January 27, 2015

The 21st week

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I battled with myself all day as whether to post something tonight or not.  I felt like writing about it would jinx us, but then I had to remind myself that I don't believe in jinxes.  So, I am getting over it and writing a little something.  Writing always helps me feel better, and sort through my crazy.  

It was on this day last June, the exact 21 week mark (which was also a Tuesday) that everything went terribly wrong in my pregnancy with Jackson.  Right before Dave left for work, my water broke.  It was the beginning of the end.  Tuesday, that evening after calling the doc, we went to the birth center and were sent home with more questions than answers.  Wednesday, at a follow up ultrasound, we found out he was gone and were admitted.  Thursday he was born, and taken away from us in the physical world.

I know that this time around is a different pregnancy.  It's so hard not to compare these pregnancies.  I know I put this all in my own mind, and make up these "milestones" all on my own...but it's hard not to think about today.  It's impossible to push from my mind.  Everything is similar as far as the timing, the days, the scan.  Everything is different too.  I'm worried, but only because my memories are making me so.  Not because I actually have anything real to worry about as of yet.  I do it to myself.

I keep reminding myself that today, this time, I feel peace.  I was able to enjoy Baby Boy bouncing around in there all day.  We had a two hour delay from the non-weather, and I have a pretty fierce head cold, and work was busy...and for all that I am glad.  It all kept my mind running on other things.  When I got home, I told myself over and over not to be afraid of the bathroom, not to be afraid of resting in bed, like I was doing that night.  The night still isn't over, but I feel peaceful.  Yes the memories are hard to fight, but the peace is stronger.  It's ok to remember and reflect, but I have to remember this time is different.

I think it's just that I miss Jackson a lot today.  This day was our last together, when I was pregnant with him.   I found myself talking to and thinking towards Baby Boy more than ever today, maybe just in case.  Every day he should be able to feel my love and excitement for him, instead of being scared of him and for him all the time.  I don't want this to be our last day together.  I want millions of days together.  This time is different.

I'm sure this week will pass without problems, but I can't be certain.  No one can be.  I'm learning to live with that, to live with whatever God's plan is.  Sometimes its to bless us and let us be happy, sometimes it's to get us through really tough times.  Who knows what God's plan is for us this time around?  I'm faithful, no matter what, but I have hope that this time we will have a happier ending.

In honor of this day, I finally hung up all of our Jackson and Lily Memorial artwork.  I've been meaning to hang it all since October, but I either didn't have the energy, or the heart, to do it.  Last night Dave helped me create the space, and we now have a sweet little spot to blow kisses at our angels, as we go up and down our stairs. 

I used one of my three shelves that I built,  I am so proud of myself for building them!  It's the little things;)

My BFF, Heather, made the Lily & Jackson anchor shadow box, and I made the top two pictures and memories for our memorial.  The two pictures on the shelf on either side of the anchor are beautiful name artwork from Carly Marie.

They are an extension of our awesome gallery wall, which I created and hung two years ago.  Um, I need to update all of those pictures!!

Here's a shot with our striped hallway.  Don't mind the doors, hardware, and railing.  It's all going to be updated!  It's on the to do list, that's never ending;)

I love having the memorial stuff hung now, so that Jackson and Lily actually have a spot in our home.  I thought they may be hard to look at over and over, but that is not the case.  They have always been a part of our lives since their lives began, so having the pictures up doesn't make that any different, it just makes my heart happy to have a spot to honor their short and sweet lives and what they mean to us.  Forever & always.

So, here's to the wonderful memory of the two angel babies that made me a momma.  Here's to the new life growing inside me that I hope to meet face to face in June.  While my feelings are all over the place tonight, I am just going to take this week one minute at a time, and be thankful for all that I have and all that I have been through and all that I am learning.  

I can't wait to experience the last half of my pregnancy, since from here on out I have no idea what to expect.  I like that from this point forward, it all seems to be new...and different.  God please bless us and this new little life you have given us.  Get us through the next 4 and a half months safely, and happily.  And give me peace tonight as I reflect on all that has happened, and all that is coming.  Thank you!

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January 26, 2015

Mason Jar Makeover

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Last weekend I had tons of pent up anxiety because our anatomy scan was coming up, so I made the best of the icky feelings and turned them into energy for fun projects around the house!  I vintaged-out an IKEA mirror, I finished my DIY shelves, and I painted some mason jars!  I've seen these a lot on Pinterest and have been interested in trying it out for myself.  I love the old timey, vintage but pretty look of them.  So I found a pin with directions I could follow, and got to work!

I have tons of mason jars around the house, because we use them as our drinking glasses and I keep all my spices and herbs and baking ingredients in them.  I found three big ones that weren't being used in our basement storage (aka "the closet" - what a scary mess!) so I pulled them out and washed them really well with warm water and soup, and then sat them out to dry while I pulled my supplies together.

I have a ton of these little test pots of paint, from all the various paint projects Ive done in the house over the years, so I narrowed down to two different blueish greens that I liked.  With the jars all dried and set up on newspaper, I got to work!

That's me, messy bed head and all, with freshly painted nails, ready to tackle the jars;)

Like the directions say on the website I pinned, I painted the tops first, making sure to get right inside the rims of the jars.  I had no idea how these would turn out with this kind of paint, but the color was so pretty I decided to risk it.  I think she used craft paints, but whatever...use what ya got!  These are low odor, no VOC paints from Home D, so no harm to the baby...however I did crack a window and hide my nose in my shirt a lot, just in case!

Then I flipped em over and painted the bottoms.  Don't mind the mess in the background, our house is a disaster most of the time.  I'm too tired growing a baby and too busy thinking of more crazy projects to clean;)

So here they are with one coat of paint.  I let these dry to the touch, about an hour or so, and then I did the whole process over again.

I let them dry for a full 24 hours after the second coat.  The directions said to let them cure, so that the paint can dry and really attach.  That was a good idea, in theory, but with this paint, it made the next part much harder!

To achieve the "vintage" look, I had to beat them up a little bit.  I had to really use some muscle for this!  So, after waiting a day, I took some sand paper and a nail file to the jars to shave off some of the paint for the desired look!

I had to sand and sand and file and file.  This paint was TOUGH.  But, after about 5-10 minutes on each jar, they looked really great!  I washed them down and let them dry.

See how the "Ball" logo sort of peeks through now?  I also rubbed some random spaces off around the edges, and on the rim.  I love them!

Ive been wanting to change up the junk and decor on my shelf in the dining area.  I loathe how dark all the furniture is and I'm still thinking up ways to change that.  I desperately want to build a farmhouse table, but that will have to wait until after Baby Boy is born.  I also want to dial down the red, and add softer colors, a more vintage mixed with industrial type look.  It'll take a while, but I think the mason jars are a good start.  Here what it looked like before...

Again, don't mind the mess and junk, its everywhere.  I cleaned off the top of the shelf and added the jars.

Oh, how I love these!  I want to make more, in all colors!!!

I went out to Michael's and bought some pretty flowers to display in the jars.  This completed the look, just how I envisioned them!

They really soften the look of the shelf, so it's a step in the right direction for me.  I love how they look with my stenciled wall too!  Perfecto!

I added some of the stuff back to the shelf, but I may end up changing all that around.  I need to do a good cleaning and purging of the junk in our house.  It's starting to bug me.  Oh how I love decorating our home!

Overall, this jar project was totally easy and fun, and I can't wait to make more.  I'm sure I'll have tons more nervous energy between now and June, so let's see how much crazy I can get into!

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January 22, 2015

20 weeks and counting...

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Sometimes I wonder at the wisdom of sharing my whole life of grief and pregnancy here on the blog. I am always getting reminders that yes, this has been a good decision.  Ok, sure, a whole lot of people know a lot of my personal business, as much as my family and best friends know, but that doesn't bother me at all.  This week, I really needed as much love and prayer and support as I could get, and the blog and by extension my Facebook was an amazing help with that!  The call for support and prayer...that is what social media should be for!  Our army was out there, begging God to take care of us and fight for us and keep us safe and sane.  

For the first part of this subsequent pregnancy of mine, I could tuck away most of my fears and anxieties that crop up after the pregnancy loss ordeal we experienced last time.  From September to December, I could get up every day and not be terribly worried, not freak out about each thing, for the most part.  Doctor visits and some bathroom visits were the only times my fears would claw their way back to me.

But now, that I am 20 weeks, I feel that I have to work a little harder, and fight a little more, to be relaxed and not let all that baby-death knowledge rule my life.  Especially with the "21 week" mark coming up next week.  On Monday night, I think I had a true episode of PTSD.  I didn't go crazy or anything, but I basically cried all night long.  Every time I went to the bathroom, I was afraid my water was going to break, and that may be a fear that I deal with constantly from now on...it just showed up on my bathroom door, reminding me of what happened with Jackson. I tucked myself away in our room, barely talking to anyone except for Dave who would check on me, or my mom who threatened to come over and take care of me.  The thought of our anatomy scan looming the next morning was too much for my heart to bare.  I kept thinking about the follow up scan that forever changed our lives last June, with the tech and the scanning and the silence and the doctor...goodness my heart is pounding just writing about it.  

I didn't want to go.  I thought about calling them and canceling.  I thought about being sick instead.  But I knew that the BEST thing for this baby of ours was to go and get checked out, to make sure all was ok because if it isn't, we could still work hard to make this all work out for good.  I didn't want to go, but I knew I had to.  I didn't sleep well all weekend.  It was the roughest time of this whole thing so far.

Tuesday, we woke up and got ready, and headed down to St. Joes.  Dave prayed in the car on the way down, I cried here and there, and we talked to try to get our minds off of what we were about to do.  Now, if you are pregnant and it's your first, or you've never experienced loss, then DO NOT worry.  You should be excited for this appointment, it's a fun one.  The chance of something being wrong is so, so low.  But for us, with fear deeply rooted in an actual loss experience, it just can't be fun anymore.  

When we got there and parked, I told Dave I couldn't do it.  I didn't want to leave the car.  He was firm, and told me I had to go...that he would drag me in there if he had too.  My breathing got deep and quick, and the panic was right on the cusp.  We checked into the office and sat down.  I went to use the bathroom a few times, and I noticed that as I was sitting there in a room full of preggo women, that my panic had suddenly subsided.  I knew it had to be the prayers that were coming in.  A few people had told me or texted me that right around 11am, they would be praying.  I felt it.  I had a calm that I couldn't understand. 

The tech, Leslie, called us back.  I was completely honest with her and told her I was a nervous mess, and we told her why.  She was so sweet and positive, and jumped into the scan with complete confidence that everything would be ok.  She put the wand on my belly, and right away pulled up the baby's heartbeat so we could hear it.  It was such a beautiful sound.  I wasn't quite worried about that part though, because I had felt the baby move that morning.

She started scanning some more and I saw the head.  A full, closed, big beautiful head.  I saw arms and legs.  I quickly started checking off the problems or diseases our baby doesn't have because of what I was seeing.  Head looked good - probably no anenchephaly.  Spine looked pretty good - a slew of disabilities checked off.  Four chambers in the heart - another good sign.  Check check check.  Baby was moving, and dancing, and all was going well.  She had me get up to use the bathroom a few times, and thoroughly explained what she was seeing and scanning.  Baby wasn't giving her great views, or at least staying in a position where she could get good pics, but she said halfway through that nothing that she saw was surprising, all looked normal.  

Finally she shared with us that we are having a boy, "I see some boy parts!" was her exclamation!  Dave and I were ecstatic, but shocked.  We were certain we were going to have a girl this time.  I felt like I had an inkling this time around, but I was totally wrong!  Poor kid, we've been calling him "Zoe" for a month.  We picked out the name Zoe even before we were pregnant, because I learned that the name means "Life" and what better name for a baby after loss, right?  Well, we will have to save that one!  We have NO names for a boy, but we are working on it;)

After about an hour, she said for us to take a break.  She wanted me to stretch, and wiggle around, and see if we couldn't get baby in a better position.  When she came back in, she had the doctor with her.  The.Same.Doctor.  Dr. Cootauco, who told us that Jackson was gone back in June, came in to look at our scan.  This is routine at St. Joes, doctors come in no matter what especially in high risk preggo woman, and consult on the pics.  They came in and we all sat down, Doc told us that she remembered us and asked us how we were, if they had ever found a reason for Jackson's death, and asked about how things were going this time.  Then, she sat down and looked at our scan for a good 2 or 3 minutes.

This part was indescribably excruciating.  I was nervous, but I think Dave nearly passed out.  I could tell that he was anxious, but it wasn't until afterwards when we talked about it in the car that I realized just how bad off he was.  He said he couldn't even look at me, let alone talk.  He was paralyzed.  Fear does that to us.  The silence while looking through those pictures, good gracious.  Finally, after what seemed like a year of agony, Doc said that she didn't see anything that concerns her.  She wanted Leslie to get a few more pictures, because Baby Boy wasn't cooperating very well, so they started looking at him again.  Doc said a few times over during this part, that everything looked OK and that if she saw any single thing that alarmed her, that she would tell me.  She promised.  I think that they feel bad, because at our anatomy scan for Jackson there wasn't anything going on that they could see, yet a week later my water broke.  But, I did have the twin loss, and the hemorrhage, which we already knew about, and this time there is none of that.

She did say that we need to come back in 3 weeks, because baby will be bigger then and they will be able to get better pictures, but again not because they see any problems.  Of course, because I am high risk, they'll do an echocardiogram on the baby, which measures how the heart is functioning or something...again, just routine.  She tried to assure us as much as she could.  Now, we aren't out of the woods yet, nor will we be until this baby is born...so many things could still be wrong, or could go wrong...but at least the scan didn't show anything alarming.  That was a big step for us.

Walking out of the hospital was one of the best feelings, the best highs, ever.  I remember feeling that way with Jackson too, but that whole situation didn't dampen how happy I felt this time.  We are having a boy. Everything looks ok so far.  This could really be happening.

We got to spend the rest of the day sharing with our family the news of our Baby Boy Bland.  I made little cards the night before, 2 boy cards and 2 girl cards, for my parents and Dave's mom to open.  I had brought them in the car, and wrapped the boy cards up in little boxes.  I guess we will save the girly ones!

We shared with my parents first, since it was in the middle of the day and Ash was at school and Joyce was at work.  They opened their gift and were so happy, my dad in particular because he really wanted a boy.  They took us to lunch to celebrate our happy news.

After lunch we raced home to share the news with Ashley.  She was also shocked because she was sure it was a girl, but I think that was more because she wanted a girl than anything else;)  My body likes to produce boys, though, and that is ok!  She was still excited.  We had bought a onesie for her when we found out the news, and wrapped it in the box I posted on FB to tease everyone!


Afterwards we waited for my MIL to get home and headed over there to share the news with her.  We had to make sure these VIPs knew before everyone else:)  Joyce was totally excited...so was her boyfriend Jon but he doesn't smile in pics;)

So all in all, it was good day.  It was the day I really wanted to have, and God answered our prayers and gave it to us.  I try not to think about the fact that last time, we had this day too - we even had a gender reveal party and celebrated all together - only to have to say goodbye to our sweet little boy a week later.  

I know this is a different pregnancy, but it's also hard not to compare them.  Hearing that we are having a boy again is a little hard.  Mostly, its so fun and exciting because I am so excited to be the mom of a BOY!  But...part of it is hard, because of the son we lost, the son we never got to love and keep and watch grow.  I think we thought it was a girl so strongly because we wanted this time to be COMPLETELY different, and a girl would have made it so.  Having a boy brings back a lot of memories, and joy that got stolen away, and it stings a little bit.

All in all, we are so beyond thrilled.  God is telling us that we have another chance, and that He is here with us while we go through this.  We are determined to not let our less take the JOY from this baby boy, from this pregnancy.  I'll never be one of those women who "just loves being pregnant" no, that won't ever be me.  I'll enjoy what I can, but I'm counting down the days until viability (47), and then to 36 weeks (110), and then to 40 (138).  I can't wait to meet our baby boy!

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting us this week, calling or texting, sending us things, stopping by, and especially all the praying.  We could feel it, we had peace because of those prayers.  So thank you a million times for loving us through it, because in these times we just can't get through it on our own.  We are so lucky, so blessed, and so overwhelmed with the support!  

I've got nervous-energy projects to share too, I did a lot over the weekend, so stay tuned for those!!! :)

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January 16, 2015

The day our lives changed - take two

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Life is weird sometimes, isn't it?  Who would have thought that I'd be writing a second post about this...the day we found out we are pregnant.  When I wrote our first post when pregnant with Jackson, a looooong 9 months ago, I had no idea the turn my life would take in 2014.  No, it wasn't all good.  But it wasn't all bad either.  Being pregnant so soon after a stillbirth, a loss so deep and personal, is such a weird thing to wrap my mind around.   It's happy, it's crazy, it's devastating, it beautiful, and it's full of hope.  Here, I want to share the story of our new story, hopefully the beginning of our happy ending...

Once upon a time...

No, just kidding.

September was a strange month for me.  I started work in late August, after a whole summer of grieving and crying and writing and getting used to the fact that I am a bereaved parent.  It was a good summer, regardless of our loss, full of love and support and family and a beautiful trip to the Outer Banks.  I wasn't ready to start work and face the world of "normal", but it was the best thing for me.  I love my job and all the people I work with, they are AMAZING, seriously.  Lots of love and support there too, and a big welcome back but nothing too overwhelming.  

As I've shared before, the doctors kept a close watch on me over the summer, and after testing and monitoring everything, we were given the "clean bill of health" baby-wise, to get back to it and try again after the 2 month mark of losing Jackson had passed.  Dave and I were sure we'd have to wait a while for things to work themselves out in my body.  It took 2 years to conceive Jackson and Lily, we weren't really trying all that hard for them but we weren't stopping a baby from happening either.  So...this time around, we figured it would take a year maybe.  

Meanwhile, I tried everything I could to be healthy.  Not only to have a healthy body to give actual LIFE to a baby, but to aid me in my healing process too.  Grieving is really a whole mind-body-spirit experience.  I learned that for me, I had to work on each part of those things, or I wouldn't heal correctly.  I was walking and swimming and working out, I was trying to eat good and clean and healthy things, I was praying and talking with God everyday because if I didn't I know I'd lose myself, and I was even doing extra things to help.  I went to the chiropractor 3 days a week for adjustments and to work on a bulged disc in my back, I think triggered by Jackson's birth.  I went to a wonderful acupuncturist, who helped me heal and stay energized.  I fully believe that doing all of these things together helped me heal, but also jump started my body into some sort of state that was primed for a baby.  I just had no idea it would work so fast!

Fast forward to a sunny Saturday, September 27th.  Dave had worked the previous night and wasn't home yet.  I had felt...weird...all week, but didn't think it was pregnancy because one - I didn't think it would happen that fast after losing Jackson and two- it was still sort of early in my cycle and I wasn't going to test until the next week.  But...then, I was worried.  Dave and I were planning on going to the Rockfield Wine Festival that afternoon and evening.  Which meant, I'd be partaking in lots of wine tasting, more drinking than I normally do due to the nature of the event.  It's something we do every year and we always have a great time!  Anyways, I didn't want to go and do all that tasting if there was even a chance I could be pregnant.  I didn't want to give myself ANY reasons to question my health or the babies this time around, if this was "it".

I had bought some tests over the summer, a small but tough purchase to make after losing a baby, but I made myself do it as part of my healing, and the hope that one day we could do this again.  I woke up that morning around 6:30, and decided to take the test.  Dave wouldn't be home for a hour or so, so I could take my time and deal with the feelings that came, either way.  I thought I was being silly, but again didn't want to take my chances with the wine.  I took the test and afterwards set it on the nightstand (in a tissue) just like I had when I took it with Jackson.  I laid in bed, facing Frodo and the tv, away from the test.  I prayed, and I thought about Jackson, and I thought about having a baby again, and I thought about how silly I was for even thinking this could be happening.

Then, I heard a small but mighty voice in my head.  The voice said, "It's ready."  Look, I don't often hear the voice of God in my life.  My head is too full of myself and my wants and needs and my stupid thoughts and views on life to even have room for God most of the time.  It's terrible, and I need to clear my mind out more often so that God has ROOM in there.  But, when He needs it, He finds the room no matter how awful or crazy I am!  I didn't even need to look at the test, because when I heard that voice, I knew I was pregnant.  God wouldn't tell me that it's ready, if it was negative.  He was already preparing me.  But I looked anyways...

Pregnant.  1-2 weeks.  That means I was around 1 or 2 weeks into this, past ovulation.  This was an early detection test, I shouldn't have even gotten a result for another week.  But there it was, positive. Dear Lord I hope that's a sign that this baby is STRONG and MIGHTY and will MAKE it.  She (or he) was making their presence known early.  Hello there, baby.

Surprisingly, I didn't freak out.  I wasn't heartbroken.  I did cry, but small and warm, happy tears.  I am pregnant.  Again.  So soon. Wow.

I got into the shower and sat down to think, as I had done so many times over the past few months, and let the hot water run over me and let the feelings, and questions, come.  

Am I ready for this?

How did this happen so fast?

I was just pregnant 2 and half months ago!

Will this end well?

Should I take another test?

How will Dave feel?

There were a million more going through my head too.  I'm sure you can imagine, after what we had been through.  I prayed hard to God in there, begging him to let me carry this baby to term, and to be able to bring the baby home this time, but that I am still on board with His plan and what He wants for all of us.  No matter what.

I finished my showered, got dressed, and sat in bed.  I wrote a small note to our new baby, about how peaceful I was and how weird that felt.  About how much I loved this teeny, tiny baby already!!  About how I couldn't wait to tell him or her the story of their older sister and brother in Heaven.  I imagined this moment a lot since losing Jackson, and how it would make me feel, and it surprised me.  Of course, I was nostalgic and missed Jackson, but already my mind new and understood that this baby was new, and this pregnancy was different, and I'd have to get used to that.

Finally, Dave came home from work.  I let him do all his normal stuff downstairs like unpack and get water or whatever else he does as he unwinds, and then I heard him on the stairs.  I wanted to run, and I wanted to hide.  I hoped to Jesus he would be happy.  He came around the corner in our room and saw me sitting up in bed, and said his normal greeting to me.  I got up to greet him, and kept the test in my hand and after I hugged him, I gave it to him.  He just stared at it.  Then he looked at me, "Are you serious?"  Then he smiled, and hugged me again, and I cried (of course).  Yes, yes I am serious.  We are pregnant.  Again!

It was a blur, honestly.  Some of the feelings and reactions blend together in my heart and mind from the few months before when we went through this.  But, he was happy.  So happy, actually.  As we let the news sink in, together, it felt good...GREAT really!  He went to bed happy that morning, and I headed out to pick up my mom for our weekly shopping ritual.

I questioned whether we should tell our families or not.  They had all been through so much with us, and I didn't want to get them all excited only to let them down again - it was early in the pregnancy and I knew anything could happen.  But, I knew that if I kept the news from my parents, they would be upset.  So, when I got over there, I shared with them. Almost the exact way I shared with them with Jackson's pregnancy, I took the test over there as proof.  They were so happy for us too, and there were more tears shed.  Happy tears, but also nostalgic again.  We all still miss Jackson so much, and we would have been so close to meeting him.  But this new baby was bringing us hope, and joy...it was the start of a new season.  A happier one.

That was the day our lives changed again, after such a hard season of love and loss and sadness.  When Dave woke up that afternoon, I can't remember what we did to celebrate, but I remember how excited he was.  It filled me with happiness, and hope.  

I was, and still am, treading carefully though.  Those first few weeks I kept praying to God that if He wanted to take this baby from us, to please please please take him or her early.  Before I got too attached, before I went to the doctor.  I don't know if those prayers were answered by letting us keep the baby or not.  I am having a hard time deciding what to think and believe about my God these days, not because I don't trust Him, but because I don't trust Him to give me what I want.  I trust that He knows what He is doing, I trust that He will get us through anything, but it's hard for me to trust that He wants this to end happily.  I'm still working on allowing myself to hope that IS the case.  I'm...I'm working on it.

So there is our story of discovering that Baby #3 is on his or her way.  It's been a roller coaster so far, but one I am more than willing to ride.  Thanks for reading about our journey and praying for us!  Our scan is on Tuesday, and I'm trying not to think about it.  Pray for my sanity and peace, pray more for this baby to be ok, HEALTHY, because I'd love to come away from that appointment celebrating. That would be awesome:)  


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January 7, 2015

Choose Love, not Fear

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There is NO part of this life of mine that God doesn't use to teach me more about Him.  Losing Jackson was hard.  It was the hardest thing ever, of course.  But being pregnant so soon after losing him?  That's hard too, just in a very different way.

The first few months were easier.  I know that miscarriage is common, and I prepared myself for it.  Actually, I was almost expecting it...I'm not sure why, maybe because I am a sick freak?  The doctors wanted to see me at 6 weeks, but I flat out refused.  I told them I wasn't coming in until I absolutely had to, because I wasn't going to attach myself too early.  They told me 9 weeks was the latest they wanted me to wait.  So then, we got passed the 9 week check up with the ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat, then we passed the 12 week "safe milestone" and then I had to stop explaining to myself that losing the baby at that point was "normal".  Now, if we lose the baby, its not normal.  It's against the odds.  Losing Jackson at 21 weeks was against the odds, and he is all I know and understand of pregnancy.  It was not normal.

I just want a normal pregnancy.  It's all I want!  Now, as we fly past the 18 week mark (each Tuesday I have a mini celebration that I've made it another week) I can feel FEAR creeping in ever so slowly.  The baby is only getting bigger.  I'm getting more attached with every kick and bounce.  If I lose him or her, it will only get more painful.  I'm only 3 weeks away from the point in the pregnancy where Jackson died.  Can you believe that?  Already, we are only 3 weeks away from my own personal D Day.

So God is gently reminding me, every minute of every hour of every day, to choose LOVE.  Not FEAR.  He does not want me to have a spirit of fear, but I am so so afraid.  I have very little control over what is happening in my body right now, and that terrifies me.  I have to surrender it, every single minute.  I have to overcome it, every time I go into the bathroom.  The bathroom is one of the scariest places in pregnancy after loss. 

I have to tell myself it's ok to love this baby, it's ok to hope for this baby, its ok to PLAN for this baby.  Isn't that odd?  And a little terrible?  That I have to choose to do that!?

I do...I do love her (or him) and I do hope, and I do plan...but then there is the voice of fear telling me to be careful, to slow down or stop completely.  21 weeks is 3 weeks away.  The anatomy scan, where we could find out the HUNDREDS of things that could be wrong with our baby, is 2 weeks away.  Forget about being excited about finding out the gender.  I am a terrified mess.  How do I silence the knowledge of everything I know that could be wrong?  How do I not cry at each and every appointment?  How will I get through an anatomy scan where the tech will have to go silent to check and measure the baby and not be able to tell me about the problems?  Then, they will have to go get the doctor, possibly the exact same doctor that told me Jackson was gone?  And we will wait...How will I live through that?

Then, I remember...God doesn't give me anything I can't handle.  If I couldn't handle this pregnancy, this soon, God wouldn't have allowed me to be pregnant.  And honestly, if God didn't think I could handle another loss, He wouldn't have allowed it then either.  So, no matter what happens, God already knows that I will get through it.  He has faith in me, so I need to have faith in Him.  But again...God thought I could bear losing Jackson, what if he feels that way about this baby too?  Is it ok to hope?  Is it ok to get attached?  Is it ok to tell God..."Um...please no, I can't handle another loss.  Or even if there is something wrong. I can't get through that this time around.  I know you think I can, but I really can't!!"?

I have to say yes.  It has to be ok to hope and attach and LOVE.  Because this baby, our rainbow baby, she or he deserves to be loved.  They deserve to know and feel LOVE for as long as God allows them to be on this earth.  I have to choose it, every time I think about it, I have to choose LOVE over FEAR.  I have to tell the fear to go to Hell, literally, because that is where it comes from.  My God does not want me to fear.  

When I allow myself to hope and think about this baby, I am so excited.  I am so happy.  I am so honored that God is giving us another chance at this.  I can't wait to hold her (or him) and decorate our nursery and rejoice with our family over our little miracle.  That is what our baby deserves, to live and grow inside a mama who is happy and ready for them.  When I think of it that way, it isn't so hard to choose LOVE.  No matter what...and I know it's a real possibility that something could be wrong, and that something bad may happen, I know all too well...but still our baby deserves LOVE even in the midst of all of that.  So I am choosing LOVE over fear...over and over and over again.  Hourly, daily, whatever it takes.  I am choosing LOVE no matter what, too.  Bound for earth or bound for Heaven, my baby deserves it.  

You hear that, Baby Bland #3?  I love you, a whole lot.  No matter what.  xoxo...

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January 3, 2015

PAL should be labeled "Anxiety Disorder"

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First let me say a huge THANK YOU to everyone's wonderful comments and thoughts and prayers for us after our big announcement on Thursday.  We are so lucky to have a community praying for us and routing for this little baby!

When we first found out we were pregnant, Dave & I both didn't want to tell a single soul besides our closest family.  There was no way we were parading the news around this time, only to lose another baby.  Dave still feels that he could wait until June to tell people, but I don't have that luxury since the belly is already growing.  It's growing faster than last time!  Anyways, as I thought about our fear of telling people, I started feeling like that wasn't the way to go.  Yes, it's hard losing a baby and then telling people I've lost a baby and then FACING people who know I've lost a baby...but it's also healing and helpful too.  We had a lot of support when we lost Jackson, and I'm not sure how we could've gotten through that without it.  As the Christmas holidays got closer, I felt that this week was the time to share with the world.  We've told a handful of people as we became more comfortable, and more confident, and it got easier with each person we shared with.  So I am glad we decided to tell the world, because we have another community lifting us up and praying for a healthy baby.

I didn't expect to be pregnant so soon after losing Jackson.  It took us almost 2 years for him and Lily, so when doc told us that we were safe and ok to try again after 2 months, we figured it would take us a while, maybe even a year.  I can't even explain the pool of emotions that came with that positive pregnancy test back in September, but I can tell you one thing - anxiety moved right into my heart and our home.  

I once read that Pregnancy After Loss (PAL) was like being handed a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.  That is the absolute truth.  While I can get by most days by either be excited about this baby, or just not thinking about her (or him, but we think its a her.  We have a 50/50 chance!) if I am feeling anxious, the doctor appointments are brutal.  Extremely brutal.  With Jackson, every doctor appointment seemed to bring heartache....twin with no heartbeat, Jackson's gestational sac was small, awful exams because of the bleeding, etc.  That was my first experience in the pregnancy world, and the innocence was shattered.  

I'll never be a blissful, naive, excited pregnant mom, and that breaks my heart.  Something has been stolen from me.  Being in the baby loss community, I know almost every single thing that can go wrong in a pregnancy.  I've met moms who have been through hundreds of different problems and lost their babies...cord accidents, preterm labor, Trisomy diagnoses, fatal neural tube diagnoses...if something has killed a baby, I know about it.  I don't regret meeting these moms, or pouring over their stories, because it got me through our loss.  I knew I wasn't alone, even though for a while I felt it because no one around me in my life could really get it unless they and their bodies had been put through it.

The problem is now, that I have to pack up all that knowledge and try to have faith that our baby will make it this time in spite of all the things I know that could go wrong.  I am really struggling, especially at the doc appointments.  Up until yesterday, each appointment went as well as can be expected.  There's only one baby this time, she (or he) looks great so far, heartbeat has always been great.  Yesterday was a little rough for me, because at first the doc couldn't find the heartbeat.  I tried NOT to freak out, because I KNOW my baby is alive, I feel her move around all the time, and we could hear her move on the Doppler, but not hearing the heartbeat right away set off my panic.  What if??  I starting crying.  Finally, she found it, and it was just and as healthy as can be. Then, our doc starting talking about the testing...

I am high risk this time around, not because of our loss since the docs truly believe that was a freak accident, but because I have gestational diabetes.  I had it with Jackson, and after we delivered him my sugars went back to normal, but almost as soon as we were preggo again they creeped back up.  They aren't really high or anything, but in pregnancy the docs are brutal about wanting those sugars to be very low.  Plus, because the docs know how anxious we are, they want to to give us as much peace of mind as they can.  My blood pressure has been a little high each appointment, which we thought was just the anxiety of being at the doctors, but it hasn't gotten any better.  So, they are putting me on a low dose of meds.  I have to get an EKG, and do a urine test, which our doc said yesterday is just routine, just to get my baseline, etc etc...she doesn't think there is anything wrong with me or the baby.

But...I've read stories, I know percentage rates, of what high blood pressure can do to moms and babies.  I know that preterm labor and stillbirth...those percentages go up.  I try not to think about it, try not to let that fear live in me, but I am struggling with it a lot today.  What if??  What if something is wrong?  What if it gets higher?  What if that puts me into labor again?  Will I say goodbye to another baby?

If I focus on the heartbeat I heard yesterday, that helps me relax.  We have a live baby for now.  That heartbeat is all I need to talk myself into calming down.  We have another day with this baby, and I have to try to enjoy each day.  When I feel the baby move, which I have been feeling since 13 weeks (so early!  I think God knew I needed it!) I get so happy and so confident that we have a healthy one here.  Overall, I have been much more confident this time around, and hopefully that means something.  With Jackson, I always felt off.  I don't feel that way this time.  

I know that God doesn't want me to live in fear.  I know that is not Him.  I know He wants me to have faith.  But faith is such a tricky friend in PAL.  I have to have faith, no matter what.  Live baby, or baby in Heaven.   God thought I could handle Jackson's loss, what if He feels that way about this baby too?  Where does faith fall in all of this?  I choose to believe that this IS our Rainbow baby, our healthy baby after a loss.  I choose to believe that God is blessing us after a terrible storm.  I choose to believe that God wants us to take this baby home from the hospital.  I am choosing to have faith, and to fight the fear with all I have.  It's hard, but I'll keep fighting!

For prayer, I know people are asking specifically, here is what we need.  Prayer for a healthy baby - we go for our anatomy scan later in January and will find out any problems there - I don't want there to be a single thing wrong with this baby!  Prayer for a healthy me - that all the tests and extra appointments will just confirm that I am ok, that my body can handle this pregnancy this time and get to the end without any complications.  Prayer for my peace, my family's peace too, that our anxieties and fears won't get to us.  We can't thank you enough for support us and investing in this with us.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, well this village will birth a healthy baby, hopefully!
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January 1, 2015

Happy New Year News

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Happy 2015 everyone!!  Our little family does have some news for you.  We've been waiting and praying for the right time to share and we decided that the first day of this new year would be the perfect time...

Yes!  We are pregnant, again.  17 weeks and 2 days today.  We are excited, we are terrified, we are hopeful, we are praying like crazy that this little baby makes it past 21 weeks...ALL the way to the end.  Please pray for us!

More info to come soon...

Happy New Year - and hopefully this one will be a HAPPY one!
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