21 February 2008

(These first seven blog posts were originally letters, written and emailed to our friends and family. I am including them here because they are a big part of telling our story.)

Hello Friends,
We want to open by thanking you all for your prayers, encouragement and presence in our lives. Your phone calls, cards and emails are something we look forward to every day. We thought it would be an appropriate time to send you all an update so that you can know more specifically where we are and how to pray for us.

Ryan & I met with my midwife on Monday afternoon and she gave us some news that came as a relief to us. The high-risk obstetrician at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital has released me to the care of my midwife for the duration of my pregnancy. They concluded that because there is nothing more that they can do for Evie, because I am in no danger,and because we have chosen to protect Evie's precious life, it will no longer be necessary for us to go to the Children's hospital. This means no more tests and only a normal amount of trips to and from Nashville. This seemingly small thing has come as a welcome relief to us.

With that information, we (with the midwives) are treating this as a normal, healthy pregnancy from this point on. And, just as in a normal pregnancy, they expect that I will deliver Evie sometime at the end of May. In a way, I can now somehow give myself permission to get up and operate more as a wife and a mom and a homemaker now that I'm not expecting labor (and an onslaught of grief) around every turn. We are still deeply and profoundly sad as we look ahead to the birth and loss of our sweet girl whom we have come to care for so much. My whole being aches when I imagine, even for a moment, what it will be like to return home from the hospital without her - what it will be like to hand her away after our too--brief love affair with our new daughter knowing that I will never see her again in this life. But, just as we are being given grace for this moment, we know that God will supply grace in those moments as well.

We are now doing our best to carry on at home as best we can. Being pregnant is uncomfortable and exhausting - even when it ends with a safe delivery and a healthy baby. It is especially difficult when it does not come with that promise - when it is accompanied with a nesting instinct that cannot be satisfied and a different kind of hope that looks not to caring for this baby in this life, but to spending eternity with her. While we long to feel "normal" in this time before Evie is born, it isn't, and won't be. There may be normal-feeling days and there will be very sad days. We love what David says in Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life".

Our grieving is sporadic and imperfect. We are so new to all of this. Our faith in God is also sporadic and imperfect. We are learning how to seek God in ways we never have, and how to trust Him with things we never thought we'd have to. We are seeing ourselves and our own shortcomings as they are met with God's character and sovereignty. This week Ryan and I have been so renewed by this piece of scripture:

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal".
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Please continue to pray for us as we work through these uncharted days. It helps us to remember that this life is just a shadow of our real life - our eternal life in the presence of God. We are comforted to know that Evie has the opportunity to be spared from the evil and pain of this life and instead be in the presence of God.

All our love,
Ryan, Raechel & Oliver