On big birthdays, I tend to get a little reflective. My only girl, the one which took us years to have, became a teenager today. I get excited with each new stage, but like every parent, wish we could go back.
Bruce and I have often said God wanted us to work really hard to get our kids. 4 out of 5 of our kids have a “story.” Jack is the only one that seemed to come without any drama. I will save the other’s for later.
Bruce and I struggled for years to have our first biological child. There were four years of complete infertility and 3 more years of one miscarriage after another. That time really seems like another life. It is funny how easy it is to forget. Our friends now really know nothing of that time. Our friends then, do not see, or even know our children. These friends cried with us, prayed for us regularly, brought copious amounts of food during the many bed rest times, and were just so incredibly full of support.
Sarah was one of many pregnancies during a 3 year time span, after 4 years of nothing. My body just could not seem to carry a pregnancy and it was somewhat of a mystery to the doctors. The tests results always came back fine. Just like many times before, I went in to the doctor to hear, “Your blood work is not good and there is no heartbeat. There should be one by now. You are loosing this child. Come back next week to schedule your D & C.” I was so incredibly blessed to a have high risk OB who was also a believer. He truly valued life.
I went back a week later and we scheduled the D & C after seeing the blood work looked worse and there was still no heartbeat. He told me to come in for one more ultrasound when I went for the pre-op visit. This was unusual, but I went. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and very quietly said, “Julie, there is a heartbeat.” Everyone was so, so happy. Friends rejoiced, our families were, like us, afraid to hope. When we found out it was a girl we were elated. Girls were rare in the Etter family. I refused to buy anything pink because everyone we knew was buying pink for us like it was going out of style.
When I was 28 weeks along, Sarah decided she was ready to come. I went flat to bed for 2 months. Again, our community and family surrounded us. Many special people stepped in with Isaac. Our freezer was stocked with meals from our church. Friends took turns visiting with me.
When Sarah did come in August, you can imagine the excitement. This is actually bittersweet for me to think about. My mom was so happy. She was in the delivery room with us and she was just so proud. She loved her “Sarah Beth” so much. She had held my hand through every miscarriage, accompanied me to many appointments, and cried almost as many tears as me. It was also a year ago this week that we were told mom was not going to live more the 6 to 12 months. I was at her bedside and left to go spend Sarah’s birthday with her. It was 5 months later that she died. I knew this special birthday of Sarah’s would be hard. Mom would have been so proud to see her become a teenager.
God has been good to us. I do not know why we had to work so hard to get our children. But, it is okay. God is good, all the time.
If you ever see me crying when someone loses a baby, is struggling with infertility, or through a tough pregnancy, just ignore me. I am likely remembering my other life and that is okay. God has given me a soft spot for those women and their husbands. I am so grateful for the gifts God has given me.