I'm so glad you're here today to read Rachel's story! If you don't know what Wonderfully Filled Wombs is and would like to know the details you can read them HERE.
As a teenager, I was at PowerLife Student Camps every year. My love for the camp family only grew as I transitioned to a college Student Servant with them. Rachel (camp director's daughter) was always such a huge role model to me! Over my years at camp I watched from a distance her transition to motherhood. While I knew bits and pieces, I had no idea the details of this struggle for them. Rachel reached out to me last year when I shared our journey and has continued to encourage me since. Today she's sharing her story with you and you are going to be blessed. Since the moment I finished reading it (with tears streaming of course), I've had such a strong feeling that God had specific people He wanted to use this in. So without further ado, meet Rachel!
Hello to all of you sweet Mommy’s in waiting. I am honored to be able to share our story with you. I pray that as you are in this waiting time in your life, that JOY will overcome fear, bitterness and anger. And that God will give you the eyes to see what is coming and until that moment you can rest in Him! I pray that our story can bring comfort and peace to you in wherever your waiting time has you right now.
Most all little girls dream of one day having a fairy tale: you know the dream Prince Charming on a white horse to come and rescue her from her “boring” normal life and whisk her away with him to his castle in a far away land....where they would live happily ever after. And then those little girls grow up a little bit and realize the whole white horse and castle might be a bit much, but they still dream of a Prince coming to sweep them off their feet.
I was one of those little girls, I had such grand plans and dreams (and still do). My problem is that I make the plans and more often then not will “tell” God how it will go. Or at least work it up in my head, you know all the plans the “what if’s”. Having of course, thought of every scenario with the proper plan A & B always covered (and the occasional C,D, E, F etc.). But my plan was simple: Grow up, find a Prince, fall in love, get married, have a family, live happily ever after. See, like I said simple. But God in all of His wisdom had different plans for my life. And little did I know what that path would hold.
God did bless me with a fairytale, it just wasn’t in any of my plans. God blessed me with an amazing Godly husband (who just happens to be my Prince Charming). When Carter and I met back in 1997 at PowerLife Youth Camp in Dayton, TN we had no idea what God had planned. We stayed in touch with the occasional letter here and there, but met back up in the spring of 2000 and the whirlwind romance began. We started dating in May, Bryan was drafted by the San Fransisco Giants to play Professional baseball, and we were engaged in August and married in January 2001. We were living the dream, the fairytale. Playing pro ball, traveling and living all over the country, meeting lifelong friends. Yes, this life will do and I mentally was checking things off my little “list” of plans in my head. After a few years of marriage it was time for children, great another plan off the list. Or at least I thought. I honestly had no idea that this was where my plans and God’s plans were so different.
You see I never wanted a “career”, that wasn’t for me at all. All I ever wanted was to be a Mommy, a stay at home mommy. That was my heart’s desire for as long as I can remember, so simple I didn’t have to wait for right?!? Never in my wildest dreams did I think that “just being a mommy” was something that was so hard. I mean I wasn’t going to College for it, striving to reach the top of the career ladder or trying to establish anything. I just wanted to have a baby, love a baby and be a mommy!!
Ok, next step: family great. I mean simple right? Good, let the planning begin (you know my little, ok big, check list lets start checking this off). I really didn’t think about stressing or questioning God at all in the beginning. But I did have a time frame to work around here, ball players do get the winter off so we could only have a baby from October-January, plan A! And maybe if the baby were born in early February that might work too, it would take some more detailed planning, but thats what I do so ok good we are still ok with my plans. Again, not so tough. Then when the weeks turned into months, and those plans started to get bit tight on my time frame. Ok God, yes I know Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” So I will “take delight”, whatever that means.
We were living in Windham, CT in the summer of 2004 having a great time. We had been married 3 years and had “decided” now was the time. Three years is long enough to be married right? We had a few friends in ball with kiddos, we could do that. We had an idea (oh so vague) at what raising a family was like. We could just fit a baby right into our travels, although we would need a larger car, my 2 door Chevy Cavalier just wouldn’t cut it. But other then that, we got this.
Fast forward a year we found ourselves in a completely different path then we had EVER imagined. Carter (my sweet husband, whose name is Bryan but to me is Carter. Its what I would yell at games when he was up to bat or got a hit, weird I know) ;) had wrestled for over a year with leaving baseball and going into Ministry. Wait, what? no more baseball, traveling, games or amazing life stories. This was NOT my plan AT ALL! I was the “submissive” wife that I needed to be, “ok honey if that is what you want to do, if that will make you happy honey”. While on the inside I was NOT happy at all. From the outside it was all smiles but on the inside the fire was blazing. Not only did I not have a baby yet but my, um I mean our dreams were shattered. God called Carter to Student Ministry, again really God? My dad is a Full-Time Evangelist who has a summer camp every year for 25+ years for students. I know all about students, and that is where you want us, sigh!!! We began our Ministry in Ocala, Florida in April of 2005.
I started working at the Church as well, staying busy. If I was busy then my heart didn’t have time to hurt, right? So as we threw ourselves into Ministry full force we realized something very quickly, we had NEVER had to live together and work together every day 24/7. This was new and not so exciting. I brought years of “experience” into our Ministry, I am a PK (Preacher’s Kid), former PowerLife assistant to my mom. I had ideas, I knew what I needed to do. Carter just needed to listen and do, after all I was just “helping” couldn’t he see that? Up until this point in our marriage we had still lived in “bliss” we had “quarrels” but still “bliss” but this my friends was a whole new ballgame. We were battling against things unseen, in so many ways.
I was angry at God (ouch that is painful to write), yes so VERY angry at God, & just plain mad. He hadn’t given us a baby in over a year, “took” my/our dreams, put us somewhere I had NEVER planned, and we were fighting… it was MISERABLE!! And yet, I let that bitterness and resentment take seed in my heart.
**I will take this time to stop our story and tell you sweet mommy’s in waiting: DO NOT let satan’s seeds of bitterness take root in your precious hearts. I know that the wait is hard, really really hard and painful and honestly gut wrenching but by allowing those seeds to take root we steal such incredible JOY that God has intended for us. I can so see that on “this side” and I had sweet Godly ladies tell me that, but I was too prideful to allow those words to take my heart from pieces to PEACE. Please allow God to rip out those nasty roots and heal your heart so that you don’t miss this amazing journey that God has chosen you for, and yes He has chosen you for such a time as this.**
As I trudged on in Ministry I found myself in the biggest, darkest pit of my life. I was ANGRY so very ANGRY. God wasn’t giving me the desires of my heart at all. And Ministry was HARD and lonely. All the while God was knitting together something far beyond what I could “see” with these earthly eyes, something so amazing if only I knew how to wait with grace and mercy!!
I was certainly wearing a “mask”. I would have ladies ask me so innocently “When are you planning on starting a family?” “What are you waiting for?” “You know babies just don’t grow on trees.” We have heard them all, and with each question I would become more resentful. I would tell God how unfair it was, explaining how others seemed to have no trouble having a family. That it was cruel that He not only “took” my dreams but still wouldn’t answer our prayers. We were different than others who are walking this path. We kept our troubles quite. There were only a few people that I chose to share my heart with, those who walked this path. We also chose to not have any kind of medical help what so ever (that was a personal conviction for us, we have many friends and family members that are choosing medical help and that is a great thing!). As we quietly walked the most dark and lonely path of our lives ALONE (or so I thought), God again was quietly working ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD!
In 2007, God moved us from Ocala, FL to Augusta, GA to start a Ministry at Grace Baptist Church. At this point, I had allowed God to remove the bitterness of us leaving baseball out of my heart. Now, I still protected the anger of not having a baby. That was MY area, MY hurt, MY bitterness. How crazy is that, my bitterness? But isn’t that what we mean when we continue to let that nasty poison stay in our hearts? Its like we nurture and protect it just to make sure were remember how we feel. As we began our new journey in GA we thought “yes”, this is it. “Its time God” we have been married for 6 years. Just bought our first home. This is great, ok God baby NOW! But no baby. I was getting deeper and deeper into that pit. There were glimpses of hope. I had precious friends praying for us and our children! And that was so very touching! It was just that my heart was broken, truly broken.
In July of 2007 at my dad’s Adult Bible Conference he asked if there were any ladies who were there that were wanting a baby, yet had not had one. Wait? What? In a room of over 300 people it was like I was the only one there. I am a very private person, but it was like God was singling me out. On another note, we had not even shared with our families our struggle (it was clear that we had been married for awhile without children, but the personal struggle was kept silent). I stood up scared to death and so very overwhelmed, I walked to the altar and was a hot mess! I knelt down there and felt many arms around me. All I knew was there were 2 or 3 ladies next to meet crying as much as I was. And then warm arms around us. My dad prayed a precious prayer asking God to bless us all with babies. I got up from the altar hoping to feel “alive” again. Don’t get me wrong I was refreshed and hopeful but there was still a darkness.
In August of 2007 I was praying in what would be nursery at our new home, on my face just crying out to God. You sweet mommy’s in waiting know oh so well that feeling, its a daily feeling. It never goes away. And there are sweet people in your lives that say: “stop stressing, it will happen” “at the right time, God’s time.” My personal favorite “Don’t think about it” (I always wanted to yell at them what are you thinking, its ALL I think about every.single.day but I reminded myself if they have never walked this path, they don’t know!) But for us its constant. I got up and went to the computer to get my mind off of babies and went straight to a baby name website, what in the world?? But you know what I mean, I think that in our hearts it makes things seem a little better to just imagine that baby. I went looking up names and the very 1st name that popped up was Jadyn, I thought that is pretty. I have no idea what site I was on, but the meanings were right there and so was a Hebrew meaning, Jadyn (in Hebrew) means: Our God has heard! You can imagine the tears that returned. I told Carter as soon as he got home and he loved the name. So from that time on our sweet baby was named Jadyn (spelling would be changed depending on the gender) We prayed specifically for Jadyn all.the.time!
Time continued on and we continued in prayers. In 2008 we had been in GA for a year and had a great year planned, We were going to be able to go to Hawaii (def a dream come true), it was our 7th year of marriage, and God was blessing the Ministry. My heart was just numb oh so very numb. We had a great year, amazing summer!! At this point God was almost ready to let us in on His work. In October I started getting sick, thinking it was a stomach bug I just brushed it off. Well, it stuck around ALL day everyday for a week. I had this little thought in the back of my head that wondered, could I be? But then I dismissed it immediately, besides I had taken so many negative tests my heart could not go through another one. But this was different, very different. So after a few weeks ( I told you I wasn’t going to do that again) Carter and I decided that it was time to take a test. We prayed and asked God to prepare our hearts, regardless of the outcome. That was the longest few minutes of our lives. But I will NEVER forget the moment we saw that it was TIME!!!! This was REAL!! It was happening. There were tears of great joy!! We were about to explode! But we waited to tell anyone until after we saw our Dr. On November 4th we heard the most amazing sound, Jadyn’s heartbeat. It was the sweetest sound to our ears. We were still in shock so it was pretty surreal. We left there and told our families via email (they live in FL and this was pre FaceTime and smart phones, at least for us!) by showing a pic of our dogs saying “big bro and big sis”.
And on June 4, 2009 God gave us our Miracle Baby, Jadyn Aubrey. After 8.5 years of marriage and 4.5 years of praying God answered our prayers. He heard!!
In June of 2011 God surprised us with the news that Miracle baby #2 was on the way!! That was totally a shock. Which is only a God thing, 4.5 years for baby #1 and literally surprise baby #2!! Both of my pregnancies were very hard, I was super sick with both of them, being taken to the ER once and I developed “Cholestasis of Pregnancy” which is intense itching ALL over the body. With Jadyn it was late into pregnancy with baby #2 it came on in month 5. It was extremely difficult and painful, especially having toddler at home. Cholestasis affects the liver and in turn affects the rest of the body and the baby. It will cause pre-term labor and it did with me. To our surprise (again) our 2nd Miracle came on January 24, 2012 (instead of March 18 like she was suppose to). Brooklyn Tatem was born and taken directly into the NICU after I caught a glimpse of her. She was incubated quickly and hooked up to all kinds of machines. After about 1.5 hours I was able to go and see her in her little incubator. This is NOT the plan I had in my head at all. I had no clue what being in that NICU would do to me. It was a lonely place, then there was darkness again.
The darkness came back, I pushed it away. I am fine, we have 2 children, prayers answered good we are good. Now we just need to get our tiny tot home and we are good. But she wasn’t close to be ready to come home with me the day I was discharged. I can’t tell you how I felt that day except for the term numb. We left that hospital and left our little miracle in the hands of others, strangers! Brooklyn stayed in that NICU for 17 days. Days that were filled with multiple trips to the hospital, learning all kinds of new terms, meeting a lifetime friend in one of the precious nurses that would pray over us and speak truth to us. Brooklyn’s little corner of the NICU was nicknamed “Amen Corner” because everyday they would give me the “obstacle” she would have to overcome and I would send out my prayer request to our prayer chain and the next day it would be answered! It was truly a God thing. Finally on day 17 we took that teeny tiny tot and her heart monitor and put her into that enormous carseat, introduced her to her sister for the 1st time and took her home.
All the time that darkness would creep in and haunt me. I was so confused we had our answered prayers, what was missing?
Fast forward to February 14, 2014 we experienced an earthquake in Evans, GA?!? After a terrible ice storm that shut down our town for days. That darkness was the strongest it had ever been at the moment of the earthquake. My mind immediately went to the verse Luke 21:11 “And there will be great earthquakes in various places and famines and pestilences, and there will be fearful sights from heaven.” And my next thought was seeing my family in heaven and not me. Wait? What? I am saved, I mean I am a PK, A Preacher’s Wife and the “list” went on. As I told Carter my fear he looked at me stunned. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt I was wearing a mask. After 2 days of fighting pride I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior!!! Looking back,even as I write our story the Grace and Mercy that God showed towards me and truly giving me the desires of my heart all while I was playing game is the most humbling thing ever. I know without a doubt that our family needed to wait until we as a couple could handle a family and I had to walk through the darkest loneliest of days before I saw that I was not truly saved. Wow. God, I am speechless!!!
I can tell all you sweet mommy’s in waiting this, as hard as it is for you to understand right now. Some of the sweetest and most precious days of our marriage were spent waiting on our Miracles. We honestly had the best time in the years we waited for our children. We were drawn closer, because it was our journey together! And clearly I was drawn to salvation. I can honestly say that there is NOT one moment in time we would go back and change in waiting if we had the power to do so. I only wish that I was saved during the whole waiting time, I know that I would have seen and done things differently. But God’s timing is oh so perfect!!
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. It was certainly longer then I anticipated, but I know that these words are meant for someone. Our promise to God was to tell our story and proclaim HIS answered prayers to anyone that asks!! I pray for you mommy’s in waiting. I pray that you will have better days than I did and that you will be able to see what God has along your path for you to experience through these days. Until your Miracles arrive stay strong sweet Mommy’s in waiting.
Rachel & my Blessings
Carter, Jadyn Aubrey and Brooklyn Tatem
I pray that wherever you are in your journey you were blessed today. If you too have been wearing a mask or know the darkness that comes from longing for a Savior, I'd love to talk with you. I'd love to answer any questions you have about the Gospel of Jesus. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wonderfully Filled Wombs is a series at A Sweet Aroma that allows women who have struggled with or are struggling with having a baby to share their story. If you are dealing with infertility, I would love to hear from and pray for you! If you know someone dealing with infertility and looking for some hope in the sea of pain please be so kind to share my little space with them! Thanks for coming by!
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