Saturday, April 30, 2011


Hannah Mae's first birthday was a sweet day filled with squeals, a pink tutu, new toys including a drum and block set, a yummy crumbly vegan cupcake, a meltdown, lots of April showers, a lunch date at Chick-fil-a complete with a little stuffed cow and a red balloon, two exhausted and thrilled parents and a very happy one year old.

We had a great day celebrating Hannah's birthday. She was thrilled with her new toys, especially the red balloon the sweet folks at Chick-fil-a gave her (it never hurts to ask). The pink paper flowers Chris and I made were a big hit too. She loved them and squealed with all her one year old might when I took them away because she was destroying them with intense love.

I had a great time making her cupcakes and an even better time watching her trying to decide whether or not she was going to eat them. The cupcakes ended up being some of the best cupcakes I've ever had, and Chris (unbelievably) agreed. I didn't even miss the eggs or real milk. Almond milk and apple cider vinegar, olive oil (substituted for the pricey coconut oil the recipe called for), vanilla and a couple of dashes of cinnamon- it was delicious!

Hannah loved the way it tasted, but was not a fan of the sticky crumbly texture. She had a blast picking it up, stuffing it in her mouth and rolling it around and then spitting it back out. Over and over again. Her daddy threatened to eat her cupcake if she wasn't going to eat it, but thankfully he refrained. We had already had one meltdown, and I wasn't looking forward to another one!

In true one year old fashion, our little girl had a sad little meltdown about getting her diaper changed before her nap, but after a good rest she was ready to open her presents and forgot all about mean mommy changing her diaper.

Watching Hannah Mae crawl from toy to toy, we laughed at the perplexed faces she made at all the new things to touch and see. She didn't quite know what to do with herself or the new things scattered across the floor.

We started the day singing Happy Birthday to our little girl and ended in the same fashion. After nursing and putting her down, I looked at Chris and said, "I can't believe she's one. I haven't even really let myself really think about it, but she's one year old!!"

Where did this year go? It was the shortest, longest year of our lives.

We are overwhelmed with the love of the past year and so thankful for the joy in our hearts. And so thankful for the faithfulness and love of our God.

*We had a birthday party for Hannah Mae yesterday afternoon, which was so much fun. I am so happy and so thankful to the Lord for helping me do all the 'little' things I wanted to do. I got really overwhelmed one night and wasn't sure if I was going to be able do it. After all I had never thrown a birthday party quite like this one- one where my baby was here to celebrate and enjoy it too. I know it may seem like not such a big deal, but it was a huge deal for us and I'm so grateful that we had the opportunity to have a party for our daughter. And watch her enjoy it too.
I'll post pictures soon. It was a blast.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On the eve of her birthday, I will remember

Sitting in my favorite chair thinking back on Hannah Mae's first year in our arms, I know I will always remember her soft baby cheeks against my face as we danced in the living room. I will remember her little fingers pulling my hair as she stuffs a fist full in her mouth and giggles.

I will remember the way her head rests on my chest when she gets shy near other people. I will remember the high pitched coos and squeals of delight that come out when she sees her favorite toys. I will remember how tiny she was the day we brought her home from the hospital and how unprepared I felt to care for such a precious baby. I had tried to imagine what it would be like to bring our little girl home, but I just couldn't... I had no idea how incredible it would really be.

I will remember the cuddles of a four pound newborn who slept best on my chest, nuzzled up under my chin. I will remember the first time she smiled and the first little baby chuckles in her sleep. I will remember how her eyes light up when she sees me and how she always signs milk at me with a big smile on her face. I will remember the way she waves at anyone and everyone. If you're not looking, she will continue waving at you until you do look, grunting for acknowledgment. I will remember her concerned a-goos when I run the food processor. She has always been an inquisitive and thoughtful soul.

I will remember her happy yells of dadadada when she hears the door open and knows her daddy is home. I will remember her sleepy content sighs as I lay her down in her crib for a nap and she rolls over to her tummy to snuggle her favorite monkey, Zeke. I will remember how she constantly waved her arms around when she was laid on her back to play as a newborn.

I will remember how often I looked down at her face when she was nursing and it was like looking at a picture I have in my head of Owen on the day he was born. They have such sweet resemblances to each other and though sometimes it hurts to see those similarities, I am so thankful they look so much alike and I am so thankful for them both.

When I think about the past year, I see the faithfulness of a God who loves me more than I deserve. I can still remember how inept I felt that first diaper change at home. And how afraid I still was after 35 weeks of a terrifying pregnancy. I thought I would leave so many fears at the hospital, but I brought them home with us and have been struggling with them ever since. God has been so faithful and loving to us, despite how I keep dragging out old fears and how I doubt his love most every day.

Years from now when Hannah Mae is a grown woman and I am an old woman, I know that when I think back on Hannah Mae's first year in our arms, I will remember the sweet faithfulness of our Father in Heaven.

Monday, April 25, 2011

7 things

1.  I've been on a social media vacation for the past 10 days. It was a good/bad experience. Honestly, I didn't miss it one bit until I realized I had over 150 new emails, 250 blog posts waiting in my reader and about 1,000 facebook status updates to catch up on. There's something to be said about checking in once a day and not letting it all pile up. I am overwhelmed by the thought of getting caught up.

2. St. Louis was hit by some major tornadoes. We were out of state at the time, but saw all the devastation on the news. I quickly picked up the phone to call our neighbor to make sure that everyone was okay. Our flight home last night brought us into an airport and a city with a lot of clean up to do. I don't think anyone was critically injured and for that, we are very thankful.

3. I think my plants really missed me while I was gone. They are droopy and sad looking at the moment.

4. This time last year I was checking in at labor and delivery getting a NST, trying really hard to stay calm but failing miserably. We still thought we would be waiting at least a week until we would get to hold Hannah Mae in our arms. I remember sleeping about 4 hours this night one year ago. I got up early (around 4:30am), made breakfast and sat at the kitchen table writing thank you notes.

5. I wish Chris didn't have to work so hard this week. I am wading through memories (scary and sappy) and struggling to get back in the swing of 'home' all the while wanting to get Hannah's birthday week celebration in gear. There is so much to celebrate!

6. Memories of April last year.... looking at these pictures brings back the extreme emotions, varying from butterflies of excitement and anxiety, a lot of fear and so much happy anticipation. I am struck by how often my hands are cradling sweet Hannah in my belly. I look very protective with my hands constantly around my belly. I felt very protective as well. I remember obsessively checking her movement with my hands, always looking for the next kick or roll. If I could have kept her safe with my hands, I would have. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to do that.

7. One last time, can you believe we've had Hannah Mae in our arms for almost an entire year?!! Just like when I was carrying her in my womb, my hands were never far from her... my arms have not been without her for very long since the day she was born. I am so thankful for her, for her life and for the year we've been given. Thank you, Father.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Birth part 2

This post has been on my mind lately though it's been over a year and a half since I wrote it.

After sitting through (well, almost all the way through) the sermon, I still had no idea what our pastor was trying to say and when I wrote that post, my stomach was still in knots. The following fall, Chris led a small group and chose 1 Peter as the book we would delve into and discuss. Guess what is in this particular book?
Yes, birth. Again.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1: 3-5

I asked Chris what passage our pastor used for his sermon, and neither of us can remember, but it may very well be that he used this particular passage too. Chris said he turned 'off' just like I did when the word stillbirth came our of our pastor's mouth.

But I can say with great certainty that I now understand what our pastor was trying to say (and maybe everyone else in the church got the meaning right away, but for Chris and I, we had such a strong emotional and physical reaction to the symbolism that it was extremely hard to listen).

It clicked that Wednesday night at small group. I remember the feeling I had when I finally understood the infamous birth sermon. It was such sweet relief.

Chris asked us why it's so important to be born again and why that language is being used in 1 Peter. Now, I'm not usually a big talker during bible study discussions, believe it or not. I'm not a big talker in general, unless it's one on one or if I'm really comfortable with the group of people. But I couldn't not say anything. I don't remember the exact words I used, but I remember recounting how I felt when our pastor did the sermon on birth and stillbirth. Then the tears welled up in my eyes and I said (not verbatim) it's so important because though we don't see it or realize it, we're all stillborn. Spiritually speaking, we have been born into death and we need a re-birth, a live birth into life.

Stillbirth, in a spiritual sense, is just as heartbreaking (even more so) as the stillbirth we've experienced with our Owen. Birth into death is not how it's supposed to be. We were made to live, to be born living and breathing. Faith in Jesus gives us the spiritual re-birth that we all desperately need. And when we are born again, living and breathing, we have the great living hope of Jesus who was resurrected from the dead. God gives us salvation from this broken world through him.

We have such great hope.

And even stillbirth, a disgusting and vile abomination, can be used to point us to that great hope. Months and months later, I'm thankful to the Lord for the infamous sermon that caused so much hurt and sadness. I'm thankful for redemption.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Daydreams and our reality

The sun is shining more these days and the air coming through our open windows is warmer. We've been spending our afternoons playing outside now that spring is here. Hannah Mae loves to swing. Her face lights up, the wind blowing the hat off her head as she glides back and forth. She laughs as she swings. Today, I put her on my lap and we swung together. I held her close to my chest as she bounced up and down in joy. It was wonderful.

The grass is coming in green around the playground now and I have a memory of dancing with my little boy in the warm spring sunshine. We twirled and laughed together. I inhaled his sweet little boy smell as I held him close to my chest. Dancing is one of our favorite things to do.

But this memory is not a memory, it's only a daydream. A daydream I had two years ago. Two years ago, when I had little hope of having another child. When it was easy to get lost in daydreams and rememberings; daydreams that were full of longing and sadness. In reality, I remember sitting on the cool grass trying to read, but instead getting lost in daydreams of a tow headed toddler who wanted to dance.

Two years later, I dance every chance I get. Hannah lifts up her arms to me and we twirl and bounce and frolic together. When the music starts playing, Hannah grins from ear to ear and begins to bounce. If she could talk, I'm sure she would say, 'Dance, momma! Dance!' And we do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Psalm 131

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
  my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things
  too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
  like a weaned child with its mother;
  like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD
  from this time forth and forevermore.

Thankful for perspective today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April thoughts

This first day of April four years ago I was pregnant with Owen. I had only known for a few days and no one else knew except us. I was blissfully ignorant of all that can happen during pregnancy, and although I was freaking out, I was so excited too. Three years ago, I was pregnant again with baby chipmunk. It was a rocky pregnancy from the beginning and this day, three years ago, was most likely fraught with anxiety and fear. One year ago, I was entering my last month of pregnancy with little Hannah Mae. This day, one year ago, was also full of anxiety and fear, but we were so close- closer than we knew. This month will always bring pregnancy to my mind. I was pregnant with all but one of my babies in it.

April is Hannah's birthday month. It wasn't what we expected, but when will I learn that such is life?
April 27 will be here before we know it and I cannot believe our little 4 lb 6 oz baby is going to be a year old soon. She's still our little peanut, weighing about 19 lbs and hanging out in the 3-5 % for height. She can stand unsupported for about 3 seconds and is walking around the apartment like a pro- using us as balance, of course. She doesn't need any help supporting her weight, it's the balancing part that gets her. I love watching her eyes light up when she takes those cute little baby steps. It's not pride I feel, but happiness for her. I'm excited for her to grow up, learning more about herself, the world around her and the Lord. Of course, my selfish mommy heart misses the newborn cuddles and coos, and a part of me wishes she would stay little forever and not grow up so fast. But those are my issues, not hers and I pray she never feels stunted because of them.

Yesterday, at Trader Joe's, a few women in the produce section were ooing and awing over Hannah when the dreaded series of questions and that conversation reared its ugly head. A lady asked if she could give Hannah a cookie, which was nice of her but we haven't given Hannah anything but fruits and veggies just yet. We told her no thank you and laughed that Hannah doesn't know what a cookie is yet. The lady responded that she must be our first because once you have more, those kinds of rules go out the window.


The produce section was full of people, not to mention the three women who were still ooing and awing over Hannah. I wished it could have gone differently, but I didn't say anything to correct her. I cringed and said, yeah there are no big brothers or sisters at home to tempt her with treats. I turned quickly and looked at Chris whose crestfallen expression mirrored my own. I hate this. 

I'm thankful for each one of my babies. And I'm thankful for the time (albeit way too short in my opinion) I had with each of them. 

April will always be a month in which I look tenderly back at my pregnant days. I don't know if I will have any more of them in the future. I certainly didn't know what life would be like four years after my first positive pregnancy test and it has not been what we expected. Such is life?