Friday, November 22, 2013

20 Weeks

I've been filled with a quiet excitement.  I've wanted to shout aloud for all to hear: I'm pregnant!!  While this is true, there has also been a part of me that has wanted to harbor my gift, to keep it safe and quietly protected. Excitement and joy have filled my spirit, but everything about the last 4-5 months has been a time of sobriety. The new, amazing, I'm-pregnant bliss that I had with Scout, and with Grace, has been tempered greatly, and I've just not experienced that mountaintop, everything's-going-to-be-amazingly-wonderful attitude.  It's as though my innocence has simply been lost in that regard.  This tempering process, while very good and necessary, has also seemingly manifested little holes through which doubts and fears have entered.  Fear has been that unwelcome solicitor who simply refuses to leave my doorstep, providing me with an onslaught of extremely convincing arguments as to why I should buy in, and ultimately squelch any excitement that bubbles within.

I am 20 weeks and 5 days pregnant...not that I'm counting.  I am two days past where I was when we found out that we lost Grace.  Every step of this journey has been a cycle of tears, joy,worry, anxiety, tears, joy, worry, anxiety. Each appointment and ultrasound I've had has involved insomnia, night-time imaginings of an outcome that will surely result in pain and heartache, insanely heightened nerves accompanied by a crazy-fast heart beat that I'm convinced is audible to an outsider, a steady stream of prayers and pleas that offer rest and a soothing to my soul, followed by the moment-of-truth breath holding while the doppler searches for my baby's heartbeat...and ultimately, a sigh of relief and praise to my God that He is sustaining the little life that is growing within me.  He is knitting this baby together perfectly; this baby is healthy; this baby is His me, and I'm overcome with gratitude.

Today was the first appointment I've had where I've not gone through my fear cycle.  I didn't feel nervous or anxious.  I knew at the start of this pregnancy that the first 20 weeks would be challenging, which it absolutely was.  I also know, and have known, that I'm not guaranteed to hold this sweet baby, even by making it past this 20 week mark.  But making it to 20 weeks was such a huge emotional and mental milestone that I find myself strangely content, relieved, and at peace.  God has been so very faithful to calm my fears over, and over, and over.  And I somehow feel like He's given me the okay to relax, and to fully enjoy this little baby.  I feel her gentle movements throughout the day, and have been for a couple weeks now, which almost brings tears to my eyes each time. It feels like her movements are God's whisper to savor this time, to allow myself to enjoy her, and to really invest in her.

Thank you to our dear family and friends who have been so loving, supportive, and prayerful.  Thank you for crying out along with us for God's grace, protection, and sufficient love to surround our family. We have felt it all, and we are so incredibly grateful.  Please continue praying for our family, and for this baby girl.  We hope with all hopes that we get to hold her in our arms in early April.

With love,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer's Bounty

By no means are we done, because, let's be honest: we never will deem it all complete.   We are, however, loving the slow evolution of our yard.  This has been the best year yet.  
The dahlias have, as always, been a joy, promising fresh bouquets by the day.  Our veggie and fruit yield has been...well...overwhelming.  Cucumbers and tomatoes, anyone?  I am sort of slacking, actually, in the canning/preserving department, and think it's high time to get my booty in gear. Thank goodness for tomorrows.
The mammoth sunflowers were some of our favorite early arrivals, which are now sort of sad, and incredibly weighed down.  Seriously, those things are insane in the membrane.  I'm convinced a single head weighs at least 15 pounds.

And one of our new favorite discoveries has been the "Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate"annual that we started from seed this spring.  The pink clusters were such a fun surprise!

Summer is wrapping up.  In fact, as I type, the wind is howling, and rain is threatening.  I know it has been a good summer when I actually welcome the heat's departure.  Thank you, summer, for your early arrival, your hot, hot days (well, I guess I could've done with a few less of those days where the inside of our house was over 90 degrees), and the blooms that brought me much joy these past several months.

Like I said, we are nowhere near "done."  But, people, we are getting somewhere!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The day before...

Today is the day I would have been tapping my foot, wondering when you were going to make your appearance, wondering why you insisted upon being late to the party like your sister.  Couldn't you come today, like you were supposed to?  Today is the day I hoped for, longed for, planned for.

I've reserved this date for you.

Today is a day I cry.

Today is a day I miss you.

Though we have already said goodbye, I say goodbye again.

Though it is time to leave this now-familiar place of sorrow, I will never depart from loving you, and missing you.

Sweet baby Grace...your mama loves you.


Thank you, my God, for your faithfulness.  Even in the darkest of places, there your love persists. Thank you for doing a new thing, for making a way...

"See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the
desert and streams in the wasteland."
--Isaiah 43:19

Thursday, June 27, 2013

TWO!  Scout and Hadley just celebrated their 2nd birthday, and were pretty happy about it.  Though they are still a bit unsure of how to answer the question, "How old are you?"  They waffle between answering, "Almost two" and "Almost two today." Hadley's got her finger counting worked out pretty well, which is something Scouty's still trying to wrap her brain around.  Scout still talks about her "Happy Birthday Party", and her favorite song at this point is "Happy Birthday."  We sing it most often to Pinkalicious these days, and second most often to baby Wy-Wy, her newest cousin, but we also manage to sing it to everyone in the family.  A lot.  Like, really. 

To say that I have a deep love for these two little peanuts is a severe understatement.  What were our lives like before they entered?  They fill our lives with immense joy...and entertainment.  While there are marked personality differences between Scout and Hads, their love and excitement for one another is the same, and incredibly heart-melting.  They are such sweet friends.

My heart continues to ache over the loss of our baby, but having my first precious baby to hold in my arms is the sweetest reward I could ask for.  I am filled with joy celebrating her beautiful and radiant life.

Life marches on... somehow.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

5th Anniversary

Brett and I celebrated our 5th anniversary last weekend.  It was our second celebration done totally and completely right...stuffing our faces for an entire weekend.  I'm not sure we can go any other way now that we have tasted the forbidden fruit.  And DANG does it taste gee-double-oh-dee!  Last year we gallivanted about the City of Roses, where it all began.  This year we decided to try San Francisco on for size.  We left Scout with Nana and Papa on Thursday, drove to SF, and stayed there for three whole nights.  It was pretty fabulous.  Yes, we did miss Scout, and we did talk about her, but it was so fun being together, just the two of us.  We stayed out past 7 pm (gasp!), and we didn't worry about getting back for nap time, though there were certainly times when I could've really gone for a nap.  Eating

We dropped our car off on Thursday, upon our arrival, and didn't drive it again until we left on Sunday morning.  We had such a lovely time aimlessly wandering about the city by foot.  We are no strangers to walking, and walking, and walking, as we did all the time while we lived in Portland.  I discovered pretty quickly that my feet are no longer accustomed to this.  Gone are the days of cruising around for miles and miles in my Chucks.  Long gone.  But it took a day to remember this.  Day one I was in my normal mint green boat shoes.  Day two, which was our actual anniversary, in an attempt to salvage my pinky toes, I definitely looked like Jerry Seinfeld by rocking my skinnies and tennis shoes.  H-O-T.  Comfort over cuteness is my newfound motto.  Perhaps it is a nod to my thirties?  Not sure. 

We spent a lot of time biking, too, once we got over our intimidation of the big city thing.  We are totally used to urban biking, Portland-style.  But SF is a step up from that, especially with the addition of all the blasted hills.  BUT we got the vote of confidence from our friends who live there full-time (pictured below), and decided to give it a go.  That was totally the way to do it.  We went joyriding along the Wiggle, through Golden Gate Park, along the Presidio to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, made special trips to Bi-Rite Creamery--twice--and to Tartine--four times (shhhh), and, and, and.  We left each morning by 8 am, and didn't return until at least 10 pm.  It ruled.

Everywhere we ate was really good.  Standouts are Bi-Rite and Tartine (dessert/pastry places listed first, naturally) and Pizzeria Delfina (holy-housemade-sausage-amazingness).  

We ate at Mama's, which is a breakfast place that has a crazy-a$$ line, especially on weekends.  Yes, we were there on a Saturday.  With everyone and their mother...or their mama.  We had nothing but time on our hands, though, so we didn't mind waiting almost an hour (uh, yeah, we were there 30 min before it opened!!  Notice the line behind B.  There were at least 20 people ahead of us).  It was delicious.  I don't know that I'd wait an hour again, but it was good.  

I wished we hadn't gorged ourselves so hardcore at Mama's upon our arrival at the Farmer's Market, however.  The food there looked insane in the membrane.  Brett and I both found ourselves staring at plates of food that passed with our mouths open.  Even though we had JUST eaten like 5,000 calories worth of hollandaise sauce and Italian meats.  We did not--could not--eat anything else, but we wished we could have.  Next time.

We had a surprise meet-up with our dear friends Sam and Sharon, which was, as always, wonderful.

  We took a final selfie, which sort of documents the amazing sunny weather we had the whole time.

We got into a semi-heated argument (it's not all rainbows and butterflies, people), AND ended our trip on a lovely note.  What a wonderful, challenging, joyous, hilarious, profoundly beautiful five years it has been.   Thanks, San Francisco, for celebrating with us, and for treating us well.  We may not be fat, but we are happy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Free and Ready Favor

"That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.  To Him.  To the God whom we endlessly crave."
One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

I've struggled to find goodness; in fact, there are days when none can be found.  I've sought to find color amidst the grayness of my sorrow, only to resolve that somedays color simply does not exist.  My heart has heaved and hurt.  The pressure of my sorrow has ached so deeply that pieces of my heart seem to have crumbled into a mess in the hollow of my soul.  And there I have sat with the crumblings, sorting through it all, sifting it numbly between my fingers.

Grace means favor--a free and ready favor.  I was given grace. And Grace.  And yet, at times I have felt that no favor has been extended to me, but rather a sacrifice has been required.   While sacrifice and favor do not seem the most inherently companionable, being that a sacrifice is a surrendering of something or someone, a forfeiture, a relinquishment, and favor is a kindness performed or a privilege--a token of love; somehow they have proven a compatible tag-team.

First came the sorrow, the sadness, the sacrifice.

Then came the grace, my Grace, my free and ready favor.

Through Grace, and because of her my soul has been torn open.  I have wanted to stitch it up tightly, bandage it and protect it.  But I haven't known how--divinity, perhaps.  Instead I have found myself sorting and sifting, overlooking the dark and vast valley of sadness and sorrow, tempted to dive in headfirst.  But it is through my sorrow, through the un-bandaged, un-repaired tear in my soul that I've instead caught blinding glimpses of that heart-aching beauty beyond.  I am led to my God, to His glory, His grace..His Grace.

God's free and ready favor to love and restore has been the result of the relinquishment, the forfeiture.  He offers the promise of life beyond, where within lies color, life, and vibrance in abundance.  Promise.  Hope.  Beauty.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saying Something Even When There's Nothing to Say

"...You need everyone you know after a disaster, because there is not one right response.  It's what paralyzes people around the grief-stricken, of course, the idea that there are right things to say and wrong things and it's better to say nothing than something clumsy."
--An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Perhaps you are not aware of the pain associated with the loss of a child.  Perhaps you've never before known anyone to miscarry, or if you have, you haven't deemed it a big deal.  Let me tell you: it is a big deal.  It is a very big deal.  A beloved friend of mine miscarried toward the end of my pregnancy with Scout, and reflecting on my response, I am filled with regret.  Being on this side of a miscarriage I now see that I just did not get it.  I was very sad for her, but truth be told, I didn't know what to do.  I didn't know how long she would be grieving the loss of her baby, I didn't know what to say, I didn't climb down into the trenches with her.  I regret not being that kind of friend to her.  It was not due to a lack of love, for I love her dearly, but it was because I simply did not understand.  I am ever-grateful that she has been that climb-into-the-trenches-and-sit, even in silence, kind of friend to me.  Because of this experience, because of my sweet friend and other very beautiful souls I have a fresh understanding of compassion, support, and love.

You will meet more women who miscarry.  You just will.  I want to encourage you to reach out of your comfort zone, if it is required, and do something--say something...anything.  It is the words and the blessed actions of others that serve as fuel to the grief-stricken.  I realize that every person processes grief differently, so perhaps there are variations to the support one requires, but I would like to offer my opinion on the matter (it's my blog after all).  This is my attempt at un-silencing the sorrow of miscarriage, and giving you a little help and guidance as to what to do (or what not to do).  

Un-silencing the Sorrow of Miscarriage

1.  Say something--Even if you don't know what to say, even if you don't know the grief-stricken well, even if you are shy, or clumsy, or ??? SAY SOMETHING.  It can be as simple as, "I don't know what to say.  I'm so sorry you are going through this."  I cannot fully express to you how much I have clung to the words, sympathies, condolences of family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, alike.

  • Call--If you feel like calling, do it.  Don't expect the grief-stricken to answer, and don't even expect a phone call back.  But don't be scared to call, to use your voice, to use your cry if you must.  I received phone calls from friends who cried, and apologized for crying, but couldn't help it.  I so appreciated their calls, and their tears.  It was a message that they shared in my pain, and that their heart ached with mine. 
  • Email/FB Message--It can be short and sweet, or long and labored over.  So long as the message is expressing sorrow and support, type away.
  • Text--It takes mere seconds to send a text.  Seconds!  There's no excuse not to send a quick note that lets them know you're thinking of them.  Believe me, you are not interrupting, or bombarding, or being annoying.  Let them know that they are not far from your thoughts.
  • Snail Mail--Pick up a pen and write a note, or send a card.  I'm telling you that all forms of communication are so, so, so welcome and needed.
What not to say: 
  1. "Miscarriage is so common."
  2. "You'll get pregnant again soon or someday." 
  3. "I knew someone who had a miscarriage, and this is what happened..."
  4. "Let me tell you MY story."I feel I must expound on this.  Your experience can certainly serve as encouragement, and create a kind of I've-been-through-it-too bond, so there's nothing inherently wrong with eventually sharing your story/experience.  What I do not recommend is immediately shifting the focus from them to everything that happened with you because it downplays what the grief-stricken is experiencing, and makes them feel as though their story and sadness is not as important as yours.

2.  Do something--You may be one that doesn't want to barge in on someone's space, which is a very good thing to consider, but this should not be a preventative from thoughtfulness.

  1. Drop off flowers or plants (or have them delivered)--  Our house was filled with flowers that served as a reminder of life and color in an otherwise gray and sad existence; people brought plants to put in the garden; we were given a gift certificate to a local nursery, which we promptly used (it was so therapeutic just being in the garden); a sweet friend, and my step-mom, knowing of my love for dahlias, sent some along.  It all meant so very much to us.  
  2. Deliver food--Food is good for the soul!  Go to the store and put together a little sampling of snacks, and drop it on their doorstep.  Bake some yummy sweet treat, and drop it by.  You can also see if they might be interested in receiving a meal, and coordinate (via text) how to get it to them.  If they are home when you go by, don't expect to stay long, as communication is...hard.  But don't be awkward!  Don't ignore why you're there, and don't pretend like the sadness isn't present--it is.  It's okay to talk about it, briefly. Some friends of mine didn't ask if I wanted a meal, but texted and asked if they could drop something off on my doorstep.  They were fully prepared to leave a couple meals in a cooler and everything.  It was such a kind and thoughtful gesture, and one that blessed me immensely.
  3. ???--The sky is the limit, so long as the something that you're doing is a gentle reminder that you CARE.
3. Don't put the ball in their court-- While it is incredibly kind to tell them, "If I can do anything, let me know," chances are, they are not going to call you and tell you what they need.  They're most likely not going to ask you for a meal, or for snacks, or to go to the grocery.  Ask them specific things--"I am going to the store today.  Can I pick anything up for you?"  "I would love to watch your child any time.  Would that be helpful?  If so, what day?" Or just DO something for them without long as it's not a complete invasion of their much needed space.
4. Be real--Don't try to cheer them up, or put on a show.  Don't ignore or gloss over what is really happening right now.  Don't be awkward, don't be contrived (unless you really are awkward).  Be real.  Be exposed.  They are, after all, in their most raw, most exposed, most vulnerable state.  Be willing to open your heart to feel what they are feeling.
5. Keep your story-telling to a minimum--It's tricky, I recognize, figuring out what to talk about.  You don't want to make them keep talking about their feelings, and you don't want to keep them focusing on the sadness of it all, but I guarantee that most of your unrelated stories will sound like the grown-ups from Charlie Brown: "Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wahhhh."  It is okay to ask questions.  This is going back to #4--be real.  The truth is that they are in the midst of an all-consuming sadness.  It's okay to climb in with them and sit there.  Ask meaningful questions, and ask if it's okay to talk about it...or if they'd prefer otherwise.  They are most likely not going to start pouring out their heart to you without you asking questions.  This goes back to #3.  If the ball is in their court, they will probably just look at it, and continue staring off into the void of their sadness.
6. Cry--Don't be afraid to cry with the grief-stricken.  It serves as a reminder that they are not alone, and that they are not crazy for feeling what they feel.  I think that tears are a beautiful reflection of the soul, and a sensitive, caring and compassionate heart.
7.  Follow up--Your life moves on at normal speed (or turbo), but those who are in the thick of grief find themselves in a world that is madly spinning around them while their life is at a seeming stand-still.  After a week, or two weeks, or three, or four...or 52...they may seem to have returned to normal, but I assure you this is not the case.  Remain sensitive to the fact that recovering from a loss can take a LONG. TIME.  Check in.  Even if they don't open up to you and cry on your shoulder, check in, and see how their heart is...and let them know that you think of them (and their sweet baby).

I hope that you and your loved ones are spared the grief of losing a child, but I think it is important to be prepared to impact someone's life for good.  What a beautiful gift it is to have a sensitive heart, and to offer compassion and love.  I encourage you to be a friend who climbs into the trenches, and who loves constantly.

Thank you to our dear friends and family who have loved us well.  Thank you for the ways you have whispered and shouted your love.  We have needed you.  Thank you for the ways you have shared in our sorrows, have stood in the trenches, have shared the burden of our aching hearts.

Thank you to the brave ones who have reached out to me, and have offered love, encouragement, support, empathy, even though we had no relationship prior.  Thank you for opening your hearts to me, and recognizing the importance of...saying something.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Two days after my surgery, a large package arrived in the mail.  Brett opened it up, and handed me the enclosed note.  It was a note from my late grandmother's friend, with whom I don't often communicate.  The note was a congratulatory one in response to the good news she had just received that we were expecting another baby.  My first thought was how incredibly kind it was of her to send us a gift, and my second was how I wished it had arrived earlier.  Brett revealed to me what the gift actually was: a wooden, red ampersand.  I stared at it unsure of what exactly to think.  It is really cool looking, and something I would probably ask Brett to make.  Strangely, not long ago I became very interested in the ampersand, simply because I think it's a really beautiful character.  I started saving graphics I found with that symbol, and had thoughts of doing art with it, somehow.  Back to the gift: I found it a slightly obscure congratulatory gift.  I mean, it's not a stuffed animal, it's not a baby blanket, it's not a cute's a large wooden ampersand, for crying out loud!  I stared at it for a while, and thought various things, and then carried on with whatever it was I was doing previously.  A few moments later, I sat down, and my thoughts of the ampersand returned.

And.  And.  And. a symbol of promise.  And, there is more.  And, you are not done.  And, your story and your life continues.  AND.  And the tears came.

Of all the times for this gift to arrive, it happened to be two days after I said my final farewell to my baby.  Of all the gifts it could have been it was a freaking AND sign.  It is undeniably divine.  It is the whisper from my God to take heart, to trust in His goodness and promises.

While my heart aches, I am trusting in the promise of the And.

"Fear not the path which I have laid out for you.  Flinch not at what I ask you to bear.  you will not bear it alone.  Lo, I am with you, my child, in every moment."  Echoes of Eternity, March 21st
(Thank you, Aunt Joyce, for the timely gift of this book)

In Christ alone, my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My comforter, my all-in-all

Here in the love of Christ I stand


"Grace makes beauty out of ugly things"

Our family said goodbye to our sweet baby Grace on Friday.  Perhaps it's super hippy of us, but keeping in mind that Brett has some Santa Cruz in his heart, and I've got some Humboldt in mine we felt it only right to plant a tree in Gracie's honor.  We planted a Red Locust, which promises to create the most beautiful red and pink wisteria-like flowers.  It is planted proudly in our front yard, for us to see, whether coming or going, or doing dishes, or sitting in our living room.  Hippy or not, It is a sweet reminder of our baby girl, and a promise of beauty to behold.

Each night before bed, Scouty goes to the window and says, "Nigh-nigh Gace."

Night-night, sweet Gracie.

Friday, March 22, 2013

In Grace there is Hope

The sterility of a computer offers a comfort I’ve never before known.  In normal life, I prefer the handwritten word that my journals welcome, and while I have fully embraced the give-it-to-me-now satisfaction of e-mail, I much prefer giving or receiving a handwritten letter.  Somehow written words, in all their imperfections, offer more of a story than is provided by sole words.  Many of my journals have stains from coffee I’ve spilled, or ink that has run from tears that have fallen from my face, gigantic text with bolded words indicating excitement or importance, words that have been harshly underlined, or daintily doodled.  Seeing those marks, those imperfections, reminds me of my humanness and my vulnerability, of moments I may have otherwise forgotten.  I’ve looked at my journal the past couple days—the yellow one.  I have considered opening it up, pen in hand, and just trying.  But I can’t.  I just can’t.  Similarly, I’ve thought of making a phone call to beloved friends and family, just to say hi, to let them know that I sound now as I always have, that I am still me.  But I can’t.  I’m typically an anti-texter, much preferring the intimate exchange of verbalized words, but especially now, I find myself safely hiding behind the sterile, the safe, the less vulnerable, less exposed medium: the typed word.  I think it is here I shall remain a little while longer.

Today is the first morning I have awoken alone.  Brett was next to me, deeply breathing, in his sweetness of sleep, but I awoke with an almost tangible awareness that I am physically alone for the first time in several months.  My body no longer shares its space; the home I have offered is completely empty.  I am no longer carrying, protecting, housing my sweet baby, and I am overcome with sorrow. 

I looked at my naked body in the mirror today, and was in disbelief upon seeing how thin I am.  The bump of which I was so proud has almost entirely disappeared.  My profile is nearly back to where I began in November.  The “shoulding” part of my brain says, “You should be happy about this!  You should love that your stomach no longer protrudes!  You should be thrilled that your normal bod is going to be back in action in no time.”  But my true, raw, real, vulnerable self is filled with sadness, for I don’t care to be back to my thin self.  I actually like knowing that clothes don’t fit, and take pride in having a little extra love to go around.  I don’t mind being “Big Mama.”  I find that I don’t want to return to normalcy: mind, body, spirit or otherwise. 

Yesterday morning was the day that my baby and I were physically separated from one another.  I awoke at 3:30 am with a crushing sadness, one that made the simple act of breathing difficult.  Though I was fully aware that the little person I was carrying inside was no longer alive, it still pained me knowing that I had mere hours left to hold it, and protect it as best I could.  I had been grieving the loss of this Little’s life, but something about having him or her actually removed from my body was the finality I found myself dreading.  Since learning on Tuesday (the Tuesday that was merely a few days ago, but feels like months) what fate was to be ours, I've grappled with two very different internal personalities: the first “me” to show up has wanted to get down to business, rashly button things up, emotionally detach, get everything over and done with, and move on; the second, more real “me” has wanted time to stop, thus allowing me to curl up tightly and never move again, that I may savor, love and honor every last second I have with my baby.  Yesterday morning, I was glad at having woken up so early, for it allowed me more time to be cognizant of my last moments with the Tiny One…my Tiny One.

Brett and I left for the hospital at 5:15 am, and for better or worse, time seemed to be in fast-forward.  I’m thinking it was all for the best because the contractions I was having were becoming quite uncomfortable.  I opted to undergo a D&E, so as not to have any negative association with the beautiful birth experience, so the day prior the doctor began the process of preparing my body for the surgical removal of my Tiny One.  At a few minutes after 7 am, the anesthesiologist came into my room and began wheeling me away.  I didn’t expect to be fully aware of leaving Brett, as I thought he would be by my side until I was asleep, but we quickly clarified with the doctor that this was our goodbye.  They stopped wheeling me long enough for B and I exchange a quick kiss, and a knowing look, and off I went.  I wasn’t anticipating much in the way of fear, but the transport from Brett to the operating room filled me with an almost paralyzing fear.  It would make for a really awful roller coaster ride at some theme park to have the ride be performed in the lay-down position, being wheeled around innumerable corners, having the view of sterile fluorescent lighting, entering through an assortment of strange doors, catching glimpses of strangers wearing the same blue outfits, and the grand crescendo of entering an operating room with the knowledge that within lurks many sharp instruments with which much pain could be inflicted, and being wheeled beneath a suspended grouping of blindingly bright lights.  I can tell you with conviction, I would never go on that ride voluntarily, thankyourverymuch.  The doctor said a quick hello, and I was promptly asked to scoot over to the operating table.  I found myself shivering uncontrollably, as seems to be my natural response to heightened nerves.  Upon recognizing my shivering the nurse covered by body with a heated blanket, as the anesthesiologist told me that I would be drifting to sleep in no time.  My last memory is thinking, “If I am to go, I am incredibly glad to go warm…”

And then I awoke to voices, and a dimness of light, in a new room.  I heard my doctor, and I realized first, “I’m alive!”  I opened my weighted eyes only to be met with unfamiliar surroundings, and uncontrollably shut them again.  Upon realizing I was awake, my doctor promptly told me that all went well.  He relayed that my cervix had dilated perfectly, and the removal went as smoothly as it possibly could.  Oh, the tears, how they began running their familiar, relentless course, for it was in that moment that my second, more paralyzing realization came, “My child is gone.”  It wasn't a mole, a tumor, or even a limb that was removed; it was my child.  And then he told me, per my earlier request, that it was a girl. I felt tears, seemingly as big as softballs, streaming down my face, for I not so secretly longed for another girl.  I so wanted Scout to have a sister, because I deem that bond and relationship incredibly sacred and special.  I would have been thrilled to have a boy, of course, but had I been given the chance to choose, my pick would have been a girl.  I found myself filled with despair at the realization that I would never see or hold my daughter, but at the same time filled with a thankfulness of heart, being reminded that God knows my yearnings, He knows my desires.  It was with that thought that I again fell asleep.

I awoke to the nurse asking if I needed anything, to which I responded, “Just my husband.”  She promised I would see him soon.  She was right, for the very next moment I heard his voice, and was so grateful.  We wept together, in our shared sadness, yet felt satiated in our love and gratitude for one another.  We have found incredible comfort sharing in this grief together.  Just as I was filled with a deep and profound love for Brett after the birth of Scout, I have found that this process of pain and grief has birthed a new level of love, connection, and commitment to one another. 

I am pleased to say that not once through this process have I wondered “why?”  And I have only momentarily wondered “how?”  I have embraced the fact that it just…happened.  I know that it was nothing I did, or Brett did, or the next-door neighbor’s dog did…it just did.  I am not angry with God, nor am I angry with anyone else.  We have many dear friends, including my sister-in-law, who are pregnant, and I am not jealous, nor do I wonder why it happened to my baby, and not theirs.  Oh, I do not wonder this at all.  I find myself longing even more strongly for the health of their babies, the happiness of their hearts.  I find myself wanting, with temerity, to share in their joy, to let them know of my love.

I am heartbroken, but not irreparably so; I am downtrodden, but not destroyed.  I am, at my core, filled with hope and grace, neither of which has come without the other.  It is for this very reason that Brett and I have decided to name our baby girl Grace Hope.  Knowing our tendency to add an “ie” or “y” to the end of names, she will most likely be called Gracie.  Though we didn’t get the chance to meet our little girl, it is through her that we have learned more about the beauty of both grace and hope than we had ever learned up to this point.  I really don’t believe we could have learned any other way, though I desperately wish it were possible.  Alas, this is the journey required of us, so we must not only accept it, but we must humbly embrace it, and claim it as ours.  

Brett and I returned home from the hospital yesterday afternoon.  Almost immediately, after a brief, but perfectly timed visit from our sweet Scouty, who was being watched by Nana and Papa, I slept for a few hours.  Upon waking, I walked out of our room into our quiet house to find Brett.  I looked out the kitchen window and saw my sweet husband working in the garden in the front yard. Without hesitation, I walked outside and joined him.  As I sat alongside him, watching him work, I realized that for the first time since Tuesday the sun was shining.  Tears immediately flooded my eyes, for I was reminded that things are just as they should be: God has our sweet Grace in His arms, and the skies will not remain gray forever.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The View of the Valleys

Somehow Mt Ashland has become our family place.  Our bodies have seemingly instinctively ended up there for some pretty big moments of petition, and celebration.  In July of 2010 Brett and I spontaneously decided that a hike to the summit was in order.  At the top of the summit, on a perfectly sunny day, we began discussing our readiness to start a family, after which we found ourselves petitioning God to bless us with a baby.  We overlooked the valley, while fixated on the surrounding mountains, and felt ecstatic, confident in our decision, and strongly filled with faith that our God heard our prayers.  The very next month we conceived, and some short months later our beloved Scout entered our world.  The very next year, we felt it only right to go back to that spot and thank God for the incredible gift he spoke into existence, and entrusted unto us.  We were filled with such gratitude, and joy, knowing that our God heard us and was faithful to answer and provide.  The following summer, after declaring ourselves ready to continue growing our family, we made our way back to that spot with the sole purpose of petitioning our faithful God once again for the gift of another baby.  Once we prayed what we needed to pray, we descended the mountain feeling satisfied, knowing and trusting that our prayers were heard, and more than that, would be answered.  A few short months later, I conceived, which leads me to today.

Today I am a bit beyond 20 weeks pregnant.  I have reached the halfway point.  I have endured the plights of morning sickness, and have managed to come out the other side...alive...and not barfing (except for that break in my 7-year streak when I got the blasted stomach flu)!  I have a little sticky-outy belly, of which I am quite proud, for it indicates that I am growing a human: I am a mom.  Nope, I cannot button my pants, and I am so proud.  I find myself rubbing my tummy every now and then, whispering silent prayers of protection, health, well-being, and sometimes rubbing it just because.  I've admittedly found difficulty connecting with this baby, for some odd reason, and have attributed it to unfounded fear: fear that the baby will not make it full term, fear that the heart will stop beating for an unknown reason.  I've suppressed these fears, and have prayed against them, begging instead for the safety and protection of my baby.  I've confessed to God that my fear has been the result of a lack of trust, for which I've asked for forgiveness.  I've prayed that my fears would stop, and that I would, instead, know and trust that this baby is His to protect and grow as He sees fit.  I've found myself embracing my commitment to stop worrying, but it has been a very conscious choice to walk away from worry and fear, and choose, instead, to trust in God's goodness.  

Tomorrow marks the big day of the gender reveal.  It's the day that the pregnancy becomes really...real.  It's the day that I actually see my baby, and not some alien-shaped blob.  It's the day that I see my baby's nose, lips, eyes...the day that I cry because I realize that my growing belly isn't just the result of eating too much cake, but is, in fact, because I'm growing an actual person!  Sometimes, however, things don't go as planned.  Today is, instead, actually the day that I cry.  Today is the day that we don't see the nose, lips, or eyes; in fact, we don't even see the heart beat.  Today we see a black and white screen, and an unmoving baby: the heartbreaking discovery that our baby is no longer alive.  Today is the day that we realize that the plans we've had for our future are going to be incredibly different than anticipated.  

To say that Brett and I are sad is a supreme understatement.  We are grief-stricken, heartbroken, downtrodden...exhausted.  Is it possible to cry anymore?  Yes.  And yes.  And yes.   It's strange how discovering the death of our baby has somehow made us realize more fully that not only have I been growing and sustaining a baby, but I've been growing and sustaining our child, our baby.   Accompanying this realization is also the fact that while it is our baby, this baby is ultimately God's, and we must trust in God's judgment and plans.  While I had my lovely and beautiful plans for our baby's life, God has others.  Our God has both given and taken.

And yet we still praise Him.

Brett and I found ourselves alone in our car this afternoon.  There was very little decision-making involved before our car was making fast tracks south on I-5, and up to Mt. Ashland.  Up to this point, our times at the mountain have been joyous, hopeful, exciting, promising.  Today's visit, however, had a different, more melancholy tone.   We were unable to make it to the summit because of the snow, and I, in my skirt and cute flats, was not about to trudge through the snow, nor did Brett have the desire.  It was a cold, windy, gray day, which seemed perfectly suited for our state of mind.  All of my visits to the summit have resulted in my attention being brought to the surrounding mountain tops, as I have delighted in their beauty and majesty.  Being that my focus has primarily been on the peaks, the truth is that I have hardly noticed the valleys, as they seemed so distant...and insignificant.  Today, from the parking lot, inside our car, I found myself glancing at the surrounding mountains, but being more mesmerized by the shadows in the valleys.  We sat in shared silence, every now and then exchanging quiet words, gentle laughs, intermittent tears.  And we prayed.

It seemed only right to be at Mt. Ashland, to be in the space we've held so dear, from which beautiful and wonderful things have come.   It seemed only right to go to the place we initially cried out to our God and petitioned Him to bless our family.  It seemed only right to, in a way, return the borrowed gift of our child.  Today we found ourselves crying out to God, petitioning Him in a different manner, and instead praying for His grace and mercy to fall on us.  And we prayed with a knowing confidence that our God has called our baby back to Him.   

As I said, today I found myself fixated on the shadowed valleys, in which my feet seem firmly planted.  I am reminded that even in the shadows, there stands God.  I see the mountain tops in the distance. They're incredibly blurry, most probably due to the incessant tears, but they're there, and I know it is there that I will again find my feet jumping for joy.  But for now I am in the valley, trudging along...and that is okay.  We are not alone, in which we find great comfort.  We so appreciate our dear family and friends who are willing to stand in the dreary valleys with us, allowing us the time and space to endure and process this grief.  We are ever-grateful for you, and for gentle and silent reminders to find the beauty in the valleys, while also remembering the beauty of the summits.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  

Please keep us in your prayers.

Andrea & Brett