The Real Life of an Elite Gymnast

The Rio 2016 Olympics are coming, if you haven’t noticed. Everyone who has ever been an athlete or enjoyed athletics in any way is pulling out their USA gear and dreaming of olympic glory. And in the midst of all the hustle and excitement, we are usually presented with numerous background stories on athletes across the country. We find out where they grew up, how they got into the sport, and you see the determination in their eyes to bring home a gold medal and realize their dreams.

One of the most popular sports in America every olympic year is gymnastics. Young and old are fascinated by the handful of young men and women who can defy gravity with their bodies and, after a series of flips and twists, land on their feet (not toe-loops, that is figure skating). The sport is mesmerizing, the stars of the sport are dedicated, and the world is watching their every move. However, though gymnastics is one of the most glorified sports, it is also one of the most criticized. Critics, spectators, and even athletes themselves question the lifestyle, coaching, and health of these high level athletes all the time. As a gymnast for nearly 2 decades and as one who competed at an elite level (although not on a world stage) I thought it would be an appropriate time to offer a little bit of real life insight into the world of an elite gymnast.

  1. When Did They Start
    The sport of gymnastics is unlike most other sports. In women’s gymnastics, you typically peak between the ages of 14-18 (in men’s gymnastics it is closer to their mid 20’s). scan0137 2This means that you can’t really start gymnastics once you are 8 or 10 and expect to compete at a high level (although there are a few who have). Most gymnasts you see on TV have been doing gymnastics since the age of 3 or 4. By the time they are entering middle school, which is when most kids start to become involved in a sport, these athletes are more like seasoned veterans. They likely have years of competition under their belts and are training upwards of 25-30 hours/week. scan0146By the end of middle school, if they intend to compete at an elite level, they are usually training at 30+ hours. They have decidedly given up school dances, football games, and weekend parties for the sake of their dream, a decision they don’t regret for one second. Also, they have won the presidential award in P.E. every year since 2nd grade and can do more pull ups than any boy in the school. 😉 I, personally, started traveling to training camps and competitions with my coaches and without my parents when I was 9 years old. Some may think that is crazy, but it was a necessary step in order to achieve my goals (especially since my parents had my younger siblings to care for).
  2. Daily Life
    The day to day life of an elite gymnast revolves completely around the gym. You typically workout 6-7 hours a day with 1 day off each week.IMG_2585 This means that school is fit in around that schedule. For some, they homeschool in order to to have more time in the gym. For me, I took summer classes every year in order to free up my mornings so I could practice. I would wake up and spend 2-3 hours with my coach training in the gym. My coaches would then drop me off at school in the late morning and I would spend the rest of the school day in class. After school, it was home for homework and some food, and then back to the gym for another 4 hours. I would get back home around 9:30, eat the dinner my mom had kept warm in the oven for me, then head to bed. There aren’t really any parties, dances, or other sports involved, but we don’t mind. Most high level gymnasts love what they do. They would rather pursue their dream, especially because the window of time in which their dream is achievable is so small. I’ve heard some argue that this extreme focus on athletics takes away from their education, but I disagree. An athlete at this level has an intense amount of dedication, an ability to focus when they need to, and an affinity for efficiency. For me, and the others that I knew at my level, we were quite successful in school even without spending as many hours in the classroom. IMG_2574I worked hard on my school work while I was at school so that I could be finished and have more down time at home. I was on the honor roll in high school and even managed a few 4.0 semesters. The same was true for the other athletes I interacted with. Sure, we had our academic strengths and weaknesses, but overall we wanted to excel in everything we did, not just athletics.
  3. Nutrition
    One question I am often asked is, “are/were you on a diet?” The simple answer is, no. I was given nutrition information at the various training camps I went to, but nobody controlled my food intake or told me what I could or couldn’t eat. However, knowing my goals and the importance of fueling my body, I made conscious healthy decisions from a young age.IMG_2583 By the age of 10 or 11 I was aware that if I ate a bunch of junk food, I performed poorly the next day. I was also aware that if I ate protein the night before a competition, I pretty much kicked butt. When you are training at such an intense level, you become acutely aware of your body and how it works. I could tell you based on what I ate exactly how I would feel the next day. I could tell if the pain in my ankle was  something I had to live with and tape up, or something that needed an x-ray. In America, in most cases, nobody is “forcing” you to do anything in the sport of gymnastics. You could quit at any time. That being said, if you want to be the best, you begin to learn and understand exactly what you have to do to reach your goal. I can probably count on 1 hand the number of sodas I’ve drank since the age of 10. Not because they told me not to drink soda, but because I was willing to sacrifice a can of Root Beer for the sake of success.
  4. Weight Loss and Body Image
    One of the more controversial topics in the sport of gymnastics is the whole body image/weight control topic. The problem is, it is a double edged sword. You can’t do gymnastics safely if you have excess weight. IMG_2582Every joint, bone, ligament, and muscle is put under intense pressure and repetitive pounding for years and years. Any amount of added or unnecessary weight only adds to the given dangers of the sport. If you want to be successful, you have take care of your body. Any gymnast who is eating generally healthy and training the 30 hour weeks will have absolutely no problems with being “overweight.” That being said, there are coaches out there who will pressure athletes in a negative way about their bodies. They will use weight or humiliation about the state of their body to try to “motivate” them to work harder or make a change. I, personally, NEVER experienced this. IMG_2570My coaches loved me as a person and always put my health and safety (mental and physical) before my athletics. There was only one time in my 18 years when the topic of weight was addressed with me, but it was in a private conversation between myself and my coaches, and it had more to do with my overall health and not just my weight. I was not abused or humiliated. No matter what the sport, no athlete should have to endure negative body image from coaches, but it happens everywhere including gymnastics.
  5. Training
    Gymnastics is technical. Your score depends on the skills you do, how you combine them, and how well you execute them. To start with, each gymnast and their coach determines how they can achieve the highest possible score given that particular athletes abilities.scan0175 2 One thing that sets gymnastics apart is that it allows each person to perform skills that best suit them. I was able to compete skills that some of my teammates could never even attempt, but the same was true the other way. Once you have put together your skill sets (routines) it is all about consistency. And to be consistent you need repetition, repetition, repetition. Each training session starts with warming up your body and stretching. Some days we spent extra time focusing on the very basic and core gymnastics skills and drills. The basics are important because everything you do is built on and somehow uses those basic skills and positions. Your body has to know how to correctly feel and execute those basics every single time. After that, you head to one of the 4 events and begin to work either on individual skills or routines. IMG_2573Sometimes you have to hit 10 in a row of every skill in your routine. Sometimes you spend time learning new skills or new combinations to increase your start value. On other days, you literally just do routine after routine after routine to build up your endurance, confidence, and perfection. Once you were done with your assignments on that event, you would move to another event. In our gym, we would usually spend the last 20-30 minutes doing strength and conditioning which consisted mostly of body weight exercises (arms, legs, stomach) and endurance (circuits, running, and the dreaded wind sprints).
  6. The Best of The Best
    Every elite gymnast wants to be the best. Every elite gymnast puts in the time, the effort, the blood and tears, the sacrifice. Every elite gymnast has parents and family who see them only a little each day, who encourage them when they want to give up, who cry with them when they fail, and who rejoice when they succeed. There are more girls out there than what you see on TV. There are more who have given up everything to try to stand at the top of that podium (in 2009 there were 79 elite gymnasts in the woman’s program in the USA ).  So what separates those who win from those who don’t? Well, partly talent. But there are really two major factors:Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 5.14.05 PM

    • How Well An Athletes Body Can Hold Up.  This sport is so incredibly extreme.
      Your body is pushed to limits that an average person cannot conceive.
      It requires strength, flexibility, power, grace, air-sense, and so much more.
      You can’t go too long in this sport without some sort of nagging injury or major set back. Joints, muscles, ligaments, bones, they all take a beating. While in general, the gymnastics world has gone to great lengths to make the sport as safe as possible, there is just no getting around injuries. The ones who get to the top have either the least amount of injuries or a rare body that heals quickly and completely. Every elite athlete is talented, and obviously some more so than others (*cough* Simone Biles *cough*). But one major test of who can go the farthest lies in who has a body that can withstand the test of time.IMG_2580
    • Mental Strength. You know that old saying, “(Insert Sport) is 10% physical and
      90% mental?” Well, it is pretty accurate. Once you get to a certain level in any sport, you start to understand the power of your own mind. I’m not just talking about knowing and understanding the techniques you are using or the order of skills in a routine. Your mind has the power to keep you on the balance beam or make you fall. It has the power to save you from an injury or cause one to happen. In order to be consistent and to be successful you have to be on the top of your mental game. You have to have confidence. Not the prideful confidence that says, “I’m awesome,” but the confidence that you can execute your routine and skills in front of crowds and judges in the same way that you do in the quiet comfort of your own gym. You have to be able to visualize your routines flawlessly in your mind over and over and over (this sounds simple, but it is really quite difficult and requires practice). You have to be able to block out all the music, the cheering, and the surrounding noises and listen to nothing but the sound of your own voice in your head, and maybe the sound of your coach as well. You have to be able to ignore the things that you know will cause you to lose focus and remain in a state of mind that will keep you on the top of your game. In the same way that you start to train physically at a young age, you also have to train mentally from a young age as well. You are taught how to visualize your sets perfectly. You are taught to give yourself keywords to say in your head throughout your routine that will help you to focus and execute your skills correctly. You learn what it is that helps you to stay strong mentally during a competition, and what things cause you to lose focus. IMG_2588For some, they enjoy watching other athletes or listening to music as it takes their mind off of themselves and doesn’t allow them to get anxious. Others, like myself, have to stay in their own little worlds with their visualization and their keywords and not pay attention to what anyone else is doing. Everyone is different, but the main point is that in order to be successful, your mind has to be just as strong as (or maybe even stronger than) your physical body. It only takes one moment for someone to lose that mental strength and their whole career to snowball. They may have the body and the talent, but if fear or anxiety creeps in and takes over, they will not be successful.
  7. Do You Have A Life? This was a question I was often asked when I was an elite.
    “Don’t you wish you had friends and could go out for ice cream and stuff?” Uh…I think you’ve misunderstood my life a little bit. Often times these athletes are portrayed as sheltered little girls who have no life, can’t eat junk food, and look about half their age. The truth is, we’ve traveled the country (or world) more than most kids have traveled their own state.IMG_2587 We have friends all over the country because of all the competitions, clinics, and training camps we’ve attended. Not to mention our teammates who have been there with us for hours a day. We do eat junk food, go out for ice cream, and sometimes even water ski! 😉 And yes, we do look young because we are young, and we’ve trained so intensely that usually our bodies don’t properly mature until a little later . This is the life these athletes have chosen. We CHOSE to spend our time in the gym because we love gymnastics. We CHOSE to not eat junk food all the time because our goal is more important to us than treats. These girls don’t really feel like they’ve missed out on anything in life. If anything, they probably feel like they’ve lived it more fully than their school peers (no offense).

I’m a firm believer that you are only as good as the effort you are willing to make. If you ever go into a gym and watch a group of gymnasts closely, you will probably notice that the ones who are the best are the ones who take the most turns, do the most work, complete all their assigned conditioning and endurance work, and stay late to do a few extra things. Everybody has the opportunity to make themselves the best they can be. The ones who see success are the ones who actually put in the time and go the extra mile every day. Those are the elite gymnasts. I applaud these girls and I root for every single one of them. They are intensely devoted to their goals and, perhaps, one of the best examples that in order to be successful you have to work hard and make sacrifices. If you only see the sport every 4 years, you don’t realize that these athletes have put in thousands of hours of hyper-focused, difficult, exhaustive work when nobody was watching. Whether you’ve seen them on TV or not, they are out there. Their lives look different, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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So, I did a thing.

Jade SokollHi, my name is Jade Sokoll. I’m the real Jade Sokoll (and I would stand up but, let’s be honest, at little over 5′ tall it doesn’t really allow you to see me any better). I like short walks on the beach followed by surf lessons, music that touches the heart or soul or internal “start dancing a little” button, food that is truly excellent, anything that can be included in ComicCon, and (more than all the previously listed) my husband and children.  Long ago, I had a blog. It was an attempt to share my thoughts with the world. However, this attempt was a bit “mom-ish” and was not really what I wanted to do. So this is a new place. A place of truth. A place of information. A place where I am going to post creativity, mediocrity, and yes, sometimes hilariosity (not a real word).

I can hear you now, “Why? Why do this thing?” Here is why. Well…okay, i’m not completely sure. Partly, because I want to share stuff with the world, and this is one way to do it that is greater than 140 characters and 15 second videos.

My other reason, however, is because I have a voice. “We all have a voice,” you say (and I assume you mean figuratively). Yes, but I would like to share mine, not because it’s more important, but because I feel I have something of value share with you. I believe I can share hope. I believe I can share love. I believe I can share joy, sorrow, victory, defeat, and you can maybe (just maybe) know that you are not alone. You matter. We all matter. We can all help to make the world better. Sometimes all it takes is one person to rally us, one moment or motivation to unite us. Maybe that can be here. Or maybe you just come to laugh, or get an idea, or share an idea. That’s cool (like bowties).

So, I don’t really know. Also, I doubt many of you will read this first post, so I think I’m safe sounding a little bit like a motivational speaker with a dream of being an actress and also being in a band while raising 3 children and being married to a freaking stud of a man. But guys, seriously, I hope you enjoy.

Life After Miscarriage: A Personal Follow Up Post

After receiving a lot of comments on my blog post about our miscarriage, I thought it would be good to write a follow up on what it is like to continue with life. I first want to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement. As I stated in the post, my husband and I really want to help those of you out there who may experience the same situation. That is why I am writing this post today as well.

Initial Postpartum Thoughts.
After things with the miscarriage had settled down, there were several thoughts that would run through my head from time to time:

  1. Pregnancies of others. I had a few people who also had miscarriages talk to me about some struggles with handling the pregnancies of friends and family around them. I will admit, when you see people around you getting pregnant and having healthy, happy babies, you do feel bummed. My personal struggle leaned more towards feeling as though others didn’t really appreciate how much of a blessing it is to have a child! I understand more than ever how each of those little munchkins is truly a gift! I had to choose to turn my feelings of “they don’t understand” into, “I should be joyful along with them so they DO understand.” I had to change my perspective. It’s not an easy thing to do, I know. But I encourage you to take that step and see how your change in attitude will not only help you, but those around you as well!
  2. What if it happens again? This is a very real fear, one that you will most likely face, and one that remains a struggle for me to this day. And why wouldn’t we be worried about this? The first time you have a miscarriage, you don’t necessarily know what caused the complications and you can tend towards a path of, “what if this is the end? what if I won’t have any from now on?” Talk with your significant other or loved ones. Allow yourself to face the fear and use it to be prepared for whatever might be in your future, good or bad. At this point we don’t know what the future will look like, but it does not leave us hopeless! There are other ways to have and grow a family. (Adoption, Foster Parent, etc.) Don’t let this fear rob you of your joy in what your are experiencing in life now, or from the potentially amazing things you and your family can experience together!
  3. Everything is out of control. There was a short period of time where I felt like I had absolutely no control over my emotions and feelings. I had an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, heaviness and fear. Some may call this postpartum depression. In my opinion (and after looking back on the situation) this was largely due to the massive changes my body just went through. I literally went from being pregnant to not being pregnant in a matter of hours, and especially after being far enough into pregnancy that some major changes had already been happening in my body. There was no “normal” postpartum cycles as you have after a birth (i.e. no nursing, no mothering, etc.). I’m pretty convinced that my hormones were on a roller coaster trying to figure out the correct balance. The biggest help for me was to have family close by at all times and to make sure I was talking and praying through the moments when I felt at my worst. I strongly recommend if you experience this to tell your significant other or loved ones. Let them help you, sit with you, talk with you. You are not alone and when your body recovers you will overcome these feelings!

Continuing a family, with a few “good to know” facts.
After our loss, my husband and I decided we were not going to purposely wait for any period of time before getting pregnant again. We both felt that we were ready to continue growing our family and the doctors told us there was no reason not to continue right away. So we went about our normal lives without birth control, and without really knowing what to expect.

I think it is important to say here that while we have dealt with the loss of a pregnancy, it doesn’t mean we never think about it, or that feelings of sorrow do not creep in. There were a few things that come up after a miscarriage that I didn’t know about until experiencing one myself.

  1. Crazy Cycles. In the same way that your body does not get back to a normal hormonal cycle after birthing a child, it takes a while to get back to normal after a miscarriage as well.
  2. False Positives. Despite the fact that you are no longer with child, the hormone levels in your body do not go back to normal right away after a miscarriage. This means that for up to several months after your pregnancy, you can still have a positive pregnancy test and not be pregnant.

It’s not always easy.
In some ways, these two facts mentioned above were strongly working against our sanity.While we made the choice to continue without birth control, I did not think about taking these factors into consideration. And even though looking back I would have still made the same decision, I wish I would have made sure I understood these facts.  For almost 3 months we were constantly in a fog, not knowing 100% for sure what was going on with my body.

About 6 weeks after my surgery, I had to take a 5 hour car trip through the mountains. As a person who struggles with car sickness, I desperately wanted to be able to take some motion sickness pills for the drive. Unfortunately a few unclear pregnancy tests left me unable to take anything and car sick in the back seat. A week later my first cycle since the miscarriage began (7 wks after surgery), however I still questioned whether this was a normal cycle or another miscarriage not knowing if the previous pregnancy tests were false or not. While my husband and I were tempted to let the whirlwind of emotions take us over, we decided not to let our fears get the best of us.

Five weeks later and another positive pregnancy test, my husband and I were so confused. We had NO idea what was going on with my body. How long before my body is back to normal? When will we see some stability?

Are We Ready For This?
Two more positive pregnancy tests over the course of 3 weeks finally confirmed in our minds that we were, in fact, pregnant again. This was the point where I was actually most shocked at my emotions. We were very happy and excited, yet I couldn’t help but think of the little one we lost. I was joyful and sad all at the same time.  And to be honest, I’m not quite sure why. I think the excitement of what was to come reminded me that I missed out on meeting, holding, and kissing one of these precious little ones. I was happy for another opportunity to have a child, but sad to be reminded that we had one that didn’t make it. I can’t say for sure, but I would think that these kinds of feelings would be common. It was almost the opposite of what I felt before: losing a child made me appreciate the one I had, but this time finding out we were expecting another child made me miss the one we lost.

Life Goes On.
Seven months later I’ve gotten more comfortable with the pregnancy and the excitement and anticipation of another child is building. However, I still struggle with the “what-if’s”. I feel as though I’m paying more attention than I did before to how I eat, what my body feels like, every ache and pain and even fetal movements. It is hard sometimes knowing that even my extra “effort” in tracking this pregnancy won’t necessarily change the outcome, good or bad. Other than the obvious health concerns, I don’t have control over the outcome. But as I mentioned above, I’m working on not letting my nervousness or fear cloud me from the joy of what I’m experiencing right now. Do your best to be healthy and maintain a positive attitude. Allow others to help you out and remind you of all you have to be happy about! What we experienced in the loss of pregnancy was real. The fears and emotions we have now are real. But they do not have to hold us back from being joyful again!

A Note To You.
I realize that while we are fortunate to be expecting again so soon, this does not happen for everyone. I can honestly say I had no idea what to expect or when to expect it following the miscarriage. However, I do know that when you are trying and hoping to get pregnant, it can be hard not to get discouraged when any amount of time goes by. You are not alone. There are those who have been there before you and those around you who love and care about you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Seek advice and support. No matter what the outcome, this is not the end, and there is always more to hope for!

*A Personal Disclaimer*
I hope that in the post above you were able to find some insight or understanding into a tough situation. There is always a next step in the process, so don’t give up! For my husband and I, each trial and difficult moment was met with a reaction based on our faith in Jesus Christ. Everything I described above is true, the fears and emotions are real. However, I choose to handle my struggles with the love and hope that Jesus offers. I still struggle today, I still get scared and am fearful and it’s not easy. But my faith tells me that God is good, that He loves me, and that He has a plan for my life and my children. Through this I am able to be joyful, to let go of those fears, and continue moving forward. If you haven’t, I encourage you to look into the hope Jesus Christ can offer you, both in this situation and in the rest of life!

If you have any questions or thoughts, I would love to talk! Feel free to contact me at any time. And thank you again, everyone, for your support. It means more than we can express.

Loved and Lost: A Personal Experience with Miscarriage

8 Week Ultrasound Image

For many people, miscarriage is a personal thing that you don’t necessarily want to share with anyone other than your significant other or close family. However, John and I agreed that there are many people that go through this difficult experience, and we don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone. We wanted to share our sorrow and joy with you by letting you in on our experience with the hope that those of you who run into the same issue can be encouraged by the truth God has revealed and the peace and joy that comes from Him.

In early September, John and I found out we were expecting our second child. Much to my surprise, I was just as shocked/excited/nervous as I was when I found out we were expecting our first! We’ve always wanted to have our children close together, and were looking forward to having less than 2 years between Aza and #2. However, right from the beginning, this pregnancy seemed, well, interesting.

If any of you follow me on twitter, you may remember a few tweets about hives covering my body from neck to ankle. At first, I thought it was an allergic reaction to something. This started a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant. I started taking an antihistamine nightly, as the hives were unbearably itchy and were worse at night. After cleaning our house from top to bottom, taking my diet down to the basics, switching back to old tried and true shampoos and lotions, and washing our sheets multiple times, I could find no source of my hives. None, that is, until the positive pregnancy test. Apparently, a small percentage of pregnancy have an unexplainable hives that accompany it. And while the antihistamine I was taking is considered a safe drug to take during pregnancy, I was horrified that I had taken it in the early developmental phase of this child’s life and immediately stopped. The hives, however, did not stop. For 6-8 weeks I faced unbearable itching from about 7PM to about 1PM the next day. It would go away for a few hours then start all over again that night. The doctors had no explanation, and just told me to use all hypoallergenic soaps and lotions. Eventually, and without explanation, they went away. I still have no idea what exactly caused this, but I sure hope it doesn’t come back.

The next strange thing was that our originally calculated date was around mid May 2011. However, after the initial ultrasound at what should have been my 8 week appointment, the baby was only measuring 6 weeks 2 days. Everything else was normal and healthy, but the dates didn’t match. The doctors said it could be due to the fact that I had recently stopped nursing my first child (13 mo. at the time) and that could have affected the actual length of my cycle as opposed to my normal, pre-nursing 28 days. They told me to come back in 2 weeks to see if baby was growing correctly.

Two weeks later I had a second ultrasound. Much to my joy, baby was right on at 8 weeks 4 days. The little flicker of baby’s heartbeat was strong, and we even got to see some little legs! They moved my due date back to June 3rd. All of my current fears were relieved and I felt like I could actually relax and get settled into the remaining 7 months of the journey. I scheduled my 12 week appointment and was on my way. Over the next month I battled my way through morning sickness while trying to train a toddler and keep up with the rest of life. I was looking forward to the next appointment as it was going to be shortly before our trip to visit family for Thanksgiving and we were planning on spreading the word to family and friends from there.

My 12 week appointment started our normal, talking with the doctor about the entire process, discussing how I’ve been feeling, etc. After talking, she pulled out the heart monitor (for baby) and proceeded to search for baby’s heart beat. After a minute of her searching, but not finding, she told me she wasn’t picking it up and was going to go get the ultrasound machine for a better look. She told me not to worry as this is extremely normal when baby is this small. I knew, however, that something was wrong. I’m 5’1″ and very petite. It was always pretty easy to pick up a heart beat with Aza…

The moment she got baby on the ultrasound monitor my heart sank. Before she even said anything to me, I could see. The once flickering heart of my little child now sat motionless. I’ll probably never forget hearing her words, “I am so sorry, but I don’t see your baby’s heart beating at all. I am so sorry.” I couldn’t do anything except cry. Twice on an ultrasound picture I saw a healthy little child. Now, I was staring at the small lifeless body of this little person, the gender of which we didn’t even know. Why was this happening? What did I do wrong?

After measuring baby it was concluded that it had only been a few days since baby last stopped growing. I had brought Aza to the appointment with me, and was so glad I did. The doctor went out to get some things together, as I was going to have to have surgery the next day to remove the baby and relating tissue. While she was out, I hugged my little girl and just cried. In a matter of minutes I lost something that I hardly knew I had. And yet it still hurt, a lot. I called John and broke the news to him, he immediately left work and was on his way home. As we finished up the appointment and discussed the necessary next steps, questions were racing through my head. “Why God? Was it the antihistamines I was taking? Did I not drink enough water? Did Aza hit my stomach at some point accidentally? What made this happen?”

That afternoon my mother-in-law watched Aza for a few hours while John and I went out to collect our thoughts. At first, we didn’t even know what thoughts to collect. It all happened so fast. But as we talked through the why’s, what’s and how’s, we came to a few conclusions:

  • No Matter What, God Has A Plan. Constantly in our lives, things are happening that don’t seem fair. And usually, from our small view, they aren’t. But, John and I believe that our God is loving and all-knowing. His Word says that all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). We had to realize the truth in that.  We don’t know why God took this child from us, it could be that God was saving us from a greater pain down the road. But we do know that it was for a specific reason, and that ultimately God is going to bring good out of it.
  • We Believe This Child is Now in Heaven. We believe our God to be just and that this child is now in His arms.  He or she is happy and smiling, and has never known anything but love. It never got in trouble, never had a skinned knee, never cried a single tear. How could we possibly not find joy in that? There is an incredible peace that comes with knowing that God is loving, and that your child is not only loved, but without pain or suffering. Isn’t that what we want for our children? Not only that, but when I get to heaven, I’ve got a son or daughter there waiting for me and, hopefully, with a really big hug for mommy 🙂
  • We Appreciate Much More the Things We Do Have. In all honesty, my daughter has never been more special to me than she is right now. I was thinking through the miracle of her growth and development, how she overcame her health issues at birth, and now she is a smart and healthy child. It seems like so much more of a blessing to me. They say you never know what you have until it’s gone, but losing one thing has allowed me to see the beauty and joy even more so in another. We can be sad about the things the Lord decides to take from us, but we can be even happier about the things he gives and allows us to have. While I am sad at what we lost, I know I will always appreciate the children God does allow us to have more than I ever would have before. We truly have so much to be thankful for.
  • We Are Not Alone. Miscarriage is not uncommon, up to 25% of clinically recognized pregnancies end this way (American Pregnancy Association). Most of the time, the reason for the miscarriage is completely unknown. But, if you ever find yourself in this situation know that there are plenty of people out there who are with you. All you ever did was love that child, whether you got to meet them, name them, know their gender or not. If I lived a life where I was only loved constantly and never experienced sadness or pain, I’d say it was a pretty fulfilling life.

Again, while we are sad at what we lost, we trust God has a plan in all of this. I have a wonderful sense of peace about the whole situation because I know God is good. It was a difficult experience, but God has given us so many things to be happy about. And while we are moving on with our lives and looking forward to our family growing, I will never forget this child and can’t wait to meet them someday. 🙂