Our Joy Story. Our beautiful love story of a life so short-lived and yet this love story that has forever changed our family forever.
For years Alan and I have prayed for God’s guidance on growing our family. We prayed, asked friends, family and trusted loved ones. In January, after three years of first discussions of adding to our little tribe, we decided to go all in. We knew in our hearts if it was God’s will it would happen and if it wasn’t- we were completely content in what the Lord has blessed us with. We had not felt lacking in any way, but had these desires to parent again.
In March I was 6 days late, but I knew I wasn’t pregnant. In June I was 6 days late. I knew before I ever held the stick in my hand what the test would reveal. We found out on Father’s Day that I was indeed pregnant! Oh we celebrated! Alan and I were shocked and then thrilled. We began making plans. It amazed me at how quickly my mind had already begun to dream. And once you start dreaming, you can't undream it. I starting picking out boy and girl names, making future plans for the nursery, and lists upon lists of what we needed to do in our house to be ready. I treasured what the Lord had chosen to do inside me. I downloaded baby apps and pregnancy trackers on my phone- baby was due February 20! I created a secret board on Pinterest for Baby #3. We discussed having the baby in the DR and how our family would adjust to life as a family of 5. We were so in love with this little life already and the joy that had sprung forth in our hearts.
A few days after finding out I was pregnant, it occurred to us that our plans for delivery in the DR might not come to fruition or even remaining in the DR for the pregnancy as we remembered the Zika threat to unborn children. We consulted several doctors who all recommended coming stateside. In the next 3 days, we would tell GO, family and the girls our big news. We also bought plane tickets, packed bags, tied up loose ends on the field and me and the girls flew to Las Vegas just 10 days after finding out I was pregnant.
By far, my favorite part was telling the girls. They threw their heads back in laughter and told me to tell the truth. Later they saw me in a tank top and sweet Amelia remarked that I was “true” and that she could see how big my belly was… bless her! Each morning they woke up singing love to the baby and reading to their future sibling. They would periodically put their hands on my baby and tell “him” how much they loved him. They fell in love too. Alan and the girls both wanted a baby boy. I remained neutral, but I knew 2 things: She was a girl and her middle name would be Joy, for she had brought our family great JOY and we were so grateful!!!
We snapped a quick announcement photo the day before we flew. It was perfect. We didn’t have a clear plan. We didn’t know how long we would stay in Vegas, or where the girls would go to school or if we would see Alan before Christmas. But we went with it. Love does that to you.
Talk ensued when we arrived in Las Vegas- my whole family had baby fever and of course they loved the idea of us being stateside for potentially 10 months.
I scheduled my first Dr.’s appointment. July 5.
In the meantime, we took a trip to Palm Springs to help Opa with his mom who has Alzheimer’s. I was especially tired and took lots of naps, swam, and ate- you know eating for 2 now.
Sunday I was asked if I had any morning sickness. I didn’t. Which was odd because I puked 20 times a day with the girls from weeks 6-19. I knew every pregnancy is different but morning sickness is also a good sign that your body is reacting properly to the hormones created by the pregnancy. That evening was the first sight of blood. It continued to come Monday as we drove back to Vegas. My amazing doctor assured me it could be nothing but shouldn’t be taken lightly. It was no coincidence that I already had an appointment scheduled the following day.
Monday continued with dull back aches and I knew what was impending. In my heart I knew. That night, I crawled into bed and got under the covers, as far away from the world as I could get. It was as if I was keeping the outside world away from me and sweet baby Joy. I held my belly and wept. It was the last night I would ever be able to pretend for just a moment that their was new life inside of me.
I woke up Tuesday fully knowing I wasn’t pregnant. I dressed in black and went to my doctor. The drive was long and some of the most sorrowful 20 minutes I will remember.
They took me back and began asking all the exciting first appointment questions and then transitioned to the details of the possible miscarriage. They took me back and as I stared at my dr’s face as she stared at the monitor looking, hoping for life she couldn’t see anything but an empty placenta measuring at only 5 weeks and 2 days. The baby and the placenta never aged beyond 5 weeks and 2 days. Stunned. I knew what was happening I just couldn’t believe it was happening. I needed to go get blood work and again in 72 hours so she could verify that my levels were dropping. She asked if I had any questions. I had so many but I couldn’t formulate them. I didn’t know how to ask what would come next.
And then she asked if she could pray for me. Rebecca prayed for Stella and Amelia in the OR when I delivered the twins, also placed her hand on my hands and prayed for me as we discussed what would happen next in losing life. She reminded me of God’s mysteries and that we were in the midst of walking through that.
The girls were with me the whole time and I believe God allowed that for me. I focused on them the rest of the day. In a way that can only be explained by the mysteries of God, he has used this to thaw a part of me that had begun to freeze over. My calloused heart immediately became soft as I grieved and sucked in death’s hot air and exhaled his grace and mercy and love. I don’t know why God chose this for our family. And I don’t know what we will do next. One foot in front of the next. Dig deep for his mercy and strength. Focus on the children we have. Return home to the DR before school starts. There’s a few things we will do in the immediate weeks.
Grief will do one of two things to you- it will make you bitter or it will make you brave. Brave to face whatever giant is in front of us. Brave to swim deep to the dark parts of the ocean in our souls and enter into our pain and grief. Brave to be okay with not being okay. Brave to take the mask off; to let others see the tears spilling over in our eyes; to see the rough dull edges of life worn down and to bulldoze the walls we have built up over the years keeping others out of our secret pain. Brave to slow down and evaluate what is important in life. Grief can make us brave. Grief can lead us to something new. Out of the ashes of sorrow, pain, and grief he makes beautiful things. He leads us to praise. That praise leads us to joy. My doctor messaged me the same day I received the heart breaking news with a verse:
"yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
The day I actually miscarried, I will spare you the sad details but it happened in the Old Navy bathroom. I wished a different story a million times. I didn’t have time to grieve. I had someone trying to get in the public restroom I was in. I had my children with me. I was stunned. I flushed, wiped the tears away and walked out of the restroom. Someone commented on how cute the girls were and I smiled and quickly gave a “thanks!” The checkout lady asked how my day was going, just minutes after I had my miscarriage in their bathroom. We looked like we were having a great day- the girls were in the bathing suits and we had just left the splash pad. I said our day was going GREAT! I began looking at everyone differently that day. How many arms had I brushed up against that day, all smiley happy people who had real pain brewing just under the surface? Who had just gotten a cancer diagnosis? Found out their spouse was cheating? Lost a loved one? Had a miscarriage? Major illnesses, sickness, loss, pain all around us. Grief also makes us brave to enter into other’s lives and face their pain with them too. Brave to love well, to stand up for others.
Sweet joy. Her short life changed mine forever. She also changed Alan and my girls too. Though we may never know her this side of heaven we hold tightly to the promise of the day when we will see her again. In the meantime, I will be diving into the deep end of my grief and pain with the promise of coming out made new and into something beautiful. I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior for the gift of Joy he gave me.