Thursday, September 27, 2012

Before Our Formation He Knew Us

Every morning I stare at a picture on my bedroom wall that has a silhouette of an unborn baby. In the picture the baby is held in the palm of God's hands. Underneath the picture is this verse:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." - Jeremiah 1:5

My mom bought me this picture shortly after we lost our first baby. For the last two years the picture has served as a memory of the precious life we never knew, but also as a painful reminder of what we were seemingly unable to have again. Every piece of the picture is formed by bible verses that talk about the value of life. As I looked at this picture every day I would often cry out to God begging him for the blessing of another life.

The picture took on a whole new meaning when we found out about this pregnancy, and now the twins. I have said before that fear has been a constant struggle for me. And while the picture once served as a memory of the baby we lost, it now reminds me daily that God is the one who knows our children better than I do. Yes, I am connected to them. Yes, my very life is the source of their life. But in the most real sense I do not truly know them yet. I only know of them. God, who is the sovereign creator of all life, knows them deeply. He knows what they will be like. He knows who they will look like. He knows their interests, their faults, the color of their eyes, and even the number of days they will live on this earth.

And this is why I can trust him with their lives.

While I am their mother and the one who will take care of their every need, there are many things I can never know about them because I am not God. This should give me reason to hope in his goodness, not retreat in fear. The reality of his knowledge of them is a precious reminder that he loves these babies even more than I do. Not only did he intricately create them, but he knew their very souls before he even created them.

God is not indifferent to these lives growing inside of me. In fact, he's the complete opposite. Down to the very hairs (or lack of hair) on their head, he knows and loves them more than I ever could. And that is saying a lot! I can trust him with these babies because he cares for me and them in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend.

The truth I have to keep coming back to is that ultimately these babies are his anyway. Daniel and I are only stewards of these precious gifts. And because they are his I can give them to him in faith knowing that he loves them and knows them even now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Baby Story: Part 2

We went in for our first ultrasound on August 29, and to say that I was nervous would be a huge understatement. There is something about having a previous pregnancy loss that makes all of the tests less exciting for me. While I had no indicator that something could (or would) be wrong, meaning that I still had pregnancy symptoms, I just couldn't shake the previous memory in my head. The memory of having an ultrasound that revealed a baby who had stopped growing, not a baby with a heartbeat. The Lord really met me in my fear, but I wasn't exactly elated to go in for the ultrasound that morning.

Thankfully we didn't have to wait that long. The ultrasound tech made small talk with us on our way back to the room. One of the questions she asked is if this was our first baby. Usually I say "yes" only because I don't think people want (or need) all the details of our miscarriage. But this time, I thought it was helpful to let her know that it was not our first pregnancy and that I was nervous about this ultrasound. She didn't really respond to my answer, which I don't think meant anything. But it did make me even more nervous. Daniel said later that he was thinking "oh great, just what we need, an insensitive ultrasound tech." But as the morning went on she quickly became our favorite ultrasound tech.

As she started the ultrasound we couldn't see anything yet (they displayed the ultrasound on a big television in front of us). And she wasn't saying anything. Which were the longest few seconds of our lives! Then she smiled, which I interpreted as "the baby is fine." Boy, was I mistaken! Then she said:

"Do you want to see the heartbeat?"

And then we saw the most beautiful thing we have ever seen, our little baby. Immediately I was overwhelmed with emotion. I don't cry very easily, but I could not help tearing up when I saw our little jelly bean. And then in the midst of all my motherly joy came the other exciting piece of information from our beloved ultrasound tech:

"And there is the other heartbeat."

What?!?! Immediately, being the brilliant person that I am, I asked:

"Why are there two heartbeats?"

In all of my reading about pregnancy I had never once read about a baby having two heartbeats on the first ultrasound. I was seriously thinking that maybe baby's have two heartbeats at first or that you can see them from two parts of the ultrasound. And that, my friends, is why I do not have a career in medicine. So then she explained to me (because Daniel had already realized what was going on):

"That's because you have twins."

I have replayed that statement over and over in my head the last two weeks. We have twins. When we went in for the ultrasound we were just hoping for one healthy baby, but to have the added blessing of two just put us over the happiness edge! I literally screamed when she gave us the news. And I must say, she was really good at telling us. We kept praising her for her skill at revealing our twins to us. She probably thought I was crazy because I couldn't stop screaming and talking, which is what I do when I'm really excited (think my engagement video, if you have seen it). I'm pretty sure I replayed the entire pregnancy up to that point to our ultrasound tech because I was just so excited. I literally can't make my mouth stop when I get like that!

As I have struggled with fear throughout this pregnancy I felt like the Lord was reminding me in that moment that he delights in giving good gifts to his children. And these sweet babies are such a precious gift.

Part of the reason we were shocked with the news was because I thought I would be throwing up all of the time with twins. And while I feel pretty bad most of the time, I just thought I would feel worse. But again, I have nothing to really compare it to, so what do I know about how I am supposed to feel!

The Rundown on the Twins and Momma

- Right now they look like they are in the same sac. But my doctor said that this could change. Early ultrasounds (I was 8 weeks 5 days at the first ultrasound) sometimes miss the dividing membrane that would put them in separate sacs.

- If they are in the same sac they are identical. The biggest prayer request we have right now is that they not share a placenta. That can make it more risky for them. Will you pray that the Lord keeps them safe regardless of their placenta situation?

- I was not on any fertility drugs at the time we got pregnant. I actually haven't been on fertility drugs for over a year. That is what makes it even more amazing. Every pregnancy is from the Lord, but this just causes us to rejoice in his kind provision even more. He has truly done great things!

- They looked healthy and had great heartbeats (174 bpm). I will have an ultrasound every time I go to the doctor and will start seeing a high risk doctor as well around 16 weeks. He will monitor their growth more closely.

- Here is a random fact. This is the second set of twins in my immediate family. My brother and his wife have twins (a boy and a girl) and twins do run in my family (my maternal great aunt and great uncle are twins).

Thank you so much for sharing in our joy and for praying for us. We are so excited and at times can hardly believe it's happening!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Baby Story: Part 1

It's been a crazy month and a half around here. Between finding out about our baby (then finding out we had two of them!), starting a new school semester, and traveling to Florida for my brother's wedding, we have had little time to process and breathe, or blog!

For those of you who have been reading the blog for any amount of time, you probably already know that we had a miscarriage a couple of years ago and have since struggled with infertility. We had grown quite accustomed to the monthly disappointment of a negative pregnancy test. Our hearts were weary, and we were beginning to think that God was closing the door of pregnancy for us and leading us towards adoption. For us, adoption was never a "plan B" option. But we had always hoped to have children both through adoption and pregnancy. The week before I took the test I really felt like God was preparing my heart for the reality of never being able to get pregnant again.

So when I took the test, it was a formality for me. I didn't feel pregnant. My heart was starting to be settled in the Congo or Ethiopia, thinking of the children God might provide for us. I had no inclination that I could be pregnant. In fact, I was just expecting another frustrating "not pregnant" result. And I was so wrong, because this is what popped up!

To say that we were shocked would be an understatement. There is something about seeing the word "pregnant" after two years of seeing the opposite that just takes your breath away. I could not believe it! In fact, I was so surprised that I carried the test around with me all morning just so I could stare at it frequently. And since we were so shocked and excited, we had to take a picture with the test together!

While my initial reaction was one of excitement and joy, my elation quickly turned to fear and anxiety. I began thinking of all of the variables that could possibly happen. I started obsessing over symptoms (or lack of symptoms). And even when the nausea kicked in with full force, I still couldn't shake the overwhelming fear that would overtake me some days (and still does). What I have had to learn throughout this first trimester is that no amount of symptoms, ultrasounds, or medical advice will remove my fear. It might give me momentary relief, but those ugly fears begin to rise up quicker than I would like them to. Why? Because circumstances will always fail me. Daniel asked me the other day if I feel like I have had to trust God more with this pregnancy than I have ever had to trust him before, and I had to say "yes." With infertility I had many fearful days, but they were not constant. But with this, it is a daily dependence on the God who sustains the universe and the little ones growing inside of me.

While I can hardly think straight most days, I'm thankful that God has allowed me to see my sinful fear and given me a place to go with those fears--straight into the refuge of his grace.

So, how am I feeling? Pretty pregnant. And I am so thankful for that. Every bout of nausea and exhaustion reminds me of these precious gifts we have been given. Do I like it? No, but I'm thankful for what it is pointing to--healthy babies. The nausea kicked in around five and a half weeks and has been my constant companion these last five weeks. I pretty much can only eat plain things. And no meat. Chicken and beef sound awful to me right now. I haven't cooked in weeks (my poor husband). I have never been so tired in my entire life, and I had mono in college, so that's saying something. But considering that these are all symptoms of a healthy pregnancy, I am not complaining at all!

All in all, this pregnancy is a constant reminder to us of God's gracious kindness towards us. These babies are a gift that we did not deserve, but that we praise him for every single day we have with them. He truly has turned our mourning into dancing. He has done great things for us. And he has given us two precious blessings that we cannot wait to meet. Which leads to the next post. We had no idea that we could be pregnant with twins. And that day is a whole post in itself!

To be continued...