Week 20: Defining Moments. (aka, we really are doing this again.)

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Happy April!  These are my best April Fool’s Day jokes. But today isn’t one. This day has been marked on my calendar for 8 weeks now. April 1st. 1:00. 13th floor. Maternal Fetal Medicine.

I can not believe we’ve made it this far. Half way? No issues at all? No bleeding, no spotting, no crazy weight gains, no preeclampsia? I mean – it could set in at any time. But still. I *have* to make myself look back and see the wonder of this 20 weeks of….normal. I feel like making it to this halfway point is a sort of defining moment for me. No matter what happens later today, I’m here now.

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I love this baby dearly. But when your heart has been nearly stopped for your last child, and it’s pieces are just barely coming back together….there are scars that are still so painful. It’s so natural to want to protect it – keep anyone from ever touching it again.  This baby is starting to touch it.

I talked to my baby for the first time today.

But I guess the biggest defining moment to date will be later this afternoon. We have another ultrasound. These are so difficult for me. I wish I could drug myself up and sleep through the entire thing. After the last few days, I’m sure my family wishes they could have drugged me up and made me sleep through the entire thing. 🙂

This is it, folks. 2 different ultrasounds. It’ll probably be close to an hour. Of intense examination of every vital organ searching for anything that would alert us to something amiss. I’m terrified. I feel like ultrasounds are like a corrupt trial – where I assume my baby is going to die – unless it happens to be proven alive and healthy. Mustering the energy to hope is almost impossible at times.

Most women have these ultrasounds somewhere between 18-20 weeks. Most women look forward to them excitedly. Take videos of them. They call them the “gender ultrasound”. That’s not what this is. Most women don’t find out about their babies’ diagnoses until these ultrasounds. Not to be a downer – but just a realist. Every facebook post of “gender ultrasound today! What are your guesses? boy or girl?!” sends me into a ball of anxiety for that dear mom. Hoping against hope that this will in fact be all that’s exciting about her scan.

I don’t really care to know the gender. I don’t really care to figure out a name, decorate a nursery, buy clothes even. It’s not that I don’t want to know. It’s just that it’s as far from my mind as the next time I have to take trash to the curb.

Can’t I just have a healthy baby, then find out what the gender is after we’ve passed 18 hours or so? And the name thing? How long do I have for that? What can it possibly be like again to have a baby, and just move on to things like feeding problems or falling asleep and not making yourself stay awake for every possible moment because you only get a precious few of them? Is it ok to not take 1,500 photos in the first 18 hours? Because I really may get to take more at hour 19? No one is going to take the baby away?

These are seriously questions that just seem almost impossible to think about. The most telling one was from Kami, my youngest –

“Mom? We’ll get to go see the baby? And even hold it? And then you’ll bring it home?”

She’s never known that normal.

More defining moments.

But back to the gender. I don’t really care. I wanna see four heart chambers. And I want to see an esophagus attached to a stomach bubble. And functioning kidneys.

But my husband and my girls wanna know the gender. They are ganging up on me. And from what I’m gathering, no matter how hard I fight this one, no one is going to come to my rescue on it. 🙂 So we’ll find that out today. But only after I see that heart. And those kidneys. And that stomach bubble.

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So this is it. I’m in my pj’s still. But the girls are dressed and ready. They can’t wait to see this baby. It’s their first ultrasound for this one.  They’re dressed and ready. And excited. I’m getting there.

Pray for us? Not for a perfect baby….God has already formed it from the beginning. But for our hearts. That no matter what, we’ll keep fighting for faith and joy. And that the peace we’ve grown so accustomed to knowing in these sorts of moments will continue to fill our hearts.

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Thanks, friends.

 

 

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Week 18: Are we really doing this again? (Part II)

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{Feel free to backtrack and read Part I if you haven’t already. This will make much more sense if you do.}

Up on the table I went. The same ultrasound table. The same room. The same giant flat screen that we witnessed the still still heart of our little Kyle-man…and here we were again. Just two years and some days later.

I took a giant breath. We tried to make it as nonchalant as possible.  That gooey stuff – so warm – they always have that stuff in a warmer. Seriously – if you don’t have a ultrasound tech that uses warm goo on your tummy, find a different one. It’s so worth it.

And there it was. The tiniest little thing you ever did see. Only a head and a tummy. Still attached to my uterus in the tiny yolk sack. No arms or legs and only a half centimeter long.

But it had a heart.

That was beating. 

So quietly even that the ultrasound equipment couldn’t pick up the sound. But the little thing was just a going strong as ever.

Yeah. We both cried. There wasn’t much to look at. But there it was – alive and tiny and so perfect. I mean, we couldn’t see if anything was wrong at that point, but for that moment in time, we dwelt in the moment of blissfulness. Completely happy that there was a baby who was alive and well and we could see it.

Week 12 selfie for my praying friends. <3

Week 12 selfie for my praying friends. ❤

Weeks 8-12: These weeks came and went with an onslaught of nausea and fatigue. I was pretty much in bed from 6PM on – after an afternoon of naps and resting on the couch. The cold and dark days here in Philadelphia didn’t help with the feelings of exahustion, either. But my girls were little angels. Chloe cooked breakfast for me, and lunch for everyone. Chris was the true hero in these weeks – I didn’t wash hardly a dish or change a single load of laundry during this time. (I rarely do anyway, but generally I can get around to carrying my own weight with the dishes and laundry when I have a free moment.) Considering we don’t have a dishwasher or a reliable washing machine, this is quite the feat.

This was coupled with an ultimatum from our landlady – telling us she decided not to renew our lease and we had to be out of our house by the end of the month. For whatever reason – hormones, my exhaustion levels, perhaps the fact that we had just gotten unpacked 4 months earlier? – I was a complete wreck from this and was pretty much ready to give up on all things happy and hibernate the rest of the days away under my covers. We spent any of my remaining energy looking at property after property and finally came to the conclusion that where we are isn’t as bad off as we were thinking, for one. 🙂 And second, that we’d need to buy something if we wanted to move into anything that was remotely move-in ready. (We weren’t up for a fixer upper at this stage of the game.)

I’m so grateful for a church that was so ready and willing to jump in and help out. I was going to make up a to-do list that would get us up and out in two weeks – and the church people would sign up and get us up and out! The goal was for me to not lift a box. The day we were planning to make an offer on a house, the landlady let us know that moving wouldn’t be necessary after all and we could stay where we were.

That was a HUGE sigh of relief for me.

Even now, I’m not sure what all of that run around was for – except maybe to get to know the area better? I do know that now I’m much more content where I am than I was before – and I’m so so happy to not be unpacking boxes right now!

Right around the end of week 11, going into week 12, I could feel the baby moving. This was such a huge relief to me! This is extremely early for anyone to feel anything. But after so many weeks of tracking every one of Kyle’s movements and thinking at each one it could be his last, I guess my mind was still super tuned in.

The tough part of this for me, though, was knowing that while I could feel this baby move, I would have a palpable fear – a deep unsettling fear – when I couldn’t feel the baby every day.  Only when it was floating near the front of my uterus was I able to feel it – when it was close to my skin. That would be a few times a day – then nothing for three or four days. I would be so nervous. My anxiety levels would rise by the hour it seemed. At one point I even took more pregnancy tests. Thinking that maybe if we had lost the baby, my hormone levels would have already dropped enough that the test would show negative. It was positive every time. And a few days later, I’d feel the baby again. And the cycle of relief and fear and anxiousness would start all over again.

Week 12, 4 days: I had requested a special ultrasound to be done. The Nuchal Translucency scan is one ultrasound done specifically within a ten day period of time. Anytime during the 12th week up to around 13 wks 4 days or so.  I was having a hard time getting in to see the midwife group I had chosen for my prenatal care here in Philadelphia, so I had to check into a high risk Maternal Fetal office – without any sort of referral – to see if they’d do it for me. Thankfully they were super willing to schedule something and I set up the appointment.

This ultrasound was the same one we had that showed Kyle’s devastating prognosis.  It’s a critical time for measuring the baby’s development and the amounts of fluid that gathers behinds baby’s neck. A larger than normal amount can be a signal of some genetic issues. This measurement of the fluid, along with a measurement of the nasal bone, is generally taken to check for Down’s markers. Kyle’s swelling wasn’t just behind his neck. It surrounded his entire body, like a bubble.

In my mind, having this scan at this time would show me, not that the baby was fine, but whether it had the same genetic traits – to the severity – that Kyle had.  This drive was one of the most heart wrenching hours of my life. I had to really come to grips with the fact that this was the moment of truth for me. The moment where I would know if we were going to do another pregnancy with a fatal end or if we could keep hoping for one a little more routine. I had to know where my mind and heart would be *before* I heard the news. If this would be the news that would finally break me, or I could continue going on with my faith…

My God never fails me. Ever. And in that tearful drive downtown I couldn’t help but feel the peace of God, knowing so many of my sisters and brothers in Christ were upholding my tired heart in prayer. I can never be more grateful for my dear friends.

That day was so full of fears. Who my technician would be, who the doctor would be to read the results, what we’d see – or not see.

Man – I think I remember a day when ultrasounds were exciting? But they are seriously the worst for me now.

I got up on that table again. (They had warm goo too. So Philly’s not all bad. 🙂

For the first 30 seconds or so all we could see was the baby’s head. It was so beautiful. But the angle she was checking didn’t show its little heart beating. I was terrified but took some comfort in the fact that she didn’t seem to be at all.

Then, around second 31, I could breathe again. Because there it was. The most unbelievable sight ever.

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No bubble around baby. A strong heart beat. (Another “funny” to me – I used to care about how fast it was – my mom always swore by faster ones are girls and slowers are boys…I’m not one for jumping on that bandwagon generally – but now, I don’t care. I don’t even think to ask. I just have to see it. Beating. So, no, I don’t know how fast it was. She told us I think. But I wasn’t listening to her.)

Until she said, “It looks perfect.”

I’m completely in tears even typing those words now. I still don’t know how to understand them or take them in.

She went on to tell us how “this isn’t definitive” and “your baby could still have issues”….but I saw what I needed. I don’t care what our baby has. For what we could see right in that moment, it wouldn’t have what Kyle had. There was no “come back in a week, but only if you haven’ t miscarried before then.”  Or “We aren’t sure how your baby is still alive but it is.” It was just “It looks perfect to me. The doctor will be in in a minute.”

{To be continued….sooner rather than later this time…}

 

 

Week 16: Are we really doing this again?

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Sometimes I just wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. And honestly, posting about a new, planned, hoped for pregnancy like this one to such a public audience was something I feared greatly.

I know there’s mixed feelings out there – I’ve heard from some of you. But most everyone seems so positive and for that, I’m so grateful. Your words of encouragement and hope and tears and even fears help me know I’m not alone.

I guess what I wanted to give from this public sharing of private events – is this: I want to share my hope. I want you to share with me your hope. That’s one of the most beautiful things Kyle taught me –

there is always hope. Sometimes I can’t see it, but someone close to me does. Sometimes you can’t see it, but I can. It’s always there, though. And I can’t tell you how earnestly I’m hoping for a very very good ending to the beginning of this story at the end of the summer.

To catch you up a bit on what all has happened in the past 4 months or so…

Week 3: I knew I was pregnant before the tests did. I kept taking tests, texting my sister and a couple of my friends. Wondering what was up. I just *knew* I was pregnant. But I had no proof yet.

Week 4: I got proof. I texted one of my favorite ultrasound techs in South Carolina – like having a medical experts confirmation of the two blue lines would help me really believe it. I was massively excited, shared the news with Chris, who was beyond thrilled. I took the day to just be happy happy happy.

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Week 5: Reality set in. Everything that was logical in me said that we had just decided to do the dumbest thing on the planet. I mean really. We have no written medical evidence that what happened to Kyle won’t happen again. We don’t think it will based on what we learned,and the opinions of two of our doctors. But still, nothing definite. We also have no evidence that we had indeed solved my tendency to have early term miscarriages. We were pretty sure it had to do with my thyroid issues – which are most likely due to several environmental and poor diet factors I grew up with – and had been treating those issues with diet and medication for over a year. So we had hope that this pregnancy would be different. But we had no proof. No guarantees. The fight for hope and joy was real.

I called my doctors in South Carolina. We were planning to travel there for Christmas and New Years, so I asked if I could come in and see them while I was in town. They were thrilled. And offered (still free) ultrasounds.

Week 6: My energy vanished completely. Literally. I put myself on a modified bed rest of sorts – just to be careful. Chris was a true hero – taking care of basically everything. And never once complained of the pizza he was asked to pick up more times in a week than I’d care to admit. We decided to fake it with the girls as much as we could. They were still so fragile, we talk about Kyle every day in our house. Dealing with another loss would break them in two. So we let them think that Mommy was just really tired and they picked up the extra slack for the most part, just fine.  I took another test – just to see if I was still pregnant. I had no reason to think I wasn’t, but I had to know. I figured my levels were still low enough to show up a negative test if in fact we had lost the baby. So I took another test.

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Didn’t even have to wait on the results to that one. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever make it this far. At this point, I had passed my second miscarriage date, so I was becoming a bit more hopeful. I knew I wasn’t out of the woods at all yet, though. And to keep my mind on track, it was Kyle’s birthday week. I had thought that being pregnant on his birthday would be somewhat helpful. But really, it was just a stark reminder of reality. That nothing is guaranteed ever. And my only hope *had* to be in Someone other than this baby. So many came around me that week. Blog readers, new friends, people in South Carolina made sure Kyle’s little grave was looking just perfectly dapper for his second birthday.

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My girls stayed close to my side throughout the whole week. Which meant they were curled up in bed with me. We did school in bed, read-alouds in bed, crying and missing their little brother – all in that little bed.

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Week 7: We passed the dreaded birthday week. And did Christmas at our house on Christmas Eve. Then Christmas Day, we drove down to South Carolina to surprise Chris’ grandmother. And boy did we ever! It didn’t take her long though to notice that I was in bed most of the day when I was home and spending more time in the bathroom than normal. She asked if I was pregnant. I lied. At first. Then, when I took her to the airport to send her back to her home in Florida, I let her know the truth. That that very afternoon, I was heading to see my doctors in town and would definitely keep her updated. And please don’t tell anyone. 🙂 I feel like Great Grandmas have just as much right as closest friends. Especially when they figure these things out on their own.

That afternoon we drove to my OB’s office for blood work – mainly to make sure our treatment plan of my thyroid was still working as planned. It was. My blood work results couldn’t have been more perfect. Then we headed over to my high risk doctor’s office. My favorite tech showed up at the door – we chatted for quite awhile catching up on all the office news – we were both nervous wrecks about what we’d see when she put that wand on my stomach….

(…to be continued – stay tuned!)

 

Roasted Sweet Potato and Sweet Corn Hash

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3 ingredients + Spices for a paleo friendly, Low carb dish.

So now that I can admit that my food tendencies have been tending more towards craving levels, ahem, I can share one of recent favorite side dishes.

I love winter vegetables. The warm oven heating up my house while those delicious root vegetables cast warm sweet smells through the kitchen.

And we love the snow. I’ve never seen this much snow in my life. It’s fantastic!! In the South, we have to pay big bucks to drive somewhere far away to go sledding on hills half this size covered in manufactured snow. Having this hill down the street from us (and there’s lovely workers up here who actually clear those streets every time!) is beyond awesome.

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But the record setting below zero wind chills and the locked inside the house feeling and the instant frostbite warnings.  Whew, those are a force to reckoned with.

Seriously? instant frostbite warnings. I’ve never heard of such a thing before this winter.  Ya’ll, this southern blood isn’t changing over so well.

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And can we talk about socks for minute? In the South, we wear socks one time. Easter Sunday morning. That’s it. My poor kids. They’re still trying to figure out if the socks go under the 3 layers of pants or over them. And then where do they put the boots? 🙂

But back to the veggies. I had some sweet potatoes lying around and some frozen corn in the freezer and wanted to whip up a nice paleo, low carb friendly side dish. Well, that low carb paleo stuff wasn’t my intention at all. But it sorta happened so I thought I’d add that in.

First you’ll wanna shred your sweet potatoes. I used my kitchen aid grater attachment. Cubed ones or diced ones would work just as well.

Add the shredded sweet potato (I used one large one for our family of 4.25) and 6 oz bag of fresh or frozen corn to a hot skillet with a little olive oil.

3 ingredients + Spices for a paleo friendly, Low carb dish.

 

At this point I let these two become good friends in the pan, adding a 1/2 tsp of salt, a 1/2 tsp of stevia (since my corn was frozen, the normal sweetness wasn’t there that I love), 1 tsp of paprika and a dash of cinnamon. The smells coming from this were just incredible!

Then I added a sliced green onion.

3 ingredients + Spices for a paleo friendly, Low carb dish.

 

3 ingredients + Spices for a paleo friendly, Low carb dish.

 

That just took this over the top!  I kept cooking and tossing over medium high heat until the corn began to turn slightly brown in places and the sweet potatoes began to have that slightly crispy “hash brown” look.

You should try it. Warm up those winter veggies a bit – it may make you enjoy them a tad more and make these last few remaining days of winter a little less….well, bitter cold.

3 ingredients + Spices for a paleo friendly, Low carb dish.

 

3 ingredients + Spices for a paleo friendly, Low carb dish.

 

Roasted Sweet Potato Sweet Corn Hash

 

 

Week 15: I have a little announcement

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About the size of a large apple little.

I’ve been trying to hold it in. Literally. *snicker* But it’s not sucking in so well anymore.

So here we have it. We are expecting a baby. And while we shared the news with our friends and family this week I’m as terrified as I ever was. Maybe even more so. But more on that later.

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For now, though, I have to tell you about the one day I’ve dreamed of ever since we learned of our sweet Kyle’s existence. The day that I felt had been ripped from my dreams once we learned of his diagnosis.

The day I’d tell the girls we are going to have a baby.

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Kyle’s absence is still felt every single day around here. The girls wish for him to be here on their birthdays. They pray for him to get a day to visit us. His little “heart beep” bear goes off all the time reminding us that he was with us 26 1/2 months ago.

So when we learned of this pregnancy, Chris and I were extremely cautious. And, while I knew I was pregnant before my tests were positive, I took 5 tests over a week’s time to just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. We both wanted it – but I was terrified. Not so much of what could happen – I feel like we’ve lived the worst of the worst of many things already. And when you do that, you kinda have this sense of reckless abandon to everything else. I feel in many ways two of my family members have cheated death – Chris with his brain tumor, Chloe with her copperhead bite – so aren’t we all pretty much in bonus time?

And now, with Kyle and our other two babies in Heaven, there’s almost as many of us there as there is here – and that knowledge keeps the idea of death and eternity much less intimidating.

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So, I drive around the White House at 6 PM on the same night as the State of the Union Address. Because of that reckless abandon.

Then I decide next time I’ll take the Metro. 🙂

Back to that day though. That cold, but not as cold, day in early February – right after we had our second ultrasound to confirm that things were in fact OK thus far. We decided to take the girls to one of our favorite parks about an hour away.

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A place like our hearts – cold with ice-fear. But signs of life popping up in the tiniest of places.

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We spent an hour or so walking around, exploring the outdoors in the winter with it’s beauty frozen over.

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Ironic how even in this time of fear for us, there is beauty showing through. Feeling baby kicking at 11 weeks. That’s about as unheard of as someone getting an ultrasound machine to use whenever they want! Or having the closest of friends speak warm words of truth to your soul when it’s so frozen over with that ice-fear. Not everyone has those either. I’m blessed. Not because I have a baby. I’ve learned you don’t have to have a baby to be blessed. But I’m blessed because I can live a day – with or without a baby – and see beauty in the ice. And I have friends warm my cold heart on its bad days. And I have hope. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that hope. That only comes from trusting in the One who is strong enough to give it to a cold heart like mine.

Romans 15:13

 

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Towards the end of our journey through the park – the end mostly because it was getting colder and colder – we sat down with the girls and told them the surprise we had been so excited to share. (If you want to see their reaction, feel free to watch the video below. I promise they don’t disappoint. 🙂 )

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And Kami. My sweet sweet one, didn’t miss a moment. Her words? “Oh mommy. I knew it would work when I prayed. I just knew it would!” This was her dream day too.

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So here we are. In love again. Head over heels in love and surrounded by fear. But our love is slowly overtaking our fear. Our love for each other and for this new little one who has already joined our family.

For those interested – here’s what the girls thought when we told them. And thanks for sticking with us. I’m hoping for a happy ending for all of us.

 

{December 17} Advent: Lifting up the Little

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Oh how I dread this day now, the day my son’s heart stopped beating. Or at least the day we confirmed it by ultrasound. I actually think it stopped several hours before at a Christmas party I was at…playing the piano singing Away in a Manger – that last verse always gets me. But that year it was a Saturday night…and I couldn’t get in to see my (amazing) doctor until first thing Monday.

(On a different note, this was the 3rd baby we had lost. And all three were lost on weekends. When I was forced to go through a Sunday of waiting-yet-knowing…sometimes those waiting valleys become some of the most life changing days of your life. But also some of the darkest.)

It’s a day that can fill with so many haunting images…

Sorry I’m rambling.

That day. Oddly I felt at peace that day. The entire ordeal was finally almost over. We had almost made it to the finish line of the insurmountable 220 day marathon. There was a sense of relief. We felt like a “normal” was so close to us…we even decided to go to the mall after that appointment. No reason except to be around people. Normal people doing normal Christmas shopping sorta things.

And while I sat there at the top of the stairs while Chris was getting us Starbucks drinks, feeling mild contractions beginning to gear up in preparation for my body’s natural reaction to the end of a pregnancy, I wanted to scream out to everyone what was going on.

I thought how many times there are normal looking people all around me who have giant problems and I have no idea.

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And here we are two years later.  So many come here looking for a story similar to their own. In fact today, even, today, I was contacted by a young mother who had her devastating confirmation ultrasound today. Totally unexpected. She was planning her big facebook announcement to go live after the ultrasound.

There will be no announcement.

Women come here and read through Kyle’s story from the very beginning and skip to the end to see how someone is faring a year, or two out. They are looking for hope.

This post is for them.

Two years later on this day, my heart hurts. My body aches. My arms feel just as empty. Not a day goes by I don’t think about him. Every two year old little boy catches my eye. Sometimes I shed a few tears. Mostly I smile, though. I picture my head-full-of-dark hair boy running around Heaven doing those exact things.

Today Kami caught me crying over a few of Kyle’s things. She said, “It’s OK, mommy. Kyle is having a great birthday in Heaven. He’s probably making a mess like boys do. But don’t worry. God will clean it up.”

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Now, two years later, the tears don’t come as easily or as heavy. I’m a little more predictable than I was before. I know what my triggers are.

Grief is such a process. And wherever you are on that road, know that each day gets just a little easier than the day before. But you can’t look at it in day by day progress or it’ll seem too small. Like a little one’s growth. You have to look at it in the sense of months or from one year to the next.

God made our emotions the way they are. Grief is a part of those emotions and it can make up who we are. You will heal eventually, but everyone’s time table is different. A slower time table doesn’t make you any less of a woman, a mom, or a spiritual person. Neither does a quick healing schedule.

I grew up in a “get over it” culture where even childhood ailments and hurts were made light of.  Part of that was my dad’s innate nature to be able to make a (seriously funny!) joke about everything. He really was good at it. And kept many serious moments from being too overwhelming for us kids growing up. However, I think I was shielded a bit from what real life hurt looks like. So when I experienced it, it was rather a shock to my system.

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I think I’m rambling again. This one won’t make a guest post anywhere. 🙂

Can I say, though…this is my “secret”. My life isn’t perfect. My kids don’t make breakfast for me everyday and behave perfectly in grocery stores. My house right now is a wreck because I’ve been rather down today…and unable to do many things considered productive. (Although, my girls all afternoon practiced gymnastics routines by copying videos online…and now consider themselves ready for the Olympics…so I consider that PE for the rest of the year.)

You have to be able look at the good. I have to-when I can. I find the good things that point me back to my core beliefs. That God is in control, yes. But that He’s also good. That’s the one I have a hard time with often. When I separate those two vitally important parts of who God is, I crash hard.

Sometimes the good is small things – like, Trader Joes is offering samples of their dark chocolate caramels for free and everyone can take two and my girls are with me but they don’t like dark chocolate so I get, like, six pieces of Heavenly goodness for free. Maybe that’s actually a big thing. 🙂

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Sometimes it’s big things – like someone sends me a message about how Kyle’s video has impacted their life. Or their pregnancy crisis center. Or their prenatal comfort care organzation. Or an entire Southeastern region of OBGYN’s at a conference. Or the doctor and nurse attendees at the March of Dimes annual conference.

I have to look at the good things. Think about them. Write them down even. Take photos of them. (I have almost 3,000 photos on Instagram chronicling these gifts now.)

Because the bad days will come and when they do you need to have some good memories to look back on to hold you over until the dark clouds pass. And they will pass.

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Here’s today’s goodnesses:

 

 

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Kami rocked her Kyle bear all morning long with one of his blankets (made by my Grandmother) along with a toy someone gave Kyle along the way.

 

 

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And she wasn’t going to let his birthday-into-heaven-day go by without a celebration treat. Notice the blue frosting cookie on top of the stack. ❤

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Being away from his grave today and this week has proven to be particularly difficult. Images like this reminding me of finding joy in the hard cold days really brings smiles.

 

{December 5} Advent: “Yeah, that happens.”

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So my girls. Are so often so perfectly precious.

And they love babies. If you have a baby, and they touch it, I’m sorry. Sorta. I’ll stop them if they’re sick. But thankfully they are also so often perfectly well. So I don’t stop them. They know the “only touch the baby’s head or toes” rule, but sometimes they forget. Thankfully, most mamas, especially here in the city, are pretty open to such affection. They ooooo! and aaaaaahhh! with the most girlified voices you’ve ever heard. And usually one of them will say something like,

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“We had a baby brother, but he’s in Heaven now. You’re baby is so cute though.”

I always cringe. Over to the side like I usually am. I leave all the touching to the girls. I cringe – not because they’re talking about Kyle, but because I feel bad for the poor mama who was just told that as nonchalantly as they might have been told “your baby has ten toes!”.

Almost always, the mama stares in unbelief. Sometimes she’ll say something to the girls – understandably stuttering to find the right words. Every reaction like that I appreciate and hold dear. Those mamas let themselves into the hurt for such a brief moment and imagine what they’re holding suddenly not being there.

This is when, if the mama hasn’t walked away yet, I jump in with an age guess. And somehow I have this keen awareness of a child’s age – I haven’t been wrong on a single guess since Kyle. Down to the months. I could probably make a pile of cash if there were such “guess-your-age” booths for children at a carnival. It’s because I’m always, whether I realize it or not, guessing children’s ages. Lining them up to where Kyle would be…desperately trying to picture him now and what he looks like in Heaven.

But that’s just normal I think for a mama with a baby there and not here.

I was asked to attend and play the piano for a funeral – by a friend who knew a friend who knew an elderly marathon runner man who died a week ago. I was happy to do it. Funerals are oddly comforting to me – all that talk about Heaven.

After the funeral, a lady came into a little side room to feed her baby. My girls had their normal gushy reaction. I asked, “So, is he two months old?”

She answered, “Yes! He just turned 2 months last week.”

One of the girls said, “We have a baby brother too. He almost lived but now he’s in Heaven.”

I cringed.

Then, without skipping a beat, the woman said, “Yeah. That happens.”

Wait….what?

There are so many things that have been said to me regarding our little Kyle’s birth, my choice to make it such a public story, my choices in his birth plan….most of them I don’t mind really. People don’t understand such things unless they’ve been there. I know I certainly didn’t. I’ve said enough stupid things in my lifetime – I can’t hold such words against anyone else, truly. Life is too short.

But you know, this comment just really rubbed me the wrong way.

No. It doesn’t *just happen*. I thought, screaming in my own head.

And the anger and hurt and longing for what we’ve lost felt so real all over again like it did almost two years ago.

I felt like I was sinking again.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke His heart. And the Lord said, ‘I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing – all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky, I am sorry I ever made them.’ But Noah found favor with the Lord.

~ Genesis 6:5-8

His heart was broken.

“And God whispers close to us in a hurting world. A mother whose heart is bound to her child’s? That doesn’t compare to how your Father’s heart is bound to you…

It’s the quantum physics of God: one broken heart always breaks God’s heart in two. 

God’s heart breaks. Breaks in two – to let us into the ark of His love.”  ~Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

When I remember that hurt – that God hurts with me. Every time I hurt. Just like my heart hurts when my girls’ heart do, I know I’m not alone. And another day can happen. Being blessed by God doesn’t mean that hurt and pain and loss disappears. It means that you aren’t going through that flood alone. And that there is Someone beside you each step you have to take.

“Every flood of stress is an invitation to get into the ark of our Savior.

Every flood of trouble remakes the topography of our souls – making us better or bitter.

Every trouble is a flood, and we can either rise up or sink down. And getting our days all into the ark of Christ always lets us rise.” ~ Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

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