rainbow baby.

Spring was a season of grieving and healing. As March approached, we crossed the two-month mark of our miscarriage. My doctor told us to wait two months to start trying again for another pregnancy to ensure my body had fully healed. While still processing our loss of baby Micah, I began to place hope in a new pregnancy – a new life, predestined by the sovereignty of God, that could redeem and give understanding to our loss. Lord willing, there is another child we were meant to hold and raise on this earth.

I convinced Kevin that we should wait one more month to try again for one reason alone: Let’s avoid a December baby. With Eliza’s birthday on the 10th and mine on the 19th, plus Christmas, plus other immediate family, I feared that not being excited about a December-due-date baby would trigger more sadness of our August-due-date loss. 

So, we protected and prevented for about two weeks around the window of my expected ovulation. 

Our God had different things in store. 

Around that time, I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine, and I remember marking on the sheet “Not pregnant/no chance of being pregnant.” I hesitated before I marked the box and thought to myself, there’s no way. The same week, I had a dream that I was pregnant and remember laughing about it to my friends after church. To them I reiterated, there’s no way it’s true.

In mid-April, a few days before our cross-country spring family vacation, I woke up one morning feeling off. I thought to myself: Surely, it’s because my period is coming soon. When is my period coming? I grabbed my phone and opened up my fertility tracking app, which read:

6 days late.

My first thought was surprise. Clearly it had not been on my radar at all. My period must be coming today, I thought to myself. As the day came and went, reality started to set in, and I experienced a lot of emotions: denial, anger, confusion, anxiousness, fear.

But as the sun set and the next morning came, a new day, the Lord gave me peace even in the unknown. I needed to take a pregnancy test. 

I picked up a box of pregnancy tests at the store and waited for a moment to take one with Kevin. Waiting for a 4th positive test is an experience I wasn’t sure I’d ever have. When we saw the double line, indicating positive, the Lord gifted us in that moment with joy. All we could do was smile and laugh.

Our new journey had begun.
Our rainbow baby.
Our surprise.

OK God, we get it. YOU are in control. Even when we try, we can’t control the way that you create life, in your timing. We trust you with this child, that his or her days are numbered—just as we’ve trusted you with our first three: Lydia, Eliza, and Micah. 

FIRST APPOINTMENT.

Perhaps it was the distraction of vacation or the shock and joy of our pregnancy, but the fear and anxiety of pregnancy after loss didn’t set in until Kevin and I were laying in bed together the night before our first appointment. I broke down in tears. 

Our appointment. Our appointment was where we found out that Micah’s heart had stopped beating. Everything was fine before our appointment.

Kevin and I prayed together and once again had to relinquish control and trust God. We just needed to get to the other side of our appointment. 

It all felt so familiar – except for one major difference. Thank God, Kevin was at the appointment with me. (He was not able to come to our sonogram with Micah due to COVID.) We held hands as the sonogram started.

“This baby is measuring much smaller than your projected due date,” the sonogram tech said immediately. 

After a deep breath, I let my sonogram tech know our story. I let her know that there was absolutely zero chance that this baby was conceived between the window of 7-9 weeks ago. With that, she assured me that she was no longer worried about baby’s size. Our baby had a healthy heartbeat and healthy size for a 6-week pregnancy. They moved my due date back about two weeks.

Turns out, I had ovulated 12 days late.
Our due date?
December 17.
Right in between mine and Eliza’s birthdays.
The exact week we wanted to avoid.

But at that point, I could care less about the shared birthday week.
The only thing that mattered: our baby was healthy.

While we celebrated, we also kept up our hearts guarded. Micah’s heartbeat didn’t stop until 10 weeks. We still had a long way to go.

SECOND APPOINTMENT.

Our second appointment was set for 10.5 weeks pregnant and the day before we left for our Young Life summer assignment. This timing almost mirrored the same appointment we found out about our last loss. As first trimester nausea began to cease and a few trips provided much-needed distractions, anxiety came in again as Kevin and I left for our second appointment. 

There was nothing I could do to control any of the circumstances. We just needed to get to the other side of our appointment. 

The plan was to detect baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler with our nurse practitioner. When she came in the room, she assured me that I was on the early side so if they didn’t catch a heartbeat, not to be immediately worried.

Within 15 seconds of doing the Doppler and no heartbeat detected, she stopped suddenly and said, “We’re doing a sonogram.”

Kevin and I just waited anxiously behind a closed door for our sonogram.
More waiting.

When the sonogram tech got us and led us to the room for our sonogram, Kevin held my hand tight again. I took a deep breath, in this all-too-familiar space, staring at the screen in front of me.

Within two seconds of our baby being on the screen, the sonogram tech knew what I needed to hear, “Your baby is a great size and a healthy heartbeat.”

I wept.
Instantly.
I cried so hard that she had to stop the sonogram.
I couldn’t stop crying.
–tears of absolute relief and gratitude.

When I finally could regain control of my breathing and slow down my tears, we started the sonogram again. Our tech explained that my placenta was anterior which is why they couldn’t pick up baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler. She assured me that was normal, and we even got to see our baby wave and kick!

Finally, we could take a deep breath. We allowed ourselves to fully celebrate this little life.

THE END TO THE FIRST TRIMESTER.

To be honest, it feels like I’ve waiting 6 months to be out of my first trimester. And I’ve never been happier to see my baby bump grow than I have these last few weeks! At almost 15 weeks, Lydia and Eliza have taken notice of “Baby J” growing. Lydia has started praying for Baby J at night and praising God for his life. (She’s convinced he’s a boy…we will see at 20 weeks!) Lydia even taught Eliza how to “kiss” Baby J on my belly and at night they take turns kissing my belly. This new daily routine is the sweetest gift. 

There have been so many mixed emotions this pregnancy.
I have cried as many tears for Micah in this pregnancy as I did before. I still miss Micah.
Yet I also rejoice in this new life.
Sitting in the tension of both of those emotions—joy and grief—in a way I never have quite before.
To rejoice is to also grieve, and to grieve is to also rejoice.

Yet I need to feel and experience each emotion separately.
I need to remind myself that grieving Micah doesn’t mean loving “Baby J” any less.
Celebrating Baby J doesn’t mean missing Micah any less.
To be honest, I’m still sitting in this tension.

There are days when I have peace, but still moments when I break down and cry as the heartbreak of losing a child and the tension between the two emotions overwhelm me. 

ALL I KNOW.

If there is anything that this fourth pregnancy has shown me, it’s that I literally can’t take control, even when I try! The fact that our pregnancy was an unplanned surprise has somehow given me more peace to let go and let God be God.

Early in pregnancy I came across this Bible verse: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God’s ways are not my ways, His thoughts are not my thoughts. His ways are higher, higher than I can comprehend. All I know is I need Him. I run to the Father and I fall into His grace… again, and again, and again.

So here we go. December, you don’t scare me anymore.

We are ready for you baby number 4, our rainbow baby.
We are ready to name you, find out your gender, and prepare our home for you.
We are ready to meet you, hold you, and raise you. 
You are the one we’ve been waiting for.

God chose you, and we choose you too. 
We are yours, and you are mine. 

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. 

it is well.

Motherhood is sanctifying.

In the midnight hour on July 31, I had the privilege of being in the delivery room with one of my best friends, Keely. Over the last three years, I’ve walked with her through three miscarriages. Countless prayers had gotten us to that moment.

Lord, please, let her hold her baby.

Finally
her water broke
her labor began
and
there we were
at last
this momma would hold her baby.

While up until that moment in time she had yet to meet one of her babies, Keely had already experienced sanctification through motherhood. Your lack of control hits you within moments after learning about a pregnancy, and for many of us, it brings us to a place of utter dependence on the Lord. Through Keely’s pregnancy loss, God had changed her. In a time when she easily could have run away from God, she ran to Him. She chose faith and trust. Her journey brought us to this sweet moment during her labor that I will never forget.

I had stepped in at Keely’s side to give her husband Kyle a break as they prepared for a long night ahead of labor. While we laughed and danced in the waiting at first, contractions had started picking up. The mood in the room had changed but we were still at the point in labor where we could talk for the few minutes between contractions. I pulled up her premade labor playlist and the first worship song came on: It is well.

Keely shared how this song had carried her through her miscarriages. We took a moment, even in the midst of her labor and excitement, to grieve the loss of the three babies that she would never hold in this lifetime. As painful as labor is, she grieved that she wasn’t able to experience the pain of childbearing with her first three. We imagined what it would be like to hold her babies in heaven. We imagined how proud they were of their momma in this moment, having chosen to place her faith in the Lord and trust Him in the unknown.

Through tears, we listened to the words of the song as her next contraction came on. “Even through it all,” Keely whispered. “It is well.”

 

P E A C E . I N . P R O C E S S .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

Here’s what I mean. Sanctification is this process that the Bible refers to as the time between salvation (justification) and the moment when we are restored to new life in Christ for eternity (glorification). Sanctification is the in-between, it’s the process of being made holy. While we are a new creation in Christ at salvation because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17), the Lord still has a lot of work to do on our sinful hearts and flesh. And this doesn’t happen overnight. For most of us it’s a painful, long process of being made holy.

The hope of sanctification is that the longer we walk with Christ, the more we should look like Him. I have learned that God is much more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. Along the way we think we want happiness but really, our deepest desire is peace. Sanctification is the smoothing off of our rough edges and letting the desires of our heart become God’s will for our lives. It’s the pruning of dead branches, so that we can bear more fruit, and fruit that will last. It’s finding peace in our circumstances of this life, knowing that our hope rests in a Good Father who will come and redeem all the brokenness, guilt, and shame we feel and restore all of creation to perfection. Sanctification is the painful process of letting go—and letting God.

I wish I could say that things have been all rainbows and butterflies since the moment when Keely finally held her daughter, Emmaline Grace. But the next trial we will face in this life is always right around the corner. In baby Emmaline’s first month of life, Keely’s had to deal with the challenges of having a newborn and learning to nurse in the midst of Emmaline having a benign tumor on her gum and undergoing surgery at 4 weeks old. God is not done with Keely’s story yet, and neither is He done with ours.

 

I T . I S . W E L L .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

A few weeks ago, I had my own sanctifying motherhood moment. Caught between the demands of work, ministry, and our busy lives, I realized that I was not giving my daughter Lydia the attention that she deserves. In the middle of transitioning her from a morning nap ready to rush her to my parent’s house so I could get more work done, the voice of mom-guilt came in my head, accusing me of being a bad mom.

I stopped. I looked at Lydia and asked her, “Do you think I’m a bad mom?” Knowing that Lydia couldn’t answer that question, I broke down into tears. My 15-month-old daughter ran into my arms and hugged me. I picked her up and my little girl didn’t stop hugging me back for several minutes as we walked up and down the hallway. She continued hugging me until my tears finally quieted. She didn’t need to have words in that moment, she communicated everything that I needed. The Lord reminded me through my daughter that I was doing my best, and that Lydia loved me not based on “how I did as a mom that day.” She loved me because I am her momma. The same is true with God. He doesn’t love me based on “how I did as a Christian that day.” He loves me because I am His daughter.

The Lord used Lydia to encourage me to find peace in the process.

This life that my toddler and I live together isn’t going to be easy. I hear from other mommas that it only gets harder. I’m going to be an imperfect mom, and Lydia is an imperfect child. We are going to hurt each other. We are going to let each other down. We are going to have moments where we say, “I’m sorry” and ask each other for forgiveness. Yet through every trial, every mistake, every burst of anger, every moment we can’t control, and even the most joyful moments that we can’t slow down—through it all—we are being sanctified.

When I say that motherhood is sanctifying, what I mean is that motherhood brings out all the ways we fall short on our own efforts. Motherhood brings out our flaws and imperfections whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Yet God uses motherhood to refine us, to make us more dependent on Christ, and to therefore become more like Him as we choose to place our trust in Him.

It is sanctification that brings us to a place where we can say, no matter my circumstances, I have peace. God is good. He will redeem.

Through it all — it is well.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

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.

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.