Faith & FamilyHe is Faithful January 27, 2016 I know many of you saw on Instagram that yesterday was Rosie’s first birthday. I can’t believe that I’m typing those words! While life without her seems a little hazy, knowing that we’ve had her for a year is hard to believe. We had the most amazing day yesterday. Her party is on Saturday, so we’re having fun preparing for that. But yesterday, it was just our little family of three. I made her a special breakfast of coconut flour pancakes and bacon. It was her first time having both and she found some new favorites for sure! We went on a walk in the afternoon with friends. We took her out to dinner, which she seemed to know was an exciting thing. And then we just played and played last night as a family. It was a blast. But amidst all of that celebrating, I spent so much time reflecting. All day, I kept thinking about what was happening at that exact time last year. I remembered and re-read her birth story and just marveled all day at how much has changed in just a short 365 days. But I also spent time remembering our journey to parenthood. Many people have a story of hurt, loss, or waiting when it comes to having babies and we are no different. I realize I’ve never shared this story with you guys. I’ve written posts about it on multiple occasions, but for some reason, never felt like I was supposed to hit publish. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness when I looked back at our whole story and I just knew that it was time to share. When Chris and I got married, we had a five year plan. We’re extreme planners, if you haven’t figured that out yet. We wanted to enjoy life as newlyweds, pay down debt, and build a solid foundation for our marriage and then around year five, we would have a baby. That would be followed by another baby every two years (exactly because that’s a good age gap in my mind) until we were done. We hadn’t totally agreed on how many, I said four, he said maybe. But we had a plan. We had names picked out. After we’d only been married maybe a year or two, I started to bring up babies…a lot. If you’ve read Rosie’s Birth Story, you’ll remember that around this time I was working in the nursery and learning all about babies and birth at church. For years, I kind of “bothered” Chris about babies. He would say that he wanted kids, of course, but that it just wasn’t time yet. He knew that our plan to have me home in some capacity would not happen if a baby came early. We would’ve figured that out, but waiting really was the smart decision. Finally, in the summer about two and a half years ago, we were having another discussion about babies. I was being annoying and pressuring, I’m sure. And he kindly said, “If you keep this up, one day, I’m just going to give in to you. I want to decide that I’m ready for that and tell you, not because I’m just trying to appease you.” I decided that day I would not say another word until he brought it up to me. And by God’s power, I somehow didn’t. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, haha…..they were always on my mind. But four months later, on November 16th, 2013, Chris took me to Ruth’s Chris on a surprise date. I knew something was up. Going to Ruth’s Chris just because is not in my budget-conscious husband’s mind. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the significance of that date. We ordered and I kept asking him about it. He finally said, “Seven years ago today, I asked you to be my girlfriend and they’ve been the best seven years of my life. I can’t wait to spend the next seven years listening to the pitter patter of little Roses’ feet.” We always knew Rose would somehow be a part of our first little girl’s name. You can read about the significance of her name here. It’s a good story 🙂 As you can imagine, I reacted with joy and tears and extreme gratitude that I’d somehow mustered some self control and let him come to this conclusion on his own! It was the sweetest night. We spent the rest of that dinner dreaming and planning for the family we hoped would come. We got pregnant two months later and found out about two weeks after Christmas. We couldn’t believe it’d happened so fast. We have so many friends who have been on long journeys with infertility and so we didn’t take this for granted. We didn’t tell anyone about the news. We wanted to wait until that first ultrasound. On a Friday afternoon in late January, I was teaching. It was almost the end of the day and we were all ready to go home. As I was standing there, I felt several gushes all of a sudden and I just knew. I’d done so much research, which I know can get you in trouble. We’d lost the baby. I called Chris as soon as I left school and told him. We met at the house and held each other and cried. We sat down and prayed and somehow felt a little better. We called family that night and told them what’d happened. We spent that weekend sad, but at peace. There would be another baby. On Monday morning, we went to the doctor to confirm what we already knew. They did an ultrasound and to our surprise, the baby was not gone. You could see it there on the monitor. They said that it was borderline too early to get a heartbeat, so we would have to wait another week to confirm, though they did expect the pregnancy to end in miscarriage. They did a blood test that day and then two days later and told me to be prepared. Those numbers would likely drop, confirming the pregnancy wasn’t viable. After seeing the baby on the monitor, something in me clicked. This was my baby, still inside just trying to hang on. I spent that week at home anxiously awaiting my test results and to our surprise, the numbers rose. Not quite as much as they’d hoped, but they rose. The doctors were shocked and said we’d do the same tests the following week, but they still expected it would end in miscarriage. That weekend was our yearly church retreat that I mentioned going to a week ago. We love this retreat so much, but really considered not going that year. I didn’t feel well and we were potentially having a miscarriage no one knew about. We decided that we probably needed to go and so we did…with extreme hesitation. Within an hour of getting there the first night, one of my dear nursery friends came up to me with a huge smile and tears in her eyes. I’d walked through two years of infertility with her and they thought getting pregnant wasn’t going to be possible for them. She smiled and told me that she was pregnant. And the strangest thing happened. As soon as I heard the news, I was bracing myself for sadness, jealousy, the things I didn’t want to feel, but knew I would. But they didn’t come. I felt the most amazing peace wash over me and was so genuinely happy for her. The rest of that weekend, every time I would look around the room, I noticed someone who I knew had struggled with infertility or had a miscarriage and every one was either obviously pregnant or holding an infant. I counted seven in total. All weekend, I felt God saying, “I am faithful. You can trust me. You can release your tight grip on this little one’s life and put it in My hands because it’s safest there.” Even though we didn’t have answers, we came home refreshed. The entire week before, I’d laid in my bed at night after Chris fell asleep and just silently sobbed. I would hold my stomach tightly and just realize that may be the only time with that baby I ever got and I just felt like I couldn’t stand up under the weight of it. I came home from that retreat and immediately sat down to write a letter to our baby. It ended up being five pages and I just poured out my heart. I told them my hopes and dreams for them. And as I was writing, things I didn’t even know I felt started pouring onto the page. I wrote that my ultimate job as their mom was to teach them to love Jesus and that I prayed they’d end up in Heaven one day. That’s ultimately where I wanted them. If they didn’t get to stop along the way to meet us and had to go straight there, I could accept that because that’s where they needed to be. It hurt to write that and it wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I realized I could accept it. Due to a crazy snow storm the south never has, we didn’t get to go in for our next ultrasound or tests for two more weeks. So it was three weeks total that we waited for the answer of whether or not our baby was alive. Looking back, those three weeks are one of the things I’m most grateful for. It was strangely the most peaceful time where our faith was stronger than ever before. We both haven’t had perfect lives, but we’d never encountered something we couldn’t control or fix in some way. The things we faced got better in time or we could do something to change them. Being faced with this was huge for us to really challenge what we believed. Did we still believe God was good in the midst of this suffering? The answer was yes, though it wasn’t an easy road. We started praying for a clear answer one way or another at that final ultrasound and when we went in, there was no baby to be found. I was empty. It was the outcome we’d grown to expect and we were sad, but more okay than I would’ve thought. We’d had so much time to process it and we weren’t “over” it by any means, but we were at peace. As that happened, we shared it with those close to us and I had so many women surround me and tell me they’d gone through the same thing and I’d had no clue. Every single one of them said they had a newborn by the one year anniversary of their miscarriage. I made myself not count on that because I’ve heard so many stories where that wasn’t the case, but it just felt like another example of God saying, “I’ve not forgotten you.” In mid-May, a dear friend from high school texted me. We’d lost touch and she didn’t know about the miscarriage or that we’d even been trying. She said that the night before she’d had a dream about my little girl. She said that her name was Rosie and she was twirling and singing and she was so happy. She said she felt like she was supposed to tell me that. I didn’t even text her back immediately because I was so stunned. While I didn’t think it was a “sign,” I took it as more encouragement God was sending my way. Later that same day, a teacher at my school asked if I was pregnant. She didn’t know about the miscarriage either. I told her I wasn’t and to be honest, was initially offended. Did I look pregnant?? She immediately said that I didn’t, but she just had a sense about these things and that she thought I was or would be soon. I then told her about the miscarriage and we had a sweet, special moment. We found out less than one week later that I was pregnant. And that little baby turned out to be our Rosie. We were cautious, but really felt confident. God gave us such peace that this baby would be okay and we believed that. We found out it was a girl, just like my friend had dreamed and instead of other variations of Rose we’d considered, we knew Rosie was her name. Rosie was born on January 26th, 2015, almost one year to the day that we lost our first baby. And yesterday, we celebrated her first birthday. We were just at that same church retreat last weekend. We spent the entire time remembering the last one we’d been to two years ago and knowing that we were coming to this one with a sweet babe back at home. We’re overwhelmed by how God has used our story to teach us trust and that His faithfulness has no bounds. I need to be clear that we don’t believe God is good and faithful just because He came through for us with a baby. He used this season and loss to teach us that and the whole story now is the most beautiful reminder to us that God is there…He’s always there. Having Rosie has changed how I view the loss of our first baby. In some ways, it lessens the sting of it to have her. But in other ways, it makes me realize exactly what we lost. She is more than we could’ve ever imagined, but our Angel baby was as well. I make it a point to remember and never forget that first sweet baby and the story God wove into us through that journey. Last Christmas, Chris gave me this little gold necklace with two letter charms on it: an A for Angel Baby and a R for Rosie. I wear it every single day. We’ll add to it for any future little people that join our family. As we were waiting for answers during that season, I discovered a song that spoke to my heart in the most true and beautiful way. Every time I hear this song now, I re-live all of this journey and remember that He’s here and we can trust His plans. Every single lyric still just feels written for me and maybe for some of you today. My heart breaks for those of you sweet women out there who have experienced similar or even greater loss or who are still waiting. I’m sending prayers up for you today. We know there will be hard seasons ahead where the comfort of this story will lift us up. Thank y’all for listening to my heart today and letting me share the real significance for us of sweet Rosie’s birthday. We’re so excited to celebrate her little life thus far with our friends and family this coming Saturday. I will have tons to share on her little party, so stay tuned!