close the four of us are to this day. Around the time that Lydia was 9 months old, I remember feeling disappointed that I wasn’t pregnant yet, but also wanting to trust my body and trust God’s timing. I remember taking a pregnancy test, that was negative, right before I got the stomach flu. It was the first time I experienced disappointment from a pregnancy test, and I realized that it was time to start praying intentionally for God to provide another child. However, I lowered my expectations and set my mind on the present season.

A few weeks later, around the time that Lydia was 10 months old and shortly after my best friend Keely’s gender reveal party, I had a dream. In the dream, I was having a conversation with Keely and said, “You’re pregnant with a girl… I’m also pregnant with a girl!” I told Keely about it the next morning at church but shook it off as just a dream, again masking my hopes that it was reality.

About five days later and a few days after my missed period, I had another dream that I was pregnant. The next morning, I asked Kevin to pick up a pregnancy test at the store simply for “peace of mind.” When he got excited, I quickly quieted his emotions because I told him that I didn’t want him to feel let down if we weren’t pregnant, insisting that I didn’t “feel” pregnant.

The busy day began and turned out to be quite chaotic. Lydia was biting me while nursing throughout the day and having quite a few toddler moments. Even during happy hour with a few friends, I made a joke about it being my last drink but continuing to doubt that I was actually pregnant. “My cycle has been off since breastfeeding….” I claimed, among other excuses. That night I had yet another rough feeding attempt before putting Lydia to sleep and actually had to pump after. (PS, I found out later that hormones could change the taste of breastmilk for her? I’m going with that, or else, a strange coincidence that it was all on this day.) Finally, after a long day, I sat down to pump. As I was pumping, I felt a wave of nausea and extreme thirst. And that’s when it hit me. Oh my God, I feel pregnant.

Taking the pregnancy test was no longer casual after that because I knew in that moment that I was pregnant. After cleaning up my pumping supplies and confirming that Lydia was sound asleep, I grabbed the pregnancy test and started shaking as I took it, my mind racing as the pieces of how I felt the last few days were coming together. I left the test in the bathroom and after a minute or two, insisted that Kevin go in to grab the test and confirm. Around 9pm that Friday evening, I saw the look on Kevin’s face as he read it out loud and smiled. “You’re pregnant.”

Immediately we embraced in joy and excitement and—me being me—I quickly downloaded my old pregnancy app and pulled up my calendar to calculate our due date and plan out the next 9 months of our life.

 

F I R S T . T R I M E S T E R .

About one week into finding out I was pregnant, I got the stomach flu, really bad. I look back now and laugh that I thought it was pregnancy symptoms at first, so I tried to push through my work day. I remember the relief I felt when I realized I was sick and that this pregnancy shouldn’t feel that miserable all the time! Those few days forced me to slow down and just remember my dependence on the Lord throughout this chaotic season. I wrote more about what those two months looked like in my recent two entries, “finished.” and “work ahead.”

About a month later, I had my first doctor’s appointment. After my sonogram, they pushed my due date one week later to December 13. My cycle was indeed off since I was still breastfeeding. It was a small reminder that regardless of Kevin and my attempts at “trying” to get pregnant, I ovulated a week later than normal, and we happened to get lucky. The timing made it feel even less of something we could have controlled and made me even more grateful for the way God orchestrated it all. Truly it was He that created this little life and spoke his or her name into existence.

It didn’t take long for me to start showing way earlier this time around. My stretched out skin and belly button quickly popped back out, and around 7 weeks, I realized that I needed to start telling friends before they could look at me and see for themselves! Nausea and aversions were in full swing, so I slowly starting weaning Lydia in hopes that would help. Lydia was fully weaned around the time I was 10 weeks pregnant, and nausea ceased shortly after that. I was also wrapping up my Master’s degree at that time, leaving behind a lot of stress that I’m sure wasn’t helping. It was a tough few months not feeling well and working really hard with a lot of late nights. I had little time to process the fact that I was pregnant and merely just trying to survive!

 

R E A D Y . F O R . T W O .

We publicly announced our pregnancy right before leaving for our month-long summer camp assignment for Young Life. Being at camp has allowed me time to rest and time to spend one-on-one time with Lydia in this sweet season before Baby #2 comes. It has allowed me time to process the previous two months as well as physically, emotionally, and spiritually recover.

As I hit the 14-week milestone and am headed into our final week away from home, I feel peace and a readiness to look forward to December and begin making preparations. I’ve started to process the fact that I am going to love another tiny human as much as I love Lydia. That he or she will be like Lydia… but different. Their own person.

Sometimes I get scared. Will I really love baby two as much as I love my first? It seems hard to fathom. I also have feared: will God provide the finances for us to support a family of four on a ministry salary? Will we be able to afford sending them both to college? In all these fears, He has comforted us and provided people to speak truth and encouragement to us.

Still, I am scared. Aren’t we all scared for the unknown? Will I be able to do it all? Will I be able to be a working momma of two? Will I be able to care for a newborn while having a toddler? Will God really provide the finances? Will our marriage continue to strengthen as life only seems to get more messy?

In the midst of the unknowns and the fears, I am thankful for a God who sustains me through it all and gives me peace, assurance, and confidence. He hasn’t failed me yet, and I choose to trust in His promise, that He never, ever will.

Baby two, we’re ready for you.

finished.

After breastfeeding for about a month after finding out I was pregnant with our second baby, first trimester nausea was in full-swing. In the week before Lydia’s first birthday, not only was I ready to be done, but I could tell Lydia was ready too. So on May 6, I was prepared to nurse Lydia for the last time. The next day I was leaving town for a Young Life Staff Conference for three days, so the timing was perfect to wean her completely off our last remaining feeding, the nighttime feeding.

Our family was out late that evening with our church City Group. When we got home, I started Lydia’s normal bedtime routine, mentally and emotionally preparing for my last time breastfeeding Lydia. Despite feeling ready to be done, this was still a significant and emotional moment. Whether Lydia was teething, tired, coming off a cold, or a combination, she refused to nurse and on the contrary, wouldn’t stop screaming. My husband suggested that we just put her straight into her crib for bed, and I glared back and him and sternly responded “no.” And I tried again. And again. And again. Lydia’s screaming only got louder.

As my daughter cried in my arms
unwilling to nurse
I gave up
what was supposed to be my last time nursing her
never happened
it was gone
there would be no last time.
I held her
and cried just as loud
I let go
this season,
it is finished.

 

L O O K I N G . B A C K .

We read a bedtime story through tears and my daughter went straight to sleep immediately after laying her in her crib. As I exited the nursery, my husband was concerned about my strong emotions yet confused. I explained to him the thoughts racing through my mind:

Memories.
The very first time Lydi nursed, what seemed like minutes after she was born.
The emotional roller coaster of trying to get her to latch after my milk came in, feeling helpless for days.
The six months of her not eating any solid foods, only nursing for nutrition and survival.
The late, dark nights and early, dark mornings.
The countless hours and hours of feeding her.
The special bond that only mama had with her.
Done.
Gone.
Finished.

But more than just this simple act of nursing her, it was more.
Weaning represented the physical symbol of the present reality.
The first year of my first baby’s life is over, and I will never get it back.

Being pregnant through all this surely wasn’t helping the hormones and the emotions. But as I explained to Kevin the bigger picture and processing her first year being done, he understood. In fact, he joined in the reminiscing and sat and cried with me. We talked memories of her first year, from the moment we met her to taking her home from the hospital, to all her firsts. We celebrated the walking, talking, full-of-joy toddler that she is now. We grieved the time that we’ll never get back but laughed at the memories that we’ll hold forever. We continue to stand utterly in awe of how it’s possible to love a child so incredibly deeply.

I wish time could rewind, stand still, and move forward all at the same time. And yet, it moves forward. And in healthy emotional and spiritual processing, so will I.

 

T H R E E . D A Y S .

After three days away, I came home ready to embrace our new routine and celebrate my little girl’s first birthday. As I write this, I notice the way that God’s presence was with me throughout the week. If it wasn’t for the series of events that night, I may not have taken the time to feel, grieve, and process the emotions that came along with the change. God used selfishly unfavorable events to bring about greater good. Though it was hard to see in the moment, after three days away, I came home excited to continue to love Lydia and meet her needs in the countless other ways that only mamas can do.

The phrase, “It is finished,” reminds me of another scene in John 19. On Calvary’s Hill, the Son of God, who lived a perfect, sinless life, experienced the undeserving weight of sin and death on the Cross. After three days, Jesus rose from the dead. God used selfishly unfavorable events to bring about greater good. Though it was hard to see in the moment, after three days away, He resurrected to give us hope, joy, adoption, peace, and a promise of eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Really, “It is finished” was only the beginning.

.

In the case of my very normal, mundane life, the same hymn rings true.
As we celebrated her first birthday with family and friends
It marked the end of year zero
And the beginning of year one.

Lydia Evelyn, we are excited to continue to watch you grow and see who you become.
Really, sweet girl, it’s only the beginning.

 

life & death.

The devastating news from my best friend came in the form of a text message: We lost baby G. No heartbeat.

A quick phone call and a few minutes later, I left my 3-week-old baby at home with my husband and a house full of guests. Along with two other close friends in our community, we were on our way to the pregnancy clinic to meet our friend Keely. We walked into the clinic room only to see her, tissues in hand, staring down at sonogram photos of her unborn baby in her lap.

What was a routine check-up for peace of mind after mild cramping turned into her worst nightmare: not her first, not her second, but her third miscarriage.

After embracing, tears, and questioning, Keely handed me the sonogram photos of her baby. In those photos I saw my own daughter, Lydia. How many times had I looked at the same sonogram photos with hopes of meeting her, wonders of holding her, and dreams about what she would be like?

For my friend Keely, I had no words.

 

V I S I O N S .

I felt darkness for a few days. Postpartum emotions surely weren’t helping. I grieved for Keely and her husband Kyle and the loss of their baby.

I questioned God of suffering, why them?
I also questioned the Lord of blessings, why me?

Why was I chosen for a healthy, easy pregnancy and a beautiful, healthy baby?

Not to mention, my mind started playing tricks on me. Fears of loosing Lydia increased.

I started having visions…
visions that my sweet and gentle dog would attack her when I wasn’t looking…
visions that I would drop her or that she would fall off her changing table…
visions that I would go to look in her crib or her car seat and she would be dead…

Back-to-back nights, I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Lydia alone, surrounded by darkness, continuing to wrestle with God and try to process my friend’s reality.

As a new mom, her loss affected me even deeper. I couldn’t articulate it in words until, finally, the true distress came to me in prayer:

Lord, can I trust You to keep Lydia safe? You – who allows babies to die?

 

E V E N . I F .

I stared at this question, written clearly in my journal. This doubt in God and lack of control fueled my anxiety. Not only was I grieving on behalf of my friend, but it suddenly became all too real that I could lose Lydia in an instant.

God, who is a good Father, ultimately allows the unthinkable to happen.

While I had processed a potential loss in pregnancy, I’ve now met Lydia and fallen in love with who she is. The thought of losing her scares the hell out of me. The thought that God could allow that to happen scares me even more.

However, once I confessed my fears, I was able to combat those fears with Truth and experience healing and clarity.

Yes, but God is still worth trusting, because He has proven Himself faithful too many times. He has the power to redeem even the darkest of circumstances.
Yes, but God is still worth trusting, because my hope is not in this temporary world. My hope is in Jesus and in eternal life with Him.
Yes, but God is still worth trusting, because quite frankly there is no better way.

Ultimately, I am choosing to trust a God with my own baby’s life that lets babies die. But God is still worth trusting even if _________ (fill in the blank – my worst nightmare).

While I will always take precautions to keep Lydia safe and control what I can control, ultimately, those fears will still come and much is out of my control. Yet I surrendered the visions, in the name of Jesus, they have no power over me. Lydia’s life is in the God’s hands. Her days are numbered perfectly and every day is a gift. I choose to trust Him and to let go of control, even if He doesn’t give me what I want.

Peace followed.

 

L I F E . I N . D E A T H .

I had a mom-friend recently recommend that I do a Scripture reading plan from my phone, one that I can access while breastfeeding or holding my new baby. The Lord led me to a She Reads Truth study called “The Miracles of Jesus.” A few days ago, I happened to finish the two-week study with a devotional that highlighted the times Jesus performed miracles by raising someone from the dead (Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:17-44). Again I thought about my friend Keely. Why couldn’t Jesus save her baby from death? What’s the point of showing us miracles like these when we are faced with the reality that too many times, Jesus chooses not to save those we love from death?

Then the devotional ended like this:

Jesus knew the temptation we face with miracles is to desire the gift more than the Giver (John 6:26-27)…The Gospel accounts of Jesus conquering death seem like the ultimate of all miracles. But really, they were only a short-term (and yes, miraculous) solution to a long-term problem. The only source of real and lasting hope is not a miracle, but the Messiah.

God is a lot more concerned with our spiritual health than our physical health because He knows that our spiritual health is much more important. Our physical state is temporary, but our spiritual health is where we find true joy and satisfaction for eternity. Jesus Himself is more glorious than any miracle and any answer to prayer. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25)

He is still worth trusting, even if our current anxieties come to be and even if He doesn’t give us what we want.

Ultimately
He Himself conquered death on the cross
raised to life
so that we may experience life to the fullest
even in the face of death.

The depth and joy of knowing Jesus is far better than any accomplishment or any earthly blessing. Jesus is our hope for truly living our best life.