Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The results are in

Well, we got back from our specialist a little while ago.

Baby was very cooperative with our ultrasound tech, so we got some great pictures. :)

Baby also looked absolutely perfect. :)

The anencephaly did not recur, and the nuchal translucency was completely normal. While all that is wonderful news, we obviously don't know what the future holds. We'll continue to be monitored for the next few months to make sure everything stays the way it is now.

I cannot tell you how amazing Cameron and I feel after that appointment. The sonogram popped up on the screen, and we both let out a huge sigh of relief when Baby's head came into view. The tech almost immediately started smiling and was extremely happy for us. She then went on to find all the other pertinent stuff to reassure us even more.

God is so good. We are incredibly blessed. God's grace is amazing, and my Jesus is powerful. He wasn't surprised by this result. He's been knitting this baby together since the beginning, and knew it would exist before time began. He also knew what this baby would be and accomplish, and we don't even know what day he or she will be born yet. God is so amazing. I can't even fathom His greatness.

I am so thankful for God's grace in this. It is only His goodness and mercy that has given us this healthy baby. I praise Him for His goodness to me, a wretched sinner saved by grace. I feel absolutely humbled and awed by the gift He's given me in this child. I will never be able to thank Him enough.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us and supporting us. It's been quite a ride, and it was made more joyous and more fulfilling by all of you.

We'll go back to the specialist in 4 weeks for more monitoring (read: more pictures!), and I'm looking forward to it. :) I can't wait to see what God does with this precious child. I'm already asking for wisdom and grace to raise him or her in the love of Jesus.

Thanks, once again, for everything. We're so excited to share our news with you. :)

God bless you all.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


God continues to teach me through Caroline even now. It is such a blessing to know He's still using Caroline, and not just in my life, but in others' as well. I got to share her story with someone new today. After I finished telling the story, the sweet woman I was telling said, "Thank you for being so open about it and being willing to share your story." That's not an exact quote, but close enough. It made me realize that by being obedient to God's call to write this blog and share our story in other ways, He's being glorified. I mean, I know that, I guess, but it's just little ole me. I'm nothing special apart from God, but He uses experiences like today to remind me that my obedience is not in vain.

I've also recently seen how my journey with Caroline has encouraged other moms going through something similar. I love that God can use me to give hope and peace to others walking a difficult path. It's such an honor. Especially now that we're kinda "on the other side" of the whole thing, I can see how God has worked and is continuing to work through Caroline. What a wonderful, humbling, and awe-inspiring knowledge. I don't know why God chose me for this. But I feel incredibly blessed that He did.

The title of this post is "Deserving." I have a few things to say about that particular word. First of all, I don't feel at all deserving of what God has done and is doing through me because of Caroline, like what I mentioned above. I literally sometimes sit back and marvel at God's grace to me. At His use of me. I feel so unworthy of this whole thing. Even though I have chosen to be faithful to Him and to "let" Him use me, it's been His power doing all the work. I can't take credit for much of anything that's happened. He's been there every step of the way, guiding and directing my every movement, thought, and blog post. He's carried me when I couldn't find the strength to go on. He's held my hand when I had enough strength to trudge along, letting me know I wasn't alone. He's shown me glories I never even knew existed. He's blown my mind with what He's done.

I recently surpassed 18,000 hits on this blog. I never in my wildest dreams thought that many people would spend time reading my blog. I thought there would be, like, 25. Haha. And mostly my family. It just goes to show that God is bigger than anything I could imagine, and can do things I never fathomed. I don't deserve to have thousands of people reading this story. I don't deserve for people to say such sweet things to me, to encourage me in my journey, to let me know I've influenced them somehow. It is absolutely awe-inspiring. God is too good to me.

But there's another side to that "Deserving" title. I hesitate to even go here, because I don't want to offend anyone, but I just feel a burden to speak. I'll explain, but there is a little background I need to give first to make sure I portray this whole thing clearly.

I announced recently that Cameron and I are expecting our second child. We are ecstatic. We're trusting God that no matter what happens, it's His plan and we'll be ok. Going through pregnancy after a loss like ours can be pretty nerve-wracking. You wonder, a lot, about what will happen with this new child. You wonder if the anencephaly is going to recur, or if there will be something else wrong, or if you're going to somehow lose this one too. You almost feel like you can't be overly excited, just in case. There's a lot of just in case. I took a ridiculous amount of folic acid before this pregnancy trying to reduce the risk of recurrence. In fact, I'm still taking it. Just in case. We waited a little while to reveal my pregnancy just in case I miscarried. I've been tempted to go in to my doctor several times, just to make sure the heart was still beating. I haven't, because I try to surrender my fear to the Lord whenever I start to get worried or anxious. If I really thought something was wrong, I would go in, but it's just anxiety and fear.

And finally, there's my appointment with my specialist. It's this coming Wednesday. I'll be getting a sonogram to check for nuchal translucency and anencephaly. We should know immediately if the anencepahly recurred, and hopefully pretty immediately if there are any other neural tube defects. Talk about anxiety. I'm not terribly nervous about the appointment, because I'm trusting God as best I can, that He's got it under control. He knows this baby already, and nothing's going to surprise Him. He's proven that He will be with us if the worst were to happen, so I know I'll be ok. But the waiting to find out...ugh. No fun.

As we've been going through all this, we've had a lot of support from family and friends. We have so many people praying for us it's kind of ridiculous. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from so many.

But I have to confront something that several people have said to me. I just have to, because I want God to be glorified, and I don't want to be the object of someone's misguided admiration.

I've had a few people tell me they're praying for me, and that no one deserves a healthy baby more than I do, so they hope everything goes great with this pregnancy. They say I deserve a healthy pregnancy and baby. I truly appreciate the sentiment. It means a lot that people think so highly of me when it comes to motherhood. You people have more faith in my parenting abilities than I do! Haha. And I truly believe that people who have said this just want me to have something good because I had to have something hard before. I appreciate it. It's extremely kind of you to say so.

But I don't deserve jack.

What I deserve is death because I have sinned. God gave me grace in salvation to exempt me from that particular fate. The fact that I am living and breathing is a gift from God to a wholly undeserving human. The fact that I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a husband that loves me is all God's grace to me because He loves me. What I deserve is death. But He has given me life.

Even if God asks Cameron and me to go through losing another child, it will not be based on my merit, or on my shortcomings. It would be because we live in a fallen world where loss is a reality. If we have a healthy child and get to raise him or her until they are adults, then get to enjoy them into our old age, that is not going to be because I deserve it. It's going to be because God loves us and is gracious to us. If I fall into the trap of assuming that I deserve happiness with a child, I am puffing myself up, making myself more than I ought. I don't deserve anything but death. Anything else is a gift from my marvelous, loving, amazingly powerful and generous God.

As with Caroline, I cannot want or love this child more than I want and love my Savior. God is sovereign. He is in control. And He knows what's best for me. I hope and pray that God's will lines up with mine this time, but I need to be willing to accept that God might have bigger plans for me. No matter what, I want my time with this child to be glorifying to God, whether it's for a few months or several decades. I want this child to be with me in eternity, so I will do all I can to show him or her the way to Jesus.

So, in every way, I am undeserving. I am undeserving of God's grace to me. Undeserving of being used by Him in the way He has used me, reaching more people than I ever imagined. Undeserving of every good and precious gift God's given me, including this precious life growing inside me. I am wholly undeserving, but so very grateful for grace.

God is the only one deserving of praise and honor. My Savior deserves my worship.

I deserve nothing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

You turned my wailing into dancing...

"You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. " -Psalm 30:11-12

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance," -Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

As we've walked this journey, there have been a lot of ups and downs. We've dealt with way more than I ever thought possible. God's grace has been with us throughout.

Recently, I've shared a little bit about our healing journey after Caroline was born. I've talked about the future a bit, about how we've thought about future children, the questions people have asked us. I've talked a good bit about the attitude Cameron and I have in regard to future children. I've also talked about where I felt like we needed to be emotionally and spiritually before we even thought about other children.

We have to be ready to lose the next one too.

We have to trust not only in medicine, but in God's sovereignty.

We can't "replace" Caroline with another child.

We have to allow God's grace to get us through the anxiety and fear that may come with another pregnancy.

Not only have I mentioned all that, but I've also mentioned what I feel it will be like to love any children God blesses us with. What will be required of us as parents. What I desire my parenting to look like. I want to glorify God with our other children as much as I tried to with Caroline. I'm looking forward to future children because I'm excited about the opportunity to raise them with God.

Well, barring any complications, and if it's God's will, I'll get my chance in February.

Cameron and I are expecting our next little one in February. We are extremely excited, but both of us will admit that we're slightly guarded in our excitement. We know that anything could happen. We know that God is sovereign and that His will is going to be done regardless. We definitely want this child with a passion, but we are also doing our best to reside in God's grace. If the worst were to happen again, then we have a loving Savior who will carry us through again. He's done it before, so we can have amazing faith that He will do it again.

We are hoping and praying that all will go well this time. I'm not living in constant dread, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about it. Any time those thoughts come in, I try to surrender them to the Savior who's in control anyway. And He is gracious to me and gets me through it all. I have been to my OB once, and in a couple weeks I'll go to my specialist. At that point, we'll be doing a nuchal transparency screening sonogram to check for neural tube defects, including anencephaly. I will breathe a huge sigh of relief after that appointment, if all goes well. Either way, God is good, and His mercy endures forever, so we will be ok.

Obviously being pregnant again brings up some interesting emotions and thoughts. I really am mostly at peace. It's amazing what God can do in crazy situations. While I am slightly more paranoid about stuff this time around, it's not ruling me. I am definitely grateful for the modern medicine God has allowed us to discover. It's amazing to me that at 12 weeks gestation, they can screen for all these disorders. It's quite reassuring to have visual proof that the child inside me is ok. Seeing his or her heartbeat at my first OB appointment on that sonogram screen was incredible. Seeing the miracle of life after living through the pain of death is just something incredibly special.

I have to be careful not to place my faith in doctors and medicine above God. I know He gave us those tools, so I will be grateful for them and take advantage of them, but God is still the one on control. So while there are some nerves involved in waiting for the appointment with my specialist, I'm doing my best to rely on God while I wait. He's been good to me, and so far He's given me the grace to do that.

While the loss of Caroline is not diminished by our news, we do feel incredibly blessed to have this little gift from God. We'll always love and miss Caroline, but we'll also love and (if it's God's will) get to raise this little one that's on its way. It reminds me a bit of what was said about Job. "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first." Job 42:12. Job lost everything. All his children, all his wealth, his home, his health. His wife and friends just nagged him forever. And he was a very wealthy man with a lot of children. I can't imagine that Job ever forgot or stopped loving and missing the children he lost. But Scripture says that God blessed him more after he got through all that pain, than when he had it all to begin with, before it was taken from him. That's kind of how I feel. Nothing will change the painful experiences we had with Caroline. We had some good experiences, too. Nothing will erase her from our lives and hearts. But we can appreciate the blessings God gives us afterward too. Like this little one coming in February.

Goodness, the emotions going on in me are a little nutso. They're so hard to describe. Hopefully I've made some semblance of sense. Haha.

Anyway, we are grateful for this little blessing. We are grateful for the blessing of Caroline. We are grateful that God is sovereign and powerful and loving and gracious. We look forward to what God will do with us all, no matter what happens with this pregnancy. Thank you for sharing in this journey with us.