Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflecting on the past year

So many people have commented to us about how special these first holidays with Bentlee are going to be, and we couldn't agree more! We have already celebrated some wonderful occasions since she has been home with us: her first Halloween, her baby dedication, my 30th birthday, her first Thanksgiving, and now we are looking forward to her first Christmas. As I thank the Lord for these wonderful holidays we are enjoying as a family this year, I can't help but reflect on how drastically different our life is this year compared to the holidays last year.


Last year, we stayed home for Halloween; we handed out candy, commented on all of the adorable kids in their costumes, and wondered and wished for our chance to dress our little one up for this day. We were also waiting anxiously in anticipation for me to go in for my blood pregnancy test to see if that month's IUI was successful or not. 

On my birthday last year, I began the morning at the fertility clinic, getting my blood drawn, and waited with my stomach in knots all day for a phone call telling me whether or not I was pregnant. When they called and told me that my blood pregnancy test was positive but my hormone levels were very low, we  were cautiously excited. We wanted to celebrate but we were scared to until we went back to the doctor for more bloodwork. 

The Monday of Thanksgiving week last year, we went to the doctor for our first sonogram, excited to see our baby for the first time. After weeks of rising hormone levels, we were shocked to find out that I was going to miscarry again. We spent the week of Thanksgiving by ourselves in complete devastation, waiting for the miscarriage to happen. We stayed home from our yearly Thanksgiving family reunion for the first time since I was born and ate Thanksgiving dinner by ourselves at Cracker Barrel. It was one of the worst weeks of our lives. 

The first week of December last year, I had my second miscarriage. Just before Christmas we went in for a lot of bloodwork to be done to figure out why I kept miscarrying, and we were told we would potentially get some answers at the beginning of January. Our Christmas was still good, but our hearts were hurting and angry, and we weren't really in the "Christmas spirit". We weren't even looking forward to getting any answers; at that point, we were seriously ready for 2011 to be OVER! 

Now, a year later, our hearts are full. We experienced the birth of Bentlee on October 1, followed by a seamless placement of her into our homes and our lives. We have had an amazing time getting to know Bentlee as our daughter, and getting to see our families and friends embrace Bentlee and love on her. We got to dress Bentlee up as Minnie Mouse for her first Halloween. We dedicated Bentlee to the Lord on my 30th birthday and celebrated with family and friends. Bentlee got to meet tons of extended family at her first Thanksgiving reunion. And we are now approaching our first Christmas as a family, and our first Christmas with a grandchild on both sides of the family. It is all so exciting and we could not be more thankful. What a difference a year makes! 

When I reflect on the fact that last year at this time we had just lost our second baby and now we are parents, I can't help but be amazed at the way the Lord has worked in our lives. And He has definitely worked, because there is no way that things could have happened as seamlessly as they did for us to bring Bentlee home. As I write this on the night before our adoption is finalized, I have a lot of emotions. While I may never understand or be thankful for the years of painful and expensive fertility treatments, the repeated losses of our babies, or the daily turmoil of not understanding why the Lord wasn't answering our prayers to become parents, I do rejoice in the fact that the Lord WORKED ALL OF THESE THINGS FOR OUR GOOD...just as He promised in His word. I see now that all of the pain and anguish was part of the journey to get us here. Mike and I now see that the Lord's timing is perfect, because He was preparing us to enter into this journey exactly when we did because of when Bentlee was to be born. We believe that the Lord handpicked Andy and Danielle to be Bentlee's birth parents, just as He hand-picked us to be Bentlee's forever parents, and this is the way our story was always meant to go...we just didn't know it. 

Bentlee is a beautiful gift that has brought so much healing and love to us and our families. During this time of year, I am also reminded of another baby who brought healing, but He brought it to the world. As I thank the Lord for the gift of healing through Bentlee, I also thank Him for the gift of healing and salvation that He sent through His son, also in the form of an infant. Jesus was born that we might all have life, and that is the greatest gift of all. It is because of this gift of Jesus that I am able to recognize the amazing gift that Bentlee is to us, because Jesus is the reason I understand sacrifice, pain, and unconditional love. Because of the Lord's gift of Bentlee to us, I feel that we will experience Christmas differently this year, and we will be even more grateful for the blessing of Jesus' birth than we have ever been before. 

"But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.' Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-armies of heaven-praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."    -Luke 2:10-14

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