This is Jamie, or Jamie Lynn, depending on who you ask. She grew up in Kentucky, but after moving to Alabama for college she became a true southern girl with a double name to boot! Not only that, but she also met her husband Jake at the University of Alabama. She became smitten with him for his “adorable smile, love of skipping class, and serving God on Sundays.” After only a year of dating, she said she couldn’t say “yes!” fast enough to being his forever. They’ve been married for four years this May. Soon after getting married they knew they wanted to start having children, but that has not been an easy road.
Please, tell me about your child/children. How old are they? What are their names? What are you most proud of them for?
We have two children, soon to be four. The one who made me a mama in April of 2016 was my Sawyer girl. When I first saw those two pink lines I couldn’t believe it. We had been trying for six months, and I was starting to wonder if everything was okay with us. I know people wait a lot longer than six months, but I have two sisters that if you breathe on them they are pregnant. So I had never known anyone to wait as long as we had. Sawyer was my girl for the first trimester. We heard her heartbeat, everything was measuring on track, but one day we woke up and her heartbeat was just gone. No explanation. We ran every test we could, and my doctor told me that she had no idea what happened, it was just “unexplainable.” After her, we struggled with secondary infertility. Our lives revolved around calendars, fertility medication, shots, and going to the doctor for egg checks. This was one of the hardest times we have gone through as a couple. Then right when I thought I couldn’t do it all anymore, we found out in January 2017 we were pregnant with our rainbow baby, Barron. We carried him for 35 weeks and 2 days. I’ll never forget the day he was born, even though sixteen hours of unmedicated labor made everything a little hazy. After he was born, he was rushed directly to the closest children’s hospital. I didn’t even get a good look at him! For about two months that NICU was our home, until God called him home. After countless tests and seeing a total of 30+ medical professionals, Barron passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus due to an “unexplainable” neurological condition. The crazy thing was that all of his tests had come back normal. But nonetheless, if God was calling him home, who were we to ask him to stay? So, those are my two babes in glory. We miss them every single day. I’m so proud of those two for fighting for their lives. My babies did the best they could, and their spirits were strong it’s just their bodies that were not. I know though that the healing that I prayed for God gave them. They are waiting for us in Eternity. My other two babes, I couldn’t tell you that much about because they are both on the way. We have been waiting for our adopted child for 26 days as of today, and the babe in my belly is 19 weeks today. We are blessed.
How did the Lord feel near to you in your grief and mourning?
After we said goodbye to Sawyer, I wrestled with God. I was angry with him, and I let him know it. I felt betrayed. Sawyer in my eyes was an innocent life, that God in His power could have sustained. Why would He allow this kind of thing to happen? To me? To anyone I knew? Why? Why? Why? It is okay to wrestle with God. He understands all of our emotions, because He created them. Furthermore, if anyone knows what it’s like to lose a child- He does. For that season of my life I had to figure out what I believed about my God, and who He was to me through wrestling with these questions. Overall, was He really who He said He was? After months of prayer and soul searching, I decided that I didn’t have to have all the answers. I just needed to know God, and trust that He knew what was best. Simply putting my faith in Him was enough. Little did I know at the time that I would have to walk through saying goodbye to another one of my children, but by figuring out who God was to me I was able to face Barron’s situation with more grace than I faced Sawyer’s. After we said goodbye to Barron, I did not feel betrayed by God. I knew then certainly that God is still on the throne. He is who He says he is. If the Bible says all things work together for our good, then they have to. Because God cannot deny being who the Word says that He is. He is close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. Not once did I feel like God was distant from me, He was and always is near. He goes before us. But, I do believe that how we view God determines how we process through grief. God is all-present, all-knowing, and all-powerful. If we believe that, but we don’t understand why He lets things in our life happen to us, like saying goodbye to a child, we are going to hang out in anger and frustration for a long time. But if we believe that God is for us and that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, we can take on WHATEVER this life throws at us. He is always there to sustain and be by our side. The Lord feels near to me in the grief and in the mourning because I still believe He is on the throne and that nothing can take place without His knowledge. If you want some peace, in the midst of your turmoil, that’s a good place to be.
What has been the hardest thing about being a mother?
For me, there are a lot of hard things about being a mother. The one that applies so strongly to me is to be separated from your babies. Whew! That is hard. But as for the practical things about being a mother that are hard, I would say the constant battle with guilt, comparison, and fear. These three things are no joke, and if you don’t rebuke them out of your life they can do some serious damage. Mom guilt is a real thing. From the beginning of pregnancy I am constantly like- Can I eat this? Will this hurt the baby? Oh no, I had a glass of wine before I knew I was pregnant, something is going to be wrong with my baby! And it never lets up. Being in the NICU can take a toll on your body, so when I was breastfeeding Barron, because of the improper diet and lack of sleep, I wasn’t producing enough milk. And there it was again. I felt so guilty because Barron needed me, and I couldn’t provide for him. It was guilt for the ways that I felt like I had failed him as a mom. But that is right where Satan wants us to be. Same with comparison, he constantly wants us looking at the people around us, whether it’s at the playground or on social media. The enemy is whispering in our ear, “Look at her! Wow, that mom has it altogether! Her kids are all dressed in the most beautiful smocked bubbles. They never cry in the grocery store, and she has dinner on the table at 6 p.m. Why can’t you be like her?” So comparison then brings on a whole list of other things like: guilt, shame, jealously. I hate the devil. One more reason it’s hard to be a mom is because Satan also wants us to constantly live in a state of fear. I mean you seriously can’t let your child play outside these days without fearing for their lives. It’s just the way the world has gotten. And did you know what the most used command in the Bible is? “Do not fear.” God knew what we would struggle with the most. But even though these things make it hard to be a mom, we are the gatekeepers of our lives. We decide what we let in and what we don’t. We have to take captive every thought- not once, not twice, but all the time. What we allow and receive into our lives matters and affects our relationship with God and the people around us. So if following that girl makes you think things like, “Why can’t I have her life?” Unfollow, no questions asked. We don’t need to make motherhood harder than it already is.
What is the best thing about being a mother?
The best thing about being a mama is the ability to give love unconditionally. I wrote a little bit about this recently on my Instagram, but I can be a pretty selfish person. Can’t we all? Marriage does a great job to show me how selfish I can be. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing my husband could do that would make my love for him conditional. But still, if I burn the grilled cheese I am prone to choose the one a little less burned for myself. But when you become a mom, you fiercely love your children. You would go to battle for them. And I did with Barron. I constantly would pace his hospital room at night, praying healing over him, declaring the miracle I knew God could do. My husband would read scripture over him and rebuke sickness. We battled for Barron in that tiny hospital room. We prayed to God for supernatural healing. God answered our prayer, it just didn’t look like what we hoped it would this side of Heaven. But becoming a mother has taught me about the unconditional love of a Father for his children. I didn’t know I could possess that kind of love too, but by being a mother I can. I get it now. And it’s pretty spectacular.
When you first lost Sawyer & Barron was there any particular thing (song, book, verse, piece of advice, etc.) that helped you to continue to get out of bed?
Some days it is still a struggle to wake up every morning and get out of bed. Some days I think to myself, “What is the point?” And this is going to be the most Christian answer I could probably give, but as for the book that helped me in my grief, it was the Bible. There are no words that transcend time and circumstance like the Bible does. When we were in the NICU with Barron, I needed the words of the Bible more than I needed sleep or sustenance. I needed to constantly be reminded that God was with me, that He was for me, and that everything He does is good. Nothing can give that kind of peace like the Bible can. I will say though that right now, there is this song that just came out by Steffany Gretzinger. It’s called “Sing My Way Back.” It is really helping me in my constant grief over Barron. The premise of the song is that when we are dealing with the unfortunate circumstances that this broken world throws at us, we sing our way back to God’s heart. I had to do that after saying goodbye to Barron. I am a big Hillsong, Bethel Music, and Elevation Worship girl. It’s the only music I listen to. When I couldn’t do anything but sit in front of Barron’s crib and weep, these songs worshipped all that I knew about my God and didn’t have the strength to sing myself. So if you have your days like me, just turn on that song by Steffany and do just that. Even if your mouth can’t form the words, sit back, let His love overwhelm you, and worship your way back to His heart. He is there, and waiting.
What are you most looking forward to about heaven?
The thing I’m looking most forward to about Heaven is to be with my King. In Luke 9, Jesus asks some people to come and follow Him. They all have their replies to His command. Here take a look,
“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
When I first read these verses the last two replies struck me. I was like, “Come on, Jesus, the one man just wanted to bury his father, the man who raised him! And, God, the other man just wants to say goodbye to his family. Why is that so bad?” But this verse is critical to understand this crazy life we are called to and what Heaven means for us. I’ve heard sermons based upon this group of verses, and there is a little more under the surface to what the men are asking then what is written in bold print. What these verses are saying is that more important than what we eat and drink, more important than our friends and family, is our relationship with God. I don’t want to look at Heaven and say well, “I get to be with my babies and there will be no more sadness, not to mention, no more pain.” Though those are all things I do look forward to Heaven for! BUT, when I look forward to Heaven, I get to be with my King, apart from my flesh. Because we are human and live in the flesh, we get distracted and we make mistakes. No matter how hard we try because we live in the flesh, we turn away from God daily. But in Heaven the flesh is stripped away. We will then be more alive than ever, and we will get to live in constant praise and worship for all of our days…with the people we love that have believed and gone on before us. God is always with us here now. But what I’m most looking forward to about Heaven, it’s to be with my King released from my flesh. Followed then by getting to see my babies again at the gates. It couldn’t come soon enough.