• The Baby That Came So Fast & Left So Soon

    We were waiting until we got back from our trip to visit family in the States in July to start trying again. A third baby so soon since the last one. Would it be alright? Could we do it? Yes, we could. It would be fine. Parenthood is insane already anyway, right?! I was broody all over again.

    And there they were, the first month we opened our heart to the idea. We found out we were pregnant on 25 August, David's birthday. He had asked me to take a test that day — a sweet birthday surprise — as I had been putting it off even though I knew I was already 2 weeks late for my period. Just let it be, don't get overly excited, I kept telling myself. But I had never really had that sentiment in the other two pregnancies... This one felt different somehow. 

    A few weeks passed, and we told our families and closest friends. Then I started telling my wider group of mom friends, too, because it's pretty hard for me to keep a secret about myself when I'm hanging out in the mother circles. But I didn't post it online. With Talitha, I think we posted within the first month! With Evie Claire, we waited only until 8 weeks to post. But this one: hold off, hold off. I won't pretend it was any real intuition — I actually just wanted to wait until both girls' birthdays had passed to celebrate them first on my socials. I'm not sure why, it just felt right. Calculating it in my mind, that'd take me to about 15 weeks (I would have been nearly 17 now) to share with my much wider sphere. Into the second trimester. What a wait and departure from my previous experiences that would have been.

    But during the first trimester, I felt odd that I didn't yet feel connected to this pregnancy. I had said out loud to a few people when talking about it that "I wasn't immune to loss." Maybe knowing so many women in this season of child-bearing who had lost babies and learning more about how common miscarriages are was making me a little less naive about it all. It was growing, though: the widening of my familial dynamic, the opening up of how life was going to change again, the tender thought of a bump joining in on the festiviites this Christmas, the smile on my face when I saw families with three children. A slower connection to the baby at first than I had with my daughters, but that was to be expected with two little ones to care for all the while.

    The morning of 22 September, Talitha's 4th birthday, I began spotting. We had church to attend that morning and Talitha's party planned for 2pm. Stay calm. I made it through the service without too much worry, but I told a few close friends — one who would be at T's party later, too — to pray and to think of me as we had a big day ahead still. I soldiered on. I didn't feel physically unwell actually. I was excited for my girl. But it nagged at me that suddenly it was like I was having a period. Some women spot during pregnancy. Some women bleed all the way through. I didn't actually have a real reason to fully worry, so I chose to breathe and just focus on Talitha. I told one of my friends who I knew had experienced baby loss previously once we were out on the beach steps together. I needed people to hold me as I held space for my daughter's day. It was a fun and beautiful time with friends celebrating our firstborn on the beach and under the seafront shelter in the drizzle that began.

    But then there was a pouring. We were packing up the car with both girls and birthday presents when I felt a real sense to wipe. A few minutes ride in the car back up to our street. Parking outside our door. Touching between my legs to see blood on my fingers having come all the way through. Get to the toilet. I sat and wiped deep red from myself. And then I heard a heavy plop and looked down to see the darkest pool of blood. I might have reached in to fish out my heart as it seemed to sink further away from me. David was in the living room sorting the girls, but I called to him, trying to keep my trembling voice steady. We decided to call a friend to drive me to the hospital. I still sat on the toilet, and let my anxious tears flow when I told her something was wrong, so could she come take me to A&E. I put on a brave face, and told Talitha I needed to go see the doctor, because I wasn't well. She was happy and strangely calm playing with her new things as I kissed her goodbye. I won't get to spend her birthday evening with her.  

    We waited for my name to be called, my friend and I, chatting about any and everything. A calmness returned to me from her steady companionship, and a confidence that David and the girls would be fine at home as her husband and daughter were over to keep them company. The GP I saw wasn't terrible, but definitely crass. There wasn't much she could tell me other than my pregnancy hormones were still high and that my vitals were good. We left feeling positive that we'd come to make sure I was okay. Something my friend aptly reminded me was important, because from the moment I saw blood that morning, I had forgotten about my own well-being — is the baby okay? over and over.

    I was home in time for bedtime routine, which David and I did together, and was greeted with smiling children. Those evening moments together took on a more somber atmosphere in my heart as we sang over our girls and they fell asleep blissfully unaware. 

    Then my body began a deep work. The discomfort of early labor came to mind. I struggled to find an easy position on the couch. My uterus cramping. My back aching. I didn't know at the time that this is what often happens when you're body is working to deliver a baby who has stopped growing. I tried to think of it as normal pregnancy symptoms, because sometimes it is. Our womanly bodies even echo this process monthly: the life-making energy indwelling within us. 

    I went to bed, slept, woke up a few times to nurse my 11 month old all as normal. David went to work. I woke with the girls like I always do. I felt alright. I remember telling Talitha I felt okay, but I wasn't sure about the baby. We carried on as normal, and oh, how we wanted everything to be just that. Breakfast with the girls. A spot of play. The slow Monday morning getting-to-nursery routine. I dropped Talitha off, and called the Early Pregnancy Unit on my walk back home, told them yes, the blood clot was more than a 50p coin size, booked an appointment, and waited. Evie Claire played at my feet as I lazed on the couch. She seemed extra joyful that morning, and I remember her little smile — that goodness — made me cry. She drifted off for a nap eventually there on the couch after mama's milk. I had to get up for a parcel at the door, and then I went to the toilet. Still so much blood I'd been wiping. I didn't understand it at the time, but I felt an intuitive nudge to push a little, and then a little mass passed through right onto the inside of the toilet bowl below me, which I quickly retrieved. Oh, God, what am I looking at? Horror, denial, emptiness, and yet a mystical tenderness I felt for what I held in my palm. I waited trying to gather myself. Even in that moment, I could feel my gratefulness for the rare and miraculous solitude I was gifted for this all too early encounter with the one who was growing within me. Talitha at nursery, Evie Claire asleep, I had room to think. 

    I called EPU. That's when my horrified tears began to flow. Just as soon as you hear a human being, it's hard to hold it back. She couldn't tell me much over the phone. I remember frantically asking if I could send someone a photo to tell me what I was looking at. She tried to reassure me. She sounded almost delighted that I had something I could bring in to my appointment the next day. I was instructed to put it in the refridgerator in a tupperware box. I cried cradling the little thing. Jesus, can you tell me if this is my baby? I heard him say yes. There was no form of a baby to see, but what they later called "pregnancy product" at the hospital, I knew it could be nothing else. 

    I called David at work. He broke down on the phone. He told me I was remarkably calm. He left to come home to us. I showed him what we had of the baby. I felt so empty, and yet there was still so much blood. We tried to be peaceful. There was nothing we could do except just be together. It was hard to do the normal family thing once Talitha was home from nursery, but we made it work for the girls. I think I was walking around in shock if I'm honest. 

    That evening, we had friends come visit with us. Friends that sadly knew the pain as well. Friends who love us, and we love them...

    I am beyond thankful for friends. The next morning, one of my friends looked after both my girls so we could go to the hospital together. She's also the friend who wrote me a poem the day before. Inspired by watching me at Talitha's birthday party all the while knowing that I had begun bleeding, she wrote a beautiful homage to my mother heart. I read it so many times that day as I knew I was loosing my baby. It gave me something to hang some of my emotions on. 

    We went to the hospital. Plastic box in hand. In the nurses office, I asked her to look at it. Though she suggested she have a look whilst I went for my scan, I explained to her that I felt quite protective of it. I actually almost felt a little crazy, but I knew it was my maternal instinct to hold and protect, to love and need something to carry. My body and heart loosing and holding on to so much. She said it looked like placenta tissue. What then would we find in the scan? I immediately thought. But she gave us papers about miscarriage, told us we could send this off for testing to see if we could find out what had happened. None of that seemed relevant to me.  

    I carried my box in my bag as they ushered us to the ultrasound waiting area in the maternity unit. They felt bad that they send women who have likely just lost their baby to go and sit around all the other pregnant mothers. I told them it was okay. I'm around babies and children anyway. I didn't think it actually mattered to me. As I sat waiting, a friend sent me a photo of her darling miracle baby girl in one of the onesies I had sent her that both my girls had worn. It was the perfect little message to recieve to remind me of hope. During the vaginal scan, the sonographer pointed out my ovaries and fallopian tubes. Heartbreakingly, I kept trying to see a baby on the computer screen. But it was unmistakingly clear. The sonographer mentioned how sorry she was for me to have to go back out into the waiting room then. As she mentioned it, I began to tear up. Perhaps it would have been more professional of her to move right along, and it probably was because she was so kind that I cried and had to stay in the room a little longer to compose myself, but I'm more thankful she allowed herself that moment of humanity in a job that so often doesn't. Once I'd suitably calmed myself, and it was time to go back across to EPU, they let us wait in a counseling room all on our own. It was there we began to do some major processing together. 

    My friend had sent me a song to look up that she had been playing that morning. The lyrics were tear-inducing, but I almost relished it in that moment to begin to allow my grief to come out. David and I sat chatting. "I wouldn't want to send anything off," I told him. "I want to bury it." The word bury made me cry and we sat softly crying together. "I want to name the baby," I said out loud after some time. David agreed. I pulled up the baby naming app we had recently downloaded. You swipe the names you like and paired up with your partner, the names you both like go into a seperate name bank. I had a quick look to see that there were only two names there we had both found interesting. "Rhys" and "Orion." We started looking up the meanings of the names, and it just made sense. Using the spelling "Reese" it could be for either a boy or a girl. The name means "enthusiasm," which broken down could be "en theos" or "in God." It's also the first name of the lead singer of the band that technically brought David and I together. (I was downloading a song from Five Iron Frenzy from David's computer on Napster that first made him start chatting to me all those years ago.) Orion is a major constellation, and I'd always thought of unborn babies being "in the stars or heavenlies," an image I'm not sure how or why I came to, but it seems to be a general cultural idea. Orion was a hunter in Greek mythology, so "enthusiam hunter" makes for an enchanting name to us. Our little Reese Orion: the one we wait to hold in our arms. 

    We left the hospital, and the same feeling that came over me when we left the hospital with Evie Claire at 4 days old (our first trip outside of the house after her home birth) struck me hard. I wanted to go to the sea to walk out there on my own and just be for a little while before we picked the girls back up. We drove to the same place I seem to always go: Botany Bay. I took a few minutes to pray and to speak to my heart mutterings in the spirit I don't always understand. 

    The rest of the day and that week was spent together as a family trying to process and grieve whilst also generally taking care of the girls. We had to tell Talitha that the baby in my belly died, and that there wouldn't be another little brother or sister just yet. She was sad and angry and incredibly brave for a four year old. My sweet girl who has experienced birth right there with me and now also knows the pain of baby loss — that some babies make it and some don't. We told her the baby's name that night. I also chose a flower for them like I have a flower for both of the girls. I just sort of blurted out "the baby's flower is a bluebell" over dinner, and then I remembered my due date, which would have been late April, which is also when bluebells come out. David and I shared many tears together in the evenings that week. He wrote a poem one night. We found ways to process. I bled a lot the rest of that week, but I didn't pass any other bits of tissue, which made me feel even more like what we had was everything that had begun to form that didn't grow heathily. A friend of ours made a wooden box for us with a lock and key for us to bury it in. That next Sunday morning, we took the girls to lay the little box — all our hopes and the potential of this life — to rest. Talitha decorated the sides of it with paint. That morning, I had wrapped the little mass in cloth with bits of lavendar and sunflower petals (my girls' flowers) before turning the key. Our friends who visited us the night it happened, joined us in our family goodbye. It made carrying the load a little lighter. We now have a little unmarked grave only we know that we can come back to to honour Reese as a family. I wrote a poem that night that helped me mark that week of my life. 

    Since then, we bought a beautiful book called "These Precious Little People" that a friend recommended to help us unpack the conversation with Talitha. We cry here and there, sometimes in front of the girls. It hits me randomly as I'm sure it will the rest of my life. We've shared here and there as well. I tried to go around to every person who knew of the pregnancy and tell them the news in some gesture of systematically processing the information. We recieved so much support from our community: meals, child-care, cups of tea, chats, texts and messages, prayers, just so much love. I can never say thank you enough for that. October was baby loss awareness month, and there were times when the posts were overwhelming as everything was so raw. But mostly, realising how very common this is and still how little it is talked about shifted something in me. Waiting to post this felt necessary. I needed time to write it all out. It took a few long sittings. But the waiting to share has also felt heavy. I need to get it out there. I need help carrying this. The first week I felt so connected to the baby and my body in the death. Since then, I have gone back and forth from feeling in tune and feeling very far away. 

    I know mothers who have experienced this several times over. This is pretty shitty just the once. I know friends who have lost ovaries in ectopic pregnancies, who have lost full-term babies. Every single bit of it sucks. Every loss at every stage is heart-wrenching and unfair. I used to grieve these losses not having experienced my own in a hard, real way. I have shed tears over this that I couldn't explain before feeling my own pain. It has always baffled me. Now I understand it a little more. Truly, I have been overwhelmed with what we women hold. What we loose and yet still carry. 

    My baby, my third child who I wanted so very much, I hold you as close as ever. You, like both your sisters, have changed my life for the better. I will wait for you. I will never forget you. You always have a place in our family life. A door in my heart is open to you in every celebration or grief we will experience from here on out. I miss you. 

  • Evie Claire's Birth Story — Our Home Birth

    If you don't already know, you need to know a little about the birth of my first daughter before reading about the birth of my second daughter. I was induced with Talitha at 3 days past the due date for low amniotic fluid. My labour was 30+ hours and included an epidural at 24 hours. I broke out in chills before I was fully dialated, checked vaginally more than a handful of times, constantly monitored, and once I was instructed to push, I was told there were 3 strikes against me: that my pelvis was shaped in a way that was going to make it harder for Talitha to come out, that she was back-to-back (meaning she wasn't in the ideal position to come out), and that both our heart rates were going up. My doctor then asked me if I wanted to have a c-section as he told me that he'd likely have to use forceps and that he thought I'd likely have a third degree (full vagina to anus) tear. Frightened, clueless of how birth works, and unbelievably tired, I tried to push for half an hour more whilst laying on my back (the worst position to birth a baby in!). I wanted my baby so badly. "Let's do the c-section," I said finally. Still clueless about everything, I had accepted the way it went with Talitha. But after the experience of my incision bursting due to infection at 2 months postpartum and taking months to fully heal, I realised I was going to do things differently second time around. Not out of bitterness, but from a desire to feel empowered and informed and with the passion that no matter what happened, I wanted to feel calm and positive and sure of myself.

    This post isn't about how I prepared for Evie Claire's birth or how Talitha's birth brought me to Evie Claire's. I'll write about that another time. But it is about the full circle healing that's taken place in my heart and my body from this experience — a total opposite event whereby the circumstances and my body were fully in my control this time. I feel so grateful and in awe that my body was able to do all things it didn't get the chance to do last time. 

    It all started when David put Talitha to bed. When he came down the stairs at 8pm on Saturday the 20th of October (which makes Evie Claire's birth on the 21st three days past the due date),  I told him the contractions I had been feeling for nearly 2 weeks were definitely different. I felt them in the top of my belly before and was sure those were just Braxton Hicks. But these were coursing through to my vaginal area and lower back. We began to take stock of them gradually, but went on with our evening together by watching an episode of The Office and chatting. I sat on the birthing ball, scrolled on Instagram posting about our day walking around at Reculver, one of my favorite local spots. We decided if this was the real deal, we'd help things along by getting my oxytocin (the love and birth hormone) up with lots of cuddles and light touch massage. I went to have a hot shower and texted my doula at 10:45.

    “Hi Sue. We think it might be contractions have been stronger and more frequent. I’ve not had a show or my waters release but just been semi-tracking these surges. They feel “lower down” if that makes sense. Not sure if this is real but figured I would text you. Xx”

    “Hi Christie, thank you for letting me know. How exciting! Are you able to sleep or are the contractions keeping you awake? How frequent are they? Xx”

    “I have been resting but not sleeping since T went to bed. That’s when it started. The last five were roughly 3 min apart and 45 seconds or so. Some aren’t as long. I’m about to have a shower and then try to sleep I think. I’m having to breathe them through. I had one while writing this text.” 

    “It definitely sounds like things are getting ready. Once you’ve had a shower, rest, lots of cuddles. Call me as soon as you feel that you are ready for me to be with you xxx “

    The next text in our thread is after the birth, because I called her about 12:15am. I had stronger and stronger contractions in the shower that I couldn’t talk through. I began to get a bit overwhelmed by the idea of the pain, but a powerful affirmation rang in my ears: “my surges (or contractions) can not overpower me, because they are me.” Embracing the act of my body instead of trying to resist it completely changed my mindset and my pain level. Before I got out, David started making the rearrangements of our furniture that we’d planned and getting the birthing pool out. He had put the old mattress that we’d planned to use directly after the birth to deliver the placenta on in the lounge, so I laid down there and began to listen to my relaxation mp3s from my hypnobirthing course. I knew I wasn’t going to sleep through these contractions.

    I spoke to my doula, and we knew we wanted her to go ahead and come. She got to our house about 1am, David had the pool up and was still working on filling it as he had encountered a slight issue with the tap not attaching correctly to the hose. Sue started helping him with buckets. Somewhere around this point, David asked me if I wanted my birthing playlist of music on, which I said yes. I vaguely remember hearing the music later during the actual birth. My surges were getting so strong that in some of them I felt the need to push and couldn’t exactly stop myself. Sue encouraged us to call the midwives at that point. I honestly didn’t think it would progress so quickly, so even though things were feeling quite intense I still thought we had loads of time. 

    David got on the phone to the hospital at 1:45 and a midwife called him back at 2:05. David told her I was having urges to push, so she decided to come on to our house without the gas and air and would send it with another midwife. Just as that was happening, we heard Talitha, our 3 year old, wake up wondering where we were upstairs as she had peed in her sleep. David brought her down telling her “baby baby” was coming. I remember greeting her and my doula also saying hello. She saw the pool and I think it just clicked in her mind. She had a peaceful, observant, and engaged look on her face — ready to see what this was all about. We had prepared for her to be at the birth by going through a stages of birth illustrated "map" with her here and there at home.

    We had also watched a few home birth videos together including ones with siblings also present at birth. She had met my doula several times as well; she even had a special nickname for her. Her name is Sue, but Talitha called her 'Sula the doula," which we all sort of adopted. I started to think Talitha wasn't going to be able to see the birth as it was all happening while she was asleep, but she woke up at just the right time. I was so encouraged seeing that my contractions weren’t freaking her out. She just seemed to watch and let me get on with what I was doing. I remember interacting with her here and there but mostly I was in my own zone.

    There was a moment my doula reminded me to relax my face, that my body would follow suit just by relaxing my face. I zoned in again and that reminder was a little breath of fresh air. 

    Finally, the water was filled enough that I got in the pool. The feeling of relief as I lowered my body in was so lovely. But the contractions were coming so close. The midwife arrived around 2:25 or so. She told us we still needed to get more water in the pool, so David went to work with the bucket again. Talitha came into the pool just after me as was a part of our plan. She loves water just like I do, so I knew she wouldn't be able to resist. I loved having her in there with me. She had a flannel in there with her that had come off of my neck as I had needed it to cool myself previous to getting in the pool. I remember her laying it on my tummy saying, “Here, mama, this will help.” That sweet gesture just made me melt and I told her thank you.

    The midwife wanted to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, and when she seemed to have a hard time locating it with me sitting on the little seat in the pool, I felt an instinctual desire to turn and face the other way kneeling with my knees on the bottom of the pool. The midwife managed to get that one strong reading of the baby’s heartbeat, but there was no time for any other monitoring or checks!

    I remember one contraction where David was not in the room filling up the bucket, but I needed a hand to hold. I reached out to my doula and held her close through it. It was so good to have her there when I needed that extra support. With each contraction at this point, I felt like I was going to give birth to a massive poo! There definitely was some that came out, and my daughter was the one to realise it. I could hear her behind me saying, “Mummy did a poo. Get it out!” It’s actually the thing she talks about the most when she tells the story! "Yes, and what else did Mummy push out?" I ask her with a smile on my face. 

    Back to the action: I knew that it was happening so soon, but I made the choice not to say anything or ask any questions. I feel like my birth team knew it, too, but it was great how no one was annoyingly telling me what was happening. There seemed to be an understanding that I was following my body, and didn’t need to hear anything. I do remember hearing the midwife say when she initially arrived, “She’s handling them so well.” That combined with the encouraging words of my doula and the warmth of my husband’s embrace and the, I believe, subconscious incentive to give my daughter an amazing example of giving birth fueled me.

    At what must have been 2:45 or so, I felt a big pop during a contraction. “What was that?” I asked. I heard the midwife say, “it could be your waters.” I couldn’t see anything behind me, but I realised she was putting a mirror under the water to look. My husband recalls a couple times where there was nothing to see but then the last time, the midwife told him, “There’s the head,” and David could see it. I remember on the next contraction feeling and thinking, “This must be the ‘ring of fire.’” I had been quite guttural throughout the labour, and heard myself “roar” her out as my doula so encouragingly put it later.

    The midwife said the forehead and nose were out, and I heard her tell me I didn’t need to push anymore but to just breath the baby out. I focused all my energy on breathing and immediately I felt her fully descend. I turned around, heard David whisper something like, “you did it,” had to lift my leg over to receive her (that’s when I heard her cry and when David said, “it’s another girl”) and then just sat back holding my fresh babe. “It’s Evie Claire!” I told Talitha as she stood beside me gazing at her sister. “My girls...” I remember uttering.

    “2:57,” the midwife said. I remember looking at my doula like wowwww. And as we all took it all in, the second midwife arrived with the gas and air! We sat in the pool for maybe 10 minutes as we delayed cord clamping. And David cut the cord. Then we moved over to the mattress on the floor, and I put her to my breasts. It took just over an hour for me to deliver the placenta, which actually was more frustrating than anything. We had turned the heating on earlier so it would be warm in the house for the baby, but I was really hot and asked David to turn it off, and I started feeling tired and just wanted it to be over with.

    I actually told the midwives to go ahead and administer the injection for a managed third stage, but they encouraged me to wait for a full hour. I felt like I wasn’t getting any help from my body, but I kept letting Evie Claire nurse, and finally whilst kneeling, a little over an hour after her birth, I felt the placenta just sort of plop out! The relief! I mentally thanked it for doing a great job for 9 months, but all my attention was turned towards my breasts for the role of sustaining my baby out of the womb.

    I was checked for tears and was delighted to learn I didn’t need any stitches for the minor stretching that took place. I kept thinking, “Goodness, this is just too good to be true.” 

    We called our parents to let them know. We hadn’t told any of our family that we were planning a home birth. We wanted them to experience our joy after the fact instead of worrying about what all could go wrong beforehand. I said to my mother whilst FaceTiming her in America, my new baby in my arms, “I hope you don’t mind I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want you to worry.” She smiled and said, “You’re right, I would have worried.” 

    “You know how much I wanted this,” I said. “I’m so proud of you,” she said through tears making me cry as well. 

    The midwives weighed Evie Claire, gave her Vitamin K, and finished up their paperwork. They left by 5:30am. Talitha had been given her tablet (I think she chose to watch Bing reruns) at some point and we noticed she finally crashed on the couch around then.

    My doula stayed with us a little longer just recapping what an amazing few hours it had been. I sent out a few texts, got cleaned up, and put on some PJs. Then the 4 of us went up to mine and David’s bedroom carrying our 2 daughters. We pulled Talitha’s mattress beside our bed and went to sleep for a couple of hours. We woke up together to a new season. One of my deepest dreams fulfilled, it feels like we’re forging into new territory where reality is just that good — it’s true. 


  • A Tiny Bit on Leaving Germany & Bonding as a Family

    I'm typing this as I sit on the couch in a one room flat in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. It's the night before my little family embarks on a road trip to England. Finally, this isn't just a visit. This is us moving there — moving to my husband's homeland, my daughter's other citizenship, and the country that has enamoured my heart for as long as I can remember. 

    It feels surreal to know I'm going to enter the UK from the ferry trip across the English channel and have no time limitations on how long I stay. It feels surreal looking down at my face and name on a German residence card and to be entering England no longer as a tourist but as a German resident with "family member of a (European) Union citizen" written on my card — a distinction that gives me the ability to also reside in the UK. 

    My residency in Germany these past 6 months has been a prerequisite to living in England that we chose — a route we felt best suited our journey. We never knew it would take 6 months for a residency card to come through, but sometimes things are different than we expect. 

    I don't know that I can neatly summarize my experience living in Duisburg, Germany and what I'm feeling on the eve of entering my "promised land." It wouldn't fit in a neat little list like I tried in my post at the end of December. It's been far too messy and all over the place for that. 

    I'm also not fully sure of the reasons why things went the way they did here that were opposite to what I desired to happen. We have been living in a lot of waiting, which we understood to an extent in the beginning. But not finding purpose and structure like we had in mind when we decided to come here made the waiting harder. We utterly underestimated the way adjusting to a new culture would make finding the things we'd always found easy and natural (like building community and feeling connected and being fruitful, productive parts of that community) become such struggles.

    At the same time, we weren't forgotten or overlooked. Our life and the people in it just became really concentrated — something we've never experienced since we've always lived with an abundance of people around us. I never knew how language and cultural barriers could make such a difference. I am so grateful for how God weaved a few families into our lives, though. They know who they are, and what they have meant to me. 

    The most beautiful thing that I have come to understand from this time is the rare opportunity my husband, daughter, and I have had to bond. David and I both saw up close and personal how our little girl grew in these months. It was the 3 of us almost all the time doing everything together. I can now see that this season was a gift to us as a family — a place to cultivate a strength as a father, mother, and daughter. I'm excited to see the result of this bond play out for us in our future. 

    Though it feels like there is so much more to unpack from this part of my life — how it stretched me as person so much further out of comfort zones I didn't even know I had — perhaps these things will come up more clearly in the days to come. Perhaps there will be moments like, "Oh that's what that was for."

    Until then and to end this post, I'd like to share some lyrics that catch the spirit of what I'm feeling in this moment. Two songs from the latest Future of Forestry album seem to nail the end of this season and begininning of the next one so beautifully:

    Eric Owyoung (ASCAP Real Boy Music 2016)

    From the gorge to the highlands
    How this trip’s been a long time coming

    In conversations past the burning sun was setting
    Behind the golden skies the stars did shine

    In debts resolved your pain is gone
    So long in waiting
    The wait is done

    In still of night, lights aglow
    The heavens open
    The wait is done

    Eric Owyoung (ASCAP Real Boy Music 2016)

    Come to the water at the riverside
    Quenched from the desert that you came from

    Kings of the earth came with their vanity
    Came placing their wagers on their mortal ventures

    Your heart has brought you to this land
    You’re standing on a giants’ shoulders
    Your heart has brought you to this land

    Where your love is strong and bolder
    Your heart has brought you to this land

    The beauty of a heart for others
    The day that you arrived

    You knew that you could ride
    On Giants’ shoulders

    Ancient pathways stretch from shore to sky
    And fathers look deeply into their children’s eyes

    Your heart has brought you to this land
    You’re standing on a giants’ shoulders
    Your heart has brought you to this land

    Where your love is strong and bolder
    Your heart has brought you to this land

    The beauty of a heart for others
    The day that you arrived

    You knew that you could ride
    Oh...On Giants’ shoulders