Monday, July 29, 2013

Ezra's Birthday

In the weeks before Ezra's arrival, I had so many details weighing on my heart.  Some of them I shared, some I did not. 

I cannot even list all the ways in which God answered prayers for Ezra's birth.  The most obvious is that I had been specifically praying for (and asking for prayer for) a Friday delivery and a Sunday discharge on my birthday and even though it was 9 days early, that is what God gave us.

I also woke up at 3am with contractions and the very first one I felt, I 'just knew' I was in real labor and that is what I had asked my church to pray for.  I got up, took a shower, let Matt sleep a while longer and didn't have to bother a sitter until around 6am.  The kids were still in bed and a friend came to sit with them and they were well taken care of at home while we were gone. Matt was able to spend a lot of the time with them and bring them to visit me and Ezra since it was the weekend, which was easier on them....  Being in labor before work hours meant Matt just called in and I didn't have to track him down or ride with someone else to the hospital.

The drive to Maine was fast, we made record time (an hour) without speeding!  Another huge prayer request.  I was having pretty good contractions by this point, and was positive it wasn't a false alarm, but knew the baby wasn't coming on the side if the road :)

I was 5cm when I got here so there was no debate of whether they would keep me.  When they checked me and said 5cm, I started crying and pulled out my phone to read them the facebook conversation I had with my friend Michelle two days before that went like this....

Me: I feel okay about it all right now.... once again, being forced to trust God in details. I'm still praying baby will decide on his own that he wants to join us for Mama's bday It would be so much nicer to go into labor on my own anyway.... maybe Friday I'll wake up in real labor and make the drive to hear 5cm that would be nice, let's pray for that!
Michelle:  Will do! 5 cm on arrival (without stress getting out the door) and Sunday discharge for Momma's birthday! Nothing is too big to ask, but I was reminded today to not be surprised when God answers "yes"
Me: haha, that's what I was thinking as I read your specifications My mind went uh oh, this might really happen! But yes, that would be great.... Sam's birth was like that and I so miss the simpler days. I woke up, I knew I was in labor, I did the dishes and Matt dropped the kids off and then came and got me and I was 4cm when I got there - on a Friday with a Sunday discharge.... my last 'normal' birth experience... I know Rachel's birth was worth it, but some days I grieve that it will never be simple again. 
So when I heard I was 5cm, which I wasn't expecting, I immediately remembered this and knew He was answering...when God is THAT clear, it's always an amazing, faith building thing.  Did I mention with Sam I woke up at 3am too??  :)

I even was able to have my nurse Kim and Dr, Hunt who delivered Rachel, deliver Ezra because it 'just happened' to work out that it was their day on.  I delivered him at 2pm, and Kim was scheduled until 3pm. I got there at the start of her shift and then we were all finished up by when she had to leave!   Another prayer answered. 

We did get a chance again this time to stop in Rachel's room while I was walking the halls. It's the first time since her birthday I've been there on a Friday though, so it was special.  His delivery went so good.  After a pretty easy first half of labor, I went from 7 to 10 cm in about an hour and pushed for 10 minutes, delivering my 2nd successful VBAC and precious rainbow baby, surrounded by people who knew his big sister and understood what this meant for my heart. 

With Rachel and Asa I didn't get to hold them right away.  Rachel because of the C-section and Asa because he had meconium and had to have his belly suctioned.  But I got to hold him!!!  Right away!  And it was such an amazing, overwhelming feeling.  I held him while I cut his cord and he immediately started nursing.  The bond between a mother and her child....  it leaves me speechless.

Ezra Truesdale Aube
Born July 26, 2013 at 2pm
8lbs 14oz (4.03 kg!) and 21.5 inches long!

At the end of the day we couldn't come up with one thing that could have gone better.  God has truly blessed us in so many ways, answering even unspoken prayers and desires of my heart. 

I came home on Sunday to a clean house, excited big brothers and sister, and a birthday/welcome home party for me & my little man. 

We got pizza and ate "brownie cake" and watched America's Funniest Home Videos together.  Then I took a short nap to try to prepare myself for what turned out to be a night of absolutely NO sleep with one of the 6 cutest kids on the planet. 

Today's the day!
Ice chips and 6cm!  Seriously blessed with low pain this labor!!
We had a lot of laughs....this is Kim after a comical struggle to get my sports bra off with an
IV on just before delivery.  It ended up on her!
I got to hold him!!!!  SO thankful to God for this gift.
The kids came to meet him
And all fell in love at first sight
Precious time
Getting ready to leave

Daddy came to get us
And we got to bring our baby home.....Thank You Jesus
We were welcomed with balloons and a huge sign that said :Happy Birthday Mama and welcome home Ezra!"

And some extra love for Rachel....
And then we ate pizza and watched TV and had our first family devotions with Ezra outside my belly...
And all that just scratches the surface of all the details that God showed Himself in over this weekend.  I am so blessed.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"E" is for.....

I woke up this morning after sleeping for three hours straight, to the sound of my hospital room door opening and a sqeaky little voice looking for his Mama.

Then my phone rang and it was the rest of my family singing "Happy Birthday to Mama" in the speaker phone and reminding me of how old I am now.

"Happy Birthday to me" doesn't do this justice.

I've been wanting to write all weekend and not able to find the words.  There is so much to say, but I feel words are inadequate to say it.  I don't want to just narrate the experience because there are some stories you just can't tell in such simple form.

I guess I'll start with his name.

It's not the original E name we were given.  And I'm not going to tell you what that one is per Desirae's request that we save it for "in case we have another girl."  It all started in October when we put pumkins on our steps with the first letter of each of the kids' names and saw that if we had two more "E's" we would have spelled "DESIRAE" with the first initial of all of them, without trying!


So E it was. 

The name God gave us started out as just a meaning.  I came up with a meaning randomly one day and He led me to names that included the family members I wanted to honor, which together had the exact meaning I said I wanted.  It was a gender neutral name, but with the middle one was more fitting for a girl and we all really thought when I found out I was expecting that Little E was a girl..... 

So when we found out that E was another BOY!,  we had to decide what to do.  We had now been calling this baby E for months and still wanted to spell Desirae.... but she wasn't having it.  She insisted on a different name. 

We wanted to honor my Uncle Dale with his name. Dale is not my favorite name, but the meaning we wanted for a middle name was "Valley" and that is what Dale means!  We decided on Truesdale as boy alternative to Dale, which means "Honest man's valley." 

But we still needed to decide on a first name and I just wasn't sure.

I was having a hard time in the spring and had decided I would read through the Psalms again.  One day around that time, I stumbled across an old post I wrote called "My Psalms" that was talking about how in my blog I don't hesitate to share my real, human feelings, but that I always in the midst of those feelings was able to be comforted by the Truth of my God's promises.... I referred to the Psalms because that is what they are... you see people struggle with doubt and pain and sadness and anger and then turn and say "But I trust You God.... But I love You God.... But You are good God...."  and even with all the criticisms I have received about being too negative along this journey, I can say that I have walked this path through the loss of my daughter with honesty and with reliance on God and always trusting Him.  So, while I have not done it perfectly and there are lots of things I would love to change looking back, I trust that He used it according to His purposes - in my life and the life of others.

So this day in the spring, I started reading at the foreward in my Bible that talks about who wrote the Psalms and what they are and all of that. 

Here is some of what it says:

In Hebrew, the book's name means "Songs of Praise."  A synonym for the Book of Psalms is "Psalter."  They were intended to be sung and to express worshippers' emotions as they praised God or cried out for His deliverance or forgiveness. 
They issue from the heart rather than from the head; representing the worshippers' honest fears, gratitude, remorse, and hopes.
The Psalms clearly teach that, although God allows us to go through dark valleys, He carefully guides us and protects us from our enemies.
Tradition suggests that Ezra edited the final version of the Psalter.

I looked up what Ezra means....  "God is my help"

And so it is.... Ezra Truesdale Aube....  because "God is my help in the honest man's valley"

About an hour after he was born, he started making moaning sounds.  He apparently swallowed too much fluid on the way out because of the fast delivery and has had some complications because of it.  They did an x-ray yesterday and they came back fine and seems okay this morning, but it's been scary.  I just had to smile though when the pediatrician said "He's just singing, that's all..."

Wouldn't it make sense that a Psalm writer would sing?

The next morning, in the early hours around 4am, I had him covered with Rachel's blanket and was snuggling him.  I looked down on him and was surprised by my words.  I said, "What would I ever do without you?" out loud.   My eyes shifted and I looked at Rachel's blanket (which I'm positive I look crazy with at the hospital with a new boy) and he began to "sing" and I said "I know what I would do..." and started crying. 

I cried because in less than the amount of time I had Rachel in my arms I was so in love with this baby that if I ever had to let him go, I would be so heart broken and grief stricken that I would want to die. I felt that way before I ever got to hold him....or her.  And I cried because I already know exactly how that feels.  But I also cried because I know that in God's great love and mercy and provision.... I would still sing.  Dear God, I hope that never happens... but what a joy to know that He is big enough and strong enough for everything I am not.

My little sweet baby Ezra....  you will never know how much you're loved.  But even with how deep and wide and long my love is for you, it could never compare to how much your Heavenly Father loves you and I pray with everything I am that you will follow Him as you grow so I never have to say goodbye to you for good.  I love you my precious son. My entire world changed the moment I knew you were inside of me and I cannot imagine life without you already.  I thank our great God for the gift of you and plead with Him to let me keep you for a long, long time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

An Early Present

38 weeks!

I got a very sweet email from a young lady named Caroline this week.  She said:

Hi Stacy!
You're gonna have a big couple of weeks!  I know you have been preparing for baby E, and going to the hospital, and taking care of the kids... that's a  lot of work!  I think you deserve a break before the baby comes.  (This is Caroline by the way!)  So as a sort of birthday/just-because-you're-awesome gift, I have $43 for you and Matt to go out to dinner.  My mom and I are willing to babysit the kids while you are out. (I am CPR and First Aid certified plus I took a babysitting class.  And my mom has 2 kids, so I think we're highly qualified:) )  We are available on the nights of July 21-25.  And we won't charge you.  If the baby comes before you can go out, we'll take a rain check whenever you want.  So what do ya say?
p.s. I'm working on a pair of baby booties!

Now, this girl is just 12 years old....  she also has run in Rachel's Race - won the bid on a bag set that was personalized for Rachel with a "43" on one and "hope" on the other and then gave them to me!!  She also drew a picture of Rachel's hands in the heart shape that she entered into (and won) the contest at the local fair.  AND she sent me a letter a while back to encourage me and tell me how much Rachel has changed her life. 

I never would have guessed in a million years when I started this blog that a then 10 year old girl would hear about my daughter and be so inspired.  I'm guessing it has a lot to do with how awesome her Mama is and how she chose to share with her about Rachel too.  But what a blessing this has been to my heart!

So, on Sunday, Caroline and her mom came over...  she handed me an envelope with $43 in it.... she gave me a cute little pair of booties and a blanket she made for the baby.... and then they watched our kids while we went out for lunch.  I'm not going to lie, it felt completely wrong for someone to pay me to watch my kids.... but I knew she really wanted to do this.  And honestly, we desperately needed it!!  Her timing was unbelievable!

We tried a new place in town we probably wouldn't go to otherwise and then used coupons at Dunkin Donuts to get yummy coffees (mine had lots of chocolate in it) :)  And it came to $43, with just a few cents left over.  We sat at the park in the van and took silly pictures and just enjoyed time alone.....we headed back a little early cause this Mama needs a potty often.

He keeps himself amused while I am unaware...  There are more where these came from - it took about 10 pics to get one where he just smiled with me.  But we laughed like crazy doing it.  And I've laughed like crazy looking at them and showing the kids since then, too. :o)
It's pretty amazing all the people who love us because of our sweet little girl.  It seems every day I am reminded of another gift that we would not be blessed with if it wasn't for Rachel. 
After we got back, I looked outside and there was Matt.... reading "The 10 Boys Who Changed the World" to the kids....ceasing every opportunity to speak into their lives.  They are very blessed.  And you can't tell here, but "mini-Matt" (Isaiah) started making funny faces as soon as he saw me with the camera :)  Gotta love it! 
And this is completely off subject - but I'm going to brag about Matt a little more because do you see that patio?  I came up with this great idea that we could get rocks out of the woods and build our own patio for free a few years ago.  He pulled those all out of the woods - some of them are WAY bigger than they look (I'm talking HUGE boulders!)  - but that patio cost us $40 for the sand we put in the cracks between the rocks.  And it hasn't budged with the weather yet!  They are too heavy to go anywhere!  But my man lifted them all for me.  I'm sentimentally attached to so many things in my yard.... my flowers, my patio and the family who plays and sits there....  and the little bench off in the distance with the name of our little girl on it, whose life and death has drawn us closer to our Lord and to each other.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chapter 3

Samuel got out his bible and said "Isaiah, let's read this....  so, let's see.... let's start at chapter 3" and he started flipping through the pages until he got to what he called "chapter 3"

He looked at the page of words and pretended to read.....

"And Jesus died on the cross and He reached down and picked Rachel up off of her cross and I love Desirae and I love Isaiah and He said to be nice to people and to not hit Asa or not to be mean to Asa and Jesus loves everyone......"

As he flipped to the next page, he reminded me that he really *can* read this all by himself....I nodded.

"And Jesus said to not disobey and to do what He commands and to not be mean and to not hit anyone.... and I love everyone."

He closed the Bible and looked at me as he clutched it to his chest proudly...  I said "I love you Samuel."

"I love you, too Mama." he said with a smile.

And he disappeared into the kitchen announcing to everyone that he "knows how to read his Bible all by himself."

My heart rejoices at such a precious sight as my children desiring to read God's Word.   I love Samuel's take on "Chapter 3" and his comment about Jesus picking Rachel up off her cross has had me thinking this evening.... 

He really did rescue her from this world.  As sad as that is for us, I'm so thankful she never felt earthly pain and that her time spent here was safe in my womb being loved to the fullest.  We were talking about babies being born tonight and Isaiah asked if all babies cried when they are born.  I said yes at first - and then had to change my answer.... "well, if they are healthy they do.... but Rachel didn't cry." 

I always felt like I missed out not being able to hear her little voice let out a cry.  But as I said it, the thought of her being saved from the tears and pain of this world was again put on my heart.  She isn't missing much here no matter how much we miss her in our lives.  I feel her absence every day in one way or another, but she is complete and the only sounds that will ever flow from her mouth with be songs of joy, happiness, and worship.  And some day, I will hear them..... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Summer Blueberry

People have been asking what we need for the baby.  I usually just say diapers since that is the constant - and expensive - need for a new baby.  They grow out of everything so fast and we have a bunch of hand-me-downs for now so we shouldn't need clothes until he's a little older.  I have also never had a summer baby, so I feel a little lost as to what a summer baby needs.... plus, I'm trying to avoid extra clutter in our little home.

But last week, my friend Monica asked me what we needed and I gave her the usual answer..."diapers".... to which she said "anything I can make?" and it just came to me....

I wanted something to put him in for his first photos.  She told me to look on line and figure out what kind of animal/fruit/vegetable I wanted and she would make it.

I started looking at animals and nothing looked right...  then I wondered What would be a good summer fruit for my summer baby?  and it came to me.

With each of my kids, I had something specific I craved.  I've gone in stages this time, eggs first, then chicken Caesar salads and since it got hot out, I've been craving frozen blueberries in cereal in the morning.  I'm not a cereal girl at all so this is different for me. 

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how I had seen that gender reveal idea where the strawberries represented the girl  - well, it was blueberries they used to represent the boy :)

And last week when we went to pick fruit with my friend Michelle (who was due any day at that point) and her girls, I made a comment about how I would be there picking blueberries the week before I was due....  because why?   Well, because blueberries are ready for picking in late July, early August....and that is when Little E is due!  There were also blueberries that were ripe that day, which is super early for them and they were so good!  And so it is....

My summer blueberry....  I can't wait to put him in it!  It's SO cute!! 

I gave her a photo I printed off line and this looks EXACTLY like it and she brought it to me shortly after our party on Saturday!  I told her I was afraid this might be too small since my babies are usually born big and today she gave me another set she made the next size up!!  I am so excited to have something that is just his... my first summer baby.  A sweet little July (I hope! but maybe August!) blueberry!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

"I Pee on Potty"

Yesterday after realizing that Asa seemed to know when he had to pee, we introduced him to the potty.

Today, he put the trainer seat on the toilet and started pulling off his diaper.  I said "Oh, you want to go potty?"  He said "yes" and I helped him up. (he's also talking like crazy!)

Like a good Mama, I ran to grab the camera.... and when I returned, he was peeing!! 

Now, normally I would be really excited about this.  However, I have learned that potty training is nothing to be excited about - it's such a pain!!  And honestly, my first thought was "Is he serious, I'm about to have a baby!  I don't need to be potty training too!"

But he is so stinkin' cute, I had to call up Daddy and Nana and let him (and me) brag about it.  Now I just pray that if he is serious, he will just be one of those easy trainers who doesn't pee all over things in the process cause I have no energy for cleaning up puddles right now!  I can't believe how big he's getting..... where does time go? (sniff, sniff) 

Another milestone I wish I could have watched Rachel smile over....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

37 Weeks and 1 Day

This is how far along I was with Rachel on December 3, 2010 when I finally got to meet her face to face.

I feel huge now, but I was bigger with her then because of the polyhydramnios (extra fluid) I had with her.  I was measuring 42 weeks when I had her and had more than twice the amount of amniotic fluid as my recent ultrasound with E showed.

I feel like this pregnancy is taking forever, but her pregnancy went by much too fast.

I feel like I'm waiting for the beginning of my life with E in it, but I knew that day would be the end of my life with her in it.

I feel like it was just yesterday, but more than 2 1/2 years - and 2 more pregnancies - have passed....

And I still miss her.

I don't remember passing this milestone with Asa, but I'm sure I must have noticed it.  Today though, I spent a lot of time preparing for my upcoming hospital stay with pre-registering and things like that.... and the entire time I was thinking about her.  Remembering how differently it felt to pre-register for her birth.  I don't feel overly sad, but she's been at the forefront of my mind all day. 

And that's fine by me. 

I expected this as I got closer to labor and closer to meeting her little brother.  I wish she was going to meet him with us.  I pray he will love the Lord so one day he can meet her too.  It's hard not knowing for sure if my other children will ever know their sister.  They know the pieces of her I share - the journey and what she did in our lives.  They know that she lived and died. 

Tonight at dinner I mentioned how I never knew anything like anencephaly could even happen before Rachel.  Des said it was no different than a baby who was born too early for their lungs to work.  She is precious.  She questioned why God would give us a girl we wanted so much and then take her away.  As we told her that she had good questions, but we had no answers, she was accepting of that and seeing her rest in God's plan is beautiful. 

Then at family time, Sam prayed that "the baby won't die and that Mama won't die" and my heart felt the pain of what that day meant for them.....  and yet I'm glad they know this reality.... life is sacred and very fragile and not to be taken for granted.  He still asks me at times if it's Rachel in my belly - and yesterday when we opened the box at E's party, I held the little shirt to my belly and he turned to me and said "That's for Rachel in heaven."  So I guess I'm not the only one who thinks of Rachel when I look at this big belly of mine and await the chance to hold a new life in my arms.

I always prayed that my 37th week and 1st day with Rachel and the days that have followed have taught them more about God and His goodness than I ever could have without her. 

And I'm sure it has.

He or She...Which Will it Be?

We had our celebration for Baby E yesterday.  I had gotten a lot of the things set up the day before so that morning all I had to do was frost the cupcakes. 

Matt won another one of the gift cards from his work - they get added to a raffle each month if they get good customer responses sent in and he wins a lot!  It's a blessing.  This time it was to Friendly's and I had the cupcakes done by 7:30, so we decided to take a break and enjoy the morning and went out for breakfast.  I'm not sure we've all been out to breakfast together ever before!

When we sat down and the kids opened their menus, there was a "How to draw a bumblebee" page... It made us smile since that was to be the theme for E's party! 
Side note:  There was hair on my French toast, which was gross, but ended up being a blessing cause they didn't charge me for my meal - which made the entire outing only cost us $2 after the gift card! :) 

We had a ton of people at our home for the party - we were so thankful for the nice weather (it's been either so hot I can't stand it or raining lately, but yesterday was perfect and around 80)  The kids were able to play outside which was good cause our house is not big and there were close to 20 kids here - plus all the adults!

The big plan for this party was to reveal the gender of our newest blessing and I had so much fun getting ready for it!  We had everyone "cast a vote" on if they thought it was a  "he" or "she" - which surprisingly came out exactly even in numbers! 

Here are some pictures, followed by the video of how we revealed our big secret!! 

I made this cupcake stand... pretty excited about it!

Yummy food that I made way too much of since my mom and sister bought a ton of pizza too

"He R She" bars and bee headbands for the kids to wear

My little bees... of course holding an extra headband for big sister Rachel

Cast your vote!!
"Welcome to our growing hive"  I put the first initial of all the kids' names.
The box that holds the secret...

And us opening it.... I realized when looking at the photos afterwards, that Rachel's daisies are on the table behind us in all the pictures of us opening the box. 
And here is the video of us sharing our big secret!!
After we opened it and the excitement died down, Matt led us all in prayer and we thanked God for this little blessing and asked for God's hand to be on [it's] life. (still trying not to give away the secret... you have to watch the video!!)  And then he announced our full count of boys and girls - with Rachel included.  Such a blessing to my heart

Thank you honey... you are an amazing husband and father and I am every day amazed by how you lead us in love with such a servant's heart and so much wisdom. Thank you for all these beautiful children and the ability to stay home with them.  You work so hard for us.  I'm living my childhood dream....and being so blessed in God's calling on my life as your helpmeet. I love you.

 And because I know the next question from everyone is going to be "What does 'E' stand for?"  Here is the only answer you're getting before this baby decides to join us out here....

After the party, I fell asleep sitting up on the couch for a half hour or so and then we packed up and went swimming for a little while.  It was a busy and very blessed day and we all slept well last night - although I spent my first night on the couch (usually happens for the last month of each pregnancy since we don't have a bathroom upstairs!) but I couldn't lay down with the amount of acid coming up my throat from eating pizza for lunch and dinner and it's easier to prop myself up on the couch.  I am huge!!  I cannot wait to hold this baby in my arms.  Won't be long!! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ready When Baby Is...

My prenatal care officially switched to Maine Med today.... I'm in the home stretch.  

I'm thankful to say that since last week, I have come to a much better place as far as my situation with this delivery.  God is faithful.

First of all, I 'stumbled' across this post: Can I Have My Right to Choose?   from shortly after I got Rachel's diagnosis.  I cried as I read it cause I don't remember feeling that strong back then.... but my love for her was so fierce, it brought tears to my eyes.

I had said to a friend the other day that maybe I am paying now for a decision I made out of fear - that maybe God hadn't really led me to have a C-section.... maybe I was trying too hard to take control.  I saw that post at the bottom of another one I recently wrote and clicked on it and it was a reminder of how hard that decision was, of how much I prayed, of how certain I was I needed to do it.  And it helped to change my perspective about how much harder things are now for a delivery for me - reminding me that no matter how hard this is, it's a small price to pay to have had even minutes with her - and to know that God had a plan in how that all played out.  It might not have been all for me... or even Rachel... but maybe for the people whose paths we crossed that day.  And I know He used her in so many ways in that hospital.  I'm so glad that God showed this to me this week - His timing is always perfect. 

Well, I am 36 weeks 2 days and feeling pretty good most of the time.

Matt dropped the kids off at the sitters before he went to work and I had some time to get ready alone and then a nice drive up to Maine with quiet.  The only problem is I guess I got a little too comfortable in the quiet and I zoned out listening to a sermon and missed my exit.  I ended up lost in Portland for a while and was 45 minutes late for my appointment.  I had to pee like a race horse, but was not in a part of town where it was a great idea to get out - unless of course you wanted to buy drugs cause they were easy to see even from the car. :/   I didn't have the number to the dr's office and couldn't find it on line on my phone.  Thankfully, my friend Kim (Rachel's nurse) was planning to meet me there and I had her cell written down - I pulled over and called and she let them know I was on my way and helped me get there.  I've driven to that office a hundred times over the past 3 years.... never gotten lost.  It was hard to believe.  Never a dull moment!!

Baby E is measuring at 6lbs 11oz.  She said that can vary between 6lbs 7oz and 7lbs 7oz... so it looks like we'll have another close to 9 pounder if I go to my due date.  I saw a full belly and bladder and lungs moving in and out, practicing breathing.... this baby MOVES a TON.   Head is down now, hopefully it will stay that way. They measured the thickness around my scar (didn't do that last time so I wasn't expecting that!) and said it looks good.  It was interesting to see on the screen that the same place that still hurts on my scar is actually thicker and whiter on an ultrasound.

I never thought I would ever say it again, but I was excited going to this ultrasound.  I guess because I already had all the major things checked and with baby moving so much I knew it was very unlikely any bad news could come of this, although I never completely write that off as a possibility.  But when she put the wand on and started showing me this was amazing.  Another chubby baby with the Aube nose and long hair....

It's hard to believe this beautiful face is inside of me.  I can't wait to kiss it.

I have almost the exact same picture of Rachel in my womb, with her long hair floating out behind her... I remember how happy I was when I found out she had hair like all the others.  It was something I didn't expect for obvious reasons.  Turned out she had more than Asa did!

It was such a relief going there today, which I've very rarely said about a doctor's appointment!  First of all, knowing they all know Rachel is huge for me.  I love that when I say her name, they know who she is.  I love that they have seen how God has carried me from that day in August 2010 to this day now, two rainbow babies later, and that we shared the reason for our hope with them throughout all of it.  I love that I have confidence in their ability to care for this baby should anything go wrong during delivery - and I love that they get the complicated nature of all my decisions around my babies from Rachel on. 

So, I left there extremely tired, but very relieved to have confirmation that Maine is where I want to have this baby.  I also got a lot of reassurance talking to the Dr about how to handle different possible scenarios of labor and his confidence that given my previous successful VBAC, this *should* go smoothly and hopefully without the delayed labor I experienced with Asa.  He helped take some of the edge off of the fear about the risks - even though I did sign a paper saying I know my baby could die as a result of this birth.  I read the words on the consent form and had to shake off my fear and fight tears.  But the truth is that I know my baby could die period.  It's happened to me before - so the bottom line is I need to trust God with this child's life, just like I have to trust Him every day with all of my other childrens' lives.  And even more so, I have to trust Him with my heart should I have to say goodbye to another one of my children too soon.   

We'll see how it all goes, but for now, I guess I better get our bags packed!  I can't wait to meet this baby!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Rachel's Race Day

Rachel's Race was scheduled for today....  

I am so thankful for a God Who knows more than I do and Who leads me accordingly long before I understand His reasons.  I'm also so thankful that He has given me a heart that desires His will above my own because for a strong willed Mama like me, it would be so easy to push ahead and ignore His voice. 

Canceling her race was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my entire life.  Over the last few months, it has been so clear to me that this is what needed to happen this year - for so many reasons - like the ridiculous heat and my inability to function in it.  But more than that, we have had a few big things happening in our lives that I couldn't see coming back in January and never would have been able to focus on had I been wrapped up in the full time job of running a large event.

I know it's not of me, but Him, that I surrender to His ways.... and He used my sweet girl to develop a heart in me that not only trusts Him with everything, but also one that fully believes that His plans are better than mine.  For a planner like me, that doesn't come easy.  It was a hard lesson to learn - and one that I'm sure I will continue to learn my entire life - but today I am again convinced that He knows what He is doing.  And that when he asks me to do - or NOT to do - something, it is for my good and His glory.

The part I miss the most about not having Rachel's Race this year is the baby remembrance ceremony and opportunity to love other mother's that know this pain.... to see the healing it brings to acknowledge their babies by name with them.... no matter if they lost them last week or 20 years ago. I do still hope to be able to find a way to honor these other babies in this way at some point this year. 

But for all my friends who have experienced the loss of a child, I want you to know that I never forget, but especially today I am remembering how your babies and my Rachel have joined us together in an unexplainable bond that is so important to my journey through grief.... that I appreciate your friendship and am so thankful to God for giving me people who I don't need to explain myself to - that I make sense to you.... and that there are so many more children being loved so much deeper because of our sweet babies and the love we have for them.  Thank you for always remembering Rachel with me and for not being afraid to say her name....

Rachel Alice, my love for you never changes...  no matter how much time goes on.... no matter how much or how little I do to show the world who you are to me - and more importantly who you are to God.... I can hardly believe you've been gone long enough to be on our 3rd round of "withouts" and that this would have been your 3rd annual race or that we are coming up on 3 years since we first heard you would die.  My biggest fear is that people will forget you and wonder why I can't too.  I pray that today somewhere, someone is remembering you with a smile and understanding why you are too precious to forget, even after "all this time". 

I know I am. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Quiet Beauty

Yesterday I worked on a few things for my Little E's party next week.  After I finished, I sat on the couch and read to the boys for a while.  Eventually everyone but Des had left the room.  Matt had some instrumental music playing on the TV.... it's funny how music without a word can remind you of someone.....

I started to think about my girl... and looked around at all the photos and other memories I have scattered throughout my living room.  I looked over at Des and said "I wonder what Rachel would be like now."  She said she would probably be cute like Asa and her and Asa would probably really like each other. 

The music continued to move me and I looked up at the drawing that my friend Chloe drew of our family with what I envisioned Rachel to look like now in it.... and I started crying....  I miss her, I miss what we miss - if that makes sense.   Sometimes it's easier to remember her as the little baby I got to hold than to try to comprehend how much she would bring to my life if she were still here.  Those are the moments I grieve so much.  God, I miss her..... 

The song ended and my sadness let up....  I realized the music had brought me to a place in my heart where Rachel still lives and brought my love for her to the surface.  I asked Des what the name of the song was (our TV is smaller than a lot of people's computer screens and I'm blind so I couldn't see it)

"Quiet Beauty" she said.

Of course a song called "Quiet Beauty" brought my Rachel Alice to mind and heart....  she is the definition of "quiet beauty" in my life.  I never heard a single sound out of her.  Not a squeak, a cry... or even a breath.  I heard nothing.  And that was part of the unexplainable beauty that I experienced in those short 43 minutes with her as I waited for Jesus to take her home.

When I told her I loved her - she didn't tell me she loved me back.
When I told her I was sorry, that I had tried - she didn't forgive me or reassure me that I didn't fail her.
When I told her that Jesus loved her..... those were the only words I said to her that I felt like she knew what I meant.... I said it and it really felt like our souls were joined in that love - and they are. 

When I think back to the operating room on December 3, 2010.... holding her while they stitched me up and realizing that she wasn't going to stay as long as I had thought or hoped....  the song on the radio singing "I'm finding myself at a loss for words and the funny thing is, it's okay..." nobody talking, not even Matt & I.... just the beeping of the machines and the "Word of God Speak" playing.... and silently waiting for her to go....   

If I was to try to sum up what it felt like.... the peace that passes understanding, the love, the hope of eternity in heaven, Jesus and all that He is to us and His amazing presence that day, and the intimacy with people I did not know but who were a few of the only people to ever meet her alive....  I would say it was the most quiet beauty I have ever experienced. 

We went to a party last night for the 4th of July fireworks.  We haven't been out to fireworks in a few years because with little kids, it tends to be a really late night and babies can really be scared by them... so we usually just stay home.  We went and the kids had so much fun - and Asa wasn't scared at all!  At one point, I waved at Des who was sitting a little ways away from us and Sam thought I was waving at the fireworks.  He started waving every time a new one went off while saying "Pretty pretty Ma- Ma!" over and over...  it was so cute.  I could hear Isaiah with his friends yelling "Awesome!" with each bang and Asa just hung out on Matt's lap and watched (probably really confused with where we had taken him to way past his bedtime!) :)  I, of course, wondered what Rachel would have thought of the colors....

As the grand finale echoed, I missed the entire thing because I couldn't take my eyes off these amazing kids who were just so cute and excited.... and all mine for now.... 

We left and since we were right around the corner from Rachel's grave, I asked Matt to swing through so I could see how bright her lights were.  As we pulled in, I noticed that you can see them from FAR away... they are SO bright!  The daisy lights I hooked onto her plant look like a crown above her stone and they change colors so gently that it is hard to stop looking at them.  Matt pulled up and shut the headlights off so we could see how lit up her spot was....

It was quiet.
It was beautiful.

And I couldn't help but think how that quiet beauty stole my attention so much more than the loud and extravagant fireworks we had just sat under.  Hundreds of people watched those fireworks....they weren't for any particular person.  They are pretty and fun, but they are not full of personal love.  But this spot, her spot - her entire life, death and legacy - is full of personal, quiet, beautiful love.

I thanked God for how He has allowed me to experience something so unique and special - even with the pain it brings - for the richness it brings to my life, for the personal love He has lavished on me through this trial, for the moments where only Matt & I truly understand what something like a bright cemetery spot means - and the closeness it brings to our marriage to have walked this journey together with God. 

I thank my God for how much Rachel Alice Aube taught me without saying a single word and for every time He has reminded me that her story went exactly as it was supposed to.

Here is the song....

Monday, July 1, 2013

She Was Going to Die Anyway...

So, apparently when I finally let the wall down in my mind and heart to believe I'm about to have a baby.... and then said that I wasn't feeling afraid.... yeah, all heck broke loose.


I spent most of yesterday in tears - literally.  It started with almost passing out from the heat walking into church - all of 20 feet - and the humidity took my breath from me and I couldn't make it inside. I'm so tired and worn out.

From there it went to anxiety and frustration over being so alone raising these kids that when it comes to trying to go to an appointment or planning for a stay at the hospital, we never have any idea who to call that is able, willing AND we feel comfortable with.  I always just bring them with me cause it's easier than begging for help. You think I'd be used to it by now, but I will never get used to the idea that our kids don't have relatives interested in spending time with them. 

It went from there to crying over all I have to do for this party I'm giving Baby E that a little at a time is becoming more work than I had planned (in order to save money) and being sad because I just don't have the energy, but I can't not do it.  All my kids have been acknowledged in this way and I can't ignore this one, even if it is my 6th. 

It went from there to crying over the fact that I am going crazy trying to plan for these day-long trips once a week to Maine Med because I am a VBAC when I don't even want to deliver at Maine Med.  I had a HORRIBLE experience at Maine Med after I had Asa and if I could choose, I would rather be at the hospital around the corner.  Not over an hour away at a place with tiny, uncomfortable rooms where I know the care is poor and it makes it harder for Matt and the kids to come visit. Not to mention the complicated nature of having a scar in my uterus that could rupture making laboring at home dangerous and knowing if my water broke at home I might not make it to the Maine hospital with how fast my deliveries go after my water breaks (less than an hour tops) and this being my 6th full term baby.

I wish it could be like my labors before Rachel where I labored at home as long as possible before going to the hospital that I picked based on how comfy the rooms would be for Matt & I to stay in after baby came - together.  But now I have no choice... I have to stay alone because the circumstances of distance, childcare for 4 kids, and Matt not being able to get time off leaves only one option... and even if I had another option for someone to stay with me, I wouldn't want it... I want my husband with me.  But finding someone who can stay at our house for days with our kids and their allergies is more than difficult, it's actually seemingly impossible.  And the last thing I need is to be far away from home having a baby (or at a stressful appointment) and to have to worry about my other kids.  I actually can't handle that... that makes me cry too.  I've been trying to find a young adult that doesn't have kids and a busy schedule that is reliable and has a license...  do they exist?  I certainly haven't found one yet.  . I will admit that the last two years have left me much more serious about who I leave my living children with - and much more worried about what could go wrong while I'm gone.  It might not make sense to everyone, but it does me no good to try to pretend I'm comfortable with anything I'm not because it will eat me alive while I'm gone and I have enough to worry about. 

I know God led me to have a C-section with Rachel so I try not to have regrets, but that C-section has taken away any chance of my ever having another enjoyable delivery with my babies after her - at least in this area with the options available for VBACs.  It's complicated my pregnancies.  It's made the last month of pregnancy way harder than it already is.  And I'm grieving what I can't have now with them on top of what I lost along with her.

And she was going to die anyway.

And that's what makes me cry.  She wasn't going to stay alive.  And if I could have just given into that, I'd be planning the best way to get spoiled after a comfortable and local delivery of this baby.  So, for all of you who criticized me for 'not having faith' because I was planning her funeral while pregnant, just remember that I also had my stomach cut wide open to give that little girl a chance at staying because I believed it was possible and that God might heal her - and my desire to meet her alive, if even for a minute, before I had to put her in that casket was impossible to deny.  Sometimes I wish my heart could have accepted I was going to have to let her go sooner.  But it just couldn't.

**(for the record, I would NOT tell anyone pregnant with an anencephalic baby that a C-section is not a good idea because God leads us all for a His purposes... so if you feel He is leading you to have a section, trust Him - I just always tell people to not think it's necessary just because of statistics.  No matter what you choose for delivery of your precious baby, it's going to hurt like crazy to say goodbye.)

I've thought about just having another C-section so I can plan and be close to home, but if I regret how my last one is affecting my life, I know I'll regret having another.  I just feel like every option I have is one I don't want.  And I just keep crying.

I think I liked it better when I didn't believe I was having another baby.  The last 24 hours have used up an entire box of tissues and a ton of energy.  And everyone has the quick fix answers that aren't realistic....

Like last night at midnight when Matt told me I just needed to stop crying and go to sleep because it would be easier to figure everything out in the morning (when this morning has left me crying just as hard with the same amount of unanswered concerns).  Things aren't always as simple as they seem.  Or maybe I just complicate things.  He saw it as I was just tired and that's why I was crying.... but what he didn't understand is that in my heart all I kept hearing was....  she was going to die anyway. 

And no matter how much time goes by, that fact alone is excruciating.