I’m sitting here with my dog right now and my five week old baby girl is sleeping in the other room. At face value, these are just two seemingly simple facts. But- behind that lies a whole lot more. Behind these facts, lies our story.
I have felt for a long time that our story should be shared. Not because I need to be known or have a need to tell it, but because I know the Lord does not want us to waste this. It is because of His faithfulness to us that we have the story we do. We are by no means different than any other couple. We are not exclusively special and what we’ve been through many, many other people have also experienced. But, it’s when I read of these other people’s experiences, I felt comforted. To know someone else has been there too. So, I will share too. Now, with a cup of coffee in hand, my hound dog cuddled up, and baby girl sleeping peacefully (for now), I will tell our story.
My husband, Kenneth, and I have been together for nine years, married for four. In our second year of marriage, Kenneth and I decided that we were ready to start our family. So, we began our journey into trying to have a baby. Like most couples, it didn’t happen instantly. We tried for about three months before one November morning, we found out we were pregnant. A flood of excitement ran through us as we began to dream about our life with a little one on the way. Our excitement rose over the next two weeks as we planned out ways to tell our family, started looking at baby gear, began a list of potential names, and found out that two of our close couple friends would also be having babies around the same time. I began to feel some morning sickness, but was still hanging in there dreaming of my baby who would be here in June. Around week seven, we took a trip to Rockbridge- a Young Life camp in Goshen, VA. Kenneth was at camp with high school kids, and I came up mid-way through the weekend to visit. This was just another typical weekend for us. It was on the way home from Rockbridge that I began to feel ill. I didn’t think much of it, and continued on with my day, meeting some girls for a Bible study at Longwood and then heading home. When I arrived home, however, it was to my horror that I began to feel and notice that something was not right. I called for help and waited for Kenneth to get home, as he was riding back on the bus back kids. Once he was home, we went to the emergency room where we were informed that we were losing our precious baby. Our sweet, sweet baby who we had waited for months to conceive, who we dreamed and talked about day in and day out, was fighting for life. The doctor told us there was nothing we could do but wait it out. We stayed at the hospital a little longer and then were discharged to go home for the night. Later that night because of some further complications, we ended up needing to go to a larger, more equipped hospital about an hour away. It was there that we had an ultrasound and got to see our precious little one. That image is something we will hold on to forever. We will never forget seeing our baby for the first, and for the last time. At that point, the baby was still alive, but the heartbeat was dropping. From then, it was just a matter of time, and shortly after we left the hospital, our baby went to be with Jesus.
Kenneth and I were heart broken. For the first time in my life, I felt a deep, deep sadness that cut me to my core. We didn’t understand why our sweet baby had to pass away. The following days were filled with many tears, uncertainty, and questions, but they were also filled with a profound sense of peace. It was during this time, that I truly understood this verse from Philippians: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7) In the midst of confusion and sadness, we were able to feel at peace with what had happened. We knew that, even though our baby was only with us for seven weeks, that he or she was now with Jesus. We clung to that for the next few months. And- those next few months were hard. They were really, really hard. I changed a lot during those months. Yet, every day our hearts healed from our loss and we started to take steps forward.
After a long time of healing and prayer, we decided to try again. When we began trying to get pregnant again, we couldn’t. So, we began to explore our options for helping us have a baby. We walked a long road of multiple doctors, theories, and battles with insurance. It turned out that I had endometriosis- a condition that, in some women, can lead to difficulty having children bringing along with it, other hosts of complications. Most doctors that we saw wanted to fix this with different medications which really would only have masked the condition not cured it. After many hours of research and weighing our options, we knew that taking medicine to just mask the condition was not what we wanted. After further research and talking with others, we found a doctor at Duke who did surgeries to remove the endometriosis with a small reoccurrence rate afterward. We pursued this path. However, we hit a road block when my insurance would not pay anything toward this very expensive surgery because it would not be done at a “networked” hospital. We battled with the insurance company for many months, but in short, the surgery was no longer an option at that time. During this time is when I really saw the sacrificial love of my husband in a way I had never before. For months, he battled with the insurance company on my behalf, spending many, many hours on the phone with the company and hospitals. He did everything he could to try to make the surgery possible. In the end, we can now see that it just wasn’t the Lord’s plan for me to have the surgery then.
For the next year, we continued to try to get pregnant, but with no success. This year of our lives wore me down. I slipped into a gloominess that I couldn’t quite shake. I no longer enjoyed cooking, or being around people- things I really enjoyed before. I sometimes had to force myself to do things that I once loved. There were definitely moments of joy, don’t get me wrong. God provided times of laughter, and of happiness. I would say that I just wasn’t quite myself. But, during this year, our marriage grew stronger and our faith in the Lord deeper. And, for that I am so thankful. It was hard, but it was good. It was also during this year that we got our dog Tucker. Kenneth had wanted a dog for a while, and we were finally in a house where we could have a dog, so I gave in and along came Tucker. Looking back now, Tucker was a big part of my healing process. We didn’t get Tucker because we were lonely, or wanted to fill some “hole”. He was really sort-of a spontaneous decision, but Tucker gave me something else to focus on. He brought us joy and many laughs. I hated dogs, didn’t want one, but I am so thankful for Tucker. His presence during that year helped in many unexpected ways.
In August of 2012, we were fortunate enough to meet our current and amazing doctor. She had just started a practice in Richmond, one hour from us. To make a long story short, she performs the same surgery as the doctor at Duke and in October 2012 I was able to have the surgery. Through the Lord’s provision, the surgery was paid for and we were on our way to trying to have a baby again. And, we got pregnant again in January. We were so excited, but very nervous. I got the blood work done to confirm the pregnancy and it was then that we learned that my pregnancy levels were there, but low. Our hearts sunk as we waited the coming days until the next round of blood work where we would see if the levels had risen. We had scheduled to take a trip during this time, which we went ahead and did to help get our minds off of things (yeah right). I would have the blood work done when we returned. When we got home, I returned to work. That day, our second, precious baby also left us to be with Jesus. Our ray of hope, our sweet and dear baby left this life for Heaven. We were numb. How could this happen again? After all that we had been through? It didn’t seem fair. I truly can’t even put into words what we were feeling. It’s just a hard place to describe. However, as with our first loss, we were overwhelmed and comforted by the peace of the Lord, and we leaned on our close friends and family for support. We decided then that we would stop trying for a while and take a break.
Well, it was during said break that we got pregnant again. Truly, this was a miracle. It took months and months for us to get pregnant the first two times, and then when we were “breaking”, we got pregnant. Sure, I had made a few simple tweaks in medication/diet/etc., but nothing that I thought would lend itself to us conceiving. I guess what “they” say about not being so stressed about getting pregnant helps you to get pregnant is true. After some blood work, my doctor called me at 7:00 am one cold late February morning to let me know that pregnancy levels were there and they were high. Kenneth and I were ecstatic. We decided that we would go about this pregnancy with excitement and joy because that’s what this baby deserved- not worry and panic. It was a long, long nine months. I experienced about five months of straight morning sickness, many aches and pains, and an always present twinge of worry (it was hard not to!), but we made it! WE MADE IT. The Lord was (and is) faithful. He heard our prayers. Kenneth and I, along with our friends and family prayed every single day for this baby. There has never been a day in her life where she has not been prayed for. This verse from Samuel is forever written on my heart: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I have asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)
And, so parenthood has begun. We love this baby more than any amount of words could express. She is a constant joy- even when she’s screaming. I think because I waited so long for her, I am able to be more patient in the hard times. (I’m no saint, that’s for sure, I still get frustrated!) Every day Holly teaches me about the Lord. She has taught me what unconditional love looks like. She has taught me what unconditional forgiveness is and how the Lord has that for us. I don’t remember anything that she did, even an hour later, that made me mad. And- that is how God is for us. I never understood how He could be that way until Holly came. She teaches me every day how the Lord is faithful. And when I’m holding her close, I constantly thank Him for our two other babies, because without them, Holly would not be here. They helped us along our journey to get here.
And, that’s our story. It’s our story of the Lord’s faithfulness through a very long, sometimes dark time in our lives. We have made it through to the other side and we are thankful to the Lord for His past and continued faithfulness and unending love in our lives. If you’re out there reading this and you too are experiencing similar things, please know that you are loved and your heart is known. It’s hard to talk about, to share with others. It took me three years to let people know what we’ve been through. We have, with the exception of some friends and family, kept our story to ourselves. We are forever grateful for our family and for our friends that walked and are still walking on this road with us. There were many hard moments that these people helped us get through, so to you all, thank you. Now, it’s our time to share, to hopefully bring a little light to someone else. Take heart, the Lord is good.
To help us in our journey, we used the Creighton method and NaPro doctors. If you would like more information on this, I would love to share it with you and help in any way I can.