Sunday, November 10, 2013

His love never fails

This morning, Karis and I watched the South Bay Church service online. Well, actually, I watched it while she slept on my lap!

When Archie began singing the song, "His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me," it struck some tender place in my heart and I was trying to figure out why. Then it dawned on me...

It was this Sunday one year ago that I was in the middle of our miscarriage. I felt like something was wrong and had been to my midwife two times the previous week. Both times we saw the heart beating, but I still felt uneasy. That Sunday I found myself caught between hope and despair. Hoping against hope that my intuition was wrong. But the next day my fears were confirmed as the heartbeat was gone.

The song Archie sang this morning was one we sang regularly this time last year...and it haunted me.
"In death, in life, I'm confident and covered by the power of Your great love."

Except, I didn't feel very confident and what I was suffering through didn't feel very loving. 

For months I battled these thoughts in my mind. Every day. All day long. It was hard for me not to equate my circumstances with God's love (or lack of love) for me. I found myself thinking things like, "You could have prevented this. So whether You caused it or simply allowed it, You did this. And I just can't understand why."

Some time during those dark months I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley. He taught about the time John the Baptist was in prison about to lose his life and it seems that his faith was shaken. John sent friends to talk with Jesus in order to relieve some of the doubts he was having. Jesus reassured John's faith and even said that there was no one greater than John the Baptist. There is no doubt that Jesus loved this cousin of His. But He left him there. In his suffering, facing death. And He said, "Blessed is he who doesn't fall away on account of me."

In other words, "I'm going to do things that don't make any sense to you. There may be times that it seems like I've left you high and dry. But you will be BLESSED if you keep believing and trusting Me even in the darkness."

Jesus proved His love for me on the Cross. No circumstance in my life can ever change that. No matter how much pain I'm in or how confusing His ways may seem, His love is consistent. 

This morning as I listened to the words of that song with Karis in my arms and tears streaming down my face, I thought of how much has changed over the course of one year. From perhaps the darkest days of my life to the most joy-filled. My circumstances have been all over the map, but this one thing remains:

"Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me."

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Joy Has Arrived

8 lbs 15 oz of pure perfection joined the world on Saturday morning at 9:01 AM. 

Our long awaited Karis Joy was welcomed into the thankful arms of her mommy and daddy after 15 hours of labor. This week has been a dream for me. I cannot stop staring at her. I can hardly force myself to set her down. I keep singing to her that David Crowder song that says, "You are my joy, you are my joy" over and over again. She is my gift of grace from God and it has filled my heart with JOY!

I knew from the time I woke up on Friday morning that I would probably give birth within the next 24 hours or so. I wasn't in active labor, but I could tell things were happening. I had already planned on going to breakfast with some very special friends, so I just set about my day with a little giddy excitement in my waddling steps.

Andy and I had planned on going on a date that night. We had already arranged for a babysitter to come and I decided that I didn't want to cancel. Contractions were getting more regular, but I knew this would be our last date for a while and labor could take hours. So we still went out and enjoyed our time. It was quite surreal timing contractions (about 7 minutes apart) and working out childcare details while we ate our dinner.

We came home a little early from our date so Andy could take the boys over to our friends' house. I'm a little neurotic about coming home to a clean house, so I put a few dishes in the dishwasher and straightened things up in between contractions (now about 5 minutes apart). Andy got home, laughed at me, and said "Go get in bed!" I obeyed, but you can tell by the picture below that I was still in early labor. I shot out a few texts to family and friends and posted a couple comments on social media.  

When my contractions were averaging about 4 minutes apart, I text my good friend Stacy. I had invited Stacy to be apart of our birth as she was going to take some video footage of our labor. The picture below cracks me up because it really sums up how I think she was feeling on the inside! She is young, single, never had children, and not very medically inclined. She was honored to be there and said it meant the world to her, but it definitely got her out of her comfort zone! (Btw, she never made this face in front of me. My friend, Kendall, snapped this photo when I wasn't around.)

My labor, which ramped up slowly over the course of the day, progressed slowly the whole time. I got really discouraged by this because my labor with Caedmon was 9 hours and I knew that Caedmon was bigger than what Karis would be. So in my mind, with it being a 2nd birth, 9 hours was the absolute longest my labor would last. Not so. 

We asked our doula to come around midnight when my contractions had been 3-4 minutes apart for a couple hours. I thought for sure that as soon as she got there, she'd say, "Oh, we should head to the hospital soon." Nope. She said, "I think we've still got a good bit of time." :-( What?! I'd been in active labor for over 6 hours. Surely the baby would be born within the next 3 hours. She must be wrong, right? Unfortunately, no.

We got to the hospital at 5am. I still had 4 more hours of work before I held my baby in my arms.

And, finally, the moment we'd all been waiting for. Karis Joy was here.

When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she brought a new baby into the world.  John 16:21

That's the look of pure relief on my face.

The picture below is of my amazing doula, Tara, and my midwife, Lin, who literally saved my life. About 10 minutes after Karis was born, I started bleeding really heavily. Lin switched gears and, in an instant, the room went from a joyful celebration to an intense medical scene. 

For 5-10 minutes, Lin barked out orders, administered 3 different types of meds to me, and did all kinds of painful things to my body. Andy and others around me began to pray out loud and Tara looked at me and said, "Stay alert. Don't close your eyes." It was a pretty scary few minutes until they were able to get the bleeding under control. I don't think Andy's ever been more thankful for modern medicine than he was in that moment.

The drugs that they had to give me left me feeling pretty crummy for at least an hour afterwards. You can see by the look on my face below how out of it I felt.

This was my first good look at her face. Love at first sight.

My support team, cheering me on and celebrating with me.

That evening my friend, Lina, brought our boys up to the hospital to meet their baby sister. You can see how special it was for them.

First photo as a family of five.

I think Karis' birth was especially significant to Sammy. He is a very nurturing child and plays so well with younger children. Moving from the "little brother" role to the "big brother" role made him so happy. He loves to hold her.

Karis is so thoughtful that she planned ahead and had a couple gifts to give her brothers when they met her for the first time. She gave them each a Big Brother t-shirt and the game Blokus to share.

Andy and I got ready to head home about lunch time the next day. Even though the nurses treated us like royalty while we were there, I'm not one for hanging out in hospitals unless I have to.


You could never understand what holding you in my arms means to me. As I type with one hand and cradle you with the other, my heart overflows. So many prayers. So many tears. So much waiting and hoping that one day we would have you. And now you're here.

"Thankful" does not even scratch the surface of how I feel.