Mataniah Elam

This post is raw. Full of God’s sweet love alongside of deep sadness. We just had a miscarriage. Our first. Something I prayed so hard that I would never experience, such a painful and heart wrenching road to walk. I want to tell the story from beginning to end, in all it’s raw pain and beauty-because even in the pain, God’s sweet, sweet love was present, and has kept me from going off the deep end. Some moments, that’s all that holds us together from completely losing it. God’s grace and love.

The story begins back a few months-at the end of March. My husband and I were married on April 12, and he has an alarm on his phone to alert him two weeks beforehand so he has time to think of a gift or date night plan. 🙂 He was struggling to think of what to give me, and so he asked the One who knows all: “Lord, what should I give her for our anniversary?”  and he felt the Lord reply kindly “Why don’t you give her a baby?” Which is a funny thing- we don’t use birth control so we purposefully leave that decision in God’s hands anyway. I had just had my first period after our fourth child, about 18 months post partum. Hubby pondered God’s idea and thought “Well, I’ll give her a pregnancy test. The only place I know to get those is Dollar General.” He told me that God had told him what to give me, and that he needed to go to Dollar General for it. That was pretty funny-I had quite the time talking to God about what on earth hubby could get for an anniversary gift from such a place. Hubby kept trying to go to the store, but it didn’t work out until we were camping for Passover on the week of our anniversary. He got it just in time.  On our anniversary he handed me the test, with a sweet and eager little smirk on his face. We both knew that this was God’s doing, and I eagerly took the test. Positive! Oh, we were so happy- giddy even. 5 children! A handful! We had our 8 year old come in and check that we read the test correctly. 😉 She was so excited as well, and we told each child right away. We calculated baby’s due date to be the same day as my husband’s birthday, another special treat! That evening hubby and I took a walk around the campground, sharing the testimony of God’s sweet gift with other friends who were camping also. I didn’t have any crazy pregnancy symptoms, other than my milk supply dropping slightly for A. I have never had super strong symptoms from pregnancy, I am very thankful for this! We finished up the week of camping and headed home.

Over the next two weeks I had no special symptoms, other than an occasional feeling of implantation type discomfort. A couple weeks after our camping trip my friend and I planned a yard work day, and we kept busy all day, mowing, hammering posts in, stretching fencing, and hoeing the garden. I was tired, but felt very satisfied in what we accomplished. The next morning I woke up to some light bleeding. My first thought was “NO, NO, this is NOT happening.” That morning I took things as easy as possible, lying around and not lifting anything. The spotting did not let up, however. I struggled to keep from inwardly panicking, and tried to downplay to my children that I was sticking so close to the couch. We kept praying over the baby, declaring life, healing, and interceding for this little life that God had purposed from the beginning. After two days of this, I was emotionally exhausted as well as physically feeling like I had been hit by a truck. On the third day, I felt that I couldn’t continue this way forever, that I was going to have to live life and just trust that if baby was going to live, I would be able to take care of my other children also. I still rested a lot that day, and did a few extremely light household type things, avoiding lifting or stairs. It was the 7 week mark in the pregnancy. Later that evening, the bleeding suddenly spiked and I began passing clots. At this point I totally lost hope for life-I assumed this was good bye to our baby. Hubby and I were very distraught, and I’m so thankful Hubby was home at that moment to hold me so we could mourn together. After a while, we decided to tell the other children. One was very matter of fact-“God gave this baby, so this baby can’t die.”.  Another was absolutely heartbroken and wailed in our arms. The others were too young to understand. We kept praying for life, for a miracle- even though it was such an feeling of whiplash between grief and faith that it felt cruel to even try. I’ve never been in such a faith battle before. I still don’t know what to quite do with it. My God is good, and I will praise Him no matter what. On one hand we had people standing with us saying “We will pray for life, even when it doesn’t seem like that’s what’s happening.” and on the other hand we had people crying with us. Several people told us stories of how they had bled heavily during their pregnancy, and yet their baby survived and was healthy and happy. So on one hand, we were being given hope-but meanwhile my bleeding kept increasing, and I just had a feeling the battle was over. I will be brutally honest-after the point when the clots started, I mostly didn’t want to pray for life any longer. It was a battle to keep praying, and even then my heart wasn’t fully in it. I just wanted to know for sure one way or the other, to not have the emotional whiplash of going back and forth. After 3 days of passing increasingly larger clots, the bleeding slowed back down to light spotting again. I never did see anything that resembled a child, and that makes me wonder how old Mataniah was when he/she passed away-perhaps much sooner than the 7 weeks the bleeding started. My strength began to return, which was a huge relief. I didn’t realize before how hard a miscarriage hits in every way possible- physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Thankfully others had warned me about women mentally beating themselves up with the “what ifs” during a miscarriage that I mostly didn’t allow myself to go there. My midwife helped me with that also, reassuring me it wasn’t my fault. I have in the past mowed and done lawn and garden work until 9 months pregnant without issue, so it wasn’t unusual for me to work hard outside and expect everything to be fine. The part I have struggled with is the faith part- what if I had more faith when we were praying for life?? What if I chose to believe life when everything pointed to death? But as my husband is continually reassuring me, one can not live that way. I must trust God for faith, and not think it’s something I make happen on my own or condemn myself for not having. I know God will be glorified through little Mataniah’s life, no matter how big of a victory the enemy thinks he has won.  Therefore I will not give the enemy the pleasure of binding me with condemnation or fear. The victory belongs to God. Period.

After the bleeding stopped, I took a pregnancy test-the line indicating the presence of HcG was almost indistinguishable, barely visible in only the brightest of light and at the correct angle. At this point I knew. My husband decided to keep hope until I tested and there was no line. A few days later I took another test and there was no visible line at all. We were surrounded during this time with people who care-who desire to support us. Most of them did a great job. If you ever want to know what NOT to do for a women who is miscarrying, do not tell her God wanted another angel. Do not try to comfort her by saying “Oh, don’t worry, you’ve already got four children, at least you know you can have another.”  I was so horrified by some “comforts”, it was all I could do to not let my jaw drop. Very eye opening. These ladies didn’t understand, and I hold no hurt towards them. It just amazed me, shocked me, that one would think of that as a strong comfort! The ones who reached out to us who knew just how to comfort were those who have been there, as is often the case with grief. You have to experience it to know how to love in that time. Several women who have experienced miscarriage, as well as a couple men who went through it with their wives, reached out to comfort us and offer their support and counsel. Something that was recurring was the advice to name our baby. This seemed more and more important to me as days went by. It was difficult and painful to refer to our sweet little one as “The baby we lost”. I began searching for names that held special meaning based on the situation. I wanted a gender neutral name, one that would fit when I meet my baby in heaven.  None of the names I found were gender neutral, so after a while I gave up on finding one, and just focused on finding one with significant meaning. I found the name Mataniah, meaning “gift of God”, and Elam, meaning “Hidden, eternal, or forever”. To my sweet surprise, when I looked more closely at the name Mataniah, it is a name that can be for male or female. I also thought of the nickname “Mattie”, which I’ve heard used for both genders. This was very comforting to me. Hubby was very gracious to me during this time of processing, talking through things together and discussing possible names.

Our baby, Mataniah Elam- Gift of God hidden in eternity, has been with Jesus for four weeks now. I still struggle with faith-the big fat WHY. I know God did not want this baby to die, so I kick against this happening. It should not have happened. The enemy got a victory here, so it would seem.  But we see things now very dimly, like through one way glass-you can sort of see a shadow, but not very many details. I know God will be glorified through Mataniah’s little life, and some day, one day-I will understand what happened fully. Until then, I must keep throwing myself upon the mercy and love of God, resting in Him. I am thankful He loves me even when I’m struggling, even in the moments where I just crumple in His arms weeping for the life that was cut short. I know He is weeping with me. I know He weeps at every life that is over too soon. He is my comfort and my stronghold, in Him will I trust.

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New Mornings

Behold, I make all things new.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases… His mercies are new every morning

GREAT is His faithfulness!

 

So my absence can be explained in two ways.

  1. I had another baby
  2. Depression snuck in

Honestly, even with having a new baby, I had time to post. So the real culprit is depression. I felt sad that I didn’t really have anything great to say- anything I felt would make a difference-an impact. Sad that my heart was so overwhelmed that I felt I couldn’t offer anything helpful to others. Recently my hubby and I sat down and I poured out my heart to him, asking for his input and support. One of the lies of depression is that you are alone and no one really, truly, cares. My Love listened to me, held me, and when I was ready, kindly told me what open door he felt I had given the enemy to let depression get a foot hold. Self pity-that insipid yet very dangerous bugger that loves sneaking into a wife or mom’s heart and wreaking havoc. Self pity comes camouflaged in such honest looking, innocent packages.

“I carry such a heavy load around here.”
“Why am I the only one who notices that ______ is a problem in our household?”
“I don’t have time to take care of myself, I’m too busy making life happen around here.”
“Hubby has no idea what a struggle daily life is for me.”

Justifiable complaints in one light- yet a cesspool of self pity blah blahs that creates a tailspin in life. If a mom needs help-she should communicate that instead of throwing dark glances in the direction of those who love her most, wishing those people would “get with it and notice the struggle”.  The moment I opened up to my husband, sharing my struggle honestly, the enemy’s hold on me was loosened. The moment I listened without anger to Hubby’s kind and loving assessment of the situation, I took a step away from the lies. And the next minute when hubby led me in repentance for allowing such thoughts to take over my mind and heart, freedom was attained. It is a daily choice of if I go back there or not. I am choosing not to.  Daily life is much better now. I’m taking better care of myself, my children are happier, and communication with my Husband is much more open and free. I have a choice to meet life’s issues with tailspin attitudes or honest, “I want to deal with this properly and enjoy the life I have” attitudes.  If you are struggling, find someone you can be open and honest with. Don’t ignore the red flags, convince yourself they don’t exist or justify them. It is scary to make yourself vulnerable in that way, but please do not give up. Freedom is too valuable to be set aside just because it’s too hard to keep. It’s worth the hard long looks into your heart to see what’s set up camp there. If something is physically wrong with you, do not feel bad going for help in fixing those issues. I’m not trying to insinuate there is nothing physical that causes depression. Personally, my depression is almost always started from hormonal imbalances. I could get this treated medically, but it’s always gone away slowly but obviously when I deal with my thought life. Hormonal imbalances are very deeply controlled by our thoughts and life attitudes. So when we clear up the “stinking thinking”, our hormones often come to a much better place (can take a little time) so we can deal with the true physical issues on hand. A simple test if perhaps your emotions could be influencing your depression, is to ask yourself what you think is causing your depression. If you bristle at the thought that it may be a spiritual or mental decision you’ve made-you may have just found a rat. Find someone to help you think through the WHY it makes you bristle or cringe. Past hurts? People dismissing that you are struggling, telling you it’s all in your head? I assure you it’s not. We have an enemy who attacks us from all sides. We have a Father Who loves us so much and offers us freedom. Our thoughts do seriously influence our physical bodies, so don’t dismiss the importance of clearing your mind of stink bombs and inviting the Holy Spirit to come through and set up His camp in your heart and mind. Do some housekeeping. It can’t hurt, and it very well may seriously help you see and think more clearly. This is what it means, to be a fully surrendered mama. A life long path of growing and learning. Giving up. Rising to the challenge. I do not say any of this lightly, so if you have concerns or questions, please feel free to challenge or ask me. I appreciate honest discourse, sharpening each other in our walk with God. If you’re struggling, I would like to offer to be a safe place of encouragement. If I do not know how to help, I’ll point you to some people who have more experience than I, or resources that have been life changing to me.  Peace to you today!

Contentment and Practicality

Yes, I’m writing about this on Black Friday, I know. Don’t worry, I’m not judging. I went shopping this evening after dinner with my siblings. We had a great time, laughing it up and enjoying being together. We just got back. I had two goals: Buy some shoes and some jeans. I ended up buying nothing but a nice scarf that I knew I would use heavily. There’s a reason why I need shoes and jeans. I have one pair of jeans that sort of fit me, and my black shoes are falling apart. Literally.  But here is the issue. I’m too practical. There are too many choices. Expensive choices. Seemingly impractical choices. Choices I will live with whether or not they really truly fit me, because they are expensive. So instead of choosing, I freeze. I balk. One could say I’m content to wear old shoes that are flaking apart, or second hand clothes that don’t fit me right. But the honest truth is…. I’m not. I want to look nice. I want to have shoes that aren’t falling apart, a coat that isn’t too small and almost worn through, and jeans that actually fit properly and are the right length. Yeah. And then I feel guilty. Aren’t there worse off people than I? Shouldn’t I be glad I have those things? Well, I am. Really I am. I’m warm, and clothed. What more could I desire? This pull in my heart between being content with second hand worn out items and going ahead and shelling out the money for something new and shiny is a hard battle. Being practical is something useful and important, but can also be taken too far. I really should buy new shoes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find a pair that fit the bill and don’t break the bank. We’ll see.

Monthiversary Day!

Hubby and I were married on April 12. Each month on the 12th we try to do something special to commemorate another month together. It’s also the one night we sometimes do something “date” like… so I treasure these monthly celebrations! Lately our celebrations have looked more like construction teamwork than a romantic night out, but we are still attempting to make them something special. In the past we have had picnics in the living room, gone out to share a milkshake or cheesecake slice, had candle lit dinners of enchiladas (Joshua made enchiladas for me and proposed to me after dinner oh so long ago…so we make them occasionally to commemorate the occasion.), and gone on bike rides. Today, I’m not sure how we will celebrate. We have some birthday coupons for the girls to get free ice cream cones from a local dairy, and some money set aside for us to go on an ice cream date, so I think that’s hopefully what will work out for tonight. 🙂

What are some ways you and your spouse like to recognize special days?

Day 18-Rainy Day Activities

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It’s cold. It’s rainy. It’s dark and dreary outside. It’s a lazy Saturday. What do you do to keep kids occupied? Well… around here we do a lot of reading and watching Youtube movies. We bake goodies sometimes. (Bonus if it is pumpkin and chocolate something-rather) My girls love to color and do mazes. Sometimes we play “build a blanket fort” or hide n seek. Sometimes my girls argue if I’m not paying attention to keeping them busy. Then we spend a lot of time sorting out who did what and what correctional actions need to be taken. I much prefer keeping them busy. 😉  Some days we just have to get out of the house even if it’s a gross day outside, and that’s when we go spend some time at the library, or just walking around the mall or Target. Some days we go visit one of my sisters and terrorize her house for a while instead. 😉 So what do you do to fill a rainy Saturday?

Day 15-Creative Ways to Reinforce Letter Sounds

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Today I’m going to share a few ideas on how to teach the letter sounds and “shapes” to your child. For my oldest I used an old curriculum called Homegrown Kindergartner. It is one of many kinds of curricula that takes the “letter a week” approach. I like this approach because it allows you to really park on that letter and cover it well. You can:

  • Color worksheets with the letter on it.
  • Cook a treat with your child that begins with that letter. (Muffins on M week, anyone??)
  • Visit a place that starts with that letter. (Post Office on P week, Library on L week, a trip to the Zoo would be a great way to end the school year with a bang!)
  • Point out the letter on signs as you drive down the street, or go through the grocery store.
  • Check out books that have that letter in the title. Let your child roam the rows and find the books with you.
  • Look up Youtube movies about an animal that begins with the letter (Duckling movies for D week)
  • Do an activity or craft that starts with the letter. (W-walk, water play, wash dishes, “weave” some popsicle sticks and yarn, etc…)
  • At the end of the week write down all the words your child can think of that begin with the letter. Let them watch you write the words while you sound them out, then color the paper.
  • Glue stuff on construction paper in the shape of the letter

So, what are your ideas for incorporating letter sound reinforcement into your child’s life?

Day 11- Resting! Well… as much as a mama can. :-)

     Today I’m enjoying resting from doing school with the girls! Something I’m trying to learn is to make sure to take care of mama. You can’t give what you don’t have… and so I try to remember to let myself recharge and be refreshed from time to time. Today I did that by taking a super hot bath and taking a little nap because it’s the Sabbath and I was in desperate need of some recharge time. Most days it’s something smaller, like eating a piece of chocolate in secret so I don’t have to share. 😉 I try to do one thing a day, just to keep it from becoming a rare thing. Some things require my husband to be home to watch the kids, others I can manage either with the kids or during nap time. I also may or may not have hid in my closet to accomplish eating a treat in peace. 😛 I’m going to list as many as I can think of, what could you add to the list?

Take a bubble bath
Play outside with your kids
Brush your hair 
Feed your spirit-Read or listen to the Bible
Eat a treat by yourself or with your kids
Dance to your favorite music
Go on a walk or jog around the block
Go to the library for some “quiet time”
Take a nap
Play a game either with someone else or alone
Write in a journal
Jot a quick note to a friend and mail it
Put your feet up and listen to some worship music for 15 minutes. Or for one song if it’s “one of those days.” 😉
Do a craft project
Take 15 minutes and tackle that messy part of your house that has been mocking you 
Have a cup of tea/hot chocolate/coffee
Paint your nails
Call a friend and swap exciting motherhood stories of the day
Go get groceries ALONE and get a treat to eat while you shop
Light a yummy smelling candle and turn on some easy listening classical music while you cook dinner
Take a few extra minutes to do your hair or make up more than just “normal”

I must admit, some days I’m doing good to just get everyone dressed, let alone actually brush my hair. It’s on those days that I say, “Ya know, I’m worth it!” and take 5 minutes or less to just stop and recognize somehow that I’m human and need love and attention too. Ok, your turn!