Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Anchored by Kayla Aimee

I didn't get much sleep last night. Surprisingly, that had little to do with my 12 day old baby. Instead, I fault Kayla Aimee. The woman drew me in with her story and it just wouldn't let me go. Ignoring all my better judgment, I stayed up late to finish this book while baby slept. I was exhausted come her 2 am and then 6 am feeding, but it was nothing a second cup of coffee couldn't fix.

A little about the book--
"You count a pregnancy by weeks and Kayla Aimee had only ticked off 24 of the 40 when she unexpectedly went into labor. She thought her church upbringing had prepared her for every circumstance but when tragedy struck and threatened to take the life of her newborn daughter, it felt as though once solid ground had turned to glass beneath her feet, destined to shatter everything she held sacred.
When swept into a story of suffering, we all find ourselves vulnerable, questioning everything we thought we knew as we wonder, “Where is God in this?” With everything feeling as fragile as her one and a half pound daughter, Kayla finds herself asking that same question as she faces  her greatest fear: that she may have finally become a mother just to lose her only child. 
Both poignant and humorous, Anchored recounts Kayla’s gripping story of learning to navigate her newfound motherhood in the most unexpected of ways, from holidays in the hospital and middle-of-the-night phone calls to the joy of coming home. With vulnerability and plenty of wit, Kayla lays bare her struggle to redefine her faith, her marriage, and herself within the context of a tragedy she never saw coming. For anyone who has felt their faith in God falter, Anchored extends a gentle invitation to join her as she uncovers a hope that holds."  
In the re-telling of her story, Kayla could have written herself as a saint. She could have glossed over the rough moments, drew a nice spiritual conclusion and called it a day. However, the beauty of this book is the truly raw and vulnerable moments when she exposes the cracks in her own faith. This book may not have any cut and dry answers on how best to deal with grief, but it offers a huge assurance that "...if God was sovereign then he could hold my hurt. (p. 104)"

It's not just a touching story with some nice insights on suffering. This book really got to me on a level most rarely do. Her story is not my story, but I could relate to some of the feelings she had along the way. When she cried out, "this was not wonderful, this failure of a body. This was flawed. I was flawed. And it was going to cost my daughter her life.(p. 36)" I have thought those words so many times in dealing with my ICP. During the later days of pregnancy my liver cannot handle the insane amount of hormones. Things begin to function incorrectly and potentially my own body poisons the tiny life it harbors. When I was first diagnosed I remember how broken I felt. Why couldn't I just function normal? My body was faulty, messed up and it was going to kill my baby. I wanted nothing more in the world to protect my child, yet inside me was a dangerous and hostile environment.

Over the years and pregnancies, I have gotten better at dealing with these feelings, but they never really go away. My ICP has remained mostly under control and nothing tragic has struck us yet. However, each time I have seen those two pink lines, a knot of fear wells up inside me. I always wonder, how bad is it going to be this time? How miserable for me and how dangerous for the baby? I can do little more than guess until my body beings to rebel against me. At night I would lie there, afraid of my own fear. Because if I was afraid, it meant something fearful was looming and I wasn't prepared to admit that. This pregnancy was particularly hard for me on that front. I finally just had to admit the fact that yes, something bad could happen. That God was in control and while there was a chance things wouldn't be okay, I could rest in Him. And as the crying baby in my arms can attest, things were indeed okay.

You don't have to be a micro-preemie mom to glean insight from this book. You don't even need to be a mom or someone currently facing loss. Maybe you have never experienced this level of suffering, or perhaps you have gone through even greater devastation-- at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. Kayla's raw and honest insights transcend the situation and speak into any level of pain. Beyond that she is a fantastic story-teller and author. I was really glad to be the only one awake while reading this book. Certainly, my husband would have thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I don't think I have ever cried so much through a book. It wasn't really even the tears that made me appear manic, but the fact that something on the very same page would make me laugh. She manages to make the story of her most intense and personal trial entertaining.

The same day I read this book, a couple I know well was leading worship at church. The husband shared a story that I hadn't heard before. He and his wife had lost a baby at around 26 weeks. She knew the baby had passed within her and that laboring to deliver a deceased babe loomed ahead. While at the hospital, she sang this hymn to the nurses and doctors--

God Hath Not Promised

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

We sang the song at church and it really touched my heart. I thought that it really fit with the theme of the book.

I really enjoyed this read and find myself still processing everything. This is a book I would definitely recommend reading, just maybe not in a public place- because I promise it will make you cry.

I received a copy of this book from B&H in exchange for me honest review.

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