Hope Rising: The Song of the Sparrow

Truth be told, I'm a sucker for details. Connections are made and symbolism revealed through the weaving together of life's tiniest details. As I sit here almost 39 weeks pregnant I feel not only like I’m bursting with baby but with gratitude as well. It has become so clear to me that slogging through the low valleys of life are what cause the high peaks to feel so intensely wonderful. We couldn’t have the one without knowing the other. And it’s for that reason I needed to capture in writing the details of the journey.

Exactly two years ago today, I finished a trail marathon with a stress fracture in my hip. This led to 3 months on crutches which in turn delayed our timeline for trying to get pregnant with a third. Because, it’s all about our timeline, right? But on December 31, 2014, I felt certain I was pregnant only to discover 10 minutes before midnight that I was not, or at least not anymore. Happy New Year. The next morning I sat at my in-law’s kitchen table in silence, with the weight of disappointment upon my shoulders, journaling my way through the sadness. And in the stillness, I noticed a bird firmly perched upon the deck railing outside the window, singing what could only be described as a cheerful tune. And as the tune danced around the morning air, my mind filled with the words of the old hymn, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.” I found it peculiar because I don’t really even know that hymn, nor do I particularly care for hymns in general. But the words and tune would not leave me, continuing to replay in my mind; as if to say, God cares about you, about your sadness, and your story is not over yet. 

A month later I found myself pregnant and nothing short of ecstatic, only to experience the silent and strange heartbreak of miscarriage thereafter. As I lay curled up in a ball on my bathroom floor, an endless stream of tears cascading down my face, I looked up with my eyes fixed on the door handle, the door handle which in that moment looked exactly like the face of a bird to me. I’m sure it wouldn't look like anything but a door handle to anyone else but to me it was the face of the sparrow, singing to me once again - God cares about you, about your sadness and your story is not over yet.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free.                                                                           His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

The sadness I experienced following the miscarriage was far more intense than I had expected, not that I had ever expected to miscarry. I thought I would grieve a little and move on but I couldn’t. I executed my days like a robot, going through the motions, all the while feeling unmotivated and lethargic. I sank into depression, attempting to grab at the smallest strands of hope - God cares about your sadness and your story is not over yet. I held on to that very hope. I also knew I needed a new storyline to walk through the sadness with. I thought to myself, maybe I need to train for a race. Running has always brought me great joy and freedom. It's my go-to when I need to work things out. But due to the hip fracture and then pregnancy and miscarriage, I hadn’t run in over 6 months and the thought of starting again felt daunting. It all felt daunting. Because getting pregnant and staying pregnant at my age suddenly felt like a metaphorical mountain, I decided I needed to climb a real mountain. So, I signed up for a race that, given my out of shape condition, felt so much bigger than me - The Imogene Pass Run - a race starting in Ouray, CO and climbing 5,000 feet in 10 miles and then proceeding to drop down 7 miles to the finish in Telluride. It seemed like a crazy, impossible goal but at the time, so did getting pregnant. So, I went for it.

I ran and I worked and I trained for that goal, the one that felt impossible, the one that felt out of reach. Mile after mile I pounded out the sadness, because sometimes that's how we find healing, one step, one breath at a time. As I ran through the mountains, whenever I would hear a bird singing, it served to remind me that I was not alone, not even when I ran in the darkest hours of the night. Not even in my deepest sadness. I was never alone. And so on September 12 of last year {2015}, I toed the start line of the unknown, to set out after a goal that still felt beyond my reach - the top of Imogene Pass. I knew if I could climb the 10 miles to the summit, I could make it the 7 miles down the other side. After all, the challenge is most often found in the rising up. 

With every step I felt hope rising up in me a little more. 10 painful, sweat-filled miles later, as I stood upon that mountain, a stream of tears cascading down my face, I couldn't help but stare down at the valley from which I had risen. While we often tend to look ahead, there's value in looking back to the places from which we've come, from which we've risen. Looking back can provide a beautiful perspective which we carry forward with us into the future. Standing on top of that pass, something in me had lifted. I felt free - free to be sad, free to let go, free to move forward, free to hope again. I sang because I was happy, I sang because I was free. His eye is on the sparrow and I knew in every corner of my being that he'd been watching me, and holding me, and carrying me through it all. 

I found healing running in those mountains and I think that would’ve felt like enough, enough to accept the door had closed on a third baby, enough to move on. But as it turns out, the door had not closed. On December 31, 2015, disbelief filled my being as I stared down at the word, Pregnant, on the white stick before me.

So you see, I'm in awe when I consider that on December 31, 2014 my deep sadness was first met with the song of the sparrow and then one year to the date later on December 31, 2015 I discovered I was pregnant with this baby to whom I'm now about to give birth. And to think that my journey through miscarriage to healing and freedom culminated atop a mountain on September 12, 2015, the poignancy of it all is not lost on me when I realize that my due date for this sweet baby girl is exactly one year to the date later, September 12, 2016.

I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free.                                                                               His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me. 

Lovey, as she is currently known, we are ready to welcome you into a story and a life that can be both brutal and beautiful. But know that you are never alone and you will be surrounded by love every step of the way. And as a symbol of this, a sparrow necklace will rest upon my chest as I labor to bring you home into our arms.

My story is not over yet. And neither is yours.