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Monkey, the third

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They say you get pregnant when you’re not thinking about it.

Since the first two pregnancy losses, I’ve wondered how you DON’T think about it. It’s pretty constantly in my mind.

Apparently, you break your leg to not think about it.IMG_20181011_005109

When we found out we were pregnant for the third time, we were relatively surprised.  I was just four weeks out from my tib/fib fracture and surgery. Getting pregnant was pretty much the last thing we were thinking about. We mostly were just trying to figure out how I was going to let the dog out while Steven was sleeping or at work.

But, there was no denying the two pregnancy tests at home and the blood test at the doctor’s office.

Monkey was here.

The doctor used the word miracle after the first ultrasound. . .it looked like I got pregnant from my right ovary; I don’t have a right Fallopian tube. It was taken with Nugget.

But when do we tell people?

How do we get excited when we know the all too real truth of the fragility of pregnancy?

We told people.  I’m horrible at keeping this kind of secret.  It was bursting to be out.  Plus, I started getting “morning” sickness. . .pretty consistently at 7 pm every night. And it seemed to be doing Monkey an injustice not to share our excitement with others who would love the munchkin.

However, there were many days when I had to remind myself that every weird sensation in my body didn’t mean that Monkey was leaving.

The questions that come after a third pregnancy loss are, in many ways, harder than the ones that come with the first.  And it’s almost unfair that this is so.

Is this some kind of sign?

Is God telling me no. . .over and over again?

Am I broken?

Are we foolish?

Why?

We haven’t made it past week 9 without a heartbreaking ultrasound.  We’re starting to hate the room.

Our babies haven’t made it farther than week 7.

Monkey was a boy with no chromosomal abnormalities who had a strong heartbeat at week 7. *the week after I wrote this, the second round of chromosome testing was completed. Monkey actually had a double trisomy which is rare and fatal. It’s unusual for the second results to differ from the initial ones.download

It’s surreal to know this about him.

I wonder if he has two big brothers or two big sisters or one of each.

The week after he was gone I struggled. Just getting out of bed was difficult. I was losing all three of them over again.

In my devotions that week, I read the story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus. Both Martha and Mary say to Him beforehand that had He been there, Lazarus would not have died. My devotion book pointed out the boldness of saying this to God.

But it emboldened me to say it as well. “God, if You had wanted to, this could’ve ended differently.”

There. I said it.

It’s important to also remember that in the story neither Martha nor Mary deny who Jesus is or His omnipotence or omniscience.  And that what He wants to do from that point is ok with them.

Christ points out that what has happened is to glorify the Father.

That challenged me.

Am I holding on so tightly to my grief that the Father can’t do what He needs to do, and better yet, wants to do?

I opened my fist a little. Breathing got easier. Getting out of bed quit being a chore.

Am I less sad?

No, not really. I just find the yoke a little lighter to carry.

I wait expectantly for how God is going to use each of these events to glorify His name. Because that’s what I want for Him to do.

Romans 8:28. . . .always.

 

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Personal, not Private

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Today, I’m a little sad.

Today is the anniversary of finding our Little didn’t make it.  The heart just stopped.

Yesterday should have been our Nugget’s first birthday.

It’s a tough few days.

I don’t usually do this, but I wanted to share some statistics about pregnancy loss in this post.  Mostly, I want to do that because recently a friend mentioned to me, after I had brought up our losses, that she had been praying for us but hadn’t wanted to call because she knows it’s a private matter.

Death is not private.

Death is personal. . .deeply personal.  But it isn’t private.  And I have come to feel that the privatization of pregnancy loss does way too much harm.

Here’s some things to consider: according to American Pregnancy Association 10-25% of ALL clinically recognized pregnancies {meaning we know we’re pregnant} will end in miscarriage.  The same article states that there’s a 15-20% for a miscarriage in healthy women.  Putting this in personal terms, if you’re in a group of five, chances are one of you has experienced pregnancy loss.  Most of us know at least five women.  But do you know what grief they may be carrying? Somewhere along the line, pregnancy loss became private.

I think it’s partly the word that is associated with it: miscarriage.  It implies through its connotation that the women did something wrong. . .they carried the baby wrong.

Pregnancy loss, in my mind, alleviates some of that blame {which let me tell you, is difficult to do because despite knowing statistics and science and having faith and hope, it is a struggle to remind yourself that there’s nothing you can do}. Having that word “loss” attached to what happens validates the idea of death and grief.

The death of any family member is personal.  That relationship on earth ends. There are only memories and stories to retell.  When a pregnancy is lost, it’s the same.  The relationship on earth ends. The memories are different and in some ways a product of our imagination because we have started to add potential to the child that would be. It’s still very personal.  But it’s not private.  It’s loss that we need acknowledged, not closeted.

I am in a 1% of women who have recurrent pregnancy loss, a statistic I found on March of Dimes’ website. Most women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss, up to 75% of them, will never know why.

Nugget was ectopic.

Little was intrauterine fetal demise.

These losses are very personal to me, despite the very scientific labeling of them.  They are my children.

But Nugget and Little are not private events in mine and Steven’s life.  They have impacted us, changed us, and therefore, impacted those around us in a personal and intimate way.

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Nugget: grew up until a little over 7 weeks.

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Little: this shot the little heart was still beating

First

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Shortly after Steven and I got married, I tragically ran over my cat of 16 years.  I was on my way to work, and Steven was asleep in the house as he worked a weird shift.  The first thing I did was call my brother.  It was just what I was used to doing.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was on the phone that I had a husband in the bedroom.

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We laugh about it now.

About three weeks ago, I broke my leg. You can almost see all three breaks in this x-ray.  I was ice skating.

It struck me after getting home that in all aspects of the journey, I kept asking for Steven.  When the ambulance got me to the emergency department. . .”Where’s my husband?”

When I woke up in my hospital room after surgery, even though both my parents were there, “Where’s Steven?”

I guess it’s safe to say that I would call him first now.

I like that this experience has illustrated growth in our young marriage.

And that he will go out to buy me cookies and cereal because nothing else will do.

He is a blessing in my life that I never knew I needed but can’t imagine being without now.

 

 

Testify

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LentRecently, I read that Christians should share their testimonies more intentionally and more frequently.

I must admit that up until the last ten years or so I thought testimonies were only about how you came to know Christ as your savior.  That happened for me when I was five.  I never felt that I had much of a testimony.

Now, I know that our testimony is much more fluid and ever changing.  It’s about our whole lives.  It’s little things and big things.

My faith has been tested on many occasions, but I’d like to take this time to discuss the two times I see as pivotal right now.  When I was sixteen and when I was forty.

By the time I reached the age of sixteen, very little had challenged my Christian walk.  I mistakenly believed that being a Christian was relatively easy.  Then my parents got a divorce.  My whole world flipped. Nothing made sense to me. And while I don’t really think I blamed God, I took my eyes off of Him.  I turned to my own strength and failed to acknowledge that He could make something good out of all the pain I was experiencing.  In the aftermath of the divorce, I made choices that were less than wise, and I did that for almost ten years.

In 2005-2006, I finally forgave myself of the bad choices and started working my way back to what God meant for my life.  I liken it to CS Lewis’s Eustace when he knows that he is not supposed to be a dragon, but Aslan has to rip the skin away to show the new and improved Eustace.

Skip ahead to when I’m forty.  Steven and I lose three grandparents and two babies in the course of a year.  Another life flipping year.

But there was a difference.

I kept my eyes on God.  On the promises of scripture, specifically Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

I don’t think this necessarily made the events any easier to handle.  But it kept me from making subsequent choices that may have compounded the pain and struggle I was experiencing.  Tears were still shed. Anger was still expressed. Confusion was still felt.

But instead of keeping all those feelings to myself, I let God handle them.  He’s better at it.  I followed His lead and nudging. I admitted my own weaknesses and together Steven and I continued to work through our experience. We helped each other let God help us.

I don’t know if any of this makes any kind of sense.  I do know that having faith in God doesn’t eliminate trials. But maybe it redirects our responses to those trials, if we keep our eyes on it. . .which also isn’t all that easy sometimes.

And maybe that is why testimony is so important.  To remind each other that none of us thinks it’s easy.

Funny Thing Is

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I never wanted to be a teacher.

You won’t believe me in a minute. . .

little people schoolI taught all of my stuffed animals to read, write, and play Old Maid.  Also, one of my favorite toys was my Fisher Price Little People school house.  It had a magnetic roof for letters and numbers and a chalk board.  Little desks for the students and a teacher’s desk.  Oh, and the best part, a playground with a swing, slide, and merry-go-round.

But, I didn’t want to be a teacher.

I wanted to be a doctor.  It wavered periodically between being like Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur or being an obstetrician/pediatrician {though my uncle told me that wasn’t a combination I could do–I didn’t understand why–I wanted to take care of the baby in the womb and then help it grow up}

Here I am, though, getting ready to complete nineteen years in the high school English classroom.

blue curtainAnd I’m not sorry. It’s been an amazing career for me.  I love being in the classroom and helping students realize when the curtain is just blue and when it’s not.  I love getting to know my students as people and watching them mature into young adults who do incredible things. . .like become doctors, or join the Peace Corps, or shape politics, or, yep, become teachers. {This list is so short when I think about all the things my students have done.}

But, I almost didn’t do it.

When my students ask me why I became a teacher, I always tell them because of God.  When I graduated from college {with an English degree I had no idea how to use} I began working for a credit union.  I loved the job.  I met a lot of people.  However, there was something missing.  After about a year, I kept hearing this voice say, “You’re supposed to be teaching English.”

I investigated if it was even a possibility and there was a program called lateral entry, relatively new, that would allow me to begin teaching in my degree area while I completed education courses.

I made a deal with God. I told him if He wanted me to teach, then it would have to be in my home county.  I put in the application and in July received a phone call from a principal for an interview.

Funny thing is, my application hit his desk because the personnel director for the county at that time was someone with whom I went to church.

When you’re anonymous

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Disclaimer: this is in no way a reprimand of the churches I’ve visited.  It’s simply my experience in trying to fit in, which I can admit is my responsibility as well.  It is also not a plea for you to invite me to your church. Please take it at face value of my feelings and, perhaps, consider it when you see a new face in your congregation.

I left my church about two years ago because we moved.

It has been an arduous journey.

I have found that when you try to break into an established family, it can be exhausting.

Because a church is a family.  And ultimately, I feel that I’m applying for adoption by that congregation.

In my previous church, it was home.  I was adopted.  I was plugged in.  I was needed.  I was wanted.  I was not anonymous.  I consider that church my “adult” church.  It’s where I grew in my relationship with God to the point of truly understanding what that even means.  It’s where I grew in my talents that I can use for God and found the joy that it is to do that.  I was missed when I wasn’t there.  I was comforted when I cried.  I was celebrated when needed. I was challenged likewise. I was a daughter.

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My church family for ten years. I miss them.

Trying to find a new church home has left me feeling anonymous.  I have struggled with how to incorporate myself into a new family. . .to let people know what I have to offer without seeming boastful.  To feel needed and wanted.  I want people to get to know me, but contrary to popular belief, I’m not actually an extrovert.  I need someone to reach out to me and pull me into the fold, to encourage me, to invite me, to guide me.

No church we’ve visited has been impolite.  There has been something to love about each one.  And outside of two, I have spent several months visiting in each congregation.

And, yet, I’m still anonymous.

My heart misses having a home.

 

The Hope of a Cemetery

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arlington 3Recently, Steven and I took a trip to Washington, D. C. Number one on my list of things to do was to visit the Arlington National Cemetery. Steven found this amusing, that it was me that really wanted to have that experience more than him. I guess in some ways it is considering his military background.

But his amusement lead to a reflection on why it was so important to me.

I have been to Omaha Beach and seen the cemetery there {little fact about that land–it’s American soil; the French deeded it to the United States so our boys would be buried in home land–I think that’s outstanding.}  My experience at Omaha was inspiring. Walking towards the graves, people are chatting, but as you turn the corner and gaze across the thousands of markers, it goes quiet. It’s somber. It’s peaceful. It’s amazing.

 

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I think when I saw all of those crosses and stars I was humbled that so many people were willing to die for what they believed was the right way for the world to go. They knew it was crazy and that they lived in a crazy time, but they were willing to do it.

I guess I wanted to see if the same feeling would come over me at Arlington.

And it did.

All of those people fought for what they believed this country could be. When the rest of the world had no real understanding of what was being attempted over here, these people were willing to put it all on the line. I stood in the middle of a field that held our country’s hopes and dreams.

I think about my Opa and what he said about becoming an American citizen and why it impressed him. He told me that to be in a counfb_img_1474152209162.jpgtry where it didn’t matter what you came from, if you worked hard, you could be what you wanted was a novelty. That your circumstances didn’t have to define you. He told me that to be in a country where you didn’t have to agree with the government and didn’t have to be afraid to voice that disagreement was a novelty.

And that’s what Arlington meant to me. That there were people who believed so much in what my Opa was able to do when he came here, that they were willing to die for it so he could even attempt it, though the rest of the world thought they were crazy. . .

that’s hope.

 

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