“Bethany, did you REALLY blog during your chemo treatments and your high-risk pregnancy?”
Yes. The blog wasn’t quite as large or public as it is today, but the posts are buried within the pages hosted on my domain. I needed a place to share openly. Many connected through email offering encouragement and sharing my posts with others. My hardest battle in life opened the door to my writing freedom.
Over the past few months, I have slowly started digging through my storm-drenched posts to find material for my book project (more coming in the next few weeks about this Fall release!). This summer, I wanted to highlight a few posts that really described a bit of what God taught me through this journey.
(Originally posted February 14, 2013)
I just can’t QUIT smiling!
1. Prevail – Have you ever made plans only to have God completely redirect them? Share how His plans blessed your life or the life of those around you. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” ~ Proverbs 19:21 NIV11
…And my friends out in blog land that know my story go, “Oh wow…where is she going to go with this one?”
I wasn’t sure where to start here either. I have so many stories of how God has completely taken over, changed my course and completely shattered and rebuilt the foundation of my life.
However, I thought I would focus on more recent events.
Life has its storms…splash, splash… How will YOU choose to react?
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I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I was sitting in shock on the edge of the bed in the early hours on a Sunday morning, wide-awake before the kids (a rare occasion). The sunlight was barely shining into our bedroom and I looked at my husband, sleeping very peacefully. Our lives were FINALLY beginning to find a bit of normal ground. I had just received my plasma exchange treatment for my GBS and a few short weeks earlier had learned that my two malignant brain tumors were still “absent” (doctors were still very determined to define the correct medical synopsis – for it wasn’t a “cure” or a “miracle” but both tumors were simply “missing.”). I went from walking with a cane to walking at a descent pace with no pain. My body was still exhausted, but I could live pain-free! I was FINALLY able to sit on the floor and play with my boys again! I was able to keep food down and had just moved from eating one smoothie a day to two meals.
The rain is slowing…
(Picture from June 2012)
I sat there on the edge of the bed, looking at my husband and then glancing at my phone. On my screen glaring through my clouded memory was this picture that I had taken just the day before of my 2 boys sitting in the bike carrier right before my first bike ride in over a year! I just stared blankly. Wondered. Questioned if all of these good times were about to come to a crashing halt…again.
Rain clouds rolling in again.
(Picture July 14, 2012)
That morning, July 15, 2012 I had taken a test and discovered that I was pregnant.
For those healthy, planning, moms-to-be, this news would come with excitement, anticipation and the ever-so-popular need to tell just a few people just because the news is burning up inside of them. But for me, one who had literally just completed my last round of chemo a few weeks prior, followed by IVIG and plasma exchange, I felt at a loss of hope. My one and only thought was simply, “Why would God allow more loss in my life right now?” My thoughts were echoing back to the reality that the chance a baby could survive in my healing body, filled with so many toxins and medications would be more than just a miracle, it would be cheating death.
I had to choose how to respond before the down pour hit, but at that moment it was so hard to process anything clearly.
I remember hearing our youngest cry-out and then looking at my motionless sleeping husband. After trying a few times to wake him up and get his attention, I just blurted out, “Honey, I’m pregnant.” I remember he was squirming a bit until he heard those words and just froze.
Now turning into awkward silence…
But seriously, what would you say? We both ended and I left to get the boys up for church.
That morning at breakfast my husband and I had one of those spelling bee type of conversations around our other two boys.
Steve – So, when did you find out about the b-a-b-y?
Me – Just this morning.
Steve – Why did you even think to question it?
Me – I just felt weird and really thought I would just rule it out before going back to the oncologist tomorrow.
Steve – I wounder what he will say.
Josh (age 4) – Who?
Steve – Nobody…oh look…we need to get ready for church!
The next few days our conversations continued much in this same manner. Our worries intensified especially after my appointment with the oncologist that ended with his stern disapproval of the pregnancy and his desire to continue treatment without the pregnancy (read between the lines there).
My mind was whirling…
- We can’t tell the kids
- Can I do anything to better this child’s chances of survival?
- Can anyone tell I’m hiding something?
- I’m sick…again! SERIOUSLY??!!
- I just lost my trusted oncologist…now what?
- What if the cancer returns?
- What if my other symptoms return?
- I’m tired.
- I’m confused.
It’s storming…I’m wet…again…
I remember heading to the Pregnancy Resources Center a few days later after that morning, just to get the “real” test administered. My husband was texting updates throughout the morning. The test came back positive. I went through the many OB doctors all of whom did not feel comfortable with my case. I had to wait until I was around 9 weeks to actually meet my OB and what a meeting that was.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Matthew on the ultrasound screen, not knowing if this child was a boy or a girl. I saw life. I saw and zoned-in on one, small grainy moving image soaking in every rhythmic detail. His little heart was beating (and at a great rate too!). The OB confirmed the ultrasound and scheduled follow-up ultrasounds to ease both his and my our concerns. Seeing our miracle literally grow before our eyes on the ultrasound screen was just beyond words. I went from demanding my husband to be with me for every ultrasound, to having faith God would guide confidently meeting with our little guy alone.
(January 8, 2013…31 weeks)
Tomorrow, I will be 36 weeks along on this journey that God has once again taken control and guided. I still have questions and fears:
- Will he be okay after birth?
- What if the due date is wrong?
- Am I supposed to feel this way?
- Is he moving too much?
- Should I eat that?
- Do we have everything ready?
- Are the boys ready?
- Am I ready?
…And I still don’t have the answers I want. Yet, I have an amazing God that is in control, which in return means I am NOT in control (I’ve found comfort in that a LOT lately). I have decided to put my shaking hand in His firm grip and walk in faith. My fear is as real as my faith. Faith grows through fear, one step at a time, even if we walk through the rain, together.
So many of you out there choose not to comment here, but send emails, or comment on my Facebook or just plain ol’ call! I LOVE them all! When I created this blog during my intense medical issues, I created it just so family and friends would quit calling and have everyone on the same page 🙂 What started as a convenient means of transferring info, ended up blasting off to over 500,000 visitors and I haven’t looked at my subscription list…its just too overwhelming! The stories YOU (the readers) have shared and the encouragement YOU have given our family just echoes God’s control in our life. We didn’t want (honestly) all of the medical issues and the need to have a blog like this out there…yet, God took over and made it a ministry that I could have never imagined…especially using some of the darkest hours of my life to date.
So I keep blogging.
God keeps leading.
You keep reading and encouraging.
Maybe one day I will write a book…maybe…
Matthew’s due date is March 15th. This story is far from over…as you well know.
When the doubts and questions enter my head daily, I am reminded constantly that I am SO not in control. The God of the Universe has me walking with Him in the rain for a purpose. Our God chooses to bless us through each rain drop that brings us closer to Him. I actually end up smiling. Why? Because I think, “Oooohhh…what’s God gonna do through this?” Patience on my end isn’t always the easiest…but God always shines through.
It’s our decision. Are you going to get drenched in the storm, or hold His hand and dance in the rain? Your pain indeed has a purpose. Keep going, He has you!
UPDATE: Matthew was born on March 7, 2013 and is now a healthy 2 year-old boy who loves playing with his older brothers. I’ll be sharing more of this journey in my new book to be released this Fall! Stay tuned for updates! As a life coach, I have a passion for those going through storms in life, searching for God’s purpose in the puddles of confusion. I’ve been there. I’ve lived this journey and I would love to walk alongside of you as you thrive through Him. Find His purpose through the rain. It’s there!