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For six years I have wondered if it’s cruel to put them through it all over again. When we began talking about trying to have another child, one of my first thoughts was that it would be unfair to these three boys of ours… They had already been through too much, losing a brother during birth after watching their mother carry him nine months, and then waiting through another long pregnancy and the hard recover after an emergency c-section that brought our Jeremiah safely into this world. They had lived too many years with their mother’s body broken from all this birthing and dying. What if we tried and it happened all over again?

But then… Jeremiah was surely always meant to be part of our family and he wouldn’t be here if we wouldn’t have crazy and brave come together to create him just two months after Joshua was pushed from my body cold and still. Jeremiah wouldn’t be here without Joshua dead and the doctors cutting me open fast when the contractions were coming sharp and blood was pouring out. He wouldn’t be here without the whole family sacrificing to help their broken mama, or without two months of me bleeding so much after his birth that I could hardly stand up and walk a straight line.

His older brothers can’t imagine life without Jeremiah Asher, the beauty made from all those ashes, and so I thought maybe there is another little one that’s meant to be here too. Maybe all this desire welling up and spilling out of me isn’t selfishness, maybe it’s destiny. Maybe this desire is God’s whisper or another soul he wants to make. Maybe if we don’t try they will live the rest of their lives with their mama’s broken heart and a story unfinished.

So we tried and a little heartbeat fell silent at sixteen weeks and three boys laid on my lap and cried when I came home from the doctor to tell them. After that we didn’t try again. How could I let their hearts break any more? We didn’t try but we were surprised, and then that little one failed to grow. There was no heartbeat to go silent, there was just an empty ultrasound with little more than a speck where our baby should have blossomed. And that time when I went home to tell my boys, their faces were hard as if they had been expecting this. “Again?” is all they said.

It felt absurd to try again after all that. It felt selfish, cruel even. But we did. I had to. Even as she grew, even as we named her Joy, even as I held her, I wondered was it too much to put them through? Does the Maker know how heavy of a story their young souls can bear?

I wondered all that until the moment they walked through the door into our hospital room, and I saw the light all over their faces. That was the moment I knew she was meant to be, and they were always meant to hold her, no matter how hard the story has been to get here.

Head over to Childhood Unplugged for more unplugged moments this January…

  • Lamb Loves Fox - Ow, my ovaries! Some one hand me a baby, quick! He is just divine <3ReplyCancel

  • Angela Brinker - I sit here with tears in my eyes as I scroll through these beautiful photos and the story painted before them. Yet, I have the words, “It is Well, It is Well with my soul” so profoundly coming across my ears. I often find myself in my world of what would have or could have happened. Joy happened. Joy came in the morning. She is definitely your miracle. You can see it across each of your faces. Incredible redemption story!! I am so blessed to have met you and your family. Maybe one day again.ReplyCancel

    • sharon - So good to hear from you Angela! Yes to everything you said, and we are so thankful. Would love if our paths crossed again, I hope all is well xoxoReplyCancel

  • Sarah Bauer - Thanks for sharing Sharon! Such a beautiful moment for your family, especially after everything else. God knew. So fun to see Jesse interacting with all his kids!ReplyCancel

    • sharon - Thanks so much Sarah, it’s a special time for sure 🙂ReplyCancel

 

This time my breath is calm and my hair brushed. I could have turned and walked back out, this is no middle of the night rush to the hospital after water breaking all over the bed. This time I sign the admittance paperwork without doubling over in pain. 4am I had risen to eat scrambled eggs and oatmeal and then curled back in bed to feel my daughter wiggle and begin the fast that would bring her to me.

These kicks are sacred, the final time I will feel life moving within, but they’re moments I thought would never come after losing and losing again. The last two times I walked hungry into the hospital it was for the doctors to empty me of babies with hearts fallen silent. This baby girl’s heart has beaten strong nine months. It’s a cadence that has sung out courage for me as I have laid in the doctor’s office twice a week for the past few months with a monitor strapped across my stomach. Now I walk into the hospital feeling her stretch and kick as the woman in front of me winces with each contraction. This showing up at an appointed time without the steady rhythm of contractions is so foreign to me that I wonder that they walk me back to a  hospital room instead of turning me away. I am not being carried along on the tide of labor as I have been before, but I have known since the beginning this would be this birth’s story, so we keep our appointment and they tell us our baby will be here before dinner.

Unlike my first two children, the last baby I held in my arms was cut from me also. He came fast and fearful in a midnight rush to the hospital and blood down my legs. He came three weeks early, scrawny and so quick I couldn’t think of all the fear until afterwards. Now the nurses take their time instead of rushing me to a table where a needle is pushed through my back. Their eyes and hands are calm, the IV drips steady, each step is explained and my husband chats coffee in hand. There is no panicked rush, no trauma, but this means I can still think. With my brain free from shock I can see clearly that we are on the precipice… This could be the fourth baby lost, this could be my final breath. I have signed the paper that states all the risks and I’ve experienced too much to think everything always goes according to hopes and plans.

It doesn’t matter if birth is a natural process or a medical event, it is pure miracle, my body’s most powerful moment, and it is a stripping away of everything I am into utter vulnerability. My nurse chats with us about her college classes as she draws my blood and shaves to make sure I am completely bare where the scalpel will touch.

They prepare me and we wait. I tell my husband I am scared and I am excited and I am so happy and I am terrified. I breath prayers, telling my Maker that my life is in his hands, I am not in control of these moments. I never am, but what is about to unfold makes it perfectly clear how little control I hold. I cannot keep my heart beating or cause my daughter to take her first breath. So I read a book – what else is there to do? Then the complex dance begins as a nurse comes in to tell me everyone is ready. Quickly I am wheeled to the operating room where I climb onto the operating table and tell everyone my name and I why I am there – to have a baby.

The lights are shockingly bright. I bow forward as the needle pierces my spine, then I’m laid back, arms out, the table a cross. My legs are so cold they hurt as they turn to feelingless ice.

I lie there shaking as the blue sheet is drawn up and everyone whirls around the room, each doing their part to finish what my husband and I began, the work of the last nine months of my life. And then my doctor is there, his smile and voice a reassurance. A needle is drawn along my legs and up to my chest. I can feel it’s path but I don’t feel the prick until it reaches my breast, and so they say we are ready. I don’t know when exactly or what it looks like, but I know they will begin to cut right through to the core of me, separating muscle and flesh and finally my womb. I tell the anesthesiologist that I feel like I can’t breath. He says I am, I just can’t feel it, most of my body has been taken beyond my control. The room swims, something else is pumped through the tube in my arm and the walls come back into focus. Jesse, my husband, is there and he strokes my forehead. It’s the only place I can feel and his touch brings me back to where I am. I am here, and my daughter is on her way to me.

Next there is pressure as if my ribs are going to give way. I hope we are close and I hear the doctor telling the nurse to lower the sheet a bit. My cloudy mind isn’t sure what this means, but I hope I will see my daughter soon.

Suddenly she frames the sky. She is raised aloft and it is the image I will most remember. There are no words, and no photograph was snapped. There is just her, pulsing with life and heavy with the weight of her being. She is wet and perfect and a wail rises up uncontrollable. My voice escapes me with cries of all we have lost and found – the purest joy. Then she is out of my view. Tears fall onto the hard table, her cry pierces the air and my own cries join hers.

As I am stitched back together, my daughter is cleaned of my blood and wrapped in a warm blanket. My husband holds her to my face and I tentative kiss her, wondering if this is allowed. This perfect creature that moments ago I could not touch is here and I wonder if I can be so bold as to lay my lips on her. My foggy mind remembers that I am her mother and I kiss her silken cheek as she pouts against the bright lights. In that moment I remember all my children – Aaron and David pressing hard between my legs into this world, Joshua’s soft cold forehead and his still eyes shut tight, two babies I never held, their hearts stopped quiet even though I wanted them so and then scraped right out of me, and Jeremiah pulled from me amidst blood and fear, his pink face held near to me before the blue sheet backdrop just like this daughter is.

This daughter, Elizabeth Joy. Joy come for us and a phrase I never thought I would say – my daughter. Three boys at home and now this little one shares my same destiny of womanhood. She will be her own soul, but we are more alike than the others grown inside my body, we are women.

Time is at a standstill and it is opening up and racing on, a new beginning. Before I can even realize it we are under blankets in a recovery room bed, her and I. Tiny arms and legs curl on my bare chest and instinctively I help her find my breast and begin to nurse. She is alive and I have been sewn back to wholeness, still with a lot of healing to do. Every birth wounds, and in this wound we mothers are brought quiet and still to the same weak place where our child begins. Together we will heal, together we will grow strong. Together we will nourish each other.

Right now I can only move my arms and they embrace her. Nurses march around us checking vital signs, doing paperwork and tending to whatever is coursing through my IV, but her and I are in a sacred space. This room is not sterile blue sheets, hard metal scales and plastic warming trays. This room is a thin place, a conduit opened up to bring her to us. We will move on soon enough, growing strong together, but right now there is this one moment and it is everything I am, everything I have to give, everything I had been given.

The Giver is large in this place, in this moment we see him as he ever is.

I lie back, she falls asleep, her ear to my heart. There is only Joy.

Elizabeth Joy – born November 9, 2016, 8.25lbs, 20.5in

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“Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hand, called out “Pooh!”

“Yes?” said Pooh.

“When I’m–when–Pooh!”

“Yes, Christopher Robin?”

“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”

“Never again?”

“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”

Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again. “Yes, Christopher Robin?” said Pooh helpfully.

“Pooh, when I’m–you know–when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”

“Just me?”

“Yes, Pooh.”

“Will you be here too?”

“Yes Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be Pooh.”

“That’s good,” said Pooh.

“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”

Pooh thought for a little. “How old shall I be then?”

“Ninety-nine.”

Pooh nodded. “I promise,” he said.

Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt Pooh’s paw. “Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I–if I’m not quite–” he stopped and tried again– “Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”

“Understand what?”

“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet.

“Come on!”

“Where?” said Pooh.

“Anywhere.” said Christopher Robin.

So, they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”
― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Over the past month I read all the Pooh books to Jeremiah before bed and when I got to the end and read this there were tears on my part. He is on the cusp of growing up, but this is a golden time, and always he will be here in this light with this magic in his heart.

For more unplugged images this month head over to Childhood Unplugged

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  • Monica - I miss this age:(

    The images are lovely. That last one, with his shadow on the wall of the house… gah!ReplyCancel

  • jackie - These are such sweet images.ReplyCancel

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It’s been seven years, and this time I’m not surprised, by the anniversary, by the march of time.

Losing him has become a part of me, like my body, like the children I hold.

And now on that very day I lost him, my body swells full with a daughter wiggling and squirming – something I I never thought I would feel again, even after Jeremiah came to us less than a year after Joshua was gone. Never thought I would see this day because we had two more babies fly away, them never growing full inside me like Joshua did, just washing away before the world even took notice.

Babies die and babies are born. The world is horribly broken and it is full of rosebushes and songbirds; amidst tragedy it is overflowing with creation and life. Each time I walked into the doctor’s office this year, I held my breath until her heartbeat rang out clear. Each time I wondered if this would be the time there was only silence. As she grew bigger the panic subsided because she was there reassuring me with every wriggle and hiccup. Reassuring me that she was still with me. But when you have seen trauma, joy doesn’t come easy anymore, you know everything can splinter in an instant. Christ still stands eternal, but it’s hard for us here with the clay bodies and broken hearts.

Seven years it’s been, and this is now my story. Six days God created and on the seventh he rested. Six years I have been working, trying to fix, searching for the healing. But rest has come. I’m still afraid. This daughter of mine will be brought from my womb in a week, and I don’t know what will happen to her or I. The trauma never quite lets go of your imagination, and the hard thing is I’m no longer naive, I know the hard script can replay in a thousand different ways.

But there is nothing I can do – except rest. My doctor says to eat and sleep and wait on the One who gives the life because we don’t. He speaks wise words and no matter what I think I have done these years, this is all I can ever do. Be still and know that He is God.

Seven years and I am resting in the brokenness – counting all the seeds that my son planted in his short time here, and that have grown.

I look at Jeremiah and see pure miracle, catching my breath because can anything here be this perfect, this beautiful? If I love too hard will I break? Am I only to fix my eyes on the eternal because everything here can be stolen from me? But as I watch blond hair run through golden light and growing boys learn and speak I know this is the eternal put on flesh. Christ came to us in the temporary, he walked and ate, wept and bled with us because there was no other way to fully love. I’m splitting right open into love like my body will to bring this baby – into the wise foolishness of wanting only to hold them, nourish them, gaze at their bodies growing strong and eyes sparkling – into rest.

I have worn this story so imperfectly, but it is the one my Creator has given me. I am not a mother standing strong and sure, I am a women broken and given more than she deserves. I pray for grace to honor all this beauty, this exquisite story.

One day we will meet – I love you Joshua

// polaroid image taken of me and baby girl at 36 weeks by my love Jesse

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Each woman is a collection of stories… some exhilarating and some heartbreaking. My life is no different, and each of these seasons eventually pass. Our stories are tied together with the thread that is our life, and they are also woven together with our family and friends’ lives and even those we have never met and the believers that have gone before us.

These seasons may seem endless when we are in them and the stories may seem so numerous that they go on forever, but there is only one absolute – one permanent.

When everything seems to shift and fall away, the one thing that remains is our Creator and his love for us. Our very lives are the story he is writing and Christ and the cross are what he has given us to hold onto.

Reading scripture has been an on-again off-again part of my life, but over the years it has been a lifeline I have held onto. The times when I am soaking up God’s love letter to me are marked with a greater sense of peace and being loved. Over the past few years the beautiful app She Reads Truth has been a daily part of my life as I read God’s word together with a community of other women. I was excited and honored to find out that the women who founded this community, Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams, had written a book, She Reads Truth, sharing their personal stories interlaced with the truth of God’s word; and that they would like me to help spread the word about it.

As I read I especially resonated with Rachel’s story of pregnancy loss since I have gone through a stillbirth and two miscarriages. It was sensitive and raw at the same time and reminded me of God’s love and faithfulness even in the hardest of times. Each of the stories shared covered such a wide range but the truth was always another facet of the same permanence we hold in Christ. In the face of everything this broken world throws at us and the insecurities of our own hearts, they are a reminder of “whose we are.”

I also really love that the beautiful linen cover itself serves as a graphic reminder in my home that I am one who reads truth. I want this to be a legacy my children receive from me, and this book is a powerful reminder of what is ultimately the most important and permanent in my life – the truth God has shared through the love letter he wrote us.

You can learn more about the book and order it HERE

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