Friday, October 28, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

Perhaps you've seen this poster before.  I saw it a year or two ago and always thought it was rather clever and inspiring.  It was created by the British government at the very beginning of World War II.  It was intended to be distributed in order to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster.

I always thought the origin of this poster was very interesting, but I find it particularly poignant right now.  I don't have first hand experience with the horror of war.  I've never faced a military attack or been forced to flee during an invasion.  However, I'm going to guess that nothing fully prepares you for what you face during times of battle.

Likewise, I find myself in the midst of an unforeseen crisis and I often feel incredibly unprepared. 

What prepares you for the news that your baby is dying? 
What prepares you to deliver a baby who has passed away or will die shortly after birth? 


Not books.  Not websites.  Not long talks with others who have walked this journey.

There are some battles in this life that you must face moment-to-moment.  Carrying a baby with a fatal diagnosis is one of those battles.  I have certainly read some excerpts of books, visited websites, and talked with a few very strong women who have experienced similar loss.  We are doing what we can to be as prepared as possible for what may come, but there is only so much we can do.   

My thoughts take me back to last Sunday.  On Saturday night, I went to bed after a lovely evening of full of family, good food, and pumpkin carving in honor of my birthday.  William kicked away as I drifted off to sleep.  He often moves the most throughout the night.  I find myself looking forward to his precious movements when I wake early in the morning.

On Sunday, I opened my eyes before the sun came up and lay waiting to feel him move. 


I tried not to panic, feeling sure that he would start squirming soon.  The morning wore on as I drifted in and out of sleep.  I became more and more aware of his lack of movement, but refused to dwell on it.

Surely he'll move after I eat breakfast and drink some juice.

The hours passed and I didn't feel anything.  My anxiety began to increase.

It is time, God?
Please, no.  
I'm not ready!  Please, please...
I need more time
I don't want to say goodbye

As the afternoon turned to evening, I began to feel frantic.  I grabbed the computer and searched the Babies R Us website, my hands shaking.  I have had my heart set on picking out an outfit and a blanket for him.  There's so little I may be able to buy for him.  I so wanted him to have something that was chosen specifically for him by his Mama.

I searched for preemie sized clothing and blankets for baby boys, thinking someone could go to the store and pick them up for us if today was the day.  But it became too painful to look through the items on the screen.  I pushed aside the computer, tears streaming down my face. 

I wanted so much more, God.
I'm trying so hard to accept the time we've been given,
but I ache for so much more

If I felt no movement after 24 hours, I knew we were supposed to call CHOP.

I don't want to call CHOP
Please kick, William
Please move for Mommy

My husband tried to stay calm, but every so often he would ask me if the baby moved yet.  We were both waiting...waiting to find out if it was time to face something we could hardly imagine.

As we prepared for bed, my thoughts were all over the place. 

I felt angry.  Why do we have to be in this place of uncertainty?

I felt fear.  But I don't know how to deliver a baby. 

I felt panic.  What if I never feel him kick again?  What if he's...gone 

I felt a deep sadness for which there are no words.  At this point it had been about 24 hours since I'd felt him move and I began preparing to call CHOP first thing in the morning.

As I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, I felt a small thump. 

I froze, hardly able to breath.  Is that you, baby boy?  Move some more for me, William. 

Two more thumps. 

The relief poured over me like warm water.  His movements increased throughout the night and by morning, he was practically dancing.

Although I was relieved beyond words that William was still with us, I found myself feeling very traumatized on Monday.  His lack of movement and the possibility that his life could be over gave me a glimpse into the unspeakable pain we could experience if that is the outcome that awaits us.  Yet again, I realized how one cannot fully prepare for loss of a loved one.

Since I do not know exactly what's ahead and can only walk through this battle moment-by-moment, there are some things I will commit to doing in the meanwhile.

I will cling to God, trusting that He will carry me through the moments of unimaginable grief that may come in my life.

I will pray that He guides me through all the moments for which I cannot prepare.  

I will carry my precious son and give him all the comfort, warmth, and love I can possibly give him.

I will cry, because I love my baby and the threat to his life warrants sadness and heartache.

I will laugh, because I want William's life to include so much more than my tears and brokenness.  I want him to hear and feel the joy of laughter every day of his life. 

I will sing, because I want to share the gift of music with him.

I will hope, because each day his heart beats is a miracle.

I will honor his life, because he is a precious gift from God.

I will love him.  I will love God.  I will love others.

And amidst the battles, the storms, and the moments for which no one could ever prepare...I will do my best to keep calm and carry on.   

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Morn Shall Tearless Be

I have days when joy and hope help to cushion my pain, but I also have days when the sadness and heartache feel insurmountable.  It's a sadness that I've never felt before.  It seeps into my body and I ache, inside and out.  

And then there are the nights.  I find myself staring out into the darkness, wondering if the morning will ever appear.

How can this be, God?
How can this be...

A few nights ago, I woke in the middle of the night.  William was moving as I placed my hand onto my stomach.  The joy and the pain mingled together.  I smiled as silent tears ran down my cheeks. 

My husband slept soundly beside me as I reached for my cell phone.  I opened up the calendar screen and scrolled to William's due date.  I pressed the screen to my face as my silent tears turned into muffled sobs.  I let my phone drop down to my chest and I held it over my heart.  As I held his due date close, I longed for my baby to be born alive and well while simultaneously preparing for a different and devastating outcome.   

Help me, God
If it's your will for me to let go,
Help me let go

I find that moments like these are part of an important process of surrendering my own plans and expectations to God's will. 

It's a painful process.  In fact, sometimes it's excruciating.

I recently purchased an album of classic hymns sung by Chris Rice.  His voice calms me and the long-treasured lyrics of each hymn soothe my heart.  A verse from the hymn, "O Love That Will Not Let me Go" has really resonated with me.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be. 

I accept the days of sadness and the nights of pain as part of this journey I'm walking.  I accept them because I know that it is normal to grieve when the circumstances in your life take a painful and unexpected turn.  It's normal to grieve when you are forced to alter your hopes and dreams and adjust to a new and unfamiliar reality.  Surrendering your plans and expectations is so very hard.

But I will continue to seek joy, despite my circumstances.
I will believe that God is good, even when life feels bad
I will allow the beauty of William's life to soak into my heart

God, please help me endure the nights of weeping
And believe that joy will come in the morning

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Choosing His Name

William Daniel Lake

William's name is very special to us.

William is part of my father-in-law's name and Daniel is my father's name.  Our fathers are both men of strength and character.  They love God, love their families, and treat people with compassion and respect.  These are qualities that we admire and we are proud to name our first son after each of them.

The name William means "Will, Desire."  It also means "Helmet, Protection."  We so deeply desired to be parents and William has been a dream come true.  We don't know what the future holds for our family, but William will always be our first child.  We have and will continue to cherish every single moment of his life.  We pray that his body is protected from pain and shielded from suffering.  Our hope is for William to feel safe, comfortable, and deeply loved throughout his life.

We have given you a name of significance because your life is significant.  
You are loved and valued.
You matter so very much, darling boy.
The illness that is harming your body is tragic,
but you are not a tragedy.
You are a precious gift from God
Who has knit you together and knows you inside and out.
We are so very thankful for you, William Daniel.
We love you now and always.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Reclaiming Joy

During our time of trying to have a child without success, I had some very sad days. When happiness escaped me, I began to adopt the notion of choosing joy.

For me, happiness is linked to external circumstances.  When positive things are happening in my life, I experience happiness.  I view joy quite differently.  I feel that joy comes from within.  It is not dependent on the circumstances in my life.  As a Christian, I believe the source of this joy is God.

When the darkness closes in, I can choose to dig deep within me to find joy.  Sometimes it's buried beneath my sadness, but when I choose to's always there.  That joy can glow in the corner of my heart, helping me hold on to hope.

A little less than two years ago, I remember coming home from a dear friend's house in tears.  I watched her darling child play on the carpet while she and I discussed the hopelessness I was feeling about ever conceiving a baby.  She prayed with me and encouraged me and loved me.  But when I got in the car to drive home, the doubts pinched at my heart and the tears began to flow.

But what's the plan, God?  What's the plan?
I'm lonely for a child.  I long to be a mother like so many of my friends.  
Do you even care?  Are you even listening?

I came home to our quiet, empty house.  I stood aimlessly in the kitchen as my sadness began to form into anger.

Should I throw something?
Should I yell?
I am so disappointed, God.

And that's when I realized I had a choice to make.  I could give myself over to the bitterness. 

Or I could choose joy.

Through a blur of tears, I began writing on the blank chalkboard hanging on our kitchen wall.  I wrote three words...

"I am blessed"

I chose joy.  I chose to love my husband more than ever before.  I chose to love the children in my life until God blessed me with my own.  I chose to be grateful for our home and our jobs and our families.  I chose to hope.

The day we left that doctor's office with the devastating news of William's condition, I felt as if the glow of joy within my heart had finally gone out.  I felt as if I were in some sort of terrible game, and I was losing.

I tried, God. 
I can't do it anymore.
Losing this baby will break me beyond repair.

For several days, when I looked at the chalkboard my eyes would narrow in bitterness.

I am not blessed...I am destroyed

And then I began to feel the familiar longing to dig beneath the sadness for joy.
And do you know what?

I still couldn't find it.

A few days later I would dig again.  Through my pain and weeping, I kept digging.

And slowly...I began to find it again.

I decided to reclaim joy. 

It's a choice I have to make every single day.  Some days I'm successful and other days I'm not.  But I know that God has placed a joy in my heart that cannot be stolen, despite my circumstances.

Today was a particularly low day for me.  The joy was hard to find...but it's still there.

As I write this, William is wiggling inside of me.  So I choose joy.
Our friends and family continue to love us, pray for us, support us.  So I choose joy.
William has been a part of our family for 22 weeks and 2 days.  So I choose joy.
God has made me a mother.  So I choose joy.

As I sit in our family room, I can see the chalkboard hanging in our kitchen.  I've never erased it.  It reminds me that I made a choice that day.  It reminds me to recognize the blessings in my life.

Most importantly, it reminds me to choose joy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Poem for William

 Tonight I wrote this poem for William...

God Bless You, My Love

God bless you tonight
As you continue to fight
How I wish I could set you free
From this illness that threatens
To shorten your life
And take you away from me

God bless your ten toes
Your small hands and your nose
There's no part of you that I don't love
You are perfect to me
My greatest gift
Given directly to me from above

God bless your sweet heart
That's worked hard from the start
To help you develop and grow
Each time that I've heard
It's quick steady beat
I've found my own heart is aglow

God bless you, my boy
My source of great joy
May you never know sorrow or pain
I will love you forever
Long beyond the goodbyes
And will yearn to be with you again

Who Will Carry Me?

For many, it's a very painful and difficult choice to make.  For us, it seemed there was no other choice possible.

I was going to carry William, no matter what the diagnosis.

When your baby is given a fatal diagnosis during pregnancy, the conversation tends to immediately go to termination.  Not only are you processing truly devastating news, but then you are faced with a life or death decision.  If you don't walk into the situation with a firm understanding of your feelings on terminating a pregnancy, it can be overwhelming and confusing.  Even though my husband and I knew that termination was not an option for us, I am truly sensitive to the struggle people have in this situation.

No one is prepared to face this type of news.  The world you were in before walking into that office feels unrecognizable when you walk out of that office.  Nothing is the same.  You are in shock and battling hopelessness and confusion. 

At the beginning of my pregnancy, I remember looking at the screen through eyes filled with tears.  There was our baby.  There was a little black circle with a small white light blinking right in the center of it.  The heartbeat.  I was mesmerized.  I remember so clearly how I felt.  In a voice softer than a whisper I said, I will love you forever.  I knew in that moment that I was willing to do anything for this precious baby.

As our story unfolded I was faced with doing the most difficult thing I could ever imagine.  Even though I feel absolutely privileged and grateful to carry William, the pain of my role in this situation is excruciating. 

The reality is that I am carrying a baby that is believed to be dying.  We know that God can heal him, but we also know that He could welcome baby Will into Heaven now instead of later. 

The room we had been cleaning out to be his nursery now goes untouched.  We don't pick out paint colors.  We don't register.  Our families don't plan baby showers.  We don't read books about having and raising babies.  We don't do the things we thought we'd do at this point.

Instead, we go to appointments and I lay in silence listening for his heartbeat, is today the day?  We go to appointments where they give us details about how to prepare to have a still born baby or a baby who dies shortly after birth.  We choose a funeral home.  We choose a cemetery.  We are given information about the grieving process.

Instead of preparing for a new life, we prepare for a likely and untimely death.  We aren't preparing to say hello, we are preparing to say goodbye.

We live in constant tension between hoping for a miracle and facing the possibility of a bitter reality.

And in the meanwhile, I carry William.  I carry him and love him and cherish every single moment.  Even through all the pain, I have no regrets.  I know with all my heart that God has chosen William just for us.  He has chosen my husband and I specifically for William.

The decision to continue a pregnancy that the doctors have deemed a "failure" was not a hard decision for us.  We pleaded with God to give us a child and choosing to end our baby's life because of his diagnosis was not an option. 

But does the ease with which we made our decision make this journey any easier? 


It's important to me that I am honest through this journey.  I have no desire to appear self-righteous.  I don't want to act like I am a pillar of strength who gets up each day bravely facing the road before me, confident that everything will turn out alright.  Even though I believe without a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision, I am still a disappointed and frightened young mother.  I still shake in the middle of the night at the thought of going through labor and delivery for the first time under these circumstances.  I still cry angry tears, asking God why He doesn't change this situation.  I still doubt my ability to actually walk this road.

I want to carry William, God.  I am honored to carry the gift you have given us.  
But who will carry me?  
I don't think I can really do this, God.  I feel like I'm stumbling and falling.  
I'm not strong enough...who will carry me?

 As I face my own weakness, I have to cling to God's promises and His strength.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed" Psalm 34:18

Please rescue me, God.  
I need You to carry me.  
I can't do this on my own.  
I will carry William while You carry me...I trust You to carry us both.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not Today

I wake up.  The sun is shining through the cracks in the blinds.  I reach down to feel my stomach. 

It's ok.  He's still with me.

In my dream, I was searching our bedrooms for William.  I couldn't find him anywhere and lay on the hallway floor in anguish.  As I turn over in bed I'm relieved he's still here.

It was just a dream.

And then it hits me.  One morning I will wake and he won't be with me any longer.

But not today, Ali.  Not today.  Today he is still here. 

I make the choice to get up.  My body wants to stay in bed all day under the weight of my sadness.  I start small by telling myself to stand up.  Once I stand up, I tell myself to walk to the bathroom.  I do my morning routine step by step, convincing myself to face the day.  By the time I am in the shower, I find myself singing softly to William, assuring him that I will love and carry him today and all my life.  I am feeling a little bit stronger.

My sister takes me to the doctor for our weekly heartbeat check.  I've felt him move so much lately, but not this morning.  As we turn into the hospital, I feel a thump.  It's as if William is saying, "It's ok, Mommy.  I'm here."

The nurse squeezes cold gel onto my stomach and turns on the monitor.  The galloping sound of my precious boy's heart fills the room.  The nurse looks at me and smiles.  I smile, too.  Each moment with William is priceless.

As we walk out of the office, I begin to imagine what it will be like on the day they don't find the heartbeat.  I'm so frightened.  I blink away tears. 

That day may come...but it's not today, Ali.  Not today.  Today he is still here.

We drive to my parents' house.  My husband is at work and will meet us later for dinner.  My mom, sister, and I are going to look at a cemetery.  As much as we hope for a miracle, we realize that arrangements need to be made.  We will be in no condition to make these decisions in the darkest hours of our grief.

We pull into the cemetery and pass through the large iron gates.  The headstones appear just ahead and I take a deep breath.

Why am I here?  How could I possibly be here?

We park the car and begin walking around.  My eyes fall on a grave with a small stone.  It says "Baby Boy".  His birthday is the same as mine.  I gasp and cover my face with my hands, stifling my cries.  I compose myself and keep walking.

It's peaceful and serene.  I see a small office attached to a two car garage.  I walk that way to get information because I figure that is what you do when trying to find a cemetery.  We arrive at the office and I muster up the courage to ask the man some questions about burying my infant son.  He talks to me as if we are discussing the weather or some objects I'd like him to store.  He's abrupt and speaks to me roughly.

Don't you see that I'm pregnant?  Can you not sense my pain?  I don't need you to cry with me, but could you just speak to me kindly?

He hands me a paper with all the pricing.  I quietly hand it to my sister.  She folds it in stunned silence.  My mom, sister, and I walk away from the office.  We say a few things to each other and then begin walking through the cemetery again.  We are without words.

We each walk in slightly different directions, facing our individual grief.  With the sun shining down on me, I feel the urge to fall to the ground.  I want to lay with my face in the grass and scream. 

Instead, I keep walking.

Again, I resist laying on the ground with outstretched arms.  I feel like screaming out in surrender, screaming out in brokenness. 

William moves within me and I breath in deeply.  I keep walking.  There will be a day for mourning.

But it's not today, Ali.  Not today.  Today he is still here.

My mom, sister, and I gather together and begin walking toward the car.  We talk as we look at the graves we pass.  Sometimes, we cry.

I sit on the couch in my parents' house, staring ahead vacantly.  Silent tears fall down my face.  I sense God working in my heart, giving me strength to keep going.  Even when it's so hard, I still believe He is near to us.  I believe He loves us and will guide us while we walk this road.  I believe in His promises.

But it's hard, God.  Today was so hard.  

He knows.

We are not abandoned.  We are not alone.  Not today, not tomorrow...not ever.    


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

His Sweet Feet

I have a special love for William's feet. 

It began at the beginning.  As we went for our weekly ultrasounds, I was delighted by the tiny arms and legs that began growing out of his little bean-shaped body.  As his legs began to grow, we could see little feet emerging.  I would day dream about nuzzling and kissing my baby's tiny toes.  I would tell my husband that I just couldn't wait until February to hug and squeeze and cuddle with our baby.  We would just have to be patient, we would say.

Time passed and we graduated from needing to have weekly ultrasounds.  Our baby was doing well and we would now go to the perinatal testing center for further ultrasounds like every other "normal" pregnancy.  When we arrived at our ultrasound in August, we looked at the screen with excitement as William kicked his legs and moved his little feet around.  We didn't know it was a boy yet, but I knew that my little girl or little boy had the most wonderful feet I'd ever seen.  As the technician scanned across my stomach, she was so quiet. 

Scan. Click. Scan. Click.

She seemed to be taking a lot of pictures of the baby.  I was hopeful that she'd print some out for us to take home.  She got up to leave without telling me to clean up.  The doctor walked in.  Why is the doctor here?  I don't remember them saying we'd see a doctor?  He introduced himself and then began to scan across my stomach.

Scan. Click. Scan. Click.

He told me to clean up and use the bathroom if I needed.  He would meet us in his office.  Why are we going into his office?  Is this what everyone does?

I began to feel nervous, but my husband said he was sure everything was fine.  We sat down in his office and he shut the door. 

Everything wasn't fine.

As we walked to our car, I felt as though I was wading through water.  The world had looked so different before we went into the office.  Everything had changed.  Instead of ultrasound pictures, I had a piece of paper clutched in my hand that had the doctor's words scribbled across the front.  Cystic Hygroma...later fetal demise...chromosomal abnormalitiesWhat did it all mean?

Before our ultrasound in September, I had prayed to never hear the word "hydrops".  A Cystic Hygroma was bad enough, but hydrops would mean the worst.  I knew that Cystic Hygromas sometimes develop into hydrops, a condition where fluid begins to accumulate inside the baby's body around his major organs.  Please God, no hydrops.

As she began scanning, I immediately saw the dark areas in his chest.  I didn't even need to ask.  He has hydrops.  I lay silently, letting her scan every section of his body knowing that at the end they would tell us he wouldn't survive.  Don't fall apart, Ali.  Just keep watching her scan William's body.  Look at his feet.  Just look at his precious feet kicking back and forth. 

We asked for pictures this time, but she said he wasn't positioned well for pictures...and he was too swollen.  With sadness, she handed us one picture before leaving.  It was a picture of his foot.  Oh, my darling boy.  Your feet are so beautiful.

The same doctor as before came back and quietly began scanning.

Scan. Click. Scan. Click.

He asked me to clean up and for us to come back to his office.  There's a lot going on, he said.

I wiped the once-warm gel off my stomach and shivered.  I walked into the bathroom that was shared between my room and the room next door.  As I locked each door, I heard people laughing in the next room.  I wanted to burst in and make them stop.  How can you laugh? Don't you know my baby is dying?

I looked around the bathroom at the cartoon strips hanging on the walls.  They depicted women making cleverly snide remarks during labor or lamenting about midnight feedings and sleepless nights.  I am going to go through labor.  I am going to have sleepless nights.  But I won't be taking home my baby.

As I washed my hands, I stared at myself in the mirror.  I've never seen myself look so sad.  Who are you?  How has this happened?  Will you ever be happy again?  I looked's hard to see yourself that way.

As we sat in his office, he began listing things of concern about William.  The Cystic Hygroma was worse.  He had hydrops around his lungs.  There were other anomalies such as his feet. The doctor said with certainty that our baby wasn't going to survive.  I asked more about his feet.  He said they were "club" meaning they weren't growing correctly and were facing inward.  This is a benign condition but could indicate more serious underlying causes.  He moved on to other things, but my mind couldn't focus on anything but William's feet.

Why, God?  Why his feet?  Could you not have spared his feet?  Must everything be taken from me?

As we went through the next week, we grieved and cried over William's new prognosis.  We were scheduled to go to CHOP to get more information.  There's much to say about our CHOP visit, but that can be for another day.  They were so kind to us and spent so much time explaining everything they know about William's condition.  After a long meeting with the doctor, I realized she hadn't said a word about William's feet.  I don't remember whether it was my husband or I who asked about his feet first.  We knew he had a fatal diagnosis.  We knew his feet were the least of his issues.  But what about his feet?  Just tell me about his precious feet?

She said that he didn't have club feet.  Club feet are fixed into position and William moves his feet around freely.  The diagnosis of club feet was not an accurate finding in the previous ultrasound.  With a smile she said that he does move his feet in a funny way,  but his feet are totally fine.

Thank you, God.  Thank you for his feet.

I've found myself pulling out the beautiful ultrasound pictures they gave us at CHOP and searching for the one of his foot.  I love every single part of William, but there is just something so special about his feet.

Keep kicking your legs, baby boy.  Move your feet however you like.  

I love you exactly the way you are.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Waiting for William

On Mother's Day, I took my first injection.

After a couple years of trying and doing failed infertility treatments and procedures, we began the journey of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). We knew IVF could be in our future, but we were so hopeful that it wouldn't get to that point. IVF is painful, invasive, and expensive. What doctors are able to do in situations like ours is amazing and wonderful...but it isn't simple or easy.

We had taken a break from all fertility related procedures and medications so that we could clear our minds, pray about our future, and give my body a break. My body and my spirit were tired. I had lost my beloved aunt to cancer in September and I felt overwhelmed with disappointment. Why hadn't God answered our prayers for her healing? Why hadn't God answered our prayers for a child? I needed to work through my disappointment and reconnect with God.

It took about 7 months before we felt emotionally, financially, and physically ready to proceed with IVF. We went to appointments and injection trainings. They took what appeared to be ten thousand tubes of blood from me. And in early May, I closed my eyes while my husband gave me my first injection. It was Mother's Day and I was willing in my heart to do anything to be a mother. In some ways, I feel that I started loving William that very day...weeks before his life even began.

Soon we felt that we were pros. I had the whole injection and medication schedule written out and faithfully followed their directions. With anxious but excited anticipation, we crossed off the days to when our family could begin.

IVF consists of two very involved procedures. Both required a few days of bed rest and both involved pain and discomfort for me. The day of the second procedure, they gave us a picture of our embryos. We joked about being in a select group of parents who knew what their children looked like at only 8 cells old. I still have the pictures.

After the second procedure we knew I could either become pregnant with two babies, one baby, or no babies. The two week wait was torturous. The injections continued and tend to cause symptoms that mirror pregnancy, so there was no way to know before I went in for the blood test.

During the last week of my school year, we got the call. I was pregnant! Really pregnant! My levels were high and the thought of twins entered my mind. I can't really put into words the joy in my heart when we got the news. After years of wanting and desiring a child, God had answered our prayers. We cried in thankfulness and gratitude.

Even though my pregnancy was confirmed completely, I took several pregnancy tests because I longed for the experience of seeing the positive results. I relished every moment.

Within weeks, an ultrasound confirmed our suspicion. Twins! Our joy couldn't be contained. We were over the moon with happiness and praised God from the depths of our hearts. Our parents and siblings celebrated with us and it was and always will be one of the happiest times of my life.

Shortly after this time, we found ourselves looking at the ultrasound monitor and saw that one baby's heart was beating and one was not. They sometimes refer to this as "vanishing twin syndrome". Sometimes in early pregnancy, one twin does not survive while the other thrives and there's no explanation for it. This seemed to be the case for us. Even though our joy and relief over the progress of our one baby didn't change, our hearts grieved for our second baby who was never to grow.

I went forward with an attitude of peace, trusting that God's plan was good and His timing perfect. Our baby was growing and doing perfectly...God had given us so much for which to be thankful. But every time I saw a set of twins walk by in the grocery store or at the park, I felt a small pang of loss for what could have been.

The weeks went on and we watched our baby grow. I was practically couch ridden with nausea all summer but was thankful for every minute of it. Every symptom of pregnancy filled my heart with absolute happiness. We began planning and praying and waiting for our baby to grow healthy and strong so that we could take him or her home with us in February.

I thought that waiting for William was ones of the the hardest things I'd ever do. I thought that was our testimony. A testimony of waiting and holding on to hope for God to start our family.

I never imagined we would be where we are today. I never imagined we'd be faced with saying goodbye to our long-desired and precious son. I'd be lying if I said I haven't experienced anger, disappointment and utter confusion at the place God has us in. However, I don't feel abandoned by God. A friend sent me this quote and I find it so true as I'm walking through the darkest time of my life so far...

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Our love and appreciation for William has only been deepened by the waiting.

William was so worth the wait.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Forever a Family

It's hard to know where to start. I have so much to say about so many things. I desired to start this blog because I felt it would be healing to write out our story and allow others to read it. Our story has so many chapters already and I imagine I'll write them each when I'm ready.

Today I want to begin by writing about our family. Right now there are three people in our family. We hope there are more members in our family someday, but there will never be less than three. I am 20 weeks pregnant with our first baby. My husband and I love our son with all of our hearts. We have named him William Daniel. His name was chosen with purpose and I will write more about that in the future. Baby William is our precious gift from God. We already know him in such a special way. I'm eager to share more of his story.

My husband and I got married in 2007. We knew that God had designed us each to be parents and couldn't wait to begin that journey together. We also knew that it wouldn't be a simple one. As we knowingly faced a battle against infertility, we clung to Jeremiah 29:11 (it's written out beneath the title of this blog). We even had it inscribed on the inside of our wedding bands. Committing ourselves to God's plan for our life is an irreplaceable part of our commitment to one another. We hold on to the truth that God has our future in His hands and that future is one of hope.

I plan to share many chapters of our story, but today I will focus only on the recent main events. Over the past six weeks, a series of dates have become painful, but important parts of our family's story.

On August 24th, during a routine ultrasound, they told us that William is very sick and may not survive. We began a journey filled with uncertainty, fear, and sadness.

On August 31st, we went in for testing to find out more.

On September 12th, they called us with news that our baby is a boy and he has normal chromosomes. He was still in great danger, but we rejoiced in this piece of good news and named him William Daniel.

On September 22nd, during a follow-up ultrasound, they told us that William is extremely sick and will not survive. The things they told us were devastating. We grieved, our hearts feeling shocked and broken.

On September 30th, we went to CHOP to find out more. They treated us with compassion and respect. With sadness in their eyes, they confirmed that William cannot survive his condition. They know more information about why he is so sick, but they will continue to work with us to find out as much as possible.

Our family is now in an in-between place. We believe that God is fully capable of doing a miracle in William's body, but we also know that may not be His plan. We sense that we need to prepare to say goodbye.

As my belly grows and I feel William move throughout the day, I experience joy mingled with pain. There are moments of true anguish within my heart...moments where I'm unable to find words to describe my sorrow. But William's diagnosis has not changed my love for him. If anything, I love him more than I ever could have loved him at 20 weeks. His short life is and will forever be full of value and significance. He is our first child and he is dearly loved. I will love and honor him all the days of his life and all the days beyond.

My husband, William, and I became a family the moment William's life began.

I will forever be a mother.
My husband will forever be a father.
William will forever be our first son.

No matter what happens, we are forever a family.