In January, Noland and I finally went through all the testing necessary to find out exactly why it’s been so hard for us to get pregnant. A fertility specialist told us that it will have to be IVF if we’re ever going to have babies of our own. Knowing we didn’t want to start that process before we moved this summer, we decided we would put our dreams for a family on the shelf until later.
In the meantime we just couldn’t get away from this feeling that God had been speaking the exact opposite of what the doctor was telling us. We’d had so many prophetic words spoken over us that something was shifting in this season. That our promise fulfilled was on its way. We wanted to believe that this was true… that somehow despite the doctor’s news, there was a miracle with our name on it on the way.
And then in February, I got a phone call. It was a woman I had walked closely with during her year in a recovery home I volunteered at. She called to tell me she had relapsed in November, and during that time she got pregnant. She was giving the baby up for adoption, and she felt like God highlighted Noland and me as she was praying about it that morning.
We decided to spend the month of February praying about adopting this baby. We asked our families and circle of closest friends and mentors to pray with us, and by March 5, we had landed on an answer unanimously: God was initiating with us to champion this little life. It would likely be messy, but it felt like a risk worth taking.
It felt like the sweetest unexpected gift from God. Like just as I was about to lay down this dream of motherhood for a while, He handed it right back. This baby would be due in August — around the same time as both of my sisters due dates. That felt like a sweet redemptive gift, too.
March was like living inside of a day dream. It felt like the beginning of the end of a long winter in my soul… like life was finally springing forth in the desert wasteland I’d been pitching my tent in. We found out it was a boy. We began to dream about all that he would be. Those were hopeful days.
And then in April, we got a phone call. She had relapsed again. No one was really sure where she was. We began to rally our community to pray and contend with us for this sweet baby boy, fighting a war he didn’t sign up for inside of a meth addict’s body. After a week of back and forth, she finally came back to get clean again. We saw so many miracles in those days and were so certain that God was preserving life.
After a few good, sober weeks, I got another call. It was Mother’s Day. She was gone again. This time she relapsed hard and fast, spiraling downward more rapidly than any of us could have prevented. Another week went by and once again we prayed and pleaded for God to preserve the life of this boy we loved so much. Once again she stopped using and started to detox.
About two weeks ago, we went to take her to the doctor. For an hour and a half we stood in the parking lot, trying everything we could to get her to walk in the door. She wouldn’t go in, and she wouldn’t tell me why. And then finally she blurted out the words that have been playing over in my head like a bad dream ever since.
“I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to hurt you. He made me do it.”
She had gotten mixed up with a pretty dark, pretty dangerous man. He wanted to sell her to other men. He knew he couldn’t do that if she was pregnant… so he forced an abortion on her just days earlier. In an instance, right there in the parking lot of the clinic we never actually walked inside of, a dream was shattered and I was undone.
But there’s another voice I keep hearing in my head from that day also. Along the way through all of this hell, God wove this other couple into our story. They had walked through almost the exact same thing several years ago, and when they heard about us through the grapevine at church, they reached out and told us they wanted to walk with us. They were in the trenches with us before we even met in person for the first time.
I texted her as soon as I learned what had happened in the parking lot that day. She was there minutes later, and when she wrapped me up in her arms she said, “You are a mother. I believed a lie for a long time that I wasn’t a real mom, and I am going to fight that for you. You are a mother.”
I’ll never get to hold him like I thought I would. My heart longs and my arms ache for that August day that was stolen from me. But he is mine in Heaven… and I will always consider him ours. Grieving and healing will be a process, and God will be near as He sends goodness and mercy chasing us through the valley of the shadow of death, just like He always does.
Yesterday I packed up a little box with little things friends and family members had given us for him. Mostly clothes… some toys… a copy of my favorite Dr. Suess book from my own childhood that my mom gave us for him on Easter.
But I left one thing out. About a year and a half ago, a friend gave me a pair of tiny shoes with a note that said, “A faith statement to remember you have a team of support behind you. Sometimes it takes a village to see a dream fulfilled.” Just as I was about to add them to the box, I paused. I felt like God said, “I didn’t tell you to pack away your hope.”
I wept as I sat empty handed from all that I thought He’d promised for now, yet still holding open handed what I know He has said is for me sometime.
I had listened to a sermon that morning by Charlotte Gambill. She was talking about when Jacob wrestled with God and walked with a limp for the rest of his life after that moment — wearing the evidence of something that had changed him forever. He left with a limp, but he also left with a new name.
What I’m realizing in this process that I would not wish on anyone, is that I will walk with a limp from this — but I will walk. I will live to tell that God is still good, and His promises are still true. And you know what? This thing that has wounded me forever gave me a new name. I am a mother.
My wrestle with God is not over. I keep thinking about those words Jacob said during his wrestle, “I will not let go until you bless me.” I’m not sure when our family will finally grow in the natural. I’m certain it has already grown in the spirit. I can’t let go of hope, though. I’m honestly not sure I know how to.
I want to keep holding those tiny shoes I’ve asked God to fill for years, and I want to keep believing that He is a dad who wants to give good gifts.
And in the meantime, I want to claim the name that the little boy I’ll meet in Heaven one day gave me — Mom.