Rainbow

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I haven’t written since last August, and there has been so much happening.  Notably, this…

In January, I found I was still not myself after the miscarriages. I wasn’t feeling back “on board” with life. The holidays were terrible, and I just couldn’t get my footing.  I went to the doctor in hopes of getting help with my anxiety, and was reminded instead of God’s great sense of humor.

“We didn’t even have to wait 3 minutes. You’re pregnant!!”

And so I was.  The first 8 weeks, especially, were almost too much. I was so full of anxiety that the joy of what was happening escaped me. I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time.

Now we are at 20 weeks. Halfway through and rolling along. So far, Priscilla (the baby) is doing wonderfully.  I am still on edge, to the point that when the doctor calls or texts, it usually starts with “DON’T PANIC.” They’ve been very patient with my quirks, but they’ve understood the battles we’ve faced as well.

Thank you, God, for your many blessings. Looking forward to getting to know our precious little girl.

Be still.

I realized today while listening to KLOVE how beneficial it’s been to be still, and let God sort out many things over the past few weeks. What I have wanted to speak out against, pursue legally and vindicate openly, I’ve instead prayed about incessantly. I’ve not been perfect at it (I really haven’t been all that good at it), but I’ve definitely been better than I instinctively wanted to be. I think, much like anything else spiritual, it’s a matter of practice and discipline.

I find so much relevance in my life within the context of Exodus, oddly.

Waiting, wandering, whining (let’s be honest)… but also receiving, resting and realizing His intentions.

I liked this quote (https://www.gotquestions.org/God-fights-our-battles.html):

“God wanted to make it crystal clear to Egypt that He is LORD so that He got the glory over Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4). And because God wanted to teach Israel that He is their Deliverer (Exodus 6:6) and their Salvation (Exodus 14:13). They were incapable of escaping the situation on their own—they needed only to wait for God to move on their behalf (cf. Psalm 27:14). The battle that appeared to be between the Egyptians and the Israelites was in reality between the Egyptians and the Lord (Exodus 14:4).”

Much like the Israelites, sometimes it isn’t a battle between you and someone else. Sometimes it’s between them and God, and my getting in the middle just adds more complications.

To be honest, “being still” has almost felt like more work than doing it my way. It has been really, really, really, really hard. I am naturally a feverishly impulsive “do-er” and God wants me to be an incessant “pray-er.” Again, I do not claim to have gotten an A+ this go around. I’ve still shown my feathers a bit, and it’s not even completely over.

I’ve studied about the promises of the Bible. Which ones were made to me, and which ones were made in context of certain circumstances, and here’s what I know…

God doesn’t change. Not today, not yesterday. He isn’t going to change tomorrow and won’t change after I’m gone. He is the I Am.

The promise of Exodus 14:14 is a promise I can secure myself in today, just like when Moses declared it to the children of Israel, standing at the edge of the Red Sea.

17

I’m the only one who realizes this should have been 17 weeks.

One of you, we’d have been excited to know, was a boy. The other we’ll never know. Instead there is just nothing, and no one else may have kept count- but I have. I love you, and I’ll see you someday. I am saving up the biggest hugs for you two.

I would do anything to make this pain go away, I’m so sorry there wasn’t more I could do. I’m just so sorry.

Results

He was a boy, and we will never know what happened because he was perfectly healthy genetically. The doctor said there was nothing I did, or could have done.

God knows His plans, and now we can try to start healing.

It’s just one of those times I have to rest in knowing He is good, and everything He does is good.

Where is My Baby, God?!

So incredibly in love with these words from Waiting for Baby Bird. While my issue wasn’t infertility, much of it still hit home.

Waiting for Baby Bird

Where is my babyI wrote this post over a year ago and in that time it has sat in my drafts folder just waiting on me to hit the publish button.  But out of fear of being criticized, ridiculed, or having my faith questioned,  I haven’t been able to do so.  It’s hard exposing yourself to the world.  But I know that vulnerability and transparency is often needed because there is nothing more healing than reading the story of someone else and knowing that you are not alone.  So sweet sister, the one reading these words and having the same thoughts, feelings and struggles, I stand shoulder to shoulder with you.  You are not a bad person.  You are not a bad christian.  You are human with human emotions, questions, fears and doubts.   


There I stood in my kitchen, holding our foster daughter’s surprise present behind my back.  I watched as she…

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Drive-Thru

​I have this weird talent for getting people to talk to me and learning a whole lot about them in a few minutes.

Tonight it was the drive-thru girl at McDonald’s. I know and remember her name, but I don’t want to get her in trouble. I made a comment that, the past few times I’d been there, everyone seemed happy with their job. They have been so pleasant. 

She said, “Girl, we just have to be there for each other. Today was bad. We had so many mad and rude customers. My manager was in tears and it was almost too much. People forget we are people. Most of us are going to school and sometimes it’s just a lot. It’s so rare that people are pleasant. We just have to support one another and we do have a good time.”

She wasn’t whining, she was just very articulately speaking the truth, and what was on her heart, because I brought it up. She was sincerely laying her feelings out there and it broke my heart. She likes her job, is working to grow beyond it and just wants to be treated like a human being in the process. She’d had a rough day.

I understand that life can be frustrating; that we all live in a place where now is the time we want everything and that we live in a culture that says we should expect to be the center of attention. You truly never know what battles someone is fighting beyond the 5 seconds you interact with them. I promise saying “please” and “thank you” will not take up too much time. Make it a habit. If you don’t know how to treat someone the way you want to be treated, then treat them the way you’d want your mother or spouse to be treated. 

I actively listened, and told her I’d be praying for her and her team.  She looked overwhelmed. That’s when she gave me her name and told me she hoped I’d come back again. Took 10 extra seconds, made both our days better.

Please be kind to one another. I physically ache when I hear from people like this young lady who are just genuinely giving it all they’ve got, but feel shot down. Take an extra minute to build someone else’s worth. You’ll never regret it.

Reflecting

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe God will use everything for His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I don’t believe God won’t give us more than we can handle, or that any of us are given bigger battles because we are “His strongest soldiers,” but I do believe God’s grace is sufficient for me and that His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-11).

I don’t believe that everyone who dies becomes an angel, because angels were created to do God’s will (Psalm 103:20) and were witnesses to the creation of the world (Job 38:4,7). However, I do believe there is a greater life than we can imagine, where every tear is wiped away and death shall be no more.  No more crying, no more pain (Revelation 21:4) and many rooms where a place is prepared for those who love Him (John 14:2-3)

I believe His truth is so much better than anything we can put into words. Just some reflections from today.

Saying Goodbye Again.

 

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 I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.

I’ve joined a club.  I didn’t mean to join it.  I would have avoided doing so with everything I had, if I’d known a way I could.  It’s a well established group of strong women from all over the world. In fact, this club boasts an estimated more than 1 million new members a year in the United States alone.

On July 13, 2016 I took a pregnancy test.  I didn’t expect it to confirm anything, as we’d been leaving it in God’s hands for several months with no changes. However, my body felt different and, after having a dream about pregnancy, I thought it best to just see.  Sure enough, there it was. The confirmation that brought me to tears.

The result for which I’d prayed. It had finally happened.

hCg tests showed positive results, and the levels climbed as expected. Everything was going according to plan. One night, however, the spotting started. I immediately text my doctor (because my doctor is amazing and available 24/7), who assured me that it could be normal but that we’d keep an eye on it.  Progressively, over the weekend, it got worse. Monday morning I made an appointment.

With my hCg high enough for an ultrasound, we scheduled to take a look.  What we found was not what any of us wanted to see.  No visible heartbeat, and a large hematoma (which explained the bleeding).  Not only was something very wrong with me, the baby was not showing to be a viable pregnancy.  I maintained my composure until the tech left the room, and then it started to hit me. We scheduled a follow up for the following day.

Walking down the hallway, a group of employees were in a room loudly laughing and discussing their day. For some reason that was salt in the wound, and I completely fell apart. Right there. The contrast was too much.  My world had stopped, and no one had any idea.

Then, it got worse.

That night, watching TV, I felt an urge to be alone. I believe we have instincts and mine said to get somewhere quiet. I went to the shower and waited. It wasn’t long until I miscarried. I was thankful I was able to pick up what remained, gently wrap it and bury it outside. I’m sure to some people that seems odd, but that was my child and as small as it was, I needed that chance to say goodbye.  I text my doctor, and followed up the next day as planned.  We did another ultrasound, as it’s imperative to ensure all of the remains and tissue had passed.

What we found instead, was a miracle. A tiny heartbeat. I cried out to Jesus, the doctor (who had opted to do the ultrasound herself) hugged me and the nurse was stunned. None of us expected to find life. We can only assume there was a twin. The hematoma hadn’t given us a clear view of what was inside, as it was so large. My heart had never been so full. Disappointed by a loss the night before, but overwhelmed with new hope, I rushed home to tell my husband (who I’d insisted stay home for this appointment to stay with our son).  I’d already started gaining weight and, that evening, ordered some gorgeous maternity tops to get me by for a while.

In the meantime, my bleeding hadn’t stopped. The hemorrhage (as we came to realize it was) grew and grew, and I bled more and more. I could feel anemia setting in and I knew my body was in danger. I was determined, however, to just hang in there as long as it took and do whatever it might take to see this precious life grow.  I slept a LOT, fell behind on orders (answered some hateful e-mails from people who didn’t understand, or sometimes simply didn’t care. My ability to just pretend life had gotten busy was gone. I began telling some customers that I was in the middle of having lost a child, and predicted I might be losing another) and felt like the life was literally draining from my body.

I don’t like being behind on orders, but I simply did not have the strength to move. I also wasn’t ready to announce to the world all that was going on. I’d started planning a state-wide family picture day for first responders prior to finding out I was pregnant.  Answering questions and e-mails was painful. How can I tell you more than I’d already written to assist your family, when all I can think about is how my world inside me is dying? I can’t say I’m especially proud of all my patience. I eventually found the end of my rope and had to ask a couple of ladies to help.

It was time to do another ultrasound to see how things were going.  Sadly, the news was not good.  The child was measuring 5 weeks, 6 days when it should have been well over 6 weeks. There was no heartbeat. While it was possible to be early, we decided to wait one more week for confirmation. I had no appetite (and hadn’t for quite some time), and the not knowing was a mental torture I’d never wish on anyone.

The arrival of those maternity clothes was a cruel tease.

On the next ultrasound, there was again no growth.  There was, however, a great (the doctor’s description was “impressive”) amount of blood that was no longer leaving my body.  It was just pooling there. We could see the sac beginning to deteriorate. It was truly over.

I prayed over and over that, if this were going to not be a viable pregnancy, God would just let me pass it on my own.  I had that much down. I could handle it. I could say goodbye and we could have closure.  The last thing I wanted was a D&C, as to me it sounded terrifying.

Just…please. I was tired of being brave.

That didn’t happen. I had my D&C this week. As I stood in the shower getting ready, I spoke to the baby. I knew it was no longer with me, but I prayed God would deliver the message.

Sweet child, you are loved. You are wanted.

I prayed that they’d find one another in heaven and that God would pass along how my heart ached to see them.  The experience of the actual surgery wasn’t as terrible as I expected, except I now feel a huge part of my heart is lying in a lab somewhere. I did ask to see if we could have the baby returned, but was told that wasn’t possible. I think that hurts me most. I just wanted my true goodbye.

This roller coaster of hope and heartbreak was something I’ve not found anyone able to completely relate to, in that it was so unpredictable. Just when the sun would shine, a storm would set in. Over and over and over. I prayed more in the last few weeks than I have in 29 years.

However, I am so determined now to help women know that they are NOT alone. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s 20%! It’s so common in the first 8 weeks that many doctors consider it a normal part of the reproductive process. I think that sounds sterile and cold.  After all, if it were such nonchalant event, there wouldn’t be so much pain from it afterwards. As word got out about what had happened to me, I was overwhelmed with messages that basically said, “Me, too.” I made new friends. Even the young woman who checked me in for my surgery had just had the same thing in March. Everywhere I turned, there was a “me, too.” What killed me was how many of those started with, “I’ve never told anyone, but…”

Ladies- here’s what I wish for you to know. You are not alone. You are not at fault. You are not forgotten. You are allowed to grieve. You have every right to count your loss. You are lovedYou have no obligation to suck it up. 

THERE IS NO SHAME IN HAVING A MISCARRIAGE. 

One message in particular told me that this individual felt like a failure as a woman. She’d had several, before giving birth to a sweet boy.  A recent study shows that 40% of women felt like they’d done something wrong. 47% of women felt a sense of guilt.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. YOU ARE NOT GUILTY. 
You are not a failure. You are not a failure. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. 

A few more misconceptions about early miscarriage as listed from a recent study (from Obstetrics & Gynecology):

  • 76% of the participants thought that a stressful event could cause a miscarriage
  • 64% thought lifting heavy objects could cause a miscarriage
  • 41% believed it could be caused by an STD
  • 22% thought past oral contraceptive use could be a cause
  • 22% thought lifestyle choices (like smoking and drinking) were the HIGHEST causes of miscarriages.
  • 21% thought a pregnant woman could miscarry from getting into an argument.
  • People believed miscarriages happened in 6% or fewer pregnancies

Here are a few more statistics:

  • 41% reported they’d felt like they’d done something wrong
  • 41% reported feeling alone
  • 28% felt ashamed

I’m so thankful for everyone who reached out to me during this time. I was those last 3 statistics, so isolated and full of hurt. Not a single woman made me feel like I was overreacting. They just came together to hold me in their thoughts and prayers.  They checked on me, and I grew close to them knowing we had a bond.

Today, for the first time, I feel stronger. I know I’ve walked through hell and back, and I am here to tell you that there is hope. I never want another woman to feel as if they are alone, or that they should just shoulder their pain. I also feel like men have to process this loss for themselves as well. It’s their hurt, too. My husband just said he’d be ok when I was ok.  It was a lesson for both of us in having no control.

I hope we can continue researching the causes of miscarriage (most, in the first 8 weeks, are due to chromosomal abnormalities). The same study cited above said we are still working with a lot of the same information we had 50 years ago.

I don’t know what our future holds for my family, but I do know who is captaining the ship. Praise God for all He has done. For more on my thoughts on this, please read my post here:

https://sparrowsanddandelions.com/2016/08/10/5-weeks-6-days-again/

All my love.

Brandi

5 weeks, 6 days… again 

If you’re going to read this (and anything else I write), please read it thoroughly without typing a response only halfway through. This is my heart and if you’re going to respond, you should at least hear what I actually have to say (not just what you might presume I’d say). 

Twice in 2 weeks. Once is torture, but twice in 2 weeks. I have so much to say on this. This is just one small piece of it. 

Oh, my. I have hurt and worried, and wondered and asked, and lamented and burned inside with this incredible confusion and grief. Once was enough, but over and over and over again with this roller coaster that had the doctors puzzled was too much. When they don’t know, life gets a lot scarier. I’ve been trapped in an isolated hell I’d wish to see sentenced on no one. 

I have felt betrayed, tortured, beaten and (as of yesterday, finally) hopeless.  Never faithless. Just at the end of what strength I had. I asked my LEO to put me in an institution where I might  be medicated to the point of oblivious bliss. Instead, he put me to bed and later fed me carbs. Equally effective and cheaper.

I have to tell you, the phrase “Just give it to God” was almost painful during this journey. My immediate thought, as I tried to politely thank the well meaning advisor, was, “You think I haven’t prayed? I have spent more time in prayer the past 2 weeks than I have in 29 years.  Just give it to God? Honey, I slapped a bow on it and shipped it out special delivery. You know what? It kept showing back up on my doorstep, unwrapped and grinning  back at me.”

Tonight that phrase has latched to my back like a rabid monkey. Chewing on my neck and brain until I finally clawed it off to stare it in the glazed eye.  

What do you want? This phrase that Christians serve on a ready-made platter? A regular in the Christian rolodex.  What is it you want me to know? Where are you rooted, and why are you the Kudzu of comfort phrases?

So, I went digging. Ruthlessly ready to shred this colloquial serving to pieces and spread its ashes in an unknown place, never to be heard again. Ready to file it in my subconscious to be censored every time it lit upon my ears. “Just give it to God.” This flippant, piercing, seemingly empty calorie sentence.

Rabid monkey of a phrase. 

WHAT IS IT?! 

The Bible verses that I believe have poured the foundation of this statement are as follows:

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22), & “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Ok, but that still doesn’t clarify what I’m supposed to do.  So easier said than done. What does that even entail? 

Well, this. I think this is what we are actually saying.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Give it to God means to be strengthened by His promises. Casting my cares on Him means to let His wind direct my sails.

Maybe I kept writing my own address on that package and not God’s? A big “return to sender” in my own stamp?

But why? What purpose for my good could this possibly serve? How is God glorified in this? I’ve had my heart ripped out, and explored the darkest parts of my inner being. What good can come of that? I kept telling Chris there had to be something. That every life is created fearfully and wonderfully. That He knows us in the womb and that isn’t something I believe God takes lightly. He certainly doesn’t see us as disposable. Every heartbeat matters. I don’t believe God *does* things to us, but He’s definitely not going to let it go to waste.

Why?

In Romans, I finally found a sense of peace. Not a complete answer, but peace.

“Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

“Give it to God” means to grow closer to Him and His promises. Find strength in His strength. Be free in His direction. All of those concepts could take a novel in themselves to clarify, but it’s more thorough than the four words we so easily hand out. My weary search for some sort of understanding in this dark place came from Romans. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad, or worn, just coming to terms with it all. I think we have to be careful not to discount people’s experiences by blanketing them with comfortable phrases. Hurting hearts need a little deeper sowing of hope. Not tossed like a wildflower, but cultivated as an orchard.

I don’t believe I’m done writing on this topic. This entire piece is certainly unfinished.  It’s all so fresh that I’ve not completely gained my entire perspective. I never know what I actually think until I write it down. This is just my heart tonight.

Warship

I’ve always thought when our pastor says “worship,” it sounded like “warship.” Maybe it’s like that when everyone says it, I just hear him say it most often. Maybe it’s just my ears.

You know what? There’s something to that.

Per Wikipedia, “…a warship typically carries…weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.”

Sometimes they carry the troops. Individual, cooperative and corporate worship does give us the weapons, ammunition and supplies we need for our spiritual battles. There are so many forms of worship (beyond the music on Sundays). It also often carries the troops to face their personal battles.

I need to do some more digging on this idea, but I’m starting to think he does it on purpose. Haha! Thanks, Bro. Chris!!

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