Hope and Heartbreak

This blog has always been transparent and raw- a way to process and a way to share.

So, I want you to know her. To know our Shalom.

I had been looking forward to Mother’s Day for awhile; it was the day we had chosen to make our pregnancy announcement. We would have been 13 weeks along with Sweet Baby Number 2.

When my mom came to visit, Judah surprised her with a onesie that said “Oops they did it again! I’m going to be a Big Brother!” We were going to FaceTime my dad and tell him the news later that week.

My mom came on a Sunday and we had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday, so we decided to wait to call my dad until then. We all jumped in the taxi, excited to finally see our baby on the big screen.

The week before we went for our initial appointment but the doctor couldn’t see anything. I sat in the park awaiting the results of a blood test- praying for good news. He called, telling me that everything was fine, that my hormones indicated the presence of a pregnancy so I must not be as far along as I thought I had been. I slowly let my breath out.

My gut was still in knots.

I tried to believe what the doctor said was true, but it still felt off. I was already experiencing morning sickness and was fairly confident about the date our baby had been conceived. Last pregnancy morning sickness hadn’t come til later in the pregnancy, around this same time.

Not wanting to worry myself for no reason, I told myself I was being silly and listened to my husbands reassurance. I had doubts when getting pregnant with Judah as well, but everything turned out fine.

It would be fine.

Lying there on the examining chair at 9 weeks pregnant, the ultrasound still found no trace of a baby— my worst fear was confirmed. I looked over at my husband for a glimpse of hope, struggling to accept the doctor’s words.

Granted I’m living in a foreign country, the doctor was not speaking my primary language. I forced myself to stay calm in order to fully comprehend what was going on. My husband and I slowly followed the doctor into his office. We sat down and he explained that we had had an anembryonic pregnancy, otherwise known as “blighted ovum”. This is when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall but the embryo doesn’t develop. However, the placenta continues to grow and hormones continue to rise, which is why I still felt pregnancy symptoms.

Since I hadn’t miscarried naturally yet, the doctor immediately jumped to explain several alternatives for ending the pregnancy. Still in shock, I began to weep. I collapsed on Jesse’s shoulder while the doctor who had delivered Judah tried to mutter condolences of “don’t cry, you already have one baby, you’re young, you’ll have more, many people can’t have any…..” My husband kindly told the doctor to shut-up as I had begun to absorb the finality of this baby’s life.

I went out into the waiting room where my mom was playing with Judah, one look at me and she knew. “Oh Hunnie” she whispered and engulfed me in her arms.  I’m so glad she was there. But I needed to hold my baby. I turned to pick-up my firstborn, kissing his head and telling him how much I love him.

It was not the doctor’s appointment I had been anticipating.

That day we went to work as normal, went to a meeting, as normal, and went to bed.

The next day and the day after that we went to work. Numb. Filling the hours with “normal” life tasks while I waited to naturally miscarry.

Finally, at 11 weeks “pregnant”, the doctor recommended a D&C procedure to clean out my uterus. I needed it to be over. So I went in and after again confirming no signs of life, 15 minutes later I walked out of the office feeling as empty as I have ever felt.

My husband and I sat on a bench in the same park where we had celebrated being pregnant with Judah, and started to mourn the life of our little “Shalom”. The name God had given us for our baby girl. We didn’t know the gender, but had a feeling Shalom would have been a girl.

Shalom. Peace.

We talked about the friends she would have in heaven, Jesse’s and my siblings we had never met, and other loved ones who we know had gone to be with the Lord.

Since then it has not been easy. It’s been difficult to find joy. Unless blatantly distracted, my spirit still feels broken, womb still feels empty. My family feels incomplete.

I stumbled upon Jeremiah 1:5 the other day, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” My first instinct was anger. Why God would you form this child if you knew the outcome would be a miscarriage? It just wasn’t fair! I expressed this to my husband who gave me a different way to look at it:

“Kimmy, this verse is saying that our child WAS indeed known.”

This put me all in a puddle. Wishing I could have known her. Wishing I could have held my little Shalom. But again. Shalom. Peace.

I have peace knowing that God knows my Shalom and He is holding her now.

So what did God set Shalom apart for? For Him. To point us towards His glory. Towards His peace.

Shalom’s estimated due date was on Thanksgiving. I couldn’t wait to have my own little turkey “in the oven” and again a newborn babe around Christmas time. In fact, there were many dreams and visions I’d already had for my unborn child. From the moment I saw the double pink lines –I took the test the morning before Judah’s first birthday– his baby sister’s life had become a reality.

We will remember the day we found out we were pregnant, the day of the miscarriage, the day of the procedure, the day she should have been born, and the following days, months, and years that we had anticipated her to be with us.

Our family will hopefully grow and Judah will eventually become a big brother, in God’s timing.

But we will never forget.

Our precious Shalom.

Who is now living in an unbroken world. Experiencing the fullness of Him. Dancing and singing with the angels.

And we are still here. Looking forward to that day we will be reunited. Doing our best to live for Him until then.

With Shalom reminding us we are graced with His peace.

His Perfect. Timeless. All-Knowing. Peace.



My Baby Accessory

I bring my baby to work with me every day.

Since my job involves helping refugee moms and their children, having Judah with me seems very natural. I love strapping him into the Ergo carrier on the way to work and having him close to me all day long. I love how he gets to be around people from different cultures and how he has gotten used to being passed around from person to person.  On a typical work day, Judah is content playing next to me on the ground or sitting with me in my lap as I talk with the other women.

Today, however, was a little trickier. Today I needed to explain something more in-depth and needed to have both hands free. So, I passed my baby off to someone else. Judah cried and screamed and fussed for the entire 30 minutes and had to be taken out of my line-of-sight. As I sat there working with the women, my heart was tearing in two. I knew that the work I was doing was important, but I was also very aware that my child was in distress, and that I was currently choosing the women over him.

After I got home and fed him dinner, I let him stay up a little later than usual. I played with him, kissed his chubby cheeks, tickled his belly, and gazed into his big, brown eyes. I felt like I had betrayed him today.

This made me think more about our future. More about my personal goals and ambitions. I think part of the reason why today made me feel guilty was that we had just hired a nanny to watch Judah for 5 hours one day a week so I could get work done without him.  I’ve felt like I’ve been running non-stop.  Full-time mom, full-time job, wife, daughter, sister, friend.  Oh, and I’m taking online classes for my masters in counseling. With my husband also working full-time both on and off the clock, I’ve really been struggling to do it all and not feel like a limp noodle at the end of each day.

Earlier, I thought the nanny was the epiphany I’d been waiting for. Five hours a week of solid ME TIME to do school/work prep/emails/meal planning or whatever I need to do. (We’d also heard that the nanny was in need of more work, so by hiring we’re also giving her an opportunity to make a little more cash.) However, when I got home tonight, the glorious-ness of that “me time” was replaced with sadness and mourning for those 5 hours a week I wouldn’t get to spend with my baby.

I know this probably isn’t normal.

I promise you, I am a normal person. But yes, he is my firstborn.

As I sat up with my baby tonight after dinner, all my dreams and career ambitions felt like nothing in comparison to having my baby on my hip for the rest of my life.

We’ve had other babysitters before to go on dates, but only like once or twice a month, and at nighttime when Judah’s sleeping. What feels different to me now is that I am making a conscious commitment to put work above my baby, when I’ve never had to make that decision before. I study and write papers only after he goes to bed at night, and during the day he’s with me on-site.

Five hours a week. It feels like an eternity without him. One of my biggest fears is that he’ll take his first steps or say his first word when I’m not there. However, I know that these five hours will give me time to be completely focused and crank stuff out, which will indeed make it easier for me to breath the other 93-ish hours of the week…

Yes, I counted the hours. Ok, so I get to spend 93 out of 98 hours with my baby? Now that doesn’t make me feel so bad. Maybe I should’ve done the math from the start…



Baby’s First Christmas


I blinked.

One year ago we were decorating the tree, gabbing on about how next Christmas we would have a baby crawling around. I was balancing hot coco cups on my table-top bump, crocheting a blankie (that I never finished) for the babe inside me. We still didn’t know his name.

Suddenly, my belly buddy was a baby in my arms.

Although there’s not much time for leisurely sips of hot cocoa or crochet this Christmas, our hands and hearts are full. We are giddy in love with our firstborn son, Judah.

Having a kid at Christmas makes everything five times more exciting. I can’t wait to see Judah’s reactions to snow, stockings, and colorful Christmas lights.

While I thought he would for sure be all over the Christmas tree, he purposefully kept his distance. He was actually pretty skeptical of the Christmas box we pulled out of storage, but I can’t blame him since out came a PLASTIC tree.

I got weepy when I pulled out the ornament someone had gifted me at a baby shower. Baby’s first ornament. Cue the tears.


When we tried to take our family picture in front of the tree, per his nature, Judah just kept clapping and squirming. It all makes sense to me now when families talk about how many tries it takes to get a good Christmas photo…


On Christmas Eve Judah opened up a yellow toy car, closely resembling all the taxi’s he sees everywhere. However, Judah was more interested in the string and tape that held the present together.


On Christmas morn he pulled our wooden baby Jesus out of his stocking, and before we could place Jesus in the manger of our nativity set, Judah proceeded to literally “taste and see that the Lord is good” as he put the figuring in his mouth.


While on our annual Christmas ski trip in the mountains, Judah had his first experience with the cold and the snow. As soon as we stepped out the door of our lodge, he sucked in his breath and looked at me like I was crazy! He didn’t even imagine that I would actually set him down in the cold white stuff all around us—and he quickly made known to us his discomfort. Trying to warm him up to the concept, we sat in the sled with him and slid down a little hill. Again, he urgently requested we go back inside.

Maybe you’ll like Christmas more next year, my little snow bear. Don’t you worry, it will be here again before you blink…



Deciphering Doubt


In my last post regarding motherhood, I wrote, “I’ve even surprised myself at how natural it’s been for me to step into this new role.”

Well, as the saying goes, pride cometh before the fall.

Suddenly, it seemed that I was questioning myself at every turn. The biggest cause for doubt was when there were a few months that Judah stopped gaining the recommended amount of weight. As much as I tried to play it cool, this was very troubling.

I struggled to sort through what the doctor was telling me, what the baby blogs were telling me, what other mom friends were telling me, and what my mama gut was telling me. Yes, I know all babies are different. Yes, I have plenty of milk supply. No, I don’t want to supplement using formula. Yes, I do see that Judah is steadily decreasing in the chart’s percentiles.

To add to it, I was also fighting the cultural pressures around me. More than a handful of times, women would straight-forward tell me how skinny my baby was. Tssking, they would judge me for the size of my child, chiding me for not feeding him enough, accusing me of ill-mothering simply because my baby wasn’t fat. Unfortunately, since Judah’s doctor was cut of the same cloth, I didn’t feel like I could trust her word, not sure if what she was telling me was because of her bias or because of science. As it was, there were already several other health topics we could not disagree more on.

While I never want to compare Judah with other babies, I also know there is an extent of which comparing is healthy in order to gage where “normal” should be. It was indeed concerning that he was not gaining as much weight as the universal baby charts averaged.

I immediately blamed myself for his slow growth. My previously calm, prayerful state of mind quickly switched gears and began to over-analyze the way I had been nursing Judah, searching for a solution.

Had I been too relaxed with the amount of time he nursed for?

Was it wrong to put him on a feeding schedule to try to get some structure in my life?

Should I not have taken him to work with me?

Were his surroundings too stressful for him to not nurse long enough?

Was he sweating too much from the summer heat?

I scrutinized the food I had been eating, questioning the amount of “good fats” I’d been consuming. Was I too worried about losing the baby weight myself that I hadn’t been eating enough? As it was, I was hungry all the time and felt like I was relentlessly snacking either on almonds or oat muffins.

I even consulted with a lactation consultant, getting ideas for different techniques or methods I could try with Judah. However, a lot of what she told me I had already tried and nothing had been changing.

Needless to say, this season was altogether mind consuming. I controlled as much as I could, but in the end, it was actually when we went on vacation that Judah began to gain healthy weight again.

I’m tempted to read into this and shame myself for the amount of worry, stress, and energy that I put into “fixing” Judah, wondering how much of that Judah was able to sense which could have contributed to his slow weight gain even more… The truth is, I will never know if Judah’s growth was a reflection of my mothering style or not.

But what I can know to be true is simply how thankful I am now.

Thankful that it was when we were around family and friends, taking a break from life, slowing down, and being cared for and loved, that Judah, too, felt loved. Thankful that his little body finally started to show signs of plumping up and that his Mama could take a deep breath in and out, realizing that he was going to be okay.

While Judah will probably never be the baby with chunky thighs or stomach rolls, what matters is that he’s healthy. And although he’s in the “below 5%” group on the baby charts, at least he is on the charts now.

As a new mama, I know that this is not going to be the only roller-coaster Judah’s going to take me on. But what this up-and-down ride of emotions has taught me is that while I will indeed search the heavens for all the answers, sometimes the best thing my baby needs is simply for me to breath, slow down, and give him all my love.


Judah’s Birth Story: Part 2

The transition happened fast.

Around 9:00pm I started feeling the urge to push. Since my water hadn’t broken, I decided to let the doctor check me; I was 8 centimetres dilated!

My “favorite” position was kneeling on the ground with my head and elbows on the futon. I hated switching positions, and getting up to go to the bathroom was super dramatic. I could not have done it without my awesome Jillian Michaels birthing coach, my steady, solid husband, and my friend who helped me “ride the waves”.

The doctor checked me again. I was now at 10 centimetres. Good to go! I switched positions to make it easier for the doctor to deliver the baby, squatting in front of the futon with my husband supporting me from behind, holding me up with his arms hooked under mine.

Pushing felt different than I thought it would, though I really didn’t know what to compare it to. I have no idea if I was doing it right… I simply pushed when my body told me to, all-the-while picturing my baby boy laying on my chest…

FINALLY, I heard shouts that he was crowning. I got really excited, pushing with all my might, counting to 10 before stopping. COME ON BABY!

And then, at 10:46pm… HE WAS HERE!


The doctor lifted him by his leg to show me my baby boy had entered the world. Immediately, the baby was placed on my chest. I looked down to see the most perfect little human I had ever seen. Wow. He was mine.

I looked at my husband. I couldn’t believe it. We did it!!!!!

As soon as the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut the cord and we announced his name:

Judah Steele

We would go to the hospital the next day to get him weighed and measured.

After the placenta was delivered, I handed to baby to Jesse to hold while the doctor stitched me up. I had torn pretty badly. Did I care at the moment? Not one bit. It helped that the doctor numbed the area so I wouldn’t feel the needle– the only drug I agreed to for the whole birth.

The doctor had his nurse assisting him; it was hilarious to watch them converse back and forth about his stitching job.

Nurse: doctor, your stitches look beautiful.

Doctor: wow, they are really beautiful. My work is turning out very nice.

Once I was all stitched up, Jesse handed Judah back to me and he nursed for the very first time, latching on like a champ!

When all seemed well, we profusely thanked and then dismissed our all-star team.

Then it was just us three…


Alone with our new baby, Jesse and I reflected on the crazy amazing experience of Judah’s birth, while looking at him in our arms. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. We thanked the Lord for our sweet Judah, and for giving us a textbook 12 hour labor birth in the comfort of our home.

I showered while Jesse changed Judah into his pjs. Then the three of us went to bed tired, happy, and hearts full as full can be.

Judah’s Birth Story: Part 1

I woke up on March 22nd still pregnant and disappointed I hadn’t gone into labor during the middle of the night. I felt slightly crampy, but I associated it with the membrane sweep I had the doctor perform the day before (a natural inducing method). So I showered then proceeded to eat breakfast.

Around 10:30am I realized the cramps were getting worse and somewhat segmented. Thankfully, my husband’s work plans that day had fallen through, so he was at home. I called out for him to come over and nervously told him the cramps were turning into contractions… “But I’m not 100% sure. It could just still be cramps…” As I spoke, I began getting emotional. The idea of what could finally be happening overwhelmed me with a rush of tears. To my surprise, I suddenly felt very scared.

Like the incredible man he is, my best friend leaned his face closer to mine, looked me square in the eyes, and told me that I was ready, I was strong, and that he was going to be right beside me the whole time. Then he put his arm around me and surrendered it all the Lord, thanking our Father that this day had come, praying for protection and for a safe delivery.

Knowing this could be it, we got busy cleaning the house. I was on my knees washing the kitchen floor when the contractions got a little too intense for me to be able to continue. So I decided to focus on packing my “just in case” hospital bag instead. Pausing for contractions, I finished packing. Whew. It felt good to cross that off the check-list.

Then the girls came over for bible study around 1pm, shocked that I still wanted to meet! Honestly, having them over was a good distraction, it was just the encouragement I needed and I got 2 hours of contractions out of the way….
I FaceTimed my mom– wishing she could be here with me!

When I had imagined going into labor I always envisioned going on a walk, and then making a cheesecake to celebrate and enjoy once the babe was born. I laid down on the couch to time my contractions before going out on the walk, and my husband got our “birthing corner” ready. He put a mattress cover and tarp over the designated futon, moved the kitchen table out of the way, and set up all the random towels and buckets and plastic bags. It was almost 4pm.


As he was setting up, the contractions got a little more unbearable. But according to the timer app on my phone, they weren’t close enough together. I felt like a wimp– if I couldn’t handle these early contractions, how would I do later on? Being that I didn’t want to get off the couch, we X-ed the walk and I moved over to the futon. Jesse helped me to relax using the massage technique we learned in the Bradley Method book…

I really struggled to relax, but what helped me the most during this time was focusing on the sound of his voice. As they progressed, all I wanted was for him to apply pressure on my lower back.

And then I threw up. 3 times.

Jesse had asked me earlier why we had needed to buy 2 buckets. That’s why, hunnie.

A friend stopped by around 6pm to help with some massage reflexology that’s said to speed the process up. She worked on my feet while Jesse ate dinner, coming to my aid when I needed him to push on my back. Suddenly it seemed like he barely got a bite in before I was yelling out a contraction was starting again.

It was then we realized we had been timing the contractions wrong, and I was further along than we thought.

Around 7:00pm we called give my doula an update, and since she lives close she decided to swing by and check-in on me.  Seeing where I was at, she called the other friend whom I wanted attending the birth, and then we called the doctor. He arrived around 8:30pm.

I attempted to stay relaxed and in control by taking deep breaths and letting them out with constant, low moans, riding the contraction like a wave, breathing out until I reached the shore.

I was so focused that later I found out my birthing team had been laughing and making fun of my bossy, controlling attitude. They were taking turns applying pressure on my back, and apparently whenever they paused even to scratch an itch or weren’t pressing hard enough nor in the right spot I let them know very quickly!

The transition happened fast…

“Guess Date”

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When our baby decided he wasn’t going to show his face on his due date, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. After waiting 9 months, I didn’t think I could wait any longer to meet my baby boy!

A friend of mine told me they had been encouraged to refer to their due date as a “guess” date, and boy do I see wisdom behind that kind of reasoning.

As a first time mom, I’ve been doing plenty of research so I can know what to expect. I demolished a tower of pregnancy books, scarfed down motherhood blogs like brownie crumbs, and even started following other moms and their cute organic-clothed babies on Instagram. I would be prepared.

In addition, my current position has me assisting and doing life with other expecting moms. There’s a weekly prenatal class I attend that allows me to support new moms through their pregnancies, teaching them about the labor process, answering their questions about their growing bellies, and calming their worries when their babies don’t come on their due date. In fact, I put a lot of emphasis to make sure they know that “It’s completely normal and perfectly fine for a baby (without any risks) to be born 2 weeks after expected,” and then I add, “don’t rush to be induced!”

If only I could calm my worries as well as I think I help calm theirs!

As educated as I think I am on birth, waiting for the much-anticipated labor signs only to go to bed after an un-eventful day or wake up the next morning still pregnant… well, it definitely becomes a mental game.

At my last check-up, the doctor began talking to me about what steps we would take if the baby didn’t come by such-and-such date. I got pretty upset but put on a smile and politely said “I don’t want to think about that right now.” A firm believer in natural, non-intervention birth, my hopes and dreams for how this baby would be born do not include being committed to a hospital bed hooked to an IV-drip with a monitor strapped to my belly.

No. Thank. You.

I know that birth is a beautiful miracle, No. Matter. What.

However, I was not about to let my doctor hijack my birth plan because our baby decided he wanted to cook a few more days.

But because he brought it up, we had to think about it. And the thinking about it came with a rush of doubts and to be honest, a little bit of depression.

The daily question of “Why won’t he just come?” dug up emotions similar to when the daily question used to be (and still is, sometimes) “Why won’t God just heal me?” Feeling like nothing is ever going to change, I’m never going to be able to do the activities I used to do, like my whole life is on hold, like I’m not accomplishing anything…

These emotions merely point out what a self-centered, idolatrous human I am.

So what if my body is never healed and my feet always hurt? God will still use it for His glory.

Was having a broken ankle part of my plan for my dream wedding day? Most definitely not. Did it ruin the wedding? It most definitely did not. In fact, that day was one of the holiest experiences of my life.

So what if my baby isn’t introduced into the world the way I’ve always imagined? God will still use it for His glory, and my baby will get to play a part in His beautiful story.

For, the due date truly is just a guess date, and I’d much prefer my baby to be born on “God’s Date.”

Whenever that may be….