Tuesday, November 29, 2011

God's plan is perfect, even in the midst of struggles

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but felt it was too fresh to click that 'publish post' button until now. Very few people know this even happened, and it could easily stay that way. Yet, I feel compelled to share my story. I hope it is able to somehow minster to or comfort someone out there who may be reading it. Or, at the very least, cause you to be extra thankful tonight for your blessings and to hold them close, hug them tight, whisper some extra 'I love you's' and thank the Lord for them.

It's been a trying past month, not only in reference to my last blog post regarding Gabe's struggles at school. There's been heartache, and hopes seemingly crushed, and loss. And there's been sadness. Yet, there's also been great joy and thankfulness. And there's been a renewed sense of gratefulness for the four beautiful, healthy children the Lord has so graciously blessed me with that I fear I cannot accurately put into words. But with this post, I will try.

You see, I was recently pregnant. I found out at about 5 weeks that I was indeed pregnant with my fifth child. The Lord had done it to me again. I had thought I was probably done having kids at four, but as He softened my heart, I realized I was not ready to be done. That I yearned for more. More kids to love and to raise up in His leading. More kids to share joys and triumphs with. More kids to have and hold with my husband, who we all know ALWAYS wants more kids.

And so, we tried. And as it has in the past, it happened very quickly. At 8 weeks, I went in for my first appointment with the history nurse, where she updates my charts and the lab does the routine bloodwork. Everything looked well and good.

In the past we had shared the news of our pregnancies fairly early on. I've never had any problems with conceiving and no issues during my pregnancies, so never really felt a need to keep it quiet. Yet this time, for some reason, we chose to wait. Maybe it was partially the fear that others would not share in or understand our joy to be pregnant once again. Although four kids isn't that many, some seem to think us crazy to want more. Other than a friend who asked me point blank if I was pregnant and I didn't want to lie to her, we told no one. A choice that soon makes sense in our minds.

I had been experiencing some morning sickness, but not as severe as with my other pregnancies, so I felt blessed.

And was I ever happy to be pregnant. I can't quite describe the happiness, but I was possibly more happy than ever before to be pregnant. The idea that it wasn't 'over' for me. That that stage in my life was not closed. That I would once again hold my own newborn baby in my arms and smell that sweet newborn smell. I was happy because I have so much more love to give and I was going to have the opportunity to give that love to yet another addition to our family.

At ten weeks, which was this past Wednesday (actually Nov. 2nd), I went in for my first OB appointment. My doctor for the past two pregnancies congratulated Jason and I on our pregnancy. We talked about our four kids at home and how much they've grown. We talked about starting all over with yet another and how excited we were. How excited the kids would be to find out. (We were waiting to tell them until after this appointment.)

And then, came time to hear the heartbeat. The doctor moved the monitor around my stomach, but nothing. My heart sank. I looked at Jason and he tried to give me a reassuring smile that things would be ok. But, I had that sinking feeling that something was wrong. The doctor told us it was probably because it was so early on in the pregnancy, but he wanted to get an ultrasound done just in case. He pulled an old ultrasound into the room on a mobile cart. He found the baby on the screen, but because it was such an old machine, he couldn't zoom in enough to see detail. So, he sent us to ultrasound. There were no ultrasound appointments available at our hospital, so we were sent directly to another hospital a few blocks away. And we waited.

The time we waited in the waiting room seemed like an eternity. I tried to disway the worries racing through my mind. We prayed. But, I couldn't shake that feeling in the pit of my stomach that things were not right. Then, my name was called.

As we were led back to the room and I changed into a gown, my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest.  I didn't want to know. Maybe I could just stay in ignorant bliss a bit longer. But soon, I was on the table. And although the technician couldn't tell us herself, Jason and I both knew as soon as the baby was up on the screen. He or she was not alive. There was no heart beat. I tried to hold in the tears. I didn't look at Jason because I knew once I did, I'd lose it. And once I got back into the bathroom to change my clothes, I did. The tears fell and I mourned.

We were told to go back into the waiting room while the ultrasound technician showed the ultrasound photos to a resident doctor and called back to my doctor's office to get further instruction. Sitting in that waiting room was torture. I just wanted to weep. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole away from this public place and I wanted to cry in silence. And just then, a mother walked by with a little boy in tow. He was following his mommy and as he passed Jason and I, he looked over. He was about Gavin's age, my youngest son. He looked me right in the eyes, surely saw my tears, and looked a bit concerned at first. But as I managed a smile across my face at his sweet little face, he returned one to me. And was that smile ever comforting. Because just then, it hit me. I am SO blessed. Blessed beyond measure, just as my blog header says. I have a wonderful husband who is not only my best friend, but who is a better husband than I could ever ask for. And I have four beautiful children. Children who I had absolutely no problems conveiving or delivering. Children who have had minimal health problems or struggles in their lives. Children who make me want to be a better person than I ever may have strived for without them. And children who give me glimpes of the Lord's grace and mercy everyday I get to spend with them. Blessed indeed. And all of a sudden, I felt a peace and calm come over me. Yes, I was still sad. Tears still fell. I still mourned the loss of a child who we had been excited about and prayed for. But, my blessings outweighed that sadness. And more importantly, the Lord's love and mercy covered my sadness.

When we were asked to return to my doctor's office, we did so in mostly silence. I know we were both in a bit of shock. After four completely normal and uncomplicated pregnancies, no previous miscarriages, and absolutely no signs of an imminent miscarriage, this was the very last thing we were expecting. But, again, the Lord covered the shock. We were grateful. Grateful for all that we do have. And we possessed a renewed sense of appreciation for just how special our kids are. What a miracle life is, and we take it for granted everyday.

My doctor was so kind. He figured we already knew the answer when he walked in the room and immediately put his hand on me and said he was sorry. He consoled us. He gave us our options in the case of a missed misscarriage, which is where the baby dies but for some reason the body does not expel it naturally (on its own.) We talked about how my body is good at holding on to babies too long ;) I decided to first try medication to encourage uterine contractions so that I could expel my baby naturally at home. But after taking the medicine, it didn't work and I had to go back in for D&C surgery today (Nov. 5th) to remove the baby. It was the first time I'd ever had surgery or been put under anesthetic. I don't like to take drugs and had not even had an epidural for any of my previous labors, so I was nervous to say the least. But we prayed and our family and friends prayed, and I know those prayers work because I again had a sense of peace and calm that is completely uncharacteristic for this worrier. I felt the Lord's peace surrounding me. The procedure went as well as can be expected. I was sent home about 5 hours after I arrived. And tonight, I am feeling pretty good with little pain.

But most importantly, I am thankful. I am so very thankful for all the love the Lord has already showered on my life. And I am hopeful for my future and whatever path the Lord leads me on. Because now, more than ever, I feel Him right here beside me. Just as the verse says, "He will never leave us or foresake us."

I am in no way saying that because I already have four children, I grieve less for this fifth child. A child is a child, and not one is less significant than the next. Nor am I saying that we should not grieve. It's natural to grieve such a loss. But I am thankful that I have solace from my grief in the Lord and in the many blessings He has placed in my life to cause me to focus on being thankful.

Yes, there is a space of emptiness in my heart. I wonder if it was a boy or a girl. I wonder who he or she may have grown up to be. But, it is far greater knowing that God knows what He is doing. He has a plan, even when we may not understand it. He has a plan, and I trust in Him. And I have the security of knowing there is a child I have yet to meet waiting for me in heaven. As a friend reminded me, how neat to know there's a small part of me experiencing all the glories of God right now up in heaven.

Since this was originally written a few weeks back, we have shared our story with the kids. It was hard, seeing their faces light up when we told them mom was pregnant, only to see those smiles disappear as we shared that the baby had died and gone to heaven to be with the Lord. Our kids would have loved to have another brother or sister. The boys shared that they would still love to have another sister so that Chloe would have a 'friend' as they said. So sweet. We assured the kids that the Lord knows what He's doing and that if we should have more children, if they should have another brother or sister, then He will provide, whether through a pregnancy or through adoption. And since sharing the news, Cooper in particular has asked a few times if I'm pregnant again yet. The four of them have so much love for each other, that they gladly would welcome another. And that warms my heart.

And so we wait. Wait on the Lord, and see what He has planned for us. For He does have a plan and it is perfect. And in that, I find my peace.