Well here I am… 2 years have gone by without a post. Which tells me I am both busy and lazy. In my mind I have written a hundred posts in that time, because that is the way my mind thinks: in post format. The problem with that is the anxiety it causes to keep all of those thoughts to myself without ever taking the time to write them down. Now whether or not to actually share them with other people, that is the question. But today I need to talk about what the Lord is doing in my heart. This season of my life is all about Surrender. In this case, not just giving things up to the Lord, but having them taken away and trying to trust the Lord’s goodness in that process.
Since I last posted, I have had a baby girl, Gwen, who is a beautiful miracle and makes all of our lives better. She is an answer to prayer and the puzzle piece to our family that I never knew was missing. She will be turning 2 on Halloween and I cannot believe how quickly this time with her has gone by. Some time soon I will post about her birth story, if nothing else, just so I have it written down like I have for the Twins. But I praise God every day for bringing my baby girl into the world. And I now appreciate her presence more than ever before.
There was a very significant day that occurred this past week: Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day. Some people posted about their tragic losses and memorialized their angel babies in the most beautiful ways. Some people did not share about their losses, because how do you begin to express the very specific and personal details about your loss, with the fear that others would just not understand or even be able to sympathize. But today I want to share about our loss than happened earlier this year. It’s something that we have shared with a few close friends, but chose not to share publicly until now. Many of you who have followed our Infertility journey know that when we did IVF, we ended up with 3 embryos; we had 2 implanted, which turned out to be our twin boys, Reed and Rory. The third embryo we had frozen in a cryobank and planned to use a few years down the road. Then Gwen was conceived unexpectedly 2 years later and we pushed the embryo plan down the road even farther. When we found out we would be moving to Japan, we talked a lot about what we should do with our family plan. I was almost of “advanced maternal age” and the embryo was reaching the expiration date on it’s usability. So we decided to proceed with fertility treatments again and go ahead with the final embryo implantation. In January I started taking all of my fertility medications and injections to prepare my body. We went through our same fertility clinic and flew down to San Antonio, TX to have the procedure during the final week of March. The procedure went well and everything seemed to have gone as planned, so we were hopeful and confident that this would be a successful pregnancy and we could finally add the final puzzle piece to complete our family. But as we know in life, not everything always goes as planned. Sometimes fertility treatments work. And sometimes they don’t. And for us, this time, it failed. We lost the embryo. We lost our baby. We were devastated. Ronnie and I cried together, prayed together, mourned together for what seemed like a very long time. We don’t know if I was every “technically” pregnant. We do know that when I went in to get blood work a week after my procedure, that my progesterone was low. So there was a possibility that the embryo could have implanted and I miscarried due to a hormonal imbalance. Unfortunately we will never know (in this lifetime) whether or not that was the case. Regardless of what others deem a “pregnancy,” to us, this loss was just as real and just as raw. We saw our baby as an embryo. We heard the fertility technicians tell us that they couldn’t even get the embryo into the instrument because it was moving around so much BY ITSELF in the petri dish. I remember laughing thinking about what kind of personality and energy this child was going to have. I don’t care what scientists tell us about when life occurs, we know that this embryo was a life and this life was our baby. It was precious to us, and now it is gone. The emptiness I felt after I took my negative blood test, was the most empty I have ever felt. I am sure many of you can relate.
Here is the thing about our loss… it is different from other losses. It is unique. It is our story. It changed us. And it will always be a part of us. But it is no less than other losses. After many months of counseling, I feel validated in my loss and in my grief. Yes, I am thankful for the 3 beautiful living children I have. These 3 children that I never thought would exist. When I thought I would never have the chance to be a biological mother, look at what God blessed me with. But I lost a baby, too. And that is incredibly painful. There is the wondering… What would he be like, who would he look like, what would he have added to our family… Of course we have no way of knowing that right now. All we know is that the baby would have been due in December. And as I see other pregnant women, especially those in their third trimester, I am reminded of how empty my womb is, and how I desperately wish I was having a baby in 2 months. Then when my children act crazy, which is most of the time, I think, “How could I ever have possibly wanted another child to add to this craziness?!” But even in the chaos that is my life, I still wanted, and still want, this baby. But that is not to be.
If you think of us, especially in December, please say a prayer for us. While we are moving on and healing, it is still difficult to think about the milestones, especially what would have been our birth month. And while we still grieve the loss of our baby, the pain gets less raw with time. We believe that he is safely in Heaven and that we will see him someday, so there is some comfort in that. And for those who have miscarried, had a stillbirth, or experienced infant loss, I am so very sorry. That is a pain that no mother should ever have to experience, but for some reason, so many do. Please feel validated in your pain, even if it looks different from other’s situations. Your story is your own and I pray that the Lord comforts you as you continue to grieve your losses. Please know that there are people there to listen if and when you decide to share your experience. If no one else, then I am here.
I remember when we found out we were coming to Japan… I was not happy about it. I honestly would rather have gone ANYWHERE other than here. I had little kids and I just wanted to be close to family and feel settled for once in this transient military life. But we started making fertility procedure arrangements, and I just remember thinking, “As long as I can have this baby, I will be fine. I don’t care where we go or what we do, because I will have this baby to look forward to.” And I also specifically remember thinking, “If we have to go to Japan, and I lose this baby, I am not going to be okay…” Well, here we are. We still had to go to Japan, and I lost my baby. And for a while, things were not okay. My sweet husband lovingly encouraged me to go see a Counselor, and I knew that this, on top of many other traumas that occurred in my life, was something I needed to seek professional help for. And without getting too much into it right now, I just need to say that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my adult life. I found a Christian Counselor who was truly a God-send and helped me on the path to healing. I still have a long way to go, and I know I will never truly “arrive,” but I have a lot of tools to help me as I process my losses, my traumas, and my grief. I can honestly say that I dearly miss my sessions with her and am so thankful for those 4 months that I chose to reach out and allow someone to help me. There is no shame in going to counseling, therapy, 12-step programs, or whatever resources you need to help you deal with life. There is amazing freedom there, friends, if you are brave enough to seek it out.
In addition to the loss of our baby, we have had to say good-bye to both of our dogs in the past few months. You may think, “They are just dogs.” But these dogs were our babies and we had them for a decade. They were my fur-children when I didn’t have children and then didn’t think I would ever be able to have children. Cyprus and Zia were truly the best dogs we could have asked for and we miss them terribly. Zia had to be put down because of Doggy Dementia, and Cyprus developed Lymphoma and went downhill quickly. Having to lose a baby and your 2 precious dogs all within a matter of months has been hard. Really hard. Oh, and throw in an overseas move into the mix as well, and you have a great recipe for deep loss, intense loneliness, and complete bewilderment.
While I would have never chosen to come to Japan, I know that God sent us here for a reason. He has literally stripped us from all of our previous “comforts” of home and country and brought us to a foreign place where we are COMPLETELY dependent on him. He has allowed precious things to be taken from me and then required that I surrender these things to Him. Did I want to do that? Hell, no. And in fact, I have been pretty angry about it. And that’s okay. But I still lay those things down, open my hands up to him and surrender. Because what else can I do? I can’t change anything that has happened. It’s too toxic to play the “what-if” game and replay unreal scenarios in my head, wishing I would have done things differently. I can’t force the military to move us somewhere else. So I choose to say, “Here am I Lord. Send me!” I don’t want to be here, but here I am, so God, please reveal what you have in store for me here. I have little to no idea why he decided that we should PCS to Okinawa, but I am trusting that His ways are higher than my ways, and His plans are bigger than my plans. So no matter what happens in life, where we go, or what we lose along the way, I surrender my will to Him. I know that He is a GOOD Father and I will choose to love and worship Him with every breath that is in me.