Thursday, May 8, 2008

Speech Tomorrow. Read and Reply!

This is the speech I am giving to all of my Durham MOPS friends tomorrow morning.
Tell me what you think. Is it too much?


Some of the most difficult questions for me to answer are: “How many children do you have?” and “oh, is she your only one?” or “when are you going to have more?” At first these might seem like innocent questions, appropriate for all mothers of preschoolers.

Well, some of you may or may not know that I have struggled with infertility and pregnancy loss. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me. It’s not something with physical scars, that show on the outside. It’s not an easy subject to talk about. But this morning I am going to tell my story, with the hope that God can use me and my experiences to strengthen and encourage you. And please excuse me if I get emotional and start to cry!

Last year, in February 2007, the week that my daughter Hannah turned three years old, I discovered I was pregnant again. My husband Mike and I were so excited! We immediately told our parents, and our siblings, Hannah’s aunts and uncles.
But about 3 weeks after that positive pregnancy test, on a Sunday morning in March, I began bleeding heavily.
We were completely devastated.
I never imagined, not even in my worst nightmares, that this could happen to me. I felt so isolated and alone. I didn’t know how to tell family and friends what had taken place – partly because I was in denial for a little while. I just wanted to sit alone in the dark, under the blankets, and mourn.
I thought: Why would this pregnancy be taken away from me, when we wanted it so badly? I got angry. I questioned God’s plans and His purposes. It just wasn’t fair. Why me? Why do bad things like this happen to good people (like me)? Did I do something wrong? Do I deserve this somehow? I wrestled with guilt and fear.

Miscarriage and pregnancy loss are not easy subjects to bring up, and are not talked about very much. Many women suffer along in silence. But I was surprised to find out how often it happens (about one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, maybe more, since early losses aren’t always reported).
As I began to open up and share my burden, women from my neighborhood, my church, even my own family, admitted that they had suffered private losses too.
I realized that maybe I was not alone after all.

Life moved on that spring, whether I wanted it to or not. Exactly three months after my first loss, I found out that I was pregnant again. But we barely had time to process the news. Just a few days later, my third pregnancy ended at five weeks. My doctor called it a “chemical pregnancy”. It was Father’s Day weekend. How ironic. I felt so sad and bitter, and afraid. I drove home to be with my family in Maryland, to get away for a little while.

The following week, one of my closest friends, Esther, gave birth to her son. She had asked me to be there, to come to the hospital when he was born. I stayed with her all day.
But I was unsure how I would react, if I would be able to be emotionally supportive, Thankfully, I was not jealous. I was not uncomfortable. I was genuinely calm and happy to be there, joyfully supporting my friend and celebrating her new baby.
God gave me the grace and the strength I needed to be there for Esther.

(Her son Ezra is truly a gift from God. During her pregnancy, an ultrasound showed that Ezra had clubbed feet. For months and months we prayed so hard for that little baby, and God answered our prayers. Ezra was born with just one mildly clubbed foot, not two, as the doctors thought.)

At a joyful time, when many of my friends were experiencing the joys of pregnancy and new motherhood, I was experiencing great loss and sadness.
I was so emotionally fragile that summer.
I began to think that Hannah might be my only child.
I started losing hope, and slipping into depression.
Barriers were created between my husband and me.
We had to work hard to keep our marriage on the right track.

But through these trials, God listened, and he was patience and faithful to me, despite how I might have felt towards him. I was amazed at how much comfort He could bring to my grieving soul. He made me stronger; He strengthened my faith. He carried me through, even when I thought I might not be able to go on.

And most amazing of all, He created opportunities to share my story with others, to begin to reach out and comfort and minister to women who had experienced similar losses. I realized that I could be an encouragement to them! And through that outreach effort, I myself began the healing process. I’ve even started writing a book about my experience, hoping that I can help more women by telling my story.

Six months after my second loss, in December 2007, I became pregnant again. We couldn’t wait to announce the happy news to our families when we visited them at Christmastime. But it didn’t quite get that far. The pregnancy ended at six weeks, just two days before Christmas. Again, I was filled with sadness and grief.

Three miscarriages in nine months: How horrible! What was going on with my body?
I just felt so empty and heartbroken. And deep down, I knew that something just wasn’t right.

In January of this year, I visited with a new doctor, who discovered that I have a thyroid problem. He told me that this could be the cause of my infertility and early pregnancy losses. I felt so much relief, that now there was a name and a solution for my problem. There was hope!

Last year was one of the most trying times in my life. My faith was severely tested and my beliefs were shaken. But I know that God does all things for the good of those who love Him. Even when we don’t understand His ways, He can turn the saddest of circumstances into a triumphant, golden opportunity of love and grace. And He has been pushing me out of my comfort zone, stretching me to new heights, and helping me to become more confident in who I am. Even though I am a sinner, and I am still a work in progress.

Now, it is spring again.
I can barely believe it, but it has been over a year since my first miscarriage.
I feel like I have come around in a full circle.
I know that God is not finished with me yet, because He is faithful.
Once again, he has answered my prayers, because I am pregnant again.
God has blessed us with a tiny miracle, that is due to arrive in December. I can’t think of a better Christmas present, or a better way to be a vessel and an example of Jesus’ love.

Please pray with me.

Thank you, dear God, for the many blessings that you have given to each one of us. Thank you for your love, your grace, your mercy and salvation. Thank you for turning our trials into triumphs. And thank you that you are the wonderful Creator and the giver of everlasting life.



Brad said...

well said nichole!

love ya


Lacie said...

ooppss...someone else was logged into my computer....that was me above!

I love the speech...good luck!


Krissy said...

You are a gifted writer Nicole, and your message of turning to God through all pain, is eloquent and moving. My Bible Study and I continue to pray for the newest little life inside of you.

Happy Mother's Day, my friend.

Jenn said...

Your words are very powerful and moving. I am sure that the women in your group will grow a lot from being able to share in your story with you.


Future Mommy said...

Great speech - thanks for sharing!

Lisa Furman said...

Nicole, that was beautiful. I am so encouraged at the grace God has given you to walk this season of your life. I don't know what it's like to miscarry or experience pregnancy or even know married life trials. I'm so moved by your faith and perseverance. Thank you for your example.

Love, Lisa

HeatherV said...

What a great testimony of God's faithfulness. Good luck!