Healing heartbreak with light, truth and sisterhood

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This post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

The fog of despair was just beginning to thin after my second consecutive miscarriage when I became pregnant again. Just a month and a half after my last D&C. TGOGL Mothers Day My feelings were mixed but chief among them was joy. I needed some good news. I wanted to believe I was still capable of growing and nurturing life inside me as I did in my first four “successful” pregnancies. I wanted to hope again and excitedly expect the miracles of pregnancy and birth. And I wanted to bless our new home with the sacred spirit that only comes with the arrival of new life; that moment when heaven kisses the earth. That spot of earth will never be the same.

At the same time, my ability to hope was fading. My belief in my body to nurture that kind of miracle was weak. I was afraid to face another physically traumatic loss and/or surgery. Even worse, it felt like a lie.

Our tradition of waiting to share the news until the second trimester went out the window. My two recent losses were preceded by terrible pain, unnerving bleeding and uncertainty, lessened only by sonographic peeks and doppler checks of my babies to see and hear their sweet little hearts beating away… until they weren’t.

But even as we shared the news with a few loved ones the words felt cold on my tongue. I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm to share. Those few thought I was probably just gun-shy after the last couple of pregnancies ended too early. I hoped they were right but I suspected not.

Mercifully, this third in a row ended early rather than later. I was spared weeks or months of what-ifs and pain. Physically, it was a much easier experience. And I expect, if I hadn’t already clung to this new pregnancy as a healing tool, it might have been emotionally easier too. It should have been. But it wasn’t.

Again I was flung headfirst into the pit of anguish I’d been digging for the last year. I hid in my home, in my room. I ate. Mostly chocolate. And I cried. All day and all night.

I am so grateful for my four beautiful children. So grateful for my family. So grateful for my faith and for the scriptures that have served as my lifeline. So grateful for two midwives who held my hand through it all.

But still I felt stuck in a never-ending first trimester with no payoff at the end. Nothing to hold. No sweet baby smell. No cuddly bundle to make up for my disappointment. No redemptive nursing relationship to resolve the disappointment I still carried after being physically unable to nurse my last child who was born with a cleft palate.

More than anything, it felt like the death of all of my hopes and expectations of welcoming any more children into our home.  Expectations that had grown stronger and more firmly attached with each positive pregnancy test. The darkness followed me everywhere. I had visions of myself running down our street, looking over my shoulder as a dark, rolling cloud raced to overtake me. I never outran it.

12 weeks pregnant, three weeks before my first miscarriage

12 weeks pregnant, three weeks before my first miscarriage

Day after day, I walked past a copy of The Gift of Giving Life on my dresser. I felt a pull toward it. The book felt like a warm spot in a cold world. But I couldn’t pick it up. The last thing I wanted to read about was the joy of all those moms with beautiful round bellies birthing their healthy babies. (Clearly it had been a while since I’d visited those pages.)

Finally the book won. I decided I’d read all the ribbon stories I’d always skipped but that was it. (Stories mentioning loss are marked with a ribbon to protect the faint of heart like me.) My heart broke as I read stories of mothers suffering; mothers who endured trials I would have thought unendurable. I felt the greatness, strength and beauty of the authors through their words and suddenly found myself in the best of company. I wanted to change their stories, breathe life into their babies and hold them up. Instead, in their respective times of darkness, these women found peace. They found light. I kept reading.

What I rediscovered was the truth from which I was hiding: Motherhood is a tremendous threat to Satan’s plan. This divine gift, I believe is given to all women (mothers or not) and when developed and used has the potential to impact the world in a most profound way. Satan knows this. It doesn’t take powerful skills of deduction to see that he is targeting mothers, fathers and families with all the ammunition he has.

He knows what I’m capable of, what my children are capable of if they are raised in light and truth and he knows how to get me. He is vicious and cruel and will take your family down if you let him. And I let him… for a while.

But he doesn’t win this one.

As the stories about my Heavenly Mother, my amazing pioneer forbears and the beautiful women in this book poured into my heart, the wall around it cracked and more messages waiting for me from above streamed in.

I am a daughter of God. I have Heavenly Parents who love me and prepared me for this life with all the tools I need to live it. I have a great work to do, the most important part of which is as a mother and They are there to help me do it. Satan might have the power knock me down when I’m feeling weak but with my Savior I am strong.

The lies fell away, the truth filled my heart and I began to heal.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. Some days I’m more fragile than others. But I’m working once again on trading my will for the Lord’s. I’m trying to shed the attachments to expectations that are holding me back and be more open to the possibilities of what is in store for my family and me. And I’m trying refocus on being a better mother to my four amazing sons and losing myself in service to them and others.

No matter your phase of motherhood, this book will change your life. I’ve given away more copies than I can afford and now have a loaner copy so I have my personal copy on hand always. I refer back to some of these passages again and again. I am so grateful to the inspired women who put this book together even if I didn’t understand it at the time. I do now.

Be sure to visit the Gift of Giving Life Virtual Book Tour page for a chance to win some great pregnancy/birth/baby-related prizes!  

TGOGL prizes

 

Let the decrapification commence

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Parts of my house look like a scene right out of Hoarders. I spent a month resting to try to keep my pregnancy, a week waiting for surgery and then a week recovering afterward. My sweet kids and husband have helped out so much but to them every shelf in the pantry is the same and the school room is the storage room. They have really tried! It just hasn’t worked out too well.

When my house is a mess, my brain is a mess and I’ve been totally paralyzed by the chaos all around me. I feel like I won’t be totally healed until my life and home are back on track but I’ve had a terrible time knowing where to start.

So, I was pretty thrilled when a friend posted about 40 bags in 40 days! I’m in! I’ve done the challenge before but this year I need it more than ever. This is not the worst shape my house has ever been in but I don’t know if it’s ever felt worse. I need this challenge. I need the support and I need to accomplish something.

It’s easy peasy. Every day for 40 days (except Sundays) fill a bag (any size bag) with junk and then get rid of it! Don’t think you have that much junk in your house? What until you start. I will be using the goal/progress sheet provided here to keep me on track.

I am SO excited to get going!

Who’s with me? Click here for more details.

Light in the Mourning

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I’m sad to say we are latecomers to the Noelle Pikus-Pace fan club. It’s nothing personal. Before the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics I couldn’t have named a single athlete that competed there. Since the Olympics traditionally air during school hours, the boys and I have always missed out. So this, our first year homeschooling, I printed an awesome educational packet I found online and we’ve homeschooled the heck out of the winter Olympics. That means all of us, watching almost every night from 7 to 10:30 pm.

My boys invested like I’d never imagined. They’ve learned all they can about Sochi, the sports, the athletes and the countries they represent. Their excitement is contagious and I quickly joined them in Olympic fandom.

One of those first nights we saw that AT&T commercial where Noelle Pikus-Pace wakes up before her family to work out. Then she feeds the kids breakfast, takes them to school and plays soccer mom until her husband picks up the kids so she can go train late into the night. There were tears in my eyes by the end of the commercial. So I looked her up.

I never considered that some of these athletes were juggling parenthood with Olympic training. This still blows my mind. I can’t fathom the kind of commitment and sacrifice it would take to be Mom and manage to keep up with (and even crush) the competition, many of whom have nothing to worry about but themselves.

That’s how I think of my husband. We’ve been in school for 6 years now with three and four kids. He is now in an intense, full-time grad school program in classrooms full of single twenty-somethings and parental funding. It doesn’t matter if it’s finals when our toddler has a severe asthma attack in the middle of the night and has to go to the urgent care. It doesn’t matter how important the study session is when Mom is down for the count and Dad has to swoop in and save the day. He lost his dad during. We had a baby. Health issues have taken me out for months at a time but he always pulls it off. It inspires me to see parents do the impossible.

The night that NBC ran their interview with Noelle the kids and I crowded around to hear her story. She is a wife and a mom to two beautiful kids. We learned that she planned to retire after Vancouver Olympics to focus on growing and raising her family. She became pregnant with baby number three and excitedly prepared. Then came the devastating blow: a 18 weeks along, the family found out they had lost their baby. So, Noelle rerouted and committed to going back to the Olympics. But this time, she was going to come home with a medal.

As a viewer I wanted that medal for her! And it wasn’t just me. I realized my kids were quietly, intently listening to Noelle’s story. It was just two weeks earlier that we had to tell those boys that the little brother they were hoping for wasn’t coming home to our family after all. One year after the last time we had this talk. I lost pregnancy number five, a little boy, at fifteen weeks. I lost this baby at ten. And like Pikus-Pace, I had decided to channel the pain of my loss and create something great.

Days before I saw her heart-wrenching story on the Olympic coverage I contacted my friend Lani Axman, co-author of The Gift of Giving Life. She had talked about writing a book on miscarriage for some time. I felt pulled to it after my last miscarriage but thought I just might contribute a story at some point. But in these last few weeks it became clear that I needed to be actively engaged in creating something that will bring peace, hope and understanding to other mothers and families who suffer from pregnancy loss. I need to write this book. It’s a tremendous leap of faith but something I need to do.

So, after hearing Noelle’s story, I wanted this for her. I needed her to succeed and so did my kids. We added her to our prayers and watched her compete from the edge of our seats. Her last run, we all gathered around the TV shouting and cheering. The whole way down the track we cheered her on. As she finished and it became clear that she had done what she came to do my boys jumped up and down screaming and pounding their fists in the air. I clapped and cried for her, hoping that this would help heal the hole in her heart, understanding why she had to do this and praying that I can follow in her footsteps. Noelle climbed the stands to her family, a wife and mother first and a new hero of mine.

I believe in the power of women to support and sustain one another. As I have struggled to understand and cope with the loss of another baby these last weeks, I have heard so many survival stories from the amazing women in my life who have been where I’m standing. Your words and experiences have strengthened me and I would so love to see those stories bound and in the hands of other women to help dispel the awful loneliness that comes with giving birth too early.

I am teaming up with Lani Axman, co-author of The Gift of Giving Life write a book about miscarriage that I hope will bring peace, hope and healing to mothers and families who still wait with empty arms.

We are asking for your stories. We want to hear about your pregnancy loss, your survival and resulting peace and growth. We want to hear about pregnancy after miscarriage. If you heard from your baby, saw your baby in a dream or felt your baby nearby, we want to hear about it.

Please join us in passing the light and strength of our shared experience on to women, mothers and families in their time of darkness.

Email your story to lightthemourning@gmail.com.

Bring it on: Thoughts on tomorrow’s palate surgery

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581833_10152654389545564_1519725555_nMy pregnancy with Clayton was the first and only where I remembered to take my prenatal vitamins every day. I took them for months before he was even conceived. In hindsight, this is such a blessing. In all my guilt over the various ways I could have caused or contributed to Clayton’s cleft lip and palate I don’t have to wonder about this one. I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs either.

On days like today when guilt is unavoidable – when I’m preparing to take my baby in to the hospital tomorrow morning and hand him over to have his bones broken, flesh cut up and sewn together – focusing on the things I did right helps.

Still, the guilt says it must be my fault. It certainly isn’t Clayton’s. I was responsible for building his little body. I messed up. I don’t feel like this most of the time. I feel like the cleft is part of my little boy, part of who he is. IVY_3796-001Part of what makes him unique and special. But if we’re going to get it fixed, then he must be broken. And that’s my fault.

If I didn’t believe in God I would believe the guilt. But I do. And that’s the only thing that helps this all make sense. The fact is, I didn’t create Clayton, God did. He created my baby perfectly; exactly the way he was meant to be. So I can only assume that all of the experiences that follow, including corrective surgeries, are part of Clayton’s plan. And part of my plan. And my family’s. This plan was designed by God for our good. This is good news because, like Nephi, 903903_10152695743735564_1171912618_o“I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” This is His plan, and as we follow it we are in good hands.

I am banking on His promises to me. Though from where I sit, the next 10 days look like an impossible nightmare, there is a way. He will make a way. We are not alone. I know because He said so in John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

305958_10152717948605564_234008915_nWhen my baby is hurting and sad and can’t suck his fingers to calm himself or sleep I know He will be with us. I feel Him here now.

I know that when I hand my baby over to his surgeon, who I trust with my whole heart, I will not be sending him alone. Just as the Nephite children were blessed (3 Nephi 17:24), “And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.” I know my Clayton will also be encircled about by angels and loved ones who will keep and bless him.

D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Healthy Almond Joy Muffins

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This is one of those inventions that makes me feel like I may actually have something to contribute to the world. I am in love with these muffins.

I’ve been going a little crazy with the chocolate chips over here. When I get stressed out hot, melty chocolate calls to me. I usually make breakfast at night after the kids are in bed so we’ve had chocolate chips in all of our breakfasts lately so I can enjoy a toasty, warm treat marbled with ooey-gooey chocolate at the end of the day… and again at the beginning of the next one. Unfortunately my husband’s not a fan (and has kindly pointed out that I’m a little off track with my healthy eating). So, I set out to make a chocolate chip-free breakfast. This is what I came up with. Slightly better than chocolate chips? (The chocolate is winning.) The man wasn’t too impressed until he discovered I’d made him macaroon overnight oats. He’s happy now.

Vegan almond joy muffins

Since this is still a work in progress I hesitate to share. At the same time they were so yummy and such a treat for me that I have to!

I’m not a huge agave syrup fan so I’ll probably try to work that out of the recipe. I want to try them with chocolate chips but they’re already walking the line on “breakfast”. That would definitely make these dessert. Also, the recipe makes a very odd 14 muffins as it stands. Not even sure I want to attempt to correct that at this point but it is annoying. I’ll just keep you abreast of improvements as I make them.

WARNING: Do not eat these hot. Yuck. They taste really weird. Let them cool for at least an hour or two to get the real flavor. I usually make breakfast at night anyway and these were perfect in the morning.

Healthy Almond Joy Muffins

Preheat to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)
1 C shredded coconut
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix with a fork.

In a smaller bowl combine:

1 1/2 mashed bananas
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup agave syrup
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Mix well.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Spoon into lightly greased or nonstick muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool before eating. Enjoy!

Changes

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It was another few days after I left the hospital before the trauma of everything I’d been through really sunk in. Finding out about the loss, deciding how to handle things, the delivery, the scary moments that sent us to the hospital, continuing to lose so much blood, the procedure they did while I was awake, losing consciousness, surgery, recovery and then all the changes.

All my plans and expectations changed overnight. My body changed and continues to change. My hormones are still swinging. My pretty pregnancy nails all broke off last week and my pregnancy curls have fallen flat. My kids’ behavior is off as they adjust to changes and deal with the scare of sending their mom to the hospital in such a hurry and not seeing her until late the next day. So many changes. It just doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal.

The best medicine

The best medicine

As often happens after life-altering change, I am seeing people differently. Last week walking through the grocery store I scanned the crowd realizing the depth of all these people and their experiences. People deal with so much and they still get up and go to the grocery store. They still drop their kids off at school and go to the bank. Is that man caring for his ailing mother? Is that mother raising a child with special needs? Has she just buried a parent? Or a child? Is he in pain? Is she fighting cancer, disease or mental illness? Is his son struggling at school?

For the last few weeks, when someone cuts me off I assume they have a good reason. When someone is rude I assume they are suffering and can’t cope. When someone looks tired and haggard I assume that they are sacrificing themselves for someone else.

Life is messy and sometimes it hurts. I have been abundantly blessed through every step of this journey but still the trauma and disappointment catch up here and there. I have felt all the love of Heaven wrapped around me. I have been lifted up and carried by dozens of earthly angels (you know who you are). Still, sometimes there are tears.

I love my life and grateful for every part of it. I am grateful for the hope of a bright future and the knowledge that my family is forever. I look forward to the day when the pain is gone and my tears are dry. But I hope my current perspective of humanity and desire to be a better friend and neighbor stays for good.

Plant-based entertaining

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P1120877This last weekend, my second son was baptized. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful baptism and it’s always beautiful to have my family all together. Entertaining in our tiny, temporary campus home is always a bit of a trick but feeding all these people a tasty, healthy meal was a piece of cake.

I’ve had quite a few recipe requests, so here goes:

I was going for easy — as little prep as possible and totally customizable.

Post-baptism luncheon

Post-baptism luncheon

I’ve gotten really big on build-it-yourself meals. This way you can accommodate picky eaters, gluten-free eaters, and others with special dietary needs.

Taco salads fit the bill for just about any occasion. I made a rice and bean salad that could go in the taco salad or on the side and we had chips, salsa and guac, along with pita chips and hummus for non-salad-lovers and general snackage. I had some veggies to put out with the hummus but ran out of time/room. I don’t think there was any room left on plates either though, so that’s okay. My wonderful mother-in-law provided the yummy, gorgeous fruit plate!

Taco Salads

Rice and Bean salad (recipe below)
Crockpot beans (recipe below)
Chopped romaine
Mixed greens
Tortilla chips or corn tortilla strips
Sliced baby bell peppers
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Sliced green onions
Salsa (the tub from Costco with the yellow lid- can bespicy)
Guacamole (again, Costco pre-made)
Lime wedges (which stayed in the fridge, forgot to put them out)
And I put out Ranch dressing for the kids

This salad doesn’t need dressing. The bean broth, salsa and lime make a great dressing without adding any effort or extra calories. Add guacamole for a creamier version.

Rice and Bean Salad

Salad

3 cups cooked basmati rice
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 green onions, sliced
1 small sweet red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Dressing

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (I usually leave it out)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix in a big bowl, chill for at least one hour (overnight is best) and enjoy on it’s own, on a salad or in a pita.

Tweaked ever so slightly from One Perfect Bite

Crockpot Beans

3 cups dry pinto beans, well rinsed
9 cups water
2-3 bay leaves

Cook on low for 6-8 hours

Then add:

Chili powder (lots, to taste)
Cumin (lots, to taste- almost equal to chili powder)
Garlic powder (or garlic salt)
Salt

Set to warm for another couple hours or high for a bit until flavor is absorbed. Keep beans in the fridge to use throughout the week.

Fruit and Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups regular rolled oats
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup mixed nuts, finely chopped (optional, but recommended)
1 cup dried fruit (I use 1/2 craisins, and 1/2 raisins)

Combine in small bowl:

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and then drop onto parchment paper, a nonstick baking pan or a greased cookie sheet. These stick badly on a regular cookie sheet due to the lack of fat.

Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your cookies. Edges should be golden brown. These freeze really great and are perfect for school lunches and snacks

Slightly tweaked from these No Sugar Oat Drops

Brownie bites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour for the gf ones)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup coconut sugar (or stevia)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 well mashed banana
4-5 ounces dark chocolate chips (I use the large ones)

 Directions:

Lightly grease your mini-muffin tin (nonstick might work?) or an 8×8 pan.

Mix dry ingredients (minus chocolate chips) in a large bowl and wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir. Add chocolate chips and then drop batter into muffin pan, even with the top or just over.

Bake for about 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Watch these closely the first time you make them- all ovens are different.

Leave out the chocolate chips for a totally guilt-free treat!

Tweaked from Healthy Pumpkin Brownies

Hope

P1120730I took this pic on a hard day in a place that has special significance for me and my family. I know that if we have faith and anchor ourselves as individuals and as a family to the rock of our Redeemer that our future will be bright and beautiful.

One more angel in heaven

I wish I could say I was excited about this baby right away but it took me a minute. This was our first surprise. Out of the blue, unexpected, unplanned. My first thoughts were all about the reasons it wasn’t going to work. I already have a baby! A higher needs baby who needs me. I still haven’t slept through a night since his birth. The new baby would be due three weeks after Allen starts PA school. Three weeks after we move into a new house in a new city. I would know no one and be too far away for family to help. I would be 7-8 months pregnant for Clayton’s palate surgery. This is a big one with lots of recovery and therapy attached. Yikes.

But all it took was a text to my midwife, Stephanie and her enthusiastic response to snap me out of it. She didn’t care that we just had a baby or that we couldn’t afford another one or that there were a variety of other complicated factors in our lives. She was excited for a new person to be coming to our family. Just like that my switch flipped. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, I make beautiful kids and if Heavenly Father had enough faith in me to send me another of His precious angels I could have faith in Him and His timing- Why not?

10 weeks pregnant

10 weeks pregnant

So we started to plan. We did blood work and my always low progesterone was normal. No pills for me! That was a huge blessing. Things were good for about a week until one day in the middle of the day I started to bleed. Alot. For about 20 minutes I wondered if I was going to survive the episode but I knew my baby surely couldn’t. I continued bleeding, manageably, for the rest of the day and spent that and the next day in bed. My dear midwife held out hope. She’s seen a miracle or two and didn’t count our baby out just yet. I rested, cried and tested for a few days to see if my hormone levels were decreasing before I finally went for an ultrasound.

The first thing the tech saw was alot of blood. She wasn’t hopeful. I was with her. A minute later she gasped. “There’s a baby in there!” And a second later, “And it has a heartbeat!” That’s when I knew this kid was a fighter. If I wasn’t feeling grateful for this miracle of a pregnancy before, I definitely was after that experience.

We were cautiously excited. It was so fun to watch my belly grow so fast and so early! Apparently that’s what happens when you’re pregnant with your fifth baby right after you have your fourth. We took lots of pictures and thoroughly enjoyed it which I will always be grateful for.

I’ve never felt so great during a pregnancy. Not perfect, but for me, great! Again, we heard that beautiful heartbeat at our 12 week appointment and we began filling some friends and family in on the good news now that we knew that our baby was healthy and things were progressing well.

The next few weeks even the fatigue and little bit of nausea I was feeling eased up. I started rounding up some maternity clothes since cramming into my bigger pre-pregnancy clothes wasn’t working any more. And we set a date at 15 weeks to take our excited, anxious kids to find out whether we would be welcoming a boy or a girl to the family.

12 weeks pregnant, holding 12 week fetus model from my midwife

12 weeks pregnant, holding a 12 week fetus model from my midwife

About a week before the ultrasound, I started having some cramping and spotting. Not new for me this pregnancy but still upsetting because I had really started to think that I had healed and didn’t need to worry or “take it (so) easy” anymore. One night last week I had pains through the night that kept me up and gave me nightmares but then things died down for a bit though I kept lightly spotting. New Years Eve was hard. It was my son’s birthday and a big party day for my family. We played all day and night but I was hurting and spotting more. Later that night I curled up on my parents’ couch under a blanket in pain. Early the next morning (the day before the scheduled gender scan) I woke up in the early morning to bleeding. Not much, but not good. Between that and the cramping and aching in my low back my hopes weren’t high. I laid in bed not sleeping and making myself not call my midwife yet through the early morning hours of New Year’s Day until I eventually fell back asleep about when everyone was waking up.

I woke up in more pain, the bleeding continued and I had Allen call Stephanie. I so didn’t want to talk. We set up an appointment to check baby’s heartbeat. I could have waited until our ultrasound the next day but I wasn’t too keen on the idea of potentially traumatizing my kids for life if there was bad news.

Stephanie met us at her office on New Year’s Day just like any passionate birth professional who’s long since given up trying to celebrate holidays like a normal person would. This is why we love her. She searched and searched and searched but there was no heartbeat to be found. I was not surprised and I’m in awe at myself looking back and how calm I was. I didn’t freak out at all or get emotional. Something inside me knew not to expect anything. Still not ready to give up, Stephanie offered to go with me to the hospital for an ultrasound so that Allen could go home and be with the kids. Again, this is why we love her!

Last pictures- 14 weeks, 4 days

Last pictures- 14 weeks, 4 days

Off we went in the midwife-mobile to the Gateway hospital E.R. where we hung out, entertaining each other in the waiting room for over two hours. I was uncomfortable and hungry by this point but Stephanie kept a smile on my face. Allen finally rejoined us (thank you Cherise for taking my kids!) and we hung out a bit longer until it became clear that we would never get in.

So, we disturbed yet another family on their holiday and went over to Sunny Hyatt’s house for a quick peek. I’m so glad we did. I’m so grateful that it was in a peaceful, quiet, intimate environment that I got to see my baby. Again, I didn’t expect a heartbeat. I didn’t expect movement but seeing my little baby still was harder than I ever could have imagined. I’ve seen several babies on ultrasound now. They move, they breath, their little hearts beat in their chests. They kick and spin and are never still enough for the techs to get their measurements. They look alive. My baby didn’t. It’s chest was still. It’s arms were curled in together. It’s legs didn’t kick or flail. It broke my heart.

Our baby stopped growing a couple of weeks ago. At about 13 weeks. We had some options. We could wait it out and deliver at home, take a medication to help speed things along or schedule a D&C. We decided to wait it out.

The next couple of days were painful. Cramping and bleeding steadily increased and finally, last night on the 3rd of January I delivered our little one. It was a boy! He was 3 1/4 inches long from crown to rump and he was just perfect. Perfect little fingers and toes. Just still.

Last pictures- 14 weeks, 4 days

Last pictures- 14 weeks, 4 days

Then the bleeding picked up. And up and up until I knew it was time to go in to the hospital. They were fantastic and did everything they could to help me avoid surgery but finally I had just lost too much blood and things were getting a little scary. Right at midnight I went in for surgery. I woke up hooked up to a bag of blood. By morning I’d gone through another. But after the surgery, the transfusion and some more fluids I was feeling much more myself.

I have been incredibly blessed by visits from friends who love me, dinners delivered to my doorstep, treats, hugs and more messages than I can even respond to. I am so grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. I am so grateful to have four beautiful little boys to come home and cuddle with. I’m so grateful for an amazing husband who took care of me, my kids, the house and even threw a birthday party himself while I was in the hospital. I’m grateful for my parents giving up so much time to be with me and take care of my family. And I’m grateful for the amazing hospital staff who gave me the VIP treatment my whole stay and helped me skip the four hour wait in the lobby. Things could not have possibly gone better and I don’t know what I ever did to deserve so much good in my life.  Thank you!

We’re very sad not to get to meet this little person right now. I’m sure there will be hard days and I’m not looking forward to the kid’s due date but we have peace about it. I’m excited to get back to running. That’s been on hold with all my complications this past few months. I get to enjoy baby that I have without worrying about him becoming a big brother so soon. We can focus all our attention on him this April when it comes time for his palate surgery. But more than anything I have faith in Heavenly Father and his plan for our family. I trust him and know that he wants me to be happy and that he will make our family whole. I am so grateful for that knowledge and for my loving Savior who has been with me every step of the way. He has been true to His words:

John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
& 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

So, how much weight have you lost now? My response

I hit a big milestone a month ago and I never mentioned it because another even bigger milestone looms just around the corner. The big one. Or rather, the big one-oh-oh. Well, as it turns out that one might just take me a while. And that’s okay.

Just to show how very okay I am with it I’m going to brag about my last big accomplishment. Indulge me.

Late February this year my husband and I watched a movie that changed our family forever. We’d been working on getting our family eating healthier for years and were well on our way. There were lots of good foods in our diet including green smoothies, whole grains and other nutritious foods. But we couldn’t let go of the bad stuff. We couldn’t figure out where to draw the line.

So when we saw Forks Over Knives and over the next day or so underwent a huge change of hearts and minds (read more about our process here) it gave us just what we’d been looking for. We are diet haters. We don’t believe in dieting to get the weight off and then learning how to eat to maintain. We don’t get into diet trends and gimmicks. We’ve always been really snooty about it which is really funny coming from two fat people.

What this gave us was a healthy, doable, livable, lifetime way of eating that we could feel good about. A way of eating that we felt would improve our children’s lives and life-expectancies. A way to reverse the damage we’d done by so many years of dietary abuse. A diet based on healthful, delicious foods we craved.

I got into this not thinking about the scale (hoping but not dwelling). But the scale has done things this last year that I never would have thought possible. Ever.

[Find a couple more "before" pics here.]

I had a baby last December. In August I hit 100 pounds down from my delivery weight. That was pretty awesome. On October 6th I hit 90 pounds down from my “starting weight” from February. And later that month I hit a really comfy place that apparently I’m destined to be for the time being:
94 pounds down.

Ninety-four pounds! It’s obnoxiously close to a much bigger sounding number and it’s kind of an odd number to land on but I’ll take it. It feels good. I feel a little guilty when people congratulate me and tell me what a great job I’m doing and how hard I must have worked because all I’ve really done is changed the food we’re eating (except that it has allowed us to become more active).

I still snack, I still splurge, I still eat too much and I do “cheat” from time to time. I feel like the weight loss is a side affect of something I’m doing for my family and isn’t mine to celebrate. But this week I’m taking ownership for my accomplishment. I have done something great. And it has taken time, hard work and dedication, whatever my motivation. I have changed my life and my families’ lives and I did have a choice. I didn’t have to do it. So, today I’m proud. Tomorrow I’ll get over myself.

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