Friends, I am so happy to introduce you to my beautiful and strong Sister, Amber. Amber and my brother, Joel, married when I was twelve years old, so she has been in my life longer than she hasn’t and I couldn’t be more grateful. Amber and I have walked through some really hard seasons of life together and I am always encouraged and impressed by her fortitude and courage. I know how difficult it was for her to write this and I know the healing that comes from being willing to write those painful posts. I walked through the pain of this loss with her and I watched how she allowed God to slowly heal her and bring her back to life over time. This message is so timely and I know you are going to be encouraged by her story.
If you ask me about my life, I will ask you if you would like the short version or the long version. Both tell of heartbreak, abuse, shame, guilt, unconditional love, forgiveness, and a Savior that has carried me through many things. But one instance stands out to me more recently than ever before that I want to share with you today.
In 2006 I was preparing to marry my best friend. The future was bright, and we were so young (only seventeen) that we thought we could conquer the world. In the months before our wedding, I learned that I suffered from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) so I would have a hard time getting and staying pregnant. It didn’t really hit me how serious it was until 5 years later when we were facing infertility head on.
It was a long dark road with doctors and medicine thrown at us. It all looked hopeless and we were already in a deep season of grief since we had just lost my sweet mother-in-law and father-in-law in the same night to a car accident in July of 2010. In November of 2011, we heard the worst news possible, that my condition had worsened and without heavy medication and specialists we would not be able to have the child we so desperately longed for.
My heart was broken because raising a family with my husband was my deepest desire.
In January of 2012, we were overjoyed to learn that we were expecting a sweet baby without the help of any medicine or doctors! God had done this miracle and we were thrilled. We celebrated for days and our joy was overflowing to everyone we knew who had prayed for this miracle with us. Everything was great and going according to plan until February 15th when I had my 10-week appointment.
We went to the appointment and all my symptoms were right in line and healthy, nothing seemed wrong. My doctor tried to do the Doppler in the exam room but couldn’t find anything, so she suggested that before we got upset we should go see the ultrasound technician. The tech was out for a minute, so my doctor said she would do it until the tech got back. She found our baby and said everything was fine, baby was moving and looked fine. We were relieved, and I managed to stop crying for a bit.
The regular technician came in and began looking and measuring but she wasn’t saying anything. She began to hit my stomach, which I later learned meant she was trying to get the baby to move around on its own. After only a few minutes that felt like hours, I grabbed Joel’s hand as she said, “I need to get your doctor.” I knew then that something was wrong.
She brought the doctor in and told us our worst nightmare, our baby was gone. Our baby boy. My doctor was wrong in saying baby was moving because it was just the fluid around him making it seem that way. He had died about a week before because he only measured 9 weeks instead of 10.
I thought I knew pain but hearing that was more than I thought I could bare.
I had no symptoms that baby had passed away or that I was miscarrying, so it was a complete shock. We had to sit through more conversations about having a Dilation and Curettage surgery (D&C) and “removing the baby” as the doctor called it. She wanted me to wait 2 more weeks before she did it to see if I would pass him naturally, and that also meant more risk of an infection for me. I can’t describe the way it felt knowing my baby was dead inside of me and that I had to leave him there.
Our family was a great support to Joel and me. And we found our help running to Jesus because we knew we couldn’t carry this on our own. Grief was strong, but God was so good to me during this time. When I only wanted to lay in bed and cry I knew I had my Father Who would carry me. My go-to verses during this time became all of Psalm 139 because I knew that no matter what I was feeling and how far I felt away from God His presence was always with me, even in a hospital room.
On the morning of my D&C, I couldn’t help but feel God’s peace surrounding me. My sweet husband was so strong and let me cry on him many times and that day was no different, even though he was hurting himself. The nurses were so kind and tried to be as sensitive to me as they could. The surgery went as well as could be expected and I was sent home with instructions for the pain and when to return. Less than a week later I was in so much pain that I was on the floor screaming. After another trip to the hospital, they discovered I had a severe infection with large blood clots because I wasn’t given the proper antibiotics after surgery. I stayed overnight for more medicine and was eventually released to heal at home. Physically I was healing okay, but healing my heart was a whole different story.
I believed God was good and he knew what was best for me, but it didn’t help the pain that I was feeling inside.
I couldn’t look at a baby without crying and feeling the loss. My sweet sister who had infertility problems of her own for years was finally expecting her sweet boy and even that was sometimes too much for me, even though I was so so happy for her. Thankfully, I knew the only way to come out of this was Jesus and he met me each and every time I cried to him.
There is one night that I remember so clearly, a few months before what should have been my due date. I was praying and I asked God to let me have a dream and just see this baby boy that I loved so much, even just for a minute. Not only did God answer that prayer, but he did it in a way so much better than I could have imagined.
The dream was so real and even to this day, almost 6 years later, I still remember it so well. I was standing on a road and looking as far as I could see, it was never-ending. I turned around and saw my Father-in-Law and another man that I knew to be my dad who had passed away before I was born. They were walking toward me and between them was a little boy that looked to be around 4 years old. I knew instantly that he was mine. He ran to me and gave me the biggest hug and said, “Hi Mommy, I love you”. I talked to him for a while and hugged both of my dads. When it was time to go, watching that boy walk away from me was unbearable. When he was almost away he turned around one more time and said, “Mommy, keep trusting in Jesus”. I woke up crying but filled with the peace of God flowing through me. The love that Jesus shows us is amazing.
To this day when I think of my sweet boy, the thing I hear is “Mommy, keep trusting in Jesus”.
Not long after this my husband and I gave that sweet boy a name; Jacob Elias Rowland is still so very loved and remembered.
On April 23rd, 2014 we got the very exciting news that we were pregnant again with another beautiful little boy. Lincoln Isaac Rowland was born November 17, 2014, and has been the joy of our lives. He is proof that God always keeps his promises and still works miracles. Nothing could have prepared me for the love I feel for my boy. He gave me a glimpse of the love my Father has for me and it still amazes me today.
If you’re in this battle today don’t give up hope but, most importantly, remember that you can trust God even if his plan looks different than what you always dreamed for yourself. His way is the best way even when it hurts.
One of my life verses is this, Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
He loves you, he pursues you, his plan for your life is always best.