When Mark and I were young in marriage, we had no trouble agreeing that we both would be happy with two children. We had a strong, adventurous son for our first, experienced a miscarriage when we started planning for our second, and then were elated to bring a gorgeous, healthy baby girl into the world. The perfect pair, a matched boy/girl set; we had what we wanted. Then, somewhere down the line, up to our ankles in parenthood, we started itching for another, and joyfully welcomed our second daughter. Our next baby, we agreed, would be adopted, and we started that journey, which took a sharp right turn and brought us through fostering, and unexpectedly, but joyfully welcoming another biological baby of our own. We agreed that she would be our last. That’s the thing though, our best laid plans are ever moldable by a God whose plans are better. Giving our youngest daughter back to Jesus was the most heartbreaking and life-changing moment in our lives so far. It caused a shift in our paradigm, an about-face in our priorities. We realized that in the ranking of importance in our lives, our children are one of the most precious pieces of our story, and our hearts are drawn to gather them around us in a big, loud, challenging, loving, fulfilling clan of family togetherness. From that point, we were no longer daunted by the thought of a big family (well, let’s be real, MARK was no longer daunted; I grew up in a family of 9, he is an only child, it was more of an adjustment for him). We decided by way of biological children, and adoption, we definitely want to grow.
It’s funny how everyone else knows what’s best for us, right? At the mere mentioning of having more children, we’ve had friends and family who immediately tried to discourage us. We should be grateful we’ve made it with the healthy kids we have, we shouldn’t risk putting my body through any danger, we should not put our children through anymore big changes, or take on the financial responsibility in such an expensive world. I hear ya, and I try to see where you’re coming from because surely this is you just trying to protect us. I love that someone said it’s ok that people don’t understand your journey, it’s not their journey to understand. I don’t have the answers, and I know it seems scary, or even crazy, but I’m trusting God to do it. I truly believe He is the one that has placed this desire in our hearts, and if He called us, He will equip us. I’m resting in that. I don’t have to know how or when, I just have to believe He has our best at heart.
After some of the responses we have been met with when we have shared our enthusiasm to grow our family, we decided to simply sit back, keep our plan in the hands of the One who knows it best, and let Him quietly take it from there.
With the physical challenges I have faced over the past few years, we had come to a place of accepting that our future children will come from adoption, and not from me. That was a hard place to reach, not because we don’t want adoption, because we absolutely, wholeheartedly want that to be part of the story, but it’s a big chapter to finish, and I was still filled with desire to carry another baby of our own. I spent months wrestling, in fact praying that God would take this desire from me, because it was so painful to hope for something that would never be. I did not understand why He would let me have such strong desire, but not allow it to be fulfilled. It was a dark and powerful struggle to come to a place where I could completely submit that, hand over my desire, and trust the outcome would be gentle to my aching heart. It brought freedom though, and excitement for how He is going to work.
This summer wound down with our minds refocused on the legwork of adoption. We started drawing up plans and timelines and praying for the fatherless that we hope will someday be part of our quiver-full. Imagine our surprise then, when against all the odds that had been given us, we were staring at the very realness of another little one… of our own
|Coming in 2016|
As we drove to Kansas to throw a baby shower for my little sister, who was expecting in a few months, I squealed with delight at the thought of finally getting to share a pregnant picture with someone so close to me, something I had dreamed of. We would get to raise our babies being the same age for most of every year; we were so tickled. Even Mark, who is usually slower to give to giddiness, was openly excited and marveling at this miraculous blessing that had been given to us.
I am terrible at keeping surprises, and t was difficult for me to wait until we thought it appropriate to share with the other kids. They eagerly shared our enthusiasm and excitement. You can watch that hilarious conversation here:
We began to shift our thoughts to planning for the big changes we would find in 2016, with Mark retiring from the Air Force at the beginning of the year, and then welcoming the little one we affectionately began referring to as “Sixlet.”
Being pleased that I actually felt better during early pregnancy than I had in a very long time, I was a bit alarmed one day when my hot flashes came back with a vengeance, and I started cramping. I already had an appointment with my OB the next day though, and she eagerly assured me everything looked great, and shared excitement that this truly was a special gift. I was happy for the good report, but something still didn’t sit right, and I couldn’t shake a feeling of unease. I whispered prayers through the moments of my day, praying protection and health over our little one.
The deep of that night woke me with excruciating pain in in my back and legs. Terrified, I ran to the bathroom, but besides the pain, nothing seemed unusual. I was awake most of the rest of the night, unable to lie still or get comfortable… moving from room to room trying to relax the pain away.
The next morning, Mark was away early, in a mandatory course preparing him for retirement. It was in the early hustle of breakfast and packing backpacks that the crimson slashed through the hopes of my future. Somehow the kids knew. They read the shadows of my eyes and the sigh of my spirit on the drive to school, and one of the oldest asked the brave, unanswered question… did our baby die? My heart knew, but I kissed them away and told them to pray, and reminded them that no matter what, Jesus would walk with us.
The only communication I could have with Mark was by text that day; he couldn’t escape his class, and for the second time, I sat alone in a cold room staring at a dark ultrasound, void of the flicker of life. While I waited to be taken back to my room, they sat me in a hallway outside the ultrasound rooms. I sat in paralyzed agony, watching woman after woman stroll to the exam rooms, plump, ripe, life-bellies cupped beneath pregnant hands. I bitterly scowled inside, already hurling the questions that I knew I probably wouldn’t get answers to on this side of eternity.
Hours huffed by, as it seemed everyone was avoiding being the one to tell me what I already knew. I grew restless and frustrated, and by the time there was nothing left to do but tell me, there was no comfort, no apology, just facts, and all I wanted to do was run. I texted Mark the words that spilled his glass half-full, and drove mindlessly into a gray afternoon to gather up my little people and begin a life without Sixlet.
I was having an impossible time sorting out my emotions, knowing that if I dwelt in anger, bitterness would take me places I didn’t want to go, but finding it very hard to accept that another loss, another shattered dream was part of a great, good plan for my life, Knowing I had to take a stand against letting this destroy me, I sat alone in my car and loudly starting repeating, “I trust You. I know You are good. I know there is a reason beyond my understanding. I trust You.” I hoped the enemy could hear me, but not see my heart, because in fact I was preaching to my own battered soul, trying to convince myself. That’s when the song “Blessings,” by Laura Story came on the radio, and I turned the corner to see a brilliant, color blocked rainbow streaked across the gray horizon.
Watching precious life bleed away, tiny footprints slid from safety, never to grow bigger, is a soul-stopping grief, but my God has not forgotten me. He has promised not to abandon me, and to give me the future I hope for. It’s inexplicably hard, and some days, I hear the lie that it’s only fitting that my story end with loss, but I refuse to believe that. If this is the journey I have been called to, then I am going to walk it out, and I choose to believe that what He has for me is greater than any of the pain.
It was so hard to tell our little people that the little brother or sister they had been waiting for had gone straight to Heaven. There was much sadness and questions we couldn’t answer, but we did what we do, we celebrated. We worked together to make cake and special balloons and thanked Jesus for holding our hearts, for holding our babies, for making us stronger than ever through our weakness. We celebrated for the reunion to come, because friends, it is going to be amazing.
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