Saturday, January 30, 2016

Our Pink Joy

I have SO much to share - God has been flooding me with love notes from heaven... but I just don't have time to sit down and write.  I'm realizing if I want it to happen, I'm going to have to learn how to cut things short - and I'm not good at that!

So, here is a short version of one of the things I've wanted to share since before Eden's birth...

I wrote a post on December 20 called Unspeakable Joy.  In it, I mention the Advent wreath candles and how the week of Rachel's birthday was the candle of Hope (which is purple, Rachel's color) and how on that Sunday, I was brought to tears over the realization that the candle that week (which was the week I was due) is the candle of Joy.  There are two very important details I left out of that post...

One: We knew long before I ever got pregnant that if we ever had another girl, her middle name would be Joy.

Two: After that day in church, I looked up the advent wreath and learned another amazing thing - the candle of Joy is the only PINK candle on the wreath!

My early days of pregnancy, I was pretty sure I was having a girl.  I kept my heart guarded though and tried to stay neutral.  Then at one of my later ultrasounds, the tech called the baby a "he" and I thought she had given it away.  I knew there was a chance that she didn't mean anything by it - that actually happened with Desirae too and I was surprised when she was a girl because I convinced myself they had given it away with the use of the word "he"!  

But that day in church, the reason I cried that I couldn't blog then, but can now is that when they said it was the candle of JOY, I looked at Matt and he said, with a tone as if we had been given an answer, "Emma" (which was our original girl name - that story coming soon too I hope!) and I cried because from that moment forward, I was pretty convinced it was a girl.  We even told the nurses all about this while I was walking the halls in labor... I was still amazingly surprised when she came and I finally KNEW she was a girl.  Watching the video of her birth, after you hear me thanking God that it was a girl and sobbing, you hear Matt say "wow, it's a girl... the pink advent candle..."

It was as if in that moment, we were not just recognizing, but also experiencing to a whole new level how much and how intimately God communicates with us.  How He hears and answers prayers.  How he CARES about the desires of our hearts and how perfect His timing is.  The way He weaved His story, Rachel's story, and Eden's story all together in so many ways makes me feel like I am literally holding a piece of heaven in my arms ...  and I think I truly am.

Reading more about the advent candles, I saw that many churches light a 5th candle - a white one - that is called the 'Christ candle".  It is lit on Christmas Eve and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.

On Christmas eve, Matt & I welcomed life into our world... we welcomed life given to us straight from God... we saw His light shine and felt His love pour over us in those precious, irreplaceable, sacred moments as I labored through the pain of childbirth and the nervous anticipation of parents who had already loved and lost... we saw a miracle with our own eyes and were overcome with emotion as she breathed her first breath and let out her first cry....

"It's a girl... Thank You God..."

"Wow, it's a girl... the pink advent candle..."

And as we were lost in that moment of amazement and wonder and thankfulness - all mixed with a touch of fear that we could still lose this precious gift at any moment - the world outside the hospital was preparing for Christmas Day...  The Christ candles were being lit.  The songs of Joy and of peace and of a baby being born were being sung.  Families were snuggling in for the night and preparing to shower their families with gifts the next morning...

We didn't have the candles, the music, the trees or the presents under them... we weren't even together with all our children. (we never are...)  But on Christmas Eve, we were in the midst of the miracle of all that we celebrate within those symbolic things.  We were living it - our hearts turned inside out as we experienced the hope, peace, JOY, love and Christ our Lord that are represented in the lighting of those candles.

We were given the best Christmas gift ever since Christ Himself.  Our pink Joy ♥

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Eden's First Visit

The plan was to stop at Rachel's grave on the way home from the hospital with Eden... we left on Christmas Day, but about 3 hours later than planned - because nothing with 5 kids goes 'as planned'.

We stopped on the way home to get hot chocolates at Cumbies since it was free for Christmas.  And everyone fell apart in the truck while Matt was inside getting them.  I wanted nothing more than to bring Rachel one - but I knew it wasn't a good idea to push that and so we just went straight home.

I was okay with that, but as the days have continued to fly by, I started to feel really bad that I hadn't checked on her stuff since her birthday - and it has been well over a month now...

So yesterday, me, Matt and Eden went for her first visit to her sister's grave.  I guess it's fitting that she would meet her sister before anyone else since we haven't had a visit other than this yet. ♥  As we got close, Matt questioned which exit it was again - I said "just think how many kids we have..." (exit 7) trying to give him a way to remember it... and I started to cry.  We have SEVEN kids.  "Some people never get to have one" I said.  We are so thankful for these seven blessings from God.  May we never take them for granted, here or in heaven.

We had to do a bit of shoveling and so after Matt shoveled out Rachel, I visited by myself for a bit while he took care of a couple of other graves nearby.  I needed that time.  I often am so task oriented in setting stuff up there that I don't slow down and really just *be* there.  I cried a little as I told her about her new sister.... I wish I could see them together....

When Matt was done, I got Eden out and brought her over to meet Rachel... I hate that.  "Meet Rachel"... it's a stone... but anyway...

It was an extremely strange feeling walking away from Rachel's grave holding a tiny little girl in my arms.  I've held two other babies there and did the same type of introducing and picture taking with each of them - but this was completely different.  It was hard.  It was amazing.  It was joy.  It was sorrow.  It was everything in between - all wrapped up in just a few short steps that only took a moment or two....  and that is about all I can say about that....

43 For the Ride

On the way to one of my blood pressure checks in Maine this past week, the song Blessings by Laura Story came on the radio.

I got lost in thought about Rachel and like the beginning of the song says... all the things we asked for... that we didn't get.

Sorrow fills my heart regularly, even still.  I miss my sweet Rachel Alice every single day.  I just have figured out ways to walk with my pain internally and not always allow it to flow out... out where others know.  But it's still there - thankfully it's been seasoned with lots of love from others, many days of heartache I thought would kill me that I made it through, and a million love notes from God to reassure me that no matter how alone I feel, I'm not.

This ride to Maine with my little Eden Joy was one of those love notes from God.  My blood pressure was still reading 187/101 even on 400 mg of meds 3 times a day and they were talking about needing to admit me in the hospital again so that they could give me IV meds to reduce my numbers.  I wanted to be home like you can't imagine.  All I wanted was to be home with my baby.

For MONTHS leading up to Eden's birth, the thermometer in my truck read 43 degrees at every appointment!   But the day after we came home with her, winter seemed to finally arrive and it got cold.  On my way to this appointment, it was only 23 degrees.

So, as I was driving and Laura Story's song came on, my mind went back to Rachel and all the hard, painful days.  A few lines into the song, just as it said "All the while, you hear each spoken need - you love us way too much to give us lesser things."

I looked out my window and the car next to me had this for a plate:

The 'disguise' of this 43 were not lost on me.  Rachel was absolutely a blessing in disguise - all of her - exactly who she was and every bit of her legacy she left behind - in me and through me.... and in and through all of you!

I went to my appointment and they said we could continue to monitor from home and that they would try to keep me out of the hospital as long as I was willing to come to appointments up there.  So then we were driving home and the song I Can Only Imagine came on....

I listened to the words and thought about the sweet reunion heaven will hold for me.  Knowing this earth is not my home, but instead just a place I'm passing through on my way to my real home in heaven with Jesus - The pain here reminds me that I will always thirst here because my until I get there, I will never be completely whole.  And Rachel has that.  Rachel IS that.  Completely whole.

I listened to the words and imagined her dancing around the feet of our Lord.  I'm not mad at Him for taking her from me... I'm just so thankful that when He did, He also received her to himself and cares for her there and much better than I could here.  She is safe and happy and full of JOY!

I was lost in thought - thought of falling to my knees at the awesome sight of my Lord... and thoughts of where Rachel will fit into that all... and no sooner did I have that thought and I saw this plate out my window....

I looked to my left, with a mouth full of a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich I shouldn't have been eating, and when I saw this plate, I *immediately* started to cry and laugh... and then cry like a baby... Just like I did back in April when I asked God if He would ever give me a little Christmas baby girl again that I could keep and saw the plate that said 43 between two letters.  Here I was driving with my living Christmas baby girl in the back and God continued to pour out his love in my language.

You can't make this stuff up....  

So on the way there, unsure of what was happening or what was ahead for me as far as a hospital stay or whatever - Blessings in Disguise played reminding me that even the very worst days and hardest nights are all used by God in my life and He holds it all in His hands... 

And on the way home, I dreamed of heaven and imagined what that day would be like - and the number was clear as could be... heaven will bring clarity on things that don't make sense here.  Heaven will reveal all the details in God's masterpiece that we didn't see.  Heaven will be amazing.
I got home from this appointment in a different place mentally as far as my health goes...  the fear I had on the way there had melted away as I was reminded  - yet again - that God has me.  He has this.  And nothing will happen outside of His will.  And anything that happens, He is big enough to carry my family through.  I went home and have spent the last week snuggled up with my baby and truly soaking it in without the fear that was plaguing me in the days before.  I feel like I have part of heaven here with me and part of me in heaven - and it's a beautifully complicated range of emotions, but I consider myself to be richly blessed by it all.  I'm so thankful God gives me 43's for my hard rides.  Especially the ones I must drive alone....

I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me

I Can Only Imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

It's a GIRL!!!

The last couple of weeks have been... intense.

Intense pain.  Intense love.  Intense fear.  Intense joy.  

I've got so much to write, I wish I could make blog posts happen with just the thought of it...  But one of the major changes over the last 5 years without Rachel is the fact that I have 3 more children than I did before she came and went.  I never imagined hours could get even shorter than they were back when I had just 3 kids here, but they have - and severely! 

So, I'm going to give the 'quick version' and get you up to speed and then hope I can go back and tell you some of the amazing ways God showed me He is still in every tiny detail in other posts.  I figure if I at least make that my plan, I won't feel like I need to squash it all into this post because that could get long!

We'll start with labor... I wasn't going into it!  On Wednesday the 23rd, my blood pressure spiked at home and I called the Dr, expecting them to just tell me to start my blood pressure meds back up.  I was a load of mixed emotions when the Dr said that I should come in for monitoring, but that they would likely induce me because the benefit of staying pregnant at this point in the game didn't outweigh the risks of the dangers for me and baby if my blood pressure stayed high or went higher, especially during labor.

I was scared to death because I've had two inductions before - Des and Asa - and they were horrible birth experiences.  Of course after how amazingly perfect Ezra's birth was, I was bound to be disappointed with this in comparison no matter what... but I had hoped for something much different than an induction because of my blood pressure.  

I called Matt and he came back home from work and we went up to Maine Med.  They watched me for a while and by that afternoon, we were waiting for a labor and delivery room to become available so we could start my induction.  Knowing how long inductions can take, especially since I was only 1 cm, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be home for Christmas... 

They started my induction (with a balloon and then the next day pitocin) at 7pm on the 23rd.  And on Christmas Eve at 3:28 pm, we welcomed our third little girl, Eden Joy Aube, into the world.  She was 9 lbs 4 oz and 20.5 inches long.  
After having a hard time finding a photographer I could afford, I borrowed a camera
and took some myself!  More to share soon!

I will never forget the moment she was born.  I don't think she was out 2 seconds when I looked to see what she was.  "It's a GIRL!!  It's a girl!  Thank You God!... thank You Jesus, it's a girl..." as I sobbed uncontrollably with joy and thankfulness.

As Desirae requested, we told nobody the gender until she could come meet the baby and be the first to find out - face to face... she said she didn't want to be disappointed on the way to the hospital if it was a boy, but knew once she was there she wouldn't care because babies are all cute.  So we waited until that night when my friend Mel brought the kids up to see us and meet the baby.  They all walked in and I said nothing, just showed them her wearing a hat with a bow on it... Des started laughing, then crying, then laughing, then crying... it had me and Matt both in tears.  It was amazing to see her reaction to what we all know has been her constant prayer with God too.  And since that moment, everything within her has appeared lighter.  I know this little sister was just what my big girl needed.  I'm so thankful that God has answered that request for her too.  Even more than for myself - I wanted Des to have a little sister she can dress up and drive to dance class (her ideas!) :)  I can't wait to see how they bond.  There is nothing like relationship between sisters ♥

Things got pretty crazy for a while from that moment on... from having trouble delivering my placenta, to me bleeding too much, to leaving the hospital a day early so I could be home Christmas night - and ending up in the local ER the next day because Eden stopped breathing... where the very misinformed Dr told us her blood work showed a major infection...which led to her being given 4 (failed) spinal taps and then her & I being transferred to Maine Med by ambulance where we spent another night (and thankfully my mom stayed with me because I was thoroughly EXHAUSTED and Matt had to be home with the kids so they wouldn't know anything was wrong) only to find out the next day that the ER Dr in Rochester had no clue what she was talking about and Eden's blood work numbers were NORMAL for her age - not normal for an adult, but she isn't an adult!  So we went through all of that and put our little girl though an enormous amount of pain for nothing.... Thank God I asked to go to Maine and not stay at Frisbie - I can only imagine what she would have endured if she stayed there.  They were about to start her on 'the heavy duty antibiotics' for her 'infection'. God protected her from that when Maine called and canceled the antibiotic until they could see her and do their own spinal tap - which as soon as we got there, they decided was not necessary right away!

And then a day after we got home, my blood pressure went through the roof and I've been back to Maine multiple times for that and am still not done dealing with it.

But as I sit here typing this, Eden is next to me, wrapped up in Rachel's blanket (which I didn't realize until I just looked through the pictures again, but we wrapped her in it at birth too ♥ and that wasn't planned - I just always have it on my bed when I deliver)  She is healthy and at her apt this week, was up to 10 lbs already.  I am feeling stronger and have set boundaries to allow myself as slow a pace as one person with 6 kids at home can have - I have hunkered down and am just enjoying time with my sweet little girl... time I desperately need for so many reasons.  And it's really helping in so many ways.  

And so I've had just one goal every day and that is to soak in the moments and not take them for granted.  I've been working to keep my days slow so that the other 5 kids see Eden as the blessing that I do and enjoy her arrival as much as me and Matt - which they won't if I am running myself ragged trying to keep everyone else happy and doing too much.  For the first time since I had just Des, my mind and emotions after birth are not just stable, but actually really good.  If only I knew then what I know now!  

Matt & I have had some sweet times together.  This has definitely been a time of bonding for us as well.  He's been an amazing help to me and watching him with his baby girl is precious.  I'm pretty sure this little girl is going to be spoiled.  Hopefully we don't spoil her rotten! lol.  But as I look back over the last 5 years and the last 2 of Rachel's younger siblings, I am so completely positive that this timing was absolutely perfect for us to welcome another little girl into our home.  God knew.  He knows me better than I know myself... and I'm so thankful for that... because what He gives is better than anything I could come up with myself.

It just took me over 3 hours to write this post with a couple of nursing sessions, diaper changes, a couple of snacks, interruptions from the big kids and my head just not working right.... and that is why I'm not blogging much!  Holy cow!  I have so much more to share and hopefully I'll get to it, but for now, she is here, she is awesome and I get to call her mine for a while ♥  Thank you Jesus. ♥