Whenever someone confides in me that they’re having a hard time getting pregnant, or have recently experienced a miscarriage, I feel at a loss for words. I tread carefully when broaching this subject; I tiptoe through a mine field of wrong words, no matter how well-intentioned they are, because I have no idea how they’re going to be taken.
My sister, Christine, and her husband have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year now. A year is short by most women’s standards, however, Christine suffers from a disease call Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known PCOS, and does not ovulate. She is currently on her second cycle of Clomid (an infertility drug to help her ovulate) because the first cycle on Clomid did not even work. It has been an incredible opportunity to travel this journey with her. She has been transparent in most of her struggles with her body; laying bare her most fervent desire to be a mother; feelings of betrayal by her body; being afraid that her prayer requests will never be answered; to finally laying down the thermometer and laying it all at God’s feet. It has broken my heart to see the fear and pain in her eyes, each time her hope has risen that maybe, just maybe, her body has life growing inside, to those hopes dashed when it turns out that ovulation did not even occur. It is so hard to see my sister struggle with something that is so dear to her heart, to the point that I would take this struggle upon myself if I could.
Currently, she is doing well, she is at peace. She has laid this struggle, this fight, at God’s feet. She and her husband have sought counsel with pastors and their wives; they’ve been prayed over and anointed with oil. She is calm in what could be a very vicious struggle for faith and I’m amazed at her ability to keep looking to our Lord, not always understanding His ways but having assurance that He has her best interests at heart. Even now, she is playing the waiting game, waiting to see which path God has chosen for her.
Oh my friends, I have no answers for you; I only have one thing to offer you. Hope. While it may feel that your body has failed you, take heart that nothing can happen without permission from God. For whatever reason, whether that reason may or may not be revealed to you, God has chosen you for this journey. He has placed you on this path and He is not resistant to your fear, your pain, or your anger. He is walking beside you and holding your hand through each disappointment and trial and rejoices with you in each triumph. When you sit on the bathroom floor, mourning the loss of your baby, know that He is sitting there with you, His heart is breaking with yours. He longs to hold you in His embrace; He wants to help ease your hurt. When you feel your prayers are going unanswered or unheard, take heart that God is there, He is listening, He will answer in due time. When you feel the anger is going to overtake your soul, He sits by patiently, allowing your emotions their course, understanding, and hoping for your return to His feet.
You are not broken; God creates all things in His image. You are not being punished, for His son has already paid the cost for your sins. Your desires are not being ignored; God hears even the most soft-spoken whispers of our heart. You are a child of God, a princess in His Kingdom, and you are most precious to Him. My prayer, including that God will bless your womb with life, is that even in your darkest moments, you will turn and seek solace from Him. And please know, while I might not understand your struggles, I am here, hurting with you, praying with you and over you, and as a friend, I will be there whenever you may need me.
After all, a house is just a building. It’s the memories, the love, the grace, the forgiveness, and the hope that builds a home. I wrote about my hopes for our home in October of last year. We have merely been given the means, a house, to create our home and haven. We are truly blessed.
Boxes are getting unpacked, things are finding their rightful place, and we are becoming settled in our new place. It has truly become “home” to me and I find myself in awe on a daily basis that we are now homeowners. The kids are adjusting well; Hudson is fine as long as Jon, Devyn, and I are around and Devyn is finally referring to our place as “my house”. Jon has been busy with project after project and is currently trying to get our fence built. We plan to bring our furry family members (aka: the dogs, Jackson and Grady) home this weekend. It’ll be wonderful to have them with us again. We’re having a barbeque on Sunday and are looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. (Its times like these that I wish my blogging friends could join us for a night of fun, food, and laughter.)
We are home… finally!
Case in Point #1:
Devyn got her first bloody nose since… let me think… ever. She got up about 3:00 in the morning and came into our room. As I was ushering her back to bed, she walked right into the door jam. Poor thing! It wasn’t until I noticed her face and hands covered in blood that I realized what had happened. As I was washing her face, she finally noticed her hands and gave me a panicked look. As her chest started heaving with soon-to-be-sobs, I calmed her down and reassured her that she was ok. We fell asleep in her twin-sized bed with no problems.
Case in Point #2:
Devyn is officially afraid of the dark, despite the fact that she has a brand-new butterfly nightlight. Usually after we read her a story and say our prayers, she snuggles under the covers with her teddy bear and is out within 15-20 minutes. But the past two nights, after we’ve put her to bed, we checked in on her and noticed that her bed is surprisingly empty. Both times she was hiding behind her laundry hamper, in the corner. She’s not crying or whimpering; just huddled in her corner. It breaks my heart! As soon as we lay down with her and she’s cuddled up against our side, she’s out like a light.
Case in Point #3:
Hudson is very obviously not feeling well. Our typical routine is to put him in his crib after he falls asleep and he’s good to go until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. However, these past two nights, he’s been waking a mere hour after we laid him down. He’s got a runny nose and is just plain out of sorts. So, instead of playing the fall-asleep-to-go-back-in-the-crib game, I just kept him in bed with me and was used as a pacifier all… night… long. I’m happy to report that he woke up booger-free and his usual, happy self.
I gotta admit, I’m very tired. Why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?!
A couple of months ago, I received an email from a friend saying that she thinks I’m too hard on myself and that I should give myself a break. It made me pause. I agreed with her but didn’t think it was that big a deal.
The night that we closed on our house, Sarah and her family came over to celebrate with us. I looked (and felt) very overwhelmed at the idea of moving and unpacking. Sarah kindly pointed out that I needed to lower my expectations; that I couldn’t do it all at once, and that eventually, I would get settled. Again, I thought about what she said but did not act on her suggestion.
Then I had a meltdown last Wednesday… Jon and I went for a drive Thursday afternoon, just the two of us, to talk about things. On this drive, he expressed his concern that my expectations of myself were too high. He reminded me that I wasn’t perfect, that I couldn’t be Super Mom all the time, and that I needed to cut myself a little slack.
(Do you see the theme emerging?)
Then during my first counseling session with Dr. Laura (no, this is not the doctor from the radio station and the term doctor is used loosely here), she made an observation that (by now, it should be no surprise) I have really high expectations of myself, expectations that I do not hold for anyone else in my life. My homework until my next appointment? Be easy on myself.
(Ok, God, I get it…)
Expectations… We all have them, large or small, and they pretty much take over every area of our lives. I had high expectations about our first house; Devyn would adjust easily, the unpacking would happen fast, and the privacy fence would be up within two weeks… tops. As Sarah mentioned, those expectations were unrealistic and in turn, created much stress in my life. After two weeks, boxes still lie in each room of the house, Devyn is just now starting to refer to the house as “MY” house, and we’ve yet to start the fence. But you know what? Its okay, it’ll happen eventually.
As for myself, I’m realizing that I AM hard on myself; expecting myself to be everything to everyone and feeling like a miserable failure when I don’t even come close. I have be an exceptional employee at work; a fun, loving, and spiritual guide to the kids; a supportive, loving, helpmate to my husband; create a warm, happy home for the family; and then throw in my daughter, sister, and friend roles and you have an overwhelmed woman who can’t possibly do it all. At least, it’s not possible without affording myself some grace.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this subject as I examine my need to be perfect with the counselor, as well as ways to better handle my many roles. I have more questions than answers at this point, but I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about these counseling sessions. I think its going to be a hard, but necessary, journey of self-discovery and I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn.
PS Thank you SO much for the encouraging notes and emails. You have no idea how touched I am by the support. Thank you…
I could see the light peeking up over the horizon, just outside my bedroom window. Jon had left for work and I had Devyn cuddled up against my side, while Hudson was sound asleep on my chest. I couldn’t go back to sleep; I had numerous thoughts racing through my mind. There was no order to the thoughts, they would zip through my mind and out again, just as fast. I kept my eyes closed, trying to shut out the approaching day. If I pretended it didn’t exist, maybe it would go away. I could feel the darkness creeping in, clouding my mind.
"Jenn…" the silence hissed, "… you know there’s a simple way out." I opened my eyes; did I really just think that? The thoughts continued, "Seriously, Jenn, just go out to the garage and start the car. Your mom will be here soon enough when you don’t show up with the kids. Devyn and Hudson won’t even be alone that long." I shuddered and glanced around the room, I could feel it, Satan was in this room with me. "Go away," I begged, "Leave me alone!" I prayed in the power of Jesus Christ, I reminded Satan that I belonged to the King, that he had no authority over me. The evil thoughts subsided.
As I lay there, with two warm bodies cuddled against mine, I kept waiting for the feelings of gratitude and peace to return. It never happened. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the very idea of caring for these two small beings and I knew this time was different. I sent Jon a text message, letting him know that I was having dark thoughts. Then I called my mother and told her she needed to hurry to our house, I was in a bad shape. She arrived just as I was attempting to get Devyn dressed for the day. At the sight of her caring face, I let down my guard and fell into a heap of tears. I’d reached my limit, my breaking point, and now, I was of no use to anyone.
Wednesday, as you can see, was a dark, dark day for me; I don't think I stopped crying until 6:00 that evening. I was either in Jon or my mom's care the entire day; they took me on errands, to the doctor, and cared for my children when I was unable to. This was most definitely a wake-up call for me; the breaking point for my body, soul, and mind.
Do I know what contributed to it? It could have been any number of things. My aunt's death, the break-in of my car, caring for my friend through her dad's crisis, the flood, the house situation, or even trying to "doctor" myself. Maybe my expectations of myself and the house were too high? Maybe it was a hormone shift? Or maybe it was a combination of everything; with a side of spiritual warfare. Regardless of whatever caused it, I need to take the right steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again. This tired, troubled, unhappy person is NOT me.
Where do I stand right now? One, my dosage of anti-depressants has been doubled; two, I just finished my first session with a counselor; and three, I'm laying myself at God's feet.
Refine me through this experience, Father. Sharpen me, mold me, use me and this experience in whatever way you see fit. Be my Prince of Peace, be my comfort, be my security. I'm laying it all here for you; this is your battle to fight, not mine.
I'm having good days and bad days. Thursday and Friday were spent mostly in a fog; with my family surrounding me, uplifting me, and supporting me. Jon and I have spent several hours talking and reconnecting after spending 14 months in my parents' basement. My mom has spent time in prayer, cloaking me in God's protection. Friends have been wonderful; being there with a listening ear and offering prayers on my behalf. And I'm at the point where I can finally see the hope at the end of this dark tunnel. And even though you can't see me, I'm wearing a tired, but relieved smile.
Hold Me Jesus
By: Rich Mullins; Big Daddy Weave
Sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all.
When the mountains look so big
and my faith just seems so small.
So hold me Jesus
‘cause I’m shaking like a leaf.
You have been King of my glory,
won’t you be my Prince of Peace?
When I wake up in the night, I feel the dark.
Its so hot inside my soul.
I swear there must be blisters on my heart.
So hold me Jesus
‘cause I’m shaking like a leaf.
You have been King of my glory,
won’t you be my Prince of Peace?
Surrender don’t come natural to me.
I’d rather fight you for something,
I don’t really want.
Than to take what you give, that I need.
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls.
I’m falling down, falling on my knees.
And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn.
And your grace rings out so deep.
It makes my resistance seem so thin.
So hold me Jesus
‘cause I’m shaking like a leaf.
You have been King of my glory,
won’t you be my Prince of Peace?
Devyn was devastated when everyone left our house and became even more upset at bed time. “My house,” she cried as I changed her clothes, “I want Drew, I want Alli, I want Nana and Papa and Ney.” When I pointed out her beautiful room, complete with butterflies and flowers, she buried her head in my shoulder and shook her head no; she wanted “my house”. My heart sank, and I felt extremely overwhelmed. I had unpacked boxes in each room of the house, I had no idea where things were, and now my daughter was crushed to be leaving the security of my parents’ house. She finally settled down long enough to read a book, drink some water, and fall asleep in a fit of exhausted energy.
I crawled into bed with Jon and felt the tears sting my eyes. Yes, it was good to be on our own; this is what God meant by “leave and cleave” but why did it hurt so much? Why was this so hard? Was I upset because of Devyn’s heartbreak and confusion? I don’t know… I’m sure a number of things played into my own feelings. A release from our “high” of buying a new house, exhaustion from moving and unpacking, my own fear of change, added responsibilities, and Devyn surprising reaction, have all contributed to my own heart ache.
It’s now Tuesday and boxes are slowly, but surely, getting unpacked; everything is getting put into its rightful place; walls are being decorated with pictures and frames; and a routine is taking place. I feel much better today than I did yesterday and yesterday felt much better than Sunday. I’m feeling a little more settled, a little more secure in our new place. Devyn is still very weepy, emotional, and a little clingy but I know that in a couple of weeks, she’ll get used to her new house. And it helps that she still goes to her Nana and Papa’s house every day while I’m at work. In fact, she fairly skipped up the walk to the door yesterday when I dropped them off.
Yes, this has been hard, but I know its going to be so worth it. And I’m anxious to see what changes take place within our family as we learn to become a unit of four.
Amanda (I prayed for you this morning, I hope it went well) tagged me for the meme regarding 8 things about yourself. This is the first time that I've had a chance to do something for myself, and I chose blogging! =)
- I am the oldest of four girls; not only are they my sisters, they are my best friends! Christine is the good one; she is just inherently good, the one we ALL look up to. (I did not say, however, that she was perfect!) Allison is the strong-willed and stubborn one; but it was that strong will that pulled her through her anorexia 8 years ago. I admire her persaverence. Courtney is the baby and the most loyal one. Once you befriend Courtney (or are a sister), she is there for you for life, through thick and thin. She has taught me some amazing things about being a good friend. And I... well, I'm the oldest, which means I'm the boss. (Seriously.) And I am bossy, over-bearing, and opinionated. Poor girls... they never stood a chance.
- I am living in complete chaos and I've decided that I really, really hate it. But as far as I'm concerned, as long as there are blinds, shades, or the like, and curtains on the windows, I feel some sense of accomplishment. [Laura, you would have a hay day with my house right now.]
- I tend to have a rebellious spirit, not something I'm particulary proud of, especially with the stories of my past. But it is something that I've learned to tame and something that I really can't let my guard down about. Sometimes I can go weeks with it rearing its ugly head, and sometimes its a daily struggle.
- I was the yearbook editor in high school, yes, I was THAT girl. But honestly, I loved every bit of it. Choosing themes, layouts, designs, the copy writing, the copy editting, and the finished product. Seriously, it would be a dream come true to get back into something like that.
- I am two years away from the big 3-0 and I'm freaking out! Seriously, give me 40 years old, 50 years old, or even 60 years old. None of those ages scare me a bit, but 30 gives me the willies. I think because I then have to say good-bye to my twenties and officially "grow" up.
- I am addicted to blogging, there I said it. [See, Courtney, I'm not afraid to admit it.] Its really, really bad. I've even got to the point where I can check blogs via my cell phone. NOT good. This may be something I have to work on very shortly, my family can only be ignored for so long.
- I absolutely hate cooking. In fact, while putting together our kitchen yesterday, my mom and aunt consulted with Jon where to put everything, not me! Just let me know where everything's located and I'm good to go. However, I do love baking and laundry.
- I used to play soccer, all through junior high and part of high school. I really, really miss the sport and would love to find an adult league in this area soon. I can't wait to see if this is a sport either Devyn or Hudson will pick up. I can't wait to be a soccer mom!
Last Tuesday, our lender (Karen) called me. She started our conversation with this statement, a statement that I will never forget. “Jenn…” [big pause] “I’ve been praying all morning how to start this conversation.” I really think I stopped breathing for a moment; obviously this wasn’t going to be a good conversation. Karen continued, “My company just announced that we’re declaring bankruptcy and we won’t be closing any new loans from here on out.” I sat there in shock, while Karen continued talking, explaining what was going to happen, how she was going to help, etc. But I don’t think I heard very much of it, I just saw our dreams of buying a house dissipating into the air.
Karen, bless her heart, would hear none of that and was already spinning her wheels to keep the loan going through. She contacted our builder’s preferred lender and made plans to get our file to the new lender as soon as possible. She called every day with an update; in fact, we heard more often from Karen than we did the new lender. My aunt and uncle had referred us to Karen in the first place, over two years ago, and Karen had painstakingly walked us through every step of getting our credit cleaned up. I am in awe that in the midst of Karen losing her job, she was still taking the time and making the effort to make sure we would still get our house; Keep in mind, there was NO commission in it for her. She is truly a servant of God.
Speaking of God, He was obviously working behind the scenes too. When all was said and done, we ended up with a mortgage that was $50 less than we’d planned and we only took $280 with us to closing, as opposed to the $2,000 we had saved. God is wonderful and has blessed us beyond what we deserve. It has been such a rush to witness His blessings first-hand. Wow!
The morning of the closing, there we sat, with the lady from the title company, our realtor, the builder, his realtor, and Karen. [Yes, you read that right. Karen showed up at closing with baked goods, presents for Jon and I, and our lender (the new lender) was no where to be found. In fact, I’ve never met our actual lender.] I signed my name several dozen times, almost by habit. I was handed a sheet of paper, shown where to sign, and signed it. It was a relaxed, casual atmosphere with good conversation, joking, and many private smiles between Jon and I. All in all, we were in and out within 40 minutes and left with keys in our hands. Oh the sheer joy of it all.
Jon and I left the realtor’s office and headed to the house. We unlocked the door and walked in, awed by the idea that this was actually our house, ours and no one else’s. It’s a concept that still hasn’t sunk in. Jon grabbed me, spun me around, and dipped in for a kiss; in fact, we shared a LOT of kisses yesterday. We finally caught our breath, stopped in the kitchen, and prayed aloud; thanking God for His provisions, dedicating the house to His service, and asking Him to bless our family with many warm, happy memories inside those four walls. After our giddy interlude, we noticed the house-warming present from the builder and were in awe. They had taken a trash can and filled it to the brim with food, tools, paper products (paper plates, cups, silverware, paper towels, and toilet paper), laundry detergent, dish soap, a night light, and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. How amazing is that?!
Now comes the hard part… unpacking and getting everything organized. As Sarah told me last night, I need to lower my expectations and take comfort that eventually it will get done. But in the mean time, if you see a blissful smile on my face, it’s because… we’re homeowners!!
When we first moved in, we wanted to be out by February, before our second child came into the world. That was the plan anyway. But it appears that God had a different idea and instead we stayed an additional six months, while waiting for our first house to be built. Bringing Hudson home to our basement makes this place that much more special to me. It’s where he and I learned more about each other; where our feedings took place; where he gave his first giggle; and where I tucked him in at night.
Devyn has come into her own in this house, going from our bed to her own, from toddler to independence. She has embraced butterflies and princesses; she’s played mommy to her dolls and brother; its where she could be heard singing from downstairs or spinning circles in the kitchen; she said her first prayers in that little twin bed; and asked for her bible more times than I can count. Oh the memories of her I have in this house will sit near and dear to my heart.
It mattered not that the basement was unfinished, with raw, concrete walls, and a cold basement floor. It mattered not that we could hear every footstep on wooden floors above. It mattered not that we hung sheets to make walls, or laid down area rugs for carpet. Somehow, someway, we turned that basement into a home and it was ours. On Friday, when the cleaners had left, I trooped down to the basement. It was still damp and with the fans whirring in the background, I did a slow turn, letting the memories wash over me. It made me a bit teary to realize we wouldn’t be spending any more nights in our cozy place.
Tomorrow we sign our life away and we’ll be handed keys to our first house. Yes, I am excited, but living here has taught me so much about what it really takes to build a home.
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the flood itself; the camera wasn't found in time. But these are photos from the day of the recovery.
We're finally at the place where we are laughing about the situation; its a bit comical how this month has played out. Jon and I are even joking that God must have figured we'd do a horrible job at cleaning the basement ourselves, so He decided to intervene on my parents behalf.
As some will recall, my parents just moved into this house a little over a year ago and is a brand-new build, which is still under warranty of the builder. One of the foremen showed up with another crew member last night around 10:30pm to assess the damage. It was very apparent to them (and obvious to us) that something didn't "work" and they are accepting full responsibility for the damage. They have hired a disaster/catastrophe repair crew and have been at this house since this morning to start the cleaning up process. All of our belongings are currently on my parents driveway as they start mucking out the mud, debris, and water from the basement.
The good news is that they'll be paying to repair or replace everything that was damaged in the flood. Our three main concerns were an antique dresser from Jon's family, a beautiful armoire that we bought as newlyweds, and our computer. (The funny thing is, I had JUST packed up that computer last night before the flood happened and hopefully will still work as it was one of the first things we put up high.) And secondly, this is allowing Jon and I a big break from having to clean up the basement ourselves come moving day. **Thank goodness for small blessings, huh?!** So, hopefully our things (and they are just things) will be good as new soon.
And the books, oh my, I am absolutely floored and humbled by the generous offering of books and gift certificates. Thank you! You have NO idea how much that means to us and I'm teary just thinking about how generous my blogging friends are. I'll admit that not going to sleep until 1:00am and being up by 7:00am (we had our final walk-through of our new house this morning) is playing havoc with my feelings, whenever I think of Devyn's favorite books floating in a box full of water makes me a little sad. But again, they can be replaced. Thanks again everyone! You are all amazing!!
Fast-forward five and a half months and I’m starting to get a taste of the differences between boys and girls. When Devyn was this age, she was content to sit in one spot on the floor and play with her toys. Playing would consist of turning the toys over in her hands, gently placing blocks side-by-side, or softly feeling the textures of the different items.
Hudson, on the other hands, is a walk on the wild side. First of all, he absolutely hates being in one place. He is literally rolling from one end of the room to the other; or he is on his hands and knees rocking back and forth, desperately wanting to crawl. The kid has more energy than I know what to do with and he’s not even mobile yet! And secondly, I am watching open-mouthed, as my son plays with toys. He literally picks things up and bangs them up and down on the floor, highchair tray, or any other surface that he has access to. There is no gentleness, there is no calm; it is a frenzied, jerking, “how hard can I throw this toy?” motion. I laugh because I know of no other way to react.
There are other subtle differences too. He is strong; he has a grip like no one’s business. He can literally bring me, or his nana or aunties or Devyn, to tears when he gets a hold of our hair. He is such a hearty nurser too. There are no soft sighs or gentle sucks; when this boy eats, he means business. When he gets excited, there needs to be a foot-wide radius around him because his legs and arms flail about, kicking or hitting anyone in the way.
Beyond all the physical differences between Devyn and Hudson, this little man holds my heart unlike anyone else in this world. It’s so hard to explain, and I’ve tried many times to put it into words, but I come up empty each time. There is something so incredibly special about a mother-son connection. I walk into a room and the moment he hears my voice, his head whips around and his eyes search for mine. If I don’t pick him up right away, he expresses his displeasure with crying and won’t stop until he’s snuggled safely in my arms. There are times when no one else can calm him down, but the minute he’s back in my arms, he collapses in a heap of exhausted energy, wet cheeks, and a relieved smile. And speaking of smiles, his can light up a room! He has his daddy’s smile and while I always knew I was a sucker for that smile, put it on the tiny face of my son, and I melt into the floor.
Oh yes, I realize how incredibly lucky and blessed I am to have both a daughter and a son. And the older Hudson gets, the more I’m relishing and enjoying the differences and experiences they each bring to my life.