Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tears and Hope - the infertility awareness project






This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. It used to be in November, but this year it was moved to the spring. We are just a few weeks out from Mother's Day and hopefully NIAW will remind people that Mother's Day can be a very tough day for those struggling with infertility. I am writing an article for Mother's Day at church and I will post the article next week.

Until then, the Tears and Hope video I link to below says more than I ever could about the difficulties of living with infertility. Infertility will always be a part of me....it does not and did not define me, but it is a part of my story and my journey and I am forever changed because of it. As it says in the video, "The impression on my heart will last a lifetime..."

For those of you who know someone with empty arms, be sure to watch the video. It's educational to say the least.

For those of you who are still waiting with empty arms, may this video give you hope and encouragement to press on for one more day...because you don't know when or how your journey will end.

Tears and Hope - the infertility awareness project

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
Today is one of those days. It's a day where I feel so dang blessed...blessed to be your mom and blessed to stay home with you each day.

It's a gorgeous day today even though it's only 39 degrees out. The sun is shining, the grass is green, the leaves are budding on the trees and the birds are chirping. It's only 9 a.m. and already you've had a bath, went grocery shopping with me, and now you're down for a nap.

Your friends Noah and Makaela are coming over for lunch. Your dad is home tonight (he has been traveling a lot lately!), and we get to hang out at home together.


You got your first tooth last week. Your smile still melts my heart. You are the happiest baby I know and everyone says so. I've got a picture from this morning to prove it:






I got this darling blue sweater on clearance and this is the first time I put it on you. It's too big, but oh so cute with your blue eyes!

I'm thankful to enter into a new season with you by my side. I look forward to warm summer days, playing in the grass and splashing in the kiddie pool. It's just me and you for four more months and I want to soak it all in.

I love you little man.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Baby Oliver

Today I held a sweet little peanut named Oliver. He is the brand new son of my dear friend Molly.

When I think of Molly and her baby boy, I can't help but think back to the journey Molly has been on with me....she has walked beside me, shed so many tears for me, prayed so many prayers for me and dealt so gracefully with my losses during her times of celebration.

Just one month after my first miscarriage Ryan and I met Molly and her husband Josh for dinner in August 2006. With tears in her eyes she told me she was expecting. I could tell it was so hard on her to share this news in the midst of my pain. I know she wanted to share the details of her pregnancy with me in the following months as I grieved my loss and waited month after month to conceive again, but she was so sensitive with my heart.

Beautiful Sophia was born and I've watched her grow for two years.

Last August, on the same day I told Molly we were finally pregnant again she told me she too was expecting. What fun - we could share our pregnancies together! We were due just 10 days apart. She prayed her heart out for the health of our baby and asked God if one of our babies wouldn't be healthy that it would be hers so Ryan and I could have a baby.

The day I had my first ultrasound and heard a heartbeat she rejoiced with me and cried many happy tears. On the day we found out our baby had died, she left me a message and I could just hear her sobs on my voicemail. Her tender heart felt my pain and was broken over our loss.

Once again, during what should have been a time of sweet celebration and rejoicing over the new life inside of her womb, Molly walked beside me grieving along with me, crying beside me and listening to my questions. And she let God have it a time or two.

It was my dear friend Molly who I gave the sad task of erasing all the weeks off my calendar of what would have been by upcoming pregnancy. I just couldn't bear to do that again. With tears in her eyes she took the pencil and one by one erased week after week.

Both her pregnancies have been marked by my miscarriages. I am so sorry for the timing in that.

But today I rejoice with her in the birth of her son. In the miracle of his life and in the perfect timing God has for her family. I am grateful for the gift of her friendship and the tenderness of her heart. I am in awe of her prayers that sustained me through my darkest hours.

Congratulations my dear friend. I love you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Love Compels

This is a video we showed on Easter Sunday at our church, Mill City. You'll see Ryan, Samuel and I in it, along with my dear friend Jeri Anne and her beautiful daughter Chloe who she adopted the same time we got Samuel. All the stories are true, and all the people are from our church. Make sure your cursor is not over the image while the video is playing. Watching it is far more powerful than anything I could say to describe it:


Cardboard Testimony from David Johnson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So that we might have hope

I came across this verse not too long ago and it spoke powerfully to me...


"For e v e r y t h i n g that was written in the past was written to
teach
us, so that through endurance and the encouragement
of the Scriptures we might have h o p e."
-Romans 15:4


That verse represents a beautiful truth to me. Whenever I flip open the pages of my Bible, every single word I find written there was written to teach me. It was written to offer endurance and encouragement. It was written so that today, on April 22, 2009, you and I might both have hope.

Awhile back I did some research on what the Bible has to say about a woman's womb and conception. What I discovered was both encouraging and frustrating. But regardless, it was all thought-provoking and it was all written so that we might have hope.

Jeremiah 1:5 says
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."

Psalm 139 tells us that God "knit me together in my mother's womb."

God not only forms us and knits us in our mother's wombs, but He opens and closes wombs as He chooses.

Genesis 20:1 "For the Lord had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah."

1 Samuel 1:5 says "But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb."

1 Samuel 1:6 says, "And because the Lord had closed her [Hannah's] womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her."

Genesis 29:31 says, "When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren."

But that changes in Genesis 30:22 "Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb."

God is the giver of life. He takes. He forms. He knits. He closes. He opens. He remembers. At times that is a frustrating truth.

For many months last year I prayed that God would open my womb. I claimed the truth of Scripture found here. God had done it once, and I knew He could do it again. I knew that regardless of any medical treatment, surgery, medication, natural, healthy eating, acupuncture or other activities I might pursue or participate in while striving to conceive, it was the Lord who would ultimately open or close my womb.

So I asked people to pray. I asked them to pray that God would remember me and open my womb. This was a Biblical prayer based on prayers in the Bible:

In 1 Samuel it says that Hannah prayed: "O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me...."

Then it goes on to say: Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the Lord for him."

And as I referenced above: Genesis 30:22 says, "Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb."

Of course, as you know, my story did not play out how I had planned. God remembered me, but it wasn't the way I would initially have chosen. It was far better and greater that anything I could have dreamt up.

May we all find truth, encouragement and hope through words written so long ago...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slide show of Samuel

Click here to view a slide show of Samuel's 6-month photos. They are so darling. He is SUCH a happy and smiley baby. Everyone comments on his happy disposition...having just written that, Samuel is currently in the jumpster next to me and he is grunting. I think he is pooping. That's my boy.

The pictures were taken by Jen Turcotte of Serendipity Photo in NE Minneapolis. The song is This Way by Jewel. The lyrics are perfect.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A day for rejoicing...and a day for mourning

Dear Sweet Baby Girl,
It is so strange for me to write those words. To know that you are growing inside me and that one day I will meet you, is incomprehensible. What if you come out a sweet baby boy? Then I will have some explaining to do when you read this letter :)

Today is a day for rejoicing....and it's a day for mourning.

How is that possible? Both in one day?

Because Baby Girl we serve a God of amazing timing.

Today we rejoice because April 20 marks the 20-week point in my pregnancy. We are exactly half way through the pregnancy and that means half way until we meet you. We rejoice in this good news and the blessing of a healthy baby. I haven't felt you move yet, but I will soon and then maybe I will really start believing you are in there...getting bigger and stronger and more beautiful each day. For now, it just seems like I've eaten one too many brownies and my tummy is showing the consequences.

There are many baby girl who are rejoicing over the gift of your new life. There are many who are encouraged by the story of you and God's timing in bringing you into our lives.

Yes we rejoice in the beat of your strong little heart, your precious foot on the ultrasound and your incredible profile.

We rejoice that we have made it to 20 weeks of your little life. What a milestone!


Amazingly, today is also the exact due date of our precious second baby that we lost in September. April 20, 2009, was the baby's due date.

I was so excited that our baby might be born on your grandma or grandpa's birthday on the 22 or 24 of this month.

But that wasn't to be.

Instead God gave us Samuel and we didn't even know of a due date for that little man!

And then He gave us you and we wait for your arrival on September 7 of this year.

As I rejoice in your life growing inside me, I mourn the life that left me all-too-soon last fall. I mourn the life I never got to hold or meet.

But I believe with all my heart in God's perfect timing so I must acknowledge how incredible it is that the rejoicing and mourning of today fall on the exact same date.

How good of our God to allow me to rejoice in the 20-week mark of your life on the day that your brother or sister was to be born.

Sometimes its too much to think about. Sometimes its too hard to comprehend. Sometimes there is a crazy mixture of emotions that I can hardly muddle through. Do I laugh? Should I be crying? How do I rejoice and mourn simultaneously?

But it doesn't really matter if I can figure out all my emotions.

It doesn't really matter that I can't begin to understand the wonder of God's timing and His plans.

All I truly know is this: There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.


Today we do both of those and give glory to God through it all.

Please pray for our friends

You may recall this post about our friends Emily and Joe who had a failed adoption in January. A few weeks ago they met with another birth mom and she chose them as parents for her baby boy who was to be born in May. He was born this past weekend at just under 5 lbs. Please see their prayer request below and join me in lifting them, their baby boy and the birth mom up in prayer.


Hi Ladies-
I need to keep this brief...internet access has been spotty here, but I wanted to let you all know that our baby boy was born this weekend! Samuel Joseph was born on Saturday (several weeks early) at 6:58 am, and weighed 4 lbs., 13 oz. We've been at the hospital the whole time and he's been doing very well! If all continues to go well, we'll be bringing him home tomorrow or Wednesday.
We would really appreciate your prayers for us during this time, as we wait for Theresa to sign the consent and "legal risk" to end. After our last attempt at adoption, we are feeling nervous and cautious about everything. Even though this feels like a better situation than our last, we know that there are no guarantees. We have absolutely no control over this...it's all in God's hands. We are praying for him to give Theresa strength, courage, and a good support system for the weeks ahead.

I'll keep you all updated if there is any new information.
Thanks for all of your prayers!

Love, Emily and Joe

Friday, April 17, 2009

A word from a friend

I received this message on Facebook from a gal named Sarah whom I've never met. Her message was so encouraging to me, so full of truth and so touched my heart because it comes from someone who has walked the road of loss, and waiting, and now is experiencing blessings from the Lord. I wanted to share her words as a reminder to myself, and for those of you who might benefit from them as well! I highlighted two phrases that I loved in her message.

Read on...


Hi Stacy,

I wanted to wish you a hearty congratulations on your daughter!
I follow your blog through my friend's blog. I absolutely adore reading your inspirational posts and beautiful stories of your faith journey and your son.

I wanted to let you know a small story, if you don't mind.

I had 3 miscarriages prior to the conception of my now 1 year old daughter Lucy. I had early ultra sounds with all of my pregnancies and at 6 weeks there was never a heart beat. Until my daughter. A strong heartbeat that caused my tears to pour and my heart to soar. After learning she had that precious flicker on the ultrasound that we had so long prayed for- fear set in because I couldn't bear the sadness if it went away. I was so desperate to hold on to this tiny child that I loved before she was even conceived.

As my pregnancy progressed I figured I would surely relax, I would surely settle in to the miracle of my pregnancy and have faith that my little girl would make it and be born into the world. Each time that fear creeped into my mind I felt the distinct movement of my little daughter. Each movement was a reminder that life was growing and thriving and I just needed to trust that the Lord had a plan. The Lord had taken away from me in the past and just as surely he had given us a blessing infinitely more perfect and wonderful than the sorrow and grief of what he had taken away. But the Lord never took her, she came into the world healthy and perfect, all smiles and snuggles. She is every bit the embodiment of the Lord's promise that all things are possible in Christ who strengthens me. You may never stop being afraid, but never never stop believing and trusting.

The Lord has blessed you abundantly with your son and a second time with your daughter. While the pain and fear of the children you have lost will never be gone from your heart or your mind, the Lord has promised good to you and your daughter is another sign of his infinite grace.
We may not always understand the path or the plan but it is our trust, our faith in the Lord that strengthens us on our journey.

I will continue to pray for you and your family, for your pregnancy and for a calm heart for you. Your daughter will be here soon and what a family she is being gifted to!

Sarah

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Samuel's little SISTER

According to some fuzzy black and white images on a computer screen this morning, it looks like we should be expecting a HEALTHY baby GIRL in early September.

I'm still trying to process that everything is going well with this pregnancy and that a little girl will soon join our home (although to be honest, I won't fully believe it until I see it!).

I'm continually amazed at how our story is unfolding and thanking God every day that we waited on His timing.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers for us today. Know that I'm praying for those of you who are still waiting for your miracle...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Moment by moment

Tomorrow morning I have my 20-week ultrasound. I'm looking forward to the appt because we'll see our little peanut and find out (hopefully) if we're having a boy or girl.

I'm not looking forward to the appt because I still have dreadful feelings about ultrasounds due to my history.

In fact, I think my fears go deeper than I even realize.

Last night I dreamt we went to the appt and right after the appt I went into labor. In my dream I delivered 6 babies - oh wow! And then they all died because I was only 20 weeks along.

And I remember thinking, "How am I ever going to grieve the loss of 8 babies....these six plus my two miscarriages?"

I woke up with a heavy heart.

This is the reality of the road I've walked.

If you've been divorced, or severely hurt in a relationship, your views on love are impacted.

If you've struggled with your identity or your worth, it impacts your self-image and self-esteem.

If you've come from a broken home, it's hard to grasp what a Christ-centered family looks like.

If you've suffered judgment and condemnation, you find it hard to be open and authentic with others.

Our experiences impact us. They don't have to define us, but they certainly impact us.

My mind keeps going to a verse in Isaiah 26: "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."

I would like to think that even with my imperfect mind, God can give me perfect peace if I choose to trust Him.

Here's the problem: I write dates next to verses when I pray them for a specific situation or they speak to me about something I'm going through.

Next to Isaiah 26:3 I have this date written - 9.9.08

Two days before I went in for our second ultrasound last September I claimed this verse because I was nervous that our baby wasn't healthy. And it wasn't. Two days after I wrote in the margin of my Bible, I was told that our baby had died and there was no longer a heartbeat.

How do I trust today, when I trusted last September and my heart was broken over the loss of my baby? How do I not think the same thing is going to happen again?

This trust thing...it's so...daily. Sometimes it's even moment by moment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My blessing...or yours?

Recently I've been feeling guilty.

Guilty about being pregnant when I already have Samuel.


Guilty that I will have two miracles when I have dear friends who are longing for one.


I struggle with this guilt...not all the time, but enough that I'm aware of it. Enough that I wonder why God is blessing our family again.

When I was waiting for my miracle, it was so hard to hear about others who got pregnant and didn't want to be. Or hadn't really tried. Or it was a surprise. Or they had 1, then 2, then 3 kids.
I just wanted one baby and I begged God for that blessing. I begged him to give me a baby instead of drug addicts, or negligent moms, or women that already had multiple children.

What I learned during my time of waiting (and what I am still learning today) is that God had - and has - a blessing in store for me that is independent of anyone else's blessing.
Their blessing could never be mine. My blessing could never be theirs. I'm not taking away anyone else's blessing and they are not taking away mine.

I didn't have to wait nearly 3 1/2 years to conceive a healthy baby because other people were getting their miracle first. The timing of the baby in my womb
was decided long before today (see this post in case you've forgotten my view on that).

I clung to this reminder during my days of waiting...and I still cling to it today: "God does not operate on a "First come, first served" basis and His plan for your family does not change because of what others receive. The blessings He grants someone else do not lessen what He has in store for you, just as the length of someone else's suffering does not take precedence over your prayers when he answers requests." - Moments for Couples

We are not competing for one another's blessings. God delivers each and every blessing...and he hands them out in His timing and according to His perfect plan.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just a little slice of life

Samuel turned 6 months on Friday. We had his doctor's appointment yesterday and for those who are interested, here are his stats:

Length: 27 1/2 inches (75-90th percentile)
Weight: 15 lbs, 13 oz (10-25th percentile)

He is long and lean...he can't sit up yet (there is no fat to keep him sitting up :), but he rolls both ways, all over the place. He jumps like crazy whether he is in him Jumpster or not. Our arms get a work out when holding him!

Today I looked at his car seat and realized it says it is good for up to 20 lbs and 26 inches. Oops. No wonder the straps are really tight on our little guy. My sister-in-law is coming to the rescue with a bigger car seat for us to use.

Recently Samuel has eaten peas, prunes and squash. Lesson learned by mom: when wearing a white sweatshirt don't open squash while container is facing you. Soon you'll be wearing a white and yellow sweatshirt.

Just a little slice of life in the May household these days....

Friday, April 3, 2009

I AM STILL IN AWE

Six months ago today our miracle was born.

SIX months?! How can that be?

Our son came into our lives so unexpectedly. Six months ago tomorrow we got the call. We were just hours from learning that our years of waiting, pleading, praying, struggling, healing, questioning and trusting had to led to this day.

I was reading a post this week that I wrote in November and when I got to the following paragraph the tears just poured from my eyes as I recalled these sweet memories:
Does our story begin
with October 2008 when we got a call that a 19-year-old birth mom had just given birth to a baby boy and was looking for a family to adopt him? He was less than 24 hours old. Were we interested? Would she choose us? We knew very little about adoption. But we knew a God who was bigger than our heartache and better than our wildest dreams. From phone call to parenthood was less than five hours.


Less than five hours.

I am still in awe.

Six months later I look at my miracle and I AM STILL IN AWE.

That must be what it is like to live a miracle.
How do people become parents in less than five hours? Through the miraculous work of the Lord. For three years we had tried to conceive a healthy baby and in five hours we were holding a miracle in our arms.

Samuel Lee we're celebrating you and your miraculous arrival into our lives today. Lunch at a friend's house...6-month pictures this afternoon...and dinner out. We look forward to celebrating you for the rest of our lives.


Six months, six years, six decades...I pray that the awe never wears off.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's time

When Ryan and I first miscarried (nearly 3 years ago) a friend told me about a motherhood necklace she got after her miscarriage. It's from a web site called Red Envelope and looks like this:












My friend wore this necklace and when people asked her about it she told them the story of her first little one lost to miscarriage.
I asked Ryan to order one for me and it give it to me when the time felt right. I thought it would be a good way to not only acknowledge that I was a mother, but this necklace could be a reminder of the little one I lost.

The following February, on the due date of the baby we had lost, Ryan handed me a red box. I had completely forgotten about the necklace.
The moment he handed the box to me I knew. And the tears started falling. It had been eight months since the miscarriage and my heart was still so raw. My grief was overwhelming. My arms ached for a life I never got to meet.

I still have that red box.

I still have the card that Ryan included inside.

And I still have that necklace.


And I have never worn it.

I thought I could wear it two years ago in memory of my baby. I thought I could wear it as a way to heal. I thought I could remind myself that I was a mom, even though my arms were empty.

But I couldn't. It was just too painful. So instead I tucked it away for 'someday.' It resembled a hope unfulfilled. When I saw the little white mesh bag that held the necklace, I would hold my breath in anticipation of the day I would get to wear it - when I had a baby to hold in my arms.

The fall came and went. I now had a baby to love.
Then I discovered I was pregnant and my dream of having life grow in my womb is coming to fruition.

And
I still haven't worn my necklace. I'm not sure why.

But I think it's time.

This necklace is a reminder to me of my first baby. It's a reminder to me of my second baby. It's a reminder that I was a mom long before I held a little one in my arms every day. It's a reminder to celebrate the gift of motherhood. It's a reminder to thank God for Samuel and for this new life.

Some days it might be hard to wear the necklace as I recall the pain and hurt associated with losing two little ones.

Some days I might be giddy with joy over the delight in wearing a motherhood necklace and raising my children.

Some days I might wear it to honor the babies I lost and the babies I now love.

Some days it will be a reminder of the long road to motherhood, the 'gift of infertility' and the blessing of waiting on God's perfect timing.

But today I'm just going to put it on. I am going to wear it in remembrance. I am going to wear it in gratitude. I am going to thank God that I am not the same person I was the day I received the necklace as a gift. I'm going to see it as a token of the lessons I've learned and the journey I've experienced.

It's time.