Priceless Story about Preemie Twins

Join me over at MBCPathway – an article I wrote is front page today! This is a priceless (pun intended) story about how God miraculously saved the life of twin boys born at 27 weeks over 20 years ago and how He is using those boys and their parents to impact lives today.

 

Priceless: Decades after decision to save premature twins, Marrs family advocates for life

What’s in a Name? Faith…Literally

Britney Hamm pregnant faith
On vacation in Tacoma, WA just a week after our ultrasound.

We were 20 weeks pregnant with our fourth baby. This was the momentous ultrasound, the moment we’d been waiting for, when we’d find out if our son would get his wish for a baby brother or if we would welcome a third beautiful baby girl into this world.

With nervous anticipation, we sat in the waiting room, the pounding of the machinery renovating the building doing little to calm our jitters.

Finally, the ultrasound tech called our name. I settled onto the exam table, my husband next to me holding my hand in the dark room. The sonographer smeared the cool jelly on my bulging belly. Black and white images appeared on the screen in front of us as she moved the wand over my stomach, naming and measuring body parts. The moment of truth…

“Those are definitely girl parts,” the sonographer said confidently, circling the telling part of the image on the screen.

After confirming her surety about seven times, a burst of love filled my heart. Another girl. Our son would be devastated. I had no idea how room arrangements would work in our 3-bedroom house with three girls once the baby outgrew the nursery. But we were having another precious little bundle of pink. How could I not rejoice?

My doctor entered the room. She and the sonographer studied something on the screen, discussing it quietly. “Your placenta is partially covering your cervix,” my doctor explained, pointing to the grey image. “It’s called placenta previa.”

I’d heard of that. I knew enough to know it wasn’t good. “You’ll need to take it easy,” she continued. “Nothing more strenuous than normal walking.” If it hadn’t moved by 28 weeks, we could face the risk of bleeding, early labor, and a C-section as early as 34 weeks depending on the health of the baby.

She assured us that there was a good chance the placenta would move; we just needed to be cautious just in case.

“Stay off Google,” she said before she left the room.

I’d had three textbook pregnancies and deliveries thus far. Pregnancy was my friend (mostly). Even before this news, I’d been fighting a little voice saying, “When is it my turn? When will my luck run out?” Sometimes I felt like I’d dodged a bullet – three times – but one would hit me eventually (I recognize the theological flaws with those statements; they floated into my head nonetheless).

With each pregnancy, my sense of realism increased. I was well aware that things can happen, things do happen, and things could happen to me. My best friend is a NICU nurse. We also personally knew families who had lost an infant or child. Child loss was not a distant reality; we weren’t so naïve to think it couldn’t happen to us.

Chances meant nothing to me. None of us know if we are the 99% or the 1% until it happens. Statistics don’t provide true reassurance. We would have to put our trust in something greater.

My husband and I decided that her middle name would be “Faith.” We needed faith to believe the placenta would move. And we needed faith in the goodness of God no matter what happened. Our prayer was that God would build our faith through this, and that whether we birthed a healthy baby at full term or joined the ranks of those who have lost a child, or anything in between – we would have faith in Him and worship him.

baby girl hamm born
Baby Hamm #4 arrived at 11:45am on 1/21/19 after 2.5 hours of labor!

Seven weeks later, the follow-up ultrasound revealed that my placenta had moved clear out of the way! Baby girl was  healthy. We could proceed forward with a normal delivery.

I didn’t realize then, nor did I realize for months later, that the entire trial with the placenta previa was for one thing: so that we would choose that middle name as we prayed for the faith to respond in worship to whatever may come. Faith was the point. Literally.

We thought we were asking for faith to respond in worship to a C-section. Bleeding during pregnancy. An early delivery. Bed rest. Post-labor hemorrhaging. Even child loss.

Instead, God was preparing us to respond in faith-filled worship to things we didn’t see coming. He, in His faithfulness was tuning our hearts to sing His praise even if.

Even if my friend’s baby passed away hours after birth just a month after our baby was born.

Even if I had breast cancer (I didn’t, but it took three ultrasounds and a mammogram to be sure).

Even if my dad didn’t survive a severe hemorrhagic stroke (he did, but it was life-altering nonetheless).

Even if my dad never gets out of the wheelchair.

Even if the fabric of my family of origin unraveled.

Even if the marriage of someone close to me fell apart.

 

That’s just scratching the surface of the things that transpired in the months following her birth.

 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)

 

When we chose her name, we didn’t see how the story would turn out. But we chose faith.

 

We don’t see the complete healing for my dad’s body.

We don’t see the reconciliation for the marriage of someone close to me.

We don’t see the restoration of all that has been broken in the last year.

We don’t see the resurrection of my friend’s baby.

 

…In this life.

But we choose faith.

Faith that God is good. Faith that healing, reconciliation, restoration, and resurrection WILL come to pass in the next life. Faith that God is at work. Faith that God is providing what we need to endure the challenges set before us today. Faith that God will provide what we need for the challenges we will encounter tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

Baby Hamm #4 One Year OldToday, my sweet baby girl turns one year old. When I look at her in all her cheeky, chunky sweetness, with her toothy grin and her bright blue eyes, I am reminded of her name. Of why we chose her name. Of how God’s faithfulness is wrapped up in this little ball of joy. Of how we had no idea we would need such a tangible reminder to have faith, but He did.

What’s in a name? Sometimes, literally, it’s faith.

 

Happy birthday, sweet baby girl. May you always have faith in the goodness of God, and may your life be a beacon for others to see Jesus and respond in faith.

 

Waiting for Uncertain Certainty

I originally wrote this post on April 27, 2013, one week before my due date with our 2nd child.

Today, I’m 38 weeks with our 4th child. And I need these reminders just as much today as I did 6 years ago. So, with minor revisions, here it is again. I’m preaching to myself, again.

Like before, all that needs to be done is pretty much done. The freezer is stocked with some meals. The newborn clothes are washed and put away. The house is relatively clean and the laundry on top of (for now). The hospital bags are packed; the kids bags for Grandma’s house are packed. All major projects I’d hoped to accomplish are finished.

There’s nothing left to do but wait, while maintaining our normal life when we all know it’s about to change. Drastically (Ok, so the 2-year-old doesn’t quite understand just how drastically her life is about to change…)

We’re waiting for something certain- we WILL go into labor; this baby WILL be born – yet with uncertainty- when, what time of day, how long of labor, etc. I’m stuck in the paradox of waiting for the certain with all the uncertainty of how and when the certain will come to be.

36 Weeks

I can’t say my mood has been particularly jovial these past couple days as I sit in that paradox. My nesting craze has come to a halt, turning into a state of grumpy exhaustion and restless anxiety as my mind runs through all the variables I can’t control.

I wish I could say that after doing this 3 times, these last few weeks of pregnancy were different this time, but the truth is my heart is fickle. The good news is, the answer is exactly the same as it was 6 years ago.

It’s tempting for  me to think that what my heart needs is just for this baby to come – or for God to tell me when she’s going to come – so that I can live purposefully until she does (an email from god@heaven.com with the date and time, length of labor, and difficultly of labor on a scale of 1-10 would be nice). It’s tempting for me to think that the waiting days are futile and purposeless, just minutes ticking by on the clock until the next phase of life starts. It’s tempting for me to think everything would just be better if I at least knew.

But what my heart really needs is more Jesus. More gospel. More focus on His glory, less on mine. More purpose & joy drawn from Him, less drawn from my circumstances or physical state of being.


Waiting for the Uncertain Certain: The Believer’s Paradox

Waiting for the uncertain certain is actually a reality I live in all the time – I just don’t think of it that way.

Isn’t it the paradox we live in as believers each day? We await the second coming of Christ, which we know with certainty WILL come. But we don’t know when, or even fully how.

I admit my eschatological position is not fully solidified. I know Jesus will return. I know He will redeem everything. I believe Scripture gives us some cues about what that will look  like, but that ultimately, we won’t know when or how until it happens.

Sometimes we begin to doubt. We forget that full redemption will come. We fail to live each day purposefully and joyfully, instead grumbling and complaining about earthly things and the state of this broken world. We’re tempted to think that if we just knew when He was returning we’d have more purpose and joy in the meantime. We’re tempted to think that the days until He returns are really just futile and purposeless.

Yet, while we’re stuck in the uncertain-certain paradox, we’re called to live faithfully. Purposefully. Gratefully. Joyfully. Contentedly. With trust, and hope, and longing all at the same time.  I have a feeling that even if God decided to tell us exactly when He was returning, He’d expect us to go on living exactly in those same ways. But He doesn’t. We must trust Him, trust that He knows best, trust that He has a reason for how and when He returns. Trust that He has purpose for us each day until then.


The Israelites, John the Baptist, and the Uncertain Certain

The people of Israel were stuck in the same paradox for hundreds of years. They knew a Messiah was coming. But they didn’t know when. There were signs that they could look for. I have to wonder how many times a baby was born in Bethlehem that someone thought, “is this Him?” much like the questions an evening of uncomfortable contractions brings to me, or the news of an epic natural disaster bring to some believers.

Yet for all those hundreds of years of uncertain waiting, what did God expect of them? That they trust him. Rejoice in Him. Find their hope in Him. Live purposefully for Him. With contentment because He is enough and His glory is the ultimate goal.

38 Weeks Pregnant
38 weeks. Yes I am wearing the same shirt.
Don’t judge.

John the Baptist is a great example of this. God gave him a job to do: prepare the way for the Messiah by proclaiming his impending coming. John didn’t know who he was; I don’t even know if he knew the Messiah was present on earth just 6 months after his own birth until God clearly identified Jesus as the One John was proclaiming. Maybe John was tempted to get worn out, or bored. Maybe he was tempted to say “God, come on, can you just tell me when this dude is coming?” God didn’t tell him the how and when. No, God said “John, I have this task for you. And it’s about me, not you.” So when Jesus did come and God revealed His identity to John, what was John’s response?

Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase; I must decrease. -John 3:29b-30

In another specific instance, the people of Israel were stuck in this same paradox. Moses had ascended the mountain to receive the commandments from the Lord. The people knew he would return; they didn’t know how or when. They were told to stay at the bottom of the mountain and wait.

At some point they determined he had been gone too long. They decided he either wasn’t coming back, or that they couldn’t wait that long. So they begged Aaron to make a golden calf. They pursued idols. Instead of trusting God and finding their purpose and joy in Him each day until Moses returned with His words, they built for themselves another god.

What a vastly different response from John and the Israelites. Both living in the paradox of waiting for the uncertain certain. John faithfully fulfilled the calling God had given him, finding his greatest joy in God Himself as he carried out the task God had set before him. The Israelites doubted God, doubted His goodness, doubted His sovereignty, and begrudgingly pursued other idols.

How are We to Wait?

God calls us to live in the uncertain certain. As believers, we live every day in the “already but not yet.” We wait for what we know will come without knowing when or how it will come. Yet the waiting we are called to is not one of purposeless, stagnant, dull twiddling of thumbs. Anything but! We are called to wait:

  • With longing, because we genuinely look forward to what is to come. We feel the weight of a world not yet fully redeemed, and we know that the good things of this life are but a shadow of the good that is to come.

Yet with…

  • Trust, because we know that He is good and sovereign, and that everything is ordained in His time, for His glory, whether that timing makes sense to us or not.
  • Hope, because we know that He is true to His Word, and that the certain will come to fruition. In the meantime, we have hope because we know that He is at work and the certain has already been put into motion.
  • Contentment, because we know that He alone can satisfy us, and while we look forward to the day when He will satisfy us eternally with none of the distractions of a broken world, the good news of Jesus means that He can satisfy us now.
  • Joy, because we know that nothing in the current world can bring us the kind of joy He can. We have been given everything we don’t deserve and nothing we do deserve. There is no greater joy.
  • Gratitude, because we know that each day is a gift from Him. Every day is a testimony of His grace that He has not abandoned us nor given us what we deserve, therefore each day is worth celebrating with gratitude and praise.
  • Purpose, because we know that His glory and kingdom are the ultimate goal, and every mundane moment of every day can serve that purpose now. Since every day is a gift worth celebrating, every day is also an offering we can give back to Him.

These realities that are true in our lives as believers are true for me right now as I await the arrival of our little one. If I focus on earthly things, on what I think I deserve or the way I think things should be, I will be like the Israelites…begrudging, grumbling, discontent, and filled with idolatry.

But if I focus on heavenly things, on the sovereignty and goodness of God, the purpose He has given me, the greater joy that even the birth of a child is but a shadow of, then I can be filled with all of the above things even I as longingly await labor to get underway.

I don’t need to know when labor will come in order to live purposefully in the meantime. What I need to know is Christ…that must be enough.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! -Psalm 27:14

“The Lord is my portion” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. -Lamentations 3:24-26

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of god in Christ Jesus.-Philippians 3:14

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait – John Waller “While I’m Waiting”

As I wait, you make me strong
As I long, draw me to your arms
As I stand and sing your praise
You come, you come and you fill this place – Ten Shekel Shirt “Meet With Me”