Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm moving forward from loss

I was in the kitchen. I moved to the side as my husband opened the oven to pull out a pan of chicken.

"You know, I'll just be glad when I'm out of the first trimester."

"Why's that?"

"Then I'll feel better with knowing that these are just the regular pregnancy aches and pains and the chances of a miscarriage will go down." We had found out just a few days before that baby number two was on the way, and according to my calculations, I was between 5 and 7 weeks into the first trimester.

He sat the pan on the oven and pulled me into his arms. "But you have to know that even if we do have a miscarriage and God allows for that to happen, we'll be okay."

"I know we will," I said. "I would just be devastated." I paused as my throat choked up a bit from the thought. "This is a little different from when we had Naomi. That time it was kinda surprising and we weren't really planning on it, and there were so many mixed emotions on my end. This time we talked about it and stuff, so I was, well I am so excited! So I would just hate for something to happen."

He hugged me a little tighter. "I know you would babe, and I would too, but we have to keep remembering that God is always in control. He works out everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away--"

"Blessed be the name of the Lord. I know, babe."

"We'll be okay, babe. We'll be okay."


This was the night before I miscarried our second child.

The morning started off normal enough. Jeremiah went off to work, and I rested a bit longer because I wasn't feeling too well. And by rested a bit longer, I mean that once Naomi woke up at 7-7:30am, I fed her, changed her, and brought her back to bed with me. I willed her to sleep (yes, willed) and finally got more rest myself.

I woke up cramped.

Naomi woke up too, so I fed her again, and we started our day. Down the stairs, into the living room, pulled out the books and the toys. She laughed and played and I used her distraction as a moment to finally go to the restroom. What I saw looked different, and even though I didn't really know, I already knew.

I had no time to think about it, because as I headed down the flight of stairs, I was shocked to find that my 7 month old daughter had climbed halfway up the steps! (When did she learn to do this!!?) Bathroom trip forgotten, I thought not of my unborn baby, but only of the child who had already exited my womb and stood before me on the staircase with wide, wondering eyes. I calmly went down and snatched her up, praising the Lord that my little girl hadn't fallen backwards onto the wood floor. Gate time!

With Naomi safely in my arms, my mind turned back to the bathroom trip, and I picked up the phone to call my husband. "I should probably go to the doctor," I said. "Or the ER, since they'll probably send me there anyway."

Fast-forward and the husband is home, and we're sitting on the couch, and I'm on the phone with a nurse who says, Well I may as well wait until my already-set doctor's appointment the next day, because if I was having a miscarriage, there was nothing I could do. Gee, thanks.

I hang up the phone, and burst into tears, and go to the bathroom, and saw my fears confirmed. Blood.

I head down the stairs, more tears and this time I can't stop. "We're going to be okay," the husband tells me. I think he's talking about our unborn child, and I shake my head no. No! Don't tell me that! Because everything may not be okay. Just tell me everything could be okay. It could.

But he tells me no, and tells me that it will be okay, we will be okay. And I shake my head because he has no idea what he's talking about. We pray--he prays, and I silently ask for His will to be done.
On the way to the hospital, I realize I made a trip just like this when I was pregnant with Naomi, and guess what? Everything was just fine. So I told Jeremiah, Everything could be okay, right? He responded by saying that yes, everything will be okay.

We're at the hospital, and right after me, someone checks in complaining of cramps. She was 9 weeks pregnant. This happens, I told myself. I could be okay.

And so I waited and I saw the doctor, and I peed in the cup, and I had my blood drawn, and I had the ultrasound, and I had the pelvic exam and during each and every test I told myself no news could be good news. I could be okay. Our baby could be okay. I still tried to brace myself for the worst though.

Then the worst came as the doctor got straight to the point--I had a complete miscarriage. At first I thought I wouldn't cry, but the tears came and kept coming. I listened as he told me that the pregnancy hormone left in my blood was basically negligent. Though I knew I was between 5-7 weeks, I'd never know exactly when I miscarried. I'd never hear my little one's heartbeat or see them on an ultrasound. He told me that he and his wife miscarried their first child and that it was okay to grieve. He said I was healthy and able to try again whenever I was ready and that the blessing in the midst of it was that I'd need no further medical attention. There was nothing else to be done.

He left the room and my husband held me and our sweet Naomi, and it hit me how blessed I really am. But it still hurt, really hurt, and I could not. stop. crying. I used up the tissue box, and asked for another and the nurse came in the room with a new one and comforting words.

We got on the road and just drove. And drove. Out of our city. Into DC. Jeremiah took me over to a place of joy, the place where he proposed, and my mind went back a few years. I remember that day like it was yesterday, and I remember that tree on the National Mall. It was huge and beautiful against the night sky, rivaled only by the pretty ring I kept looking at on my left hand. The verse popped into my head. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desired fulfilled is a tree of life."

Tears followed that verse coming to mind, but this time I wasn't dwelling on the tree of life, but the hope deferred. I wasn't mad. I wasn't bitter. I was just sad. Just...sad.

In hindsight the Lord was preparing me for this loss long before I knew I was pregnant. Different conversations I had with other women about miscarriages they had, coming across research about the amount of women who miscarry, sometimes without even knowing it. Even an episode of 19 Kids and Counting where the Duggars lost a child. All this before conceiving, before knowing I had conceived, before knowing I had lost the child I'd barely known about for a week.

I didn't know all that stuff was preparation, but it was. Because each and every time miscarriage came up, I would question whether I was willing to surrender the outcome of each and every pregnancy to the Lord. It scared me to even think about losing a pregnancy, let alone accepting that it could happen and that the Lord could have a plan for it. I just kept thinking, If I accept this, if I surrender future pregnancies to the Lord before they happen, I am basically guaranteeing that I'll have to go through that pain. It was a terrible way of thinking, but I went through that thought process and eventually got to the point that I believed what God said. ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He knows the plans that He has for me and they're plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. I can rejoice in suffering knowing that it would produce perseverance, which would produce character, which would produce hope. I knew it in my head, but had to believe it in my heart:  There is no pointless pain the life of a believer.

So that conversation between my husband and I? It was like my final moment of acceptance. Of surrender. I hadn't talked to him about miscarriage before that point, and it happened just in time.

The day of the miscarriage/hospital visit and the next few days that followed really put this surrender and trust to the test. I found out that at the same time I was in the hospital finding out about my miscarriage, a friend was in the hospital finding out that she was pregnant. 5 weeks along. What I could have been. A few days after that, I had a baby shower to go to which was joyous and bittersweet all at once. Conversations about pregnancies, pictures on Facebook, people jokingly asking when the next one is coming... All innocuous in and of themselves, stuff that typically wouldn't bother me. Now it seems like anything could plant a seed of bitterness in my heart.
So far, thankfully, that seed has not taken root. It's not that I've hardened my heart to what's happened. It's just that I know being bitter would take glory away from the Lord. Though He didn't change the outcome of the pregnancy, He clearly prepared me in advance. That fact was so plain to me that I had to, I have to worship and thank Him for that. I know my grieving process, even my recovery process could have been much longer and much more painful. I have been spared that, and I don't take it for granted. It definitely still hurts at times, but I can honestly say that I am doing well. I've learned that having an open hand when the Lord's given me something makes it easier to let go if He chooses to take it back. My child was His before he was mine. His to give. His to take.

I can't say I can all of a sudden relate to everyone who's had a miscarriage. There are people who lose their child when they're much further along. There are those who try and try to get pregnant and finally do, then for whatever reason the pregnancy ends. There are so many different, painful circumstances that occur that it would be impossible for anyone to relate to EVERYONE. But something that I take comfort in as a believer is that when I am tempted to be bitter about how things turned out, I don't have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses. He was tempted, as I am, and He was yet without sin. I can confidently go before the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need!! What a blessing! What a promise!!

My husband kept telling me that everything would be okay, and I kept thinking that he had no idea what he was talking about. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized that he wasn't just talking about the baby. He was talking about, well, life I guess. We're okay. God has given us each other and sweet Naomi. We've only gotten closer as a family because of this experience. We have Christ, who works all things, including my miscarriage, together for the good. I've been able to know Christ as my Comforter in a whole new way.

He said everything would be okay. And we are. More than okay really. We're moving forward.

Verses. Quotes. Inspiration.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions of a Struggling Mom: I Am Not A Superhero

Written around September 28, 2013

Giving birth has easily got to be among the top five greatest things I've ever done in life.  In fact I think it's resume-worthy. Not just for me, but for all moms! Before you think my life must be really boring for saying that, try picturing this. On average, a 6-7 pound baby coming out of an unnatural place of your body, which turns out to be totally natural. Or having your belly sliced open to pull out a miniature human. It's like something out of a science fiction movie, yet for some reason many look at it as something so regular and normal that it often gets bypassed as mundane. Uh, no. Absolutely not. Nothing boring or ordinary about childbirth, my friends.

I think what can come along with this mindset is the idea of this unwritten code for moms. The world says your life is ordinary and mundane? Well then act like it, even if that's not what you're feeling. Having a hard time with this job this is just a normal part of life? Well, keep it to yourself, because you're supposed to be enjoying it and that's all anyone wants to see. I mean, I swear no one really wants to know what's really going on in my life. Sometimes I may talk to someone with every intention of sharing how un-glamorous and difficult my life is and how it's a daily struggle. Not to complain, but to honestly bare my heart with the hopes of having someone encourage me and point me in the right direction, or at bare minimum let me vent. But then the gushing begins. The person shares their idea of what my reality is, and then I clam up. After all, who am I to burst their bubble? Yes, motherhood is nearly as perfect as you say, I say.

What I've come to notice is that people are all over you and drinking in what you have to say when you're talking about what a blast being a parent is. But you get started talking about the hard stuff, those people you were chatting up become shrinking violets and they want nothing to do with you. Or, or instead of recognizing that you are sharing your true heart is a cry for affirmation or dare I say assistance, they think you're complaining or worse, exaggerating, so they try to one-up you. Oh, you think this stage is hard now, they say, you just wait til they get to this stage; then you'll really have it hard.  And while this does happen between moms and non-parents, I'm talking about moms talking to other moms here! 

And so it begins. Or continues, I should say. The mom code. Negative experiences? Keep it to yourself. Struggling with a new baby? Unless you're less than six weeks postpartum, suck it up. Oh and you have more than one kid? You should already be used to it so you really should be quiet. Having regrets or second thoughts about the life you've chosen (or not chosen) for yourself? Again, suck it up or else sound like you hate your life and your baby and family. Struggling with depression? Don't you know that women have been birthing babies for thousands of years? Duh, there's down times but get over yourself! That's selfish to be so focused on your emotions and not those of your family.

The list could continue on and on. Reason after reason why we should soldier on through our struggle, not for the sake of our family or child but because this weighty title of Mother as defined most frequently by those around us deems it necessary for survival.
I'm thinking there are a few issues here. Somewhere along the line other, older moms forgot that they too were moms and had struggles themselves. Somewhere along the line we forgot that we're Christians before anything else and should be gracious to our fellow sisters in Christ, whether we understand or can relate to their struggle or not. Somewhere along the line we forgot that as members of this body of believers we should always be building up (edifying), not tearing down. Somewhere along the line we adopted this idea that a Mother is a superhero. And sure, she may be in the eyes of a child or spouse, and props to you if you feel you've mastered your role. Forgive me if I'm going out on a limb here, moms, but really? Can I just be honest with you? We aren't superheroes. We aren't invincible, and we have struggles like other mere mortals. Certainly we have to deal with them in ways that other childless people don't have any clue about, but--and I'm just speaking for myself here--I've found that trying to turn myself into some sort of super human limits me from really recognizing that its okay to struggle. To need help. To be depressed. To regret. To be human. 

So where do we go from here? What is to be gained by sharing all these things? Maybe this is more for me than you. Because I know I need to come clean. My life hasn't been nearly as perfect as I've made it sound at times. I'm pretty sure I had postpartum depression and sometimes I still wonder what my life would be like baby-free. I really want more children, but at the same time I kinda want my own life. Am I selfish? Where am I in all this? Am I allowed to have goals and aspirations that have nothing to do with family life?

I already know that there are those of you who shun the idea of looking at your life that closely. In fact you've probably already shut me out. How dare you question the position you're in? Don't you know motherhood is a blessing? Don't you know people would give their right arm to have their own child? (Yeah, being made to feel guilty for having a child.... Fantastic.) Don't know you know how selfish you sound? Don't you know this? Don't you know that? Don't you know you're making moms look bad and weak? 

There. There's the question. Because that is absolutely what I'm doing. I'm done trying to appease this ever-changing image of what mom looks like or should act like or should be. I'm challenging it and examining it and not just in my own eyes, I'm putting it up against the Word, because when did other moms start becoming the standard instead of the Word anyway?

If you haven't figured it out yet guys, I haven't figured it all out. I'm the mom of one child and she's seven months old and her and her daddy are. my. WORLD. But even still I'm struggling with this thing called motherhood, and I'd be lying to you if I said anything otherwise. But I won't stop living. I won't wait to share my experiences until I've "gotten it all together." I'm going to be transparent, keep going, and lean hard into grace and new mercies because if there is one thing that I have figured out it's that there is no way I will learn and grow in this role without it. In fact I'm living in moment to moment grace. So as I start this journey, let me say this now: I won't always have a solution or a way to make all things right. But I'm also not trying to be fixed because I don't think what I'm feeling is wrong.  I don't think it's right either. I think it's just neutral. I'm just feeling and learning and learning and struggling. And I'm not asking your permission to struggle. I'm inviting you to struggle with me. In the day to day questions and hurdles. In the good times and the not good at all. And for the those of you who have already attained/arrived (lol) or gotten close or at least learned something worth sharing, I'm all ears. Really, the wisdom from the Word allows for anyone to share, including those who still think and have no problem telling me that I need to get over myself. (I'll try to be gracious.) So stay tuned for more! And here I go....

This begins my journey.... These are my confessions....

Reminder of the Day
God's grace is sufficient for me. God's power is made perfect in my weakness.

Ultimate Goal
To boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
To delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blog Name Change--He knows my name!

I'm finally regaining a little blogging rhythm, but it seems that every time I write it either has something to do with my baby or the hubs or just living life. And maybe, maybe a little food inserted in there somewhere. What can I say? I'm a full-time stay-at-home wife and mom. That's my job. All the time. 24/7. Almost everything I do centers around or impacts my home, and so when it comes to writing, it's sort of just an outpouring of that fact.

With that being said, I'm thinking about changing the name of my blog...again. I feel like I don't have a big enough following to be significantly impacted by a blog name change, but I have to decide whether or not my writing has changed significantly enough that I should adapt my blog name to better suit it.

When I first started out blogging, it was as "My Life: Perpetua." Even as I type those words, I still love that title. It took me a long time--with plenty of reading and deliberation and creative thinking--to get to that name. I still love it! The story of Vibia Perpetua really struck me, and it still does. As I began writing on my blog, I found that I would write on a ton of various topics, the two primary things being spiritual matters and food. ('Cause they're right up the same alley!!) "My Life: Perpetua" didn't seem to fit quite the same, and that's when I began brainstorming a blog name that would give people a better idea outright of what I typically wrote about. So that brings me to the present. Right now I'm "Seasoned with Salt: Colossians 4:6... Not only my food... Also my life!" I really do still like that name, and I think it perfectly suited the season I was in. It makes me sad to think about getting rid of it. What if someone steals it!?!?These days though, I don't cook as much as I used to, at least not for fun. When I make food, I'm in the mind to eat it, not take pictures of it. (That's mostly because Naomi suddenly needs loads of attention whenever the hubs and I try to eat.)

I'm coming to terms with the fact that most people probably won't notice if/when I change the name of my blog. Initially that was pretty depressing. My love language is words of affirmation, so while I don't HAVE to be affirmed, it certainly feels good to know I'm not writing to an empty audience. I'm encouraged by the fact that even if no one else knows my name (or my new blog name) and even if I am forgotten and left behind by people who used to "follow" me and my blog, I find solace in knowing that my Heavenly Father knows me, and He knows be by NAME!!

Cue Israel and New Breed song "I am not forgotten" :-)

So there you go. The name is changing any day now, back to My Life: Perpetua. I think. Maybe not. I keep changing my mind and getting nervous as soon as I think I've made up my mind to make the big change. Really got to work on my decision making, ha. So tell me: what do you think? Blog name change or not? I'm interested in hearing what ya'll think, but don't get it twisted; the decision is ultimately up to me. ;-)