It's also so hard to describe how God slowly began to breathe life back into me when I felt so dead. The deadness came not only from being so sad over Anne Marie, but because in the midst of it there were times when God seemed so silent. I recall so many nights in the quiet, dark night, begging God to help me and He just seemed to be gone. I remember praying, "Don't you see me? Can you see that I am falling deeper and deeper? Please, just help. Please!" And still, silence. Of course, now I know that He was always there, but at the time God's silence was so loud. But slowly He began to speak to my heart, and what I heard the loudest was that He loves me. And it was joy unspeakable to know that God loves me; in the midst of my greatest sorrow I could also have great joy knowing God's love.
And so the months passed and I tried to adjust to a new kind of normal. I was doing the same things I had always been doing -- homeschooling, going to church, taking care of things at home, driving kids places, and so on. And yet things would always be different. And as I've blogged before, I struggle not only with saying goodbye to Anne Marie, but also with hopes for another baby.
During this time I also began the process of volunteering at The Children's Hospital at the OU Medical Center. Many months after we got home from Dallas it was something I started looking into and really wanted to do. While we were in Dallas, there were so many people at the hospital who went out of their way to help us. I guess I felt like I wanted to be able to do that for someone else. I had spoken to the volunteer coordinator at OU Children's, and a volunteer position as a NICU cuddler had opened up. Basically, what a cuddler does is just hold the babies in the NICU, or if the babies are too delicate to hold the cuddler just stands by their beds and strokes them. During all of my interviewing and training, I found out that so many parents with babies in the NICU can't be there. Some live in small towns several hours away and have to work, some are perhaps in prison or have lost their parental rights, some have other children they have to care for and no one to help them, and various other reasons. I thought about the hours and hours I had stood at Anne Marie's bedside just stroking her little arms and legs and head, and I couldn't bear to think of her never knowing that touch. I knew being a NICU cuddler was something I truly wanted to do. So I began the long process of becoming a volunteer -- interview, drug test, background check, recommendations, training (learning everything from being in the NICU to HIPAA policy), double TB testing, and immunity testing.
Finally, after a few months I had completed almost all of my training and I was going to be able to go to the NICU floor on my own. I couldn't wait. The only thing I had left to do was get an MMR vaccine. I was supposed to start on a Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. after getting my vaccine in the hospital clinic. So, before the weekend arrived I called to make a 7:30 appointment for my vaccine. The nurse on the phone asked if I had gotten the information about the MMR vaccine, and one of her last reminders was to tell me that I couldn't get the vaccine if I was pregnant. "Yes, I know," I told her, knowing that wasn't a problem.
Well, I'm sure you know how this story ends. Over that weekend I started thinking and realized things were a little "off," so I decided to take a pregnancy test just to be sure. When I saw that positive sign there was a mixture of emotions -- shock, joy, fear -- so many things all at once.
I still don't begin to understand God's ways. Our homeschool Bible lesson this week began:
Upside down, and backwards! Sometimes it seems that's the way God does things. In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways." Even when you don't understand what God is doing, He always has a plan, and it's always good.There are so many things about God's plan that I will never understand. I don't know why He took Anne Marie. There have been several times during these past few months I have asked why. Yes, I am so, so grateful for this baby, and yet I still ask, "Why? Why didn't you let us keep Anne Marie? Why this way?" And I have had to ask God to forgive me for questioning His ways and, as always, to ask Him to teach me to trust that His ways are perfect.
We found out in late October that we were pregnant, but decided to wait before we told anyone. We told our kids first, after our 13-week ultrasound, and then told our family and some close friends. I am almost 18 weeks along now. On Monday we had another ultrasound and our doctor said everything looked good. He said we have "a beautiful baby."
|15-week ultrasound pictures|