I have been dreaming about having a daughter since I was a little girl. I always pictured a sweet girl in a dress twirling around in a field of flowers. I had dreams about her becoming my best friend, someone I could share my secrets with, someone I could impart wisdom on about womanhood, and someone I could love unconditionally.
When I was pregnant at 23, I began thinking of names for the baby. We knew if it was a boy, his name would be Gavin because that is the name my husband chose for his son when he was a little boy. I never grew up holding onto a name that I wanted for my children so I looked constantly through baby name books searching for the perfect girl name. I liked the very cool and feminine names like Penelope and Lola. I also liked the classic, trendy names like Emma, Alyssa, and Madison. But none of those seemed to fit with what I was searching for. I wanted to have a good story behind her name so I kept searching.
I knew I really liked masculine names for a girl. Throughout junior high and high school, I went by A.J. I really identified with being tomboyish and liked being "one of the guys".
I also grew up loving to read, especially classic literature. I was reading Wuthering Heights, Little Women, and Pride and Prejudice at 12. I loved the romantic drama, the time period, and the strong women portrayed in the stories. Of course, Jane Austen was my favorite!
I liked the name Jane but it didn't seem to fit with what I wanted. I kept thinking and thinking and then one day it just dawned on me. Austen! It was perfect. It reflected the masculine name I liked for a girl and also paid tribute to one of my favorite authors. Also, it was a nice nod to the capital of my home state.
I carried Austen in my heart for a long time. Whenever I saw a cute girl's bedroom, I would think, I would do this for Austen. Whenever I ran across adorable baby girl clothing, I imagined her wearing them. I started collecting fabric specifically for her to one day make her a quilt. One time I ordered a vintage sheet for a quilt I was making and the seller sent me another sheet as a thank you. It had sweet little girls on it in calico dresses. I knew this was the perfect backing for Austen's quilt.
About three years ago I really felt a desire to grow my family. I wanted to experience being pregnant again. The first time was great but a bit stressful since I was young, unmarried, and barely enough money to pay rent. But now things were different. I married the man I love and we were in a good place financially. It felt like it was time and I thought having this baby would truly redeem our family.
When we started trying, I never imagined it would be hard. I thought that since I already had a baby, it would be easy to have another. We tried off and on because my husband was very content with keeping our family small but he knew it was my desire to have a baby. Every month was agony when I would recognize I was not pregnant. It was very sorrowful for me when I watched everyone around me getting pregnant easily.
A year later, I was a couple of days late so I took a test and I was pregnant! But within 48 hours, I started losing the baby. That was the hardest thing I had ever been through. I never knew a lost so deep as that.
The next couple of months I was very angry at the Lord. I didn't understand why I had this deep desire to grow my family but it wasn't happening. I was also experiencing a crazy amount of fear of death. Losing my family or my family losing me. How it would affect us and how I could even get through the next day without my husband or son living.
About six months later, I went to a women’s retreat at my church. There, I heard my friend Casey speak. She spoke about the passing of her newborn son. It was heartbreaking to hear her story but also convicting to me. She said in the midst of what she was going through, she realized she was worshiping God’s good gifts instead of God himself. When I heard that, I knew that was exactly what I was doing. And then God told me, a baby won’t redeem your family, I redeem your family.
After I heard that from the Lord, I began to move out of the dark cloud I was under after the miscarriage. I recognized what I was doing and the Lord restored me back to him. Eventually, I was able to surrender my dream of having another baby and finally felt content with the small family the Lord had already blessed me with.
And just like every time I surrender my deepest desires to the Lord and ask for His will instead, He gives me my desires. First with marriage and then with a baby. I was pregnant with a baby girl named Austen.
But the real kicker? Her due date was March 25. Gavin’s birthday is November 24 and our wedding anniversary is May 24. So I prayed, not super seriously though, that if God deemed it good, if she could be born on March 24. The second it was midnight on March 24, 2016, I felt my body transition into active labor immediately as we were driving to the hospital. She was born 5 hours later in the wee hours of the morning.
My baby girl is more than a dream. She is reality. She was created uniquely with great care and attention by a Father who loves her more than I ever could. He has shaped her life and has given her purpose here to glorify Him…and then he implanted visions of her into my dreams. He didn’t have to. I could’ve loved her just the same, never having to think or dream about her in the past. But he chose to give me hope instead so that when she did come into my life, I would always know that He was with me from the very beginning. The way God loves us is unreal.