The Aftermath- Part 2

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This is the second installment by our guest blogger and speaker Karmen Smith.  This is an extremely powerful real life testimony of how God is everpresent in the storms of life and how his presence, our family, our community and church can help us through the most heartwrenching times in our lives.  Thanks for stopping by!  Dawn Lucy
The Aftermath: Part 2


“For years I “got” God’s love in my head but didn’t fully understand it with my heart.”-Francis Chan
Until we lost Samuel that quote could have been mine.  Recently I reread the prayer journal I kept during our heart-wrenching season of loss.  Constants that saw me through the despair: the Father’s love, my husband our family & friends and the “okay” to feel exacting how I needed to on any given day. 
God is big enough to handle us even on our worst day.  My journal entry two days after our the loss of our 17 week old Samuel:
“Lord, I come to you tonight as a child needing to be held.  I am grateful for your relentless grace, mercy and strength the last couple of days.  Even though we didn’t get to bring our Samuel home tonight Lord I know he is with you and that’s even better.  Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers in allowing us to conceive.  Thank you for letting me carry him and give birth to a physically perfect little boy.  May the peaceful memories never fade…  For our friends and family who have made this sorrowful time almost pleasant we are grateful.  Thank you Father for my precious mother, daddy, sisters, cousins, in-laws, church family and lastly, a rock solid husband.  I could not ask for more.  Sustain us as only you can in the days ahead.  Protect sister and her baby. Be her comfort- her strong arm.  Grant her the same peace for her heart that I feel in mine.  I love you Lord.  Amen”
Day after day my prayers were much of the same.  On days that I could smile, I did.  On days all I could do was cry, I did.  I’d cry and cry and sometimes I’d scream out loud. I let myself feel exactly how I needed to feel that day and I told God all about it at night. 
The cowboy was steadfast.  He hugged me when I needed it most other times he let me be.  He’d invite me to go shoe horses with him often in the days and weeks that followed our loss.  Sometimes I’d go with him just to be with him other times I wouldn’t.  When I could we’d speak of Samuel at night.  How much I wished I were still growing him other times I’d start to talk and then I’d start to cry and the cowboy would hold me as I cried myself to sleep. 
We grieved but we never stopped living.  Sunday nights we still gathered around my momma’s table with my pregnant sister just as we had before.  Sometimes it was hard other times other times not so much.  If she wanted to cry we would.  If I wanted to cry, we would.  Whatever we did, we did together. 
Several months passed, sister was nearing her due date when I decided to go with her to her doctor’s appointment.  We were laughing about something when the nurse came in and said, “You’re in labor.  We’re going to keep you.”  Sister tried to convince her that we were laughing and that surely the contractions that she’d been experiencing were not REAL labor.  They were.  My precious, perfect niece was born just a few hours later.  We’d never experienced such joy.  Such overwhelming, take your breath kind of love for someone so tiny.  The cowboy and I were engulfed with emotion. 
The first year of her life we saw our perfect niece 363 days.  No joke.  We raced to sister’s house every day after work.  We played, cared, read to, held and savored sweet baby Kate.  Still do. 
It was spring when we found out we were expecting again.  I was too scared to be excited.   I desperately wanted a baby of my own but the daily battle of fear and anxiety verses peace was exhausting.  On the days I derailed and would begin to worry my mother would remind me, “Do not be anxious for anything instead pray about everything…”  She was right. 
The old hymn, One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus became near and dear to my soul.  Each day that passed I could breathe a little easier particularly when we made it past 17 weeks.  We were in new territory.  Uncharted waters.  My prayers continued, “Father you are good.  You are my sustainer.  Keep us.  Grow this little one.  Keep your hand upon us I pray.” Every single day I prayed. Some days I prayed all day. 
The cowboy and I’d been working in the yard when I began to feel uneasy.  I’d showered and tried to rest when the pressure became more than I could stand.  I called my doctor and he said, “Why don’t y’all come on in.?”  I was a few days shy of 24 weeks.  When we arrived at the hospital I was bleeding heavy, dilated to three and a half.  I was immediately admitted.  I spent the next three days in a bed titled at a 45-degree praying without ceasing for God and gravity to work together to save this baby.  With my womb susceptible to infection my doctor decided it best to transport me to a more advanced neonatal unit an hour away via ambulance. 
Again, family, prayers and the love of the Father was my strong tower.  Hour by hour the fate of our precious one was diminishing.  Infection was making its way into my womb.  She was hour glassing.  I could feel her feet outside of me.  I knew we were both fighting the fight of our life.  The neonatal team assured me they were ready.  We were all hoping for the best, expecting anything.   Doctors ordered and were ready to begin the induction.  Praying without ceasing across state lines.  Trusting our Sovereign Lord to allow what was best.
Our sweet baby girl, Karson Elizabeth was born just after midnight perfect but still.  “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord” were the only words I could muster as the doctors took her away. 
To mourn the dream of children and motherhood once was hard but twice left me gasping.  Though the halls were full of our loved ones.  I was empty and sad all over again.  The cowboy was mad.  I remember just after they had taken her away we were alone in the hospital when I sensed the presence of the enemy in a very real way.  I saw his sadness, his hurt quickly becoming anger as we wept together.  When he left the room to go and clear his head one of my very favorite people in the whole wide world called to check on us.  He was the cowboy’s high school wrestling coach.  He asked if there was anything he or his wife could do to help. My reply, “The cowboy needs a visit.  He’s having a hard time with this one.”  In less than twenty-four hours he and his precious wife had visited and loved on us.  Cheering us on as only the coach can.   I thank God for hearing and answering that prayer so swiftly. 
The days that followed were hard.  My milk came in but I had no baby to feed it to.  I was miserable some days.  Parts of my heart wanted to stop while other parts whispered, “You can do this! You’ve got to keep fighting.  Keep believing. Praying. Hoping.”  
The outpour from our community was wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time.  Several days after we’d been released from the hospital we were still experiencing heavy volumes of visitors.  I hated to turn them away and yet I was on the verge of exhaustion when my daddy barricaded my driveway.  At first I was embarrassed but then the relief.  The not having to smile or say we were doing okay when we weren’t was just what we needed.  Daddy really does know best sometimes.
Daily the mail would run and there’d be a card or maybe two or an email or a visit.  It was all very humbling.  The kind words, the meals, visits and the generosity God worked through others.  I’ll never forget a group of the women I taught with came by one afternoon with a card full of love & money.   They had taken up a love offering for us to go on a get- a-way trip.  Who does that?  They did & I am eternally grateful.
If a season of loss can be pleasant ours was.  It’s not a season I would’ve ever chosen yet without those days of despair I’d never have known of a love so pure, so long suffering, so enduring.  Many look at the passing of our little ones as a great loss.  Yes, there was loss and yet so much of the woman I hope to become and mother I still dreamed of being were found. 


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