Since I have a March challenge to live up to, I'd better wrap up my pregnancy posts quickly now.  Before starting this post, you can read through the series in order, here.

From the very beginning, I told you I had been dreadfully sick.  Not your average pregnancy morning sickness sick, but constant, never stopping, nausea and vomiting kind of sick with lots of weakness thrown in for good measure.  It looked like the flu.  It felt like the flu.  It must be the flu, right?

Wrong.  It was just this baby who thinks he or she needs to be in charge of my entire life. 

With the question of life or death out of the way -- HOORAY! -- I began to realize, I'm going to have a baby.  I'm GOING to have a baby.

Oh my goodness.  A baby?

Confession:  I've never been a fan of the first six months of life.

I know many ladies who drool over babies and want to hold every baby in their vicinity.  That's not me.  Don't get me wrong; I love children.  I just enjoy them more when they can interact with me and wipe their own bottoms, that's all.  Maybe it's a laziness thing.  Maybe it's a selfishness thing.  Call it what you will, but that's the truth about me.  I am not a baby person.

I can hear you gasping from over here.  Maybe you could pipe down?  You know, for appearances sake?  Sheesh, this blogging-from-the-heart thing can really be a downer.

I spent the first two months vomiting and thinking I was going to die from the flu.  I spent the next three months vomiting and thinking I was going to die from the baby.  The funny thing is, I had two very intense and opposite feelings going on at the same time.  The first part of me was so thankful that my baby was going to live (barring any unforeseen circumstances), and the second part of me was reluctant and resentful that in nine months I would no longer be able to sleep through the night, or eat a warm supper, or wear any clothing without spit up stains on them. 

Can you say attitude adjustment?  Because I needed one.  Badly.

This is not something that you hear people share with each other everyday.  "By the way, that baby that I was so afraid was going to die.  I'm afraid it's going to be born."  The irony did not escape my notice.  What is wrong with me?  I wondered.  "Am I really that selfish?"  And what scared me even more was the resentment building inside me.  "Will I even be able to like this baby when it's born?"  I really wanted to like my child. 

You all probably think I'm a terrible monster right now.  But I know someone, somewhere, is feeling this way, too.  And I want you to know: someone besides you has been there.  I've been there.

Jeremy's excitement over this baby grew daily.  He loved to talk to my tummy and feel the baby even though the movements were not strong enough to be felt on the outside yet.  He asked about it all the time, and I felt so guilty that I didn't want the child...and mad at Jeremy that HIS life was not going to change so dramatically in nine months.  HE would still be able to leave the house at his normal time and do his normal work and come home and SLEEP at night if he wanted to.  *I* was the only one who'd need to sacrifice for this baby. 

I pulled anger around me like a comfort-blanket and snapped at everyone in my house.  I hated the way I felt, and I hated the way I was acting, but I couldn't seem to stop myself.  I wondered if it was only hormones causing this?  Or maybe the constant sickness?  I'd heard of pregnancy-related depression and wondered, could this be that?  Should I talk to a doctor about this?  I cried out to God, asking Him for help to get rid of this feeling.  I hinted to a couple friends that I wasn't looking forward to "afterwards," and they commiserated, agreeing with me those first baby months are no picnic.  But I didn't tell anyone the extent of my feelings.  I felt too guilty over them, and many of my friends want a baby so badly that I felt my sharing would be more a slap in the face to them than anything else.

I've hidden intense feelings from Jeremy before, and that only got me deeper into trouble.  A small voice of reason kept reminding me of those days.  Sure I was talking to God honestly about my feelings, but He gave me Jeremy for a purpose -- and not just a baby making purpose, either.  "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work.  If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up!"  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)  God had given me Jeremy.  I needed to tell him.

But would he understand?

He didn't.  Not really.  He told me not to worry so much about those feelings; it was probably wacked out hormones.  He told me I had been so sick that I wasn't able to really think straight.  And that was absolutely accurate.  I'd been vomiting so much that I was passing out from time to time.  The doctor had put me on anti-nausea medication, but it wasn't stopping the nausea.  A friend had given me essential oils, but they only helped sometimes.  I wasn't sleeping at night because lying down seemed to make the nausea worse.  Standing definitely made it worse.  Sitting helped slightly, so I sat in one place all day long and tried hard not to move.  I truly was exhausted and unable to think straight, and in the meantime I had to transport Liberty and Mercy to and from school, feed them, clothe them, bathe them.  (Well, Jeremy stepped in and began feeding, clothing and bathing the kids, but I still had to get them to and from school, and I still felt the need to be present and active in their lives.)  I was still working every morning at a company thirty minutes from my house.  I still babysat my little friend T every afternoon.  None of these things were optional.  Jeremy's words confirmed what I had been wondering anyway.  It's probably just hormones.  It's probably just exhaustion speaking. 

Credit To:
But it felt so real and powerful and enslaving.

I tentatively shared a little of this with a friend, more as a confession than anything else, and she hugged me immediately and whole-heartedly.  She groaned with me and told me that when she discovered she was pregnant for the third time while her two-year-old and one-year-old ran in circles around her exhausted body, she cried.  She, too, kept those feelings to herself and faked excitement for her husband's sake.  She, too, felt guilty and wondered if she would be able to love her baby.  After months of reluctant pregnancy and dreading her future, she finally said something to her sister-in-law who had five kids of her own.  Her sister-in-law hugged her and told her she was normal.  Her sister-in-law had also felt this way with her fifth child.  My friend assured me that at some point in time, I would love this baby. 

Her story made me feel slightly better, but I reminded myself that her situation was different than mine.  She and her sister-in-law had legitimate reasons to dread a new baby.  They both had small kids at home, and adding a new one would be difficult to keep up with physically.  Their reasons for dreading the new arrival were more noble than mine, I told myself.  They were thinking of their small children and the impact on them.  I was thinking only of the life of ease I had planned out for myself, and the starting over that a new baby would require.  My children were old enough to take care of themselves for the most part.  My children were gone all day at school for the most part.  A new baby would only inconvenience my fun, not put a drastic strain on my family.  I felt extremely selfish.

I mentioned this carefully to another friend of mine, and she stood with me 100%.  It turns out, she had felt the same way when she was pregnant with her now 18 month old.  At the time, she had one child who had grown out of baby-hood and an "easy" life.  Her concerns also stemmed from not wanting to put in the work to raise another child, rather than any real problems that would come of having another at this point.  Her husband also dismissed her feelings as "just hormones."  Seriously?  It would be nice if men had hormones.  I'd love to use that line on them.  (And that is not bitterness talking, I promise.)  The truth is, hormones or not, those feelings are REAL.  They are not dismissible.  My friend also wondered if she would ever be able to feel anything but resentment for her baby when he was born, and she assured me that when the time came she was able to love him with all her heart.  More than that, she told me I was normal.  I wasn't some hideous monster for feeling this way.  There wasn't something wrong with me.  That conversation helped too, but it didn't take the feelings or the guilt over the feelings away.

I continued bringing my feelings consistently and earnestly to God multiple times a day.  I knew HE understood why they were there and what was causing them, and I knew He wouldn't reject me for the horribleness in my heart if those feelings were wholly selfish. 

Months passed.

At my twenty-week appointment, I had another ultrasound.  My tech friend who had cried with me joyfully over the non-threatening fibroid at week eight covered me once again with a paper sheet and spread gel over my abdomen.  I watched curiously as she took pictures from every angle imaginable examining all organs and taking measurements.  I kept waiting for the news.  Is it a boy or a girl?  But she kept quiet.

Finally, I could wait no longer.  "So..." I casually inquired, "can you tell if it's a boy or a girl?"  Although I'd be fine with either sex, I really wanted a boy.  We've never had one of those.

"Oh!  I thought you wanted to be surprised," she responded.

"NO!  I want to know!"

She flipped the wand to a new section of my tummy and pressed in.  The screen showed unrecognizable lines and blurs.  "She's a girl!"  She announced happily.  "Definitely a girl."

And out of nowhere it hit me.  Pure happiness!  No reluctance anywhere!

I wanted to push that wand away and wrap my arms around my gel-covered belly.  I wanted to skip the belly altogether and hold my precious girl in my arms.  I wanted to have this baby now.  Four more months suddenly seemed way too long to wait before I could hold my baby.  I could picture snuggling with her in the rocking chair at home the way I had snuggled with Liberty and Mercy.  I could picture gazing into her little face and talking that quiet mommy-talk that has only happened to me when I've held my little babies close. 

I couldn't stop smiling.  "God," I breathed, "look what You just did for me!"  And I sat and marveled over the long-desired joy that had come to vibrant life while a flimsy paper sheet stuck to my gooey skin.

To Be Continued...
I'm blogging from my phone tonight because I saw this 31 Days in March challenge on Pinterest after I was already in bed and decided I'd better give you all a heads-up that I'm going to attempt it.  I've never done one of these before, and there are so many shiny things to distract me -- I'm interested to see how this goes.  For the life of me, I can't figure out how to link to the challenge from my phone.  So I'll go ahead and post this now, then figure the linking stuff tomorrow from my computer.

Wish me luck!

**Updated with links and pictures!  Woohoo!
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This is the final guest post by my friend.  If you're just joining us, you'll probably want to read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Intermission One, Intermission Two, Part Five and Guest Post One before starting in on this post.  Otherwise, you'll be hopelessly confused.  :-)  Whew!  That was a lot to type out and link to!

And now, here is her post.

The Bible verse that started my thoughts on a new path was Luke 11:11, where a child asks for bread, and the father gives him the good thing that he asked for instead of a rock.  My dad once gave me a rock for Christmas, possibly to teach me something about the nature of God but most likely just to see the look of confusion on my face until he showed me the real gift.  My miscarriage after a pregnancy that I wasn't necessarily trying for seemed kind of like God saying, "You didn't ask for this bread, but here it is," only to come back before I'd even had a chance to enjoy the warm aroma and replace it with a rock.

But, I know that's not what God is really like, so there must be some other explanation.

What's in this box? I hope it's not a rock. Hmm, it looks kind of like dirt.  Smell it?

Credit To: shanegenziuk Creative Commons

It's coffee!

Have I been mistaking coffee for dirt all this time?

When I want to talk about stuff like this, I turn to Missy.  I love Missy.  She and I can be blunt with each other in a way most people aren’t.  In our Skype conversation, she proposed the idea that God had been giving me opportunities, and I’d been wasting them.  Did I mention that I love Missy?  Though at the time I was not ready to hear her words, they were just what I needed to hear.   So, prompted by the words of Missy and of Linda (the author of a blog post I linked in my previous post), I began to consider what I’d been doing with God’s gifts.

I realized that He has been offering me good gifts. Some I’ve accepted but not appreciated, and others I’ve been letting slip away, either through fear or neglect.

First of all, it is entirely unfair of me to act like I’m not thankful for my marriage.   (Re-reading the last line of my initial letter, I cringe.)   My husband and I don’t have a perfect relationship, but we are there for each other, and we enjoy the vast majority of time we spend together.   We’ve worked on it little by little over the years, but I could still try harder.

As for the other things I lost, it’s not God’s fault that I have neglected my exercise plan for the winter, and He has certainly provided us with a loving church.  It’s my own fear that has kept me from forming close friendships with more of the Christian women around me.  The hardest thing for me to face has been the changes in our lives since I started working from home.  I was not honest with myself about how many opportunities I’ve blatantly wasted.   Some were half-hearted attempts that predictably failed because I didn’t try hard enough.   I rejected others out of hand as too hard or too scary.  So let's count those "losses" as even and focus on the gifts that have come as a direct result of my second miscarriage.

I'm doing what I've always dreamed of doing but never thought I would.  Surprise!  So, why did I mistake this coffee for dirt?  Well, two reasons.  One is that my dream job does not pay very well at the entry level.  And secondly, I have ended up working from home in a branch of my chosen field very far away from my original roots.  But I’m learning my new business better every day, and what’s more, I think it could become my most amazing ministry opportunity yet.

Maybe, if I had been a new mother struggling to bring in a little extra money while dealing with a baby, I would have come to this same career somehow, but timing is everything, and the Lord’s timing is perfect.   I am thankful that I’ve had time to learn the ropes of my new career, and I think that I’ll be able to keep it up even with a baby someday.

Another gift I’ve gained is empathy. I have never stopped believing the principle in Second Corinthians 1:4 that God comforts us so that we may comfort others, but I have wondered several times why experiencing only one miscarriage couldn't have been enough for me to learn this.  The answer, of course, is that God’s timing is perfect and never more or less than we need.  If I were writing my life’s story as fiction, the idea that a longstanding friendship between two women would be tested and strengthened by the shared experience of a fibroid would seem a little contrived and not good drama.  It is, however, the truth, and only one example of how I’ve been able to reach out to someone else with more empathy than otherwise possible.

The final gift (Yes, I’m giving you your blog back soon, Missy) is a greater desire to know the Lord. Through all of this reliving of memories, anger, and tears, I have talked to God in a way that I haven’t in a long time. For the first time in years, my Bible is where I’m turning for real answers and not just that book I read because I’m supposed to.

Over the last week, Missy and I have discussed several deep topics as we tried to uncover the secret of what constitutes a good gift.  In between crying out to God, we’ve been theologians.  Carolyn Custis James says, “We are all theologians,” and she especially encourages women to sit at the feet of Jesus.  When I think that my Father allowed me to go through this to draw me closer to Him, it feels a lot more like a gift.

I still haven’t decided I’m ready to try pregnancy again. Just thinking about it makes my whole body clench up with fear. But, I am ready to pray about it (as opposed to before when my answer was NO WAY), and I’m ready to talk about it with the one person I should have been talking to all along: my husband.

I don't know if I'll ever be a mom (let's save the adoption debate for later).  But, through this, I have determined that if we decide to "give up," it will be a decision made -- not out of bitterness or fear -- but out of faith that that decision is God's plan for our family.

Part Six
And now the promised guest post by the reader with the good gifts question.  She jokingly came up with the post title, but I thought it was awesome, so it stays.  :-)

Also, to catch yourself up, you may want to read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Intermission One, Intermission Two, and Part Five before starting this post.

One of the “joys” of womanhood is the various hormones that saturate our brains at times.  I look guiltily at the quotation marks around the word “joy” and internally roll my eyes. Am I supposed to be thankful for PMS too?

Maybe I am, just this once, because the PMS-enhanced anger and fear that filled me last week have helped me to give voice to the pain that I have been living with silently for too long.

One of the first things I wondered after talking to Missy was, “What if the good gift in my loss isn’t for me?”  Haven’t we all heard of people who have been blessed by adoption?   The gift of raising a child is one thing, but perhaps the adopted child would think that the greater gift was getting parents.

So, the first person I thought of was my husband.  Maybe he was getting some kind of gift.  I mentioned to him, as casually as possible, over dinner, that I had been having this discussion, that I was thinking that it may be time for us to give up on the idea of having children.  The look of sorrow and defeat on his face was heartbreaking to me.   We agreed to discuss it a little later, after we'd had time to talk about it, but I knew then what the answer would be.
credit to
He really wants to be a father. He would be a good father. I can doubt my fitness for motherhood, I can candidly admit that sometimes I'm not a good wife, not a good friend, but him... He is just about the "goodest" guy you'll ever meet.   If I give up on having children, I'm failing him.   And then I started to think about what he has experienced through this.

I thought about what it would mean for him if we were to lose a third child.  He would be as heartbroken as I.   He would not have the physical pain, but he would suffer in his tender heart, watching me and being unable to ease my physical or emotional suffering.

If you’ve read Missy’s post, “Our Verdict,” you’ll recognize echoes of my experience in hers.  I went in for two ultrasounds with my second loss.  The first one was the happy one with the heartbeat, but I was still lightly bleeding.   They didn’t know why, and I wasn’t in any pain.   I was told I could go back to work as long as I didn’t do any heavy lifting.  All through that night and the next day, I pleaded with God.   I cried that if I lost this baby, I would not have the strength to try again.  (As though I could guilt God into letting me have what I wanted.)   I have never had a feeling of a prayer falling on deaf ears before that one.  I knew that the ultrasound was hollow comfort, that the life inside me was hanging by a tiny thread.

Then the bleeding and cramping made me certain that my baby was gone.   A second ultrasound confirmed the loss that my heart had been so afraid of.   This one, though, also gave me the news that I had a fibroid.   (And if you haven’t read Missy’s post yet, you might want to click over there to get the technical jargon about fibroids.)   Knowing what was probably causing my miscarriages was a tiny light in all of this, but all it does is give a face to the danger.

Now I know that every time I attempt to conceive, I will have to pray that the baby will find a place to live far enough away from the fibroid that it has a chance to thrive.  And what will I do if God’s answer is another “no”?  How many times will I be willing to try?  Isn't it insanity to try the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?  I guess that's where faith comes in.

The thing is, I don’t know if it is worth it... just for me.   But I’m not the only one to consider here.  The look of absolute sadness on my husband’s face has been haunting me for days.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  I know he would lay down his life for me.  Am I unwilling to go through the potential pain for him?

He has encouraged my creative endeavors whole-heartedly, sacrificed along with me in our one-income home, and almost never expressed frustration with the inability to have the things we used to have.  He did all of this just so he'd be able to spend more time with me.  It’s incredibly humbling.
While I was wrestling with this idea, an email showed up in my inbox:

In the post, Linda Jacobson says, “You are the most influential woman in his world.”   It made me wonder.  Am I the good gift in my husband’s life?  No matter how many times my husband has insisted that I’m worth it all, I’ve never really believed him.  Even more convicting is the thought of how utterly unthankful I have been for the good gift to me of more time with him since I stopped working outside the home.  Then that made me wonder... If I’m overlooking the priceless gift of my wonderful husband, what other gifts may I be ignoring?

Come back tomorrow for Guest Post Two where this reader considers what gifts God may be giving her through this experience.
This post is a continuation of Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.  See also intermission post one and two.

I waited, resigned to seeing this through to the bitter end.  "God!"  I prayed my same old broken, anguished, un-finish-able prayer again, "God!"



My brain was trying to choose submission and peace, but my heart was too full to sort that through or even fully recognize the choice.  Or, in better words, my spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak.  (ha-ha)

When the doctor came back in, he did not reveal any news.  Instead, he explained that although ultrasounds were not normally done at this stage, due to my history of miscarriages and my inability to provide even a ball-park estimate of my last period he wanted to have an ultrasound done.  Then he placed his hand on my shoulder and told me, "Don't worry.  This is just to see what's going on."


I walked down the hall and entered the darkened room.  The ultrasound technician smiled at me and introduced herself as she helped spread a sheet over me.  "Because the baby will be so tiny," she explained, "we'll need to do a vaginal ultrasound today.  Have you ever had one before?"

"Yes."  After my first miscarriage before Liberty and after my second miscarriage after Mercy.  The memories came flooding back.  The darkened rooms, the ultrasound machines, the unknown, the fearfulness, the pain, the grief. 


"There's the heart-beat!" she joyfully proclaimed as she turned the volume up on the machine.

The sound poured over me, filling my soul.  I turned to look at the screen and saw a tiny baby attached to a bubble.  Without warning, silent tears slipped down my face creating pools in my ears, and they would not stop flowing.  Thankfully, tears make no sound in the dark.  I thought about whispering goodbye to the little one on the screen, but the Holy Spirit immediately told me that would not be acting in faith so I remained silent.

"Oh," the technician sounded startled.  "Did anyone ever tell you that you have a fibroid?"

"Uh, no?  What's a fibroid?"

A fibroid is a group of muscle cells that grow more densely together than most muscle cells do.  A fibroid inside my uterus means that the uterine wall in that area can be too dense for an embryo to fully attach.  In my case, most likely, many fertilized eggs had attempted to attach over the years in that one more dense spot and had never been able to, but the five that had been tenacious enough -- one before Liberty and four after Mercy -- were unable to survive in their chosen area because the necessary nutrients and other items could not penetrate the uterine wall to supply them with life.
Because no one knows for sure what causes fibroids, we also don't know what causes them to grow or shrink. We do know that they are under hormonal control — both estrogen and progesterone. They grow rapidly during pregnancy, when hormone levels are high. They shrink when anti-hormone medication is used. They also stop growing or shrink once a woman reaches menopause. ~ From

I digested this information slowly.  "Where is this baby attached?" I asked.

"Not near the fibroid," she answered, and she turned the biggest, happiest grin my way.  I smiled back through my tears and heaved out a gulping sob of joy.  She laughed along with me and rolled on her stool to the counter to grab a box of tissues.  "These always come in handy in this room!" she said.  I accepted her gift, and the two of us grinned at each other while I wiped my still flowing and thankfully back-to-being-silent tears.

The doctor had more to tell me after the ultrasound.  Things like my due date (June 12th), and my potential c-section date (June 7th -- my birthday), normal things that a mom with a miscarriage looming would not need to concern herself with.  I couldn't stop grinning.

Afterwards, I sat in my car facing into the blaring sunshine and thought some more.  Do you know what this means?  It means that I am not defective.  I have not been somehow causing the deaths of my babies through anything I'm doing or not doing.  It has nothing to do with me.  It's just this stupid body that decided to grow a fibroid without asking my permission.  I'm not a bad mom!  Oh the freedom!  Did you know guilt weighs a LOT?

I must have sat in that parking lot for twenty minutes just soaking all that information in.  Finally, I turned the key and started driving.  This is definitely over-the-phone kind of news, especially to a father as hurting as Jeremy.  I called him as I took the highway entrance ramp.

It took him a long while to cautiously digest it all as well.  After many questions and answers and repeating questions and answers he finally asked, "You mean...there's nothing wrong with my little swimmer guys?" the joyful disbelief almost palpable in his voice.  "I didn't drink too much Mountain Dew before?"

"Oh, Jeremy!" my heart groaned for him.  I had never known.  His guilt had been just as heavy as mine.  And it was all unnecessary.  For both of us.  I wanted to gather him into my arms and make it all go away.  For now I'd have to settle for, "Your swimmers are fine!"

But first, I needed to pull over and vomit.

To be continued...
Another intermission post.  Please read part one, part two, part three, part four and intermission one to catch up if you need to.

The reader with the "what is a good gift" question is still sorting out her second post, but since her comment brought up an important question, I thought I'd stop to share the conclusions that I came to and how I came to them.  Conclusions and the pathways to them will be different for each person and each situation because God loves us so much that He likes to work individually with each of us.  This is simply my experience.

After my third miscarriage, I felt angry, alone, confused, helpless, and so, so sad.  No one I was close to had miscarried to my knowledge.  My own mother had nine successful, full-term pregnancies, and although she was sympathetic as only a mom with a hurting child can be, she had no experience of her own to help me out with my swirling emotions.  Jeremy and I talked about it a bit, but I knew he was hurting, and I didn't want to add my pain to his own, so I kept back a LOT.  Plus, he's a man, and he doesn't see things the way a lady does.  A lady in my church had experienced a few miscarriages after giving birth to two children, and she advised me to simply find joy in my two living children and be content.  (To her credit, that is absolutely not how she meant her words to come across.  I know she struggled long and hard before she could come to a place of peace, but that is the message I took away from our short conversation, and it only left me with more questions and more guilt.)  However, being content wasn't my trouble.  With all of my pregnancies, Jeremy and I weren't trying to get pregnant.  We simply weren't trying awfully hard not to get pregnant -- well, with the exception of these last two pregnancies (this one and the one before that miscarried) with those two we were being more careful not to conceive.  No, my trouble was with all the random emotions and grief left in the aftermath of my babies' deaths.

What do I do with all these terribly strong feelings?  How should I feel?  And more importantly, how should I choose to act regardless of how I feel?  Then, with all the emotions aside, what do these repeated miscarriages say about God?  What in the world could He possibly be thinking?  Why is He okay with this?  Is He okay with this?

I didn't know those answers, so I asked Him.  Over and over and over I asked Him, and a tiny bit at a time, He gave me answers.

He told me things like, "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)  I, personally, am a flawed parent, but if my children ask me for something good for them, I will never purposefully give them something harmful.  God, however, is not flawed at all.  He knows everything, and therefore He knows what is harmful and what is not.  He will never, even accidentally, give me something harmful.  He loves me too much.

He showed me that, "Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3)  If He flat out tells me that children are a gift, then how can I say they aren't?  Even if they are a gift that I never get to see while I'm on earth, they are still a gift, and God only gives good gifts.

He said, "Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:16-17)   Don't be deceived!  "God, help me not be deceived.  Help me not deceive myself!" I prayed.

Then there was Job, a man in deep distress over the deaths of his children.  "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing."  (Job 1:20-22)   Who am I to judge God's character by what *I* think He should do?  Do I know everything that He knows?

Recently, I read a book called Letters From A Skeptic by Greg and Ed Boyd, a son and father who wrote letters back and forth that ended up being published.  Ed, the father, struggled with a lot of the same questions I found swirling in my heart.  If it is true that God is real, than He either isn't good all the time, or He doesn't really care about my feelings.  Otherwise, how can you explain all the pain and suffering in the world.  One of the things that Greg, the son, points out is that we are looking at it all from a very limited perspective.  We only see our point of view, and our point of view says, "I had a baby, and now I don't.  Where is my baby?  Why can't I keep him or her?  This hurts, and I don't like it at all."  I have a choice.  Do I decide that God is bad because I couldn't keep my baby?  Can I acknowledge that possibly He knows more than I do, and possibly He did the very most wonderful thing He could do by taking that baby back to Heaven so quickly?

Now, let me inform you, I grew up in a solid church that preached the Word of God.  I graduated from a Christian school and went on to attend a Christian college.  (All of this really means nothing.)  What means something is that God has rescued me from the Hell I deserve for the sins I have committed and continue to commit.  I believe whole-heartedly in what God says about Himself in the Bible. 


When real, painful life gets played out on the stage of my heart, all the memorized verses in the world don't always mean a whole lot.  There has to be something more.  There has to be Someone more.  That's what God ultimately showed me.

When Mary and Martha grieved so drastically over their dead brother, Jesus did, too.  "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”" (John 11:33-36)  Sure, He could have stopped it.  He had reasons for not doing so, but His heart is still moved by my grief.

"You yourself have kept track of my misery.  Put my tears into your bottle—aren’t they on your scroll already?" (Psalm 56:8)  Oh yes, He cares.  I know He cares.  His heart is touched with my grief.

God takes an active part in comforting us when we are sad.  "May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God."  (Second Corinthians 1:2-4)

For me, it came down to this.  Do I really believe what God says in the Bible, or don't I?  He says He is good.  He says He can turn any bad thing into a gift.  He says He loves me and wants to comfort me.  He caused my pregnancies because He is the author of life, and He gives children as gifts.  He did not cause my miscarriages, but He could have prevented them if He chose.  He's God, after all.  But since He is God, He has to know a lot more than I do. 

Maybe I did need to learn contentment with where I was in life.  (And possibly I learned it a little too well, as my next post might show.)  But much more than that, I needed to settle my relationship with God.  I needed to know Who He really is, and what my response to Who He is should be.  Everyone struggling with troubles like this will have different things to work through with God.  My response ended up being to turn turn into His arms for comfort when I couldn't find it anywhere else, to snuggle my face into His chest and cry my eyes out, "This hurts, God!  I don't like it!"  and as He hugged me closer, to acknowledge, "You are good.  I don't understand.  I don't have to understand.  I just need to know that You are good." 

It wasn't magic.  I mentioned earlier that I sat in a strip of sunshine on the couch and decided.  Well, it wasn't a twenty-minute thought process like my blog post made it sound.  It was more like a four-year thought process.  And that decision did not change my emotions, or my sense of loss.  Rather, it confirmed in my mind that God is good.  That is all, really.  God is good, and He proves it to me over and over -- even though He doesn't have to because He is, after all, GOD.

Intermission over until my friend guest posts.  Back to my story...
This post is an intermission post (for lack of a better term).  To read the preceding posts please click on Parts One, Two, Three, and Four.

This morning when I checked my email prior to writing part five of this on-going series, I found a comment from a reader that so completely described my anguished feelings over the past few years that I asked her permission to share her note with you all.  Although, she and I have differing life circumstances, the question she presents is the same one I wrestled with over and over and over.

Here is what she wrote:

I just finished reading yesterday's post.  I wish I could believe that God only gives good gifts, but I just don't.

We weren't trying when I had the second miscarriage.  It was not quite an accident, but more of a whim.  But I was happy.  And then I was sad.  The loss devastated my relationship with my husband and our relationship with our church.  It made me discontent with my job, which I gave up, hoping that working from home would help with a future pregnancy.  That hasn't worked either.

Credit To: I don't know.  I found several of these images
all over the web.  It doesn't seem to belong to anyone?
See watermark in top left corner of image.
Now we have no money and no future.

Where is the good gift?

By most medical standards, I'm getting too old for this.  Maybe I should just accept that we don't need kids.  We don't need a legacy.  I'm not fit to be a mother anyway.  I can finally give up the dream and get a full-time job and enjoy life with enough money to pay the bills like we used to have.  And once I don't care about the kids in the nursery, we can join a church.

Maybe I just need to be content and learn to tell people that I really don't need kids to be happy.  It's not a gift I'm going to get.  I'm going to get years of companionship with my husband, a full night of sleep whenever I want, the ability to take long road-trips at a moment's notice.

Maybe without the pressure, I'll get my marriage back.

Her comment took me straight back to that place of disappointed hurt and puzzlement when I was trying to comprehend how a "good" God could allow so much pain to someone He supposedly loved enough to die for.  This reader and I were able to talk via Skype earlier this afternoon, and she had a lot more to say.  So much, that I wondered if she might be willing to write a guest blog post here.

She is considering it, so stay tuned...
This post is a continuation of Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.

Two weeks passed while I mustered up the courage to see a doctor.  I had no idea how far along I might be since as part of my ignorance-is-bliss strategy I had been purposefully not paying attention to my cycles.  Jeremy had been making regular inquiries into my health and being very solicitous, but he carefully avoided any baby discussions.  I did as well.  I kept waiting for the painful cramping and the rush of blood that I knew would be coming at any minute. 

When I spoke with friends and family about the baby, I always smiled and summoned joy, and most of the time it truly was genuine joy.  I tried hard not to worry, and since I have a good imagination sometimes I was able to convince myself briefly that there were no reasons to worry.  My close friends were all praying for us and the baby.  They knew cause for fear loomed large and real, but they also know that God hasn't given us a spirit of fear.  They also know that God only gives good gifts.  They also know that God is powerful and loving enough to take any situation and use it for good.  So they prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  I, on the other hand, had a hard time praying.  I would start prayers and leave them unfinished.  I would begin thoughts and never complete them because...well, I don't know exactly why.  I suppose it was because I still wasn't sure what I thought of it all.  I wasn't sure what to pray for.  I had gotten comfortable in my baby-less state, and I wasn't really sure I wanted that to change.  Also, I had prayed for my other children to live, and God had said no.  He had better plans for them and for me.  Other than that first time right after the pregnancy test, I never asked God again to let the baby live.  Instead, the only prayer I could finish was, "God, please do whatever is best for us.  I know you only give GOOD gifts."  And I focused on waiting with open hands, choosing joy in whatever would come and choosing joy for the present moments as well.

You know, joy is not always a happy, jump-up-and-down feeling.  Sometimes, it is a quiet, peaceful, calm in the middle of extreme uncertainty.  I could see Jeremy's struggle during this time, and I was quietly amazed also to see his peaceful calm, even though we never discussed it.  Every night, he did ask me, "Do you still think you might be pregnant?"  And every night I responded, "I think so."

Finally, I knew.  It was time to see a doctor.  To put Jeremy out of his uncertain misery if for no other reason.  I wasn't really sure why I was so reluctant to see one, anyway, but every fiber of my being screamed to me, DON'T DO IT!  I spent several days researching doctors in my area.  I called offices and interviewed poor unsuspecting receptionists and nurses.  I had a list of criteria, and I would not budge.  I was out to find the perfect doctor.  This was something I could pray about, and pray I did!  "PLEASE, God!  Lead me to the right doctor!"  I finally had the search narrowed to three, and I made interview appointments with all of them.  I made it very clear to the receptionists that I had not made a decision.  I was not there for a real visit.  I just wanted to talk with the doctors.  Jeremy stayed very involved in this whole process, and he had strong opinions on the candidates, as well.  But never once during this process did we talk about the baby that may or may not be establishing itself in my womb.

Eventually, a decision was made, and we chose a doctor.  Jeremy asked if I wanted him to take off work to be with me for the first official visit, but I didn't.  Why make such a big deal out of this?  I fully expected the doctor to tell me, "Yes, you were pregnant.  The test was accurate, but you are not pregnant any more.  We don't know what happened, but no.  No baby."  I don't think I blatantly faced that thought, but it swirled around with all the others. 

Credit to
The visit was going perfectly fine.  I loved the doctor.  He was easy to interact with, and we had the same ideas on how to handle things.  Then he asked me to go to the restroom and provide a urine sample.  "Sure.  No problem." I told him smilingly.  I went to the bathroom and peed into the tiny cup provided and all over my hand as well.  (Someday, I'm going to invent a urine sample cup designed for women.  It will have a giant funnel on the top, and I will become a bazillionaire.)  I screwed the cap onto the cup, dried off the sides with a paper towel, and washed my hands thoroughly.  Then I stood with my forehead against the wallpaper and shook so badly that I could barely remain upright.  This is why I didn't want to come here!  My brain screamed in anger.  This is why I wanted to stay away from the doctor!  I couldn't bring myself to leave that sample to be tested.  Strong anger coursed through my body.  Anger at doctors for wanting to know things like facts instead of just relying on my word that I'd taken a test at home.  Anger at babies for having the audacity to die.  Anger at God for not stepping in and changing the course of history.  I stood there and watched myself storm out of the bathroom with the precious sample cup in hand, yelling wildly at the receptionist and anyone who tried to stop me while I marched right out the door and into my van waiting in the parking lot.  I watched myself speed down the interstate defiantly facing the blaring sun shining into my eyes.

Then the nurse knocked on the bathroom door and asked, "Are you okay in there, Missy?"

"Uh.  Yeah.  ...  I'm finished."

I opened the door and meekly handed her the warm cup.  Then I went to my room like a good little patient and waited without tears for the doctor's news.

To Be Continued...
This is a continuation of Part 1 "I Have To Be Honest" and Part 2 "When Pink Lines Frighten."

Choosing to be happy for an almost certainly doomed pregnancy may sound like a foolish decision, and maybe it is.  Interestingly enough, First Corinthians 1:27 says, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."  So I guess I'm happy to be chosen.  :-) 

The moment I made that choice, my phone rang.  It was my neighbor, Meagan, who had encouraged me to take a pregnancy test, and she wanted to know how I was feeling.  My choice needed to be put immediately to the test.  "Well..." I began.  "I took the test." 

"And..." she prompted into my silence.

"I'm pregnant."

"Oh, Missy!" she paused, "What do you think about that?"

"I...  I don't know yet.  I'm thankful, I guess.  And...scared," my voice broke, and she heard my fear.  "But, I've decided to celebrate the minutes I'm given," I continued in a stronger voice, and my heart stabilized.  Yes.  I would live moment to moment, and ignore the temptation to borrow trouble from the future.  Suddenly, I really was happy.

Jeremy was out of town on a business trip for three more days, so I had time to come up with a creative way to tell him the news.  I decided not to call him.  I knew he would be wading in the same emotions I had, and that is not over-the-phone kind of news in a situation like this.  He finally arrived in town just in time for church on a Wednesday night, so I met him there.  I brought the box of cigars and handed them to him, "These are for you."  I didn't have anything else to say.  I knew it wasn't really a happy announcement for him, and I knew that right before he left me to attend the men's Bible Study wasn't a good time to announce it.  But I also knew that if I waited until we were home, the emotions involved would not have changed.  Might as well get it over with.

Our pastor had been standing nearby, and he watched Jeremy open the box.  "WHAT!?"  He shouted gleefully, "Are you really having another baby!?"  He grinned at me and clapped Jeremy's back.  I forced a happy smile to my face and nodded at him, but Jeremy stood stoically staring at the cigars.  Finally, he closed the box and handed it to me.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"No, you keep them.  They're for you to hand out to your friends." I replied before pushing them back into his hands and walking away to my own Bible study group.  I had expected his response, but his heartache broke my heart.  After church, I asked him, "How many cigars did you give away?"

"None," barely audible.

"Why not?" I asked, but I knew the answer.

"How do you know you're really pregnant?" he queried, and I could hear the desperation in his voice.  That surprised me.  I didn't realize he would also be utilizing my ignorance-is-bliss strategy.

"I took a test."  I didn't mention that I had kept it the past three days and had been checking it periodically for any changes in positivity.

"Those can be wrong," he stated in that too-quiet, emotionless voice that I only hear on rare occasions when his heart is being guarded against intense pain.

"Yeah, they can."  I agreed soberly.  But I knew this one wasn't.  I also knew that I ought to consult a doctor, but that would make it all too permanent.

To Be Continued...
...Continued from Part One - "I Have To Be Honest"

"I found out I was pregnant" is a little bit of a misnomer.  Rather, at the beginning of September, I became deathly ill.  I vomited daily, was nauseated constantly, and never felt able to do more than stumble back and forth from bed to couch.  I kept thinking it was some version of the flu that would pass, but by the middle of October, I decided I'd better see a doctor. 

My neighbor, Meagan, mentioned that she had had the flu and thought she was pregnant.  She took a pregnancy test before heading to her doctor and found out she wasn't, but she recommended that I do the same before wasting a trip to the doctor.  I left her house disturbed in my spirit.  I knew I wasn't pregnant, and I wasn't about to take a test just to reopen barely healed wounds.  I made an appointment with a doctor regarding my "flu" and waited.  But Meagan's suggestion wouldn't leave my heart.  Finally, angry at myself for even entertaining the idea, I slammed a dirty dish down into the kitchen sink and headed for the bathroom where I had a leftover test stashed in the cabinet. 

I kept rolling my eyes and accusing myself of stupidity while I sat and opened the wrapper.  Part of me was afraid it would tell me I wasn't pregnant, and another part of me was afraid it would tell me I was.  Because even if I was, I'd learned the hard way that's no guarantee of a living baby.

The pink mark came immediately and unmistakably.  "Oh, God!" I moaned, "Please let me keep this baby!  Please let this baby live!"  I knew then what I had been afraid of the entire time.  I didn't want to know that I was pregnant, because maybe if I didn't know, it wouldn't feel so awful when the baby passed.  Oh, you mean I've been pregnant this whole time?  Huh.  Well, good thing I never got my heart attached.  But that bold pink mark obliterated my ignorance-is-bliss strategy.

I left the life-changing plastic stick on the bathroom counter and sat quietly on my living room couch in a strip of sunshine.  Too many thoughts swirled in my head to fully finish any of them.  My heart kept starting prayers, "God!" and ending them right there.  What did I want to pray for?  I couldn't figure that out.  I had so thoroughly convinced myself to be content with no more children, that the possibility of another child took a lot of adjusting.  Besides that, I knew probabilities were against this baby being born.  I sat and decided: I would keep this news to myself.  No one needed to know a baby had started inside me once upon a time, and when the baby eventually died, no one would need to know that still another chunk of me was missing.  I would stay quiet.

Then the Holy Spirit whispered to me.  "Who are you trusting?"  Who am I trusting?  What kind of question is that?  I asked Him.  "Does God give good gifts or not?" He clarified.  Oh...  "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights Who does not change like shifting shadows."  The verse in James chapter one echoed in my soul.  Does that mean this baby -- even if he or she dies tomorrow -- is a good and perfect gift from You to me, God?  My nose starting tingling, and my eyes filled with tears.  "I don't know that I like these kinds of gifts, my Lord."  I told him out loud.  He smiled at me and assured, "It IS good, Missy.  Trust Me."

I sighed and pondered a little bit longer.  Time to make some decisions, but these decisions were so hard to make.

"Okay, God," I finally said.  "I know you only give good gifts.  So this pregnancy -- no matter how long it lasts -- has to be a good gift.  I will rejoice and be glad in it."  I paused, then added with a sigh, "Even if it ends tomorrow."

To Be Continued...
This post has been brewing in my heart for several months now.  I haven't spit it out before because it hurts to put these words into writing and because several of my friends who struggle with infertility read my blog, and I have not wanted to cause them additional pain.  (I love you guys!)  But it is time for me to be honest.

Between the birth of my four-year-old Mercy and now, I have had four miscarriages.  (I truly appreciate your sympathetic hearts, but that is not the reason for this post.)  I don't know that I have publicly shared that information before.  In fact, I know that I have not shared that information.  Only my parents, a few close girl-friends, and a sister or two know about my missing babies.  This is not because I am ashamed or embarrassed, but because in spite of my outgoing, silly personality I tend to keep personal things private.  The truth is, I'm not even now quite sure why I am posting this for you all to read, except that I've been having a nudging that sharing is needed.

Credit to: MCCL Blog
My friends and former roommates, Alicia, Rachel, and I had discussed several times the importance of being real and up-front about our struggles as people and as women because so often we see from the outside a person's smiling face and joyful words and fulfilling actions and we never realize how much pain is underneath, how necessary our prayers for each other are, how important our friendship and support is to someone else who feels like she must be drowning.  But putting that pain and struggle out there for others to see?  Well, that can be very, VERY hard to do.

Jeremy and I had hoped for a largish family since the time we were dating.  I have eight brothers and sisters, and Jeremy has five sisters so we had some knowledge of what we were talking about.  I had a miscarriage before our six-year-old Liberty was born, but I was so young and it happened so early in the pregnancy that I didn't realize until it happened that I must have been pregnant.  Then Liberty and Mercy came along, and we assumed more would follow.  Well, more did follow, but they didn't make it full-term.  Each miscarriage got harder and harder emotionally, and a few of them were very difficult for me physically as well.  I struggled through so many different emotions that I couldn't possibly identify them all for you, but the main ones seemed to be alternating between anger at God and peaceful resignation of the situation.  You see, I already have two wonderful children, and how could I possibly ask for more than that?  I mentioned earlier my friends who so badly want even one child, and I felt selfish and horrible for desiring three or even four of my own.

In addition to that inner selfishness discussion I was having, I also wanted very badly to surrender to whatever God had planned for my life, and I didn't want to hurt so painfully over my babies and my unfulfilled hopes.  I finally decided enough was enough.  I would stop wanting more children.  I would stop trying to have more children.  I would be completely happy with the two I already had (that part wasn't hard -- Liberty and Mercy really are incredible kids.)  Jeremy, who was struggling through some powerful emotions of his own over these miscarriages, was in complete agreement about not trying for any more.  He wanted more very badly, but he was afraid that somehow he was at fault for the miscarriages (which is funny, because that's exactly how I had been thinking about myself), and he hated watching my pain and not being able to fix it.  Together, we decided:  no more babies for us.

It took me a while to adjust to this new line of thinking, but eventually, I made peace with the thought.  I was starting a whole new life.  My daughters were in school.  I had entire days all to myself.  I could do anything I wanted!  I started working part-time in Human Resources, an area I am passionate about, and I loved every second of it.  I started planning out what the next few years of my life might look like.  It was glorious!

After a while, all that baby stuff in our basement storage area began grating on my nerves.  Why take up space with so many things that we will never use?  A little bitterness reminded me, "So many things that you will never be ABLE to use."  That's it!  I decided.  I'm selling it all.  And so I did.  I put every baby thing we owned into a garage sale, and almost everything sold.  We were left with a crib, a potty chair, two car seats (infant and toddler), and a baby seat for the dining room table.  That's it.  And I was mad that those didn't sell.  What in the world am I going to do with them?

Two months later, I found out I was pregnant.

To Be Continued...