For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of being a mom. Growing up as the oldest of six kids, plus babysitting, nannying, teaching Sunday school and youth group and working as a children's librarian gave me more than ample practice. I graduated high school with lofty pre-motherhood dreams of being a famous journalist, and felt both flattered and deflated when my senior class voted me "Most Likely to Have Ten Kids" instead of "Best Writer" or "Most Likely to Succeed."
On a humid May evening in 2013 Nathan took me out to a fancy dinner and announced that he was ready to start a family. I'd been itching to have a baby almost from the day we got married, but wanted to wait until he felt the same way and came up with the idea on his own. In less than two months I found out I was pregnant with our first child, and spent our Alaskan cruise fatigued and nauseous but deliriously happy - I would have endured far worse for our precious baby.
I will never forget the day I walked into the pregnancy center, ecstatic to hear our little one's 12-week heartbeat for the first time, and exited in shock. There had been no heartbeat. Nate met me in the parking lot, and we held each other and cried. We buried our sweet Hope in the back garden of a tiny suburban house we'd rented with glowing dreams of parenthood - of pushing a stroller around the nearby lake and witnessing those first toddling footsteps on the tile floors.
In the aftermath of Hope's death, and the uncertainty of whether we'd ever be able to have children, I realized just how badly I wanted to be a mother. After being Nathan's wife, it was the most important vocation on earth to me. Nate and I grieved together, healed together and were overjoyed when in early January I discovered that I was pregnant again - less than three months after the miscarriage. It seemed too good to be true, and I battled intense fear for this little one's life throughout the early days of the pregnancy. One day in particular I was sure I was going to lose the baby. Heavy bleeding and cramping led to an emergency doctor's visit, and while I was wracked with terror Nate prayed and told me he was in faith that God was going to grant us this baby's life.
Our daughter was born in September and we named her Elissa - "promised of God." She is a daily reminder to me of heard and answered prayers even when everything in my life has been torn apart. I don't even want to imagine what life would be like without her; she is a living, breathing, tangible reminder of Nate and will embody his legacy every day of her life.
Today is my first official Mother's Day, and I find myself on this parenting venture alone. Single parenthood is something my wildest dreams could not have conceived of. I see the plethora of parents - mom and dad, together - at church, at the park, at restaurants, at the mall. Dads tossing their little ones high in the air, pushing them in strollers, tickling them till they shriek with giggles. Thankfully I have a multitude of family close by who help out in invaluable ways. Yet I am the one struggling to open the stroller and juggle all our gear and keep Elissa fed and clean and entertained - day in and day out, alone.
There are so many days where I am overwhelmed at the thought of a lifetime raising our sweet Elissa without the talents and gifts of her daddy, the best man I've ever known. My heart breaks at the thought of all she is missing out on in his absence. I worry that I can't be both parents to her, that she will grow up lacking what only he could provide. In these moments of worry and self-doubt, it comforts me to remember how much Nathan believed in me and in what I would have to offer as a mother. On the day he asked me to marry him he wrote me a letter about all the reasons he wanted me as his wife. He said that one of the first things he noticed about me was that I would be a great mom. His complete confidence in me, and the memory of our many conversations about parenting, enable me to keep going when I feel so grossly inadequate. God called me to this journey of single mothering, and He will give me the tools I need. It blows my mind to think that every day of my life has been in preparation for this overwhelming job assignment. Not a day goes by when I don't desperately miss the daddy that Elissa will never know this side of heaven, but I am thankful that her heavenly Father holds both of us in the palm of His hand and will never let us go.
One year ago on a five-mile hike in Big Bend, 24 weeks pregnant with Elissa
Mother's Day 2015, carrying Elissa ALL the way up and down Weverton Cliffs :)