When I get on Facebook or Instagram, what I typically see is a feed full of chubby babies, selfies of girls I went to high school with, pictures of the food people are eating for dinner, and political posts. Often times, what we see is a glimpse into someone's life. I think it is pretty common for us to see that little glimpse and assume that it represents a bigger picture than what we really see, when in reality, it is only a glimpse and it doesn't tell the whole story. I titled this "Removing the Veil" because I'm ready for others to see and hopefully benefit from our story, rather than the glimpse of us they see on social media. So, here it is.
I was reading a devotion this morning by Rick Warren. In it, he said, "Your greatest ministry will flow out of your pain - not out of your strengths or your talents but out of the painful experiences of your life. It is your weaknesses that help other people in their need, not your strengths." This past year, our family experienced pain. My prayer is that through our trying time, we can minister to someone else.
"He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives." 2 Corinthians 1:4-5
I have a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and 1 due to arrive in February. Our family is infinitely blessed and even though we have this growing wonderful family, times have been hard. Before we ever had our first daughter, we tried for over a year to conceive without any luck. We started trying early, because I was told that due to some issues I was having, it would likely be a process for us to ever conceive. After probably hundreds of dollars in ovulations tests and false pregnancy tests, I went to a doctor who did some tests and then told me, "The good thing is that with medication, there is a chance you can get pregnant. The bad news is that without this medication, you probably never will. It's a good thing you are trying early." Fortunately, the medication worked and I was able to conceive our first child. I'll never forget the night I saw that plus sign. I still tear up when I think about it and remember spending all night awake, thanking the Lord for answering my prayers and daydreaming about the little one inside. When our oldest was 6 months old, we conceived again and we were blessed with another polar opposite but completely lovable little girl. After this, we went through some more trying times with moving, paying for 2 mortgages, childcare, starting new jobs, etc. (That's another blog post for another day...)
Back in January of this year, we conceived again. We were excited and thrilled and we decided this time to wait until I was in my 2nd trimester to tell anyone - including family. When I was about 8 weeks, I went out to eat with some girl friends. That night, I came home and went to the bathroom and came out sobbing shortly after. I believed I was having a miscarriage. I remember immediately beginning to shake uncontrollably and then the tears came. So. Many. Tears. I didn't know what was going on for sure, but I had a bad feeling and I yelled for Micah to come upstairs. We immediately started praying as I rocked back and forth and cried as hard as I could cry. It was late and the girls were already in bed and asleep. I didn't know what to do. It was a Friday night and I couldn't just call my doctor and go in to get checked out in the morning. It was either go to the ER, or wait until Monday. I couldn't wait, so behind eyes full of tears, I drove myself to the ER. My sister in law met me there and stayed with me for several long hours. After lots of blood work, ultrasounds, and uncomfortable inspections, they determined that I was likely having a miscarriage and advised me to see my doctor on Monday.
I remember spending all day on Saturday just crying. I could not call any family because I couldn't get out a legible sentence behind all of the tears. Micah either called or I texted to inform close family and friends about our sadness. I could barely function that day and even though I have 2 beautiful and sweet little girls, one child does not replace another. I had dreamed about my baby. I had ordered a little shirt for Isla to wear at her birthday party that would let the cat out of the bag about the pregnancy. I remember seeing that shirt tucked away in my drawer and feeling the loss all over again. It was awful. On Monday, I went to my doctor where I knew they would confirm my loss. As I was waiting to see my doctor, I kept repeating the lyrics, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness..." My hope could not be in a baby, because I would never find joy again. My hope had to be in the Lord and the Lord alone.
When the doctor came in, she went over my options and advised that I have a D&C in a few days, so that is what I did. As time went on, I started to heal, but then the medical bills came... My insurance was pretty bad and I ended up with over $4,000 in medical bills. It really stung to know that not only did I lose my baby, but I also had to pay for it... It cost me more money to lose my baby with this insurance than what I paid to have Adia and Isla (combined.) It seemed like just as I was starting to heal emotionally, the bills came and I went through it all over again.
Now that the storm has been shared, how about a rainbow? Why did this happen? I cannot honestly tell you exactly why this happened. Does anyone ever have a good reason for losing a baby? However, good did come out of this sad story and something very important and inspiring happened. Shortly after the bills came, we came home one day from a day at the park and saw a check on our doorstep... Not just any check, but the largest check we have ever received from someone in our lives. A couple that we know from church had heard about what we were going through and wanted to bless us. I called this couple and initially, I told them I could not cash such a check. I will never forget what they said to us... "Please give us the joy of giving." A few weeks later, the people I baby-sit for showed up at our house with an envelope and a card. They had organized a garage sale and all of the money was donated to us to help with our medical bills. This was not a small amount of cash... An envelope with $1,000 of cash was placed in my hand. Not only did the money help us tremendously and make us feel completely overwhelmed with love, but the fact that they spent their time, donated their belongings, and then gave us the profit was just.... wow. That is all I can say, is wow. I remember when all of the bills started pouring in. Micah and I both cried and we were feeling punished. After it all sank in, we prayed and I remember saying to him, "God has always provided for us. I don't know how we are going to afford this, but He will make a way." The amazing thing is that not only did He make a way by providing the money we would need, but providing more love than what we have ever felt in our lives. Had we not gone through this experience, we would have never known how loved and treasured we are and it was a huge lesson in learning that God will make a way in ways that are completely unpredictable. Recently, we received confirmation from our hardship letters we wrote to the hospitals to try to reduce our bills. All of them have been reduced and one of our largest bills went from over $900 to $0. Just, wow.
When you go through something hard, it doesn't have to be the end. During the storm, you can't see. You can't feel anything but the rain and the wind and the bitter cold. Other people tell you their stories and sometimes, it helps to know you are not alone, but you still can't see how your story will end. If there's only a few things that I want people to take away from this, here they are...
1. When you see a glimpse of others on social media, try not to compare. We often do not know their whole story, as many of you may have had no clue about my miscarriage until just now. You've probably seen my overflow of pictures of my kids and maybe you thought it was easy for me to conceive them, or that I'd never experienced anything like a miscarriage, or that we make plenty of money to allow me to stay home. None of those things are true. All of those things have been a struggle for us, but they've also been huge areas of growth, grace, love, and learning.
2. If you have, are, or ever will experience something like a miscarriage, I know it's hard to see during the storm, but God can shower you with love at this time if you let Him. Your pain may feel huge to you, and it is huge, but God can and will turn that pain into an almighty powerful and healing love that you maybe would have never experienced. I am still sad about what I went through. I'm not glad I lost my baby. I am glad that I've experienced the Holy Spirit in a more powerful way than ever before and I'm here to say that I was broken, but not defeated.
3. Only put your hope in the Lord. If you are hoping for that job in order to find happiness, you will never find it - even if you get that job... If you are hoping for the perfect body in order to be content with your appearance, you will never be content and you will never feel good enough. If you are hoping for a baby to make you feel complete, you will never feel complete - even with a herd of kids on your lap. If you are hoping to meet "the one" in order to feel loved, the man or woman you find will never fully live up to your expectations. I'm not saying this to be harsh, but to make a point that we've got to stop putting our hope in everything but the Lord and instead, put our hope in Him. It's ok to desire a spouse, a job, a healthier figure, a baby, etc., but to depend on those things for our worth will always disappoint. My baby may have left my womb far too early, but God was there, is there, and always will be.
I was due this month. My plan was to have this baby in the beginning of October. My plans did not work out, but God is still good and my hope is in Him. I write all of this as my baby boy, Ike, kicks and rolls around inside of my womb. Sometimes, fear sinks in and my past haunts me and I get scared. But each time, I am reminded that these fears are not from the Lord. I am reminded that no matter what, God is with me. His love will sustain me and He wants to bless me. I pray every day that Ike would grow to be strong and healthy. I pray that he will be a leader and a follower of the Lord. I pray that more than anything else, he and his sisters know how incredibly loved they are by the Lord and that they will be overwhelmed with His delight and joy in them.