“Just because the move was sloppy doesn’t mean the time was wrong.” —Emily P. Freeman.
As I listened to her gentle voice deliver these words, my soul paused. The phrase and it’s intent trickled slowly down from my attentive ears to the well of my heart that had been unknowingly waiting for this generous gift of insight.
We have no way of knowing what our artistic contributions to the world will do and I guarantee Emily did not know that she had been walking me through a very complex season of my life. I have been listening to The Next Right Thing Podcast for awhile. It’s been extremely helpful for my energizer bunny brain that often needs to slow down and just do my next right thing in love. It has also been helping me quiet my head to be able to hear my heart.
Now I hope you will indulge me just a bit and come down the rabbit trail of thought that I’m about to take you on. Let’s begin shall we?
For nine years my husband and I tried to have a family. In our last ditch attempt at having children that bore our physical DNA we miraculously got pregnant. Fast forward to September 1st, 2014 when we welcomed the safe arrival of our two incredible sons, Kidran J. Caleb and Cohen V. Ryan. We had been so fortunate that our treatment had been successful, so successful in fact we had 11 remaining embryos on ice.
Around the time the boys turned one my thoughts would often turn to those little embryos. Were we ready to have another child or at least try? No, the timing wasn’t right. We were heading back for a stint in the States for six months and that was enough upheaval for now. Then the boys turned two and by that time we had moved back to the States completely. It was a big adjustment being back and only a few short months into our resettling my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t a good time to think of having another baby.
Then October 2017 arrived and my sweet Papa turned 80 on the 1st. On the 2nd, the day after his birthday, he breathed his last breath and went to be with Jesus. Two weeks prior to that Bryan’s mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma. All of the emotions compiled together and my heart felt crushed under the weight of it more times than I can recount.
Over the years Bryan and I had discussed these sweet potential lives many times. I had spent many nights tossing and turning thinking of the impossibility of what to do with them. I remember so clearly laying in my old bed at my parents house, tears streaming down my cheeks one night in the early hours of the morning. All I could think about were these precious embryos that were under our safe keeping. We were so happy and content with our family yet God had given us these embryos so were we meant to have them all or at least try? We were content yet also felt maxed out at times with the pace of life and keeping up with the energy of our active sons.
Fast forward to the Autumn of 2018. Our sons were four and our embryos were still frozen. In the lead up to that Autumn, I had grown accustomed to listening to The Next Right Thing podcast and had found it to be a helpful resource on so many levels. Many of the episodes felt timely, like they were directly for my season and stage of life. I know I’m not the only one who felt that way, as a few of my close friends also listen regularly and experienced the same kind of connection to the topics.
Somewhere along the way Emily had talked about naming things properly and knowing what you want and in October these concepts culminated in me deciding that I wanted us to try for a third baby. At the beginning of November I packed our boys up and we drove to Idaho to move in with my mom while Bryan stayed behind in Washington to work. We moved in and I began my appointments at our clinic. There are many details that I won’t include here but let me tell you, it felt like all the signs were pointing to this being the right thing at the right time. I knew better than to feel sure but I did feel hopeful.
November came and went and we missed our window for transferring an embryo by about a day or two due to Thanksgiving day closures at the clinic. So we began it all over again. The blood draws, the ultrasounds, to see if everything was lining up for a December transfer. By some chance of a miracle it all lined up. My body was doing what it needed to do naturally, Bryan was going to be able to arrive in time to be with me for the transfer, and my mom could watch the boys during the appointment. I had listened to Episode 63 and believed that we were doing just what the title said, making room. Episode 64? Well it was all about acknowledging your soul and babies. Again, we knew this would not be easy to start over and begin with a newborn but we also knew some things weren’t meant for us to understand fully.
The transfer took place a few days before Christmas so then we had to wait ten days. The rollercoaster of emotions began. Yet this time the boys were a welcome distraction and also a great reminder of how blessed we already were to be parents and have a family. We spent the remaining part of the Christmas holiday with my family, went to the mountains, had bloods taken that indicated numbers lower than expected, so after New Year’s, we made the decision to head back to Washington.
The night we arrived home, I began to bleed and I knew I was miscarrying. In all of our years of struggling we had never experienced a miscarriage and I was so thankful we hadn’t. Now, to add insult to injury, we had added this additional loss. Episode 65 Emily talked about taking off your crown and let me tell you, I knew I was not in charge at this point. No matter how much I felt it was the right thing to do, it was not in my control.
Later in January Emily shared her own sorrow at losing a very special family member. As she talked and told sweet stories, I washed dishes with tears in my eyes. She was challenging us, her faithful listeners, not to let the ending define the whole story. As hard as this was to hear, I knew she was right. This miscarriage was only part of the story, not the whole story. It was the ending of a chapter, not the end of the book.
With that in mind I reminded myself of the sweet moments when we first found out we had fertilized embryos, then when we found out we were pregnant, and then hearing two heartbeats, knowing both embryos had taken. There was so much joy in our story. I didn’t want to let this present sorrow steal the past or future joy to come.
As I continued to process the loss, questioning my own heart and motives, if I had heard God correctly, I listened to Episode 67: Wait Now Go. Once again, Emily had read my mail. Everything about trying for this third baby had felt fast, sloppy, even outrageous, and outlandish at points. Yet hearing the words that “just because the move was sloppy didn’t mean it was wrong” felt like a light bulb moment. You see, I have an overactive imagination to put it mildly. My mind would have tortured me with what if’s had we not tried for a third baby. I would have always wondered and I believe always regretted not at least trying. The action was what I had to live with, the outcome is what we had trusted God with. We cannot see the future nor do we need to. I did know though that I needed to trust God with the rest of our family while doing what I could do to bring peace to my mind.
After a few months my heart and mind started to quiet down again. Emily launched her lovely book that came from the podcast and she interviewed her sister as a result. In that interview something struck me. Myquillyn shared one of her current mantras: Do what you know. Finish what you started. Use what you have. As I chewed on these three thoughts I knew it was time. Time to make a decision about our remaining embryos and what we were going to do with them.
I can say it no other way than God intervened and what had felt so heavy and hard, like a huge bridge to cross, God plucked me up and dropped me on the other side. I had the privilege of helping out at a women’s conference where I met a woman who runs an embryo adoption agency. Within a few weeks we had the paperwork filled out and our application was accepted.
Now we are in the matching phase of the adoption. We are waiting once again to see what will happen with the remaining nine miracle embryos. As Emily talks about in Episode 82, we are finding the beginning in the ending. We have come to terms with our family being complete. It is the end to a very specific season of our lives, yet it is the beginning for some other fortunate couple who like us has been waiting, longing, and trying for so long to start their own family.
You may read through all this and think that I am a bit extreme or a little crazy and you would be right. I, however, see the grace of God to bring me a helping hand during a season of life when I needed it so much. Having found The Next Right Thing has been like finding a life counselor who understands how I think and function. It’s been a grace gift that I have received with open hands and a welcoming heart. Not only has it brought me encouragement in the form of wisdom, counsel, and revelation; it has also challenged me to keep sharing my own writing. To tell my story with truth and integrity even when it feels hard, or like I am exposing my raw heart. Sometimes we have to take the bandages off of our wounds to let the air and light in that bring healing. This means that those around us can see the pain we have been through and also watch as we allow ourselves to heal fully.
To end, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Emily P. Freeman. Your work is valuable, your perspective needed, and just plain beautiful.
“Writing is really quite simple; all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and open a vein” (Listening to Your Life by Frederick Buechner p.190).
Friends, I am about to open a vein.
Today, the 1st of September, 2018, my twin sons turned four.
The day was rather unspectacular if I’m being honest. We are having a proper celebration for them in “two more big sleeps.” So there was no big party or presents today. It was like any other day, except it wasn’t.
On this day, four years ago, my swollen belly waddled into Craigavon Area Hospital. A few hours later — our boys were in our arms. This act of birth that happened in mere seconds, had taken nine painful years of infertility to get to.
So today could have felt and seemed normal, except that it wasn’t.
I took the boys to Top Pot donut shop in Bellevue for a birthday breakfast. To everyone in that place I was a normal mom, sitting happily with her twin sons eating donuts. Except I wasn’t.
I was the mom who was sitting, staring, at two walking, talking, laughing miracles. I was looking at my nine years of tears cried, longing to be a mother. I was looking at what seemed like a crazy promise fulfilled. I was looking at my husbands’ and my face staring back at me, seeing both of our families in the faces of our sons. I sat looking at the most tangible proof I have of a God who hears me, sees me, and answers the deepest longings of my soul.
I LOVE being Kidran’s mom and Cohen’s mom. I love the connection that we have fostered these past four years. I love that they give me their best and throw their worst at me too. I love all the crazy ways they make me laugh and at the same time make me want to pull my hair out. I love that they are big lovers, who lavish me with hugs and cuddles. I love, love, love being their mom. My heart is beyond full as I live in this reality of my dream.
Now though, the vein is beginning to open.
After nine years of infertility, we gave birth to our handsome and healthy twin sons, Kidran J Caleb and Cohen V Ryan. We were one of the “lucky” couples who finally became pregnant. What many of you may not know is that our final round of ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) was so successful that we now have eleven remaining embryos.
We don’t know what our future holds. What I do know is I cannot have potentially eleven or more children. That fact slaps me across the face sometimes. I hate that I do not have the capacity or means to give birth to all these miraculous, potential lives. I hate that I feel stretched to the max being a mother to two incredible, energetic sons. I hate that after years of struggling to finally have our family, we are now wrestling with this additional piece of the heartbreaking puzzle of infertility treatment.
Of course I can see that this is where so many others would long to be. I am not stupid or blind. I see others who cannot produce even one viable embryo and here we are sitting with eleven. I also know that the only option for us and these precious embryos is not something I’m sure I will ever have peace about.
Early on in our treatment we made the decision that if we were fortunate enough to have any embryos left that we could not care for, we would adopt them out. We would not discard them, leave them to science, or not pay the storage so that the holding clinic would end up making a decision regarding their fate. (Yes, people are starting to do this more often because they can’t make a decision either.) We decided that they were lives and we would give them the best chance of a life we could, even if that home was not our own.
This is the part of infertility that I was not prepared for or I guess didn’t anticipate. I have cried so many additional tears about this. I have questioned the capability of the family/lies who may adopt our baby embryos. What if they have a baby like Cohen? Will they put him on meds because he seems to have “too much” energy? Will they see the subtle change in their baby’s smile that is similar to Kidran when he gets excited about something he really loves? Will they fill their house with laughter, patience, creativity? Or will it be strict, rigid, full of hardline rules? The questions are endless, and so is the grief.
When I think of not having these babies, it strikes me as one of the biggest points of grief I will ever experience in my life.
Yet, I had another thought.
Maybe, just maybe, these sweet, unborn lives will be placed with people who have exactly what my babies need because I think at the end of the day I will always feel like they are mine. Maybe we will help answer years of prayers for someone else. Maybe, just maybe, someday I will get to meet them.
I have agonized over this very scenario time and time again. Even as I write these words, my eyes are full, tears waiting to be released, to let the next wave of grief hit me. This choice and choosing it feels impossible. My stomach hurts thinking about it. Years of trying, waiting to now be here.
I know I can’t answer this question right now. Instead, I can work on more of the party favors for the boys Star Wars themed birthday party in two days! They recently had a little family party in Idaho that only wetted their appetite for birthday parties and presents. They are now truly excited for this birthday and that excitement is spreading. I even found Star Wars shirts for Bryan and me to wear! Roll on Monday evening! All things Star Wars, light sabers, and cupcakes! May the force be with you!
The last seven days have been interesting to say the least.
This past Friday at 10:22 a.m. my beautiful and strong grandma, Ardith Maier passed away. She was surrounded by family and went peacefully. She was the ripe old age of 98! Her mind was sharp but her body had failed her.
One of my favorite last memories of my grandma was a few years ago when my grandpa was still alive too (he passed away 5 days shy of 100!). We had completed our third transfer after 9 long years of trying, and were finally pregnant. My mom, aunts, cousins, sister-in-laws, and nieces then threw us a baby shower before we headed back to our home in Northern Ireland. The shower was at my grandparents house so my grandma could be there. My grandpa was of course there too, loving every second of us being there to celebrate this joyous occasion.
Right before we left my grandpa and grandma told us they wanted to pray for us. So I knelt in front of them while Bryan stood by my side. They laid their aged, wrinkled, and wise hands on us and prayed.
It wasn’t an eloquent prayer. It wasn’t long. It was however, powerful. It felt like a baton being passed. They had prayed constantly for us to have a family. They persistently knocked on heaven’s door for us and I am thankful they did. In that moment, we entered a holy place. A place where the veil is thin. What had been such a dark season of time for us was finally turning into a bright, blinding light. They were there to witness it and that felt huge.
So Saturday, I grieved the loss of my grandma. I grieved the loss of my sweet papa again too. It all hit me harder than expected. My body felt numb, I didn’t really want to move but just sleep. As usual my incredibly aware and loving husband took our boys and gave me space to just “be” that day. Thank you my love. Thank you for knowing when I need space and doing what is necessary to create it.
As I had the space and time, I cried at times. Then I signed copies of my book to send to some special women. Some of you who already bought the book know this, but I included the infertility struggle of other women at the end of my book. Every infertility story looks different and I wanted the women who read my book to find themselves in at least one of these stories. So I wrote my thank you’s to these women and posted their copies to them. Thank you ladies for entrusting me with your personal journey and for allowing me to share it this way with others on the same road. We are all in this together.
After feeling like I was in a bit of a funk, and going through Easter morning not feeling very present, we had the pleasure of spending the rest of the day with our adopted PNW family, the Wheelers. They love on us and our boys like family. They were also the ones who did an Easter egg hunt for Kidran and Cohen, not us. As I stood in their house, where we lived for our first four and a half months back in the states in 2016, I was overwhelmed by how thankful I am for each of them and their presence in our life. Thank you Wheeler Clan for loving and including us in such a generous, big way!
Tuesday rolled around, a day I had been anticipating. I was anxious for the day because I had my very first podcast interview about the book (which hopefully will be available mid April!). I was a mixture of excitement and nerves, wondering if I was going to totally blank on every question but hoping I would instead be able to speak straight from my heart. I think I was able to do the latter. My sweet friend Ailsa, who is ever gracious and accommodating, offered to watch my boys while I did the interview. What a gift!
I dropped the boys off at her house and we chatted over coffee for a bit. Then I drove home, lit a candle, prepared my material for the interview. I quieted my heart, had a few moments with God, and centered myself. Then I became truly present.
The interview went beautifully. We had a heartfelt discussion about infertility, the book, the ups, downs, and everything in between of this difficult journey. I LOVED IT!
I had recruited extra prayers that day and I am so thankful I have people who do pray for me. Many of those same people carried me for years as we walked in a childless exodus, trying to find our familial promise land. We indeed have landed in a sweet place now.
As I reflected on the interview, this is what I came away with.
Infertility felt so dark to me at many points. It enveloped me, to the point where at times I could not ever see a way of getting out. Now to have written The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants and be able to share my story with so many others, it feels like light breaking through. Being able to share about the book in an interview where I came away buzzing about how much I enjoyed it, again, light breaking through. Maybe the light seems brighter too because of the darkness from those years of isolation, heartbreak, sorrow, and tears cried in secret. To openly display my pain and see light cracking through every crevice as I expose my own dark journey feels like redemption.
Where are you walking in the dark right now? What part of your life is the most painful? Maybe, just maybe, in the near or far future, that pain will be what grabs the hand of someone else stumbling down a dark corridor, to help guide them towards a brighter, light-filled future. Will you share your own story of darkness and pain with the chance that it may help someone else? I really think you should.
*If you are interested in purchasing the book you can do so by heading to Amazon or if you are local to the PNW, you can DM me on Instagram, @breannachud or FB @breannajochud. Please share this book with those who may be struggling and if you read it, would you do me a favor and review it on Amazon and my FB page? Again, the podcast interview should be up mid April so have a listen and review that too! Thank you!
When I was in high school, I liked English. My teacher however made it very clear to me, on more than one occasion, that English did not like me. She held my paper up, covered in red marks, in front of both classes, and announced that I made the most mistakes in both her classes. It was a defining moment. From that point on, I became pretty insecure about my ability to write throughout high school.
Imagine my surprise then, when I tested out of the basic English composition class to move onto the next level when I arrived at college! It gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could actually write. Combine that spark with years of journaling, and I decided to ignore my high school teachers decision of my ability.
I did this when I started blogging for the community coffee shop I opened in Northern Ireland called The Press. I would share about the experiences in the coffee shop and announce our upcoming events. I LOVED IT! Writing had always been an outlet and at that point I started to find my own voice.
Fast forward a few years. Bryan and I decided to give IVF one last shot, no pun intended! I figured the easiest way to keep people informed of our progress was through my personal blog. I had only one or two entries at that point. I guess I also need to rewind and insert this little fact. Through the years that we struggled with infertility I also journaled. I used my writing as a way of processing my pain, as a way of praying, as a way of dealing with the grief I carried, but didn’t always want the world to know. I also didn’t want to consistently be “Debbie Downer” by always talking about the sadness I felt. This could be partly my personality or partly the lies we believe that people can’t handle our pain and suffering, I’m not really sure.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Years before the blog started, Bryan and I had made a special trip to London to see Phantom of the Opera with the London cast. It was one of my bucket list items. It happened around my 30th birthday along with our first failed round of IVF. As we sat having dinner in a little Italian restaurant across from the theater, we decided that someday, when our family had finally arrived, by whatever means it came, that we would share our story in a book.
That moment has arrived. The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants is our story from my personal perspective. I allow you to crack open pages of my own journals, private pictures, sketches and my honest response to the struggle of infertility. I really hold nothing back. I am not trying to shock people, but I am trying to wake people up. This issue is painful. Painful for those struggling and painful for those who are watching someone struggle. 1 out of every 8 couples will deal with infertility now, 1 out of 8!!! Next time you are around that many couples, just look around because I would bet my own money that someone you know really well is struggling. It’s that real friends.
This book took me almost two years to complete. Life happened in a not so kind way almost immediately after I had the full manuscript completed. My father was diagnosed with cancer. At times the book felt like a burden I couldn’t shake while dealing with the grief of watching my father deteriorate. Other times it felt like an escape and a lifeline. What definitely helped was writing. Writing has become a way of life for me. Thanks to authors like Shauna Niequist, Jen Hatmaker, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Brene′ Brown, I began to believe in the power of my own voice. I also had my husband and amazing family and friends cheering me on too!
So the other night, March 12th at 7 p.m. I had my very first book launch! I was overwhelmed to see so many lovely faces come. Some I hadn’t seen in years, and some I have only recently become friends with. It was a beautiful collection of people and I am so grateful for each person taking the time to come and support me in such a tangible way.
Now I have the privilege of promoting this much needed book. I get to share my story again and again with people. Validating each time that what I went through, what we went through, and maybe what you are going through will not be wasted if we let it help and guide others. Our pain truly can bring comfort to someone else’s suffering, if we will let it. It means standing with our hands open instead of with clenched fists.
“I would describe infertility as a process of purification. You go through the fire, but at the end you come out your truest self.” p. 51 The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants
What have you experienced by way of pain in your life? Are you willing to open that area up to even just one person? If so, I think you will find there is healing there. There is purpose in your pain there. There is also forward momentum that helps you leave the past in the past and move towards your future with hope and joy. Please share your story, the world needs it!
On the 1st September 2014, Bryan and I welcomed the arrival of our two beautiful sons. Kidran J Caleb Chud was born at 11:48am weighing 5lbs6oz and Cohen V Ryan Chud was born at 11:49am weighing 5lbs1oz. From the moment we heard Kidran and Cohen’s first cries our lives were forever changed. The boys are incredible! They are handsome, sweet, have reasonably chilled attitudes so far but with very distinctive personalities. We are in love! Hours are spent each day simply staring at their perfection and the blessing that they represent in our lives from God. We are caught in the web of not wanting them to grow up already yet longing to see how they change and develop in time. Each day is precious whether it be an easy day or a difficult one. We are living each moment as much as we can and enjoying the journey. Thankfully this has been made easier by the help of my giving and generous parents who are here for 6 weeks. We also had the privilege of our good friend Molly Olsen coming and helping us get onto pure breastfeeding for a whole week! The help doesn’t end there as Bryan’s mum Lynda arrives the beginning of October to stay for 3 months. It has been such a huge adjustment having our two wee bundles at home but we are loving it. We have been inundated with such extreme generosity from our family, church family and friends both here and in America and feel incredibly fortunate that so many people are celebrating the birth of our boys with us! Thank you to each person who has blessed us!!!!
There is so much I could say but my brain won’t really allow me too and there’s not a lot of time as the boys feed every 3 hours at the moment. (Totally worth the sleep deprivation as Kidran now weighs 6lbs1oz and Cohen weighs 5lbs15oz!) As you can imagine there have been so many moments that have wrecked both Bryan and I when we contemplate the road we have travelled to arrive where we are. God’s faithfulness displayed in such splendor is almost too much at times to take in! Yet one of my favourite moments that comes to mind is the day we brought our boys home from the hospital. As we drove down the M1 back to Dungannon Bryan played an album by Kristine Mueller- Those Who Dream. (If you can, buy this album! You will not be sorry!) The album has special significance to us as it was played non-stop during our first two failed attempts at IVF. A few years on we lost the album when our computer crashed. This Christmas Bryan was able to get it again and as we moved forward with another round of treatment the songs took on greater meaning. One of the lyrics talks about God making us into mountains that cannot be moved or shaken. Throughout our journey to start our family we have felt God so close and had many ‘thin place’ experiences. We do not believe He orchestrated our struggle to have a family but we do believe He walked through it with us. He used the experience to make us into mountains. Mountains that display the grandeur of God’s faithfulness and His attention to every detail of our lives. Through the process we have become stronger, our faith more solid than ever before. Things that used to shake us or tried to move us have less of a hold. That does not mean what lies ahead will be easy or we will be unshaken. Still we have the promise of God always being with us and this settles my heart and mind. Another lyric states this fact: ‘Over and over, you prove yourself faithful’. As we drove home with our physical representations of God’s promises fulfilled, we were both overwhelmed by God’s proof of being faithful. Our eyes filled with tears, our hearts beat that much fuller and we knew we had met with God, we had experienced one of the holiest moments of our lives.
So here are a few pictures of our beautiful boys! They are from the first week so already they have changed and grown so much but I wanted to capture them this way as much as we could! Enjoy!!!
Looking back at the blog I see that it has now been nearly two months since I last posted anything!!! Where does the time go? It seems like so much has happened since my last post and I will do my best to condense it. The two new pictures are of me with some of my fellow prego mommies!! Our church seems to be having a baby boom as there are a few ladies not even in this pic from our church who are pregnant. There is also another girl pregnant with twins so we have had fun comparing notes. I think it is a sign that God truly is up to something magnificent and big for the upcoming years as these little boys and girls grow up in His presence!
Shortly after the last entry Bryan and I went and stayed two nights in Belfast at the Europa Hotel to celebrate our 12 year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that it has been 12 years since we said ‘I do’ but a lot has happened to fill those years. We had a wonderful, relaxing time in Belfast. The highlight would have to be our anniversary journals. One of our wedding gifts when we got married were two journals, one for each of us. The couple who gave them to us encouraged us to write about each year of our marriage and then share that with each other as part of our anniversary traditions. We have done this each year and found it to be tedious yet rewarding and this year was no different. Although there was a difference. In our entries over the years we have written about our trials and the ups and downs of our journey to start a family. Sharing those entries has been bittersweet at times as we were never blind to the fact that we still had not been able to start a family yet we always were overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, presence and extreme blessings in our lives. This year we sat in the piano bar at the Europa Hotel, with the World Cup muted in the background and read to each other our view of this last year. As we did, we both sat with tears streaming down our faces at the miraculous events that had taken place in our lives namely us finally getting pregnant. It felt so monumental for our journey and seems to us like a script that not even Hollywood could write. God does love a good story and He is the giver of good gifts and good surprises and we are proof of that. After all the years of waiting, of hoping, of crying, of anger, of pain…at the end was a beautiful picture of resurrection. (If you own Nathan Chud’s album Moratorium, now would be a good time to listen to resurrection.) Jesus had taken our dead and buried dreams and brought them back to life in fullness! Thank you Father for hearing every prayer and giving us this privilege of become parents and having a family!
After our time in Belfast we came back to Dungannon for church that Sunday morning. Bryan celebrated his first Father’s Day and it was awesome to experience!! That brings us into July where we had people come and stay with us nearly every weekend of the month. We enjoyed the time catching up with friends and family whom we have not seen for quite some time but I must admit I was a little tired by the end of it and have enjoyed time with just Bryan since everyone has gone.
Something else marked July for us unfortunately and that was the death of my beloved Grandpa Maier on the 10th July, 2014. My Grandpa was one of my favourite people and growing up I respected him so much and that only grew as I became an adult. He loved people, served people and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. More importantly he was a man who gave his entire being to Jesus and was so passionately in love with Jesus that he couldn’t help but be a contagious spreader of the love of Christ. I always said to him that I wanted a double portion of what he had and my Mom kindly reminded me that I had been given that double portion, God had given us two boys! When he passed he was surrounded by my lovely Grandma Ardith, my Mom and her sisters and the entire Maier clan. They sang old hymns and songs to him, they told him their favourite memories and was there until he breathed his last. Moments like this make the distance between us and the rest of my family so very big and hard. I just wanted to be there with my Mom, my Grandma and the rest of my family who were grieving the loss of this incredible patriarch. I wanted to cry with them, tell stories with them, relive our best moments with Grandpa Maier (him tickle/pinching us as kids, making us wooden toys, him leading the Lion of Judah at convention, him preaching at Fellowship Tabernacle, the list goes on and on). I just wanted to be with my family. So being heavily pregnant was probably the only good excuse I could use to justify to myself not being there with all of them. Thankfully Brent, my eldest brother, organized to have the funeral streamed so I was able to witness the celebration of his life and his incredible legacy. I will miss and love you forever Grandpa, thank you for showing me what a life centered around Jesus looks like and the fulfillment that only He can bring to this life looks like. You will never be replaced but always remembered.
Now we are into August and I am 32 weeks today! This baffles me! The time has flown by and outside of the whole appendix episode, the pregnancy has gone really well. I have been enjoying feeling more movements from the boys as they are now estimated to weigh 4lbs 3oz and 4lbs 10oz! So when they move it is no longer a gentle nudge or tap but feels more like a wrestling match is going on inside of my stomach! We have made great strides in getting the nursery set up for the boys arrival thanks to the generosity of so many and even have the hospital bag and nappy bag packed in case I go into preterm labour. I am scheduled to have another scan on the 28th August and will then get a date for my C-section.
I have also finished up my job which was a wonderful job during this time but my body was ready to rest. Over here it is quite common for women to finish work a month before their due date to rest and prepare for the arrival of the baby/ies and I am so thankful to be living here because of this! I know it’s not that way for my American friends. At work they made me a sweet little peanut butter and buttercream iced cake that said Yummy Mummy on it and we all had a coffee break together, it was very sweet. Now it is time to get the rest of the nursery set up, try to make a few meals for the freezer and clean the house from top to bottom (which because of the lack of negotiating I can do with the bump will take me probably two weeks)!!! There is always the chance that the babies could come earlier than planned which is okay as their weights are getting up there and we have already had the steroid injections to mature their lungs. Yet it would be nice to have my Mom and Dad here before they come or at least as soon as they arrive. I know we can’t control this aspect of pregnancy so we are trusting that they will come when they are ready and healthy enough to be brought home.
To finish this long overdue and lengthy update I wanted to share a very sweet moment I had the other evening. Bryan was playing a chilled out song on the guitar that was beautiful and as he was playing I was folding the baby clothes that I have washed so far and picking out which pieces I would pack for the hospital. As I stood their in that moment, tears began to fill my eyes. The complete reality of what I was doing hit me. I was folding the clothes that our little boys will wear. Our boys. Not someone else’s miracles but ours, the two gifts that God has blessed us with. It was one of those surreal moments that felt like time stood still. My heart felt like it could explode in gratitude and joy! I paused and thanked God for every prayer He heard, for every tear He kept and for releasing His Kingdom power into our lives in this way at this time. It was precious and not a moment I will ever forget. Bryan came in a few minutes later and we both stood, hugging, in awe of what these little clothes represented in our story. Thank you Abba!
If you would like to pray for us here are a few prayer points that we would love you to partner with us in:
*Pray for continued healthy development of the boys and that they will come only when they are healthy, strong and ready to come home.
*Pray for us to find a new car that will be more suitable for our growing family needs:)
*Pray for job opportunities for Bryan to come up.
*Pray for the safe arrival of our family and friends who are so graciously coming to help support us through the first few months of becoming parents, hallelujah!!!
*Pray that the delivery, whatever way it happens, is smooth and uncomplicated.
Thank you for your continued support!!!
Image Posted on Updated on
We have had our 20 week scan and are delighted to announce that we will be having two boys!!! They were very proud and showed off quite a bit for us. My good friend Lynne Archer came with me to the appointment since Bryan was in Austria. It was lovely to be able to share in that moment with Lynne as she is one of the many friends who has carried our burden with us over the years so thank you Lynne! The scan was so much fun! The woman performing it was great and explained everything as she went and she was very happy with everything she saw. The boys are growing well and developing at the right rate so praise God for two beautiful, healthy boys!! The first picture above is two of our scan photos. As you can see they look quite different already which is wonderful and as soon as I saw their profiles I just fell in love!!! I cannot wait to kiss their lips and faces and just cuddle them! Bryan was so excited too and I know it was difficult for him to not be here for such a memorable moment but we have made the best out of this time and are feeling thankful for God’s continued provision and for this blessing we are experiencing.
The next two pics give you an idea of how much I am growing! I feel huge at times and have put on probably around 25lbs. I am taking it all in stride though as I am amazed at what the human body can do. The fact that I can grow and sustain the lives of these two little ones never ceases to amaze me! Thankfully I am now experiencing more pregnancy symptoms than anything else. There are still times where I can feel the scar tissue trying to stretch as the babies are growing but overall it’s not too bad. One of my favourite pregnancy symptoms is the movement of the babies! I love feeling each kick and punch. Feels like assurance that all is okay and that they are healthy, just very special.
This week is a pretty big one for us as Bryan arrives home Wednesday evening!!!! The boys and I are so excited to have their Daddy back and start working on the nursery and getting everything ready for the babies arrival. (The last pic shows a bit of what we have collected for them so far, much of it is thanks to my amazing family who threw us a baby shower before we left the states!) Bryan completed his course and passed with flying colours and I am so proud of all that he accomplished while he was away!! He truly amazes me with his ability to learn and absorb so much information in such a short time as well as his heart for people. I know he is going to be an incredible father as he already is a great husband! I also start back to work this week so I am looking forward to seeing everyone again and having a bit of routine back in my life.
Overall my heart feels full. We are in such a precious season of life and are surrounded by incredible people who have blessed us in more ways then we can count (ie. Sunday lunches at the McCammon’s, Cheryl Roberts coming and hoovering for me to keep the house nice and tidy-to name a few). Our church has truly been the church to us through this whole time. The generosity of so many has made me want to be more generous. I think knowing that we will be bringing two little lives into this world to shape and mould has made me look at our lives and ponder them. I want our boys to know how to be kind, how to be giving, how to be fun and spontaneous, adventurous and how to be intentional. More than anything though I want them to know Jesus. That has become very clear to me since becoming pregnant. Jesus is the central figure in Bryan and my life and that is the greatest legacy we can leave to our children. Not religion, not rules and regulation but a genuine and real relationship with the Creator of the universe.
My prayer is this: Abba, our children are yours. We give them back to you and thank you for entrusting them to us. Thank you!!!!!!
The big scan is coming up this Wednesday so we will find out for sure if it is two boys as they think it is. Very excited to see them for an extended period of time at the big scan and to see what they look like at this stage (more human than white blob:) ). This picture gives you an idea of what we are looking like at 20 weeks though. People keep saying the bump is growing everyday which I definitely feel. A wee prayer point though, please pray for the scar from the appendix that it will grow and stretch with the growth of these babies. Plus Bryan has only about 2 1/2 weeks left before he is home so I am delighted with that fact! I will also hopefully be going back to work after the 30th of May and seeing how long I can last. I have started collecting bits and pieces as well for the babies arrival and it feels nice to finally do something productive for them coming. Sitting and relaxing has been great but I have also gone into nesting mode, but don’t worry! I am not lifting/moving furniture as that will be Bryan’s job when he gets home. Now bring on Wednesday!!!!
Hello blog world! It has been nearly two months since I last updated the blog, embarrassing – yes, reasons to follow – yes. Once we arrived back in Northern Ireland we started working and life ticked on, fairly uneventful. We were reconnecting with old friends and some new ones. We were thankful for our jobs and God’s provision. At the end of March we celebrated Vineyard Church Dungannon’s 10 year anniversary which was extremely special and a bit emotional for me. In the years since we have been living here, a good chunk of that time has been spent pursuing the start of our family. Sitting, chatting with friends all while being pregnant that evening felt very much like the fulfillment of so many promises over the 10 years that we felt God had given us. We are so thankful that God called us here and included us in the mission, work and life blood of our church. It truly is the most incredible church we have been a part of and we have seen some good ones over the years. Yet the way our church lives out the Word of God, embodies Jesus and shares Him with this town has always been the hook that kept us here. We couldn’t ask or imagine a better church family to be a part of.
The pregnancy was going well, we were enjoying each day as it came and just living life. We then had our first scan here on the 7th of April which is the scan pic above (the bump pic of me in pink is also from around that same time, maybe a little later). The babies were growing well, all looked good and we even found out that it’s very likely we are having at least one boy!!! (Insert little squeal of delight here!!) Wow! That was such a surprise to be able to find out so early and also a huge blessing for both of us to share in that moment together as Bryan won’t be able to attend the Big Scan (he will be taking a ski instructing course in Austria).
From the 7th April to the 11th life was just life, nothing too eventful just enjoying each day. Then the evening of 11th April I came down with a tummy bug. Being pregnant has it’s own set of rules and one of those rules is that when you are pregnant any kind of sickness is at least 10 times worse (at least that was my experience for this bug). I don’t remember the last time I had been so ill and wretched so violently. I broke blood vessels around my eyes, on my forehead and neck due to the force in which I was being sick with. I will spare you the gorry details but let’s just say it wasn’t only the top of my body that suffered. So from Friday night to about Sunday the bug had knocked me flat on my back. Sunday evening I took extreme abdominal pain and thought death might be a better option (okay, slightly exaggerated but in the moment didn’t seem like a bad option). A few hours later the abdominal pain subsided, wasn’t just as intense but then localized to my lower right abdomen area. From Sunday night to Tuesday night I did little else other than lay on our couch in pain and watched TV. The effort and pain it caused to get up and move around was very unpleasant and things like going to the toilet or taking a bath were so hard. Tuesday night we realized maybe the soreness I was feeling was more than just muscle soreness from being so sick. Bryan gently tossed a blanket to me and it landed on my right abdomen where I was experiencing the most severe pain and I immediately burst into tears. At that point we both thought maybe this was worth going and checking out. We attended doctors on call at 11:40pm and they then sent me to the Craigavon Hospital and around 3am I was admitted.
By 5pm that same day the doctors and surgeons had decided that I needed to have surgery to remove my appendix. (Above is also a pic of my bump with the staples in after the surgery). At 7pm I was taken into surgery where they took two hours removing my appendix and cleaning up the areas in which it had spread, scraping around organs and the womb. Waking up from the anesthesia I saw Bryan and I was so relieved to see his face!!! The whole day leading up to the surgery I was drugged up and resting thankfully. So seeing his face at the end of the day was just wonderful! I wanted to hold his hand and know that he was there. By about 11pm that same night I was taken to the surgical ward and said goodnight to Bryan as well as Pete, Julie and Soph McCammon who had come up with Bryan for support. (Thank you McCammon’s!!!)
Thursday was a tough day as I was so sore and moving was difficult. (I was even beaten to the toilet by a little old man around 90. This made Bryan laugh so hard!) Thankfully Bryan came up Thursday and spent the whole day with me. Hospitals are pretty boring places when you are there for a few days so having Bryan and his energy around was just lovely! He also waited till midnight with me to have the scan of the babies post op but missed it as she didn’t come till nearly 1am! He would make me smile (not laugh as that was too painful) and made the day a whole lot brighter. I thankfully had visitors Thursday evening, Friday morning and then Friday afternoon before I was discharged. Having people come to see you when you can’t go anywhere is so important so if you have a friend or family member sick, in hospital or stuck at home or in a care facility, go visit them!
We were also fortunate during my stay at the hospital to have 4 additional scans to make sure the babies were okay which they were. They seemed totally un-phased by the whole ordeal which was nice to see. It’s never ideal to operate on a pregnant woman so the relief we both felt when we knew they were okay was quite great as you can imagine. These babies must be tough!
I got home Friday evening and have spent the last two and half weeks recovering. Thankfully the first week and a half home Bryan was here so he was looking after me between work and trying to get ready to go to Austria. Having a helpful and supportive spouse is one of God’s greatest gifts to me! Thank you Bryan for being amazing, for loving and caring for me and for always making my life better! You have been the biggest blessing in my life and I love you so much!!! (You also make a great shower assistant!)
Once Bryan left I had so many visitors call over, I have had friends come and stay the night with me and people from church are bringing me dinner each night because I can’t make my own food yet. Even though I am fit and healthy and the pregnancy was going well, this recovery is still a slow process. You aren’t allowed to lift anything heavy, I can’t go back to work for another few weeks at least and I still can’t drive. Having a church family and friends rally around us during this time is the only thing that is getting us through.
Now my job is to rest, recover and take good care of these babies. I am eating normally again so as you can see in the above pictures with me in the gray tank top, I am beginning to show a proper baby bump. I haven’t felt any movement yet but I am just 18 weeks. Our Big Scan is scheduled for the 21st May but I have a scan before then so hopefully we will find out on the 21st if not before what the sex of the other baby is. I can’t really begin to put into words how I have been feeling as so much has happened in a short space of time. I have been emotional at times, I have been exhausted, I have been so sore, I have been incredibly happy and incredibly sad. I guess that is pregnancy! Overall though, I am thankful. Thankful to be healthy, recovering and have our babies be healthy and safe. I am thankful I have a husband who loves me so well. I am thankful that this happened here in Northern Ireland as opposed to America. I am thankful for each person who has blessed me with either their food, flowers or visit while I am stuck at home. Of course this was not part of anyone’s plan and not ideal but at the end of each day I am thankful. Thank You Abba for protecting our beautiful little babies and me and for meeting us in the place of our deepest needs during this time. Thank You!
Once again though I ask you to cover us in prayer. Bryan will be away 33 more days and as much as seeing his dream come true of becoming a ski instructor is amazing, it is also difficult for him to be away from me and the babies right now. His desire to care for us is so strong and this hasn’t been easy. Pray as well for his body to hold up under the intensity of the course both physically and mentally as this course is one of the top courses and therefore extremely hard. Pray that my body makes a full recovery from the surgery and has no complications due to the surgery later on. Continue praying for these little lives I carry that they will grow and develop well and that they will be healthy and strong throughout the duration of the pregnancy. We so value and feel each prayer that is prayed so please keep them coming! Thank you! (Apologies for the length of this entry, shorter entries will be in the future!)
We left the states on the 23rd February, had a 25 hour layover in Iceland for my birthday and landed back in Belfast, Northern Ireland at 4:20pm 25th February, 2014. When our plane landed it brought me back to 9 years ago when we first moved to Northern Ireland. We had very few contacts, no jobs, no church, nothing really that would make the transition smooth. What we did have was a belief that God had called us to Northern Ireland and that He would meet us there.
This time when we landed we came home, the place where we have invested the last 9 years of our life. One of our dear friends who is more family than friend, Julie, collected us at the airport. We had our lovely home to go back to. We had a bed, food in the cupboards and a few other friends had already been ahead of us and cleaned the house for us. We were coming back to a wonderful church family that we love and have missed so much while being away. We were coming back with a promise fulfilled and it felt strangely familiar to our first arrival yet so very different. Even though it was so difficult saying our goodbyes to our incredible families and friends in the states whom we love dearly, we knew we were coming to the right place. Our hope that God would meet us here 9 years ago has been physically displayed to us by all that we have come back to and all that has happened through the years.
As you can see in the picture above, we did not travel lightly. I collected many new clothes (including both maternity and baby) while away and Bryan aquired skis and boots. We both had our concerns about how the journey home would be. Traveling with that much luggage is not easy, especially when one of you is not allowed to lift anything heavy. From our first port in Seattle our trip was smooth sailing. We had help from Pete and Molly getting everything sorted in Seattle. When we arrived in Iceland all our bags were there as were trolleys for us to push our heavy bags with. We were able to collect our rental car no problem and they extended our rental till the morning we left. All our bags fit in this tiny car like puzzle pieces perfectly cut. Our bags then arrived in Gatwick and were checked into Easyjet with only one bag being additionally charged. The whole journey was so smooth and easy. Thank you God!!!
As we reflected on the journey both Bryan and I felt God’s hand had been with us. I am not trying to over-spiritualize traveling and our luggage but we both could see it. In many ways it felt like a confirmation that we were headed to the right place. It felt like a reminder of God’s faithfulness. It also spoke to us of God’s ability and desire to show up when His children do.
Our journey back to the states to invest in our families did not seem like the logical think to do. We had finally arrived at the point where both of us had full time employment and life felt comfortable. In our history when life feels comfortable that is usually when God begins stirring us to do something unique. I am not saying this is a recipe that every person should adhere to but this seems to be the way God speaks and moves in our lives. Going back to the states was a gamble and a risk financially. Yet God provided for us every step of the way after what we had saved was gone. Family and friends dug very deep at times to take care of us. Thank you family and friends for doing so. We watched you be the church and God’s hands and feet to us during our time in the US. Without your extreme and outrageous generosity we would not be pregnant today.
When we went back to the states we also left with no intention of going through fertility treatment again. Now look at us, pregnant with twins! We thought we were merely going back to invest into our own families while God could see that we would be investing in the future of our own as well. Wow!!! What a beautiful experience to have gone through it all with our families standing by our sides!
Now we are back in our lovely home living normal life. Looking for jobs, cars, making plans for the next year and settling in again, but oh it feels so good. Daily I feel God gently reminding me that He is aware of our biggest and smallest needs. Once again we are seeing miracles daily in God’s ability to provide for our needs better than we can provide for ourselves. Our past has been a continual reminder that when we are proactive and take a few risks that God tends to show up in the gap that we could not fill. Our past is also occurring in our present and I am confident that it will be the same in the future.
Abba, thank you for bringing us back to this place that represents your promises fulfilled in so many areas of our lives. Thank you for allowing us to have a home over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear and even sunshine today. Thank you for preparing the way when we cannot even see a path. Thank you for my husband and his support in my life. Thank you for our expanding family and showing yourself faithful to us this way. Thank you for our family and friends who are still loving and supporting us from a distance and for our friends who are doing it up close. We give back to you these little lives that you have given us. We dedicate them to you. We will love them to the best of our ability and be thankful that you will always fill in the gaps. Simply put… thank you Jesus! Our hearts are full as are our lives!