I've contemplated how I would write this post so many times. And each time, the reality of our past reminded me that I might not have to write it at all.
But, apparently, I do.
God has brought me a long way since our journey with Ember. I have a long, long way to go, as I'm sure you will see, but He's brought me at least far enough that I feel I can finally share, granted with great trepidation, what's been going on with our family since just before Ember's birth.
God has decided to, once again, throw another curve ball at us. I wonder sometimes if He gets enjoyment out of doing so, or just enjoyment out of my reactions. Either way, He seems to do it a lot.
World...meet our latest curve ball.
I've struggled a lot with how to share this news. So much so that we put off telling even our closest family and friends until very recently. I struggled even more with telling the rest of the world, for a whole lot of reasons. To name a few, I (albeit ridiculously) felt a gripping fear that as soon as we "went public" with this, it would immediately jinx the pregnancy and I would almost certainly miscarry. I also felt a lot of hesitation to drop a bomb such as this with people who have been so faithful in praying for and supporting our adoption. This certainly wasn't in the plan, how would people react? I also wanted to make sure that what our family is going through and feeling is accurately conveyed. I don't want to seem ungrateful for what is obviously a surprise blessing, especially with so many people I know struggling to get pregnant or hold onto a pregnancy after multiple losses, but I also don't want to seem blase' to the fact that this was not in our plans, changes things drastically, and brings with it a host of really difficult emotions and struggles that I'll eventually try to articulate.
But all of that said, Josh and I agreed that it was time we share the news with you. I am in fact pregnant, and the baby is due in the first week of April. We are getting to a place where we can share the news with a cautious smile, but it's taken some time and I'm sure God will continue to work on our hearts, mine especially.
I am perfectly aware that with this news will come a host of questions, and since I can't see any of you or hear those questions, I will just pretend I can. Hopefully I'll at least cover the basics.
How far along are you?
14 weeks.(To put it into perspective, I lost Lily at 19 weeks)
How are you feeling?
Physically, better than I was.
Emotionally...better than I was.
What are you thinking about all of this?
I will go into detail in later posts, but the short answer is that God has brought me a long way. I would say we are cautiously optimistic, but I don't know that that's the truth. We are cautiously something, but I'm not sure optimistic is the right word. We've come to realize that we have little to no control over what happens in our lives, only the reactions we have to what happens. So we are trying to react gracefully, but I gotta tell you, it hasn't been easy. If I had a magic genie in a bottle, I would wish that this baby would be born healthy and I could enjoy every minute of this pregnancy. But I don't have a genie. I have a God who I can only ask to prepare me for whatever happens, and stay very close as we navigate something that is quite frankly terrifying for me. Not because of the possibility of loss, but because of what I'm sure I'll struggle with if we do experience loss again. But, like I said, more on that later.
Was this planned?
For lack of a better answer...Hell to the NO.
No, we did not plan to get pregnant in the midst of an adoption, after three consecutive losses, in the middle of grieving another baby who we would be forced to let go of. We did not plan to throw our family into yet another complicated and scary situation to which the outcome is so unsure. We did not save and raise thousands of dollars, spend months and months of our lives jumping through hoops and navigating this crazy adoption process, just to say, "You know what I think is a great idea right about now? Getting pregnant." This was not planned by us, but I have no doubt it was planned by Somebody.
Are you excited?
Honestly? No. I'm not excited. My previous three losses have stolen that privilege from me. So "excited" is not how I would put it. Will I be absolutely, positively, over-the-moon ecstatic if this baby arrives alive and crying? Without a doubt. But until then, I'm accepting of the news, and quite frankly even that is quite a step forward from where I was three months ago, but I'm not excited about it. I was talking to someone the other day about that, and they said, "Well, that's a real shame that you can't get excited about it or enjoy it at all." You know what? It is a shame. I greatly miss the naivety I had in previous pregnancies, and I miss feeling excited about carrying a baby, but that doesn't mean it is less of a blessing or that we will love this child any less just because our eyes have since been ripped open to the possibility of negative outcomes. And I do enjoy certain moments very much, like hearing the heartbeat each night when I check for it, and every two weeks when I get another ultrasound that shows everything is okay so far, but those moments are almost immediately followed by the realization that it took only a moment for Lily's heart to stop beating, and I have no way of knowing if a moment like that just happened with this baby too.
What is going to happen with the adoption?
That is a great question. That is one of the first questions we asked God when we found out about this little surprise, and He still hasn't answered yet. I will tell you that we still have it on our hearts to adopt, we still want to follow that path if God allows, but we realize that He may change it slightly or halt it altogether. It is something only time will tell us. We continue to trust that He has a plan, though I honestly can't figure it out right now. But I rarely can, so that's okay. Our adoption agency has been very supportive and encouraging, and we told them to keep our file close at hand just in case this pregnancy doesn't go the way we hope it will, but in the event that this baby is born healthy in April, we will talk about going back on the waiting list. Our agency has a policy that you cannot adopt while pregnant, and you cannot go back on the list until your youngest is nine months old, so this has of course changed our path quite a bit, but only time will tell how it changes it and what God will lead us to do down the road.
What will happen to all the money you raised?
This is the thing that scared me to pieces when thinking about how we would share this news with loved ones. I was (and still am) scared that people would be upset, angry even, that the money they gave us might not be put to the use they intended when they donated it. I expressed my fears to Josh many times, and we've had many discussions about how we would handle the situation.
For now, every penny that hasn't already been spent on adoption fees (which is the lion's share of what was raised) is safely tucked away in a savings account completely untouched. If God allows us to pursue adoption in the future, whether it be after this baby is older or we experience another loss, we will keep that money aside for the use it was intended. If God chooses to steer us down another path, we've talked about the possibility of either donating that money to one couple who is desperately in need of funds to adopt or maybe split it amongst a few couples in the adoption process. Only one thing I know for sure and can promise you, that money will go to help bless a Christian family or families with a child through adoption. That's what it was given for, and that's what it will go to. Maybe it will be us, maybe it won't. We'll see what God does. We will not do anything with it until we feel that God is clearly leading us in one direction or another, and hope you know that the money raised will be used for the purpose it was intended, to grow God's family through adoption.
How can we be praying for you?
Such a great and encouraging question, one that I've already gotten a lot! I think the knee jerk reaction to hearing our news is to automatically commit to praying for the health of the baby. We've already had so much loss, so many devastating outcomes, that people tend to want to focus their prayers on asking God to bless this baby with perfect health. This might sound really odd to you, and please bear with me while I explain it, but I do not want people focusing all their prayers on the health of this baby. That is not our greatest wish or our greatest fear. While we welcome prayers for this baby's health, God will allow this baby to be healthy, or He will allow it to die early, or He will allow it to have a challenge or illness that we can't anticipate. I don't care about any of that. What I'd like you to pray for, is that this baby be used to further His kingdom. Whether this baby is healthy (which, of course, is our hope, but we've been through enough to know that sometimes God can do more with the short life of a sick child than the long life of a healthy one) or not, our prayer is that God will use this baby's life to show others His grace, His love, His mercy, and His faithfulness.
We would like you to pray that whatever God chooses to do with this baby, that He will equip Josh and me and our children to handle that. I was telling someone the other day that I am not most terrified that this baby will die or have a severe disability or illness, I am most terrified about what will happen to my heart and my walk with the Lord if it does. I am terrified of what that will do to my faith, to my marriage, to my testimony. So I pray each day that the Lord will please, please keep me close to Him, no matter what happens. Every time I go to the doctor and lay on that exam table looking at the ultrasound screen and waiting for the doctor to either smile or frown, I pray fervently that He won't let me lose it if we get bad news. I am so scared that with all these people watching us, that if we have another loss or another devastating blow, that our testimony will not be honoring to Him. That I will turn into a bitter, cold, distrusting shell of my former self. That my children will never be able to have faith that the Lord loves them and wants to give them the desires of their hearts, that my husband will never be able to lead our family spiritually after yet another blow to his faith. Those are my greatest fears, and those are the areas we could use prayer in right now.
God has so often clearly led us in one direction and then very suddenly changed our path. We've experienced it so many times that you'd think we'd be used to it, but you never get used to the abruptness of sudden change. We were on a clear path marked for adoption, and for some reason, God has either changed that path or just put a major detour in the road. I have spent a lot of time stomping my feet and throwing a grown up version of a temper tantrum because things suddenly changed so drastically. I'm still adjusting, and I think it will continue to be an adjustment for awhile. But I am not blind to the fact that God has chosen to bless our family with another child through pregnancy, and that makes six for us, if you're counting (and seven if you count our brief time loving Ember). If you peel back the layers and layers of doubt, fear, anger, sadness, and what is just plain pessimism guarding my heart, you would find joy in there, though it is heavily, heavily guarded right now for it's own protection.
I know God has been leading me to do a lot of writing about loss, pregnancy after loss, faith and trust and hope and a myriad of other things that we've been learning about the past couple of months and even years, so I hope you'll continue to follow along on our journey, though it is definitely a different one than you started following. I think God still has a lot to do with our family and we hope He will choose to continue using us and our experiences to reach others somehow.
I feel like posting this and then hiding under a rock for a few days because I am so nervous to put this out in the world. Thank you so much for continuing to love on and support our family, through all of the ups and downs and twists and turns! It has been a bumpy road, but you can't say it hasn't been an interesting one. :)
Stay tuned...I'm sure God will continue to keep us on our toes...