Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Four Years and A Day

(WARNING:  For those of you who have lost or are longing, this post includes content about conception, pregnancy, and babies.)

It's a great story, really.  The kind with pain and loss, longing and waiting, healing and redemption.  Although I would have chosen to leave out the chapters on pain and loss and longing and waiting - those are part of what make this story so beautiful.  After seven years of marriage, there we were, incredibly excited about starting a family.  Hopeful and naive.  We had no idea what was ahead, but that was for the better.
Our first pregnancy came easily and quickly.  One month of trying and on Easter weekend of 2012, there we were taking a pregnancy test.  The results were positive and we were as excited as could be!  We had this incredible secret that we only managed to keep to ourselves for about a week before we told most of our family.  We loved this little one so much and could not wait to meet him or her.  
For those of you who have read my blog, you already know the rest of the story I had never known that kind of heartbreak until that day.  Hearing the doctor confirm after multiple ultrasounds that our baby did not have a heartbeat devastated me.  It is the kind of pain you just do not know unless you have experienced it yourself.  It changed me.
The grieving was messy I longed for a magic formula or a checklist I could follow that would just make things right.  Instead, I had to live it, breathe it, and feel it, which was the last thing I wanted to do because it hurt so bad.  I had to let go of my hopes and expectations and the what should-have-beens.  I had to grieve this life that was so brief, yet changed everything.
Three months later, we felt ready to try again.  We were blessed with another quick and easy conception.  At the time I did not realize what a gift this was in and of itself.  This time around, we had joy and excitement, but also fear.  This time we knew what could happen and I was afraid.  I prayed that this baby would be healthy and that we would be able hold him or her in arms.  Yet eight weeks later, I began bleeding and miscarried our second baby.
My grief doubled as we now grieved the loss of two of our unborn children.  Part of me did not think I could survive this experience a second time, but with the help of my faith, husband, family and friends, a support group, and this blog, life moved forward one day at a time.  Now looking back, I can see how God has brought healing in ways I never thought was possible.

Then came the waiting.  Oh, the deafening silence of waiting.  Three years of waiting.  Three years of the unknown.  Three years of hoping met with monthly disappointments.  The waiting stretched me and broke my heart in a whole new way.  The daily invitation to let go of the desire my heart and hands were so desperately clinging to.  The invitation to acceptance - to be content with God's plan even if He never granted us this desire in the way we wanted  The invitation to deeper faith.  

So many times, I declined those invitations.  I wrestled.  I wanted it my way.  I doubted.  I felt lonely.  I felt forgotten.  I felt unloved.  I felt hopeless.  I felt angry.  I felt jealous.  But God in His mercy and grace kept bringing me back to Him.  He welcomed me back every time and showed me His love and peace.  Peace that is possible even in the midst of the waiting and unknown.  Peace that passes all understanding.  Peace that lasts even if I never get what I want.

Four years after we began this journey, we felt lead to seek guidance from a fertility specialist.  We felt peace about taking this step, listening to that still, small voice, not wanting to take things into our own hands or rush God's timing.  After reviewing some of our test results, one of the doctors told us that we would not conceive naturally even though we had twice before.  My natural inclination would normally be intense disappointment, but instead I felt peace, believing God could do whatever He wanted. 

We decided to put her treatment recommendation on hold until we could find a way to fund the procedures.  In the meantime, we kept trying and hoping and praying.  Our hearts hoped God would allow it happen naturally, by His own means.  Inspired by Seamless, a Bible study I was participating in at the time, I began praying, "God remember us."  If you read my previous blog entry, you know the details, but I would like to share it again for those of you who do not.

We were studying the Old Testament and had read about a couple different situations in which "God remembered" those involved and then something amazing happened.  On this journey of loss or longing, it can feel as if God has forgotten you.  It is an easy lie to believe and I know I've fallen into that temptation countless times.  If you are currently mourning a loss or are longing and still waiting, please know you are not forgottenHe sees you (Genesis 16:3) and still has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11) even when it hurts or does not make sense.

Angie Smith, the author of Seamless, explains what it means when "God remembered":
"When we see Scripture use the phrase, 'God remembered', it doesn't mean He forgets.  It means, 'He acts'." (pg. 66)
On Easter morning of 2016, we got the best news:  God remembered us.  He acted - in His way and in His timing even though a doctor said it would not happen.  We walked through that pregnancy with such excitement, but also that familiar fear.  Every time we heard our baby's heartbeat or reached a milestone, we were filled with such gratitude and humility, knowing that not all stories include those precious moments.  So we celebrated each and every moment and expressed our gratitude.   

And on December 9th, 2016, four years and one day after our first unborn child's expected due date, we held our sweet baby in our arms.  I am pretty sure I am biased, but let me tell you, he is amazing - even more incredible than we ever imagined.  I cannot even explain to you the joy he has brought into our lives.  Our hearts are full and they are also humbled and grateful that God in His grace has given us the opportunity to parent this precious boy.  

Thank you, God, for remembering us.