Our November Baby: When grief and peace kiss.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t grown spiritually at all since becoming a mom. Actually, usually I feel dumber. Mushy-brained. I think back on my “glory days” and my ability to sling theology better than my seminary husband (his words, not mine!). Now on my best days, I can maybe remember the sermon from Sunday or the psalm I read that week, but can’t remember the last podcast I listened to or non-mommy book I read. Sometimes people use those big words that used to roll off my tongue so naturally, and have to really think about what that word means. I about gave up caring about sanctification all together until recently, when God revealed all that he was doing in the silent, mundane days of quiet faithfulness…

I experienced my second miscarriage in March. I was about 7.5 weeks along and we had JUST announced the pregnancy to EVERYONE that week. After my first miscarriage (in 2011), I didn’t want to keep my early pregnancy a secret. A life was a life and I wanted to celebrate my tiny, tiny babe in a pro-choice world that typically doesn’t acknowledge pregnancy until a heartbeat is heard or a bump emerges. I wanted to share that there was nothing to be afraid of. I knew that if I were to suffer a miscarriage, it would be an opportunity to share the hope I have and that women don’t have to feel ashamed or pretend that their baby didn’t exist. God answered my prayer and I was not afraid when I saw the first signs of loss. This being my second miscarriage, I knew exactly what to expect: I knew those lower back contractions beforehand, I knew what I would see during, I knew how I would feel after. There was so much calm surrounding the birth of this tiny, lifeless baby. I was able to focus in prayer, pleading and trusting that the Father was holding my child safe. I felt so honored that God allowed me to witness life and used me to bring another into the kingdom. There was just so much peace and so much assurance. Since I have two children, sadness was definitely different this time. Instead of grieving the unknown, you grieve the known. I knew the laughter and the sound of their voices and the sweet snuggles and all the milestones: things I would miss out on with this little one. But God was so good and comforted me in the sadness and has continued to be good to me since. I realized how Jesus has been growing my dependance on him and my faith in his word over the years. He shepherded me into a response that was so different than my response 3 1/2 years ago, and I am so thankful. Everyday, the Lord is continuing to align my heart with his and giving me a deep-rooted hope in his promises. It’s getting me thru each day way more than the definition of “Expiation” ever did. Praise God.

“Its been 11 days since we lost our November 2nd baby. Grief makes the days slower I think, so it feels longer than 11 days. But to the rest of the spinning-round world I’m 9 weeks pregnant. We still get lots of “congratulations!” or comments on the need for a minivan, and I entertain them for a second, saying “Thank you,” because I genuinely am so thankful for their celebration. (In an age where most of the world won’t attribute life and value to a baby the size of a blueberry, I praise God for the joyful response we got at the announcement of our teeny tiny babe.) But of course I have to gently correct them and assure them not to feel bad. How can you know to be sensitive in this sort of situation? And I assure them that we are doing ok, but usually there is so much more that is encompassed by the words, “we’re doing ok.” I want to tell them how we are so thankful for the life that God created and that we witnessed. I want to tell them how honored I feel that, even though I don’t get to be “mommy,” God used me to add another to the kingdom! I want to tell them how empty we felt when we dug a small hole to bury the one we were so excited to meet. And how we mourn not experiencing the joys of raising him or her. And I want to share how so many grieved with us. Watched our boys. Provided us with meals when I felt too numb to cook. Because its really true: we celebrate in community and we mourn in community. And I want to say how so very thankful I am today. Next Sunday is a reminder that our savior stands in victory over death and none shall be taken from his hand. Even my tiny blueberry is safe because of the Firstborn’s sacrifice. What is sown in weakness, is raised in the power of God! And so as I pack away the few special items I got for baby in the earliest days, I remember my hope, and its not here. And I remember my sovereign God, who is so good to me. Come and see what the Lord has done for us!” (March 29, 2015)

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Miscarriage: Three Years Later: When the Pop-Up grief comes.

Around this time of year, I always think back on my miscarriage and God teaches me new things as the years go on. The past couple years I have felt a lot of peace and thankfulness, acknowledging and praising God for the life that he created! And thankfulness for Christ, the firstborn heir of God! By the will of the Father, Jesus was born a healthy baby, and according to that same will, He was sent to die unjustly on the cross for our sins. The sovereign hand of God over Jesus’ life and death brought every child after Him the hope of eternal life! I have hope and assurance that my child is flourishing the perfect watches of God.

This year, however, I am feeling some grief pop back up. Three years since the loss of my first baby, I have had the privilege to be a mommy to two babies. Seeing how deep my love is for them makes me mourn the love I’ve lost for another baby, and will never know in full. I will never hear the first giggles or the funny mis-mashed ramblings of first sentences. I will never lie in bed with them when they are having trouble falling asleep or cheer when they learn the bear crawl. The list of “nevers” will go on and on.

But in this season, I have been encouraged also. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 explains that we can only have partial knowledge of why God allows suffering and tragic events to happen. “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, as God has always known me.” God knows me perfectly, and even if I don’t fully know why things happen the way they do, I can take heart in the promise that I will not only know God and His ways perfectly someday, but also that it will make perfect sense.

The Day of peace will be a good day for all of us.

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A friend for Jack & a listening, sovereign God.

Jackson has something to say!!

We’re pregnant with baby #2!!

So let me start from the beginning…

When Kevin and I started discussing family plans, we decided to make a decision once my cycle started back up again from nursing. My supply went down when Jackson was 4 months, and then unfortunately was empty at 8. All that time I waited and waited for my period. It never came. (Awesome, right?!) Kevin wanted another baby ASAP, I at least wanted Jack to be walking. But before we even had the chance to compromise, God decided for us! I found out I was pregnant in May!

I was surprised and apprehensive at first… (how was I going to do this with a nearly 9-month-old!?) but then my apprehension turned into joy! I couldn’t wait to meet this baby and I imagined all the fun Jackson would have growing up with a sibling only 16 months behind him! We had an ultrasound to see when my due date would be and discovered that on January 21st, 2014 that tiny little blob with a beating heart would enter our world!

Having had a miscarriage in 2011, we were slow to tell people, even family. Because of that sensitivity, we wanted to wait til my first OB appointment at 11 weeks. But I couldn’t very easily fool my friends by sneaking Sprite into my champagne glass at Steph’s wedding or by ordering a coke and vodka (hold the vodka) at the bachelorette party. I eventually caved and told some close friends who committed to praying for us.

Thankfully they were, because at 9 weeks I started having some bleeding. It was heavy and red at first, and I knew I was having a miscarriage. All the signs were there. I laid down and cried, asking friends to pray, and praying to God that he would stop the bleeding. I knew that prayer and God’s sovereignty were somehow intermingled, but I had never personally experienced  God changing his direction of an event in response to my prayer. But I prayed anyway. I knew God was powerful enough to stop me from having a miscarriage. Hours later, the bleeding stopped. Did God have mercy on me? Did he respond to my prayers?

I continued having light spotting, nothing that my doctor was worried about, but enough to keep me praying….

And then yesterday at 11 weeks, we went to the doctor. She put the monitor on me and immediately we heard a fast, beautiful heartbeat. It was such a sweet sound. All I can do is praise the God who saves. He saved our baby from death thus far, and he answered my prayer. I don’t know what his initial plan was, if it was miscarriage or not, but I do know that God loves me and he chose to give us a great gift! I am so excited.

And so is Jackson!

celebrating a (second birth)day.

I have been anticipating December 10th for a while now. I didn’t know how I would feel once it got here, but tonight find peace in God. Last year today I had beginning signs of miscarriage. The next day our little 8 week baby passed. I guess I could call it baby’s “birthday.” Even though baby had its birthday and death wrapped up in the same moment, I am comforted that he or she experienced an immediate second birth in the presence of God. What a wonderful thing…A moment I long for! Today we sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” at Sojourn in preparation for the advent of Jesus. This part filled me with so much joy…

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

So a year later, I rejoice in the image I have of that risen little one knowing fully the love of God!

Tonight I am also comforted by the doctrine of “God’s Eternity.” In Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines this doctrine: “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.” And Psalm 90 sings, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” I was having such a hard time wrapping my mind around how to “grieve rightly” about the loss of our baby. (As I mentioned a few weeks ago,) on one hand, if the miscarriage wouldn’t have happened, I would not have gotten pregnant with Jack. However, I love and miss my other baby and was looking forward to being his or her mom! Do I wish away Jack to have my other baby in my arms? Or do I thank God for how everything worked out?

The good news is that I don’t have to wish away either baby! Even though our minds can only conceive time in days, and months, and so on, God is OUTSIDE of time. And while my mind cannot conceive a women having two babies that are a month apart in age, what is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27). He sees our existence outside of the realm of time and space. Therefore, both pregnancies happened and mattered. Therefore, Jack AND his brother or sister exist! Therefore, both babies are my babies! God sees both children and loves them. He has a plan for both of them and will glorify them both in himself.

Because Jesus was born to come and die, light has been shone into my darkness.

Tonight I am thankful for my children and for God’s word which brings peace to my heart. I can’t wait to meet our sweet risen baby. Happy birthday, little one. Mama is so glad that you are protected and kept by a faithful savior until the coming ages, the second Advent of Christ.

thoughts of our december baby…

Today I have been thinking a lot about our sweet baby we lost to a miscarriage last December. I don’t know why today more than other days…maybe it was the commercial for the new Twilight movie I saw on tv. It was on Thanksgiving last year when I went with some of Kevin’s family to see the first one. When Bella had her baby, as silly as it was, I teared up with joy because I had a sneaking suspicion that I was pregnant. The next day I took a pregnancy test and I was right!

I was heartbroken when I experienced the miscarriage. Imagine my surprise when not even a month went by and I became pregnant again! I was more confused than joyful. I didn’t know how to respond. I felt like I was celebrating my dead baby’s replacement. Of course over time I found some healing and closure and could move forward with Jackson’s pregnancy with much anticipation!

But today, as I stare at this sweet face, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if that baby last winter would have survived and made it to full term. We would not have Jackson. But as I love and treasure Jackson, am I subconsciously thankful for the miscarriage? I know that I would never know baby Jack if it weren’t for our other child going to be with Jesus right before we could conceive again, but should I be thankful?

Tonight I am simply thankful for a God who is sovereign and in control of the workings in my life. God’s purposes for our first baby were better served in his heavenly kingdom and thru the sanctification of my heart. God’s purposes for Jack are better served on Earth and I have been entrusted to raise him into those purposes. I will never get that opportunity with our first little one, but I am thankful that he or she knew Jesus from the first day of his birth and death, and that he or she is in His arms instead of mine. They are better arms. I pray that Jackson will find them, too.

baby bird.

When we had the miscarriage, Kevin asked me how I wanted to honor or remember our baby. Some parents name a future child after the lost one or the experience, while others have ceremonies or plant a special flower. Some don’t feel the need to “do” anything to have closure, but can simply work through their loss with the Lord. I wasn’t sure what would be meaningful or appropriate for me, but I did want to continue brainstorming because I knew that doing something to remember the baby would probably bring me some sweet closure.

Today Kevin bought me a tiny little baby bird necklace to remember our baby. I had always told him that I was expectantly looking forward to being a “Mama Bird” someday and having little baby birds to love and take care of. The Lord in His loving care has thought it best to have this little baby bird leave the nest and fly away for a time, but he or she will be reunited with Mama Bird again someday. This necklace is such a sweet reminder.

celebrating life because the child was born.

The day after Thanksgiving, Kevin and I found out we were expecting a child! oh what joy filled our hearts! We had talked about beginning our family early, prayerfully seeking the Lord’s will and seeking counsel from brothers and sisters wiser than us. When we didn’t feel a strong conviction to wait or try to have a child, we made a choice and walked in faith. Three months later, I took received a positive pregnancy test!

Of course, we began dreaming of August 2nd, thinking of baby names, and figuring out how to create a nursery in our small space here in Louisville. Having a lot of anxiety and fear, I meditated on Psalm 139:

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

 

How wonderful that I was a witness to new life; yet another image bearer of God! I trusted that God was in control when I read that He knew my baby’s form and all of its days, even when it was the size of a sesame seed and without any recognizable structure! I had a lot of peace knowing that God gives, and also takes away, in His own time. His giving was not a result of Kevin and I’s planning or lack there of. His giving was also not because we earned it or deserved it. God was so good to me! Because of His good gift, I am forever a mother.

However I knew that His taking of this baby’s life was no more predictable than the length of my own. I knew how fleeting and fragile life is, especially since so many women in my life have lost babies or are struggling through infertility. This awareness was in the forefront of my mind while celebrating my pregnancy. It would have to be God’s sovereign grace that would carry this child.

Around 6 1/2 weeks in, I experienced a miscarriage. It was heartbreaking. I felt empty, like the home that I had become the past month and a half was now just an open space in my body. I felt joyless, knowing the thing that I had been so excited about was now not a reality. I felt guilt, passing the baby and not being able to protect him or her from death. But mostly, I felt bitterness toward the Lord, because I really thought He was going to prove my fears of miscarriage wrong and show me abundant mercy.

Now, a few weeks later, I am still trying to understand God’s character: how He can be sovereign over all things, and yet always doing good to me and for me. Satan has been twisting my theology and tempting me to despair, but the Lord is gracious, and is near to the broken-hearted. He is teaching me to rest in the unknown “whys” of life and hold fast to the truths in His word. He also has sent many Ohio friends to Louisville as a comfort, along with many of Kevin and my friends here to spend time with us, empathize with us, and love us. I am blown away by how cared for I feel.

 

Most of all, He has placed this joy of pregnancy and trial of miscarriage right in the middle of advent. While I mourn the loss of my own child, I am filled with joy and thankfulness that Mary’s child–the firstborn heir of God–Jesus was born! By the will of the Father, He was born healthy, and according to that same will, He was sent to die unjustly on the cross for our sins. The sovereign hand of God over Jesus’ life and death brought every child after Him the hope of eternal life.

And so on this Christmas, I can celebrate life! Life that comes through the child, Jesus being born. I am thankful that I have received this hope, and I have faith that my child has entered into this hope–being loved and held by God, untouched by this sinful world, and receiving a new body. Amen.

Shelter

About a year and a half ago, I found myself in a season where I fell asleep to this song on repeat every night. Recently, after my miscarriage, I have been going back to this song by Sandra McCracken and it’s beautiful lyrics as a source of comfort. In the midst of suffering and questions about God’s sovereign, loving care for me, I know that I can find shelter in Him.

In the arms of a good Father
You can go to the deep water
Where the questions, we have left unspoken
Come out in the open
We will find shelter here

So I lay down, what I cannot hold in my hands
Every sorrow and hope spinning out of control
And here I find sweet resolution comes in letting go
And we will find shelter here

When I look back I can see,
And when I am old I’ll remember these things
Like a mountain of stone
And the longing that makes me believe…

There is a tree by the blue river
Where the shade stretches wide over
In this breaking we are hand and glove
Come with me my love
We will find shelter here
We will find shelter here…