Monday, March 29, 2010

How has it been three years?

Three years since the morning I joyfully tiptoed into the bathroom to take the test that would surely change our lives forever.


Precious Owen, my firstborn child, I love you so much.
I think about you and miss you tremendously every day. I wonder about the color of your eyes, the personality you'd have as a two year old- all the things that we've missed out on. The hole you've left is filled with the hope we have at seeing you again and living you with in Glory.
It still aches though...

As we wait these last few weeks before your little sister's birth, I can't help but wonder what you'd be thinking about your sister and how you'd feel about sharing your mommy and daddy with her. I think you two would either get along famously or you would be way too similar and you'd get on each other's last nerve. She's just as rambunctious as you were and she might just be more stubborn than you!

It's hard to believe that you've been a part of our lives for three years. It seems so long ago that we discovered you were growing in my womb.  I can't really remember what life was like before you.
You will always be a part of our lives. Always special, always important, always valued and loved.

You could never be replaced. You will never be forgotten and you will never be less than. 




love you forever,
mommy

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What 40 days look like

in jellybeans




____________________________
Sleeeeeepy. Very sleep tonight. 
After a long day of quilt making and a long night of nesting yesterday, I got up early this morning in order to babysit little Elijah today for my friend, Miranda. I had him from about 7 am until 4:30. It was the longest I've ever kept a baby his age. We had a blast. We ate, napped, cuddled and played all day. Having him for the day made me even more anxious for Hannah Mae to get here already! I'm so excited.

I have to tell you though... I have a lot to learn. Elijah was very patient with me as I muddled through a few feedings and oh my goodness, I have to get faster at changing clothes. He was super patient, but I could see where this may be a source of contention with Hannah Mae if I don't speed things up a bit. 
Don't take this the wrong way, but being almost 8 months pregnant and baby-sitting a 3 month old is not easy. I overestimated my agility and balance for sure. There were times when picking him up off the floor and getting to a standing position felt like the most physical thing I've ever done in my life (and I'm a former gymnast). Having a basketball in your tummy and finding a comfortable place for a baby to snuggle is a sweet challenge indeed. Elijah was wiggly and kicked Hannah a few times, but don't worry Hannah got in a few of her own. ; )


Hannah Mae's blanket is coming along. Do you remember my post last September about how I had started my first quilt last summer? I wrote this about it:

I don't know if this is a summer activity, but I am in the middle of making my first quilt. I'm pretty pumped about it. Admittedly, it's not going to be perfect, but I've had a great time working on it. It's definitely a baby blanket. A baby girl blanket. It's all pink and yellow and green. I know I don't have a girl, or even a baby at home, but I've had such a sweet time praying over the little girl who will one day, Lord willing, use this blanket.

 I remember writing this post and wondering if and when we would use this blanket. Literally, a month after I started working on it, I found out I was pregnant with our baby girl, Hannah Mae. It's a beautiful story that I can't wait to tell her when she's older. 
Oh, and I know... how long does it take to make a quilt? Apparently, nine months. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Help! I'm nesting and I can't stop!

Someone tell me to go to bed. I have been cleaning and laundering for hours and I need to go to bed. I spent all afternoon with a sweet friend who just happens to be 36 weeks pregnant and I think she rubbed off on me. I had no desire to nest and now I'm not sure I know how to stop. It's a quarter to midnight.
I have a long exciting day tomorrow and I need to get some rest. I get to spend all day with this little guy-


Talk about some hands on training. Should be a fun day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Census

We received (as I'm sure most, if not all, of you did) the U.S. Census paperwork in the mail this past week.
And there it was, that familiar pang of grief.

How many in your household? How many living in your place of residence? How many... ?

It should be such an easy question. It should be. But it's not.

The correct answer (for us) is two. But I'm tempted to respond three. I don't even know how many I'd be responding if Owen was alive. Three? Four? Five?

For their purposes, the government doesn't care about or count Hannah Mae.
It feels wrong not answering three. There are three of us living in our house. One of us just happens to be a baby, living in my womb. As I type, she's pushing her sweet little butt out. She is living here with us.

And sweet Owen... our son. The baby boy I carried and lived with for 36 weeks. I can't count him in the census. He's not here. He lives in a vastly different place. Chipmunk and Sunshine too...


Just another sucky reminder.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The best compliment (for some much needed levity)



"I like what you're wearing."
spoken by one of the cutest 4 year olds ever after she takes in my whole outfit, appraising me head to toe. 

Apparently, she's very fashion forward...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It is finally spring

On Thursday, I got the pleasure of meeting another blogging friend in person. Ashley and I have been talking about getting together for some time, but hadn't had a chance until this week. It was a sweet time. I really enjoyed getting to know her better and talking about our precious boys, but I found myself almost falling into the trap that so many well-intentioned people get themselves into. Her sweet boy, Hodges, went to be with Jesus about 6 weeks ago. He joined his big brother, Jacobsen. I just wanted to say something, anything, to comfort her. But I know there are no words that will make that hurt better. I think of Hodges and Jacobsen so often, Ashley.


Hannah Mae has been so bouncy the past few days. She loves to stretch out her arms and legs, making my belly into a strange oblong shape. She has been lying as if in a hammock ever since she was a tiny thing. All her bouncing and stretching makes me wonder if she's feeling just as restless as we are to have her in our arms.

I was talking to Tonya this week about how much longer we have until the amnio (yes, this is a frequent topic of conversation for me) and I told her we have 47 (it's now 45) days left. She laughed and said that it is definitely not her personality to already have a countdown and that it would drive her crazy.
I'm laughing right now thinking about how when Chris and I were engaged we had a tubberware container full of jellybeans that we used to count down the days until our wedding. We started at day 100. Each day, we would both eat a jellybean to signify that we were one day closer to being married and inseparable. I loved watching the jellybeans shrink in number, getting closer and closer to the big day.
I'm thinking that maybe it would be fun to re-create our jellybean game for Hannah Mae.


I have to share this too... I know I don't talk about money much here, well, except for the post a few weeks ago about seminary, but I have to talk about this because I am so encouraged and don't really understand how it's happened. We did our taxes back in January (I know! how uncharacteristic of me), but we had to get all our financial information in order because we applied for Federal Aid for school. I do our taxes around here because honestly when you don't own a home or have any investments or much money, taxes are pretty easy to do. I had figured we would get back a little money, so when our refund check came in the mail this week, I laughed hysterically and almost fell over. My first thought was this is so wrong. This is a mistake.
But it's not; and it's pretty incredible. God does provide.


I took a few days to write this post and in between when I started and now, a few things have happened.
blah.
I'm so ready for May. I had another panic attack last night and just lost it. Eventually, I was able to sleep a little, but it wasn't very restful. My eyes are so red and tired today that it's not even 9pm and I'm ready for bed. I had another NST today and Hannah Mae looks wonderful. She's doing beautifully. I spent some time talking to a nurse who was very real with me, but also very encouraging. We have an excellent plan worked out with L & D for the future and I can't tell you how much it eases my mind. I just hope I don't step another foot on that hall until the day of my induction. I don't want to leave my house for L & D again without coming home with Hannah Mae in my arms.

I feel so much like a broken record, but this is one of the hardest things I've ever done. My nerves literally feel fried. Yet I'm so thankful to be on this stressful subsequent pregnancy road... I'm just done with it and ready to move on to the new worries and struggles of mothering a living child, outside my womb.
My record player is stuck on READY READY READY READY.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Counting backwards to 7

Okay, call me crazy if you want (because I am) but I have been playing this game with Chris where we count backwards how many weeks we have until our scheduled amnio and see what we were doing then. It helps give me some perspective on how long we have to wait.

So, counting backwards 7 weeks... guess what I was doing this night 7 weeks ago?

THIS!

I can't believe it's been 7 weeks since I met Sara over at Tonya's house. What a wonderful night that was, though it was much too short a meeting. Sara, I wish you could come back in 7 weeks...



Thank you all so so much for your encouraging words on my last post. I've been having more frequent 'scary' days lately. Not that anything scary has happened, but I've been having days where the fear just takes over. I hate it.

It sucks.


Anyways.


Today, we had our first NST. Hannah Mae passed and the NP said she looks very healthy. I am so thankful. 
My heart, though, feels heavy tonight as I just can't be content in the moment. I want to enjoy this moment with Hannah Mae. I want to enjoy her precious kicks and nudges. She's had such a bouncy day and it's so funny to think what she must be doing in there to make all that racket. But I find myself lost in worry and fear instead. I'm sorry that I sound like a broken record. It is frustrating even for me to listen to myself at times.

Jennifer commented on the last post with a verse that was so providential. Chris wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it on our dresser a few weeks ago. He's been repeating it to me over and over. I guess I needed to hear it again.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31: 8


Before I go, Chris just told me that I should put up the picture that he took earlier today. He thinks he's so funny.


We went out to get a pizza ($5 pizza night at Papa Johns!) and I, well, first I almost went out of the house with my fuzzy white bedroom slippers on, but noticed before I got outside that I needed shoes. So, I opened the closet door and without turning on the light, I stuck my feet into the first two shoes I could feel. I assumed they were the same pair I had been wearing earlier because they were the closest to get to. Alas, they weren't. Well, one of them was. And the other was a completely different shoe.
And Chris, being the loving husband that he is, wouldn't let me change without laughing hysterically at me and making me pose for a picture. So, here it is. A little levity for you all.

And here is a Hannah Mae belly picture as well. She's getting pretty big.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Writer's block

I'm having a hard time finding anything else to write about beyond the fear. So, I don't write.
But if I did, it would look like this:

Monday- was scared. Prayed a lot.

Tuesday- had a hard day. Lots of anxious feelings... what ifs swirling in my head.

Wednesday- was really scared. Stayed in all day.

Thursday- battled with the 'crazy' thoughts in my head.

Friday- TGIF. and was scared.

Saturday- had a pretty good day actually, busied myself so as to not think about the fear.

Sunday- had a down day, was scared, made myself go to Church.

Monday- Monday again. anxious.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Please consider this

**edited to add: this only took 5 minutes to do**




U S Congress. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. are sponsoring a Bill which if passed will do more for stillbirth prevention than anything every attempted in the past. When passed it will be a gift to every woman in America, those who have lost a baby to stillbirth, and those who have miraculously been spared.

With all the press given over to health care, the jobs bill and the budget debate, it's hard for stillbirth prevention to gain traction, unless we parents push it personally.

Marian Sokol, President of First Candle, is spearheading the effort. We at National Stillbirth Society are helping by getting out the word that every mother, father, grandparent, sister, brother, and friend has to join in. See the email we received from First Candle. It simplifies the task of writing your Senators and Representatives.

Tell them why they should sign on as co-sponsors of the legislation. Here is Marian's email. You're at your computer reading this. Take a few minutes now to let them hear from you. Thank you.

National Stillbirth Society
Richard K. Olsen, Founder
www.stillnomore.org
nss@cox.net

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Today, First Candle is requesting your help.  Just a few minutes of your time can help propel a movement that has the potential to save thousands of babies’ lives for future generations to come.

We are joining our friends at the C. J. Foundation for SIDS to seek co-sponsors for S.1445 and H.R. 3212 - The Stillbirth and SUID Prevention, Education and Awareness Act. This act is sponsored by D-NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., and is quite simply the single most promising piece of legislation crafted in the past decade to promote infant survival and address the sudden unexpected deaths of babies and young children to SIDS, SUID, SUDC and Stillbirth.

An incredible amount of legislative staff time has been put into understanding the issues and defining ways in which we can reduce the risk for future families.

Nothing you can do today will have more meaning and prevent more tragic losses.

Please contact your Congressional leaders in the House and Senate today!

By clicking on the following link provided by the C.J. Foundation for SIDS, it will be easy to type in your zip code and automatically direct your letter to the appropriate congressional offices. You may personalize the letter or send the template as is.

http://m1e.net/c?91973248-NmAVUlQ9/1oA.%405118967-l6oUbJU.Rh7dk

My personal goal is to have a minimum of 83 co-sponsors by Mothers’ Day . . . equivalent to the number of babies who are stillborn plus the number of babies who die of sudden unexpected infant or child death everyday here in the United States.

Won’t you please help??????????   Please do it in honor of the babies and children whom you love in your life.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart!!!

Marian Sokol, PhD
President of First Candle

Weekly Monitoring

Hannah had her first BPP (biophysical profile) today. She passed with flying colors. I didn't really know what to expect when I went in for the test this afternoon, but it was kind of fun. I got to watch her move and yawn and stretch. The ultrasound tech measured her muscle tone, watched her practice breathe, measured her amniotic fluid, noted her movements, and then deemed our little girl healthy! She got an 8/8.
Yay, Hannah Mae!

The tech estimates her weight to be 2 lbs 12 oz. This puts her in the 31st percentile. She's a small baby, but coming from two pretty small parents, I'd say she's doing great! Praise God for Lovenox.
Next week, I go in for my first NST (non-stress test). We are in the final stretch where I will be going in every week for monitoring of some kind. I'll get a NST every week and a BPP with a growth scan every three weeks.

Having monitoring like this available to us is such an incredible relief. I am so thankful. I can almost breathe easy.

This is one of the funniest ultrasound pictures I've seen in a while- it was taken right before she gave us a big yawn.
Sorry the quality's not that great, but we still don't have a scanner, so it's a picture of the ultrasound.
Can you see her nose at the top and her sweet mouth opening in a yawn? I think she was trying to tell us how bored she is in there... I'm ready too, Hannah.


























Kelli-poo, you are such a blessing to my heart. I thank God for our friendship. It's been ten years since I've seen your beautiful smile but I remember it like it was yesterday. Do you remember our Felicity inspired tapes? I still have mine...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A time to prepare?

Itching to nest. Itching to wash her clothes and get things ready... itching to bring her home already!

We have eight more weekends until Lord willing Hannah is home with us and we have so much to do. I just haven't done anything. I have bags and bags and tubs and boxes full of things to put away. I have so much laundry to do. We have rearranging and setting up and cleaning that needs to get done. I have a few classes I want to take at the hospital. I also want to take an official tour of the labor and delivery unit. I can't even get myself to make a 'to-do list'. Everything is just swirling around in my head. Oh, do this. Don't forget to do that.... and then the thoughts of-
Lord, I really hope I get to do the things after the preparing.

I guess that's why I just haven't started the preparing yet. Nesting I guess is what it's called. I want to wake up in eight weeks and walk into the hospital for our induction. I don't want to prepare or nest or clean or do laundry. I just want to bring her home and worry about the rest later.

Yet, there is a small part of me (the type A organizer) who really wants to get elbow deep in baby clothes and just get on it. I want to feel the freedom that I know I have to nest.

I know that I am 100% free to get things ready for Hannah. But when you're been there before... everything was ready for Owen and then he died without needing any of it. My heart holds the memory, the fear of getting everything set up and then having an empty crib, empty womb, empty life after the death.

Sometimes, I get so angry with myself for being so fearful. I hate that I can't be happy-happy-joy-joy pregnant woman who glows with the sweet anticipation and excitement of the life she carries and of the future she sees with her baby.
I'd really like to be naive again.

A big praise, though, is that Chris and I did set up a registry for Hannah Mae. My two good friends from church have been lovingly bugging me about having a shower for Hannah. L. tells me that I wouldn't want Hannah to feel left out since Owen got to have two showers. I don't want to play favorites!
So, guess when the shower is set? Um, that would be the first weekend in May; you know the weekend before our induction... talk about the last possible time, but I think this will really help me in the last few weeks before her birth. I like knowing that we will have plans that weekend and it is something fun to look forward to.


I am finally physically recovered from the stomach flu and feeling like myself again. Emotionally, by God's grace I have pushed those deep dark ugly paralyzing fears away and I guess I just refuse to go there right now. I have had moments of breath-stealing fear since our last visit to L & D, but overall I have been distracting myself with 'stuff'. Oh, actually, the stomach flu was a good week long distraction. Strange blessing, huh?

The Lord has been holding us close these past 28 weeks and 4 days and I am so grateful for his presence. He comforts me with his Word, with the arms of my husband, with the gentle understanding of friends and with the love of his Church. You all are a part of that.
It is amazing to know him and to know him better each day.


I haven't posted a Hannah belly picture in a few weeks, so here goes.
This is 28 weeks. I was still recovering from the flu, so please excuse the lack of makeup and hazy looking eyes.
Oh, and the mess around me is what I'm referring to when I say bags and boxes and tubs full of Hannah 'stuff'.
















The next few pictures we took at my parent's house last weekend. Yes, they live on a lake and yes, I'm quite jealous too. 




This last picture I threw in because I wasn't sure if you could tell just how weird Chris and I really are. But maybe you already got that from our random cat pictures. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

on the mend

I didn't intend to be offline for the past four days, but I've been occupied by a less than pleasant sickness.

But, first off, I wanted to say thank you so much for your love and prayers and support. I am overwhelmed. I still have a lot of catching up to do (google reader, emails), so if you haven't heard from me, I'm sorry and I'm trying...

Hannah Mae continues to be her normal active self, giving us no more scares. She's doing really well. Our impromptu trip to L & D last Thursday did, however, give me more than I bargained for. This is just an assumption (but a good educated guess), but I think I picked up the stomach flu nastiness while there. Talk about the last thing I wanted after having such an emotional two days.

Friday night, Chris and I were so emotionally drained but we knew that we needed to be with 'our people', you know? People who really really get you... they don't have to try to understand because they've lived it.  So, Chris called Josh and we basically invited ourselves over to their house. They were so gracious to us and welcomed us into their home for dinner. We had such a good time. It was so good to sit with Miranda and talk about the fear and worry, the hope and anticipation. Things that most people truly don't grasp the depth of; how overwhelming, all encompassing and paralyzing the fear for your child's life can be when you KNOW exactly what it feels like to live after the death of a child.

I love holding their son, Elijah. He gives me so much hope for Hannah Mae. He's getting so big too! It's hard to believe he's 12 weeks old! I remember his cute little 1 day old face...

Chris and Josh both actually fell asleep on the couch watching the Olympics while Miranda and I chatted in the kitchen. Elijah got up a little before midnight for his bottle and then we decided that it was probably time we stopped imposing on our dear friends. *sigh* It was a blessed night indeed.

After we got home and in bed, I started feeling pretty weird. Kind of cold and sweaty, and a little nauseated. I shook it off, thinking that all the emotional craziness had affected me physically.
But... no. It was the stomach flu. To say the least, it wasn't a very fun weekend. I was so worried about Josh and Miranda, especially little Elijah. I really hated to think that I had made them sick. Praise God, they aren't.

We've talked to Dr. Wonderful a few times since Saturday and he reassured us that while I was really sick, that Hannah was fine and wasn't affected by my nastiness. I worried about her a lot, but I am so thankful to God that she was active and in her normal routine the whole time.

I kept thinking it would just be a 24 hour thing, then I thought, no okay, it will be a 48 hour thing- I can do that, right?    72 hours (more than that now) have passed and I am finally feeling better.

If you can believe it, it's been a good 8 years since I've had the stomach bug/flu and I've realized a few things about myself through these fun times... I can handle pain. I have a high pain tolerance on one condition- just don't let it last longer than 10-12 hours. After 24 hours, my whiny-poor-me switch gets flipped and after 48 hours, I'm a complete mess. Poor Chris. Yes, you should definitely feel sorry for him. In the five years we've been married, this is the sickest I've ever been and he handled everything like a pro. And praise God, he's not gotten sick. After taking care of me, I think he's really thankful to be well (he's also really thankful for apple cider vinegar, which I recommend whole-heartedly for those of you exposed to a stomach bug).


I'm not sure there's much I can say to express my gratitude to you who walk this scary, exciting, anxiety ridden and hope filled road with us. Thank you so much. Does putting it in italics make it more tangible? I hope so.
My friend, L., told me this past week that it feels like I've been pregnant with Hannah Mae FOREVER. It has been a long road, hasn't it?  9 weeks: 63 more days to go. I know you're all ready to see her sweet little face too. I can't wait to share her with you.