After every storm, there comes a rainbow. 🙂 Thank you Lord for this promise.
October 27, 2015 was a tough day. If you read my blog on that day
, you know. It was what should have been the first birthday of our son – John Karl Oerther VI.
He celebrated in heaven, while we “celebrated” here by remembering him and realizing we had survived a whole year in the storm.
For months after we lost John Karl we agonized over the decision – Should we have another child? We still were unsure why or how we lost him. The medical tests I had done indicated a blood clot disorder, one that would likely disappear before I were to get pregnant again. If you could read snippets of my journals from then you would easily see I was in no position to make a decision. I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know what I could handle. I just didn’t know. I asked everyone! My husband, my mom, my dad, my friends, my therapist…over and over again. They didn’t know either – obviously. The beauty is – someONE did. God knew exactly what should happen. He knew what we could handle, He knew what we wanted. That is what I began to pray. From my journal — “God, I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I can handle. You have to decide. You have to do this for me. I just can’t anymore.” And that is how it went. Every time it crossed my mind or stressed me out, I prayed that prayer. “You decide, God. I can’t do it on my own.”
What we didn’t know was that our rainbow of promise was on the way. I didn’t share in the blog that day that my period was late. I didn’t think much of it, I was stressed, anxious, emotional, and everything was just a bit crazy. The truth is we (John and I) didn’t know if we wanted another child, another pregnancy. We just didn’t know.
Here’s the story. John’s parents decided they wanted some time with the kiddos and they showed up the day after John Karl’s birthday to take them to Michigan for a long weekend. Yay! Alone time with my husband! I realized that morning after rushing around to be “room mom” and “volunteer” at both classroom Halloween parties, that I was late- about 4 days. As soon as my father-in-law pulled out of the drive way with our girls, I sped to Kroger, bought a test and came home. I argued with myself for about 30 minutes before I peed on that little stick. Two minutes went by – QUICKLY. Seriously, the fastest two minutes ever. If you’ve ever taken a pee-on-a-stick pregnancy test, you know this isn’t usually how it goes. Am I right?
I thought I would be afraid to look, I wasn’t. In fact I was quite certain it would be negative since we weren’t really “trying”. We conceived the girls easily but in the pregnancies that followed, including John Karl, we used Clomid. I wasn’t taking any, so basically, I thought, there’s no way this is happening. Guess what? Not my plan, not my decision. God decided and it was happening. The test was positive.
You guys, I was standing in the master bathroom holding a stick I just peed on, (nope, hadn’t washed my hands yet) when I fell to the floor. It was like I couldn’t control it. Not passed-out-fall-to-the-floor, but knocked-over-fall-on-the-floor. Knocked over. I imagined this moment before over the last year. In my imagination I would do this with John by my side because I was going to be terrified to get this news. I wasn’t. God decided. I was still knocked-over-fall-on-the-floor – but with JOY! What!?! Again, if you could see my journals from the last year, or see the notes I’m certain my therapist made, or were in any kind of Bible study group with me, you knew that was also my prayer. “Please God return the joy to my life.” After the death of our son, I felt like it was sucked out of me and would never return. It did. And it knocked me to the floor.
I fell prone, face down on the bathroom floor. I cried. I yelled out, I almost exploded in a pile of goo right there on the linoleum, I’m certain. JOY! Not the fear that I expected and anticipated, but real, honest joy. I just stayed there, on the floor. I’m about to go a little Southern Baptist crazy here, I kept thinking of the scripture reference to the land of milk and honey, what a joyful vision that was to those people. I felt like Jesus was standing in heaven, holding a perfect white pitcher filled with joy (beautifully glistening white milk and golden honey that glowed like it had been mixed with fairy dust) and He poured that pitcher right down to earth on top of me. I stayed right there on the floor and cried and prayed some more. Then I stood up. I walked into our bedroom, I looked left at our dresser where we keep John Karl’s ashes and his teddy bear. I kissed them. I grabbed that teddy bear, cradled it, and I talked to it as if it were my son who was probably being cradled in heaven. “Mommy loves you so, so much, John Karl. I miss you so, so much. I will forever. But I feel happy now. I hope you feel happy too. This new baby will never be you, but it will be yours too. You are a big brother!”
I called John at work and said, “You have to come home, right now.” He of course, thought I was breaking down being home alone one year after the death of our son. I wasn’t really. I mean, I was probably cracking somehow, but in a positive way. Who knew? I just kept saying, “You have to come home, right now.” He assured me he was packing up and leaving the office. Fully expecting to come home to me crying in a puddle on the floor alone, I’m sure. It is kind of how I thought that day would go to, but I didn’t decide. God did.
I quickly called my doctor’s office, I knew the office was closing soon. I told the receptionist, she cried too. She was the first person I told, and I said, “I think I might be pregnant.” She said, “Oh girl, I’m going to run and tell Dr. E, but go right now to the lab and let them draw blood. Right now.” I went and came back home before John pulled in the driveway from work. I grabbed the mail. In our mail that day was a baby catalog from Target. For real. A baby catalog. On the front cover it said…Here we go. I put my pee-stick-pregnancy-test in a Ziploc bag and laid it on top of the catalog on the kitchen counter. This is John’s first stop in the door where he puts all his things down. He came in the door, put down his things (failed to look at the counter), hugged me, then stared at me and said, “You look ok. Are you ok? I didn’t think you were ok.”
“I’m ok.” I look down at the counter. He is oblivious, still staring at me. I slide the catalog and test to him.
“What the &^%*!! Is this real?
“It’s real. I just had blood drawn.” I show him the bandage on my arm.
We cried together. Joy. We didn’t decide. God did.
And so begins the long road of a rainbow baby pregnancy. It is hard, it is scary, and it might not be what I would have picked. Good thing I didn’t, because I wouldn’t be feeling this joy.
“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7