For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Psalm 139:13-14


Tattoos, Race Cars, & Swollen Feet: Here's to New Chapters

Over the last several months, we've had many changes and challenges. I became a Resident Director at Anderson University, which required us to move in to a female residence hall apartment. (We love Morrison Hall!!) Ben and I both continued to tackle our graduate programs (Ben graduates in August & I am set to walk in December). Throw in there the challenges of raising a fun but strong-willed 2-year-old Cohen, still processing the loss of Carter (whose first birthday would have been February 2), and navigating the new pregnancy joys and anxieties of Baby Boy #3 on the way....and, well, let's just say our new chapter has been nothing but full.

However, as I reflect on the last few months, a few specific milestones stand out to me. Moments or ways in which Carter Benjamin continues to mark us and influence our daily lives.

Back in August, after much thought and planning, Ben and I both got tattoos in honor of Carter. We decided to both get his initials "CBW" in Hebrew, and Ben added the phrase "your works are wonderful" (from Psalm 139:14) to his. This decision brought us our first major wave of healing. It solidified Carter's mark on us and on the world. We have been forever changed, and these marks serve as reminders of all the ways God continues to restore our brokenness.

In October, we found out that we were pregnant for baby number three. With this news came much excitement, hope, and anxiety. We knew the likelihood of bilateral agenesis reoccurring in a subsequent pregnancy was very low, but we had been a rare statistic before. No longer did we consider ourselves safe. So baby three has become a new experience in trusting God.

January brought us some relief. We had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound, which revealed not only that we were having another boy (apparently Ben is overflowing with testosterone) but also that he was about as healthy as you could get. Our doctor was so thorough and patient with us; I think he was even a bit elated at such a "model ultrasound," as he put it. Our newest baby boy has definitely been a source of hope and healing.

Only days later, February rolled around much too quickly. We found ourselves trying to figure out how to remember and celebrate Carter's birth (February 2) while simultaneously grieving his death all over again. Ben and I both decided to get away for that weekend to give ourselves space to grieve, but not before our family stopped at Carter's grave. We tried to figure out what to take to commemorate that day, but nothing seemed fitting for a little boy. I didn't like the idea of leaving flowers, because I didn't want to come back to find them dead. We finally landed on leaving a small Matchbox car, much like the ones Cohen plays with daily.

Cohen and I had made a special trip to the store to pick out just the right car. Cohen decided a bright yellow race car was just the thing. He held onto it tightly on our way to the cemetery. Ben and I weren't sure if he would actually leave it there when it came time, but we decided to wait and see what happened. When we pulled up to Carter's gravestone, Cohen pointed to it and said enthusiastically, "Carter's stone!"

Ben and I both stopped breathing for a second.

While we had talked to Cohen about Carter's stone, he had never been there. He had never seen a picture and really didn't have reason to know what "Carter's stone" even was. But, as if it were the most familiar thing in the world, Cohen approached Carter's gravestone and began to race the yellow car around it. Ben and I could do nothing but watch; this was the closest thing our two oldest boys would get to playing together in this world. It healed and hurt fiercely.

Now here we are well into May. The weather has again turned warm, and my pregnant swollen feet remind me that we have only weeks until our third baby boy joins us. God has been so faithful, and while life is often so busy, we continue to see the many ways God restores our family, taking what was broken and making something beautiful out of it. I love my job, getting to know and support all the college women in my residence hall. We have beautiful friends and family surrounding us, giving us permission and space to keep walking (sometimes wounded, other times firm and confident). While I am sure there are many more to come, we have turned yet another corner in our journey toward this new normal.

God is truly good. Amidst tattoos, race cars, and swollen feet, He is good. All the time.