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Virginia Portrait Photographer | Brooke and Bryce = Madelyn | Melody Gillikin Photography

This is my beautiful niece Brooke and her super cool husband Bryce! She is carrying my great niece Madelyn 🙂 And I could not be happier to be her maternity portrait photographer.

This would have been my brothers first grand child had he lived.  Cancer took him when brook was just 3.  So she never really knew him.  He would be so very very proud of his amazing daughter and how she grew into a beautiful woman who loves the Lord and is a self taught bass player!  She is a teacher to special needs children and has the biggest sweetest heart ever. Yes he would be so very proud of her.

She and Bryce have tried for several years to have a child and held on to the promise that God had for them!  So after 3 miscarriages many broken hearted moments over the last few years God is wonderfully blessing them with a baby girl due any day now!

Please read the journey that Brooke wrote for me…I asked for a quote of encouragement, but when I read their journey I knew “their story” was so important and I needed to share the whole story and not just a quote.

 I am sure someone or someone you know needs to hear their journey and these words of encouragement so please share with someone going through the heart breaking loss of an unborn child.

A Real Journey told by Brooke and Bryce Johnson.

“Our Story”

“We choose to wait to have kids for a long time, longer than your average couple. At first it started off with the idea that we were really young when we got married so why rush? It didn’t help that I grew up with a much younger sibling and my husband and I were both in education. I felt like I had already changed plenty of diapers and we are both surrounded by kids every day.

Each of us went through different phases when we had the parenthood desires but those phases never seemed to line up together. So we knew after 12 years of singled married life, when we both went through that phase at the same time that God must be trying to tell us to go for it! Plus, we knew there was no pressure anymore…. When you have been married for 12 years and you avoid the kid questions for that long, people stop asking and at the time we liked it!

Knowing that we were both a bit older, we didn’t have high expectations of getting pregnant right away. We prepared ourselves that it may take time but two months after we made the decision to go for it, we found out we were pregnant. The timing couldn’t seem more perfect! I shared with my husband on father’s day the big news after a baseball game. We even took some pictures with a friend and by pure chance she caught a shot with a rainbow in the background. We were sure that was God sharing his promise with us. We choose not to share our news with anyone because we knew that our families had been waiting for a long time and we wanted to be sure before we got anyone’s hopes up.

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We went for our first appointment and at first it seemed like we had just caught the pregnancy in the early stages. So they asked us to come back the next week. We didn’t think much of it and were excited to come back the next week. The next time, the doctor seemed concern and let us knows that there had not been much growth and asked for us to come for another appointment which at that appointment we learned that the baby had stopped developing and that we would probably experience a miscarriage soon. The only problem was that my body did not get the memo and a miscarriage would not seem to happen naturally. So after weeks of waiting for it happen, we ended up having to have surgery to complete the miscarriage. It was hard and mind numbing but we knew that many people experience miscarriages during at least one pregnancy. So after taking time to heal, mourn and process the loss, we decided to wait to try for bit. A few months later, we both felt ready.

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This time it took a little longer but yet again right around father’s day again, we found out that we were pregnant again. What were the chances? We went into this pregnancy with a more guarded heart but we also knew that the statistics of having two miscarriages in row were pretty low. Not to mention this time we did get to see the flicker of the heartbeat. So we scheduled our next appointment a couple weeks later and continued with quite but growing excitement. We both showed up excited to see the little bean again, only to learn that this time they couldn’t see the heart beat and would need to come back next week to check again. Trying not to assume the worst, we waited patiently and prayed. In our guts though, we knew what possibility laid in front us. Once again, my body did not recognize that the baby had stopped developing and we had to have surgery again.

We walked away from this pregnancy wondering why it had happened again. I started to ask God questions. Had we waited too long? Did we miss understand your signs? Am I doing something wrong? Is my body not made for this? I think it was harder on me because I am an introvert and fairly private person so I internalized a lot of the emotions. However, after this time we were determined that this is what we both wanted so decided to just keep trying. This time, it took a much longer time.

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Each month that went by brought a new level of stress and disappointment. It was hard not to get hopes up and then drop when that month’s window passed. During those months, I came across a sermon series called “ In the Meantime” by Andy Stanley. I know that series was perfectly what I needed throughout this period of our lives. It was all about your perspective in periods of your life while you are waiting. Although, God may be able to change your circumstance, he may choose not to. The reality is that you have the choice to see those circumstances as gift with a purpose and a promise. And that promise is grace, the kind of grace that only God can give you to make it through these circumstances.

The rest of the sermon series focused on how we can get so caught up in the circumstance that we only focus on what’s wrong and not what God has made right. We forget that God may be using us in the midst of the circumstance. One of the prayers that the pastor challenged people to pray was :

“Heavenly Father, I believe you will use this until you choose to remove this. Give me wisdom to see as you see and strength to do as you say”

You had the choice to believe that something good can come from this. You could choose to believe that just because He’s silent doesn’t mean He’s absent. God allowed this for purpose. Sometimes the purpose is that He is preparing you so that you will be uniquely qualified to comfort those who are going through the same things. This will bring purpose to your pain and bring life to your soul, a grace that goes above understanding.

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As the months passed, I prayed these prayers; I listened to this sermon series again and again. Then, after 8 months we got another positive result. We literally both shrugged and then setup an appointment. Although, we both acted calm and nonchalant about this positive test, in the back of our minds, we thought “there’s no way, there would be third loss.” This time we only had two appointments before they confirmed that baby was not developing. The difference this time was that my body let go this time and the miscarriage happened naturally.

We were becoming overwhelming aware that I may not be able to sustain a healthy pregnancy. The doctors were ready to start running tests and I wasn’t sure if that was road I wanted to go down.

As I once again turned to listen to this series, I went back to one of the key verses in the series. 2nd Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

One day I decided to go back and read the whole passage and it amazed me and I knew that God wanted me to read it closer. And this is what was revealed to me the next time looked at the versus.

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2nd Corinthians 12:8-10

The number three stuck out to me like s sore thumb. Three times he asked God to take this away. I had three miscarriages. Over three years, we had been going down the journey since the first miscarriage. The number three stuck out. I knew for sure in that moment that God was using this for me to see His strength through my weakness.

So later we decided get testing done and they could not find any specific reasons as to why we were having miscarriage after miscarriage. We were at a crossroads, should we dig further, try treatments or should we start considering adoption (which had always been on my heart before we decide to try for our own) . Our doctor told us not to give up and convinced us to try one medicine that would simply make my cycles more regular. So while we were trying to make those more serious decisions, we said why not see if it helps.

A few months later, after the 2016 New Year, we received our fourth positive test. We literally looked at each other blankly while thinking “Here we go again.” We started appointments very early. The doctors decided to monitor each week and take blood, just to see if they could pinpoint anything in case we did have another miscarriage. My arms looked like battle grounds but each week we received a good report. No matter how much closer we got to a the magic “ 12 weeks”, we walked into the appointments expecting nothing and walked out with disbelief each time we saw growth or movement. The doctors went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and that this pregnancy was looking great. Each week, I reread that 2nd Corinthians 12:8-10 and thanked God but it wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that even when we hit the safe zone and my husband was excited about telling the family, I was still very precautious with every person that we shared the news with. It was a pretty big deal to our families because we had chosen to keep our journey private minus a couple of close friends. Our families had no idea that we trying and for us it was better that way. In fact, there were always a few family jokes about it and for my personality type, it was better that way. I am not person who handles sympathy or condolences or those perfect prayer requests well. Sharing would have made it more overwhelming. I am not someone who needs constant assurance from others. It is okay if you are that person. God made us all perfectly unique. I knew that I wasn’t alone and I would rather take it up with God myself than get constant reminders from others regardless of how innocent and genuine they might be.

Truthfully, it wasn’t until the 20th week checkup that it really hit me it was really happening…. God was blessing us with this baby and He had been preparing us for this the whole time. He had given us strength in our weakness. He had given us a story to share. He had given us a way to comfort and give hope to others. Until you have story to share, you cannot understand or comfort someone going through the same situation. As I looked back at picture of my husband and I with the rainbow in the background during our first pregnancy, I was reminded that, God knew how our story would unfold. He knew how our journey might be used to comfort someone else in the future. His grace was sufficient. Even though our journey looked very different than how we envisioned it that day we took the picture, His promise was true and he had given us a reminder that day.”

And that day brought us here…on a overcast hot and humid day to celebrate with beautiful maternity photos of their little girl before her arrival

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And What perfect timing…this baby doe pranced right into the background..

And now because of her story we are now sure that God was again telling them…He has been there all along by sending this sweet doe into our photo!

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Some final words from Brooke and Bryce

No matter how you choose to go through your journey, weather it includes many people praying for you, privately between you, your spouse and God. Know that regardless if the outcome is a baby, going through treatment options, an adoption or simply a even furbaby, there is a hope beyond our own understanding that God’s grace can give you. He will walk with you the whole way and give you strength and peace in the midst of everything.

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“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2nd Corinthians 12:8-10

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We are ready to finally meet you little Madelyn Grace!  You are truly God’s Grace. <3

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She is due any day now but we are holding out for September 30th…because it will be her great Maw Maw’s birthday too!  But in any event…Brooke, Madelyn, and Maw Maw will share the same birthday month! <3 September.

XOXOXO

Hope Anchors The Soul

Hebrews 6:19

AnchorwithnamelogowosanddollarBlack

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