This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.

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The summer after we lost Jonah, my sister got married in July. She and my brother-in-law were kind enough to include Jonah’s name with Mark’s grandparents (and maybe others?) who had died at some point before their marriage. It was really sweet.

They didn’t waste time on having kids, either. Their first daughter was born the following May. Then two more sisters followed at 18-month intervals. Three years later, M was born, who is our goddaughter. That was right before the summer of 2010, when things started to go wrong.

With each pregnancy, my sister hesitated to tell me. I know she worried about my feelings, especially since after Jonah we struggled to get pregnant for years. But for me, they were never an issue. I loved each of those girls from the moment they were born. The hardest part for me was how far away they lived! The first one was born in St. Louis. The next two in South Dakota (we were in New York for the first three). The last one was Wisconsin (we lived in Ohio when the pregnancy was announced, but moved to Texas before she was born). We had no idea they would end up moving near us so soon.

It wasn’t until after we lost Samantha that news about pregnancy became harder to hear, but only in certain circumstances. My prayer partner was extremely tender and cautious sharing her news about her youngest, born about four years ago. That was ok for me. But when my sister’s fifth baby was on the way, I was nervous. We had done some comparisons between her girls’ baby pictures and our sweet Samantha, marveling at how alike they would often look. I was really scared that this baby would look too much like our daughter, and I didn’t know how I would be able to handle it.

But God, in His infinite mercy, prepared my heart somehow, because when J was born in September of 2013, it was beautiful. I got the text with her picture, and instantly felt love for this precious new niece of mine. By the time her brother was born last year, I no longer had any qualms about others having babies.

That’s not to say that I’m completely ok in every circumstance. I don’t feel comfortable holding infants to this day. It’s just too painful. I had a panic attack at a one-year-old’s birthday party a few years ago, realizing that we missed out on that milestone. I will probably never be a big fan of mother’s day. But these are all things I can work through or around in my life, without shutting off my heart to the kids and babies that God places into my family, whether it’s blood relatives or my family in Christ. In fact, a few years ago (when I still worked at our last church), one of the youth sent me a note of encouragement saying that I was like a mother to all of them. Needless to say, I bawled my eyes out.

Next post coming tomorrow.