Welcome, Talitha!

As I mentioned in my previous post, things over her at Gathered Cheer HQ have been somewhat turned upside down after the arrival of our little girl, Tallie. Now that we're beginning to find our feet, I wanted to properly introduce you to our little bird (so nicknamed as she made the cutest pecking motions on my shoulder when she wanted food!) and also to share a little more of our journey as to how we got here. 

Our path to becoming parents certainly wasn't straightforward, and it definitely took a lot longer than I ever could have imagined. I've written a little about our journey on here - namely about having experienced three ectopic pregnancies in as many years (you can read those posts here and here). To be told that the chances of conceiving naturally are slim to non-existent, thanks to fallopian tubes which didn't seem to know what they were supposed to be doing, is possibly one of the hardest things I've ever had to hear. But in spite of that, B and I held onto the fact that one day we would be parents. We took a little break from the baby-making trials after our last ectopic a few years ago, but then mutually agreed to give IVF a shot. So last January we began treatment and in theory we were ideal candidates. It might seem odd but the days of our treatment were lovely. B managed to shuffle his work schedule so he could come to most appointments with me and the Drs and nurses were wonderful and always so kind and encouraging. All that said, when they retrieved my eggs and had only managed to get two I was super disappointed. A few days later one happy embryo was put back into me and I sat on tenterhooks for two weeks to see how it fared. Sadly it didn't stick. This unsuccessful treatment left me lower than I've ever been before. Having been told natural conception wasn't really on the cards, I'd put all my eggs in the IVF basket (unintended pun!) and really thought it was going to work for us - we'd finally have our baby. The weeks following that I felt so lost as I grappled with our situation, along with the fact that we really couldn't afford more treatment and weren't eligible on the NHS. 

Of course we didn't face all this alone. We were wrapped in love by our friends and family. It was through these amazing people that we began to hope again - expectant at what our future could look like. Our faith is central to our lives and we truly believe that God is good, is a healer and that miracles can and do happen. Even as I type that, I also remember thinking that, despite wholeheartedly believing those statements, it would never be me up the front of church sharing my miracle story . Growing up in the church I'd seen so many people sharing stories about what God had done for them - afflictions healed, relationships restored, chains broken... I just never thought it would ever be for me. Several friends and family members began telling us that they felt such faith that we'd conceive naturally and to hold onto hope. It's times like these that the faith of others is what holds you up; my own reserves had run dry, so I let them hope for me. 

Talitha - calligraphy by Quill London

You can probably see where this is going, but three short months after the negative blood test at the IVF clinic, I saw two lines on the pregnancy test! My goodness, what an amazing shock that was. Naturally I then bought out the whole stock of testing kits at Boots as I kept checking to see if it was really true. As excited as I was, with our history of ectopics I was still so nervous, praying that it was in the right place. Thankfully I only had a week to wait as my lovely Dr suggested I went for an early scan at five weeks at our walk in clinic. I remember so vividly being scanned and the Dr confirming our little poppy seed was in my womb! In that moment every empty scan that had gone before was redeemed - we had our baby! After that moment I was still so aware of the fragility of what was growing inside me, almost not wanting to get too attached in case something went wrong. But as worried as I got from time to time, I tried to keep holding onto hope, staying calm and trusting that this pregnancy was for keeps and that God had it all in his hands. Every week was a milestone, and was even better when it included a trip to see the midwife or the sonographer. Seeing our little Peanut grow and develop and hearing her heartbeat was the most beautiful thing. And sure enough, nine months (and a bit!) after that initial scan we welcomed baby Talitha in our lives. We named her Talitha Hope as the word Talitha is used by Jesus when he says to a dead child 'talitha cumi' meaning 'little girl, arise'. So for us she is our little girl who both brings hope with her and speaks of the hope of God. A precious reminder to keep holding on. 

T // Gathered Cheer blog

Since then it's weird to think that baby loss and childlessness is no longer our current reality. God has redeemed all that with the life of our precious girl. I still think of the little lives we lost, but I no longer feel overshadowed by the pain or lost as we navigate our days. Life has taken on a new complexion as we try to learn to parent well, finding daily joy as we see Tallie grow and change. All that said, it's not been without its challenges. There's always a part of me that daren't complain about the hard days, as I know what it's like to so desperately want a baby, and hearing such complaints in those moments is the pits. But equally I'm trying to parent honestly too, sharing both the highs and the lows, the exhilerating and the mindane. 

First family photo fail ;)

First family photo fail ;)

And now onwards we go, walking on this new path - one that is already unfolding faster than I'd like. We toyed with how much to share on here and social media for a long while and finally reached the conclusion that Tallie is a huge part of our lives so to not refer to and share parts of her life would feel odd. So, while this won't be a full on parenting blog, she'll definitely pop up on here from time to time! 

So, that's our story - one of unfolding hope. If you're going through anything similar please know I am standing with you, holding onto hope for you too.