Pregnancy After Loss Story: Annabelle Hope
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”
This is the story of my pregnancy with Annabelle Hope, my thriving 16-month-old miracle girl.
Sadly, I didn’t cherish the first trimester. I hardly remember anything distinct about it except that I was scared out of my mind…like I had been for each pregnancy prior, except for the first of course.
Six times before, I had gotten pregnant. Six times I had horrible morning sickness and heard beautiful heartbeats. But six times I had lost my baby through miscarriage. Why would the seventh be different? Nothing out of the ordinary had shown up on our investigative tests. Our recurrent pregnancy losses were unexplained. Still, we tried just about everything there was to try (chiropractic, modified bedrest, baby asprin, progesterone suppositories, etc.)
I felt broken. The thought that I would never be able to carry a child to term seemed too realistic. So even in that beautiful seventh pregnancy, every cramp, every sign of reduced nausea…sent me flying into a panic, as it had so many times before. Since we were seeing the reproductive endocrinologist, we had an ultrasound almost every week. 8 weeks…healthy baby. 9.5 weeks, “Everything looks great!” We were shocked. Amazed. STILL SCARED. At twelve weeks we hit uncharted territory with a healthy baby on that ultrasound. She was so strong despite her mommy who fought a raging battle with doubt and fear.
The second trimester was a beautiful gift and I remember the glorious day we had the courage to announce our pregnancy to the world. We were fourteen weeks pregnant and in utter awe that this baby was thriving in MY womb. The womb I once believed broken completely. The womb I didn’t fully trust God with, to be totally honest. I announced it through a blog I wrote entitled, “WOW.”
Faith and fear fought hard within me. I would be lying if I said it was easy to choose faith even within the second and third trimesters. The stories and statistics about stillbirth and SIDS plagued my mind, and as a defense mechanism I tried not to get my hopes up.
But thankfully, God makes it hard not to hope. I felt those kicks get stronger and stronger. We took every possible opportunity to peek in via ultrasound. (If you’re crazy like me you buy your own Dopplar and listen to that perfect little thump-bump-bump-bump whenever you need a little burst of hope.)
At nineteen weeks we had our gender reveal ultrasound. There she was, wiggling around and happy as a clam in MY WOMB. The womb I struggled to trust. The womb that would be her faithful, cozy home for 21 more weeks.
Though I wish there had been more, I am grateful for the moments and days in which I chose to cherish the pregnancy. Cherish the heaviness, heartburn, skin-stretching, and rib-kicks. Because even if that pregnancy was all I would have been all I had of my precious Annabelle Hope, at least I would have that.
Someone had given me a book about pregnancy with our first child and I decided about halfway through the pregnancy that it was time to pull that out. Each week I read about what was developing, and the book had prayers that correlated to the development. For example, “”
My husband and I chose to use the Bradley Method for her birth (husband coached childbirth) because I wanted to feel the pain of pushing this child out. I wanted to remember and experience the fullness of the pregnanc, not knowing if I would ever have the chance to experience it again.
When her due date eve rolled around, I started having contractions. They came on strong and she was ready. Six hours later, I was holding a beautiful bright eyed, powdery-skinned little girl in my arms. She was alive. She was healthy and we were in awe.
This is how we chose her little name, Annabelle Hope.
“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel (in the temple where Mary and Joseph brought Jesus) of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, she had lived with her husband 7 years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was 84. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to ALL who were looking forward to the REDEMPTION of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38
“Annabelle” was chosen from this holy woman from Luke 2 who devoted her life to prayer and sharing with others about redemption. This Anna got to meet Jesus! We pray that our daughter would someday grow into a woman devoted to prayer and the Lord. We combined it with “belle” which means Beautiful in French. Kevin and I took a trip to Europe in the Spring of 2011 and fell in love with Paris, among other cities. We thought “beautiful” was a perfect addition to our first daughter’s name because we feel like God has brought incredible beauty from ashes through our painful journey to parenthood.
Hope. This word is so jam packed with meaning for our family and simply as believers in Christ. We CLUNG to our eternal hope in heaven more than ever that April day in 2010 when we learned that our first baby had gone to meet Jesus. We have clung to hope through each pregnancy…hope that maybe this would be the child God allowed us to meet on this side of heaven. We want others who have struggled with infertility to be reminded that there is always hope-as hopeless as it may seem in the moment. And then there’s simply the beautiful, eternal hope (Elpis in Greek) that all believers in Christ have. It is a hope that supersedes any circumstance life could bring, simply because to live is Christ and to die is gain. We have a heavenly hope, and we pray that our children will come to the faith and cling to this hope through all of their life’s circumstances.
There is no one more worthy of praise and thanks for this beautiful baby girl, Annabelle Hope, than our Great, powerful, and perfect God.
© Liv Ryan, 2014
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