Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Allowing hope in

And no, I'm not talking about sweet little Hope Hintz who now has her forever family  : () ... we are super super excited and overjoyed for this precious family.


I am finally allowing hope to take root in my heart. Precious Hannah Mae has made an incredible impact on my cold heart (I guess it wasn't completely cold, but oh my, how it has warmed). I have wanted to hope, wanted to day dream and plan. I have wanted all the sweet feelings and dreams I had with Owen...all the innocent dreams of pregnancy.
It is not the same, but I am feeling moments and hours of pure joy and hope. I haven't had a whole day of it yet, but last Tuesday was pretty close.

I was almost 11 weeks pregnant with her when we bought her first outfit. A little brown bear coat with ears on the hood. We weren't really looking to buy, just looking to look, when we saw it. I wanted it so badly. I wanted everything that it meant in buying that little coat. I wanted the six month baby just sitting up on her own. I wanted the chubby little face poking out of the hood with ears. I wanted it all.




So, we bought it, and allowed ourselves to hope. I still didn't want other people to buy our baby things...it's hard to explain. I was just allowing myself to hope, but wasn't ready for all that meant. Does that even make sense?

But, with Christmas...and just finding out that our baby is a Hannah Mae...well, you can imagine the stockpile this little girl has. I think I am handling it well (well enough). I am taking it one day at a time. One kick, one breath, one moment of trust and hope at a time.


We went shopping yesterday and couldn't help but look at things for our little girl. We've been looking for something that said 'I'm the little sister' or 'I love my big brother' but hadn't been successful until yesterday. We finally decided to go back to the store we bought Owen's crib and dresser and car-seat from. There are so many memories and emotions we have from this particular store, but it turned out to be the place that had what we were looking for. A cute little bib with 'I love my big brother' written across the front.



My heart melted even more.


I am ready to hold this little girl in my arms and smell her sweet baby smell. I want to tell her about her big brother Owen and about Jesus. I want her to understand how much God loves her and know his saving grace. I want to cuddle her to sleep and hear her precious giggle. And I really really want to change some poopy diapers (I know some of you won't understand this, but seriously, I was really looking forward to EVERYTHING about mothering Owen and now Hannah Mae). I want to be sleep deprived from caring for an infant, not from grieving my baby boy in Heaven.

I am trying, really trying, to take this one day at a time. We are now halfway there. 18 weeks 4 days down...18 weeks 3 days to go. It should feel like going downhill, right? I still feel like I'm slowly trudging uphill, but really when I think about it (and try hard for perspective), these past 18 weeks have gone by fairly quickly. I am ecstatic to be halfway to holding her in our arms.

We are ready. 





This Jesus Storybook Bible is the best. I had never heard of it, but Chris's dad got it for Hannah Mae for Christmas. I've read some and I just love it.



I am super excited about reading to little Hannah Mae. Which, by the way, we already love doing.


Bet you can't guess what college team we cheer for....





I promise I'm not a weird cat lady, but this is me and Maggie the (rather large) cat. I practice my baby holding moves on her.
She doesn't mind.





2010 here we come!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

If you guessed...

GIRL   then you're right!

We have a boy and a girl, and two little peanuts called Chipmunk and Sunshine. Praise God.

You all knew that I had a 'feeling' that she's a girl all along, but I was wrong with Owen, so I was trying to keep an open mind (if Chris is reading this then he's calling BS on me).

When we got to the room the ultrasound tech said that since I was 17 weeks 4 days, we couldn't be positive that we'd see the money shot very clearly. At that point I was just so anxious to see all the baby's organs and measurements that I didn't care about the gender. Once we got the doppler on my belly, there she was in all her glory. Even with my untrained eye I could tell she was a girl. The tech asked again if we wanted to know and I said, 'Well, I think I see a girl.' She replied, 'Yes, that is definitely a girl.'
I mean, I won't get graphic, but the difference between boy and girl was pretty obvious (I know, that was a definite 'duh' statement). I remember seeing Owen's little boy parts and thinking...wow, that is a boy!


And for her name...



Hannah Mae


Isn't it beautiful?

Hannah has been our number one choice since I found out I was pregnant. The morning I took my first pregnancy test (at 5:45am), I stayed up and read my Bible for a bit. I knew exactly what I wanted to read. 1 Samuel 1-2
The story of Hannah and Samuel. Hannah prayed for years to conceive a child and in her old age, she was given Samuel. What a beautifully redemptive story of faith, hope and preserving, knowing that God does care about us and love us despite what our circumstances look like. Hannah is Hebrew for God's grace. I've also seen God's favor as the meaning too.
What could be more wonderful?

And now for some pictures!
This was taken in the waiting room, trying not to pass out before the appointment.
I just have to laugh at myself in this picture. Can't you just feel the tension in my face?



Last year was the first year we sent out cards as a family and we loved doing it, so we decided to send out cards again this year with a picture. The brown teddy bear I'm holding is Owen's teddy, the one we received from the hospital on the day I was discharged . We included him in the picture last year and this year he's holding an ultrasound of little sister, Hannah. I'm also wearing a pink scarf in honor of the little girl growing in my womb. The scarf was also the clue in telling family that we found out she's a girl.
Oh, and I know...Maggie the cat does not look happy. Trust me, she looks like this the majority of the time.




I hope everyone had a beautiful day yesterday. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Praise God

He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And right now, He's the same God who saw fit to write Owen's days as 35 weeks 5 days in my womb.
He saw fit for Owen to have complications in my womb, some of which we knew of and others that slipped past medical care/intervention.

He saw fit for this little baby to have all organs and fingers and toes present and accounted for. Perfect and whole.

Praise His Holy Name.


I've never felt so much relief as I did when I watched the ultrasound tech type the words: NO ANOMALIES SEEN.

What beautiful words!!!


And yes, we did see the gender. My babies are not shy. Owen was so proud to show his mommy and daddy that he was a boy and this little baby was only too happy to oblige as well. (If you feel so inclined, I thought it would be fun to have a little poll of your thoughts on this baby's gender. Just look above this post.)


We are overjoyed. I am on cloud nine and I don't think I'll be coming down for quite some time.

Thank you all so so so much for praying. God is so faithful...He is the always the same.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry making

I'm not sure where this expression came from and typing it just now felt like an out of body experience. Merry making...


hm...

Still thinking about that one.


Anyways, last week was hard. This little baby of ours is such a stinker. Just when I was feeling great movements and maybe even seeing a little bit of a pattern with waking and sleeping, yep you guessed it. The baby has flipped and decided to face my back, so now I'm getting like nothing. argh. Well, okay not nothing. I can feel some pokes and kicks every now and again, but it's nerve wracking not to feel constant/consistent movement.

Tuesday night, I had completely convinced myself that the baby was in Heaven with Jesus. I was feeling nothing from the baby and having the experiences I have had, I just went to worst case scenario and believed that we had lost this little one. I was wide awake Wednesday morning until 3am waiting and wishing and begging the baby to move. It was an awful night. My mind kept replaying the morning I knew something was wrong with Owen- so many bad memories.

I woke up early Wednesday and got an appointment with the nurse to hear the heartbeat later that morning. I sat in the waiting room with a hugely pregnant woman, a woman with an infant, and another couple with a 2 year old. Yep. That was fun.
I was called back and the nurse found the heartbeat after a moment. I just was not convinced that it was the baby's and started to cry, but after a minute or two I was finally convinced that it was indeed the baby's heartbeat I was hearing. 154 beautiful beats per minute.
I cried some more, which I think concerned the nurse a little. I'm still not so sure she really understands how difficult this is. When I walked out of the office, I ran into the NP who just looked at me and said, 'Sweetie...I wish there was something I could do to make this easier for you, but I think it's just going to be a hard road.'

*big sigh of relief* Thank you for getting it. 


Yes, this is a hard road, but one I'm so thankful to be on. Before the baby moved positions, when I was feeling a lot of movement, I found myself thinking: This baby may live. This baby may live. This baby may live.

Yes, this baby may live.



Depending on when we decide to get an amnio and then induce, I have roughly 20 weeks left. Tomorrow we go in for our anatomy scan. I am so excited to get another peak at the baby. We haven't seen our sweet little one since the beginning of November. I have to admit that I am unusually (or maybe it's the usual) anxious about seeing all the parts and measurements. I want everything to be healthy and normal. With Owen, our anatomy scan was the first indication that something might be wrong. Of course, we were lulled into complacency because of semi-negligence from the doctors, but I HAVE to give this to the Lord because He is sovereign over everything.

I just want a fast forward button; a scan chapters button so we can be at May already.


Last Wednesday, after the heartbeat check, I went over a friend's house and we had a great time making peppermint bark. Can you say delicious? These two friends are the ones who helped plan and make Owen's birthday a beautiful day. Their little girls are just adorable. I always have a fun time with them, but afterwards, I get this extremely 'let down' feeling when I leave with no little one to get home in time for a nap. I always leave by myself. It's not easy to be constantly reminded of what you don't have, but I don't know where I would be without these two friends. I have to admit that it does make it easier that their two-year-olds are girls. Owen would have been seriously in love with these two beauties.

Friday morning, I baby-sat little G. for a bit.  L. if you're reading this, no we did not watch A Charlie Brown Christmas three times (um, yes we did). I sat on the couch while sweet little G. played on the ottoman and got up and down, up and down while watching the show. Sometimes, I just can't wrap my brain around the fact that Owen would be that big now. If he was living with us, then I would have a little guy running around my house wanting to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas over and over.

(edited to add: I can't believe I forgot to mention that Friday was also our FIVE year wedding anniversary!)
Chris, Papa...I love you more than words can say. You have been the husband that I always dreamed of marrying. Though you're not perfect, you get it right a lot of the time. I can't believe how much we've survived together, or how much more in love I am today than I was five years ago. I'm sorry for how I fall short in our marriage, as your wife, your best friend. Thank you for your gracious and forgiving attitude you always have when I mess up. I love you, Pops.


I guess I officially joined in the commercialization of Christmas this year by going Christmas shopping this weekend with the women-folk in my family. Every year, for four years now, we take a trip to the big city of Atlanta and shop at a HUGE mall, then we spend the night and do it all over again the next day. The mall was packed both days. I haven't been surrounded by that many people in a long time. There were a few sneezers and coughers walking past us, which made me both nervous and angry at the same time. Seriously, people cough into your elbow (or inside your shirt, I don't care) or stay home.

And I got my first dirty look this weekend. What, you ask, was that all about? I guess I'm just used to them, but I tend to get quite a few ugly looks when I'm pregnant. I got so angry when people did it when I was pregnant with Owen, but my perspective is drastically different now.
The joke in my family is that I look 12...I've looked 12 since I was 12. Maybe, I'm starting to look a little bit older as grief and wrinkles take their permanent place in my life, but apparently I still look young. I don't feel young, but I guess I do still look young. Anyways, my sister-in-law was saying something about how excited she is for my belly to get really big, and I responded with, "Get really big, it is big." (I should say that I don't normally talk about my pregnancy out in public or rub my belly like I did with Owen, but it's getting hard to hide my growing belly. I mean, I'm the same size with this baby as I was with Owen in my 26th week.) We were walking down the mall, and this lady (probably my age or a little older) whips her head around to stare at me and my belly, all the while giving me the before mentioned 'dirty look'.
But I understand. I really do. I have given this look many a time, usually completely unaware that I was doing it. My face just naturally aligned itself into an 'ugly face' whenever I saw a pregnant woman. It's hard to say what previous (or current) experiences someone has and you can never judge a book by its cover.


Tonight, Chris and I are going over to Tonya's house for dinner. I am super excited. Chris and Gib haven't had the chance to meet yet, so I'm looking forward to them meeting and getting to talk. Chris has only met one other man who has the same experiences as him, and it is such a special and important thing for him to be able to talk to someone man-to-man about his grief.


We are going in for our scan at 8:30 tomorrow morning, but I don't expect to be able to post until later in the day, probably in the afternoon. I am bouncing in my chair as I speak (type) unable to contain the joy and nervous energy I have at seeing our baby tomorrow. Please pray that the baby cooperates and we can see all his/her precious organs, and that everything is healthy and normal.
Please don't be too disappointed that I won't be able to share the gender news right away. We are going to wait until we see family to tell them the news in person and since some of them read this blog, I can't share it here until after Christmas. I'm serious when I say after Christmas, because I'll probably be on here first thing in the morning on December 26th posting the news and probably the name too.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. We know our Father hears them.


I am praying that everyone is able to enjoy Christ's presence during this special time of year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Heavenly Father,

I admit it, sometimes I listen to what the devil whispers and wonder if maybe he has a point. Sometimes I can't even tell it's him. But, Father, thank you for the Spirit. I repent of my sin.

When I start to listen and doubt and think differently of you than I should, the Spirit and your Word intercede and I see that all he wants me to believe about you is really who he is. He is the coward, the thief, the liar, the one who wants to see me hurt and lost.

You are the only one who can be trusted; when every man be found a liar, you would still be true (Romans 3: 4).
We praise your holy Name, and wait for your return.

Amen.


My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1: 46-47

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Growing and moving

The other night I was lying in bed trying in vain to go back to sleep. Two hours earlier, Chris and I were asleep on the couch; him stretched out across the ottoman in front of us and me curled up on the rest of the couch. It was a weird way to wake up, though not uncommon in our house. I blinked my eyes open and looked around- 11pm, Christmas tree lights still bright, television glowing in the background. I rolled over off the couch and shuffled into the bathroom to take my nightly Lovenox (a.k.a. the 'nox') shot. What a fun way to get ready for bed, huh?

By the time we both got our teeth brushed and various other nightly things done, I wasn't the least bit sleepy. I was lying there, feeling fairly rested, when I felt this little tap...tap-tap in my lower abdomen. I quickly put my hand where the tapping was coming from and felt a small push back. I gasped and elbowed Chris to get his attention. 'Do you want to feel the baby?' I asked excitedly. Well, you can imagine his response. He brought his hand to where mine was lying and I pressed my hand over his. And there it was again. This time the gasp came from him.

With Owen, it took forever for Chris to feel his feet kicking and arms punching. I am truly amazed at the movement from this baby. It's not consistent and there's really no pattern at all, but this baby must be really strong...um, it's that or I've lost all the muscle tone in my stomach. Yesterday afternoon I was fretting over having not really felt the baby move much the past day or so when all of a sudden, there it was again. Tap, tap..tap tap tap.
I hear you, little one. I hear you.
And tonight, I think I literally felt this little one roll over. And just now, as I was typing the above paragraph, I think the baby did some kind of a summersault.

It's not at all how I thought I'd feel. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post lamenting movement and wondering how I'd react when I could feel this baby move.
But I don't feel those things at all. I feel more in love with this baby than ever before. Every day I fall more and more in love with my littlest one. My youngest.


Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the sweetness of a baby moving in my womb. Thank you for the comfort of your Word and of the Spirit. Thank you for every day we spend with this baby.
Thank you for hope.


We are days away from knowing this child's name. Our Father has already written it in His book...I can't wait to find out what it is.

And now for gratuitous belly shots:


 at 13 weeks

and

at 16 weeks


Okay, so I couldn't decide which picture was the most 'awesomest' so you get two. Enjoy.



This is just a fun shot of Chris' new glasses that he got tonight. Yay for glasses that aren't 5 years old!


__________________________________________________________________________________

Oh, and I just have to share the news that two friends, one a MISS and blog buddy, the other a real life friend, both had their precious sub babies recently. Well, Miranda had her baby last Thursday (I have a post coming up on that) and Anna had her baby early this morning. Praise God!! Praise God, both baby boys cried when they were born and are doing wonderfully.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Like a fetter

I didn't really know what a fetter was until I starting reading Pilgrim's Progress with Chris.
A chain. In my mind's eye, it's an unbreakable iron chain. 

After seeing this amazing picture of a fetter in the book, singing Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing had such a different impact on me. I've always loved this particular song and now, I love it all the more.


O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O, take and seal it
seal for Thy courts above.


After that last post, and particularly after the whole of last week, I will always be eternally grateful that I am chained, bound, shackled and stuck to a God whose goodness and love never diminish or fail.

Thank you for your encouraging thoughts and words of love. I know you've been praying for me too. And thank you for praying for sweet K. and her family. Chris said the funeral was beautiful, a wonderful celebration of A.'s life and a reminder that her life continues on in a greater way, in the midst of the never ending Light. Please continue to pray for all those left behind, waiting for that great reunion in the sky.



There is so much I would like to share with you. I spent a lot of time deep in the pit of sadness. And you know, if it had just been a pit of sadness, then I don't think I would have written that last post. It was more than sadness. It was fear. Fear and worry...fear and worry that I dwelled on for days. Fear and worry that intensified anger and doubt. I spent hours questioning God, wrestling with God. Did you know that Israel means 'wrestles with God'?
Interesting, right?

I don't think we're not supposed to wrestle with God or never question Him, but I do think we can be disrespectful and dishonoring to the God who made an everlasting covenant with us, the God wrestlers.


I wish you could have been at my church on Sunday. The sermon was on peace; the peace of God. It was a much needed reminder of what it meant to the world when Jesus was born. It was a fulfillment of the promise that no, God has not forgotten His people and one day, He will return to make all things right.
Things suck right now. Really they do. And they have since sin entered the world, but the promise of a Savior, a King, the One who comes to redeem His nation, has not been forgotten.


I was thoroughly convicted at the end of the sermon when our pastor asked,
'Do you care that Jesus has come and is coming again? Do you embrace the offer of rescue but shun the idea of submission? Perhaps, you simply don't care that Jesus is King. Why? Because it goes back to why we need a King at all. The King is the one who brings peace, so the Kingship is tied to your experience of peace. If you've already created a measure of peace in your lives, why do you need a King?
You may believe that life is manageable. And up to this point, maybe it is. The problems aren't too big, the occasional rewards or benefits you receive are enough to keep you going. In effect, you've become your own king, you've created your own kingdom where your own definition of peace is at work in that kingdom.
If that's you, then the kingdom you've created- that's an illusion. Your kingdom will eventually collapse. Our brokenness runs much too deep. The best spouse, the best family, the best children, the best vacation, the best friends, the best job won't be sufficient. It wasn't sufficient in the Garden...it isn't sufficient now; particularly in the midst of horrible brokenness.
Even if those things are strong and good in your life, we're not free to create and live within our own personal vision of peace. That is what Adam and Eve did; that was the ultimate act of rebellion...rebellion is exchanging God's vision of peace for your own. The question is- are you in this kind of passive aggressive mode of rebellion against God?

...Are you angry with God right now? Are you angry at what God is doing in your life?...The source your anger towards one another is not the other person, the source of that anger, the source of your inability to forgive or to be kind, is because you're angry at God and your anger at God is going to destroy those around you. God is calling us to repent through this story (Matthew 1: 18- Matthew 2:12)
...submit yourself to King Jesus and the peace that He offers, confess your sin of anger, forgive, give up wanting to be right, repent of your lack of charity towards others, and offer the peace of Jesus (the same peace that He's offered to you) to one another.
Jesus is the King who offers us peace and He invites all people to worship and experience the peace that He brings. Jesus is for anyone who sees the brokenness of this world, who sees the brokenness in their own lives, that sin and rebellion at a very deep level, and have come to the conclusion that they in their own strength can do nothing about it.
Thirty years after the visit of the wise men, Jesus makes this offer to all who seek his presence... 'Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light' (Matthew 11: 28-30).
There will come a time when everything in this world will be as it should be. That's why we're celebrating Advent, we're waiting for the arrival or the coming of Jesus again. And when He comes again, it will not be in weakness and suffering, it will be in power and glory and His peace will completely recreate our lives in this world (see this in Revelation 21).'


Okay, so when I started transcribing this sermon, I didn't expect to write so much, but seriously, it's a great sermon. If you want to hear the whole thing, just email me (ebe.mnly@gmail.com) and I'll send you a link so you can listen to it on iTunes.


The former things will pass away. No more death. No more tears. Complete peace.


I have to admit that the anger I struggle with is something I don't think I can be 'victorious' over in this life. It's a constant struggle to submit to God's will and repent of my sin. I know that the anger is wrong and I know that His will is perfect and good, but in this fallen world there is so much to point at and say, 'God, where are you? Are you really good? Do you really care?' There is so much temptation to sin. Our flesh constantly battles with the Spirit in us...
But He's here and He's good and He loves us.

Confess, repent, believe and move forward. We are going somewhere. Somewhere good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Demoralized

I guess it really started after I told the rest of my family that I'm pregnant. We decided to wait until Thanksgiving to tell the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (just on my side). I think it was my mom's idea. I remember thinking, 'She wants me to get past the first trimester before telling anyone....' 
I didn't realize the pressure I would feel after telling them all. Especially in regards to my mom's mother. Her third child, a son, died a few hours after being born with underdeveloped lungs. Not many people in my family know I lost our third child. We just didn't tell anyone. I can't face telling my family I've lost another child. I can't watch my grandmother grieve another baby. It's just not fair...

I know. I know. I haven't lost this child. This child isn't dead.

But right now, that's all I feel. I feel demoralized and angry. I can't imagine looking into my family's eyes again...seeing the hurt, confusion, and questions. Why does this keep happening? Why can't my body give my children life? Isn't that one of its main purposes? I already feel like my body is a colossal failure...what will happen if this child dies too?

Just as I wrote that last sentence, I think I felt a tiny kick...I've been feeling some things that feel just like a baby moving, but it's easy not to let myself hope. 


Yesterday, Chris called home to tell me that a lady he works with- her daughter died over Thanksgiving weekend. I burst into tears. I don't really know her all that well, but Chris and K. have a special relationship and she has always been so kind and understanding about Owen. She made an ornament for us last year that has Owen's name on it. 
Her youngest child, a son, died a few years ago in a car accident. And now, her only living child, her daughter, has gone home too. 
I just don't understand it. I'm so angry and sad and confused and hurt for her and her husband. 

I got off the phone and just started yelling at God. I don't understand him. And right now, I don't know if I like him very much. Immediately I felt awful for saying this, but if I'm not free to say it, then Jesus isn't who he says he is. 

Why, God, why

One child. One headstone. One funeral. One missing chair at the table. Why now two? 
It's not fair. It's just not fair. 


I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and stayed awake for awhile. I thought, if I'm awake, then she's awake. What can she be feeling? How will she cope with the grief of two children? The funeral is this afternoon. I was going to go, but I know that if I did, I would fall apart. For her, her husband, her daughter's husband and son, for the ones left behind...for me. I didn't want to take anything away from her family. I didn't want to become the center of attention as my sobs might become too loud. I haven't been to a funeral since Owen's funeral 2 years ago. 


This morning I woke up angry. Hostile. I felt my stomach and wondered why it feels flatter than it has in the past few weeks. Maybe this child has died too. 
Why hope, why desire anything when it seems like he doesn't care about my desires or hopes at all? 

I know I probably shouldn't publish this post...I know a lot of you think I am strong and my faith is so great.
I am not. It is not.
I am struggling. I feel like I've been wrestling with God for the past few days and today, I just feel like giving up. 

Okay, God, if you feel you must take this child home too, then do it.

I'm tried of trying to convince you to let me raise this child. I'm tried of begging for this child to live. I can't change what you've ordained and I can't understand any of it. 



If you can pray, please pray for K. and her family. The funeral is in one hour. Another funeral. Another saying goodbye.