A life update

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Apr 1, 2019

It is my honor to introduce today’s blog post from our dear friend and colleague, Mary Margaret. Her family has recently been walking through a tremendous loss, but with so much grace and vulnerability. It’s everyone’s natural inclination to hide and avoid when there’s pain in our lives. But Mary Margaret and her husband Tim are brave, generous, and wise, and would like to share their story with you! What a gift! For anyone who has been or is currently walking through a similar season of loss, know that you are not alone. God has a good plan for your life through times of prosperity and times of sorrow. 

-Buddy (Owner Big Spring Farm)

The past 8 weeks have been hard, really hard. Months ago,  I thought I’d be on maternity leave right now. But, as many of you know, life can change in an instant. One day, you’re walking along going over your to-do list in your head, and then suddenly life changes forever. January 14th was one of those days for me. This is the day that we found out that our sweet baby girl’s heartbeat had stopped.

We were shocked. At 36 weeks pregnant, we lost our baby girl for “no reason at all.”

Back in October, we had our 20-week ultrasound. At that appointment not only did we learn that we were going to welcome our second girl, but we learned that our daughter had a cleft lip and palate. For months, this consumed us with questions and anxiety about life ahead.  If you’re unfamiliar, cleft lip and palate is a birth defect where the mouth (lip) and palate (roof of the mouth) are not formed properly, thus leaving a “gap” in both areas.

Many people are familiar with the cleft lip, but what most people don’t know is that a cleft palate can be responsible for a lot of issues, including difficulty feeding. The “hole” in the roof of the baby’s mouth makes it impossible for them to make a suction, so breastfeeding is impossible. In addition to this, many cleft babies will need speech therapy, dental surgeries, and tubes in their ears. This is far more than a “cosmetic issue.” We knew that she was going to be “alright”, but we were preparing for a long road ahead of doctors appointments, surgeries, and therapy appointments.

Throughout my pregnancy, we were reassured that her ultrasounds showed that Helen was perfectly healthy. Her heartbeat was strong and she was measuring well. For my entire pregnancy, she was healthy. Since we were expecting Helen to have some feeding trouble. We decided it would be best to deliver at UVA so that our girl would have the best access to feeding specialists. This meant that I would need to transfer my care to the doctors at UVA around 36 weeks so that I could get used to their team and begin talking about a birth plan.

On Friday, January 11th, I had my last appointment with my midwives in Lexington. It was a quick appointment. My midwife, Leah found the baby’s heart beat quickly, and Helen’s heart was beating strong. Monday, we had our first appointment at UVA. It was there, that the doctors couldn’t find the heartbeat. They quickly walked us into the ultrasound room and Tim and I saw our girl’s heart, all perfectly formed chambers, standing still. We knew before they even told us.

The next few days were a whirlwind. We had no idea what happened. The Doctors didn’t really know either. We decided to go in for induction Tuesday, January 15th. Helen was born only 6 hours laters.

Life has been flipped upside down for us. We’re living the life that no one ever imagines will belong to them. The past 8 weeks have been hard, really hard. But we are not lost, we are not hopeless. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, ” We are pressed  on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” This is so true and in spite of it all, we are grateful to God. He is still good.

We’ve slowly transitioned our way back into “normal” life, but it’s still hard. Life is not normal for us. Everything is different, but nothing has changed. What do you do with that? We’re so unbelievably thankful for our community, our church, and our workplaces. Without these people of God surrounding us, we wouldn’t be standing. The story isn’t over yet. We are expectant that God is going to do something beautiful through these ashes. Helen’s story isn’t only hers, isn’t only ours, it is God’s and he has something incredible ahead.

If you’d like to follow along, you can read more, including our Letters to Helen at The Strength of a Smile

Mary Margaret is in charge of Client Care and Marketing at Big Spring Farm

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