When I Cannot Stand, I’ll Fall On You….

That line has been repeating in my head over and over.

When I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You.

I honestly could not have endured losing another baby if it wasn’t for the goodness of God. Even in the midst of sadness and grieving, I have been blown away by God’s grace and comfort to me during this time.

 

The main way I have felt God’s love is through my husband Bennett. I was terrified what losing another baby would do to our relationship. When we lost our first baby, I was not walking with the Lord and Bennett didn’t really understand the emotional and physical toll of losing a baby and the combination of those two things was quite trying for us.

This time was the complete opposite and I am so thankful. I think Bennett was much more connected to our baby as he had seen the heartbeat several times and had watched our baby grow. He was so excited to become a dad, and to see him cry several times during this past week over our loss strangely comforted me. I struggled with the thought of losing our baby as ‘not that big of a deal’ and felt almost guilty for grieving–yet seeing my husband who never cries sob over the loss of his child reiterated how real and alive our baby was for the precious 12 weeks we had with him, and that it hurts deeply when a baby dies-no matter how small.

I also had to make a conscious decision that I would not run from God. I had to keep reminding myself daily, hourly, that God is still good. That He is holding me and comforting me and grieving with me. That He is for me, not against me (and oh how hard that is to believe during times like these!). Those first few days when I physically and emotionally couldn’t face reading the Bible, Bennett would hold my hand and read to me and pray over me. Just those simple actions did wonders.

I honestly have been shocked how quickly I have ‘bounced back’. I have returned to work and was able to make it through my first day with minimal tears shed (ha!). I have started working out again and was even able to hold our friends baby without being a complete mess. As some of you may know, Bennett’s job is transferring us to Richmond and we are moving the first week of January. Between losing our baby and this sudden move, my ‘old self’ would be a complete and utter mess. I have actually found myself looking forward to the move.

I know God is working in me and I have thought to myself and verbalized to Bennett many times that there is no way I could handle this a second time without God. Am I still crying everyday? Yes. Do I still get jealous when I see precious newborn pictures on Facebook? Yes. Do I get angry when I think about how I have lost two babies and want nothing more in the world to be a mother, but that dream has again been pushed back? Yes. Do I get upset when I see mothers complaining about their children? (Oh how that could be a blog post in and of itself but I will not even go there) Yes. I am human, but God is stronger then these negative and sometimes sinful emotions and He is holding my hand through it all.

 

So where do we go from here? Good question as I have no idea. I just got home from my post-op check up appointment and there are more questions then answers. My doctor said that it is quite possible both of our losses were complete ‘flukes’ and that there is nothing medically wrong with Bennett or myself. She is still suggesting that we discuss options with an OB/GYN in Richmond and gave us contact information.  She did go ahead and draw blood to test for PCOS and thyroid issues so we will see if anything comes of that.

 

We still need prayers as we have many decisions before us. Do we proceed with testing before we try again? Do we try again without any testing? Do we pursue adoption and put trying for biological children on the back burner? If we do decide to adopt, should we foster to adopt or private adopt? And WHEN do we proceed once we figure out what the best option is? Do we need to have a period of not even thinking about children? Do we not have children at all? (I laugh and grimace at that option). So yes, lots of questions swirling around in our heads in between packing boxes and searching for apartments.

 

God is not done with our story. Our past four years of marriage have not played out how we planned our picture perfect life to be, but whose truly does? I would much rather God write our story then to write it myself, and I ask that you continue to read and see what God has in store for next chapter of our lives.

What to Expect When You are Expecting A Baby with a Cystic Hygroma…

Please excuse my cheesy attempt for a blog title…Bennett and I watched What to  Expect When You are Expecting just a few days before we found out the news about our little one–and I can say that these past 11 weeks have been nothing like the movies! 🙂

Thursday cannot get here soon enough! I was doing pretty good these past few weeks staying busy and distracted, but last night sleep took awhile to come and all I could think about is what is going on with our precious baby. The statistics are daunting. 70% chance of losing this baby before first trimester, 40% after the first trimester, 85% chance of this baby being born with a disability and a mere 15% chance of it being healthy.

But as a dear relative told me- Our God is not a God that follows statistics and I take comfort in that.

There are three different scenarios that we will face when we go to our appointment on Thursday:

1) Complete and total resolution of the cystic hygroma! This is our plea and prayer that our baby will be completely healed. This is less likely according to our doctor, but she has seen it happen and I have had several people tell me that their babies were diagnosed but within a few weeks the hygroma resolved on its own.

2) The cystic hygroma is still there. If this is the case, they will do a Harmony Prenatal DNA test. It is a non-invasive blood test to test for several chromosomal abnormalities which include:

Trisomy 21: Down Syndrome.

Trisomy 18 and 13: Both have a high risk of losing baby in utero, and if baby is born will have severe heart defects and life span is extremely short.

Turners: Affects girls only. Short stature, physical deformities, learning disabilities.

*The ‘perk’ to having this test done is we will be able to find out early if we are having a boy or a girl 🙂

If this test comes back negative, more testing will be done to test for  Penashokier, Noonan and Roberts Syndrome:

Penashokier: Growth problems, underdeveloped lungs,  facial abnormalities, high chance of losing baby in utero or shortly after birth

Noonan: Unusual facial characteristics, short stature, heart defects, other physical problems and possible developmental delays.

Roberts: Characterized by limb and facial abnormalities, slow growth, mild to severe intellectual impairment occurs in half of all people with Roberts syndrome. This condition has been a particular one of interest to Bennett and I and our family as we have a nephew who has similar symptoms of Roberts but a official diagnosis has not been given yet- but he is such a wonderful baby and we would be blessed to have a child like him! Of course, we are wondering if it is genetic but it is too early to tell at this point until we have further testing done with our baby.

3) Our baby has passed on to be with Jesus. As hard as it is to type those words, I must realize that this could be what we face come this Thursday. If that is the case, a D&C (surgery) will most likely be needed. I think of Job and Paul in the Bible- how they asked God to deliver them from their trials- but they weren’t delivered in the way they had hoped. This is a reality but over these past few weeks the Lord has truly surrounded me with His love and I know even if this happens- He is still good.

A year and a half ago, we lost our first baby. This month he/she would have turned one. I struggled greatly with this loss and went into a deep depression. This time around I learned not to run from God when the pain is great- but to run to Him. He truly is sufficient to handle ALL of our struggles and He provides peace that no one and nothing else can.

My mom and I started to do a Bible study together called “Stronger” after we found out about the potential difficulties the baby may face. Today’s devotion was all about stress and anxiety, how applicable! 🙂 One quote in particular resonated with me and I wanted to share:

“In fact, God never intended for me, or you, to be strong enough on our own. We were made to need Him, run to Him, and surrender to Him. As I see it, we have two choices when confronted with the stress of our lives. We can succumb to greater anxiety, fear and pain and continue to rack our minds for solutions and exhaust our bodies with worry. Then try to squeeze answers from other fallen people whose stress is probably greater then ours. Or we can choose to surrender our stress to the strength of God. HE IS STRONGER.”– Angela Thomas

When we give our stress and worries to God, we aren’t saying they don’t exist or that they aren’t difficult and incredibly painful. We are saying that:

“These worries I carry are legitimate concerns, but God is faithful and good. This situation I’m facing is awful and scary, but God is with me and promises He’ll never leave me”-Angela Thomas.

So with those words in mind, our hearts desire and prayer is that we can post on Thursday- Praise God! Our baby is healed!- but we may have to post that the cystic hygroma is still there and additional testing is being done. We may have to post that our sweet baby has gone to be with the Lord. And if we have to post either one of those things- I will still say with confidence that He is still good and He is stronger.

If you are reading this, you most likely have been following our story and have been praying for us. We truly have felt your prayers and we can not thank you enough! But I also know that you may be struggling with issues that are drowning you, that you feel you cannot handle on your own. Know that God is stronger and take comfort in Him.

Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Steady My Heart

One song that has been on the forefront of my mind this past week has been Kari Jobe’s “Steady My Heart”- and God has answered that desire and truly has steadied my heart.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your prayers–I was completely blown away last week when we had over 10,000 views of the blog post asking for prayer. I posted it for local family and close friends to see- yet people kept sharing and sharing and we had people from all over the world viewing the post and praying for us! Bennett and I were, and still are, blown away by all the support, love and prayers. We both truly feel peace and strength that can only come from Jesus alone. And please forgive us for not being able to respond to every post and comment- but know we have read every single one!

I originally had a doctors appointment scheduled for today, but had received some words of caution about having too many ultrasounds from some trusted friends in the medical profession. I also had trusted friends in the medical profession tell me not to worry at all about having too many ultrasounds- but I would rather err on the side of caution, plus termination is not an option at all so there really was no need for me to go today, just for my own personal assurance. Our next appointment is Thursday the 21st so I would greatly appreciate your prayers. I will be a few days shy of 12 weeks and they will do an ultrasound as well as several blood tests.

Our specific prayer though is this- that we would see a healthy baby, no abnormal fluid with a strong heartbeat. We would love for you to pray with us this prayer as well!

Again, we are thankful for you and your prayers. We know no matter what- this is a part of our unique story that can be used to glorify God and that is our  ultimate desire and prayer.

Asking For Your Prayers…

Today we planned to announce our pregnancy with joy and excitement, but instead we are announcing with fear, love for our child and a plea for prayers.

We found out in September that we were pregnant and we were ecstatic! It was such a direct answer to our prayers and started to fill my longing to become a mother. Ever since I can remember I never desired a career or any other occupation. I want to be a mother. We went to our first ultrasound two weeks after we found out, only to be told that we most likely would lose this baby. All the fears of my previous loss came running back, yet I asked God to work a miracle and that we would see a precious heartbeat at our next appointment. A week later, we returned and we saw a beautiful heartbeat- yet we were told once again we would lose this baby. The heart rate was too slow (109bpm) and the baby was measuring too small. I began to pray again and ask God that at our next appointment the heart rate be 150pm. The next week we showed up, the baby doubled in size and the heart rate was between 148-150bpm. I was thrilled and the doctor told me my miscarriage rate was down to 5%. I began praying again that at our next appointment that the baby would measure at least nine weeks as it was still on the small size. Today was that appointment and the heart rate was even better at 186bpm and measured at 9 weeks and 2 days! I was so happy- but yet I could tell the ultrasound tech was being quiet and something wasn’t quite right.

The doctor told us that there is abnormal fluid in the baby’s neck and abdomen, known as Cystic Hygroma. She told me that my chances of losing this baby went from 5% to 70% and if I do carry this baby to term it is at high risk of birth defects, heart defects and other conditions such as Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome and several other conditions.

I am asking for your prayers. God has been faithful and has answered specific prayers already and I am asking for more. First, I am asking when we go back next week that there will be no abnormal fluid and we will see a perfectly healthy baby. Second, I am asking that if there is still fluid around the baby- that God will protect this little one and either heal later in the pregnancy or give us the strength to help this child the best we can with whatever conditions he may have.

Third, and the most difficult is that if we lose this child that I will not become angry or bitter. That I will praise God no matter what. As I type these words, it is so hard because I love this child and no matter what difficulties the child faces medically- it will never change my love and desire to have this child, yet I must understand and accept that losing this baby is a very real possibility. I know my God is big enough to overcome these 70% odds, but I also know that things happen-chromosomal abnormalities that can cause issues such as these.

Here is a picture of our little one to keep in your prayers (we saw him wiggling around and his little arms and legs–never doubt that life begins at conception- proof right here!)-

photo (2)

Another Bulleted List.

I’ve been such a bad blogger so here id the most recent update:

-I recently left my job at Franklin County DSS to work for Carilion with their Eligibility Assistance Services Program. It was such a tough decision for me to leave Franklin County DSS as I love my co-workers and my job there, but with Bennett losing his job and us living in Roanoke we both felt God leading us in this direction. I completed my first week of the new job this week and I can already tell I am really going to like it!
It should be a little more fast paced which I am excited about. I will be working at Roanoke Memorial Hospital assisting clients with getting financial help (such as Medicaid). Having a background in Medicaid from Franklin County DSS is a huge help to me- but I still have alot to learn!

-We booked our trip to New York for March 14-18! Bennett and I are SO excited! We get to meet up with our friends–we’ll call them the “G’s”– who have Vaginismus. “Wife G” has become one of my closest friends over the past several months. We have had several emails, phone conversations and skype dates sharing about what the Lord is doing in our lives, what struggles we are facing and of course our similar issue of Vaginismus. Another amazing answer to prayer is that we only thought we had enough Marriott reward points to get one hotel night free- we have enough points to get all four nights free! God is so faithful to provide for us and I must not forget this simple truth.

-I am starting a new book called Wholly Jesus by Mark Foreman. Mark Foreman is the father of Jon Foreman, who is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Switchfoot. My friend Laryssa recommended the book for me to read, so I thought I would read it and post my thoughts on here and hope to get some feedback from you guys. Mark Foreman is currently a pastor at North Coast Calvary in Carlsbad, CA.

-The holidays were busy, but wonderful. We spent time with both sides of the family and found out that we are going to have a little neice or nephew by this time next year which we are super excited about. Congrats Thomas and Courtney!

-Crouton continues to grow. He is a full 5.1 pounds.

-Bennett is still searching for a job. He has put in countless amounts of applications. I am really proud of him for how hard he is trying. Even with just my income, we are not in need or want of anything. It truly is incredible.

-Random, but so thankful for having my closest friend Jess Walker so much closer to me. I see her several times a week which usually consist of at least one sleepover and plenty of good chats and it has just been such an encouragement to me to have her back in my everyday life. God is good to provide those people when we need them.

I think that is about it for now. I will try my best to blog more. With pictures. Because pictures always make it so much more interesting.

Prayer.

Mornings like these are times in my spiritual walk that I just feel plain dumb.

I have been struggling with nightmares for the past several months. I’d wake up drenched in sweat, heart racing- you get the picture. I was a scared, sticky, not-so-great-smelling mess.

Two nights ago I had the nightmare to top all nightmares for me and woke up in a complete panic. I shared this with a friend of mine who simply encouraged me to try praying about it before I go to bed with Bennett.

So Bennett prayed over me last night. This morning I woke up not scared, not sticky and smelling pretty good.

God is for sure teaching me lessons in prayer lately and my lack thereof. Why do I not even think to pray about these things? Is it pride? Is it not having spiritually minded thinking? Is it that I don’t want to ‘bother’ God with my ‘silly requests’?

Ephesians 3:20-21
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”

John 14:13
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”

Matthew 7:7-11
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 18:19-20
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”