I was the child who never left home without a baby doll (or three!). I lovingly named them, cared for them, and created hours of creative play by running pretend errands, going to my pretend job, or taking them to pretend school. As independent and career oriented as I was, I always knew I wanted to be a mother to a whole gaggle of kiddos.

When my husband and I decided to start a family, I was pregnant quickly. I could start to see all my childhood dreams click into place when our daughter was born in 2018. Despite a difficult delivery, exactly 7 days later I excitedly asked my husband if we could start trying for more. I was that smitten.

When our daughter was just 7 months old, my dad got sick with pancreatic cancer. I was a new, working mom trying to navigate the reality that my immediate family would never be the same, and my sister was a crucial part of that support system. After his 6-week battle, he went home to be with Jesus in the Summer of 2019. The experience only solidified that siblings & cousins can be the very best gift parents give their children.

In early 2020, I found myself working from home with a spunky 16-month-old and decided that it would be a fantastic time to expand our family…no really. Global pandemic or not, I wanted my babies to be close together in age. In all seriousness, I just didn’t want to have to buy new professional maternity clothing, and I figured being able to hide out at home seemed as good a time as any.

Like the first time, we were elated to discover I was pregnant very quickly. I had a routine check with my doctor to confirm things were on the right track when she threw in an extra ultrasound just for fun. We quickly learned things were not right, and I was experiencing a tubal pregnancy. A few days later, I was wheeled back for emergency surgery to remove my right fallopian tube from the ectopic pregnancy. We were devastated and scared, but hopeful, too.

Before we could begin to heal physically, mentally, or emotionally, my doctors informed me things were still not right. The pregnancy was still growing somewhere, and they would need to run more tests to determine the next steps. Confusion, anger, and fear only scratched the surface of what we were feeling, and I ended up alone in a hospital bed in the wee hours of the morning learning that my only remaining fallopian tube (where the pregnancy had been all along) had ruptured. My second emergency surgery in two weeks took place on the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing, and we were left with more questions than answers.

That Fall, full of determination and sheer stubbornness, I decided to double down on my dream of expanding my family. We went to fertility clinics, ran preliminary tests, and began protocols for IVF. I was so sure it would work that I put blinders on to everything else in our lives to ensure its success. After hundreds of shots, two failed retrievals, and maxing out both our emotional and financial capital, we were done. We were completely spent in every way and were left picking up the pieces of “now what?”

What happens when you can’t make your dreams a reality? Is God still good even when you don’t get what you so desperately want? What happens when you bet it all and lose? Those were questions I asked God, myself, my friends, and my therapist that next year.

As part of my healing journey, I was inspired to write a love letter to my daughter, explaining that even though things didn’t go as planned, she has always been enough. That letter turned into a children’s book I was able to publish in October, which just so happens to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. My hope for this book, and in sharing my experience, is that parents and children feel less alone. I may never know the medical answers, but I have comfort in knowing that God wasn’t surprised or shocked by any of these events. From my vantage point, it looked wild, erratic, and downright ugly at times. But as Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Only heaven will reveal the top part of God’s tapestry.”

I am trusting that “I serve a good God, who is telling a good story, that has a good ending,” a motto adopted from my favorite pastor, Dr. Richard Hipps. I know that I am called to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and I’ve learned that our lives are perfectly sweet just as they are. On my bad days I sometimes still wonder what might’ve been, but mostly, I’m just so grateful to have a front-row-seat to the life of our one and only.