Finding Normal (Again)

When I started this blog in January, I talked about a previous blog – one that I had quit writing when I was pregnant with my oldest son. Apparently it’s just hard for me to blog while pregnant.

If you were wondering where I have disappeared to, well – it happened again. I was pregnant, and I just couldn’t keep up.

I’m guessing you caught the word “was” in that last sentence. I was pregnant. I’m not anymore. The month of June was joyous for our family.  We traveled and saw friends and family, we hosted VBS at our church, and we celebrated a new life that was growing in my womb.  And I was nauseous, but we’ll just ignore that for this post.


With July came my youngest son’s second birthday and a huge community celebration for Independence Day. The first few days were fun, but something was off. I knew it.  So on Thursday, July 6 I called my OB office. I felt a little silly but I just had a bad feeling.  I knew I would be too worried to wait three weeks for my next appointment.  So I called, and they let me come in just for “peace of mind.”  Only when I got there, I found out what I had suspected. The baby no longer had a heartbeat.

I went home so that I could wait to miscarry.  10 days later I thought my body was finally going to do so,  but five days after that I ended up in the ER late at night. My body wasn’t getting rid of the baby, and I ended up getting a D&C the following day.

The next week and a half was mostly spent sleeping and laying around on the couch, with my heating pad and a blanket–and of course plenty of Coca Cola & chocolate.  I was told to get lots of rest, and to only get up to go to the bathroom for a week to 10 days.

A lovely friend gave me this blanket when she heard we had lost our baby. It came with a sweet story of hope.

Needless to say, the month of July wasn’t as joyous as the month of June.  August was a time of survival mode at my house.  As September has now begun, I am wading back in to life, and working on finding normal, again.

To get back to meal planning and grocery shopping every Thursday afternoon. To cooking homemade meals for my family and then sitting down at the dinner table with them. I’m even looking forward to starting a load of laundry every morning when I wake up.  It’s funny how you can miss something like that, but it’s time. I crave the routines that give my life a sense of calm and order.

So as I wade back into the real world, in search of “normal,” I just wanted to ask for your prayer.  I’m stepping back into my life as I’m still wading through a lot of emotions about this baby.  I’ve missed you all and your posts, and I’m so so glad to be back among you all as I continue to heal from this.  I hope to post more often, but I’m not going to give any guarantees just yet.  


In love to all my friends & readers, 

Rachel

When God Builds Your Family

When God builds your family, it doesn’t always look the way you think.  There’s so much fear involved with “trusting God with your family size”.  But in all honesty, most of us aren’t going to end up looking like 19 Kids & Counting, driving a big bus full of kids everywhere we go.  Trusting God to build your family is an unknown, even to the Duggar daughters who are now starting their own families.  We just can’t know if God will give us 19 children, or 12, 8, 4, 2, 1, or none.  About 8 months into our marriage, my husband and I felt convicted that we should trust God to plan our fertility.  About 6 months later, I was pregnant with our first child.  Six months after he was born, I was shocked to be expecting AGAIN!

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In June of last year, my husband and I were excited to find out that we were going to have a THIRD new sweet baby!  Right away, I could tell that this pregnancy was different than the others, and I assumed the baby must be a girl.  Our first daughter!  Only a week later, I miscarried.  For a week….only ONE week….I dreamed about this baby, and I loved her {or him} from the moment I saw those 2 pink lines.

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This was our pregnancy announcement.  I planned to post it on Facebook around the 8-9 week mark.  We had printed a few in hard copy, and had delivered them to my parents and my sister’s family just the day before I started to miscarry.

The day after our miscarriage, I posted a long Facebook post to tell our friends and family about our loss.  Here’s an excerpt, or you can read the full post here:

Last week Lane and I found out we would welcome a third child into our family next February. And this week, we found out we would never get to meet that child…I know everyone grieves these things differently. As for me, I don’t want to just forget. I don’t want to dismiss this child as if she never existed. I want to remember. We can’t know for sure, but we imagined this baby was a girl. Our first daughter. We’re going to call her Glory. The name comes from a not-so-encouraging verse in Hosea about miscarriages being part of God’s judgment on Israel. It says “Their glory shall fly away like a bird.”

When I read it, it just seemed to fit. A bird can fly away in an instant, and all we can do is stand there and watch it go.

I know it doesn’t seem happy but it fits, in more ways than one. Our Glory has flown away, but through her life we want to give Glory to God. Before we knew for sure today, I prayed to God for a miracle. I asked Him to save her. Then I said, “But either way, God, she’s YOURS. I trust You. Just let her life bring you glory!”

In the days that followed, I went back and forth in my emotions.  I cried.  But I also felt this odd sense of peace, hope, and what I could only describe as gratefulness.  I would sit on the couch in tears, and then look up at my two precious boys playing in the floor and I would just feel…..grateful.  It was as if I had just realized how fragile life is, and seeing these two vibrant healthy boys playing was suddenly a greater blessing than I ever realized.

Friends and strangers messaged me online, saying things like, “That was the most lonely time in my life.” or “It felt so hopeless.”  I appreciated their messages and their love for me, but I honestly did not feel those things.  I felt loved, cherished, and grateful.  I felt hopeful that God was building our family in a way that would bring Him glory, and that His plans for our family were greater than any I could imagine.  I almost felt embarrassed to tell people that I only felt “slightly sad.”

Throughout the past 8 months, I’ve often noted on the calendar where I would have been in my pregnancy.  “Today I would be 20 weeks.  We’d be finding out if the baby was a boy or girl.”  “Today I’d be starting my 3rd trimester.”  “Today the baby would be considered far-enough along to be born.”  These thoughts were always slightly sad, but not despairing.

Then 39 weeks hit last Friday. Because of an issue in my first birth, we scheduled my second at 39 weeks.  I assumed we would have done the same with this one.  The doctor we prefer has his surgery day on Fridays, and so I knew we either would have had the baby last Friday the 3rd or this Friday the 10th.  Suddenly I’m not missing out on a pregnancy anymore.  I’m missing out on hearing the baby’s first cry.  Seeing her daddy hold her just after she’s born.  Holding her in my arms for the first time.  Introducing her to her 2 big brothers.  To her Papaw and Mamaw, aunt and uncle, and cousins.  Learning how to breastfeed all over again.  Bringing her home from the hospital, to a nursery that’s all prepared and perfect just for her.

Last Saturday I had an appointment in Jackson and decided to hit up Old Navy to spend some Super Cash I’d gotten before Christmas.  I looked at a few things for myself and then was drawn back to the baby section.  They had tons of Valentine’s day onesies and outfits that would have been perfect for the baby’s “Coming Home” outfit.  I allowed myself to daydream and picked out the perfect one.  I rested my hand on it, and then had to walk away.  I headed to the fitting room to hide my tears to try on the clothes I had picked out for myself.

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I have this small sign on my desk as a reminder of our Glory baby, and of Christ’s call to offer EVERYTHING for HIS Glory.

Going through the miscarriage was sad, but not devastatingly hard.  8 months later it’s hitting me in a whole new way.  This Friday is the due date, and I plan to turn off my computer and phone, and spend the day cherishing my family of 4.  We’re going to go out and do something fun as a family!

In the early days after our miscarriage, I began writing a song.  It’s still unfinished, but throughout the last 8 months I have sung the song often.  In the past week, I’ve sung it all throughout my days:

“My Glory flew away, but your peace flew in.
Glory to God!  I’m breathing You in.
My dreams and plans may fail, but Lord–Your will prevails.  Even in pain You’re building me for Your name.
Glory to my King!

Early in our marriage, my husband I decided to let God build our family however He sees fit.  He’s laid adoption on our hearts, and it’s something we started looking into even before I found out I was pregnant.  We don’t know if our next baby will be biological or adopted, but we do know that God is building our family.  He’s piecing us together for His glory, and I see our Glory baby as a part of that.  In my song, there’s a line that says, “Glory to God!  I’m breathing You in.”  I have clung to those words lately.  They challenge me to lay down my own desires, loves, and plans; and to ‘breathe in’ my Lord.  They inspire me to let Him live through me in every moment–every breath.  I’m taking in His truth, His love, and His grace just as often as I breathe.  Without Him, I’d fall apart.  I’d have spent an hour crying in the Old Navy fitting room.  Instead–after a few moments of prayer, I looked in the mirror, looked myself in the eyes, and whispered truths from His Word into my heart.

Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory.”

I trust that God is building my family WELL.  I trust it, but at the same time I recognize that it’s not about me.  He isn’t building my family in order to give me fulfillment or joy.  He’s building my family in the way that we can best bring HIM glory.  I can look at my family of four and know that He has blessed me beyond what He had to.  I can receive His blessings with gladness, and celebrate His goodness.  At the same time, I can choose to see that same goodness when He continues building my family in a way that brings sadness or pain.  I KNOW He holds our future, and I KNOW that His ways are better than mine.  Even more so, I am honored that He chooses to let me be active in His story.

Through this journey, I’m learning what it feels like to be held in His hands.  To let Him use me for HIS glory, apart from my own works or plans.

Thank you Lord, for holding me in Your hands.  You truly deserve ALL the Glory.

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Love, Rachel

P.S.–Sorry if I don’t get back to comments today (Friday).  I’m posting this Thursday night before bed, and my plan is to turn off social media for a day & spend some extra time cherishing the blessings that God has given me!

Baby: Blessing or Inconvenience?

Note: This was originally posted on my former blog, “One True Wife,” on May 7, 2013.  In honor of Sanctity of Human Life Day & the upcoming anniversary of Roe V. Wade, I decided to re-post it.  I have updated it and edited it for grammar.

The debate on abortion can get pretty heated.  Pro-choicers say that it isn’t right to force a woman to have a baby.  They claim that a woman has a right to choose whether this baby is coming at a convenient time for her, and to make a decision about whether or not to “keep” the baby.  They say that it isn’t our place to punish her sin of promiscuity with a baby, and that the baby isn’t a baby at all–but only a blob of cells.  And because that baby is not yet viable, it’s not a life worth saving.sanctity-of-human-life-post-02

Pro-lifers argue that the “blob of cells” is already a human being.  It is life, and it deserves the opportunity to live.  They argue that a baby is not punishment, and that it is not inconvenient at all.  Instead, a baby is a blessing.

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At the #Stand4Life Rally at the Texas State Capitol.    July 2013.

When my husband and I were engaged, he told me that he had a heart for adoption someday.  He believed that being pro-life had to go beyond holding picket signs (although we’ve done that), participating in the “Walk for Life”, and wearing a ribbon on “Sanctity of Life Sunday”.  He believed that if we were pro-life, we needed to be willing to step up to the plate and walk with the mothers who are “inconvenienced” with a baby.  For him, this meant that we should be open to adopt those “unwanted” babies.  It was at that conversation that my heart began to be pulled in the same direction.  And I began to be confronted by many contradictions in my own life.

“A baby is a BLESSING!  Not an inconvenience!”  I’ve heard this phrase many times, and have even used it myself.  “A baby is a blessing…”  It’s hard to argue with, and so it’s become our trump card.  Maybe we use the “blessing” card because we know that no one can honestly say it’s not true.  But do I truly BELIEVE that babies are not inconvenient?  And does that belief carry out into every aspect of my life?

Many people have thrown the “blessing-card” at a Pro-choice friend, in an effort to stump them.  We’re trying to win an argument, and this is just the card to help us win.  We say they shouldn’t abort a baby because it’s a blessing!  But then many of us will contradict ourselves as we go through our day-to-day life.

For example:

  • When someone gets married young, or during college, we may advise them to wait a few years to have children.  Why?  Because a baby might get in the way of them finishing college.  It COULD hinder their plans.
  • Even if someone doesn’t get married young, we may advise them to wait 2-4 years to have kids, so that they can ENJOY their first few years of married life.  As if children bring an end to that enjoyment.
  • When a couple already has two children (especially if they have one boy and one girl), they’re told “Now you have one of each, so you don’t have to have any more!”  Because apparently having a third child would just be torture…
  • When someone wants more than two children, they’re asked a myriad of questions:
    • “Aren’t you happy with your two?”
    • “Don’t you think two kids is enough?”
    • “Aren’t you satisfied with what God’s already given you?”
    • “You know what causes that, right?”  Is this a suggestion that they should abstain from married intimacy?
    • “If you’re bored for entertainment, you could just get a television.”
  • When a mother of one who has had a few miscarriages wants to try again for a second child, she’s told that she’s selfish for wanting another child.
  • When a woman is pregnant, we feel the need to remind her of all the sleepless nights ahead and of the sassy teen that she’ll have to deal with after her baby grows up.  After all, we wouldn’t want her to be TOO EXCITED about this baby…

We’ve failed to even notice these inconsistencies.  When a baby’s life is in danger, we call the baby a blessing.  When the child has already been conceived, it’s a blessing.  But when someone actually wants a baby, we want to make sure they’re prepared for the huge inconvenience they’re going to face.

So which is it?  Do we REALLY believe that a baby is a blessing?  Or do we believe it’s inconvenient?

Copyright: marysmn / 123RF Stock PhotoWell, truth be told–it’s both.  It may sound like a great paradox, but a baby is an inconvenient blessing.  Having a child WILL change your life forever.  You MIGHT need to give up a degree that you’re seeking, or a promotion you might have earned in your job.  You MAY end up quitting your job altogether to stay home with this little one.  Your life will no longer be just about you, or just about you & your husband.  Now, every decision will be affected by this child.  You will sacrifice for this child.  You will pour yourself out in love, and be exhausted on a pretty regular basis.  You will feel unappreciated at times.

I don’t think it really serves our case to say your child will never be inconvenient.  In fact, our “blessing” card does little more for our argument, than to make stressed mothers feel a little less valuable.  Yes, a baby is a blessing.  But it’s also one of the biggest responsibilities you can take on.  Of course, according to most moms I know, the inconvenience of a child is GREATLY outweighed by the blessings you can experience as a mother.

With all of this in mind, we need to realize that while our pro-life stances seek to save the life of a child (as we should), they can also cause much grief to the pregnant woman who doesn’t feel ready for a child.  To brashly throw in her face, “A baby is NOT an inconvenience!!” will leave her feeling like a bad woman.  Even if she wasn’t considering abortion, she’ll feel guilty for her fear.  And so we should offer her HOPE rather than guilt.

We should be willing to walk alongside her to support her on this journey.  We should tell her, “This is going to be hard, but you can do it.”  We should love her.  If she doesn’t feel she can keep the child, we should help her on the road to adoption.  We should be willing to step up and adopt ourselves!  If she doesn’t have the funds to provide for her baby, we should–as Christians–join together to give her whatever help we can.  We can babysit.  We can help her find baby clothes, a crib, a car seat and blankets.  We can simply be her friend.  Her support system.

And finally, we can choose to see the JOY that comes through having a child.  We can choose to believe that the blessing greatly outweighs the inconvenience.  And we can rejoice at the thought of a new baby, while we offer our help when it gets hard.  Our enthusiasm just may translate to her life in a way that ushers in the hope and joy that she didn’t seem to feel about this child before.  And our friendship and selfless service will let her know that she’ll be okay.

Practical Application:

  1. If you’re Pro-Life, be willing to help other Moms who struggle.
  2. When a woman miscarries, choose to view her loss as the loss of a child, no matter how early the miscarriage occurred.  Allow her to grieve in whatever way she needs–whether that’s private or open.
  3. If you challenge women to choose adoption over abortion, be open to adopting a child into your family.  If you are open to adoption but don’t have the funds for it, look into the many inexpensive options that are out there!  (They exist!)
  4. If you believe a baby is a blessing, then don’t dwell on the inconveniences that come along with children.  Don’t act as if people are unwise for trying to have a child.  Even if they are young, even if they’re in school, and even if they already have several children.  Remember, Child #8 is just as much of a blessing as Child #1!

 

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Rachel & Boys