Thursday, September 6, 2012

Love, Loss, and Hope

Almost seven years ago, I made one the toughest phone calls of my life. As happy (and shocked) as I was to have found out that Jason and I were going to have a baby, my heart winced at the thought of telling my sister-in-law Leigh Ann. She and Jason's older brother Jerel had been hoping to have a baby for as long as I had known them, and she had shared intimately the pain of their infertility.

So I drew a deep breath and made the phone call. After carefully telling her the news that I was pregnant, she managed a few sweet words and said she had to go. I only found out later that she cried and cried for days. It hit too close to home this time for her and it killed me. She called me several days later, however, and did what any normal person who is in terrible pain could not do. She started planning my baby shower. That is the sister and the person she is. She has planned many baby showers for friends and family, putting her own sadness to the side.

Jerel and Leigh Ann have been the kind of family one could only dream to marry into. They accepted my son Corey as their flesh-and-blood nephew and treat both he and Avery like royalty. We lived next door to them for two years and during that time, the running joke was as soon as they would leave their house, we would sneak into their refridgerator and be overwhelmed with the treasures it contained. Jerel is an amazing cook and it was always so much fun to treat ourselves to such delicacies and then run back home. Only recently did I tell them we did this!

Things changed and we moved ( and moved and moved) and so did they. I was actually their buyers agent and found them the perfect little Bungalow right on Union Street in Concord. It suits them to a tee. During all of this time, they have longed for a child. We have poured through foster children's pictures over the past two years to no avail. I have waited with held breath to give Leigh Ann the world's biggest and best baby shower...And then earlier this year, hope arrived. They met a lady who sought them out and wanted to give them her unborn baby, as she could not take care of him. Everyone was over the moon. Sadly, they realized she was not the person we had hoped and she changed her mind and kept the baby.

Three days ago, a precious baby boy was born whose mother didn't want him. With no reserve, Jerel and Leigh Ann lept at the chance to love and raise this child as their own. When Leigh Ann called me I was on the golf course, and I could not contain myself! I stopped after nine holes and rushed to the hospital to meet my long-awaited nephew. We huffed and puffed to the room and quietly entered the dark maternity room.

I beheld the most beautiful sight. Leigh Ann, in dim light, holding her baby and feeding him a bottle. My heart melted into a puddle. In that moment, she was where she had dreamt of being for so many years. I breathed it in slowly and was immediately filled up with such love for this baby. I carefully bent down and fngered the tiniest bracelet that said "Bradshaw" on it. It was almost too much. All we could do was pray that this would be the child they had waited on.

It was not to be. The next morning, it was if the dreamy lullaby had turned into a twisted nightmare. The birth mother had changed her mind. They would sign him back over. That was it. The baby items were returned. Even as I spoke with Jerel that morning, my mind would not process this information. What words are you supposed to say? I could feel my own heart physically ache, and could not imagine what Jerel and Leigh Ann were feeling. I helped them make a few phone calls and then just layed listless on the couch. Although I was trying to pray, appraoching His throne and begging for His will to be done, I could not find any words that matched the hurt inside. For the first time I feel like the Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf. That afternoon, the birth mother took her baby and I pray even now that the Lord watch over him.
I was reminded that God knows what it is like to lose a Son, too. The agony is no stranger to the One we lift our hearts to.

And now my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are back at square one again. I am so blessed to have them in my life, and I count it a privelege to stand with them, lifting them up during this time. I don't know if they have the strength to hope again for a child, but I know they would be amazing parents. Corey my son, said yesterday that he was pretty sure when Jerel and Leigh Ann finally do get a baby, they won't be getting them such great birthday presents. I laughed out loud because they do spoil all their neices and nephews.. and they love doing it. Then I thought about what Corey said. He said "when" they get a baby. Not "if". I think all of us believe that it only a matter of time-God's perfect time.

I believe that these traumatic experiences will only make sense when they look back and see His perfect plan. I can't wait to meet the little neice or nephew ( or both?) that I am supposed to have. There is a family waiting here for them that will embrace them for who they are. There are things worth waiting for. Please pray for Jerel and Leigh Ann if you feel led to.

I have been blessed to call them family. My children are honored to call them Uncle and Aunt. We are all so grateful to call them friends... and my heart awaits the glorious day when I will hear precious lips call them Mom and Dad.

Jerel and Avery cooking while waiting on Corey to get off the bus.
Leigh Ann and I at the beach a few years ago. We have a specila bond because we married into the Bradshaw family.
Leigh Ann, Donna, Kayla ( our neice) and me.
Leigh Ann and I at my surprise birthday party last year.

Jerel and Avis ( his nickname for her) at the beach a long time ago.