Loss Is

ka•lon: (n.) the idea of physical and moral beauty; beauty that is more than skin-deep

me•ra•ki: (v.) a Greek word meaning “to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself in your work


Loss is more than death. Loss is more than grief. Loss is loneliness and physically aching to hold them again. It is being angry with the world and wishing time would both speed up and move slower all at once. Loss is a mess.

Loss is more than depression. Loss is more than missing them. Loss is tidal waves of anguish with lulls of silence. It is numbly staring into nothingness and realizing your entire house was created around what once was. Loss is empty.

Loss is more than “moving on”. Loss is more than looking to the future. Loss is the dread of going to the bathroom for fear of finding blood. It is lying awake at night and feeling your body remind you of what is no longer there. Loss is confusing.

Loss is more than healing. Loss is more than being strong. Loss is sitting at the bottom of the ocean, drowning, and still continuing on with life. It is dragging cinderblock feet out of bed at 2 in the afternoon and wondering if I will be able to go out that day. Loss is debilitating.

Loss is more than remembrance. Loss is more than sharing. Loss is awkward conversations and tiptoeing. It is wanting so desperately to share our little miracles and finding few still there. Loss is lonely.

Loss is more than “next time”. Loss is more than reasons. Loss is being unsure about genetics and heartbreaking diagnosis’. It is being told “if something is wrong next time we can take care of it quickly”, or even being told “there will be no ‘next time’”. Loss is uncertain.

Loss is more than timing. Loss is more than comfort. Loss is the big decisions. It is deciding when we are okay with sharing, even if that does not align with the textbooks or society. Loss is tricky.

Loss is more than the physical aspect. Loss is more than what we went through. Loss is anxiety attacks in the middle of the night, panic gripping your lungs so tightly that it feels as though you will never breathe again. It is mental gymnastics, PTSD, and labels. Loss is unrelenting.

Loss is more than pain. Loss is more than being hurt. Loss is finding the smallest things triggering* in the weirdest ways. It is being thrilled for other parents while praying for yourself. Loss is heartache.

Loss is more than loss. Loss is more than pain. Loss is taking it day by day, hour by hour, even. Sometimes that means just surviving. It is slowly standing back up and moving forward WITH your child and living a new life that still includes them. Loss is growth.

Loss is more than words can say. Loss is more than time can heal. Loss is never ending as it ties itself into every aspect of your life. It is more than could ever be put into a couple of blog posts because there are so many aspects to loss. Loss is multifaceted.

Loss is more than can be expressed. Loss is more than can be understood. Loss is realizing that life will never be the same. It is coming to terms with the fact that there are many out there that will never comprehend it all – AND THAT IS OKAY. I would not wish this type of loss on anyone. Loss is unexplainable.

– Madison

* “Trigger” is such an overused word in this day and age. I find it hard to always figure out if something truly is a trigger to someone or if it is a joke. In this case, triggers are real. It could be something I see, a certain food, or even a smell. I never want people to change how they live or act because of these. It is just something each person dealing with loss, PTSD, or trauma will deal with differently.

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

cheer: (n.) cheerfulness, optimism, or confidence

christ•mas: (n.) the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Only one was stirring, except for a mouse;

Three stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
But only two would be opened to share;

 A mom sat down beside a small bed,
While tears dripped down from her lowered head;
This momma was sad as her arms were empty,
She’d lost a babe while only twenty,

There were no children to make a big mess,
No soft tiny heads for her to caress.
Her heart was heavy as she pondered the year,
And thought of how her life had veered.

“Fatal”, had been what the doctor then said,
As she looked at the screen and her heart filled with dread,
Her baby was alive, she knew that to be true,
But what now? What was she meant to do?

She decided then, as her heart tried to mend,
She would cherish her baby to the very end.
The baby grew and kicked and moved,
And still the diagnosis had not improved;

Then one wintery day at the clinic downtown
The doctor gave the momma a frown.
The young mom knew, that cold afternoon,
She would be seeing her baby very soon.

The baby was born, though she did not cry,
But the momma’s eyes were not dry.
Her baby was here and yet she was gone,
She had passed away before it was dawn.

So this Christmas Eve this momma cried,
Her baby was gone – she had died.
She longed to hold her, just one more time,
Though she knew her daughter would be just fine.

She wiped her tears and smiled a tad,
She had fond memories – few were sad.
This Christmas she would have an angel above,
And for that angel, this mom had plenty of love.

Enjoy your Christmas, share plenty of cheer!
Gather with loved ones you see few times a year.
But please keep in mind the small ones we miss,
To have them with us is our only wish.

We miss our babies, we love them so,
And we think of them as we watch the snow.
Gone from the Earth but never our lives,
Their tiny legacies will long survive.

So Merry Christmas, to one and to all,
Merry Christmas to the big and to the very small.
Know that our babies, though out of sight,
Say “Merry Christmas to you, and to you a good night!”

 

Merry Christmas!

~Madison

I Hope You Love

storge: (n.) natural affection; family love

philia: (n.) brotherly love or affection


Dear siblings,

I hope you remember. I hope you remember the times we laugh together and enjoy each other’s company. I hope you have everlasting memories of the joy our family shared, the times we teased each other, and the knowledge that you belong. Please remember how much fun we had doing things together, or how good it felt to have the family all together again at home. I hope you remember walking and laughing down the sidewalk together, laughing until we could not breathe, and movie nights piled in our parents bed. Remember that joy.

I hope you learn. I hope you learn from us, your imperfect family. I hope you take to heart the forgiveness and patience we were taught, the kindness and generosity given to us, and wisdom passed down through the generations. Please take to heart and apply the lessons we have been taught by our parents and each other. Use these lessons in your life and be the best you that you can be. I hope you learn how to be kind, how to love, and to never take moms seat on the couch. Take them all to heart.

I hope you feel. I hope you feel every joy and pain deeply and allow them to grow you as a person. I hope you grieve with me and rejoice with me, just as I will for you. Please do not brush aside the little things, good or bad, but recognize them and learn from them. I ask that you do not let others dictate your emotions; keep your focus on Christ and His infinite love. I hope you feel the joy of this life, the grief of our losses, and the peace of our God. Feel deeply.

I hope you succeed. I hope you succeed in everything you put your hand to and never give up. I hope that even when it is hard, or you seemingly fail, you never back down and give it your all. Please carry out each and every action knowing you are capable and amazing, and that me and God are on your side – that we are for you – every step of the way. I hope that you have a family of your own, that you get a full ride scholarship to college, and that you realize your impact in this world. I know you will do well.

I hope you know. I hope you know the sacrifices made for your benefit and the depth of love there is for you. I hope you know God’s heart for you, that your family wants nothing but the best for you, and we think you are absolutely wonderful. I want you to know that God has such big plans for you and those plans are tailor made for you specifically because you are incredibly unique and we cannot wait to see you walk those God-given plans out. I hope you understand that even when we fight I still love you, that you are made for greater things, and that you are called by God Himself. Know and be at peace.

I hope you love. I hope you love someone one day so immensely that you spend your life with them, even have a family that you love with them. I hope you show love to every person you come in contact with, love God, and love who He created you to be. I want you to love life and everything it has to offer you as you go about and become your own person in the world, making a way for yourself and reaching for the stars! You are so so so very loved, I cannot even begin to explain. I love you.

Love, Madison

Dearest Depression

dis•en•thrall: (v.) set free

e•lue•ther•o•ma•ni•a: (n.) a strong desire for freedom


Dear Depression,

No more. I am breaking up with you – we are over. I would say it is you, because it really is, but it is also me – I have changed and, Depression, you cannot seem to keep up. You have taken so much from me over the last six years that sometimes I forgot who I was. Or maybe I changed so drastically while we were together that I was unable to recognize myself anymore.

I would say we had some great times, but I would be lying and I am done lying to cover you up. I never knew what you would throw at me daily, even hourly. To say our relationship was toxic would be an understatement. You will never again dig your claws into my skin, leaving shaky red lines filled with hatred. This is not to say you will never hurt me again, I am only human after all, but by a Power greater than you I pray your inflictions are kept at bay.

We spent hours together, just the two of us, sitting in silence, curled up on the couch in our shared misery. We would stare at my phone and wonder why no one was texting me… at 1 in the morning. You made me question everything – everyone I knew – and had me so turned around that I did not know what was real anymore. I was so wrapped up in me, myself, and us that I pushed everyone away. Depression, I was always sad with you around and I ruined so many good things because of that.

You are so selfish, Depression, and convinced me to live in that same mindset. I believed that focusing on me only, being selfish with my time and effort, was right. I was so enthralled with what you offered, I even gave you nicknames to make you seem more appealing to Logic. Logic really did not like you, and now I can see why; you do not seem to follow the rules of Logic. You do not make sense. Logic would remind me all too often that having you around was destructive, would tell me that I should not be as sad as I was, that if I just did this or just did that you would leave. They were not my friend at the time. You and I would sleep more than needed and still wake up tired, and that made Logic angry. Even now I feel the lingering effects of how draining you are. There were some days I could hardly make myself eat, let alone venture out into the world.

Can we talk about your friend, Anxiety, for a second? The two of you played me, used me, and cheated me. Cheated me of friends, moments, and life, while you both flourished and ran rampant with my heart. I was never in the relationship for anyone else but you, Depression, and you just had to bring someone else in. I protested and ignored your friend, but you kept bringing them around. The two of you seem to go hand in hand, Depression. When it was the three of us together I did not care enough about things I cared too much about.

I know I will see you again, Depression, I know that while you yourself are gone, you still tend to leave hints of yourself for me to find. A splinter in my palm aching every so often, but it does not rule my life. You, Depression, do not rule my life. I am letting go. I was never designed to be with you. I was not created for pain, for you, or to live with guilt. My Creator is far better than that; better than you.

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Original art by Cam!, referenced by Madison Shepard

Dearest Depression thank you for the lessons you have taught me. Truly, I am grateful for that much, but our time together is at an end. You were welcome in the heat of the moment, a familiar face when I thought I was alone, but now I see how wrong we were for each other. You taught me how to be brave, to be strong, independent, and to trust only those close to me. However, you taught me lessons I do not think you intended to tutor me in. I discovered that crying can be ok. I learned how to be vulnerable and weak, to lean on others, and that I can trust others around me.

I still see Grief every once in a while. Grief initially introduced you and I, but they are slowly changing, too. I have nicknames for our old friend; ones that they are slowly growing into, although, they do backslide sometimes. I call them “Bittersweet Memories” on the good days and “Loss” on the bad ones. Grief still has a long way to go, but I am ok with having them around as they grow.

I met someone new. We met through a mutual Acquaintance, now turned friend and mentor. He is kind and patient and saw you for what you truly are; a thief. We now battle together to keep you from invading our home. I think you have met our friend before, probably on numerous occasions, actually. He paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep you away from me. While you and Anxiety laughed at me and told me I was done for, He was reaching His hand out to me, a smile on His face, and gently saying, “I have so much more for you. The best is yet to come.”

So this is it. I am saying “goodbye”. All of your things are in a box to the left and I am going right to Christ (I had to add some humour to this letter). You simply do not fit my needs or future plans anymore. If we pass by each other when we are out and about I just ask that you are kind and keep the visit short. I would wish you the best in life, but no one really deserves to have you around. I will always remember you, though you will be remembered as a thing of the past.

So long and happy future trails!

~ Madison Shepard

The Unseen Mother on Mother’s Day

be•reave: (v.) be deprived of a loved one through a profound {very great or intense} absence

sol•ace: (n.) comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness


To the unseen mothers,

I see you. I see you looking longingly at other moms and babies. I see you averting your eyes when you come across a baby or child that is the same age as your little one. Whether you have shared your child’s precious life with others or not, I see you. The empty bedroom, the one you avoid going into, and the boxes of clothes and diapers that are waiting for a baby that will never be coming home. I see it – I see you.

I know. I know you smile wistfully when your friends and family share their appreciation for other moms on Mother’s Day. I know you hurt when others inadvertently seem to forget that you, too, are a mom. You are even hesitant to say you are a mom. You (may) feel guilt over how you spent your time with your child, even before they were born. I know you may have been a mom long before your living children were born. I know that while I know the loss of my child, I do not know your loss of your child; that is your pain and I will never take that from you. I know – I see you.

I feel it. I feel your tears. Your pain at 2 in the morning as you ache to hold them, either for the first time or just once more. I feel the silence that would have been filled by quick baby breaths and cries. I feel your lack of motivation, some days. Your loneliness. Your anxiety over the future, as well as your hope for the future. I feel your frustration when others say well-intended things; they truly mean well, show them grace. I feel the phantom kicks, the haunting flutters of what once was. I feel your fear and anger, your brokenness. I feel your healing. Slow as it may be, healing is healing. I feel it – I see you.

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Photo credit: @startledawake on IG

I am proud of you. You are carrying a heavy burden, yet you are carrying on and bringing the memory of your child’s life with you wherever you go. I am proud of you when you are genuinely happy and excited for others and their little ones, even while aching to hold your own. I am proud of you because you know the value of life and how precious every second is, even if you never got to meet your baby. I am proud of you for sharing your story, your pain, your loss, with someone. I am proud of you – I see you.

This Mother’s Day I am recognizing, appreciating, and celebrating every mom out there. The mom with 15 children, 4 children, 1 child, or none earthside. The foster, the group home, the adoptive, and the biological moms.  The mom who knows the pain of miscarriage, infant loss, or loss of a child later in life. The mom who never personally dealt with that type of loss and/or has comforted others through it. The married mom and the single mom. Today, we honour you.

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Photo credit: @startledawake on IG

Happy Mother’s Day to you!

-Madison Shepard

Today

to•day: (adv.) on or in the course of this present day; (n.) this present day

tom•mor•row: (adv.) on the day after today; in the future, especially the near future; (n.) the day after today


(Written over the course of several days)

Today was a bad day. Today I cried till my face was red and blotchy, my eyes stung, and I could not breathe. I missed my daughter, Indigo, with my entire being. There was a pain in my chest, crushing me, and I did not know how to make it stop.

Today was a long day. Today I wanted to talk about Indigo, to be a proud parent and show her off. Do others find that strange or uncomfortable? I want everyone to know and remember her.

Today was a painful day. Today I ached to hold Indigo. My mind keeps playing the day we left the hospital, thinking “this is not normal”. Parents are not supposed to leave a hospital empty handed.

Today was a draining day. Today I felt like I was not enough. I barely moved from the couch, even though I knew I had things to do. I am coming to realize these days can be healing in their own way,

Today was a bittersweet day. Today I stared at pictures of Indigo. I remember the shape of her face and how she felt in my hands. Her cheeks were so soft and her hair was fine and blonde.

Today was a hopeful day. Today I remembered the assurance of salvation. I know Indigo is in Heaven, being hugged by my great-grandma Penner, and dancing with her sibling and friends. I know I will hold her again.

Today was a thoughtful day. Today I thought of the 1 in 4. The number of women that have shared their losses with me. I pray their hearts would be at peace and filled with hope. To the 1 in 4; you are seen, you are remembered, and your baby is 100% a real person.

Today was a prayerful day. Today I prayed for the girls who felt they had no other choice. I wanted to hug every one of them and tell them our babies are together. I pray they find the same assurance and peace in Christ that I have.

Today is a waiting day. Today I am here on Earth. Someday I will be with my babies in Heaven. I cannot wait for that day.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I may cry. Tomorrow I may feel strong. Tomorrow is a new day with the same assurance of salvation and hope as today.

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Photo credit: @startledawake on IG

Happy trails.

-Madison Shepard

Dear Sweet Child

in·di·go: (n.) a colour between blue and violet on the spectrum

grace: (n.) the free and unmerited favour of God

blythe: (adj.) coming from the English word, “blithe”; happy, joyous, free spirited, carefree


Dear sweet Indigo,

Thank you. You honestly do not know how much of a joy you were to your mother and I, our families, and countless others around us. You changed the way we lived from the first day we knew about you. I remember it like it was a dream – something I will never forget. As we looked at the mountains in Canada, your mom told me she was expecting you, Indigo, our newest little joy. We spent the entire drive back from Canada talking about how we wanted to raise you and what we wanted to name you, even though we did not know if you were a boy or a girl. We both knew, however, that you held a very special purpose in our lives.

As you began to grow and flourish in the womb we became more and more expectant to see you and we began thinking about what you would look like, whose smile you would have, and how big you would be. We thought we had lost you at eleven weeks, and then we saw your beating heart for the first time in an ultrasound. Even then, at eleven weeks old, we knew that you were going to be unique. You were even more full of surprises than we realized.

At the twenty-week ultrasound we learned that you were more unique than we had realized. You had a heart condition and no fluid around you. We were scared that we would never be able to meet you or even hold you. Then the ultrasound technician looked at us and told us, “to be honest I saw there was no fluid from the start, and I was not expecting to see a heartbeat. You have a living miracle right there.”

This is where you changed the way we saw faith. You, Miss Indigo, caused us to look more and more to Christ than I think we ever had before. We began to pray over you daily and asked so many others to join us in doing the same. People across the church and even family and friends in Canada were praying just for you. We had another ultrasound soon after that twenty-week scan and we saw our prayers begin to be answered. Your heart condition was healed and never mentioned again, which, in our eyes, was the best news that we could ever have heard. This, in turn, gave us strength.

As the weeks went on, we saw you grow, heard your heart beat, and even saw that you had a stubborn streak that could rival both your mom and I. Every little thing that you did led us to love and cherish you even more. From all of the late nights waiting to feel you move and the mornings that you made Mom sick, to the times where you were just at peace and scared us into thinking you were no longer with us, we treasured every moment we had with you.

We continued to pray over you, believing that we would have a chance to hold you and be close to you. The doctors continued to tell us about things like “unilateral renal agenesis”, “multicycstic dysplastic kidney”, and “pulmonary hypoplasia”, (big words that simply mean only one kidney and it is covered in cysts, and severe underdevelopment of the lungs). They even mentioned the possibility of you being stillborn. Even still, we believed that you would be born alive and that we would meet you. As we prayed, things began to fall into place when we found a doctor and team that cared for us and knew what would be best for us, a midwife that would support us fully and be with us the entire way, and people, both family and friends, that would be there for us even when we did not realize we needed them.

Then came the day that the Lord decided it was time for you to come into the world. As we heard your heart beat on January 28th, we knew that something was not quite right. We decided that the best thing was to have your mom induced and bring you into the world almost four weeks early. The very next day we drove to the hospital and got settled into the room that you would be born in. As the contractions began the only thing on our minds was that we could not wait to see you, even if it was for a short time, like the doctors were saying.

At 12:59am on January 30th, we got to meet you. It filled us with such joy and pride that all we could say was that we loved you and we simply stared in amazement at you. You had such an innocent face and a sweet looking frown. Your face could only be described as that of an angel’s. However, we had to let you go so that you could go meet your Heavenly Father. He knew your name and who you were even before time began. As you left our arms, we both knew that you had been called to be a blessing and a story for us to share with others to encourage them during their hard times.

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Indigo Grace Blythe Shepard, we thank you. Thank you for your precious time here on Earth with us. Thank you for letting us be there for you, for letting us grow as people as you grew physically, and for letting us hold you. Thank you for causing us to push our faith to be more than it was and for teaching us to pray with passion. Thank you for being unique and for being ours. Thank you for being a joy to others and to us. Thank you for letting us be a light to the world with your story. Simply, thank you.

With much love, and until we see you again in Heaven,

Dad

An Open Letter To My Angel Baby

in·ef·fa·ble: (adj.) too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words

la·cu·na: (n.) an unfilled space or interval; a gap


Dear Little One,

Today, January 22nd, marks one year since we lost you. I know you had gone before that moment, but this was the day we realized that. I had known in my heart that something was wrong for nearly a week and yet it still caught me so off guard. I had read so many stories and testimonies of miscarriages or threatened miscarriages that I thought I knew the warning signs. Turns out we are all different.

I woke up at 1am and instantly knew you were gone. I remember when shock hit my body, being aware that I was in shock, and how cold I felt. The logical part of my brain began working through the steps of treating shock – Warmth, Airway, Rest, Treat the cause, Signs and Symptoms –  but I could not finish them all because my body was the cause and that confused me. Today I find it interesting that in a time of stress my first thought was to treat myself with first aid. Funny how the brain works under immense stress and trauma.

I skipped school, that week. There was nothing physically wrong with me that kept me from going, but I did not know how I could go into my classes or see people and be okay. Many of my teachers were incredibly kind to me that week; they prayed with me and some even gave me extended due dates on the projects I had missed. I am extremely grateful for the grace shown to me by those professors.

I think about you a lot. I wonder what your smile would have looked like and what your laugh would have sounded like. I wonder whether you were a girl or a boy (though I have my suspicions). Would you have loved literature and music as I do, or would you have rather spent hours understanding how something works alongside your dad? I dream of you playing with your dad and our puppy, running around the house and squealing with joy. I ache to have seen you interact with your aunts and uncles (believe me, you have so many wonderful aunts and uncles and they would have all spoiled you), your grandparents, and your great-grandparents; you would have adored them all.

You have a younger sister. Her name is Indigo and she is the strongest little girl I know. We have not met her yet, we have a few more weeks until she comes, but I cannot wait to hold her as I wished to have held you here on this earth. It amazes me to think that I am a mom of two incredibly amazing children already.

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We do not know why you did not get to live, but we are grateful for every day we did have with you. Your dad and I love you, little one. We have loved you from the very beginning and always will.

Love, Mom ❤

All In Due Peace

hope: (n.) a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; (v.) want something to happen or be the case.

courage: (n.) the ability to do something that frightens one.


December 16th, 2017 I took a pregnancy test… and it was positive! I ran to wake up Hunter and share my excitement; we were thrilled!! We told our parents on Christmas day and Christmas eve; a perfect Christmas gift! After the holiday, I called and made appointments, with our first ultrasound to be on January 24th. Hunter and I set to planning and even went as far as to begin looking at names for our little one. As anyone could imagine, we were beyond excited to welcome our baby to this world!

However, as anyone who has watched my social media or has seen me this year would notice, this story turned out much differently than we were expecting or hoping. January 22nd of this year we lost our precious little one.

It has been months since we said goodbye, and I still wonder how it is possible to miss and love a person I never got to meet. I sometimes wonder what his/her personality would have been like? What would they have looked like? What would it have felt like to hold them in my arms for the first time? Thankfully, we serve an amazing and compassionate God, and I know I will be able to meet and hold the baby I never got to meet here on Earth. That knowledge is what has given me such peace and the ability to trust God.

As 2017 came to a close and 2018 began, I posted to Instagram and Facebook, describing what I felt God was placing on my heart for my next season in life. At the time, I was not sure why but God was drawing my season of “joy” to a close, and was opening the doors to a season of “peace”. Now, nearly a full year after I felt the change in seasons, I am seeing the first inkling of what God has in store for Hunter and I.

He will Sustain You - Startled Awake
Photo credit: @startledawake on IG

This blog post is incredibly difficult, freeing, and exciting for me to write. It has been several months of mourning, trusting God, and patiently awaiting what He has for us in the future and today, as I post this, it is difficult for me to express the joy, nervousness, and peace I am currently feeling. However, I do hope this photo can convey at least a ounce of the overwhelming tidal wave of emotions that I feel.

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11 weeks and 2 days.

We are expecting to welcome Indigo Shepard, our miracle rainbow baby, in February 2019! Hunter and I could not be more excited! We’ve already seen God’s hand on this child’s life in just these first few months, and know He has big plans for our family and this child.

I am now beginning to understand why this season is a season of peace. I needed a supernatural peace during January and the following months because it was so heartbreaking and difficult to navigate in the midst of college and a busy season. I have needed, and will continue to need, a supernatural peace during this pregnancy as the fear of last time creeps up on me. I doubt these are the only reasons God has lead me into this season of peace but they are a great start to this time of trusting and relying solely on God.

Which is why it is so difficult for me to explain what has come up. We went in for a 20 week scan to find out the gender and for a general anatomy scan and we left feeling scared of the unknown. Indigo had no amniotic fluid around her, and had a noticeable heart defect. No amniotic fluid could mean a number of things from chromosomal disorders to miscarriage.

Hunter and I shared our grief before going back in to listen to what the tech had to say. She told us about the different complications this could cause and what it could mean for us and our Indy. Then the tech looked at me and said “To be honest, I didn’t expect to see a heart beat in this ultrasound when I saw there was no amniotic fluid. You have a living miracle in your womb.”

Immediately half of the anxiety was taken from my shoulders. Our girl was – IS – alive and thriving, against the odds! At one point, the tech actually had difficulty pinning the heart rate down because our little one was moving SO much! I could feel consistent kicks and flutters during the ultrasound scans, as though Indy was showing her disdain for the probe pushing on my stomach.

At 22 weeks we went to a high risk doctor for an in depth ultrasound scan. Indigo was measuring perfectly on track, still! The doctor then explained to us what he had seen on the scans; he saw only 1 kidney and it wasn’t functioning because of cysts. Without the kidney(s) functioning, there was no amniotic fluid still, which meant the lungs wouldn’t be developing and life outside the womb for her would be, in their terms, “lethal”. There were also abnormal curvatures in her spine. Both issues point to either disorders or loss. However, there was no mention of anything being wrong with her heart, even after I had told them that was one of the things we had seen 2 weeks previous. Her heart is fine.

I am currently 25.5 weeks into this pregnancy. Indigo is regularly active in the evenings and is growing daily. She likes ice cream and cold coffee, but still dislikes any sort of ultrasound or heart rate doppler probe. We have begun collecting clothes and furniture for her. She has 2 (secret) middle names that fit this whole situation perfectly. Now what she needs are your prayers. We have been believing that God will intervene in Indigo’s development and heal her kidneys, straighten her spine, and develop her lungs perfectly. I have claimed her heavenly inheritance for her, which includes wholeness, health, and healing. This little girl has so much to offer the world and we know she will have a great impact in our lives!

Thank you for partnering with us and agreeing with us for Indigo’s life and healing! It is greatly appreciated and felt! ❤

Happy trails!
~ Madison Shepard

He Is Not What I Expected

ex·pec·ta·tion: (n.) a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a belief that someone will or should achieve something.

con·tent: (adj.) in a state of peaceful happiness; (v.) satisfy; (n.) a state of satisfaction.

As of June 5th, Hunter and I will have been married for a total of ten months (Yay!!). As our one-year anniversary draws near, I am reminded of how we met and how far we have come in our relationship and I thought it might be fun to tell the story of how Hunter and I met because it is nothing like a “typical” love story.
Hunter and I met at James River College, then called James River Leadership College (aka LC) in August of 2016. It was his last semester and my first semester and, to be more specific, we actually met on the day after move-in. I was dating someone else at the time, as was he, so we had no thoughts of being anything more than co-workers in production and school-mates; friends at the very most.
I will be quite frank; I found Hunter annoying and bothersome. My initial thoughts were that he would be fine as a school-mate that I would only have to put up with in a couple of my classes, and I could even live with having to work with him in technical production for services twice a week that, but that was all. In my mind, he and his friend were the two “techy” guys and I was happy to avoid them both. Lo and behold, within a week of classes starting I was in need of tech help with my laptop… Oh the irony!
Those first few days turned into weeks and then months and we began talking more and more, both within our shared class as well as through text. By the beginning of November we were both single but I was not looking to date again for several months; I wanted to focus on my studies and my relationship with Christ. December came around and Hunter asked my dad for permission to date me.

You Are Loved - Startled Awake
Photo credit: @startledawake on IG

I am forever amazed and thankful for God’s planning and His hand in everything. There are so many factors that could have lead to us never meeting! What if my family and I never moved down to Missouri in the first place? What if I had gone through with my plan and had moved back to Canada for college instead of following God’s plan? What if Hunter had chosen a different college than James River? I am thankful that God is sovereign and knows better than I do.
Hunter is not what I expected. He is not a foot taller than me and he is not as big of a nerd as I am when it comes to Star Wars or Pride and Prejudice. He cringes at my rom-com movie choices. He is loud and he loves a good debate. He has four sisters whereas I grew up with three brothers and three brother-like cousins. He loves spicy foods whereas I typically stick to good old salt and pepper, and BBQ sauce is the spiciest thing I can handle. He prefers to go with the flow of things and I need some form of a schedule. He falls asleep easily while I am awake long past midnight for no other reason than I simply cannot sleep. He grew up in the United States and I grew up in Canada.
Hunter is not what I expected.
Hunter is everything God knew I needed.
He is exactly the perfect height to kiss my forehead and he listens to me ramble about my book and movie obsessions. He will happily sit with me through any of my movie choices without complaint (for the most part). He is part of a large family just like I am. He generously orders food that is not spicy simply so I can try a couple bites of it. He helps me write out and establish a schedule, even though we both know it will most likely change in the blink of an eye. He stays awake with me, continuously rubbing my back or my arm, just to make sure I fall asleep at a decent hour, and often falls asleep with his hand on my back so I can feel that he is there in the middle of the night. He traveled to Canada so we could have our wedding in my hometown. Most importantly, he chases after God’s own heart and continuously encourages me to keep doing the same.
Since I was twelve-years old I have been taught the phrase, “A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man must be seeking the Lord to find it.” I was not thinking of this phrase when I decided to focus on my studies and my relationship with Christ, but I can promise it is exactly true. Focus on Christ and He, the sovereign planner and provider, will take care of you.
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I am thankful that Hunter is not what I expected.
Happy trails!
~ Madison Shepard