Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hope is coming for me

Hope is a fragile thing.  One small crack in the veneer can bring it down.

Before those two beautiful pink lines appeared, we had tried to get pregnant for over a year.  I charted my cycles and was beginning to be concerned about some of my hormone levels because of some abnormalities in my cycles.  So when those little lines appeared, the very next day I called the doctor to get some labs done to be sure that my numbers were good.

They were... okay.  They wanted me to come back in to get more labs done.

I did and that afternoon I got a call from my doctor's nurse.  My progesterone level had dropped.

"Is the baby in danger?"

"Well, low progesterone can result in a miscarriage," she answered honestly.  "That's why we are putting you on a prescription supplement to try to improve your levels."

"Ok.  Thank you."

I hung up the phone and burst into tears.  All my fears came bubbling to the surface.  Fears that my body was broken and incapable of sustaining life.  Fears that what I had hoped for for so long was about to be snatched away before I even got used to saying the words "I'm pregnant" out loud.  Fears that I would have to mourn this life inside me and then gather my resolve to try again.  Fears that I wouldn't I have the courage to do that.

I clicked a link to a Youtube video of a couple telling their family and friends they were expecting.  I smiled through the whole video, but when the last second flicked by I was overcome with sobs.  I sat in my bed and my body shook with tears and grief.  I could no longer relate to that couple's celebrating.  My rejoicing had been poisoned by worry.

And just like that, my joy vanished and it was replaced by anxiety and anticipation of loss.  A loss that hung in the future as a big fat possibly.  And yet I was living as though it was a reality.  I fought it hour by hour.  I would realize that my mind had wandered down the rabbit trail of loss - imagining how I would tell people.  Imagining how I would explain it to Lila.  Anticipating the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage.  I would realize, and try to snap myself out of it.  Remind myself of the symptoms I was having, remind myself that there was no real reason to expect to lose the baby.

One day I was so overcome with worry that I took another pregnancy test, hoping relief would rush over me when the positive result appeared.  It was positive, but the relief was fleeting.  "I took another test," I tearily confessed to the Husband that night.  "I just needed to see it again."

He nodded his understanding.  (Oh that all the wives could have a Husband like him.)

Despite his understanding, I couldn't offer myself the same grace.  You've learned this lesson already!   I would scold myself, thinking of our waiting for Faith.  You know by now how to choose faith over fear.  Do it!  Quit wallowing in what you're manufacturing as a future reality when your actual reality suggests that things will be just fine.

But I couldn't believe myself.  Waiting for Faith felt like trusting God's leading and direction and this felt more like something I had pleaded and begged for.  I felt like I wanted it too much and anything you want too much will be taken from you.

Twisted, right?

I hope you hear the lies in there.  I hope you can see what I've been blind to.

With one small seed of worry - my low progesterone - the Thief had managed to steal the joy of this pregnancy, kill my hope and destroy my faith in who God had shown himself to be.  The smallest hidden anxiety was amped up and massaged (and no doubt magnified by some pretty gnarly hormones raging through my body) until I burst into full blown panic.

I knew it.  A part of me knew that I was believing lies - allowing what-ifs to hold more weight than they should.  I knew, but I didn't know what to do about it.  I couldn't snap myself out of it.

So I prayed.

Help.  I whispered in my heart's tiniest voice.  Help.  Rescue me.  I'm lost.  Shepherd, come find me.  Bring me back into your fold.

It's funny because for the last few weeks I've had the words from the bridge of a Brooke Fraser song running through my head, "Hope is coming for me."  I've been singing them to myself without really paying attention to the words.  Hope is coming for me.  Hope.  Is coming for me. 

It was as though Jesus planted that answer to my prayer in my subconscious before I had the presence of mind to pray it.  Hope is coming for you, Kelsey.  I know you feel lost and like you're drowning, but I'm coming.  I won't leave you alone.

And that truth sparked a different story - one in which I am the sheep and Jesus is the Shepherd and he leaves the other 99 sheep to come and find me at the bottom of the pit of anxiety I've dug for myself.  I started telling myself that story and reminded myself that if he is my Shepherd, then I will recognize his voice when he calls for me.  So I started listening for his voice calling for me, coming for me, rescuing me.  And when he finds me, he puts me on his shoulders and carries me home.  He does all the work.  Because I am a silly little sheep and I can't do the rescuing for myself.  And in his arms I - along with all my hopes and dreams and small little babies growing in my belly - I am safe in his arms.

The thing is, the wolf still lurks just outside the pen.  Some nights, I am huddled in the middle of the pen, shaking and trying desperately to remind myself that I'm safe from that prowling beast that paces back and forth whispering fears and worries as though they are truth.  But I am learning to look around and remind myself where I am.  That I am safe.  That the Shepherd will protect me when the wolf attacks.

And just like with Faith, I don't know the outcome.  I might lose this baby.  I might.  But I think God is asking me to trust him that he will care for me no matter what.  I think he is asking me to put my hope in him - not in my body's ability to carry a baby or in the baby itself.  I'm going to choose to put my hope in the One who is unshakably faithful.  He is the only one who does not change or waver.  He is trustworthy.  I will hope in him.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Psalm 91:2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I spent days analyzing my symptoms, weighing the probability against 13 long months with no baby.  I even - against all reason - had been looking at baby names online.  Then I found myself wandering down the feminine care aisle, reading the labels of pregnancy tests.   I bought two different kinds.

I was going to wait to test.  A few more days at least.

"Should I take a test?"

"You should wait until tomorrow," the Husband said.

"I keep asking myself whether I want to live in false hope for a few more days or know for sure now."

"I think you want to know."

"I'm taking one."

I snatched it up off the bed and went into the bathroom, only to emerge seconds later looking for the instruction sheet.

"I want to make sure I do it right," I told the Husband.

Hold stick downward...5 seconds...replace cap...wait three minutes.

A pink link crept across the screen.  One lonely pink line.  I sighed.  It was what I expected.  What I should have expected.  What I'd come to expect.  I began my mental pulling-myself-together routine.

Then I took another look.

Was that?  Could it be a bit of pink emerging alongside that bright lonely line?  I stared at it and - I couldn't help myself - a grin spread across my face.  Shoving the door open, I expected to see the Husband sitting on the bed, but he was gone.  Padding down the hall, I could hear the water running at the kitchen sink.  I ran down the stairs.

"I think it's positive," I said with a mix of wonder and bewilderment.

He turned around.

"I think it's positive," I said again, with a laugh of shock, and turned to go back up the stairs.

We both bent over the plastic stick, me pointing at the ever-more-clear pink line that had materialized in the minute that had passed.

He turned to me and grabbed me and kissed me fiercely.  And my tears came.  Ugly sobbing tears of gratitude and joy and disbelief.

"I can't believe it!  I can't believe it!" I said it again and again.

"I can't believe it!" I sobbed and stared adoringly at the test as though the baby itself was growing inside those little pink lines.  Two little lines that I thought I'd never see again.  Two little lines I had all but laid upon the alter.  Two little lines I had truly drawn on my last bit of faith to hope for.

How many times had I stared at a solitary line, willing another one to show up?  How many times had I wrapped up the disappointing results, washed my face free of tears and steeled myself to face the world?  How many times had I been sure that my symptoms were pregnancy only to have them dissipate in the following days?

I had given up hope.

Or at least I thought I had.  I must have had a smidgeon of hope at the bottom of the barrel.  A stubborn remnant that refused to abandon the dream that my body could grow another baby.

I must have, because only Hope buys four pregnancy tests at 10:30 at night and takes one in the face of disappointment.  Only Hope looks back - double checks - to be sure it's wrong.

Only Hope would believe that we would be pregnant with our third child.

That wily stinker, Hope.

Hope was right.  The dream is waking.

We are having a baby.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

10 Mini-stories: Faith edition

A few weeks ago, I gave you a few Lila stories that weren't quite long enough to warrant their own post, but that I still wanted to document.  Now it's the Faith edition!  Here we go!

1. Faith likes to people watch out the window when she's eating.  The neighbors across the street were having people over and she was intrigued.

Caught me taking the picture

How's this, Mom?
2. Faith has a bunch of new signs!  It's so exciting when she breaks out a new one and she's so proud of herself when she communicated something effectively.  Her latest signs go along with songs we've been singing in her therapy.  I need to get a video of her doing them to capture the absolute cuteness involved.  New signs include: apple, turtle, fish, yummy, up high, down, off and...poop.  Her favorite sign is still "All Done!" and she says, "Ahhh- duh-duh-duh!" with enthusiasm as she signs.

3. Faith and I had a selfie photo shoot while we were waiting in the car for Daddy and Lila to pick up something from Home Depot.  She thinks she's really cute.  So do I.

Hey Mom, here's my sock!

4. Our friends handed down the cutest little pea coat.  I think Faith looks so gorgeous in bright colors.  When the Husband put the hat on her I nearly fell down from the cuteness:

5. Faith loves to hug.  Sometimes her victims recipients are less than enthused about her hug attacks.  We stopped in for a quick visit with my friend Molly and her little guy who tolerated Faith's affections like a gentleman.  Even when they bordered on strangulation.

6. We had a birthday party for Faith.  I am wracked with guilt at the lameness of her parties so far compared the extravagance of Lila's.  But all this mama could muster in this season was pizza on the deck, store-bought cupcakes and a borrowed bouncy house.  Next year (when she is actually old enough to care and notice) I'll get my act together and plan a crazy party for her, too.  Although, let's get real, as long as there's dessert involved, she's happy:

7. Faith took 9 steps today!  A new record!  She was walking toward Lila so maybe all that "help" her big sis was giving her actually paid off!  She looks like a little Chinese Frankenstein, all stiff-legged and wobbly.

8. Faith used to be completely indiscriminate about what she ate.  She'd eat anything - ANYTHING - we put in front of here.  Sadly, those days have passed.  She's still a remarkably great eater, but sometimes she surprises me with what gets rejected.  Tonight she dramatically spit out the bite of chicken taco I gave her.  If I put eggs on her tray, she doesn't even try them - she just throws them off her tray immediately.  She will however eat things off the floor that she previously rejected.  It's not my favorite quirk of hers, I'll be honest.

9.  This is the reality of Faith's life:

It's all love.  And ham-tastic hamminess.

10. We went to the pumpkin patch and Faith played checkers with pumpkins.  It was pretty much the only thing the non-walking people could do while their big sisters jumped off of giant piles of hay and made their mommies nervous with their reckless acrobatics.  This sort of safe pumpkin observation is more my jam.  Atta girl, Faith.

She is getting stronger and smarter and cuter every day.  I'm one lucky mama.  Love that Faith-baby!