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In which I grieve and mourn…

What makes a life? I know the arguments run in circles. Does it start at conception? Does it begin with that first, gasping breath after hours of labor? Maybe that’s the wrong question. I’m still trying to figure out the right question to ask.

One week ago, I was thrilled to announce that a long-awaited event was taking place. After months of trying, I got a positive sign. (Actually, it was four positives and one digital negative…I had to be sure) I probably didn’t need one, because I just KNEW it. My body was starting to feel different and I knew it was true. In my head, I was already planning out the next few months, hoping my morning sickness wouldn’t get too extreme, and praying that just this once, I’d be able to enjoy my pregnancy in full. I estimated I was 6-8 weeks. My midwife calculated a little more efficiently given my irregular cycles and said I was WAY earlier. I hoped I was later, but figured she probably knew a thing or two about this…

So I was anywhere from 4-7 weeks, but it didn’t matter really. I felt amazing, if a little tired and gaggy, and I was determined to enjoy the next nine months, come what may. Was I apprehensive? A bit. This was the first pregnancy where I was at a VERY healthy weight, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. Everything felt different, but I figured I could still safely tell others my news. I mean, I had three uncomplicated pregnancies prior to this one, right? No big deal.

Maybe the question I should be asking is, is that tiny little life real because I believe it to be, or do I believe it to be real because it is?

Friday morning I woke up. Had my coffee, spent time doing school with the kids, pondered a conversation I’d had with my mom the night before about my fears regarding pregnancy and loss. Worked out pretty hard and felt great afterward, if a little winded. I’d been experiencing a bit of an achy stretch on my right side from the beginning of the pregnancy, but thought nothing of it. It wasn’t pain and I figured my uterus hadn’t been in use for over three years, so it was natural to feel some stretching. No big deal.

That was until I got out of the shower and started to bleed.

Beyond the fact that I had NEVER experienced abnormal bleeding with any of my other pregnancies, I knew right away something was wrong. There was no pain (at least not that first day) but I knew that for whatever reason, this brief period of time where I once again was given the privilege of nurturing a new life, was now over. Call it a gut feeling, a matter of the heart, or just the facts. I knew. And I lost it.

My darling husband came home to find me curled up on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out. He held me, prayed with me, and we discussed the next steps. There was no drama (other than my tears) that day, but we both wanted to find out for sure. So I called the midwife, got in to an emergency ultrasound that afternoon, and took a blood test to find out my HCG levels.

Even if my levels were higher, and they weren’t, I would have known when I looked at the emptiness on that ultrasound. I could see all the preparations for sustaining a life in the womb, but no life. Not even a blip on the screen. I’d FELT empty before the ultrasound. Now I had proof that I was empty.

I’ve fought PCOS since puberty hit. I was told that I would struggle with infertility and irregular cycles and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. None of this was new to me. Thankfully, I’ve been managing my symptoms well enough that even the midwife noticed the lack of evidence for PCOS where there should have been. I’m not cured, but perhaps I’ve been given a reprieve.

And the three children I bore prior to this pregnancy proves that infertility isn’t that much of an issue really. I mean, we tried three times, and three times we made a baby. That simple.

Actually, we tried four times, and four times we made a baby. It’s just that now I get to tell people that one of our babies isn’t going to be present here on earth. That hurts just writing it. I’m a mother four times over and I won’t get to meet Pelokid #4 until I get to heaven. Something tells me, it’s a girl. Sweet and precocious and bubbling over with life.

There are a million explanations for why this pregnancy did not end with a live child 40 weeks after conception. Some explanations even range into the, it wasn’t really a baby idea. I’m going to block that one right now, because one, it doesn’t offer me any comfort whatsoever. And two, it brings me back to the question I asked earlier. I believe I was carrying a precious life for at least 5 weeks and that life is no longer present in my womb. I will grieve and mourn that life and then I will take joy in being chosen to be the vessel for that life for a few brief, but absolutely precious moments. All life is a vapor, some lives disappearing sooner than others.

The day after I miscarried, we watched a video on science and faith in regenerative medicine. There was a picture of a basic human cell. A basic picture from a typical biology textbook that any high school or college kid could read. As the scientist/researcher explained the components, I picked out names I hadn’t heard in years. Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum. I like Golgi apparatus best. The name is just cool.

Each part of these microscopic cells works in harmony to create a miniscule organic computer in basic scientific terms, but it’s SO much more than that. Put billions of these working, tiny cells together and you create things like skin, organs, muscles, eyes, ENTIRE Human Beings. If just ONE part of ONE cell is out of order, it can cause the entire structure to collapse. To decay and degenerate. The research in regenerative medicine takes these cells, breaks them down into their multiple components, tries to figure out how all the individual components work, and then attempts to recreate a cell using that knowledge. And it goes wrong, so many times. But when it works, ligaments are healed, cartilage and bone are renewed, and skin is grafted. But the original cell is what amazes me most. Because as much as a scientist or doctor can do their best to work with lab-created clones of the real thing, they will NEVER be able to perfect it to the level that our Creator God did on the original model.

Right in the middle of that talk on regenerative medicine, when I was feeling the physical pain of losing a child, struggling with the emotions and mental strain of the ordeal, I felt God wrap me up in His arms and whisper His reassurance in my ear. I looked at the three children He’d blessed Jake and I with and marveled on the fact that, of all the billions of ways it could have gone wrong, HE knit them together in my womb and breathed life into their tiny developing bodies. HE started their hearts beating and formed the neural pathways in their developing brains. HE fit every joint and bone and ligament together like a perfect puzzle and told each cell what its job would be.

I got to carry them and do the work HE created my body to do for nine months of their life. I was the vessel, but HE.

He is ALWAYS the Creator and Sustainer of life. And that little life He recently allowed me to carry for a few brief weeks was His too. He granted me the privilege of being mommy to not one, not two, not three, but four fearfully and wonderfully made children. His image stamped on each and every one of them. Three, He gave more time for me and Jake to love and cherish and raise. The fourth one, He called home. I have NO idea why He gave me the privilege of being a mommy four times and I pray that I will get that privilege again. I have no idea why I was given the privilege of keeping three of His babies, but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and showing them their Heavenly father’s love. I have no idea why the fourth one won’t be in my arms for a VERY long time, but I am so very glad I got to carry her under my heart. And I cannot wait to meet the child who is more alive now than she ever could be here on earth.

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In which I enjoy a little humor and late night exercise…

My son tells GREAT stories. He makes them up off the top of his head and just spills it out. If there’s a slight change in the plot and we call him on it, he has an answer that makes a strange, logical sort of sense in the context of the story.

AND, he tells the whole thing in this sweet little lispy voice that makes you just want to squeeze him, it’s so cute. I’m going to miss that a few years from now when puberty hits.

So this story. It’s about a cotton candy woman and soon becomes a candyland, sugar infused tale that makes your teeth hurt just listening to it. And the finale is a gigantic explosion that takes off the roof of the cotton candy house and places ALL of the candy in Candy Land into little boxes to sell in a a candy shop.

That is the nutshell version. The real one took about twenty minutes long and wound its way around like the actual Candyland board game. We got stuck in the Molasses Swamp and a slight detour in Licorice Castle, but eventually Princess Lolly (or was it Gramma Nutt) found their way to KIng Candy’s castle. (Via the aforementioned rooftop explosion)

Needless to say, dinner time at our house is ALWAYS entertaining.

However, we had started late because Jake got home from work late. Which meant our workout got put off until after the kids were in bed late. So we didn’t do our workout until about ten o’clock last night.

GROAN…

When I don’t want to do something, for whatever reason, I resort to a two year old throwing a very silent temper tantrum. I grump and sit down like a stubborn a…donkey and refuse to do whatever it is I don’t want to do. The harder someone pushes me, the more stubborn I get.

My husband is devious. He’s learned this secret of mine and has decided to use it against me. Because the only thing that will get me off my butt is when I’m left alone.  Like a kid who doesn’t whine and complain at children’s church UNTIL his mom is in eyesight again and suddenly the whole HOUR and a HALF she was gone is the ULTIMATE BETRAYAL and MUST GET ATTENTION NOW!

That’s me. Only the adultier version…

So when silence happened after my stubborn refusal to move, I got curious and decided to find out why his attention wasn’t on me anymore.

When I found him, I asked him why we weren’t working out and what on earth was he doing ignoring me like this? (I’m paraphrasing here)

His devious, evil plot worked because the next thing I know I’m grumping my way through a 35 minute workout and wondering why I was grumping anyway.

I KNOW what’s good for me. I KNOW the best thing for me. Most kids do too when they take the time to really think about it. But our stubborn natures don’t want us to admit it. EVER.

Moral of the story: If you’re going to listen to a LONG, sugar-laden story at the dinner table when you have to exercise that evening, start dinner before seven.

Candyland_Game_Board

Posted in child, discipline, faith, Family, Home, Hope, laziness, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, soul surgery, Train Up A Child

In which humility and grace are on the menu…

Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool displays folly. ~ Proverbs 13:16 NASB

I am a fool. All this time I’ve been teaching my children the value of having an “I can do this” attitude. The word “can’t” is not recognized as a valid argument. They try and if they still cannot accomplish the task, they ask for assistance.

So I wonder why, after such consistency in our training, they still use the dreaded C word. It’s like nails on a chalkboard and grates on my mama heart.

We’ve all heard the phrase,

Do what I say, not what I do.

I’m here as a first-hand witness to the fact that phrase is categorically incorrect.

My children were only following the lead of their foolish mama.

I say all the right things. But as for following my own instruction, I cannot seem to do that.

So my husband called from work to let me know that our smashed up car still had the plates attached and with the salvage company coming to get it, we would need to remove the plates. We have a new car (new to us anyway) purchased and wanted to just switch the plates to that one.

Without hesitation my first response was, “What am I supposed to do about that?”

See what I did there? I didn’t actually say I can’t do it. I just beat the bush to pieces in a more subtle way. I was still saying, “I can’t do this. You do it for me.”

After he got off the phone and we ended our conversation on less than pleasant terms, I realized the gravity of what I had done. I also realized with shame, that my children were watching the entire exchange and had heard my defeatist words. I’m positive that if I continue on the path I’m taking, my children will also learn how to be more subtle in their, “I can’ts.”

I called my husband back to apologize for my “I Can’t” attitude, and I made a genuine attempt at removing the plates. While I succeeded at one of them, I did still ask my husband if he could help me with the other one. This time, he gave a definite YES.

And yeah, my children watched that conversation too.