Our Pregnancy: A Time to Dance

“Tori, it’s time to come out of hiding.”

My Mom whispered these words in my ear when I went back for prayer during worship last Sunday. I shared with her and another trusted friend that I knew the time was coming to share our pregnancy with the world, but honestly, I was scared. “I don’t want to be humiliated if something goes wrong.” There it was...the fear I had grown too familiar with, the one that had been knocking relentlessly on the door of my heart for weeks. What if this pregnancy ends like the last one?

It was an emotional and spiritual battle I found myself right in the middle of — and on this particular day, I needed back up. “I want to say I’m not afraid, but that’s just not true.” They smiled, wrapped their arms around me — the comfort of two mothers holding me together, and prayed joy and peace over my mind. They declared I would feel at liberty to rejoice in the midst of uncertainty. Mom’s words resounded in my ear: “No more hiding.” I walked back to my seat, courage and strength filling me up.

No more hiding.

In early July, Reed and I found out we were 9 weeks pregnant. We were shocked, amazed, overwhelmed, and in disbelief! Our loss had swept us under a sea of grief, and it barely felt like Reed and I had come up for air. Yet here we were, all signs pointing to a new baby growing inside of me (nausea, fatigue, and food aversion, just to name a few!) God was continuing our story quicker than we could have ever imagined. Fast forward a couple weeks...after a whirlwind of camp ministry, summer vacations, and moving into a new house — our first appointment had arrived!

We were equal parts anxious and excited, ready for anything. I knew in a deeper way what I didn’t know before: no particular outcome was guaranteed, but no matter what happened, God would bring us through. By his grace towards us, we were given kind and warm midwives, each aware of our story, and empathetic to our concerns. We were barely past introductions when our midwife Rhonda told us she would do the ultrasound in the beginning. She was so understanding and knew that was the part we were most nervous about.

Then, right before our eyes…the moment we had been waiting for! Our precious baby was moving around and spinning in my belly, while the sound of a perfect heartbeat played like music to our ears.

“Your baby is a mover,” Rhonda whispered. “A shaker and a world changer,” I finished. We sobbed. Never could I have been prepared for the amount of pure love and relief I felt as I watched life on that screen! I knew the Holy Spirit was there in the room, because even our midwife got emotional with us - during something that to her, is otherwise routine. This was a God-story.

And now, many weeks later, we are ready to share our miraculously good news with you…

Little Sowell is due March 2019, and we are waiting to find out the gender until our sweet one’s debut. We are so deeply happy, and the truth is, I can’t pull off hiding this growing bump much longer. My stomach has already grown twice as big as it was in these pictures! Yup, we are officially out of the “I look like a ate a huge burrito” phase and are entering into the land of stretch mark lotion and adjustable waistbands. Occasionally eyeing other people’s food is pretty suspicious behavior too…but for real, why am I so hungry?

Each day of this pregnancy has been a walk of faith, one where we have no control or promise for what the future holds. But isn’t that life? Don’t we all assume a million things a day, when really, not a single moment is promised? We have learned so much this year, but certain lessons stick out above the rest: This life is short. Each day is a sheer gift. And joy? Well, joy is a choice. One we’re choosing to make right in the face of uncertainty, abundantly aware that God doesn’t make a fool of his people.

He has been faithful to subtract worry from our lives so we can run free — creations in their Creator’s hands.

Reed and I were slow to share our news because we wanted to experience this unexpected gift privately and I’m so glad we have. I’ll always have these memories. I was also hesitant to share our news because of how connected I feel to those who are braving their own journeys of loss, miscarriage, infertility, or waiting of any kind. I know very personally what it’s like to be completely heartbroken, see countless announcements, and feel alone in your deepest desire.

I don’t want anyone to assume Reed and I only shared our miscarriage experience because now we’re pregnant, and everything is “perfect.”

What a misunderstanding, to think that once you get what you want, it will be as if you never lost anything at all. No, the sadness is still there, but it does fade, never making the experience less real, but taking away the sting. We shared our story in obedience to God, and in line with the promise I’ve made you here: I will always be honest. So please, know my heart. If you are hurting, I see you. I will look you in the eyes and tell you again and again that you are complete, lacking nothing. I do not and will not detach from your experience because I think it will jinx mine. I love you.

But I’ve also made another promise: I will always celebrate.

And that is just what we are doing. No words could describe the connection I feel to our little one, who is growing and changing every day. Every appointment has been comforting and exciting, preparing us more and more for the crazy changes ahead. The nausea has passed (thank you, Jesus!) and I am feeling more energized than ever. Reed and I have been pretty self-controlled with not buying too many baby clothes, but I’d be lying if I said we haven’t picked up a few fun things. The bedroom door to our nursery is always open, and each time I walk by, I pray a blessing and a “thank you,” to the Lord for his provision. I love checking my What to Expect When You’re Expecting App each week as it tells me what size fruit our baby is comparable to, and watching the informational video about how our baby is developing. (Right now, little one has eyelashes and eyebrows, is sucking his/her thumb, making his/her first facial expressions, and can hear us when we talk!)

Next year is sure to be one for the books...two of my brothers are getting married (I’m officiating one of their weddings!) and our little peanut is poised to be the new favorite in the family.

How good is this life? We are standing right in the middle of abundance and lifting our hands high to Heaven. As it says in Ecclesiastes, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven...a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4) This friends, is our time to dance.

This isn’t your typical announcement post, but hey: our story is layered! Every part of the journey has been unique, as Reed and I have swiftly moved from sorrow to joy. We have caught our breath and are praising God for what was, what is, and what is to come! Thank you for praying for us and for walking with us. We could not and would not want to do life on our own...or in fear. Thank you for lifting our chins and for bringing us out of hiding, into this very moment.

Here, you’ll find us — praying over our baby room, laughing at the wonder and mystery of God, and dancing joyfully in the kitchen...knowing every moment of our future is in His hands.

Keep celebrating,

P.S. Words cannot describe how grateful we feel to know Makenzie Hollar. She was our wedding photographer, but more than that, she is our dear friend. She and her husband William graciously gifted us with a session and these photos as a way of helping us walk bravely into a new pregnancy. (She originally offered to take couple portraits of Reed and I as a way of helping us feel good about the season we’re in, not knowing we were pregnant and ready to make the announcement! Once I shared the news with her, we shifted the direction for the shoot.) Makenzie made me feel so beautiful as I held my growing tummy, and I could not recommend her more highly. She has a way of making you feel right at home with her and in your own skin — two hugely important things to consider in a photographer. Thank you a million times Makenzie…for these photos, these memories, and for being so generous with your talent and time.
We love you so much!