I was surprised last month when I looked up the definition of “vulnerable”. But as I contemplated on it more, it think it is truly fitting. Brett and I have chosen to share our journey the past 15 months publicly. As we have done this, we have left ourselves open to being hurt, misunderstood, judged, and criticized. While each of these things have happened, I am pleased to report that has not been the majority of the story. For the most part, we have been surrounded by loving people who want to support us, pray for us, come alongside us, and even mourn our losses with us. Being vulnerable and sharing our journey of pregnancy and miscarriage has been scary and exhausting at times. But we have most recently been in a season of reaping its good fruit, and I’d like to share:
January 2015, we were thrilled to announce the pregnancy of our 4th child, our son, Timothy Luke. We had previously thought we were done having children but God had opened our hearts to more and we were excited to experience the journey again. Like my first 3, this pregnancy was physically difficult, but as we approached week 12, I was elated to move into the second trimester, and hopefully, better health. We were SHOCKED at our 12 week appointment to learn our son had no heartbeat. It was the week of Easter, a time of celebrating the resurrection of our Savior and we decided to ask the Lord for the same for our son- a resurrection miracle. We waited 3 days and went back in for another ultrasound to see that he was gone. Heartbroken, I had surgery the next day, the day before Good Friday, and held a Celebration of Life Service for him the day before Easter.
We were surrounded that day by 60 of the loveliest friends who dropped their plans to comfort and mourn with us. It was a day of absolute heartbreak, but we were completely overwhelmed with tangible love and kindness. In the weeks following, we continued to have friends, and even people we didn’t know well, show up with food, encouraging notes, and love. Months later, we decided to try again and were elated to announce our 5th pregnancy, our daughter Evelyn, the week of Brett’s 30th birthday. So many people reached out to tell us they were praying with us and to encourage us. Complete strangers wrote us and told us our sharing had touched them and given them the courage to share about their “heavenly babies” too. As I made it through more months of first trimester sickness, I continued to be encouraged by friends and comforted as we faced our fears in the journey. Then, at our 12 week appointment, the day after Timothy’s due date, we headed in for our regularly scheduled appointment and met our worst nightmare. For my 30th birthday, we found out that Evelyn, our beloved daughter, had also passed. It didn’t make any sense. I hadn’t had ANY signs or symptoms to tell me she was gone. I had continued to be sick, and to even grow all the way to the day of the appointment.
At this point, I was so angry, I couldn’t even fathom facing people with our loss. I remember crying to our beloved pastors that day, throwing an absolute fit, and screaming that I didn’t want to go through all this again. I didn’t want to tell anyone and I didn’t want my family to have to grieve again just 6 months after losing Timothy. As we notified family and friends, our closest people showed up at our home and just cried with us. They didn’t say anything, they didn’t try to “fix” us, they were just there. They listened, they validated, and they loved us well. More people showed up with food, love and kindness. One stranger even gave us a check that covered the entire medical bill for my second surgery. The pain was unbearable but the tangible love of God’s people somehow carried us through it.
Months passed and we worked our way through the holidays in a sea of huge emotions. The waves of grief came at unexpected moments and we wondered if we’d ever have the strength to “try again.” Brett and I both sought counseling and inner healing from pastors at our church. We faced our anger, our hurt, our disappointment and took it to Jesus. We didn’t run, we didn’t hide- even in the moments we most wanted to. We allowed ourselves to feel the pain and disappointment. We allowed our close family and friends to hear our hearts break and although they couldn’t “do” anything to make it better, they were there. And they prayed.
Come January of this year, we were thrilled to find out we were expecting our 6th miracle. We chose to tell our close friends and family right away and asked them to pray with and for us. We knew this experience would not be easy to process and that we would need our “people” there for us. For safety precautions, our doctor decided to follow this pregnancy very closely. During week 5, we got a call that my blood work revealed we would probably miscarry. We were sent in for an early ultrasound, only to find that the baby was fine! Then, during week 6, I began to have signs of miscarriage and I was sent in for another ultrasound, only to find I was having hemorrhage issues, that did not appear to be bothering the baby as the baby was fine again! I was then put on medicine to help strengthen my uterus and told it would likely “intensify your morning sickness”. This was difficult news as my sickness was already in full swing and I was more sick than I had been in any of my previous pregnancies. Week 7, 8, and 9 were horrible. I found that I could barely function physically, and I began to deal with bouts of depression. By the end of week 9, I reached out to a dear friend and told her I thought maybe the medicine I was taking was causing the depression. She suggested I see my doctor immediately and my doctor agreed I was having an adverse reaction and it was time to come off it. (During this time we had the typical week 8 ultrasound that, again, showed a perfect and healthy baby). By week 10, the depression began to fade, but I got terribly sick and ended up with a sinus infection on top of the continued pregnancy sickness that was 24/7.
During all this, I had so many moments that I would lose it to Brett and tell him I didn’t think I could do this anymore. I had so many days I felt that I was failing. I was discouraged and often felt disoriented in my own head and body. The past 7 weeks have been some of the most difficult days of my life physically and emotionally. As the Bethel song “We Dance” says, I was in a place that my “faith felt tired and my hope seemed lost.” BUT- those are the moments that so many of you have reached out and encouraged me. Every day, another person would text me and say they just want me to know they are praying for me. Every day, someone has reached out with love and let me know they are fighting for me in prayer and in love and believing for the life of my little one. Many times, I was too sick to even respond. But then, somewhere around the 11th week, Brett and I realized that BECAUSE we had been vulnerable and BECAUSE we have shared our story with others, all of those people have been praying in faith and hope when we could not. We realized that even though our journey has been hard, and intimate, and difficult to share, we are now reaping the good fruit of vulnerability in that we have a community of people who love us and are holding us up now, when we are too weak to do it ourselves. Just as Moses needed his friends to hold up his arms, we have needed an army to help us in this season and they have!
Yesterday, I reached the 12 week mark. My 12 week appointment isn’t until Monday, so I have the weekend to process and prepare. I feel a range of big emotions from grief to joy, disappointment to thankfulness. The swirl in my mind is a wild storm that cannot seem to be tamed. But even in that, I was able to cry on the shoulder of my husband this morning, mourning the loss of my son Timothy. Shortly after, and friend gave me a long extended hug knowing I am sad I am not about to give birth to Evelyn in 2 weeks and it feels as if she’s been forgotten. That was followed by the loving and patient question of another friend asking me how I am really doing facing my appointment on Monday. All these wonderful, loving and sweet people are there for me and I know that while I am not in control of the outcome, I am not alone. God has sent His people to me to love me, hug me, and comfort me along the journey. It’s the Body of Christ, and although its imperfect and messy, it is necessary and I am so thankful for it.
So I want to end this with a Thank You to every one of you who have prayed, hoped, hugged, text, and reached out to me, Brett, Elle, and Johnny the past year. Never did I imagine what we would go through, but I also never knew just how wonderful of people Jesus had surrounded us with. Thank you, every one of you, for being the hands and feet of Jesus in our times of difficulty and hardship. I know being vulnerable and sharing your hardships, losses, and heartbreaks leaves you susceptible and open to being hurt or wounded, but I can testify it also leaves you open to be loved on and cared for when you least thought you’d need it. When we shared our journey last year at Timothy’s service, I never thought I’d be here one year later. But I am. And thanks to Jesus and His people, I am finding myself covered and loved in our toughest of times.