Saturday, May 29, 2010

Second 3D Ultrasound and an Anniversary

No, it's not our wedding anniversary... yet. That's coming up next weekend and we are so looking forward to getting away for a sweet little weekend trip (more to come on that later)! Earlier this week, on Thursday, I celebrated 2 years of blogging! May 27 was my second "blogoversary" and it was also the day of our second 3D ultrasound.

If you'll remember, at the first 3D ultrasound they offered for us to come back for free so we could try again to get good pictures of the baby's face. Well, we tried for a whole hour and we definitely have a little girl who likes to cover her face with her arms and hands! I wasn't the least bit disappointed, though. I still think she looks precious! We did get a couple of peeks at half of her face. :) It also amazes me just to see her perfectly formed arms, hands, legs, and feet. We did get some pretty neat pictures that I will try to add to the web album soon (check the link in the sidebar to see the ultrasound pics). It may take me a day or two to get them uploaded because it's a busy weekend over here.

I have to say it was truly amazing to go into an ultrasound with little to no nerves. I don't think that has ever happened in my life. After so many years of bad news and devastating results, it was such a relief to be able to relax and simply enjoy being able to see our baby. That, in itself, is a miracle to me!

My family came with us to the appointment again this week. It was great to have my mom, sister, and nephews with us again, and this time my brother joined the party, too. I really like how this elective u/s place encourages you to bring as many family members as you want. It's fun to fill up the room and marvel over this little miracle together!

Mom, sis, and kiddos only stayed for the day and had to get back home. My brother, however, is staying through the weekend to help Chuck out with some home projects. I am so glad! Our garage has been full for about a year with materials to finish changing out the carpet with wood floors and putting up crown molding in the bedrooms. The guys got the crown done yesterday in the guest room and our bedroom (Lily's room was already done). Last night they pulled the carpet out of our room and they're working on laying the floor today. I'm thrilled that our house is now carpet-free! I'll post some pics after it's all done.

So much has changed in two years of blogging. I was just spending time in prayer for all of you last night, thanking God for all of the ways that He is working in your lives. I praised Him for miracles and answered prayers, and I pleaded with Him to continue to open wombs and listen to cries for help. I asked Him to comfort those of you who are grieving losses. I prayed for those who are waiting to adopt and those still trying to conceive and have successful pregnancies.

I'm excited and hopeful to see what great news will come in the next two years. Thanks so much for being friends and supporters to us for the past 24 months. We are so blessed to have you in our lives!

Wishing you all a happy Memorial Day weekend, in honor of those who have served and paid the ultimate price for freedom.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Miss Them

I've been very sentimental lately about my sister's boys and how much they've grown. I'll admit that watching them grow sometimes reminds me of the children we lost and how much time has gone by on this long journey to our baby. I always thought that our children would grow up together and be babies together. My first baby should have been born roughly a month after my sister's second son came into the world. Yes, I still mourn the fact that they won't be small together even though I know that they will still have a special bond.

But aside from all that, and despite how much I love who they are now, I miss the precious little boys that they were!

I miss those first cuddles and the wonder of new life.

I miss those big, gummy smiles.

I miss the excitement of becoming a brand new aunt... again.

I miss the baby brother who was almost as big as his big brother. :)

I miss watching my husband learn how to become an incredible uncle (he's an old pro now).

I miss those sweet giggles.

And I miss the time when they could BOTH fit in my lap.

As much as I miss these precious baby boys who stole my heart 9 and 7 years ago, I absolutely love them just as much today. I know that even though it didn't all work out in my timing and my way, we had these little boys when we did because we had a giant hole that needed to be filled. My sister let us "parent" her boys and love them with all we had while we lost and longed and waited. The truth is that we didn't have to wait for children to love. God put these boys into our lives at the right time - His time - to help us heal.

I never could have imagined that they wouldn't meet their baby cousin until they were in 2nd and 4th grade, but I can't wait until that day comes! I have loved every moment of watching my nephews grow, and I think that moment will be all the more precious because of the years we've spent knowing and loving them. I know we have plenty of years of smiles ahead!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baby Kicks

This week I finally did it. Rather, she finally did it. She started kicking, and not only can I feel it but my husband can, too. And we can SEE it. And we are both amazed!

I first felt it Sunday afternoon while I was relaxing on the couch. Chuck was outside working in the garage. When I finally realized what was happening, I called him inside so he could see and feel it too. Actual baby kicks and pokes.
I had been feeling flutters, which felt more to me like vibrations, for a few weeks now and had been waiting for the day that I would feel something that I could say without a doubt was her. This is definitely her!

We are absolutely in awe.

Thank you, Lord, for the miracle of this growing, living baby!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


(I hate to start a post with a disclaimer, but wanted to make it clear that this is not meant in any way to point a finger at anyone. It comes only from things I have thought and felt as part of my own personal journey. And now I hope it doesn't come out as one big jumbled mess...)

Regrets. I've had a few. And I've been thinking about them a lot lately as my perspective begins to shift.

When I think about how going through recurrent pregnancy loss changed me as a person over the years, I can't help but think about the bad things every now and then. And while I know that the way I interacted with and responded to people around me came from a place of deep, deep hurt and grief, I do sometimes feel badly about things I didn't do. There were times when I wasn't capable of attending baby showers. There were times when I couldn't go visit a family in the hospital after the birth of a child. There were days when seeing a positive pregnancy test on someone's blog felt like more than I could handle. And there were times when even looking at a pregnant woman was just so hard.

Yet somehow I know that that's really okay. I encourage others that it's okay and I honestly believe that. Only you know how much you can handle at any given time when you are the one who's hurting. While it may sound selfish, sometimes you really do have to think about your fragile emotional state and do what's necessary to protect yourself. Sometimes your heart needs time to heal.

I remember times when I pushed myself to do things even though I knew in my heart I wasn't ready. I was once persuaded to begin attending a new small group Bible study many years back, too soon after one of my miscarriages. It was in the home of a person I barely knew, but I went. As the conversation grew more personal during the meeting, I felt exposed and vulnerable and it wasn't long before the tears were flowing and I wanted to hide under the table. I was so uncomfortable and I knew that I'd made a mistake. It was just too early.

The last baby shower I attended more than three years ago was equally painful. Again, I knew deep down that I wasn't ready. Thankfully, that time when I felt my emotions rising up, I was able to make a swift exit before they began to overflow. Truthfully, the last thing I wanted to do was ruin the event for the happy mother-to-be. And it wasn't just being there around an expectant mother that was tough; it was the nature of the shower itself. We had to go around the room and share personal motherhood stories (Is this anyone else's worst nightmare? Did it occur to them that not everyone in the room had children?), and I was not prepared to be in the spotlight and have my grief on display in front of so many onlookers.

I think I realized that I had to take things on a case-by-case basis. There were other times when I felt truly safe in a situation and knew that I could handle it and wanted to be there. While the baby shower remained too unpredictable for me, I began to feel excitement again about visiting new babies in the hospital. I found great joy in being able to be there with my friends and celebrate the miracle of life with them! I know that it's by the grace of God, but in those small hospital rooms surrounded by such precious friends, I began to feel safe again. Even though I might have a knot in my throat the size of Texas when I held those brand new babies and remembered what I'd lost, I no longer let it take over and have control over me. And if it happened that later, in the privacy of my home and in the arms of my understanding husband, that I needed to have a good cry, then I let that happen, too. It had never really been about wishing other people harm or not being happy for them. It wasn't even so much about jealousy or bitterness. It was simply my own sadness and emptiness because of my inability to be a mother and my grief over having lost our babies over and over again.

While I was seeing progress and changes in my own heart eventually, it had taken a long time. I still feel some regret because I wasn't more supportive for certain friends during their pregnancies. There are dear, precious friends who have held us up and prayed their hearts out for my own pregnancy, and when I remember how distant I must have been during their joyful times, I am so ashamed. I've made a few tearful apologies about that and have so far been met with such grace and understanding by friends who truly sought to understand where I was coming from. Even so, I felt the apology was necessary and it has done my heart good to go through with it.

I think I realized that, as often as I complained about friends who wanted to be there in my joys and not my sorrows, it was hypocritical of me that I couldn't be there in their times of celebration! I had begun to only identify with others who were hurting like I was because somehow that was easier. And while I do think that we are given the ability to encourage others who share in our specific trials, I know that I was separating myself from those who had what I wanted. And I know that it wasn't fair.

Just as it hurts when friends abandon you in your times of need, when you're hurt and grieving and struggling, it also hurts when friends can't love you enough to be happy when you finally make it through and survive that horrible trial. I didn't want to be that kind of friend to others. It was a hard transition, but God began to change my heart. He showed me how sad it was that I found it difficult to celebrate when He created a new life. After all, if I couldn't celebrate when others had successful pregnancies, what did that say about me? I always said I wouldn't wish infertility or miscarriage on my worst enemy. If that was really true, then I knew the right thing to do was to be genuinely joyful when a new baby was born and to celebrate with my friends who became new parents. The alternative, while it was familiar to me after losing six babies, would have been so hard to watch my friends struggle through. Of course that is not what I wanted.

And now, of course, as this pregnancy progresses, I can't believe that I am here. My perspective is changing once again. My goal will always be to make my blog a safe place for those who visit. But just as I shared my hurt and longing during the waiting, I must also share the joy that comes from being able to see the end of a long and painful struggle finally coming into focus. I know that some won't follow. And even though it stings a bit, I understand. I understand that so many times the person who is hurting has more urgent needs, whether it be support or prayers or space or time. I know, because that's where I was for eight long years.

I hope this blog will always be a place where others can come and find friendship and understanding, and especially a testimony to God's faithfulness. I've promised that I will never, could never, forget where I've been and how painful it was. The memories of the children we didn't get to hold and the years we spent waiting and the agony of not knowing what our future would hold are forever in my heart.

I hope you know that it means the world to me that so many of you still choose to walk with us, even now in our joy over this answered prayer. I know that's not easy when your heart longs to have your prayer answered. But I thank you for caring and loving enough to appreciate how much this baby means to us and how much we went through to get her here. It is truly a treasure to have friends who are there when you mourn and when you celebrate, and we're honored to share each part of our journey with you! We can't wait to one day celebrate your victories with you, dear friends.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our Sweet Baby's Name

This feels like one of the most surreal posts I've written yet. Our baby's name. It could only be second to her actual arrival, I imagine.

For years we've thought about this and imagined what names we might choose for our babies. We've kept a list of favorites. Some have been crossed off over the years because our tastes changed or because the names had been used by those around us already. We have mostly never wavered on our top choices, and we have always found girl names so much easier to pick than boy names. In fact, we've had two girl names that we were pretty positive were our go-to names for many years. If I could go back to 8 years ago, or 5 years ago, or probably even 2 years ago, and ask myself what I would name my baby girl, I'm sure I'd know the answer. That name, however, is not the one we chose! While I'm still fond of our early choices, we just felt like we were being led in a different direction when this finally became a reality.

After we found out about this pregnancy and the girl predictions started pouring in, we began thinking girl as well. As the baby grew and progressed beyond what we had ever experienced before, I finally pulled out that old list of names. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I still liked so many of them, and that the one name that had been coming up in my mind over and over again was actually on the list and had been for years. I mentioned it to my husband a couple of months ago and he instantly liked it, but he had a moment when it all clicked a few weeks later and I could tell that he knew it was his daughter's name. Lily.

Our little girl's first name is Lily.

After I knew for certain that it was the right name, I began looking up the meaning. I already knew that, like the flower, it symbolized purity and innocence. But one day I was doing some reading about how the lily also represents two very important things on our own personal journey to this baby: peace and remembrance. As soon as I shared what I'd read with my husband I knew that he was completely on board. Not only was it a beautiful, lovely name, it also meant something to us. It struck us both so clearly and so powerfully in that moment and we knew that it was perfect.

Since that day we have, of course, found out that this baby is a girl. We shared the name with family and a few close friends at first and everyone agreed that it fit. I feel more and more sure every day that it is right for this time and for this child.
Here are some things I've discovered in the past few weeks about what the lily symbolizes:
  • Purity
  • Innocence
  • Peace
  • Remembrance
  • Virtue
  • New life
  • Hope
  • Faith
  • Renewal
  • Fertility
  • Motherhood
  • Promise
  • Transitioning
Wow. So many meanings and so many applications for what this baby means for us. And while the lily stands for so many beautiful things it is also commonly associated with death, but not in a morbid way. It is instead a symbol of innocence, and a reminder for those living that there is new life and peace that comes in the knowledge of that eternal life. Most people think of the Easter lily and how it represents the resurrection and new life of Christ. The lily has also been a traditional symbol of the Virgin Mary as well as the Trinity.

One source that I recently found states that the lily is mentioned 15 times in the Bible. My favorite of those references are:
From Song of Solomon 2:2 "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." I love the imagery of a beautiful lily growing in such an unlikely place, among the thorns. That really means something to me.

And probably the most commonly recognized reference to the lily is from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:28-34 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." These have long been some of my favorite verses about God's provision for His children. If the Lord takes care of the lilies of the field, he surely will take care of us!

In my research of the lily this week I discovered something else that I find very touching. The following are just legends, of course, but I can still appreciate the imagery and symbolism. I found two accounts of lilies springing up from great sorrow, pain, and tears. These do not appear in the Bible, but the first story is from the Biblical account of Adam and Eve. The legend is that after the two were cast out of the Garden of Eden, Eve repented and as she wept, lilies grew from the place where her tears fell. The second is a story that comes from the true account of Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. The legend states that lilies grew from the drops of sweat that fell from his suffering and agony before the cross. Again, these are only legends that are have grown out of true events in the Bible, but the symbolism is not lost on me. Our little Lily is springing up from a wealth of our own tears, sweat, and grief.

I know this is getting very long and I hope I haven't exhausted you with all of these many things that this name represents for us! But I have to mention that the lily (or fleur-de-lis) is also commonly used to represent areas formerly settled by France, like our beloved home state of Louisiana! :)

Lily will share my middle name, Rae, which I've always loved. My dad was responsible for choosing my name when I was born and he gave me that name after himself (his name is Raymond). I have known for most of my adult life that I would one day want to share the name with my daughter if I ever had the chance.

On the day of the 3D ultrasound, when we first learned she was a girl, I went shopping with my mom and my sister. We came across these sweet little name plaques to hang on the wall and we couldn't believe it when we flipped through all of them and this was the very last one:

We are so eager to meet our precious Lily Rae, and we can't wait to tell her how much she is loved and prayed for and how much her life, and even her name, mean to us!

And finally, I can't help but notice that for two years I've been blogging with a photo as my profile picture that my husband snapped on one of our vacations... of a beautiful yellow lily.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big Ultrasound

Today brought plenty of worries and apprehensions as we prepared for our big ultrasound at the OB's office. Fortunately, the afternoon was one of celebration and thankfulness for the two of us. After all we've been through to finally reach this point, I think we're both still dealing with some level of disbelief that this is actually happening!

I'll give you a quick update on today's appointment. It wasn't long after the ultrasound began that the technician gave us the confirmation that our baby is definitely a girl! She wasn't modest today and we were able to see things pretty clearly. The technician was really nice and very talkative, but I really did wish she'd spent more time telling us what she was measuring and what we were seeing. At 21 weeks it was pretty obvious most of the time, but there were a few times when I felt a little lost. The visit went very well, though, and we were so relieved to get a good report today! We had a good look at baby's heart and brain as well as her arms and legs.

After the ultrasound we saw the doctor, who said that the baby looked "middle of the road" on everything, which was a good sign. At this point our baby is wonderfully average! Since I was seeing Dr R today, she went ahead and counted this as my OB visit even though it's a week early. We did all of the usual things: urine test, blood pressure, measuring the belly, listening to the heartbeat, etc. I was surprised and a bit relieved that I was actually weighing 2 pounds less than last month! Before you groan, let me tell you I've been a bit worried about weight gain. Last time I had gained 6 pounds instead of the recommended 4 for the month and I really was concerned that it would keep piling on too fast. After today's weigh-in I feel better about things evening out for this stage in the pregnancy. I actually don't know exactly how much I weighed before getting pregnant (I don't have a reliable scale at home and my specialist almost never weighed me), but I think as of now I've already gained about 18-20 pounds.

Today I also talked with Dr R again about the c-section discussion. We told her that we'd decided to go ahead and make the decision (with her approval, of course) to have a c-section delivery because of the concern of a rupture as a result of previous surgeries in my uterus. She was absolutely on board and very supportive of the decision. I think she was going to make the same call anyway, and it was clear that all three of us felt better about having it decided. Honestly, I don't feel at all disappointed or that I'm missing out on anything. Chuck and I are completely at peace with it and feel it is the right decision based on the information we had. As I told Dr R, we consider it a miracle that we're having this baby at all, and we just want her to get here as safely as possible for both her and myself. So, decision made! And now I only have to count down to 39 weeks instead of 40! :)

After our appointment Chuck and I spent the rest of the afternoon together running errands. James Avery (the jewelry store) had called earlier in the week to tell me that the charm I wanted engraved was ready for pick up. (You can click here to see the charm and read the original post.) We purchased it a few days before Mother's Day and they said it would be 2-3 weeks for the engraving, so we were happy that it was ready and that we could get it today as a celebration. I appreciated your suggestions so much about what the charm should say. We went in with several ideas written down (some of them yours) but ultimately decided on just two simple words: our babies. The size of the charm definitely influenced our decision (it's much smaller than it looks online), but we are so pleased with it. It seems like a good continuation of what the front says and it reads nicely together, "The heart remembers... our babies." This journey continues to be one of great joy mixed with years of grief and sorrow, and finally, remembrance. It seemed appropriate that on a day of so much happiness we would have a sweet reminder of where we've been and what we've lost. No matter what happens we won't ever forget that.

We finally returned home after a long afternoon of working on our baby registry and a celebratory dinner together. It was a great day, but definitely one we're happy to have behind us so we can continue to move ahead feeling more and more confident. Thanks so much for your prayers for us and for this baby!

*I have added more pics to the ultrasound link you can find in the sidebar. I added a few of the 3D images from last month and some of the best pics from today's visit. A few of you have asked to see pictures of me as well, so I'm working on getting a couple of those posted on the web album. Thanks for showing interest in how our baby girl is progressing!

**Next post: our baby's name! :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day: Halfway There

It's time for Mother's Day again, a day that is often so painful for those of us who live with infertility and/or pregnancy loss.

This year the holiday has found me in a different place. It is the halfway mark of this pregnancy, 20 weeks, and in more ways than one I feel halfway there. I still feel as though I have one foot in and one foot out.

This year I will be wished a "Happy Mother's Day" by people around me. Obviously I think that's a very sweet sentiment. I don't want to hold back my feelings of joy and celebration about this little miracle inside! I feel like I've been climbing a rocky, steep mountain for almost a decade. As anyone would do when they can finally see the summit, I feel the excitement of it and cannot wait to reach that point. A sweet friend who climbed her own mountain told me something wise that has stuck with me for a couple of years. She said that the longer we climb, the more our perspective changes as we work to get higher and higher. It's true. When I look around, I see things differently than I did 2 years ago, 4 years ago, 6 years ago. There are some who have to climb much higher than I will, and I'm sure the view will be different up there.

As excited as I am about being halfway through a pregnancy, a goal we feared we might never, ever reach, I can't forget that my path along the way is marked by six tiny crosses. Although our babies don't have actual graves here, we live with the memory of them as we move forward. This baby I'm carrying won't replace the ones we've lost. Of course we will welcome her with so much love and so much joy when she arrives, so much so that I can hardly imagine the complex emotions that I'll be feeling on that day, but we will always remember how much love and how many hopes each of those lives represented. We wanted all of those babies and we love each of them so deeply.

I guess what feels funny is that this year, at 20 weeks pregnant, people will observe me and declare me a mother. I haven't tucked my own children into bed at night or sent them off to school or cooked them a single meal... yet. I don't feel like more of a mother than I did on Mother's Day 8 years ago, the day we announced to my mother that we were having our first baby. That, to me, feels like a lifetime ago. I am so much closer to my dream of bringing home a baby, and that does mean so very much to me. But all these years I've felt like a mother without her children, the kind of mother who only gets recognized by those closest to me, those with particularly sensitive hearts and sympathies, and those who have walked this same lonely road.

I wish we lived in a world that recognized a 6-week pregnancy as just as real and just as loved and wanted as a 20-week pregnancy. It's so sad to me that so many women who have been through pregnancy loss are excluded from this day. And there are those who spend their days hoping and wishing for a pregnancy that hasn't happened yet. I believe that they are mothers, too. I've met a lot of people who haven't had children and yet have the heart of a mother. I wish Mother's Day could be a day where all of those beautiful women felt recognized and appreciated.

So, this year I feel halfway there. My heart is overwhelmed with joy at the idea of holding my precious baby! I still can't believe this is the year that it will happen.

My heart is also saddened because of the sweet babies we didn't hold.

And it's saddened because so many are still hurting and still waiting.

I want to acknowledge all of the mothers out there, whatever your story, and all of the amazing women who continue to climb mountains. Happy Mother's Day to YOU, sweet friends.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees

This week we added a new tree to our back yard. It is the second time we've planted a tree for our babies, only this time the circumstances are different.

Our first tree was a Bradford Pear. We purchased it and planted it in 2002 after we went through our first miscarriage. We've watched it throughout many seasons and it has been a sweet reminder of God's faithfulness as we've watched it grow, especially when the new leaves and little white blossoms appear each spring after its branches have been bare. (I've written about that tree before in this post.) It remains very special to us and has gone on to represent all six of our precious little ones that were born into heaven.

We have a pretty spacious back yard, but it soon became obvious that it wouldn't be practical to plant a large tree for each child we lost. Instead, we nurture that one tree and keep pretty flowers planted around the base all year round. I can see that tree every single day when I wake up and open the living room blinds to let the sunshine in. I love that tree because it reminds me of our love for our children, the desire to keep pressing on, and the growth that has taken place in our lives and hearts over the years.

I watched a couple of days ago as my sweet husband worked on planting a new tree. It was a labor of love, which is exactly how we feel about what this journey has been.

It has been hard, too. So hard. But what kept us going was the hope for new life. So many times the new life was only with us for a few weeks or a few months before we had to say goodbye. But that older tree doesn't represent death, of course. Like this new tree, it also represents life! The babies we lost here are living an eternity in heaven where we'll join them one day for a sweet reunion. I'm not sure exactly what that will look like, but I have faith that one day I'll see them face to face.

The yard is now home to a brand new tree, this time a Crape Myrtle. We purchased this tree in honor of our baby who will be born on earth and placed in our arms in September. (Please let it be, Lord.) When it blooms later this year, it will be a beautiful display of light pink blossoms, perfect for a new baby girl! This one is planted outside of our bedroom window, a spot in our home that desperately needs shade and a break from the blistering Texas heat.

Both trees are special. Both stand as symbols for hope and life and growth. But they represent different times in our life, different steps on our journey, and different chapters of our story. One day our daughter will know the story of her little tree, and she'll know the story of that bigger tree that honors the memory of her siblings.

I want to leave you with a couple of quotes that have become favorites of mine. Just today my friend Amy sent this one to me in a message:

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

And finally there is this one, which speaks volumes and volumes to me:

"Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do."
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

As always, sending love and prayers to those of you who are waiting.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Family of Two

That's what we've been for almost 12 years. A family of two. As much as we've wanted children and as hard as we've struggled to have them, I love my family of two.

I wish it could be that we'd chosen to spend 12 years of married life together, just the two of us, before deciding to have a child. I would much prefer looking back on those years without seeing the pain and loss we went through, but I know that having been through that, together, is part of what makes me so grateful for my husband and partner in all of the ups and downs of this life.

In all the years that we've tried to have children, I never liked to say that we were "trying to start a family." I'm not offended when others use those words to describe it, but I always preferred to say that we were hoping to add to our family. We already have a family! We have a family of two that began on June 6, 1998.

It has been a long journey together, and one full of waiting. Before my husband and I met, I'd never had a serious boyfriend. I grew up in a small town and spent my free time hanging out with my sister and my friends. My high school years were sometimes a bit lonely when I realized that most of my friends were dating or had steady boyfriends, but I was pretty content with waiting. Although I had a few crushes along the way, I somehow knew that I hadn't met my someone just yet. I prayed about it often, and I waited.

I met "Chuck" my freshman year of college. We started casually dating in January of 1996, and even though the relationship had become far more serious by the end of March, we knew that we would be spending the entire summer apart. He worked in Florida on a summer missions project and I went home to work as a camp counselor at a local Christian camp. It was a summer of waiting -- waiting to see if our relationship really had legs and was going somewhere. We wrote letters all summer, and on my last day of camp he sent me flowers with a note that read, "Anxiously waiting to see you again." I returned to school a little bit early before the fall quarter began so we could have some time to spend together before classes resumed. The end of that summer was when we kissed for the first time, a full six months after we'd started dating. (Talk about waiting!)

It wasn't long before we started talking about our future together. I waited another year before he proposed in August of 1997. We waited until he finished school and had been working for a few months before our wedding day in June of the following year. And yes, the whole time we dated and were engaged, we waited to be married before starting a sexual relationship. We were committed to that decision from the start and we have never regretted it.

That sounds like a lot of waiting already, but it was nothing compared to our next adventure. After three years of getting settled in as newlyweds, we waited nine long years for a baby. As you know, ours was also a journey through recurrent pregnancy loss. The wait was excruciating and the loss was great, but we made it through together. All these years later, I have never felt more sure that I made the right decision by marrying this man. The years have brought us closer together and made our love for each other so much stronger than I could have imagined.

I love this family that we've made. Scratch that. I love this family that GOD made. I plan to enjoy and make the best of these next four and a half months of being a family of two! It is the end of a chapter that, while it had many hard and heartbreaking times, taught us so much about who we are and who we want to be. We are both at a place where we are happy when we look back on our life together. We're even happier about putting an end to this particular season of waiting and moving forward with all the lessons we've learned and becoming a family of three.

We're walking into this next adventure hand in hand, having learned a lot about life and loss, and most of all, love.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On Sacrifice

If you know anything about me or have read very much of this blog, you know that I've been waiting a very long time to hold my child in my arms. Six times before we hoped that our prayers were being answered, only to watch helplessly as we went through one miscarriage after another. We still believe that God gave us those children, if only for a short time, even though it hurt so much that we never saw their faces, looked into their eyes, or even spoke their names.

In a little more than a month, my husband and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. Twelve years equals a lot of date nights! Chuck and I have enjoyed lots of time together as a married couple. We've gone on vacations (a few of them spur-of-the-moment) and explored our hobbies and generally enjoyed our life together for quite a while now. In a few days it will be 9 years ago that we moved to our current location and I became a stay-at-home wife. Since I gave up working nearly a decade ago, I've indulged in staying up late and sleeping in, while still having plenty of time to get my housework done and maybe even watching an afternoon movie or spending a few hours on scrapbooking or reading. (The reason I gave up working, however, was to pursue having children. Those years of "staying home" were also filled with our efforts to become parents.)

I enjoy being home. I'm not the kind of person who needs someplace to go every day. My life right now is such that I spend quite a few hours at home in a very quiet house. I truly don't mind the quiet; I've grown used to it by now. Perhaps that sounds wonderful to some of you who may be reading this in a chaotic environment right now! But to tell you the truth, I'm ready for change. I'm ready for the laughter and cries of a little one. And while I'm not expecting the change to be simple or easy, I'm okay with giving up our frequent date nights and my full nights of sleep. Before you think I'm crazy or in denial about how hard life might be with a newborn, let me explain why.

I consider it nothing short of a miracle that we are 19 weeks into our 7th pregnancy. If God has intervened and heard my pleas and cries and granted us this miracle, this chance to finally hold our child in our arms, then I see these as small sacrifices on my part. While I've gotten settled into the life I've had thus far and found things that I enjoy doing during our years of waiting and grieving, I will gladly accept the change. The desire I feel right now to skip past this second half of pregnancy has everything to do with my eagerness to finally reach the point where the reward of our toil and suffering is placed in my arms. This baby girl has been prayed for and hoped for, and our journey to get to her has been the absolute hardest thing we have ever endured. I will carry those scars forever, and I am a different person because of what we've been through.

I'm not at all in denial about how challenging it will be to raise children. I admire those who do it and do it well despite all of its demands (and I appreciate those who speak honestly about the challenges of parenthood!). I don't doubt that this new chapter in our lives will stretch us and change us, but I know that this is what we've signed up for. This is what we've been waiting for and fighting for. Some people make it sound like I will never eat, sleep, have fun, go on vacation, participate in a hobby, or read a novel ever again. It's assumed by some that having a child will be the end of my life, so to speak, but I see it as the beginning of a new chapter that I've been striving for. I'm determined to focus on what we'll consider it an honor to be getting rather than what we may be giving up. I have too many dear friends who would gladly make the sacrifices necessary to realize their dream of having children for me to take anything for granted. Those who have lived through infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth understand sacrifice, too.

So, every time I mention a nap or a restful night's sleep, or enjoying a night in front of the TV, or a night out with my husband, and someone feels the need to remind me to "enjoy it while I can," I'll continue to smile to myself, knowing that I'm just passing the time until I have the privilege of sacrificing some of those things that have filled my years, kept my idle hands busy, and served as a distraction for my aching heart, in order to take care of a child that I always wanted but feared I'd never have.

And it will seem like such a small sacrifice indeed.