Journey to Parenthood

I want to be purposeful about journaling during this time in our lives as we watch our miracle micro preemie, Asher, continue to grow and thrive. I began this blog during my month of bed rest at the hospital while I was pregnant with Asher and his brother Titus. We continue to hope and trust the Lord for Asher's future. This blog begins with the story of how both of our boys came to be. They came about after many tears, many prayers, and many months of crushed hopes. On February 2, 2012, our boys Titus Bauer and Asher Mark were born at just 23 weeks and 2 days gestation. My water around Titus broke at 19 weeks, so his lungs were very underdeveloped. Titus lived 45 minutes and is now living a perfect life in heaven as he watches over his little brother Asher. Two and a half years later God redeemed our story of hurt with a precious full term baby brother for Asher. We are humbled by how the Lord has loved on us in our journey through parenthood.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The One that Overcomes: Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness Day

So, I have to be real honest right off the bat. My first reaction to this day was, I did not want to acknowledge this day.  I don't think I wanted to last year either. And before last year, I didn't know it was a "day".

So I have been feeling a blog has been brewing for a while, but I just wasn't sure what about? Rsv lockdown? Probably that one is coming...but then today comes and I see some posts on Facebook about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and about how at 7pm tonight people should light a candle in remembrance of babies lost. And I thought, yes I do think I want to do that. And then in bible study this morning, I brought up our story as an answer to the question, "Has your own life shown evidence of overcoming the world? " I put yes, in how we were able to have peace in the storm. I explained some of that to the group about how God showed up for us in big ways when we lost our son Titus. And then a sweet friend in the study with me, brought us up in another question on our bible study of "Who do you know with a powerful testimony?" She said Bryan and I, and then gave examples of why. She shared some of our story about how God showed Himself in what we went through. I cried and shared some more, and well, this all happened on today day of all days? Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

So as stubborn as my spirit was about acknowledging this day, it didn't matter. I couldn't mess up God's plans. That same sweet friend dropped off a candle for us and one for all of our best friends so we could light them, and remember at 7pm tonight together. Our home group has lost a total of 5 babies. It was such an incredibly thoughtful thing for her to do. So tonight, we lit our candle with Asher and I told him how we were thankful for his brother Titus, and the two angel babies before him. It was simple, but it was good for my soul. Lately, as I watch Asher do crazy things, cute things, and new things, it's been harder not to wonder what it would have been like to have his brother here too. I mean two blonde, blue-eyed cuties? I just couldn't imagine the craziness that would entail! I don't know why I have wondered more about what life would have been like with Titus here lately, but I have. Now I see God's perfect timing in all of this. Left on my own, to run away with my own thoughts a few more days, weeks, would have been easy to fall into bitter or jealous thoughts again about why this happened. Or maybe not even that. Maybe just falling into a state of sneaky discontentment. (I call it sneaky because often, you don't even realize it's there.) Or, maybe just a time of wondering or dreaming about what my life would have looked like with my twin boys. I do think it's okay to wonder. I think it's okay to mourn not having Titus here with Asher. But, I don't think it's okay to dwell in discontentment, which would only brew bitterness and jealousy eventually. The line between healthy mourning and unhealthy discontentment can be very thin sometimes for me about this. So, thank you Lord, for forcing me to reflect today and to say out loud at bible study, through tears, that we do believe You divinely planned the story of how we would become parents. And what I didn't say out loud today, but I remembered, is that You are still, and always were, better that that story I wrote for myself that included full term, healthy twin boys.

In my bible study, we are studying what we call "The Johns".  (1 John, 2 John, 3 John) In 1 John 5: 3, it says "His commandments are not burdensome." In the teaching part of bible study today, it was pointed out that His commands aren't always easy to follow. But they will never be burdensome to the children of God. They will never be too much. So, it's not always easy to say, wrap my mind around, and proclaim that God is indeed better than watching my twin boys grow up together. But it is not burdensome. Why? The next 2 verses lay that out. "And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" So, a burden is a heavy load, or something that weighs you down. Why is believing this about our story not too heavy or something that is too much for me? Because of Jesus. Because believing in Him means I have "overcome the world". Now that is some intense wording.  That sounds like superhero talk-- stick with me a minute. I think "overcome the world" simply means that because of God and His Son, Jesus, the story God chose for Asher and Titus, isn't devastating or too much for us as the world might say it is. It's not so terrible that we can't bear it. It hurts some days, it's refined us like nothing else, but it doesn't crush us. Just like gold is refined through fire, it's not crushed or ruined, but the impurities are burned off. The extra stuff on the gold that takes away from it's value, or hides its value is burned off. That's all I mean by God refining us through this. He burned  (and is still burning) off some pride and idolatry in me that takes away from my value, or doesn't allow Him be seen in my life as much as He could be. His Word says that life with Him and relationship with Him, is always going to be better than anything He can give us. So overcoming the world, is remembering and believing that whole heartedly. That the things that are sometimes valued the most on earth, really aren't as valuable in comparison to knowing, loving, and following God and His son Jesus. (Psalm 63:3)

One thing my friend mentioned today in bible study is how when our friends and family came to see, pray over, and say goodbye to Titus, Bryan was playing the song "10, 000 Reasons" by Matt Redman on repeat. She said she remembering holding Titus, and hearing the words "bless the Lord", and she just felt conflicted because that didn't seem like something to bless the Lord for. Bless means to thank, or feel gratitude for. It was hard, in that moment, holding her best friends' baby who had passed away, to feel thankfulness towards the Lord. That song was one we played many times in our room while I was contracting to try to calm me down and the boys inside me. So, it became their song and has stayed their song ever since. And the words of it have changed for me over time with their meaning. For many months, maybe even a year, I could not sing that song and feel like blessing the Lord. I either felt like crying, or I would feel angry and I would turn the song off in defiance. But, slowly, God has softened my heart and been gracious enough to teach me, and open my eyes to why I can thank Him. Here are a few words from the song:

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

It has taken time, but I have come to sing these words with joy. I have come to a place where I am so thankful to the Lord for all that He gave me in taking away my son Titus, and the two babies we lost before him. He gave me a deeper relationship and dependance on Him. He gave me a deeper understanding of suffering. He gave me moments, gifts, and friendships I will never forget.  All of those things, most importantly a deeper relationship with God,  blessed me more, I believe, than life with Titus on earth would have. And for those things, I will 'sing like never before, and worship His holy name.'

Tonight I rocked my sweet Asher before bed and hummed "Amazing Grace" to him like I have the past several nights recently. And tonight, while I was doing that, tears flowed. I thanked the Lord, again for him. I told the Lord I know how close we were to remembering 4 babies instead of 3 on this day. I thanked the Lord for allowing us to overcome this, and for counting us worthy. 

If you know someone who has lost a baby, tell them you are thinking of them today. Tell them you are praying. Say the baby's name. It will mean so much to them. I promise. 

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