Josh and I have been married for ten years. We were blessed unexpectedly with twins about a year and a half after we were married. I was twenty-two years old, and to be frank, incredibly naive about what a miracle getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby, much less two, actually was. I never worried about miscarriage or loss, and looking back I completely took for granted that my babies would be born healthy. I do believe I even complained about swollen ankles and lack of sleep for about 38 weeks straight. If I could go back and slap my former self, I would. That's what loss does to you, it makes you envious of the naivety of others. Angry at the nerve some women have, to actually complain about the miracle occurring inside them. But...I was once one of those women, and I certainly didn't intend to be that way, nor do I judge pregnant women who utter understandable complaints now and then, but when I think of the times I whined and moaned about stretch marks, I literally cringe with embarrassment and regret.
Fast forward about five years...to make a veeeeery long story short, Josh and I had been through some stuff, big hard stuff that forever changed our marriage and ourselves, but stuff that God was able to use to strengthen our commitment to each other and our faith in Him. We renewed our vows in April of 2010, with Jake and Eisley there to be a part of it.
Those two children bring us more joy and laughter than I ever thought possible, and I absolutely adore being their mother to the very core of my being. Josh and I knew we wanted to have another baby and (being the naive woman that I still was) I knew it wouldn't be that hard or take very much trying really, considering how easily (and let's face it accidentally ) I got pregnant with the twins.
Lo and behold, one month later I was pregnant! Easy peezy lemon squeezy, as Eisley so eloquently puts it. We were so excited! And I have to tell you, it felt so good to actually be excited about being pregnant instead of terrified! I told Josh I was pregnant by writing "#3 is on the way" on a three of hearts in the deck of cards we were playing Rummy with one evening, and when I dealt him that particular card he stared at it and said, "Wow that was fast!"
We were going to wait to tell our families until my 14th week, not because I thought anything would happen (naive, remember?) but because my 14th week happened to fall on Jake and Eisley's fifth birthday, and how perfect would it be to announce it to our families than having the kids open up adorable Big Brother/Big Sister shirts?!? Perfect.
Ten weeks later, I found myself staring at an operating room ceiling while tears poured out of my eyes, and that naivety I've been talking about? Gone forever.
After our miscarriage, we were devastated. We had been convinced it would be a girl and we were going to name her Gracie. Her very creation was a demonstration of God's Grace, and we thought it fitting. We still refer to her as Gracie.
And one of my babies was waiting in Heaven for me.
It took us six months before we were ready to even consider trying again, it was so painful a loss for us. One consideration later, I found myself pregnant with our rainbow baby! A
"rainbow baby" is the term used in a pregnancy following a loss. It is the reward after a storm, full of promise, but also a reminder of what had to happen to get you there.
Much more cautious this time, I told Josh by whispering it to him when he was half asleep at one o'clock in the morning. Oh how I prayed for that baby! I was so scared of losing it. The moment I saw the stick turn pink I got down on my knees (literally) on the bathroom floor and begged Jesus to take care of this baby.
We told everyone we knew almost immediately because we so desperately wanted their prayers. I was a wreck. I vowed to never, ever utter one complaint about my incessant morning sickness and rapidly expanding waist. After the first trimester passed, I finally let out the breath I had been holding for twelve weeks. I had made it! Phew! Everything was fine, and I could finally enjoy my pregnancy.
I adored being pregnant! I took pictures of my belly every month and loved getting fatter and nearly cried with joy every time Eisley would sing her special lullaby to the baby. We took them to our ultrasound and found out it was a girl! We were ecstatic, all four of us, and it was just one of the best times of my life. Jake and Eisley were so excited and we couldn't wait for them to meet her. If you are one of the lucky ones who got to watch Eisley announce she was having a sister on facebook, you understand how very excited we all were!
Josh came with me, though he nearly didn't, to a routine ultrasound at 20 weeks to check baby girl's growth. The moment the tech put the probe on my belly, I knew. There was no flicker, no movement, nothing. The tech told me she was so sorry, but she didn't see a heartbeat. My perfectly normal, healthy baby girl had just stopped living...just stopped. No explanation (at that time), nothing I could do. It was just...over.
The next two days were a living nightmare filled with pain from the inside out. It was painful telling our children that their baby sister had died, even though they had prayed she wouldn't die every single night. It was painful watching them question their child-like faith. It was painful calling our family and friends. It was painful knowing I had a baby inside me that was no longer alive, and though it seemed incredibly unfair, it was extremely physically painful being induced to give birth when my body did not understand why. I had labored with the twins for nearly 24 hours, and the only thing that got me through it was knowing I would be rewarded with two beautiful, healthy babies. My labor with this baby girl was just as long and painful, but I had no reward to get me through it. All I had was the Lord, and he brought me through the darkest valley I have ever walked.
Lily Grace was born sleeping on Father's Day, tiny but perfectly perfect. She had become tangled in her umbilical cord which we learned had caused her death. Lily had beautiful little feet and features that reminded us so much of her brother and sister. After she was born, we spent two precious hours with her, singing to her, praying with her, and reading Scripture over her. She was here for such a short time, but left a mark on us and so many others that will not soon be forgotten.
And another one of my babies was waiting in Heaven for me.
This loss was different. We had an actual little body, so we needed an actual funeral and there was a much more public grieving process. We have never been more aware of how blessed we are by so many family and friends than after we lost Lily. Our support system is unbelievable, and I am so thankful for it! You can read more about our experience losing Lily here and here and here.
We were told to wait three months to try again, and that we did. Without discussing it or even venturing to hope that things would be okay, we got pregnant again. And before we could say faith, the Lord took that baby too.
And another one of my babies was waiting in Heaven for me.
So...there we were. We had thought about adoption in the past, not ever had a serious conversation about it really, but after three losses and the desire to grow our family still strong, we were at a crossroads. When I was still pregnant with that last little one, God had actually brought someone into our lives that straight up asked us the question: "Would you ever consider adoption?" And even though it made absolutely NO SENSE considering I was PREGNANT at the time, for some reason I could not get it off my mind!
Surely the best thing I could do at that moment was tell Josh the situation and my thoughts, as I knew he would immediately shut me down and jerk me back to reality with a stern, "You're pregnant woman! Stop talking crazy!" But lo and behold...he didn't!!! He was completely open to it, and even though it made no sense to either of us, we agreed to do some serious praying about it. Which we did. And God kept tugging at my heart. Whispering. Adoption. Adoption. Adoption. This door was just open a crack, not wide enough to walk through, but there.
After our third loss, it was as if God swung that creaking door wide open and said, "Walk!" So we did. We almost immediately began researching adoption and started this blog. We decided on domestic infant adoption and then on Christian Family Care Agency. The process to get certified was long and tedious, but we were so confident that the Lord had led us there and we just took things one step at a time. We started our home study, our adoption classes, our saving and fundraising. I continued to blog about our journey and was overwhelmed by the support system we accumulated. Before we knew it, every penny was raised, our home study was complete, our classes were done, and we were officially approved to go in our agency's Match Book (you can see our family's Match Letter here). We were SO EXCITED!!! We could be chosen by a birth family at any time! I jumped every time the phone rang and pretty much lived in agonized anticipation from that moment on!
We only spent a few weeks waiting to be chosen when we got The Call we had been waiting for! A birth mother had chosen our family to adopt her child! We were over the moon, and only had a few weeks until our baby would finally be in our arms!!!
My friends and family gifted me with a wonderful baby shower. We prepared the house. We notified our works. We were ready to bring this little one home! Then, out of nowhere, we got news we couldn't have seen coming from a mile away. Our birth mom had an ultrasound that revealed the baby girl she was carrying had a "brain abnormality" that was most likely "not compatible with life." You can read the whole story of how we learned of this news and struggled to understand why God was allowing this here and here and here and here and here and then get Josh's perspective here.
God taught us so much in those few weeks waiting for Ember Rose to be born. We were still terrified of not only the outcome, but what God might ask us to do once she was actually here.
But then, she arrived.
Ember Rose was just an absolute marvelous beauty from head to toe! We fell in love with her immediately, and how could anyone not? Look at how breathtaking she was!
You can read the story of Ember's arrival and the heartbreaking decisions we had to make here and here.
Ember was not to be our take home baby. God had placed us in her life for a short time, and we are so honored that we were able to be a part of it and show her God's unfailing love! We still think of her often and thank the Lord for the way she touched our lives.
In the midst of Ember's arrival, God decided to throw another HUGE curveball at us. (Read about it here.) We were pregnant. Unplanned, unexpected, and pretty much the worst timing imaginable. But there it was. God had blessed us with another pregnancy, another little one, and we had a lot more growing to do.
My pregnancy with Jones was quite possibly the most difficult roller coaster I had been on so far. I battled fear, discouragement, pessimism, and detachment every single day. But God continued to be faithful and He blessed us beyond measure with our precious Jones Nathaniel, and finally holding him in my arms was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
We were recently blessed again with another little one, who unfortunately passed away when I was 12 weeks pregnant in November of this year. We sometimes can't fathom why God would allow such loss into our lives, but there are some things we simply won't understand this side of heaven.
We aren't quite sure where God will lead us from here. We don't know if His plan includes adoption or foster care or something completely different, but we want so much to please Him with our journey no matter where it leads. Our family faith walk continues every day, and we stumble constantly, but we are thankful to have walked it and thankful for everything it has taught us.