"A rainbow doesn't negate the ravages of the storm."
God and Finn have blessed us with another perfect baby. We are due early June.
This is one of the most powerful parts of our story and proof of God's unfailing love. But before I share this part of our story, I just want to say that losing Finn has made me more keenly aware of other's struggles, particularly child loss and fertility struggles. I recognize how big of a trigger it could be to hear of a pregnancy that came so easily when you have been trying endlessly without those 2 little lines appearing. My heart and prayers are with you, Mamas. I pray you get your sweet bundle AND that you get to love on that bundle for the rest of your days.
Before We Found Out
After Finn went to heaven, I became focused on the idea of having another child. Grief is not normal and makes you think and feel irrational out of control things much of the time. I in no way want to replace my Finn because there is no replacing him. But Finn gave me the greatest gift of my life, he made me a mother and in being a mother, I found myself. So my desire to have another child was wrapped around the idea of finding myself once again. Obviously, I still am and will always be Finn's mother. Being Finn's Mama is a title that will always be my favorite and one I will NEVER shy away from. He is the boy that made me a Mama, and we will always share a bond that even heaven and earth can't separate.
Austin was absolutely not on board to begin trying for another baby. He said we could maybe start trying in 6 months, but I feared that he would never be ready. Part of my quick desire for a baby stemmed from my fear that having another child would not come easily. Finn was the most beautiful and perfect surprise of our lives and because of that we have never had to "try" to have a child. I have PCOS which means my cycles and ovulation patterns are super irregular which makes it difficult to know my fertile window. I also breastfed Finn his entire life which for me meant my cycle never returned, so I had not ovulated in nearly 2 years. My mom suffered from unexplained infertility after having me, her only child, so I feared that too would affect my ability to conceive. Needless to say, I had reason to suspect getting pregnant wouldn't be easy, and I want to share all of them with you so you know just what a miracle it is that we are. This next part might be TMI but I just really want to stress how unlikely it is that we are pregnant so I feel like these details are important. At the time of conception, we were not trying. There's something about your life spiraling out of control that makes you cling desperately to one another and in that, God gifted us a miracle. Immediately after we unknowingly conceived, I felt God tell me to get off the medicine that was helping numb the pain of losing our Finn Benton in the very off chance that we were pregnant. In order to get back on the medicine, I began taking pregnancy test nearly everyday. (I had no idea of my cycle length. With PCOS it could last 60 days so waiting for my cycle was not a good indicator for me.) I had purchased Amazon pregnancy test strips before we lost Finn because as I've explained before, we were going to start trying in August for his sibling. By the 15th day of testing and seeing that I wasn't pregnant, I was fully convinced. Austin was also aware that I was testing (although he thought it was silly - no one gets pregnant after 1 time), and knew that I had gotten countless negatives. During this time of daily pregnancy tests, God had been speaking to me about my strong desire for more children. I distinctly remember a conversation with Jessica as we drove to Starbucks one morning. There's not a lot I remember from the first few months following the loss of Finn, but I could tell you our exact location on the road when this conversation occurred. She asked me where I was at with my desire for a baby. I told her that I finally realized that I have NO control over my life and that I was fully giving it up to God. I felt such peace and the obsession over when we would get pregnant left my mind. I stopped taking pregnancy tests because after 15 days the results should have shown. Days later I woke with the urge to take a test. Not because I was back on baby train or because I suspected in the slightest, but because something (God) told me to. I took the test and then left it by the sink. I forgot about it until I returned to use the restroom hours later. As I washed my hands, I glanced over and saw the FAINTEST 2nd line. Since I had left it so long, I knew there was the possibility that it was an evaporation line. I tested again, another very faint line. Jessica and I drove to the drug store and purchased an easier to read test which read very clearly: PREGNANT. Shock ensued. We shouldn't be pregnant. There is absolutely no explanation other than God's perfect timing and our Finn Benton wanting his mama and dada to have another perfect child to love.
I was terrified to tell Austin. I knew he wasn't ready as he had vocalized this to me on several occasions. I was scared and in shock and needed to tell him, so history repeated itself and I woke Austin to share the news (this is the same way I shared the news of Finn with him). He was shocked. He wasn't happy. He was scared. And the one thing he kept saying is he didn't want to replace Bubby. It broke my heart. I didn't want to be the reason he was in anymore pain than he had already endured. He went back to sleep, and we didn't discuss it anymore that day. The following day he brought up the pregnancy by saying: "You shouldn't be pregnant. That's got to be Finn and God, right?" And with that I cried, embraced him, and told him yes.
Pregnancy While Grieving
Today marks 20 weeks pregnant. We found out on September 25th, so I have spent the majority of my time grieving Finn while also pregnant with his sibling. This has brought on so many complex emotions. The hardest parts are that with Finn I was innocent and excited and had his whole life planned before hitting the 2nd trimester. This time, I don't let myself think ahead. We have been robbed of our innocence and the fear of something happening creeps in often. Subconsciously, I think I believed that being pregnant would help bring Finn back to me. If nothing else, through the memories. Remembering what it was like to carry him in my belly. But the truth is, I have had to grieve many times over that this beautiful miracle in my belly is not Finn. I know we will love this bundle, but the truth is, at this time the only thing we can think about is how much we want our Finn Benton back.
This baby has also saved me in many ways. Many people have asked about me working and it's been difficult to answer because my work now is to get "better" and prepare for this sweet blessing. I don't know when I plan to return to teaching, if ever. Right now, being a mother is my only focus. We are so blessed that God gifted me with talents before losing Finn in creating teaching resources and a store on Teacher Pay Teachers that continues to supply an income to me during this time of healing. My job right now is to get in a better place emotionally to be a mom to Finn's sibling. This, along with never wanting Finn's life to be in vain, is what has pushed me to attend weekly counseling sessions, begin volunteering, and work on my relationship with God. All in efforts to heal so this sweet miracle has parents who are able to be everything he or she needs and deserves, while also making Finn proud. I have cried many times for this baby. I have cried because they will never know the mommy and daddy we were before we lost Finn. The joyous, innocent parents whose smiles were always present. We both struggle with wondering if we will be able to be the present, joyful parents we once were. I have cried because this sweet baby will not have a big brother here on earth to learn things like his awesome wave or adorable dance moves. I have also made it my mission that although they will not know him in the way most siblings know one another, they will know him because we will share all about him through pictures, memories, and a book I'm writing.
I know that we will probably both be quite emotional, at least in the early days. Being pregnant and birthing a child are all reminders of the beautiful miracle of life that we have brought into this world once before, but unlike other 2nd time parents, we will only have 1 perfect child on earth to show for it.
My biggest trigger since losing Finn Benton is babies crying. It's the last sound I heard from my beautiful little boy before my world went dark and it haunts me, so my own child will be a trigger to me. Something that my counselor is helping me work through prior to this baby's arrival.
Finn has shown his approval
If you've been following our journey from the start, you know that Finn has shown up every step of the way, and he has continued to show up in sharing his approval for his sibling.
The first sign we received is that Finn's birthday falls on national rainbow baby day. If you are unfamiliar with what a rainbow baby is, it's a baby born after the loss of a child. Of all 365 days of the year, this is the day Finn was born on. This was brought to my attention after we lost Finn, and I felt like it was encouragement from him to have a rainbow.
A few weeks prior to finding out we were expecting God put it on my heart to write a book. He gave me the title and the first few lines. This book is now completed, and I am working with a publishing company. It's a children's book titled: My Brother's in Heaven. This book came to me BEFORE I had any idea I was pregnant. I shared the book idea with Jessica first and read to her the first lines. In no way did either of us suspect at the time that God was working to form a beautiful baby in my womb at that exact moment.
More people than I can recall told me of dreams they had I was pregnant before we knew. I dreamed this myself. I dreamed of Finn on my hip looking out our backdoor with a big belly. God was assuring me of his plan for us the entire way and Finn's presence in my dream is representative of his presence everyday in our lives and his sibling's life.
After we found out the gender, which I'll share at the end of this post, I went outside later and picked up 2 things of confetti paper from the cannons that we used to reveal. I dropped them and then something told me to pick them back up and count them. I did. In my hand were exactly 22 pieces. Twenty-two is my number for Finn and shows up so often in my life now. A sweet message of approval from our little boy in heaven.
I am not one to do Instagram giveaways, ever. But after we found out the gender, I instantly knew I wanted a specific wallpaper for the baby's room. An Instagram influencer that I follow that also lost a child earlier this year did a giveaway for the wallpaper. I tagged my friends on the post and then forgot about it. Then one night we were watching the CMA awards and Dan and Shay sang their song "Speechless." Often before dinner time, Bubby and I would turn on country music and dance around the living room. Out of all the songs we danced to, this was my favorite. I sang the sweet love song lyrics to him as I swirled him around the living room on my hip. As they played the song during the award show, the first time I'd heard it since losing Finn, I lost it. I went to our bathroom to get a hold of myself and spoke to Finny for a second. When I went back to the living room I checked my phone, I had an Instagram notification. I had won the wallpaper. Who actually wins those things? Another nod of approval from our Finn Benton. The wallpaper I wanted is rainbow.
I took the tiny rainbow above the Eiffel tower in Paris as a sweet sign too.
Revealing the Gender
We found out gender through the Sneak Peek test at 9 weeks. I hoped that finding out gender would help me connect and get excited for the pregnancy more. When we first talked about a baby after losing Finn, we both said we wanted a girl. We felt that this would be best as to not feel like we were replacing Finn. However, as soon as we found out we were pregnant, we both began desiring a little boy. Finn made us fall so hard for being boy parents that we couldn't imagine anything else. When Finn was here, I wanted a herd of little boys. I just loved being my boy's mama so much, and Austin had big hopes on being Finn's best friend. Austin told me that he wanted to be that dad that was the best man in his son's wedding. Probably the sweetest and now saddest thing I've ever heard. I knew no matter what the gender that God and Finn would provide us exactly what we needed.
Finn's sibling is a little...
Initially, we were wrecked. We hugged and the tears streamed. I now see having a girl as the biggest blessing. It's a new experience with a different gender, and I know God knew exactly what we would need. Again, subconsciously I think we hoped for a boy because we hoped for Finn back, so having a girl was another moment to come to the realization that we will never get Finn back on this earth. But we know she is the biggest blessing. She has given me hope for our future, and I can't wait to tell her all about her hero big brother.
We waited so long to share this news because we didn't want this to take the attention off our little Finn. Finn deserves all of love that he has received, and we hope you continue to love and think of him often. We also wanted to make sure everything is okay with baby girl. After all of the genetic screening and a high-risk anatomy scan, we are relieved to find out that she is perfect. Although these words don't provide the same assurance they once did, since it's also the exact thing Finn's pediatrician said to us on that last, fateful day: "He's perfect!" But he was and is once again, perfect, in the arms of Jesus. Despite our journey, we are choosing faith and not fear. We will definitely do testing once she arrives to put our minds at ease, but until then we remain hopeful.
To honor our Finn Benton, his little sister will be named Finley Blake. They will not only share the root of their names, but the same initials too.
When sharing Finley's sweet sonogram image with my sister, she instantly recognized the similarities between her and Finn. They had been lost on me in all the nerves of the big anatomy scan. But since creating this side by side, I can't help but stare at it. They are twins. And as always, I know this is God's doing. I didn't know how it would make me feel if they were to look alike, but now seeing their similarities just through sonogram, I couldn't be more eager to meet her and see glimpses of her big brother in her. I can't wait to discover all the similarities, but also celebrate the beautiful characteristics that make them different.
God has taught me so much through this pregnancy, but the main lessons learned are:
His timing is ALWAYS perfect.
His love for us is unfailing.
He is always in control.
Trust in Him with all your heart.
I hope through Finn and this "beautiful piece of poetry that has been woven in" (as a friend so eloquently stated) that your faith in God continues to grow as mine has.
In full transparency, this blog has been the most difficult for me to write. It is so difficult for me to balance the gratitude we feel for this blessing while also still expressing the deep mourning and pain we feel over the loss of Finn. I have written and rewritten this a million times and still don't feel 100% about it. I hope none of my words are misconstrued as to Finn ever being replaced or Finley ever being anything other than her own beautiful person. I am so glad that most of you reading do not and hopefully never will understand this journey from our point of view. We are blessed, but we are so very sad still. Thank you all for the continued love and support as we continue to walk this very difficult, but blessed road.