The Mother’s Day I Didn’t Want To Remember

It was a Sunday morning in the middle of May. Mother’s Day. My body felt lifeless as I lay there in bed. My eyes were still sore and head was still throbbing from crying the night before. I knew that today was going to be a difficult one to face. After I finally convinced myself to get out of bed, I walked into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, turned to the side, and put my hand over my empty belly. A few weeks prior I was so excited about getting to celebrate my first Mother’s Day with our little growing miracle.

We knew my ability to get pregnant was nearly impossible due to the cancer treatments I received early on in life. And so, after years of trying this was an answer to many prayers. This baby was in every definition of the word a miracle. We naively began plotting how we would tell our family and friends our exciting news. We even started thinking of names. Our hearts and home were filled with so much joy and expectancy. But as I was standing in front of the mirror on Mother’s Day, the excitement and joy that once filled my heart were quickly replaced with feelings of anger, bitterness and hopelessness. I felt broken. Incomplete. And in some ways less than what I was created to be and what I was created to do.

I went to church dressed in a fake smile. I sang songs. I greeted the people around me. I held back all of my tears until I couldn’t any more. I ended up leaving early just before the pastor (my husband) would ask all of the “mothers” to stand for recognition. I rushed out the back door of the church and headed straight towards our porch. We lived in the parsonage less than 10 feet away (literally), so thankfully I didn’t have that far to go before I made it to my bed (again). I can vividly remember my cheeks hitting the pillows that were still wet from crying the night before as I yelled into the sheets that I had pulled over my face, “Why God? Why?”

Anger, sad, hurt, confused, bitter- just a few of the many emotions I experienced over the next year. I had many questions for God and very few answers. But He met me in my pain. He met me in my tears. He was faithful despite my faithlessness. He was with me even when I doubted Him. I continually poured out all of those big emotions, questions and doubts at the foot of the cross because I knew Jesus could handle it. I stopped trying to dress myself with a fake smile and allowed myself to be honest with others about my pain. I learned through my vulnerability that others shared similar stories of loss and grief. And although it broke my heart to know they had walked a similar road, the reminder that I wasn’t alone brought a sense of connection, peace and healing that I truly believe is a gift from God. I now had friends who could empathize and encourage me to live a life beyond my own pain.

Strictly speaking, I’m still barren. In the eyes of my doctor, I’m still “infertile.” However, unlike before, feelings of brokenness and emptiness no longer haunt me. I’m not consumed by those thoughts anymore. God healed my heart to be at peace with my circumstances. Through infertility, I’ve learned that a diagnosis doesn’t have the power to define who I am as a woman. Christ does. Colossians 2:9 tells us that if we are in Christ, we have also been made complete in Him. I don’t walk around feeling like a broken woman because my heart has found fulfillment in Jesus. No negative pregnancy test or pregnancy announcement on Facebook can change that truth. The same goes for you too, my friend.

We went to the beach last week. As I sat back watching our beautiful twins running around squealing and giggling in the waves, feelings of profound gratefulness poured over me. I couldn’t stop myself from grinning ear to ear as they ran towards me from the ocean. With daddy close behind, they screamed, “Mama, mama, mama!” For a season of my life, I never thought I’d hear those words. And now look how far the Father has brought me. I’m wrapped up in the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard from my son and daughter. Perhaps if I could have seen God’s beautiful plan to grow our family through adoption, it would have been easier to trust in Him. However, we would have forfeited a season of growth, wisdom and perspective if we were able to see how this part of our story unfolded.

There were many Mother’s Days that, at the time, I didn’t want to remember because the sting from the pain was too great. Maybe you can relate to my story or perhaps you are still sitting in this season of waiting.  I don’t know when or if motherhood will come for you through a positive pregnancy test, adoption, or some other means. But I do know the One who knows and sees all wombs and all lives. I know the One who bore the wrenching pain of suffering and loss. And He calls us to raise our eyes from our empty wombs to the empty tomb. In my deepest pain and through all of my doubting, God was with me and Jesus is alive in me. He never left. My big emotions couldn’t scare Him off and yours can’t either. Don’t feel like you have to dress up with a fake smile on Mother’s Day. Jesus understands your loss. Your pain. You don’t have to carry this burden on your own. He promises to shoulder your worst losses if you receive Him as gain.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Another Holiday Pregnancy Announcement That Isn’t Mine

As a child, I anxiously looked forward to Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought my sister and me. When I was six years old, I remember thinking I heard Santa’s reindeer on our roof. I excitedly ran into my sister’s room and jumped onto her bed and said, “Did you hear that?!” Playing along, my older sister said, “Yes!” The remainder of that conversation has drawn blank on me. But, I can still see two little girls giggling and smiling just thinking about what the next morning would bring.

For many, the Christmas season exudes a sense of celebration, joy, excitement, awe, and wonder, and it should. After all, over 2,000 years ago our Savior was born. If that isn’t something to celebrate with family and friends, then I don’t know what is. But, for some, this holiday season is a reminder of great loss and pain. Perhaps the mother who used to greet you on Christmas morning with a pancake breakfast is no longer on this earth. Perhaps sitting in the living room on Christmas Eve reading the Christmas story feels different this year with the passing of your father. Maybe you were looking forward to sharing your pregnancy announcement with family and friends, but instead you are grieving the loss of your unborn child.

One of the most difficult holidays for me was Christmas 2014. Our baby’s due date was near the end of November, and I remember the anxiety that was building in my heart as the days moved toward Christmas. We were living in Louisiana at the time, and it was 70 degrees all during the month of December—bright and sunny. But I remember my heart felt very cold. I didn’t want to put up a Christmas tree, but Obbie insisted. And so, I obliged begrudgingly. I felt like there was absolutely nothing to celebrate. The baby who was supposed to be less than 30 days old and snuggling in my arms wasn’t there.

The influx of holiday pregnancy announcements filled my newsfeed. It was complete torture, but there I would find myself in the late hours of the night scrolling mindlessly through Facebook with a sad heart. Another holiday pregnancy announcement that isn’t mine, I would think to myself. Then the Christmas family photos would come—the ones with young couples and their children smiling.

Later that night, I saw a picture of six-year-old Kelly from Christmas smiling ear to ear. In that moment, I felt so distant from that little girl who was filled with so much awe and wonder. Those feelings were foreign to me. Obbie and I spent Christmas of 2014 with friends, and even though I was surrounded by a ton of people with their excited faces and giggling voices, I felt sad, empty, and alone. 

Although I am medically deemed infertile and though my womb is barren, my heart is full. And it isn’t just because our hearts (and hands!) are filled to the brim with the sweetest and silliest 18-month-old twins running around the house. After our miscarriage and before we started the adoption process, I was reminded that joy would never come through a positive pregnancy test, a child, or anything that this earth has to offer. The ultimate joy I was looking for, hoping for, and so desperately longing for was something that had already been given to me. It wasn’t a gift to be opened under the tree; it was found in the arms of my Savior. God was faithful to heal our hearts, even though our circumstances didn’t change. And as we continually ran to Him and (sometimes) fell into His arms, He filled us with the fullness of His joy. Not a temporal kind of joy, but an eternal one, the kind that enables you to sing, “It Is Well with My Soul” through life’s deepest wounds.

The holidays can bring about a sadness that on an ordinary day may exist, but during the holidays, it can seem more apparent. You are not alone. Perhaps you feel hopeless in your sadness. Perhaps your heart couldn’t feel farther from that warm, sunny, and 70-degree day. If you need to take a break from the holiday festivities, then do so, and don’t feel guilty that you have to step away from all of the excitement. But as you step away and as you grieve, my prayer for you is that you would not grieve without hope. May Christ give you the strength to grieve with hope knowing that God is the healer, protector, and redeemer of your heart. Grieve with hope knowing that God’s love for you is insurmountable and goes deeper than the pain and hurt encompassing you. Grieve with hope knowing that one day, the load you carry will feel lighter as you continue bringing your burdens to the cross. Grieve with hope knowing that the winter won’t last forever and the sun will come out again.

I’m Not the Empty Woman

My infertility once defined me. Every negative pregnancy test became a reminder of what my body couldn’t do. Baby shower invites would come in the mail and my heart would be overwhelmed with bitterness, jealousy, and a reminder of the brokenness I felt in my soul. A stroll through the maternity aisle at Target felt like walking onto a stage before a mocking crowd, as if a giant spotlight was shining on my empty tummy, reminding me that I was somehow less of woman because of my barrenness.

My entire life I was told the likelihood of having biological children would be very slim due to the cancer treatments I received as a baby. Even so, after we were married I was still optimistic and hopeful that somehow God would heal my body and make it do what He created it do. After all, my God is a God of miracles. I’d seen this to be true in my own life, as He healed my body of cancer more than once.

After a few years of struggling with infertility, to our surprise, a positive pregnancy test appeared. Obbie and I celebrated for days, and a small warmth filled our home. However, the baby announcement was never made. Tragedy struck as quickly as the news came in, and we were only able to keep our little one on this earth for a moment. A few weeks after learning I was pregnant, I miscarried. The weight of that loss dragged me to the bed for hours everyday. I was completely overwhelmed with sadness. My tears bathed the pillow every night, and my eyes were swollen most days from crying. Every ounce of my body was grieving. I felt hopeless. And all of those feelings of brokenness came flooding back over me as heavily and quickly as my tears hit the pillow.

The death of our unborn child felt much to me like being stuck in winter. Although some days were easier than others, certain events and dates would trigger memories and tears would follow. Anger and sadness came in ebbs and flows. But, I continued talking about the loss with God, my husband and close friends. Coming to terms with the death of our baby and the finality of my infertility hasn’t been an easy journey. But, it’s one our heavenly Father has been lovingly walking me through every step of the way. Grace gives me strength to trust Him through the pain, knowing that He is a good Father, who loves me even when I can’t quite make my way through the storm. Although most days I failed to see Him-the Son was always there. And eventually He melted the ice away and replaced my barrenness with hope- not hope in a positive pregnancy test or a child, but hope in Jesus Christ.

A doctor would tell you that I’m infertile, that statistically my chances of getting pregnant are impossible. But, I see it quite differently. God healed me. He just healed me in a different way than expected. God healed my heart to be at peace with my circumstances. Though my heart is content that doesn’t equate to immunity from sadness over our loss or my infertility, but it doesn’t consume my thoughts or define me like it once did.

As healing continued taking place in our hearts, we were continually seeking God about how He wanted to grow our family. We always knew that adoption would be a part of our story some day. However, we didn’t realize that “day” was just around the corner. We signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants and shortly after our paths connected with a brave birth mom who chose us to be the parents of her children. Their birth mom lovingly carried the twins for 9 months in her womb, while God was growing unconditional love for them in our hearts. If any part of our story had unfolded differently or been altered just slightly, Roman and Ruby wouldn’t be our son and daughter. And I can’t imagine our life without them.

For women struggling with infertility or loss you are not defined by a statistic. Perhaps a doctor told you the chances of getting pregnant are slim to none. I understand the magnitude of that loss and the feelings that come with it. But, I also know that our joy can’t be completed from a positive pregnancy test, a child or anything found on this earth. Your body isn’t broken, but Christ’s body was broken for you. An empty womb is not the end of your story, but a Risen King from an empty grave is the beginning.  Christ came to this earth so we could have “life in abundance” (John 10:10). This fullness is explicitly and solely found in Christ alone.

Last night both the twins awoke at the same time, and I lifted each one out of their crib. I rocked them to sleep in the brown leather recliner beside their cribs. One in each arm. As their sweet chunky cheeks rested on my shoulders, they fell asleep with one hand each on my chest. I grinned as I looked down at my son and daughter. Tears of gratefulness filled my eyes as I thought about just how much I love being their mama. As I sat there rocking our little sweeties to sleep, I thought back on our journey to becoming our family of four. I can assure you that there was nothing barren about the women rocking her sweet little ones to sleep last night. Her heart is full. She found her hope in Christ.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***