Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Journey Into Motherhood

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Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my book. The chapter is called "The Journey In: Are You Ready for This?" The excerpt follows an e-mail I received from a girlfriend who was in the midst of two years of infertility. It was an honest, heartfelt, painful e-mail about her struggle to get pregnant. You'll have to wait until you read the book to read her email, but suffice it to say it will probably make you cry even if you've never had infertility issues.

From Chapter 2:

Even as I reread this e-mail, tears come to my eyes. The thing is, we all start on different paths to the motherhood. But once we dive in, we’re all in. Once we decide we are ready (enough) to have children, our hearts are there. It’s like we are already moms. We may be a bit freaked out, but we are excited. We can’t wait to put on poundage (for a reason). We think all baby outfits are adorable, when the reality is that some are quite ugly. We see other pregnant ladies and feel an instant bond with them. We see a mom pick her temper-tantrum-throwing two-year-old off the floor at the grocery store and we think it’s awesome! (Or we think that when we have a child he will never do that!)

Many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. Months of trying to conceive turn into years of disappointment and doctor visit after doctor visit. Depressing. The financial strain, the stress on the marriage, the programmed intimacy, the awkwardness around all your pregnant friends, the toll on your body, the disappointment. Exhausting. Then you finally get pregnant only to miscarry. Crushing. And then you miscarry again. It’s more than you feel like you can handle. Or you never get pregnant at all. Devastating. None of us envision this as our journey into the motherhood. You wonder, “Why is it so easy for everyone else to get pregnant?”

The good news is that God has a plan for our pain. He wants to bring us peace that passes understanding. He wants to comfort us and reveal His love to us in a new way. I know this because I have lived it firsthand. I never had infertility issues. I never had a miscarriage. But when I was five months pregnant with our first child, I received disappointing news from the perinatologist as she looked at our baby on the ultrasound screen.

I was joking around with her when she stopped me abruptly. “Wendy, I need to be serious with you right now. Your baby has a lot of problems.” She then proceeded to tell us about defect after defect. First there was a cleft lip and palate. Then there was the hole in the heart. Then it was the omphalocele, where the intestines are on the outside of the body. All of these midline defects led the perinatologist to conclude that our baby had Trisomy 13 or Trisomy 18, each a rare chromosomal abnormality that happens at conception. (An amniocentesis later confirmed that our baby had Trisomy 13.) Our baby was likely to die soon, but no one knew exactly when.

Man, I can remember the scene so clearly. What the room looked like—ugly. Where the phone was in relation to where I was lying. I clearly remember picking up the phone in that dimly lit room and calling my brother, Kevin. I told him the sad news and asked him to call my parents, because I didn’t think I could handle making that call. I knew how crushed they would be.

Although we didn’t initially intend to find out the gender of our baby, we changed our minds after the ultrasound revealed the grim prognosis. Up to this point we had not decided on a baby name, because that requires marital counseling. However, there was one name that my dad had previously suggested that neither Shiloh nor I vehemently rejected. I vividly remember when they told us she was a girl. We knew she was “Faith,” the name my dad had proposed. We knew it would require faith to carry her to term (the vast majority of Trisomy babies are aborted) and that she was a gift from God.

(28 weeks pregnant with baby Faith)

Even though I was devastated about our daughter’s condition, the Lord brought me peace. Acts 17:26 came to my mind right away. A verse that the Lord had been engraving in my heart over the previous year. And I had no idea why . . . until then. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”

God knew the exact place our daughter was going to live. Or if she was going to live. He was in control. One of the amazing ironies about hardship and grief is that scriptures can come alive in a personal way. Verses you have heard or read over and over become completely tangible. In the midst of instant grief, I had peace. Here is what I journaled the following day:

9/5/03—Certainly it was not the news we expected. However, I think God has been preparing me for this for many months. I have been learning over and over again that He is in control of everything. And so even as the doctor was telling us this terrible news I felt peace. I knew that God had chosen us on that day to deal with this baby and her problems. Strangely, I even feel special and honored that in a 1 in 7,500 chance God would chose us to take on this challenge and give us the opportunity to glorify Him. So, I can even be thankful in this situation.

I understand that this was my experience. Not everyone immediately experiences the peace of God in the midst of intense pain. As I look back, I find it hard to imagine now that I felt “special and honored.” But I did. That had to be from the Lord. Because who can manufacture those thoughts and feelings in a situation like that?

I know not everyone is able to see the Romans 8:282 “good” that God is working in all things for those that love Him. And if someone tries to “give” you that verse in the midst of your trial, feel free to whack him or her upside the head. But in the midst of your infertility struggle, your miscarriage, your terminal pregnancy, or the loss of your baby—God can be trusted. He has not abandoned you.

I won’t pretend to fully comprehend God’s purpose or plan for infertility, miscarriage, a stillborn infant, or infant loss. I don’t always understand His ways, but time and time again He has proven faithful and trustworthy. He is at work. He has big plans for you both into and on your motherhood journey. Look up.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8-9).

Only a few more days to pre-order the book through me for ten bucks plus shipping and packaging. After that, it will cost four thousand dollars so you should probably get it now. I have gone through the first round of revisions and now it's in the hands of the typesetters. Still not sure when it will be ready for the world, but I am hoping within a few months although it could be as late as September.

P.S. If you are interested in hearing more about my journey with baby Faith you can check out the podcast called "Good Grief" on my website.

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Tegan and Tage said...

You are quite an inspiration Wendy. There is no doubt God is using you in incredible ways.