April 17, 2013

A Hopeful Journey: Rachel and Jeff's Story

A Hopeful Journey
Watercolor and mixed media on paper, 16x20"





Today's post is more special than my usual ramblings about art because it's about more than art. I want to share with you a project I've been working on where art meets real life. This is Rachel and Jeff's story.

"It is said that “God never gives us more than we can handle.” I do believe this. I also believe that things happen for a reason, even though, at times, it’s hard to accept. 

Our first loss happened June 17, 2011. We had just found out we were pregnant when I went in for my first appointment. Instead of receiving the pamphlets and information I needed for my first pregnancy, my doctor ordered blood work. Something was wrong. My pregnancy hormone level was very low. So, I went back two days later for more blood work. The level had dropped even lower. We were losing the baby. We were told that it isn’t really all that uncommon for women to experience a first trimester loss. That didn’t make us feel better. But, we had hope because, statistically, our next pregnancy had every reason to be a normal one. 

So, we tried again! In April 2012 we found that we were pregnant again. We were so excited and once I got past that 12 week mark, the planning began. We bought the baby its first onesie and a little blow up pool to take to grandma’s house at the lake since the baby would only be 6 months old by that next summer and would not be allowed near the lake! Our Canadian relatives bought the baby its first hockey jersey. And so little by little things were lovingly bought in preparation for this sweet bundle that we were due to receive on January 4, 2013. 

But, on July 21, 2012 it all went wrong, again. I was just entering my 17th week and I was feeling horrible. My parents were away, my husband was on the midnight shift and not home from work, so I had a friend take me to the E.R. My husband met us there. It was then, via sonogram we found that our baby had died. I’ve never felt such pain! I was sure my heart had broken right in half. We sobbed together, holding each other in that little room. After being induced for labor and finally delivering the baby, we found out it was a little boy. He was precious and we held him and loved him the whole night through. We named him Henry Adam. Henry was my dad’s middle name. He had passed in 2006. And Adam was my husband’s middle name. So, we laid our sweet Henry to rest at the foot of his grandpa. 

There are many reasons in which a woman can have a second trimester loss. The reasons that seemed most possible were ruled out. All tests on baby and myself came back normal. Therefore, we were told it was probably an incompetent cervix. So, again we were given hope! We were told that next time a cerclage or stitch could be placed if that was the problem and everything would be fine. So, three months later in November 2012 I took the test that confirmed I was, yet again, pregnant. A difficult journey ensued. Weekly appointments, E.R. visits, and we worried. I went in for a 15 week appointment to find out that we were almost at the point of losing this baby! Into emergency surgery I went. I had to stay awake for the safety of the baby. A stitch was placed and all had gone well. I was relieved. I thought, okay, we’re having a baby, finally! 

So, again we planned the nursery, mom and I bought fabric to make quilts, receiving blankets, bumpers, and curtains. My husband and I bought outfits and a little blue plush whale that sang, and a turtle that showed the stars on the ceiling and books. But, the stitch wasn’t holding. Every appointment I went to it had slipped more and more. So, one day when I went to see a specialist, she sent me into surgery right away to try to put a stitch in above the one already in place. Again, I had the painful spinal put in place and lay awake scared and worried for our baby. My water broke in the O.R. The baby was still alive and was for awhile. I already knew this because I could feel him kicking still (yes, it was another boy). But, I was just entering my 18th week. There was a zero percent chance that he would ever survive, as babies don’t have a chance of survival usually until week 23. So, I was induced. We were told that he may be born alive, but would not survive long. My heart couldn’t bear it! I prayed so hard during this pregnancy asking God to bless us with this baby. But, now, I prayed that God would please take my sweet baby to be with his brother and his grandpa before I delivered him. I just couldn’t bear to see him alive and then die in my arms. God answered my prayer. I delivered a very peaceful baby who was already with the Lord on February 13, 2013. He was 1.2 ounces bigger than Henry had been, but just as precious. I played with his little hands and feet and cried. We, again, held and loved this little boy all through the night. We named him Oliver Lee. I liked the name Oliver and my middle name is Lee. We laid our sweet Oliver Lee to rest beside his brother and at the foot of his grandpa.  

As I write this, it has only been eight weeks since losing Oliver and we've been given hope once again. We have scheduled a surgery for July 29, 2013 with a doctor in Chicago who is very confident that he can perform a procedure that will give us a permanent fix to our problem. Not only will it be a permanent fix, but it will allow us to have as many babies as we would like. The only catch is that I would have to have a c-section for each delivery. But, considering all we’ve endured and that 30% of all women who get pregnant have one anyway, I say let’s shoot for the stars on this. We desperately want a baby, so why stop now?

The great thing about our God is that He always provides hope for us in life. And the life He gives is a gift. A precious gift not to be taken for granted, but for to be thankful and to be cherished." 

-Rachel

Rachel's story is so precious! I really wanted the painting to represent their journey, struggle included. The deer couple in the foreground represents Rachel and Jeff, the boat is symbolic for their journey, and the oars for the canoe are their two lost boys who guide their journey along. The water is dark and slightly ominous as it represents all the trials and unexpected circumstances of life. The flowers and greenery are a symbol for new life and hope and a token of grace as embark on this next stage in their lives.

Special thanks to Rachel and Jeff for being so gracious in sharing their story with me and now with you.
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