6 years old


There you are, my six year old girl. 

It's absolutely true, what they say. You blink and, in that instant, 6 years have gone by.

6 years ago, at 6:41pm, they handed you to me for the first time, laying you right down on my chest. I close my eyes now and I can see that moment like a home video in my mind. I remember what I felt to hold you that first time, taking in every aspect of you, and feeling so giddy about your head of hair.

You were beautiful. You were here. You were ours.

As they rolled me out of the delivery room, moving me into recovery, with you snuggled next to me and your daddy walking right beside us, I just remember the greatest sense of peace and a very special kind of gratitude coming over me. 

To be given your daddy and then for us to be given you? Utter grace.

IMG_3971.jpg

And now we are here, opening the door to your 6th year. I can't wait to see what's on the other side. Something tells me it's going to be a rather wonderful year.

The other day daddy and I asked you what you were most excited about in turning 6 and you responded, without a moments hesitation, "Holding my baby brother." Sweeter words I've never heard.

Soon you will get to do just that. You will get to hold the answer to the quiet prayers you've prayed and the tender hopes you've carried. Daddy and I couldn't be more ready to see that moment. I know it's going to be just like the one I described on the day you were born. Utter grace.

IMG_3963.jpg

My mind is playing all the memories from this past year of your life like a slideshow as I write this to you, Little. We have seen the Lord work in boundless ways in you. Through the heartaches and the struggle, the victories and the celebrations, the many many "new things" you have tried and done, the countless ways you've been brave, the deep thoughts you've begun to have and slowly shared with us, the ways you've stepped out of what is comfortable to you, the ways you've loved those around you and learned to  respond when they love you, the beautiful truths that you are mulling over in your heart, the way you gently speak truth to us, the hundreds of times you've helped, and the desire that you have for all people to know God. It has been stunning to watch Him work so masterfully in your heart. I pray that so soon your heart comes to know His love for you is best, His knowledge of you is the deepest, and His desire for that eternal relationship with you is the greatest hope.

I love seeing all the pieces of you come alive even more with each year, all the characteristics and qualities of you that God knit together inside of me in just the way He had always planned. Those pieces of you are a tool He uses daily in my life -- you challenge me, you encourage me, you inspire me, and through you He shows me so much grace. Utter grace.

And you, sweet Little Bit, are going to be the loveliest big sister. With all the plans you are already forming and communicating to us about what you are going to do with baby brother and teach baby brother and show baby brother, I know all the more that this little boy is so very blessed to have you.

IMG_3966.jpg

To have you as my daughter, my hour by hour sidekick, my little companion, is to have a tangible picture of that utter grace looking right at me, with expressive blue eyes and the most contagious belly laugh. It's beautiful.

So on this, your 6th birthday, know this, my darling Anna Kate: I am so very thankful for you, so very proud of you and forever changed by being your mama.

Happy Birthday, my Bit!!

I love you with all my heart.

the story of baby boy

This day was a rather wonderful day. A day that we shall always consider as one of the best days we lived. A day that still, and I'm sure will always, feels rather like a dream because of what it was for our little family of three. It was a day in which one of our dearest and most tender prayers became a beautiful reality. 

IMG_3870.jpg

I have had many people ask me: "how'd you keep it a secret for so long!?" Well, the truth is, we didn't know for so long! We didn't find out until I was nearly 15 weeks. This was no 4 month kept secret! The other question I have received a good bit, as have members of our family, is: "if you/they have been trying for 4 years wouldn't it be pretty obvious when it happened?" and "how did you NOT know!?"

[Now, full honesty here, that's been hard for me a couple of times because it's difficult for me to not take it personally and feel like people are thinking, "hello! you're pregnant. you know how this work.....it's your own body, for goodness sake." In moments of struggle I've feared that people might think we weren't truly hoping for this like we've said and that we were simply in denial. But, in His patient grace, my sweet Jesus has helped me grow a thicker skin and a more truth-filled mind through receiving these questions/comments and realize that a. I need to stop assuming and putting fully formed ideas into people's minds that may never have existed there in the first place. And b. once we have the opportunity to share the story it's met with, "Oh! I understand. That makes so much sense." Oh, even in this the Lord is faithfully putting to death that fear of man that resides in me! He uses it all.]

If you've followed our story than you know that I've shared before that my body is on the unpredictable side when it comes to those delightful monthly cycles. I've never been regular, not once in my life. I'm very influenced by stress, good or bad, and that has brought with it countless times of pushing my cycle a couple weeks, skipping a month, or even two. The other factor that is a piece of us is that my doctor is 95% sure I don't ovulate regularly, but more like 6 to 8 times a year, and with no clear cut "when" those times are. So, the whole planning things has looked a bit different in our lives. || I will share more about how these factors played into our infertility journey in another post || But the knowledge of those facts is an important piece to know with baby boy's story.

Continuing on.........

April, May, and June were three of the busiest, if not THE busiest, months we've ever had. We moved into our house, I hosted showers, my little sister moved in with us, we were putting the last touches on her wedding, we had visitors in and out and then straight from the end of May to the end of June, and two very important and dear weddings. We were on full throttle every day for 3 months. And as much as it was all joyful beautiful things, all of which we were so thankful for, it was still a type of stress. Thus, the fact that I skipped my cycle in May was not a surprise. Honestly, it was what we expected. Neither was my level of exhaustion -- we hadn't stopped since moving on April 1st -- exhaustion was a fact of life at that point!

As we entered into June, J and I had a conversation about skipping my cycle, but we both agreed that there was nothing out of our ordinary that would cause us to think we needed to take a test. As far as my body goes, we were trudging through typical waters. I wasn't sick at all either and I had been so intensely sick with AK that my lack of nausea or sickness of any kind made us all the more assured of the fact that nothing was going on. After the crazy settled down, I'd start. After all, that's what I always had done. 

The very end of June came and it was the last couple days of Momma Coobs visit. At that point I was now in process of having fully skipped my June cycle, too. That's when the tears started to come. I would say to J how much I wished my body was different -- these unknowns, these rollercoasters were so hard to handle. I was weary. Once this cycle started, we decided, it would be the time to delve further into the medical aspect of all of this. The emotions weren't helped when I became more discouraged by the weight I had gained during the stressful months. This was easily answered by the fact that I hadn't eaten well or exercised consistently in 3 months. Finally, on one of the very last days of June, J said, "Babe, we need to know. We need to take a test. We need to be able to move forward, trusting the Lord, and then we can begin taking steps into what's best for the next season." He was right. As much as having to bear the effects of another negative pregnancy test would be so painful, we needed to know. Our hearts needed to move forward. 

So, J picked up a pregnancy test a couple of days later, the kind that said "pregnant" or "not pregnant" because we didn't need any of those confusing lines. The next morning he came into the bedroom where I was still laying quietly in bed, dreading what I was about to have to do, and he sat down next to me and asked, "are you okay? are you ready to take it?" "I'm scared," was my reply. He looked at me with those always comforting blue eyes of his, "I know, I am too," he said. "But we will walk through this together. I'll go get AK settled downstairs and then I'll be back." He left the room and I slowly got up and made my way to the bathroom. I took the test, set it on the counter, and walked out of the room without the smallest glance back. When J came back I was sitting on the edge of the back. He sat down quietly next to me and just started to pray. When he finished we hugged, he kissed my forehead, and then gently asked, "Do you want me to go look?" Every other time I always had wanted him to. I couldn't ever bear seeing the words. This time, though, I said, "no, I'll go. I just need to start moving forward." 

My legs felt so heavy and my heart was quite literally in my stomach as I walked toward the room. I was so positive I knew exactly what that test would say, that I would immediately drop it in the trash and turn to walk back into J's arms and just let the tears fall. "Here we go......Lord, please help me," were the last thoughts that crossed my mind.

Then I walked in the bathroom, picked up the test, and my eyes fell on the word that I had prayed to see again for 4 long years........

IMG_3897.jpg

PREGNANT.

There it was. To describe that first wave of emotion feels like an impossible feat. I turned my head toward J and with tears streaming down my face, in a barely coherent voice, I said, "It says we're pregnant!" He was in the bathroom in a half a second, taking the test from my hand in disbelief. We looked at each other and as we put our arms around one another we became a muffled ball of laughter and tears, completely overwhelmed by the joy and surprise we were experiencing. We were pregnant!!! That beautiful moment is one of those that will remain forever like a movie reel in my mind. I can see it, feel it, and live it over again at any time, and I love that so much. 

The rest of the day the smiles were plastered and the tears flowed often. Our words all day were, "I can't believe it!" and "Thank You, Lord!" We were in the happiest state of disbelief and gratitude all day long.......and we haven't left it.

Over the next several days we told our family, which makes up another handful of the best moments we've experienced. We had decided to wait to tell Little, though, or anyone else because we couldn't get into the doctor for about 3 weeks. I had to wear the same clothes out in public on repeat because that weight I had gained was started to look more and more like a baby bump during those 3 weeks. ;) But that time to quietly savor our news was sweet for me, for us, just to slowly take in this beautiful surprise, this good good gift from our good good Father. The hardest part was not being able to tell Little. Oh, our hearts were about to burst to tell her the news: that those sweet tender prayers she had prayed for months now had been answered. She was going to be a big sister. 

On July 19th, we walked into our OB's office, with stomachs so full of butterflies we both felt a little nauseous. We sat in the waiting room feeling every second tick by until the nurse called my name and said, "we are going to go ahead and do your ultrasound first." OKAY! When we walked in she asked, "Do you have any idea of how far along you are?" "Nooooo. My body is so off all the time that I just have no clue," I said with a sheepish grin. She laughed and said, "No worries! I completely understand. We will just find out now then!" I laid back in the chair and the cold goo went on my belly as J and I squeezed hands. The minute the nurse put the wand on my stomach the screen filled up with the very best sight: it was our baby! "That's a lot of baby," I thought quietly to myself, shocked by how fully formed baby was already as I was sure I couldn't have been more than 12 or 13 weeks along. "I think you're further along than you probably thought you were," the nurse smiled. "How far along do you think!?" J asked. She did a few more measurements and then replied, "I'm pegging you at 17 weeks 5 days." Our jaws hit the floor. 17 weeks, 5 days!? We just laughed! This little miracle just kept surprising us!! And the surprises didn't stop there as she followed that up with, "do you want to know what you're having!?" "Really!?" We couldn't believe it. Not one part of us expected that question to come! "Sure, I mean yeah, I mean we do want to know.....," we stumbled over our answer trying to form words. She moved baby around a bit trying to make sure as sure could be and then said, "Okay guys, it's a baby BOY!" I clapped my hand over my mouth and tears filled both our eyes. A boy. A precious little man. I had always dreamed of having a baby boy, a little brother for our big girl, and to be laying there staring at our son on the ultrasound screen!? It was overwhelming, in the best possible way.

We walked out of the Dr.'s office that day again with teary eyes and the biggest smiles. We were giddy with the knowledge that we were HAVING a baby, that he was a boy, that we were nearly halfway through our pregnancy, and that we were going to be able to tell Little when we got home. And telling her was another one of those movie reel moments. We showed her baby brother's picture and played her the recording of his heartbeat, that beautiful strong heartbeat, and we just stored up every bit of that moment as we celebrated our little family of three becoming four. Her joy in this has been so precious to see. She talks constantly of "my baby brother" and asks about all the things she can help with and do with and for him. When I think about seeing her hold him for the first time the tears stream. I can't wait for that moment.

As we walked through the parking garage to our car that happy Dr. visit day, I said to J,"I love our story. I love that when you look at it there is no other thing we can attribute any part of it to other than the Lord." 

There isn't. It's all Him. Every single part. He's tenderly taught us more of the powerful truths of James 1:2-4 and Lamentations 3:21-23 and Psalm 16 and shown us His love and faithful presence in the hardest days. He's helped us find joy in the pain and He's made beauty from ashes. He has worked wonders by making us more like Him. And He has made a miracle in handing us this good gift from Him, our beautiful son. 

There will never be enough words to fully communicate what the last 4 years of life have been, what they've meant to us and for us, and the joy of how this season of life is playing out in its concluding chapter, but the theme of all of them and for all our days to come is this:

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

IMG_3873.jpg

such beautiful news


How do I even begin this blogpost, friends!? As I've thought ahead to writing it since receiving this beautiful news I've wondered, "how will I begin to express all the emotions? how will put these past few weeks into words? how can I possibly communicate to everyone who has walked with us these past 4 years how much they all mean to us!?" Oh dear ones, it has felt almost impossible to form the words, but form them I shall try, with the deepest gratitude and joy in my heart. 

WE ARE HAVING A BABY BOY!!!!!!!!

And right on cue the tears have begun to fall. To see those words typed there to share with you all, to have on this beloved little space of mine, to keep written down forever. Oh, it's such a gift. A precious, incredible, awe-inspiring answer to prayer gift!

This story of ours began 4 years ago, as many of you know, and these past 4 years have been full of heartache and wonderings, of pain and such beauty, of being brought low and of knowing such true satisfaction, of understanding our hearts more and coming to know the perfect character of our God in an even more intimate glorious way. Above all, these past 4 years have been about Him, our good Father. They've been about Him in the way He has changed us, in the way He has shaped us using rivers of tears and hearts that don't understand. They've been about Him in the ways He pulled back curtains to crevices and corners of our hearts that have desperately needed His grace to enter in. They've been about Him in the way He has made His truth so very alive to us and shown us how nothing, nothing will satisfy us apart from Him. They've been about Him in the way He's used them in our daughter's life, in the conversations He's allowed us to have because of her sweet 5 year old questions.. They've been about Him in the ways He's strengthened our marriage as we've walked this hard road, in the ways we've come to know and understand one another more, and the ways He's made His truth known through one of us to the other. They've been about Him in the ways He's made the bond between the three of us even sweeter, growing such a love for one another that I never knew could be. They've been about Him in the ways He allowed us to share our story, to come to know and love many others who are walking similar roads, to learn how to walk through the mountains and the valleys with others, to know what it means to bear one anothers burdens, to rejoice with precious ones and to grieve with them. They've been about Him in all the countless ways He's shown us a more intimate revealing of Himself and the way He loves us. They've been about Him because He has not wasted one single bit of these past 4 years, but has done everything in His time, has acted in perfect wisdom and love towards us, and has made beauty from ashes. They've been about Him because He is in all and above all, causing all things to work together for our good and His glory. And every bit of this rang true a month ago, before we knew of this little life growing inside of me. And with this little life growing inside of me we say, with all our hearts, "All glory to God," because none of this has been or would have been the pieces of our story apart from Him.

And precious friends, before I go any further I just want to say thank you. To just say the words doesn't seem enough to express to so many of you, literally hundreds who have prayed for us across the globe, how profoundly grateful we are for the ways you have walked with us, encouraged us, and lifted us up to our God over these past years. We have seen the body of Christ at work in the most generous, loving, and thoughtful ways in these years and just praise the Lord that He gave us one another to walk with on this earth! Thank you for being His hands and feet to us, for speaking truth, for crying with us and hoping with us, and for loving us so well. You have shown us Jesus and we are forever grateful.

And to my dear hearts who understand this road of infertility in an especially personal way. To my precious friends who have babies with Jesus, friends who are longing and praying for a little life to enter their family, who have walked this road of loss and heartache and who are still walking it. I just want you to know how dearly you are on my heart, always. I want you to know how grateful I am to have had you these past few years to link arms with and who I shall always have to link arms with to remind one another that our God is great and faithful and good even when it's painful and we do not understand His ways. I want you to know how treasured you are, how much your testimonies and words and lives have impacted my own, and how I am fervently lifting you each up to our Father, always. You have rejoiced with us and you have grieved with us and I treasure your open, vulnerable, loving souls so dearly. It is a privilege to walk with you in this life!

I am so eager to share with you all the story of how we found out about our sweet baby boy and give you all the joy-filled details about the last month of our life, but I couldn't even begin to write that post without first sharing what I have with you all. As I rub my tummy now and talk to my son (oh, how amazing it is to say that!) I tell him daily how much he has been prayed for, how many people have already had a tremendous impact on his precious life and how many people love him already. To share this news and not first take the time to let each of you know how beloved you are in our family couldn't be done. Our God is great and does great and mighty things and He has done many of those things in the past 4 years of our life through your lives!! It is a rich and humbling gift to share this news with you, to share our son with you! 

We have been so humbled and overwhelmed with such gratitude in the past several weeks that the tears have flowed nearly daily. We are blown away by the work of our God. His lovingkindness to us to entrust us with this little boy, to gift us with the privilege of being his parents, to bless Anna Kate with the joy of being his big sister, to continue our story in the way that He has!? It is breath-taking to us. We stand in awe, with hearts filled to bursting!

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."