Meet The Bremers, Shawn, Carrie and "Baby Ava". This family holds a very dear spot in my heart. Carrie is my older sister. Growing up Carrie and I had our times where we were very close and times we would fight like cats and dogs. After all, we were only 1 year and 4 months apart in age and had very different personalities, sometimes balancing each other out, sometimes causing more conflict than resolution. As we grew up we took different paths. Carrie married her high school sweetheart, Shawn, and focused on her professional career and travel with her wonderful hubby. I, on the other hand, started my family just shy of turning 20. Andrea, our younger sister, followed suite and took on the family life by her mid twenties. Carrie and Shawn were enjoying their freedom and experiencing the world while getting established in their professions. I often found myself jealous of all of the things Carrie and Shawn got to experience as a married couple, while we stayed home experiencing parenthood.
After enjoying many years of fun and freedom, Carrie and Shawn decided to start their family. It didn't take long for them to realize that this wasn't going to be an easy journey into parenthood. They were both met with medical issues and procedures and the final message from the doctors telling them that their odds of getting pregnant on their own were practically zero. The word "infertility" rang way too loudly in their ears.
They decided to start their long, hard journey with medical support, only to be met with heartbreak following two miscarriages. We were all devastated for them. Our families were growing and Carrie and Shawn were grieving the loss of their's. Our hearts were breaking. During this very difficult time they reached to their faith in God to carry them through. They prayed, prayed hard. We all prayed. Eventually the doctors informed them that they did not feel they would be able to have a baby despite all of the medical intervention, but they could keep trying if they wanted to. After a whole lot of God seeking, they decided to pursue the path of adoption.
It was going to be a long road to adopting a baby but we all felt a sense of peace in our hearts knowing eventually there would be a baby in their arms. They took all the classes, had the home study completed, they did everything they needed to do. It was time to wait, wait for a birth mother to choose them. Carrie and Shawn had people all over the place praying for them and their future family. On May 8th, 2013, they decided to ask their church family to pray over them. Their pastor laid his hands on them and asked our Lord to place a baby in their arms within a year.
Then the unbelievable happened. I got a call from Carrie in the middle of the day, which was unusual. She said she had just left the doctors office and was headed back to work. Then she dropped the bombshell. SHE WAS PREGNANT!!! How was this possible!? Our entire family was in awe and completely dumbfounded. I asked Carrie, "Do you think your bodies just needed a chance to not stress about getting pregnant?" She immediately answered "No. The doctors told us it wouldn't happen, all the tests said it wouldn't happen. This is purely God's work."
"We had a long wait for Ava and didn't always understand why it took the path that it did. But we learned to give it to God and to trust that His plan and timing were the best for us and would bring Him glory." ~Carrie
Through their struggles they looked to Isaiah 55: 8-12 to carry them through and give them hope.
I was blessed to have my faith grow through watching Carrie and Shawn cling to theirs. We thanked God for the blessing to come and prayed hard for a safe, healthy pregnancy, and He delivered! Carrie recalls, "I really thought I would never be pregnant again after my first miscarriage and several years of infertility. Through all the normal discomforts, I was acutely aware of what a blessing it was and I cherished every time I felt her roll inside me and felt my belly move." On May 8th, 2014, God gave Carrie and Shawn a beautiful, healthy, baby girl, exactly one year to the day, that their pastor prayed over them, asking God for a one year deadline to having a baby in their arms. He delivered indeed!
Carrie and Shawn knew just how special this baby girl was and knew that she deserved a name that was just as special. "We named her Avalon after Shawn's maternal grandmother with the prayer that she would have the same strength of faith and love of Jesus and we chose Faith as her middle name with thankfulness of all the faithful prayers that brought her to us.", says Carrie. Ava will be forever known as "Baby Ava" in our family. She has 5 older cousins on our side of the family, all girls, who love their "Baby Ava" dearly. She is the baby everyone prayed so very hard for and is our little miracle.
It has been such a joy watching Ava grow over the past two years and seeing Shawn and Carrie grow as parents. Carrie recalls her most cherished memories from her first two years in motherhood, "Watching her giggle when she's acting silly, her love of books from the very beginning and all the stories we read together. That she loves to kiss Mommy and Daddy's "boo-boos" (real or imaginary). How she used to smile the biggest smile when she was about 5 months old and Daddy walked in the door from work. That she can eat twice her weight at dinner then still ask for applesauce." This little miracle baby is not so much a baby anymore and has definitely started to develop her very own personality of being determined, and strong willed, yet sympathetic and very loving.
Life has undoubtedly changed for Carrie and Shawn. They went from trips on European adventures and the tropics to diaper changes and bottle feeding. Carrie said, "What doesn't a child change? She's changed our schedules, reduced our sleep, doubled the time it takes to accomplish any normal household task or errand and made our lives a hundred times more joyful. She has made us more conscious of how we live our faith and the example we set for her." For now they have happily traded in the trips to distant lands for eating dinner together, wrestling on the floor, and playing on the swing set.
I've been so very blessed to be able to not only watch Miss Avalon Faith grow, but also watch this beautiful family grow, and capture some of their memories along the way. Aunt Stacy loves you Baby Ava, and can't wait to see what God brings you next.