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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Loss

We were so excited.  Two years we had been waiting, trying, hoping for this baby to come.  We tried everything, and yet nothing seemed to be happening.  I even tried changing our diet, cutting out both gluten and sugar for over 8 months.  Then, suddenly, out of the blue, I was late.  And sore in tell-tale spots.  And exhausted beyond belief.  Could it be?  I took one pregnancy test right after I was late, and it came out negative.  Or maybe I just didn't wait long enough.  I looked in the garbage later and it had two lines, but I had read that you can't trust a test once it has dried.  But I waited.  And hoped.  We said we'd wait until the weekend was over, just to be sure.  Monday morning, I peed on a stick, and the minus sign slowly, faintly turned into a plus.  It had happened.  I was pregnant.

I was overjoyed!  Quickly, we scrambled to let the appropriate people know before officially putting it on Facebook.  We even wrapped up the pregnancy test as a Christmas present to my parents as our way of announcing it to them (Harmony had already let them know that "Mommy has a secret in her tummy!").  Then, once my parents knew, we put our announcement picture on Facebook.  We got 74 likes and 34 comments congratulating us.

The rest of our Christmas season was great.  All of the stories of Mary being with child resonated even more than usual.  I was tired, but happy.  The girls went around pretending that they had a baby in their tummy, as well.  We were all happy and content.  God had given us the name River two years ago when we were in England, promising us that we were going to have a baby.  Three different people actually had the same prophecy over this little one, based on the name.  Three people who had not talked to each other.  The one that I have in written form is this:  "Rivers are fast, swift, and crazy powerful.  Get caught by the current of a river and you most certainly will lose control of yourself.  Rivers can also be crazy gentle and peaceful and then in a matter of moments be raging again."  Also there were words of rivers slowly eroding away hardness.  We knew that choosing a name early had significance.

In talking to Brian, he wanted us to find a doctor a bit closer to home instead of the 45 minute drive to Elkhorn that I had during my previous two pregnancies.  After asking around, I found one that was recommended by several friends and booked my appointment for just shy of my 8 week mark.  I was a little nervous going to a different doctor, but content to submit to my husband's wishes.  After answering a few preliminary questions about my previous pregnancies, she asked Brian to come in and did an early ultrasound.

This is where we got a first glimpse into my womb to see that there was definitely a baby growing in there.  It was a little weird, though.  The due dates were off.  She said, based on the size of the sac, my due date was August 26th.  According to the traditional method of measuring, it should have been August 9th, or even by my crazy cycle schedule the latest should have been August 15th.  Something was off.  But, she said that the cyst that produced the pregnancy hormones was a good size and there was a lot of white around the sac which meant that it was healthy.  She scheduled another appointment for January 14th so that we could get a more accurate due date.
Brian had a wedding New Year's Eve, and I was going to find a family-friendly New Year's Eve party to go to, but then the girls ended up being sick so we stayed home.  That evening, while the girls were watching a movie, I went to the bathroom and saw a small sliver of red when I wiped.  Weird.  I had never spotted with any of the other pregnancies.  I calmly looked around to see the paper of do's and don'ts given to me by the doctor in the welcome packet.  Don't eat soft cheeses, drink alcohol, raw meat, etc.  I quickly scanned through the list and then turned it over.  At the very end, there was a note.  "If you experience any bleeding at all, give our office a call immediately."  Not knowing what else to do, I walked into my bedroom, hands shaking, and dialed the number.  

Of course, no one was there, and after a series of prompts, I was directed to the answering service, who ended up transferring me to the Birthing Inn at St. Catherine's.  The nurse I talked to said that there could be any number of reasons I could be spotting, including implantation bleeding or my body bleeding like I was on my period because it was just that time.  Again, the timing of those answers didn't make sense.  Implantation bleeding was 7-10 days after conception (way past overdue), and the other was off timing, as well.  She said that if I went to the ER, in the first trimester, there was nothing they could do if I was indeed miscarrying, and that it would be better to just go in and see my doctor.

Unfortunately, because I found out on New Year's Eve, the office was closed the next day and I had to wait until the 2nd of January to go in to see her.  By that point, the blood flow was a bit heavier, but she still wanted to run a couple tests.  They did a blood panel and sent me home, promising they would let me know something soon.  (I'm still waiting on that phone call.)  

The next day, I had an ultrasound in the hospital.  It was so much different than having that one in the doctor's office.  The technician was essentially silent as she moved the probe around, searching for life and taking loads of pictures.  In the end, I asked her if she knew anything, and she said that, without seeing the HCG results, she couldn't say anything conclusive, but that I was definitely measuring small.  

Since then, we have waited.  Waited for a phone call that never came.  The weekend came and went, and I slowly felt River flowing out of me.  The pregnancy symptoms have slowly stopped.  I'm less sore now.  I am regaining energy and I can see the little pregnancy bulge starting to go flat again.  (Probably the first time I have cried when seeing myself lose some around the middle.)

Because we still haven't gotten that phone call, we were waiting to say anything publicly.  We have told people in person or privately to let them know that I am currently losing the baby.  The thing about it is, I am so passionately pro-life that I believe that life begins at conception.  This baby, as long as he or she lived, was definitely a baby, a life.  River was a part of our family, and now she has died.  To me, the classic, "Let's wait to tell anyone until after the first trimester because what if we miscarry..." stance is off.  I want to celebrate life as soon as it happens for as long as it happens. In this time of loss and while I am in the midst of miscarrying, I need friends and family to be there for us.  I can't shrug it off like nothing has happened.  Life is ending, and it is hard. 

The thing is, though, more than anything, God is sovereign.  He knew before I was even formed in my mother's womb that I would carry River for as long as I have.  He has equipped me and the rest of our family with the strength needed to be able to handle all that comes our way.  We also know that another baby will come, not to replace this one that we lost, but to add to our family.  

At this point, we just ask that you keep our family in your prayers.  I've stopped crying at the drop of a hat now, and most of the time, I'm pretty good.  If you ask the girls, they will volunteer that River has died.  And that is the truth.  The truth also is, though, is that we will meet this little one in heaven.  At that point, we will know if River was a boy or a girl, what his or her personality will be, and the potential that River has to fulfill in heaven.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hope

"17 In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable,t and so he intervened with an oath,18 so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie.19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek."
--Hebrews 6:17-20


The past couple weeks, I have been feeling discouraged because I have seen no progress in the things that I know that God has promised.  Who knows?  Maybe it will take years, decades even, before I see those promises fulfilled.  Yet this Scripture gives me hope: "...it is impossible for God to lie."  Of course I know this.  I mean, come on, He's God.  He's perfect.  Incapable of lying because that's a sin and God doesn't sin.  But the reality of it is, when all of life seems to be contradicting what God has said, it does seem like He is a liar.

He gave Joseph some dreams, too.  Those dreams didn't come into fruition for 17 years!  Slavery and prison were the opposite of the rule and reign that Joseph was promised.  And yet, through it all, He remained faithful.  Because God is not a liar.  Remember that next time you feel that God is taking too long.  He will fulfill what He promised, even if it's not in our time frame.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One year.

One year ago almost exactly, Brian and I were getting ready to go to England.  God had already spoken that our time in England would be significant, and I was making moves to change before we even went.  Little did I know, they weren't for the same reasons I thought.

The whole time we were there, I felt God speaking to us about moving there, so, a little haphazardly, we talked to the people around us about what they thought about the entire thing.  We researched how much rent was, how much telephone service was, how much heat and electricity was, how much food and groceries were...  Basically, we wanted to know how much it would cost to live in England vs. living in the US.  With the exception of things like gas and entertainment, it is almost the same if not cheaper to live there.  I was so focused on us moving over there, that we were very careless in how we presented ourselves and how we lived.  We had no money going over there, and foolishly, we let people pay for us without offering to pay them back and without much thanks, mainly because we were embarrassed to go over without much money.

It all came crashing down when Jason Pyle, a guy that we were staying with, gave us a really strong word about maturing, organization, and being aware of those around us.  It came as we were leaving England, and we saw no one else besides Glyn Hammond, another guy that we had stayed with, before leaving.  It was very harsh and was given partially out of anger, but he is a man who hears from God and we made immediate changes as a result.  We came home, cleaned up our house, reorganized things, invited people over and showed them hospitality, and basically just started trying to be more aware of those around us.  God was doing a maturing work in both Brian and I, and it was amazing.

Another major thing that happened was that we started meeting together with Dan and Selena, our homegroup leaders, about every other week.  They started working with us on all different aspects of life, from home organization to marriage to business decisions that needed to be made.  Through meeting with them, God started changing us in an amazing way.  We were maturing in a way that people started taking notice and asking what was different.  God was, slowly but surely, bringing Brian and I closer together, and it was amazing.

This last year definitely hasn't been without its challenges.  Because of a lack of organization on our part, we accidentally double booked some weddings and made other not so smart business decisions.  There were many times when we wanted to just give up, but God wouldn't allow that.  We pushed through and God has both blessed us and matured us through the whole thing.  I feel like we have a better head on our shoulders now.

I feel like if you look at where we were this time a year ago and where we are now, there is a drastic difference.  We are more organized, more put together, our interactions with people are completely different, and we hear from God on a regular basis.  I am happy and content where we are now.  It is a good thing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A wonderful poem written in 1880, but still relevant today!

I was struck when I read this how relevant it still is to me today.  When you think of women of old, you think that they somehow had it all together and never dealt with the same frustrations that we do today.  Read this, a poem by Faye Inchfawn back in 1880:

Within My House

FIRST, there's the entrance, narrow,
and so small,
The hat-stand seems to fill the tiny hall;
That staircase, too, has such an awkward
bend,
The carpet rucks, and rises up on end!
Then, all the rooms are cramped and close
together;
And there's a musty smell in rainy weather.
Yes, and it makes the daily work go hard
To have the only tap across a yard.
These creaking doors, these draughts, this
battered paint,
Would try, I think, the temper of a saint,

How often had I railed against these
things,
With envies, and with bitter murmurings
For spacious rooms, and sunny garden
plots!
Until one day,
Washing the breakfast dishes, so I think,
I paused a moment in my work to pray;
And then and there
All life seemed suddenly made new and
fair;
For, like the Psalmist's dove among the
pots
(Those endless pots, that filled the tiny
sink!),
My spirit found her wings.

"Lord" (thus I prayed), "it matters not
at all
That my poor home is ill-arranged and
small:
I, not the house, am straitened; Lord,
'tis I!
Enlarge my foolish heart, that by-and-by
I may look up with such a radiant face
Thou shalt have glory even in this place.
And when I trip, or stumble unawares
In carrying water up these awkward stairs.
Then keep me sweet, and teach me day
by day
To tread with patience Thy appointed
way.
As for the house . . . . Lord, let it be
my part
To walk within it with a perfect heart."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In an ideal world...

A few months ago, Brian, Liz, and I went to Chicago for the day. I had just started crocheting, and Liz and I wanted to check out a yarn store. It was amazing and beautiful and pleasing to the eye. It had nooks and crannies and beautiful colors and amazing textures. The only problem was, the majority of the yarns there were around $25 for a small ball of yarn. In order to make something with the yarn, you would more than likely need to buy 2 balls. $50 for a handmade scarf? Maybe in an ideal world...

That got us thinking... If we lived in an ideal world, what would we do? I honestly don't remember what other people's responses were, but I know mine was, "I would live in the city, use all organic products, make my own clothes, grow my own food (in an urban garden), and, in a lot of ways, be a modern day hippie!" It's funny, but, aside from living in the city, I am pretty much doing all those things without even realizing it!

Today, I was with my friend Mary Ann, and she helped me remake some of my clothes that were nice fabrics, but fit all baggy and didn't make me feel amazing. One of the things that she kept saying was, "What is your immediate response? If you don't absolutely love it, why should we go through the trouble of making it if you won't wear it?" Through a lot of pinning, a lot of trying on, a lot of measuring, and a lot of stitching and then cutting, we were able to transform a shirt that was too baggy on me and a dress that was too revealing into an amazing dress that I can wear to a Christmas party on Friday. I am honestly so pleased with it, and it didn't take too much to make it happen!

I feel like the season that I am in right now is a lot like those clothes. I like the fabric and the way it feels, but the fit is not quite right. So, if what I am doing right now isn't working, why don't I just change it (like the clothes) to make it better? I have felt trapped in my laundry area and desperately wanted a room. So what did we do? We made a room for me, and I love it. My small, awkward kitchen is way too cluttered. I need a new way of storing things, so I am going to make it happen very soon. I'm not completely satisfied with my body the way that it looks right now, so I joined a gym and am trying to go. Basically, there are things in my life that I am not absolutely in love with, so why do I keep them? I just need to alter them slightly to make them fit me and my personality.

I feel like this next season is going to be a lot about change, and I'm excited about it. Finally, my life is going to "fit" with the rest of me. God, give me the strength to make it happen!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dream Come True, or Just Another Place for Clutter?

5 years ago, when we first moved into our house, I had an idea for a laundry room. A place where I could go, wash, dry, and fold my laundry, and live in peace. A place where I could go away from the hectic mess of the rest of the house. An oasis. Someplace that I could go to get away.

The reality of it was, it was cold, a little damp, dirty, and surrounded on every side by horrible clutter. Clutter that I had made. Clutter that Brian had made. Clutter that was made by decluttering our upstairs living spaces. When I would go down there, especially when I was in a rough place about 3 years ago, I felt trapped instead of set free. One day, on a whim, I was so tired of looking at the clutter in the rest of the basement that I got the staple gun, a couple of flat sheets that we weren't using, and made "walls" to shut out the clutter. It felt better, but still not complete. I tried emptying out my shelves and painting them a different color. I tried organizing all of my laundry into specific bins that would go into each person's room. I tried so many things, but try as I might, the laundry "room" still felt like a trap. I wanted walls.

The opportunity for the possibility came last year when we had a girl move into our basement. When she got her life straightened out a bit and could start paying rent on a regular basis, we would build her walls down there instead of the sheets that surrounded her "room." Building her walls meant that I could have walls, at least in a small part. Unfortunately, it never worked out, and she left without the walls being built.

When another young lady moved in with us, Brian promised walls would be built. Sheets were obviously not enough, especially when the winter cold blasted through the concrete walls. Brian promised walls by the first snow, and almost made it by a couple days: They were finally built a year and a half after they were promised to me. As long as they were putting up walls in one part of the basement, though, what if they extended the walls just 7 feet to build me a real wall so that I could have my laundry room? They agreed, and my laundry room was created! Sheetrock was placed up last week, followed by pegboard, and right now the guys are putting up shelves for me. I can't even begin to explain how relieved that I am. Relieved that I have a place to fold my laundry. Relieved that I don't have to do it on the couch where people who walk in might feel embarrassed that there is laundry all over the place. Relieved that I have my own space that I can organize however I want without it needing to be presentable at all times.

An argument has already ensued about me wanting my room to be my room and not a place for his tools and other stuff to creep in. But, after some prayer and me leaving the guys alone to do what they do best, I now have 2 out of 4 shelves up. The rest will come sometime next week. Then, FINALLY, I will have my room. My safe haven. My oasis. My place I can call my own.

I pray that it will not get cluttered again. Or, at least, that I will stay motivated enough to keep on top of it. I know I can... I just have to keep positive! Good stuff is in store!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Awkward Phase

The other day, I was sitting in a circle with a group of very beautiful, very trendy women from my church. Two of them were pregnant with their first, and the other's son was in between my two girls. We started talking about the "awkward stage" that most teenagers go through. You know, when you're in between being a kid and suddenly thrust into full-fledged puberty before you even know what hit you.

Suddenly, your body is expanding in ways that you never knew existed. Your hair is suddenly greasy, your skin breaks out, your teeth are in braces, and you don't quite know what to do with this suddenly bigger body. Especially for me. This all began when I was 9 and by the time I was 12, I was a full grown woman. Eventually, you read some magazines, talk to some other girls about what they do, and figure out how to dress appropriately for your figure and use makeup to cover up the acne until it finally dies out on its own.

Slowly but surely, you feel good about yourself again. As you grow into an adult, you feel confident with yourself, your body, and your accomplishments. You feel so confident in who you are that you are able to attract a mate and get married. Life is good. You have finally accomplished what you longed for all those years as you cried out to God to change you and help you find the One.

Then, something happens. All of your friends that got married around the same time start getting pregnant and having babies. You watch them as they grow and suddenly, there is a longing in your heart once again not for the One, but for many. So, you start "trying", and for me, it took 8 months before it finally worked. 8 months of crying every time I got my cycle because it meant that I wasn't pregnant again. Then, finally, the pregnancy test comes up positive. Hooray! Now, what you longed for has been accomplished!

For me, pregnancy wasn't the smooth sailing that it seemed to be for all my friends around me. At around 5 months, I was so swollen I couldn't wear my rings anymore. By 7 months, I was so uncomfortable I could barely walk or function. By the time Sommer was born at 37 weeks, I was so swollen that my eyelids, my nose, and my ears were swollen. I had pre-eclampsia, and if I had gone 12 more hours, the doctor said that I could have died. But, Sommer was safe and sound and healthy, and that's all that mattered.

Except, she was tounge-tied, so she had a REALLY hard time feeding. I knew how important breastfeeding was, so I kept at it even when it was difficult. Finally, at about 5 months old, she "got it" and everything was smooth sailing. And then, when Sommer was 5 1/2 months old, I got pregnant with Harmony, but didn't find out for nearly 9 weeks. So, there was this period where I was trying to figure out why I was eating right and working out, yet feeling tired and gaining weight. I went to the doctor and he told me, "Eat less and excercise more." Duh. No help, at all. Finally, I figured it out on my own, and found myself pregnant while raising a baby. It was difficult, but we were able to get through it.

Once Harmony was born, a lot of things all happened at once. The first two months, she screamed and cried and I had no idea why. Later on, I figured out that she had a really severe milk allergy, and so I cut out the milk in my diet, which I read later has calming effects on the body, and can work as an anti-depressant.

About this same time, around Christmas, we were in Target and tried on some hats to be silly. A couple days later, my head was itching and so was Sommer's. I looked at her head and saw something suddenly crawl across her head, and it confirmed my worst fear: we had lice. I reached out the only way I knew how. I wrote it on facebook and tried to get advice and help from all my friends. However, instead of the words of encouragement and you'll get through this, I got reactions of disgust and repulsion. The worst statement that still runs through my head was, "Are you going to the Christmas party? Really? If you are, I'm not."

That sunk me into about a year of post-partum depression, and one of the hardest times of my life since I was that awkward teen. Everything that I knew, everything that I had clung to and was a part of how I valued and defined myself, was suddenly ripped from my arms. My body was awkward again. My hair went from being pretty and wavy to weird and almost straight. My face and body broke out again due to the post-pregnancy hormones. I was having hot flashes and mood swings that were off the charts. I related more to peri-menepausal women than I did the people that I had considered my friends.

Somehow, I got through that year, but sometimes I feel like it was by the skin of my teeth. I made it a point to reach out to people and I repaired the relationship that had been damaged by the hurtful comment. Slowly but surely, I began to redefine myself the way I had when I was a teen. Brian, my husband, got interested in fashion and started picking out clothes that he felt made me look attractive. Because he saw me that way, I began feeling attractive again, and I emerged from my awkward stage into something more.

We are currently trying for more, but I found out the last time that I went to the OB that I have PCOS, a condition that makes it difficult to get pregnant and has a whole host of other symptoms, including depression. I'm praying for more. The vision that I have is for 4 kids, but only God knows the number for sure. Until then, I enjoy my almost 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old with joy. God is good, and He brings us through every season and shows us a lot along the way. More than anything else, I know that my life is in His hands, and I can't do it on my own. Every time I try, I fail, so I give the reigns to Him daily.