Jordyn Emmert Photography

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2018: A Year of Hills and Valleys-Living Life in the Midst of Blessings and Tragedies

Super long post alert! It’s a struggle of mine not to be unnecessarily wordy, but this is one post that I don’t really feel I can cut down. It is highly personal, but I also think it is highly important. I hope the length won’t deter you and that my words might bless you in some way today 😉

I have struggled for a long time with how, or if, I should share about this. It’s not something I naturally want to talk about, at least not on a public level. I think we all have a tendency to want to put our “best face” out there, and appear like we have life all figured out, that nothing ever goes wrong. The reality of the matter is we are all human. We all have struggles. We all have our time on the mountain and our time in the valley.

Still…why would I want to put my time into the valley out in the world? What would be the purpose? I tend to get hung up on the fact that people will think I’m just looking for them to feel bad for me, and I’m not, but in my mind that’s exactly how they will take it.

But God’s been working with me on something- calling me to be more authentic. Not because I pretend to be someone I’m not, I’d like to think he cured me of that long ago. But, because even though the me you see is the real me, I only let people people see one part. The part I want them to. The part of me that is happy all the time, who isn’t ever stressed, and who has her life all together. I’ve always felt a call to be a light, a source of encouragement, in a world that is so full of anything but. But I have this misconception that in order to be that light I can only let people see my happy face. The one that smiles and says everything is great. But I’m coming to realize that’s not true. People need to know they aren’t alone, that they aren’t the only one’s struggling, and that it’s possible to have joy in the midst of that struggle-no matter how big it is.

And so, here I am, writing the post I never wanted to write. Giving you a glimpse into one of the hardest, and the most blessed years of my life. It is my prayer that someone out there who is going through a similar story, or even a completely different struggle might read these words and find hope. Because, at the end of the day hope, joy, and peace are what we are all looking for.

January 1’st 2018:

I started my 2018 so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed.

From the outside looking in the world probably thought I had it perfect. I was married to the love of my life, and five months prior we had welcomed our first child into the world; a perfect, precious, baby boy (William). But, they couldn’t see the whole picture.

They didn’t know that we were desperately trying to move back home to Oklahoma, but nothing was working out. They didn’t know that about a week before Christmas, with a four month old baby, I found out I was pregnant again. They didn’t know I found out a few days later my husband was being laid off for an unknown period of time. They didn’t know how hard it had been to make ends meet after me leaving my job to stay home with our babies while living in one of the more expensive areas of the state. They didn’t know that to top it off my car broke down and we were left with one vehicle.

And that was really just the beginning.

They didn’t see the weeks that followed as my husband and I set and tried to figure out how we would pay our bills, how we could bring in some extra income until work picked back up. We had a small emergency fund in place, but that would pretty much only cover a month of rent, then we still had food and utilities and vehicles to think about.  They didn’t see me cry at night because we were still paying hospital bills from the last birth, and now here we were no insurance, no current income, and expecting another baby.

But the baby- the baby was a highlight. Even though it was one of the most stressful times during our marriage up to that point (and believe me, we had already been through some majorly stressful situations), and even though it by no means fit our time line, that baby was a light in the darkness. When things got stressful I would curl up beside George and William, and think how blessed I was to have them, and how honored and excited I was that God had chosen to bless me with another child. I would dream of the future, when this season had passed; of William playing in the yard with his little brother or sister, and I knew we would be ok.

And then the unexpected happened again.

On December 30th I woke up in the early morning in extreme pain, everything hurt. To be honest I wasn’t that worried at first. I had a rather difficult pregnancy with William, and I figured with another pregnancy so quickly following pain was just going to be a given.

We had a huge snow storm the night before, and I had some errands that absolutely had to be dealt with, so after George and William woke up we bundled up and loaded up in the truck.

On our way home we stopped by our landlords house to pay the rent, and while I was getting back into the truck a wave of pain overcame me. It was so intense that I slipped off the running board and fell to the ground- hard.

When we got home I was horrified to discover I had started to bleed. A million thoughts ran through my head. Is my baby ok? Should I go to the emergency room? Is there anything they could even do? How in the world can we pay an ER bill?

I immediately started googling, and yelled for George. He managed to calm me down, and assure me that it was probably nothing, but even if it was, me freaking out wasn’t going to help anything. Then came a call to mom, and she pretty much said the same thing.

I did my best to calm my nerves and spent the day resting on the couch with my legs up, praying this would all go away.

When it hadn’t gone away by bedtime I started to freak out again.  I was experiencing every symptom of a miscarriage, and doing every single thing I could to try and convince myself that it wasn’t happening. That my baby was fine. That this was normal. But I knew deep down it wasn’t.

On December 31st in the wee hours of the morning I lost our little one, at home. I had just returned from the store from where I had bought a pregnancy test- my plan was to take it to assure myself that everything was fine.

I never got to.

George was still sleeping with the baby in the other room, so I called my mom. I didn’t even have to tell her what had happened, she heard me crying and knew. She spent the next hour or so talking with me, praying with me, and trying to give me as much comfort as one can from 1200 miles away.

When George woke up and found me in our living room sitting on the floor staring blankly into space he knew too. He wrapped me in a hug and helped me back to bed. For a long time he just held me and said nothing. I mean really, what can you say? I don’t really remember much else from that day, but I do remember that at some point I looked at George and asked him “why did this happen?”

He was quiet for a few minutes before he answered. He said “I don’t know Jordyn. I don’t know why things like this happen. But, I do know this. Our baby is with Jesus now. S/he’s never going to have experience the pain this world can bring, and they’re waiting for us there”

I really held on to that in the coming weeks. I don’t even know if he remembers saying it today, but it was what I needed to hear in those moments.

But, that brings us back to January 1st. Me, in bed, with no desire to get up again. George was such a blessing in the days that followed. I know he was hurting too, even more than he let on. But he never once complained as he took care of me and William, cooked and cleaned, and made sure everything remained functional. In some ways, his layoff was a blessing at this time. I don’t know what I would have done without him. 

I was broken. At the time I didn’t even see all he was doing, but looking back now, I’m amazed at his sacrificial love. After the initial shock wore off I started to question if this whole thing was my fault?

Was it because I fell? Was it because I had been so stressed out? Was I being punished for not trusting God enough? (which is ludicrous thinking for the record, but that’s just the state of mind I was in)

The following days were a blur, I honestly don’t know how long I laid in that bed. But I do remember at some point in the middle of the night waking up and thinking to myself “Alright, you’ve had your time, now it’s time to get back up again. You have so much to live for. So much you are blessed with. Why are you waisting your life laying in this bed?”

I prayed for hours that night. Prayers that God would give me strength to face the day, and I couldn’t help but feel he answered me saying “Child. I’ve been here holding you this whole time. Waiting. Waiting for you to come to me. I will give you strength, My strength, but I’ll give you more than just that, I will give you My peace, and My joy. You just have to rely on me”.

I realized in that moment that not once in this whole experience had I truly relied on Him. I had questioned Him, I had asked Him to make it all go away. But I didn’t really give him control. That I held onto for myself. I fell asleep after that, and for the first time in weeks, I slept like a baby.

Getting back up again

When I woke the next morning I was dismayed to find that all the grief and pain had come back. I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to breath. But, as I remembered the night before I decided the best thing to do was to begin thanking God for everything I still had.

It was hard at first to focus on the positive, but there were a few obvious answers. Thank you for my husband, thank you for my son, thank you that we still have a roof over our heads. Thank you that even in the midst of all of this you have made a way.

The more things I thought of the easier it became, until it came to a point that there were things that I never realized I would be thankful for. Things like, Thank you for letting me be that little ones mommy even for just a short time.

When I started down the path of thankfulness it just continued. Even though I was still experiencing hard ship and grief, I did have peace, and I did have honest joy.

Anytime I felt myself slipping down the hole into do darkness, I would start again on the list. It seems kind of silly writing it. That something so simple could make such an impact, but it was the changing factor.

In the passing weeks slowly, piece by piece, we started to pick up the pieces and put our life back together. George was able to go back to work part time (around 20 hours a week). Things were tight, but God always provided, even when it seemed impossible.

Then sometime, I think in February, I got a text from our land lord. I remember the moment it happened. I had just pulled into the bank. George was working a night shift at the time so I would run errands in the mornings when he got home so he could have quiet time to sleep (and I had a working vehicle). I glanced down and read the preview that showed on my home screen and my heart dropped.

It said something to the effect of “ Jordyn. Im going to need to move back into the house you are renting from me by April 1st

Now for context George and I had just recently started talking about a new issue that was arising. That house she was speaking of was a tiny house (less than 500 square feet) and we were quickly outgrowing it. The front room was a living room and kitchen, then it went into a very small bedroom/bathroom. We had a queen sized bed that took up the entire room (in fact it was pretty crowded to try and walk into the bathroom. There was just enough space at the foot of the bed for William’s basinet and that was it! The problem being he was now close to 7 months old and had outgrown it…meaning he was sleeping with us. We literally had absolutely no where to put him a crib. So we started looking into moving, and we quickly realized it was going to be a major issue. There was nothing for rent that wasn’t close to double what we were (having trouble) paying now. Not even a crappy apartment in a shady area. George had been entertaining the idea of getting a second job, but we hadn’t pulled the trigger because his schedule was so unpredictable. I spent the night before receiving the text praying that God would send a solution our way.

I breathed a heavy sigh as I opened the rest of the text. I remember praying and saying “I don’t know what is going on here God, but I know you are going to handle it. You’ve always provided a way, and I know you will again”. As I read the rest of the text I began to cry, but it was from utter joy.

The rest of the text said “… the house I am in now is just too much for me to keep up with. It has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom. It also has a really big yard and it is just getting hard for me to maintain in my older age. I was wondering if you and George would like to rent it instead, since you all have been great tenants I would rent it to you for just $50 more a month. If not let me know and I will figure out more of what the market value is and get it listed”

I called George in tears and we went to look at it that day. It was perfect and precious ya’ll. We agreed that we would move in April when the weather cleared up, she even offered to leave a lot of the furniture since she wouldn’t have room for it, and we were going to need some,  and I added another list of things to my thankfulness list

A fork in the road

The next month came and passed, and we actually got to move into the new house a few weeks early. I think it was maybe the 2nd or 3rd week of March? And in that time we found out we were expecting again (planned this time). Things were finally returning to somewhat normal, and everything was starting to look up. We had only been in the new house for 3 days when I got a phone call that placed us in an interesting conundrum.

During the winter months my Dad had been trying to get George a job working with him back in Oklahoma so we could move back, but it had seemed to fizzle out, and we were at the point we didn’t think anything was going to come of it. As I was unpacking boxes my Mom calls and says “So, do you guys still want to move home?”

Dad’s boss was finally looking to hire and was very interested in George. But we were super confused. If God wanted us back in Oklahoma why would he bless us with this house? (that’s a story for another day)

We started looking into the job and weighing our options, and if we were even in a financial position to make the move. With a lot of prayer, and provision on God’s part, it became official, we were moving back home, and soon!

We were set to leave the Friday before my birthday (April 23rd), and George was starting work that following Tuesday. We would be staying with my family until we had a chance  to get on our feet and find a place to live. George had to work out of town the entire week preceding the move, leaving William and I to get the finishing touches together so we could leave as soon as he had a chance to load on Friday morning

In the last few days before our move I had a second miscarriage, and this time I was alone. God gave me the strength to get through, and even though it was hard the move went on as planned. I wasn’t able to find a Dr to see me in time before the move (especially because I still didn’t have a working vehicle at this point), but I was able to speak with a midwife over the phone who advised I get on progesterone, but assured me that having 2 back to back miscarriages was actually pretty common, and I really didn’t have anything to “worry about” unless I had a third. She said more than likely there was some sort of chromosomal abnormality with my two little ones and my body naturally decided they were not viable.

And so time went on. I still grieved my little ones, but had hope that this wouldn’t happen again.

We arrived back in Oklahoma on April 22nd, and got as settled as we could before George would go back to work on the 24th. In some ways it sort of felt like we never left. We got reconnected with our church, and started to look into housing in the area.

Then at the beginning of June I found out we were once again expecting, we planned to tell people on William’s 1st birthday (July 22nd), but instead wound up announcing to all our family in mid-June thinking we would rather have prayer warriors instead! For a while everything seemed to be going great, but then, towards the end of the month I could tell something wasn’t right.

I called into a few dr’s to see about getting in for an initial appointment so they could check up on baby, but there was quite a wait list.

On June 26th I lost that child as well. And this time was different, because everyone knew, and because- in the middle of my grief- I had to talk about it, and tell people what was going on.

In some ways it was a blessing because people were able to (try to) be sensitive to our situation, but in some ways it was incredibly hard to deal with because everyone, even people who have never experienced a situation like this thought they had “the answer” :

You need to take time away

You need to be around people

You need to grieve your baby

You need to try and forget about it

Everyone felt it necessary to give me their opinion of how I should deal with my grief. And then sometimes people would make comments that tried to be comforting, but instead just made me feel worse.

Things like:

At least you weren’t further along

At least you can try again

It’ll be better next time

For an introverted and very internal person like myself this was really hard to deal with, but it also caused me to be more open with people about my experience, and I found a whole lot of women (or families for that matter)  who had been through this too and just “kept quiet” because it made people uncomfortable. This was the beginning of the call to become more authentic.

During this time in my life another photographer that I follow closely was going through the unthinkable in her own life. Katelyn Alsop (of Katelyn James photography) and her husband Michael, found out their baby boy had a host of medical issues and would not survive. She carried him almost to term, and delivered him- still born. She documented every aspect of her pregnancy and birth with Baby James. She shared her good days, and her bad days, her moments of joy and her moments of heartbreak (and still continues to this day to do so). Her story is heart wrenching, but beautiful, and it touched my life in a way I can’t explain. Her bravery and willingness to share such a story has touched hundreds of lives, made countless people realize they aren’t alone, and been an absolute amazing testimony of the joy and peace that can only come from a personal relationship with Jesus.

That’s what we are missing in this world. People who are willing to let others see their lowest hardest moments, but also to show them the hope they have, that can only come from Jesus Christ.

As I slowly started to try and implement this in my own life, I grew, and I healed. God continued to bless us in amazing ways and sustain us through the difficulties of reestablishing in the area.

Over the next few months I started seeing a Dr to try and figure out what was going on. I first went to a general practitioner, and after not finding any issues to indicate what might be happening she referred me to an OB specialist who had a background in high-risk pregnancies. I had to wait nearly two months for my first appointment though.

At the same time my mom and I found this perfect little farm house on the market about 10 miles from where they lived (and only 2 miles from our church!), but it was for sale, not rent, and George and I honestly didn’t expect there was anyway we could get approved for a home loan as we were still recovering from the months of little, and had no way to put 20% down like all the local banks required.

But God made a way. It’s crazy looking back now how all the pieces fell into place.

Where we are today:

At the end of August, just before my first appointment with the specialist, I found out (unexpectedly as we had quit trying) that I was pregnant once again. Honestly I was terrified. My first appointment with the specialist went from being a consultation to a wellness check on baby, and things didn’t look good. Based off the initial ultrasound she suspected my pregnancy was not viable.

She tried so hard as she told me to maintain a hopeful demeanor, but I could tell by the look on her face it was pretty grim. She said the baby was not as developed as it should be at this stage and she couldn’t find a heartbeat. She said it was not an all hope is lost type of situation, but based off of my history I should be prepared, and I should call her at the first sign of anything being “off”. She sent me that day for blood work and told me to come back again a few days later to check again.

After the second check she called me the following morning with good news. My levels were rising, but we still didn’t know for sure what was going on. She scheduled me to come in for another ultrasound in a few weeks…and so the waiting game began.

The next few weeks were some of the longest in my life, but I had plenty to distract me. During this same time period we found out we were approved for our home loan! Let me tell you all, buying a house is like a full time job. I don’t even know how many hours I spent digging up paperwork, on the phone, going over contracts and such.

On September 21st, after months of work, we closed on our little house and began the final stage of our move back to OK! I can remember being so excited to get moved into our little home, and somehow, during this time I knew our baby was ok. That this baby was going to make it.

I went back to the Dr the following week to find our little one, not only ok, but thriving. They kept a close watch for the first several months, but eventually I was even able to have my “high risk status” taken away.  To this day they have still never figured out what happened with the three precious babies we lost.  But, as I write this article we are preparing to meet our little boy. In just 8 short weeks, we will have two crazy little guys, and we are thrilled!

Last year was a roller coaster. It was one of the hardest years of my life, but also one of the most blessed. I grew so much as person, in my relationship with my husband, and in my relationship with God. God’s timing really is perfect, and even though I will always miss the sweet little ones we lost, I have peace in knowing where they are, and that- one glorious day- we will be reunited.

If there is one thing that I hope you can take away from this story it is that you can find hope, and even joy, no matter the circumstances. Our loving Father is always there, ready to give us those things if we will just rely on him.

Things will not ever be perfect. In fact, it may seem like things are never perfect in your life, or even good- but there is perfect peace in our Father, and there is always something to be thankful for. Some days you just have to take it one thing at a time…

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:8

18 thoughts on “2018: A Year of Hills and Valleys-Living Life in the Midst of Blessings and Tragedies”

  1. What a beautiful story and I’m so thankful it’s got such a lovely ending! Thank you for sharing your struggles and how you pushed through them and stayed strong!

  2. Jordyn – what a beautiful post. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your hardest year with us. I’m so thrilled that after all your heartbreak you’re about to welcome your new sweet boy into your family and I can’t wait to see the beautiful pictures. And congrats on your home!!! God is SO good and He always provides us with SO much more than we ever dream or imagine!!

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