Sunday, October 25, 2015


I often wonder if you will ever know how much you are loved; how many prayers your dad and I said hoping that someday you would join our family.  From the moment your brother Jonah left this earth, we prayed each night for you to come. Not just us. Everyone. Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, our friends, and neighbors, we all sent our prayers up to heaven hoping they would be heard. And then one day you arrived, and it seemed like you were always here with us, and all of the struggle faded and things felt right in the world again.

When I look in your eyes I wonder what you will be. Clara is so full of wonder and Simon full of deep soulful stares.  I hope you will become everything you can be.  There will be times when you won’t realize all you can be. I hope you will let us, your parents, remind you.  We will try to give you a safe space to grow and explore and learn.  We cannot protect you from all of the struggles of life, because those are important too.  And although we can’t remove your obstacles we promise will walk through them with you.  We will help you carry any heavy loads and cry with you when life is hard.   And when life is beautiful, sometimes overwhelmingly beautiful, we will laugh and play and celebrate with you.  We will rejoice as you succeed and love and overcome.  We will cherish the days when life feels soft and welcoming.   Today was your blessing day. You were encircled and held by good men who love you, while your gentle father blessed you to have faith, to serve your fellow man, to trust your parents, and to be leaders. The women who love you surrounded them, and supported them, and whispered their own prayers for you up to heaven.

Clara June when you hear your name I hope you will remember the strong, loving, and righteous women who have come before you. Not just your namesakes, but your aunts, and grandmothers, and cousins. These women have shaped your family through incredible sacrifice, tears, and faith. They have opened the way for you to live a happy life.

Simon Max when you hear your name I hope you will remember its meaning; God has heard. To me, you are a living witness that God truly does hear and answer prayers.

Before the blessing your father spoke Jonah's name, and reminded us all of your beautiful older brother. I often wonder what role he will play in your life. Will you feel his presence? Will he help you in your trials? Will he whisper to you when you don't know which way to turn? I hope and believe he will. He had a kind heart and a wise soul. I hope that if you ever feel him near you will notice and listen.

We are so grateful for you, our children. It is a blessing to have you in our home. It is a blessing to be your mother. It is a blessing to know that we can be a family forever.  

You will always have our whole hearts and all our love.

Friday, October 16, 2015


A few weeks after Jonah died Jordan and I drove to Red Lodge, Montana to work. The drive north was long and lonely. I remember silently staring into the side mirror of Jordan's truck, watching the yellow stripes on black asphalt appear behind us and then disappear into the distance. The flashing yellow line felt symbolic, each stripe a memory of Jonah drifting into the distance with no promise of returning.  I can't remember if Jordan and I said a single word as we drove through the vast expanse of central Wyoming. We were both lost in our own thoughts, or maybe we were trying not to think.

When we drove into Red Lodge, golden leaves drenched the town, and misty clouds rested on the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains. The usual bustle of summer tourists had long since passed and gangs of wild turkeys began to roam the streets.  The air still held the crispness of Fall with a hint that winter was on its way.

We checked into our motel.  It was dated but clean, managed by a young tracksuit wearing man from India. The carpeted hallways were incredibly long and reminded me of The Shining. I almost expected a young boy to round the corner on a tricycle or creepy twins to greet us near the elevator. Despite the vague similarities to a horror movie It felt like a good place to settle into my grief and to feel anonymous for awhile. 

Jordan left each morning before the sun came up, kissing me goodbye while I lay half asleep.  Later I would force myself out of bed and write, watch TV, then sleep some more. Occasionally I ventured out to the local coffee shop to get a hot chocolate or to read a book. It felt strange, and also freeing, to order a drink as if I was just an ordinary person, as if my world had not shattered to pieces.  I could pretend for a while in Red Lodge that I was still a whole person instead of fragments of my former self.

One day work was cancelled and Jordan had a free afternoon. We decided to drive up the Beartooth Highway and lose ourselves in nature for awhile. Our wandering was cut short by a large metal gate blocking the road. The highway had closed for the season only a few days earlier.  We pulled over, parked, and stood in the open silence that engulfed us. The quiet was overwhelming and felt heavy. Without much discussion we zipped up our jackets and began walking, past the gate, and onto the open road beyond.  

It almost felt like we were walking into an post-apocalyptic world.  A world without people.  A world without cars.  The mountains around us felt enormous compared to our small bodies moving slowly along the two-lane highway.  The view was infinite compared to the previously segmented scenery through our windshield. The world around me was cold and beautiful and open, and I was small and afraid.

As we walked I thought about bears, and falling rocks, freak snowstorms, and serial killers in the wilderness. Before Jonah died these dangers would have flashed across my mind for a second, and then been dismissed by reason and statistics.  But now they all felt possible. Losing Jonah made me feel vulnerable in a way I could have never imagined. I no longer felt sheltered by my faith or a powerful God or good luck.

I quietly held onto my fears as we crested each hill, all the while realizing they were probably irrational.  But with each step away from our car they swirled and magnified.  The beauty that surrounded us was trumped by my worried heart.  Eventually, I turned to Jordan and said, "It is so beautiful up here. The mountains are incredible," and then in the same breath, "I'm afraid we will be attacked by bears."

This is when I discovered the power of speaking my fears. I don't even remember how Jordan responded. He probably just said "okay." But I remember feeling relief. I have learned that there is something about saying, "I am afraid of bears, and falling rocks, and freak snowstorms, and serial killers" that diminishes fear and allows me to move through it.  So I told Jordan I was afraid of bears and then we kept walking.

I've been thinking about this experience a lot lately, because I am bombarded by fears.  When I'm brushing my teeth or doing dishes my mind will present me with a thousand ways in which my current peaceful bliss could fall apart.  These include but are not limited to: dog attacks, tumors, earthquakes, ISIS, liver failure, tripping down stairs, West Nile Virus, diabetes, abduction, the flu, addiction, extreme poverty, SIDs, car accidents, horse trampling, etc...  Maybe my mind plays out these scenarios as a preventative measure, but in every instance, no matter what the danger, I see the same panic and heartache I felt as I watched Jonah die.  I can imagine the intensity of the loss again.  Even though I have survived losing Jonah and feel stronger for it, I know I never want to feel that kind of pain again. Somehow, deep in my subconscious I must believe that if I can think through every possible danger I can stop my heart from breaking.

Ultimately, I know that paying attention to my fears will not prevent future sorrow.  I am not that powerful and we live in a world of adversity and trial.  Listening to my fears will only keep me from living the life I want to live.  It will stop me in my tracks and make me feel small in a big beautiful world.

So I choose to release my fears into the world, no matter how silly the concern of how outlandish the possibility.  I tell Jordan in the middle of the night when he is barely coherent, "I think I have diabetes," or "I'm worried about Simon's liver," or "What if the crock pot catches on fire?" When the words leave my mouth the fears seem to leave my mind.

When I hold Simon and Clara, and my heart feels so full of love, I often wonder what the future holds for us. There is nothing that makes you feel more vulnerable than love.

I calm myself by thinking about Red Lodge. I imagine myself on that lonely highway, with Jordan by my side, both of us walking away from the imagined safety of our car, our home, our past life and into the wild magnificence of the mountains. When I visualize that moment I feel sure that I can do this.  I can be a mother to these children.  I can speak my fears.  I can love with my whole broken heart.  I can surround myself in beauty. I can move forward.

I Worried
by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot.  Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up.  And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Two months ago we welcomed our sweet little babies to the world.  It has taken me two months to write this post because every minute of my day and night has been spent caring for them.  Also, my brain is mush. Sleeping for one hour at a time does not make for a nimble mind. In the beginning if I had a free minute I would try to decide whether to eat or sleep...knowing I could not do both before one or two babies woke up.

Now the babies are sleeping for 3-4 hour stretches and I can see the light.  After sleeping for four hours I feel like I could pen a classic American novel or run a marathon...or take a long afternoon nap. The latter usually takes precedence. Today I will feel satisfied introducing our precious children to you.  

Simon Max Hall 
Clara June Hall

Simon is a mellow baby.  He loves to eat and sleep and is generally happy. He was 6 lbs 1 oz when he was born and at 2 months he weighs 9 lbs. 9 oz. His weight is the 4th percentile and his head is the 75th percentile (I've been told this is a Hall trait).  He is a quiet observer and often looks on seriously as his sister screams her head off.

All of his dark hair fell out except for a ring around the back from ear to ear.  He looks like he has male pattern baldness.  But he is growing blond hair on top and I think his eyes will be blue.


Clara is sassy and curious. From the moment she was born she was wide-eyed and loud.  She will let you know when she is not happy with a cry that escalates from coughs and sputters to ear piercing shrieks.  But once she is fed and rested she is sweet and funny. Sometimes at night she looks around our room like she sees something that I don't and she smiles.

She was 5 lbs. 8 oz when she was born and is 8 lbs. 9 oz. now.  She has held some of her long dark hairs...they hang out in the back and come forward almost like a bad comb over. Her hair is coming in dark and fuzzy and her eyes look like they will be blue.

Both of these babies love to cuddle. They love to be held by anyone and would spend their whole lives in your arms.  Some people say it spoils a baby to hold them while they sleep.  But really it spoils me.  If I could live without sleep, and if my arms were strong enough, I would hold them all of the time.  Their cuddles are like a healing balm for my worried soul.  I cherish that they are here with me today.  I want to hold them and love them while I can.

Children are the bridge to heaven. - Persian Saying

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Does the Journey Seem Long?

Jonah was diagnosed with Treacher-Collins Syndrome the morning after he was born. Our new pediatrician, a man I had never met before, came and told us about his diagnosis. We spent the previous night worrying about our new little one, so any answers were a huge relief.  We were grateful to learn that he would have normal development of his body and brain and that his vision would probably be fine.  We braced ourselves as the doctor described the many surgeries Jonah would face, but again felt relief that his condition was not life-threatening.  We tried to process this deluge of new information and challenges while dealing with the usual learning curve of new parenthood.  My brain churned over diapers, cleft palates, nursing, pumping, craniofacial disorders, sleep schedules, bath time, hearing loss, etc...

Then everything stopped.

My focus became sharp as the doctor explained that I was the carrier of this syndrome. He could tell just by looking at me that my genes were responsible for our baby's fate.  He went on to explain that we would have a 50% chance of passing on this syndrome to any children we had in the future, and that their expression of the syndrome could be mild or severe. My heart broke. Even though I had been a parent for less than 24 hours, and it had been a difficult 24 hours, I wondered in that moment if I would ever have the opportunity again.

As Jonah grew and progressed and became the light of our home my fears about never having more children were buried by the busyness of being a mother.  I felt content to be his mother and decided I could deal with our challenges at some later stage of life, when it felt right.  Little did I know that those feelings would soon surface because of circumstances beyond my control.  Suddenly on a late September day our sweet boy was gone, in a matter of minutes, and we felt his absence deeply.

In the days and weeks that followed Jonah's death I remember wondering if and how we would ever have more children.  Jordan and I began to grapple with some very difficult ethical and moral questions in the midst of our overwhelming grief.  We loved Jonah so much, just as he was, but also knew that his condition (more specifically his small airway) contributed to his death.  We explored the ideas of embryonic genetic testing, egg donation, adoption, or simply taking our genetic chances. Jordan and I had different reactions and feelings about each of these options.  No choice felt easy or inconsequential.  Some choices felt selfish, while others felt too risky.  We met with a genetic counselor to discuss our options and began a winding indeterminate journey back to parenthood.

It was about this time I met Katie.*

I was assigned to get to know Katie through the Visiting Teaching program of our church.  In that moment Katie and I seemed to have very little in common other than our approximate age.  She was newly married and still in the honeymoon phase.  I was grieving deeply after losing Jonah and trying to navigate this uncharted territory in my marriage.  She was working full-time as a teacher, and I was trying to find ways of filling the quiet stillness of my days.

Looking back I'm sure no one would have judged me for choosing not to visit teach.  I could have excused myself from the responsibility by citing my overwhelming grief, or the differences in our circumstances.  But I felt compelled to go each month whether by guilt or responsibility or the spirit.  I will always be grateful that I did, because our seemingly divergent paths soon became parallel and we both became witnesses to incredible miracles in each others lives.

As we met each month we talked about simple things like work, marriage, travel, etc...  I shared some of the things I was experiencing as I continued to grieve, tried to find a job, sought solace in the mountains, and began visiting a fertility clinic in the area.  We became closer as we honestly talked about life and it's challenges.

Shortly after our first visit to the fertility clinic we stumbled upon Katie and her husband in the lobby.  We were just about to begin our first in vitro cycle and they were meeting with the doctor for a preliminary consultation.  We all felt optimistic and hopeful about the possibilities ahead.

Our optimism soon transformed into endurance as we both faced disappointments and setbacks. For three years we consoled each other as we each dealt with the heartache and frustration of miscarriages, chemical pregnancies, unhealthy eggs, blood tests, hormone injections, changing diets, endless waiting, physical and mental exhaustion, financial burdens, and difficult doctors.

With each new attempt we hoped, prayed and fasted for each other.  When we visited each month we talked about how hard it was to know if we were even on the right path. Should we continue or quit? Was adoption the answer? Would it all be worth it?  I felt very strongly that I could only pursue one option at a time. I would follow our fertility journey to the end of the road and if it failed we would begin looking into adoption.  Katie felt compelled to complete an application and home study and actively pursue adoption while going through in vitro.  We talked about our choices and faith and hope and the love of our Heavenly Father. Then we took turns believing that everything would work out in the end.

Eventually Katie and her husband swtiched doctors and we followed suit.  We ended up going to Dr. Andrew at East Bay Fertility.  He seemed to be solving some of their problems and we were looking for new solutions.  Jordan and I only had two remaining embryos, and one more chance to try.  We put our trust in Dr. Andrew and began treatment for immune issues and a blood clotting disorder.  In November we transferred the embryos, prayed for a miracle, and waited.  Jordan and I braced ourselves for bad news at every blood draw and every ultrasound, and were stunned when the news was good.  I was pregnant!  Not only was I pregnant, but we were expecting twins!  We held our breath through that first trimester and prayed that Katie and Josh would experience the same miracle.

They tried one more time with renewed hope and it just didn't work.

I took her flowers one afternoon, self-conscious of my growing belly in the face of such disappointment. Later I asked if they would try again, and she said she wasn't sure.  She felt grateful they had options, but needed some time and space to choose their next step.  We didn't see each other for a couple of months, but kept in touch through texting.

Then Katie's miracles began.  One morning in March I got a text saying that Katie and Josh were headed to Idaho to meet a potential birth mother.  The birth mom found out about Katie and Josh and felt sure that she wanted them to have her unborn baby, which was due any day. This young mother had previously fallen away from her faith, and then found it again as this new life grew inside of her.  In the face of great opposition she convinced the biological father and her own family that this baby did not belong to her, but to Josh and Katie.  In a matter of days and through a series of miracles the baby was born, and this brave young woman gave an incredible gift to our friends, a sweet and perfect little girl.  As I await the birth of our babies, I feel nothing but admiration and respect for her and her selfless choice.  I can't imagine being that brave.

Yesterday Katie, Josh, and baby Chloe stopped by to bring me a baby gift while they were in town.  I sat
with them admiring their precious daughter, and awkwardly moving my giant belly around to get more comfortable.  It felt so amazing to know that we had traveled this long road together. We both prayed for answers and miracles. We both tried to make good choices and kept moving towards the outcome we desired most.  And in the end we both were blessed with unique experiences on our path to parenthood. After years of struggle the stars seemed to align and God's plan for each of us became evident.

When Jonah died I still believed in God.  I believed in a God who loved me deeply even though he allowed me to suffer.  But it became difficult to believe in a God who would listen to the desires of my heart. Traveling this parallel path with Katie has renewed my faith that not only does God love us, but that he actively works with us to help us realize the desires of our hearts.  He requires us to be patient, to work, and to engage in the struggle, but in the end I believe he is placing people and solutions in our paths to help us find joy.  I am so grateful that Katie's path crossed mine just when I needed it most.  It has been such a blessing to watch our individual miracles unfold.

*A special thanks to Josh and Katie for allowing me to share their story!  You should definitely watch this sweet video it will make you smile and cry.

"I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, and not jump ship, when something doesn't seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, ""I told you that it'd be okay, I told you it would be all right."" - Jeffrey R. Holland

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weathering the Storm

When I was in elementary school we lived in Oklahoma, and I lived each day in constant fear of tornadoes.  In the morning I would wake up and peer out the window at the sky and try to determine the likelihood of a tornado destroying our home or my school that day.  If it seemed questionable at all I began implementing a strategy to stay home.  If there were storm clouds on the horizon I would suddenly feel a stomach ache churning.  Every slight chance of rain was met with a cough and possible fever.  I was sure that a tornado would come when I was away from my family and we would all be separated or killed.  The danger felt very real to me and I could not seem to shake my fear.  I checked the news, called time and temperature daily, and learned all of the signs of trouble: wall clouds, green skies, and anvil shaped thunderheads. 

I remember driving home one stormy night with my family through a severe thunderstorm and feeling the panic rise within me.  My anxiety transformed into a slew of questions. "Could lightening come into the car?" "If a tornado came what would we do?" "How could we be sure that we were safe?"  As a scientist my dad answered my questions, explaining that the rubber in the car would conduct the electricity into the ground, and providing logical answers for my other questions.  But none of that seemed to calm me.  Then I remember him turning to me and asking me a question.  He asked me to look at his face and to decide if he looked scared.  I looked at him and decided that he didn't seem to be afraid at all.  Then he told me that whenever I was afraid I should look at his face, and if he wasn't scared, then I didn't need to be either. 

My whole life I have looked to my dad in moments of joy and pain as a confirmation of safety and peace.  When I have felt overwhelmed or afraid I have gone to him and felt his calm comfort and reassurance that things would work out.  When I have been worried about a major life decision I have looked to him and felt his complete confidence in my ability to make good choices.  When I have experienced great joy I have looked to him and felt his joy magnified. 

On the day that Jonah died my dad was doing research on the north end of the Great Salt Lake.  The news traveled to him slowly, and then he began the long drive on dirt roads and highways to the hospital.  I remember the moment he finally walked in the room.  I saw his face and felt such a release, like I could let go of some of my strength and that he would help me carry this new sorrow.  In that sacred space he mourned with us and gave us blessings so that we could endure our new heartache. 

After Jonah's funeral service and burial we all retired to our homes to rest and recover from an emotionally exhausting day.  A storm moved in while I slept and I woke to the sound of car doors closing and my family arriving with food to sustain us.  I walked outside and looked to the sky.  The dark storm clouds were receding and the setting sun shone across the valley.  Two vivid rainbows arched over our home.  I stood in our yard amazed by the poetic and biblical feeling of the moment. Then I felt my dad's strong arm reach around me.  He leaned down and whispered that rainbows are symbols.  They are a promise from God that we will never have to pass this way again.  Before that moment I felt so much uncertainty and fear.  But as we looked to the sky together I wept and let my heart believe in that promise, because I knew my dad believed it.  

My dad has calmed my fears, celebrated my victories, mourned beside me, and let me lean on him for strength. I believe in a benevolent God who loves his children, because of the way my dad loves his children.  His love for each of us is unique and unconditional.  In those times when storm clouds seem to gather on the horizon and fear builds in my heart I remember my dad's counsel to me as a child.  When time or distance separate us I know that I can find the same peaceful reassurance in looking to my Heavenly Father.  I also know that when the storm finally passes, God's promises will be clear and reflect the beauty and pain of all that we have experienced.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

This,Too, Shall Pass

Last night I woke up at 3 am and began my usual pilgrimage through the dark hallways of our house to the kitchen.  I stood in front of the glowing refrigerator trying to decide which midnight snack would be least likely to give me heartburn, and took my chances on peanut butter and jelly toast with milk.  Then I walked a few laps around the kitchen and living room to relax my muscles.  After feeling my way back to my room, I gingerly crawled into bed trying to minimize the pain in my pelvis, as I adjusted a multitude of pillows to support my growing belly, elevate my head, and take the pressure off my joints. Then I waited and prayed for sleep to come.  It was elusive.  My mind was filled with thoughts.  Not anxieties or concerns, but random thoughts, like how to spell "Absaroka," the name of a county in Wyoming.  I read a little, worked on my meditative breathing, and eventually got up again two hours later to have a bowl of warm granola as the sky began to lighten and the birds starting singing their morning song. 

Each night when I feel overwhelmed by my cumbersome shape and the possibility of never sleeping again; when the frustration and emotion of sleep deprivation come creeping in I think to myself "this, too, shall pass."

I know some people don't like that phrase.  Perhaps it seems too easy when applied lightly to deep heartache and sorrow.  Maybe it has been overused or just used too flippantly.  But for me it has become a reminder that all things pass away, whether it is sleepless nights or difficult pregnancies or years of infertility or grief.  It also reminds me that when difficulties pass away there are often accompanied by blessings and beautiful moments that pass with them.

When Jonah died I prayed and prayed to find a job that would feel meaningful and give purpose to my days.  After almost a year of applying for jobs and being rejected I found the perfect fit, but realized that while I waited and struggled I had learned to love the simple time I had with my husband in our home.  We grew to love each other more deeply in the waiting space.

The same is true of our journey through infertility.  Jordan and I began searching for ways to have more children shortly after Jonah died.  We knew their would be obstacles because I am a carrier of the Treacher-Collins gene, but I had no idea how many obstacles we would face on our path to become parents again.  We began six in vitro cycles and had 3 canceled, due to unforseen issues.  We spent thousands of dollars on tests and procedures.  We experienced two miscarriages and spent many nights and days crying and praying for relief from our trial.  After 3 years, I found out I was pregnant with twins and we were overjoyed, but I also realized that I had found incredible support and joy in my work as we waited.  I had developed deep friendships with the girls I worked with and knew that as this trial passed, so too would my time working alongside my dear friends. 

When Jonah was with us I could have spent my days and nights wishing away his genetic condition, or praying to move beyond the struggles and surgeries he faced.  But his time with us was short, and I'm grateful that I didn't wish away even the difficult times, because they are precious to me now. 

And when Jonah's spirit left our home, and we plunged into grief, we also entered a realm of love a support that I can only describe as angelic.  Now, sometimes, I miss the deep emotions of the grief and loss I felt, because it was always paired with the comforting presence and peace of God's love for us.

In the middle of the night as I try to fall back asleep I recognize how fleeting this moment really is.  This will probably be the last time I get to be pregnant. Which means that I may never experience the heartburn, anxiety, fatigue, body aches, hemorrhoids, nausea, and pain that comes with growing a baby, or two, in my body.  But I'm well aware that it also means that I may never again get to feel the incredible sensation of little hands and feet moving and pressing inside of me.  This may be my last chance to marvel at how powerful and capable my body is of changing and supporting the life of another.  I may never get another chance to witness Jordan exclusively taking care of me and protecting me.  As the heartburn and joint pain pass away, these blessed moments, too, shall pass.  They will be followed by new experiences filled with frustration and joy, but I will never be able to return to them.

So in quiet of my room, as the singing birds signaled the approaching dawn, and as I shifted positions one more time, I waited in the dark for the babies to kick, and tried not to wish the moment away.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Motherhood and Miracles

Motherhood is complicated.  Even as I sit here at my computer ready to write, my heart and head can't seem to agree on the message I want to share.  My life as a mother has been a dichotomy of intense sorrow and overwhelming joy.  I have had the unique experience of dipping my toes into motherhood, sampling it's trials and triumphs, and then watching and waiting on the sidelines wondering if I would ever return. Even now as I type and feel my expanding belly press against my thighs I wonder if I will return.  Will we all make it safely through the next three months into the realm of motherhood and family again?  How can something seem simultaneously tenuous and inevitable.

This morning as I dried my hair I had myself convinced that this Mother's day would be joyful.  I even preached to Jordan about women needing to let go of the guilt, pain, and sorrow that often accompanies this day. Looking back I'm pretty sure this was a pep talk for myself. We talked about how men never seem to feel guilty on Father's Day. They just seem to soak up the love and adoration of their families.  Why shouldn't women do the same? Walking out the door I felt empowered, grateful, joyful, radiant and ready for Mother's day.

Then I lost it, sitting on a hard metal chair on the very back row of church.

I was fine in the beginning.  Three beautiful young women who are about to graduate from high school spoke about their mother's and how their mom's radiate Christlike attributes. While they spoke I peacefully gazed at my belly watching little feet, hands, and unidentified body parts pop and glide across my stomach.  My pregnant belly and the babies inside are nothing short of a miracle to me.  My attention is always on them and I feel like I have been blessed with abundance as I watch them move.

I felt really good. Then the children in the congregation got up to sing a song for their mothers, and my heart began to break and I could not reign it in.  As a rule for daily living I try not to focus on what Jordan and I have lost. Most of my grief and sorrow has transformed into gratitude for the experience of being Jonah's mother.  And after years of infertility and longing for motherhood I feel like it was a miracle that we had him in our home, even for a short time.  But seeing those children at the front of the chapel singing to their mother's tugged at my heart and brought my grief to the forefront in a way I haven't experienced or allowed myself to experience for years.  I felt the profound loss of our sweet Jonah.  It became so real to me that he would be four, almost five, singing with the children at the front of the chapel.  Mother, I love you, Mother, I do. I started crying tears of grief and sorrow as my more sensible side tried to "keep it together."

As the meeting came to a close I wiped my tears from my red and swollen cheeks, accepted the token gift of mother's day chocolate from one of the young men and realized that motherhood is a messy endeavor.  The choice to be a mother, whether realized or unfulfilled, is an act of faith and vulnerability.  When you desire to be a mother you open your heart to the depth of all of life's emotions. Sometimes those emotions are amazing and sometimes they are devastating.  I've decided that is why this day is so hard for so many.  Everything is exposed and there is no place to hide.  It is possible to feel intense gratitude and a multitude of sorrows in the same breath.  But that is also the beauty of motherhood.  It is frightening endeavor that is full of possibility.

I came home, ate lunch, and settled in for a long Sunday nap.  When I woke up Jordan was lying beside me.  I asked him if it made him sad to see those children singing.  He said it did.  I embraced the feeling, uncovered my round belly, and waited and watched for the babies to kick.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Baby A and Baby B! 18 weeks

We got an unexpected treat of having an early ultrasound this week to check on the twins and to find out their genders!  I have no words to describe how grateful I am that these two are healthy and moving and have beating hearts.  I am overwhelmed by the opportunity to carry them and feel them move.  It seems as if I pray for them every minute and every hour.  I often wondered if I would get this chance again, and can't believe they are growing inside of me.  It is so amazing and still feels unreal, but it also feels like the most beautiful miracle possible.  

Here is a short video of our two little ones.  

We are having a girl and a boy!  

"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude."  Joseph B. Wirthlin

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Season of Joy

On an indian summer day before Jonah died I remember feeling pure joy.  The moment was simple.  Jordan was home from work laying in the blue nylon hammock strung up between a fence post and our pine tree. Jonah was in his swing, giggling uncontrollably each time he approached my waiting arms.  His laugh was infectious and seemed to fill the air and my heart with the same magnitude.  I had a sweet moment where I recognized the pure joy that I felt.  It was a feeling of love and gratitude without fear or longing. It felt set apart and holy.  In hindsight I know that it was both of those things.  

Only a few days later our whole world seemed to crumble around us. We said goodbye to Jonah, soaked our pillows in tears, and tried to pick up the pieces of our home and family. 

In the three years that have passed since Jonah's death I have felt an amazing array of emotions. Some that I would not have believed were possible.  The day we lost Jonah I experienced indescribable pain and the feeling of my heart being crushed by the weight of intense sorrow.  In quiet lonely moments I have felt anger that burned inside of me and seemed unquenchable, peace that surpassed my limited understanding, and overwhelming fear as we faced seemingly endless disappointments.  I discovered a deep and new found empathy for the heartaches of loved ones and total strangers.  I have also fallen deeply in love with my husband as I have witnessed his kindness, endurance, and constant selflessness.  

But I am not sure I have recaptured the joy that I felt in that moment in our backyard.  I have experienced happiness, laughter, peace and love, but joy has felt elusive.

Twelve weeks ago Jordan and I began our third and final round of in vitro.  We had two remaining embryos to transfer and several obstacle to overcome including genetics, my killer immune system, and a blood clotting disorder.  I felt excited about the possibility of getting pregnant, but I also felt an overwhelming fear of the additional pain and heartache that might come with another miscarriage.  I woke up every night worried and anxious, my heart racing and my mind imagining all of the ways in which my heart could break again.

After a long two weeks of waiting I went for my first blood draw I braced myself for bad news and disappointment, but only good news followed.  I was pregnant and my hormone levels looked great.  Still each day I wondered if I felt sick enough or tired enough and waited for the signs of another failed pregnancy.  

At 6.5 weeks we went for our first ultrasound expecting the worst only to discover that we are pregnant with TWINS!  We were both stunned. 

We have had five ultrasounds and each time Jordan and I are a bundle of nerves, yet each time we have seen and heard beating hearts, wiggly arms and legs, and growing babies. It is nothing short of a miracle.

And yet I am still so afraid. Every day I wake up and wonder if I am still pregnant. I have been afraid to share the news because it feels like celebrating will inevitably be followed by heartache.  Each time I say the words "I'm pregnant...with twins" it feels like a lie or a crazy dream. But I am trying to be brave and say it and rejoice in it.  I want to be joyful and I want to share that joy with our amazing friends and family who have supported us, and prayed with us, and loved us through 5 very difficult years.  

I fully recognize that it is still early and anything could happen.  But I think my fear has become a barrier to the feeling of pure joy I want to recapture. I felt prompted this morning to read in the book of Ecclesiastes about times and seasons.  I read the following words:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Heaven knows that we have had our time to weep and mourn.  It has been a long, painful, and sometimes shockingly beautiful season.  But as I read this scripture I felt like I was given permission to move into a new season - a season of joy, and hope, and laughter.