Hawaii, Maui, Meditations, Musings

That time I was pregnant in Hawaii

February 27, 2015


What’s better than carrying a secret with a cheeky smile and hopeful heart?

I remember well the feeling of carrying a dream of long-term travel. I stockpiled links to message boards and forums and piled library books by my bedside. I’d talk in hushed tones with close friends about this crazy scheme to work hard, save like crazy, and then burst out onto the world with a backpack and a plan and an open horizon.

Ted and I crept toward the point of no return, purchasing plane tickets, reserving ship cabins, and then ultimately breaking news to our employers that we’d be leaving our jobs and departing on a one-way flight to South America.

The joy.

The intimidation.

The worry.

The excitement.

The fears.

The anticipation.

The desire to prove to ourselves that it could be done.

Then: a year spent reaping the fruits of what we’d sown. Adventures and new friendships, tales and escapes and missteps (made right, eventually). We learned so much, we stretched and grew so much. We became older and wiser and returned to our little life in Oregon with a mental suitcase of souvenir-memories to outfit us for ages and steer our steps on future paths.

And then we stretched and grew a little more and added sweet little Lucie to our lives.

That adventure (still unfolding day by day) of guiding a new little human’s existence on earth, mirrors and mimics (and outshines) the experiences of learning to live in foreign lands. It continues to give inspiration and head(heart)aches. It calls for learning new languages, changing forms of transportation, existing in new child-friendly-timezones. (Yes, this once-student accustomed to frequent all-nighters in landscape architecture studio has cried uncle many, many more times than once at hours well shy of 9pm.)

Honestly, though, framing my perspectives to align with my joys helps keep my wanderlust heart anchored during this long-term season of parenthood.

And ever the adventure junkie that I am, when Ted and I got our positive pregnancy test this past autumn, my heart did a somersault, and we braced for another round of logistical planning, mountaintop highs, and slightly heavier bags.

twoOregonians…threeOregonians…FOURoregonians?

Adventure DefinitionThe secret lived for a month and a half as we charted out our path for 2016. Ted’s last day of grad school and baby’s due date fell laughingly close together on the calendar.

We joked with each other: what kind of guy gets accepted into grad school while sitting in a little guest house in Chiang Mai, Thailand and then comes home, rebuilds a life, buys a house, and has two kiddos all before the diploma’s on the wall? A little ambitious, eh?

We two overly-ambitious firstborns aren’t ones to naturally take the easy road, that’s for certain.

Like those early dreams of travel, the visions of a growing family overwhelmed and terrified…and lured us in with promises of sweet discoveries, irreplaceable memories, and a brand new, lifelong friendship.

So we began the new adventure with our tiny new little Oregonian. A fluttering heartbeat on the ultrasound screen confirmed the fluttering in my own heart, and a week and a half later we flew to Hawaii with a toddler in tow and the Christmas surprise tucked away in my barely-rounding belly. (P.S. They say as you travel more, you pack less and your suitcase shrinks, but I’m telling you it’s a bit the opposite with kiddos: with each new one you carry, the faster and larger your pregnant tummy expands. And the heavier the luggage for family vacations.)

Oh, how I wish I could tell you a picture-perfect tale.

The funny thing is, I have a perfect picture to share.

Our extended family (30 people together in Maui) gathered on the beach on a Tuesday morning to take group photos, and Ted and I decided to spring the news on them just before the photographer opened the shutter:

My (jumping) aunt’s exuberance says it all.

We announced our expected “Christmas in July” and celebrated and then carried permanent grins for the next half hour of group shots and family portraits and iPhone selfies.

wpid205284-travel-to-maui-with-baby-oregonian-45.jpg

wpid205282-travel-to-maui-with-baby-oregonian-44.jpg

wpid205302-travel-to-maui-with-baby-oregonian-54.jpg

That night we celebrated in style on the north coast at Mama’s Fish House while rainbows filled the sky and waves rolled in to shore…

And then, like a train derailed or a ferry sunk, like a flight gone missing over the ocean or a moped ride gone wrong, adventure took that dreaded turn for the worst.

Paradise turned bittersweet while we waited out the days and returned to the rainy mainland and the ultrasound confirmation already sensed in our hearts: our little one was gone.

I wish that had been the end, but the physical journey to finish the process of death took a heavy toll over the rest of Christmas. As in seasons before, the shared joy and moral support of family and close friends made new adventures all the more glorious, and this time, the kindness of loved ones kept Ted and me comforted in a time of grief. Mercifully, by the time the New Year arrived, my body and spirit began to make steps toward better health and fresh perspective.

Even now though, two months later, I’m still experiencing the ripple effects of such a drastic change of plans. The number of friends and acquaintances due with July babies is staggering. I see the curves of their growing bellies and later peer at my now-flat profile in the mirror: the very real reminder of an adventure stopped short.

At the same time, possibilities of other endeavors for 2015 are taking shape, and I have to weigh in my heart the truth of that verse that kept me going through earlier years of ups and downs and unknowns about life:

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps… (Proverbs 16:9)

The truth is, I do believe that with all my heart. I really do.

It’s a profound mystery, and I’m willing to walk in it.

I reconcile so much with this thought: Ted and I were never guaranteed the outcome of our travels before we departed. There were many, many hopes and desires, many surprises and blessings, and more than a few rough roads, too. But at the very end of it, the very time when we were being asked what the most valuable part of the journey was, and how we could sum up the year, we concluded quite simply, it was all about the people.

The payoff of adventure, the reward for the risk, was the connection with fellow humans.

The sharing of stories. The breaking of bread at tables around the world. The richer perspective on what it means to share time and space, to exchange histories, to absorb the experiences of other lives, other cultures. To grow in compassion and kindness, to extend curiosity and give pause to consider different points of view.

The payoff at the end of adventure is a change in the condition of the heart.

For those weeks that our little one was alive and with us, I cherished its life and celebrated what it could become, and when that little life was over, I shared the experience of sorrow and mourning with dear ones who have also lost their children and experienced shifting pictures of the future.

When I first drafted these thoughts, I labeled the post: “Pregnant Pause: The Sorrow of Adventures Lost,” but now, with more time and thought, I see that the adventure was not lost. No. Though it ended abruptly and took a much different shape than I’d envisioned, it still took me through something transformative.

I’ve connected with fellow humans and experienced a changed condition of my heart.

More empathy. More perspective. More understanding.

I’ve adventured again.

And forever I’ll carry sweet memories of being pregnant in Hawaii.

wpid205292-travel-to-maui-with-baby-oregonian-49.jpgBriefly, there were four: Lucie, Bethany, Ted, and a new little babyOregonian who came and left again so soon…wpid205272-travel-to-maui-with-baby-oregonian-39.jpg


This post is dedicated to our sweet little one who came and went from our lives so quickly, and to parents everywhere (especially you sweet friends – you know who you are) who have traveled this road of hopes and dreams and sorrow.

The more we share in life, the more we know we are not alone.

Hugs xx
Bethany


For resources and encouragement: The Compassionate Friends
For great suggestions: How to Care for a Friend (and Her Family) After Miscarriage or Stillbirth
For the song that played on repeat in my head for many weeks: Watermark’s Glory Baby.

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36 Comments

  • Reply Aidyn Sevilla February 27, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    FOUR!!!!!!!
    Sounds like a great adventure! Best of fortune to you all!!

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:09 am

      I wish it could be so…

  • Reply Judy February 27, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    My heart aches. My throat constricts. Tears loom and then drip.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:09 am

      Hugs, Judy xx

  • Reply Ayngelina February 27, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I have several friends who went through similar situations and I’m so happy you chose to write about this because they said the toughest thing was feeling alone.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:14 am

      That’s so encouraging of you to say, Ayngelina. Thank you for that. I know the experience has given me perspective. Of course every woman is different (and every father, for that matter), and not everyone grieves or processes the same way, but it seems like there are too many silent stories and too much isolation and sorrow during a time when listening ears and shoulders to cry on can make a big difference. Hopefully putting our story out in the open will someday give someone else a little comfort along the way…

  • Reply CJ February 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Bethany – my sweet friend, your courage, your boldness and your sweet, sweet heart are an encouragement for the transparent relationships we’re called for. Thank you for sharing your journey and perspective.
    Be blessed.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:16 am

      CJ, thank you for responding, too. It’s in the back and forth and sharing that we grow, right? Hugs to you… Wishing I could pop on a plane to Alberta tomorrow! xx

  • Reply Melissa Bowers February 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Beautiful, thoughtful post. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Praying that God will bless your sweet family with many more adventures.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:18 am

      Melissa, thank you so much. I really do appreciate your prayers, and I trust that God’s holding our future, too, in whatever shape it takes… So much love to you and to your sweet growing baby! Hugs xx

  • Reply Becky L February 27, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Oh what a bittersweet story. Courageous to share your story of loss. Love, hugs and prayers.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:19 am

      You’re sweet to say that, Becky. Thank you for responding with empathy and encouragement. I’m so grateful for the support we’ve felt all along the way. It’s been merciful.

  • Reply Suz February 27, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    You are my precious gift and I am grateful to God you are gifted with words and a heart to share the truth in love. Crying with you, Sis, and laughing and hugging, too.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:20 am

      Thanks, Mom. Love you xx

  • Reply Lindsay February 28, 2015 at 8:09 am

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Love you all. Hugs to everyone.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:22 am

      Thanks, sweet friend. You never know what the journey is going to hold… I didn’t see this one coming, that’s for sure. But I’m grateful that we found comfort along the way, and it’s been a breath of fresh air to just get it out in the open and go forward without carrying so much heaviness. Here’s to hopeful things in the next season! Hugs back to you. Hope springtime is coming along nicely in the Czech Republic xx

  • Reply Sue R. February 28, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I’m sorry…blessings on you all as you stay close to God who knows you, loves you, and does all things well.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:23 am

      Amen ♥

  • Reply Ashley March 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It was not the adventure you planned, but is the way it played out. It takes such positive attitude to think that and believe that, I don’t know that I could be so big as to see that.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:27 am

      Ashley, thank you for your sweet words. I think writing helps me shape the memories and feelings and put life into better perspective. It took a while to be able to wrangle with all the emotions and thoughts, but I’m so grateful that it became possible to move forward with a trusting outlook. I’ve been so grateful for the kindness of friends and readers here, too. It’s been a surprising encouragement!

  • Reply Carmel M. March 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    “Though it ended abruptly and took a much different shape than I’d envisioned, it still took me through something transformative.”
    Wow, Bethany…what a story. I am so sorry to hear of this loss. Your grace and ability to find wisdom from the experience is admirable. I guess that’s what we have to do with these experiences, though. I have had my own losses and although I’d love to be able to change things, I am grateful for the ability to connect with other people who have endured the same thing. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:29 am

      Gosh, Carmel. I don’t even know what to say except, I’m so sorry, and thank you. You make such a good point: in our inability to change things, we can find places to relate to each other. In our weakness, in our powerlessness, in our (inter)dependency, we are all just humans trying our best to live in grace. Hugs, my dear. xx

  • Reply mendozadonlan March 1, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    To our dear friends. Our hearts go out to you from Bolivia. We appreciate your generosity of spirit to share your joys and also the difficult moments too. All our love Emma, Rolando, David and Bell.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:32 am

      Emma, Rolando, David, and Bell – what a sweet note to receive from your family. Ted and I were so touched by your warmth and welcoming during our stay in Bolivia, and somehow you’ve managed to send that same kindness all the way across hemispheres to land in our hearts here in Oregon. We love you all so much. Thank you for thinking of us and joining in both sorrows and celebrations. Love from Ted and Lucie and me!

  • Reply Cindy Buck March 2, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Amen, and so much love to you ❤️

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:33 am

      Right back to you! (Also, I hope you didn’t mind the jumping picture. I love it so much ♥)

  • Reply What Hope Keeps You Going? - twoOregonianstwoOregonians March 2, 2015 at 11:24 pm

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  • Reply Rhonda March 6, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Hi Bethany…it’s been a bit since I’ve checked in with your blog and I found this heartbreaking, and yet so eloquently put love letter to life and love. I’m so sorry for your loss, but what an amazing way of seeing the world, and the knowledge that while we might not understand why things happen, we can learn from them in a positive way!

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 11, 2015 at 2:37 am

      That’s so kind of you to stop in and catch up a little bit on our story, and to leave such sweet words. I’m grateful that the exercise of writing helps me re-frame and refocus. It’s much easier now to dwell on things than it was a few months ago in the midst of the worst moments. I very much hope that the perspective I’m slowly growing to have also helps others along the journey… All the best to you, Rhonda. xx

  • Reply Edna April 24, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    What a beautiful, heartbreaking post Bethany. I was so ready to write congratulations, and my heart ached for you as I read through the rest of the post. Your line especially, “And forever I’ll carry sweet memories of being pregnant in Hawaii.” just amazes me, how you are able to stay so positive in spite of the curveballs in life. Sending hugs from Shanghai xo

  • Reply Julie Park August 15, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Bethany, thank you for your courage in sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss. This post has been so encouraging for my heart as I too have lost a little one. For a long time, reading stories like this was the only thing that gave me comfort, knowing that I wasn’t alone. Take care of yourself and be blessed.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians August 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      Julie, you’re such a sweetheart. Thank you for your note. I’m really sorry, too, for your hard times and for having to say goodbye to a tiny little one. It’s never really easier, but it’s somehow encouraging to hear from other people who know what it feels like… Sending big hugs your way! It’s been way too many years since we’ve had a real one ;) xx Bethany

  • Reply Tara H. September 26, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Super thoughtful and sweet post. You have the gift of words…so sorry for your loss.
    We too have been there…gaining more empathy, more understanding…

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians October 26, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Whew…it’s such a sorrowful road. But I’m glad that it’s brought deeper connections with friends and loved ones and a way to (hopefully) be encouraging to other people, too. You’re a dear heart and such a great example of motherhood to me! I remember Milan sharing with us about the baby you lost right before we started coming to Clear Creek. I’m so sorry :( How wonderful that prayers were answered and Isaiah made his way into this world! Miss seeing you guys. xx

  • Reply Brianna York October 16, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for sharing Bethany. This sorrow and loss of an unborn child is sadly common yet not talked about. It is so healing for all to share in the ups and downs in life. I have dear friends who were in a similar situation, I’m going to share this post with them. Thank you for being vulnerable and continuing to share your life adventures. Sending much strenghth, love & empathy.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians October 27, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Brianna, I just found your comment caught up in the spam box. I’m sorry that I missed it earlier! It was so touching to read your words and to know that vulnerability really does have power to help and heal. My heart goes out to your friends, too. Whew…what a road to walk. I’m sure they’re so grateful to have your care and love in their lives.

      Thanks so much for taking time to read and to leave me a note! xx Bethany

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