About this time last year, I wrote a blog series talking about my and Brandon’s journey through infertility and pregnancy loss. It was the first time we publicly shared about all of our experiences, and writing it all out was very therapeutic for me. Brandon has even told me since then that he didn’t realize I felt or thought some of those things until he read the blogs too!
Going through this pregnancy with our son, I have had a wide variety of emotions and fears that come with being pregnant after losing a baby, and I just wanted to share all of the things that God has been doing in this season of pregnancy.
I really feel like writing those blogs last year set the stage for my heart going into 2019. I had reflected and processed through all of my emotions and wrote them down. I ended the series with a blog talking about how Brandon and I were okay, content, and even happy with our lives. God had miraculously brought us both to a place of peace about not having biological kids. We were even doing research about adoption and talked about starting the process at the beginning of this year.
Then…I started to have some symptoms.
It had been two and a half years since we lost Elizabeth, and it was the longest stretch of time we had ever gone without getting pregnant. We were both starting to think that maybe Elizabeth was going to be our last one.
When the symptoms didn’t go away, I reluctantly stopped at the dollar store to buy some pregnancy tests. I almost drove past it, thinking, “Do I really think I could be pregnant?” But I couldn’t handle the uncertainty, I just had to know for sure.
Early the next morning, I took the pregnancy test. I set the timer and paced around in the bathroom, trying not to look at the test strip too early. When I finally looked at the test, those two lines were as clear as day!
I know you’re not supposed to be surprised when you do married people things and come up pregnant because pregnancy is “always a possibility,” but I was still shocked. It had been so long, and it seemed like the most random timing! After all, God was guiding and blessing our life down a path that didn’t seem to fit with having children, so why was he all of a sudden switching things up on us?
I’m not an outwardly expressive person, but when I saw the positive test, I definitely screamed in my head! “AAAHHH, GOD, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY NOW!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??” I silently scream-prayed this with a smile on my face, shaking my head imagining how God must have been laughing and getting a kick out of me in that moment.
My next emotion was gratitude, which didn’t come as naturally as some might think it would. I had to intentionally push through my knee-jerk reactions of fear and anxiety (and even a little dread) and I cried a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this new life we were now given the opportunity to love.
After everything we had gone through, I knew, not just from God’s Word, but from experience, that this baby was a blessing and would bring us joy, no matter what happened. I felt the overwhelming need to express how thankful I was, even if the timing seemed terrible from my perspective.
One of my very favorite parts about getting pregnant is getting to tell Brandon! His shock was as deep as mine was! Wide-eyed, he sat in disbelief, trying to comprehend what all of this would mean for our life, our plans, and our future. Of course, he quickly came to the same place I did and made sure to reassure me that he was, indeed, excited for this baby too!
I’ve said before that, in my seasons of waiting for a baby (and especially after losing them), I often felt jealous of others’ blessings. I had wanted a baby SO bad, and it just felt like everyone was getting invited to the party but me. Every year that passed, more of my peers would cross the threshold into this new season that I couldn’t relate to or participate in. The longer time went on, the more isolated Brandon and I felt among other couples our age, many of whom had multiple kids now in the toddler and kindergarten stages.
We had just come to the place where we were actually okay with that reality. We were excited about the future! We had a blossoming videography business that we felt like God had placed in our laps after losing Elizabeth, we were serving and making a difference in the lives of several “spiritual children” that gave us purpose, we LOVED our life, and we were excited about all that the future had in store for us!
So when I got pregnant again at the beginning of this year, Brandon and I were both thrown for a mental loop! Brandon and I both had these grand ideas of living our lives to their full spiritual potential, undistracted by children, using our free time, extra money, and undivided attention to make the biggest impact possible in our community (and maybe even the world, who knows). We were so all-in on God’s plan for our life, going 100 miles an hour toward our new future, and out of nowhere this baby brought those visions to a complete halt. And truthfully, it took some time to get myself “re-excited” about the thought of having a baby. I had to change my plans…again.
This initial lack of enthusiasm made me feel guilty in a lot of ways. I felt guilty because this was an answer to SO many prayers, not just my own, but also those of so many friends and family who had prayed on our behalf for years! We just didn’t understand God’s timing, once again. We were working crazy night and weekend hours to make our videography business successful, we were dreaming about all of the potential that came with a life without kids, and we had become quite attached to that version of our future. Why would God pick NOW to give us a baby?!
God often picks the “worst timing” because it requires the most faith.
Of course, what we consider to be bad timing, God uses as a platform to showcase his miraculous provision, his faithfulness, and his glory in a fantastic way!
I’ve been reading a book called “A Chance to Die” by Elizabeth Elliot, and it’s a biography of Amy Carmichael’s life. Amy was a single woman who went to be a missionary in India in the early 1900’s. She was a no-nonsense kind of person in that she didn’t have time to waste her life on things that didn’t have eternal value. Amy cared for hundreds of Indian orphans throughout her ministry, and several quotes from the book resonated with me about the value in raising children.
“The women of the Band were learning that if the Lord of Glory took a towel and knelt on the floor to wash the dusty feet of His disciples (the job of the lowest slave in an Eastern household), then no work, even the relentless and often messy routine of caring for squalling babies, is demeaning. To offer it up to the Lord of Glory transforms it into a holy task. ‘Could it be right,’ Amy had asked, ‘to turn from so much that might be of profit and become just nursemaids?’ The answer is yes. It is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which important or unimportant—he is not greater than his master. ‘If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love,’ Amy wrote after many years of such ‘unspiritual’ work.” -A Chance to Die p.182-183
I know that was a long excerpt, but it all spoke to me very profoundly. Having this baby isn’t going to hinder my ability to do “spiritual work” for God! This IS a spiritual work! It won’t look like impacting hundreds of people and seeing the fruits of my labor in the form of changing hearts and lives. It’ll look like hours and hours of repetitive care taking work for one single baby. I had been disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to “do as much” for God when I had a baby, but God helped me see the spiritual value of what he was calling me to do.
Something else I struggled with, especially at the beginning, was fear. I knew that God could and would bring us through any hardship or loss we might face because he had done it before, but my biggest fear was that I would have another ectopic pregnancy. I felt like I could handle losing another baby if I had to, but I didn’t feel like I could make the decision again to end another ectopic pregnancy. I didn’t want that moral burden to be placed on my shoulders, so leading up to our first ultrasound, I had a lot of fear and anxiety about that. There were times I had convinced myself that that was exactly what was going to happen. I thought God was going to give me what I feared most to test my faith.
I eventually had a conversation with Brandon about it, and he reminded me that God doesn’t treat us unmercifully. We don’t have to try and move God’s heart to compassion, his heart is moved by us out of his own Fatherly love for us. He isn’t “like” a father, he IS our Father, and I often forget that as our loving Father he desires to bless, comfort, and encourage his children. God isn’t always trying to test me and get me to prove myself, and I don’t have to live in fear of his next refining fire. God loves me, he knows what’s best for me, and I can rest in knowing that his plans will end in his glory and my joy!
Thankfully, this baby was right where he needed to be! Given our past experiences, excitement came hesitantly, but we tried our best to allow ourselves to get attached to him early. We didn’t want to stuff our feelings for him out of fear of losing him. Life is fragile, and we are aware, even at this late stage of pregnancy, that we will never actually be “in the clear.” We know tragedies can still happen (and that will still be true after he’s born too), but the possibility that something could go wrong does not give us permission to live in fear, but rather, it compels us to make the most of today and to love fully as long as we can! The old cliche is true, it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
Our son’s due date is October 10, 2019, and Elizabeth was born October 23, 2016. Having our son so close to Elizabeth’s birthday feels kind of special. This time of year has always been my favorite, and now that it’s associated with the birth of my children, it makes me love it even more! As his due date is getting closer, I have been thinking a lot about Elizabeth and the effect her life will have on her brother’s.
Brandon and I were talking about how we were a little worried that this new baby’s life would somehow make Elizabeth feel “less important” to us now, like her chapter will finally be closed. I remember when we first lost her, we wanted so badly to never forget her. We clung to every feeling and every memory, trying not to lose any part of her. Healing can be really hard. However, I don’t have to feel guilty for loving a new baby, and I know we will never forget Elizabeth. As a matter of fact, her life and her story are completely intertwined with our son’s! Without her part in our life, we would not be the individuals, the couple, nor the parents we are today. Elizabeth changed EVERYTHING in our life!
God is the great Redeemer of all, and here we are, almost three years after the hardest experience of our lives, with a transformed marriage, a deep and revived relationship with God, an abundance of personal growth, AND a new baby who will get to be born to some VERY different parents than the ones Elizabeth was born to. Our son will be raised by the Sarah and Brandon after Elizabeth, and I think that will be to his benefit. Our life isn’t a series of stand alone events, it is all connected into a larger story. A story in which God weaves every heartbreak and joy together for his glory!
We have come to love our story! We love all of our children, and as we wait for this baby to be born, we are trying our best to continue to trust in God’s timing. He knows what he’s doing, and he is trustworthy. We just have to keep reminding ourselves of this daily!
We want to thank everyone who has walked with us through our journey to being parents and for all the prayers that have been lifted up for us! We are really amazed at how many people love us and have expressed their support for us! I know our son is going to be SO loved! We can’t wait to meet him soon!