Bridger and I met at Texarkana College in 2007 and eventually began dating. We were married in 2012 and moved to Baton Rouge, where we lived while Bridger earned his Veterinary degree at LSU. We moved to Northeast Texas in 2015 for his first job. Towards the end of that year, we began talking about starting a family. We always wanted children. We had been married three years, had stable jobs, and a wonderful church family. It was practical and made sense.
A few months later, on Easter Sunday 2016, we were out eating with some friends after church. We received a phone call that no one should ever have to receive. Our home was on fire, our pets were inside, and we were 45 minutes away. By the time we got there, our home was nothing but a pile of ash and rubble. Our pets did not make it out. It was a total loss. We sat there on the ground in total shock. I remember thinking, “I’m too young to go through something like this. What am I supposed to do?” But, in the midst of it all, the Lord surrounded us with church family, coworkers, family and friends who helped pick us up, process the pain and get us back on our feet. We didn’t have a home anymore, so how could we possibly start a family?
Three months later, we were renting a small, worn down farmhouse in the middle of a cow pasture. It was a temporary living situation until we figured out what we were going to do. I had been feeling strange and took a pregnancy test. It was positive and I was in total shock. We were going to be parents! Bridger was elated, and I was, well, still in shock. I called my doctor shaking. I was pregnant. Now what was I supposed to do? We scheduled my first appointment and began processing what this new stage of life would look like. A week later, just a few days before Father’s Day, I miscarried.
No one even knew we had been pregnant. I called my parents, with tears in my eyes, to tell them we had been pregnant with their first grandchild, and we had also lost their first grandchild. That next Sunday one of the pastors of our church walked up to Bridger, while all the dads were walking to the front and said, “It still counts.” As irrational as it sounds now, our biggest fear was that our baby, because the knowledge of him or her was so brief, would be forgotten. Our baby’s life mattered, and we loved him or her.
Three months later, we were pregnant again. We were elated. We told everyone who had been praying for us, the good news. Around 8 weeks, I started having issues. The next day, I went to the doctor, and they found a heartbeat. I was so relieved. A few days later, I began having more issues. We rushed to the emergency room and were informed the baby no longer had a heartbeat and I was miscarrying. We began the excruciating process of un-telling everyone.
Over the course of nine months, we had endured a house fire, and the loss of two babies. I didn’t want to live anymore. What was the point? We felt like Job in the Bible who had lost all of his possessions and his children. We didn’t understand why other people could have babies and we couldn’t. We didn’t understand why others who didn’t want children could get pregnant and we couldn’t. I told Bridger that I was afraid of getting pregnant again, because I wasn’t sure I could survive another loss.
At the beginning of 2017, we purchased a home and a veterinary hospital and moved to Fayetteville. Things were looking up, but nine months of trying to get pregnant again, and nothing. I consulted my doctor. I still remember that ugly word hitting me like a ton of bricks, “INFERTILITY.” I was simultaneously in disbelief and angry. I was angry at God and kept reminding Him how he told me I would have a child, and now this?! I sat dazed as the doctor went into a dialogue about my options and fertility treatment options. I didn’t want to hear it. I was broken—emotionally and physically.
After our first round of fertility treatments, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. My exact words to Bridger were, “Well, here we go again.” The excitement and joy we had felt about the first two pregnancies had been stolen. I was going to guard my heart this time and not get my hopes up. But then, a couple months went by and I was still pregnant. Slowly, a few more passed and finally, I was full term. We were going to have a baby! I remember the emotion of his first cry when they laid him on my chest and the sweet tears of all the stress, heartache, anger, frustration and relief flowing out as I held my sweet little miracle, Ezra, whose name means "God's help." God was and IS faithful. His power is more fully made known in the most impossible of circumstances.
Surprisingly and without warning, postpartum depression and anxiety hit with a vengeance. “My child was going to die.” Why wouldn’t he? My other two babies had. “My child deserves a better mother.” All these thoughts ran through my head, along with no sleep and the fear of making all the wrong choices for Ezra. During these darkest of moments, I found out I was pregnant again. I was terrified! I was already drowning in the new role of motherhood. I was already seeing a therapist and on medication. How was I going to have another child? How did I get pregnant without help and medication and treatments? I’m infertile.
Ezra was five months old when I found out I was pregnant again. A few months in, I started having issues. It was such a low point in my life that I didn’t know which would be worse, having another baby or having another miscarriage. This is the ugly reality of postpartum depression. Ironic that I would even think this way. I had begged God for a child and here I was, so ungrateful for this second baby. By God’s grace and benevolence, I began to heal mentally and emotionally. I slowly became excited as I finished digesting this news and reality. We decided not to find out the gender. On August 6, 2019, Bridger announced, “It’s a GIRL!” to a room full of anticipating grandparents. Arielle, our daughter, whose name means "Lioness of God," was just the right gift given at exactly the right time.
The Lord has been so good to us. He has brought us joy in our sorrow. He upheld us during the difficult times. In the depths of our despair, He reestablished us. He has restored to us the two children we lost. While we look forward with anticipation to the day we meet our children we never held, we pray that we steward Ezra and Arielle well. Psalm 126:3, The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 1 Corinthians 15:57, But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.