infertility

Five Things I Want You to Know on Mother’s Day – To the Women who had Miscarriages

I was so happy. I sat in church and locked eyes with my husband. We exchanged a smile over a secret only the two of us shared.

But then, the next Sunday, tears sprung to my eyes before the first notes of worship even began. I hugged a few close friends but shied away from everyone else.

As the singing of our church service began, I sank into my seat. I was broken hearted.

I had experienced loss. I had miscarried a baby.

I’ve been through this experience five different times over the span of eight years now. I am more in-tune to the emotional signs of loss than the average member of our congregation, but even with my watchful eye, I know many other women slip through my radar and suffer their losses in silence.

Maybe you’ve been there too.

Sweet girl at church, maybe you have experienced a miscarriage as well. Whether you’ve shared your loss or kept it silent, I have some things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day. Whether you sit in my pew, attend my congregation, or live miles away, this message is for you:

1. You are not alone.

Even if you’ve kept your loss private, you are not suffering alone. You may look around the room and see babies in seemingly everyone’s arms, but even the church is not free of heartache.

The most recent statistics state that 15-20% of all pregnancies end in loss.

Our scars are not visible, but many of the women sharing your pew have felt the heartbreak of infant loss as well.

2. Others want to love you.

If you choose to share your losses — and I recommend you eventually do — let the church body surround you with love. Let us bring you meals or bake you cookies. Accept our gifts – even if you don’t believe you need them. These gifts are a physical representation of God’s love for you.

After one of my miscarriages, a friend brought me a pair of fleece pajamas. Every time I slid my legs into those fuzzy pants, I felt the love and support of my friend.

Do not isolate completely, as the whispers of Satan can become shouts in our times of solitude.

3. Grief takes time.

Grieving the loss of an infant is not the same as grieving the passing of your grandfather. He was given the opportunity to live a full life. You have memories with him.

Grieving a baby you never met is unique. You lack the memories and shared experiences, but still posses the pain. You mourn what could have been as opposed to what was.

It’s ok to seem fine one day and struggle again the next.

After my second miscarriage, I took a few days to grieve and then returned back to work. One of my clients announced her due date that next week – it was the same date as the baby I had just lost. Following the announcement, I took a couple more days off of work. My heart was not ready; I wanted to be happy at the announcement of new life, but my wound was too fresh.

Trust your body and your heart as you mourn. Take a day. Take a month. Take what you need. Your grief is as unique as the baby you cry over.

4. God does love you, but Satan hates your family.

You chose to create a family and bring a child into this world. You planned to raise this baby in the church and according to God’s Word. God is not punishing you for any unfaithfulness in your past or anything you have done wrong. God loves you. He desires to give you good things.

But.

But Satan is present and powerful. He hates the idea of a family grounded in truth. He stops at nothing to harm and destroy.

These are facts of the world we live in, but dear friends, don’t allow Satan to win.

Do not allow this trial to breed bitterness or anger against God. Seek wise counsel and help if you need someone to preach and re-preach God’s promises and goodness over you.

Soak up the truth of how God loves you as you continue to read your bible during your grief. Remind yourself of the hope of heaven as you grieve for what sin has taken from you.

5. You were the best mama for your baby.

My babies typically perished between six and ten weeks gestation. For every one of those weeks, I was a good mama for my babies. I kept them safe. I nourished them. I loved them unconditionally.

These losses are not something I wanted. Quite the opposite. I would have done anything to keep them alive.

This is true for you as well, Mama. I don’t doubt your devotion to your children — no matter how long they lived on this earth. You were such a good mama.

If God grants you another babe, you will be a good mama again, no doubt. You will be the best mama for that baby. God made that specific child with you in mind.

 

These are the five things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day – whether you attend my congregation or not, whether your loss is recent or long ago.

Sister, even if your children are not still with us here on this earth, this Mother’s Day is for you. I’m sorry for your loss, but your baby was blessed by your love – no matter how short or how long s/he lived. Sweet girl, sweet mama, Happy Mother’s Day.

Your Moments Defined – He Heals My Brokenness

This blog was not born out of a defining moment in my life or my husband’s life; It was born when we made an intentional decision to turn our tragedy into Our Moments Defined.

I know many of you have done the same. Tragedy and heartache have come your way, but you’ve sought the Father and have redefined those moments.

I want to share your stories through regular guest posts. Today’s guest post is by Beth McMillion. You can find her blog here.

Beth and I went to the same college, but we did not connect until our husbands both served in ministry nearby. Because of our shared experiences in adoptions, special needs, and ministry life, we became fast friends. 

“You may never have children.”

This is what they told us two months before our wedding. James and I met while attending school at Lincoln Christian University. We fell in love, planned to marry, have a family, and jump into full-time ministry. Having a diagnosis of severe endometriosis and the removal of an ovary could have derailed all of our plans, but we didn’t let it. Without skipping a beat my wonderful husband responded to those words with “That’s alright, we’ll adopt!”

So we started our journey into marriage and family building with an uncertain view of the future. But really, when is the future ever certain or the path into it ever clear?

Long story short, we tried a few of the doctor’s recommendations as far as medication to treat the endometriosis and a second surgery 2 years after we were married. I remember being in recovery from that surgery and hearing the Doctor say, “If you don’t get pregnant in the next four months, your only option will be IVF.” As I lay there half out of it, I heard those words and they hurt. I could feel my heart breaking. I already knew we would not pursue IVF and we wanted so badly to have a family. The realization hit home a little bit harder that we would build our family through adoption. And while that is a wonderful God-honoring way to build a family I knew it would be hard.

My pain and my brokenness were very real. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. What I did know in the midst of all the brokenness is God. I know who God is and I know what he does.  God is in control. He has been in control since the creation of the world and he will be in control until he comes again and makes all things new. God is trustworthy. I know that he will do what he says he will do. Because my God is in control, and because he has proven himself trustworthy I trust Him to take my brokenness, a closed womb, questions of what to do, what is right, how will I have a family, why me… He can take it all and mend it, heal it, use it for His glory. Time and again throughout Scripture and in the lives of those around me I have seen God’s healing power. This knowledge allows me to let God pick up the broken pieces of my life and bind them together. To create something new and beautiful.

So I did it. I gave my brokenness to God and said, “I trust you, Lord. Create something new.” And we began the adoption process. But there’s a funny thing about brokenness. Brokenness is like a broken glass on a kitchen floor. Sometimes you miss a piece when you’re cleaning and end up finding it with your bare foot. It comes out of the blue and it hurts! You see, you can give your brokenness to God but it’s quite common to find shards of brokenness coming out from dark corners every so often. We had been working on the adoption process for almost one year. There was one Saturday morning in particular. On March 27, 2010, I was so lost in my brokenness that I found myself face down on the floor in the sanctuary of our church. I was in tears, I was crying out to God. I felt like Hannah in 1st Samuel when she pled for a child from the Lord. Once again I gave it to him. I gave it all to him. The doubts, the frustrations, the fears overwhelmed me and yet I said, “Your will Lord.”

On April 3, 2010, at 9am our phone rang. It was the adoption agency we were going to list with in Florida. They had a baby girl who needed a mommy and a daddy. Abigail Ruth McMillion was born on April 1st and we had no idea. On April 3rd we packed our bags, jumped on a plane and headed to Florida, empty car seat in hand. At 11:00 that night, we walked into the hotel lobby and they placed this beautiful little girl in my arms and I fell completely head over heels for this little girl my body had not borne.

Special needs adoption blog

Two years later we wanted to adopt again. This time, we worked with the foster system. On April 19th Julius was placed with us and his adoption has now been finalized.

Special needs adoption blog

The Lord healed my brokenness, He answered our prayers. God heals our brokenness in so many ways. He is faithful. He is good. If he had not given us children through adoption, I have no doubt He would have healed my brokenness in other ways.

Special needs adoption blog

We have begun the adoption process once more to add a third child to our home. I don’t know where God is taking us, but I do know that He continues to grow beauty out of ashes in so many different ways. He continues to heal my brokenness because I surrender it to Him.

 

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

I’m not so far removed from this holiday to remember that it is sometimes filled with dread, sadness, and resentment. For those who are unable to have children, for those who have lost their mothers, and for those who struggle to honor the women who have fallen short, I am praying.

This year though, my Mother’s Day is bittersweet as I remember my three babies in heaven, and I’m blessed by my new, beautiful baby boy here on earth.

When my mother was here visiting last week, we were preparing a meal or cleaning something together when I started rubbing my left eye.

I complained to my mom that my left eye had started this annoying habit of twitching all the time. I’d never had this happen before, so I had pretty much written it off as a symptom of my seasonal allergies.

My mom chuckled as we worked side-by-side. She told me that she suffered from that same twitch. It had nothing to do with allergies, but it had everything to do with exhaustion.

She said that she also developed the same twitch when my older brother was born. Now that I (the baby of my family) have been out of her house for almost a decade, she said that the twitch is finally starting to go away.

For thirty years, my mother has suffered from this left-eye-twitch.

Despite her lack of a medical degree, I suspect her diagnosis is right; My life currently is exhausting.

Nasko moves at 100 miles an hour. He’s still mentally as impulsive as a toddler and cannot be left in a room alone (otherwise, you know, he might stick a serving spoon into the outlet where his fan was once plugged in or lick an unidentified object in our front yard – something potentially deposited by the dog.)

I’m currently trying to balance the life of a minister’s wife, working woman, housekeeper, and cook, all while figuring out this new role as a mother – a new mother whose baby doesn’t take a bottle, and who certainly doesn’t take three naps during the day.

Being a mom is exhausting. The hours are long, the pay is non-existent, and the job is messy.

But, let’s be honest, it’s really not about the moms.

Let’s look at Proverbs 31 in the bible. This chapter is somewhat of a guide or a checklist for godly women, noble wives, and Christian mothers:

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

I try to bring good to my husband, check! So, it’s typically in the form of good eating, but it’s good nonetheless!

She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

Number one – I missed the part where I get servant girls…
Number two – getting up before dawn! Check! Nasko sees that I am a “Proverbs 31 woman” by dragging me out of bed before the sun comes up!

She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.

I am an energetic and strong worker these days. Do you even know what type of muscles can be built by jumping on a trampoline three to four times-a-day?!

Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.

I for sure don’t fear winter. This has been the warmest spring on record…

She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.

Ok, so I’m not much of a seamstress, but I will admit that Chance is well-known by others. EVERY time we go ANY where he sees someone he knows. And has to chat with. So, check mark on that one…

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.

Now, does my three-and-a-half hour nap today count as laziness?

Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”

In fact, Chance regularly says nice things to me, but I’ve never once heard him say that…

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. (Proverbs 31:10-31 NLT)

So, if you look at Proverbs 31 as a checklist, I pretty much fail. I don’t own my own property. I can’t sew to save my life. I do NOT stay up late at night…

But as I mentioned right before reading these verses, it’s really not about the moms.

It’s about our selflessness.

This ideal woman that Solomon is describing is very, very selfless. She puts the needs of others before her own.

She would wake up before dawn in order to read her bible and pray, knowing that soon her sleepy child would enter the room.

She would cook many of her family’s foods from scratch because of her child’s allergies and intolerances.

She would jump on the trampoline or sing the “There Were Twelve Disciples…” song 34 times before putting her child to bed.

She would diligently rub lotion on her child after every bath in order to prevent a skin infection.

She would kiss her child goodnight and forgive him for all the times he hit her, bit her, and defied her in the past hour, let alone the past day.

Because friends, it isn’t all about us.

It’s about selflessness.

It’s about putting others before ourselves.

It’s about taking a sick friend to the hospital when they have no one to give them a ride.

It’s about praying with a friend who fears an overseas trip.

It’s about caring for the oppressed by helping to feed them every month.

It’s about giving a coworker the job with a bigger commission because their family is struggling.

It’s about mowing the neighbor’s yard while she’s receiving treatment for cancer.

It’s about encouraging a child who seemingly receives very little encouragement.

Dear friends, let us not just focus on mothers today. Let us all focus on being selfless in every role of our lives.

Let us all demonstrate noble character by thinking of others as better than ourselves.

Let us not only imitate the Proverbs 31 woman, but, more importantly, let us imitate Christ:

Philippians 2:3-5 NLT-
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.