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Celebrating Normal

Sweet babe,

Another week has passed and right on cue your big sister wants to know how big you are. She keeps reminding me, and the rest of the world, that I’m pregnant and that there’s a new baby coming to our house. She also prays daily that you will get to come home and live with us. I suppose that’s the reality in this family. You guys have a brother. And in her mind (and the minds and hearts of lots of people around us) George is just as real and a part of this family as she is and you are. We have a big part of our family in heaven, and while it would devastate us if the same were true for you, it’s something we have learned we can live with; simply because God is God. For the record, you are now the size of a brussel sprout. 

Dr Weber said that everything with you is looking normal. Normal. What a word. Never have I been so relieved to hear such a regular, not flashy or important word. It was like hearing the most beautiful herald of angels sing when those words came out of her mouth. Normal. You my sweet child, are normal. And for now, that’s the best gift your daddy and I could ask for. Sure, there are lots of things that could go wrong, that might go wrong, but our God - your God - has given us the incredible gift of peace and calm. We aren’t worried about the what might be’s. We are just simply thankful for your little life. He did, after all, design you perfectly for the life and work He intends for you. 

I saw a verse the other day that made me think of you (and me, and this journey we’re on together). You’ll learn this one day, but scripture is cool like that. I don’t even know you, yet there are pieces of Gods word that already reflect perfectly who you are and will be.  “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;” - Psalm 37:7a. You and I are waiting and it is my daily prayer that we are waiting patiently before the Lord. That entire psalm is filled with the things to do before the Lord. Dwell. Rest. Trust. Delight. Commit. Its going to be my mantra for the rest of this journey. Dwell, Rest, Trust, Delight, Commit. Dwell, Rest, Trust, Delight, Commit. In The Lord.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way; over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. - Psalm 37:1-11

Photo by  Keenan Loo  on  Unsplash

Photo by Keenan Loo on Unsplash

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10 Weeks & So Loved

Dear Baby #3,

We have officially been a pair for 10 weeks. According to all the pregnancy apps, you are the size of a kumquat. Your big sister asks almost daily to see the app and track your growth. No doubt that will lead to an awkward conversation with a stranger… if I ever leave this couch.

This pregnancy with you is already so different from those of your sister and brother. I’ve eaten a lot more so far. Some healthy, some not. (Daddy and I had a very serious debate just yesterday about whether Wavy Lays or Ruffles were better. For the record, you agree with me: Wavy Lays all the way). I hope that doesn’t mean you end up being a 10lb baby… though its not looking good. Your sister was over 8lbs and I barely ate anything in those first 5 months with her. Your brother, despite everything that was wrong, was over 7lbs and 2 weeks early. I suppose your daddy probably has something to do with that. At any rate, you have basically moved me to the couch for the last month. I eat small bits throughout the day of whatever sounds yummy, and I try not to throw it back up; though I think I’d actually feel a little better if I did…

Its fun to compare these last 10 weeks, and the 30 more to follow, with the 40 weeks I spent carrying each of your siblings. Its probably the only thing that all 3 of you will get to share. That makes me sad, but I know that when you arrive and you meet your sister, she will make sure you know your brother as well. For now, I’m going to just soak in all of the moments that you can share with your precious big siblings.

We are so excited to have you join this family - the good, the bad, and the yet to come. So far, you and George are sharing a totally awful Florida State football season; and for the third time, no beer for this mama. You also share an almost identical timeline to that of your sister. You’re due to arrive around Easter, just like she was, and it makes my heart smile that your arrival will be celebrated in conjunction with the Risen King. It also selfishly makes bringing you home a little easier, as its not frigid cold anymore by then, and I won’t have to dress you in 8,000 layers just to get out of the house —> and we will definitely be getting out of the house.

We get to hear your sweet heartbeat for the first time tomorrow. Hopefully we will get a good picture of you as well. Dr. Weber is going to take great care of us, just as she did for Audrey and George. I’m so excited for you to get to meet her one day. She’s a special lady and you are a special life that I know she will be so happy to celebrate. It makes me tear up to think about that. One more thing you can share with all of your siblings… I certainly wish there could be more, but I’m so thankful for a God who has placed us here, given us Audrey & George and now you, and who has written this story so intricately that there are still things you can share with your brother. Its a gift, and I’m not taking it for granted.

Here’s to 10 weeks with this 3rd tiny human. We already love you so.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

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Rainbows & Psalms

If it weren’t for all this nausea, and general pregnancy crumminess (hello insomnia, my old friend), I’m not sure I would really believe there was a baby on the way. It’s been so long since we’ve done the newborn thing - Audrey is 4.5 - that I often forget we will have another car seat in my rear view. As I was sitting in the preschool pick up line today, alone with my thoughts, I realized how different our life will look this time next year. And how terrifying {and exciting} that is to think about. 

This is baby #3. So we’re not new at this. But baby #2 took us on the adventure of a lifetime - except it didn’t include any of the normal things you’d expect when going from one child to two. Instead of those late night feedings and zillions of diapers, I was taking unisom and Benadryl to stop my milk, and slowly going through nursery stuff that we wouldn’t be needing; deciding whether it was worthy of storing or just getting rid of all together. This time (I’m being optimistic, and very very thankful for that), we will get thrown back into the whirlwind of those newborn days: the sleepless nights, the endless diapers, the completely dependent tiny human. In so many ways I’m both dreading and looking forward to this new chapter. 

I’d be lying if I told you that my life right now isn’t pretty easy. Audrey Nole is independent, communicates well, and is no longer needing of things like baby gates and outlet covers. She’s pretty well behaved (we cannot forget she is 4, after all), loves to read and color, and almost always is just as content to play alone as she is to play with me. As we went through our journey of trying to conceive another child, with every month that passed, I wondered how much it was going to affect the change our lives experience if/when we did get to bring another baby home. This new baby is due about a week after Audrey turns 5. We all know that due dates are a big guess anyway, but the reality is that life with a 5 year old and a brand new baby is going to look A LOT different than the “easy” season we find ourselves in at the moment. Not just different from now, but different from our experience with baby #1 and baby #2. A whole new season of unknowns; unique and specific to this new babe and the dynamic they will bring to our little family. 

Today also happens to be National Rainbow Baby Day; and has a million thoughts scrambled up in my head. Rainbow baby is term that is very meaningful in the loss community. As babies born after loss are considered the “rainbow after the storm.” I suppose in many ways, this new season we are entering with this baby is a calming of the last few years and the storm of grief, much like a long awaited rainbow. When I think about Noah and how beautiful that rainbow must have been after all those days of rain, and after all the destruction, my heart flutters a bit. He got to watch new life begin and know that those stormy days had a purpose. The clouds and the rain were part of God’s story. They were building His kingdom. Much like these last few years are a part of our story. They challenged us, strengthened us, and most importantly drew us closer to our Savior. I remember often calling the grief we experienced a storm. It’s such a fitting metaphor. But really, the thing I’m most excited about preparing for baby#3, is not the “rainbow after the storm” but instead meeting this unique person, knit together by a God who is endlessly caring, and with a specific and powerful purpose. He or she happens to come after a brother in heaven, and that will surely play a role in the way their story plays out, but it won’t be the only thing. Each of our kids has been made for this moment in this story, and the most exciting part of expecting again, is anticipating the things God has in store for this child. In many ways, all the nausea and yuckiness are reminding me to be thankful for that. And pray without ceasing for this little life and his or her’s story in this broken world. 

“For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16



Photo by  Marion Michele  on  Unsplash

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We're Expecting!

“I really hope this baby gets to come live with us!” And with that, my sweet 4 year old summed up all of the feels that come with a pregnancy after loss. 

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We are thrilled to share that baby #3 is on its way; words I honestly wrestled with the possibility of over the last few months. But God is good. And even though this next chapter of our story has been written to include a new baby, He would have been good even if it didn’t. Actually, especially if it didn’t. 

As I sit here with my journal, I really don’t know what to say. Our family is beyond excited. Audrey Nole has told anyone that will listen that there’s a new baby coming. {apologies if the HVAC tech found out before you… 4 year olds don’t keep secrets very well} In SO many ways, I’m so thankful for her joy and excitement. It helps me realize what a big deal this really is. It also forces me to celebrate this new life growing inside me. It would be easy to fall back into all the emotions from the end of my pregnancy with George. I imagine there will be plenty of moments of terror or worry. But the daily, almost hourly reminder, that this baby is growing in my womb, and the excitement that comes with what that means, is a true gift from God. 

As we spent the last several months in debate over what God had in store for us, for our family, I found myself most often asking for one thing: that should we end up pregnant again, the pregnancy would be stress free and as uncomplicated as possible. I know that probably sounds cliche. Doesn’t everyone want that? Except I need that. And so I boldly asked. I prayed with deep desire that if God granted us a third child, that it would be able to be as normal as if we hadn’t lost an infant child. As normal as if we hadn’t had a traumatic and stressful diagnosis and monitoring. Simple, uncomplicated, and normal. 

So far, I am SO THANKFUL for the grace to be enjoying myself. For the lack of fear over the what ifs. To daydream about nursery themes and all the baby items that we have to begin accumulating.  It is not lost on me that I am excited and only slightly nervous. That is a gift from my Good Father. Because there is no earthly/logical reason why I shouldn’t be terrified. And yet, all I want is a good nap and to bask in the joy and excitement of this precious life; and maybe a slightly less nauseous first (and second) trimester. 

Just as writing was healing during those months and years leading  up to and since George Mason’s day, I think this journal will be an outlet for all the things and all the feels of this pregnancy. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like, but I’m hoping you will follow along and cover us in prayer as we wait for and prepare for this precious life. 

Baby McGough, we are so thrilled for your life and cannot wait to meet you! I promise that I will do my best to make sure your very excited big sister doesn’t smother you too badly. 

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12


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