Remington Gray…. Our rainbow!

Our sweet LONG awaited rainbow baby is finally here! Remington Gray Chestnut was born 6/15/18 at 39 weeks and 4 days. It was the week of VBS and I volunteered to do committee again this year, even though I knew how pregnant I would be. I was hopeful that walking the halls would Induce labor, or that it would get my mind off of the “waiting game”.

That week I had many prodromal contractions, and really felt like it was “the week”. After my midwife appointment on Thursday we decided that Friday morning I would do a few “natural” induction things, and if my body was ready we were hopeful baby would come. Since Jaycee was a csection, we planned a vbac this time. With my spine, an epidural is never an option so a repeat csection would mean general anesthesia, and everyone wants to avoid that.

I started contracting as I was getting ready for our last day of VBS. I told Jesse but told him to go ahead and head out to Ft worth and come back pretty quickly. Apparently he made it from Haslet to Dalls in 43 minutes. Considering Ryker’s birth was 2 hours, he was pretty nervous about missing this one. On our way to church contractions were about every 3 minutes and I was feeling pretty nauseous. I called all my people and let them know and planned on heading to the midwife around 10. I stopped and got coffee, but didn’t eat (something Stacy was not happy with while I was laboring)

I went to VBS and was helping as I could, but told the other committee girls I was most likely in labor, and needed to go to the hospital. I planned on just driving myself and meeting Jesse, but they wouldn’t allow that. So I left my keys with them and they drove me to the hospital. I love that I never once worried about the boys because they all just figured it out for me and I knew they were taken care of.

At the midwife I was 4 cm and we decided to go ahead and break my water. It was baby day! Less than two hours later contractions were intense and we headed up to L&D. I wanted to be monitored and was so thankful for the portable monitor that allowed me to hear his heartbeat all of Labor, but still move around freely. Our amazing doula, Stacy arrived and Alexandra our photographer wasn’t far behind her. Stacy was first my friend at the YMCA when she would kick my booty into shape, and then she was our doula with Jaycee. She then became by biggest mentor doula and an amazing friend. I was more than thankful she was there because she is one of the few people who can use her “mom voice” on me in labor. About an hour after getting to L&D I started pushing, and kept pushing for almost three hours. Unmedicated, this was so hard. I was exhausted and not a very nice person (I apparently told a lot of people to shut up). Finally at 4:06 pm, Remington Gray joined us. Face up and ready to see the world (hence the forever pushing) and his Daddy caught him.

His birth was so sweet and redemptive, but not without anxiety. At one point the monitor wasn’t working and I was very anxious about it. Our amazing nurse held on the other monitor the rest of the time while I was pushing just so I could hear his heart. I knew Remington was healthy, but unfortunately once you’ve been 1% it’s very hard to put out the “what if’s” from your mind. I had an amazing team who knew all of these fears and anxieties, and they were so amazing at helping me overcome them.

Before I was pregnant with him I wasn’t sure how I felt about the term “rainbow baby”. Because the idea that Jaycee was a storm, didn’t feel like I was doing her justice. But the more I learned the more I realized that a storm isn’t a bad thing. I love storms, and most of our sweetest family memories are during a stormy day spent inside soaking eachother up. That’s what Jaycee taught us, to find beauty in the storm. She brought us closer together and taught us how to love so much deeper. To treasure each and every moment together because we’re not promised tomorrow. She was a beautiful storm and one that I will never take for granted.

Life with Remi is pretty much perfect. It’s amazing to me how much more thankful I am this time around. Bringing him home, nursing him (at 2am while I write this blog post), not sleeping, all of it. It is all such an amazing gift, and once you’ve left a hospital without a baby in your arms, you’ll never again take these moments for granted. I see so much of my big boys in him, but I also see so much of our Jaycee girl. They all have the same nose, same lips, and the most ridiculous toes (sorry babe).

I’ve told him many times that he was worth the wait, and boy is it true. Everyone here is absolutely smitten with him and most days there are fights over who gets to hold him next (usually me because I have the food). I know one day I will get to tell him all about the LONG journey for him to get here and the COUNTLESS prayers prayed over him before he was here. His birth was so sweet for so many and all of the people who walked through Jaycee with us, have rejoiced so deeply with him. I love seeing God’s faithfulness and timing play out through Jaycee and Remi’s story. When I saw this verse on a friends timeline it spoke volumes to me. Weary was a word I often used in our journey trying to conceive. I knew God had a plan for us, but it felt so far away.  He did in fact replenish our weary soul, and in the best way I could have ever dreamed of.  Thank you, Lord for this amazing and perfect gift!

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭25‬ ESV

 

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Grateful

Well, it’s been a LONG time since i have blogged. I wish I could say I had some amazing excuse but I don’t. Life has been pretty good for us. We are staying busy with homeschool, non profit work, and life with two very busy boys.

We are now 31 weeks pregnant with Remington Gray. A name that we came to fairly early on in our pregnancy. Jesse and I have a deal that he gets all the girls (J names) and I get the boys (R names). Gray is one of our best friends middle names, a man who’s entire family has been one of our closest friends, biggest cheerleaders, encouragers, and prayer warriors. Gray is also very close to Jaycees middle name (Grace) so we thought it fitting that Remi should have a G middle name.

We are soaking up this pregnancy and relishing in the beauty the Lord has given us. I can honestly say that I feel great. Do I have pregnancy discomfort? Of course. I have metal rods in my back and my body is on its 4th pregnancy. So yes, at times it’s hard, but not really. Because last time? Last time I threw up every day until she was born, I was filled with fluid, I hurt in every way (physical and emotional), and I knew I wouldn’t get to keep her. This time? Any sort of discomfort is overshadowed by gratefulness.

Grateful.

Grateful that he is HEALTHY. Grateful that the baby things are starting to pile up, the car seat is sitting in my garage, the prep for sleepless nights (that I honestly can’t wait for). Because last time? Last time I woke up in the middle of the night, filled with milk, and no baby to nurse. I was tired, sore, and had all the physical scars of having a baby, and no baby. I am so darn thankful for this sweet life. I am thankful for his sisters so that I can have this renewed perspective.

Jaycee’s birthday is quickly approaching and as we prepare to meet our sweet boy, we will be celebrating the life of his sister. A life that has forever changed us, and changed so many others. That girl is continuing to make an impact almost TWO years later, and that it amazing. We will share next month how all of you can join us in celebrating our sweet girl.

Because of the world we live in, and especially my world, I am constantly reminded we are not promised tomorrow. I could live in fear at all the “what if’s” but I choose to live in the now. Because right now I am soaking up these kicks, hiccups, and rolls like never before. Right now every single pregnancy discomfort is overshadowed by joy. I know that we serve a faithful and loving God who always has perfect timing. That His promises are greater than any worldly ones.

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭1:27-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

All the feels

As I am sure most of you saw, we had our appointment with our high risk doctor friday afternoon. This was the appointment where we could hopefully rule out anencephaly. Praise the Lord that we left his office with GOOD news.

I was an emotional wreck this week. I was anxious, grumpy, and just a mess. On Wednesday I really just wanted to cancel the appointment, but we all have to face reality. I knew we were in good hands with our amazing doctor. We were both actually excited to see him and his nurse. They were “our people” with Jaycee and have walked through some really hard moments with us. I am so thankful they were the ones there for us again. We hugged sweet Seeley when we got there and about 10 minutes after our appointment time Dr. Mcgee came in and said “sorry to keep you waiting and make you more anxious… small talk later, let’s do this”. I wanted so badly to close my eyes but he moved pretty quickly so I didn’t have time to think.

Sweet baby mystery was moving ALL around and we were all a bit frustrated because we couldn’t see baby’s head. Pretty soon after he said, “see that cranium? That’s your baby’s head” I sobbed and asked him “it’s like the full head, right? There’s a skull?” He reassured us and did some other measurements. Everything measured well and we all did a big sigh of relief. To walk through some hard moments in that hospital and with those people it was completely surreal to be “normal”. We are doing some of the genetic testing and will go back in 5 weeks for our anatomy ultrasound.

While we are praising Him for this amazing news we are still very much aware that this doesn’t mean “smooth sailing” for us. Some may see that as a cynical view, but for us it’s a beautiful reminder of the gift in each and every life. Pregnancy and Infant loss is a very real part of our world, and something I walk with people almost daily. It’s not always a terminal diagnosis, but sometimes completely and utterly unexplainable. Jaycee taught us to cherish each life, whatever that looks like, and for however long the Lord sees fit.

This pregnancy has been emotional and so sweet. I don’t know if I have ever been more exhausted from puking yet so thankful at the same time. So worn out and anxious while marveling in the Lords beauty. This baby is already so loved, prayed over and prayed for. The boys are so excited and it has opened up some really hard but good conversations with them. The Lord doesn’t promise us a thing except the eternal reward we have through Christ, and we’re constantly reminded of that.

Another bittersweet Christmas season missing our Jaycee girl who would be walking right now, probably ruining the Christmas tree. So many times this pregnancy I have been asked “is this your first (ha!)” and I have responded with, “no, my fourth”. Once again opening some awkward conversations that give me an opportunity to share our girl and her story with the world (and unsuspecting strangers that maybe didn’t want my life story).

We were well loved on Friday. So many of you texted us and prayed over us. I truly believe that is what made that appointment bearable. We have a ways to go this pregnancy and we ask for your continued prayers. We are still waiting on some milestones with genetic testing and the anatomy sonogram, but we are also hopeful. The Lord is good and we are so thankful for the ways He has been gracious to us this pregnancy.

 

 

 

Wait, WHAT?!

 

This post is one I’ve wanted to write for awhile. It’s one that’s been etched in my heart and honestly not one I ever thought I would get to write. After a year and a half of trying, so many prayers, so many tears, and fully surrendering ourselves to the Lord’s plan for our family (we had the foster paperwork IN HAND, y’all) we learned that….

We’re pregnant!

Yes, you read that right, P. R. E. G. N. A. N. T.

We’ve been in so much prayer for how to share this news. I know so many of you have either walked loss or infertility (or both). I know that even for the ones we feel like “deserve it most” it still stings that it isn’t you. I know the pain in losing a child and longing for another for so long. If that’s your story, I am sorry, I see your pain. If you never tell me congratulations that’s ok, if you tell me you’re so happy for me but ache at the same time, THAT’S OK.  I had so many dear friends get pregnant and have babies in the time that we were still trying. Those sweet babies hold a special place in my heart and I am so thankful their mommas let me snuggle them when my heart was aching.

We are so much more aware of how precious and fragile life is. This is why we are not waiting to share this news with you until I’m 12 weeks, 20 weeks, or whenever we feel like “we’re in the clear”. Because if Jaycee taught us anything it’s that life is to be celebrated no matter how short or hard. This baby has been prayed over by SO many already and I am so thankful for that.

We’re scared, excited, anxious, thankful, hopeful, and ALL the emotions. The day I found out Jesse was in a meeting when I decided that I should test. I actually spent the day before telling Lauren how I was late but “it would just be another month of  no, and I’m ok”. Not ten minutes before I took the test I texted Jesse the same thing. Well, then I ended up sobbing on my bathroom floor, holding a positive pregnancy test, in shock calling my best friends who had walked this road with me.

When the fear creeps in I remind myself that our God is bigger than this. As much as I want this to be a blissful, exciting pregnancy, it’s also very scary. Having another baby with anencephaly is a reality and that scares me. We have been in constant prayer over that and over my anxiety. I wish I was comforted by morning sickness, but I am not. Pregnancy after loss opens your eyes to ALL the things that could go wrong so very quickly.

Our God is sovereign. This did not surprise Him, this wasn’t because we started the foster process or because we “finally relaxed”. The Lord has a beautiful plan, whatever that is, we trust in it. The Lord created this baby just as he did Rowan, Ryker, and Jaycee. I know His plans are good, so right now we choose joy. We want to celebrate this baby for as long as we have it.

We ask for your prayers, prayers for a healthy baby and peace along the way. This baby has been prayed over LONG before it was even created. I think that is AMAZING and something to be celebrated.

 

Just an update!

Y’all, it’s been awhile. I’m slacking on the blogging these days and maybe that’s a good thing? This will be another one of those posts that’s real honest, transparent and something I felt called to discuss.

We have approached our one year of trying to conceive, it is hard and it is very surreal. I had times when I was pregnant with Jaycee that I cried to Jesse wondering if this would be it for us, and we always assumed it wouldnt be. Sure, we never got pregnant easily with all three of them, but it’s never taken a year. Maybe that was the Lord trying to prepare me for that possibility.

We decided last month that we needed a break, Jesse was traveling more for work, I was busy with doula stuff, and it was just one more thing to add to our plate. I felt peace in that because in all honesty I mentally couldn’t handle it anymore. This was our month to mentally get our minds (my mind) right. I have taken a few steps to getting myself back in order. Something I will openly discuss with any of you who ever feel so broken and just need an ear. Infertility takes a lot out of you, your marriage, and your sanity. Infertility after loss is a pill I didn’t quite feel ready to swallow.

For the first time in awhile I can say that I am OK. We don’t have a plan and that’s ok. We want to add to our family, and have had some hard questions from the boys on what that will look like. Rowan prays often that we get a baby, and that is hard. He asked me multiple times why we can’t just go and adopt a baby girl. He also asked me why God would make Jaycee if He knew she would die. Y’all, these are questions WE ALL ASK but it’s coming from my 6 (almost 7) year old kid.

We have discussed adoption in the past and is something I feel we are finally ready to pursue and discuss more in depth. Do I think we’ll have an answer soon? No. But our family is ready to love on a baby, however that baby gets here. I don’t know if we will ever be ready to “stop trying” for another biological baby and maybe we always will be. My prayer is that the Lord will guide our decisions, that His plans are made clear and we can be obedient in that.

Right now I am devoting more time to getting healthy and taking care of ME which is something I have never been good at. I must admit that this is a hard season, a season of growth for us. There has been a lot of unknowns and things that have gone completely different than we ever thought they would. I think I struggle the most with feeling isolated. It is hard to be the one who lost a baby, and the one who hasn’t been able to conceive another one. I have amazing friends who love me dearly, so I know that is also satans way of trying to work his way in.

Grief is a LONG road. It has taught me so much about myself, and mostly it has taught me to trust in the Lords plan for me. Does that make it easy? No. It is painfully hard. It is hard to know that you are “different” and sometimes that is the hardest part. Jaycee changed every aspect of our lives. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but there are days when it still feels all consuming. When part of me wants to go back to the “easy” life where I was blissfully ignorant to the brokenness of this world.

I have seen the good in the way the Lord has used our story. I can’t even tell y’all how many families we have walked alongside since Jaycee. Families who need to not feel alone, and need to feel like their baby, and that life, has purpose and meaning. I can see the purpose playing out in Jaycees life and I love seeing His story through her. I know that our infertility road will one day have a purpose and Jaycee taught me to look for how God uses even the smallest gestures.

A friend at church stopped me yesterday (I won’t call him out by name but hopefully he or his wife reads this) and told me that he thinks about Jaycee often and what an impact she made on so many. I honestly couldn’t think of anything to say to him, it took my breath away. It was exactly what I needed to hear then and I love that so many of you step outside of what feels comfortable for you to say her name. What a blessing it has been to be a part of her story.

I sound like a broken record but I hope y’all will join us as we continue to pray for the next part of our story, whatever that looks like. We are waiting to see what the Lord is doing and anxious to be a part of a much bigger story. We are praying daily that he continues to guide us to do His work and that we glorify him each step of the way.

Happy first birthday!

Wow. A year in heaven? How has that happened. Sorry Jaycee I’m a little late posting this because life happened and we were too busy celebrating to blog. We miss you. We love you, and talk about you all the time. Time seems to stand still yet move at a lightening pace. We had so much fun celebrating you last week yet our hearts ached that you weren’t here.

I am so thankful for everyone who showered us with love on Jaycees day (or week). Everyone who left gifts, sent texts or calls, wrote us cards, or left me surprise balloons at 10pm the night before her birthday. What that person didn’t know was that I was inside alone crying and that instantly made me smile. Some amazing friends threw us a party on an already busy week and I am so SO thankful for that. The boys loved having all the cookies and cakes all week long and even got a couple surprises which they loved. Jesse felt so much love even when he was far away, and that was so needed for him. He missed his boys and his friends but so many of you let him know he wasn’t forgotten.

The days leading up to anniversaries are always harder (Lara Leigh is right again) and the best way to describe it is that it is very surreal. You feel that same ache in your heart and the heaviness in your stomach that you had a year ago. The days leading up to her birthday it felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and like I was walking through that day all over again. Certain smells, songs on the radio, and food. It all took me back to a year ago and that was raw and painful.

We felt God so much in the months leading up to her birthday that even if we wanted to deny His presence we couldn’t. He worked through so many of you to provide us the support maybe you didn’t know we needed. Something as simple as saying her name or acknowledging her as a member of our family brightens our day more than you know. On the Sunday before her birthday I was introduced to someone by another person who took no time including Jaycee in a simple question, “how many kids do you have”. That same night we had an amazing worship session and on our way home we saw a rainbow. I immediately felt peace and smiled because I knew the Lord was giving me that to get me through. You see, as evident as He was through our last year the past few months have been pretty quiet. Struggling to get pregnant and praying CONSTANTLY that He would ultimately reveal his plans for our family. Do I think that rainbow means that we have another baby coming? No I don’t. I know that God doesn’t owe me a thing. He doesn’t promise me an earthly reception even if I so badly want one. I do believe we will hold another baby if it’s one I birth or don’t.

The next day my sweet friend Laura left me a gift. Laura has written notes to Jaycee and left gifts every month on her monthly birthday. On the months where I felt like no one remembered she always did. So what did she bring? A quilt. A rainbow quilt. I can’t even tell you the amount of praise that came out of my mouth just thanking God for this amazing gift. To know and feel that He was there. It held me together. What is also crazy is that Laura bought all the stuff to make a rainbow quilt for her daughter before Jaycee. She was drawn to it and never knew why, until she realized it was for Jaycee. Naturally her daughter has a matching quilt.

God has used our pain and our story to help so many others and that is an amazing thing to be apart of. No one should have to loose a child, but those who love and support you through it are amazing. So many amazing women ministered to me, and I now have lifelong friendships with them. I wish I could say that grief just stops but as far as I know it doesn’t. We will still deal with this as time goes on. Does it get easier? Yes. Does it go away? No. My desire to talk about her and share my story will always be there because just like my living children, she is very much apart of our family.

I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to her birthday without being pregnant. I had that “all planned out” (ha!) and really thought that would come easier. We are so blessed with two living kids but our desire for more is still there. I don’t have that sense of “I’m done” and I take that as the Lord saying were not. I realize that so many can’t have one or two and maybe I am coming off a bit selfish in my desire to want more children. I don’t know what that looks like in our future. I don’t know if adoption is where we’re being led or if pregnancy is going to happen. It’s OK for me to want more. I didn’t want the last baby I held to be the one I watched die. I remember the day she was born after they broke my water and learning her heart rate was dropping and screaming “get her out. Ger her out!” I remember being put to sleep and wondering if I would wake up, wondering where she would be when I woke up, and if she would be alive. No one should have to go through that. Will another baby take away that pain? No, but that definitely wasn’t what I wanted to go out with. We want our boys to know what it is to hold a baby that gets to come home. We want to hold and love a baby with this new perspective.

We’re trusting in His timing and His plan for our family. I honestly don’t know what it looks like and that has been our prayer. That the Lord would make it evident where we’re being called. He is here with us and walking this right there with us and I am so glad he showed us that this last week. I needed those signs and it was completely restoring to my soul.

Thank y’all from the bottom of our hearts for loving us so well this past year. I know it hasn’t been easy at times, and I know my closest friends have seen some pretty ugly moments, yet loved us right through it. I love how fearlessly you all talk with your kids about Jaycee. That so many of you are willing to share that with them, and because of her so many more conversations about heaven are happening. You guys validated and loved on my boys in a hard season. It’s not easy to talk about death with little kids but what an amazing gift that we have because of Jesus. That this life isn’t it for us and one day we will see Jaycee again. I long for the day when I have all three of my babies together again.

Happy first birthday, Jaycee.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

11 months

This week (6th) is Jaycees 11 month birthday.  I’m not real sure how that happened so fast but if you ask me how I feel I’d say pretty good. We’ve been in a GOOD place lately. Even with all of our infertility struggles we’re good. We have more good days than bad days and that is amazing.

I finished my doula training and got to attend my first birth! A sweet friend who was carrying twins lost her son at 18 weeks and continued to carry both of them to term. Praise the Lord they got to take home a healthy Baby girl but I know they ache for the baby they lost. Helping her just reaffirmed that this is where The Lord is calling me and that is REALLY cool. Prayers as I enter into this new world! And prayers for the family who just lost their sweet baby.

Nothing new to report with infertility just that everything looks normal (aside from not ovulating). So next month we will do a few things to see if we can get there. We are praying continually that the Lord will reveal his plans for us. I have a lot more peace just knowing there isn’t something major keeping us from getting pregnant. Does that mean it’ll happen? No, but I trust that this is where God comes in, and let’s us know which direction he is leading. Please know that if you see me this week/month I will have some rough days  please try and extend some grace my way.

I have always wanted to write to Jaycee on this blog so I am gonna:

Dear Jaycee,

11 months is hitting me hard.  11 months gone, Jaycee girl. How did that happen? Time has flown by without you here. I often wonder if you’re walking up there in heaven? Rowan says they DEFINITELY have chick fil a there (because it wouldn’t be heaven without chicken). He misses you sweet girl. He wants a baby sister to hold and snuggle so bad. He loves you so much. In the store the other day a woman saw me and your brothers shopping. She said, “oh you need to try for a girl next”. I shrugged her off…. Because it happens more times than I care to admit, but what did your brother do? He said, “oh! We have one! She’s just in heaven”. You changed us Jaycee girl. Changed us in so many good ways. Ryker talks about you too and he will even tell me that he misses you. You are loved and I know the love our Father has for you is far beyond our love for you. You’re in the most magnificent place and That brings me SO much peace and comfort. I know you are good. Safe in the arms of our father. I miss you today Jaycee girl. Did you know I will be leading VBS on stage with Anna? On your birthday? I can’t believe that is a month away. Rowan is making all the plans to celebrate you and I know what you’ve got up there is far better than what we could do here (but we sure try!). We love you Jaycee and we miss you more than I ever dreamed.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Infertility.

I often go back and forth with sharing these sort of intimate details of our life. Usually I put it off for awhile until I get a message from a friend/stranger thanking me for sharing my story. I understand that we have become a bit of oversharers but if it reaches one person then it’s worth it.

This month was another month of “no” from the Lord on getting pregnant. I was hopeful yet disappointed when the news was not what I had expected. Each month it is another disappointment, and honestly I’m not sure how much more of that we can take. Long story short, I am not ovulating so I am taking clomid. This month I ovulated but did not get pregnant. I was angry, sad, frustrated and ultimately pleading with the Lord that he would reveal his plans for our family.

You see, to some it may only be 8 months of trying to get pregnant but to us it’s been over a year. Being told that conceiving on our own won’t happen (and no one knows why since we have three times) is hard. It’s hard for anyone, but especially for those who have walked loss. It adds a certain sting to our story that I don’t yet see the purpose of. Is there purpose there? Of course, and I know He has great plans for us, but I just want to know “WHAT ARE THEY?” If He is calling us to adopt then I want that to be made abundantly clear.

infertility is hard, and it’s hard on a marriage. Even the strongest one it will shake. It is stressful and comes with a LOT of mood swings. Y’all, Jesse puts up with A LOT from me and add clomid to that? Yikes. We are praying for the Lord to reveal his plans because emotionally we are both worn out. The disappointment, the stress, the mood swings…. it’s a lot after the year we’ve had. I have a hard time shutting the door on having another pregnancy so we really need prayers for guidance on that. Not that I am discounting what the Lord can do because he can do whatever he wants and in His timing, not mine. Jesse is amazing at praying over us, our decisions, and for the child(ren) that will be added to our family (however that happens).

Yes we have had three pregnancies, two healthy boys, and a daughter we will see again one day. I am so grateful for them and that the Lord has shown me how much to be thankful for. I enjoyed Jaycees pregnancy even through all of the pain because I know what a gift that was. I have two kids who aren’t in diapers, don’t require constant attention, and who sleep all night long. Sounds nice, right? It is, except I would give just about anything to be up all night, to nurse a baby, to change countless diapers and be overwhelmed with motherhood. Y’all, I am not saying this because it’s not hard. It is hard. It is exhausting and when you’re in it, it feels like it never ends, but it does. Eventually they sleep, they don’t poop their pants, they don’t nurse, they play quietly alone, the grocery store doesn’t require a nap (well sometimes it still does), and the crying stops. For those of us who want to be pregnant and have more children these milestones are BITTERSWEET.

I sound like a broken record but I am prayful in the ways God is using this for His glory. It’s hard and I wish I could say that His promise makes this all puppies and rainbows, but it is still hard. I struggle with the “why”. I want to know “why us?” My type A personality does not do well when things don’t go my way. Obviously God is using this to teach me trust and patience-I get it Lord, I have no control. I am so thankful for everyone who has been joining us in prayer, especially in this season. Our biggest prayer is that the Lord uses us for His glory and that we know what that is.

I often tell Jesse that I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to be “these people” because we still have days where we aren’t ok and I’m learning that’s Ok. Those days are fewer but they are real and giving myself grace to feel that is hard. There will most likely always be days that are tough, and today was definitely a hard day. This road can feel isolating at times and that is hard for me. The waves of grief shift as time goes on and it is much more manageable, but when the wave knocks you down unexpectedly? You better be ready.  I have made an effort this week to say “yes” more to the boys, put my phone away more, and take some time for self care which is so important for me.

We have gotten the forms to fill out for foster/adoption and we will start those this week (that could take awhile). We are leaning on God and praying that he reveals JUST where he wants us to be and to have peace in that decision. I am so thankful for the friends who see the ugly and love me through it. On the hard days when they recognize I’m having a rough time and take the time to check on me or hug me. Today I walked out to have a minute and saw Lara Leigh at just the right time. It was the perfect time for the Lord to meet me and let me know “you’re not alone. Look around”.

Join us in prayer over the next few months. For the Lord to reveal his plans, for all future Chestnut kids, for peace and guidance. We’re coming up on 10 months which feels VERY close to a year (because it is) so I am sure the hard days will show up again.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A year.

February 26th 2016 changed our life forever. That was the day that we learned our sweet daughter would not live outside of the womb (for very long). As we sat in the ultrasound room for our 19 week “routine” anatomy ultrasound with both our boys fully expecting to see their healthy baby sister, our world was turned upside down.

A few weeks earlier we learned she was a girl and genetically everything looked good. I had a gut feeling that something was off (something I told Laura about and Jesse days before my ultrasound). If you know me at all you know I am a pretty anxious person, always have been. Jesse said “everything is fine babe” and I tried to suppress the feelings of anxiety and tell myself she was normal…. but she wasn’t. As the scan started they got very silent after a few moments. He asked me “did you have genetic testing done?” And I responded that we did and everything was fine, I also told him he was scaring me. He said “well. Her head is small”. I saw the screen and knew something wasn’t right. I began sobbing and praying as hard as I could while trying to reassure the boys but tell Jesse this wasn’t good.

He took the boys to our friends house, and then came back. The sonogram pretty much ended there, and we were given the option to terminate but needed to see a specialist first, we would be getting in immediately. We made a few calls and prayed with Cari over the phone. We sat in a waiting room full of pregnant people waiting.

For two hours.

Waiting to be told in the most cold, unsympathetic way that we were dumb for not terminating because she would die anyway. We stood firm in that conviction and in my mind I never doubted for a second that we would carry her as long as the Lord entrusted her to us. Jesse was my rock and I am so thankful that the Lord met us there, He saw what we needed and we got it. We were on the same page from the start. We could see her heartbeat, her legs kicking, her hands and feet yet they told us we could just end her life because that would be “easier”.

We chose life for our daughter because she was worth every ounce of physical and emotional pain. She lived on this earth for 51 minutes and taught us so much about love, patience, and appreciation that I can’t even express. We saw God work in the most painful moments of our journey, and I have never felt His presence more than I did then in those months. We are changed, and while that is mostly a good thing it’s also a hard one.

Grief doesn’t end, it evolves. I am not “old Ryley” and this new Ryley is a little lonely at times. This week has knocked me down pretty hard. I tried to push it all down but on Friday it hit. It’s been awhile since I have cried a lot of my day, and been blindsided by the grief…. I guess that’s a good thing? Well, on Friday it did not feel good. Driving down Coit (not my normal route.. thanks IPhone) I remembered that on a Friday a year ago I was driving to the appointment where our life changed. I remember the songs on the radio, the clothes I was wearing, the yelling boys in the backseat and the enormous amount of coffee I had just to make it to that early appointment. It all came flooding back to me and the tears began to fall. And they kept falling for the majority of the day.

Blindsided.

I know the Lord is teaching me many things. One of those is my ability to “go with the flow”. I dont think I’ve mastered this one (not even close) yet grief thrusts us into that way of life more than anything I have ever experienced. Today has been a mostly good day and I can honestly say that I’m in a better place than I expected. I have had a few moments to reflect on that day, and see the beauty in the hard moments. The Lord has definitely provided (as usual). I am so thankful for all of the text messages, hugs and all of you who took the time out of your day to love on us.

This season of “firsts” will be a challenging one, but also full of grace and love. Bittersweet memories come back, but so do the good ones. Jaycee is STILL impacting the hearts of many and for that I am SO thankful. Jaycee was fearfully and wonderfully made. God knew exactly what he was doing when He created her. Anencephaly did not surprise him and this diagnosis day does not define her or the amazing impact she had. I PRAISE Him for the life she had and what she taught our family because LIFE matters!

“For you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭ESV

8 months (a little early)

Well, somehow were quickly approaching Jaycees 8 month birthday. I’m not sure how that happened so fast, but it did. These past few weeks have brought a new set a challenges that we have never experienced before: Trying to get pregnant which feels less and less likely at this point.

This month I started taking clomid to try and induce ovulation. Well that didn’t really go as planned and I am having to do something else to sort of “reset” my body and start over again in a month. I have three more cycles that I can do clomid and if I do not get pregnant then we’re out. I have done some wrestling this week because honestly this is something I have to come to terms with. Yes I know it’s only been 8 months, but February 26th marks one year since we learned of Jaycees diagnosis. So a year that we’ve been waiting to bring home a child that never made it here. That’s a long time y’all and this infertility thing is not something we’ve ever experienced before. I have this feeling that maybe this is it for us? Maybe this is Gods way of not-so-gently pushing us to adopt. That pull on our hearts has come up more and more this month, and something I’m feeling more and more convincted over.

We’ve been given this amazing story and voice for life, and we have become so passionate about life in and out of the womb. Christians who are pro-life often get a bad reputation for only advocating for life in the womb, and we truly believe there is purpose in EVERY life. Is this Gods way of telling us we need to live that out through adoption? As time goes on I can’t help but think yes. I am not promised another pregnancy, that is not a guarantee and something He has made very clear to me. I have to wrap my mind around wanting what He wants for us. Being obidient in His call for our family. So right now, it looks like we will also begin pursuing adoption. We ask for your prayers  moving forward. We don’t know what this journey looks like, but we’re not closing any doors that God has clearly opened for us.

We’re going to be reaching out to some of y’all who have walked the adoption journey. At this point I do not know if we will for sure follow through with adoption, and we’re praying fervently for the Lord to guide our choices and decisions. Right now, we feel as though he is guiding us to start that process so here we are. We’re praying daily for the Lord to use us the way He wants.

Some of you saw my fb post and I’m currently half way through getting my certification to become a bereavement doula!  This is not something I ever thought I’d be doing, before Jaycee. After Jaycee God placed several opportunities in my lap and this was the obvious choice in where he was calling me to serve. I pray that I am a blessing to moms as they walk a hard road. I’m learning so much from this training and I am pretty exciting to be able to serve in that capacity. Walking through something as hard as Jaycee with another mom feels heavy but also brings so much joy. Being able to use Jaycee’s story for more good and creating a lasting legacy in her name just warms my momma heart.

lastly VBS, Oh VBS. I just love VBS. If you know me you know I love working with kids. I love being in the word and watching little kids soak up all of that knowledge. Last year I had to bow out of VBS committee because of everything going on. When Tianay reached out to me a few weeks ago I knew I wanted to join back this year. Well, funny story. I knew they needed stage people because my two awesome friends just couldn’t do it this year, and I prayed about that choice. After a few days of thinking and praying over this I decided to tell Tianay I would lead VBS. Keep in mind that VBS is usually at the end of July. Well, while in conversation with Cari (trying to convince her to come back) she told me she would be out of town and that VBS is June 6-9th. I can not post my actual response to this (Cari and Tianay know and we’ll just leave it at that). I felt like this was Gods way of telling me this is exactly where he needed me to be on Jaycees birthday. I was dragging my feet and honestly terrifiedg. So today I am reading the script and what is day one’s lesson? (day one is Jaycees birthday) That God created us for a purpose. Really? Really? I mean, I get it God. You want me there. Loud and clear, couldn’t of sent an owl and been more clear. I just laugh at this point in all the ways God is speaking to me because sometimes it’s comical the things I feel like he is leading me to do because they are HARD. I am so excited and think this is going to be the PERFECT way to celebrate Jaycees birthday. Will it have moments of hard? Oh yeah, thankfully my friends are good at grace.

All of this to say that sometimes God has plans for us that we never dream about. Sometimes those plans are hard and they look WAY different than our own plans. We’re human and we can only see now. We can’t see things how God does, and we can’t understand them because He is God. He is good, and He has a perfect plan for us. What this means for us is wrestling with that and wanting what He wants. I’m not typing all of this so y’all look at us and go “wow look how awesome they are”. No. Because it’s hard. I want what I want, and I want to be open about struggling with the plans He has for me.

But He knows better.

He is enough.

He loves me

He knows what’s next. We are trusting that, as always, he reveals his plans for us. We’re praying that He gives us peace when those plans look different and feel heavy. We’re trusting Him to bear that burden when we can’t. Because HE can.

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. Isaiah 43 1-6