Fear Not

It’s been some time since my last post…All is well other than fighting seasonal colds (again) and ice/snow that seem to paralyze good ‘ole Charlotte for a couple days. At least we got some quality snow days, which included snowmen and sledding!

We are also approaching Elodie’s due date – January 29 – I find myself thinking about the day and quickly finding something else to distract me from dwelling on it. I’m also feeling as though the enemy is using the upcoming day to hurt me, which is why I feel like I’ve been apprehensive to even wanting to face the day. I’m even tempted to ignore it. I am actually taking the day off as I’m attending a retreat with some women from church. Lord has clearly been in the midst for that to work out the way it has…


As we plan for surgery in April, I’ve been keeping up with several women who have had their TAC placed and are currently pregnant. Last Monday, one of the girls expressed she was dealing with contractions throughout her pregnancy and ended up delivering at 30 weeks even with a TAC…and I couldn’t help but think…that could still be me and completely lost it! I was a total mess. I felt defeated and I didn’t even take one step past the starting line. I also believe the enemy is using fear to creep into our frail lives. To manipulate my faith and to distract me from trusting the One who is truly in control.isaiah41-10I’m still trying to understand why I reacted the way that I had and failing at every turn. I do believe the enemy uses emotions to deceive and to manipulate God’s voice. Through my grasping of truth I came upon a book called Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia Newbell. By definition, the fear I’m experiencing is an expectation of harm. When I’m tempted to fear, it is because my false sense of control has been altered by a circumstance. A child lost. Or the unknown. Ultimately because I’m seeking trust and security in anything other than the Lord.

Fear opposes faith when rooted in unbelief. Lord, please help my unbelief.

The Struggle Is Real

What. A. Week. This was the first full week at work since going out on leave. It was a doozy. I think the combination of everyone getting back from the holidays and catching up on things that fell on the waste side and just being plain rusty at my job.

View More: http://laurendobbinsphotography.pass.us/the-john-family

good thing he’s cute…

I’m sure glad it’s the weekend, though. Finn decided to sleep-in till 11am yesterday! Praise Jesus. He is totally a three-nager…’tude and all! Three has been tough. The most challenging of phases yet. The week started with notes from school saying he’s been “pushing his friends”. To screaming when he doesn’t get his way.  Saying ‘no’ constantly and demanding that he picks his clothes out (I think I know who he takes after there…). Where has my sweet, compliant child gone?! But something changed on Thursday. My sweet boy showed up and he’s stayed that way through yesterday too. Praying the ‘three-nager’ stage is short-lived and it’s simply navigating his new found independence. This momma is exhausted!


In other news…I was confirmed a surgery date…

April 11th by Dr. Haney in Chicago. I’m still waiting on finalization of insurance (so prayers there). But the plan will be that Mason and I will travel up the Saturday before. Surgery is 7:30am (check-in at 6am) on that Monday at the University of Chicago and then we’ll travel back on Wednesday. It’s technically an outpatient surgery, but it will be done at the hospital. I will stay one night and discharge the following morning. I’ve found recovery varies case by case. Since the procedure is similar to a c-section and having one in the past, I know I’ll be home for a couple weeks quite sore, but hope to not have to take much time off work and just work remotely. Mainly for my mental state. When I was recovering from my last c-section, my motivation was to get up and see Finn everyday and I truly think that helped me heal faster.

This opportunity is still a surreal feeling. In my heart of hearts, I believe the Lord has led us to this doctor. But I’m cautiously optimistic (which is to be expected). Faithfully I want to trust Him with this, but it’s hard to not doubt. I even at times find myself second guessing…am I pursuing this out of my own feelings to find an answer? My prayer is to continue to seek His guidance. I’m also motivated to want to do this for Elodie and for Finn. We have not had one pregnancy that has turned out well. Dr. Haney said it well, “My goal is to change that for you both.”

Also, our desire to have more children hasn’t gone away either. Over the course of several weeks, engaging with women over at AbbyLoopers (the TAC community chat board), I discovered that Dr. Haney doesn’t take just anyone. He has a personal success rate that he takes very seriously and right now 98% of his patients have a living, healthy child post TAC. That’s a stat we can get behind. Are there still risks? Of course…like any other pregnancy, but if we can take my weak cervix off the table, which is the linch-pin to my difficult pregnancies, then this is the best scenario we’ve got.

With all that said, with any future pregnancies, I would continue to be closely monitored by my team of local doctors…p17 shots for contractions…cervical checks via ultrasound. And followed more closely by a MFM (maternal fetal medicine doctor). I’ve communicated with them both and they are supportive of this procedure. My MFM even went on to say, “We wish all our patients were as well informed and proactive as you!” I could gripe about why didn’t they recommend this to begin with…suffice it to say…I think we live in a sad reality that insurance companies influence even how our doctors practice medicine. And many are beholden to policy and are risk averse. As to why more doctors don’t perform this procedure when the success rates speak for themselves. Dr. Haney said its a matter of time that this will be the procedure of choice. My only advice to anyone dealing with medical challenges…never give up looking for an answer. Never. Even if there is just one doctor out there that can help. Follow it.

Please continue to pray for us…pray that insurance covers the procedure and for our hearts as we approach April 11th with anticipation and nerves. xo

Catching Up and Looking Forward

I gather you all had a wonderful holiday. Christmas through the eyes of a three year old is magical. Despite having croup, which turned to full blown cold for the little man; he surprisingly was in good spirits. By the way, overload of candy canes and peppermint patties cure all ailments!

For those that sent us notes in memory of Elodie, thank you. We had over 30 letters to read Christmas morning. Every single one of them blessed us. Some brought on the ugly cry and many tears of joy. We were so moved by your honesty and reflection on how Elodie’s life has impacted yours and we’re forever grateful. It was more than I could have imagined and it honored her memory profoundly during the first Christmas without her here. Thank you.

As we look forward to 2016, part of me can’t wait to put this year behind me…for obvious reasons. But by looking to a new year, it has also allowed me to reflect on this past year to recognize that in one fell swoop, September 24, 2015, changed everything. Life as I know it had been reset, in so many ways like a new year. A gift.

My prayer for 2016 is that I continue to see all things with these fresh set of eyes…that everything is filtered through the lens of purpose. Not the ‘do things that make me happy’ purpose. Or the ‘what have you done for me lately’ purpose. But with a heart that knows God started something through the taking of Elodie’s life and that out of obedience to His will and plan for my life, I look at 2016 with genuine hope. The kind of hope that moves me out of my ruts and old habits and moves me into a place that is good. Which may even feel inconvenient and actually difficult. Whether it be in my marriage to Mason. How we parent. Prioritizing family. Cultivating lasting friendships. My career. I pray that this gift I received this year carries us through the next and the next.

In the not far distant future, our initial prayer for 2016 is our decision to move towards having the transabdominal cerclage (TAC) placed. If you recall my post, Hope in the Fog, Mason and I had a phone consultation with a specialist in Chicago. The call went very well. So well that he was able to address all our practical questions/concerns before we could even ask them. Our next step is processing pre-certification with our insurance and then scheduling surgery. So far, we’ve felt the Lord led us down this path. From researching and finding connections online, to finding this doctor, and even the timing of the call. The timing bit even allowed us to change insurance carriers to one that typically covers this procedure…no questions asked. Don’t ever underestimate the “life event”.

I would be remiss to mention, we are approaching this decision independent of whether or not we actually try for another child. Whether or not we decide to give it a whirl, is still something we are prayerfully considering, but haven’t made a definitive decision. We ask that you join us in that, as we enter into a fresh new year with such promise and anticipation.


Merry Christmas My Sweet Girl


My Precious Elodie –

It is the day before Christmas Eve and I finally found some time to sit and write. Last night as I was falling asleep I “wrote” this all out to you in my mind…now I’m hoping I can remember all that was on my heart at the time…

Your big brother, Finn, is so excited for Christmas this year. This is the first Christmas that he seems to “get it”. If you ask him what he wants from Santa, you’ll get the same response he’s given to everyone else…a motorcycle. His excitement allows me to be excited for Christmas, even though my heart drifts to you…

I wonder what you would have asked for at three years old?  Then I start to imagine your first Christmas in Heaven and I’m overwhelmed…the birth of Jesus…celebrating His birthday in Heaven!  You also get to celebrate with those that we miss so dearly…Papa Lee, especially! What an extraordinary thought, a thought that’s really beyond comprehension.

Advent was something I tried to focus on this year, not because I wanted to be “in the spirit”, but because the longing and anticipation of Christmas is the same longing and anticipation I’ve had on my heart since the day you left us. How much you’ve taught me my sweet girl.

I also started to think of you as your Daddy and I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night. The premise is that an angel helps a compassionate but frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. Then it hits me…the Lord created you in this moment to alter the world as we know it. We may not know how, but I’m reminded once again that the Lord makes no mistakes and that He is using your life in such a way that is so much bigger than ourselves. And that…THAT gives me peace beyond understanding.

This Christmas is mixed with joy and pain. And I know for many, Christmas can be a very painful time. My prayer is that longing and anticipation return to all of us, not just at Christmas, but allows us all to focus on God’s ultimate Promise…that one day He will return and redeem all our pain and brokenness. Until then or until He calls us home…I pray that longing and anticipation of Christ never leave us.

We love and miss you so much. Merry Christmas!

Your Momma

Small Answers


I had my consultation with Women’s Institute – Maternal and Fetal Medicine today. It was an appointment we hoped would bring some clarity and answer some of the “why’s”…it did.

It was also an appointment that allowed us to talk through what other medical considerations would be added to our “plan” regarding monitoring and preventing preterm complications of any future pregnancies should we decide to try again…there were a few.

Mason and I knew going in that we wouldn’t be handed a silver bullet. Our expectations were realistic. We knew that there will always be a risk of an early deliver…how early? We will never know. We prayed that we’d walk out encouraged…we did. But also knew this wouldn’t make our decision any easier…it doesn’t.

I have a follow-up appointment with my primary OB next week and expect some additional tests to be performed over the next weeks/months to ensure we’re not missing anything else that may have gone undiagnosed or not considered…

My dad shared the above verse as he was helping me pull together some medically specific questions in preparation for my appointment. Clearly, I take after him in our need to read and pour over information…but it was this scripture that puts into perspective that as much as we want to know and understand, our trust is ultimately in the LORD – not medicine, doctors, statistics, or any earthly knowledge.

We ask for continued prayers over the next several months as we pray, process, and make decisions regarding the future of our family. xo

Ministering to My Heart

Some have asked how we’ve been spending our days. For one it seems as though we do manage to fill them up. But its all very purposeful time and I have been very thoughtful around taking care of myself. We did manage to take a trip up to Cape Cod to truly “get away”. It was cathartic and necessary. Now that we’re back home, Mason and I like to make it to the gym (aka therapy session) a few days a week. Finn is still attending school twice a week in the morning which he loves and gives us some uninterrupted time together. Whether its at Starbucks where I can write ‘thank yous’ or I’m sticking my nose in a book. We are also working through some projects in and around the house that have been lingering.

Each day I try to view the day as a gift and find ways to minister to my heart. Where I turn to the most has been scripture, music, and books. My father-in-law had shared with us the below song/video “It Is Well” (Live) by Kristene DiMarco. The night he shared it, Mason and I just sat there in our living room crying our eyes out! It’s the kind of song that cleanses the soul. It resonates so much with me because its not that I want to just believe “it is well”, I know it deep in my gut. The words of this song and and her voice that goes from so soft and gentle to guttural…it’s amazing. I feel like her entire album ‘Mighty’ was written just for me. I can’t really put it into words, but every time I listen to it brings healing and draws me ever closer to Jesus.

I also wanted to share two books that friends had given to us that has also brought healing…both are scripturally sound. I’m still working through the second one by MacArthur since that one is much heavier, but both bring peace and comfort. I would say too that the second book is not just for those who personally lost a child but anyone who has faced this reality along side us.

Hold You and Keep You

I’ve been trying to write down some of the tugging my heart has been feeling as I continue to grapple with the death our baby girl. And bear with me, because it’s the kind of heart tugs that I know will bring good

As we now walk this journey, I can’t ignore how my eyes have been opened to the all too common reality of miscarriage and stillbirth and how we as a society still haven’t figured out how to best deal with it. Many friends and even family have since shared their own losses and journey of grief. Mind you, in most instances, its shared discreetly and privately. And through tears welling in their eyes, these same women then say but my loss “doesn’t even compare” to your loss. Though I appreciate the sentiment, but that my dear friends, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes, I get it, it’s nearly impossible to try to put yourselves in our shoes. I couldn’t do that when our own friends went through unimaginable losses. But if there is one thing that I’ve taken away from each and every story is that not one life…not one…is any less precious; regardless if the baby lived 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 22 weeks or 40 weeks. It is a life that God created and intended to be lived…period. I do realize that yes, we knew our Elodie. We got to hold her and stroke her face. We could call her by name, but from where I sit today we are the ones that have been blessed.

We’ve been blessed, because we can openingly and publicly grieve our daughter. It’s absolutely healthy and expected that we have a memorial service for her. It’s ‘OK’ that we take time off work to grieve and spend time with our family. I have freedom to “grieve well”. I can cling to my Heavenly Father through every messy turn. Why is my pain validated, while that mom who loses a baby at 12 weeks has to “move on” and “get over it”? Why are any of those other babies any less treasured? The truth of the matter is that they’re not.

My lovely sisters, my loss is not anymore painful then the one you too carry. The difference is that society tells you to hush now, keep that to yourself. There may even be a sense of shame or guilt…why burden others with this loss when they didn’t even know you were pregnant? And the irony to all if this is that 1 in 4 women will lose a child to miscarriage or stillbirth. If there is one thing I see the Lord tugging on my heart is that as a community of women and as a church body, we need to be meeting young families in the middle of this battlefield. How can we give mothers (and fathers) open space to grieve the children they will never know? How do we help society deal with this head-on vs. sweeping it under the rug. I don’t know what it looks like, but my heart is open and I’m listening.

Wrestling with Grief


Over the course of several weeks since losing Elodie, I’ve heard this saying…”grieve well”…It’s a term that I appreciate since it almost gives you permission to grieve in any way that is perceived as good or healthy. The statement does leave you with a nagging confusion of how DO you grieve well. What does that actually look like? Is it simply just being honest with those around you? Maybe so…

Am I grieving well when I actually say out-loud that I’m beyond pissed off and scream at God for taking Elodie. Or when I share with a friend that I’m struggling with guilt, the “what if’s…” and all the scenarios that may have changed her outcome. When I admit that I joined a gym so that I can rid of any remaining baby bump, because the pain of an empty womb is too much to bear at times. That I wanted to throw all my maternity clothes in the trash. That I want to scream at the mom in line at the grocery store that popping out another baby is not just an ordinary feat, but extraordinary and that she has NO IDEA?!

My mom’s cousin shared the below with me just the other day…and the words met me right where I am as I wrestle and sort through what grief really is (thanks MJ)…

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of a season where there is beauty and heartache at the same time. You’re fully aware of God’s nearness, yet you are constantly having to lay down questions, doubts and pain. If you’re honest and real- which we absolutely have to be with God- you have some really intense conversations with Him. One thing I’ve realized tho, is that asking why and remaining there only brings more questions- but worshipping and trusting Him brings breakthrough. It might not be this big goosebump and immediate joy kind of breakthrough- but it’s a breaking through of His spirit through the walls of offense and deep disappointment. The pages of my journal might contain majorly honest thoughts and concerns to the Lord- but somehow through it all He meets me here and gives me a peace that I cannot explain. As I’ve been walking through this season with my sister losing her sweet baby, still born at 7 months- I’ve come to learn more and more that Religious Christianese terms or phrases don’t help- they actually shut someone down. But true emotion and walking through the valley with someone in this place helps. Waiting on the Holy Spirit, worshipping while tears are running down your face, surrendering your questions and fears, letting go of offenses, and waiting for Him to meet you here- that’s what helps- so…here I am Lord–waiting.

Posted by Kari Jobe on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

If at the end of every emotion tied to grief leads me to cry out Abba Father and brings me closer to Him,  then YES “grieve well”…through tears, anger, joy and laughter, escaping the ordinary, wanting to be changed and never looking back, and realizing that He does make all things new even when we may not fully understand what is happening when its all tied to eternity…


Remembering Elodie

“And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” – Matthew 9:24

When Elodie passed, there were things you never want to do when it comes to planning such things for your child. We decided that we wanted to have a memorial service for her. Something simple, yet beautiful. Our church was incredibly supportive and met us where we needed them the most.


We planned out the order of service with our pastors. We selected music and finalized the homily. Two things that weighed on my heart was that I wanted something special for the children in our family, including Finn. Our three nephews and three young cousins took the death of Elodie so very hard and we wanted special time carved out during her memorial to minister to their little hearts. I also wanted to give a small gift to those who came, so we bought lily-of-the-valley pips and placed them in small burlap bags. They can be planted in the fall and they’ll bloom in the spring in remembrance of our sweet girl.

We sang ‘You Gave Your Life Away’ by Paul Baloche and ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ by Horatio Spafford. The story behind the classic hymn (‘It Is Well’) can be found here…these words spoke volumes to our hearts. Dave Huber gave the homily. He spoke from Romans 8.

Romans 8:28-29 is scripture that I’ve been clinging to and find comfort from…

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

This verse continues to show-up in my life. A dear friend sent me a book titled, “Inheritance of Tears” by Jessalyn Hutto…the below pages sum up this verse in such a way that I couldn’t explain it better myself…in reference to Romans 8:28-29…
These aren’t empty platitudes, but truth and hope only Christ can bring.
The one part of the memorial that forever changed me was hearing my love, the father of my children, speak on behalf of Elodie. Mason’s reflection on her short life, his fresh understanding of God’s goodness, and his public affirmation of his love for me and Finn  allowed me to see how much the Lord truly is carrying us through this time of suffering. Mason has always been a man who can eloquently express his heart which I have taken for granted. He’s been, undeniably, hand selected for me for such a time as this and couldn’t imagine walking this life without him. xo


Life After Elodie

Today marks two weeks since our lives were forever changed. It feels like time have stood still for two weeks. Thinking back to that Thursday, it feels like a lifetime away, but its been just a couple weeks…I was kept overnight after delivering Elodie for observation. Since I had a prior c-section with Finn they wanted to ensure I was stable before sending me home. I couldn’t wait to get out of there…

The attending doctor came by again to check me and he indicated that I had a high white blood cell count when I was admitted and wanted to check my levels in the morning…My primary doctor (who wasn’t on-call at the time) came by to check-in on me. He was so gracious and expressed his shock about what happened. I had just seen him that Monday and on paper, things couldn’t have looked better. He asked that I see him in a week (which was this past Tuesday).

When I was still admitted, they performed a pathology screening of the placenta because of the high white blood cell count and my doctor confirmed this past Tuesday that there was an infection that caused inflammation of the placenta and the amniotic sac. Because they aren’t able to identify the source of the infection and I wasn’t showing any outward signs (fever, chills, aches, etc.) – they can’t definitely say that this is what caused me to start labor. But it very well could be the cause, in combination, with my uterine anomaly…perfect storm? Now knowing this, my doctor would like for me to be seen by a specialist. He also would like them to weigh-in on what this means for future pregnancies. His opinion (emotions aside) that there shouldn’t be any reason for us to try again…as much as we find this to be “encouraging”, we are no where near a place where making a decision around another pregnancy is something we can even fathom right now. But for now, the door is slightly ajar.

Some may think, take your time…why all the doctor visits and tests? Part of the grieving process is obviously to grieve our Elodie, but we are also faced with the potential grief of not carrying another child of our own. I’d rather know all the facts now, so we can prayfully ask the Lord to guide our next steps…is it to conceive and try to carry another child? Is it surrogacy? Adoption? Our hearts ache for our loss for Elodie, but it also aches for our desire to expand our family…for Finn to have a sister or brother.

My heart sinks thinking about Finn losing his sister. He was so excited! He would watch the Daniel Tiger episodes about him getting a new baby sister (over and over again). He may not understand all the things we understand of losing Elodie, but he knows in his own way. He knows Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her belly anymore and that “she came out”. We talk to him daily about Elodie going to Heaven and that she lives with Jesus. And that Mommy and Daddy are sad. He watches as tears fall and he’ll grab my face and say “Mommy, I love you!” I reassure him that Mommy is sad because I miss Elodie, but YOU bring joy to my life. He also has been very clingy. Ever since his visit to the hospital, he rarely lets anyone else do things for him and insists it be Mommy. Life has changed for all of us, including our almost 3 year old! I pray at night that he gets glimpses of heaven – that he dreams of his baby sister and that he knows that she’s ok.

Mason and I have been so fortunate that we’re eligible to take parental leave. I’ve felt guilty about it, but I know this is time that we need as a family. To take time together without distractions of work and the busy-ness of life. This is time we’ll never get back and its a gift. We’ve been so blessed by the outpouring of support from family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors…cards, texts, emails, meals and care packages from so many. I know Elodie’s life has impacted so many, I know her story is not over and that her life is being used! Thank you Jesus! xo