Sunday, December 20, 2015

Unspeakable Joy

Well, the 16th - and the 18th - came and went and I'm still pregnant!

On Friday night, I was having contractions for about 6 hours when we headed into the hospital just after midnight (Sat morning)...   It turned out to be a horrible experience because they checked me and I was still only 1cm.  They wanted to give me a couple of hours and recheck, but I asked if I could just go home so I could get some sleep.  They agreed until they noticed the baby's heart rate was too low... they had me move around and it was still too low... so they ordered an ultrasound and it was the longest ultrasound I've ever had - literally.  She stared at the screen, wiggling my belly, with a concerned look on her face for over 20 minutes before she called for a second set of eyes and said "I'm not seeing any movement or tone."

She got off the phone and said she didn't want me to worry... hmmm...  yeah, no problem lady.  Low heart rate, unable to see movement, thought I was in labor and I'm not, hadn't felt the baby move much all day - yeah, I'm not worried at all...

I just said "Well, I guess I'm in the right place for this to be happening..."  but inside all I could think was I should just schedule a c-section and get this baby out before I lose it....

They sent me home an hour later telling me everything was fine... I didn't really believe it, but what choice did I have?  Not much.

We got home and in bed around 5am, I had been up all night long.  The kids woke me up an hour later and I tried to sleep through their morning commotion and arguing.

I got up a few hours later and before long, between being exhausted and worried, I was in tears.  Matt's not usually overly good at making me feel better when I'm upset - especially if it's something he doesn't understand, but while we talked, I figured out that I was really worried about the chance of not being home on Christmas.  I didn't realize that it was weighing on me like it was until then, but he had just the right words for me.  He encouraged me that no matter when this baby comes, even if it's on Christmas, we will be together and the kids will be ok with however it goes.  If we have to wait a few days to do Christmas together, we will. (a huge bonus in not doing Santa)  And then he just told me to do whatever I needed to do for me for this weekend... to rest and enjoy the kids and our time off together... and to trust God with the rest.

So I ate breakfast and lounged around and slept on and off throughout the day - snuggled with the kids on the couch - and enjoyed the last moments of being pregnant and feeling this little one move around inside of me.  And it was exactly what I needed.

We went to church this morning, on time for the first time in I don't know how long... I felt so much better after taking time to rest and also in letting go of what I thought would be best for timing of this baby's arrival.  My mind and body just felt lighter.

I don't regret asking for specifics, even if I didn't get them... I did the same with Rachel and most of the things I asked for, God said "no".  I've learned that it doesn't mean He didn't hear or doesn't care, but rather that His ways are not our ways, yet they are always better.

I know I've talked about this before, but you all know that the word "HOPE" was Rachel's word... it was the constant theme of my time with - and now without - her.  And I've mentioned a few times that this baby's word has been "JOY".

I didn't realize it until the year after Rachel died when I was sitting in church the weekend of her birthday and they lit the first Advent candle, that the first candle of the Advent season is the candle of Hope.  I hadn't even considered how she would be born in the first week of Advent, but every year that has been a very special way to start December without her - as I remember her and her life and death, I'm also being reminded of the hope we have in Jesus and in eternity because of Him.

Today, because God didn't answer my prayer to have the baby last week, I was sitting in church when they lit the 3rd Advent candle of the season... the candle of Joy!  Matt & I just looked at each other and smiled - and I started to cry.  I knew at that very moment that I was supposed to be there today.  The songs, the message - it was all just what I needed to hear.

As we sang Chris Tomlin's Joy to the World...

Joy, unspeakable Joy
An overflowing well, no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable Joy
It rises in my soul, never lets me go

I rocked this baby and felt his/her twists and kicks and relished in how amazing it is that I have a life inside of me... and that (s)he can hear me singing those Christmas songs.  And for as much as this baby wasn't moving on Friday night, it made up for it today!

But at the end of the day, what I feel is total contentment and trust in whenever God sees best for this baby to arrive.  I have gotten so much prepared and have a few things I want to get done still, but mostly, my one and only goal is to let myself rest in God as I bask in the joy of being pregnant... the fact that I feel exceptionally good physically and mentally for being 39 weeks along...  feeling this baby move around and how I alone get this sacred time with him/her... knowing that when God says 'no' there is a reason and it's always a better one than any reason I am asking for... and believing wholeheartedly that whatever He does decide is right will be amazing and I get to be a part of it.

During today's service, I was so thankful I was there (I didn't think I would be because I was sure I'd have had the baby before today!)  and got to see and hear the things I did that only confirmed for me how safe I am in God's hands... I was so humbled.  So thankful.  So overwhelmed with emotion.  God is so good to me.

And I hate even trying to write about any of this because words don't do it justice and I almost feel like they take away from what actually happened in my heart today at church.  But as I was leaving today, a friend said she would be praying for the arrival of the baby and for me to have joy through it... and she knew none of the above...

I just responded with a smile and said "unspeakable joy" - and I think that sums it up...

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Almost Time!

I've been saying "I plan" on having this baby this Friday, the 18th - but that Wednesday would also be ok. And I might sound like I'm joking... but I'm really not!  LOL.

Of course you know I like to have babies on Fridays - I've had 4 of the 6 on Fridays so far and only Rachel's was scheduled by me... however, I do believe God knows what we need and Fridays work well for us pay wise for Matt to be with me.  This year, we have the kids school schedule added to the mix, which makes a Friday baby all the more convenient.

That said, this Friday is December 18, which is the day I was due with Silas, the baby I miscarried.  It is 9 days early, but I've had all of my babies except for Asa at least 7 days early - and they have all been close to 9 lbs.

A few weeks back, I started messing with numbers and realized that this Wednesday is 12-16-15 and if you add those together, it comes to 43 ♥  So I began saying I'd be happy with that day too.  

The reality is I will be thrilled with ANY day, time, way, situation I get as long as I don't have to say goodbye to this baby.  That said, I have some very specific prayer requests if you would remember me in prayer?  I know God could say 'no' to all of them and might, but I also know that my God is capable of all of this and so I'm going boldly before His throne and asking for His grace and mercy to help me in my time of need... 

So here we go....

I would love to go into labor in the early hours on Friday morning (or Wednesday if I don't make it that far) while Matt is still home so I don't have to chase him down at work (he can't carry his cell phone there).  Being a VBAC, I'm not supposed to labor at home and since this is my 7th baby and we have a long ride to the hospital, I won't stay long before I leave, but am hoping it's easy to get someone over to be with the kids.  I would like to be 5cm dilated upon arrival and to be able to have Kim (Rachel's nurse) there with me during labor and delivery.  I had an interesting experience with my epidural last time, so prayers for a safely placed epidural are needed.  I've been having breathing issues with my contractions - often I don't know I'm having one except that I can't breathe and then notice my belly is rock hard.  Please pray that I won't have trouble breathing through the real ones.  The way my contractions have been working also makes me super nauseous and I'm afraid I will throw up during labor, so please pray I won't get sick.  I would love to have Dr. Hunt for delivery (Rachel and Ezra both had her) and of course for a safe delivery, a healthy baby, and an easy transition with my hormones which always kick my butt.

Updated to add prayer requests...  Please pray that there are no complications with my brain aneurysm or my hernia.

I think that is all - no matter what, I'm due on the 27th which is just 13 days away so we are really close now...  I'm trying to get things done and it's not an easy task, especially with the added Christmas stuff to do.  But I think I'm doing alright.  It's just very hard physically at this point.  I'm ready to meet this little one... it's pretty much on my mind all day and night now.  I am having my 'nesting' splurge of energy, which is great for motivation, it just does nothing for my body's ability to accomplish it all!  But thankfully the baby won't have a clue that my house is a mess.  I'd be in trouble if baby's had opinions like adults do! lol - but all this baby will care about is snuggling and nursing and I can do both of those ♥  

I'm thankful for how God has prepared me for this time.  A few months ago, I was just detached, but He has gotten me ready and excited, just like he did with Rachel... and if He can do that with Rachel, I had no doubt He could do it with any other baby he gives me.  It's nice to be *in* it though and not waiting on it.  I still get nervous, that's just part of my life now... but I'm ok.  

I have another post or two I might try to get done before baby comes that have been on my heart for a while - if not, I guess the next one will be a gender reveal! :)  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lost and Found

I'm not sure if I blogged about it or just posted on Facebook about it, but back at the beginning of this pregnancy, Asa flushed my little silver daisy charm that said "hope" on it down the toilet.  It was the one I got at the woman's retreat where I gave my testimony of HOPE and also where I first told people I was pregnant with Rachel... it was the little token we used on my belly shots during my 25 week beach photos of Rachel's pregnancy.  It was super sentimental to me and I was really dumb to display it in the bathroom... but I literally looked at it every single day and thought about how much God loved me - how He had plucked me out of my addiction at such a young age and also how he had carried me while I carried Rachel.

When I realized it had been flushed, I plunged like crazy and stuck my hands as far down the toilet as I could trying to get it back.  I cried.  A lot.  I complained how things never go right.  I was so discouraged.  I can't remember everything going on at that moment in my life, but I know I was in a very rough place and that was the hair that broke the camels back.

On Wednesday, which was the anniversary of Rachel's funeral, I was having a hard morning, but was in a place of gratitude somehow... the toilet was backed up so I flushed and started to plunge and as I did, my mind wandered (as usual...) and I began thinking about Rachel's service.  I looked at the decor behind my toilet and saw the kids had been messing with it again and it brought my mind back to that little daisy charm that was flushed 9 months before...  I started thinking about HOPE and how I wanted to post a picture from her service on facebook, specifically the one of Matt & I worshipping during her service, and that I wanted to share that we praise Him no matter what because without him, we would be utterly lost.

And I kid you not, as I thought that, remembering how God gave us the faith to trust Him on that day, and was lost in appreciation of how God carried me through those hard days, I looked down, and there it was... the daisy HOPE charm!

Now, I'm not trying to over-spiritualize a clogged toilet... but this hit me hard.  I grabbed it and started cleaning it off and I couldn't help but cry.  December 9, 2010 was the hardest day of my life.  It was the day I left my baby's tiny body in the ground.  It was horrible and the night that followed it was even worse, as I sat here fighting myself to not go dig her up while I still could - fearing that someone else might and my heart ripping apart over how I couldn't care for her.  It was the most excruciating pain I've ever felt. EVER.  And on the anniversary of that day, I'm the only one who remembers or hurts from it.  Its mine to bear.  And I feel it each year.

But the crazy part of the entire thing that morning was that I was in such a good place for how hard my day was.  Nothing was going right and I was sad... but I was thinking about how much I needed God and how good He was to always be there for me at the moment that little charm revealed itself after all that time.

I couldn't help but think about if I felt that excited and that relieved to be 'reunited' with a little charm that's been covered in poop and pee for months - just imagine how unreal it will feel to be reunited with HER!  And that is my hope... that is what keeps me going... and on that day, 5 years after she was buried, God reminded me with a clogged toilet that it's only a matter of time.  When that charm was flushed, I thought it was gone forever and in a way, it was because it certainly didn't come back in the same pretty condition - but with Rachel, when I see her again, she won't be worse off, she'll be better off.  She will be whole.

So then remember in August how the night of the baby remembrance ceremony, I lost the memory card from the photos that my friend took for me?  Again, one of my lovely boys took it out of my computer and I couldn't find it.  I searched everywhere, but especially in my chair because that's where I had the computer.  And I finally had to accept it was gone. I honestly thought it was flushed down the toilet too since they had been doing that a lot this year.  I was so upset bc I wanted to make a nice video for the other moms and again was just so discouraged, feeling like nothing ever goes right...

Yesterday, we sold our living room furniture.  Again, changing things up for the baby.  Before the guy took the chair out, I tipped it on it's side to be sure there was nothing stuck in it and out fell a memory card... I knew right away it was *the* memory card... but seriously, I had already done that in August and so had Matt.  I tipped that chair, shook that chair, stuck my hands in it searching until they bled... and it was gone...  for a while.

The interesting thing is that the boys got a hold of my bag full of memory cards just recently and so I've been finding cards here and there for a week or two - and yet when I saw that one, I knew it was from the baby ceremony.  There was nothing special about it, just a plain 16 GB card... but I knew.

I'm not sure why sometimes God makes me wait like that... probably because I'm not very good at it and also probably a little bit to teach me how to let things go.  I was still able to remember God's goodness without that charm - and I was still able to make a beautiful video without that card because I had two people taking photos... but both destroyed me for a day or two.  I will say a day or two is a lot shorter than things used to bother me, so that's progress, but I would love to get to the place in life where I could care less about tangible things and rest more on knowing that I can't take those things with me anyhow and just focus on the things in my life that are eternal - which is caring for my relationship with God, for my husband, and for the little souls he has placed in our care.

As I prepare to meet this baby, waiting to know for sure I can take him or her home, after just celebrating and mourning Rachel's birthday, my heart has been overwhelmed with conflicting emotions.  I felt that God had confirmed for me early on in this pregnancy - before I even told anyone I was pregnant - that this baby would be okay.  But as one complication after another came up, I wondered if maybe he didn't mean here on earth it would be ok.  And so I haven't been able to just rest my mind for 9 long months and it's been so draining... and lonely.

But I think the timing of both of these things is just a loud reminder that even when I feel lost, he knows right where I am.  Even when I can't see the tangible proof that everything is ok, He is well aware of the details and will give me what I need, right when I need it.  You would think the way he saved me when I was lost and brought me into the light where I was found would be enough proof, but in my humanness, the little reminders on much smaller subjects are what keeps me remembering and I'm thankful for a God who will speak my language and not grow impatient with my continuous need to be reassured.  He is so, so good to me.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Rachel's birthday was hard...

We had done the baby shower for the other local family awaiting the arrival of their daughter Aerilyn who has anencephaly and was due on Rachel's birthday.  And although I invited my friends and family as a way of remembering Rachel as well, I honestly felt like it wasn't for her.  I think when I did the shower last year for the girl who was getting to keep her baby, I felt ok about making the day equally about Rachel - including a cake for Rachel and things of that sort.  But this shower was different.  They don't get to keep their little girl and I really just wanted the day to be all about her and them.  And in my heart, it was completely.  So, after it was over, I didn't feel like I had done my usual birthday for Rachel.  And since we also didn't deliver anything to the hospital this year, her birthday felt more like just another day - and that's the first time I've ever experienced that since she's been gone.  I know the people closest to me were thinking of her though and I'm *almost* to the place where that is enough for my heart - just not quite there.

I did a few things to represent Rachel there - I bought Rolos candy to put out, used the same basket for cards that we used at Rachel's shower (still decorated for her fall themed shower) and I bought 12 pink balloons and 3 star shaped balloons to symbolize the date that our girls share.

On the 3rd, I had SO much to do to get the decorating we usually do on her day accomplished that I felt like I ran around working my butt off all day long and being 9 months pregnant, I was exhausted half way through, but couldn't not finish it.  The older two were in school as well so we had to pick them up mid day and then deal with the usual homework and stuff.  I went to her PO Box and it was empty for the first time ever.  Our families don't acknowledge she was here or the pain I feel that she is gone except for my mom and sister (and that would be why they were the ones who got to meet her...)   Des made cupcakes that afternoon and we did sing to Rachel and put our Christmas tree up, but as night closed in, I got really sad.

I was starving to just sit down and *feel* all day long and I didn't have time.  The day before I had cried most of the day pretty heavily, so it's not like I hadn't shed a tear - so I don't know what I was hoping for or needing and that is the hardest part - often *I* don't even know what I want or need.  I just know it hurts and I just want relief from it and it seems like something should help that and if I figure out what it is, then the pain will let up...  but it doesn't.

Because I was such a wreck on the 2nd, Matt offered to take the day off for her birthday, which meant the world to me.  He was planning to work and I had planned to go it alone, but knowing he was willing to stay home and wanted to be with me for it was so good for my heart.  Plus, after doing all the work to get her grave set up and our yard decorated, I realized I would have never gotten it accomplished if I didn't have his help with the 3 little boys!  Being so pregnant really makes me much less capable of doing things I want to do and that's hard too...

So after everyone was in bed, I sat down and looked at my new arrangements in my living room... we have been moving stuff, selling stuff, changing things up to make room for the baby - and now the Christmas tree - and so my view from the couch was much different that night.  And I realized as I sat there, just how symbolic the entire scene in front of me was of how complicated my life is...

I have Rachel's hope chest - where I usually put out all her ornaments and can't because we don't have the piano so I had to consolidate what I could display.  Also, the boys managed to break one of my very first ornaments ever sent to me for Rachel and also one of my favorites before I even had them out of the box so they feel safer in her chest.  It looks pretty, it's just different.

Then we have our Christmas tree... it's time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior... it's time for gift giving, spending time with family, bringing joy to my kids and watching their faces light up with each gift they open... it used to be my absolute favorite time of year and filled with peace and joy and love and all the amazing things that come along with knowing the God is with us and He is so good....  And although I still know and BELIEVE that... my Christmases feel different.  They carry a little bit of sting that she isn't here - no matter which part of all the awesomeness I'm experiencing, it's there and I've come to accept it's just the way it's going to be.  It's still beautiful, it's just different.

And then we have the little dresser that I found on the side of the road back in the very beginning of my pregnancy that I finally recently painted and fixed up for our new Little E.  We have no room upstairs for this baby and so we have made space in a corner of our living room for his/her stuff and I'm doing my best to make it cute so I can feel good about it.  I do like it, it's just different.
Little E's "nursery" ♥
My friend Elisha showed up at Rachel's grave while we were there decorating on her birthday and gave me this Joy sign.  It matches the dresser perfectly and, of course, she didn't know that.  

But I looked at the three of these things together and I seriously sat there thinking about how crazy it is to have those three things all happening at the same time.  It was overload for my mind and heart to see memorial items for one baby, a evergreen tree symbolizing the eternal nature of our Lord who came as a baby, and then a little dresser full of baby clothes in hopes of bringing home another baby soon.  How does one person do all of this at the same time?  Polar opposites speaking loud and clear from both sides of my Christmas tree... emotions from every direction.  One minute I was answering someones message about Rachel and in the next minute, talking to someone else about a name or something they wanted to do for the new baby...

That night, it just overwhelmed me, but since then as I have walked past them daily, I think that in a way it's a good reminder of the hope I can have for both of my babies because of Jesus.  On one side I have the uncertain... will I bring this baby home?  And on the other, I have the certain... she is gone, but truly home...  And in the middle, I have the reminder that He is with me and He is enough for anything I go through.  

Preparing for this Christmas has been hard - in every way you can imagine.  Financially, mentally, emotionally and physically.  The kids being in school has turned an already busy time into a complete marathon of events and extras and I hate it.  There has been SO much change in our lives this past year, it's crazy.  New job, complicated and often scary pregnancy, the kids starting school outside our home, losing both my grandfathers, changes in the nonprofit... and I don't like change... I don't like different.

I could get disappointed that Christmas doesn't feel the way it used to - that I'm not capable of changing my emotions to fit the picture in my mind of how I like Christmas to be - or how so many expect people to be/feel/act at Christmas... or I can accept that God has given me a hard journey, a heavy cross, and a ton of blessings mixed in between -  and that yes, it's hard and yes, it hurts, and no, most people cannot comprehend and many will not acknowledge or even recognize any of that as they interact with me this Christmas - and I can thank Him for all of it because honestly, I know God in a deeper more personal way than I did when things were prettier, lighter, felt better... but my life wasn't better.  It wasn't more meaningful.  It was just different.  And as much as I miss the simpler days, I am glad things are different.  It's okay that different doesn't mean easier.

Taking care of her the only way I can for now...

Are they cute, or what?!

Missing my school kids

Me & Elisha
I changed the decorations this year.  I went with pink & purple because standing in walmart looking at the choices I said to Des, "Rachel would probably pick these this year..." and she agreed that a 5 year old would rather have girly colors.  I changed the stuff on her little tree on her hope chest for the first time since 2010 too and made it to match this one. ♥

Ezra & I read a book every day before nap called "Baby Born".  It's our favorite and it's about a baby born in the winter.  I have never talked to Ezra about Rachel while reading that book, but while we were decorating the tree, he picked up this ornament of Rachel, held it up and said "Baby Born!" A few minutes later, he did it again when he picked up a nativity scene ornament. ♥

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Can you play for me, Peanut?

The day Desirae was born, before they had even weighed her, my mom said "Oh, look at her long fingers, she's going to play piano!"  She doesn't really have long fingers and I'm not sure why I never forgot that, but it's one of the clearest memories from the day I became a mother.

Desirae took a year of piano lessons in 2009.  She picked it up quickly and loved it, so we continued... but the following year, I decided to pick up guitar lessons at the same place and for the next two years, we went together to our lessons and our home was full of beautiful, imperfect sounds.  The first year happened to be while I was pregnant with Rachel - and the next, the year after I lost her.

I almost forget that I was taking lessons with Rachel there with me, but I will randomly come across blog posts that mention me going to or starting my lessons again.  I only took a couple of weeks off after she died and went right back... I did the same with homeschooling... and honestly, knowing how I felt in my mind and heart back then, looking back, that seriously amazes me.

So, in 2010, after figuring out that Des indeed liked and wanted to play piano, we upgraded from her big keyboard and got a used piano that, even with all it's imperfections, made her and her mama smile... a lot.  I have absolutely relished in hearing my little girl play her songs.

Two years ago, she wanted to quit and being the mean mom I am who can see down the road better than she can, told her no.  It was part of her homeschool curriculum in my opinion.  She pushed through and that year, performed in a piano recital.  She hates playing in front of people so this was a big deal.  My whole family came to watch her and were all so impressed at how well she did... and my Grandpa was there and we went out to eat with him afterwards.  It was awesome.

This past year, she begged to quit.  She would hide in her room when the piano teacher showed up and she never practiced in between lessons.  I still forced her because deep down I knew she was meant to play piano... she has music in her.  She is gifted and I didn't want to let her just walk away from all her years of hard work.  But in June, when the lessons ended - so did the sounds of the piano in our home.  She didn't touch it again.

A couple of months ago, Desirae and Isaiah started school outside of our home.  This has been an incredibly difficult decision and transition for our family - and for as much as I hoped it would help my relationship with her by giving her space, it has done way more the opposite.  Our relationship hit an all time low, one I never thought I would ever see with us and it has stayed that way for weeks.  I have found myself daily wanting to pull her out and begging God to let me know if I made a mistake and if I am one day going to regret it - or if it will smooth out with time.  They are in a Christian school full of teachers I respect and trust - but I have yet to have peace about her being there and it's not changing...  being a mom is so freaking hard.

Recently, while trying to figure out where we were putting a new baby in our already very tight home, we decided it was time to give the piano away.  I second guessed it, but it just wasn't being used.  I asked Des if she thought she would use it anymore and she gave me a solid 'no'.  And since the baby is going to take up residence in our living room...  I posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted it.  And that night as I was confirming the plans for someone to come get it, I started to feel really sad about it...

I called to Des and as she turned to ask what I wanted, I couldn't speak... I motioned for her to come over to me and through a sudden onset of a flood of tears whispered "Can you play for me, Peanut?"

She looked at me and fell onto the couch and started to cry too.   Teenage girls are complicated.  But I totally get that....

I asked again... "Can you play me a song?  Do you remember how to play?"

She got up and without saying a word, pulled out a book and started to pluck slowly on the keys.  After getting frustrated, she put that book away and pulled out an older book... and slowly, she started to play... and slowly, the songs came back to her... and slowly, I watched her body change and it was as if a weight was lifted from her.

She is meant to play music... she needed that too.

I sat and listened and I couldn't stop crying.  I didn't totally know why, all I knew was that it wasn't something I was going to be able to stop.  I listened and cried as my big girl played for me for over an hour.

And when she was done, we sat and hugged for a few minutes and then watched a show together at 11pm, just because.

As I thought about my emotional breakdown after she went to bed, I realized a few things...  For one, we bought that piano while I was pregnant with Rachel.  I hadn't even thought of that, but it must have been in my memory deep down.  I remember telling my friend Jill that I was pregnant again after just showing her the piano we bought, which means we bought the piano in April or May of 2010.  That was the same day Isaiah disappeared on us and we had a neighborhood wide search happening, but that's a different story! lol.

I also remembered that I decorate that piano with Rachel's 1st Christmas tree each year... and that Desirae's music has lingered through our home during the most trying times of my entire life.  I realized that I myself have been far off from music, which is comfort to my soul as well.  I realized that the piano, and more specifically Desirae playing it, have been a consistent beautiful distraction to my pain... and I have dearly missed listening to her play.  Not only because it was relaxing and enjoyable for me, but because her deciding she no longer liked it was also a sign that she was growing up and that it wasn't going as I had imagined.... and has been way harder than I could prepare for.

I asked her if she wanted to keep it.  If I should tell the girl that we changed our minds.  I thought that perhaps I should get Rachel's hope chest out of my living room instead since Rachel is gone and Des isn't and Rachel doesn't care if I have her stuff displayed in my home.  I just wanted to do whatever this little girl needed...

She said to me "It's kind of strange that all this is coming up right now because today at glee club, I sat down and tried to play something and got really upset that I couldn't remember anything."

"Until your overly emotional mother asked you to play a song... ?"

"Yeah, until you asked me to play a song... now I don't want to stop playing..."

We talked about getting a big keyboard like she used to have... one with headphones and a pedal so she can play when the baby is sleeping.  And she is excited about that - so I'm happy with it.  I will miss the sound of a real piano filling our home - there's nothing like that - but as long as my girl is happy, I'm happy.

The next day, the original taker told me she couldn't make it and I was again faced with the option to back out.  I asked Des and we agreed that it was time to make a change so that the baby's stuff could fit cutely into our space.  Des is just like me on the interior design thing so she gets needing 'cute' - lol.  So I moved onto the next person able to get it quickly and yesterday afternoon, we cleared Rachel's photos from the top of it and emptied out her lesson books from the last 6 years and watched another family drive off with our piano... and it was ok.

We started setting up for the baby... which I don't tell her but it makes me nervous because if we do and the baby doesn't come home with us, that would kill me to have to move that stuff out... but I think it was the next step in our faith walk.

I'll have photos of the baby's corner in our living room later, but for now, I just wanted to share this one... I know words could never do justice to what was happening in my heart as I watched her play late that night, But I will forever be thankful for the way God worked in my home in that hour.  I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago now and hadn't posted it yet, but Des and I have been in a different place since this night.  I don't know how or why, but God is so, so good to us.

Monday, November 9, 2015

♥ Her 5th Birthday ♥

OK, so here's the scoop... 

Months ago, a friend at church told me of someone she knew who was carrying a baby with anencephaly.  Back in September, the woman who took my pregnancy photos and birth photos for Rachel, told me she had met a girl (who I didn't know was the same girl) that she was going to take photos for because her daughter had anencephaly and that she gave her my blog address.  A few weeks later, another friend mentioned she met a girl online and that she was due on December 3rd (Rachel's bday) with a little girl who has anencephaly and she also had sent her to my blog.  I still had no idea it was the same person.  All the pieces didn't come together until I contacted this girl to see if there was any way I could help her through our nonprofit or to support her.  When I realized it had been the same person all along, I knew this is where God wanted me to spread love this year in memory of Rachel.  But unlike my usual plans, I have only known this was something I could do for the last few days and December 3rd isn't far away.

And so this is the plan... to love on her and her family as they prepare to meet their little girl.  I know many people do not know how to attend a baby shower for a baby who will not live long.  I get it.  But please believe me when I say that showing up with a smile and a hug is more important than having the 'right' words or the 'right' gifts.  And honestly, I don't think this family is expecting or hoping for gifts anyway.  They just want to celebrate their daughter's LIFE while she is with them.  They are a military family and do not know many people in this area so have not had any kind of shower yet.  I'll admit, with what I have on my plate already, I felt crazy offering, but God wouldn't let me not... and so I'm diving in!  (and welcome anyone who wants to help!!) :)

PLEASE join us!!  I have created a facebook event page that is private in order to protect the privacy of the family, but anyone who is wanting to come and show support and celebrate this sweet little girl is welcome, so please contact me if you do!

If you can't come, but want to know how you can help them... They have told me that stars are symbolic for their daughter and I know that anything personalized (contact me for name) would be really special.  I also know that some of my favorite gifts at Rachel's celebration were ones that made it feel like things were 'normal' - like lotion or a Christmas ornament or blanket.  They also have another child, a boy, who is still little and I'm sure wouldn't mind some lovin'.   Please keep them in your prayers, now and as time goes on.

Our nonprofit is going to be helping with the urn for their daughter and covering the cost of the celebration.  I also have a memory box filled like we usually give to the hospital that I will give to her to help make memories in their time together.  So, if you want to help financially with those things, you can make a tax deductible donation to Baby Rachel's Legacy.  You can send a check or use the Paypal button on the side of my blog and just make a note what you want it used towards.  We will also be collecting a love offering for them to use in the weeks following their daughter's arrival and if you contact me, I can tell you how to give to them directly.  Our nonprofit cannot give cash to individuals so if you send it to Baby Rachel's Legacy, it will need to be used on items or services.  If you want to bless them with a monetary gift to use how they wish, it will need to go directly to them.

I'm honored that this family as allowed me to be a part of something so special.  I pray you will come and be a part too.  I had over 85 people come to Rachel's celebration and they were not all people I had met before - and it was an amazing comfort to my hurting heart.  And while this shower is for antoher little girl, there is no doubt that none of this would be on my heart to do if Rachel never came and went... but also if I wasn't loved so well by all of you while she was here.  So thank you for your love back in those days - and for all of you who have continued to follow along with my journey all these last 5 years.  For your patience and love and grace and mercy... and for always supporting me when I get another prompting from the Spirit!  I've said it before, but it's so, so true... I couldn't do any of it without you!

I'm excited to see what God has in store...  Rachel Alice Aube, Mama loves you ♥  I can't believe you'd be almost 5.  Miss you every minute of every day... until then...

Monday, November 2, 2015

The "Why"

After the many disappointments I've experienced this past year on the topic of Rachel... from people I trusted betraying me and strangers I don't know stealing and using Rachel's photos without permission on a video I would have never allowed her to be a part of... I had decided that I have seriously failed Rachel.

I decided I failed at protecting her.  I decided I failed at keeping her life beautiful.  I decided I failed at doing what moms are supposed to do - keeping her safe and out of harm's way.

I have spent months - since the whole thing happened with one of my board members in August - trying to figure out if this is really what God wants me to do.  And if so, how to do it when people are impossible to trust and my heart can't take any more pain.  I have prayed and waited and cried and waited and pushed it onto the back burner and had it come back only to push it away some more because I just don't. know. what. to. do.

This pregnancy being so difficult and emotion filled doesn't help at all and so I am currently thinking the best plan of action is to wait until after I have this baby, and also allow the huge changes that have taken place in my family time to settle down, before I make any decisions.  But my overall feeling is that I would be further along in my healing process if I didn't constantly have my wound being torn open again.... and it seems as time goes on, that's only more likely because these people seem to forget that I only know most of them because my daughter died.  And her death is still very real and very hard for me.  I'm still just a human enduring a loss too big to comprehend.  I'm still completely blinded by my grief at times and still a sinner in need of mercy and grace.  And I still very much need a lot of help in so many ways.  I'm just past the point time wise of where any of that is considered reasonable for anyone who hasn't walked in my shoes.

I'm pretty tired of "Rachel's Legacy" being referred to as an organization and not the memory of my baby girl because she is not an organization.  Her legacy is not a ministry.  I have an organization that I use to minister to others who walk this path - but Rachel's *legacy* is not that.  Rachel's legacy is about my very personal encounter with God during the most difficult days any mom could ever live... as I carried her to her death, buried her, and then mourned her young death and the gaping hole that leaves in my life and heart.

And I feel so often like I just fail more and more and that she (her memory) would be better off if I just stopped trying to keep it going.  I wonder at times if my fear of failing her is going to be what God eventually uses for me to give myself permission to stop worrying so much about the rest of the world and draw back into my little family - my first ministry - here on earth.  The truth is that my fear of failing her has been at the center of pretty much all I have done for the last 5 1/2 years... It's at the heart of all the beautiful things I've done and it's unfortunately at the heart of all the ugly things I've done.

I promised her while she was here that I would build her a playground... that I would bring awareness to her condition and be her voice to help people understand that she was worth it all.... that I would help other people walking the path that her & I walked together.... that I would do whatever it took to make doctors and the medical community see that babies with anencephaly deserve love and good care too.... and that I would never regret having her or forget her.  I promised her that she would always remain a part of our family and that her siblings now and to come would know about her.

And I know with all my heart I have fulfilled those promises to her.

I also told her that she made me a better mom... that I would always appreciate her siblings more because of her... that in every hug and kiss I gave them from the day I named her on, that she would be in every one of them...  I told her that the middle of the night needs they cried for would never again frustrate me or make me feel like I was being anything but blessed to be able to care for them.

And I can honestly say that all those things are true.

I know God will lead me in my next steps as I continue to wait and will prepare me along the way.  He always does.  It's funny though, I had plans on what I wanted to do this year for Rachel's birthday and started to feel like it wasn't right.  I started to question if being at the same hospital Rachel was born at, at exactly 37 weeks along again like I was when Rachel was born, to bring memory boxes to the labor & delivery floor, would be too much on my heart.  And with everything that has happened with 'friends' this year, and with how hard this pregnancy has been physically, emotionally, mentally... I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do any of it.  My shopping cart has been full with the items for the care packages for parents and siblings since August and I didn't ever have peace about clicking "order now".

Then a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from the hospital bereavement coordinator.  She said they are in the beginning stages of providing more support for the baby loss community and have some new things they want to do.  We talked for quite a while about all they have planned, which I'm really excited about.  She said that I have done such a great job memorializing Rachel and sharing her story that they wanted to know if I'd be interested in speaking at some of their support groups or meetings.  She said it wouldn't be for a while though - and finally, something felt right... I can't do much at this point in my life with all my kids being so little and just needing time with them... but in a year from now... ?  I just know God isn't done with Rachel yet.  It won't be in the same ways and honestly, that is a relief for me at this point in my life.  I've been craving a change but having no idea what that would look like or how to get there.

I just need to put my plans or expectations of myself or others aside and learn how to trust Him in it all... even in the hard stuff because He uses it ALL to guide me.... I look back over the last 6 months (and even the last 6 years!) and it has not been easy - but I can see His hand in even the most difficult things.  It's so hard to care about what He's doing for the future when the present hurts like crazy... but the big picture always reveals why even the most painful of things happens and the future outcome always proves that He knows best.  Some times we won't know the details of the 'why' on this side of heaven... but there always is one.

So, I planned to write absolutely none of that when I came on here!  I actually came just to share a comment I got tonight that reminded me that I have NOT failed Rachel... It was on the Truth About Anencephaly post I wrote in 2012 and when I get comments on that post, I am always nervous to open them.  Sometimes, depending on where I'm at emotionally, I will wait a day or two because people have said some mean things to me.  I opened this comment tonight and it was confirmation that sharing my heart here has not been in vain and that so many of my hopes have been made reality in the lives of others, especially the medical community, who will no doubt make a huge difference for those of us who leave the hospital without our babies.

This comment is a tangible seed of hope for me on this journey... it's proof that Rachel's life will be a gift in more ways than I will ever know, and hopefully even long after I'm gone.  I hope this beautiful lady becomes a nurse in the NICU, and I have a feeling that she *will* run into a baby like Rachel... I pray what she read here will make all the difference for the families she supports. With that and her heart to truly understand and help people,  I believe it will.  And that's what Rachel's Legacy is about.  This is the "why" that keeps me going....

This is what she wrote:

"Rachel is beautiful. You are both angels. I am currently studying to become a nurse and hope to work in the NICU one day. As I was sitting here reading my medical terminology book, I came across the term, "anencephaly," which was followed by a description that sounded too sad to be true. I thought, if I'm going to work in the NICU someday, I better read more about this and see some pictures to get an idea of what anencephaly is. I read a few articles, mostly containing definitions, pros and cons of aborting vs. carrying full term, and then I came across your blog. Your words drew me into your experience, and with each paragraph I felt I was sharing somewhat in your journey, crying, smiling (especially at Rachel's picture), and remember how important faith and God are. Thank you for your courage in giving Rachel life, and for writing and sharing your story. Rachel is a blessing to so many. Now I can have a better understanding and more empathy if I meet a baby like Rachel, whether someday my own or someone else's. Thank you and God Bless you and your family."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Permanently Broken

I hadn't been to Rachel's grave but maybe twice since August 4 and Matt hadn't been with me for a visit in I don't know how long.... so on the 3rd, we took a trip together, just him & I.  I had picked up a pretty mum plant for her and for our porch here that looked like little pink daisies.  The weather was decent, which was good because there was a lot to be done.  All of the stuff there was either dead or broken so we replaced the daisy lights and cleaned everything up.  The one good thing about 'things' is that they can be replaced or fixed.

I was brought down memory lane from when we picked her stone out.  I was 7 or 8 months pregnant and standing on the ground that would eventually hold her, talking to the monument guy about what we were hoping to get her for a stone...  It was late in the season for dandelions, but I looked down and there was a little yellow flower right where she would soon be buried.  The same thing happened on this visit. ♥

It's interesting, because I was due with Asa two weeks before Rachel's 1st birthday - and yet the dates lining up that time didn't seem to be as heavy on my heart as they are this time.  Maybe I was still in survival mode, being in my first year of grief, but for some reason, this pregnancy is bringing me serious flashbacks that didn't happen with Asa.  At times, I forget it's not her in me because everything feels so similar.  It makes the pain feel raw again in ways it hasn't in a long, long time.

I didn't know yet in these pictures that I had poly, but it's kind of obvious when I look at them now seeing as I was only 28 weeks here... 

So, I felt better, leaving her spot looking clean and loved... and here I am almost a month later and haven't been back once to take care of it... so I know it's looking yucky again and it's weighing on me.  I was going to go this morning, but I ended up coming back home because I needed to rest and car rides tend to put me in serious pain these days.

Continued prayer for my poly and pain levels and also for the baby's safe arrival are appreciated.  I also covet your prayers for my heart and mind.  These days are hard every year, but this year is feeling especially heavy as I await Rachel's youngest sibling's arrival... and I'm starting to get the feeling that year 5 just might have been a hard one anyway.  I'm missing so much with her. :(

I'm actually starting to wonder if it ever will be consistently easier.... I have moments of 'easy' but 'hard' always returns and honestly, I'm pretty tired of it.  I'm worn out from the hard.  I just want easy.... like life was like before I knew any of this pain.  I am tired of feeling so broken.. and even more tired of feeling like I can't be put back together.  Tired of knowing how impossible it is to replace her or to mend the places in my heart where her absence is felt.

I know I have seen great and amazing healing throughout the last 5 years and I'm thankful for that. God has been more than good to me and provided more than I deserve.  I just wasn't prepared for the permanently broken aspect of this journey.  It was easier to handle when I was naive enough to think it was temporary, like the rest of the world often believes about grief.  But it's not.  It's permanent.  I still believe it has a beautiful purpose in God's plan for my life... but I just wish I didn't have to endure it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

All of Me

In September of 2010, we went to a beautiful beach in Maine to take pregnancy photos with Rachel.

Last week, we went back to that beach to take photos with our little E.... My friend Amanda took them for us as a gift.

Being there felt surreal.  I didn't remember anything about the drive or how to get there - I only remembered parking on the side of the road, explaining to Kelly (the NILMDTS photographer) why I I had the blanket and the little "hope" token with me, and what we can see in the photos we have.  It was just a month after her diagnosis when we were there with Rachel, so my mind was literally just trying to keep my body going.

I don't think I realized how much so until we went back last week.  Driving there and realizing I had no recollection of any of it reminded me of just how heart wrenching my news about my little girl was and how hard it was to walk through those days.  I had different 'props' this time... this time it was my Rachel bear that is the weight and length Rachel was (and ironically the estimated length and weight this baby is now in my womb) and a picture of her to represent her in the photos. The emotions going there were a reminder of just how much of this burden is on my shoulders alone... but also the great gift of how much I have gained in knowing her. The pain, though, is so real and so... still here.

It's been 5 years.  I'm pregnant again and have had two other babies since her.  Everyone assumes I should feel better and just be able to think about the new baby.  And new babies are 'happy' and 'exciting' and no reason to be scared....  Everyone wants to talk about it - and I'm "supposed to" want to talk about it too.  But I don't because I can't answer like people want me to.  And if I do, I'm faking it... and that gets so tiring.

It's not really that I don't want to talk about this baby.  It's not that I'm not excited or happy about this baby.  It's not that I'm *only* fearful about this baby.  I'm just not what most people are when they are pregnant.  I don't feel like I'm 'expecting a baby' as much as I'm 'waiting to see if I'll get one' because I have no false sense of security that just because my belly is big and baby is dancing around that I will have a baby come home with me in 3 months.  And I can't answer a question, even as simple as "when are you due?", without feeling the conflicting emotions - and the questions that inevitably follow are even harder to hear and answer with grace, like a normal, undamaged person would.

Every once in a while though, someone asks me that I know is safe to share the burdens of my heart with - someone who has held their lifeless child and then waited for another - and it's such a relief and actually helps me to feel closer to this little one.  Today was one of those days and I really needed it.  But you know,  I'm SO tired of being needy.

I'm so tired of being unable to be there for other people. Tired of not being able to follow through with the things on my heart.  I'm tired of being so bad at so much in life.  I'm tired of everything being so complicated in my mind and heart.  It seriously makes me wish I wasn't me.

I've never enjoyed pregnancy - hormones have always been hard on me - but since Rachel, I can't even put words to how difficult it is for me to be pregnant...  and this time, being due at the same time as her, has me in such a similar place as I was when I was carrying her - yet nobody thinks I should be, expects it, or gives any room for my feelings in regards to it.  I'm tired of failing and tired of feeling hurt, tired of letting people down, and really tired of being bad at being Rachel's mama, so I'm just hiding out and trying to press into God.

Back in August when I was walking through another August 4th heartache - and waiting on this baby's 'routine' ultrasound, I came across a song called "All of me" and wished I would have heard it when I was carrying Rachel because that is how I felt about her.... but last night as I was editing the photos from last week, I went to pick a song to put on it and came across it again. It might seem like an odd song to put on a pregnancy photo shoot movie, but it's where I'm at as a mom....

I want to give this baby all of me too, like I did with Rachel.  I don't want to sit back, knowing I could lose again, and not make use of this time with my child because I'm afraid of the pain.  I don't want to miss it twice.  And I know enough to know that no amount of attempted detachment will ever remove the pain if something did happen to this baby, but probably only add regret too.

And so I'm trying to take the next 12 weeks and celebrate this little life while it's here so that if it's gone tomorrow, I won't have regrets.  I still probably won't enjoy answering questions.  I'll still probably continue to hibernate until my head is in a better place and I can be a better friend.  But I'm going to be more purposeful about bonding with my little E.  I've been talking to him/her more and started looking around for a going home outfit and blanket.  And just like with Asa & Ezra, who both came with similar difficult emotions - and Rachel, who didn't come with the ending I wanted - I know God will get me ready to meet this baby, regardless of the outcome.

"I'll trade the fear of all that I could lose, for every moment I'll share with you. You're gonna have all of me...."

Here is the video...  Thank you SO much Amanda for taking these!  I'm so thankful to have them ♥

Friday, October 2, 2015

Behind the White Picket Fence

Maybe I'm the only one, but since I had Rachel, when I look at pictures of my wedding day, I often think about how completely clueless we were as to what was in store for us.

I had an idea of what happened when you got married and added to your family and it didn't include heartache and dead babies.  It didn't include a constant struggle against sin and selfishness.  It didn't include brain aneurysms or autoimmune diseases.  It didn't include false friendships.  It didn't include most of what growing up and growing in the Lord does...  It didn't include being so bad at so much in life...  Mostly I just pictured a white picket fence, 4 kids, cooking and cleaning, baking cookies - and being able to keep a house clean and smelling fresh! - and things continually getting easier with time - not harder.  Growing up has caused me to learn that there is pain behind every white picket fence.

Often I'm tempted to feel like we've got it all wrong and that's why we continue to have hardships and trials - but the truth is, God never promised we wouldn't.  Some of the most dangerous and hurtful people are the ones who tell people that if they just have enough 'faith' and just pray enough and trust enough that nothing bad will take place.  Because the Bible doesn't say that.  It says that in the valley... in the pain and sorrow and death and sin that exist in this world, that God will be with us.  That He is enough.  That He can turn the ashes to beauty and make something more out of it all.  That we can trust HIM.  Not to give us what we want, but that He is in control of everything and has purpose, even in the things that hurt and are not what we asked for.

Sunday night I had one goal - to watch the "blood moon".  I heard it was so rare that it won't happen again for another 30 years.  It was supposed to be at the most spectacular from 8:00 - 10:30 pm.  That night, I was so overcome with sadness that I was too busy having what could totally be classified as a complete breakdown, that I never remembered the moon.  The next morning, I woke up to Isaiah telling me I *had to* come look at the moon.  I said we missed it and immediately was even more upset because it just seems like I can't get anything right - not even looking out the window at the right time.  I went to look and the moon was still big and beautiful.  It was nothing like what happened the night before, I'm sure, but it was still dark in the early morning hours and still looked as bright and round as a light bulb in the sky.  Isaiah was certainly satisfied with it....

I went to get my coffee and mumbled to myself, maybe if I'm still alive to see the next one in 30 years I won't be crying my nights away anymore and can actually see it.  And I just felt so hopeless - thinking that probably isn't likely.  That I'll either die from a heart attack or brain aneurysm by then or miss it again because that is just how my life seems to go.

I went outside with Ezra later that morning and saw that suddenly, flowers were blooming everywhere in my garden.  Plants that have been barren or dead for weeks - some longer - all had just one or two new flowers on them.  I have no idea if a 'blood moon' can make flowers bloom, but it was crazy.  My daisy mums were due to bloom, but to see the carnation standing tall - a huge Hibiscus out of nowhere - and the one purple flower in my pot that someone gave me for Teacher's Day months ago that has been dead for weeks and looking pretty sad for much longer than that... and even one of my day lilies was showing it's face...

I started taking pictures and one picture really captured my thoughts...  mostly because of the white picket fence in the background.

I have a beautiful home - it's small for us now, but when we moved in, I couldn't believe it was mine - I have the white picket fence. I have a house full of kids and get to stay home with them like I always wanted.  I have a hard working man who is a great and devoted dad.

I also have dead babies.  Pain.  Heartache.  Loneliness.  Marriage is hard.  Parenting is hard.  Good, loyal and true friends are rare.

I have a beautiful garden that I worked for years to make so it always has blooms somewhere through the warmer months - but I still have to face winters.  It's just the way life goes.  I never like winter better just because I can see it coming.  I hate watching things wither and die - and since I buried Rachel, I have developed a serious dislike of the hard, frozen ground and how the snow gets in the way on the roads on the days I need them clear the most.  My favorite season by far is spring because I love watching things come to life and bloom...  but I suppose I only love it so much because of the hard season before it that makes the new growth so refreshing and encouraging.

Right now I am watching the world lose it's color; it's life.  I'm seeing the beauty of the leaves as they die and watching them start to fall, leaving behind bare and plain trees.  The air is cool, the nights are longer and colder, the fun and light summer days are gone.  These days are always hard for me because I feel Rachel's birthday coming from August on - and I'm not sure if that will go on for my entire life, but I certainly didn't still expect it to be 5 years later back then... so I won't be surprised if this half of the year is always a long reminder of my days with her.  And being pregnant again right now... it's just so strange.  Hard to believe at times.  Hard to remember it isn't her at times.

I'm preparing myself for a long winter....  but I hope along the way God will give me splashes of color like he did on Monday to keep me hopeful because I'm struggling to feel it... to see it... to know it... that this season will eventually lead us back to the new life and growth of spring.  That death only stings for so long and eventually life will spring forth and with it bring the promise of eternity.

I remember when I was pregnant with Rachel looking at the falling leaves and hearing God whisper to my heart that I need to learn to bend with him.... and I'm in that place again.... needing to learn to bend and trust.  I also remember after she was gone how year after year he has used my garden to love on me as my heart has ached for her.

Monday when I saw all these beautiful flowers peeking through dry and withered plants I felt a sense of calmness wash over my heavy heart as he reminded me the control He has over everything and how He can bring life out of death and beauty out of pain - in unexpected places, at unexpected times.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Baby E Update

My appointment last month at Maine Med was... how should I put it... a nightmare.

After all I went through early on in this pregnancy with local doctors and with insurance - to finally feel relief and comfortable with the landing under Dr. Pinette's care, I went in for my last appointment with a lot of concerns I needed to address with him to find I had to see someone else.  This someone else is a new guy who... how should I put it... shouldn't be a doctor.  That's the absolute nicest way I can say how I feel about my short time with him.  It was awful.  Maybe he'll get better with experience, but yikes.

So then the nurse came in to schedule me for my next apt and I said I didn't want to see him again and she told me that I wouldn't be able to see Pinette anymore because he's on a different assignment now... and since I'm on the high risk side of the office, I don't get to pick who I see and that they can't even guarantee I won't get stuck with that guy.  I started crying and cried the whole way home.

And then my EKG I had that day came back abnormal.  I have been having a lot of heart issues again and last Sunday spent the night in the ER again - getting blown off by another bad doctor.  I swear unless you are an old man, Dr's don't take heart problems seriously.  Maine Med had referred me to the cardiologist after my EKG and I went for my appointment on Monday and he didn't even have the EKG that I was being sent there to review and blew me off saying "We both know there is no reason for you to be here" (as if I have time to go to unnecessary apt's??) And there is nothing they do for pregnant or nursing people anyway so call them in a year and a half when I'm done nursing and we can talk medication and scan my carotid artery again (it's 50% blocked which he didn't know until I told him bc he apparently didn't have time to read my chart before entering the room).  I asked if he could look at the EKG I had that was abnormal from before I was pregnant and he said "They must not have sent it over".  When I told him that HIS OFFICE did the EKG, he said "it must not have been scanned in, and wouldn't make excuses for technology, but it didn't matter anyway".  Then he asked how many kids I have and said "you have mostly boys, right?" (not sure how he knew that) and asked me if this was my last baby and I said yes to which he replied "Unless it's another boy?"

Is this guy serious??  He doesn't want to talk about my heart issues, track down my EKG - or even take the reason I'm there seriously - but he wants to analyze why I have so many kids, which he apparently thinks is because I'm trying for a girl?  First of all, I have TWO girls already.  Second of all, it's sort of none of his business.  Third of all, I'm about tired of everyone on the planet assuming that I would only have another baby for something as shallow as needing a certain gender. (try walking into the grocery store as me... it's sickening how many times people ask me if I'm trying for a girl!!)  I would love another girl, but I will absolutely LOVE another boy.  I have 7 children because God has blessed me with the exact little humans that He wants me to have - or miss - while I'm here on earth.  Might not fit this guy's picture of the "American Dream" (one girl, one boy, two jobs, a big house and expensive cars) but my dream has more to do with bringing home a living child that I get to raise, regardless of what's between it's legs.  I'm wondering why my insurance company needs to pay him for that visit?  I'm sure it wasn't cheap.

So, to put it MILDLY... I was totally DONE with doctors.  They are a joke and the one doctor I've found who actually puts his brain to use in his profession I've now been told I can't see....  in the middle of a lot of concerning things that nobody else wants to pay attention to.

I was going to just cancel my appointment for yesterday at Maine Med - but since I've been feeling so abnormally tired, I decided that I should go since it was my blood work and diabetes screening day.  I had enough conversations with the nurses leading up to this appointment that everyone was well aware of how unhappy I am about this new set up.

I went in for my ultrasound and it went well.  I didn't watch much bc it's getting harder for me to not see the gender since I've had hundreds of ultrasounds in my life and can read them well... but I have it on a flash drive to watch later and the tech was super nice.  She gave me some cute chubby cheek pictures, which have me seriously staring at them nonstop since I left there.  I am so in love...  I have *cute* kids.  This baby looks a lot like Asa!!

Then I met with the nurse, who gently prepared me for the other new doctor... she said "Give her a chance, I think you'll like her." and I was like "Well, she can't be any worse than the other dude...if you told me anyone liked him, I wouldn't believe you."  (hormones remove my filter which is why I tend to hibernate while pregnant - but she laughed so I think she agrees... just saying.)  I then let her know that, after this appointment, I didn't plan to come back unless I needed to be seen until I went into labor.  And that was my plan.  No more appointments just so they can make money and I can be dragged through the mud and waste my days anymore.

The doctor came in (and I did like her - Thank You, Lord!) and we started going thru my list of concerns.  She listened and answered them thoughtfully and seemed to actually know what she was talking about. (should that be rare?)  First up, I had written to ask her about my fluid.  I have just gotten so big this past month and between struggling to breathe and how I feel - and how HEAVY my belly is - I had a feeling I had too much.  Sure enough.... the ultrasound showed that I have Polyhydramnios (poly) again like with Rachel.

With Rachel, poly was extremely painful for me. So this probably explains why my back is on fire again.  It also explains why I can't breathe when I lay down and why I'm so big.  It was also my biggest concern with Rachel as far as making it to her birthday without going into early labor because the risks of premature labor are very high with poly. There are a few risks that I'm better off not knowing, but do - like placenta abruption, cord prolapse and stillbirth... With Rachel though, the fluid built up because she wasn't swallowing and the Dr. said that there is nothing wrong with this baby, that this is just a fluke thing that will hopefully stay under control long enough to get the baby safely here.

I think I believe her that the baby is ok - and yet I'm just wondering why everything has to be *so* much like Rachel's pregnancy??  The time of year, the ages of my kids, the drives, the complications....  I thought I was going to like it lining up with Rachel's dates, but I was so naive.  It's so hard.  So much harder than I expected.  I feel like I'm reliving it, except without knowing my baby is going to die.... and yet the constant reminder that my baby DID die.

But unlike people who have never buried a child, I can't just tell myself it won't happen to me again and believe that - because I know the fact is, I could leave the hospital again without my baby - even if I don't know it's coming.  And the hard part for me is that preterm labor and placenta abruption are the two big concerns I've had since I found out I was pregnant and if you have talked to me about how I feel, I'm sure I've said one or the other to you in the last 6 months.  I've been asking them to check if my placenta was attached right since I was 9 weeks along when they couldn't even see it yet.  I struggle with the knowing that God prepares us for trials by getting our minds and hearts ready for them.  These are not fears that I have had in other pregnancies so I have a hard time not feeling like I'm being prepared.  And I don't want to be prepared, I want to have - and keep - my baby.

The other aspect of this that just seriously complicated my life, is that I now have to travel (and find sitters for all day trips) weekly to Maine Med.  So my plan of no more appointments... yep, that isn't possible.  And not only do I still have to go, but I have to go every week.  The fact that a Maine trip takes up an entire day is bad enough because I don't have time or energy, but it also costs me around $20 in gas... and we don't have it. It's all just overwhelming.  Hard to believe it's happening, really.  I know God will provide, but wow....  And the trips... Rachel is on my mind the whole way.  This time of year is her time and making the Maine trips - those are her roads... it's so complicated in my heart.

When she said I had to come back weekly, I knew I did because I've dealt with poly before and know how quickly it can go bad - so I didn't debate her like she was probably expecting, but I did feel like I might seriously need a short stay at the crazy farm!  I'm already so busy and so drained!

I got my gestational diabetes test back today and, thankfully, I don't have it so that's not the cause of the fluid build up.  That's good news because that would definitely not help me get to full term.  So they will scan me each week and we'll pray baby stays in there and healthy, that the thing they found on his heart truly isn't worrisome and that this fluid thing isn't because of something wrong with him... and that (s)he comes home to be with us at Christmas time.  I'm feeling a bit nervous that I will end up having him/her on Rachel's birthday.  I really don't want to share her day with anyone.... the 4th would be okay though... it's a Friday ♥  I'm also nervous about my water breaking or having any bleeding (placenta issues) while I'm at home since I would never make the drive to Maine Med on my 7th delivery.  As a general rule, once my water breaks I have 30 minutes or less until the baby is born. And rumor has it when you get to #7, they only come faster... the drive is over an hour... So I would love prayer that my water won't break before I'm at the hospital.

As of yesterday, baby was measuring 2lbs 15oz and in the 76th percentile.  I do love being able to see what is changing in there.  I have been feeling pretty detached from this pregnancy because it's just been so hard - not just because of pregnancy itself, although I'm definitely feeling my age, this was MUCH easier in my 20's without a full house! -  but the stuff going on in my life through these past couple of months while I've been pregnant...

But I have to say seeing these chubby cheeks and squishy face makes me smile... I can't wait to hold this little (big) one.  Each and every life is a gift, no matter how small or how long they are here.  And every baby is a true piece of the mama, from day one.  I remain amazed at how intricately made each life is and how amazing a gift each one who makes it home from the hospital is.  In a world where thousands of people take that for granted every day as they leave with full arms, happy hearts,  and carseats buckled around tiny bodies, I will never - could never - forget that there are also thousands who leave broken hearted with empty carseats.  And I will never forget the day I did... which only makes the days since Rachel where I have left with my babies all the more monumental.

I hope this is another one of those times.

Some people wondered how I could be so sad to lose a baby I didn't spend my days with - but oh, how mamas love their babies so long before they are ever born.  Even having experienced it, I can't explain it or understand it, but it's so real and so huge that I'm not sure anything else in life compares to the love a mother has for her child from conception.  Rachel was my child before she was born.  She is my child now.  And this little chubba wubba is my child too and always will be.

And I love this baby more than life itself.

And I never posted pics after my last apt, so here are the ones from 23 weeks... (s)he has gained 1.5lbs in the last 4 weeks!  You can see it in the cheeks for sure!

this one reminds me SO much of Rachel's 20 week picture. ♥
hands near face

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Shoulders Weren't Built for This

Where do I go for answers?  Other people?  Self help books?

Who do I turn to when I'm hurting... sad... betrayed... struggling to forgive... tired of life....overwhelmed?

Am I the same person in public and in private?  Do I care more about what people see or what God sees? Do I understand that He doesn't miss a. single. thing?  Motives and all... ??  The very depths of my heart...?  Do I hate the things that He hates?  Even the 'acceptable sins' ?  Do you?

Why do I try to carry burdens on my own weak shoulders - or continue to hope that other weak people will somehow share the weight - when, without fail, God has shown me that His shoulders are strong enough to carry it for me and that He will never let me down - and that people always do...?

Why do I try to be so strong?  Trust is a major issue for me - time and time again people have proven to me that trusting others is a dangerous and unwise thing to do. And I suppose in my early years of being a Christian, I expected more from believers then I got in party houses all those years - but sometimes the only difference is lack of intoxication and the ability to recite the 'right words' with a nice smile.  And so hurt after hurt and betrayal after betrayal, I've struggled to not allow that to bring back a truth I've lived with my entire life - that I have to rely on myself alone or I will be disappointed and hurt - and even that disappoints me regularly.  

But why - or how - or when - does that turn into me struggling to trust my God who has NEVER once given me a reason to feel He is untrustworthy or that His Word isn't true.  The ONLY One who has never lied to me... betrayed me... shared my secret pains with others... hurt me... left me alone... turned His back on me or said one thing and did another... The only One I don't have to question if His motives are right and true... Truly the best friend I have ever or will ever have. 

Maybe that's why every time this song comes on the radio, I can't seem to get the volume loud enough and it never seems to play long enough for the amount of tears that want to fall...  My shoulders weren't built for this. And I'm tired of carrying it...  all of it.  I'm tired of letting people in and being hurt and allowing satan to use that to make me question the goodness of God.  If anything the facades I am so tired of within the church should only prove all the more how sinful people on earth are - whether they recognize it or not - and how much MORE I need God to make it through this life.

Because the last 5 years - from the valleys to the mountain tops... all the pain and the amazing blessings mixed in... have been the most beautifully difficult days I've ever walked through.  I have been blessed in more ways than I deserve and have been given beauty in the midst of ashes that many people will never experience and I would never trade.  I have 7 amazing and beautiful children; a piece of me in heaven... and I've known pain like no other.  And it seems to never let up, even as God continues to bestow blessing after blessing upon me.  The struggle is real.  The reality of my life is that it's more difficult because of the very gifts I've been given.  And I am so, so thankful and so aware of how unbelievably blessed I am - and yet so, so tired and so weary in these hard days.

And I can't do it alone - so take it from me Lord.... take it all, not just a little bit.   

Oh, these hands are tired
Oh, this heart is tired
Oh, this soul is tired 
I'll keep on, I'll keep on, I'll keep on

Faith is something I am not accustomed to
And trusting other people is something I don't really love to do
I've never been a fan of it
I act tough, but really my shoulders they ain't built for this
And I don't have nothing
It's like I'm standing in the rain and You offer me a rain coat
But I would rather stand there wringing wet than take the hand out

What's wrong with me?
You said You've always got Your hands out
And I cannot continue on my own
So take my hands now
I give You everything
God, not just a little bit
Take it from me
I am nothing but a hypocrite
I hate sin, but I built a house and I still live in it
Afraid to open up the door to You
Let You into it
My soul is lost and
What it needs is Your direction
I know I've told You I do not need Your protection
But I lied to You
This thing is tiring
And man was not created for it
God, please retire me now

Oh, these hands are tired
Oh, this heart is tired
Oh, this soul is tired 
But I'll keep on, I'll keep on, I'll keep on
I'll keep on, I'll keep on, I'll keep on

Trust is something I am not accustomed to
And I know the Bible says that I should always trust in You
But I don't ever read that book enough
And when I have a question
I don't take the time to look it up or pick it up
It collects dust on my nightstand
I'm just being honest
Please take this out of my hands
I have no control
I am just a person
But thank the Lord that I serve a God that's perfect
I do not deserve the opportunity You've given me
I never knew what freedom was until I learned what prison means
I am not ashamed
I don't care if they remember me
My life will always have a hole if You are not the centerpiece
Take me out of bondage
Take all of my pride
If I don't have a Savior, I don't have nothing inside
Take all of my lust
Take all of my lies
There's no better feeling than when I look in the sky in Your eyes
It's amazing

Oh, these hands are tired
Oh, this heart is tired
Oh, this soul is tired
But I'll keep on, I'll keep on, I'll keep on
I'll keep on, I'll keep on, I'll keep on

I'll keep on, I'll keep on, I'll keep on