customized boxes to nourish the soul after loss
Motherhood: Being Written
by Stephanie Davis
photos by Mountainside Photo Co. and Austin Richardson
 

Stephanie is a Missouri native currently living in Alabama. A therapist by profession, adventurer at heart, and lover of sharing meals around the table, she is wife to Hunter Davis and mother of three (twin daughters Emery and Everley, who died prematurely in August 2015, and Ansel Aimes, due in September 2017). Also adoptive parents in process, the Davis’ are figuring out parenthood and family in the most unexpected ways.  You can find Stephanie on her blog

At times, I still wonder to myself, “How did I get here?” In what universe did I become the mother who knows nothing about breastfeeding or sleep schedules but knows everything about cremation vs. casket and how to stop a milk supply? In what world do 28-year-olds end up bereaved parents of two, lives shattered by the death of their children? How can I possibly know so much about hormone levels, ovulation, and disappointment? I’m only 30!

Despite my disbelief, I know this is my reality. The proof is in the tiger stripes across my belly, purple-hued and slightly raised, that remind me I was pregnant. The photographs of my daughters to remind me they really lived. The cribs under our guest bed, the nursery décor tucked away in a closet, and the hundreds of dollars spent trying to conceive. All evidence that I’m not living in some alternate reality. This really is the story written for me. Motherhood rewritten in a way I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined.

My first Mother’s Day was hope-filled. I came down the stairs of our town home to a newborn onesie on a wire, my first Mother’s Day card clipped next to it and my beaming, wide-eyed husband excitedly standing next to his creation. We did not know it at the time but there were actually two little people growing in my womb. When we found out a few weeks later, we announced our joyous news on Instagram with two little onesies on a wire — Baby A and Baby B coming November 2015. The crazy, exciting beginnings of our family.

My second Mother’s Day was empty. Our daughters did not come in November but instead arrived in early August, never coming home from the NICU. Our new beginning was busted and broken. In the months that followed, we struggled to conceive, reliving our grief and disappointment, begging God to heal our hearts and help us grow our family. On Mother’s Day, my husband honored our daughters and me, but he wasn’t beaming with excitement or anticipation this time. We were anything but hopeful.

We hated our story. I hated my motherhood. What a terrible Author the Lord had become to me. I never wanted to blame God, but I struggled to reconcile the goodness of the God I once knew to the reality of the disappointment I was consistently finding in Him. The “felt board Jesus” of my faith upbringing was failing me. And I didn’t have the power to write anything different for my family or for me.

Like Jacob on the shores of Jabbok, I wrestled with God for many months, fighting over this life He authored for me. I demanded blessing, but I received a busted hip. A busted hip that reminds me every day that although felt board Jesus was fuzzy, He never promised me that motherhood would be easy. Societal norms, church directories, and the recent onslaught of “picture-worthy parenting” on social media lulled me into a false belief that motherhood would be the most glorious coming-of-age experience for me.

But motherhood is a process of surrender. Sometimes, a feeling of powerlessness. A command for faith in the truth and reality that Jesus loves my children even more than I do. That blessing sometimes looks like a curse, and the calling to parenthood is full of immense joy but also grave hardship.

Hunter and I felt a strong calling to stop trying to conceive at the end of last May. We acted on a longtime desire to adopt and began the process. By late November, we completed our home study and began waiting.

To date, we are still waiting.

I found out I was pregnant in early January and so now, we wait to meet our son. Our pregnancy resulted in a cessation of our matching process until after birth, and so we wait to meet our adopted son or daughter. At times, the days seem to move more slowly than molasses but we patiently wait, choosing surrender every day.

My hope is not in our son, because I know this pregnancy may not go to term. I may only meet him for seconds or hours, yet I choose to trust the Author. His narrative is greater than mine. And His great redemption story includes the nations. I know it may be years before we meet our adopted son or daughter, but I choose to trust our calling to parent living children. Adoption was not our plan B.

My motherhood is still being written. What a laborious and grueling process of trust and surrender it is! I have no idea how my story will end and neither do you. At times you may wrestle and come out with a busted hip and some bruising, but may you be surprised by the blessing you once declared a curse. May you have the courage to fight for your motherhood when you hate everything about it at the time. And may you trust the greatest Storyteller there ever was, is, and ever will be.