Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's Not Over Yet : Praying Through the Storm

When we first found out we were pregnant, we never really told Landree. She just kinda found out through conversation. In the months prior, she prayed for a sibling every day after finding out Mrs. Melody was going to have babies. We asked what she wanted to name her future brother or sister.
Peanut. That's what Landree named our sweet angel baby. Every single day, every meal of the day Landree would pray for Peanut. When she could tell I would upset, somehow she would keenly know that mommy needed to stop and pray.

The day we found out about our loss, we told Landree. We didn't want to hide it from her because she could sense that something was up with us. It is a reality of this world we live in. We simply told her that "God wanted them more, so Peanut went to live in Heaven with God and Jesus." Her first response was that she wanted to there with Peanut, but then she understood that she will have an angel to watch over her. The thought that my child is sitting next to Jesus is frankly overwhelmingly comforting.

The days since then have been interesting. The first few days were filled with relief. Relief that this sweet baby was finally pain free and that my body could heal. Relief that God always knows what is best even though we may not. Relief that God answered my biggest prayer, peace.

Tears have come and gone. Oddly enough the tears come when I don't expect it. Songs, memories, and thinking about never nursing again were the triggers. Erick hardly ever saw me upset. I think I just went through the motions of life as normal . I wondered why I didn't have that cry reaction and my aunt Missy reminded me that "I'm a Stokes" that's why. My grandma Ruth had been through so much loss in her life and she just kept putting one foot in front of the other. It always stays in the back of my mind.

I never realized how raw the pain is even years later. I can't even begin to count the number of people that have came forward and shared their stories with me. Some with one angel baby, some with ten, and everywhere in between. The love of those angels never ceases. There will always be questions of what if's and whys.

Throughout everything, I refused to keep quiet. I wanted people to know that the pain, struggle, and fight are very real.The tears flow, prayers go unanswered the way we think they should, and you question God. But, that the need for my faith first, spouse second, and village third are the most important. That it's OK to process in your own way and not to perceive how you think you should respond to a situation.

Currently, I have more pregnant friends then I can count. Some days it's rough to hear the stories, but I keep praying. I know that most of these women have walked in my shoes and are so deserving of these rainbow babies. I will get there -- in God's time. Is it weird to think the hardest part about it all is thinking I may never get to nurse again? I never realized how much I cherished those 15 months, no matter how many nights I just wanted to sleep.

Throughout everything, my husband prayed us through it. Hearing him tear up while trying to be strong for me was one of the hardest things I'll ever hear, but he just kept praying. From that moment, he told me he hasn't changed the dial from the Christian station. I would get so frustrated that he would make me sit in that car over and over frustrated at God with his "God knows best music" when frankly, I was pissed at this so called plan. He just keeps praising. God works in amazing ways.

If you are walking in my shoes, I'm praying for you daily. I'm praying for every single couple that feels this pain and just wants one answered prayer. I will never ever be the person that says your baby will come. I won't tell myself that either. I will remind you that God's plan is so much greater then we can even fathom. Pray through it. Every single time you feel like you are getting mad or frustrated or there's one more endless doctor appointment to find out "why" pray. Stop and pray. Drown your ears with praise and worship instead of the world that is trying to push you down. Be vocal. It is not bad or wrong what you are going though. Be mad and frustrated and angry. It's ok! You are normal! It's not faux pas to talk about it. You could be the light that someone needs to feel, you just have to be bold and listen if God is calling.

And just remember... it's not over yet.

Rest in Heaven Sweet Peanut 

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Start of a Painful Journey of Faith

It's been so long since the last time I wrote. I realized the last time that I wrote was one week before we found out we were expecting. It's amazing how much can change in a matter of two months.

Our pregnancy story is a weird one... and in a nutshell crazy. I was 5 days late. I wasn't testing positive but I just knew it wasn't right. My body is a little kooky but this was beyond. I took another test and left it on the counter. It tested negative. I threw it in the trash with a "what the hell is wrong with my body" and walked away. That night, something told me take out the trash and fish that test out. What did I see? A positive. A dark positive. I knew it had been plenty of time for that other to test positive. Apparently God's plan was a little different then mine. I SCREAMED "what the hell??" And our journey began... (I kept it classy in true Jill form.)

May 2nd, 2017 we were given news in a way we were expecting, but faithfully denying. Our sweet 11 week old fetus was going to become an angel baby. I was going to have an angel. I was speechless, but knew it was coming. Three weeks prior, we started having routine appointments and things just didn't seem right. When they say a mom's gut knows, they do. Trust it.  At our first appointment, it measured small, but Landree did too. No biggie, come back next week. The following week, we go back and the baby had grown some, but the heart beat was low. At that point the tech gave us a little heads up but she said as long as there is growth,  we are ok. Some babies just have lower heart beats.

Our third appointment came and our world was rocked. We came in and although I visibly saw the beating heart (and my God was it beautiful) the baby that should be measuring around 10 weeks was still only measuring 6.5. My gut told me it was done. I knew it. We were taken to the room with the doctor. She's truly an amazing Christian woman that is real with us. She is compassionate but doesn't sugar coat and I appreciate that about her. She delivered the news that although our sweet angel had a beating heart, it wasn't going to make it. I think I was numb and she was stunned my reaction wasn't different. At that point I was just trying to stare at the wall, pull it together and have some sense. We were offered another ultrasound which at first I took so they could confirm that the baby wasn't growing. Later on, I chose not to. God told it's not what I needed. I needed to remember that sweet baby's heart beating... and honestly it's the best decision I think I've made in my life. I called the doctor back and scheduled my D and C for the next week after confirming through blood work my numbers were indeed dropping

Our anniversary came and passed. We spent an amazing weekend in the Smokey Mountains and thank god it came when it did. We spent time as a family truly soaking up that time together. We didn't need to do anything fancy, we just needed to be together. We hiked, laughed, ate amazing food, and just lived spontaneously. God knew that I needed that. Our family prayed more in those weeks then we ever have. To hear your husband tearfully praying for your family is something you just never seem to get out of your mind.

Thursday I walked into the surgery terrified. Once you have a child any type of surgery can be terrifying. I can't imagine anyone else raising our sweet girl. Of all of the things happening, that scared me the most. The surgery passed in a flash (10 minutes to be exact) and I woke up staring at the clock.  I didn't know what to expect or how I would feel. I couldn't even cry I felt numb. It almost scared me how "good" I felt. Like God truly removed 3 weeks of incredible stress, fears, and  tears out of me. I felt like I had lost 10lbs and I couldn't believe it. Through it all, I never actually prayed for God to save this sweet baby. I prayed for his peace and grace to get through this moment. More then anything, I needed to feel his grace and His arms wrapped around me. It's a void no human can fill. I have never known a peace like this. I can't even begin to describe it. I will say for those wondering because many have asked, before anything was started the doctor DID do another ultrasound pre-surgery just in case anything had changed. I consider myself blessed that I didn't have to see it.

Tomorrow I'll share the month after and where our family is going from here.  To any families that may read this or are going through it... you aren't alone. I share my journey because God says it's time and he knows it will be therapeutic for my soul. I'll never know why he brought us here, but I know it's for Him to use we just keep walking the journey.