HELLP Syndrome, Adoption, and Being Pregnant.

Whew. Where to begin.

Psalm 9:1-2 is a good place. “I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. 

Meet Whittaker. Our 3.5 year old little gentleman. He’s sweet isn’t he? I’m bias, but if you’ve met him you totally follow and agree!

Asay Easter 2016-4

Let’s back up 3.5 years for just a moment. This is Whittaker immediately following his traumatic entrance into the world.

IMG_1384I was roughly 38 weeks pregnant with this sweet boy when I developed HELLP syndrome. You can read his (heated?) birth story here. After he was born and having been told it would be dangerous and/or risky for us to become pregnant again, despite feeling fairly confident we would have three biological children before adopting, we felt as though this condition was the Almighty’s way of using an awful experience for good and saying through it, ‘Start pursuing adoption now!’ So we did. Not 7 months later we were signed on with our agency and and beginning to pursue adding a sweet kiddo to our family from Eastern Europe.

Fast forward to the fall of 2015. All of our paperwork had been submitted and was in the renewal process and we had been waiting to be matched with our little love for roughly 12 months when it worked out for us to take a short trip to China to visit a few friends. You can read about that here!

I’ll pause there for a moment to fill in on, well…my feelings.

When I was pregnant with Whittaker, I had a strong feeling we would have him, one more boy, and then adopt, and when I developed HELLP syndrome and was given the medical counsel we were given, I thought, “well, perhaps I was wrong?” It took nearly two years to fully grieve and become completely content with where God had our family. We were joyful to begin the adoption process when we did and I finally, through the laying down of my own wants and desires, choosing to be content, and trusting in the goodness of my heavenly Father, was at peace with where we were. I no longer had feelings of longing upon the sight of a newborn or big bellied woman. I could even smell that new baby smell (you know the one I’m talking about) and enjoy its simplicity without a growing discontentment.

And even in my peace and believing we would no longer have another biological child, I still prayed very specific prayers over any possible future pregnancy…frequently! I would pray, ‘Lord, should we EVER become pregnant again, I just do NOT want to know. I don’t want to know that I’m pregnant until I begin to notice a growing belly or something. I don’t want to have to worry about the outcome for sooo many months.’ And I would pray, ‘Lord, the only way I would ever want to become pregnant again is if I do not become sick again.’ Those were the two things I would pray over and over again as pregnancy would come to mind. The one I prayed because in the four previous pregnancies we’ve had (2 miscarried babes, LL, and W) I knew just two DAYS after we conceived that there was a babe growing in there. I felt the same each individual time. The second I prayed because, who wants to have failing organs and a possibly pre-term newborn?

Back to China.

Remember my reference to Mr. Mai’s coffee shop/English corner? When we returned to visit with the owner, we heard about his business model, his time spent in Wuhan, as well as about his family. We in turn shared a bit of our story, about our kiddos, our adoption, etc. Toward the end of our conversation, after having gotten to know each other’s baseline stories, he turned to me and said something like, ‘You know, you sat down and I feel like I have a word from the Lord specifically for you, and I can tell you right now that you are just as pregnant right now as you were before with your other babies.’ 

Hot flash. Chest pumping (aumentan los latidos de mi corazon!). And I knew.

I replied with, ‘well, I AM 5 days late.’ And to my knowledge it was all do to the change in altitude, time, and the long flight, but as soon as the words came out of his mouth, I felt as if the Lord was saying, ‘I want you to know that I heard you – I heard your request to not know. And I want you to know.’ What a God. To clarify a bit, the owner had meant to encourage me that the kiddo we were in the process of adopting – I was just as much pregnant with him/her – he/she is just as much OURS as our bio kids. But still, I knew what God had meant through those words. And even still, we waited until we returned home to take a pregnancy test.

Less than 24 hours after landing, we purchased an in-home test which, of course, read positive.

Complete shock and denial set in. I think I probably said out loud to myself and to Tad my husband daily for the first 28 weeks, ‘We’re pregnant. There’s a baby in there. We are having a baby. This. Is. Crazy.’

Shock was followed by an attitude of, “Yeah. We’ve got this. This is great. God is good and we can trust Him. This is going to be great.”

This rockstar faith attitude was followed by depression. Anger really. I was so mad. I didn’t understand what was happening. Hadn’t I already grieved and become content with our circumstances? During this season, our church had begun singing ‘Good Good Father‘ and I. Could. Not. Sing. The lyrics are below:

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still [x3]
Into love, love, love

In my mind (and let’s face it – reality) God’s love hurt. I was MAD. I was mad that I wasn’t promised that I wouldn’t become sick again. Sickness had dominated my life for the past number of years in a fairly substantial way and I was done. I didn’t want any more and yet, I was being carried along in an oarless boat and there was nothing I could do but trust in the one promise I did have. That He would be with me. He would be with me. HE. HE would be with me. That’s the promise. Not that sickness wouldn’t arise again – there is no promise of that. And it took a short season of constant agony to realize how purely amazing the one thing that is promised is. I knew where I needed to be and I just wasn’t quite there yet. I knew I needed Jesus to point into even darkness and say, ‘Go there,’ with my saying ‘Yes. Okay,’ filled with complete peace and confidence.

I asked. And I asked. And I asked and one day, I understood, and He granted my request and has given me unexplainable peace regarding the outcome of this season. I know that I’m not promised a healthy pregnancy. But I’m still asking for it in very specific ways from start to finish and even in the aftermath. And I know that He will do what He will do for my ultimate good and for His own name sake. Even if that means allowing me to become sick again. (After all, HELLP syndrome led to the beginning pursuit of our adopted honey!) If you read the birth story, it was traumatic. I don’t want to go through it again. When I look at Whitterboy, I think, yes, one thousand times yes! I would go through it again for you. This thought spoke so loudly of the gospel to me. That Jesus underwent an excruciating death so that I could have life.  And not only life, but his very Spirit in me. With me. Always. So I don’t have to be afraid of any sickness or death that might come.

But. A big BIG but – not mine (too much?) – I praise GOD with my whole being that thus far at 39 weeks, my blood work has remained completely and well within normal ranges. My blood pressure has been perfect every time and there are no other signs or symptoms of any approaching preeclampsia or HELLP Syndrome. Not to say it won’t come, but for now, I am oh so grateful and I will let my gratitude be known!

While my hope is not in what I can do or any diet I can follow, but rather in the God who controls all things, He has allowed us to know that there are wise ways to live and not wise ways to live, and I am doing everything I know how to maintain a healthy body and sustain a healthy pregnancy. I have completely changed my diet since I was pregnant with Whittaker and am far healthier in general now than three years ago.

In a post to come I can share about the diet I followed and the supplements/herbs I also included to help support my body and growing babe.


Cheers to what’s to come! We are now so excited and thankful that God chose to give us another little arrow to add to the quiver and even more excited to see who he or she will grow to become! My mom says this about me, and I’ll say this about this babe, ‘you were planned… just not by us.’

Pray with us that this would be a completely complication free pregnancy, labor and birth.  I want to be laughing at how simple it will be and then probably crying at the goodness of God. He said I can ask – so I’m asking! Ask with us!

China. fall 2015.

God is full of surprises and good things. Last fall one of my (unspoken) prayers was so spontaneously answered – we, after three years of quietly hoping, had the opportunity to visit our friends in China; first in Hong Kong for just two all too short days and then north to Wuhan for the remainder of the week. So prepare yourself for an incredibly full post!

I can explain how the trip came about another time – for now know that it was incredibly timely and simultaneously, well, spontaneous! (Something to do with cheap plane tickets and an opportunity to scope out potential business opportunities, namely coffee roasting.) 

Even though our time in Hong Kong was short, our primary purpose was to spend quality time with some friends and as a bonus we were able to see a teensy weensy itty bitty portion of the massive Asian melting pot. It was an incredible way to start our whirl wind journey.

Hong Kong was amazing – full of life and energy, but in experiencing mainland china (even for a short few days) we were taken to a new world; even more unfamiliar and intriguing.

Of course we began by heading to a super market, which conveniently enough happened to be directly below our friend’s apartment building. How else to better see what day-to-day life would be like. Girl’s gotta eat!

(If you look closely in the bottom righthand image, you can see how Tad and our friend Clint were twinning unplanned upon our arrival. Studs.)

We set out one evening to check out a coffee shop/english corner, Mr. Mai’s, where we later returned to have a sit down conversation with the owner (more on that to come in a later post).

One area of the city we went off to the next day offered an incredible variety of alleys, shops, vendors, and coffee houses to explore. We (I) could have stayed on the one street exploring the entire week without falling into boredom!

As you’ll come to observe, Clint and Miranda were good sports and humored me to be my primary models as I photographed them in nearly every location we visited. Good job y’all.

…except for this couple. I figured since people were (timidly) walking up and asking to be photographed WITH us or to take pictures of us multiple times a day (true story) I could have the freedom to be bold and ask this super cute couple if they would pose for me as well. Worth it. They didn’t seem to mind. At least for a few shots.

Among the dozens to choose from, we finally settled on one little coffee nook to check out (isn’t it a sweet spot?).

And true to the photo trend, a young man approached us and asked to photograph me while sitting here by the window. He even subtly posed me and told me where to look (but by pointing because… Chinese).

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I just had to ask one more group of girls for their portrait – they were more anxious, but still willing (win). ps. notice the sprout hair clip? These things were EVERYwhere, being sold for super cheap. We totally purchased some (they’re now all broken).

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Speaking of photography – if we ever should move our lives to mainland China, I would very much feel the need to also move my business there in some capacity or another so as you can imagine, when we came across the below scene, I was ecstatic. Wedding photography in China (based on what we have seen and heard from both Americans and Chinese friends alike) is slightly different than what we are familiar with state side. Unconventional? Think Glamour Shots but on multiple shots of espresso. I so wanted to go ask questions, get into what was going on there, find out what sort of thing the individuals were in to, but again…Chinese, I mean, Mandarin.

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Oh the smells and tastes and sounds and visual stimulation! So much was available to be taken in. Motor bikes, elderly woman gathering together, babies!, street food, tiny shops. So much.

I suppose I had one more (willing?) individual I photographed whenever I could. He is my every #mcm.

Clint and Miranda traded places with us every once in awhile – I’m thankful.

I’m also thankful that our trip dates coincided with the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival. We gathered together with a few friends at East Lake – the largest urban lake in China – at sunset to enjoy the full moon.

Before leaving the park, we caught a ride to the other side of the lake in order to head to dinner. The city at night, especially from a lake center view, was incredibly peaceful.

Just as incredible was a little something called Hot Pot. I don’t think we had a single food item that wasn’t delicious. I had some concerns regarding how my digestive system would fair considering an auto-immune disease I battle with daily, but everything remained at least steady enough to manage (minus a few detox symptoms upon returning home – TMI?)

Tad and I had a blast exploring and daily were given more and more peace about being there in the city, should one day we decide to pack up and go on a little adventure. Even at night walking around we felt safe. That was likely helped with the reality of being in a city of 11 million people and never being alone.

China 2015-154

Two of our best times were spent with Miranda in her element and Clint on the Wuhan University Campus. Miranda is a high school teacher at one of the schools in Wuhan and we had the pleasure of watching her do her thing as well as sharing a bit about life in America to the students via a projector and some images we put together. It was a sweet day. She is such an awesome teacher!

Seeing the Wuhan University campus was amazing as well! The campus Tad and I attended, Iowa State University, is voted one of the most beautiful, but between the blossoms (not in bloom while we were there) and historical Chinese architecture, I may have to vote it out – though the images below don’t quite do it justice. Before we walked on campus we had some time to check out the river boats.

Everywhere we went there was something new to see and experience. Men playing games in the middle of the side walk with everyone hovering around, sunbrellas in perfect use, cart transportation, more food. I sound like I’ve never left my back yard (not true), but I couldn’t get enough!

And then we saw it. The cafe racer. This is a new post entirely, but if you know of Tad’s love for this sort of bike and the rarity of seeing one in the city, you’d understand.

Later on we had another opportunity to visit a coffee roaster in the area. He runs his own roasting company and distributes to different coffee businesses around the city so we were interested in his set-up. It was good to see two different businesses and business models. Namely that both were steadily run by americans in a foreign country.

The following day was especially fun for Tad and me as we were on our own to explore for the day! It started out fairly well with walking down to order some breakfast. It was successful in that we purchased and received food. Maybe not so successful in that while we thought we were asking for two rolls we in reality were asking for seven. More to go around?

While we walked up the street to check out the nearest shopping area, we came across these lovely ladies practicing with music and dance. They were excited to perform for us and we were thankful to be able to watch!

It really just wouldn’t have been right to not stop and grab a coffee so we dropped in to a nearby place outside of the mall we were about to enter. While the coffee wasn’t much to speak of at this particular location, the atmosphere of most of the coffee houses we visited was in my best words: super fly. Each one was completely unique with character and fun design elements it would be difficult to choose a favorite.

As much as we enjoyed checking things out on our own, our sweetest times were spent sitting across gazing at the image you see below. Music, friends, expressing gratitude and making requests together. Not to mention the view from their apartment and Wuhan’s famous breakfast: hot dry noodles. I even had a tiny bite just to try. But truly – there is little to nothing sweeter than fellowship with brothers and sisters!

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Are you tired yet? I’m getting tired re-living our packed week! We’re almost finished.

Before we headed for a nice drink and a calm evening walk, we were taken through probably the most insanely crowded and stimulating streets I have ever been on. I’ll just call it the street food hood.

And it wouldn’t be a trip to Wuhan without a ferry ride across the Yangtze River. Plus check out this kid!

Before we headed out to our last coffee house, we made it a priority to stop off in this back alley to grab a few portraits because, well, you can see why.

We spied this building on our walk and it caught my eye. It’s difficult to make out the date on the top of the building but it was built in 1910 just one year prior to the year the home we now live in was built. Fun find.
China 2015-191

At our final coffee stop I decided it was high time I grab a mocha! A special treat indeed. I’m sure you’ll spy it in the cluster of images below.

We ended our final evening with a walk along the river at sunset complete with many people enjoying lanterns for the mid-autumn festival.

Aaand our walk was followed by yet another stop for coffee before retiring for the night (notice a trend here?).

And when we thought we were calling it a night, that nothing was left to be seen, just outside the little coffee shop gathered a little evening women’s dance exercise group.

Oh China. And we were only there for one week. Bed time!



Linley’s fifth birthday.

Because tomorrow marks one entire year since I’ve updated our blog, though we’ve had many, I thought it timely to finally update with a big event – LL’s fifth birthday! She’s been five for nearly a month and she has been loving every minute of it! She is growing in generosity and contentment, still has plenty of spunk and has definitely not lost her strength of will. If time allowed I would comment on each and every image – for now, you’ll just have to pretend you know what’s going on and how wonderful it all was. So scroll on and check out some of the celebration of our sweet girl below! Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-2LL 5th party girlLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-8LL 5th partyLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-16Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-19LL 5th party cakeLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-28Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-31LL 5th party whitter cakeLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-33Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-34LL 5th party3Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-35Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-36LL 5th party 0-5bookLinley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-42Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-43Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-44Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-50Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-77Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-76Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-80Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-56Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-60Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-63Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-64Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-65LL 5th party 2Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-68Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-70Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-71Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-72Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-75Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-83Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-88Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-90Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-95Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-96Linley Louise - 5th birthday party 2016-97