Oct 31, 2014

Twenty Nine Weeks: Game Day

September 20, 2014

Twenty Nine Weeks

Little Tiny Human,

Your dad and I love college football. It's the truth.

No I don't just love college football so I can wear the cute teams shirts and bake fun mascot-shaped cookies; your momma actually loves college football.

Today I'm sure you got to hear the spirit in our house firsthand. This morning we hung the Nebraska and LSU flags outside to show our spirit and we started the day with donuts and College Gameday. But today both the Nebraska Game and the LSU game were night games, so we settled down on the couch and prepared for a night of victory.

We actually had two screens going at the same time so we could stay tuned in to both games. And I'm sure you heard all the yelling. Nope, you're daddy doesn't yell at the TV during the games; he lives and breathes Nebraska football, but it wasn't him yelling. That was me. I'm not sure if they can here me all the way down south but for some reason I think if I yell 'stop him' loud enough that the defense will get a little extra pep in their step.

Tonight your daddy's team won. But tonight my team lost, apparently they couldn't quite hear me.

But I will tell you that here in this house your momma cheers until the very last minute. I don't care if the other team is 5 touchdowns ahead and we've got two minutes left on the clock and the other team has the ball. Your momma still thinks we can win. And you know what, sometimes, we do.

So just so you know what all the ruckus was about. And just so you know who that is in the stands yelling at you on the football field someday. It's me. I'm your momma. And I won't ever give up on you.

Love always,

Oct 27, 2014

I Am Ready.

These are just a few words that I've written over the past few months. I'm sharing them today because they are a picture of what life after loss looks like even nine months later, even with another baby on the way. Some words are those written through tears and some are those of the continued hope and healing that I am so grateful to the Lord for.

September 23, 2014

It's hard for me to try to describe how today felt. I'm not sure if it felt more like spring and freshness and new beginnings or if it felt like the cool crisp air of fall when things are ending and falling but watching it happen is so very beautiful.

But today was very good.

I think it was today that I fell in love with my little boy.

Yes, I've loved him for a while now, but today was something different. Today we watched his little face on the ultrasound as he made the best expressions. When that little man got tired and snuggled his little head under his arm he looked just like his daddy on a Saturday morning. Maybe that's why God makes our kids look like us, seeing Kyle in this little boy made me fall so deeply in love with him.

Today I returned to work with ultrasound pictures in hand and I became 'that mom.' Oh you, you who is halfway down the hall, stop right there I want to show you a picture of my baby! Isn't he the cutest? Can you see his cute little nose?

That was me.

I told Kyle that today for some reason things started to feel more real. It felt like maybe this time when the pregnancy was over, that we'd have a little tiny human to take home with us.

Today was also a time of great accomplishment for me. 

One of my dear friends had her baby this morning and I got to run over to the hospital, cookies in hand, and see that little baby girl. She, unlike the other new babies I've met in the past year, has not only been the only girl born, but the only one to be born at the same hospital as our Hannah.

As I thought about the visit I knew it was time to write the thank you notes that I'd put off for nine months. I wanted so badly for the nurses we had in December to know how well they loved us. I needed them to know how much they were a blessing to us. And although I'm not sure if they've ever wondered about us, I wanted them to know how we were doing. Writing those letters felt wonderful. 

I picked up cookies for my friend and for the two nurses to whom I'd written the letters and, well, I grabbed a cookie for me too. I parked in the parking garage and I walked right up to the front of the hospital. I stopped for half a moment when I realized this was where I'd gotten into our empty car nine months ago. This was where we went home empty-handed.

But I took a deep breath of the cool air and I kept walking.

I actually had a few minutes so I went and pre-registered for our delivery. Last year I pre-registered two days before we would return to the hospital again. There they would go on to tell me 'oh we'll use new paperwork because you're just here for monitoring, that way the paperwork you already filled out will be ready for when you actually come to deliver the baby.' Turns out it was all one trip. And so the lady behind the desk today said that same statement, reminding me that if I came in for monitoring that I would fill out more paperwork... I didn't really need reminding. But she was just doing her job; she didn't know.

And then I stepped onto the elevator and I rode to the fourth floor. And when I got off I thought it would be harder to walk down that hallway.

But it wasn't.

I felt so brave somehow. I walked in and left my letters and cookies at the nurses station. The nurse behind the desk was so helpful and then just like that I went to meet the little girl that had been born.

As I was leaving I had this great feeling. Yes it felt like fall because I think that visit felt more like Hannah, but that somehow the leaves falling reminded me that spring would be coming soon after. That I'd return to this hospital someday soon to have our little boy.

There are no promises that I'll leave with him in my arms, but I'm ready. I'm hopeful. And I'm not afraid.

Oh how the Lord gives us strength when we have none of our own. 

Oh how he created the seasons to teach us so many things.

Oct 24, 2014


These are just a few words that I've written over the past few months. I'm sharing them today because they are a picture of what life after loss looks like even nine months later, even with another baby on the way. Some words are those written through tears and some are those of the continued hope and healing that I am so grateful to the Lord for.

This is a bit of a follow-up to a post I wrote not too long ago. This post will probably make much more sense if you read that one first. Go ahead, click over, it's short.

September 26, 2014

I stopped saying yes.

The more I walk around and the more my belly grows, the more people ask.

I don't know if it's like when you buy Chacos and then you notice that 'everyone' is wearing them, but all the time, everywhere, people ask:

"Is this your first?"

And I feel so strong because now, now I say, "our second."

And I smile.

And you know what they do. They smile back and they say things like is this one a boy or a girl? And then then they ask what about your first?

And you know what I say? I say, "a girl."

And I smile.

And usually they end it right there and say something like "you're so lucky" or "congratulations" or "good luck."

And I agree. I am so very lucky. Even if I can't hold either of them today, soon I'll hold our little boy, and yes, I am very, very lucky to be the mother of two.

"Thank you for asking," I got to talk about my little girl today.

Oct 22, 2014

Is this your first?

These are just a few words that I've written over the past few months. I'm sharing them today because they are a picture of what life after loss looks like even nine months later, even with another baby on the way. Some words are those written through tears and some are those of the continued hope and healing that I am so grateful to the Lord for.

August 29, 2014

When you're in college people tend to ask you when you'll meet someone. And once you meet someone people tend to ask you when you'll get married. And then once you get married people tend to ask when you'll have kids. I've been told that once you have kids people continue to ask when you'll have the next kid.

People are always asking questions.

And I'm sure I'm one of them. 

I'm sure I've asked many questions before about things that aren't my business. I'm sure some things were the things that make up small talk and I'm sure, actually I did it just the other day, I'm certain many of the questions I have asked have invoked awkward, uncomfortable responses.

I'm sorry.

I don't pretend like I need anyone to change or like I'd change even if I could. 

But when you're obviously pregnant, you get a lot of questions. Some are general and some way too specific or personal. Some people ask while awkwardly rubbing your belly and looking deep into your soul and you're thinking "I've never seen you other than in this aisle at the Brookshire's" Mostly they make me laugh. I'm not easily offended...

But there's one that's the hardest for me to answer. It reminds me that they do not know, and I pause for just a moment every time wondering what to say.

They look at my belly and they ask, "Is this your first?"

The easy answer is yes.

But the truth is no.

But I know that the 'no' comes with follow up questions. I know if I pause too long after the 'no' that they will most certainly ask things like 'oh how many others do you have?' and 'boys or girls?' and 'how old are they?' And then I know I have to tell them.

But I just can't say 'yes'.

So I say 'no' and then so quickly I blurt out something like, 'well but we lost our first, but it's okay, and this one's a boy. My husband is thrilled!' And I know that if I can quickly equate my daughter to a sock in the laundry room that somehow disappeared into the spin cycle that I can get them excited about the boy we are having, and then and only then can I steer the direction to something less awkward.

But then I spend the next few hours thinking about equating my daughter to a lost sock.

She isn't something I just 'lost' one day.

I think about how when people ask about the number of children I have that they're just being polite and that they really don't want the entire story, but my heart wants so bady to follow the 'no' with something like:
"No. Last year we had our first daughter. She was eight pounds and three ounces and 21.5 inches long. She was beautiful, and she has been my greatest joy to love. But she died last December before I even got to hold her. I miss her every day. But I thank the Lord that I was blessed with such a great love for her, and I thank the Lord for his truth and his goodness and his comfort and his love because I have gotten to know Him in the past 8 months in ways I never imagined."
But that's not what they were asking.

They aren't ready for that much.

But I just can't quite bring myself to say 'yes.'

Oct 20, 2014

Even Nine Months Later

Oh I pray that your hearts have been blessed with the stories I was able to share in the last few weeks. I continue to pray for those mothers every day, each with their own story that the Lord has written for their lives. I also pray for the mothers who have experienced loss, but who couldn't quite yet put into words their stories. And for the ones that ares still working on putting their stories into words, feel free to share them with me at any time, it's never too late.

Today I wanted to share these words.

These are just a few words that I've written over the past few months. I'm sharing them today because they are a picture of what life after loss looks like even nine months later, even with another baby on the way. Some words are those written through tears and some are those of the continued hope and healing that I am so grateful to the Lord for.

September 17, 2014

Today was a hard day.

I didn't see it coming.

I didn't sleep well, but I think that's normal in the third trimester of pregnancy. I woke up tired, but I blame that on the cloudy morning and the lack of sunshine beaming through our bedroom windows when I woke. I got up and went to work just like I do every other weekday.

Today we were completing our health screenings for our students. I was at another campus measuring heights and weights of four-year-olds. Normal day for me. Then I got back in my car and I started to drive back to my office at my home campus.

And then I started to cry.

It wasn't because of a song on the radio. It wasn't because of something someone said or did. But for a few moments I was alone in my car and it was quiet and tears rolled down my face.

I made it back to my school and I sat in the parking lot trying to 'pull it together' but it wasn't working. Just about the time I'd dry all the tears, another round was welling up and puddling out. Some were quiet cries and some turned to sobs.

I was thinking about many things. I cried tears of joy as I thought about how blessed I was: wonderful husband, little baby in my belly, beautiful daughter in heaven. I cried as an outpouring of my heart that missed my girl, oh that somehow is the most powerful love I have. I cried as I thought about becoming a mother again and all the things I felt as if I was balancing and holding hoping I wouldn't mess up anything this time around.

I was overwhelmed.

And then I cried because although I've cried many times in the last nine months, this one felt different. This one reminded me of a very specific time.

It was the Thursday before Hannah was born. I went to the doctor and everything checked out fine. Heartbeat was perfect, she was measuring well, my body was getting ready for the day she would be born. But as I asked the doctor questions, I started to cry. I don't remember if I was scared or nervous or just so emotionally excited that I couldn't hold it in, but

I was overwhelmed.

And so today in my car I remembered that feeling. I've always wondered if it was God's way of preparing my heart for the days that would soon follow. For the news that our daughter had so unexpectedly died. And so there in my car I cried more tears, praying to the Lord that we wouldn't lose this baby too.

I sat there in my car, with red puffy eyes and a now swollen face and I wondered what to do. It wasn't just that I couldn't go back into the office with red eyes and expect no one to ask questions, but it was that the tears just wouldn't stop long enough for me to make it down the hallway of the school without crying.

I prayed and then I called my sweet husband and asked for his advice. He is so very wise and he loves me so well. He reminded me that I could call my boss and ask her what she recommended I do. He told me that he loved me and he supported whatever I needed to do. Even with my very limited amount of time off remaining and my very long list of appointments ahead, he told me that going home would be just fine.

My boss agreed. She looks out for us, and she told me to go home and rest and to let her know if I needed anything else.

So there I was at eleven o'clock in the morning driving back home in my little white car.

The sun had finally come out and as I neared home I stopped at the local nursery to buy a few mums for our flower beds. I spent time picking out the perfect colored flowers all while wearing my big black sunglasses and hiding my tears. At the register I made sure to take home some fresh-picked peaches and somehow the day felt much more simple.

I returned home to a good meal and spent the afternoon with my hands in the dirt in our front yard. The sun was out and the shade of my porch was just enough along with the breeze to keep me cool. After being completely satisfied that I had done something so very simple I went back inside to cool off.

Then I spent time crying and singing and thinking and praying. I spent time in the nursery reading to our baby in the belly and I spent time in the nursery praying to the Lord about Hannah.

I bit into the peaches that were now chilled and I let the juice run down my face because I absolutely love ripe peaches. I mowed the back yard because it was small and it seemed like something I could accomplish with little effort.

I didn't turn on the TV much at all, but I opened the blinds and I let the sun shine in and I laid down and took a nap to the sound of wind chimes.

Later I felt almost silly for coming home right in the middle of the day, only halfway through the week. But I knew it was what I needed. I saw the way the Lord used sunshine and nature and tears to heal my heart.

Today it has been exactly nine months since Hannah was born. I didn't even realize it this morning. And I know before all this I would have thought that someone would have 'gotten over it' by nine months. But the truth is, you don't just 'get over' missing your daughter. It's every day. Sometimes every day joy and sometimes every day sorrow.

I know I'll miss her for the rest of my life. I pray I don't ever stop missing her. But every day I'm grateful for those around me that seem to understand even in the smallest ways that I'm not 'over it' yet.

Even if before Hannah, I was one who may not have understood.

Oct 17, 2014

Back Further than Nine Weeks: Christy Cash

Christy Cash is actually a part of my husband Kyle's family. Her story is one that unfortunately many women face. I've heard many stories of women who want so badly to get pregnant and who fight so hard for their babies, only to get pregnant and lose one. Even at nine weeks, a loss is a loss.

Christy's story is one of loss, but it's also one of subsequent life. Read it, you'll see. I pray that her story encourages you as you read her words, not simply because it has a 'happy ending' but because the Lord had a plan all along, for all three of her babies.

Sometimes I feel I don't have much to grieve over because I was only nine weeks pregnant when I lost my baby. But the story goes back further than nine weeks:  four years of trying to get pregnant, three surgeries to remove endometriosis, six months of Chlomid medication, six IUIs, and our first IVF cycle. An IVF cycle costs about $10,000 and we were only able to retrieve 4 eggs.

We found out through testing that I have very few eggs left, like as if I were 40 years old. We were devastated when they told us that only one out of our four eggs had fertilized. But it only took one, and I got pregnant for the first time ever. I was on cloud nine and never could have imagined what was to come.

I went for an OB appointment at nine weeks. I wasn't even supposed to get an ultrasound, but I saw my doctor at the front desk and told him I was pregnant. He was so excited he said "well let's go take a look."

We couldn't find the heartbeat that we had heard at my six week dating ultrasound. We lost our baby.

The doctor had me wait in a room for what seemed like forever so he could talk to me. I was alone with my 18 month old adopted daughter Kayln. How was I going to drive 70 miles back home after this?

Two nights later I started having horrible cramps. I told my husband Kenny in the middle of the night that we were going to go to the hospital first thing in the morning to have the D&C. I was already in so much pain and took some pain killers I had, but in did not want to sit around and wait for the pain and bleeding to get worse. I wanted it to be over. Even though I had known for a few days that there was no heartbeat, I hadn't cried yet because I still had hope and for me it wasn't over yet.

We went to the hospital and when I woke up from the D&C I just cried and asked for my husband. We picked up Kalyn and went home that same day. Later that night I just started screaming and crying so loud that I made Kalyn do the same thing. Kenny was freaking out because he didn't know what to do with two screaming girls. Kenny asked "Did it just now hit you?" And only then did I find out that he had been crying for days.

After our loss, we knew we wanted to try IVF again, but we wondered how we would get another $10,000 for the procedure. So Kenny worked overtime and in just two months we saved up the money we needed. I felt this was God's plan, but hadn't we just emptied out our entire savings?

Since I have endometriosis I discovered that I had really poor quality eggs. So I started doing some research to see if there was anything I could do to make my eggs healthier. I started taking a bunch of different vitamins and supplements and doing acupuncture. I learned that my endometriosis had damaged my eggs, but I was told that the vitamins I started taking would help protect any new eggs. But it takes new eggs 90 days to form.

So in January we started the IVF process over again. I was giving myself injections twice a day and we had ultrasounds scheduled three times a week to see how my follicles were growing. We were so excited when we retrieved six eggs this time and they all fertilized! Five of them made it to a five day blastocyst and only one died. Our very first embryo never quite made it to a blastocyst and so probably never really had a chance. We decided we would put two embryos in this time because we had lost the only one we had before. I was okay with having twins and there was still a chance that one or none of the embryos would implant and keep growing. And we'd have 3 embryos left to freeze.

Ten days later we found out I was pregnant, but I was cautiously optimistic. Then at six weeks we found out that both embryos had implanted and we heard were two little heartbeats. We were going to have twins!

I was excited but still a little hesitant. Turns out I have had a great pregnancy without complications other than a ton of Braxton-Hicks contractions after 30 weeks. We will be welcoming our boy and girl twins into this world next week!

At the time I lost my first baby I wondered why would God even allow me to get pregnant just to take it away. Little did I know that He had much bigger an better plans for us! More than I could ever imagine!

 - Christy Cash

And Christy and Kenny did deliver their healthy little twins, Chase and Kylie, into this world after she submitted her story. And I will tell you that in all of their pictures they are quite adorable...

Oct 16, 2014

Amathyst: Celimar

I wanted to include all types of stories to share with you. Mothers come in all kinds. Sadly enough, it's not just pregnancy loss month, but infant loss month as well. Celimar's is a story of infant loss. I cannot imagine getting to meet and hold a live baby and then to have them leave earth so quickly.

But the Lord is good.

And Celimar's story is one where the Lord drew her so very close to the Lord through her suffering. I pray that as you read her words, you too would be drawn to the Lord.

My half brother had excitedly planned a pregnancy with his girlfriend, and they kept the pregnancy a secret until she was about seven months along. When they finally shared the news, my family put together a last minute baby shower and everyone came to celebrate this new life brewing.

Amathyst was born one month early on October 30, 2013 weighing only four pounds eight ounces. The doctors kept her in the hospital, and since I was only her aunt I was not allowed to visit her in the NICU. When they finally released Amathyst I rushed over to meet her. It was love at first sight, but I felt something was wrong.

I saw an extreme disconnect between Amathyst and her biological mother. Sadly her mother became suicidal and the authorities had to get involved. I stepped up and got legal custody of Amathyst when she was only three weeks old, and our journey began.

At home I now had a one year old daughter, a four month old son Jacob, and three week old Amathyst. I began tandem nursing Jacob and Amathyst. I was in love. Times were hard, but they weren't terrible. We made it work. Yes, it was very demanding having three children one and under. Oh, but it makes my heart smile when I remember the way that she smelled.

We put her down to nap on March 20, 2014 and when I went to wake her up she wasn't breathing. I rushed her to the hospital and when the doctors told me they couldn't resuscitate her my world came crumbling down on me. My reality became worse than my worse nightmare. SUIDS, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome, stole the smallest love of my life from me that day. Even though she wasn't biologically mine, God created her and sent her to this earth for me to love. It wasn't easy but it was certainly worth it.

If there was one thing I could tell you about Amathyst is that even though she was so tiny she was FIERCE! It's been seven months since she passed, and I still hurt. It's been seven months and I'm thankful for the four and a half months God blessed me with while she was here on this earth. Her first birthday comes this month and I hate the fact that we have to celebrate her birthday without her.

Since the day we lost Amathyst I have learned about God's grace and love. When she died I turned to God in a way I never have before. I begged for his mercy, love, and grace. I knew the only way I would ever be okay again would be through His grace. Through every pain and suffering the Lord has taught me that He is making me stronger and has something great in store for my life. God sent so many people to love me and lift me up and I'm so thankful he did.

- Celimar

Oct 15, 2014

Bryant Cole: Molly Brown

I could have written almost every word of Molly's story. Although there are small differences, Molly's story reminds me so much of our Hannah. 38 weeks and four days, oh I know it all too well. How it feels to hold a real, warm, life-sized baby in your arms and wonder why or how that baby is not still alive.

Oh but Molly's words are beautiful. And oh how they are so very fresh. I realized that Molly lost her sweet boy right about the time I felt the Lord calling me to ask you all to share your stories. Maybe, just maybe, it was just for Molly. Oh how I pray for her knowing that her pain is so very near and real in so many ways right now.

I love how she attributes her strength only to the Lord, for he truly is our strength in weakness. I pray as you read her story that you would be reminded of the Lord's great strength, especially as we are so very weak.

Bryant Cole Brown, September 5th 2014

This is Bryant’s story that lives with me every day.

Brad and I got pregnant the December after our two year anniversary; we were so excited about our sweet little bean from the day we found out on January 7th 2014. It was fun keeping it a secret while we waited to go to the doctor, but it got much more exciting after we got to share the news that our sweet family was growing with our family and friends. From our first appointment everything was so great and we had a healthy little BOY! We found out what we were having on March 25th.

A few years back while talking with Brad’s grandmother she had mentioned Gran's name. Gran was Brad's grandfather on his mom’s side. She brought up that his name was Thomas Bryant Chennault. At that moment I sent brad a message that said “if we ever have a boy we should name him Bryant Brown ;)" As I’m sure that freaked him out I was thinking about baby names he just replied that he liked that name. Later we talked and we had a Girl and a Boy named picked out going into our appointment.

Bryant was not shy about showing himself off and assuring us he was indeed a boy! So the spoiling began; how fun it is to shop for little boys! Throughout the pregnancy everything was perfect, tests were all normal, even the doctor mentioned that I was blessed to have such an easy pregnancy. It was fun feeling and watching my sweet boy grow.  I had two extra sonograms done just to see his sweet face, and boy did he have a personality. We thought looking like his momma... but boy were we wrong!

Brad had gone to every appointment with me from day one, he was by my side, even when I freaked out about getting blood taken, which I am a pro at now. Bryant grew and grew and GREW he was an active little guy at four in the morning. He wiggled to music, he jumped to loud noises, and we would have many conversations about kicking mommy’s rib.

As week 38 approached we were getting anxious to meet our sweet Bryant. I had my appointment that Thursday, and I was convinced I was going to talk the doctor into letting me have this baby a bit early, as I’m just not a very patient person. Thursday came; a day that changed my life. We woke up that morning, everything was normal, Brad left to go cut some hay, and I told him I would just go to this appointment alone cause I had some errands to run, and had planned to have lunch with my sister before my appointment. Plus this far along going every week was just the same thing when doctor measures and says “see ya next week” but oh was I wrong.

I had my appointment at 1:15 that day. Everyone knew I had my appointment that day and they were anxious to hear what the doctor had to say, they were ready for a baby as much as I was. As I laid on the table he measured my belly at 38 weeks and four days. The doctor got out his Doppler and listened for Bryant’s heartbeat, there was nothing but static, I remember just thinking 'really doc you need a new Doppler.'  He made the excuse that his wasn’t working and went and got another doctor's Doppler and at this point I started to worry. I started to think maybe Bryant is in a weird position, maybe… just anything but no this can’t be real… I’m at 38 weeks my child is healthy... What is going on? The doctor heard nothing with the second Doppler; he told me he was going to do a sonogram.

As the doctor looked at me in the eyes and said there was no heartbeat. I feel as if my heart was ripped out, I couldn’t catch my breath,  My head started pounding, I couldn’t believe him, this couldn’t be happening. I just asked questions, are you sure? How? Why? What happened? All left unanswered.

There is no answer.

He asked me if Brad was in the waiting room as he knew he was always there. I just shook my head as I couldn’t talk to where they could understand me. I didn’t want to look at my phone because at this point everyone was wanting to know how my appointment went, they were anxious, texting, and calling. The nurse called Brad to come to the clinic. That was the longest 40 minutes of my life. As I sat there in the room with the nurse I just cried. I wanted to wake up, I wanted them to say their machines just weren’t working, I wanted anything but this. I prayed, I cried, I sat there with my boy just wanting him to kick my ribs one more time.

This next moment replays in my head every single day. The door opened and there stood Brad in tears, just saying “NO” over and over, he wrapped Bryant and I in his arms and we cried together, he was asking questions just as I was. I've always known Brad was going to be an amazing daddy, but at this moment I saw just how much he loved his baby boy.

The doctor gave us some time to ourselves, then came in to talk to us about the next step. He told us we could go straight to the hospital to start the labor process or we could go home and come back at a later time. At this point no one but us knew the news, so we decided to go home, let family know, grab our bags, and head back up there a few hours later. Brad had called his parents on the way to the clinic because he didn’t know what to expect when he got there, were we going to be rushed to have our sweet boy? Had he left us? I can only imagine what was going through his head.

After we left the clinic we met Brad's parents to drop off my car so we would be together. We started talking about who we were going to tell, how we were going to tell them. I just didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to tell people who love Bryant so much that he had gone. My dad works out of town, so mom was by herself and I couldn’t tell either of them over the phone. Brad's mom went and picked my mom up to bring her to our house.

Brad and I drove to my sisters work and I just text her to come out front. Brad met her on the sidewalk and told her the news, as I was watching in the rear view mirror her reaction looked like she had been stabbed in the heart; she burst into tears and ran to the truck to wrap me in her arms. She just like the rest of us started asking questions and again there were no answers.

Brad stood on the sidewalk as he called my dad. He was working days, so had been on shift since early that morning. I couldn’t bear to think about him driving that long 8 hour drive alone with no sleep, but being the amazing man he is there was no talking him into resting before he came.

Brad and I headed home, a very silent trip home; a tight grip holding hands, tears running down my face, and every question imaginable running through our heads. We came home to a nursery all set up so cozy and soft, an empty bassinet by our bed that I had been staring at for weeks just waiting to be staring at a cute little boy, a car seat sitting in our living room, and three little bags that I have waited so patiently to load in the car… Still to this moment I thought this couldn’t be real, I was wanting to take all his stuff in case something happened and we ended up coming home with our boy, but I knew I was dreaming. That wasn’t going to happen.

Brad's parents picked up my mom and the family came to our house, as we sat there and cried in the silence and held each other in our arms I just couldn’t get over the fact this was for real.  Brad started to get things ready for the hospital; he unloaded the car seat base from my car that had been there for the past few weeks. I just loved looking in my mirror and seeing that little thing, Bryant and I would have many conversations about how mommy couldn’t wait to have a passenger with her.

The time came to go to the hospital, the family went home for a little bit, and we headed to the hospital, leaving a bag short, but we were on our way. Arriving at the hospital it was very strange, walking up to labor and delivery with all our bags, pillows, and my sweet baby bump people were looking at us all excited as they didn’t know better. Once we got to labor and delivery we were greeted with nurses who showed their love and support from the time we got there. We were walked to our room after filling out some paperwork. Our room was just a little different from everyone else’s room; it was missing the baby bed, monitors, and one less heartbeat. We had to fill out some more paperwork, and they started my IV. The process began; it was just time to wait.

My sister, mom, and Brad's parents came up not long after and sat with us, there was nothing to say, there were no words, we just sat there crying. My dad was still on his way. Throughout the evening more family found out the news and came to sit, pray, and hug our necks. The night got later but I couldn’t think about sleeping. Everyone went home to get some rest, I was given some medicine to help me sleep, and Brad was right next to me holding my hand tight. Throughout the night I was being checked on by the sweet nurses. About midnight she came in to let me know my dad was there. He had been up for over 24 hours and was not leaving the hospital, I let him know he could go to my sisters but he said no he would be here if I needed him. He stayed through the night in a room they had set up for the family during our stay. A room where they could wait, visit, and cry without bothering those who were there happy, excited, and welcoming their baby to the world.

As morning Friday approached I knew time was getting close. The emotions I had were unexplainable, I had been looking forward to this day for nine months, the day I become a mother to my precious boy, I kept hoping for a miracle.

At 11:46am I gave birth to my precious angel Bryant. The labor and delivery was so perfect, but there was no cry as I have always imagined, the room was silent. The emotional pain I can’t explain. I laid there with Brad holding me in his arm, we cried; we were lonely. They came in with Bryant all wrapped up, snug and cozy. The first time I laid my eyes on that boy I fell more in love if possible. I didn’t think I could love him anymore than I already did, but boy was I wrong. I couldn’t help but smile with the tears running down my face as they placed him in my arms. He was so perfect.

Absolutely perfect.

He had sweet chubby cheeks, a little dimple chin, the most precious nose and lips imaginable, and some big feet. He looked just like his daddy. He was seven pounds and two ounces. As I held him tight knowing he was already in the arms of Jesus I didn’t want to let him go. We spent the afternoon with him holding him close, kissing his cheeks, showing him off to those who visited, and cherishing the moments we had. The time we got to spend with him was not enough.

There is no way possible to explain the pain of handing your child off for the very last time. I kissed his cheeks, rubbed his head and told him how much I loved him through the tears and heartache. Brad took him, and as he handed him to the nurse he kissed him goodbye with tears running down his face. I have a whole new kind of love for that man, and seeing him show his love as a daddy to our son melted my heart.

We got discharged Saturday morning to head home; my sister had come up that morning to bring us drinks and to visit. Brad headed down to get the car pulled around. As I was being rolled down the hallway to the elevator empty handed it hurt to leave, I wanted to rewind time, and be in this same place with a handsome baby boy, I wanted him in my arms again, I wanted him with me.  Leaving a piece of your heart isn’t right.

We drove home in the silence, just holding tight to each other’s hands. We got home, and walked inside to sweet cards and flowers from family and friends who sent their love and thoughts for us and our boy. I walked down the hall and just stood staring at the door to Bryant’s room. For so many months it had been open, I found some reason to go in there daily, even if it was to just sit in the glider and prop my feet up. I love his room. It is so cozy and warm, and smells so good with all his fresh washed clothes and sheets waiting on him. But today the door was closed, and there was no need to open it. Adjusting to a quiet house after preparing for something completely different for so many months is hard, for many days we had our parents, and close friends over to visit, and help fill the quiet space.

After the weekend passed we went up to the funeral home to plan a service for our sweet boy. I had not a clue of what to expect. I never in my life thought about having to lay my child to rest days after holding him in my arms. On Wednesday September 10th we had an evening grave site service for our Bryant Cole with family and close friends. September 11th was Bryant’s due date. I woke up that morning with alerts all over my phone saying “Congratulations its Bryant’s due date” since I had only been counting down for about eight months. This is the day I have looked forward to for so long, been so patient for, and now it’s here and I’m left empty handed and brokenhearted.

I sat on the porch that morning watching the sunrise as it was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. God was clearly showing me that he is with my boy. As the days, and weeks have passed it still seems like yesterday when the doctor looked at me in the eyes and said there was no heartbeat. I miss my baby boy every second of every day, with every breath I take I am thinking of him. He is and forever will be my angel baby.

When people ask “how are you doing” that is hard to answer, because I’m not good, I’m not okay. I hurt and that is the only way I know to put it. I have questions that can’t be answered; I have a ton of questions. I am sad, I am angry, I cry a lot.  People say it will get better. I don’t think it will get better; I know it will get easier with time but the pain of losing a child is a pain that will never leave. The memories I have of my Bryant will live with me forever.  We hope and pray that one day Bryant will get to be a big brother when the time is right. Never to replace our sweet Bryant, but to help fill the emptiness in our home and hearts.

Even though we had a plan all along God had another one. A plan I don’t understand, but it is His. He has our son wrapped in his arms, and for that I am grateful. I prayed for our boy every day on my way to work. I prayed that Bryant would grow up following Christ, that he would share God's word, and show His love through everything he did. God answered my prayers, just not in the way I had planned. I know that Bryant is showing his love through his story. As the days go on and I’m starting to get out a little more I am asked “how are you so strong?”  “How do you smile?” The answer is I serve a might God. A God who has been by my side through this all. A God who has bigger and better plans even when we can’t see them.  I believe that God has big plans in store for my sweet family and as hard as it is to smile some days I just have to remember my boy is in heaven smiling down on us.

We love our Angel baby always and forever our Bryant Cole Brown.

-Molly Brown

Oct 14, 2014

Fear Does Not Hold Me Any Longer: Katie Haley

Katie Haley sent me her story and the first few lines brought me to tears. Immediately I realized that the timeline of Katie's story meant that she had been reading Hannah's story well before her little guy was even on the way. I cried because it is such a beautiful picture of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. A reminder of the Lord's great plan even through loss and suffering.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 
I pray that you see how the Lord has worked in Katie's life. And know that if you read these words after loss, know that I am praying that you too would somehow be comforted.

Your story has touched me so much in the last 10 months Brittany. I have cried many tears reading your blog and laughed many laughs at the stories you have shared about your Hannah. The way Jesus shines through you is beautiful.

I never thought I would need your words that the Lord asked you to share. I never expected that the Lord would bring me through the loss of a baby. I know everyone says that. That it won't happen to them. That they never thought it could happen to them. But to my core, I just never even considered it to be an option.

My husband, Philip, and I had talked about starting our family. I went off birth control in January, and at the time, my doctor increased my thyroid medicine and told me that people with hypothyroidism sometimes have trouble getting pregnant in the beginning. I absolutely did not expect to get pregnant on our first month of trying. I took a pregnancy test because I was about four days late and wanted to take some hydrocodone cough medicine. Philip was not even home when I took the test. I took it, and then I got in the bathtub.

When Philip came home an hour later, I was still in the bathtub (I have an obsession with long hot baths!). I told him I had taken a test and to look at it for me. He literally almost fell to his knees from shock. He thought I was playing a joke on him. That I knew and had come up with this "clever" way of telling him. I am just not that clever. Ha!  I was about 5 weeks along at this point. We told our families because we just couldn't wait for the sonogram. My best friend at work was pregnant at the time as well; we were so excited to be pregnant together. 

A couple of days later, my fear began to set in. I could not shake the idea that I needed to temper my excitement. I prayed and prayed for the Lord to bring me peace. Philip and I prayed together many times a day that the Lord would quiet my soul. I wrote down verse after verse about the Lord's provision and protection.  On a Wednesday night, I had a dream that I lost the baby at my parents' house and it was a baby boy. It was so vivid and real, I woke up shaking. I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and realized I was bleeding. It really wasn't much at all, but I have never been so terrified in my life. From 5 am until 8:30 am, Philip just held me while I cried. And prayed over me. We called the doctor when their office opened at 8:30. She told me that I shouldn't be concerned until she told me to be concerned. She wanted to run some blood work and talk to me at the office. When I left the doctor, I was feeling much better. She said she would call later in the afternoon and let me know results. The bleeding progressed at an alarming rate during the afternoon. When she finally called, I already knew what she was going to say. It was just not normal.

I didn't speak any words to the Lord for several weeks except "I do not understand this at all and I don't know what to do with all this grief. What is the point of this?!" Then I would cry. Or sit numbly. I felt so betrayed. I tried so hard to communicate with other people about it, but I had nothing to say. Oddly enough we were going through James at church at this time. I have never in my life experienced so many people telling me to find joy in my suffering. I sat in church week after week and just cried. I worked because it helped me feel numb and take my mind off of the baby that was no longer growing in me.

Throughout my whole relationship with God, he has always used me giving other people advice about things to speak to me. Especially when I am totally uninterested in listening to him. I had a dream one night that a couple friend of ours that had just moved was struggling with the calling they felt to move. They missed our friends, they missed our church, they didn't understand why the Lord would call them to a place where they were so lonely. My advice to them was "just because you don't understand the purpose, doesn't mean there isn't one." It didn't hit me until a few hours later that those words the Lord spoke in my dream through me, were the words he needed me to hear.

Ever since that moment of realization, I have held tight to that promise. It's not super profound, I know. I didn't even know that that was what I needed, but those apparently were the words the Lord knew I needed to hear to be able to wrap my mind around losing our first baby. Those words have helped me in all aspects of my life since losing our baby. I have changed. I used to be so upset when things around me would change when I wasn't ready for them to. But those words have given me a whole new outlook on life. My fear does not hold me any longer. It does still try to creep back in every now and again, but I know the Lord has me and that's really all that matters.

-Katie Haley

Oct 13, 2014

John Carter & Elliot: Katie Bryant

Katie Bryant is the sister of a member of my father-in-law's congregation in Norman, Oklahoma. Her story has traveled far and it is beautiful.

I pray for the eyes that will read it, the ears that will hear her words. I pray that as you read this story you can see the goodness of the Lord even in heartbreak. Oh how good the Lord to us.

In June of 2011 my first son Walker Richard Bryant was born. He is a healthy and happy three and a half year old. He is the light of our lives.

Back when Walker turned one in June of 2012 we started trying for another baby. We had struggled with infertility so I wanted to get started as soon as possible. It took a few months of treatment but by January 2013 I got a positive pregnancy test. We were thrilled! Just so excited!

I had my first ultrasound at the end of January of 2013. I will never forget that day. "There is Baby A" the tech said. And there is Baby B." We were shocked. Two strong healthy heartbeats and babies measuring right on track. I was shocked, scared, and thrilled! Every emotion you could imagine.

We decided to wait until around 13 weeks to tell family and friends, just to make sure everything was okay. The babies continued to measure perfect and grow perfect each week we checked. The reality of bringing home twins was beginning to sink in and we enjoyed sharing this news with family and friends.

We went in for our 20 week ultrasound and both boys looked and measured great. Again, we were beyond thrilled. I was still a little hesitant just because they were twins so I requested a 3D ultrasound just to get a better look. My doctor agreed and we set one up for 22 weeks. When we got there she showed us both babies and they both looked excellent. She measured each and answered a bunch of our questions. I will never forget watching them both play together on that screen.  The tech only saw one thing she was concerned about. Baby B had a little fluid on his kidneys. So she wanted us to come back at 26 weeks and have a look.

Of course I was worried sick. We talked to my OB and he wasn't concerned at all. He said that the amount on his kidneys was nothing he would even worry about. The next few weeks went by slowly; I was constantly worried something was wrong with one of the boys. We continued to prepare for them. Ordered cribs and bedding, two swings, two bouncy seats, etc. We also bought quite a few matching boy outfits. I wanted all their clothes to match. We still had not decided on names or I would have started embroidering outfits.

At 26 weeks 4 days we went back in for our 3D ultrasound to check them out. I was nervous but doing okay. She started on Baby A. She measured his head. It showed up as 24 weeks 4 days. I looked at Dustin and he looked at me. My first thought was 'okay he's going to have some developmental problems.' Nothing in my mind said that he was gone. She moved to his abdomen and that also measured 24 weeks 4 days. Still nothing registered with me.

She quickly changed to Baby B and he scanned perfect and she placed the Doppler on his heartbeat and let us hear. It was in that moment that I realized she hadn't shown us Baby A's heartbeat. I asked her and she just said I am so sorry Mrs. Bryant he doesn't have a heartbeat.

I can honestly say my world turned upside down in that moment on June 13th 2013. My baby died.

How did this happen? What was wrong?

Nobody really had any answers.

My doctor thought is was a cord accident, but I was just not sure. We did a couple of blood tests just to make sure and there was nothing wrong that they could find. The next few weeks the devastation really set in. I could hardly move my body I was so sad. I named Baby A John Carter and named Baby B Elliott. At this point all we wanted to do was keep Elliott in as long as possible. My doctor didn't think this would be a problem since I carried my son Walker to 40 weeks.

At 28 weeks 4 days I went into sudden premature labor and delivered Elliott at 2 pounds 13 ounces. and John Carter at 1 pound 6 ounces born sleeping. Elliott was immediately taken to the NICU; he was very small and they didn't know if he was going to survive.

We got to spend the day with John Carter. He was perfect! I was in love and could not believe that this tiny little boy was gone and not up in the NICU with his brother. He got to meet his grandparents and Aunt Jess. We got professional pictures with him. We just thought he was the greatest thing ever! So handsome. I can close my eyes and see his perfect little lips.

I will never forget my husband coming in and whispering that it was time to give him over to the nurses. It's such a blur. How do you hand your baby over knowing you will never see him again in this lifetime? The pain was excruciating. The worry over Elliott had not even set in yet. I was so preoccupied with John Carter.

I didn't even get to see Elliott until the next day. He was tiny and oh so perfect too. The doctor told us everything that could go wrong with a baby born that early and it was not good. But he was stable and doing well at that time. Everyone told us the NICU is two steps forward and three back.

Boy were they right. We rode quite the roller coaster over the next 50 days with Elliott.

Elliott is now home and 15 months old. He is happy, healthy and such a little fighter. I am so proud of that boy. He fought so hard his first 15 months of life. He is a true miracle of God's merciful hands.

While we struggle daily with the loss of John Carter we also praise God for Elliott's life. I am still right in the middle of grief and trying to figure out what that looks like for me and my family. I want people to know John Carter's story and how much we love him and prayed for him daily. I miss him so much sometimes that my heart feels like it's breaking in two again.

God has been faithful to us in this journey in that He showed us what it looks like when his people are actually the hands and feet of Christ. It was amazing how loving, thoughtful, and kind people can be. Also the people who prayed for our sweet Elliott on a daily basis we are forever grateful too.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story

- Katie Bryant

Oct 9, 2014

In this Storm: Cherish Montgomery

Cherish Montgomery has a beautiful story. Nope, I've never met her, but I opened her email message and read it to the end. I know what it feels like to expect that your baby will come home and to return to that same home with empty arms.

It is clear in her words here how much she loves the Lord. She shares more of her story and her life after Bella on her own blog and her words continue to radiate her love for Him. It is my prayer that you read her story today and know how the Lord is still so very good in times when the world sees only heartbreak.

Brief history...my name is Cherish Montgomery. I have a wonderful husband of ten years named Timmy. We married in June of 2004 and quickly experienced one miscarriage at seven weeks and another to follow at twelve weeks. About a year or so later we suffered the loss of our precious cousin only three months old to SIDS. Shortly after we gave birth to our son Gauge. He is the light of our life! He will be eight this year!

This past April we gave birth to our perfect stillborn daughter Bella Glen. Were in prayers now for our rainbow baby! God is good all the time!! Here is our story.

This is our story Praising our Savior all the day long.

May 1, 2014.

The day we prepared to celebrate life for our Sweet Bella here on earth. It never once crossed our minds that we could lose our precious 36-week old baby girl we had dreamed of. As we headed to the hospital with the thoughts that my water had broken, we just knew she would be tiny... but so beautiful. My only request to God was black hair just like her daddy.

Gauge was ready with his pink shirt to match. Her room was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined... coral flamingos. We just knew she would be what completed our family. We couldn't wait to see her sleeping in all her precious new gowns. For nine months we had planned birthdays in our minds. We even had an Easter dress in case she was a little early. I had enough clothes to clothe a small army.

She was ours... We THOUGHT. How could she not be?

To remember that night gives me chills all over deep inside, a terror one cannot describe. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, after a day of work and Bible study, Our Mighty God chose Bella to come home with Him, the ultimate Maker, and be among the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven! As hard as it is to process, we know without doubt she is in His hands, being loved with a love no earthly parent can offer.

As for our family we have also learned to love in a much deeper way. God has revealed so many things to us all for his Glory! I have moments of rage, pure terror, sorrow, and guilt. Not guilt that I could have changed anything, but a guilt of not loving enough, being selfish, and not completely giving my all to Christ when He trusted me to care for HIS child not mine. All these feelings pass most times within and hour, and above all I have an indescribable peace that only My Savior can give.

Do not let satan steal your peace. I have learned how he works, and he loves weak, hurting Christians. If you do not know Jesus as your personal friend and Savior, I ask that you to give him your All.. Absolute All.. Give all your pain and hurts to him now, and I Promise you He will give you that peace worth living for! Without His peace and assurance, we, my friends, would have no hope. It doesn't matter what you have done, He will forgive you. Just ask. Pray to our Mighty God now... If you wait, it could be too late. We, my friends, are not guaranteed anything, especially life on earth. We have learned first hand.

So take His hand.

Bella Glen Montgomery with not a single breath on earth is ministering already. What a Blessing.
I will praise you in this Storm...

- Cherish Montgomery

Oct 8, 2014

Harper: Amber Roberts

Today's story is written by a woman I've never met, or whom I've only 'met' through email. Her name is Amber and I feel like I've known her my whole life, because when I read the words she writes I can't help but wonder how she could know exactly how my heart feels. 

Amber has written many words about her sweet babies on her own blog and I encourage you to read them. My favorite is her latest post entitled "I'm their Momma" written back in November of last year. It speaks many words of how I feel now that Baby Hess Number Two is on the way, and it includes the most adorable pictures of her little Jax.

I pray today that you read these words and hear the story that the Lord has so wonderfully written for her life.

Harper Solley Roberts.

Just typing her name brings tears to my eyes...tears of sadness, tears of remembrance, and tears of pride. I knew before I got pregnant that I would name a little girl this. I loved the name Harper and Solley was Jerry's mom's maiden name. I imagined her with pigtails & pouty little lips saying "Hi I'm Harper Solley" in a southern accent like mine to everyone she met.  It's a name that I don't get to fill out on medical forms or school registration. I'll never see that name on a backpack in her kindergarten cubby, but it's a name that is so very important...because she changed all of us.

After nearly two years of trying and one round of IVF, we found out that we were pregnant with twins. We were thrilled. These babies were our answer to prayer, our dream come true. I couldn't wait to see their faces and hold them in our arms. I had a scare at 5 weeks, and because of that we had weekly ultrasounds to check on them, so I literally got to see them grow and change in my belly from week to week. They were perfect. From the beginning, I knew that baby A was my girl and B was my boy. Then at 20 weeks, we went in for the anatomy scan and to find out gender. Baby B was a boy, healthy and strong...my Jax Childrey, named after my Pappaw. But my baby A just wouldn't move. I knew something was wrong. We found out the next week during a level 2 ultrasound that she had "multiple abnormalities." She had severely low fluid, and had no indication of kidneys or bladder and several other issues. We went to specialists who confirmed this. They told us that without a miracle, she wouldn't survive. That her job was to be alive long enough to help me deliver her brother as late and as healthy as possible.

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in divine healing, and in miracles only God can explain. We shared our story with our friends and family. We called for prayer from churches everywhere. I got thousands of hits on my blog.  We prayed until we had no more words to pray. Then we sat and wept to God and prayed more. Prayer was our only hope. We continued to get frequent ultrasounds, and we rejoiced at every heartbeat and fluctuation in Harper's fluid levels.

Late on August 17, 2013 at 29 weeks, I started having contractions. We went to the hospital where they transferred me to Little Rock. After failed attempts to stop my labor, I had a C-section. I don't remember much before I went in. I was in too much pain. But I do remember praying. And I remember this sudden peace that washed over me as they wheeled me back. I knew before my epidural that this would be the only time I would hold her. I somehow knew that she had done her job, that her brother would be okay, and that I was going to have to make the most of my time with her.

I'll never forget how quiet that delivery room was. I sang to myself to fill the void. I sang the same song I had sung to the babies for the past nine weeks. "He loves us, oh how he loves us...." When they rolled me back in the room I just looked at my husband, his face pale and broken. He couldn't say the words, but I just said "I know."

The hospital was wonderful. In all of my worrying and wondering about what would happen on this day, I never let myself think of this scenario. I didn't know what to expect. They had a beautiful smocked dress for her to wear. Her daddy insisted that he be the one to dress her. They wrapped her in a precious crocheted blanket & hat. They gave us as much time as possible with her. We held her, talked to her and loved on her. We passed her around to our families who were there to love on her too. We took pictures. We were grieving parents, but we were still proud parents.

My Harper weighed 2 lbs 2 ounces. She looked exactly like my baby pictures. She had my nose and a mass of thick, dark hair. She was beautiful. This angel had done her job well. Her brother was delivered tiny but the healthiest baby he could've been. He was so healthy that he only needed a bit of oxygen for the transport to the NICU. They were even able to bring him to me before going downstairs so we were able to experience them as twins for a brief moment. Her sweet little life had given us the best gift in her brother, a gift we can never ever be thankful enough for.

Harper was born alive, but she passed away in my arms shortly after. Officially, she lived one hour and forty four minutes.

My daughter only lived a little bit on this earth, but in the 29 weeks and 6 days she was alive she changed our world for the better. Her life taught us to pray in ways we had never prayed before. Her story has changed the hearts and minds of those we know, and touched those from places we've never been. Her gift has inspired us to live our lives giving, forever trying to repay the generosity and kindness we've received along our journey.

I still cry for her every day. I would be lying if I said I fully understood why she died, but I'm so so proud of her. I'm proud to be Harper's mommy, in the same way I'm proud of her sister when she scores in volleyball or how I'm proud of her brother when he says a new word or learns a new skill. She is proof that every single life is important and even the tiniest among us can change the world.

Harper's Mommy

Oct 7, 2014

Twenty Two Years Later: Brandie Grant

Today's story is written by a woman who is strong in the Lord. She is a wonderful mother and someone who has a story about her children that makes me laugh every time I see her. She came to see me when we lost Hannah and then she spent the next month loving her father day and night as he fought cancer. She knows what grief is all too well, but she's knows the strength of the Lord even more.

Even though she told me about her son, I never realized that it was twenty two years ago. I didn't realize how beautiful her story was until I read her words. I pray that you, too, see the beauty of the Lord in her story.

D.J.'s Story

We lost our beautiful baby boy at 36 weeks gestation (approximately eight months). David's passing was officially noted as "medical staff neglect accompanied by fetal cardiac arrhythmia and possible hydrops fetalis" meaning there was obvious issues with the medical treatment that my son and I received along with medical conditions that may or may not have compromised the life of our son.

I had experienced a day where there was little movement in my seventh month, but a sonogram showed and confirmed he was fine. A month later another day of little movement concerned me, but once again a scan in our OB's office showed him to be alive and his heart was beating. Two days later on February 12th at 34 weeks and 5 days I began having contractions. After several hours of timing and watching the clock I made a call to my OB who instructed me to meet him at the hospital. Upon being hooked up to monitors and completing a physical exam it was confirmed that I was in labor.

My OB made the call to stop my labor since I was not yet 36 weeks. I remained in the hospital for 2 days and was then sent home on strict bed rest and an oral version of the IV medication (Terbutaline) that would continue to prevent my labor.  A little less than 24 hours later I began contracting despite not getting on my feet except to use the restroom and religiously taking my prescribed medication. Once again I made a call to my OB and was instructed to meet him at his office (directly across the street from the hospital) this time.

On the afternoon of February 17th. I was put in a room and my OB came in and used his device to listen for my son's heart beat.  He moved the device all over my stomach and made mention the batteries must be low or baby was hiding. We were asked to go to the hospital where he would meet us to evaluate my contractions. It was different this time. I walked in and gave them my name and they brought me a wheel chair and took me to radiology "for a biophysical profile to check on baby's maturity" or so I was told.

Up until this point I had never been worried, stressed or had any uneasy feelings. The worst of my thoughts were that I was going to have my son a bit early but I was practically full term so he would be fine. Once they had me in radiology they wheeled me into a room with what looked to be a bigger version of the sonogram machine I was used to seeing. This is the moment when I began to feel anxious, nervous, and uneasy.  It was there that we learned he had passed away. I was watching the monitor and I couldn't see his heart beating and after a few more looks around our OB formally advised us our son had died. I was already crying before he said it but I just started sobbing, yelling "LIAR" and hyperventilating. I managed to pull myself together after several nurses and other hospital personnel came rushing in panicked by my screaming.  I remember wanting to go home to my sweet 2 year old daughter but I was being told I needed to be admitted so I could deliver my son.  I begged for a c-section because I didn't want to wait for nature to take its course. I had delivered my 1st child naturally and was told there was no medical reason to have a c-section. It was an unnecessary surgery that would take weeks for me to recover from.

My labor was "normal" and uneventful. My husband went home to care for our young daughter and my mother sat up with me all night as I labored. It was my mom that I wanted and needed during those hours. It was as though I were a young girl again who was sick and only wanted her mommy.  I labored all night and into the next morning. Shortly before 8am I was told it was time to start pushing. This delivery seemed so much harder than my 1st. My mom kept reassuring me as I was constantly thinking and telling everyone, "I just can't!" I was emotionally and physically drained. A combination of no sleep and constant crying had depleted any strength I had. They insisted that I continue to push and I begged, "just cut me open!" After 2 hours of pushing I remember 3 new nurses coming in to join the 2 that had been with me since the beginning. One held my head, one on either side to hold my legs and one on either side allowing me to squeeze their hands. All were cheering me on along with my mom and the 2 doctors that were trying to assist in other ways to get my son out. After almost 2 and 1/2 hours of pushing my son was finally out. On Thursday February 18, 1993 at 10:25am David Anthony Simmons Jr. was born.  I had finally gotten him out and I know my strength was from Jesus because I had none on my own. I learned later that I delivered my son breech (buttocks first) which was why it felt so much harder and different from the delivery of my 1st child.

I remember asking, as soon as he came out, "is he alive?" Deep down I was hoping for some sort of miracle but it wasn't to be. They wrapped him up and laid him on my chest. He was perfect and beautiful... All 8lbs 7 1/4ozs and 23in of him. He had red hair like me and was big and tall like his dad. He looked perfectly normal...how could he not be alive? He did not cry nor did he open his eyes. My son was in my arms, but his soul had already made its way home to his REAL father. I got lots of cuddles and kisses before I had to say goodbye. To say I was devastated at the moment I had to give my son up knowing I would never see him again in this life would be an enormous understatement.

My world changed forever that day. It changed in more ways than I can list.

I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days due to a broken tail bone and other issues related to giving birth to a very large breech baby.

As a mother you should never have to leave out of the hospital with empty arms, without your baby. As a parent you should not bury a child. But the day I was released from the hospital I was holding a pillow, not my son, and before going home I had to go to the funeral home to pick a casket and make arrangements for my son's funeral. I had to go by the cemetery to pick my son's resting place, then the florist to pick flowers and back to the funeral home to deliver the clothing I wanted my sweet child buried in. I never realized how much a funeral cost...why would I at only 21 years old? Babies aren't born with life insurance. We were so blessed by friends, co-workers, and even strangers for donating funds to cover the cost of our son's funeral. There was a small balance left after donations which my parents without hesitation covered. How heartbreaking it must have been to write a check to help bury your grandson.

On February 22, 1993 we celebrated the life that had lived in me for 8 months. We thanked God for the time of excitement we had awaiting his arrival. We rejoiced in the fact that he never endured pain and suffering like we were. We praised The Lord for the promise that our sweet DJ (what we had planned to call him) was safely in the lap of Jesus and one day we would again be together.

Life went on around me, pretty soon after the funeral people stopped asking if I was okay and quit calling and stopping by to check on us.  If I didn't have Taylor (my daughter) I am not sure what I would have done. She was my sunshine and my reason to keep living, to keep getting up every day. I had several years that are kind of a blur. I mourned and grieved greatly for my son. I think it was years before I REALLY excepted the reality of what had happened and the fact that it had happened to me. I'm not sure why, maybe just my young age and lack of maturity, but I lived in the world thinking things like this don't happen to people like me...like I was special or should be immune to pain, suffering, trials, heartbreak and tragedy. My naivety made the grieving process so difficult. Almost intolerable. My parents saw the dark place I had allowed myself to go and arranged for me to get help. I'm thankful my parents were still invested in parenting me. It's only through the christian counseling program they found for me that I was finally able to begin healing emotionally from missing my son.

Nearly 22 years later and I think of him every day. I still have days where I cry and wish he was here with me. I know I am extremely blessed to have children and grandchildren, but I will live my life always feeling and knowing a huge part of me is missing on this Earth. It really is hard to explain what it's like to live your life without the child you had hopes of raising and seeing grow up before your eyes.  I just take each day as it comes and hold on to The Word and the promises that are contained in it. I know my heart will always ache to have my son here with me and I know as long as I'm alive on this Earth I will miss him. But I also know I'll spend eternity with my son and that does bring me joy. It may be through tears, but it's still JOY.

Oct 6, 2014

Hartley: Madison Dumas

This second story is written by Maddie Dumas. She is a light that shines bright for the Lord. She is one of those people that I knew in college and then keep up with on Facebook because the pictures of her little boys are just too cute not to follow. She and her husband have a great, great love for the Lord. Her story is beautiful and it's one I did not even know if before. I pray it is a blessing to you today, I pray that you see her heart, and that you see a part of the story that is so often untold.

Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to share. My emotional and physical pain is still fresh, but your story helped me so much over the past few weeks, so I can only hope I can pay it forward.

We found out we were expecting Baby Dumas #3 on June 2. We were a little surprised, to say the least. We had always planned on having more babies, but we had decided to wait until our oldest was in kindergarten- day care is expensive! But we were so excited, nonetheless. God's plans are not our own, after all.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 
Isaiah 55:8 
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. 
Proverbs 16:9
All summer we talked about the baby with our three year old, Hudson, and he was convinced we were going to have a sister. He told people about his sister, he asked about where her car seat would go, he made sure I was eating enough for the baby in my belly. Everything was as it should be. My belly was growing, I was experiencing all of the symptoms of pregnancy. I was more sick with this baby, but every pregnancy is different, and maybe after two boys, we would have that sister Hudson wanted so badly.

At 8 weeks we saw our little jellybean on the sonogram. At 12 weeks the doppler picked up a strong heart beat. By my 16 week appointment on September 2, I figured we were rolling right along. Until the doctor couldn't find a heartbeat. And the sonogram confirmed there was no heart beat. I had experienced a miscarriage between my two sons, but I had only made it a few days past my positive pregnancy test before I miscarried. I was devastated by the loss, even though we knew nothing about this child. This time I felt like at 16 weeks I was in the "safe zone". This time I had seen my baby, I had heard a heart beat, and I still felt pregnant. I was so confused.

My doctor explained that I had a partial molar pregnancy. My baby had many complications that did not allow it to live. While most molar pregnancies end around 8 weeks, mine had gone 16 weeks, but my baby had died around 14. The problem was that my placenta continued to grow to an alarming size. The usual procedure to remove a baby after a miscarriage was too dangerous to perform due to a high risk of bleeding. My other option was a hysterectomy. At 27, that was a tough pill to swallow, but I immediately felt God's peace about the decision. I could not put myself at such a great risk when I had two beautiful, healthy boys to take care of. I had surgery two days later.

My husband and I asked our doctor if we could find out the gender of our baby. We also asked if we could have hand and footprints, if possible. Our doctor was able to tell us that our baby was a boy, and she provided pictures of his sweet little feet that I will cherish forever. We had chosen the name Hartley Nathan several weeks before. Hartley was a name we liked, it fit in with our H pattern (Hudson, Harrison, and Hartley), and Nathan is my grandfather's middle name. I had not had a chance to look up the meaning of Nathan, it was simply a family name of a man I greatly respect. I decided to look up the meaning while in the hospital. Nathan means "God gives". In a time that we were so devastated by loss, it was such a refreshing reminder that God does truly give.

A verse that was sent to me multiple times that week was Psalm 46:10- "Be still, and know that I am God." I didn't have to worry because this had already been written into my story by my Creator. I am so sad that I won't get to know Hartley, but he is in Heaven experiencing a joy I can't wait to feel one day. I would never have gotten through this experience had it not been for God's overwhelming comfort and peace. He is my rock, and I'm forever grateful that He called me to be a mommy of two boys on earth, and two babies in heaven.


Maddie Dumas

Oct 3, 2014

In the Presence of God: Catherine Causey

This first story is written by a girl who I knew years ago as a camp counselor. Her name is Catherine, but then we just called her "Cack." I can remember the smile that was always on her face as she bounced around camp.

I love her story. to me it is a picture of what we don't often hear. Catherine's story represents the mothers that sometimes never got to tell anyone they were even pregnant. I love how her story tells of her child who was real, who no matter how "early" a loss, she lost a child. I love how her story is one of a woman who clings to Lord and finds truth in Him. I can tell you truthfully that I have prayed that as you read her story that you are blessed by her words today.

The date of our first prenatal appointment was August 5th, 2014. That’s the day after my birthday. I don’t think I could have dreamed of a better birthday present. We were so full of joy and anticipation that morning.

But our appointment didn’t go as we’d hoped.

We couldn’t have imagined that we’d be saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” in the same day.

That was a tough moment - that moment when our excitement and joy turned to sorrow and despair. The doctor tried to give us some hope, “Maybe you weren’t as far along as you thought you were.” But, I knew exactly how far along I was. I knew exactly what I should be seeing and hearing on the ultrasound (heck, there’s even an app for that). I had been tracking my baby’s growth every day since the moment we saw “pregnant” come across that digital pregnancy test. I will never forget the emptiness I felt while looking at our ultrasound. It was projected on what seemed to be the biggest TV screen ever made. I kept thinking, “Why must they use such a big screen to display something so awful?” Though as I look back, I’m sure we would have loved to see our little one on such an amazingly big screen had everything gone as planned.

A very long week of blood tests and another awful ultrasound later, it was confirmed that we had a miscarriage. Happy fourth wedding anniversary to us…

August didn’t go as expected. What is usually a ten day celebration of my birthday and anniversary now will be accompanied with the loss of our child. I don’t know if I will ever be able to celebrate them without missing what could have been.

Do I think it will get easier with time? Yes.

But does that make the grief of now any less real? No.

Grief is a weird thing. It comes in waves. Sometimes it’s triggered by the most random things. It can be intense and emotional. Or it can just barely be there, almost unnoticeable, like the background music to your thoughts.

In the days after our miscarriage, I found myself searching to find relief from this brokenness that had been thrust upon us.  The grief of it all was so overwhelmingly real, and as much as I would like to say that I ran straight to Jesus, that would be somewhat of an exaggeration. Did I blame Jesus? Not really. But in the days after the miscarriage there were several moments where  I just couldn’t talk with Him. And on those days, I’m so thankful for the church. I’m thankful for those that went on our behalf to Jesus. I’m thankful for a body that covered us in prayers. That is the church.

Despite my reluctancy to communicate verbally with God at times - the Spirit was (and is) always working. I’m so thankful of that. In the short weeks after our loss, I came across a book at the public library that said “A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage.” I’m a skeptic at times, I’ll admit. And I honestly picked up the book wondering what kind of crazy theology it was going to offer. However, “What was Lost” by Elise Erikson Barrett ended up being so good for my soul. I felt like I was reading my story amongst her pages. Her book led me to scripture that ultimately brought several great truth moments to our grief.

I think the biggest being this:

An unborn life is still a life lived completely in the presence of God.
“I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
Your works are wonderful - I know that very well.
My bones weren’t hidden from you
when I was being put tighter in a secret place,
when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my embryo,
and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me,
before any one of them had yet happened.” 
Psalm 139: 14-16 (CEB Version)
We live in a fallen world, one in which we experience sin, tears and death. One in which grief is inevitable. But there is great hope in Jesus, for from the very beginning, before we ever enter (or don’t enter) into this world, we are living fully in presence of God. The Father is no stranger to who we are; He already knows us, and He has made a way for us to be reconciled back to Himself through Jesus. Do I fully understand how a person lives in presence of God before they are born? Not really. I’ll chalk that up as one of the mysteries of our faith that I may not understand until the New Creation. But I know Jesus, and He gives me a great peace about his nearness to us all. I know that He cares about life. That we don’t just become important to Him once we are outside the womb, separate from our mothers.

In her book, Elise Barrett referenced the story of John the Baptist and his mother Elizabeth from out of Luke 1. John recognizes the presence of Jesus even while both of  them were still in the womb. I love that. I need that truth. We know His presence from the beginning. And greater still, He knows us.

I’m so grateful for that.

- Catherine Causey

Oct 1, 2014


There are many who have written about parents who lose a child. It has often been said that we have a name for a spouse that loses a husband and even a name for a child that loses his parents, but that there is no name for a parent who loses a child. Some say it is because it's not in the natural form of life, that it's something that should never happen. But some would say that it's because a time long ago loss of a child happened all too often to need a special name.

But I would say that it happens more often than you would imagine, even now.

I looked up the numbers but they're so hard to face. It's hard because in one way the numbers are so high, it's hard to imagine that many mothers have lost babies. And then in some ways it's hard because all of a sudden it seems as if the child you lost would only be a number in a tally that someone, somewhere is counting.

So you can look up the numbers if you want, but I want to tell you that these mothers and fathers and families are everywhere.

It's like a secret society that somehow you don't know about until it happens to you. And then people start talking. And then you realize that in your neighborhood, in your Sunday school class, in your office, and even in your very small group of best friends, there are stories of loss.

I don't write this today to make you cry. I don't share the stories of these beautiful mothers to make you tear up and to simply evoke an emotional response. But I write because I want you to know their stories.

Their stories are real. They are not just a number on a page. The loss of their children is not something they simply 'get over.' I want you to see that pregnancy and infant loss is the loss of a child. It's not just the loss of a pregnancy or the loss of the 'baby that would have been' but to many of these mothers they lost someone they had already fallen in love with and will miss every day.

I love these stories because these women know the Lord. I've said many times, especially when people insist that I'm the one who is strong, I've said that I don't know how people do this without the Lord. I am not the strong one. The Lord, He is strong.

I know that it is not the experiences of our life that we should use to interpret God's Word, but it is God's Word that we should use to interpret the experiences of our life. When you lose a child this is essential, because all of a sudden the world falls down and for a moment you aren't sure what to believe. Then you remember what is true.

So I love that the women who wrote these stories spoke of scripture. What else could we cling to but His Truth?

The stories I will share with you these next few days are true. I hope and pray that they somehow bless you. I really have prayed over each of these stories and prayed for the women who wrote them.

It's October. It's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and we are telling the stories.
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