And then there were five (the story)

We left this little announcement on Facebook Monday night.

Coming this winter.

The idealist in me imagined a casual family picture with the four of us smiling and holding the sonogram. We'd be sitting in the grass in a way that felt natural, not posed, and the boys would appear serene and well pressed (read: not screaming and bathed). Their faces would say "We couldn't be more excited to have another baby and give up having our own bedrooms. Family time really is the best." The setting sun would cast warm light and a vintage chalkboard would read "Coming this winter."

Then I remembered that kids taking announcement pictures (or any picture) is an enormous joke sold to us by Pinterest. The reality looks more like this.

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After many promises were made, we squeaked by with this one and called it a day. If there was sound in the picture below, you would hear my voice bribing their smiles in return for ice cream. We do what we have to do.

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Everything about the boys' pregnancies was easy. Getting pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth - I couldn't have asked for more. Last February welcomed the surprise news of a tiny girl we weren't expecting, but quickly loved. March brought the even more surprising news of her passing. Many of you, close friends and readers, lavished us with encouragement and prayer during that time. Even now, we continue to be deeply grateful for each word you whispered on our behalf.

Pregnancy after miscarriage has been a cocktail of conflicting emotions. Gratitude for new life. Grief for life gone. Fear over how fragile the whole thing is; and running through all of it is a strange awareness that this one is here because of the one who is not. From the start, it's been different than the boys.

Then one Friday night in July, I noticed vague spotting, which wouldn't have concerned me much by itself, but my gut told me something was wrong. The pregnancy symptoms I had been experiencing disappeared a few days before (which happened in March as well) and my body was still. Quiet. After what felt like a five day weekend, I called for an appointment first thing Monday morning.

As my eyes tried to make sense of the ultrasound, my midwife began to interpret. 

The baby was smaller than would be expected. The heart rate was slow. Too slow.

Blood work suggested things weren't progressing as they should and it seemed as though everything in there was slowing down. In a phone conversation with my midwife on Thursday night, she offered to meet me early Monday morning, as she felt that would have been enough time for things to take their course. I hung up the phone and cried, letting go and preparing myself for what was next.

Throughout the week, we prayed that God would breathe new life into one that appeared to be fading, and we trusted Him with the outcome regardless. There are systems of belief in the Church that would suggest we must believe God will do what we ask and that this is what it means to pray in faith. We were brought to our knees wrestling with this question, but with each pass over scripture, we felt increasing peace that to pray with expectancy is to pray with a belief in God's sovereignty - believing that He can, believing that He is good, believing that He hears us and will respond, and trusting that He holds all of it together regardless of what happens.

That week was three times as long as any other. My body had been eerily silent up to this point, with the few symptoms I initially felt vanishing the week before. But then on Friday, I woke up with morning sickness. Saturday and Sunday it even got worse. Compared to what I had felt with the boys, it was relatively mild, but it was new for this pregnancy. Hope began to take back my heart.

Monday morning was met with a community of friends and family waiting for news, phones in hand. In our eagerness for an answer, BJ and I found ourselves at the office before anyone arrived to unlock the front door, so we sat in the hall and debated the meaningless stuff you talk about when you're trying to stay distracted.

Once in the exam room, our wait was short. This was the same room we sat in last March. The same screen that we saw her on. I remembered that morning sitting in the silence.

The midwife came in quickly and jumped right to it. She would later confess that she had dreaded coming in, as she was sure she would only be confirming a miscarriage. Instead, this is what we found...

She was ecstatic. BJ cried. I exhaled for the first time in eight days. 

Repeatedly we heard her say, "I just don't understand it girlfriend. This is a miracle baby."

Another week passed and we went back for a closer look with the OB. Everything was great.

Six weeks later we finally got the picture my heart was waiting for. Baby was now even bigger than expected. Heart looked great. No concerns. I felt free to dream about the future.

God is good and kind and always faithful, and of everything I learned this summer, one of the greatest lessons was to remember that the goodness of God is not dependent on His answering my prayers the way I want them answered. He was no less faithful in March. His goodness ran as deep on the day her heart stopped as it did on the day we heard this one. The world is fractured and bleeding; but goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness - these are the nature of God. Always.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." -Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." -Psalm 139:14

So here we go again!

UPDATE! Jack was born February 21, 2015! Here is Jennifer, the midwife in the video above, holding him the day after he was born. You can read the full story here.