Mother’s day is in a few days.
And when I think of Mother’s Day, my first thought is Hallmark. You know...
The Sunday-after-church brunch where you tell your mother how much you love her.
And, that is wonderful. It ’s the way it’s supposed to be. Mom’s work hard for the family and should be celebrated. Just like father’s on Father’s Day.
But this Mother’s Day, my heart is heavy. A friend just had another failed adoption. Another friend is going through some really heavy stuff with her teenage son. Yet another friend just lost another pregnancy. And today, I got a call from a friend who tragically lost her mother-in-law.
But this is what Mother’s day is about, too. In fact, maybe this is the best illustration of a mother's love. Motherhood is just as much about grief as it is celebration. It’s all the love and pain, beauty and mess, sunshine and darkness, all wrapped into one relationship. One title. One person.
So, whether you are celebrating or grieving this Mother’s Day, I think you will appreciate Michelle’s journey.
Michelle is one of those friends every girl needs. Why? Because she is embodies honesty. She doesn't sugar coat the pink elephant in the room, either, even if it's hard to hear. And the best part? She drenches it in love. Her heart is so big and her love runs so deep for her friends, you can't help but love her in return. She and her husband, Jay, give us their most precious gift, time. They are the secret, behind-the-scene heroes. Sometimes the best gifts are just someone who just SEES you. I am honored to call them friends, and I am so excited Michelle stopped by Boyce Lane to share their powerful story.
I'm blessed with a group of girls I do life with who have all been through, and are still going through tough stuff. Stefanie is one of them, so when she asked me to share our story, I was honored to do so! Thanks, Stef, for the opportunity.
Here’s my journey in embracing my plan B…
Jay and I got married in 2005 and always knew one day we wanted kids. Four years into our marriage, we decided we would start trying for a baby. We got pregnant right away and were thrilled. We waited until we were in the "safe zone" to tell our family and waited even longer to tell our friends. From the time we found out we were pregnant, though, I had a feeling that something just wasn't right. That feeling lasted almost the entire pregnancy, with many calls to the doctor, only to find out each time that everything was normal. Finally, when I was about 30 weeks into my pregnancy, those concerns faded, so we went into full-fledged planning mode. We got the baby’s room ready & bought gender neutral clothes, since we decided to wait to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. In essence, we started OUR plan.
Everything changed on a Monday morning, 32 weeks into my pregnancy. I was getting ready for work and noticed I hadn't felt the baby move in awhile. I didn't think much of it, though, because 3 days before I had a routine check-up and heard a strong heartbeat. I mentioned my concern to Jay and we decided to wait a little longer to see if there would be any movement. I got to work and still hadn’t felt any movement, so I called my doctor. He told me to go to the hospital right away so they could do a non-stress test on the baby. I let Jay know what was going on and that I would call him later with an update.
I got to the hospital, and immediately a nurse hooked me up to a monitor to see if I was contracting and then started to search for the baby’s heartbeat. She searched for what seemed like an eternity, but couldn't find it. She called in another nurse and she was able to hear a faint heartbeat, but soon realized it was just my heartbeat racing. They kept trying to comfort me and tell me that the baby probably had its back turned towards the monitor. So they had me turn on my right side and then my left side to get the baby to turn around. At that point, I had 4 nurses in the room all trying to find my baby’s heartbeat. I started to panic. They asked me if I wanted to call my husband and I said no, because I was sure everything was going to be fine, and to me, calling him meant I was giving up hope. They called my doctor and he ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech got there right away and I just stared at her to see what her reaction would be. She shook her head ‘no’ and left the room, without even looking at me. The doctor then told me that the baby no longer had a heartbeat and how sorry he was.
Everyone left the room so I could call Jay. The conversation was short. I said, “Jay, we lost the baby and you need to come to the hospital right now.” He started crying and said he was leaving work right away. Then I called my mom and Jay’s mom. I remember both of them saying, "What?! I'm on my way!"
Jay arrived at the hospital and the doctor came in to discuss our options, which were c-section, natural birth by inducing me, or going home and wait for my body to go in labor by itself. I chose to be induced right away and try to have the baby naturally. About 14 hours later, with an epidural, I started pushing. I remember thinking that everyone was wrong and this baby was going to come out crying. I prayed silently to God, “please let this baby come out crying!” A few pushes later, the baby was out...but there was no crying. The umbilical cord was in what the doctor called a true knot, where a knot forms in the cord, and in my case, the knot became so tight that it cut off all circulation to the baby.
My sweet baby was a 4lbs. 6oz. baby boy and he was perfect. We named him Chance Job. Chance, because we felt as though God gave us this great chance of being parents for a short while and the chance to witness the miracle of pregnancy and birth. Job, because of what Job went through in the Bible. He lost everything, but still clung to God, and in that moment, we felt as though we lost everything and knew we had to cling to God.
After Chance was delivered, Jay and I held him and just stared at him. We also had the opportunity to take pictures with him. Then both the grandmas held him for a little while.
Those next few months were the hardest of our lives. We had to really trust God and keep telling ourselves that this happened for a reason and while we don’t understand, God was in control. We felt like our lives got put on hold and OUR plan for our lives got all messed up. But what we learned is that we were never in control to begin with and that OUR plan is not always God’s plan and that’s OK. That doesn’t mean the pain of losing a child goes away, but it gives purpose to the pain, and in that, there’s beauty.
Since losing Chance, we got pregnant two more times and now have two beautiful boys. Losing Chance helped us realize that we have to put our faith in God and trust that God’s plan is better than our plan, even when it hurts and we don’t understand it.
It's been almost 6 years since we lost Chance. Every year on his birthday, we go to his grave and put flowers on it. That day is always hard for me. I feel like it shouldn't be as hard anymore, but it is. I would love to just hold him one more time and look at his perfect little face. I feel like I shouldn't be sad about him anymore either, but I am. I'm sad I don't get to see him grow up, or kiss his boo boos, or just give him a hug and tell him I love him. With losing Chance though, we don’t take for granted that we have two healthy boys. We realize what a gift a healthy pregnancy and baby are. With losing something so precious, it really makes you open your eyes to things you never thought about. So I thank God for what He taught me through unbearable loss and for also giving me two healthy children. It’s the story God wrote for us, and we take comfort in that.
Aren't these guest posts FANTASTIC?! If you missed the first two guest features, here are the links.