My Adoption Story

** update**
**So Jon and I went to the meeting and it was a pretty overwhelming experience. I used to have a very strong desire to adopt but I am now viewing adoption as a last resort, something that I am being “forced” to do even. We certainly don’t want to enter the adoption process with hearts like that, we want to adopt because we feel a desire to and because we feel called by God to do so. We are going to keep trying on our own for another couple of months and be praying that if God did not intend for us to have our own children at this point, that he would change our hearts regarding adopting. If nothing happens ‘naturally’ after a couple of months, we will look to see what next steps we need to take in this journey**

I have a student this year in my middle school that was adopted as a newborn. Unfortunately the birth mom was consuming nicotine and caffeine and who knows what else while pregnant and her adoptive mom thinks that these are some of the causes for this girl’s learning and attention challenges that she is having in school. She also sees this girl demonstrating some of the exact same behavioral issues that the biological mother exhibited.

Jon and I are going to an adoption meeting Tuesday night – and I can’t help but have this particular student in the back of my mind. Looking at different adoption agencies online, I am seeing the real effects that Jon and I might experience as a result of adopting a child that comes from a different country, a different race, and most significantly, a different biological set of parents.

I happen to think adoption is a wonderful, amazing thing for couples to do for children who would grow up without a family, and as much as I am grateful that there are options for couples who cannot do it on their own; it just seems so hard and almost unnatural. You have to pay a lot of money (in some cases, not all) and wait a long time. This is not the way it is supposed to work. I am supposed to be able to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby in 9 months; a baby that looks like me, a baby that consumed what I chose to consume while he/she was in vitro, a baby that I have grown to love over nine months, a baby that doesn’t require a home study and paper work and legal fees.

Needless to say, I have been a bit scared about going to this meeting and beginning the adoption process but then I checked out some international adoption agencies online and actually started to get really excited! I found my way to a site for an agency that works specifically with African adoptions and checked out their program in Ethiopia. Tears came to my eyes as I read about the large number of orphans in this country due to famine, poverty and disease and I thought about how cool it would be to take one or two or three of these children out of an orphanage and put them right into our apartment! We could love them and feed them and they would look like night as we look like day, but they would be ours and we would be a family.

As I read on I discovered some information that freaked me out a little bit. There was a FAQ section and a lot of the questions had to do with medical issues. Questions like: What are these worms coming out of every orifice of my child? What is that fungus on my child’s scalp? Does my child have scabies? Worms! Scabies! Yikes!

Unfortunately the answers were not very optimistic. I read things like “very hard to treat” and “may come back” and “parasite”. So are you telling me that I could spend more than $20,000 and 18 months trying to adopt a baby and they will come to me with worms crawling out of their mouth and possibly give me scabies?

Why does this have to be so hard? Why can’t we just have a baby like everyone else can?

I can imagine that to God I am like one of these orphans I have been thinking of. I am not part of his original plan of perfection, I am not part of what God intended. I was not one of God’s own (hebrew). I am dirty and poor and have a lot of challenges myself in the areas of learning and attention and behavior.

What does scripture have to say about this?

We are studying Ephesians in InterVarsity and the very first chapter highlights how we are adopted into God’s family, that we are to inherit all of his spiritual blessings and the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. (message version)

If we do decide to move forward with adoption, we will not be getting a pure, pristine, newborn; we would be getting a child that is 1, 2, or 3 years old. We would be getting a child that was probably neglected to some extent and malnourished. We would be getting a child with hereditary and biological baggage and if we get a child from a third world country we could be getting a child with worms. But we will take that child into our home and love him/her as if they were our own.

Afterall, while I was unpure, unpristine and had the equivilant of parasites in my heart, God sent his son to die for me so that I might be saved and be part of his family. That is my adoption story.

Living Water


As I complete my first full summer in Tucson I have been seeking ways to cool down. Here are some stories about that…

For a good part of this past spring and summer season our shower did not work properly. When I say not worked, I really mean we were only able to chose between two temperatures which I have named: “Really Freaking Hot” and “This is So Hot My Body is Being Scalded”. As the summer temperature began to rise in Tucson taking a shower steadily became less and less desirable. I would get back hot and sweaty from a long run and I wanted a cool shower so badly! I would step in and the first few seconds would be just perfect! I would try to do all my shampooing, conditioning, washing and shaving in that first minute before the scalding began.

Thankfully we have recently gotten the shower fixed (we still don’t have temperature variation but at least our one temperature is tolerable) but it had gotten to the point where I would fill up a cup of cold water from the sink tap and dump it over my head. I would do this over and over again until I had gotten all the shampoo, etc. out of my hair!

When showers ceased to be refreshing, I thought a suitable alternative would be the swimming pool in our complex. Of course I couldn’t wash in the pool, but I could at least go for a dip after a long day or after a run. I would put on my swimsuit and flip flops. walk over to the pool, and get more and more excited as I approached the beautiful blue waters. The pool was so tempting and I couldn’t wait to dive in (so I cannot actuallly dive, so more like awkwardly jump)! Unfortunately I soon found out that the pool was nothing more than bath water during the summer months. Just like my shower experiences, my pool experiences left me disappointed and wanting more.

Last weekend I went hiking with Jon and some friends from church. One of the reasons I agreed to go hiking at 2pm in the summer in Tucson was because a swimming hole was promised to be waiting for us at the end! The hike wasn’t terribly long or strenuous however by the end of it I was sweating profusely. We reached the back of the canyon and there was the pool of water!

There was a slight fear in my mind that this water wouldn’t be anymore refreshing or cooling than my shower or my swimming pool. My fears were put to death as I plunged in and felt the water surrounding me, bringing my body temperature down, down down. It wasn’t just cool, it was downright cold! The water was the refreshment I had been searching for all summer, and even now as I am back in town, away from the pool, I can still feel the effects of it.

As we were hiking back to our car, I couldn’t help but think about how much these experiences reflected Jesus and my relationship with Him. There are many ways in which I expect to find what Jesus can give to me in other places. Places that may look a little bit like Jesus, but are not the real thing. The real thing is unmistakable and life-giving, the real thing satisfies. Just as the water from the swimming hole off of “Milagroso trail” fullfilled my need like no other water source could do this summer; Jesus has fullfilled my needs.

In John 4 Jesus has an interaction with a woman who is sitting at a well:

A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

Some of the things in my life that have looked like Jesus but have left me thirsty for more have been my desires to have a BABY and my need for CONTROL. These are things that look really darn good to me. These are things that are my motivation for many actions and prayers. These are things that seem to whisper to me “I will give you satisfaction”, “I will make you happy” , “If you just have me, you will be closer to God”

But these things are not living water. These things are certainly not Jesus. They appeal to me, I long for them, but they just won’t fill me up no matter how close I get to obtaining them. My quest for them has left my mouth dry and hot and my heart lonely and confused. They look good from far away, but as soon as I get in I am disappointed and sometimes even scalded.

They promise something rewarding, but the more I idolize the ideas of “baby” and “control” the further away I get from God. The further I am from Fresh, Living Water and the closer I am to water that promises one thing but delivers another.

Thankfully these streams of life are eternal. When I feel I am at my breaking point (a place I have been several times in the last year) fresh water flows and sustains me. Jesus reminds me of his goodness in one way or another and I am satisfied.

God is generous, as Jesus explains to the Samaritan woman. He has such great gifts to offer and He has such sweet water to pour out upon us!

Psalm 40


I am back in Flagstaff this weekend, almost a year since Jon and I moved to Tucson. I have spent a lot of time sitting on our deck reading, praying and watching the wind blow through the trees. I have gone hiking in the mountains, watched a sunset from the point where Jon and I were married, and I have been refreshed by the cool mountain air.

Being up here has also provided me with a profound time of reflection over the past year and I have felt the full weight of everything that has happened hit me like a ton of bricks.

The last year has been hard. Very, very hard.

As Jon and I entered our second year of marriage we faced some very difficult transitions. Moving to a new city brought all the challenges that typically come with moving. I had to adapt to a desert climate (not as hard as I thought it would be), we had to find a new church and new friends (harder than I thought it would be), we had to find a new life away from Flagstaff.

I taught middle school for the first time. Jon was in full time ministry for the first time. We had to live on a budget from fund raising for the first time.

We got pregnant twice.

We lost babies twice.

We fought a lot for the first time.

We wept together for the first time.

Being up in Flagstaff this week I have felt my body absorbing these things. I have realized the incredible journey we have been on over the last 12 months and am suddenly exhausted.

I am proud in my own strength, that I have survived these things and that Jon and I are doing so well in our marriage at the end of it all. I am feeling like I feel after a very strenuous workout. My muscles are tired, my body fatigued, yet there is a sense of accomplishment in it all.

Through this I hear God’s gentle voice asking me to forfeit my strength and my pride. Not only has He carried me through this year, but He is now requesting that I hand over the burden of the last 12 months to him.

“Come to me my daughter. You are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you Kirsten and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul. My yoke is easy and my burden is light”

As we step into our third year of marriage, Jesus is beckoning me to pass along all my baggage to him. We have a new set of challenges to face this year (like me being in ministry, me fundraising as well, and the renewed and frightening journey of trying to conceive another child) but I feel God near me, whispering promises to me and reminding me of His character.

I feel excited and hopeful for what is to come. Now that I know my spirit is spent, completely weak and fragile, I am confident in knowing it will be the Lord who will sustain us this next year, the Lord and no one else.

I can now see clearly how God has truly blessed us over the last year. He has answered our many, many prayers to find friends and community in Tucson. He has blessed us with donors who wish to support us in our ministry. He has blessed our work and relationships with InterVarsity. He has given us unearned grace and mercy.

He has lifted me out of the the pit, out of the mud and the mire. He has set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He has put a new song in my mouth when I felt like my lips couldn’t remember how to praise Him.

Although troubles without number have surrounded me and my sins have over taken me and my own heart has failed within me, the Lord came to help me, He delivered me.

Hallelujah!

Standing at Golgatha

When Jesus was crucified, his disciples were devastated. They did not understand why their Messiah was dying! They had placed all of their hope and trust in Him. He was supposed to be their King! Why was he now being killed? More importantly, why was Jesus going willingly, without a fight?

These men had been promised things by Jesus, but in the moment of his crucifixion they forgot them. Their faith was proved worthless. They were not only grieving their dear teacher, leader and friend but they were also grieving the idea that somehow they had been wrong about Jesus. He wasn’t supposed to die, he was supposed to conquer!

The disciples could not see beyond this. They wanted Jesus to live so badly they didn’t understand that His death was so much more powerful than living. Jesus Christ had to die to save humanity from their sins. He had to die because He was the only perfect and acceptable sacrifice. He had to die in order to rise again. He had to die because that was the will of His Father in heaven.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

I have been very much like Peter in my view of my miscarriages. The dreams for my life were shattered. I could not see how a plan that didn’t involve my children living could possibly be any good. I could not remember any of the promises Jesus made. I could not see the will of my Father in Heaven.

Last night as I was laying in bed I heard Jesus speak to me. He brought me to the time and place of His crucifixion. He had me stand among the crowd, among the disciples that were there.

He asked me: “Kirsten, would you choose for me not to die? Would you choose that I stay with you and avoid the cross? Or would you send me to the cross?”

I answered honestly: “Lord I would beg you not to die. I would want you to stay with me. I would choose that over God’s will”

I knew that I was wrong. And I asked God to forgive me. And He did.

I am thankful that Jesus has conquered the grave, and that He was obedient to “drink the cup His Father had given Him”. I am thankful that He keeps promises, even when I completely abandon and forget about those promises. I am thankful that God uses me and loves me even though I drank the cup He has given me kicking and screaming. I am thankful for God’s will.

An Honest Reflection on Grace and Babies

It has been twelve weeks since Jon and I were sitting in the doctor’s office, staring desperately at a black and white screen showing the most beautiful, oval-shaped blob within my uterus, waiting innocently and hopefully for the ultrasound technician to tell us that she could still see our baby’s heartbeat.

In those twelve weeks I have done many things. I have finished my teaching year, gotten a pedicure, started fundraising for my job with InterVarsity and turned 27 years old.

In those twelve weeks I have also noticed that the doubts I have about God’s character and, at times, God’s existence keep getting bigger. I have broken down in tears in my middle school’s bathroom. I have told friends that I am doing well when I was actually drowning in a flood of my own grief. In short, in those twelve weeks, I have not healed.

Today was a day that I was able to take a look at how far I have not come, and how much I need continued healing, reconciliation with God, and to be honest perhaps some real counseling.

This morning I loved church. I usually do love church because our church is awesome. People there are really humble, they love each other, and I cannot help but think after every service that this is how God intended church to be. Today was no exception and I learned some very important things during the sermon and during worship. One of the first songs we sang was very significant to me. When I was in college I struggled with depression and also an eating disorder. I sought counseling and really didn’t want to go on anti-depressants so I also sought healing from Jesus.

The first InterVarsity Large Group I attended, after I confessed my current emotional and dietary state to my staff-worker and my best friend, we sang this song. I remember how I felt singing it. I remember knowing that God was going to heal me. We sang that song in church this morning, it was the first time singing it since that night I was in college and just like when I was in college I was once again in a place of despair needing a great amount of healing.

I became aware of some things I have been thinking about myself, about God, and about my future as a mother during this service and afterward.

The first is that I have been under the impression it was God who took my unborn children from me. I actually have this image of Jesus in a hooded sweatshirt (this image looks a lot like Lord Voldemort, which should have been my first clue that I needed help…) running away with my two babies in his arms, sneaking away in the dark of night. I don’t see it like sin let it happen and he grieved their death with me, or that he allowed it to happen but didn’t want it to, I see it that he literally, physically and even sometimes vindictively took them from me. I am now convinced that God is in a position where he needs to “make it up” to me.

The second thing that I have been doing in the last twelve months is trying to prove to God that I am ready to have a baby, basically trying to earn my blessing from God.

have, in my mind and heart, worked hard at convincing him that I was happy for the other women in my life who were blessed with pregnancy and life.

I have worked hard convincing him that I was going to pursue my life in ministry even though I was not feeling like a perfect disciple

I have worked hard at convincing God that I was going to have a quiet time even though I felt like God was a million miles away. I was doing these things to sell Him on the fact that I was a good enough Christian to be a mom.

So I was thinking about this at church this morning but then it became vividly clear to me when the foll lowing event happened:

This afternoon after church I was making “white people tacos” (these are the tacos I grew up eating in the Midwest, they are kind of good but not even close to authentic) for Jon and I when we found out someone close to us was pregnant. I flipped out. Not like had a little bit of jealousy flipped out, not like shed a tear flipped out. I FLIPPED OUT! I cursed them, cursed God, cursed my own miserable, childless existence (I am very ashamed of these feelings and words, but this is how I felt in that moment). This is not fair, I screamed with tears streaming down my eyes. She is going to experience all the things I should be experiencing! She will get the baby shower, she will get the maternity clothes and morning sickness and strangers touching her belly, she will get to complain about being fat and uncomfortable, she will pick out names for her child with the expectation that she will get to give birth!

These are things that I ache for, that I pray for. These are things that I was robbed of and won’t get back.

After throwing this tantrum and even re-living some of the very same things that I felt when we found out about our miscarriages, I all of a sudden had this overwhelming emotion of regret. Not regret at my emotions persay, but because I felt like I was going to be punished that much more by God. He was going to make me wait that much longer to have a healthy baby because I took two steps back on the maturity scale with my little tantrum.

I think that somehow I am either being punished by God or that there is something different I need to be doing, or something different I need to be thinking, in order for God to let me be a mother.

This is really and truly my current operating system: God is an all-controlling meanie who needs to restore justice to me OR God is this demanding dictator around whom I need to walk on eggshells, deliver endless sacrifices and pass several “performance reviews”.

I have been living under a crappy and incorrect version of grace, a grace that says I need to do something to earn God’s favor or presence in my life.

A grace that is no grace at all.

The fact is I am already holy and it has nothing to do with me, but has everything to do with God and the fact that he has declared me to be that way. He has deemed me “good enough” through the blood of Christ and all the good behavior (or in my case bad behavior) in the world cannot change that fact.

I know that I can’t make myself get pregnant or stay pregnant, that is torture for me.

I know that others are going to be blessed by life even if I am not and I need to be happy for them and I definitely can’t experience heart-wrenching agony every time someone besides me gets pregnant or has a baby. That will destroy me and destroy all relationships I have.

I know that I cannot buy God’s love.

The next step in my healing process, I believe, is to beg God daily to allow these truths that I know to penetrate my heart and will as I live out my daily life.

Sheep

The Psalms are like 7up and saltine crackers when I have a stomach ache. They nourish me gently, they sustain me and they will eventually bring me back to a place where I have a greater appetite and can handle something a little spicier, like Romans or 1 Corinthians for example.

I have needed a lot of 7up and saltines recently. This past Sunday was Mothers Day..a day I have been dreading. I felt jealousy toward all of the first-time moms who were celebrating this day without a care in the world (or so it seemed to me). My emotions were raw and it was one of those days where the tears just kept welling up with wild abandon in my eyes, like no amount of self control would matter or make a difference. Because of this, the majority of the church service that morning was spent trying not to weep loudly and obviously in public (although looking back, that is what my church family is there for..) and force myself to think of all the ways that a woman can be blessed outside of the realm of motherhood.

During worship I sat with my eyes closed, just listening to the music and trying to pray and sing to Jesus, even though what I really wanted to do was indulge my self-pity and make church all about me. However, we started singing a song that noted having a “child-like faith”. This phrase gets thrown around a lot and I understood what it was saying but I never really thought about it…until this Mothers Day. What is a childlike faith? Does it mean I am to be naive and innocent? Too late for that!

I began thinking about what a child is like with her parent. In an ideal relationship the parent knows best and guides the child while she is young to places that will benefit her and be safe for her. The parent is loving and wise and protective and to be trusted. Even though the child may be scared to cross the street, she will walk with faith hand-in-hand with her parent because her parent has never given her reason not to trust. Although the child may not be familiar with this new place or may not even be willing or wanting to go, she will follow her parent anywhere. This is not out of fear, innocence, or lack of options; but rather because of trust and faith and a knowledge that so long as mommy or daddy is guiding her..everything will work out.

Although I had already decided that the service that Sunday could offer me nothing relevant (since I had no child to make me a card, bring me breakfast in bed or even fill up a diaper) God decided to speak to me regardless of my doubt, envy and my “all about me” attitude.

God was calling me to follow him even though I was scared, even though I didn’t want to go, even though I was approaching the unknown within my own heart. My Abba was reminding me that He has never left me or forsaken me, that I can trust Him and that I need only follow Him as a child follows her loving parent. This is not naivety, this is childlike faith.

This brings me back to the Psalms and my tummy ache. There are several Psalms that I particularly enjoy reading to soothe my soul because they have images of water and trees (these are two of the images that help me relate the most to God, and also that He uses to speak to me). The first is Psalm 1, another is Psalm 42, and a third is Psalm 23. So I was easing my way through the 23rd Psalm tonight and realized that it indeed can be a bit picante after all.

The Psalmist writes:

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

This is the part I normally read over and over again. The imagery is beautiful and I can feel God’s presence urging me to sit beside his Living Water and drink. The part that really grabbed by attention tonight, however, comes next:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow the death
I will fear no evil for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff comfort me.”

Now when I typically think of being comforted, I think of chamomile tea, fleece blankets, cuddling, chocolate and Enya. A rod and a staff, not so much. Those are hard, awkward items that don’t ring “soothing” or “cozy” to me.

However, looking at the context of this verse and acknowledging that Jesus is the Shepherd, I am comforted beyond all herbal tea! Although I am walking through a dark valley now, and have no idea what the future holds for me in terms of having children (and other scary things that have been weighing heavily on my heart like finances and beginning ministry next year) I am greatly comforted by the fact that the Great Shepherd has his rod and staff, ready to lead me through this valley and be with me every step of the way.

I suddenly feel like a child crossing the street for the first time, with my hand trembling in Jesus’ hand yet knowing that He knows the way, and that the way is good. Being a child is easy when God is your daddy.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Scabs

The process of my actual, physical miscarriage was painful and lonely. (Warning: TMI ahead) For three strait days I had intense cramping and contractions on and off. I had read that women who had miscarriages experienced real labor pains and contractions, but since I hadn’t with my first miscarriage, I didn’t know what to expect. Well I found myself on the floor, unable to walk, desperately trying to crawl to the bottle of vicodin my doctor had so benevolently prescribed for me. For three days these pains would come and go (and the pain-killers didn’t always work 100%) and I bled heavily. I passed clots and tissue and wondered if any of them was my baby but then on the third day of contractions I gave birth (death?) on the toilet seat. I had to push slightly to “pass” her and it was a very odd sensation, but unmistakably my baby. My immediate reaction was to reach down and salvage what was left, but I was overcome with nausea at the very thought of what was actually happening. I flushed the toilet.

Jon and I decided that a weekend up in Flagstaff at his parents’ cabin would be very healing for us. So we drove the four hours up the mountain with our cat and some warmer clothes. The wind in Flagstaff was relentless (anyone who has spent time in Flagstaff in the springtime can attest to this), cold, powerful and refreshing. Taking a walk through the Kachina Wetlands I felt exhilarated by the wind, like it was blowing all the sadness, anger, and all-around ickyness right off of me. I watched as my grief was spread to the four winds like ashes are scattered at a funeral and I slowly began the process of surrendering these emotions to God

We had a romantic date night at our favorite Flagstaff restaurant and spent the rest night cuddled up watching a movie. Although I knew I was far from healing, I felt a scab forming over the open wound.

The next morning we went to our old church knowing we would meet up with some of our friends from there. I braced myself. One couple was 20 weeks pregnant and the other had a three-week-old baby girl. When I saw these two couples tears welled in my eyes and all of a sudden all I could feel was the emptiness of my womb and the emptiness of my arms. The scab began to leak with fresh blood that wanted out, wanted to bleed and keep bleeding. But over a long breakfast of comfort food (biscuits and gravy) at Cracker Barrel with these friends of ours, I felt the bleeding stop and the scab form once again. These were our loved ones, and they were blessed with life. I was happy for them. I was hopeful for myself. I felt strong, like there was a possibility I could indeed cope with the other pregnant women in my life without outrageous jealousy and anger, like life would go on, like I actually wanted life to go on.

But then I saw pictures of a pregnant friend and walked passed the baby clothes aisle in Target and once again questioned this whole mess! The scab keeps getting picked at and is not healing as quickly as I would like. I know that I will experience these pangs of sorrow in my heart for a long time, but I am looking forward to the day when the wound will heal, the scab will fall off on its own, and all that will remain will be a slight scar.

Mother of Two, Parent to None

On February 29th, 2008 Jon and I found out we were expecting a baby, well I actually knew a few days before then due to some morning sickness and what I guess is maternal “intuition” or “instinct”. So I wasn’t surprised in the least when the little box said “pregnant” on our home pregnancy test. But I was still overjoyed! Jon and I lost a baby at not even five weeks back in November (the doctors call it a ‘chemical pregnancy”…basically meaning it never had a chance) so we were very happy. That miscarriage was some of the worst grief I have ever experienced. I had only known I was pregnant for a few days before it happened but it still devastated me. I didn’t understand how God could possible want to take that baby from us. Why couldn’t he just let us have him? While I still don’t understand, I never will, I have made peace with God over it.

So when we found out this time, all the joy and innocence of being pregnant was lacking for me even though I felt confident in this pregnancy. I even told my family and some close friends at just five weeks and couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the world. Jon, the more sensible and cautious one in our marriage, wanted to wait to tell others and even his family until closer to the second trimester. While I thought this was silly I respected the decision and dreamt of fun ways we could tell my in-laws that we were expecting their first grandchild!

At five and a half weeks I noticed a little bit of light brown on the toilet paper after using the bathroom. My heart dropped to the floor. This was how the first miscarriage began. While I knew that spotting was common in the first trimester, I felt sick and panicked. The very next day I went to the doctor’s office for a blood test and an ultrasound. The blood test revealed that my hormone levels were perfect (yea!) but the ultrasound revealed some interesting and potentially problematic things.

After looking at my uterus (and seeing my little 51/2 week ‘bean’!)the ultrasound technician, Joanie, looked at my ovaries. In my left ovary she found a very large cyst and also what she thought could be an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy means that the fertilized egg implanted somewhere other than the uterus. Most commonly called a tubal pregnancy (because it will usually implant in the fallopian tube but sometimes in the cervix or even the ovary) these pregnancies could never survive and need to be removed surgically lest they rupture and cause severe pain and blood loss for the mother.

Jon was out of town at this point, and I was terrified. The doctor spoke with me and she said she couldn’t be sure if it was ectopic but to take it easy (bed rest) and go to the emergency room if I experienced severe pain or bleeding. She said she couldn’t tell at this point if the pregnancy in my uterus was viable or not. Jon wasn’t scheduled to come home until Wednesday night (it was Thursday) so my dear friend from college came and spent a few days with me. We sat on the couch or the bed and talked about college and weddings and God and America’s Next Top Model. Monday I went in for another blood test. My hCG levels should have about doubled or more from Thursday. They went down by three hundred. When your hormone levels go down it means one thing. I wept. I grieved. I called Jon told him he needed to come home. I called the doctor and begged her to have my ultrasound that was scheduled for Thursday moved up to Tuesday.

Jon couldn’t get home Monday night, but he was scheduled to arrive with plenty of time for me to pick him up and get to our appointment. Wrong again. He sat on the runway for over two hours in Dallas and his plane landed in Tucson just as I was walking back to the ultrasound room alone for the second time in one week. Joanie saw different things this time. She didn’t think that I had an ectopic pregnancy anymore because it had not grown and there was no fetal pole developing. Although the hormone levels suggested one thing, she saw that the sack in my uterus had grown and there was in fact a fetal pole and a very faint heartbeat at six weeks and two days! I was so confused, but had just enough time to run to the airport, pick up my husband, and get us back to the doctor’s office to meet with the Doctor herself, not just the ultrasound tech.

She pretty much echoed what had been shown in the ultrasound: that she didn’t think I had an ectopic and that there looked like there was some hope but she couldn’t tell us one way or another if she thought our baby would make it. Our only option was to wait a week and see what happened next.

We waited the long week (well six days!) knowing that God was on our side and that we had many friends and family on their knees for us and for our little one. We returned on Monday the 24th. Our baby should now be over seven weeks. As Jon and I sat in the ultrasound room, silently, we were told our baby no longer had a heartbeat and had not grown at all since last week. In a blur of holding back tears the doctor gave her sympathies, handed over a prescription for vicodin for the pain I may experience, and told us to go to the ER if I thought I could be hemorrhaging. She mentioned some phrases like “nature’s way”, “chromosomes not matching up”, “two unlucky rolls of the dice” and to “think about testing for possible problems” since we now have had two miscarriages and 0 healthy babies.

I then experienced the deepest, darkest despair of my life. I questioned God’s goodness, I questioned his very existence. In the period of only one week I felt shock and denial, extreme sorrow and loss, and almost overpowering anger. We had well-meaning loved ones call us and encourage us, and others who stayed distant, not knowing what to say to us. We were told my many that we could still go on to have a health baby. While this may be true (or may not be), that didn’t matter. I wanted this baby.

There were plenty of women I knew who have had miscarriages that I wanted to call, but they all have babies now and I didn’t want to ask them to relive their experiences. They had living children, why dwell on the dead? I felt alone, like no one except Jon understood.

Jon and I were tired of referring to our baby as “it”, so since we both felt that she was a girl, we gave her a name. A beautiful name that will be known only by Jon and I. I bonded with my baby even though she was not living. Since I hadn’t began to “pass” her yet (I hate this word. You pass a kidney stone, not a baby) I told her she could stay in my womb as long as she wanted. I told her I was sorry and that I loved her and that her daddy and I wanted her so so much. I told her I would see her again one day.

I am now trying to find out how to move on from this loss. We have many wonderful friends, most of whom either have newborns or are currently expecting. How do we continue to love them and spend time with them during this joyous time in their lives when the emotions we really feel are ugly jealousy toward them? How do we hope for a future family when all we know of pregnancy is pain and suffering? Do we pay for testing to see if there is something wrong with us? Do I celebrate Mothers Day this year knowing that while I don’t have a child to hold or even a baby to feel kicking in my belly, I have two beautiful babes in heaven?

I just don’t have answers to these questions right now. All I know is that I cannot help but hope. I cannot help but hope for a healthy pregnancy and a house full of children. I cannot help but hope that God will use this experience to strengthen my faith and maybe even encourage another young woman who is going through this tragedy. I cannot help but hope that life will be good again, that I will feel light-hearted and happy at some point in the future. I cannot help but hope that God really does work all things for good for those he has called.

I cannot help hoping for the blessing as promised in Matthew 5: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”.