Friday, December 31, 2010

Cope...Be Honest

I have not been coping well lately.

Whenever I feel like I have lost my way I often seek the advice of other moms who have lost babies. Recently I found a blog called Our Journey Home written by a wonderful woman named Shan. From her blog I learned that she lost her second daughter Marie the day after she gave birth to her third daughter Sarah. Unable to even comprehend her situation I immediately contacted her and asked "who did you cope...?"

I don't know what I expected her to say and I waited patiently for her advice. She posted her response on her blog. It is the most honest advice I have ever received...

She has no idea.

She didn't cope. She was carried, sheltered, and held. But cope? She doesn't think she did.

I know exactly what she means.

I don't know why it has been so hard for me to admit that I have not coped with my daughters' deaths either. I guess I have been afraid to admit that grief has changed me. I wanted to approach grief like I approach everything in my life: methodically. I wanted to feel proactive. I needed control over something.

Initially I found a lot of comfort in the long list of "Grief Recovery Do's" I made for myself. It gave me something to do, something to distract myself, blog, run more, drink some tea, blog, and run again. Until I was alone of course or the house was too quiet. Then I'd break down and wonder why nothing was working. The pain was swallowing me up.

Those days are such a fog. I felt guilt for hurting so much. I still feel guilty that it is taking so long to shake the grief. I have more good days now than I did a year ago, but what frustrates me is I have not discovered the feel better formula. It seems so random.

Some things don't have a formula.

And it makes sense. I held my babies in my arms as they took their last breaths. I watched them struggle to breathe and I felt them get cold. They were in my arms when the doctor could no longer hear a heart beat. What is the cure for that? There are not enough miles in the world to run that memory away.

I'll be honest. I don't even know what to do most of the time. I still wake up most mornings wondering if maybe this is all a bad dream and when I realize that it isn't I choke back the tears in frustration (because crying all the time gets annoying) and start the day. I ask God to get me through just one more day and wonder when it will get easier, I mean really get easier, because it has been two and a half years and it still feels pretty hard to me. I try to put the pain out of my mind, I try not to dwell on it, but how do you put your children out of your mind?

Tomorrow brings another new year. And with it I have a list of resolutions. Every year since Aubrey and Ellie's deaths I have prayed that this year will be my year of healing. But this year I have a new prayer.

I pray that this year is a year of freedom.

Freedom to cope or not cope, freedom to be the me that I have become, the me that changed forever when I lost my baby girls, and freedom to take an entire lifetime if I need it to heal as unmethodically as is necessary.

If I have another hard year I'm ok with it. If I don't cope I'm allowed. At least I can be honest with myself about it now. And easier on myself.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2011 Babylost Calender

When my daughters died I used to sit for hours and read blogs written by other moms who lost babies. It was comforting to know that I was not alone. Over time I formed friendships with those women. We have never met in person but we share a special bond formed not only by our losses but our desire to honor the memory of the babies we lost.

Two of my babylost friends, Carly Dudley and Franchesca Cox, put together a Life After Loss 2011 Calender using quotes from moms who have experienced the loss of a child. They asked me to contribute and of course I said yes. My quote can be found with the month of December.

Check it out. Let me know what you think.

...The Year Of The Babylost Calendar is a collaboration of raw, honest, beautifully haunting and uplifting quotes from bereaved parents and family members. This calendar has been put together by Babylost sisters Carly Marie Dudley and Franchesca Cox in honour of those family and friends left behind to face another year without their little ones. This calendar has been created in loving memory of Christian Dudley, Jenna Belle Cox and all those children gone too soon. We would like to give all our gratitude and love to the 10 beautiful women who volunteered their words and hearts for us to create this gorgeous calendar for 2011...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Save Babies!

I saw this amazing organization on Good Morning America today. I was so touched by it because I am a mother of premature babies. My daughters did not survive as you know, but not because everything possible was not done for them. They simply came too soon. As much as my heart still hurts without them, at least I can live knowing we did all we could. How much more would I hurt to wonder or know that they could still be alive if...

Not all babies get the medical care they need to survive and premature babies and low birth weight babies are especially vulnerable. Developing nations specifically can't afford incubators for these babies. But Embrace is working to solve this problem and save babies all over the world. They manufacture an infant warmer that costs 1% of a traditional incubator, does not require electricity, can be cleaned with boiling water, and is reusable.

Please, visit their website and read how you (for very little time and money) can help them help these tiny babies. Save a life this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Holidays

Finally! I have all the Christmas decorations up and the house feels warm and twinkly. We have two Christmas trees this year and I wrapped the banister in lights and gold garland. I keep intending to serve a normal weeknight dinner in the dining room just so we can enjoy the decor and take advantage of the loveliness of the season before its gone, but time seems to keep slipping away from me.

Having a little baby has limited my grand holiday plans somewhat. I often express to my husband that there are just not enough hours in the day. But the reality is I need to adjust the demands I put on myself. Colton can't help it if he is teething poor little guy. And I'd rather have my baby in my arms than anywhere else. If only I had a house keeper all my problems would be solved. At least most of them anyway...

I love the holiday season. I always have. But since Aubrey and Ellie died the holidays have not been the same. Each year improves a bit though. This year I am so excited to celebrate Colton's first Christmas. It is nice to have a first Christmas with a new baby.

I hung Aubrey and Ellie's stockings from the mantle next to Dustin's. I look at them bittersweetly as I do most of their things, wondering and remembering. Colt doesn't have a stocking yet. He will get his on Christmas Eve. That is the tradition in our family, my mother makes the most beautiful stockings and she gives them to her grandchildren on their first Christmas Eve. Aubrey and Ellie never got to have a first Christmas but my mom graciously made them stockings anyway. I hang them every year because I can't imagine not including them. Their stockings have a place on the mantle just as they have a place in my heart.

It is hard not to be sad though. I have two stockings but I don't have two little girls. It doesn't feel right at all but I suppose it never will.

My grief still ebbs and flows and lately I've been more down than usual. I have myself to blame in part because I have slacked big time on my daily exercise. Regular exercise, even just a walk with the stroller, is the best antidepressant I know of and it makes an unmistakable difference in my ability to cope. It reminds me that healing is a very tangible process and requires consistent effort. That is probably the best advice I can offer anyone reading this struggling with grief. Healing doesn't just happen, it is a conscious choice the requires hard work and consistency. I wish it was easier but it isn't.

Something else has been bothering me though...

Colton is four months old.

What does that have to do with anything you wonder? Well, nothing and everything.

Colton is my joy. He is sweet, smiley and chubby. He has his first tooth about to pop through and he is one inch away from learning to roll over. He is perfect.

When Aubrey and Ellie were in the hospital the doctors told us that if they lived we probably wouldn't be able to see just how badly their brains were damaged until they were about four months old. At that time we would begin to see Cerebral Palsy setting in and to what severity. I can't look at Colton at four months of age without wondering about my girls at four months of age.

Colt is so healthy. He reaches out for things and constantly puts his hands in his mouth. He grabs my hair and my shirt collar. He makes eye contact. He laughs and coos. He kicks his feet and bounces like a madman in his jumperoo. He does all the things a perfectly developing baby should do. But I know my girls wouldn't have. And that makes me sad.

It probably seems ridiculous to wonder about or feel pain over something that never was nor will be. I'm not sure why I even think about it to be honest. But I do and it bothers me.

Any advice out there for me? What should I do with these feelings? I get so sad knowing my girls got so sick. Sometimes it hurts me even more than the pain of their deaths. Am I normal? Do any of you struggle like me?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Catching Up

I am sorry I have not posted in a while. I have not only been busy, but every time I try to create an inspiring and thoughtful post I get writer's block...

The words just won't come out!

So I thought that maybe a simple let me catch you up on all that is going on post might suffice for now and at least let you know that I have not forgotten about you. My blog family is very important to me.

So, where do I even begin?

My tea company TEAMOTIONS is gaining momentum and requiring more and more attention daily. We are still finalizing our new label design (wait until you see it, it is SO amazing) while simultaneously putting the tea on the market. We are at our first retail outlet: The Babies by the Sea Boutique in Cardiff. Get our tea in their store or on their website. Teamotions teas make great gifts under $20 hint hint. Did I tell you that our blend ENJOY REST (Cinnamon Apple Chamomile Tea for Rest and Rejuvenation) won first place at the North American Tea Competition? Well it did and we are quite proud. Makes you want to try it doesn't it?

My new little guy is four months old already. I can't believe it. He is adorably chubby and has the sweetest toothless smile. I adore him.

As much as I hate to admit it though I am still adjusting to life with a baby. I expected it to come more easily this time since he is not my first, but alas I find myself flying by the seat of my pants daily, trying to balance my roles as mom, wife, entrepreneur, and athlete (or so I'd like to think). Believe it or not I plan to run a marathon in 2011 and I am determined to complete the entire P90X program no matter how many times I have to do it. I will let you know how it goes. So far not so good! Sheesh.

My biggest struggle lately is that I feel I always come up short. At the end of each day there always seems to be more left to do than got done and I never spend as much quality time with my children as I would like to. I am a mom full-time and squeeze in time for everything else as best I can...and some days go better than others.

Colt still hasn't worked out the whole sleep thing yet either so naps are sketchy, often only 45 minutes each, and nights vary. Most of the time I get up three or four times a night and our morning starts between 5am and 6am. I am tired to say the least. Sleep deprivation never helps anything.

Do you ever have those days that although you LOVE your kids more than life itself you don't necessarily love being a mom? Honestly, most days I do love being a mom. I love hitting the ground running every morning making sure teeth are brushed and food stays in the kitchen and the dog isn't chewing all the socks in the house. I love the funny things that come out of my older son's mouth and the cute smiles on my new little one's face. I love preparing snacks, reading books, and practicing our letters in our kindergarten book while simultaneously nursing, burping, or changing the baby. I am a fanatical multi-tasker!

But sometimes I have those days.

Like last week Dustin woke up in the middle of the night with a blazing pink eye infection. But he didn't just wake up, he screamed bloody murder because his eyes were crusted shut. My husband did the honors of ungluing Dustins' eyelids so to speak because I was squeezing in a few more moments of sleep because I was up four times with the baby already. The next morning I managed to get a same day doctor's appointment which sent us scrambling to make it on time at the last minute. I nursed and dressed the baby in what I thought was plenty of time, only to have him spit up all over himself just minutes before we had to leave. He got a new outfit and so did I. Somehow we made it to the doctor's on time but it wasn't without 29 hurry-ups and lets-gos from me. Not to mention all the hand sanitizing because Dustin couldn't NOT touch is crusty infected eyes and I didn't want the baby to get pink eye too. After the doctor I had to stop at the grocery store because there was no food in the house and Colt wouldn't stop fussing so I had to carry him up high on my shoulder the entire time. We got home just in time for me to put Colt down for a nap and jump on a very important tea company related video conference call only to have Colt wake up right when I logged on. I spent the whole call bouncing him to keep him quiet and he spit up all over me twice. When the call ended I collected my children in the car so that we could pick up Dustin's prescription eye drops only to arrive at the pharmacy when the pharmacist was on his lunch break. It as 4pm. Anyway, I had to pace around with a fussy baby and a four year old asking "what is this? what is that? why? can I have that?" for 20 minutes before the pharmacist returned and could give me Dustin's medicine. When we got home I put Colt down for another nap only to have him wake up half an hour later. He didn't take a nap longer than 45 minutes all day today (all week too) and I cooked dinner while holding him. Somehow I got dinner done, fed my other child, and nursed Colt while I shoving three bites of food into my own mouth. I got Colt down for the night and then put Dustin to bed, but not before the eye drop mega-drama because, well, even though Dustin knows exactly what the eye drops feel like he has to freak out every single time anyway. You'd think I was gouging his eyes out instead of just putting drops in them. By the time my husband got home at 10pm that night I was spent. I managed to get Colt down for the night just before 7pm but he was already wake again before 10pm. It was another rough night and I was up every two hours with him until 6am. Sigh.

You would think that these words could never come out of the mouth of a mother who has lost babies. How could I ever complain? Shouldn't I be thankful? Don't I know better than most what a blessing children are and just how bad things can get?

Of course I do. I'd give up sleep for the rest of my life to have my daughters back. But my daughters' deaths do not remove the reality that motherhood is hard work and, at times, completely overwhelming. I guess today I feel particularly overwhelmed.

My house looks like something exploded in it. The laundry is piled high (and I do laundry EVERY DAY). I didn't get a shower. And I have no idea if tomorrow will be any easier.

And don't forget the grief. I am still grieving. I miss my girls everyday and I can't seem to look at my little guy and not wonder about Aubrey and Ellie. I don't spend hours crying like I used to and I feel more joy in my life with each passing day, but there are still daily moments when I imagine life with them here and feel the sting of their absence yet again.

So what can I draw from these difficult times? Is this a lesson in patience? Endurance? Faith? Life?

How about priorities?

Whoever said you can have it all lied. Life is about priorities.

I may not be able to have it all but I can have the most important thing: perspective.

God will get me through this day just as he got me through the ones before it. And He cares about my troubles even if they are less troublesome than they could be. The most important thing I can do on a day like today is keep first things first. In the end it doesn't matter if my house is clean or my hair is washed.

As long as Christ is glorified despite it all the hard things may not get easier but they gain a glorious new purpose that brings with it a renewed motivation to be faithful through whatever season we are in.

What are your priorities?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Little Feet

My sister-in-law took pictures for me of all the keepsakes I have of Aubrey and Ellie. I will post them all later, but tonight I wanted to post just this one. These are Ellie's hands and feet cast in plaster. I don't have one for Aubrey because she died in a different hospital. My amazing social worker Maria did this for us after Ellie passed away. I treasure these little precious gifts and when I saw this picture tonight I lost it. I miss my girls. After more than two years I still feel like it just happened. Those little hands and feet belonged to my baby, I touched them myself, and I'd give anything to touch them one more time.

Beautiful Tea

As many of you know my sister and I have started a tea company called Teamotions. It is my way to honor the memory of my girls. We created 6 different teas blended with herbs that have emotional well-being properties. The tea is delicious and a perfect way to inspire healing. One of our blends-Tea Restfully-an apple cinnamon chamomile tea for rest and rejuvenation won FIRST PLACE at the North American Tea Championship!

I just wanted to let you all know that we will be taking down our website temporarily on September 20th so if you want to place an order, you must do so NOW. After that only pre-orders will be accepted until January when we will fill all those orders with our NEW PACKAGING. Also, after September 20th, the sachet sampler pack will no longer be available.

Teamotions is currently undergoing a makeover. The names of the teas will be changing, as well as the packaging, and we are building a beautiful, professional website...but the tea inside the packaging will remain the same. Now is your chance to try our tea before it is "officially" launched to the public. This is an exclusive invitation of sorts. And everyone who has placed an order before September 20th will receive a special "thank you for supporting us from the beginning" gift in January after we go public.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Post on Perseverance Blog

Perserverance Project #3 is here. Check my other blog for the details. The link is under the scripture in the upper left hand corner. Will you join me? I hope so!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Still Holding My Breath

I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful advice you have sent me already. There seems to be a theme among your words: Take every thought captive. Thank you for not only reminding me of the importance of this but that I am not the only one who struggles in this way. And thank you for pointing me back toward my Jesus, my comforter and the true source of my joy.

I was just in tears a moment ago trying to express to my husband that I've been struggling lately. I hesitate to talk openly about this because I don't fully trust my emotions right now. I just had a baby and I am more than sleep deprived so tears come easily these days. I am sure many of you can relate. But this is different. I think my struggle is real. I am not just tired and hormonal. I'm, well, I think I'm scared.

I have come to the realization that I am still holding my breath.

Since Colton was born I've experienced a revival almost. The joy that accompanied his birth breathed life back into me. He is so precious and small and cute. He has the fattest little cheeks that puddle on his shoulders. This week he smiled a real smile for the first time and I felt my heart melt. I just love those little magical moments.

But I find myself not enjoying them like I should.

Recently I spent three days in the hospital with Colt. He woke up with a rash of blisters on his cheek and a swollen eye so I took him to his pediatrician to make sure he was okay. He was only four weeks old so I was wanted to err on the side of caution. But what I thought would be a quick appointment ending with a prescription for some topical ointment of some kind became three miserable days in Children's Hospital testing Colt for HSV.

It was not fun at all. Herpes in infants can be life threatening so we had to do the tests for Colt's protection which included tapping his spinal fluid (twice because the first time was unsuccessful) to test for the virus and starting him on an antiviral that is given through an IV, an IV that took five attempts to finally get, in a vein in his foot that failed within 12 hours. Did I mention that the medication takes an hour to administer (every eight hours) and it hurts as it goes in? My poor little guy was not a happy camper and neither was I.

In the end it turned out not to be HSV praise the Lord. We never did find out exactly what caused the rash of blisters on his face. They sent us home with a clean bill of health. We were exhausted but relieved and Colt seemed no worse for the wear. Babies are amazingly resilient.

I, on the other hand, am less so. For days I watched him like a hawk in case the rash showed up again or he exhibited signs of illness. It took a while for my anxiety to lessen and when the fog finally cleared I realized something...

Since the moment I got pregnant with Colton I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I held my breath through the entire pregnancy praying nothing bad would happen but bracing myself for the worst. I thought that when he was born I would be able to breath again. But I still couldn't.

I was scared those three days in the hospital most definitely, but what I realized is that I am scared pretty much all the time. I don't walk around freaking out, but inside I am bracing myself for the impending tragedy, whatever it is.

I have never struggled like this before. I have never been a paranoid or fearful person. I don't know what to do with these feelings. Especially when I know they are robbing me of my joy with my son.

I need advice.

I know how fast the time goes. This season with Colt is going to be over before I know it and I don't want to miss is, I really don't. I want to soak it in and enjoy it without fear and anxiety. I want to be in spit-up covered bliss (my little guy spits up SO MUCH-any advice how to help him spit up less in frequency and quantity?). I want to look back on this time and know that I was fully present. Loving Colt is easy. He is irresistible. But loving him freely without the baggage is turning out to be a real challenge for me.

How do I do it?

Share your wisdom with me please. Feel free to leave advice as a comment. I'll take it to heart.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some Photos

There are more pictures on the link I included in the previous post but these are so cute I couldn't resist posting them here now. Enjoy!

Colton wide awake-1 week old

Big brother Dustin

Dustin holding Colt

Something To See

I have an amazing sister-in-law who also happens to be quite talented. She is a photographer among other wonderful things and below are two links to her blog where she posts her photos and poems and other lovely things.

In 2009 she created this post in memory of Aubrey and Ellie. Check it will be touched I promise.

Lastly, she recently took some amazing photos of my boys. Take a look! They are the cutest!

Enjoy...I will return to blog land soon. I am still adjusting to life with a newborn.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Joy Came Alone

This is the third time in the last two weeks that I have sat in front of my computer trying to put into words what I have been feeling since Colton was born. I type and erase and type again, but my words are not coming out right. I can't seem to get them to convey the true depth and intensity of how I feel.

I had this same struggle after Aubrey and Ellie died, but instead of insufficiently expressing the magnitude of my joy, at that time I struggled to convey the depth of my pain. Words, no matter how descriptive, can never quite capture the reality of the end of the day I had to sit with my sorrow and feel it by myself.

Grief is lonely.

But joy is not.

I can't sufficiently express how worried I was that Colton's arrival would be more bitter than sweet, that he would stir up memories of Aubrey and Ellie that would sting my still healing heart. I didn't know what to expect and braced myself for the worst.

But the worst never came.

Joy came.

For two years I cried every single day. Tears had become part of my personality, part of my existence. Even the best day could not eliminate a moment or two that would remind me that my girls are not with me. I have not stopped missing my girls for even a second. And my heartache more often than not manifested itself with tears. Sad, sorrowful tears.

Just before Colt was born I read an amazing blog post by a wonderful friend of mine. Her name is Jen and she had to say goodbye to her sweet Lydia a few months ago. In the midst of her grief she has amazing insight. I am moved by her writing constantly. (For some back story on the scripture passage go to Jen's blog and read her post.) She wrote about Ezra 3:11-13:

They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

I resonated profoundly with the words in these scriptures. I felt that my heart was crying out to the Lord also, and my weeping could not be distinguished from my joy. I felt that the rest of my life would always be sadness mixed with happiness. Sorrow mixed with joy. Grief mixed with hope. I'd never feel anything good again without a twinge of heartache to accompany it.

But it was not to be so.

Healing after loss is not only a process, it is a miracle. It takes more than just perseverance, it takes Jesus. Never underestimate the power of God to heal the unhealable, to mend what should otherwise never be fixed, to provide relief where only pain should be.

When Colton was born and I saw his smooshed face appear over the top of that sheet in the operating room something miraculous happened.

I felt joy. Not joy and pain. Just joy. Pure, perfect, amazing joy.

And the tears that fell from my eyes were not bittersweet. Without question they were tears of joy, tears of relief, and tears of humility as I realized that pain was not there to accompany my joy.

In that moment joy came alone.

I wish I could say that I have been relieved of my grief since that moment, but that would be a lie. I have had bittersweet moments and flat out sad moments since then. But I have also had moments of joy alone. Something I truly thought could never happen.

Colt is two and a half weeks old now and a daily reminder of God's compassion in my life. Colt is a miracle in so many ways. And he has taught me so much already. I have experienced through his birth a level of healing I thought impossible.

Often times, after loss, grief and joy accompany each other, but sometimes, at just the right time, joy comes alone.

Friday, July 30, 2010

More Pictures!

Here are a few more pictures of Colton's birth and a few more of him looking adorable!

I do have a "real" post I want to share, something from the heart...and I will when I get a spare moment, I promise. My time is occupied these days, delightfully so.

And as the finale...the picture below is of Dustin when he was one week old. I think I see a resemblance. My husband and I make beautiful babies if I do say so myself!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby Pictures

So, okay, I understand that all mothers think their baby is the cutest, but honestly people, is he not the CUTEST baby you have ever seen?

Well, I sure do!

Thank you for all your prayers. Colton did have to stay the night in the NICU but he improved beautifully and is now perfectly healthy. We are all home resting and soaking in our new blessing. We are smitten!
Here are a few pictures to tide you over until I can post more later. I want you all to experience the full spectrum of his cuteness. And, of course, I want to share with you all that is overflowing from my heart. GOD IS SO GOOD!

Stay tuned...more to come!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Colton James is here!

Colton James Crawford entered the world at 3:46pm weighing 7lbs 3 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches long. He is beautiful. Wavy auburn hair and rosy cheeks!

However, he had to be taken to the NICU so I would appreciate your prayers. He is fine, he was just having a hard time getting the fluids out of his lungs and keeping his oxygen saturation up on his own. He has already improved in the last five hours but they are still observing him.

Pray that he gets better and can be in my arms as soon as possible. I only got to hold him for a minute and am DYING to get my arms around him.

Thank you for loving my family. Your prayers are felt and truly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

C-section date changed

Just an FYI for all my blogger friends who are anticipating the arrival of my little Colton c-section date has been moved up a week. Don't worry, nothing is wrong. I just have a surgeon and a doctor with differing opinions on when this baby should be born.

Navigating the complexities of this pregnancy has been exhausting to say the least. The differing points of view between doctors are extreme and hospitals have policies that not all doctors necessarily agree with but have to abide by. So my options are limited in some respects despite my difference of opinion.

I will admit that I am a little frustrated. I was really hoping for a greater opportunity to go into labor and have this baby the good old fashioned way. But my desire for a natural birth has been controversial from day one.

My ultimate goal has always been Colton's health and welfare. I fought hard to make sure he went full term and wasn't poked and prodded unnecessarily along the way. I have been able to accomplish that. So far my pregnancy has been intervention free. He is camping out in my belly growing fatter by the day.

In a perfect world he would get to have the medication free all natural birth I hoped for him, but unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world, something many of us are all too familiar with. So I have come to terms with this "compromise" because ultimately it puts a healthy baby in my arms and, lets be honest, that is the most important thing at the end of the day.

Sometimes my idealism has to be tempered with reality. But it still doesn't stop me from trying my hardest.

So unless I go into labor in the next three days I will have a c-section on Friday, July 23, at 38 weeks exactly. By 3pm I will be holding my little guy in my arms. I am pretty excited about that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Any Day Now!

This baby could be born any day. And honestly I can barely stand the anticipation. I want to meet him NOW! Not to mention that I feel like I am about to burst. Got to love those last few weeks of frustrating discomfort. And it is 100 degrees here in Escondido. However, I find all the aches and pains beautifully reassuring. Every kick to the ribs and (almost but not quite painful) braxton-hicks contraction reminds me that a healthy FULL TERM baby boy is on the way.

Pain is a privilege although we often don't see it that way, the pain of childbirth included.

Speaking of which, let me update you all on my current birthing plan.

But before I do let me clarify that my intention is not to stir up controversy or open myself up to critique. My husband and I came to these decisions together through research, prayer, and more research and more prayer.

I also have a great doctor now. It took me 35 weeks to find him but I did and couldn't be happier. I did not feel safe in the hands of my other doctors so it feels good to now have a doctor I trust and respect.

I also feel that it is important to talk about these things though because I am clearly choosing the path less traveled in my situation and this information may be helpful to someone out there searching for answers like I was. I hope it is.

Let me give you the run down...

Natural birth is very important to me. I believe strongly that the birth process is misunderstood and feared unnecessarily in our culture and it need not be. However, that is not to say that it should be taken lightly and not approached seriously. Being informed is extremely important. The tricky part is getting true information. And if you know me at all you know how I seek TRUTH relentlessly, truth in all areas of my life, including the truth about the real risks involved with this pregnancy.

My first son was a natural birth. A full-term worth every second of pain beautiful natural birth. But Aubrey and Ellie were born by emergency classical c-section (as opposed to the more common transverse c-section). It was the best decision at the time and I don't regret it. My daughters' lives were on the line and I did what I had to do.

However, when I got pregnant with this baby I was told that having a previous classical c-section introduced greater risks to this pregnancy and that a vaginal delivery was out of the question. If I did manage to avoid preterm labor I would not be allowed to carry any longer than 37 weeks AT MOST and would require an amnio at 36 weeks in order to schedule a c-section as soon as possible. I was even told that they would deliver my son even if his lungs were not ready for fear I would rupture in the interim. The didn't want me to go into labor at all. They also strongly insisted on progesterone injections.

It seemed my hope of an intervention free pregnancy was an impossibility.

I went straight home and began researching what the doctors had told me. Although none of it "felt" right to me at all, I am not a doctor and needed to do research and get a second opinion before I accepted or rejected this course of action.

I felt so torn because I did not want to do anything that would put my baby or myself at risk. I have lived through losing two babies and was incapable of being flippant about the real risks of pregnancy and childbirth. But I also didn't want to make fear based decisions. I didn't want this baby to be robbed of his time in the womb or of a birth if it really wasn't necessary.

Somehow I had to sort all this out.

Not to mention I couldn't shake the feeling that my doctors were imposing on me "policies" that were in place more for their protection than for mine. A scheduled c-section would control a lot of variables and at the end of the day put a healthy baby in my arms most likely...which I understood. But was it truly what was best? It has risks too as does progesterone injections, amnios, and delivering a baby at 36 weeks.

I couldn't get rid of the nagging voice in my heart that kept asking me if this was truly the best course of action or just the most acceptable? I felt like I was settling out of fear instead of striving for the best for my son...although I wasn't sure exactly what that was. I was not about to put him at risk of injury or death to prove a point, but I also did not feel comfortable with what was being told to me. And I was not sure what to do...

One thing I was certain of though is that I am not a defective pregnant time bomb. I was not going to let the current medical establishment treat me that way. Just because I had a "history" of preterm labor that caused the deaths of my daughters did not mean that I was a ruined womb only capable of being salvaged my the miracle of modern medicine and all its interventions.

God makes babies. God grows them. And He determines all the days of their lives.

Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for what modern medicine has to offer. I am not anti-medical intervention. Not at all. All I am saying is we can't lose sight of who is really in control of all of this...our bodies, our wombs, our babies, our lives. He is the Great Physician and we should consult Him first, seek direction and guidance from Him, and listen to His voice, as we navigate these things.

It is so easy to feel broken and wrecked, especially when a doctor is telling you how damaged you are. I know many of you have struggled with this too. Maybe you have never been able to get pregnant or you have had multiple miscarriages or chronic pre-term labor? Maybe your child was born with a genetic disorder? And it is so hard not to feel defective. Especially when doctors are reinforcing that to us with statistics and scientific evidence...but it isn't true.

What is true is that we are all ruined and broken and always have been but Christ redeemed us and all good things come from Him. We are just as He made us to be and He is glorified in our weaknesses and insufficiencies even more so than in our strengths and abilities.

We cannot and should not take the credit nor give it to our bodies for the maternal successes we have had. Just like God gave Sarah and Abraham a baby when she was past her ability to even conceive, He does these miracles in us...the babies we have and don't have are ultimately up to Him and not even the best doctor can guarantee us anything. Not that God doesn't use doctors and medicine, not that we shouldn't be sensible and responsible...but living in fear and simply trying to eliminate as much risk as possible is an illusion anyway. Our trust cannot be in men, but in Christ alone. Not to mention there is a difference between real risk and perceived risk and we NEED the Holy Spirit to help us know which is which.

Sometimes we need to be brave, to be strong, to walk off the beaten path when we are called there by Him...

I was feeling nudged. So I kept reading and researching. I changed my insurance so that I could have consultations with other doctors for second opinions. I got my hands on any and all information available to me. And I prayed. A lot! I asked others to pray for me too. I asked God to lead the way. I asked Him to help me know what the right thing for this baby really is.

To make a long story short this is what my husband and I have decided to do: I declined the progesterone injections. I also declined the amino and refused to allow my son to be born prematurely. My research showed that not only are amnios unreliable and have risks but my risk of rupture simply carrying my son was extremely low and that going full-term did not put my unborn son nor myself in nearly as much danger as my (previous) doctors had implied. It was clearly in my son's best interest to leave him alone and let him mature in my belly for as long as possible.

We did set a c-section date at 39 weeks, however if I go into labor on my own before 39 weeks I will attempt a trial of labor to have this baby vaginally. The risk of rupture after a classical c-section is way lower than you might think, although higher than a transverse incision. Surprisingly, a woman has a greater chance of rupture by receiving prostaglandins during labor and other induction/augmenting drugs during labor (even with no previous c-section) than I do after a classical c-section. So that is the kicker though, I have to go all natural! I feel confident I can however as I have done it once before. If not, off to a c-section I go.

In a perfect world I would not have scheduled a c-section at all, but my husband has some reservations so that was our compromise. I get a shot at a vaginal delivery but only to a certain point. And he feels better knowing that we have a multi-outcome plan. I feel very settled about the whole thing.

Most importantly I feel like I am doing what is best for my baby. I feel like I had to protect him from both the risks of a previous classical c-section and unnecessary medical interventions and find some sort of middle ground for his sake. I want him not only to live but to thrive as I am sure all mothers do.

I will keep you posted as to the outcome of all of this. Please keep us in your prayers. My c-section date is July 30th so we know he will at least come into the world by then if not earlier God willing!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Two years ago today I said goodbye to my Aubrey Elizabeth. I held her and looked steadily into those gray-blue eyes knowing she was slipping away from me.

So I had let her go...

I miss you sweet girl. You are never far from my thoughts.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Ellie

Today is the two year anniversary of Ellie's passing. I remember it vividly and I am choosing to keep those memories to myself today. I would appreciate prayers as today is hard for me.

I miss you sweet girl.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Aubrey and Ellie!

I can't believe it has been two years.

I woke up this morning and I could feel it. That ache in my heart. That strange sensation of something missing in my life that should be there but isn't.

It feels like yesterday, not two years ago, that I saw those tiny little faces for the first time. Even time itself has been some how altered by Aubrey and Ellie's deaths. One minute time is flying by, the next it is standing still. I am still getting used to it.

I am still getting used to a lot of things.

Dustin and I took flowers to the cemetery today to honor them and let them know we are celebrating two very special birthdays. (I have pictures I will post later. I left the wire that connects my camera to my computer at my sister's house so when I get it back I will post the lovely photos immediately). As I sat there arranging the flowers just right I thought about how much has changed in two years.

And how some things haven't changed at all.

I still desperately miss my babies. That has not changed. And I don't think it ever will.

But I feel differently in other ways.

When Aubrey and Ellie died I felt mostly disappointment. For a long time I just couldn't shake feeling horribly let down. I felt let down by my own body, by God, by doctors, by life in general. The disappointment was so heavy it took almost a year and a half to finally lift. I still feel disappointed about certain things and in certain ways, but not like I did two years ago. It is not as consuming as it once was.

Slowly though my disappointment gave way to helplessness and I felt deeply overwhelmed by fear. I braced myself for what tragic, terrible thing would happen next, convinced my life was on a crash course with disaster. Thankfully I did not get stuck there long though. Living in fear was worse than living with disappointment and I fought hard to find freedom from it. I was tired of regressing in my healing and called out to God for help. When I feel the fear creeping in again I remember 1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear... I often forget to accept God's perfect love. But I am working on it. And He is working on me.

Yet, even two years later, I am still a work in progress. Grief and all its emotions don't just suddenly vanish. It is a constant ebb and flow of triumphs and losses. There has been real healing in my heart in some ways yet some wounds remain gaping.

Lately it is loneliness that I struggle with most.

Grief is isolating yes, but that is not the loneliness I am talking about. Sure I struggle with feeling alone in my pain and alone on this journey. It isn't always comforting to know that the Jesus I love is walking with me when He isn't there the way I wish He could be there. He is there just as His Word promises and He is so gracious to me as I struggle with my humanness. But sometimes I just need something tangible and I get weary in my faith. I mean for goodness sake, sometimes I just need a hug. And I don't think that is asking too much.

But what has been bothering me even more is that my arms are empty. Where are my babies to hold? To kiss? To snuggle? I deeply miss the real, tangible things that disappeared when Aubrey and Ellie died. I never will squeeze their fat little legs or wipe their dimpled little bottoms. I will never hear first words or see first steps. I am learning that I love the hands-on part of being a mother. Even the mundane daily things. And the quietness of my house and my life gets to me.

I'm just not sure how to fill this void. And like I said before, the intangible comfort of my Jesus doesn't always do it...not because He is not enough, but because I can't seem to stop being imperfect in my pain. I just need something to hold sometimes. Something made of flesh and blood. Something real.

I got out of bed today and took my time starting the day. I stood in the shower an extra long time feeling particularly empty inside. I left the house for a mocha (for me) and flowers (for my baby girls) thinking about very little else. I didn't talk much in the car ride to the cemetery. I guess I wasn't in the talking mood so my son, who is always in the talking mood, did most of the talking.

"Why are we going to the cemetery again mom?" He asked, even though I had told him ten times already why.

"To see Aubrey and Ellie." I emphasised, "It is their birthday remember?"

"But they are not even there you silly." He replied.

I sat there feeling his words. I had been feeling them since I woke up but just didn't know it until then. They are not here. And that is what hurts. I know where they are, I know they couldn't be in a better place, but I still have to cope daily with the unchangeable fact they are not here.

And I am lonely without them.

In the quietness of the cemetery the cool breeze blew just as it did the day of their funeral. The sun was directly behind me and cast my shadow across the face of their headstone. In my silhouette I could see my big baby belly fall right on their names. I introduced Colt to his sisters and started to cry. I am only weeks away from holding and snuggling and kissing a very tangible Colton James. And although I am thrilled beyond words to meet my new little man, he is an answer to prayer and a gift beyond measure, I can't help but anticipate the sting that will also come with his arrival.

All the joy he will bring will bittersweetly remind me of all I missed when Aubrey and Ellie died.
I will be flooded with emotions no doubt, and I admit I am a little nervous. I am not exactly sure how I will respond to all that I feel in that moment. I am still healing and very raw. And there is still an empty place in my heart for my girls.

But at least I know one thing for certain. My heart may still have an empty place, but my arms will be full again.

And I can barely wait for that very tangible moment.

Happy Birthday Aubrey and Ellie. You are dearly loved and missed. Until we meet again sweet babies... Love Mom, Dad, Dustin and baby Colt.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prayer Need Update

Thank you to all of you who prayed. I have good news. My cousin and baby are doing well. Little Alex Michael was born at 2.2 pounds at almost 28 weeks and is doing great. He is breathing on his own without a ventilator and even crying. Your continued prayers would be appreciated as he is still very premature and will continue to spend time in the NICU.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Need Prayer

I need to ask you all to pray for my cousin. Her name is Stacia and she lives in NY. This morning she had an emergency c-section to deliver her son at 27 weeks. Mom and baby are both in the hospital. They need our prayers. Many of us know what they are up against first hand. Please ask God to cover them and I will keep you updated as I learn more news.

More to come...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Announcing Teamotions-Aubrey and Ellie's Legacy

Those of you who have followed my journey here for the last two years know my story. But for those of you discovering it for the first time, let me welcome you and introduce you to my identical twin daughters Aubrey Elizabeth and Ellie Alexandra.

They were born on June 24th, 2008 at 24 weeks and 4 days gestation, three and a half months premature. We did all we could for them, but after seven days with Ellie and thirteen days with Aubrey, I had to do what no mother ever wants to do and let my little girls go.

I honestly didn't know how life would ever be ok again. I didn't know how I would ever be ok again. I was truly devastated.

In the days, weeks, and months after Aubrey and Ellie's deaths I drank a lot of tea. Green Jasmine was by far my favorite. To this day I can't smell the scent of jasmine and not think of all the hours I sat, tears streaming down my face, holding a cup of tea in my hand doing what I could to get through the saddest time of my life one minute at a time. Those cups of tea were often the only soothing moments of my day.

Little did I know that those cups of tea would soon inspire my daughters' legacy.

Grieving is a long and complex process. I honestly had no idea what I was in for. But I was determined to make it to the other side some how. I wanted my girls' lives to mean more to me than pain and sadness. I wanted to heal for them. I quickly realized that I needed a plan. Healing would not just happen by accident or when enough time had passed, it was something I would have to choose daily and fight for.

I started running, I attended a griefshare support group, I sought professional grief counseling, I made sure to eat healthily and get enough rest, I leaned heavily on my faith, and I started my blog Waiting for Morning. I had good days and bad days. I took steps forward and I took steps back. And I drank many cups of tea.

And when I got tired I poured myself a cup of tea to recharge with. When I felt overwhelmed I poured another cup of tea. When I needed time out to just sit and remember my girls with tears and smiles I poured yet another cup of tea. I started my day with a cup of tea and soothed myself to sleep with one.

Tea was becoming an integral part of my healing journey. Tea was truly helping me make it through.

Then one day my sister Crystal made a comment to me that she wishes there was something she could put in my tea to make me feel better. Knowing that nothing like that existed I decided then and there to create it. And in an instant TEAMOTIONS was born.

My sister and I joined forces to create a line of teas specifically for emotional wellbeing. Each tea contains a unique blend of herbs and botanicals that foster and support emotional health and healing.

After a year of really hard work we are proud to announce the launch of our (temporary) website Official website coming soon!

I don't understand why my girls had to die. But I do know that the God whom I trust in will bring good out of such tragedy. And our tea just might be part of that good. I sure hope so.

Honestly, I just want to help. We created TEAMOTIONS teas with you in mind, so that whatever you are going through you don't have to feel alone in it. We are here to support you as you strive for emotional health and healing.

I would love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One of Those Days

Do you ever have one of those days where you wish you could throw every breakable thing you own against the wall as hard as you can?

Or take a baseball bat to every mirror and window in your house?

Or just punch something until you can't lift your arm anymore?

I do. I am.

I am having one of those days today.

And it isn't because I am angry. Well, it is a little bit because I am angry. But I am angry because I feel powerless.

Powerlessness is an overwhelming reality that will take you straight by the throat and squeeze the life right out of you.

I woke up at 4am this morning and looked around my dark bedroom with that horrible how did I get this life? feeling. I have had this conversation with myself MANY times before. I tell myself to calm down, to accept my life, and to remember the good that is in it and not dwell on only the bad. But some days I feel so overwhelmed by how difficult and sad my life is I feel like I literally talk myself back from the edge...

Some mornings I just want to jump.

Jump into a different life, the one way easier than the one I currently live, the one with Aubrey and Ellie in it, alive and well.

Jump into a different relationship because, after all, a better husband would solve all my problems right?

Jump in the car and drive I don't even know where, just somewhere else, and maybe never come back.

Jump into blame and resentment, into despair, into self pity, for the hand I have been dealt.

Jump into powerlessness, refusing to even try anymore to push through, because, well, it is just too hard. Too hard to persevere, too hard to hurt all the time, and too hard to keep reminding myself day after day that it isn't really that bad because some days it IS really that bad. And honestly, I am flat out exhausted.

This blog post is my attempt to force some perspective on myself since I am having one of those days. I am talking myself back from the edge yet again, this time publicly and tangibly.

Life can be so hard. You all know what I am talking about. We all have our different hardships. And mine are not limited just to losing my girls. I am battling here and have been for a very long time, refusing to give up, refusing to give in, refusing to accept defeat...and I get tired. Really tired. It sometimes feels like it would be so much easier to just throw my hands up and scream how unfair it all is and just wallow in the relentless difficulties of my life.


I don't think that would really help anything. And it wouldn't be easier. I would simply be trading one misery for another. I would be giving up.

Remember how I talked before about how pain tells lies?

Well, here is the truth despite the pain: There is no life, no situation, no circumstance, no pain, no tragedy, no marriage, no decision, NO ANYTHING outside of God's restoration power. Life can and will push us to the edge, but it is the gentle wooing of the Holy Spirit that entices us back again. On our own we are powerless and will be crushed under the weight of it all. But with Christ, all things are possible. He will carry us.

I guess complete exhaustion, the kind that literally goes to the soul, is sometimes what it takes to get us to be still and quiet long enough to realize that all this striving and battling and wrestling is not always what is best for us. Sometimes our greatest victory is in the surrender.

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air... 1 Cor 9:26 NIV

It is ok to rest. Just lay down. Stop beating the air. Find shelter from the difficulties of your life in Him. He wants you to.

You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat... Isaiah 25:4 NIV

Friday, May 14, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

Pain changes everything doesn't it.

The trials we face are often the ones we least expect. And they always hurt infinitely more than we ever imagined. I found myself blown away by the intensity of the pain of my daughters' deaths and even more surprised by my response to it.

I imagined myself coping so much better. I don't even know what that means exactly, but I do know that I didn't meet my own imagined expectations.

One month before Aubrey and Ellie were even born I attended a woman's retreat for a weekend. During that retreat I attended a short class about maintaining faith through trials. The speaker spoke of the death of her ten month old daughter and how she and her husband endured their grief with faith. Through their pain they triumphed in Christ. She was very real about her experience and very inspiring. I remember walking out of that class thinking to myself if I ever endure such hardship I hope I can do so with as much strength and faith as her.

Six weeks later I stood at the graveside of my daughters', broken and lost. I didn't feel strong at all. I felt hurt and scared and horribly disappointed. All my energy was being put toward simply waking up each morning. I wanted to persevere in theory, but in application I just didn't seem to have it in me. Real pain was more crippling than I ever imagined it and I couldn't seem to bridge the gab between my hypothetical expectations of myself through trials and suffering and the realistic ones. And for a while I lost my way.

I can only compare it to running on a wounded leg. Until you stand on a broken leg it is impossible to know how much it truly hurts, let alone have to run on that leg. It isn't like the movies where gritting your teeth and taking a deep breath gives you the pain tolerance you need to run. This was real life and real pain. And figuratively speaking I didn't have it in me to stand, much less run, in my brokenness.

I wanted to. But I couldn't. And I felt horribly guilty about that for a long time.

Perseverance seemed reserved for the stronger people. The ones who, when tested, ran on their broken leg regardless. Not the weak and overwhelmed like me.

Where was my strength, my unshakable faith, my relentless striving in the face of suffering and trials?

Losing my girls has not only been the most painful experience of my life, but it has been a giant magnifying glass on who I really am. My faith and character were exposed to the core. And it wasn't always pretty.

Even before losing my girls I have been extremely impressed with those who seem to be able to persevere through extraordinary pain and adversity. I am in awe of World War II vets who fought willingly for this country despite the hell they endured, especially those who reenlisted. I am blown away by athletes who put themselves through years of hard work and pain for the chance to compete in the Olympics or earn a championship. Some competing with injuries, in unimaginable pain, just to finish what they started. I marvel at people who have lost everything they love and find a way to continue on with meaning and purpose as an example to us all.

At my daughter's funeral we played the song "It Is Well With My Soul." My uncle played it for us on his saxophone. I don't know if you are familiar with that hymn and its history, but it was written by a man named Horatio Gates Spafford. His life was full of tragedy. First his only son died of Scarlett fever at the age of four, then he lost his entire fortune in the Great Chicago Fire, but ultimately it would be the death of his four daughters at sea that inspired the hymn. His wife and daughters were on a ship that sunk on its way to England and miraculously his wife was spared, but his girls were not. He immediately boarded a ship to join his bereaved wife in England and as he passed over the very spot where his daughters perished he penned the words to the hymn:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

When my girls died I could not say it was well with my soul. It was a long time before I could see through the pain. And honestly I am still striving to get to that place of authentic soul wellness...but I'm trying.

But no longer am I relying on my own strength. It hurts to stand on a broken leg ourselves. But when someone carries us the pain significantly decreases. The healing process seems so much more manageable with help and proper care, and how blessed are we that we get PERFECT care from the God who created us and knows us best. He is, after all, Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord your healer.

Soul wellness is available to us all. If we are willing, God can do a work in us that, despite the circumstances of our lives and the pain those circumstances cause, we can still be well in our soul. We can be transformed from the inside. And we can see with new eyes.

I know how hard it is trying to embrace the healing God can offer. I know that nothing I do, not even my faith, can bring my girls back to me. And at times I wonder how my pain can ever end as long as they are not with me. It seems like a horrible contradiction.

But it isn't.

It is a miracle.

Without God there is no hope. And he is not asking us to forget or to stop feeling or to make our hurts small. He is simply asking us to trust him.

He is big enough that our pain doesn't have to shrink one molecule for him to overcome it and bring wellness to our soul. His grace is sufficient regardless of the size of our pain. He has the power and the willingness to fix whatever is ailing us. And not fix in the worldly sense either, but in his ability to supernaturally instill joy and peace in a heart that is broken. He can mend any injury, physical and emotional, and does so willingly and completely when we ask him to as many times as we require.

I will always miss my girls and hurt that they are not hear. I bear that burden because I love them. And I don't want God to take my love for them away. But I do need to experience the fullness of God's love in every way to get me through.

It will be well with my soul, not when the pain goes away, but when, despite the pain, I can rejoice in the goodness of my God.

...when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot you have taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Yesterday I was in Aubrey and Ellie's room digging picture frames out of the closet. Empty frames that I had collected and saved for them. I was going to put their pictures in those frames and hang them up in their room.

After they died I couldn't go in their room for a long time. And when I did I felt very uncomfortable. It felt so empty in there.

Their room never got to be used for its intended purpose so by default it became sort of a catch-all room. I put guests in there when they stay overnight and use the closet for extra storage. I have yet to set up the crib for the new baby.

I still call it Aubrey and Ellie's room.

It has been getting hot here and for the first time in a long time I put the air conditioner on to cool the house. When I opened the door to Aubrey and Ellie's room to look for those picture frames a blast of hot air hit me. I walked over to the air vent and stood on the glider to open it realizing that it was closed and cool air could not blow in.

As I stood there adjusting the vent I said to myself I don't want my little girls to burn up in here.

I stepped down and paused for a minute.

Aubrey and Ellie are gone, Rachel. This room is for the new baby now. You don't want the new baby to burn up in here. You are not bringing your girls home. You are bringing your son home.

I had to take a moment to get my head back on straight. I know that Aubrey and Ellie are gone but sometimes I think my heart cries out for them in unexpected ways. I know that this baby is not them nor will he ever fill the Aubrey and Ellie shaped hole in my heart, even when he does fill the empty nursery.

But I do feel a little crazy sometimes. I still wake up some mornings and listen for them. I still have to remind myself it all really happened. And I am not sure that will ever change. Some realities take a lifetime to truly accept I think.

A few days ago my husband asked me if it is going to be weird for me to have two children. We know the knew baby will be here very soon. It is amazing how pregnancy can feel like an eternity and a blink at the same time. I told him that it won't be weird to have two, but weird not to have three. And he responded "So it already has been weird not to have three you mean."

I shook my head yes.

There was never supposed to be just two. There was one, then three, and the new baby makes four. Having two boys will be amazing. I love my two and I am thankful for my two. But two girls will always be missing. And that seems to make even the most wonderful things a little bittersweet.

I am still getting the hang of being a baby lost mama. It is a lot more tricky than I ever imagined. I get frustrated constantly adjusting and readjusting, trying to get my heart and mind on the same page, and trying to feel like I am not crazy, just still hurting.

Aubrey and Ellie's room isn't going to be their room anymore very soon. And I am very sad about it. It isn't like we moved the twins to a big girl room to make space for the new baby. It is a very painful transition and although I can't wait to bring home the new baby, I feel like the moment I put him in his room I will grieve for my girls all over again. I want to welcome him home, but I don't want to have to say goodbye to my girls again.

Sometimes I just don't know how to take the next step.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Lydia Eileen

For those of you who follow my blog and as a result follow the blog Lydia Eileen I wanted to ask for prayer for Jen and Micah as they had to say goodbye to their little girl on Wednesday morning.

Lydia went to be with Jesus peacefully and very much loved.

These moments have no words. Many of us know exactly what they are feeling however. Please cover them in your prayers.

Micah and Jen,

If you are reading this know that you are being upheld by the prayers of people all over the world who love you and your Lydia and were changed by her life. Also know that you are not alone although it may feel that way at times.

I pray that, somehow, in the midst of all your tears, you experience God's true comfort in unmistakable ways. I also pray that you get restful sleep and that people come out of the woodwork to help you by cleaning your house, cooking your meals, and giving you a break from the daily demands of life while you endure this season.

I am so sorry. I'd give her back if I could. My heart is broken for you. But I promise, it won't always hurt this much. Don't lose hope. God will continue the good work he began the moment Lydia was conceived. Her life was clearly invaluable. And not just to you but to countless others who you may never meet who are forever transformed because she lived. Her life lead all of us to the cross through your words on your blog and the faithfulness you have shown.

I will never forget her. I love you friends.

In Christ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So Blessed

I am sitting here by myself. My husband is in the desert all week flying. It is just Dustin and me and the dog.

Its late. The house is quiet. I'm just winding down before bed. And my baby is kicking in my belly like crazy!

He relentlessly moves. Day and night! He never gives me a break. And he moves most when I am resting or trying to sleep. He certainly likes to remind me of his presence (as if I could forget).

But I love it.

Even when it keeps me up at night. And even when it annoys me. These moments are not to be taken for granted.

I am so blessed.

Especially given what today is.

I am so amazingly blessed.

24 Weeks 4 Days

I am 24 weeks and 4 days pregnant today, Tuesday, April 20th, 2010.

Aubrey and Ellie were born at 24 weeks and 4 days also on a Tuesday. Tuesday, June 24th, 2008.

Today is a strange anniversary of sorts.

I have been counting down the days until today, holding my breath the entire time I think. Since I found out I was pregnant I have been hypersensitive to each day of this pregnancy, knowing too well that my new little guy needs more time, enough time.

24 weeks and 4 days just isn't enough.

Every night I prayed for enough time. Every night I prayed for more than 24 weeks and 4 days. Every night I prayed to get through today...

Today is a gift. As is every day after it. Every hour. Every minute. It is all one vital moment closer to enough time.

So why am I still holding my breath?

Today I woke up convinced it would be a turning point but it wasn't. I didn't feel better. Getting to today was not the magic cure all I hoped it would be. Honestly I have more anxiety than ever.


Because I don't just want one more day. I want ALL the days, every single day my baby needs to be healthy and safe and alive.

I want to bring this baby home.

He needs the days but I need them too. Sometimes I think I need them more.

Fear is such a battle. Daily I ask myself where to draw the line. How far will I let my fear take me? It starts with holding my breath through my entire pregnancy but it won't end when the baby is born. The fear will spill over . I will bring my son home and hold my breath for the first year of his life worried that he might die in his sleep or choke on something. And I'll cry in my prayers every night asking God to keep him safe for just one more day. The thought of losing him will overwhelm my life and I will never have peace...I will spend all the precious days of his life holding my breath...

Unless I choose to breathe.

How life goes, if and when things workout, and all the happy endings DO NOT cure the fear. Fear is choice. Which means letting go of fear is a choice too.

Why is it so hard?

I have to be honest. I don't consider myself a paranoid type of person. But after Aubrey and Ellie died I became afraid for the first time in my life...not afraid of death or loss, but afraid of pain. I never hurt like that before. I can't even explain it. And the thought of feeling that agony again, of having to live though the loss of another child, is my worst I have felt twice already in my lifetime and pray to God I NEVER have to feel again.

I have said out loud many times to others that I trust God no matter what. I don't want to lose this baby but if I do I trust God to get me through it just like he did before (I know all the right things to say to put others at ease) but inside I feel my stomach turn in knots when I hear those words come out of my mouth. Inside I beg God not to let that happen. Inside I know how it would destroy me.

I know the difference between an intellectual understanding of God's word and an experiential understanding, I have walked out my faith through times of real suffering. I trust God's word. I trust His ways and I trust His love, but I still fear the pain.

I simply don't think I could bare it again.

My struggle these days isn't with my faith, but with myself. For some reason I am choosing fear when I don't have to. When I don't even want to. I don't understand myself sometimes. Pain can trigger bad habits I think, habits we have to purposefully choose to change or risk letting them run our lives. Habits we know are not good for us, yet we allow anyway. Habits that rob us of the peace and joy right in front of us. Habits that harm us.

Today did not turn out to be a repeat of the past after all. My fears did not come true. As a matter of fact, today my prayer was answered.

My hope came true, not my fear.

Two years ago, 24 weeks and 4 days was my worst nightmare, the day my world came crumbling down on me. But today, 24 weeks and 4 days is my gift, my miracle, my reason not to fear.

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isa 41:13 NIV

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Before and After

This is my son Dustin. I just LOVE this picture. My sister-in-law took it. She is quite talented as you can see. Dustin is 15 months old here. He is 4 years old now. I forgot about those chubby knees. I forgot how cute he was. I miss those days.

When I look at this picture a flood of memories come rushing back. Just weeks before I watched my husband get on a ship bound for Iraq not to return for at least 6 months (which became 8 months) and packed everything we owned in storage and moved to my parent's house with my son. We would wait out the separation there.

It was me and Dustin against the world, mom and son making the most of dad's time away. And make the most of it we did.

We took walks daily and went to the park regularly. We went to the farmer's market every Saturday morning where Dustin ate strawberries, green tops and all. Occasionally we fell asleep together for afternoon naps and practiced holding our breath in my parent's pool. Daily we used baby sign language, read books, stacked blocks, and sung songs. We even hopped a red-eye or two and had a few adventures sleeping on couches and seeing friends and family in other cities and states.

It was our special time. Just him and I.

What you can't see hidden in the story of that photo are the lonely nights, tears, and unexpected hardships that befall temporary single motherhood. I worried a lot during those months. My husband was not on vacation, he was in Iraq, fighting a war. I just wanted him home safely. I was also very lonely during that time. Putting Dustin to bed at night wasn't as much of a break from a long day chasing a toddler as it was a reminder that I was alone. It would get too quiet sometimes and I missed having a warm body to curl up to in bed at night. Sometimes I would let Dustin sleep in my bed with me just to distract myself from my loneliness. It was tough to take care of my son by myself for eight months, I had regular moments of frustration and exhaustion, but none of them compared to the loneliness of all those quiet nights.

My grandfather also died that summer, and I didn't know it then, but he would be the first of a string of losses in my life.

Harder days were ahead.

This picture represents the life I miss. When my hardest days were a temporary adjustment to a situation with a certain end. When the most exhausting thing in my life was a chubby-kneed little toddler who brought me more joy than I could measure. When I could count down the days until we were all together again...

Today when I see this picture I not only see the life that was, but the life that will never be.

I should have another picture of chubby knees, two sets from the cutest identical twins you ever saw.

But I had to let that picture go when I let them go. Along with a thousand other pictures that will never be.

This picture makes me smile. I see my favorite little boy in the world during a very special time in our lives. I see my old life.

But it also makes me a little sad. I see in it life before...

before loss
before grief
before Aubrey and Ellie

It is bittersweet.

Bittersweet in the most precious way imaginable though.

As I write this, the little boy in my belly is kicking away...I am already impressed with his fiery little personality. He likes his presence known. And I like him. I deeply hope to have a chubby-knee picture of him someday.

And when I look at it I will be reminded not of before, but of after.

God is so gracious to provide us with an after.

What is your after?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letting Go

My grandmother died one week ago.

I didn't post about it. Only because I was not sure what to say.

I am still not sure what to say.

She had been sick for a long time so it was not unexpected that she passed away. It was a blessing to tell you the truth. I have not enjoyed watching my grandparents get sick and waste away. First it was my grandad three years ago. Then my grandma in March.

There comes a point when watching some one you love suffer becomes too much. I find myself unsure even how to pray, begging only for God's mercy and grace in whatever form he deems necessary.

Restoration through death is God's ultimate healing gift.

It is only painful for those of us left behind.

So watching my grandma lay in bed too weak to even speak, I felt myself letting go. She was better off with the Lord. I knew it. We all knew it. But we each had to let go on our own.

I couldn't let go for all of us.

I can only imagine what my dad is going through losing his last remaining parent. I dread the day I have to say goodbye to my own parents as I know it will break my heart.

But although I don't know the grief of losing a parent, I am no stranger to grief. I think that is why I find myself so accepting of my grandmother's passing. It makes sense. And it was inevitable in my lifetime. Just as it is inevitable that I will someday bury by own parents. That is the way it ought to go God willing. That is the natural order of things.

But I was not supposed to bury my own children.

Letting go of Aubrey and Ellie was not something I did rationally sitting at their bedside, worried and tired of watching them suffer. I wanted to fight for them. I wanted to never give up. I wanted to hold out for a miracle. I wanted them to live.

Everyone around me saw what my girls needed. I could see in their eyes that hope was fading. But I just couldn't let go.

Even as we removed them from life support. Even as I held them in my arms and gave them my blessing to go. Even as I watched them fade away...

I just couldn't let go.

At their funeral I remember feeling like I really wasn't there. There was no way my two babies were in that casket. And the truth of God's grace restoring their tiny little bodies in heaven did not comfort me.

I just could not let go.

It took a year and a half and a new pregnancy, the perfectly timed gift of a tiny little boy, for me to finally let go. I wanted so badly to see twin girls on that ultrasound screen. But I saw just one baby. And later I learned that baby was a boy. I don't know why I thought it might be them. Aubrey and Ellie were not going to return to me.

It was time to let them go.

It was time to accept that my greatest loss was their greatest gain and trust that God did what was best for them despite what it cost me. God saw past my tears and fears and intervened on their behalf. He choose them when I didn't know what choice to make, when the best choice felt like the worst one, when letting go seemed simply impossible to do.

I guess that is why letting go of my grandma came so easily. I have had a lot of practice.

I hold on to temporal things much more loosely these days and instead hold tightly to the hope that we will all be united again in the arms of our Heavenly Father.

I miss my grandma. I am sad she is not with us. But I rejoice in her restoration. And I can't help but be a little jealous that she is with my girls.

Because I miss them most of all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crazy Brave

Exactly two years ago today I posted on our family blog that I was expecting twins.

I was shocked and thrilled and so ready for the challenge, I mean blessing, two babies would be. I knew I could do it. And I knew that I would love every minute of it. Well maybe not EVERY minute, but you know what I mean. And I had naivety on my side. I had NO IDEA what I was in for...

I planned on blogging about the insanity of twins and of three kids under three! I planned on sleepless nights, endless nursing, and more diapers than I could count. I planned on cute matching (but not identical) outfits, oohs and awes from strangers admiring the cutest little twin girls they ever did see, and tons of special moments when the overwhelming task of parenting becomes more than worth it in a single smile or baby laugh.

But nothing went as planned.

I didn't get to keep my twins after all. Instead, my lifetime of plans fell through, and in a blink I was standing at the gravestone of my baby girls. One day they were with me and the next they were gone. And I have been whirling ever since.

I never imagined that two years later I would be sitting here blogging about my life AFTER LOSS instead of posting pictures of my girls' first steps. I wonder who would have walked first, Aubrey or Ellie?

Life has continued to move forward however. Often times against my will. And I cannot believe that somehow, with God's strength no doubt, I survived the last 20 months. There were most definitely dark times. I never felt true hopelessness until I lost my girls. But once I got my bearings again (grief is extremely disorienting) I emerged from my dark, sad place, with a new hope.

I wanted to live again. I wanted to be a willing participant in life once more. Living did not mean leaving my girls behind and I wanted back in the game. So off I went...

And somehow I became crazy brave along the way...

Because I wanted to have another baby.

Before I lost my girls I thought I was brave, but I wasn't. I was naive. There is a difference. I lived my life not fully aware of what it could really cost me. Everything seemed to work out. I even believed it was my boldness paying off. The bigger the risk the greater the reward right? Nothing ventured, nothing gained...or some stupid, naive rationale like that.

True bravery is not just facing the fire, it is facing the fire again after you have already been burned.

Having another baby was my fire. And for a long time I did not want to take the risk. The thought of losing another baby was more than I could bare. I already had a son and he was enough. I should just count my blessings, nurse my wounds, and spend the rest of my life minimizing the risk and therefore minimizing the pain.

But something about that just didn't feel like living. After all, I did lose my girls, I did have my heart and world shattered in the blink of an eye, but I also had seven and thirteen life changing days with my sweet daughters. And I wouldn't trade those days for anything.

I didn't want to minimize my risk, I wanted to live despite it all. And that is when I realized that somehow, someway, I became crazy brave. I was ready to face my fire...

...and have another baby.

I wanted to at least try. And no matter what happened I wanted to face it because, although my heart could be broken again and that scared me to death, it also could be filled with immeasurable joy with the gift of a new baby.

Pain hurts, but it also makes the joy so much sweeter.

Now I am expecting again, this time a little boy. A constantly moving little boy I cannot wait to meet, and name, when we figure out just the right one.

But I have not faced the fire yet. My son is yet to be born. We bravely anticipate his arrival in a few months and each day I battle the flames. Flames of fear, helplessness, and uncertainty. And as I battle those flames I find myself refined by their fire, depending entirely on God's will and ever increasing in faith.

Only God's grace can turn a fire meant for our destruction into the very flames that refine us.

I do not have any guarantees but One, my Jesus and the hope he provides.

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7 (New International Version)

My Jesus will get me through. No matter what.

I know that many of my blog readers are facing an even hotter fire than my own. Some of you can't seem to get pregnant at all, others of you have tried again after loss only to experience another loss, maybe even many losses, and are growing hopeless and weary. And even others of you have had to face the unfair truth that your genetics make having a healthy baby statistically small or even impossible. All of these are heartbreaking situations. I want you to know that I am praying for you today. I am praying for hope, healing, miracles, and courage as you endure these hardships and persevere with faith. I also pray that your heart would be open to whatever God has for you as he gives you a NEW hope and future, for nothing is impossible with God.

Be crazy brave. Trust Him.

It isn't so crazy after all.

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26 (New International Version)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
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