Updated: May 3, 2019
It has officially been over a year since my fingertips touched this keyboard and I let myself freely and defenselessly write out the thoughts that have been submerged in my mind. As I type, I am flooded with the memories of this past year; the trials, the triumphs, and the hope that continues to carry us through the wind and the waves.
Last year ended with Michael and I sitting in the living room of a bedraggled (but ever so special) house we had inherited with no heat, a bottle of Fireball whiskey, burgers from Bad Apple, and Harry Potter on DVD. We sat together, sifting through old photographs and sorting through miscellaneous compilations, reminiscing over the painful year that 2017 had proven to be.
We lost a lot but experienced life in a new light as we navigated through our first official year as parents. Life with Andy was definitely the ultimate joy that carried us through, over and over again. When Mike's grandpa passed away, it wasn't just a husband I needed to comfort - my own heart was hurting, too. Our beloved Ota was how I came to know Jesus. He was the one who invited us to church that Christmas morning, eight years ago - the initial moment that changed my life completely. As if losing such a pioneer wasn't hard enough, September brought the loss of our second baby - only 13 weeks into the pregnancy. The trauma of that experience still haunts me today, but somehow we have persevered through it all.
Jesus said, "In this world you will have trials and tribulation; but take heart, for I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) We tend to focus on the latter of that statement - the "take heart" - because that is where the comfort lies. But if 2017 taught us anything, it was to expect the trials and tribulations to come - and to hold onto the hope that we have, anchoring us in the midst of those assured storms.
So, here I am; ending a whole new year right where it began. That disheveled house we sat in, keeping warm by the whiskey, has become our dream home - a place where we can raise our babies, make our own memories, and still preserve the legacy that our grandfather longed for. I sit here, a year later, more hopeful for the future than I ever think I was before. I sit here, as my two year old sleeps soundly next to my husband, my dog at my feet, and a growing, healthy, and strong baby girl in my belly.
Life sure does change a lot in a year.
And while my heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude, that does not mean that 2018 has been smooth sailing.
We (as in Michael - mostly alone) spent most of the year remodeling a house that I had little faith could become what he promised. But his hard work, perseverance, and commitment made it all a reality that I am still waiting to wake from. This man of mine would come home from his 8 hour day to spend the rest of the night working on the house. To clarify (more so you understand the significance than to give him praise); Mike would wake up at 3 AM for a 5 AM work start - be home by 2 PM, and work on the house until 6 - sometimes 7-PM! The days were long for us both - granted he had the harder end of the deal (depending on Andy's temperament of the day)!
In February I began to see a dermatologist for some strange rashes that developed on my arms and legs after my miscarriage. When lupus tests came back inconclusive, she sent me to a Hematologist. It was through him that we found out in May I have a rare gene mutation that makes me susceptible to blood clots. This was in addition to the other blood clotting gene mutation we found out I had the previous summer. Apart from my MTHFR (not a curse word!), and Factor V Leiden, I also tested positive for a lupus anticoagulant. This was most concerning to the doctor and he advised me to not attempt to get pregnant if we were trying.
That news hurt. The heart ache from the miscarriage was still strong (it still is), and I knew that we definitely wanted to try again, but it just seemed to not be the time.
Until two days before I left for a trip to Tulsa, OK for an Usborne Books & More convention, I took a pregnancy test that came out positive. So did the next four I took - hey, I just wanted to make sure!
My trip to Tulsa was amazing - the friends I made, the leaders I learned from, and the company I grew more in love with, proved to be a turning point for what felt like a long and distressing year.
When I came home from that trip, we went to see our OB doctor. Maybe it was the trauma of the miscarriage or the fact that I stood out as one of the crazier patients, but I felt a special connection with Dr. Quinn - I trust her, I'm comfortable with her, and she put into motion the plans for my next 39 weeks.
I was to keep seeing my hematologist to get my blood monitored regularly - but also a high risk doctor to monitor me and baby more closely. But it was Quinn who was the first to warn me that this pregnancy would not be the same as Andy - or even the same as the last 13 weeks I had experienced. She informed me (knowing all too well of the anxieties I carry) that they would most likely want to put me on some kind of blood thinners, but the dosage, how many times per day, etc. would be up to the others.
For the last 26 weeks I have been giving myself two shots of Lovenox every day. I take an aspirin and folic acid in addition to my prenatals. I see three doctors to monitor me and my baby girl (YES - A GIRL!! That is a whole other post Debra!), making appointments seem endless.
BUT - here I am, at 30 weeks pregnant, with a healthy, almost 3 pounder in my belly. It has been hard. It has been painful. It has been a pain in the booty. But it is so worth it.
Besides for this little miracle and my business trip to Tulsa, more good still came.
I was asked over the summer if I would consider teaching one of our kids classes at our Community Bible Study. The instant conviction I felt had my mouth agreeing before I realized the words had been spoken. It was one of those things that God knew well ahead of me, and planned out for a reason.
I had just finished my Spring semester at Moody and was in the middle of my Summer semester when I got the call. The whole reason I am even at Moody is to gain a degree that will allow me to teach the Bible in an actual education setting. So the opportunity with CBS was perfect - I thought of it as an internship. God must have been laughing.
This pregnancy has been - as Quinn promised - so severely different than my pregnancy with Andy. I was so sick that I ended up dehydrated and in the hospital almost half a dozen times within my first and second trimesters. The sickness on top of taking care of my rambunctious, growing toddler, made studying for my classes impossible. I could not stay awake past 7:30 PM. When I was awake I was either chasing Andy, prepping for Bible study, or throwing up.
At the age of 30, I failed my first classes. If I did not have this teaching opportunity with CBS, I probably would have left school altogether. Instead, now, I'm taking a break to work on helping my body be best for this baby.
As the summer turned to fall, and the remodeling was still weighing us down, we finally found ourselves in a place where that house was looking like a home.
Thanks to some friends who helped us with Andy when we needed it the most, we *officially* moved into our new house on October 23, 2018. I say "officially", but in all reality, we slept there and then kept sleeping there, slowly (ever - so - slowly, and honestly STILL) bringing our belongings over from our house three doors down.
2018 started on unsteady waters. But here we are, almost to 2019, and it finally feels as though our anchor has finally dropped in place. The wind and waves have calmed for the moment. And while we may not have real silverware (thank you Costco plastic flatware), there is real love in this place (okay, we have our days - who doesn't). There is joy and laughter and hope.
We are well aware that situations can occur within the blink of an eye, and before we know it, I am sure we will be in the eye of the storm once more. But until then, I will cherish this moment, right now. I will embrace the opportunity to candidly share my journey, and joyously accept the call to witness my thoughts.
And I am thankful for any and all who are anchored along with us.