That. Was the Fastest Year Ever

This year was the fastest year of my life.

It didn’t necessarily feel that was when Cora was two months old and I was so sleep deprived that I was questioning my own sanity all day long, but as a whole, this year sped by like none I have experienced before.  Maybe that’s what happens with each new child that enters your family.  If so, then any more kids is going to send me straight to my fortieth birthday.

This year, while it was exhausting at times and full of total joy and silliness in others, was one of deep growth for me.  This is the first year out of my life where I experienced God come into my anxiety and depression and I’ve been living in more freedom there than ever before.  But more on that in a minute.

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Rio Vista has been growing on me.  I still sometimes wish for the conveniences that come with living in a more affluent city.  I still wish there were more places to go and things to do and a place besides the grocery store where I might bump into someone I know.  I still wish the local parks had bathrooms and shade.  I still wish there was something to hike nearby.  However, despite all that is lacking in this small town, there is a lot that I’ve come to appreciate.  I like that when I drive down the street, people I don’t even know throw me a little wave and some of the older men still tip their hats.  I like how we don’t live right next to tons of shopping malls and chain stores and have to fight our way through traffic to get anywhere.  I like that I can put my kids in the stroller and walk almost anywhere in town.  I like how on Friday nights in the fall I can hear the cheering from the high school football game as I sit in my living room.  I like driving on the highway through peaceful fields of cattle and sheep.  I like the herds of turbines and how on our drives as we see them out in the distance we say, “Turbines mean we’re almost home.”

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Like I mentioned earlier, this year I experienced a huge breakthrough in my struggle with anxiety and depression.  Throughout my life and Christian journey, it’s been something that has continued to come up.  At times it’s been minimal and during others it’s felt like life was swallowing me up and there was no way out. I’ve tried managing it through getting more sleep, exercise, supplements and medication, but while some of those things helped, they never cured it, only helped me cope.

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After I had Cora, my anxiety was high.  The lack of sleep combined with the new tall order of expectations made me feel like I was spinning out of control.  I was on edge because for a while it felt like my whole day revolved around keeping kids from crying.  Feed the baby. Make the kid breakfast. Hold the baby. Clean up breakfast. Make a cup of coffee. Get the kid dressed.  Feed the baby.  Clean up spit up.  Put on baby wrap.  Start a load of laundry.  Heat up cold coffee in microwave.  And on and on it went.  With no family or close friends living in our small town, at times I felt so alone.  Who was there, besides my also sleep deprived husband, to help pick up my slack?  Who was going to offer to swing by for an hour to visit just to boost the morale in our home?   There is nothing quite like the cry of an infant to make you want to jump out of your own skin.

So during this time I struggled.  I just didn’t want everything to feel so hard all the time.  I longed for some rest and peace of mind.  Another thing that was difficult for me during all this was knowing how to view my struggle.  Was it depression?  Well, sometimes I did feel depressed.  I would wake up physically exhausted and lacking any motivation to get through the day, but it didn’t last for weeks or months on end like I saw in the commercials.  Oftentimes it was a day here or a day there or just for a few hours at a time.  Was it anxiety?  Sometimes I definitely felt anxious.  Some days were full of it, but then on other days I felt great!  I’d suddenly have tons of energy and a surge of tenacity.  On those days I would accomplish a lot and make up for the days on which I barely scraped by.  Was it a mild case of bi-polar?  I had one psychiatrist agree that it could be that after I told her about my days which were very up and then very down.  However, through all of this I was frustrated because I didn’t really know what my problem was.  I wanted to call it something.  Having a name for it might help me find peace, but none of the titles seemed to be an accurate diagnosis.

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When Cora was six months old, a new friend invited me to a women’s workshop on a Saturday morning at church.  I hadn’t planned on going, but I was eager to get to know this new friend more so I decided to join her.  When the workshop started, the worship band took the stage for a time of singing.  It was during this time of worship that the Lord spoke two extremely powerful things to me.

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He said, “You’re my Cora.”  Something so personal that it could have only come from my Maker.

And he also said, “Whatever it’s called, I will lead you out.”  Again, so personal that only the Lover of my Soul could have known I needed to hear those words.

I didn’t walk out of that workshop instantaneously healed, but for the first time in my life I really believed the Lord was with me in that struggle.  Even though he had brought me out of so much already in the past, for some reason I doubted whether or not God could help me in that area.  It had been something I’d dealt with for such a long time that I wondered if this was just something I was going to have to carry forever…  But his words to me showed me that he understood my inner confusion about what I was dealing with and that he had a plan.

I left the workshop with new hope.  I didn’t know HOW God would lead me out, but I was certain that he would do what he said.  That next season was one where I tried to memorize scripture like I never had before.  I don’t consider myself great at memorizing things, but through the trying the Lord brought me into more freedom than I had ever experienced in this area.  I wrote Bible verses on 3×5 note cards and stuck them to my bathroom mirror, next to my bed and on the cupboards above the sink because let’s be real, the most time I have to read all day long is while I’m doing the dishes.  I stopped being a total victim to my emotions and I started to experience how God’s Word CAN in fact shape my emotional life, little by little, if I will keep putting it in the forefront of my mind.  I also read Stronghold by Beth Kinder, the woman who spoke at the workshop.  Her stories and inspiration also coached me on how to believe the Word as being more powerful than my emotions.

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From this past year, the first year of having two small children, I can say that motherhood is messy.  So much messier than I anticipated.  I am more messy than I anticipated; both my home and my appearance at times, but especially the interactions that go on throughout out our days.  There are a lot of sorrys and will you forgive mes.  Lots of outbursts and not enough caffeine to help us on the hard days.

And yet, these years are intentional.  They must be.  Why would God make it so that no matter how type-A you are, there are so many moments that are going to break you in motherhood?  Success in these years cannot be measured by how clean your floors are or by how stylish your clothes or your hair look.  Success cannot be measured by whether the bed is made or the fridge is stocked.  Of course we pursue these things and feel good when we accomplish them and of course we’d like to feel like we have it all together all of the time. Of course.

But success in these years is forged in the dark.  Not always in the literal dark, but there too because when you’re up late and then up again early to care for your baby the presence of God is there with you.  In the dark, when you’re stuck at home most of the day because your children are napping or crabby and you wish you could be anywhere else – anywhere with more people around.  In the dark, when you flop it up and act like a toddler yourself in front of your children, but instead of just walking away, you humble yourself and ask that tiny person to forgive you.  In the dark, when you work so hard to clean up a room, only to have it destroyed again the following day or even moments later.  In the dark, when the dishes and laundry never end.  In the dark, when nobody is praising or even noticing all your hard work, nobody except for God.

God must know that the work that is done in a mother’s heart during the moments or the periods that are overwhelming and lonely cannot be done anywhere else.  God can’t reach your heart when you think you’re fine; when your life’s activities shine with perfection and spin effortlessly.  God forges perseverance, love, humility, tenacity, gentleness and strength during these times when you think that there is no possible way you can wake up and do this all again tomorrow.  During these messy years God can form gold in the heart of a mother.  The kind of stuff that she will use year after year after year once she posses it.  That is what success looks like when you’re a mother of small children.  Grace, grace, grace defines you.  More grace for yourself and more grace for others is success.

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As for the birthday girl, she’s snuggly, adventurous and has an obsession with my hair.  When she’s sleepy she likes to grab it and rub it all over her face.  She has the deepest ocean blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair.  She already has eight teeth and two more on the way and it seems like she is constantly eating.

Cameron is obsessed with airplanes and captures my heart daily when he always finds an opportunity to pick me a flower from the grass or bring me a “special leaf” if he can’t find a flower.

Both my kids have unusually loud voices.  Both are precious, fun and just weird enough to be Kidwells.  Being their mom is sweet and difficult and totally worth it.

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The Transition To Having Two

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The past two months have been a blur.  My heart has been full and at the same time I’ve felt hopeless at times in my ability to ever be a fun mom again.  Before Cora was born I felt adventurous and accomplished, but at soon as we brought her home I was met with circumstances that I was not expecting.

I didn’t expect Cameron to throw fits and argue constantly for the first three weeks.  I could tell he didn’t like being at home all the time.  He was used to having more interactions with friends and more activities outside the house.  He was used to getting more attention from me.  A few times on the way home from preschool he told me that he didn’t want to go home.  Stab me in the heart little man, stab me in the heart.

FullSizeRender (27)I didn’t expect my house to be so chaotic at times.  I’m a fairly organized person (understatement) and I could feel my standards being washed out to sea and I swam like mad for a while to try and get them back.

I didn’t expect to have a baby girl who cried all evening, most evenings, making it almost impossible to spend any time with my husband.  Some nights, literally two minutes after Jon walked in the door, she would go from calm and quiet to crying.  On average the crying would last about three hours until she was asleep for the night.  One of us would take on the toddler while the other paced around the house, rocking an upset baby girl.  I wondered how my husband and I were ever going to feel like friends again if we never had any quality time together.

FullSizeRender (28)I didn’t expect to feel an overwhelming anxiety at times about messing it all up.  It wasn’t all that uncommon for me to have a brief crying spell sometime within an hour or two of waking up, some days even more throughout the day, when I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with the demands associated with keeping two small humans alive.

I didn’t expect to have a pinball machine for a brain; feeling like as soon as I started to do one thing I was interrupted by another.  I didn’t expect to feel so physically exhausted considering I was in pretty good shape.  Hunching over to nurse and carrying around a newborn can drain the energy out of anyone I think.  I didn’t expect to feel so torn when both kids needed something at the same time and I was forced to choose which one to focus on first.

Call me crazy, but I really didn’t expect having two kids to be all that different from having one.  Not that I should have expected the worst, but I should have expected for things to be MUCH different once the new baby arrived.  That way maybe I could have embraced a bit more of the crazy.

Catching a theme?  There were a lot of things I just did not expect.  And to top it off I was upset at the fact that I was upset.  I was unhappy with the fact that I wasn’t happy.  I felt guilty over the fact that I was having a hard time transitioning.  I felt like it should be easier.  So I felt like I must be doing something wrong in all this.  Lots of people have two, three, four or more kids so how come I couldn’t even handle two?!!?  I was starting to feel like a giant failure.  And guilty.  Really guilty because I had two stunningly beautiful, healthy kids and all I wanted to do was run away and be by myself.  Or just sleep.  Sleep would be nice.

I started listening to Tim Keller sermons last week.  That was a good choice.  I scrolled through the list of sermons on his podcast list and found one called “Peace – Overcoming Anxiety.”  Sounded right up my alley.  In this sermon he talks about expectations.  To paraphrase his words, he says: Imagine a room.  Someone tells you its a honeymoon suite.  But when you go in it’s simple and dirty and you’re disappointed.  Now imagine the same room, but this time before you go in you’re told its a jail cell.  Upon seeing the room you think, “Well that’s a really nice jail cell.”  So the same room is viewed completely differently because of different expectations.  He says that’s why we sometimes have a hard time in life; when we expect it to be easy and then it’s not.  Then when we freak out we freak out over the fact that we are freaking out.

I think a huge part of the reason the transition in adding another person to our family has been so rough is because I went into it with warped expectations.  I envisioned having a newborn as a huge relief from being pregnant; which it was in some regards.  Waiting and enduring are challenging.  However, the burdens associated with pregnancy are quickly replaced with new challenges and a steep learning curve that come with having a new baby around.  Plus, all I wanted to do was snuggle my sweet baby girl and take naps, but how was that supposed to happen with an energetic toddler running around?  The other part of the rough transition was due to the postpartum emotional tidal waves I was experiencing. It happened in the months following Cameron’s arrival as well, so I don’t know why I was surprised.  I took medication for just over a year after having Cameron so I am now faced with that same decision again.

In the past few days the words of a close friend, who also has two kids a tad older than mine, have been running through my brain.  She’s always joked, or not joked I suppose, about it being a miracle and a success if she has kept both kids alive for another day.  Prior to having two myself I think I took her statements as a bit of an exaggeration.  Surely she was making it sound more sensational than it really was.  Umm, no.  I’ve recently discovered that she has been quite on point all this time.

Another friend told me last week that in her life with three kids she came to the point where she had to make a decision to focus more on relationships than on getting things done.  (Picture an arrow shooting out of her mouth and striking me right in the heart with that one; right where I needed it).

So for the past few days I decided to try out using these new perspectives: If I can keep both kids alive for another day and have some meaningful interactions then I can call the day a success.  I can’t tell you how much lighter my heart felt going through my day using this approach.

Previously, my success list consisted of:
If I can keep the house clean,
If I can keep up on laundry,
If I can prepare super healthy snacks and meals,
If I can shower and put on make up and style my hair,
If I can provide fun activities for my toddler
If I can get in some exercise
If I can find some time alone for myself
If I can get out of the house and interact with an adult
If I can stay on top of my life and not get behind in any area,

…then I will feel successful.

That list is a tall order and basically impossible at this point in my parenting journey.  Maybe some people abandoned their huge perfectionist list after having their first child.  For me, I managed to hang on tight with one, but now with two I’m having to adjust my standards accordingly.  Right now, keeping my kids alive and giving myself grace so that I can still be a fun and happy mom for my kids and my husband is more important than accomplishing my large list.  If I can accomplish one or two of those items each day on top of just taking care of my kids then I think I could consider that an exceptional day.

I know that as time goes on I will probably get back to feeling like a really fun mom.  And I will say that after completing the first two months things seem to be getting a bit easier.  I will probably also eventually feel somewhat put together again at least a few days a week… at least until I have another child and then I’m sure we will enter into a new level of craziness again.  But I’m grateful that the Lord is helping me focus on what’s really important instead of trying to just keep all my ducks in a row.  Ducks are dumb.  I’d rather be happy.

 

Here’s a picture that’s guaranteed to make you smile:

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Loving Our Kids On Purpose

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A couple months ago Jon and I were looking to join a small group through our church.  Our church has small groups that go in semesters and that are topical.  So after browsing through the available groups online we decided to check out a group that was for parents of young children.  The group would be reading through a book called Loving Your Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk of Bethel Church and childcare would be provided; which may have been the selling point for us.

The book and coinciding DVDs that we’ve watched have been great so far and the people in the group have become fast friends that we’ve been very thankful to know.

To summarize the book:

-The idea that we can control our children is a lie
-If we spend our time dictating to our children, they become dependent on being told what to do rather than developing the ability to make good choices on their own
-The Bible says “there is no fear in love,” so how do we parent in love instead of instilling fear of punishment in our children?
-Parents need not be afraid of their children’s sin.  God is not afraid of our sin.  He deals with it and loves us through it.
-God does not control us.  He gives us choices and employs us to make the right ones.
-Parents need to allow their children to make mistakes and handle their own mistakes (with some guidance of course), without jumping in to rescue the children from natural consequences
-Children need the opportunity to make choices.  “Would you like to eat your carrots or broccoli first?  Do you want to drink water from the red cup or from the green cup?  Do you want to wear this shirt or that one?  Do you want to climb off the table yourself or would you like me to help you?”  These kinds of everyday choices empower your child to make decisions and grow in confidence.
-Nobody likes to be told what to do, even small children.  So framing things in a way that give the child ability to feel in control and exercise their freedom keeps your child from wanting to overpower you.
-Children who are dictated to and controlled often rebel later on.  Once they get a taste of freedom go crazy because they were never trained how to properly handle their freedom.
-Parents need to first learn to control themselves and not let themselves get so wrapped up in their children’s problems that they take on anxiety and anger.
Main Point of the book: It’s all about maintaining an intimate relationship with your children.  Relationship is the basis for parenting, discipline and training…not to just get your kid to do what you want them to do.  This is also how God relates to us.

That is just my loose summary of the book so far.  The DVD is great because Danny Silk gives lots of entertaining examples from life with his own kids about what it looks like to actually carry this out.

 

 

Running Into My Second Trimester

The dishwasher is humming, my floors are freshly cleaned and Cameron just went down for his nap.  It’s a rare peaceful moment where naptime won’t be spent bustling around doing chores.  Well, some chores, but just not as many as usual.  After having two sets of guests for the last week my house feels neat.  My guests all happened to be the kind who washed their own bedding before leaving, swept the kitchen floor and cooked breakfast.  Not the kind of house guests one would expect, but the kind that would be welcomed back tomorrow and again next week.

Today is the first day of my second trimester.  I could literally put about twenty-seven exclamation points after that statement to help you understand the enthusiasm behind those words.  I’ve been feeling good for 3.5 days now and I really really really hope it continues.  However, as pregnancy goes, I traded in my morning sickness, extreme fatigue and headaches for some acid reflux and a sometimes mild fatigue.  It’s still the most painful acid reflux that I’d imagine there is, but at least it lasts for a much shorter time than the other ailments.

On Sunday I found myself catapulted back into an active lifestyle.  A while back I had agreed to run in the Oakland half-marathon as a part of team supporting a young man with Autism, named Will, and a friend’s ministry called Wheelchairs for the Least of These.  Soon after I agreed to this race I began to feel about as good as a piece of gum on the bottom of a shoe.  So, I did what anyone would do and I volunteered my non-running husband to take my place in the race.  We arrived at the Oakland Marathon and I was ready to putz around with Cam while the team was running.  I had worn my leggings and tennis shoes just to be comfortable, but about five minutes before the race started I decided to run in it along with Jon since our friends were willing to take Cameron and the stroller.   We only ran the first two and the last two miles of the race where we helped push Will, but it felt so amazing to run after a couple months of moving around as little as possible and to do it all as a part of such a great team.  In fact, I liked it so much that yesterday I went for another run and decided to start training for a 10k.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally have a new goal that does not just consist of keeping myself and my son alive for another day and to be out of the life-sucking first stage of pregnancy.

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A little back story: While serving as missionaries in Chad, Africa for ten years, the Donoghues found a way to help the people that were stuck begging on the side of the road because they had no way to get around due to malformations and problems with their legs, arms, hands and feet.  The Donoghues began disassembling bicycles and making them into unconventional wheelchairs that could handle the terrain of the area and the specific needs of the person.  Now, after being back in the U.S. for two years, they continue to make wheelchairs and ship them back to Chad, Africa as well as make them for people living here in the U.S., like Will.

523846_322185734513153_1117296716_n(This young boy, Ali, had crawled his entire life until this very moment when he was given his own set of wheels.)

Wheelchairs for the Least of These truly is a beautiful ministry.  You can be awesome and follow Wheelchairs for the Least of These on Instagram and Facebook.

13 weeks

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This is the size of my baby now and the one that I lost back in September.  I saw this picture on my Facebook news feed last week and I saved it to my phone because I couldn’t stop looking at it.

I kind of expected that I’d have a lot to share about reaching this point, but I’m also happy to say that I do not.  This pregnancy has not been full of worry or fear.  The worst part has just been the day-to-day battle with my low energy level and the nausea.

We’ve had one ultrasound, which was wonderful and highly disappointing, thanks to a terribly negative and doomsday doctor who tried to pressure us into genetic testing by sharing lots of statistics and horror stories.  Not a “Congratulations, everything is looking good” appointment, but more of a “There are so many things that could go wrong.”  Needless to say, I changed doctors.

I can’t attribute my calmness about this pregnancy to any current spiritual feats.  In fact, I’ve found it so difficult to spend focused time with the Lord during this pregnancy so far because of how I’ve been feeling.  However, I think the work for this was done in those difficult days following the miscarriage where I realized that the Lord was with me through it all and if it should ever happen again, he would surely be with me then too.  I made a decision back when I found out I was pregnant that I was not going to think about the same thing happening.  Also, having a busy, full-of-life toddler probably helps keep my mind off of tracking the days too.

I made my pregnancy public the day after I found out, just as I had done with my previous two pregnancies.  This was purposeful.  Partially because I just naturally wanted to share my excitement and happy news, but it was also a decision to celebrate this pregnancy the same as I had the others before any loss had occurred.  In a way, it was my statement to God saying: “I’m not going to fear.  I’m going to celebrate this life whether it last two weeks or seventy-two years because at this moment I am pregnant.”  For me this was a good decision and one I have not regretted.

I plan on meeting this baby in September, probably very close to one year from when I miscarried.  The thought of this is very Ecclesiastes-ish.  Something about everything being made beautiful in it’s time.  Here’s a great quote I saw the other day that seems appropriate for this,

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We Planted A Tree

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Today after church, we drove out to my friend Hannah’s family ranch.  We ate lunch at the picnic table beside the pond and we talked with her dad, who always has a few new projects underway at the ranch.  The family ranch is used for retreats for troubled teens among other purposes.  The kids come to learn how to grow, prepare and cook food, shoot BB guns, practice archery and fish.  It’s a beautiful landscape full of tall trees, including her grandfather’s Redwood grove, an apple and pear orchard and lots of crispy fall leaves that crinkle under your feet as you walk.

A few weeks ago when we lost the baby, Hannah’s parents offered to let us come out to the ranch and plant a Redwood tree in remembrance of our daughter.  It seemed like the perfect thing to do.

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Since society doesn’t really have a traditional way to honor the life of an unborn baby, we weren’t exactly sure how to go about it.  We knew we wanted to do something special, but couldn’t necessarily decide on what that something should be.  So when Hannah told us about her parent’s offer, we thought it sounded beautiful and gratefully accepted.

Her dad chose a spot among other Redwoods, right next to the pond and our friend Kyle hand-crafted a name plate.

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 Everything about the day was lovely and my heart felt full as we drove home.

It’s special to know people who aren’t afraid to come into your grief.  People who stand beside you in your healing and who join in on the joy when it’s time to celebrate.

I miss my baby girl.  I really do.  Even though I never got to meet her, I feel like I knew her.  Whenever I see a pregnant woman in the grocery store or a baby girl being pushed down the street in a stroller or even on TV, my heart does this little twisting thing where for a split second I feel a longing so deep that it goes through the floorboards.

I hope someday to have a baby girl of my own.  Following the miscarriage I told God, partially kidding and partially not, that if I end up with three boys now that I am going to be really pissed.  Like not pissed forever, just pissed for a little while.

Until Jesus comes back I will just have to dream about how beautiful you are sweet Ava Annalise.  xoxoxo, Mom

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11 Bible Verses For Someone Who Has Had A Miscarriage

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A week or so after the miscarriage, a cute package arrived.  It was from my sister-in-law, Renee.  Inside were some yummy fall treats and a bundle of small purple card-stock rectangles wrapped in a pretty purple ribbon.  I carefully untied the bow to see what was written on the cards.  What I found were eleven hand-written Bible verses.

After reading through them, I placed the cards in various locations around my home.  A few went on my vanity, two on my bedside table, more randomly placed in the kitchen, the bathroom, etc.

I’ve shared this with some people in my life, but not on my blog yet:  The crazy thing about going through the miscarriage was that never, ever, ever in my life have I experienced the kind of closeness with the Holy Spirit that I experienced in the two weeks leading up to the miscarriage and the week following it.  Here’s a short synopsis of what was happening in my life during this time:

-A friend came over to chat.  We talked about how another person we both know claimed that the Holy Spirit was her best friend.  I later pondered this thinking, “How?  I don’t feel like that ever been true for me.”  This conversation kept coming to mind in the days following.

-Pregnancy fatigue got worse.  My mom-in-law stayed with us for a week and then I decided to go back to Colorado with her for another week.  Because of the before mentioned conversation, I decided (not sure where this decision even came from) that while I was in Colorado I was going to become best friends with the Holy Spirit.

-While in Colorado I was too tired and sick to ever read the Bible, but I did have an ongoing dialogue with the Holy Spirit more than ever before.  When I’d lay in bed at night, without my husband to talk to, I poured out my heart to the Holy Spirit and I found that it felt wonderful to do so.  I drew near to Him and in return I felt that He was drawing near to me.

-When I returned home, this closeness remained; enough so that my husband even commented on how he’d been encouraged by my attitude lately and that my faith was inspiring him.  (When your husband says that, know something legit is going on.)

-A week later I started bleeding.  Despite my symptoms, I felt secure.  I felt sure that everything would be okay.  I felt close to God.

-The night of the miscarriage Jon, Cam and I drove to San Fransisco.  Most of the car ride was spent praying and talking.  The last hour of the drive I experienced painful cramping.

-When we got to the hotel, Jon went inside to check in.  While he was inside, my water broke.  There was a problem with our credit card so it took him about fifteen minutes to get the issue resolved.  When he finally returned, we parked and I used one of Cameron’s diapers to keep me from bleeding through my pants on the walk up to the hotel room.

-As soon as I got to the hotel room I went and sat on the toilet.  Almost instantly blood started pouring out.

-The rest of the story you can read here.

-Once we returned home I went through a week of grieving.  But not the despair kind of grieving.  It was more of a deep, peaceful sadness than an angry grief.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t understand why the miscarriage happened.  But all I know is that strangely enough it seemed to me like God prepared me for it.  There have been countless situations in my life where I’ve responded terribly to difficult circumstances.  A miscarriage has the potential to wreck a person.  Yet somehow, promptings from the Holy Spirit lead me to draw near.  I didn’t do anything flashy or religious.  In fact, during this time I mostly laid on the couch because that was all I could manage to do.  I felt weak in every respect, yet the Holy Spirit was truly becoming my best friend.

I saw a quote the other day that said, “You never realize that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”  This was very true for me during this time.

So all that being said, there is a God whose love is strong enough to go into even the darkest of situations and who sits with us in our tragedy and offers us hope and healing.  I think the Bible verses from my sister-in-law are all great reminders of the kind of sweet relationship we can have with God in the midst of incredible pain.

And of course, there is no right or wrong way to go through a miscarriage.  We all do the best we can do.  If you’re someone who felt alone and hopeless after your miscarriage, that is understandable and that is okay.  There’s no shame or guilt for feeling angry at God or upset at what’s happened.  Sometimes it takes us a while to find peace in our hearts and to be open to healing.  But it’s possible.

Whether you’ve experienced a miscarriage or some other kind of trauma or tragedy, I hope these verses point you towards the one who cares for you the most.

  1. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  -Romans 15:13

  2. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  – 2 Corinthians 12:9

  3. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love O Lord, endures forever.  – Psalm 138:8

  4. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truths and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.  – Psalm 25:4-5

  5. Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3:22-23

  6. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.  – Psalm 145:13

  7. …pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.  – Lamentations 2:19

  8. Blesses is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.  – Luke 1:45

  9. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.  – John 16:33

  10. You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.  – Psalm 10:17

  11. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you!”  – Isaiah 41:13

5 Rules To Go By When Someone You Know Has A Miscarriage

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The first week was hard.  I spent a lot of time on the phone.  I took naps when I needed to and I pretty much only thought about the miscarriage.  It consumed me.

The next week was about trying to get back into my normal routine.  I took Cameron to the park by the beach and I did my best to put on make up.  It was strange to feel okay about starting to move on.

The third week I was back in my normal routine.  I went grocery shopping and prepared some dinners.  This made my husband happy, even though he was fine with my soup-in-a-can dinners and sushi take-out for the past couple weeks anyway.

It’s been three weeks since the miscarriage.  The world is still spinning.  People are still driving to work.  This is both comforting and disturbing.  My heart is healing, but having a miscarriage changed me.  In what way, I’m not completely sure.  I just know that it did.

I’ve been fortunate though because people in my life have been truly supportive.  The best kind of support in times of tragedy looks like kindness from warm people and not like solutions, because there are no good solutions.

Since people often have no idea what to do or say to someone who has just experienced a miscarriage, here are 5 helpful rules to go by (in my opinion, of course)…

5 Rules To Go By:

1) Don’t compare the situation to any other.  

Wrong response: “I know what you mean, when my grandma died…” or “My brother’s wife had a few miscarriages…”  It’s not the appropriate time to share.  Each situation is unique and deserves to be treated as so.  Plus, this takes the focus off the person who experienced a loss and creates a situation where the person now feels obligated to offer condolences to you.

Correct response: “I’m so sorry you’re going through this,” or “I can’t imagine how difficult this must befor you.”  It’s okay to relate to the person if you want by saying, “I had two miscarriages myself.  If you ever want to talk to somebody, I’d love to listen.”  If the person wants to know more about your experiences, they will ask.

k

2) Don’t feel the need to explain the ‘why.’

Wrong response: “I’m sure it’s for the better.”  There is no explanation sufficient for explaining why tragedies happen.  Plus, it’s unlikely that you know the reason anyway.

Correct response: “Let me know if you need anything.”  “Can I bring you dinner?”  Or bring flowers or a card.  Just don’t try to explain the why.

k

3) Don’t tell someone that their pain is common.

Wrong response: “Lots of people deal with this.”  Even though millions of people may have experienced the same situation, this may be the first time that THIS particular person has had to go through this kind of pain (even if it’s their third miscarriage, it’s still the first time this person has experienced their third miscarriage and each loss is a singular event.  Each time, they lost a different child; a unique member of their family).

Correct response: “I wish you could have been spared this pain,” or “I’ll be praying for you.”

k

4) Don’t pretend that nothing has happened

Of course, no person is the same in how they deal with death.  I found myself wanting to talk about it a lot.  For others, it’s the opposite.  I think this is why people feel awkward about saying anything at all when things like this happen.  Nobody wants to be the one to make a difficult situation even worse.  But acting like nothing happened (if you are close to the person) makes the situation more awkward and uncomfortable than it already is.

Correct response: Simply ask the person how they are doing.  If they mention the miscarriage or that things have been hard, it is a sign that they are open to talking about the experience.  If they respond by talking about the weather, their latest activities, etc. then they probably don’t want to bring it up, so you can just let it go too.

Of course, how you respond also depends on your personal relationship with the person and what you already know about them and how they tend to deal with things.  If you’re simply acquaintances, then saying, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and possibly offering a hug will probably do.

k
5) If you feel compelled to carry out an act of kindness, do it.  

After going through this myself, I can say that the small gestures from people mean so much and can be so comforting.

-Two days in a row, a neighbor brought me a plate of fresh, sliced fruit because she said it would be good for my body
-Another neighbor brought me flowers in a cute mason jar, donuts and a card
-A friend from church brought me flowers
-A family member sent me a care package
-Another family member sent me the booties she had been crocheting for the baby (after asking me if those were something that I would like to have).
-A friend sent me a small stuffed animal and a card
-A friend from church brought us dinner
-A few friends offered to watch Cameron so that I could have some time to myself the week following the miscarriage
-A handful of people wrote me kind Facebook messages sharing that they were available to me to be a listening ear if I wanted

Of course, none of these things are required or expected, but each of these things really touched my heart and made me feel so loved.  So if you feel compelled to do something kind, then just do it.

I guarantee it will be appreciated and probably needed.

k

Funny Boy

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I showed Cameron the little stuffed monkey I received in the mail yesterday. I said, “Cameron, this is a monkey.  Her name is Baby Sister.  What do you think about that?” He looked up at me, looked back at the monkey, got a big smile on his face and said, “Ewwwwww!” Then he grabbed the monkey out of my hands and threw it off the bed and onto the floor.

I love him.

It made me laugh, picturing him meeting a real baby sister in the hospital and responding with, “Ewwww!”

I’m grateful that somehow my twenty-month-old son is able to infuse this situation with some humor.  He doesn’t know what’s happened.  He just knows that our normal routine has been replaced by him getting to spend many mornings at a some friend’s houses, which he loves.

Right now, Cameron brings me hope.  He truly is the perfect addition to our family.  He came at a time that was unexpected, yet perfect.  My heart aches because I want so badly for him to have a sibling to play with.  Even if I got pregnant tomorrow, it would be a year and a half until his sibling would be mobile and any fun to him.  These are the things that are hard to think on.

But through all of this, my trust in the Lord has only deepened.  I’m quite a long way off from being a modern day Job, but the day after the miscarriage I remember thinking of Job and then saying to myself, “It’s gonna take a whole hell of a lot more than this to make me turn on my God.”

It seems that everyone goes through tragedy.  Some go through it with shallow sentiments of, “Everything will be okay,” and “Time heals all wounds,” and others, like myself, get to go through it will the unchanging, everlasting Word of God and the fierce love and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Truly, I am not a victim, I am blessed.

Grieving is such a strange process.  It seems that each day I am unaware of what lies ahead.  Sometimes I feel normal and happy.  Other times, for no apparent reason I feel drained and immobile.  I’m just trying to take it all as it comes.

The Bible says that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him.  I believe this with all my heart and I feel it in my bones that this situation is an opportunity to see God live up to this in a big way.

And again, I’m grateful for Cameron who gets funnier and weirder and more Kidwell-ish each day.

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