Ebenezer Collective | GOD REMEMBERS
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Ashleigh Lankford

If you had talked to me on July 1, 2015, I would have had stars in my eyes; I was over the moon. A little nauseous, but even so, our hearts were full. My husband and I had two little girls, then 4 and almost 2 years old. I was 12 weeks pregnant with baby #3, though technically it was baby #4, since we had miscarried between our two girls. I was starting to show, and my nausea was in full swing. The morning of the 6th, I left my little ones with my mother-in-law, as I took a much needed break at Starbucks to catch up on reading and then to my midwife for our 12-week appointment.

Only, the morning didn’t go as expected. Despite feeling 100% pregnant, there was no heartbeat. I fought back tears, hoping the handheld sonogram was wrong. We headed to get an actual sonogram, where it was confirmed that we had indeed lost our baby.  I was shocked. It was not at all like our first miscarriage, where I had zero symptoms and started bleeding at 8 weeks. I was 12 weeks and had all the pregnancy symptoms. My heart was heavy. My husband and I were both wrecked.

Because my body still very much thought I was pregnant, and our family was in a wedding the next week, we didn’t have time to wait it out and let the baby pass naturally. So on the morning of our eighth wedding anniversary, I took a medication to make my body miscarry the baby we had confirmed was dead, through multiple sonograms. Only this day did not go as expected either. My body had a strong reaction to the medicine, and I ended up passed out, sitting in a pool of blood, before being taken by ambulance to the ER. I just remember going in and out of consciousness, thinking, “My little girls need a momma. This can’t be it.”

The trauma of losing our baby so unexpectedly, combined with that of actually passing the baby, left me in tears for weeks. I didn’t know if I ever wanted to have more babies, and I didn’t want to let the two babies that I did have out of my sight. My grief was deep, and I cried out to the Lord, asking Him to give me “a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So [I would] be called [an oak] of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3, NASB).

As weeks went by, and then months, my body still didn’t feel back to “normal.” My cycle was off. I spotted. My period was heavy. By November, I had started experiencing insomnia. And then my heart started racing. Something was very wrong. Now I can see that it was in God’s kindness that I experienced these symptoms and knew my body needed professional help, but at the time, it all felt very overwhelming and compounded our loss.

I went to a few different medical health professionals and ended up being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. My progesterone was low, as a result of my sluggish thyroid. I wish I could say I was put on thyroid medicine, adrenal support, and prescription progesterone, and that I was all better, but it really wasn’t that simple. However, over the course of four months, my medical team was able to get me to a healthier place. Sleep was still so-so, but my body was being supported on many fronts and was gradually healing, piece by piece.

Sharing the diagnosis, symptoms, and protocol in such brevity makes it all seem much simpler, shorter, and more manageable than the situation was – or has been. There were a lot of days and nights of tears, begging the Lord for sleep, begging Him for complete healing. I tried every natural sleep protocol out there, from diet elimination to sauna use to exercise to herbs and oils; sometimes they helped, but nothing lasted. My problem was deeper than just restlessness. My hormones were out of whack, which affected my blood sugar, my cortisol, and my melatonin. (Translation: Inability to sleep, emotional instability, heart palpitations)

Even after I received a diagnosis, it took months to get my body supported. During this time, I felt very much alone. I didn’t fully understand why this was happening to my body, nor did I know anyone else who had experienced anything similar. Day to day tasks seemed exhausting on such little (if any) sleep. I had to wage war against my sorrow, bitterness, and anxiety. Isaiah 26:3 says, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” I knew if I was not continually praying and spending time in the Bible, and keeping Scripture on my heart, that I would be defeated in this battle. Some days I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I could trust God’s Word. And according to this verse, I would be granted peace if I kept my eyes and trust on the Lord. And I needed every ounce of my being to trust in Him.

During this season, there was another battle I was waging war against. My heart was also envious of those pregnant (and healthy!) women around me. I joined a Bible study for women who were walking through a season of infertility or multiple miscarriages. That study and meeting each week with women walking similar roads really blessed my heart and made my burden feel just a little bit lighter. I remember going to a craft night with several of my closest mom friends, two of whom were pregnant. They were both due just a few months after I had been due with the baby we lost. Overwhelmed with the weight of our loss, I was feeling a little hesitant to go, and expressed this to my Bible study leader. I wanted to get out so badly and see my friends, but my heart was heavy. Driving there, I bawled. My Bible study leader quickly texted me Romans 12:12, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” At that moment, I knew I had a decision to make. There had been and would be times that my friends grieved with me on this journey, but that night I was going to rejoice with them. That night was a turning point for me in how I related to others in the midst of my sickness.

Just as the darkness of winter was ending and spring was approaching, we were told we could try again for another baby. Just to be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to try. I had a lot of fear. Fear that my body wasn’t really better. Fear that I would lose another baby. Fear that I would have another traumatic miscarriage. Fear that if I was able to have another baby, that I wouldn’t be sleeping and then have a newborn on top of that. My mind was consumed by this fear. But I knew at some point I had to trust my doctors and ultimately, the Lord. If He had another baby for us, He would have to carry that baby to term.

In April, we found out we were pregnant again. And this time, the pregnancy stuck. On December 17, 2016, we welcomed James Abel to our family. James is my husband’s first name. And Abel comes from the Bible. As I read Genesis during my pregnancy, over and over again, I saw the theme, “God remembers.” After Cain killed his brother Abel, Adam and Eve were grieved. And yet God remembered them. He saw their pain. He did not take it away. But He remembered them, and He remembered Abel. God gave them another son, Seth. If God hadn’t given them another baby, He absolutely still would have been good. And He still would have remembered. Yet it struck me that it was in God’s kindness that He gave Adam and Eve another son. And throughout my pregnancy, I smiled, “He remembered.”

I wish that this phase of my health journey was over, tied neatly with a bow, and put on a shelf. But truthfully, I’m not sure what to expect. Pregnancy and nursing do change the body’s hormones and chemistry. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that my issues actually started between weaning my second child and getting pregnant, and then crept up again, much more fiercely, after we miscarried that baby. I have been striving to take care of myself and follow the regimen my naturopath and doctor have me on, but I’m not certain what the future holds, once I wean this baby. Will I sleep peacefully and remain steady emotionally? Or will my body spin out of control again? It’s unsettling to think about, but I can’t let myself go there. Again I remind myself of Isaiah 26:3, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” I don’t know what the future holds, but I know God holds the future. Being in His peace is the only place I want to be.

Amanda Buccola
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