Today. Such a bittersweet day for me. Months ago I anticipated this day, dreamed about it, hoped for it. Today was the due date for the baby we lost last September.

For almost 3 months I imagined what this day would look like (or more accurately a week from this day because all of my babes have gone past their due dates), how labor would begin this time around, who would watch our trio while we were in the hospital, how the Littles would take to this newest addition.

When I should have been 11 weeks pregnant, the ultrasound showed that the baby had no heartbeat. Today I am sad that I don't have a newborn to hold in my arms or smother with kisses. I'm sad that the kids don't have a new sibling to meet. I'm sad that I can only imagine what that baby would have looked like and how his or her personality would have blended in our family.

After we lost our baby, I again imagined what this day would look like for me. Would I take the day to myself and mourn the child we lost, would I spend the day with the family and celebrate what God has so richly blessed us with, would I share my thoughts and feelings with others, or hold on to it deep in my heart.

But months ago I didn't expect to be expecting again. So this day also has a new meaning. Today I am mourning the baby that we didn't get to see and hold and know this side of heaven. But I'm also rejoicing that today I'm 16 weeks pregnant with the little avocado sized miracle that God has blessed us with. Today I still get to anticipate the joy of carrying a baby in my womb and delivering it into this world.

It's weird, ya know. Living in this moment of bitter and sweet. Mourning a loss and rejoicing in a life.
When I think about that baby, I still cry. Even though I know I'm going to have another baby, I still cry about the one we didn't get to have. The one we won't be bringing home this week.
And I also know that when we get to meet this little one that I'm growing right now, I will think how sad and crazy and weird it is that I never would have had him or her if we were having a baby today. It's crazy. And it's hard to wrap my mind around.

It's the same thing with Pax. I can't even imagine my life without that little guy. But the truth is that we miscarried 3 weeks before he was conceived.
Again, that was a moment of bittersweet. When that due date came around, I was pregnant with Pax. Still mourning the baby we lost, but rejoicing in what we were about to have.


One thing that the bitter of this reality has made clear is my many blessings in life. When I'm mourning the babies we have lost way too soon, it reminds me how precious and sacred life is. I look at the three beautiful children God has given me and I am overwhelmed. I look at my growing belly and feel itty bitty baby kicks and I'm amazed. I am so blessed. I cannot take these children for granted. I cannot complain about the bundles of energy, the fit throwing toddlers, the crazy attitudes and messy little faces because I am so blessed to call them mine.

That doesn't mean that days aren't hard. I have 3 toddlers! But it does mean that I can put it all in perspective. I have experienced three losses. I know the pain of losing babies. But I also know the joy of having babies. I am richly blessed. And so on this bittersweet day I can mourn what was taken so soon, but I can find joy in what has been given to me again.
I can remember what will never be, but I can also rejoice in what is to come.

I will never stop mourning for you, sweet baby girl. And every year on April 9th I will think about you and celebrate you and cry because I never got to hold you. But I am grateful that you get to be with the One that made you, and someday I will get to meet you!

Posted on April 9, 2016 and filed under miscarriage.

A Redemption Story

Last year on September 23rd we lost something so wanted and so dear to us. At 11 weeks pregnant, I miscarried a precious little baby. The loss was devastating, as any loss is. And it has been quite the journey of suffering that we have gone through.
But my story of loss was only the beginning of the story. God had something in store that I could never have imagined, that I couldn't see in the midst of the agony of losing a baby.

This loss was different than my previous two miscarriages. Mostly because I was different in this season of life than I had been the previous years. God had already taken me through a season of learning (and failing a lot) to trust in Him. He had been working on my heart to see a different side of His character; His compassion for our suffering.

I'm just going to be honest and admit that my two previous losses ended in me being angry with God, blaming Him for allowing it to happen. I rationalized that He's God and He could have miraculously saved those two babies, but He chose not to. I saw God as cold, distant, not really caring about the real and painful things going on in my life.

I look back on those days, those months, those years and I cringe because I now know that God was mourning with me in my loss. It wasn't just my loss, it was His loss too. A dear friend, who also experienced a significant loss told me that she didn't blame God, wasn't angry with Him because she knew that God was mourning with her. That this sort of thing, death and disease and suffering, was not how He had intended it. But because of sin, death is now a part of life and God grieves with us when these tragedies occur. I will never ever forget her words because her view of God, her love for Him and her understanding of His love for her completely changed my life. And I started to see this truth that she spoke in my own life.

Having this understanding doesn't change the hurt. It doesn't really ease the pain. But it totally changed my reaction to what happened, and it completely transformed my prayer going forward.
The loss was devastating. I still feel the pain. My hurt will never completely go away.

But the one thing that changed for me was my prayer afterward. I prayed for redemption through this loss. I didn't know what that meant and I didn't know what that would look like. But that was and has been my prayer since that awful day in September.

And God answered my prayer in two very specific ways. The first was through my story. I wrote a blog about my experience and I prayed that somehow, someway, God would use my words to speak to people. I'm not the only one that has experienced this or any kind of grief and suffering in life. And I prayed that my words and thoughts would resonate with someone, anyone, and it would be a positive thing in their life. Friends, God answered that prayer in a tremendous way. So many women reached out to me and thanked me for sharing my story because they had also suffered in that way, and it was, in a weird sort of way, refreshing to hear someone sharing their painful story of loss too.
For some reason, miscarriage has been a taboo subject and many women carry this secret grief around, never letting anyone know that their lives are crumbling and they are deeply mourning.

It was hard to write my story, hard to share my grief with so many. But God redeemed that aspect of this loss, and I clearly saw His hand working through it.

The second way God redeemed our loss is even more crazy and amazing and awesome! There aren't enough adjectives to describe it!

Satan has a way of messing with us and making us believe his lies. The lies that he was feeding me were that God wouldn't give me another baby because I wasn't a good enough mom for the three that I already had, and the other lie was that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant again (and why should I whine and complain about that anyway, when God had already blessed me with 3 healthy kids?!).
I honestly fell into his trap and believed I wouldn't be able to get pregnant again. For several months we tried, and each month I was devastated when no little plus sign emerged.

But God continued to speak His truth to me, and His Word continued to spring up. Mark 5:36 says "Don't be afraid, just believe". And I have clung to that verse, not knowing what God had in store for our lives.

And here is the crazy, amazing, funny, awesome God we serve: We are pregnant right now, and this baby is due on September 23rd, the day that we lost our baby last year! If that is not a redemption story that ONLY GOD could orchestrate, I don't know what is!

Every single time I think about this crazy journey and God's amazing redemption story that is specifically for me in my life at this time, I cry. I just cry because He DOES care. All those years I thought He didn't care about the little things, didn't care about the things I was going through personally. It's just that I couldn't, or chose not to, see it. And here, right now in all of this, He is showing little ol me that He does indeed care.

Friends, He loves so deeply, cares so compassionately, pursues so intently. We only have to be accepting and allow Him to show us.

Posted on March 2, 2016 .

A Story Worth Sharing

I was standing in our bedroom closet with my mom, trying to organize the piles of stuff and unopened boxes. Whenever we move there is always a room or an area that becomes our ‘catch all’- the place where we put everything we’re not sure where it should go yet. That was our closet.

My mom knew exactly what she was doing and got to work hanging clothes and putting things in their proper places, casually asking where this or that might need to go. Maternity clothes?  It was simple. It was innocent. I grabbed a bag and shoved my maternity clothes into it. I tried to not think, just do. I tried to not care and told myself it’s just a task. Do the task. But my heart…it wouldn’t let me. It was reminding me that I should be wearing these clothes, not packing them away.

And there it was, the familiar feeling of tears filling my eyes and a deep deep ache. I was thankful for the baby’s cries at that moment, because it allowed me to stow away in her room while I fed her. And cried.

It’s these kinds of moments that just sucker punch you when you’re trying so hard to carry on. When you’re finally feeling somewhat normal again. When you’re not thinking about it constantly anymore.

These moments that just rip you to shreds, shatter your mending heart, make you cringe on the inside.

When a stranger sees you with your three kids and asks if you’re going to have another. When your  three year old touches your belly and asks if there’s a baby in there. When your husband comments on how great you look, that you have lost weight.

It’s innocent. But it still hurts so deeply.

These things get to me. They linger in my mind, they creep around my heart. When I can finally steal away a moment to myself it all comes flooding out. We were going to have another, yes. No my love, there is no baby in there. I should not be losing weight and getting thinner. My belly should be growing with life.

I cry out to God again. No Lord, this is not what I wanted. This shouldn’t have happened. I wanted THAT baby.

Somehow, as I’m anguishing again and reliving again this horrible nightmare, I feel the Lord’s peace wash over. I know that He’s telling me it’s not the end. I know that.

From the beginning of this tragedy I have felt God whispering to me that this is bigger than me, that He’s using this for others, that He’s bringing about His good. At first I felt very selfish, angrily stating that No, this was my baby and my loss and I wasn’t going to share it with anyone. I wanted this to be my story, to cling to devastation and to carry the burden of hurt. But gently and compassionately, as only God can, He nudged me along and gave me glimpses of how my story might impact the lives of others. He showed me how being open and vulnerable would speak to women going through the same thing, with women experiencing loss or the inability to conceive. 

But He’s also shown me that this story is not about losing a baby and it’s not just for those that have been in my shoes. It’s for everyone with a story to tell. Everyone needs to share their heartache and their burdens, they need to be open and vulnerable. For two reasons. One, it plays a huge part in your own healing process. When we share our story we validate our struggles and our hurts and our pain. We are able to release it and that takes away the burden of carrying it all by yourself. It doesn’t necessarily make it hurt any less, but there is a comfort in knowing that others are grieving with you and that others are sharing in your pain and that they are there for you.

And secondly, your story will resonate with others. Who is to say that someone else isn’t going through the same exact thing that you are and they need to hear that they are not alone. It may sound totally weird, but when I went through my miscarriage, there was comfort in other women sharing that they had also lost precious babies. Why? Because I could see that they came out of it, that they were able to move beyond the gripping pain and the overpowering darkness of despair. It’s not to say that they didn’t still feel that ache. I know that they still hurt. But they were able to comfort me and assure me that the overwhelming pain will begin to subside.

Sharing our story is important. It’s essential.

I have talked to a handful of people over the past 2 months who have thanked me for sharing my experience and for being transparent in my pain. This story has impacted lives.

My guess is that your story will impact lives as well. Whatever your story is, it needs to be told. Whatever you are holding on to, it needs to be shared.

Posted on October 25, 2015 and filed under miscarriage.

When Joy Doesn't Come in the Morning

The morning after my miscarriage I woke up with a throbbing headache and puffy eyes. It’s what I like to call a sobbing hangover. I cried hard the night before. It just poured out of me and I was hardly able to contain it. Eventually I fell asleep, but my dreams were all things pregnancy and miscarriage related and so my sleep was very disturbed.

When I woke up with my sobbing hangover I wondered where my joy was. After all, the Bible says in Psalm 30:5 that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. I certainly felt no joy. I felt pain. Intense and radiating pain. The hurt was so intense that I wondered if my own heart my just give. I contemplated staying in bed for the rest of the day, but my three tiny blessings were already awake and demanding to get out of their beds. So I got my weary body and soul up out of bed and greeted those beauties with lots of love and kisses.

Throughout the day I would retreat to the bathroom or my bedroom and just cry. It was hard, so very hard to go through the normal routine of the day when I felt anything but normal. It was ridiculous to think that I could go on like this when I had already planned so much. I had hopes and excitement for what was to be. We knew that after this fourth baby our family would be complete. We were already throwing around different names. I contemplated what it would be like to have two kids each in two bedrooms, what it would be like to have four under four for a time, and how I would fit four car seats in our minivan. I was excited about the way we were going to announce this fourth and final Kemp.

All of these things stirred in my heart, rattled in my mind and just left me feeling sick to my stomach. And I wondered again about this joy thing.

I felt bitterness creeping into my heart. I felt that nagging thought far off in the back of my mind blaming God for this one, wondering where He had run off to, questioning why He wasn’t right here with me taking away this heartache and giving me the joy that He had promised. I felt myself slipping down a familiar road of shunning the Lord that has blessed my life so abundantly, pushing my Savior aside just because I was hurting so badly. I wanted someone to blame. I wanted someone to be angry at.

After the kids went to bed I knew I needed to just have some quiet time. Again with the sobbing. But this time I just cried out to the Lord. I told Him how hurt I was, I told Him that I had prayed for this baby, prayed that she would be okay, prayed for a miracle. I told him how angry I was, how I felt betrayed, how it seemed like He didn’t care. I told Him the longings of my heart, how I just knew we were to have 4 kids and how it doesn’t make sense that this baby was taken away from us. I told him all of the dreams that I had for our family, and I told him all of the fears that I now have for the future. I poured out my heart to Him.

Somehow, through all of that verbal vomit I unleashed on God, I came to the realization that joy has nothing to do with my own circumstances. That’s happiness. Being joyful and being happy are not the same thing. Suddenly verses about being joyful in suffering were coming back to me. At first it made me angry and I felt like yelling at God that this was ridiculous and it wasn’t fair, and who considers it joyful to suffer.

But I realized that every disciple in the Bible considered it joyful to suffer. Even Jesus himself found joy in suffering.

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God". -Hebrews 12:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything". James 1:2-4

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”. -Romans 5:3-5

And it struck me, it’s not suffering for sufferings sake that produces joy. Christians aren’t so weird that they get a kick out of tragedy and heartache and sorrow. We don’t just wait for the days that something horrible will happen so we can rejoice that suffering has occurred.

It’s what suffering produces that ultimately brings joy. Romans 5:3-5 says that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope. And the hope that we have in Christ does not disappoint us.

And you know what, it’s true. It took me a few weeks to mull over all of this, but it makes sense. From my own personal experience, I can see that suffering does this. It doesn’t take away from the pain. The pain is still there. The pain is very real. But eventually, over time, it produces something amazing. If we let it.
Christians are obviously not except from pain and suffering simply because we are followers of Christ. In fact, the Bible is clear that the opposite is true. Pain and suffering will be our shadows, following us around wherever we are spreading the Gospel. This health and wealth gospel that people are preaching is a clear contradiction to Scripture. Just read it, you will see how the Old and New Testament is full of individuals, families and nations suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

I know that I have so much more to learn about this. I don’t have all the answers. I have barely scratched the surface. But what I have learned is this:

  • Joy doesn’t always come in the morning- at least not in our normal sense of what the morning is. The ‘morning’ could be days, weeks or even months down the road. But ultimately, joy will come again.
  • Joy comes in the mourning. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is. Joy does come through mourning. It comes out of mourning. For me personally, when I am mourning the loss of a baby I find great joy in the babies that I did get to have. When I am mourning it makes my blessings in life all the more visible, all the richer.
  • My own suffering allows me to share in the suffering of others. It hurt so bad to lose those 3 babies. The ache never goes away. And when someone else experiences this pain, I know full well what they are going through. There is comfort in knowing that someone else has gone through your pain and didn’t collapse under it. I hate that I went through this, but now I have a shared story with others going through it. I can relate. I can empathize. I can be there to comfort and cry with and mourn with.
  • God is not the enemy. All too often, my first instinct is to raise my fists and demand answers from God. I’m quick to blame Him for the wrongs that have happened to me because I know that He is all-mighty and all-powerful and is still a God of miracles, AND things still went tragically wrong in my life. So I immediately begin with “but you COULD have done this”. As I was praying through this the other night, the song “I am” by Ginny Owens popped into my head (Holy Spirit, anyone?).

Here are a few of the lyrics:

There's a bigger picture, you can't see
You don't have to change the world, just trust in me
Cause I am your creator, I am working out my plan
And through you, I will show them, I am.

I hadn’t heard that song in years! But in that moment I knew that God had/has something much bigger in store for all of this tragedy. I still can’t see it, but it’s there and it will be revealed at some point. I just need to trust in Him. I still don’t understand how all of it works, but I know that God is working this out.

Posted on October 9, 2015 .

A hurt that never heals

After waiting an hour and a half in the packed waiting room, I was finally called back to have my ‘dating scan’; the fun ultrasound that will tell me when my baby is due. I already knew how far along I was. I always seem to know exactly when I get pregnant. I was 11 weeks already and so excited to be so close to the second trimester. We had already told our families and most of our close friends. After this ultrasound I was going to make a general announcement, ya know, because having a baby is super exciting and I couldn’t wait to share the news.

I was a little bit giddy with anticipation as the ultrasound tech put that cold goo and magic baby seeing wand on my belly and looked intently at the screen. I swear, I cry over all things baby when I'm pregnant. Seeing that tiny little human wiggling on the monitor chokes me up every single time. Hearing the heartbeat of a new creation always brings tears to my eyes. I love it!

“Can you get the doctor” he casually said to the other tech in the room. My heart skipped a beat. And in that moment I knew. I just knew.

He didn't say a word to me. Just waited quietly for the doctor to come in, all the while still staring at the screen. Still moving that wand around on my belly.

The doctor came in. She said “hi Sarah”, but I couldn’t say anything. I stared at her as she stared at the screen, hoping, aching for a facial reaction that would allow me to breathe again. Nothing.

The ultrasound tech was saying something. Numbers, I think. The doctor asked if I understood what he said. I shook my head no.

“The baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.”

And there it was. Another fear came true in that moment. Another baby gone. I sobbed right there on that stupidly uncomfortable exam table, with my shirt still up and that goo smeared on my belly. I tried hard to maintain composure, but the breaking of my own heart gave way to uncontrollable sobbing, and I wondered if I’d ever regain control of my tears again.

“You can come talk to me in my office”. And with that the doctor left the room. The lights came back on, the other tech wiped up my belly and helped me up off the table. I met with the doctor and heard all of the same things I had heard twice already; these things happen. Chromosomal abnormality. Nothing you did. It’s common, but having one doesn’t mean you’ll have another.

Yes, thank you doctor. I know. But somehow that’s just not true. I wanted to yell at her. Stop giving me the “it’s okay, you’ll go on to have a healthy pregnancy” spiel.  I’d heard it all before. This was the third time I had sat in a room like this and listened to a doctor tell me she’s sorry for my loss and I can try again if I want to.  This was the third time my joy was shattered by immense sorrow in one instant. This was the third time that I found myself unable to breathe, holding in the sobs that were sure to come again as soon as I was alone.  This was the third time I had to say goodbye before I ever even got to say hello.

I walked quickly to my van and just sat there and sobbed. I could hardly regain control. It hurt so bad. The pain was so intense I wondered if my heart would literally break apart.

Suddenly my phone was vibrating. Phil was texting me, asking me about my appointment and when I would be home. He was watching the trio. I had gone to the doctor alone because it somehow just made sense at the time. But now…now it seemed like a terrible idea. I had to tell him.

I called him and barely got out “the baby doesn’t have a heartbeat” before I started sobbing again.

As soon as I got home Phil wrapped his arms tightly around me. It was comforting in a weird sort of way knowing that I wasn’t suffering alone. He was in this with me. He hurt too. This was OUR baby. And then Jaelyn broke my moment of comfort by excitedly asking if I had a picture of the baby. If my heart wasn’t already shattered, it was in that moment. A simple question by an innocent girl, but it tore me to shreds.

This pregnancy was so different than my 2 previous losses. For one, I was 11 weeks (or should have been 11 weeks. The baby’s heart stopped beating at 10 weeks) along with this one and I really thought I was in the safe zone. My two previous miscarriages both happened at week 7. Both of them began with cramping and shortly after bleeding. There was no doubt what was happening.

This pregnancy was different. Around week 8 I started spotting. No cramps, no real bleeding. I had my first appointment on September 10th (11 days before my dating scan) and the doctor did a quick ultrasound just to check viability after I told him I was nervous because I was spotting and I had two previous losses. We saw the baby moving. We saw the heartbeat. The doctor said everything was fine.  

Everything was not fine. Two days after my life-altering ultrasound, Phil and I went to the ER to be told we were miscarrying. Obviously we already knew what was happening, but it gave me peace of mind knowing that the ultrasound in the ER showed nothing in my womb, and it gave peace of mind knowing…and seeing…the baby pass out of me.

Sometimes in my grief I try to hold on to a false hope. The hope that the doctor was wrong, the hope that maybe there were two and one is still alive, the hope that maybe the baby’s heart just started beating again. These things went through my mind and I desperately want to hold on to them and believe that they are true. But it’s false. And it hurts more because I’m not able to grieve properly. I’m not able to say goodbye when I should.

But seeing with my own eyes that the baby was not in my womb…well it hurt like nothing else in the world! But it also gave me the peace of mind to be able to grieve and to be able to say goodbye to that precious little one.

After everything was said and done that night I just felt so empty. Like, a physical emptiness. It’s hard to explain. My womb just felt empty. It hurts so bad! After giving birth to a healthy baby, there is a joy and there is awe and there is accomplishment that comes with that empty womb feeling. Your body did it! You grew a human, you nourished and sheltered and cared for a little bitty person inside of your body, and then you pushed it out of your body and you delivered it safely into the world. That empty womb feeling is a joyous occasion. But this…this feeling is not right. It’s not okay. There was no accomplishment, no joy, no awe. It’s empty when it should be full. It’s still when it should be growing. It hurts for all the wrong reasons.

There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t think about what could have been, who could have been. There isn’t one day that I don’t cry for the baby I never got a chance to hold. But the hope that I hold on to is that one day I WILL get to hold that baby (and the other two babies I lost way too soon). One day my heart will start to mend. One day it won’t hurt as badly. And I can say that because I have experienced it. I hold on to the hope that I have seen in my own life, the hope that I have experienced before. 

I still mourn the baby I lost on November 26, 2010 and I still mourn the baby I lost on November 3, 2012. And it still hurts. I don’t believe those hurts will ever heal. Not completely. It becomes more and more bearable until it reaches the point of becoming a familiar ache. But it’s not overpowering anymore. And brighter days did come. It took a long time, as it probably should. But it did come. And so I know that those brighter days will come again. But in the meantime, it hurts.

It’s a hurt that will never heal.

Posted on October 1, 2015 and filed under miscarriage.

Excitement and Tragedy, Joy and Sorrow

I wasn't going to write about this. I wanted it to be my own, to hold on to it and not let others know what had happened. But then I was thinking about some of my other posts and I remembered that I had written about being open and honest. I guess I believe that sometimes the joys and pains that we go through in life can often benefit others. To share your struggles and your accomplishments, your trials and your victories, your pain and your joy can really be a benefit to other people as well. Especially those who may be going through the same things.

Anyway, on October 30th I found out that I was pregnant. I actually took 4 pregnancy tests just to be sure! It was exciting news! And while Phil and I both felt super overwhelmed and like we were not prepared at all, we were both very excited. I tried to contain the news to close friends and family, because I knew that things were pretty risky the first couple of months. Of course, word spreads quickly, even if you're trying to contain it. Before we knew it, ALL of our friends and family knew. And it was just so exciting getting to celebrate with people.

I remember telling Phil that I my biggest fear is that I would go to the doctor (for my very first appt) and they would tell me that I actually wasn't pregnant. And it was that very day that I started having horrible cramps and some bleeding.
In an effort to spare all the heartbreaking details, I'll just say that a visit to the emergency room confirmed my fears; I was having a miscarriage.
These last few weeks have been so difficult. I feel this emptiness and this overwhelming sadness at times. It's world has stopped. And it's so weird when I feel like my world is falling apart, but I look around and everyone else is going on living. I feel such pain and heartache.

I lost something so dear to me. I lost something that I wanted so badly. And it hurts so deeply. Wouldn't it be nice if they invented band-aids for the heart? I need a band-aid to cover up this wound.
I'm trying to see the good in this. I'm trying to figure out the purpose or the reason. So far I've come up with nothing. I trust God, and I know that he is good. I know that he loves me and that he has my best interest at heart. I just can't figure out how all of this plays into that.
And I know that miscarriages are common, and that there's nothing I could have done to stop it. I know that it's not my fault, but that over half of all miscarriages are caused by chromosomal factors that are out of our control.
I know all of this. In my head I know these things. But sometimes my head and my heart don't communicate, and sometimes when they do communicate they don't understand each other. In my head I know all of this, but my heart still hurts so badly.

I guess time will help...

Posted on December 4, 2010 and filed under miscarriage.