One year ago this week, Charlotte began her journey into our lives. Of course we wouldn't find out of her impending arrival until the first of October, but this is indeed the week that her little life began. She has such an amazing story, one where God clearly directed every detail of her arrival. Don't you love that? Here is her story. It's a little lengthy, but I want to include every detail for my own records. I don't want to leave a single thing out, so apologies in advance for the novel! I've always used too many words in both talking and writing so you guys shouldn't be surprised...
In February of 2009, Steve and I had our dream life in tact. We were finally becoming members of the community in Springdale. And honestly for the first time in my whole life someplace other than El Dorado was beginning to feel like home. We had purchased our dream house just a couple of months before, we were so involved and loving our church family, and Lowery was settled in a pre-K program in school and doing beautifully. And since we were so settled, we were even ready to think about having another child. We had fought hard to finally gain that sense of "home" that had eluded us all of our married life. Since we both grew up in small towns and never even had lived in more than one house until college, this was quite an accomplishment for us.
I remember vividly the morning that Steve called me to tell me to meet him at Starbucks - that we had something important to discuss. Over coffee he shared with me the Dallas opportunity that his company had presented to him. I remember most him saying, "Of course I am thinking that it's not something we're interested him - I know we both really love where we are right now." And then what happened next shocked even me, I uttered the words, "Not necessarily..." You see a few weeks before I had started the Beth Moore "Esther" study with women from our church. And I knew that God had been working on me, preparing me for something. And although my mind was spinning with many thoughts - mainly, "this is not the time, this can't be right," the Holy Spirit was louder and saying, "YES, it is."
We discussed in length over the next few weeks the possibility of the move, and there seemed to be more questions than answers. The home we had purchased had seemed, at the time, like a miracle and gift from God. So why would we have to leave it? And we were finally really involved in a local church, ministering to others and being ministered to. So why would He remove us? Lowery was comfortable and had a wonderful group of friends around her. So why would he take her away from that? And another baby - we had waited 5 long years thinking of another one, and now we would have to wait longer? At the time, it seemed as if nothing made sense. Even working the details of the move was very complicated, but Steve and I both felt the entire time that it was what we were supposed to do. We just vowed to put one foot in front of the other, take one step at a time and see where we ended up. And in fact we ended up in Plano, Texas, a few months later. Far away from our "dream life." I knew in my heart that it's where God wanted us. But, as often is the case when we are on the verge of fulfilling a plan God has for us, Satan decided to step in and see if we were truly up to the task.
Our 2nd day in our new house Lowery severely fractured two bones in her lower arm. We knew no one here in Plano with kids, so our busy days in Springdale of play dates, activities and fun came to a screeching halt. With a 5 year old in a cast almost to her shoulder which extremely limited her activities, the days were long. And I was still having side effects of a virus I had the fall before - dizziness and fatigue were now part of everyday life for me. I became obsessed that something was seriously wrong with my health. I felt guilty because we had taken Lowery away from her friends, her life. Suddenly the faith and willingness I had to make the move to Dallas, to listen to and follow God's plan diminished. The devil knew where I was the most vulnerable and he struck hard - zeroing in on my my worst fears, the loss of our happiness and health. Over those summer months, anxiety and fear set in. I doubted God's plan and all in all felt lost.
Sensing that things were spinning out of control, I felt it was a crucial turning point for me. Would I persevere through to see what God had in store? One thing I did know was that I was too weak to take the battle on myself. And since I didn't know anyone in Texas, it was time for Mom to come to the rescue. She arrived in late August, the week before Lowery began school, and vowed to get me "straightened out." She took me to multiple doctors to prove to me that there should be no true concern for my health. She helped me find a Christian counselor and address my anxiety. Mom was there to pray with me, surround me with verses for encouragement. I spent many nights in fear and in an all out struggle. Many cries for help went out to God. I needed to know that this was still the plan, that even throughout these battles we were still on track. That week I turned the corner, and it would prove to be a very important step in getting our little girl here (yes, in case you thought I had forgotten this story IS about Charlotte).
Those couple of weeks in late August were pivotal for many reasons. First and most importantly, I reestablished my trust in God and my dedication to His plan for us in Texas. One very important aspect of this was the addressing of my health. Why? Because with fears about my health came doubts about getting pregnant. I needed to be convinced that I was okay before I set out the mission to have another baby. Second in importance was the day we walked through the doors of Prestonwood Christian Academy for Lowery's first day of school. PCA would be the conduit for many divine appointments needed to fulfill His plan. Her kindergarten class, teachers and students, were all specifically chosen by God. Why? Because students have parents, and the people I met through her class would be my new encouragers and partners in this new chapter of my life.
By the end of August, I was feeling stronger and felt as if I needed to take a bold step to show my faith rededication. Steve and I discussed it and decided that it was time to explore getting pregnant. But what doctors would help me here? I failed to mention above that I had already experienced my first divine appointment with my new internist in the area. With my Mom's nursing expertise and guidance, we finally decided on a group of physicians in Plano that would be good for internal medicine. From there, I literally looked on the internet and read their bios/looked at their pictures. Out of the many, many doctors available, I landed on what I considered to be a kind-looking man who had relocated to Dallas from Shreveport. I mainly went by his picture! When I met with him that first appointment, we found out he was from a small community close to my hometown of El Dorado and we had a close family friend in common. He was so reassuring, nice and kind and our common link confirmed that this was just who God had chosen for my physician. Now it was time for an ob/gyn.
I had met my now dear friend Julie at Lowery's kindergarten Build-A-Bear field trip the first weeks of school, her daughter Lilly was in Lowery's class. She is the very face of kindness and I don't know what I'd done without this angel God sent to me! Bless her heart, I know I bugged her to death when I first met her because she became my "go to" resource. I asked her at least once a day for referrals on everything from dentists to vets to hair stylists - and doctors. When I asked her about an ob/gyn, she told me about her beloved ob that had delivered all three of her children. She insisted he was the best around. I also found out that a family friend was now a doctor in Plano, and asked him for a recommendation for an ob/gyn. And, as you might could have guessed, both referrals were for the same doctor. I made an initial appointment with the ob/gyn on September 3rd, 2009 for a yearly checkup and to talk about getting pregnant.
I left the doctor's office elated on the 3rd. He said that he had every confidence that I could have a successful pregnancy and that we could more than likely avoid the problems I experienced with Lowery. I immediately loved him and felt comfortable with him. God had now given me the two doctors he knew would help our dream of having another child become a reality. Each one specifically chosen for my situation. I had the go ahead from all doctors and it was time. In the 5 years since Lowery's birth, I had only mustered enough courage once to try pregnancy again and suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks. But now it was time fora leap of faith once more.
Steve and I decided to begin immediately trying to get pregnant. I prayed for God's timing on everything - and he didn't make me wait long. The two pink lines appeared on the home pregnancy test on Monday, October 5th. I was in disbelief for a week or so that it happened so quick and that it was even happening at all. We had waited so long - would this finally be the time for us to have another baby?? Every Mom knows those first twelve weeks are rough, especially if you've suffered a miscarriage before. Even though I had fought through fear and anxiety issues, I found myself holding my breath every doctor's appointment to make sure things were okay. It was so hard to fight off the insecurity. So many things had gone wrong with Lowery. Would my health fail again? Would the baby be born premature? Would I experience bed rest for months? Would this baby be unhealthy because of my hypertension medications? This baby will be born a TEXAN?? But many of you know God is a loving God. And even in our doubt, he reaches down to us to let us know he's in control.
The last weekend in October, we decided to travel to El Dorado to see my family. We told my Mom and Dad about the baby, but no one else. Lowery did not even know until many weeks later. That Sunday, November 1st, we attended my Mom and Dad's church. Their Pastor, Al Womack, stood on the platform that morning and began the service with a baby dedication. During the dedication, he asked the infant's Mother to share her testimony. She had found out during pregnancy that she had a heart condition and there were concerns for her baby's health. At the end of her story, Pastor Al paused for a moment and then said, "There's someone here today that needs to know that, although you may have a chronic health condition, God will protect your baby and your pregnancy." Steve and I gripped each others hands immediately and knew the message was of course for us. God had given me His WORD that this baby was in his hands. He didn't have to reassure me, He didn't have to accept my lack of faith - but He is compassionate and knew I needed encouragement.
From that point on in my pregnancy, I felt complete peace. On November 19th, we saw her tiny little heartbeat for the first time. And from the first heartbeat to delivery my pregnancy did not experience one single complication. I saw a doctor every week and had at least 15 ultrasounds. I visited a maternal-fetal specialist and at every appointment the result was the same: both the baby and I were completely healthy. God even aided in finding the correct medicine to address my hypertension during the pregnancy (the usual ones for whatever reason did not work on me). My 2 doctors discussed and they decided on an old beta blocker, Pindolol, that was a category B pregnancy drug. My ob doctor had never really used it before and not even the pharmacist knew what is was when he filled it - he had to special order it. But it controlled my blood pressure perfectly throughout the pregnancy. The risk of the medicine was for the baby, beta blockers cause infants to be severely under weight. That is why I had frequent ultra sounds, to check the baby's growth. But not only did my baby grow, I had to have a c-section because she was a whopping 9 pounds. In fact, my ob's words were, "The opposite of what is supposed to happen with beta blocker medication has happened - you have a big, healthy baby."
Now you can see the hand of God in many, many places. God chose my doctors, Plano Presbyterian Hospital (5 minutes from our house by the way) and staff to bring Charlotte to us. He knew that the medical expertise here in Plano was just what we needed. He knew that we would have to give up our "perfect life" we thought we had to give us our next miracle. He chose the friends who referred me to physicians, the support of friends we would have when the baby was born and all aspects of our life here in Texas. He even supernaturally gave me a word of encouragement to sustain me throughout the pregnancy.
Some of you may think our move to Texas was about Steve's job. But, as you can see, it was more about bringing Miss Charlotte into the world. We learned that a house doesn't bring security. Being in a good church helps, but ultimately does not bring security. Living a COMFORTABLE life is not necessarily what He wants. He called us to change and we followed. And he blessed us beyond measure. We now understand that we only go where God has us to go. We only follow His plans, not our own. If we are willing to sacrifice earthly things we think are important, he will give us true heavenly rewards. Our reward was a little 9 pound bundle, who looks like her daddy, loves her big sister and is mommy's girl.