#3

Tomorrow I have my mid-pregnancy anatomy scan.  Yes, we’re pregnant again and have made it to the 19-week mark.

As I think about this appointment, the same four words keep running through my head.  “There is no heartbeat.”

It was six months ago I was in this exact same position.  Halfway through a pregnancy.  4 months of puking my brains out.  Visible bump.  A healthy sonogram at 8 weeks.  Two appointments with an audible heartbeat.  Everything looking great on the outside.

Yet last time everything was actually a mess on the inside.  We had no idea.

Over the past four months, I’ve battled more fear and anxiety than at any other point in my life.  We’re so thankful to be pregnant again.  Thankful to have spent 19-weeks with our third little love.  We’re hopeful for a future with this child.  At the same time, we’re scared to experience loss again.

People want to say things like, “Have faith it will all be fine” or “I’m sure everything will be fine this time, keep believing.”  But I don’t want to put my faith and trust in things that will fail.  It may not be fine.  This baby may not be healthy.  We may not hold this third child either.  If my faith had only been in these things last time, my entire foundation would have been dismantled.

What I do know is that what God has done over the past six months He is capable of doing again.  I want to put my faith in what won’t fail and what won’t let me down.  My situation may get worse, but my God will not.  God will be near.  God will pour love and grace out on me.  God will heal any broken part.  God will make all things new.  God will give me life eternal.  God will always work for the eternal good of those who love Him.

I am not owed a healthy baby this time.  I am not guaranteed a smooth sailing pregnancy.  I do not get to miss out suffering this go around simply because I took my turn last time.  I wish it worked that way.

I am hopeful that it will look different.  Yet at the same time, I am all too aware that it may not.

God has been asking me each day to simply trust Him.  To be with Him and to remember who He is.  I’ve been reminded to love Him for who He is and not just for what He can do for me.  He can give me a perfectly healthy baby.  He also cannot.

One of the things we are most thankful for with Maizie is that we had no idea something was wrong until after her life had ended.  I went through 21-weeks of pregnancy rejoicing in the miracle of a life inside my womb.  We opted to not perform any early genetic testing this time for the same reason.  We want to be truly thankful for each healthy day we have with this child.  The biggest difference this time is we feel afraid to have much hope for the future or to dream about days to come.

We held off on telling people for a number of reasons.  We needed to hold it close to our own hearts for awhile and to really wrestle some with God.  One of my biggest fears in beginning to share this news was to hear the word congratulations or to see other people only feel excitement for us.  I haven’t been able to get to excited or really joyful.  I have deeply tasted thankfulness though.  I was worried that I would feel like a bad mother if other people were more excited than me.  What kind of mom isn’t the most excited person about her child?  However as we’ve slowly released this news over the past couple weeks, I’ve ended up being thankful for people who can be excited for this child.  They are doing something for me that I can’t quite do for myself right now.  I think that’s ok.  It’s ok that they only taste the excitement, because they don’t know the pain.  It’s also ok that I’m not excited yet, because I am too deeply aware of what loss in this area may cost me.  My favorite response though is from people who acknowledge the tension of what we must be feeling.

I’m hopeful that tomorrow will look completely different than December 6th.  I’m desperate for it to look different.  But even if doesn’t, I know God will be with me.

Smith baby #3, We all love you and we really want to hold you.

family

 

 

 

Women’s March

I’m really hoping that a lot of the people I have seen posting about the Women’s March this past weekend are uninformed about what this group really believes.  I hope they are unaware that the group did not want pro-life women to march with them.  I hope they missed the second major principle on the Women’s March web page as shown below.

march principlesThe greatest lie we have been led to believe about abortion is that it is a women’s rights issue.  Women say “it’s my uterus” or “it’s my body.”  But what about the body alive inside of your body?  What if that baby is a woman?  What about her rights as a woman? What about her little uterus? What about that child’s fingers, toes, mouth, organs?  Are you aware that by 8 weeks that baby can dream, recoil from pain and has fully functioning organs?

Who will stand up for these women?  Who will stand up for all of the unborn?  If all of the unborn who have been aborted in the US since Roe vs. Wade were able to organize themselves into a march, they would march at 58 million strong.  If half of those babies were female, that would be 27.5 million women who have been denied the right to life.  Isn’t that the first right that we try to protect in America – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  In trying to protect the rights of adult women, we are taking away ALL rights from the unborn.  Isn’t that the very thing women are mad about?  Some rights being given to men that are not given to women.  Giving to one group of people what another is being denied.  This contradiction is completely baffling to me.

I found out on December 6, 2016, that my precious daughter, Maizie Marie, had died while in my womb.  We later found out that her early death was due to Turner’s Syndrome.  Turner’s Syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality that often results in death in utero.  If the girl does live through pregnancy, she can face varying levels of symptoms throughout her lifetime.  If we had done the genetic testing offered to us early in pregnancy, we would have detected this abnormality.  Many members of the medical community and many individuals in society would have encouraged us to terminate Maizie’s life.  We would never have ended her life.  We all know that we would never kill an infant or a toddler or a child who had a condition that will lower their quality of life or eventually kill them.  We would never agree to poison them or rip them apart.  Why do we have a different standard for babies in a mother’s belly?

Once we found out that her heart had stopped beating, I had to have an operation to bring Maizie out of my womb.  It was during this operation that my body had severe complications that could have led to my death.  Even if we had known that I would face physical trauma, we still would never have ended her life.  I would die in order to give any of my children all of the days that are written for them.  Maizie’s life was not valuable just because she was a wanted child.  She is valuable because she is a child.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” – Philippians 2:3

We need to fight less for our own rights.  My life is no more valuable than Maizie’s.  My life has no greater purpose than hers.  I am not more important than her.  I believe that my life is of the exact same value as every other human that has ever been knit together in a mother’s womb. 

Do you know what I hear when you fight for a women’s right to abort, for a women’s right to kill a baby?  I hear you saying that her child’s life does not matter.  I hear you saying that my child’s life does not matter.  As a mother who has cried over the death of her child nearly every day since December 6th, I will tell you that you are flat out wrong. Maizie’s life matters and it has forever shaped mine.

My daughter had the right to every single one of those days she spent alive in my womb.  She deserved the chance to fight for her right to live.  The same is true of every child.

In the interest of protecting the rights of some, we cannot ignore the rights of others.  In the interest of protecting the rights of women, we cannot ignore the rights of children.  Science and theology are on my side.  Life begins at conception.  We don’t look at the line on a pregnancy test and exclaim, “We’re having a fetus!”  No, from the second that line appears we know we are having a baby.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

I hope you didn’t understand what you were showing your support for when you marched.  I really hope you were unaware that you were exalting the rights of women at the expense of children.  I did not march because I strongly disagree with the unity principles on the women’s march website. 

The baby model I am holding in this picture is the size of a 22 week old baby, just slightly bigger than our sweet Maizie grew to be.  As you look at this picture, as you think of my heartache over our unborn daughter, may you be motivated to fight for the life of the unborn men and women.

22 weekIf you have aborted in the past, know that there is great forgiveness, healing and redemption available in Jesus Christ.  I do not write these words to add shame to your level of hurt, but I do want to encourage people in the future to choose life for their children.  I long for another child for our family; if you need an alternative to abortion, please consider families like ours who would loving adopt yours.

Lastly, several have asked what I do for women who have unplanned pregnancies.  The answer is a lot.  I work with YoungLives, a ministry of Young Life that places mentors into the lives of teenagers who find themselves pregnant.  We walk through all of life with them, empower them in their parenting and help connect them to the resources and community they need.

Rejoice and Mourn

This week at Central Market we ran into our summer pool-time friends. I only know the first names of the cute mom and two toddler boys with about an age difference of plus or minus six-months with Emerson.  We were members at the same pool club this summer and we spent about three mornings a week together.  She could chase a toddler while I watched her crawler in the splash pad.  We both shared snacks and toys.  In August I had shared with her about our pregnancy and told her I was taking notes on how she tackled the pool with two.Poolside toodler

We started catching up about her boys and my Emerson. I mentioned we were doing swim lessons. She asked a few questions about that and shared that she is pregnant with her third due in June. I had noticed that little bump in her tummy and had thought it was a baby. She hopes to get the other two swimming better by summer so they can make it to the pool in July and August. I said that was our motivation for lessons too.

“Oh yeah! When are you due?” She recalled me sharing in the past that we were pregnant.
“We found out 3 weeks ago at our 21 week appointment that our baby had died”
“21 weeks. That’s so late. Was it a traumatic event?” Probably referring to the baby experiencing trauma.
“Yes it is (I said referring to me). They think it was chromosomal”
“Did you not do the early testing?”
“No, we don’t do it because it wouldn’t change how we carry a pregnancy and would just add worry. Even with this happening, we won’t do it in the future.”
“That must have made the holidays terrible”
“Yes”

A few more minutes chatting about other things and then I was ready to finish shopping and get out of there.  She really was kind and compassionate.

I cried the whole way home. Every time I say it out loud the reality starts to sink in.

We love these summer time friends. As I drove, I pictured how fun it would have been to wrangle our three toddlers together and be figuring out infants by the pool. I won’t have an infant by the pool this summer.

I love you social media because you told most people in my extended network that our baby had passed away. You saved me from the majority of these conversations I would have had to have.  I can’t thank you enough for helping me avoid hundreds of conversations like this.

I hate you social media because you are telling me about every single person who is announcing a pregnancy this December. You are reminding me of who else is pregnant and has a growing belly the size mine should be. You are showing me the Christmas parties I didn’t feel up to attending. You show me the groups of my friends getting together without me, which normally wouldn’t send me into sadness but today feels unbearable. Anything that feels like missing out feels terribly isolating.

I’ve heard people talk in the past about how social media can feel hard for people; but I’ve never experienced it sending me into unhealthy places. An occasional thought of “I want those shoes” or “I want to decorate my home like that,” but nothing that strikes a terrible chord deep in my soul. Now I understand the want, the desire and the longing that other people’s good things can stir up in someone else.

Friends, I apologize for the way I never considered you before when I posted about my romance. I never really thought about the way that would make you aware of your loneliness. I apologize for the way I post wedding pics candidly and do not think about the way they stir up your dreams for that day. I apologize for the way I have posted pregnancy announcements and newborn photos without ever considering your longing or your years of toiling for these same things.

I don’t think we have to quit sharing the good things; however as we do, maybe we should all say some prayers for the people who may start hurting when they wonder why the good things don’t seem to come their way.

The little acts of care and thoughtfulness mean so much. I have a friend who announced she was pregnant for the first time on her Christmas Card. Enclosed in my envelope was a small note where she shared that she hesitated to send the card, that she hurt and cried with me and that she was praying for our family. This small act, this small acknowledgement that this announcement may be difficult for me, helped me in so many ways. It gave me the freedom to recognize my hurt and longing. It told me she mourned with me as a mourned.  Lastly, it helped me to rejoice with her as her family rejoiced, instead of being bitter and jealous.

Romans 12:15 has baffled me forever how these two things go together in one sentence. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

How do we do one of those when we are deeply feeling the other?

We recognize where we currently are. We acknowledge where the other person may be. We give people freedom to experience the emotion they are currently experiencing. We trust that the Lord is writing a beautiful story for each of us that works for His Glory and our good. We believe in the things that are unseen because those are the eternal things.  We look forward towards the redemption of this world at the second coming of Christ when all of our light and momentary affliction won’t feel so massive anymore.

My friend shared her rejoicing while acknowledging my mourning. Her kindness to me enabled my soul to truly rejoice in her good news, while continually mourning mine.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Mourn with those who mourn.

They can go together. Jesus makes it so.