Mothers Day can be Bittersweet

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Mothers Day can bring about a myriad of emotions. There are some who love it. There are some who hate it and others who feel everything in between. Even from where I sit, there are times when I struggle with Mothers Day.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know my story. Those of you who are joining me for the first time, I will give you a brief overview of the path I’ve walked. I had my first miscarriage a week before my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple in December of 05. My 2nd miscarriage would come a week before Mothers Day 06. It would take a while to get pregnant again, only to have my 3rd miscarriage in August of 07. It would be September 08 before I would find out that I was pregnant with my daughter and she would be born 2 days after Mothers Day 09. I then had my older son in July 2010. It wouldn’t be very much time after was born that I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. When we went in for the first ultrasound, I would have the joy of seeing twins on the screens. That joy would be temporary because the tech would tell me that baby B had no heartbeat and had passed the week before. His birth in May 2011 would be a bittersweet day because I knew I should be celebrating the birth of two baby boys, but would only ever get to hold one.

I have friends who have seen more positive pregnancy tests than they care to admit, only to have those sweet babies enter back into the arms of Christ before they ever made it into the arms of their mothers. Other friends have never experienced the emotions associated with a positive pregnancy test. I have another group of friends who have walked both of those paths and looked towards adoption to expand their families only to have the adoptions fall through and still have empty arms.

Having been on both sides of that coin, I struggle with how Mothers Day should be celebrated. When I was walking the path of miscarriage and infertility, I struggled with going to baby showers and eventually would only send a gift through a friend. I stopped going to church on Mothers Day and Fathers Day because it was just too hard to be surrounded by so many happy mothers. On those days, I would hide at home and watch my favorite chick flicks and order Chinese food.

I also wanted to honor my mother, my sister and celebrate my friends who had become mothers. I still sent a card to my mother and would call my mother and sister. They deserved to be honored and celebrated. My mother brought me into this world and raised me as a single parent while putting herself through nursing school. She deserves to be celebrated. My sister walked a hard path to having my niece and nephew. She deserves to be celebrated. I have several spiritual mothers who prayed along side my mother to get me to where I am now. They deserve to be celebrated. Churches should acknowledge and celebrate mothers in their congregations.

Yes, that means I think churches should give mothers a flower or small gift. The oldest mother, the newest mother and the mother with most the most kids should be recognized. The sermon should be geared towards mothers and what motherhood means. Mothers do so much and deserved to be celebrated. Without them, none of us would be here. Many of us wouldn’t have made it to where we are in life if those mothers hadn’t spent many hours praying for us, cheering us on and encouraging us.

Nowhere in scripture is the role of motherhood downplayed. Nowhere in scripture did the Lord say that mothers weren’t important. In fact, the Lord talks about women from the Old Testament all the way through to the end of the New Testament. There are some women who may have never been mothers, but they mentored those around them. He saw them all as important. The church should do the same.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate the fact that I have three precious kiddos who bestowed me with title of Mom. I will celebrate and honor my mother and my sister, who are both incredible moms. I will also think about the four little one whom I will never meet this side of Heaven.
Tomorrow, regardless of what side of the coin you are on, do what you need to do. For some of you it may mean spending a quiet day at home. For others, it may mean heading to church to celebrate being a mother and celebrating the mothers around you.

To those of you with empty arms, I pray for a peace that can only come from the Lord.

To those who are mothers, enjoy your day with your little ones.

To my mom and my sister, I love you both and pray you both have a wonderful and Happy Mothers Day!

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Build Your Porch

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“Build your porch.” “Build your small group.” “Find the group where you can be completely open, honest and share your stuff.” These are all phrases I have heard more times than I can count in the past year and every time I hear them, it makes me stop and think. I have a pretty tight knit group of friends. If I was honest, I could list those in my inner core and then start moving to outer circles. In a way I have done this, but do I allow myself to be completely mask free when I’m with them, or do I still hold back?

I have 2 sets of friends who make up my inner core. 2 of those friends I have known since my single days. We have walked through the ups and downs of life together. We have seen each other through marriages, births of children and the other things that life has thrown our way. We may not see each other every week, but we don’t have to in order to stay connected. The 2nd group is also 2 ladies I meet with once a week. I have known them about 3 years give or take. While there have definitely been some life hurdles in the time I haven’t known them quite as long. I know that through the good, the bad and the ugly, we all have each others’ backs. The next ring in my circle of friends contains mostly ladies I have known for about 3 years and a dear friend from my seminary days. The next ring would hold friends I have known for a longer period of time, but don’t get to hang out with or get to talk with on a regular basis.

Even though I completely trust all 4 ladies on my porch, I know that there is still a part of me that I hold back. There are parts of my life with which I am an open book. Then there are other parts closed up tighter than Fort Knox. Since I started my blog, I have talked about and encouraged complete and total honesty as well as transparency with those in your inner circle. When I think about me personally, I realize that I have pretty much encouraged a “Do as I say and not as I do” mentality. I have encouraged my readers to be vulnerable, but haven’t been with the ladies on my porch.

In scripture we are encouraged to join with one another and live in community:

And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

” Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Nowhere in Scripture are we encouraged to live life solo. This means that we share the ups and downs of life with those around us. Again, I encourage you to be careful about who you share certain pieces of information with. Now, go build your porch!

Inftertility and Miscarriage: I am 1 in 4

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October is a bittersweet time of the year for me. While I love the changing of the weather, celebrating my birthday and watching my 3 beautiful, healthy kids run through pumpkin patches, it also brings about a reminder of loss. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. October 15th is the official day of remembrance for the little ones who never made it to their mama’s arms, the ones who were born sleeping and those sweet women who have struggled to even get pregnant. It’s a day where I am thankful for my healthy blessings, but also a day in which I spend a great deal of time wondering what my 4 angel babies would have looked like and wonder what their personalities would have been like.

There are many things in my life in which I tend to keep private, but I share my story and encourage others to do so, because too many women carry this loss alone. Miscarriages are often the elephants in the room and people don’t know how to respond or react when a couple announces they lost their baby. This path can be lonely. Sometimes it’s because we chose to isolate, or others push us to the outside because they don’t know how act or what to say. Even those times when we chose to socialize, it was/is an Oscar Award winning performance because you put on the happy face and act like your heart hasn’t just been ripped out of you. Sadly, too many people dismiss it all together and don’t validate it as a true loss. I am thankful to have a month where it doesn’t seem to be the most taboo subject.

I can tell you from personal experience that it is a loss and it’s felt in a way that one would never understand unless they had walked that path. There is often a physical pain brought about by the miscarriage. There is also the emotional impact brought about by the loss. The questions of “what did I do wrong?” “What could I have done different so that my baby would still be here?” Many times there is an actual physical ache in the arms caused by the overwhelming desire to hold the child you lost. After 3 miscarriages there were times that my heart and arms hurt in ways that I could never fully put into words and I am willing to bet many other women could say the same thing.

Infertility issues are just as heartbreaking as losing a child to a miscarriage. I don’t see one loss as more significant than the other, just different. You realize that God created a woman’s body to give birth and when your body doesn’t do what you know it was created to do, there is a sense of failure felt. It is hard to be around friends who are pregnant. Infertility issues come with a reality most of us would rather not face.

It took us 6 months to get pregnant the first time and then it ended in miscarriage just before Christmas 06. The 2nd time it only took 4 months for me to get pregnant again, only to lose the baby a week before Mother’s Day 07. It would take another 20 months to get pregnant with my 3rd and I lost that baby in August 07. It would be another 13 months before I would get pregnant with my daughter. We were then surprised to have 3 kids in 3 years. None of the pregnancies were easy, or without issues, but I am thankful to have my 3 blessings.

My last pregnancy would be bittersweet. I had always dreamed of having twins. When we went in for that first ultrasound, I was over the moon to see 2 tiny babies on the screen. My joy lasted for all of a few seconds when I was told that Baby B had no cardiac movement and was measuring a week behind Baby A. After the radiologist looked at the ultrasound, based on the sac, it was determined that I was carrying identical twins, but had lost one due to a chromosomal issue. When I look at my youngest, I often wonder what kind of personality his twin would have had and what it would have been like to have 2 of him running around the house.

The number of pregnancies around you seems to amplify when you are struggling with infertility and loss. It also seems that certain friends only need their husbands to look at them in order to get pregnant. There are also those who don’t really seem to care about their babies, or see them merely as a paycheck and are pregnant with their 3rd or 4th. There is much about life that seems unfair when you are walking this path. While we walked through this journey early on in our marriage, I stopped going to church on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and when I knew there was going to be a baby dedication. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for my friends, or that I didn’t want to celebrate my own mother (my father had already passed at this point), it was just too hard to be around all those happy parents.

There were many nights where I cried myself to sleep and attempted to keep my husband from hearing me. Even in the best of marriages, a wall can go up between husbands and wives. The desire to get pregnant is so strong and when you are charting, your husband starts feel like a tool, rather than a husband. My husband will tell you that he wasn’t happy during that time in our marriage. He felt the need to “perform” and there didn’t seem to be anything more than a physical connection that was devoid of any true feelings. The flip side of that coin is that you can become afraid of being intimate, therefore cutting off your spouse all together and there really isn’t much middle ground. I don’t think many people realize the toll that infertility and miscarriage can take on marriage, or how long it takes to reconnect after going through the pain and the losses.

Your faith can take a hit during this time. I wish I could say that my faith never wavered, but I would be lying. There were days that I was so angry with the Lord because I didn’t have my little ones at home with me. There were times I yelled at the Lord. It was a struggle to read my Bible and to pray. I didn’t like going to church and being around all those “happy” people, who didn’t seem to struggle with their faith. After losing my 2nd baby just before Mother’s Day 07, I stopped going to church for most of that summer. Here I was, a seminary student, and all I was doing was going through the motions at school and at work. I could still give all the “right” faith answers, but I didn’t feel any of it. I felt like I was being punished for something I didn’t know anything about. Mamas, the Lord CAN take it. He knows your heart. He knows you’re hurting. Talk to Him. He is the only One who can give you peace. I would also encourage you to not allow yourself to stay in that place. It is much easier than said when you are in the middle of it,

While you are dealing with heartache of loss, you also have to endure some well meaning, but stupid things being said to you. For example I heard “It’s the Lord’s will,” or “You are still young, it will happen.” “You need to stop trying so hard,” or “If you would only do ______, not do ______ then you will get pregnant.” The ones that hurt the most were “You were only 5/6/8 weeks along, it wasn’t really a baby. Why are you so upset?” There were also many “You will get pregnant when God is ready for you to get pregnant.” Ladies, can I get an “Amen” on how much these comments make/ made you want to scream?

There is nothing about any of those comments that are anywhere near comforting. 1) Yes, it was a REAL baby and my child you are talking about. 2) I know God has a plan for everyone, but this path really just sucks. 3) You can’t guarantee that the Lord is going to allow anyone to get pregnant, let alone carry to term. Please STOP saying it. 4) Stop saying “You can always adopt.” Really, it isn’t that easy. There is nothing easy about the adoption process and your heart has to be in the right place to even begin to start thinking about that process. I have wonderful friends who have grown their beautiful families through adoption, but it isn’t the answer for every couple. Adoption shouldn’t be viewed as settling or plan B. This could be a whole other blog post and should be written by a mama who grew their beautiful family through adoption.

If you are reading this and haven’t walked this path, watch the comments. Don’t give platitudes to try and make your friends feel better. Instead say “I’m sorry and I’m praying for you.” Offer your presence and not your words. Let your friends cry on your shoulders. Be there. Words aren’t necessary. Be conscientious about what you say in front of those friends. I am not saying to walk on egg shells, but be mindful and respectful of what they are going through.

If you are reading this and have walked, or are walking this path, my heart and prayers go out to you. This isn’t a journey I would wish on my worst enemy. If you are like me and have walked this path, but are now a parent to a beautiful child(ren), hug them a little tighter today and let them know how much you love them. Tell them what miracles they are and how you prayed for them. If you are still walking this path, hold on. There is nothing easy about walking this journey, but don’t ever let go of your faith.

Mommy Friends and CFA

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This morning I loaded all 3 of my kids in the mini van and headed to a local CFA to meet other moms and kiddos for a play group. My kids were excited to see their friends and eat at their favorite place. While I was happy to get them out of the house for a couple of hours, it’s never an easy feat getting 3 kids ready and out the door. This morning was cloudy and dreary and a part of me was tempted to text one of the moms and tell her that we were going skip out, but I didn’t and out the door we went.

Once we arrived, my kids were ready to jump out of the van. As soon as we walked in and they saw their friends, they took off running and squealing with delight. As I approached, I was honestly happy to see the other 2 mothers already sitting at the tables. These are 2 women that I have really only known for about a year, but have come to cherish their friendships.

Kids were fed and sent off the play area. Yes, I love this about CFA. Moms can sit and chat while keeping our eyes on our kids in the play area without actually having to go in there. Plus, how can you go wrong when eating anything at CFA? Their food is incredible, especially for fast food.

The other 2 moms may not think twice about the conversation from this morning, but it meant a great deal to me. It may be me, but for some reason, I feel that the conversations at CFA seem to be deeper and more substantial among the moms, than at some of the other places we have play groups. Not sure if this is because our kiddos are truly out of earshot, or that we actually sit and face each other while talking. Whatever the reason, I look forward to play group at CFA.

Today was no different than any other play group, but I walked away from the conversation with the other 2 moms feeling more encouraged than I have felt in a while. We talked about the joys and struggles of being moms and the different issues we are going through with our kids. We also talked about long term goals and I was given the boost that I needed. Thanks to one of the mothers I have switched my blog from blogspot.com over here to wordpress. Both moms gave me suggestions and ideas on how to expand my readership. My goal is to reach a wider audience with my blog, in the hopes of starting to speak at moms’ groups, women’s events and retreats.

In an earlier blog, I had shared my dream of being a speaker, but have never really taken any steps to try and make that happen. Last summer I had a long conversation with one of the pastors from my church and he challenged me to write one blog post a week. I did that for about 6 weeks and then my posts were much more sporadic. This morning one of the moms issued the same challenge. While I can’t make any promises that I will make one post a week, I am certainly going to try. My hope is that my blog will somehow translate into invitations to speak to different groups.

The conversation from this morning left me feeling encouraged and challenged. It also served as a reminder that I have people, other than my husband and family, supporting me. There are others who believe I can achieve my dream. I come across as overly confident and sometimes even a little cocky, but the truth is I am like most other people and what others think of me does matter. I needed this boost this morning. I needed to hear that I can achieve my goals and dreams.

Thank you for reading my first post here on wordpress. If you would like to go back and read my previous blog posts, feel free to head over to my old blog at http://www.mirrormirror05.blogspot.com and catch up on old posts. Not sure how long I will keep that blog up, since I will no longer be making posts over there, but you will see where I have been and some of where I hope to go. Thanks again for joining me on this journey.