Suffering

Life is a Gift: Reflections on My Son's Difficult Birth

Life is a Gift: Reflections on My Son's Difficult Birth

oday is Ben’s birthday. This time last year we were anticipating his arrival. Today we are enjoying his happy presence. What a gift! Birthdays are such interesting days for moms (at least me). It’s the day of his birth, but so much of that day had to do with me and the effort it took to bring him into the world. While a birthday is the celebration of the person born, it also is intimately connected to the woman who bore the child.

The night before Ben’s birth, contractions had started up again. We were accustomed to the roller coaster ride that comes with being a high-risk patient. Every few days, Ben’s heart rate would do something (or my body would do something) that put everyone on high alert. I was used to contractions. I was 35 weeks and 6 days pregnant, so Braxton Hicks contractions are pretty standard at that gestation (especially with a fourth child). And in my mind, even painful Braxton Hicks felt like a slight pinch compared to the abruption pain from three weeks prior. So I didn’t think anything of them. My friends came to visit. They stayed through my routine evening monitoring, until my nurse came in and asked me if I was feeling the contractions.

On Nursing, Weaning, and Not Being God

On Nursing, Weaning, and Not Being God

Ben turns one in a little over a week, which means that nursing is coming to an end. Since he’s my last baby, I’ve been reflective and emotional about the idea of being done. But I’ve also been hopeful and excited. It’s a new stage in our parenting. Our kids are getting older. As with every stage, there are challenges, but there are so many fun things as well. So it’s very bittersweet.

When I weaned Seth I was very sentimental about it all. I cried. I talked about it all the time. I even wrote about it! It was a hard process for me emotionally and for him. We had such a sweet time together that first year. I loved nursing him so much that I couldn’t wait to nurse another baby.

This time around I am less sentimental.

One Year Later: Reflections on Life in the Face of Death

One Year Later: Reflections on Life in the Face of Death

Last year, on May 19, we celebrated Seth’s second birthday with a wonderful family day. I made cookies for his birthday dessert (because cookies are his favorite), ate pizza for dinner as a family (another one of his favorites), then packed my bags and headed out to teach at a local women’s retreat—my last speaking engagement before Ben’s birth.

It was a great weekend of rest, fellowship with other like-minded women, and studying God’s word together. I also had a nagging side ache that only intensified as I spoke throughout the day on Saturday. I chalked it up to a pulled muscle or just general third trimester achiness, traveled home that afternoon, and spent the evening resting.

The pain only intensified.

Good Friday and My Fear of Death

Good Friday and My Fear of Death

“I don’t want to die,” I said to my friend last summer, hooked up to a baby heart rate monitor and overwhelmed by the constant intrusion that is life in a hospital room.

Not wanting my baby to die was a given. I’ve faced those fears with every pregnancy. My worst fears were realized twice. But never had I also been hit with my own mortality. Pregnancy is safe and routine in America—until it isn’t.

Psalm 23 and The Valley of The Shadow of Death

Psalm 23 and The Valley of The Shadow of Death

I’ve said before that the only thing I could read during our hard days in the hospital this past summer were the psalms (and a few other things). I read them every single day, journaling, thinking, praying. In the psalms I had a language for what I was feeling. I had a language for my fears. But in the psalms, I more importantly had a language for who God is in spite of those fears and feelings. The psalms showed me God, even when everything was uncertain. My hope in spending my days in the psalms was not only that I would be sustained in the moment of waiting for Ben's birth, but that I would also be sustained if (or when) the dark moment came to deliver Ben unexpectedly.

That moment did come, but my mind went blank.

Finding Glory in My Ordinary Year

Finding Glory in My Ordinary Year

One year ago next month my book, Glory in the Ordinary, was released. It feels like an eternity has passed in a way that I didn't with my first book. In large part, I think it’s owing to all that happened the weeks leading up to Ben’s delivery (and the weeks following). Our plans for the book launch didn’t include three weeks of bed rest, a premature delivery, or a hard recovery. But God’s did, and it completely changed how I viewed the book as a result.

A Short End of Year List for a Hard 2017

A Short End of Year List for a Hard 2017

The end of the year is the time for list making. I’ve read (and been encouraged by) many lists of books, blog posts, and favorite things. I’ve even created those lists in years past. But instead I am going to share the three things that the Lord used to sustain me this year. As I’ve shared before, this is the year that took us through the ringer in so many ways. Ben’s arrival into the world was traumatic (a word I don’t use lightly) and hard on our family in ways we are still processing. But even in the difficulty we have been encouraged by the Lord through people and through his word. I know that many don’t come to the end of the year with the mental or emotional bandwidth to take in a lot of lists and book ideas. Life is just too relentless, so if you find yourself in the midst of a difficult year, I pray these resources encourage you too.

Mary's Suffering is For Us

Mary's Suffering is For Us

I have either been pregnant, nursing, or grieving a lost baby for the past seven Christmases. Whenever December rolls around I find myself reflective about the incarnation and what it meant for Mary. I find myself encouraged by what it means for the effects of this broken world, especially the pain I’ve experienced in childbearing.

Christmas in a Minor Key

Christmas in a Minor Key

One of my favorite Christmas songs has always been “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” I love the words. I love how it tells the tale of expectant longing for Christ’s first coming, and drives us to long for the second. But I also love it because it’s in a minor key. I have a soft spot for songs in a minor key. I grew up loving music for many reasons—one of them is how music is evocative. Music makes us feel. And as one who feels deeply and also tends towards melancholy, a minor key suits me.

This Thanksgiving I'm Thankful for Life

This Thanksgiving I'm Thankful for Life

One year ago this week I thought I was beginning to miscarry a baby. I had all the signs of miscarriage. So when I sat down on that ultrasound table it was with 100% certainty that I thought I would hear “there is no heartbeat.” I didn’t even pray for a heartbeat. Instead I prayed for grace to face another miscarriage again, to pass another dead baby—again.

But God had other plans for this baby. These plans were far beyond what I would have dreamed up. In many ways, these plans would have been my worst nightmare.

He had plans for this baby that I feared was dead.