Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Am One In Four

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Did you know that? Did you know that one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage or pregnancy loss? Several years ago, I didn’t know it either. It seems to be one of those things you don’t notice until you lose a baby.

I lost a baby. I lost four babies. And the losses changed me. After the excitement of deciding that we were ready to have a baby, my husband and I were shocked when we sat in the doctor’s office and learned that I had an ectopic pregnancy. I didn’t even know what an ectopic pregnancy was. I had never heard that term before. The education was swift and painful. The baby had never made it to my uterus. It was growing in my fallopian tube and there was nothing anyone could do to save it. I said goodbye to my baby on the same day that I learned he existed.

Some healing came when I gave birth to a healthy baby girl the next year. Penelope. She is a treasure to me! We couldn’t wait to give her a sibling. But the waiting grew long. I was finally diagnosed with secondary infertility and started fertility drugs after months and months of trying. The fertility drugs worked! I found out I was expecting! But I had a gnawing feeling something was wrong and a few weeks later my fears were confirmed. I had a second ectopic pregnancy and said goodbye again.

That pregnancy was followed by two first trimester miscarriages. My heart grew weary and I wondered how much more I could take. I missed my babies terribly and had nothing to remember any of them by. Not a single sonogram photo. Nothing.

As I struggled through each loss, I realized more and more how silent most women are about pregnancy loss. We treat it like it’s something shameful. We treat it like it’s no big deal. We go on and on about how abortion is murder, and it IS, but if that’s the case, then why can’t we see that pregnancy loss is losing an actual child? So many people try to explain it away.

“It wasn’t meant to be.”
“There was something wrong with the baby.”
“You can try again.”
“You shouldn’t have announced your pregnancy so early.”

Why do we do this to each other? After my first loss, I told only a few people but kept very quiet about it. I didn’t want anyone to treat me differently. But the more I experienced this awful pain, the more I realized that what I needed what love and support. It’s what any mother needs when she has lost a child, no matter the child’s age. And so I spoke out. I told my story. I urged other mothers to share their own stories. I was amazed at how many other women had been through this terrible pain without telling anyone. One of my friends told me she had miscarried twice and had never even told her husband. Mothers, we need each other! I need to know that you understand. And you need to know that I do too. Together we can bear this burden and lift each other up in prayer and support!

When I think about pregnancy loss, the age old question comes to mind. Why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes we can trace it back to a bad choice or a string of bad decisions. But I believe that very often, bad things happen for no reason at all. They just happen. Our world is not perfect. Our bodies often fail us. So then we look to God and ask Him “Why? Why didn’t you save me from this?” But if God saved us from every bad thing that might have happened, would we have any character at all? Would we have strength to do right in the face of the world and it’s ungodliness? Would we have commitment, faith, or hope? We would be like spoiled little children who do nothing but fuss and complain and act as though they are entitled to have everything they want. How could we ever truly love and serve the Lord if we didn’t have trials and difficulties in our lives?

People like to say that “everything happens for a reason.” I don’t believe that either. But that doesn’t mean that the ugly parts of our lives can’t be useful. I have said so many times, when something goes wrong, we ought to use it to become better, to become a better blessing. And now that I am on the other side of my grief, now that my pain has turned mostly to memory, I should be looking for others who are still in the middle of it that need my encouragement and prayers.

If you are one of those women, I hope you are not alone. If you feel alone, I hope you reach out and find someone who has been there before you, who can hold your hand as you walk through this dark time. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few things I did that greatly contributed to my own personal and emotional healing.

  • Find a support group. I went to M.E.N.D. meetings for many months and cannot imagine having navigated those dark waters without this group. ( There are other groups as well. Find one that meets in your area and go whenever you are able. You can read about my experiences with M.E.N.D. here.
  • Read books about pregnancy loss. You can read my list of suggestions here.
  • If you want to, consider naming your baby. I didn’t know the genders of my babies, but chose names anyway. I love being able to talk about them each by name. I love writing their names on my calendar each year on their birthday (which many would call their “angel-versary”). I love hanging Christmas ornaments with each initial on my tree every year. You can read about my babies’ names here and here.
  • Find a supportive friend - someone you can call or text when you need some extra encouragement. It doesn’t have to be someone who has lost a child. It just needs to be someone who can be there for you when you need to talk.
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Write prophetically. Talk about your faith in God, your hope, and your healing. As you write it, it will become more and more true.
  • Find a keepsake that you can wear or keep with you. I have a few different pieces of jewelry that I wear to represent my children. A sweet friend of mine recently gave me a necklace that incorporates all six of my children - two living and four in heaven. It is a precious treasure that I wear almost every day.
  • More importantly than every other thing on this list, PRAY. The Bible tells us to cast all of our anxieties on Him because He cares for us. The best way to stop feeling anxious about something is to talk to God about it. He will hear you and He will comfort you. If you don’t lean on Him now, when will you?

If you want to know the “end” to my story, God did answer my prayers and gave me a second healthy child. Her name is Ariani and she is my beautiful rainbow, a fulfilled promise from the Lord. I am so grateful that I never took my eyes off of my Lord during the time that I waited, during the time that I experienced loss. If you are still waiting for your rainbow, I pray that God will fulfill the desires of your heart very soon.

I am one in four. One woman in four has experienced pregnancy or infant loss. If you are not one of them, many of the women you know are. Let’s work together to break the silence, to be a part of the healing, to love and support one another.

If you would like to know more about me or read more of my personal story, you can start here. You can also find me on Facebook.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Life God Wanted Me To Have

It has been a long time since I have sat down to really write about my journey. It’s been over two years since I said goodbye to a baby. A lot has changed since then. God gave me a healthy baby, the answer to my prayers! And with her arrival, life became much busier and more demanding. I haven’t had time to write - at least, I haven’t cared to make the time to write. Because I have been spending that precious time with my girls. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I remember when I was in the thick of my grief, when I was saying goodbye to babies, finding out terrible news about my fertility, and wondering if I would ever have another child, that I often asked God WHY He was allowing this to happen to me. I’m not sure I will ever fully understand why, but now I know that God was using those events in my life to shape my future, my family, and my perspective. He was leading me to the life He wanted me to have.

Because I have lost, I now savor.

Every day, when I tuck my four-year-old in bed for her nap, she asks me to sing a song. And every day, I sing it. Every day, when my song is sung, she asks me to snuggle in bed with her for “just three minutes.” And every day, I snuggle. I hold her tightly, I breathe her in, I tell her every single day how glad I am to be her mommy, and I thank God for giving her to me.

Every morning, when I get my one-year-old out of her crib, I hold her close to me and tell her how good she feels in my arms. Every day, when she fusses and cries, I thank God she is here to fuss and cry in my arms. Every day, when I pick up the sippy cup she has thrown for the thirty-second time, I thank God she has the strength to throw that cup. And every day, when she leans her head on my shoulder, I hold my breath and wish for that moment to last forever.

I am able to thank God for the picture perfect days when they are happy and laughing and healthy and sweet. I am able to thank Him for the rough days when I wake up in the middle of the night to a baby that needs me, the days when my oldest is in trouble over and over again for disobeying or having a bad attitude, the days when we are late because someone spilled something on their clothes right before we get in the car.

Some mommies never get to experience life the way I do. Some of them spend most of their days just going through the motions, not remembering to stop and gaze at their children and cherish this normal, everyday moment. Sure, they do that every once in a while, but I get to do it every single day.

Saying goodbye has made me more present in my own life. I will never ever regret that. And I will always wonder if I would have lived that way without the deep valleys that have been a part of my journey. I’m so glad I won’t ever have to find out.

Because I have lost, I now savor.

I hope you do too.

(Above photo taken by Jerry Palmer Images - also known as Grandpa)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Safe and Sound

Last night I had a dream that brought a lot of old familiar feelings rushing back. I dreamed that I had a baby I couldn’t keep. I reveled in being able to see her and touch her and yet my heart ached because I knew it couldn’t last. Of course there were a lot of things in the dream that wouldn’t make sense in real life, that’s how dreams go. But ultimately, I knew she was a baby that wouldn’t survive.

I know that sounds really morbid, but after losing four babies in early pregnancy, I have often wondered what they would have looked like. Were they boys or girls? Who were they? I won’t know until I reach heaven and I long for the day that I will get to wrap my arms around them and tell them how much I love them.

Having such a dream put me in a fragile state of mind this morning. I prayed that God would give me strength and grace and that this wouldn’t have to be one of “those days” where I can’t keep it together. They don’t come as often now, but every once in a while one of them still creeps in. And as I was praying, I heard the most beautiful sound - a baby crying. My baby. My beautiful, sweet, healthy Ariani. I scooped her up in my arms and breathed her in deeply and couldn’t even find the words to express my gratitude to God. All I could say was “thank You.”

The words to a song came to my mind as I snuggled my little girl this morning and I wanted to share them. It’s a song called Safe and Sound by Matthew West. (Of course. Who else?) And today as I still grieve the loss of four precious babies, I praise God for the beautiful miracle baby that he has blessed me with - Ariani Celeste.

If you are still waiting for your answered prayer, please don’t give up! Don’t lose hope. And while you wait, remember that God prunes those who are useful to Him, those who can grow and become strong and beautiful because of the pruning. And I hope someday you will be able to thank God for your own miracle.

Safe and Sound

Can't believe you're here now
Tiny dream come true
The answer to a prayer now
I'm so in love with you
Couldn't wait to meet you
Hope you like your name
I get the funny feeling
Life will never be the same

Safe & sound
You're here with me now
Like I hoped you'd be
Safe & sound
You're here with me now
And that's all I'll ever need

The world's a scary place here
But baby, it's alright
I'll make sure the coast is clear
So you can just sleep tight
But if you're afraid of monsters
Like everybody is
I'll be right beside you
Closer than a kiss

Safe & sound
I'm here with you now
And you will always be
Safe & sound
I'm here with you now
And that's all you'll ever need

Someday I'm gonna teach you
The reason why we pray
So that Heaven's love may reach you
Every single day
So baby, close your eyes now
And say a prayer with me
Lord, I lay me down to sleep now
But I know I will be

Safe & sound
You're here with us now
And we will always be
Safe & sound
You're here with us now
And that's all we'll ever, all we'll ever need
You're all we'll ever need

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Better Blessing - My Story

Hi Friends!

Today I am featured on a very special blog! Head on over to Joy In My Journey to read my story. I haven't ever summarized my story into one post before. It was a challenge!

I hope you will take time to look around Joy's blog while you're there. Joy In My Journey is a blog she started to reach out to those with infertility. It has been such a blessing and encouragement to me personally to read the stories and verses she has shared. Joy is a wonderful lady with a beautiful story and you will definitely be blessed as you read her blog.

Prayers for you today,

 - Kristi

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Jude Michael

Today is my Jude Michael’s birthday. One year ago he left my body to be with Jesus. One year ago, I was quickly losing my grasp on hope.

2012 was a very hard year for me. I started the year by seeing a doctor about my infertility. And by the end of the year I had miraculously become pregnant three different times, only to lose each baby during my first trimester. I was told by three different doctors that it might be time to quit trying - that I was probably pressing my luck. Getting pregnant is somewhat risky for me because of my history of ectopic pregnancies.

As I said goodbye to baby Jude, I talked to God. A lot. I argued with Him. I pleaded with Him. And finally I rested in Him. By the beginning of 2013 I was able to honestly tell Him that I trusted Him and His plan for my family. “God, if my family is complete, I am content with that. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful, sweet daughter and they are more than enough.”

Losing Jude was a turning point for me. At my very weakest, I began to become strong again. We stopped trying to get pregnant. We simply enjoyed the life we had. A few months later, I was ready. Ready to find some answers and either try again or let go - whatever God had for me. I saw a new doctor who gave me more answers - hard  answers. Answers that pointed toward letting go.

And then, God gave me a different answer. He gave me a miracle. He gave me a healthy pregnancy with no intervention. 2013 turned out to be a very good year indeed.

One month ago, my sweet baby girl was born. Ariani came into our lives and has already been such a big part of my healing. She is my answered prayer, my reminder that God always hears us, even when we aren’t sure. My assurance that He loves me even when I am demanding and unloveable. And I know that I will never be the same. Because in the future, when life gets hard again (and it will), I will be able to look at this sweet little girl and know that my God is with me and that He has a plan for my life. He can make something beautiful out of the ashes. What greater promise is there in life?

So, to my sweet Jude I say this. Your mommy misses you dearly. And as I kiss and snuggle my sweet baby girl today, I still mourn the fact that I have yet to kiss and snuggle you. And I look forward to the day when I meet you, along with your brothers and sister, with great anticipation. And I thank God for giving me the time that I had with you!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Miracle Baby Has Arrived!

I plan to write more about this later but wanted to let my readers know that our sweet miracle baby has arrived! She was born on December 1st and is as perfect as she could possibly be. We are blissfully happy and are home adjusting to our new lives as a family of four. I am so thankful for the prayers of so many of you and above all grateful to my Heavenly Father who has answered my prayers and given me the desires of my heart!

Meet our sweet baby Ariani. You can read more about her at the blog I have created for her (an online journal I am keeping for her) at*

[*Note the blog address change for Ariani's blog if you have visited it previously.]

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Nathaniel

Dear Sweet Nathaniel Ellis,

One year ago today I sent you home to be with Jesus. It was a very sad day for me because I wanted to see you grow up, but I’m thankful that you were spared the hurt of this world. And I love imagining how wonderful your life must be in heaven as you worship our Father!

You were the first baby I conceived after losing my fallopian tube. You gave me hope that despite the odds I might someday raise another child. I’m so thankful for that. Your name has a very wonderful meaning. Nathaniel means “gift of God.” You certainly have been a gift to me, even though I carried you for just a few short weeks. Ellis means “my God is the Lord.” When I lost you I knew that I had to remember that you were a gift from the almighty and sovereign God and that He had a purpose for you - a purpose you are still fulfilling today.

I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to know your sisters and your daddy. My heart rejoices in knowing that our separation is only temporary and that our family will all be together with Jesus someday. In the meantime, enjoy the fellowship that I know you must have with your other siblings - Ezra, Leilani, and Jude - and I will see you soon enough.

I love you,

“I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

      - 2 Samuel 12:23