Thursday, October 15, 2015

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day 2015

October 15th is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In fact, the entire month of October is a month dedicated to awareness for this issue. I have shared my story in past posts, but today I am honoring my babies on this day.

Prior to the loss of our first child, a son whom we named Jeffrey, I never knew the significance of the month of October. I knew miscarriages happened. Even stillbirths, although those were even further removed from my frame of reference.  In 2001, I was 22 weeks pregnant when I developed severe pre-eclampsia.  My ob/gyn at the time failed to recognize what was going on; something which mystifies me even still.  By the time she did take note, my condition was so severe that I was literally nearly at death's door.  I was transferred to a much larger hospital and my case was handed over to a high-risk ob/gyn.  During an ultrasound one morning shortly after I was transferred, no heartbeat was detected. Over fourteen years later, I can still place myself in that room and in that moment where we learned that our son had passed away. Our son would be stillborn. I was induced and delivered Jeffrey into this world without a breath or a cry late in the evening of August 14, 2001.

We were living in Houston, TX at the time.  We joined a support group called H.A.N.D {Houston's Aid in Neonatal Death} shortly after the loss of Jeffrey.  In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that such a group existed, much less that we would be joining it. While it was very difficult, there was comfort in knowing that we were not alone.  The circumstances of loss varied, but the one thing we all had in common was that we were all brought together through the loss of a precious baby {or babies}.  One of our leaders had a child who would then have been 8 years old and I remember thinking how well they were doing.  At the time, I couldn't comprehend a world 8 years removed from the loss of our precious Jeffrey.  It's been over 14 years for us now. I still don't understand why he was taken from us and how he isn't here with his family. 

It took a long time to get pregnant again.  The longer it took, the more everyone else around me seemed to be having babies.  It's like the new car phenomenon - you get a new car and all of a sudden you see that car everywhere. Well, for me, I lost a baby and all of a sudden everywhere I turned was a pregnant woman.  If you've experienced a loss, perhaps you can relate to how difficult that can be. 

We did get pregnant again in 2003. In April of that year, my mom was visiting.  I was newly pregnant and experiencing a range of emotions including being very nervous.  One day, while we were at a big outlet mall in west Houston, I stopped in the restroom.  I was absolutely shocked to discover I was having some bleeding. I was stricken with fear.  My mouth went dry.  I cried.  I didn't know what was going on.  Mom and I left the mall.  I called Ron.  It wasn't horrible bleeding, but I knew that it shouldn't be happening.  When we got home, I called the doctor's office.  I crawled in bed. And waited. Scared. Terrified. Crying. This could not be happening. Surely what I feared most was not happening.  I agonized at the thoughts of what could be happening.  What probably was happening.  I did not want to lose another child!  Late that evening, the bleeding got worse.  Ron and Mom took me to the ER.  I waited on a stretcher in my little curtained off area.  Scared.  I was just waiting for someone to come and see me.  I had to go to the bathroom.  That's when it happened.  That feeling of having to go to the bathroom was really the actual physical delivery of that tiny precious baby.  The miscarriage.  I had to pass the nurse's station in the ER on my way back to my gurney, so I handed over that precious silent little life.  Then a doctor came to examine me.

I truly wish now that I'd been where I am at today in my walk with Christ while all of this was going on.  How much better my life post-loss could have been.  However, everything happens according to God's plan and I trust now that there was a purpose for everything that happened between then and now. As I write this and reflect on all that has happened in our lives in the last several years, I don't understand it one bit, but I trust in God's plan. I can't see ahead to know what the plan holds for us - what joys or even challenges we have yet to face - but I trust Him. At the time, however, the miscarriage only caused me to distance myself further from Him.  Looking back, I can confidently say that at the time I anguished over how unfair my life was.  How it wasn't fair that everyone else got to have babies.  How it wasn't fair that all kinds of horrible stuff only ever happened to us.  Looking back, I made my life situation very much about me and not about God and what His plan might possibly have been.  I did not put God first.  I blamed God.  I was furious with Him.  I created a litany of horrible things that have happened throughout my entire life to justify why I was right in my thinking at that time.  Everyone else continued to get pregnant and have beautiful and healthy kids.  Not us.  I wanted to give up.  I hated my life.  I hated what we'd been handed.  I hated being 3 years into marriage and nearly having lost my own life twice and having lost two children.  I hated everything.  

I don't know if our second baby was a boy who would wind up looking just like his older brother or if it was a girl.  I regret that our second baby has for years now has been called "the second baby" or "the baby we lost".  I regret that that child has never been given a proper name.  I always had a feeling like we should name the baby a name that would work for either a boy or a girl.  

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  {Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV}

God is merciful and compassionate.  He is a loving God.  I know now that He loved me through all of the trials we went endured at that time.  I know He has loved me through all of the trials I've endured since that time. I know that He loves all of my children with unfailing love - whether they are present on this Earth with me now or with Him in heaven.

In the time that has passed since my losses, I have been blessed with two daughters - Moira in 2004 and Peyton in 2006 {who passed away on May 4, 2013 - 11 days short of her 7th birthday}.  Moira will tell you all about her big brother even though she was born after he passed.  We remember him every August 14th on his birthday.  At Christmas, we always remember our babies in a special flower arrangement.  No matter where we happen to be spending Christmas - at our home or elsewhere - there is always a bouquet of roses on display.  There is no special treatment about the arrangement.  It is there.  We know what it signifies.  It's just there.  The arrangement consists of 6 pink roses - one rose for each month I carried Jeffrey.  There are also yellow roses - one for every Christmas that has passed since he died.  Since 2003, one white rose has been added each year.  That solitary white rose is for our second baby. We have also included additional flowers in the arrangement since Peyton passed away in 2013.  

My heart breaks for each and every one of you who have lost a child to stillbirth, miscarriage, illness, of any other reason.  These children are a part of our families.  A part of us.  They are to be honored by us, particularly at this time during Infant Loss Awareness Month.  




27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.  {1 Samuel 1:27-18, NIV} 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  {Matthew 11:28-30, NIV}

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Homemade Goodness: Banana Nut Bread

Today I am sharing a recipe that I have been making fairly regularly. Banana Bread. This recipe came to me via my mother in law years ago and we absolutely love it. It's so moist and so very delicious! I thought I would share it with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Turning Trials into Success

Two years ago today, while base jumping in Venezuela... oh wait, my story is not that exciting.

Two years ago today, while getting myself up off my couch after having just completed a knitting project, I took a step, rolled my ankle, and went down. Before passing out on my neighbor who was sitting on the opposite couch, I heard a very loud pop. When I came to, I could hear Ron on the phone telling someone all my personal business. I remember thinking, hey, I'm on the floor here - who the heck are you talking to and what business is it of theirs what meds I'm currently taking??

He was on the phone with 911.

One ambulance right, IV pain meds, x-rays, a splint, and some crutches later, I was on my way home with a "bad sprain".  I went home in considerable pain and in disbelief that my ankle was not broken.

September 2013

Less than a month later, my ankle would be refusing to heal, so I had an MRI. "Bad sprain" turned out to be torn tendons and ligaments which would require surgery. A date was set for right around my birthday in November. 

This all took place four months after losing Peyton. So here I am laid up on the pull out sofa in her old room, unable to do much at all. I was in constant pain as I awaited my surgery date. If all of that weren't enough, one day in October, I experienced a different sort of pain - pain in my chest/lungs/back accompanied by an increasingly difficult time simply drawing breath. Having been down this road twice before, I immediately got myself cleaned up and dressed - because that's what you do when you are about to tell your husband to call 911 when you know your life is in imminent danger. Massive life-threatening blood clots in and spanning between both lungs. This wasn't my first rodeo so I knew  what it was. The diagnosis did not surprise me. The fact that I was able to spew out a list of what I would want/not want in the event this turned bad kind of did surprise me. I spent a week or so in the ICU, in a boot, hobbling around in extreme pain from my as yet un-repaired messed up ankle.

December 2013 {post-surgery}

February 2014

March 2014 {enjoying a PT appointment}

April 2014 {feet up in our state room on the Carnival Glory - just a little swollen after a day's activities!}

Fast forward 8 months in time through surgery in December followed by months of physical therapy, I finally landed just where I wanted - at the highest weight ever in my non-pregnant life. I put the brakes on in August 2014 and started to work out with a trainer, sore ankle and all. I decided to "ease" into exercising by going with intense crossfit-style workouts - because why do anything half-way at this point??

Fast forward just over 12 months to today. I've been working out almost every single day (sometimes twice a day) for over 50 days. I've maintained a workout schedule for almost 13 months now. I have dropped 35 pounds (well it was 40, but some of it crept back on me). While I need to get the nutrition side of things back under control, I am - today - the healthiest and fittest ME I have EVER been in my life.

Surely I could have lived the past two years without all of these trials, right? However, given that my base jumping...err...knitting accident had to happen, I think I have turned this whole mess around. The depression that ensued after the loss of our daughter was partially responsible for me becoming the most sedentary person I've ever been. That wasn't good. The ankle injury only compounded that problem. For some reason unknown to all, this injury which was bad but not so bad in the grand scheme of things {per my orthopaedic surgeon} should not have caused me to have a massive pulmonary embolism, threatening my life. But it did. That certainly didn't help my physical status.

There comes a point in time when you have to step on that scale - literally and figuratively - and take stock at what's going on in your life. I was very fortunate to have recognized the trouble I was in with my weight before it went up another 0.2 lbs, which would have meant a very very depressing {for me} change in the numbers of my weight. I stopped in my tracks and realized something had to be done. 

It's been nearly 13 months now and the transformation is remarkable. Except for the usual tiredness of a busy schedule, my sleep has improved to where I am no longer taking medication to help me sleep. I'd been through several meds over the past few years. While I can't say I'm "over" the depression side of things relating to the loss of Peyton, I don't think it's as bad. Yes, there are still bad days, but day to day isn't as bad. At least I don't think so. I have muscle. Who knew?!?!  It's there and all these workouts are bringing them out. The habit was created long ago, but this has created a new lifestyle for me. I am generally happier when I've worked out. My ankle has improved tremendously. It was tough-going for a while there, but as it has healed, it has grown much much stronger as a result of the fitness regimen I have implemented. I don't have 100% range of motion yet, but the pain I would have every day is a thing of the past.

All of this is good.

All of this can be counted as success.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Am I trying my best for where I am at today? Well, that's debatable, but I'm trying! With accountability partners, I can get back on track to where I need to be. The point is that I'm trying. 

It doesn't matter how big or small the thing is. You can turn things around for good!

What can you count as a success today?

Ron, Moira and I in port in Cozumel, Mexico on our cruise
on the Carnival Conquest in April 2015

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thankful Thursday #147


adjective \ˈthaŋk-fəl\
: glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists, etc.
: of, relating to, or expressing thanks

Welcome back for this week's Thankful Thursday post!

A little over a year ago, my daughter Moira began taking guitar lessons from one of the young guys who plays with our worship band at church. {Did I just say "young guys"??  That makes me sound old! Then again, relatively speaking...} Anyway, she absolutely loves Taylor Swift and wanted to play the guitar. I took music lessons when I was a kid and through high school, but it's been a long time since I played anything. I don't believe Ron every played anything at all. So it's not that Moira is coming from a long line of musical geniuses or anything, but it seemed to be of great interest to her, so we signed her up.

Moira's repertoire over the past year has included selections from various popular animated films, most recently "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen - the Demi Lovato version, not the Idina Menzel version. On that we must be clear! I have to say that any 20-something guy who is willing to teach a tween songs from Disney movies is tops in my book. Actually, he's very good with her regardless of song selections. We've tried to suggest that she go for some classic guitar pieces a la Eric Clapton or something from that genre to no avail.

Moira does, however, really enjoy O & O Duo - a guitar and vocal duo {Obadiah and Orian} who performed nightly on our cruise on the Carnival Conquest back in April of this year. They cover a wide variety of songs from Frank Sinatra to The Beatles to Justin Timberlake to Ariana Grande and Magic! I picked up their cd and listen to it frequently. I listen to it so much that when we hear the original songs, Moira will exclaim, "Hey, that's an O & O Duo song!" You should check out their YouTube channel here! In fact, Moira thinks it would be pretty cool to be good enough to get a job on a cruise ship. I would completely support that decision if it meant that she could take me along as her business manager or some such thing, but I digress. I also think it's pretty cool that I have an 11 year old who seems to be inspired by this duo as well. Seriously, you should check them out. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

This week Moira picked up "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. I decided it was time to get a video clip of her playing something.

Maybe O & O Duo can cover this one next??

It just brings me joy to see her practicing hard and to listen to her play. Ron came home in the middle of her practicing and I had him wait at the door before he announced he was home just so he could hear her doing so well. It made us both smile. I'm truly thankful for moments like these.

What are you thankful for this week?

thankful thursday

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thankful Thursday #146


adjective \ˈthaŋk-fəl\
: glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists, etc.
: of, relating to, or expressing thanks

Welcome back for this week's Thankful Thursday post!

We are currently winding up Moira's second week back to school. If you remember from last week, I talked about her switching from a traditional brick and mortar school to an online virtual public school. These past two weeks have been packed. Last week, I reflected on some of the things I am thankful for which had to do with this new learning environment.

This week, I really have to expand on that. Not that there's nothing else to be thankful for, but it seems like school is just about all we've done in the last week. The weeks are very busy. I'm not sure if it's typical, but Moira's spending 6-8 hours a day doing school work. Think about it. How much time would a child spend in a regular school doing actual hands-on learning? She's not being slow with her lessons. It is just taking that long. There is that much work.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. One of my issues with her school last year was that she did not seem to be challenged. She never had homework and it seemed like she was just breezing through the work. She was in the gifted and talented track, so she should have been challenged. Can I just say that you should be careful what you wish for! This online school has more than addressed that issue.

I am grateful this week for what seems to be an exceptionally full curriculum which is providing a more challenging learning environment for my daughter. She is learning so much these last couple of weeks. She is loving the platform on which she is learning. She is enjoying the content. She loves the live lessons where she gets to interact with other students in her classes. Her teachers are wonderful so far. We haven't "met" them all yet, but we're working on it!

I am thankful for an excellent start to this new school year. It's a whole new frontier for us. It's got a learning curve, but we're getting the hang of it. As her learning coach (not teacher, but rather encourager, supporter, cheerleader, and question answerer), there's a learning curve for me as well. It's very different. I am thankful for the facebook group which I joined which is for people in our state who are choosing this as their school for their student. There are seasoned learning coaches as well as newbies like me. I am getting so much support and encouragement from these ladies. I've even been able to answer a question or two myself for someone needing help! I am grateful for this support. It would make everything so much more difficult if this group didn't exist!

Here's to a wonderful school year ahead!

What are you thankful for this week?

thankful thursday

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