Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moment #6: The Restaurant

we take a pic in front of this sign each year, too!

We have gone to this same little restaurant every year we've been to Maine.  It's called Family Traditions and it's one of our family's traditions!  We have had the same waitress each year and she knows us now.  She remembered Rachel from last year, which was good for my heart.  I love a chance to talk to people about my girl.

This waitress is very nice and has seen us say grace before meals, but based on conversations we've had, I don't think she is a believer. (although you never know).

She brought us our food and as we prepared to say grace, Matt felt led to ask her if she needed prayer for anything.  She stopped in her tracks and I got all self-conscious.  I thought he had made her uncomfortable and was wondering why he couldn't leave the poor lady alone.  (not very godly, I know, since the best thing we can ever offer anyone is Jesus....)  And the selfish, pregnant human side of me just wanted to eat. (yes, I'm embarrassed to admit this - but that's where I was at)

The woman started crying and said "it's unbelievable that you're asking me this because we just found out that my 11 year old grandson needs heart surgery."  we asked for his name and prayed for him before we ate.  She was so grateful.  I was so humbled.  God was so glorified. 

It never ceases to amaze me the blessings that we receive and are able to give when we just follow the prompting of the Lord.  I just looked at Matt and smiled, knowing that without him and his boldness for the Lord,  I would have missed that opportunity and this scared grandmother would have missed the comfort of knowing that her grandson is not out of God's sight. 

I look forward to continuing our relationship with her... one meal, one year at a time... being able to tell her that we've continued our prayers for her grandson and hopefully one day hearing he was completely healed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Think I'm Having a Baby

I'll start with yesterday....  I had an appt at my regular doctor.  I really like this doctor - he actually thinks for himself and treats me like a real person instead of trying to fit me into his textbook mold.  His final opinion on me having a VBAC was "if you were my sister, I'd tell you to go to Maine and have a VBAC."

I left the room and went to use the bathroom before leaving.  The picture on the wall was of a new baby nursing.  I felt myself get excited to actually be able to nurse my baby this time - and then immediately started crying.  I hate that I missed that with my girl.  I hate that I know that there are no guarantees and that even when everything looks okay, it doesn't mean I'll be able to nurse Asa - or bring him home with me.  My excitement actually led to fear... how could I do this again?  I can't wait to hold this baby and hear him cry.  The thought of that moment is overwhelming.

The drive to Maine was strange.  We drove it once or twice a week for months with Rachel, all the while making sure to not miss a kick or twirl.  I smiled and I cried.  Today was like that with Asa.  It was a long day, I left at 9:20 and didn't get home until almost 3pm.  I smiled and I cried.  I did get to stop on the way home and have lunch with one of my blog readers-turned friends today which was really nice.  God has blessed me with so many friendships through this blog.

So, the decision has been made... It's a "go" for a VBAC and I'll be delivering where I had Rachel.  It was nice to see my Dr from Rachel's pregnancy.   It was such a relief to hear him say that he actually thinks a VBAC is a better choice for me, given my delivery history.  And I have peace about it.  I know that this is a "plan" and that if things aren't going well up to the last second, I may have to have a c-section, but I believe it's worth the try.  

This decision comes with some details that worry me....  I'm going to ask you to pray for some specifics and ask for exacts... I know I run the risk of sounding like I think I can tell God what to do and believe me, that is NOT the case.  I learned over the last year to a whole new degree just how powerless I am - and how perfect His plan is.  But I also know that God tells us to "ask for anything in His name and it will be given to us."  Please pray these things with us:

For the timing of my labor...  Matt has no time off and I have to go to the Hospital the minute I know I'm in labor because of the risk associated with VBAC, I cannot labor at home at all.  The drive is over an hour.  Pray that I will go into labor over the weekend, Friday through Sunday, and that Matt will not need to miss any work and that if he does have to, God will provide for us financially.  If I have to be driven by someone else, that Matt will be able to get up to Maine in good timing.

For a safe delivery for me and for Asa... That my scar from Rachel's c-section will not tear during labor.  That I will have great discernment as my labor progresses as to if I should have an emergency c-section.

For child care to fall into place when it's time and protection for the kids... a major bonus of a section is planning purposes... without knowing when I'll go into labor- and not having time to wait around here - I will need immediate childcare for my 3 children here and with Sam's allergies (and my latest post on how crazy they are!), :o) that is a hard thing to come across.  The kids are also worried about me going to the hospital and have been praying daily for Asa to "come out safely" - pray that they won't be afraid while I'm gone.

For my heart and mind... As I get closer to meeting this sweet baby, my heart hurts for Rachel and is remembering her all the more.  I've found myself getting scared that I might lose him too and crying a lot.  Pray that God would cover me in peace and calm my fears and bring this baby home safely with us.  

For good nurses and doctors... We all know what a difference the people who you're laboring with make in your experience.  Please pray that (here's an exact) I can have Kim for my nurse during labor.  (and Michele at some point while I'm there) There is also a nurse I would rather not have and God knows who that is, so pray she'll be on vacation or something! Also that whoever I get for a doctor, they are supportive and  attentive an if there is a problem at all, they recognize it quickly.

For help in balancing the joy of Asa and the sorrow from Rachel... I'm going to be blunt here.. Asa is not a replacement for Rachel and anyone who treats him as such I will not want to be around - and I'm giving myself permission to make those choices as I need to.  Her birthday is 2 weeks after his due date.  I am already worried about how I will handle people who are glad to move on to my alive baby and stop thinking about my dead baby cause I certainly will not be thinking of her any less - and that is not a reflection of how grateful I am to have him or how much I love him.  I don't have the right answer for this one - or even know what to ask for prayer for - all I can tell you is how I feel and assure you that hormones after Asa's birth are not going to make this feeling any easier to bear.  I guess I would ask that you pray that people are sensitive to this and understanding.  God knows the specific people I'm talking about here too so just pray that He would reveal to them how their lack of concern and love for me where Rachel is concerned hurts me and that He will continue to help me forgive, one disappointment at a time.   

OK, so let's get on to the fun stuff... sorry this is so long!!  I'll try to post my prayer requests along the side like I did with Rachel. 

It was hard to get a good view of my boy today - he's been in the same position every time I've had a scan.  He is head down (good boy!) with his hand in front of his face as usual (which obviously doesn't really look like it does here, that's just the way the machine picked it up) and his other hand was playing with his toes the entire time!  So cute.

♥Asa Francisco Aube ♥

He looks just like the other 4... and has good hair just like they all did too!
But it looks a little SHORTER than Rachel's!! 

kind of  difficult t see, but his fingers are wrapped around his little toes!
Most of the scan was light hearted.  But at one point she was taking measurement after measurement of his heart and not saying anything...  I started to think she was about to tell me he had a heart condition.  It's like I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I just sat there in silence - not knowing was easier than running the risk of hearing there was a problem, so I didn't dare to ask.  And apparently there was no problem, she was just being thorough! 

The other hard part was when she measured my fluid.  She told me my fluid was at 14cm, which is perfect.  It should be between 8 and 20.  When I was pregnant with Rachel, at this point in my pregnancy, it measured 44cm.  No wonder I was in so much pain!!  It absolutely amazes me (and I know it was purely an answered prayer - so thank you for praying!) that my water didn't break early!  It's just not supposed to get that high - ever.  I said "it's cause she wasn't swallowing, huh?" and she just nodded with a frown.  "My poor girl" I said and I started crying...

She gave me the final stats... she estimated he weighs 5lbs 8 oz and is in the 71st percentile and he looks healthy.  I just stared at his pictures and smiled...  I'm starting to feel like I might not only be pregnant, but that I might be having a baby, too.... 

My Appointment Today

Today is my appt at Maine Med.  I'm apparently really nervous cause I'm not feeling so well physically this morning.  Please pray that the doctor will lead me correctly and that I will know what to do as far as my decisions for Asa's birth. 

This morning feels all too familiar.  I haven't been to Maine Med since Rachel and having an all day appt with an all day babysitter (My mom of course!) is way too much like my days waiting for my girl.  I'm going alone today - Matt has no time off....  will get to see my boy again though which I'm looking forward to (never thought I'd say that about an ultrasound again!)  but I'm nervous about going back there and how I'll feel emotionally. 

This morning my sister asked to borrow my video camera today and when I took it out to get it ready, I removed the tape I had in there..... it was labeled "Rachel" and it is empty.....  it's the little things that do me in sometimes.

I'll let you know how it goes....  My sweet Samuel just saw me tearing up and rubbed my arm saying "it's okay Mama, don't worry!" in his squeaky little voice.... love my kids.... especially when they're not on window sills :o)

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Was "That Woman"...

I had great plans of a really inspiring post I was going to write today - God impressed it on my heart yesterday while hanging outside with my amazing husband and kids as Isaiah rode his bike without training wheels for the first time.... that'll have to wait....I'll come back to it....

Today was a disaster.

It all started off okay - running a little behind getting school started, but pretty soon we caught up and things went smoothly.  I had Sam running around naked in an attempt to potty train him and it was going accidents yet and he even pooped on the potty (which I think scared him).  I was feeling pretty on top of my game until we went grocery shopping.

Note to self:  Self, if you EVER think going grocery shopping just before lunch and nap time, while 8 months pregnant, with 3 kids, one potty training is a good idea... you're stupid.  It's not.  Turn back while you still can.

So, my big fear was that my food trip was going to end in tears like last week.  Last week I cried for an hour and a half after leaving the store cause I spent too much money and didn't even have anything for dinners and forgot to buy lunch meat.  Yeah, I know it sounds dramatic, but standing at the check out, I thought I was going to puke when I was trying to decide if I should put it on credit because we didn't have the money to cover it. 

That was a cake walk compared to what my children put me through today.  It all started with the dumb squares on the floor.  The orange and white blocks became a game board for Des & Isaiah and it involved punching each other if they stepped at the wrong time on the wrong color.  It also involved them running from side to side and IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE and making lots of noise.  I told them in my nice mama voice over and over to "watch where you're going.... be careful you don't run into people....walk forward....stop hitting each more running... if you don't stop running, I'll leave all the groceries here and we'll leave - and you will regret it (that's my mom talking)...."  I was just focusing on getting the heck out of there....  We also had a really fun trip to a smelly bathroom in which the hand dryer became the entertainment and Sam was on the toilet freaking out because the noise was scaring him and the other two were squealing so loudly that they couldn't hear me telling them to shut the thing off....  ergh.....

I manage to make it to the check out and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.... just one person in front of me and then I'm out of here, I'll give them lunch, get Sam to bed and I'll have a break....

The cashier was taking forever with the lady in front of me who was getting her WIC.  For those of you lucky enough to not need WIC, it stands for Women, Infants, & Children and it consists of vouchers that give you free food that supply the right nutrients....but you have to get exactly what is on the voucher, down to the ounces specified.  I was also getting my WIC, so it didn't bother me that she was really slow cause it gave me time to get my stuff in the right order for checkout, which can be stressful if they are moving quickly.  Unfortunately, my kids didn't appreciate the slowness so much - and I didn't know that in 20 minutes it would just about put me over the edge.

The kids started getting antsy...Isaiah asked me 15 times for the Pez in front of him,while I told Des over and over not to read the crap on the magazines they put RIGHT AT A CHILD"S EYE LEVEL!!!  Sam kept trying to stand up in the cart and was now screaming to get out and begging for a drink.

I don't know what I was thinking, other than a change of scenery might do them good, but I said they could all go sit on the chairs at the front of the store. (it's worked before...)  They were only about 20 feet away, but I somehow missed what they were doing.  All of a sudden, I heard everyone around me gasping for breath and as I turned to see what the deal was, I could not even begin to tell you how I felt.... MY KIDS WERE SCALING THE WINDOW SILL AT THE FRONT OF THE GROCERY STORE.... Up about 10 feet in the air in front of everyone and RUNNING away from the store manage who was trying to get them down and looked like he could probably use a pull-up at about that point cause he just might poop his pants. 

I cannot imagine what my face looked like, but all I could say was "You've got to be freakin' kidding me!!"  I left my wallet and all my stuff behind and marched over there and pulled Isaiah down and with everyone watching pulled him by his arm to the seat and yelled "I told you to SIT DOWN not climb the windows!!" and then I turned around and pulled Samuel down and put him in the cart.  I went back to my WIC....oh, this is fun.....   Isaiah continued screaming from where he was at that his shoe wasn't tied....are you serious?  you think I care about your stinkin shoe right now??  Sam screamed bloody murder as his boogers flowed down his face and he now had a steady stream of drool coming out of his mouth and hanging 8 inches down.  I stood there in silence and this really happening to me right now?

All the SLOWER than molasses cashier was questioning me about my WIC items and taking forever.  She actually stopped in the middle of all of this to ask my out of control son if HE WANTED A STICKER!  Are you kidding, he doesn't deserve a freakin sticker...he needs something, but it ain't a sticker and I can't give it to him here so just get me the heck out of here!!  I had now been in the check out for over 30 mins and we weren't even done my WIC, never mind onto the groceries I was buying... my kids had everyone in the store staring at me...and then the lady behind me asks "When are you due?"

Can I cry yet??

Then I heard her say to the person next to her... "well, she sure has a lot of patience"  If she only knew....this was the calm before the storm... I'm glad, however, that my complete disgust at the situation was coming across as "patience" - that's wonderful.

My bill came to too much again and I didn't even care.  All I cared about was how I was going to allow my children to survive the rest of this day - and if they were going to allow me to survive the rest of this day.  A woman who works there that also follows my blog (Hi!) followed me out to the car to ask if I needed a hug.  It definitely helped bring me down a couple levels in frustration.  I asked "did you see my kids in there?!" and as I did a woman walking by said "it happens to all of us..."  I hardly believe you had your kids climb 10 feet into the air in front of an entire store, but thanks...

I drove home bawling...  I was "that woman"...  standing there pregnant with three unruly kids cashing in my WIC certificates as person after person switched isles behind me cause "I" was taking too long.  A few people were giving me the "they're just kids" line to try to make me feel better while the rest stared at me in judgement.  So here's the thing.... being a "kid" doesn't give them the right to act like animals.  When they get older and they are buying their own food and living in their own house, if they want to go to the store and climb the windows and scream and drool everywhere, that's fine with me, but leave me out of it.  It's not happening.  I absolutely refuse to allow my children to act however they want and excuse it by saying they are kids.  They are kids who are going to learn, apparently the hard way, that they don't behave like that.... ever. 

So, here's what I did...  I made them unload and put away ALL the groceries and told them I didn't want to hear a peep.  I made them lunch, put Sam to bed and confined them to an afternoon of complete quiet and reading and told them that Daddy & I will talk about what their punishment will be and then warned them that if I don't get a quiet afternoon, I'll punish them myself and that with how upset I am, I can guarantee they don't want that.  

And I made myself a HUGE ice cream sundae.  It's been quiet here for 2 hours and counting....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Friday Without My Big Girl

The Fridays come and the Fridays go.....I can't believe Rachel would be almost 10 months old.  Oh, I bet she would be the cutest thing ever.

Today as I pulled up to her grave, I felt at a loss for what to do.  I usually have something to tidy up or make look pretty... flowers to bring, flowers to water... something to do for her.  Today there was nothing.  It looked perfect.  Her stone is beautiful.  It sparkles.  It shines.  It's prominent... and if I can be so bold as to say, I think it's the nicest one in there.  for all the worrying I, it's nice.  And the fake flowers I brought last week were just as I had left them.  The flower pot hole we had carved into her stone protects them from the wind.  I didn't bring anything new or have anything to set up.

So I just stood there.  I noticed her grass is still in the shape of a heart.  I just studied the ground and thought about all the ways God has continued to show me that heaven is for real....  and then it was like a ton of bricks on my heart...  my baby's dead body is just below the surface of this ground.   I stood there crying like I haven't cried there in months.  It felt so fresh and so raw.  I can still picture her perfect little face and would love to kiss her little nose one more time.  I picked a dandelion nearby and placed it on her stone and walked away, doing my usual "I love you" sign as I got back in the van.

This afternoon, my nurse from Rachel's birth, Kim, came and spent the afternoon here with me.  It was awesome.  She brought me some daisies too. ♥  I know it sounds silly to care about, but one of my struggles is that when people ask how big she was and I say Rachel was 3lbs 7oz, people get a picture of this tiny little preemie.  Today I mentioned that to Kim and she said with complete assurance, "oh no, she was the size of a 6 1/2 pound baby" and it felt so good.... to know that she knew her and I didn't have to convince her or try to explain how much a baby's head weighs or what it adds to her length or tell her how her preemie clothes didn't fit her and I had to have someone go get a bigger size at the store.  She knew that my girl was chubby and for her gestational age, pretty good sized.  She wasn't the preemie that people think of when they hear her stats.  In the same way that most people long to be known and understood by others,  I long for people to know and understand Rachel and the details about her.  It made my day to hear someone who sees tons of babies of all sizes confirm what I have been trying to tell people.  I guess my desire for people to get this stems from the desire for everyone to know that she was a strong growing baby and I think that if she was that small at 37 weeks that would say otherwise.  But there you have it.... Kim says she was the size of a 6 1/2 pound baby and at 37 weeks, that makes her big! :o) 

Moment #5: The Diapers

For any new readers, my "moments" posts are moments that I wanted to share from our vacation at the beginning of the month, but can't do all at once so I'm working on it moment by moment....

We went bowling one afternoon after Samuel's nap.  Matt packed the diaper bag and when we got to the bowling center, I looked in....

No diapers, No wipes, No change of clothes.... I asked him "what exactly do you pack when you pack the diaper bag?"  Well, because of Sam's allergies, we're always so focused on bringing him something he'll be able to eat, that it's easy to overlook other necessities.  We went in anyway because they were only open a little while longer and we didn't have time to drive all the way back. 

We walked in, got our shoes and headed over to our lane... lane #2.  There was only one other family bowling there and so the guy spaces us out a lot.  We found our spot and everyone sat down to put on their shoes on the bench outside our little area.  I went to sit in the bowling area and there, sitting on our bench, in our lane was this....

A ziplock bag with a handful of size 5 (Sam's size!) diapers and some wipes.  I mean, come on... a coincidence?  Please!  It was such an amazing moment and I love it when our kids see God provide so specifically for our needs.  About half an hour after we got there, a woman came in and came over and grabbed the bag.  Matt told her what had happened and she gave us one.  After we left there, we went to Licolnville Beach, thankful that we didn't have to rush home to get a diaper.  As we sat eating dinner on a picnic table, she approached us again - They had come to the same beach after their bowling trip! - and she gave us the rest of the bag, with 5 diapers in it.  This was the day before we were leaving to come home and we were almost out of diapers.  When we pulled in our driveway the next day, Sam was wearing the last diaper we had with us!

Here's a couple of pics - the kids LOVE to bowl!!
this is why the guy brought us over the ramp to *ease* the balls down the lane!

Isn't she pretty?
"Excited" doesn't describe Sam... he was yelling "go, go, go!!!"
I'll share more about the beach we went to afterwards in another "moments" post....stay tuned.....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Irish Triplets!

It dawned on me today as I told someone how old all my kids are that I don't just have Irish Twins... I have Irish Triplets!  Samuel and Rachel are only 18 months apart and then Rachel & Asa are 11 months apart.  No wonder I feel worn out... the only time in the past 3 1/2 years that I haven't been pregnant, I've been nursing a baby... or grieving and wishing I was nursing my baby. (and 4 months out of that, while nursing Samuel, I was pumping for a friends' baby too!)  I feel like I'm 80.

I was grateful for the conversations I had at the kids' gym class today with a couple of moms who, although offering condolences, didn't seem awkward when I told them about Rachel.  I never know what to expect when I drop the dead baby bomb, but I cannot and will not exclude her when I speak of my children. I have yet to come up with an easy answer for the "how old are your kids?" question.  So, I just said " 8, 4, 2 and I have a daughter who would be almost 10 months old that passed away in December." They said they were sorry and then continued on and happily allowed me to talk of her just like I did my other kids and included her when they talked too without sounding like they were uncomfortable.  It was a breath of fresh air for me and I needed that.  Lately, I have also run into the question "how many girls and boys do you have already?" When they see my big belly and ask if I'm having a boy or girl, it's almost ALWAYS the next question in line.  I used to try to explain, but now I just simplify my life and say 2 boys and 2 girls.  Honestly, for most of the world, that is shock enough all by itself!   

I wasn't as tired today and even made dinner! (I know that sounds pathetic)  So, tonight I'm feeling alright.  Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carrying Rachel's Irish Twin

So here I am.... 32 weeks today.  I feel like I'm ready to go into labor at any moment and I'm 8 weeks away from my due date!  This picture actually makes me look smaller than I am and WAY smaller than I feel.  I'm huge and most people ask if I'm having twins.  I'm going to start telling them that I'm having an Irish Twin, since technically, I am.  Rachel and Asa will be just 11 months apart.

Just for the record, and I've been known to guess correctly :o), I'm shooting for November 11, which is 5 days before my due date.  It's a Friday, which is the perfect day to have a baby... all of my babies, except Isaiah have been born on Fridays and he was a Sunday morning ( I went in on Saturday) - which with him, was the day I was hoping for cause it was just after Thanksgiving and I had leftovers I wanted to eat :o).  So, in case you're laughing at me for trying to plan my date, let me give you my history...

Des was due on January 16.  I guessed the 4th and she came (with help) on Friday the 3rd, 13 days early.
Isaiah was due on Dec. 5, I guessed Nov. 25 and he came on Sunday the 26th, 10 days early. (on his own)
Samuel was due on March 13, I guessed the 6th, and he came on that day - Friday the 6th. (on his own)
Rachel was obviously a planned c-section, which I picked because it made her 37 weeks and 1 day (full term) and it was a Friday.

Now watch, Asa will decide that he doesn't want to come out and come a week late!!  Oh my gosh, PLEASE pray that won't happen!!  I don't have it in me to go that long!   Matt has no vacation time and no sick time left so being in the hospital over the weekend would be a huge blessing.  We have no room for missing hours of pay.

I'm still not sure if I will have another c-section or a VBAC, I'm meeting with my doctor from Rachel's pregnancy up at Maine Med next Wed. to discuss if I'm a candidate for a VBAC.  I hadn't had a c-section before Rachel.  If I have a VBAC, I will have to deliver up there.  If I have a scheduled c-section, I'm not sure if I'll stay where I'm at or switch to there, but I will probably pick the 11th.  It's a Friday and it's also "Remembrance Day", which is my way of including my girl on her brother's day.  Plus who wouldn't love to have 11-11-11 as a birth date? 

Originally, I didn't think I would want to go back to Maine for a delivery, which is why I've changed doctors 3 times already.   The more I think about it though, the more I realize that I'm not afraid to be where Rachel was.  It might be where she died, but it's also where she lived... a very special place in my journey - not something to be feared.  After listening to others' journeys and hearing people not want to return to the same hospital, I just assumed that it would make it harder and that I didn't want to do that.  But the more I pray about it and think about it, the more I realize that there is no getting out of how difficult the emotions will be having another baby after losing my girl.  Whether I'm in Maine, New Hampshire or on an island far away, I'm not going to escape the feelings that come with this - and I don't want to. 

I also think that I might actually find comfort in being around people who met her... who saw with their own eyes how amazing she beautiful she worth the pain she much I love her.  I hate it when I have to try to paint that picture for people who haven't been walking this road with me - especially my doctors.  I love seeing the people who were there that day and knowing that they shared a piece of my life that is irreplaceable.  They hold a special place in my heart and when I have no words to describe the loss I feel, they are the most likely to not need any, because they were there.  It was such a sacred day.  I would give anything to go back to those moments and hold her again.

The things I do think are going to be hard, but will be anywhere, is the first time I hear Asa cry... I will be so relieved, and yet I think it will only show how profound a silent delivery room is.  The moments when I waited to hear her and never did.  When I leave holding a baby in my arms and buckle him into the car... I know I will remember being wheeled out empty handed after having Rachel and seeing the carseat in the trunk, not needed.  When it's time to give him the first bath... I'll remember how unsure I was of myself on how to handle Rachel when I feel like an old pro with a baby who is alive.  The first time I get to nurse him... I'll remember how I grieved not having that with Rachel.  And I'm okay with all of that, but I just know that my heart will ache through it all and I have no idea how to reconcile that with the joy that I will also feel when those things aren't torn from me with Asa. (I hope).

OK, so here is my point of all of this... I need prayer.  I have some very serious medical decisions to make - as I get closer to Asa's birth, I'm getting more emotional about Rachel's - and I am *overly* exhausted.  This morning, I fell into tears because I got tired when I got up to butter Sam's toast.  I sat down and just cried and cried and all I could say was "I'm so tired".  I feel weak, like I should be in a stinkin' wheelchair. (I don't know how I did this with Rachel and the polyhydraminios I had!!)  Poor Des was watching me in silence, not sure what to do.  I had them check my iron cause I feel anemic, and it is low, but not as low as I expected based on how I feel.  I am getting very discouraged with this.  On Sunday, by the time I got into church, I was fighting off tears because I was out of breath and worn out - and our parking lot is flat and small so it's not like I had a big workout getting inside. 

I think it's just been a lot on my body carrying my Irish Twins.  I've been pregnant for a year and a half, with the exception of when I was healing from my c-section - and I'm feeling it.   I've been so thankful for the meals that a couple friends have brought by and know that God will get me through these hard months and help me make the right decisions for me & Asa, but if you could be praying that would be great...

The things I need prayer for are:
That God will continue to lead me in the decisions I make and I will feel confident in what I decide.
For energy to take care of the boys and school Des (and get them out to their activities)
Peace of mind as I get closer to delivery (I'm getting nervous)
A safe delivery for me & Asa
For my heart as I continue to balance the joy of this new baby with the sorrow of losing Rachel... I'm coming up on her first birthday and it's hard.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moment #4: The Boat

Last year on our vacation, I was 6 months pregnant with Rachel.  I knew I wanted to do some type of memorial for her and in my mind, I pictured a single swing hanging from a tree with a plaque beneath it. We were driving out from a side street in Camden and across the way was a little Montessori school and in front of it; a little wooden boat.

I said to Matt "that's what I want to do. I want to build her an ark."  And as Matt usually does when I come out with one of my ideas, he nodded and moved onto the next subject.  But I knew that day, that somewhere, someday, Rachel would have an ark.... because when I make my mind up about something, there's no turning back.  So I rubbed my belly and just quietly started my planning and praying about it.  I had wanted to bring a picture of it home with me so I could show someone and try to make it just like that one.  The pic I took as we drove by didn't come out and so my search for something "like it" began.... Now I'm thankful that the picture didn't come out because I had no idea what God had in store for me and for Rachel's Ark.

Here is the picture of the boat in Camden:
I mean, not that it's not a cool boat or anything.... but this year I got out of the van to take a picture because I was just in awe of what God had done when I put my "vision" aside and let Him lead.   If this is the boat that I sought after, this is the boat I would have gotten.  But because I left it in God's hands (He made me, really)  I received so much more.  And so did the hundreds of other children who have played on Rachel's Playground since May.

I remember standing on this piece of land in April trying to imagine what Rachel's Ark would look like...If the area of land would work...if I'd be able to raise enough money to fund it or find enough people to help build it.  I stood there wondering if it really could happen...The plans had become much bigger than I originally thought and it almost seemed impossible.  But had I not yet learned that nothing is impossible with God?
I mean, not that it's not a cool piece of land or anything.... but I like this better:

And pictures really don't do Rachel's Ark any justice at all.  If you are around here and haven't seen it yet, you should go take a look and go down the slide!  It's 24 feet long and wide enough for me, Des, Isaiah and Sam to all go down together!   I, even still, every time I pull around the corner at church, am in awe at the fact that this really came to be.  That this amazing playground stands there because of my sweet baby. 

Standing at the little boat in Camden really brought to light how much has happened in just one years' time.  I could so clearly remember saying "that's what I want to do.  I want to build her an ark" while feeling her dance around in my belly -  This year I stood there, knowing the details of how her life and her ark turned out, with her little brother kicking around in me - And as the cool breeze pulled my hair from my face, I turned my head towards the sun, closed my eyes and smiled.... I have not been on the boat I had envisioned when I saw two pink lines back in April 2010, but God has provided me an ark and been my Shelter in the storm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Uncreated One

Worship this morning at church was very emotional.  We sang both of the songs that I had friends do solos of at Rachel's service and one congregational song we sang.  One of them was "Yet I will praise" which we also had a friend sing at Rachel's Race.  I cried a lot during this song today, mainly on the part that says:

I can't understand all that You've allowed, I just can't see the reason
But my life is in your hands and though I cannot see You, I choose to trust You.

The other one, called Uncreated One (playing on blog now), our friend Erik learned for her service.  To hear him sing it today brought that day right back.  We had the service recorded, but there was an issue with the sound and it didn't come out.  I try not to think of it cause it's extremely disappointing to me.  I wish I could just let you watch the service so I didn't have to explain it all in order for you to know because other than the video issue, it went perfectly.  It was a beautiful day for what it was.  I am grateful that I was able to add so many little personal touches for her.  It still breaks my heart to think about, remembering how much it hurt to say goodbye.

As I sang that song today though, it just reminded me how deep my desire was, and still is, to bring glory to God through my baby's death.  I remember standing in my kitchen while 8 months pregnant with Rachel and hearing it, breaking down in tears of gratitude and knowing I would have it sang at Rachel's funeral.  I also knew I would ask Erik to sing it.  When I did, and he didn't know what song I was talking about and said he'd have to learn it, I got a little worried... but he did such a good job and the song was perfect.   It was the opening song that day and my purpose in that was to remind us of Who God is and what that means for Rachel.  I also wanted every unbeliever there that day to know where we were finding our strength and hope.  Wow, did God carry me....  In hind sight, it's hard to even believe how I walked through those days without falling apart emotionally and to fathom all I was doing physically after just having had major surgery.  It was all Him.  And so today, I wanted to go back to basics and just remember and give glory to the Holy Uncreated One who created my precious daughter, gave her life in my womb, gave me strength to carry her to her death and then brought her to heaven...where someday, I will see her again.

"Uncreated One"

Holy Uncreated One
Your beauty fills the skies
But the glory of Your majesty
Is the mercy in Your eyes

Worthy Uncreated One
From heaven to earth come down
You laid aside Your royalty
To wear the sinner's crown

O Great God, be glorified
Our lives laid down
Yours magnified
O Great God, be lifted high
There is none like You

Jesus, Savior, God's own son
Risen, reigning Lord
Sustainer of the Universe
By the power of Your word

And when we see Your matchless face
In speechless awe we'll stand
And there we'll bow with grateful hearts
Unto the Great I am

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Choose This Day

I was feeling really worn out this morning as I threw in the 2nd load of laundry for the day at only 8am, the kids' hymn music was playing in the bathroom.  Matt plays music for them just about every morning, but today the songs seemed to be more for me.  I want to share the two I listened to, and why they had me in tears....

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

I found myself crying - to try to put into words why is hard, but if I was to try I would say that I was humbled by how amazing and faithful God is and convicted by how easy that is to forget when He is the only One who has never let me down.  Then this song came on.... 

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wander, I still will follow;
Though I may wander, I still will follow;
Though I may wander, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me; No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

I felt God gently correct me again as He impressed on my heart.....Hey, I never said this would be easy.... I never promised you wouldn't have pain....I never told you that once you decided to follow Me you wouldn't have struggles or have to do things you didn't want to do.   I never promised that you wouldn't have a child die in your arms.  I promised I would be with you.... that I would never leave you.... that I would carry you and give you rest.  I promised I would collect your tears and hold you close.  I promised that I would make a place for you (and Rachel) in heaven... I've done my part.... are you willing to continue doing yours?

And as I examined the evidence for myself (I learned that while getting my criminal justice degree) :o)  I could only come to one conclusion...  He's right.  I've been wandering lately, overcome by my pain, and losing sight of my only Hope.  It's time to decide again who I serve.  The answer is simple...

I serve a Mighty God who is worthy of all my praise... in every valley and on every mountain top.  In every trial and in every victory.  He IS.  He was enough while I was pregnant with Rachel and He IS enough now.  He hasn't changed.  I am honored to serve my God in whatever He calls me to - no matter what the cost.  And I know wherever I am, He is there too, because He promised he would be.  Lord Jesus, help me to see you now, to feel you with me, to know you more....

Psalm 116
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

Joshua 24:15
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.
But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Keep Forgetting

I know I said I wasn't going to be blogging much anymore... and for those of you who are wondering if I've changed my mind... why, yes I have.  And the short version of "why" is that in one week I had 2 blog friends lose their babies and was able to be there for them.  I wouldn't know them, or their sweet babies, if I didn't blog.  I also had a blog follower from Missouri email me and tell me that when she went to sign up at her local Pregnancy Help Center for a "Walk for Hope" in October, they gave her my blog address and told her she should check it out.  I just know God isn't finished with Rachel yet - and He's using me to accomplish matter how inadequate I feel for the job. 

That being said.... here's what happened today...

I woke up in the middle of a dream... I was on this beach, one that although I have no idea where it is, I have been on it in my dreams a bunch of times.  We were on a family vacation and I was watching Matt & the kids play in the water.  As I was still half asleep, I woke up with 'dreamland' feeling real and thought to myself "I better bring an umbrella for the baby next year" and I pictured sitting on the beach with my new little baby girl...  I woke myself the rest of the way to realize that there will be no little girl with me next year.  I sighed as I dragged myself out of bed and went downstairs.  I'm grateful there will be a baby boy with me next year needing an umbrella, I'm just not sure why he wasn't there in my dream.

Then, we were doing homeschool this morning.  It was going well.  We started on reading, Desirae's favorite subject and the last thing we had to do for the day.  As I looked at the scheduled assignment, I decided to glance ahead at the lesson plans.  I noticed there were only 71 one of them and began to wonder if I wasn't supposed to be doing one each day....maybe one a week??  I was thinking out loud and said to Des "Hmmm... I wonder why there are only 71, that won't get us through the school year... I suppose we could keep going doing one every day because I'm sure we'll take some time off when Rachel's born..."

"I mean.... when Asa's born"

I burst into tears.  I couldn't believe I forgot who I am pregnant with.  I was sad because for just a moment, I got to plan as if she was coming and staying - and then I realized it isn't her.  I just kept shaking my head wondering if I'm ever really going to be able to believe that my daughter is gone.  If it ever won't hurt so bad when the reality hits me.  If I'll ever fully accept my reality, even in my dreams...

All I could say is "Lord, please help me."  I wiped my face and turned the page...

"alright, where were we.... read page 15 and 16...."

(and in case you're interested... there is a second book with the rest of the lessons in it that I also forgot about. *sigh*)

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


OK, I need help here...  I started putting together scrapbook pages while I was pregnant with Rachel.  I bought it on our vacation last year in Maine.  My plan was that if I had all the pages ready, I could quickly print up the pictures from her birthday and get them all in to her book in time for her funeral to display.  Yeah... I'm always planning big... but this wasn't something I was able to do.

So, I have only about 8 pages made and ready for pictures and no pictures in it.  I just haven't been able to get back to it. The entire situation with pictures is stressing me out!  I know that I need to get this done before Asa comes or it's likely never going to happen... and I'm not a scrapbooker, this is my first attempt so it's overwhelming, but I would really love to have one for her.

What I am hoping you might be able to help me with is this:  If anyone is able to do 2 pages that have the same general theme (so I can use them as a spread) on 12 x 12 paper and get them to me so that I can put her pictures in, I would be SO thankful.  I have my pregnancy pics, baby shower pics, her birthday pics, and pics from her funeral that I want to put in it.  I need a lot of pages.  If 2 pages is too much, I'll gladly take one and make it work.  I know I probably sound pathetic here, but I'm exhausted, been pregnant for the better part of 2 years, I'm homeschooling and trying to get ready for our newest addition (including lots of doctor's appt's!) while still doing stuff for Rachel - I need help!! 

If you are able to help with this, you can mail it to Rachel's PO BOX

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

Thank you!

Moment #3: A Special Bouquet

I planned on picking up some flowers to keep in the cottage in Rachel's honor for the week, just like I do at home.  I left some on my counter here too, but I like to be able to see them.  I decided to look somewhere else after seeing the prices at the store that we stopped at on the way into town.

The next day, we went to Mount Battie which has the most beautiful views.  We go every year and it's just breathtaking. 
It almost apears like we're standing by the water here, but we're not - we're extrememly
high up on a mountain overlooking the water surrounding Camden

Just as we were heading back to the car to leave, I looked over and saw Isaiah picking flowers. He LOVES to give me flowers... he's so sweet. He handed me a bundle and as he did, he said "Here Mama, these are for Rachel's grave."
He went off to pick a few more and I noticed that Matt was bent over picking some too. He came over and handed me some. There was mostly dandilions, but mixed in were a few white ones that looked like tiny daisies. I knew right away these were going to be what I put at the cottage for Rachel. I figured that I would get through until the next day before they died and I could go buy some then. I brought them back carefully and put them in a glass on the window sill.

Well, those little "weeds" lasted ALL WEEK LONG.  I've never seen anything like it.  The kids bring in flowers from the yard all the time,  I put them in water and by that night, they are dead.  Not these ones....
On the 3rd, we picked a few more to add to the glass for her 9 month birthday.

They were perfect and meant so much more than spending $15 on a bouquet that probably would have died quicker!  It really remided me that sometimes, our greatest gifts come in the most unexpected and simple packages - the ones that wouldn't be your first plan, but end up being even better....   just like Rachel.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rachel's Hand-Me-Downs

Well, I finally did it...  I brought Rachel's stuff down out of her room and moved it into her hope chest.  There are a few things hanging on the wall up there still, but that's it.  It was really hard.  I did a lot of crying as I read through the hundreds of cards I have, notes that people left at her grave for me in the early days, hospital discharge papers, the stethoscope that listened for her last heart beat and all her cute little clothes that still smell like her, some with her blood stains on them.

It was hard.  It was painful.  And yet, as I sat there reading through the book from the funeral and remembering how I obsessed over it that night after she was buried; filling it in like it was her baby book that she would some day get to read - even through my tears, I was filled with joy.  I was filled with gratitude.  At the same time I was thinking "I can't believe I've been through something so horribly painful, did this really happen to me??" I was also thinking "I cannot believe how amazing this journey has been, all the love that I had for her, how faithful my God is, how He carried me so that I could do all I did for her and have no regrets, how I could walk so strong when I felt so scared and weak because He was with me,  how loved I was by His people and my family, how many people from all over the states and world knew about her and were affected by her life and death."

I packed her stuff away, knowing it won't be the last time I hug her clothes, smell them and cry.... and okay with that and all the pain that comes with it.  She was worth it all.  But oh how my heart just aches to hear it isn't true....that it was all a bad dream.... I can't believe I can love someone I barely knew so much - and yet it gives me such an insight to the unbelievable bond that God puts between a mother and her child while in the womb.  I miss her chubby hands and cute little feet :o(  I'd give anything to hold her again.

I came across a blanket, a angel teddy bear blanket, a couple of diapers and t-shirts that were Rachel's that she didn't use (my mom bought them for her), but they were hers and were at the hospital with us.  The whole set is white and I felt really strongly that Asa should have them.  I didn't think he'd be able to wear any of her stuff since it was all girly, but I forgot about these.  We used pink cloth diapers on Rachel, but I brought home the disposable ones that were in the OR with us anyway and I've decided that these are the first things Asa will wear and touch - from his big sister.

I know most people think it will bring more pain to include Rachel in these things, but it's actually quite the opposite for me, it brings me comfort to bring her with me into the future instead of having to leave her behind.  And I'm sure Asa doesn't mind at all.  Actually, I think he'd be proud to include Rachel.  Here's his birthday oufit :o)  I'm getting excited to meet this little boy - his personality is showing as he rolls around in my belly (well, he's too big to roll anymore, but boy, does he move a lot!!)  He's a sweet boy...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Please Pray Tonight

Could you all join me in celebrating the life of my friend Nat's son Sebastian, and praying for her and her husband Greg and their other children as they prepare to bury their sweet boy tomorrow?  They live in Australia, so it is tonight that they need to especially be covered in prayer (because of the time difference), but in the days and weeks to come as well.  Sebastian had Trisomy 18 and was born into heaven last Sunday (Father's Day there).  You should check out her blog Here.  She sent me a picture and he is so adorable.  I'm sure he is going to be missed more than words can adequately describe.

Congratulations Nat & Greg on your beautiful baby boy!  Praying for your hearts as you walk this path without him here. ♥  God is with you.

Baby Dust

I know many of you read the other blogs I follow already, but I just read this on Holly's blog Caring for Carleigh and wanted to share it. (Hope that' okay, Holly?)  She is reviewing a book that is soon to be released called "Baby Dust" and it addresses the things women experience after the loss of their baby that unfortunately don't come up in many books.  I have actually ached for this kind of understanding at this point on my path.... the point when everyone else feels better, but me. 

There is a lot more that you should read on Holly's blog, but the one I wanted to specifically share that has me in tears this morning is below.... I have been mostly open about my struggles with how people have treated me (not that they are intentionally trying to be hurtful) during the months after Rachel's death - but obviously there are many things I just cannot share for the sake of not hurting others or grieving God.  Some things I have to take to Him alone and they are usually the most painful ones.  Being told that I am doing this wrong by people who are 'supposed to' support me is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with... salt in my wound... but I'm still dealing with it and have been since I was pregnant.  Mostly the concern seems to be that I'm too worried about myself through this and not worried enough about everyone else.  However, anyone who isn't only worried about themselves knows that is not true of me.  I've made this hard journey my ministry to help others when I could have just cried myself to death. 

I'm so glad that someone is finally talking about some of these hard things in a book and can't wait to buy this!  It's also encouraged me to get back to working on mine.  Here is the interview question and the trailer:

What’s one message you want women to take from the book?

"For those who have had losses, I really hope they take Stella’s message to heart. We are survivors. And survivors can’t always act like everyone else. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do to get by. For those who haven’t lost a baby, I hope they recognize how important their word and reaction are to baby loss moms. A small comforting gesture goes a very long way. A card is kept forever. Seriously, forever.
But undermining her pain might end the friendship for good saying “It was God’s plan” or “At least you were only X weeks along” is about the worst thing you could do. I hope they get a chance to understand how our grief works."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Moment #2: The Coffee Shop

Saturday was the 3rd, which meant Rachel would have been 9 months old.  I felt the day coming, if that makes any sense, even though we were busy and having fun.  On Friday night, we went into Camden to watch the fireworks for their annual Windjammers Festival.  This is the first year we've attempted to make it because having the kids out late is hard.  But they are better ages for it this year and so we tried it. 

I was exhausted and feeling way too drained to be walking around town at 9pm, so we found a coffee shop and bought a fancy Latte, whipped cream and all, (partly so I could use a bathroom without walking to the public one at the landing way down the hill!).  We were sitting in what we were told was the "best seat in the house" which was a window seat, where the window was open screen from the ceiling to the floor.  This was going to allow us to watch them from inside, while sitting, and have all the effects of being outside.  Sounded perfect.

There was a couple sitting next to us with a young boy in a highchair.  I said hi to him and jokingly asked him if it was passed his bedtime and he smiled, showing off his cute front teeth... obviously still too young to know what I was talking about - or so I thought.  His actual age never really crossed my mind.

Matt came over and asked "how old is your little guy?"
"8 months" she said...  my heart sank.
"Oh really?" Matt replied.
"Yeah, it's a good age" she said with a big smile as she passed him another Cheerio.
I felt the lump in my throat start to slow my breathing and quickly shifted my eyes out the window to hide my pain.

Rachel would have been 8 months too - 9 months that next day.  I hadn't realized she would be that big.  I still picture her as little.  I wanted to tell them about her... to tell them she is the same tell them how much fun she is and all the joy she brings.  But I couldn't.  I couldn't speak a sound.
I started crying in front of everybody.  Matt put his hand on my back and the tears flowed harder.

This was only the 2nd Friday I had missed visiting the cemetery since she was buried.  The 1st was because we went to Florida in April.  I have been there every single week.  Being so far away from where her body lay on a Friday, at a celebration with another baby who is at a "good age", the day before her 9 month birthday was more than this Mama could handle. 

We left and watched some of the fireworks from the van as we drove away.... the kids were fine with it, they wanted to be in bed anyway.  But my heart knew there was more to it than that.  And way more we were missing than some pretty lights in the sky.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Moment #1: The Porch

This is the beginning of my "moments series" :o)

I definitely felt the absence of Rachel the week we were in Maine. This was our 3rd year there and last year we went right after we got Rachel's diagnosis and it was a really hard week (month, year) for me. There is a picture of me standing on the porch there in the "Remembering Rachel" video that I have etched in my mind.... after the 3 hour drive to get there, we pulled into the driveway and all I could picture was me standing there with Rachel in my womb, showing her off and making memories with her while we could.

I immediately burst into tears....not the reaction I was expecting arriving there. I just couldn't escape the thoughts of the fact that we were missing someone on this vacation.  I would have loved for her to experience this amazing place with us and to watch her love it more every year like we do.

I told Des that I had remembered that picture and she (being just like me with her photographic memory) said, "yeah, you're wearing the same colored shirt today too".   And I was.

We all just sat in the van while they waited for me to stop crying....  I took a deep breath and said with the strongest big girl voice I could muster up "well, let's go in" and we all piled out and into the little cottage we love so much. 

But oh God how being somewhere we love so much without someone we love so much hurts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Compatible With Life

I had a level 2 ultrasound yesterday that my new doctor insisted on.  I wasn't really concerned with having it, but was looking forward to seeing the little man on the screen again so I went along with her idea.  Of course, in order to get the level 2 ultrasound, I also needed to humor them and do the "genetic counseling" that goes with it.

Within the first few minutes of the meeting, I was wondering if I was going to need to walk out... the medical field drives me nuts sometimes.  It seems that the majority of them are so brainwashed by medical school that they forget they are working with real live PEOPLE.  So, I just nodded as she went over "what happened with my last pregnancy that caused my fetus to not form properly"..... she explained the neural tube and how it closes and where it would go wrong in order to cause anencephaly.  She also asked me to walk her through what happened with my last pregnancy and if they explained this stuff to me.  I gave the run down of how my diagnosis day went and said that I was not given any real genetic counseling because most people just look at it like it was pointless to be carrying to term and so they didn't offer much in the way of information once I told them I wouldn't kill my baby.

She smiled and said "well, most people, when we know that the fetus has a condition that is incompatible with life, do decide that not continuing the pregnancy is what would be best.  However, I understand that you chose what was best for you"  smile, nod, smile....  She very obviously was in that group of people who don't see the point and think the testing they provide to be an excellent way to prevent having to deal with a baby like Rachel for a minute longer than necessary. (and aren't impressed that I deny the tests)  'Get the test as soon as possible so you can still easily abort if there's a chance of it being imperfect' seems to be the goal of all these new medical advances.  Women are robbed every day of their right to choose by people who don't tell them that carrying to term is also an option.  Ironically these are the same people damanding that women should have the right to choose.... hmmm...

Besides the fact that I'm 7 months pregnant with a new baby who we already know doesn't have a neural tube defect and so this conversation was pretty much pointless, this is one of those times when I wish I would have been more prepared - because I said nothing in response to her comment, but what I wish I would have said was...

That's an interesting statement about a baby that was ALIVE, lady....  what do you mean "incompatible with life"? She was alive...   maybe they don't go over that in the school she went to??  It just shows the spiritual war we are fighting in this area.  When is a baby considered alive?  If you want it and if it's "perfect", at about the time you find out... if you don't want it or it's not perfect - well then, you get to decide.  Well, in that case, just for the record, I decide that my baby was alive as soon as God brought the sperm and the egg together.  Her tube may not have done what the text book would prefer, but that little girl was compatible with life... she lived beautifully for 9 months and 43 minutes and she was created exactly how she was meant to be.  I happen to love her that way.

So then I had the ultrasound... Asa is cute, but wasn't cooperating enough to get the 4D pics, we got to see him very briefly on the 4D and didn't get any prints of it :o(  But I'm thinking that I'm just not supposed to know what he'll look like will be an awesome surprise.  (what I did see, looked like Sam, which means also Rachel - and he was crossing his legs at his ankles just like Sam always does)  After the tech did the scan, she had the doctor go over it and then he came in to give us our results.

"Congratulations!" he said as he entered, "your baby looks perfect".  I just nodded.  I remember my friend Melissa blogging about this same thing a while back, but it seemed as if it was an over-exaggerated "congrats".  He then apologized for my "loss with my last pregnancy" and said Congratulations 2 more times while wiping the gel off my belly and leaving with a smile, nod, smile...  It felt like his congratulations was not only a comparison to my last "loss" but also a slight against Rachel, who we all know they view as imperfect and not congratulations worthy.

I said thanks and gathered my things to leave.... I told Matt he could head out and as he left, he gave me a kiss and said "oh yeah, and congratulations on Rachel, too" and gave me a knowing smile.  I was so thankful for that moment. 

I walked out of there with a cute profile picture of my new son and his round head, having had just been able to share my girl with a few more people who are too educated for their own good sometimes, and a smile on my face because I have been blessed to carry two perfect babies this year, both compatible with life and loved dearly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mending and Blooming

We spent the last week in Maine on a much needed and absolutely amazing family vacation.  When we first got there, the power was still out from Hurricane Irene, but it came back on before sunset and other than needing to buy ice for our food, didn't affect us at all (our ice cream even survived!) The blessing was that the previous forecast of rain all week apparently went out to sea with Irene and we had picture perfect weather all week long!  Sunny, warm enough to swim, cool enough for fires and s'mores, and the constant breeze was so relaxing!  We were there from Monday to Monday and had a hard time leaving.... but the blessing this year is that we were also really happy to be home.  The 1st year, coming home was depressing - last year, staying there was hard and coming home was hard - this year, we are happy to be at either place as long as we're together and I think that is part of what knowing Rachel has done for us.

I have many things I want to share with you from vacation, but for the sake of not making this so long, I'm going to share them in what I'm going to call my "moments series"... isn't that creative? :o)  I'll do that a little at a time, but today I want to tell you a longer story...

I bought a plant called "Crown of Thorns" while on vacation last year in Maine in honor of Rachel and because God had used it to remind me that He is aware of my suffering (Read Post Here!)  Then my friend Anne sent me another one after that post that was even more full and had red flowers on it.  Since last September, I have watched these two plants perish before my eyes.  I have faithfully tended to these very sentimental plants in hopes that they would come back to life and bloom again.  On Christmas Eve, which was a difficult day for me because Rachel was due on Christmas, I noticed that my completely bare Crown of Thorns plants, were coming back to life - although still no flowers to be found, they were starting to grow new leaves (Read Post Here!) and again God encouraged me about where I was at in my healing process through these plants . 

That is the really short version of an amazing story so if you can, you should take the time to read the old posts if you don't remember what I'm talking about.

So, my red one has been *slowly* growing leaves since then, but my yellow one that I bought in Maine is practically a stem in a's really pathetic looking and the leaves it did have got ripped off by my sweet Samuel and pretty much all you can see are the big thorns sticking out everywhere - so I planned to try to buy another plant when we went back to Maine at that same place in memory of Rachel that might be easier to take care of....but they had no plants there this year.

This week while I have been away - away from email and away from blogger, I have prayed a lot about how God would have me work through this part of my grief.  I keep wondering if maybe I wouldn't feel so alone if I accepted the fact that I am and that, even with 300 readers a day, it doesn't change the fact that I have to walk this path by myself.  Nobody can do it for me.  I wondered if maybe I should be spending this time doing something else.  Maybe I should focus this time on my book instead... maybe I should stay away from the time-sucker we call a computer and spend this time with my awesome family.  Maybe the world has heard all the good they are going to get from my journey and about my girl and maybe I'd do her and my Lord more justice to just quietly suffer - like He did, like Mary did.

Every time I have decided I was going to slow down writing, it never fails, I have a handful of really amazing things happen because of and in response to my blog that makes me question if that would be the right thing to do - but I also know I have to release myself from the responsibility of helping other people some times and take care of myself and my family... 

I guess what I felt like God was saying was that maybe I need to go into a quiet time of mourning - one that is less public and less able to be judged.... one where I am allowed to be exactly where I'm at without everyone's opinions and without an audience.  One where when I walk into church the people reading don't assume they know exactly where I'm at and so maybe take the time to ask... and the ones not reading anymore don't hurt my feelings when they ask a question that I just posted about the day before, making it obvious that they have lost interest in my trial.  A time for just me & God.  And maybe if I do that, He will be able to minister to all those still aching parts of my heart that nobody else can and I can't on my own - when I'm not worrying about ministering to everyone else through my grief.  And maybe my time will come again later when I can be His hands & feet (and fingertips) after I am again filled with His amazing love.  Because right now, I'm just feeling the thorns and I am so thirsty.

All that to say that I felt like I knew the answer.... that it's time for me to slow down with blogging....but was afraid to because this is all I've known since last August to deal with my feelings.  When Matt & I sit down to talk and I sit and stare at the wall cause I can't find the words to say what I feel, I wonder how in the world I can write so much... it really is the way God made me - I'm a writer.  And without this blog, the blessings would have been much less throughout this journey - for me and for others who have been changed because of Rachel.  I'm so grateful that I have been able to share her with all of you and that so many people care about her and about me.  Thank you. 

So, let me see if I can get to the point here.... we got back last night and Matt & I worked hard to empty all of the bags because if you don't do it right away, they sit there for weeks!  I put some stuff in the mudroom and as I did, I caught a glimpse of color out of the corner of my eye.  I couldn't believe it.... while we were gone, my red Crown of Thorns bloomed again...and it had a bunch of new buds.  I started crying the second I knew I wasn't seeing things. 

In the background, the music from the kitchen brought me right back to that day that we pulled out of the parking garage after getting Rachel's diagnosis confirmed at Maine Medical Center... the song that day was the one that says "You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name, You are amazing Lord"  That day it left me with a feeling of what about my baby....if you can do all this, why not for me? 

Desirae & Matt went on a date to see this local band called Unspoken a few weeks back and Des has been playing the CD non-stop and it was playing last night as we unpacked.  The words rang in my head and shot straight to my heart....I don't know the name of the song and I don't even think it can be found on line at this point, but it's awesome.  I stood there listening and my tears flowed, dripping all over my new baby belly....

Heart broken just the other day
I ran into a man who shared with me God's love & Grace
But I pushed him away there was no time for Him in my days

He yelled to me only with the Son will your heart be replaced
Lord it was You who created the heavens and the earth
Lord it was You who painted the stars in the sky
So surely your hand can mend the wounds of this broken man
Open the eyes of my heart so that I may see your face

Later on I ran into an old friend
Let's reminisce on old times and share a bottle of wine
But on his face there was a grin, He said Jesus had saved him from sin.

He yelled to me only with the Son will your heart be replaced
Lord it was You who created the heavens and the earth
Lord it was You who painted the stars in the sky
So surely your hand can mend the wounds of this broken man
Open the eyes of my heart so that I may see your face

This plant has brought it all full circle...  Yes, He created the heavens and the earth, painted the stars in the sky - He knows every single one of them by name.  He knew Rachel's name before I had 2 pink lines on my test...  He knew that this road would be long, that I would get weary and that blogging would be how He would work through me during this hard, hard road.  He also knew that I would eventually come to the place where I would feel lonely even with hundreds of people reading along.  He knew that I would be standing in my mudroom at the moment those words were playing and find those little unlikely flowers.  He knew I would realize that my heart is too damaged to try to repair it.... and only with Jesus will my heart be replaced.  And I really feel like He was once again running after me and reminding me He is the only way.

Surely His hands can mend the wounds of this broken woman....Lord, open the eyes of my heart that I may see Your face....

What this means for my blogging, well, I'm not sure.  I suppose it can mean something different now than it does even a couple of weeks from now.  Even just today I had someone at the grocery store that I don't know stop me and ask if I was going to keep blogging since it's been a week and a half since I've posted.... I'm absolutely blown away that this is a regular occurrence for me to have people I don't know giving me hugs and talking about my girl.  And yet, all the care and encouragement I get from people doesn't seem to heal my heart at all.  There is only One source and I need to seek Him right now.  My hope is that Rachel's legacy has enough momentum that it won't go away and be forgotten because I write less or not at all.  My prayer is that you will all remember her for the rest of your lives, that you'll tell your friends, family, kids about her and tell them about her proud Mama and her amazing God who both thought she was as perfect as can be.  But I have to trust that I have done more than my fair share to help accomplish that and trust God for the rest.  He'll keep her blooming even when I can't.  And eventually, I may even bloom again too.