Wednesday, June 10, 2015

His Love Song

Since I haven't written in a while, this will be hard to keep short.  I'm sorry.

I haven't shared much about it, but the last 6 weeks have been a nightmare for me.  In 2013, after being told by my long time OBGYN after Ezra was born that if I wasn't going to do "professional" counseling (I have The Great Counselor, I hardly think some lady is better than He) and go on antidepressants, then I needed to find another provider.  I did.  And that was all fine until I got pregnant again because my PCP doesn't do prenatal care.

I decided I would just go to Maine for all my appointments, only to find out after my first visit that my insurance wouldn't allow me to go out of state without a referral.  So I signed up at Goodwin Community Health  (I normally keep names private, but I'm all done with that.  If they are ok treating me like they do, then it must be ok to share) in hopes that I could do the majority of my prenatal care there and then transfer to Maine at the end, like I have with the last 3 babies.

I started having a lot of heavy bleeding.  Not spotting, BLEEDING. And it was going on for a couple of weeks.  I called the office before I even had my first appointment and when I asked that she order a scan to check on the baby, the midwife Lucy (from Garrison) told me "I'm not trying to be annoying, but it's either going well or it isn't and an ultrasound won't change that."  I said fine, I would wait until the scan at 13 weeks where we check the baby for anencephaly at which point she brought up genetic counseling and testing.  I told her I don't do those things and don't want to and she said I would have to in order to get the scan to check the baby's head.  I said "Well, I'M not trying to be annoying, but I'm not going to." and that's when she said "How did you end up at Goodwin? I told her and she followed with  "I'm not sure this is the best place for you... we can't even refer you to Maine bc we are affiliated with Dartmouth..."  I told her it didn't make sense since I've now had THREE babies in Maine that I would go somewhere else and she said she would look into it and call me back and then never did....

That led to me setting up an appointment at Rochester OB who does send patients to Maine and my first appointment there has had me in tears repeatedly.  First they drug tested me saying "Everyone in Rochester is on heroin"  and then forced me, completely against my will, to have a test for sexually transmitted diseases because "People get embarrassed about their life styles and don't tell us the whole truth and we need to be able to care for the baby"  And even though I begged her not to put that tool inside of me because I never do paps in early pregnancy and had been bleeding a LOT, she still did.  I cried for HOURS when I left.

Then, she repeatedly referred to Rachel as my "anencephaly pregnancy" instead of my "daughter" while going through the history of my children.

I told her I can't take folic acid and explained why. (because of my MTHFR mutations)  She argued with me that I needed to be on 4 mg of folic acid a day "because of my history of anencephaly" - I told her I need active folate, that it's different, that folic acid had almost destroyed my body because I can't process it, and that I had what I needed.  She said ok and I thought we were on the same page.  Until I went to the pharmacy and they tried to give me a prescription for folic acid she had called in anyway.

I told her I didn't want to follow her plan of a scan at 11 weeks and again at 13 weeks bc it's too far to go to Maine every other week - she insisted I need the 11 week apt so they could do genetic testing before I was 13 weeks.  I told her I'm not interested in that and the trip is hard for me to make with 5 kids at home.  She scheduled me for 11 weeks anyway and said I could tell them that when I get there.  I called the office when I got home and told them I wouldn't be going to the 11 week one, to please move it to just 13 weeks - they said they would.  Then I got the call from Maine and it was scheduled for 11 weeks anyway.

All this to say, I have been COMPLETELY ignored and degraded by every medical 'professional' since this pregnancy started.  I have been violated, bullied, argued with over everything.  Not only was I not getting the CARE I needed, I have actually been WORSE off because of them.

After a few very lonely and sad weeks, I decided I was going to do a couple of things.... first, I am not ever going back to Rochester OB again.  Second, I am going to file a complaint for what "Dr." Macvetti did to me.  I need prayer for how to go about that please - but I do believe it needs to be done.  I can't be the only one she is treating like that.  It needs to stop.  And third, at my appointment today in Maine - which I made sure before I went would be with Dr, Pinette because I trust him - I would lay it all out for him and just prayed God would direct me from there.

I did... and He answered.  And I haven't been able to stop crying all day, I'm just so relieved...

First of all, I went alone.  I never do things like this alone, but I just wanted to be alone.  I wanted to be able to feel whatever I felt - say whatever I needed without an audience.  I've been really sick, so the drive had me nervous - it's a long way....

I got there and I had a tech call me in who I had never seen before.  I asked her name a few times and can't remember it so I need to find out because she was AMAZING.  I was late, but she didn't short me... in fact, since baby E was moving around so much, she just sat there and let me watch... for 8 minutes... It was such a gift.  I fell apart a few minutes in and started blubbering about how complicated and difficult pregnancy is.  Often, even at dr's offices, I get left with silence when I do that, but this woman looked at me and said "You have been through something that most women can't even comprehend... even if they want to... and it's going to impact how you feel even still."

I cried more.

She finished with the scan and we stood there talking for another 10 minutes. She gave me her TIME and her EAR and didn't blow me off or pass me along to the Dr so she could move on to the next.  I went on and on like she was an old friend... and honestly, I've needed that because I'm at a serious shortage of 'friends' right now.  Even people I try to reach out to about where I'm at, either don't have time or don't know what to say and I'm left feeling worse...  I thanked her for listening.  She was a gift from God to me today.

She brought me to a conference room where I waited for Dr. Pinette to come in as I stared at the pictures of my little baby and his/her round head.  I got a text from Matt that he got a start date for the job he's been waiting on.... I looked at my clock 10:27am. ♥   So nervous and excited for this change - it's going to be a major faith walk as it is a big cut in pay to begin with, but it holds much more potential for our future.  He starts on July 13!

Dr. Pinette came in with a huge smile... "Baby's head looks good!" he said. He speaks my language!  We talked about my aneurysm... we talked about my heart issues... we talked about my blood pressure... we talked about how my other kids were doing... how I am doing... how I'm feeling... you know, like actual PRENATAL care!   He said I can go for my third VBAC and that the aneurysm shouldn't be cause for a c-section!   He said that since I've already had 2 VBACS, my risk with another decreases drastically.  He said that it's possible that this baby has reset my blood pressure button and there is a chance it might not go back up (pray for that one, that would be awesome!!)  He asked "Is it safe to assume that we aren't doing any of the genetic stuff, I know you haven't in the past, do you want to just skip that?"  I said yes and he said "OK."  (Now THAT is the right response from a Dr when a patient declines a test!)

Then came the heavy conversation... I told him what Dr Macvetti did to me.  He didn't say anything in response at first, but he did cover his entire face with his hands and peeked out to listen like he was watching a scary movie as I told him the details of what she did... bawling, I explained what happened and how I don't know how I let it happen... but that basically, I feel like every Dr writes me off bc I have opinions and don't just do everything they say like a puppet -  and I was feeling like she was my last resort to be able to deliver in Maine and that if I didn't do what she wanted me to, she was going to make my life a living hell.  How is that for abuse??  He paused and said "As a patient, you have the right to decline anything you want to and that should be respected."  I told him declining things is what makes Dr's not like me and he said "I like you.  I like patients who are involved in their medical care."  He told me when he saw my name he got a big smile on his face.  The tech had told me Dr Pinette remembered me when she was bringing me to the room.  She said "That's pretty impressive with the number of people he sees!" But I guess the same reasons most dr's hate me is what makes me memorable... my little girl with anencephaly and my strong will that God gave me to walk through that and beyond.

And then he told me he will see me for the rest of my pregnancy.  I've never been so thankful to be considered high risk - but I am.  He's willing to let me space appointments out if I don't medically need to be there to avoid the travel so I don't have to go back until my 18 week scan - which, just like Rachel, will be the Wednesday after my birthday.  I told this man about 3 times how thankful I am for how he treats me, for how he takes CARE of me... He said "You have been through a lot and you have handled it very well... you might not feel like you have, but you have... and you will do just fine this time around too."

Thank You Lord for a doctor who has always listened, always taken my cares into account, always had solid medical experience and knowledge mixed with the perfect amount of compassion and belief in me.  Thank You Lord for a doctor who gets me.  Thank You Lord for finally giving me a good doctor's appointment!!

I left there and made small talk in the elevator with a little boy carrying a kids National Geographic Magazine with sharks on it.  Told him they were cool and that my boys love those magazines and he was all smiles.  I walked out of the elevator and before I even got to my truck, I started crying.  I'm guessing the magazine was a nice distraction from losing it on a full elevator!

I got in and sat there for about 30 minutes sobbing.  I cried because I was relieved... relieved that the baby is ok, that I don't have to have a c-section, and that I don't have to go back to the other office.  I cried because I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for finally having a good appointment... for finally feeling heard... for finally feeling supported.  I cried because I was alone and I could and I so needed that.  I stared at the pictures they gave me resting on my lap and as I cried at the perfectly little round head, I said "I love you.... I love you.... I love you.... I love you...." to my baby.  I went to take a picture of the scan to post on facebook that everything went well and ended up with a picture of myself crying instead.

I realized it was way too dark in the parking garage to take a picture of my u/s and so I wiped my face and started to head home.  I turned the radio on and was hoping for a Rachel song...  the song that came on was not one on my Rachel list so I thought "Maybe it will be the next one." and suddenly a few lines in, it hit me like a ton of bricks.... It was a love song to me, from God... the timing was His.  The picture of me, instead of the baby, wasn't an accident.  He was overwhelming me with his love.

The Chorus says:

I love you more than the sun 
And the stars that I taught how to shine 
You are mine and you shine for me too 
I love you 
And today 
And tomorrow 
I'll say it again and again 
I love you more 
I love you more 

It took me a few minutes, but I heard my words to the baby play back in my head "I love you... I love you... I love you...." as I tried to take a picture of it and getting a picture of myself instead, God whispered to my heart "I love you more."   Hearing the words, like a love song from God, saying "You shine for me too" brought me back to the day of Rachel's diagnosis, when a friend told me I was going to shine for Him through her death.  It was the last thing I wanted.  I didn't want to shine, I wanted things to go 'right'.   Now it's my true heart's desire that no matter what comes my way, I can shine for Him through it.

These words also made me think of a note I have that my mom wrote me when I was a baby that says "I love you yesterday, today, tomorrow.. forever" and I just think of that unmeasurable love of a mother - the love that takes over when all else in the world fails... and how it faints in comparison to God's love for us.

I have left Congress Street in Portland, Maine crying more times than I can recall.  It's been an unbelievably painful 5 years.  Every great once in a while, a mountaintop can steal your breath and bring you to tears similar to that of the deepest valleys.

Today was one of those days.  Today was a day that only because of the valleys God has carried me through did I recognize the miracle happening before me.  Only because of how difficult these past 6 weeks have been did today flood me with so much hope as my unspoken prayers were answered.  Only because of the unimaginable loss I experienced with Rachel do I feel silenced by my unexplainable gift with this little one.  Only because I had so many thoughts bombarding my mind and heart, have I been at a loss for words all day.

The car ride home that I was not looking forward to, knowing I'd be tired and nauseous...??  It went by in the blink of an eye.  Like, I really didn't realize I was almost home until I was about 5 minutes away.

I came home and showed my mom and the kids the ultrasound video... I paused it as my mom left and Des said "Hey, look!  The baby is in a heart!" and the baby's sac was shaped like a heart.  I went to push play and realized it was stopped at 1:43 ♥

I haven't felt very inspired for anything in a long time.... Not in writing, not in photos, not in new ideas for Rachel's Legacy.  But this afternoon, God put an idea on my heart so I made this video.  I think it conveys a little bit of what is on my heart ...  that for as much as I love my children - God loves His more... and I am His.  It's kind of hard to imagine.... but today I have been so completely and beautifully broken by this Truth that I feel like I can finally breathe.  My God is the God who provides... I'm so thankful for His love song. Of course when I looked up the song, it was 4:30 long. ♥
Here is the video I made of my little E:

And the lyrics to the song - "More" by Matthew West

Take a look at the mountain 
Stretching a mile high 
Take a look at the ocean 
Far as your eye can see 
And think of me 

Take a look at the desert 
Do you feel like a grain of sand? 
I am with you wherever 
Where you go is where I am 
And I'm always thinking of you 
Take a look around you 
I'm spelling it out one by one 

I love you more than the sun 
And the stars that I taught how to shine 
You are mine and you shine for me too
I love you 
And today 
And tomorrow 
I'll say it again and again 
I love you more 

Just a face in the city 
Just a tear on a crowded street 
But you are one in a million 
And you belong to me 
And I want you to know 
I'm not letting go 
Even when you come undone 

I love you more than the sun 
And the stars that I taught how to shine 
You are mine and you shine for me too 
I love you 
And today 
And tomorrow 
I'll say it again and again 
I love you more 
I love you more 

Shine for me 
Shine for me 
Shine on, shine on 
Shine for me 

I love you more than the sun 
And the stars that I taught how to shine 
You are mine and you shine for me too 
I love you 
And today 
And tomorrow 
I'll say it again and again 
I love you more

I love you more than the sun 
And the stars that I taught how to shine 
You are mine and you shine for me too
I love you 
And today 
Through the joy 
And the pain 
I say it again and again 
I love you more 
I love you more

And I see you
And I made you 
And I love you more than you can imagine
More than you can fathom 
I love you more than the sun 
And you shine for me

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rachel's 2015 Race Info!

I've been really behind for a few different reasons, but am finally starting to pull together details for this year's race.

We have decided that I'm in no condition and have not nearly enough time to put on another large scale event.  Even though I always have enough help that day, leading up to race day, I spend at least 30+ hours a week working on race things, and I do most of it alone.  Last year, my health went down hill fast the very week following the race and I spent months in a downward spiral and I do believe that was, in part, due to what the whole thing takes out of me.

I have all these little people counting on me who need me more than anyone I might help through Rachel's Legacy, so I am putting my priorities in order and praying and trusting that God will bless that.  Unlike 2013 when I decided to not do a race because I was pregnant with Ezra, this decision has not been as hard on my heart.  That year, it was excruciating to say no.  I felt like I was failing... and although I knew that I was actually saying "yes" to God, and eventually saw that there would have been no way I could have done it physically, I struggled a LOT with it hurting in my heart. I missed it so much.

This year, I feel really at peace with not doing a race - and since at this point, I would have already spent MONTHS preparing and have MONTHS left to go - I'm also really thankful because I'm so busy I can barely keep up as it is!  Not to mention, I now have another little one I'm carrying and this pregnancy is not going well. (prayers appreciated)

The issue lies in that the race is the sole provider of the money we use to run Baby Rachel's Legacy all year long.  The first few years, we donated over $9,000 in PROFIT to the organizations we supported.  Last year, I didn't do any pre-race solicitations as I waited for our 501(c)3 to go through and so our profit was I believe under $4,000.  It's still excellent for one day, but the day costs over $4,000 to put on - so while we actually took in over $8,000, a lot was spent on the event.  All that to say, I have been trying to come up with a way to raise money for the non profit that doesn't have as much overhead and doesn't require so much out of me and take so much from my living children.

What I have decided to do is a "Virtual Walk/Run/Dance".  This will be something you do from where you are, any time within the first week of August to memorialize August 4, the day we got Rachel's diagnosis.  You can run or walk any distance you choose - with your friends or alone - on a treadmill or with your kids to the park - or you can follow your own route, use our certified route (shown on our website at - count it in another race you are running that week - or if that isn't your thing, you can DANCE... or if you can't physically do that, do something, anything (swim, spend time with someone who needs help, make something for someone...??) for 43 minutes and remember her with us.  I do not have the registration site open yet, but will soon and will post when I do.

I also hope to still set up a baby remembrance ceremony where the local baby loss mamas and I can get together and remember our babies together.  I have absolutely no idea what that will be yet, but my mind is working on a vision for it and will probably make an event page where I can coordinate that.  It's really important to me that I can still support other moms that walk this hard journey.  That's my heart... now to find the energy!!  If you are local to me and this is of interest to you, please email or message me and let me know if Aug 1 or 8 would be better for you!!  It will probably be 1-2 hours total... maybe including some ice cream together! (pregnancy talking, I think! lol)  But more details on that coming soon too.

For now, I have set up an online shirt fundraiser with this year's logo on it.  The shirts are green for the color of Anencephaly Awareness and the logo reminds us how Rachel taught us how to dance in the hard times, rather just waiting for the storm to pass.  I also read the verses in Ecclesiastes 3 that say:
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

(True story: I didn't highlight that above... I went to preview it and it was highlighted!! Godwink!)

And I feel like my time of weeping and mourning have finally ended... I finally don't hurt every single day.  I never thought that would happen, but it has.  It took YEARS longer than I was told it would or expected myself, so my encouragement to anyone still in the trenches is allow yourself to be there while you are.  It's ok.  One day, it will start to shift, believe it or not.  But it's OK to be in the weeping and mourning times.  It's healthy to feel your way through it.

I do believe my time to laugh and dance is now.  And I know I do it with Rachel just as much with me as before.  It's got nothing to do with moving on without her or "moving past this".  And it doesn't mean I'm done crying over all I miss with her.  Just this morning, I found her pregnancy announcement and cried... what a long, hard journey it's been.... but grief has become more a part of who I am and not so much a piece of what I do, if that makes sense.....

I chose to do the shirts this way because the online company handles all the sizes and shipping and that SERIOUSLY simplifies my life.  I won't make much off each shirt this way - but the more we sell, the more profit we make per shirt and we have to sell a certain number of shirts in order for them to even print.  If we don't reach their requirement, they will refund everyone's money and not print so there is no risk in buying before you know if we reach the goal.  They will ship directly to you within 2 weeks of the campaign closing so you will receive them in plenty of time to wear them for the event!

After the event, I would love for everyone to post their pictures on our Baby Rachel's Legacy Facebook page and say what they did to remember Rachel with us, bring awareness to Anencephaly, and support Rachel's Legacy.  It would be so awesome to also see everyone sporting their "Team Rachel" shirts with her little prints on them, as I truly couldn't do any of this without her amazing "Team" of supporters... YOU!!!

Here is where you can purchase your shirts...  event registration info coming soon!

click here for Rachel's Virtual Race Shirts!!

Here is what our logo looks like!  I absolutely love it!  It was created by LNG Digital Design who you can find also on Facebook!  Please order one today!  We only have 29 days left for this campaign!

Also, financial donations are tax deductible and can be made using our Paypal button on the side of the blog or by check to:

Baby Rachel's Legacy
PO BOX 454
Rochester, NH 03866-0454

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Step Out of the Boat

Sunday at church, I was brought to tears as we sang these words...

Oh my God
He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear
His promise is true
My God will come through always

I didn't realize I was all that scared.  But it was as if before I had the chance to identify that I was scared, He was already comforting me in my fear.

I'm not completely sure if I was crying because I'm so thankful that He is attentive to my heart in that way - or if it was because I know just how likely it is that between now and Christmas, something could happen and I could lose another Christmas baby.

I think it was both.

On Sunday night, I had a very real and vivid dream that I was miscarrying. It was so real, I woke up unsure if it had happened or not.  Monday night, as I got ready for bed, I saw that I was spotting.  Years ago, I had dreams about Rachel's ultrasound revealing she was dead 3 times before her ultrasound when we heard she would die, so it was hard not to assume that my dream was God preparing me for what was to come.

I don't know how to say what I am about to say without sounding slightly... I don't know, wrong?  So, I'm just going to lay it out.... I almost felt like it didn't matter.  I had prayed many times that if I'm going to lose this baby, to let it be from miscarriage and not because of anencephaly or some other fatal birth defect that causes me to put my baby in a box and watch someone bury it with dirt.

Anyway, I finished in the bathroom and I got ready for bed.  As I did, I was kind of surprised by my calmness and I tried to figure out if my heart would break or not if I woke up and it was obvious this baby was leaving me.  I felt confident that if I was losing this baby to miscarriage, I would be ok.  That maybe God was just answering my prayer to spare me from going through what I went through with Rachel again.  I stood in my living room lost in thought and only two things came to mind.... so I said them both out loud...

"I love you little one, no matter how long you stay."
"Regardless of how this goes Lord, I know you know best and I trust You."

I got into bed and I slept. Good.  He gave me rest.

I woke up with my ultrasound that was scheduled for later that day on my mind.  I wasn't looking forward to it.  I knew there was a good chance I would go and hear bad news.... but I also remembered the assurance he had given me in that first week of knowing I was pregnant.

Before I had seen the blood the night before, I thought that I would ask Des to go with me to the ultrasound.  It was at Maine Med, which ends up taking 5 hours + out of the day for an appointment and I thought Des would like the girl time.  After I saw the blood, I questioned if I should bring her.  I thought, if it's bad news, this could make every ultrasound SHE ever has in her lifetime hard.  But again I was reminded to not fear...and so I invited her.  I warned her that there was a chance the baby wasn't ok and that it might not be a happy trip and my brave girl said she still wanted to come.  I heard her in the other room telling the boys "I'm going with Mama to the ultrasound to see if the baby is okay." and I realized just how much she is learning along with me.  I like to think she is learning a thing or two about courage and not taking life for granted....that maybe she is learning how to step out of the boat and not fear.

We got into the ultrasound and within two minutes, there was a tiny beating heart on the screen as we peeked into the sacred space we call my womb.  I breathed a sigh of relief but was unaware of how far I was from accepting this pregnancy as 'real' until we were on the way home well over two hours later.

This song was playing on the radio and I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion... I'm pregnant, I thought... and I just cried.  I couldn't even put words to it right then, but as that moment has replayed throughout this week, I think I understand more now....

I miss being able to play music on my blog posts, and would totally have this song playing in the background if I could - so play this while you read the rest!

The video I posted on my announcement post Facing My Giants had the same theme of the ocean being too big for us to conquer - our feet fail - yet with our eyes on Jesus, we can walk on it.

Think about what it would feel like to step out of a boat and try to walk on the ocean.  If you can lose yourself in that thought for a moment, you can feel how scary and powerless - and absolutely failing - that would be.

Matthew 14:27-29 

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 

But that is what I feel like with this pregnancy.  You have to understand that until I saw that positive test, I honestly had little to no desire to be pregnant at all.  I have never felt like that before in all my life.  Other than the first few months after I have a baby while I'm healing and not sleeping at all, I have always been open and ready for another baby.  But after adding Ezra and not being prepared for how hard it would be to have 5 here with the two little ones so close in age, I have had more days than not where I felt completely content to be done.  Especially as my health declined, I honestly didn't think it would ever happen again.  I still had that never fading ache for another little girl, but not enough so that I wanted to try for her.  I still wondered if our family was really complete, although I wasn't sure if that was just because it will never feel complete without Rachel here... And in the past few months, as I have started to get better physically, with proper care of my MTHFR mutations, I was looking forward to a summer where I could play like a kid with my kids for once.  Not pregnant and not nursing for the first time in 7 years.  So this was not something I was all that ready for... 

But the second I saw the two lines, my entire desire changed.  And suddenly it shifted from wanting  (or not wanting) things for me, to what I wanted for this baby.  My big fear right off was that I was on blood pressure medicine that is not considered safe for the first trimester, but the doctors were telling me to keep taking.  High blood pressure all by itself causes major complications during pregnancy and people actually have to deliver babies at 24 weeks in order to save their own lives.  The thought of that scared the crap out of me.  How do you make that decision when moms will literally DIE for their children?  How difficult that must be...

I could see how God had prepared me for this, even without it being part of *my* plan because over the couple of months prior, I had weaned myself off of one blood pressure med and was almost weaned off of the 2nd.  My doctors still don't know and my numbers were still higher than they should be, so I don't even know why I was pushing it, other than God was leading me that way.  I had no idea it was because I was about to find out I had someone growing in me that it wouldn't be good for.  So the day after I found out, I called the dr and asked and two different doctors said to keep taking it.  But I didn't listen... I stopped.  And the strangest, most miraculous thing happened... my blood pressure WENT DOWN!!!  Lower than they have been since I was pregnant with Ezra.  Praise God!  My numbers have been awesome since!!  So during this pregnancy, I had only taken the medication 2-3 times since conception and they were all days apart!  I'm so thankful for how God provides.  So thankful that He is capable of anything - even lowering my blood pressure that couldn't be controlled even on two medications.  

It was a step out of the boat when I saw the positive test and welcomed this baby without an ounce of disappointment... It was a step out of the boat when I stopped taking my medication because it would be best for baby...  It was a step out of the boat when I announced I was pregnant again so early and in spite of the negative responses I sensed coming... It was a step out of the boat when I asked Des to go with me to that appointment...  and so far, He has helped me walk as I have kept my eyes on Him.

I have a lot of walking on water to do between now and Christmas... I have fears about this delivery I have not had with others - on top of being my 3rd VBAC, I now have a brain aneurysm that I have yet to figure out how much that affects my options for delivery.  I may have to have a c-section, I don't know.  I can no longer take the medicine I was on for my neck and back pain OR tums... so pain and heartburn without relief are probably in my near future... I will have a preschooler, 1st, 3rd and 8th grader next year and I am their teacher.  Teachers don't usually have their babies at school with them, but I will and I still need to accomplish all the same tasks.  I have 1200 sq ft and there will be 8 of us here... we will list our house again, but I'm not even sure I want to move.  I have a long line of insurance complications and no idea if I will be allowed to deliver in Maine where I am most comfortable. Matt's looking at a job change soon and it will initially be a huge cut in pay (but long term be a really great thing for us) I am still waiting on a 'round head check' and the 'routine ultrasound' at which my head knows of all the millions of things that can go wrong that my heart would break over.  And of course, I still don't know if I will bring this baby home from the hospital... something I used to take as given, I now know is just not so all the time.

There are so many unknowns... and I don't assume any of them will be easy.  I don't know if this baby will stay.  I don't know if it will be healthy.  I don't know if my blood pressure will remain good until December.  I don't even know if delivery is safe for me.  But what I do know - and I have peace in - is that God will meet me outside of the boat.

And I think that is why I cried on the way home from my scan...  This is truly another faith walk for me.  And for as much of the fears I carry are from my journey with Rachel, it's exactly that same hard journey that grew my faith to walk again through unknowns without being overcome with fear.  It's that journey with my girl that makes me rest in CONFIDENT HOPE that *even if* this doesn't end with a live Christmas baby in our home this year  - or if something else is 'wrong' with him - that not only will God give me all I need to get through it, but He WILL prepare me and guide me long before I know it's coming.  Maybe He is....

I have absolutely nothing to fear with God.  Nothing.  Even if I take my eyes off of Jesus... even if my feet completely fail and I sink... He will lift me up and save me.  I will not drown because if ever I'm going under, all I have to do is reach up and His hand will be there to pull me from the oceans I fear...  He takes me deeper than my feet would ever wander so that my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.  I pray I always have a trust without borders.... to walk upon waters....wherever He may call me... 

Oceans - Hillsong

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh Jesus yeah, my God

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Journey of Motherhood

13 years ago today, I was justly and rightly stripped of my dignity when I was given my first strip search, my first supervised shower in a cement room, dressed in a green jumpsuit and heard the huge metal door shut behind me in my first cell in maximum security where I spent 5 days being slipped meals through a hole in the door, peeing on a cement toilet in the middle of a room where guards watched, and slept on a metal cot listening to the men's voices echo from nearby cells singing "Day-o, me say day-o, daylight coming me wanna go home." 

If there was ever a day I wanted to go home... that was it.  5 days later when I went into the population and faced people I honestly did not fit in with - and had to walk to the chow hall through halls lined with men yelling horrible things at us and telling us to show them our private parts, I felt even more humiliated.  That feeling was all the more overwhelming two weeks later when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby - and due before I was scheduled to be released. 

I went to jail on a Friday and that first Sunday was Mother's Day.  I spent my first Mother's Day behind bars, unaware that I was a mother.  And although most would say that finding out you are pregnant while incarcerated for a year would be horrible, somehow, it gave me something to hope for... something to look forward to... something to dream about and live for.... something to love. 

There just ain't a whole lotta love going around a jail.  And maybe it was naïve, but I really needed love.  If I couldn't get it, I needed to give it.  I had to fight for everything there, from prenatal vitamins to my asthma medicine and to be allowed doctor visits.  I swear I was constantly calling my lawyer... But somehow, as much as it irritated the other inmates because they would tell me I was going to have to go without, I always got what I needed...

The trips to the chow hall became even more difficult as my belly began to grow past the jumpsuit and they told me they didn't have a different size for me... I would walk into the chow hall and the awful smell would have me throwing up.  The food was horrible.  I asked to be allowed to stay in my bed while they went but they refused to let me and had me carry a trash bag to throw up in. 

I was given work release and I worked at Dunkin Donuts (which is also really hard while nauseous!) and every time I either went to work, or had a visitor, I had to be stripped and searched.  They had women do it, but the woman who always did it ironically was a girl I had sold drugs to in the past who was also a lesbian and had came onto me outside of jail.  But now she was in charge.... imagine lifting your arms and spreading your cheeks for someone who had more than her job in mind.  Horrifying. 

One day a couple of months in, a girl signed out her razor to shave her legs... and 30 minutes later, the guard realized she wasn't in the shower.  The bathroom door was busted in and there she was - this heroin addict who had no hope, on the floor covered in blood, her muscles on both arms completely exposed from her wrist to her elbows.  After they carried her out, they told us to clean her blood.  I refused.  I layed on my cot and cried like a baby... no way was I going risk infecting my baby with anything she might have had.  What were they going to do, lock me up??  The other girls started yelling things at me like "you're pregnant not disabled" and I didn't so much as budge.  I just begged a God I didn't even know to help me survive this nightmare I was in and keep my baby safe along the way.

And there began my life as a Mama Bear. 

When I was 5 months along, my lawyer brought a letter my doctor had written with concerns about my baby's health in front of the judge and he accepted his request to release me for the remainder of my pregnancy on house arrest.  On July 17, 2002, I was let out the back of the building of the jail with all of my stuff in a big black trash bag that reeked of smoke that I threw over my shoulder and carried down the long road and up a big hill to where my mom was waiting for me.  A guy I was using with before I left for rehab pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted a ride - he had just returned another friend from work release.  I kept looking ahead and said through tears "No, I'm going home."

I know probably everyone who walks out of jail says they aren't going back, but I meant it.  I was going home and I was going to stay there.  And not just because I was on house arrest!  I was a mom now and I was going to be good at it, even if all the odds were stacked against me.  And I knew this to be true because the mom I was following behind was waiting there to meet me.  She never left my side.

Desirae was 4 months old the first time I was free to leave the house with her without having permission.  I thank God for how he used the hard in my life to bring me to a place where I would never use drugs again.  A place where I had a little person I had to care for, who needed me, who removed all my desire for 'fun' (which was a notion anyway!) and gave me all the reason in the world to be better.  I thank God for the fighter he put inside of me... for the strong will that drove my mom crazy when I was a child, but has helped me to endure so much and not break... for the way He pursued me and used whatever means necessary to get my attention and ultimately to draw me to himself.  I thank God for making me a mother.

This journey of motherhood has been anything but easy.  It hasn't been glamorous.  It hasn't been perfect or gone as I've planned or how I hoped as a little girl.  This journey of motherhood has made me dig deeper and surrender completely.  It has made me admit how often I fail, how little I know, how much I can love, and how desperate and needy I am for God.  It has made me smile, laugh, cry, and ache more than I ever knew anything could.   Becoming a mother literally saved my life.  Becoming a mother changed my world.  Becoming a mother was all I ever wanted and more than I ever deserved. 

And I would have had no way of knowing back then how complicated being a mom could be.... when your child is taken from you and you can't pour out the love on them that is exploding from your heart for them.  When I went for Rachel's ultrasound, my biggest concern was what gender she would be and when I left, it had turned into meeting her alive, if only for one minute.

I know that my road with Desirae and the way having her led me to Christ was all part of God's plan to prepare me for Rachel.  He knows everything that will ever happen and time is not to him what it is to us.  I can't imagine having walked this road without Jesus by my side.  I'm thankful I didn't have to.  And as much as I want to puke reliving those memories from jail, especially being in my first trimester again right now as I do, I can honestly say I would endure all of that again if it was the only way to meet Jesus.  And for me, I think it was.

We went to Rachel's grave today after church.  Mother's Day is one of the days, like my birthday, where I *need* to stop at her grave.  It hurts too much to have a day of mine not include her in some way.  I bought her a pink plant (we got this kind last year and it bloomed through the fall!  hoping for that again!) and the boys picked dandelions and lined them up on her stone.  I took a picture with all 7 of my babies together - as close as we can be for now... and as I walked away, I signed I love you and said "I'm thankful I'm your mother."

I sit here writing and I look up to my wall... I can hardly believe that since that day in 2002, I have given birth to 6 amazing babies and have another on the way.  It seems like so many at times and at other times, it feels like so few.  But mostly when I look at them, I just can't believe I am their mother - and I'm so thankful that I am.

I didn't dress the big boys, but they both ended up wearing Rachel shirts today!

her tulips bloomed for me today ♥

Monday, April 27, 2015

Facing My Giants

Where do I start... ?

A couple of weeks ago, on our Friday night family night, we watched Facing the Giants with the kids.  I had seen this movie a bunch of times before - but this time I cried through the ENTIRE movie.  The movie isn't about things going the way you want in the end... but more about allowing complete brokenness and desperation to draw you to love God FIRST.  Before wins, gains, success, or people's approval... and in spite of loss, failure and persecution.  And just really about loving God through the valley and praising him no matter what.  Of course it says it's about football and infertility, but the real story line is God - just like in real life.  You should watch it.

Last Tuesday, I was at Sam's pre-op appointment for his tonsils and there were quadruplet 5 year old boys in the waiting room.  I talked to the mom, who said she was surprised because they were completely natural and not because of fertility treatments.  As she told me about the ultrasound she had for them and how the tech got really odd on her, my mind went back to my ultrasound with Rachel.  She said she finally asked "Is my baby okay?"  I had asked the same thing with Rachel and got silence... but her tech said "Yes, I'm just trying to count them."  She told me of their shock and how she couldn't believe even still that it is real at times.  I could relate, in a different way.

I left that conversation at Sam's appointment, and was on my way to the store, I found myself lost in thought... I had thought about how the anniversary of my positive pregnancy test for Rachel was coming up - just 3 days away - and how if I was pregnant this month, I would have another Christmas baby.  I found myself thinking "I wonder if God will ever give me a Christmas baby I can keep..." and I glanced out my window at the car passing me and as it got in front of me I saw the license plate 4L3.  But all I really saw was the 43... and I just knew, one day.... I started laughing out loud.  Sam asked what was funny and I couldn't answer him, I was giddy, like a kid on his birthday. 

The next day, I saw an advertisement on the side of Facebook for mother's bracelets.  I have been wanting an updated one with E included... so I clicked on it and made a bracelet to see what it would look like and how much it would cost.  I added another December birthstone just for fun - and when I saw the total, I just knew....God is up to something.  ♥*Hi Rachel*♥
I love that I took this screen shot and you can see the date.

So, the next morning on April 16th, two days before I was even due (and the day before Rachel's test had been positive 5 years ago), I saw two pink lines on a home pregnancy test again.  And my heart immediately swelled with love for this little life inside of me.  I didn't even think twice, I was just plain excited. 

Suddenly crying through the old movie made sense.... hormones already in effect!

I went to the dr that day for my cold and they gave me a test and got a negative on theirs. So they sent me for blood work which confirmed that I am with child ♥   I made my first prenatal appointment and the first available they had was for 4/30. ♥*Hi Rachel*♥

That was 11 days ago and we still feel like its not real.  But we are so excited.  Our kids are more than excited. I feel so unbelievably blessed and undeserving of the title of Mama to all these sweet babies.  I feel humbled at the idea that God trusts me with them.  I feel overwhelmed at the task of raising them to be followers of our Lord when I fail so very often and struggle with sin daily.  But mostly, I feel constantly awed by the truth that God is enough.  He is enough for us financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically.  He is enough and He is always good and there are no mistakes in His world.  This baby has a beautiful purpose.

So, as with the last two babies, I have felt the need to cautiously tell people or not tell them altogether.... because most think we have enough kids already or that with Rachel having anencephaly and my health this past year, another baby just isn't worth the risk.  Others think that you need to give each child their own room, sign them up for every activity available, and be able to pay their way through college or else you shouldn't have them.  Some think I'm too old.  Some think our house is too small.  Some think it's not fair to the kids we already have.  Everyone has an opinion.  I have mine too.  And while mine don't line up with most of that, I am still sensitive to other's words - and also saddened that people would look at a child of mine as a bad choice or a hindrance to our lives, or our children's lives... or extended family members' lives... because they are anything but.  They are a gift from God and the only (yet biggest) gift that so many people look at like a death sentence.  I wish more people believed what the Bible says about children, which is that they are a blessing and a reason to rejoice.  And if you don't buy that one, how about the call to rejoice with those who rejoice!?

That day on the way home from the store, I heard a song on the radio.  The Voice of Truth.  I tried to sing along, but my voice was not working at all because of a cold I had.  As I tried to use my voice, and couldn't, and listened to the words "The Voice of Truth tells me a different story, the Voice of Truth says do not be afraid.  And the Voice of Truth says this is for My glory,  out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth."  Tears started to fall....

Later, I played the song for Matt on You tube and I was telling him that I had heard it earlier and how it was speaking to me about this baby and he said "When I went out tonight, I heard that song too... and right after it was Word of God Speak."  (Which as most of you know, is the song that played when Rachel was born).  Both of us hearing the same song at different times in the same day, just by 'chance' because we had to run out randomly for things, and him hearing Rachel's song too, really felt like God was confirming His hand in it all and reminding me....

It's not about me.  It's not even about my children.  It's not about if they live.  It's not about if they die.  It's got absolutely NOTHING to do with what anyone thinks about the Aubes growing by another person... or burying another person.  It's not about if I die giving birth.  Every single thing that we do and the only reason we live is for HIS glory.  And I'm not trying to sound careless or like we are being unwise and expecting God to catch us if it all blows up - but rather to tell you that God Himself has created this baby and He HIMSELF will write the story for baby and for us and that He has confirmed in a hundred ways these last couple of weeks that this is His plan.  I'm telling you this to say that we TRUST Him.  And that no matter what happens, we will live for His glory - we will proclaim that HE IS GOOD.  We will praise Him.  And for me, in this, this means facing MY giants in the midst of it all...

Because my "giants" grew by hundreds of feet the day I heard the word Anencephaly.  Fear. Death. Loss. Pain. Disappointment.  I'm scared of them.  I am afraid of feeling even an inkling of the pain I felt carrying Rachel and waiting for her to die.  I'd rather die myself than to feel even a portion of what it felt like to leave her in the cemetery and wait for milk to dry up for my baby who would never nurse.  But I have a new set of giants that stem from my health issues... physical pain, medical emergencies, my kids living without a mom and all that would mean for them... but the more I try to hold onto and protect my own life, the more the fear steals from me.  It's only when I truly surrender myself to my Lord that I am ever truly content and at peace.

My giants are nothing compared to the strength God gives me in my times of need.  Nor are they anything compared to His provision and faithfulness.  Today, I am choosing to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.  My God doesn't ask me to face anything without Him.  David would not have defeated Goliath on his own.  The power of the Lord was with him.  And that same power is in me.  The same power that enabled me to survive what I did with Rachel.  I am never on my own and He has already won my battles.  I can face my giants with confident hope that God has victory, no matter what.

The first couple of days, I was in fear because my naturopath has had me off of my folate this month.  I have been completely off of  the very thing doctors say I need to ensure my baby doesn't have anencephaly.  In my head, I was trying to figure out how I would rearrange our headstone to include another name.... I started to think What if the words "This is for my glory" in the song are him preparing me to glorify Him through another anencephaly journey? 

That next day, a couple of different people sent me this picture....

That would be a "quadruplet rainbow" as the headline called it.  Now, I'm not saying I think I am having quadruplets... lol.. I'm saying it felt like God was saying that my ultrasound would be more like the mom at the dr's office that day... It brought the week into a full circle of God's voice in my life... I won't flood the earth again, He spoke to my heart.  Since Rachel, rainbows have had a way of appearing at the craziest and clearly God-given times... like right after we finished her playground.  But until this week, I always saw them as God saying to me "No matter what happens, I am with you!"  I know Biblically the rainbow is a picture of his promise to never flood the earth again, but I know all too well that as a believer we are not saved from trials, but rather held through them.  But right now, I am standing on his promise to not flood my earth again.

This baby's days are already written - and so the only thing worse than saying goodbye too soon is missing the chance to celebrate life while it's here.  Technically I could sit in fear every day that one of my other kids will die suddenly or that I won't be able to provide for them everything they desire.  But I don't because I trust God in all things.... I choose to trust Him even in this scariest aspect of my life - my babies - and the possibility of painfully losing another.  I choose to believe He has my best in mind and hope that it is that I get to keep this Christmas baby.... but trusting that if He does differently, He knows more than I do.

 And then comes the real question... the question that the Facing the Giants movie had it's story based around...if it's not okay...if this doesn't end in the way I would ask or want...will I still love God?   Will I still praise Him? And the unwavering answer is YES.  And I think most people who know me, know that to be true after watching me lose and grieve Rachel.  I could never turn my back on or be unfaithful to my God who has been more to me than I have ever deserved. My God who has always been everything I need and more.  Who has made beauty from my ashes and brought life out of death.  I wouldn't think of it because I need him more than I need anything else on the face of the planet.

Do we love God no matter what?  Or just when life goes how we hope?  Rachel taught me the better part... the resting in God part... the falling on my face in despair and need for God - and the closeness of Him to the brokenhearted.. the blessings from Him when he makes himself real to us.  No matter how the story ends.... She also showed me His goodness like I never knew before her.

I decided that a cute announcement was in order, so I Googled "pregnancy announcement ideas for Christmas baby" and the first article to come up was "How to Avoid A Christmas baby".  I clicked on it, just out of curiosity and it said "If you get pregnant on 4/3, you will be due on Christmas day."  ♥*Hi Rachel*♥ 

I guess I never realized that Rachel's life went from Easter to Christmas - or that a conception on 4/3 would give you a 12/25 due date - but now that I see it, I'm all the more certain how perfectly timed she was right between my two most favorite days of the year... and I'm thankful for another chance at the pregnancy dates that Google obviously has had people looking to avoid.  After Rachel died, I would have given anything to have a Christmas baby with me.  I pray this is God's way of answering the desires of my heart... desires that my earthly self never had until His Spirit taught me about what *really* matters through the death of my little Christmas girl. 
the announcement I made... featuring Rachel's little feet and
a new pair of booties and a 2nd E ♥

This baby will be called "Baby E2" (as in E the 2nd) for now since we need only one more E name to finish off spelling "DESIRAE" with the first letter of all of our children's names.  We do have a girl and boy name already picked, but of course subject to change.  We picked and agreed on them the first day though, so that's pretty impressive! lol.  They both have significant meaning to us so it would be hard to sell a different idea, but we are still tossing ideas around and open to suggestions for E names if you have them ;)

So there you have it... we have another little Aube on the way and we are so thankful.  We thoroughly appreciate every encouraging and positive response we get.  Thank you to all who are excited for us.  Please keep us in your prayers as we venture through the days ahead!  What an amazing journey we're on.... 

Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Here is the song... the verses throughout are perfect, too!