Thursday, July 24, 2014

On miracles...

   "They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.
    Going a little farther he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"  - Mark 14:32-36

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I have had the following conversation several times since Lily's diagnosis was confirmed by the amniocentesis:

Other person: Hey Sam, how's it going?

Me: Good days and bad. I'm emotionally drained from the pregnancy. Things that I probably would chalk up to being normal stress me out. While I'm ready to be done, it also makes me sad because I know that when I am, she won't be here for very long either. It's a double edged sword."

Other person: Don't give up hope. God performs miracles every day. And I pray every night for you to have that miracle.

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When I have this conversation with people, I want them to know that I, of all people, don't want my daughter to die. The only other person that could possibly want it more than me is Brandon.

But I don't think God is going to take this cup from us.

I so desperately wish He was.  I've never wanted something so badly in all my life. But I don't think that's what Lily's story is going to be.

That reality is just really hard to say because then it's out there and it's real and there's nothing that can be done about it. I don't think people want to believe it anymore than I do. So most of the time, I'm just quiet. I think it's a coping mechanism more than anything.

There are some times when I can't stop the pain. My triggers lately happen with two situations. The first is when I see new babies come into the world. The hardest part of seeing all these pictures of families looking happy is watching the daddy drive the family home. The other is watching all the nurseries and shopping trips and all the little rites of passage of getting ready for baby coming together.

We haven't made any major shopping trips.
We don't have a nursery.
I can count on one hand how many outfits she has.
Brandon likely won't get to take Lily home.

Some days the pain of what lies ahead of us is overwhelming, but it doesn't mean that I don't think she isn't a miracle.

I think it's crazy to know that Jesus knew what was ahead of him. He knew it was going to hurt and that it was going to be humbling, and that he was going to be humiliated. And it's why he asked for his Father to get him out of what was coming.

I so identify with this. I know Lily dying is going to hurt. I know Lily dying is going to be humbling. To some extent, I know that Lily dying is going to be humiliating. I wish that last part wasn't true, but there are some people that don't think about what they say and things will happen that I just can't control.

But you know what Jesus also knew? He knew that his death would bring the resurrection which is the single greatest miracle this world has ever known.

Now I don't think that Lily is going to be resurrected by any means, but I do think that there will be beauty  from the ashes that I can't even begin to fathom or know about yet. While I can't see past my nose for trying some days, I know that our redemption will come.

It has to come. It just has to...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Here's to seeing the good.

I mentioned in my last post that going to sleep is the hardest time of the day for me. There isn't anything to distract me from the reality that awaits us.

The other night I was looking at my Instagram account and I was looking at all the pictures from when we lived in Michigan. I was struck by how happy we looked in them. There were hard times in Michigan for us, but we were melded together as two in a way that might never have happened for us if we hadn't gone to Michigan. The whole time I was looking at these pictures I kept thinking, "All that time, that happy girl was headed for where I am sitting tonight and for this year."

I also wondered, "Will I ever be that happy girl again? Will my smile be changed? Will people be able to see that there is just a bit of sadness to my eyes for the rest of my life?"

And it made me sad and mad all over again. I told Brandon at dinner that I remembered that the first 8 months were hard because we were so homesick, law school was kicking my butt, and we were struggling financially.

But we survived and so many things worked out wonderfully for us.

That hard didn't seem to touch what we were going through now. I'd take all three of those situations in a heartbeat if it meant we got to have a healthy little girl.

I shared with Brandon that I wanted so badly for Arkansas and all that it holds for us to be good like Michigan was. I remembered Michigan being hard, but the level of hard we'd experienced in Arkansas, was just weird. I then took a sip of my water at the pizza place we were at and said, "Man I'm so glad that just about everywhere in Arkansas has Sonic ice for drinks."

And he said, "See there's something good about Arkansas right there."

It was simple and to the point. Brandon never said it, but if I want to see the good, I've got to look for it.

That's who I am. In the worst of times, I look for the good. It's how things in Michigan got better and how we survived at first and then thrived there.

I feel like this might be among the worst of times for us is an obvious understatement. But I've still got to look for the good, even if I have to fight to find it, because if I don't, I'll drown in my sadness.

The time I have with Lily is going to be special, no matter what. If it is two hours or ten, I want her to get the best version of me. I am not naive enough to think that it won't be hard to watch her go, but while she's here, I want her to know me as her momma who loves her with all she has. I want her to know the woman that fights to see the good, and not only survives this hard time, but thrives because of the grace of God.

I know there will be days I fall back down again, but the point is that I will fight to stand up and with the help of God and those that I love, I'll be able to stand up and see the good while doing it. I'll definitely have some battle scars from this deal, but those scars will be just that, scars, because God will heal me.

So here's to seeing the good...and on the bad days, here's to remembering that the good days will come.

Happy Wednesday.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

On being the Tin Man




"Now I know I've got a heart, because it's breaking." -The Tin Man, The Wizard of Oz

Ever have a post that just doesn't come together like you want it? That was yesterday for me. There are so many thoughts I have going on these days and I'm trying to express them because I know it's important in the healing process.

Today is going to be short and sweet, but exactly where I've been and am right now.

Brandon and I have our NICU appointment today for Lily. 

I've been having panic attacks at night because it gets dark and quiet in the house and there isn't any noise to distract me from what's happening. I don't have them every night. But I'd say about once a week. Things are always harder when I know I have a doctor's appointment coming.

The anxiety is crippling at times.

I fight it as hard as I can. I pray constantly throughout it. Bottom line, it's just really sad to think about and I worry about everyone else I love being safe.

Sometimes I tell Brandon if I can just survive this year, I will make it. But as soon as I tell him that all the worry about what else could go wrong with it comes whooshing in and the rest of the year seems cloudy.

I've never felt that before.

I've always been secure in my life and the direction it was going. I've always gone with plans of how I think things will work out and for the most part they do. When they haven't, I've been able to bounce back.

Now NOTHING is certain anymore.

I know that losing the power of control and being vulnerable is part of my journey in all of this, but I feel helpless.

...and scared. I've never been so scared in my life of losing the people I love.

At this point, my heart is broken with Lily. I know that with time, my heart will heal. But if I lose Brandon, I think my spirit will be broken. I don't dare say these things out loud all that often because I feel like I'm tempting fate. I have never once let myself say out loud "What else could go wrong?" because I don't want to be like Job with no one left. Even now I worry about typing those sentences out. I can't handle losing everyone. I can't really handle losing Lily.

I'm wondering if God has forgotten about me.

Everything I grew up being taught about Jesus is being put to the biggest test right now.

I want so badly to believe that this plan is better and that God's ways are better, but I feel almost betrayed by God. I am called to trust Him wholeheartedly and I've been told my whole life that no matter what I can trust Him.

I know that is Satan at work which pisses me off. I wish I could tell you that that asshole has left me alone during all of this, but he takes his shots whenever and however he can.

I fight so hard to see the good. Trust me on that. It seems like a lot of good Christian people have been hit hard this year with loss.

I want so desperately to see God's faithfulness to others, but I want to see it for us as well. I need to see it and desperately so.

So pray for us today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I Took for Granted...

Tonight's post is a bit of a rambler. I apologize in advance. 

We didn't try very long before we were pregnant with Lily. In fact, we weren't really even trying. We were in the "no longer preventing" phase of our fertility story. We stopped preventing at Thanksgiving. I had my cycle in December and when I had it, I was met with mixed emotions for the first time about it. On one hand, I wasn't all that sad because we had both said that we weren't putting any pressure on the situation until after the bar in February. On the other hand, I was sad because I had finally let myself think about there being more than just the two of us.

For our anniversary in December we actually went somewhere by ourselves to celebrate. We usually are around family and we were earlier that day, but we usually try to eat dinner by ourselves at some point. This was the first time since we were married that we stayed the night in a hotel for the occasion. We ate at Outback Steakhouse and saw American Hustle. During dinner, we talked about our goals for the coming year and babies were a part of that conversation. Brandon was still hesitantly excited. Meanwhile, I was very much ready to go look at and register at baby stores. Like I said, I had waited a long time to let myself think about babies so when I finally let myself entertain the thought, it was as if the dam broke.

But in all that time together (6 years of marriage and 8 years together total), I didn't really pray about our babies.

I don't want anyone to misunderstand me. I think that this time in our lives was coming for us whether we prayed about it or not.

What I am saying is that I considered kids more of a mental big life moment check list.

As a Type-A person, checking off to-dos makes me more excited than most. Babies are one of the biggest and last to-dos in terms of goals for my life that I have. I know it's going to be one of the most important contributions I make in this world.

So it was a big to-do being checked off and little Miss Have to Be in Control aka Me was very happy about it.

God knew that. So did Satan.

In January we found out we were pregnant. We made it through the first trimester. I had some morning sickness and my hormones were a bit cray at times, but we had very good signs that this was going to be a healthy pregnancy.

I let myself think even more about all that we would do with our newest addition.

I thought about her going for her first cheeseburger with her Pop (my dad), blasting the radio with her momma, being at AL's and Uncle Will's graduation party stealing the show, arguing with her about clothes, boys, and rules when she was a teenager, her nursery and what I wanted it to look like, going to Papa and Mimi's (Brandon's dad and momma) to fish with daddy and Papa on the ponds, being a shoe junkie with her AJ, being Nana's best road trip buddy yet, having her Uncle Matt and Uncle Aubie wrapped around her finger, what she would be when she grew up, whether she would play softball or be a cheerleader to AL's delight, and everything in between.

But something I didn't think a whole lot about was her time in the church growing up. I'm not saying that I didn't think about it. I just took for granted that it would happen. I didn't realize what a responsibility it was and is to be a parent as a Christian. I was fortunate enough to have good leaders in our church that I wanted to be in the church I grew up in. I also had parents that took the time to make sure I was at church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Those priorities are a large part of why I am who I am today.

I figured it was something else on the check list that would get done. I didn't really know how that would happen which should have been a sign to me. When I think about something important that I don't know how it will all work out, I think about it and analyze it and study it so that I can have just a slight edge on how to handle whatever situation I'm looking at.

On April 24, 2014 all of that control as to how I was going to be a good parent was stripped from me. There isn't a thing in the world I can do to make this better for Lily. It is what it is.

To be this vulnerable is really hard.

I have to trust God to take care of this situation completely. I have to let Him fight for me.

I think that's my spiritual battle.

When things are good, the trust and the faith come easily in Him.
When things are hard, the trust and faith in God are tested.

And boy am I ever being tested. Right now, I have to put my whole faith in Him.

I have to let go of my security blanket that is control. I took it for granted and now I'm facing life head on without it.

Instead of me teaching Lily about Jesus, her story has been about her turning me toward Jesus not just for her, but for her future siblings provided we are blessed with children in the future as well.

I love that because I pray for all of my babies daily. And I hate it because it took this situation to get me here.

But I'm not taking it for granted because I know it's where Jesus needs me to be -trusting Him entirely with EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life.

 But dang is it hard.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we cannot see...And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." - Hebrews 11:1,6

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Bad Days

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well with my soul. 

Refrain: 
It is well with my soul, 
It is well, it is well with my soul. 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, 
Let this blest assurance control, 
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, 
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. 

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!— 
My sin, not in part but the whole, 
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, 
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: 
If Jordan above me shall roll, 
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life 
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul. 

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, 
The sky, not the grave, is our goal; 
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! 
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul! 

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, 
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; 
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, 
Even so, it is well with my soul.
- It Is Well With My Soul, Horatio G. Spafford

Recently, there have been quite a few people on social media tell me how strong I have been through all of this. 

And I just want to laugh. 

I have bad days more than what you think. 

I probably should talk about them more, but I don't necessarily want it to be all bad all the time. I realize that I have to give myself grace and let myself be sad. But I don't want the sadness, heartbreak, and anger to be my story, or Lily's story entirely. Typically, on my bad days, I try to stay off Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram. 

That being said, I think it would be a disservice to Christ not to talk about my bad days. Because when I have bad days filled with anxiety, worry and anger are the days that someone reaches out to let me know they're praying for us or they've seen some lilies and wanted us to know they're still thinking of the three of us. Or Brandon is having a good day and I can tell him and he can handle it. I also want people to know that the only reason we made it through this time was because of Jesus and the community around us. 

In my hometown church there are 6-7 babies from my high school youth group that have been born or will be born this year. My Lily is one of them. This past Thursday, one of those babies was born. Friday was pretty much an awful day. I didn't go to class because I knew it was going to be a hard day. I haven't had a full day where the sadness and heartbreak just overwhelms me since I started studying for the bar. Like I said, I could just tell this was going to be bad and I needed to give myself some time.

The thing is that while it is wonderful that this new life was here, it also was hard. It was an in-my-face reminder that isn't going to happen for us this time. We don't get to take Lily home. She doesn't get to grow up. Brandon doesn't get to take his little girl out for special dates. She won't have a wedding day. The list goes on. And on. And on. And on.

But the bigger issue I've dealt with lately is anxiety. It is crippling at times. I'm a very Type-A person. I like to be in control on a regular basis. This whole situation is out of my control. Parts of it, I've made my peace with...well at least the best I can. But what I'm struggling with most right now is child birth. I think it's because I am dealing with an inevitable infant loss that I'm scared of losing others in my life.

But mostly, I worry about and my anxiety consumes me regarding child birth.

We have made some decisions regarding child birth and one of those decisions includes an induction. (This is all based on the contingency that she doesn't pass away before then.) I'm not ready to share when that's going to happen, but the point is that I know emotionally, it is the best thing for me.

I'll be honest, Saturday through Sunday was HARD for me. Brandon and a friend of his were talking about child birth and how so many things can go wrong if not watched. I hadn't really told Brandon what I was struggling with and I asked him to change the subject. He didn't really think anything about it. They proceeded to continue the conversation. I later told Brandon that I had been having anxiety about it. He was super upset knowing what he knew afterwards.

The only time I felt a release in those two days was while we were at church on Sunday morning. I don't think that's a coincidence.

I don't tell you these things to feel sorry for me. I don't tell you these things to pity me. I just want you to know the ways you can pray for me.

This is where I am.

I'm not a quitter. Never have been. But I would be lying if I didn't say that I'm not struggling.

I will say I've found hope in the following verses for the days to come.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:28-31

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." - Isaiah 61:1-3

I read them over and over again. And I don't give up my fight because if I do, I feel like Satan has won. And that can't happen. I refuse to let it be the story for Lily and I refuse to let it be the story for me. But most importantly, I refuse to let it be the story for Jesus' kingdom. 

In my weakness, Jesus is made strong and while I am hurting, I put my hope in Him. Some day, I'll be standing upright again. Until then, I have to be okay accepting His help and the help of our village of loved ones to stand up.

So just keep praying. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maternity Update: Weeks 18-27

How Far Along: 27 Weeks today!

Size of Baby: Cucumber

Gender: Female

Name: Lily Faith

Weight Gain: Yes.

Maternity Clothes: Yes, but I'd kill for a good pair of sweats and a tshirt like a normal human being.

Movement: I feel her pretty regularly and especially at night. Her feet are on my right side.

Symptoms: Indigestion. Indigestion. Indigestion. See also: Lovely Sciatica.

Sleep: I haven't slept well since I found out I was pregnant because I'm a tummy sleeper. I do have an occasional good night of sleep.

Cravings: Mango Magic smoothies from Tropical Smoothies.

What I miss: I still miss alcohol and good sleep. But for now, I'm trying to focus on my time with her and being in the moment.

Best Moment of the Week: Had a doctor's appointment today. We got to hear her heartbeat and it's at 151. Doctor was pleased and said it was regular for now which was good. We also got to see her on ultrasound. She also has no fluid on her heart or lungs. She doesn't have a ton of room to move around and I can tell that. It's still wonderful to see her little hands and feet in there.

Looking forward to: Seeing her face. We have yet to see her face in all that is going on and today was no different. She's definitely stubborn. I'll give her that.

We have good days and bad days still, but the bad days don't seem to last all day anymore. Studying for the bar again has given me a focus and a drive to look forward to our future. Brandon is back at work and doing much better. I'll post about our new normal soon. Hope this finds you well.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Pen Clicker and The Hulk

In my family, I have a slight reputation when I am hungry. Well, I should clarify and say HANGRY.

They call me The Hulk.

I'm not someone that can wait to eat meals. I have to eat on time at normal breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. If not, I get queasy, then tired and I have one final burst of energy before I feel like this...


I come by this honestly. My mom does the same thing. So do several members of her family as well, but I'll not name them. I mean I figure it's best not to throw everyone under the "I could probably hurt a small village when I'm HANGRY" bus today.

I do my best to avoid this situation. Being pregnant has only exacerbated the problem. Usually, when I have that last little burst of energy I have about an hour before things are Hulk like. But lately, I've got about 20 minutes.

Also, when I'm the Hulk, I do my best not to talk to other people, because well, it's not really nice and not myself. However, when I'm pregnant, it's harder for me to refrain from my opinions.

Enter the pen clicker.

Yesterday, I was running late and raced out of the house as quickly as I could. I forgot to grab my breakfast bar. I stopped at Sonic for a drink. Thankfully, I got something with carbs in it because halfway to the law school, I realized that I didn't have breakfast. I hoped and prayed that I would be okay until I got out of class.

An hour into the class, I heard my tummy grumble.

An hour and a half into the class, I felt queasy.

Two hours into the class I felt tired and I heard a pen click. I looked over and this guy had finished writing a not the professor just gave us. About 30 seconds later, he clicked his pen again because he needed to write another note. When he was done with that note, he clicked his pen again.

Pen clickers are a pet peeve of mine.

I immediately prayed for patience and for God to delay the inevitable.

About 20 minutes later, I felt a slight burst of energy and I was halfway happy.

Twenty minutes after that like clock work, I was not happy. Dude was still click click click click clicking away too.

I huffed. Click click.

I looked around to see if anyone else noticed. Click click.

I checked my phone for decent fodder on social media to find none. CLICK. CLICK.

I puffed. CLICK. FREAKING. CLICK.

I looked around again for some form of mercy in the form of someone sharing my misery.

CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. (We hadn't written in awhile and he was bored apparently.)

I worked through my planner for the next few days to get a head start. CLICKITY FREAKING CLACK.

I huffed one last time. I decided that if dude didn't stop his clicking I was going to stage a coup and take his pen so he couldn't click anymore and then mercy of mercies, I heard a faint whisper, "Dude needs to knock it off with the pen clicking before I hurt him." I looked behind me and nodded my head a little too ferociously.

This CLICK CLICKING went on for another 20 minutes.

I wish I could tell that this story has a happy ending, but it doesn't. Today, dude was back in there clicking again. I ate breakfast and brought a snack for the record to keep the green beast at bay, but it still made me nuts.

But today, there were more people complaining. That dude's days as a pen clicker are numbered, I can feel it.

If not, I'll email the class administrator so he can make an announcement. I feel like it's best for all parties involved.

If that doesn't work, I'm buying him a box of cheap ass Bic pens with no clicking abilities for as far as the eye can see.

Signed,

A Pregnant Woman Who is a Part-Time Hulk

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

On why the storms before the rainbow comes matters....

During tornado season, when Jessi and I were little girls - and I'm talking pre-Loren and Will here - my dad would tell us to set our shoes by our bedside in case we needed to get up and head to a shelter in the middle of the night.

I don't ever remember needing to get up in the middle of the night, but I do remember that I slept hard and didn't worry because my dad would make sure we'd get to safety if a storm got close. There were nights that the wind was fierce and we lost trees. Nevertheless, I put my faith and trust into my dad and his decision making. I believed that he knew better for me. And I slept well and easy knowing that he knew what to do in case trouble came. 

Even now when a storm comes, I sleep harder and rest easy because of all those nights when I was a kid. 

I've mentioned before that I am struggling with seeing how God's plans for Lily and for Brandon and I are better than mine. 

There have been so many times in Brandon and I's relationship where things didn't work out the way we wanted. And we would complain and be pissed off for awhile about it. Each time our plans failed, we always lamented, "Just one time, I wish things would come easily to us!" 

And we have said it a hundred times this time with Lily too. 

But you know what else happened during those harder times? We were drawn closer to God and to one another. His ways were ALWAYS so much better than ours. 

I feel like the storm we are in right now has been brewing since last summer. 

Brandon moved to Arkansas for work and while Jessi was with me, my husband was not. We both had very busy lives during those six months and we talked as much as we could, but it just wasn't the same. We reverted back to being independent without one another. Listen, while I'm a strong advocate for strong women, one of the ways that the Lord has grown and stretched me is letting myself be vulnerable to Brandon. 

Before I met Brandon, I was Miss Independent personified. I needed no help from anyone.
After I met Brandon, I learned that it was okay to still be strong, but that it was okay to ask for help. 

There wasn't any shame in being human. 

Last fall seems like a cake walk in comparison to now. But right before we found out about Lily, Brandon and I had a knock down drag out that was ugly. I was reeling from not passing the bar, missing Michigan, and questioning whether or not Arkansas was the right place for me. When truthfully, I hadn't given it a legitimate shot. We also were going through an adjustment period after being apart for a period of time. Like I said, it was ugly. 

Two weeks later, we found out that our daughter was very sick and that if she survived birth, she would go to meet our Maker shortly thereafter.

And that argument seemed insignificant and petty.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the story of Noah. But here is the gist of it: God told Noah to build an ark and make sure that two of every kind of animal was with him. He also got to take his family with him which included his wife and his sons and their wives. And Noah obeyed God. Here's the kicker - he did all of this before the storm ever came and even after he finished building the ark, the storm didn't come right away. The storm eventually came for forty days and for forty nights. Noah and his family were safe. When God finally destroyed the Earth and all who lived in it, He told Noah and his family to come out. He promised that He would never destroy the Earth in that way again and to show Noah, He meant it, God showed the first rainbow. 

(For a full version of events, see Genesis 6:9-8:22)

I kind of think there are two storms here. There's the obvious one when Noah and his family are at sea, but there was storm before that. I think that Noah was facing a mental storm while he was building the ark for God. I just imagine him to face a ton of ridicule for building a boat so big with no water to put it in and also he must have been wondering if what God had for him with all of this. And yet, he obeyed God and loved God whole-heartedly.

The second storm was just as hard because they lost all their friends and everything they knew to be normal. Their whole world would never be the same.

I so identify with that.

I hate that this is my story and that things aren't fun. Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy thing. But this just isn't. It's a whole lot of sad and trying desperately to find good when there really isn't any.

I've waited a long time to post weekly updates and now it just hurts to think about them. I know I'll want them some day, but being in the moment of things, it just makes me mad.

And I guess that's what I feel most: anger.

We have done so many things that we are supposed to do. We got married first. We got our education. And I know there isn't anything in the Bible about education, but we both wanted to bring children in this world with the best conditions we could. We felt like we could honor God with our family by having good jobs and working hard. It's two ways of being good stewards of the Earth. I'm not saying we are perfect by any means, but we made our best efforts to be obedient to God. We fight for our marriage and take it seriously.

Could we have done better? Yes, we could have. And maybe that's the lesson. I don't know. I know God is faithful to those who obey Him. And obedience is like self-control. It is a life long journey. I've learned that in the past three years of law school and two years of taking care of my health. Fighting to make good decisions is an every day battle. It's one that never ends.

I thought I was making headway on that fight.

Yet here we are in this storm. We got picked for some reason and I'm not sleeping well because there isn't anything I can do to protect my little girl from harm like my dad did.

The Bible tells us that God does not always protect us from trouble or storms, but He cares for us in spite of them. There are a lot of ways He has cared for us in all of this, but there are also ways that it doesn't seem like He has. I know that's because I can't see into the future and I haven't been to heaven to ask the hard questions. It makes me mad.

And I guess that's what part of this is about: I have to truly trust Him and His will for our lives. Not just where I am comfortable with letting go, but where I'm not comfortable letting go too.

I know we will come out stronger as a couple.
I know that we will be more in love with one another that we already are.
I know that there are some things in my own faith that could use some adjusting.
I know that we have made some decisions for Lily that are in obedience to God.
I know that we will be able to help bring people to His kingdom because of this story that others cannot.
I know that we will grow in our faith.
I know that some day I will know why God needed Lily more than I did.

I know that our rainbow will come some day. I just wish I didn't have to go through this awful storm first.

But, then again rainbows can't come without the storms happening first.

And His promises for our family can't come without trusting God completely to make them happen.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Requests - Prayer, Dresses, and Being Aware of One's Surroundings

I posted the following on Facebook earlier today, but I've added a little bit to it....

First, thank you for your prayers. We went to my hometown this weekend and saw so many people that told us they have been praying for us since they found out. It is absolutely humbling to hear that still and yet incredibly awesome to see the body of Christ at work, not only in my hometown, but across the country.

We still ask for your prayers at this time. We want you to know that we both desperately pray that she is the miracle that defies the odds, but at the same time, are trying to prepare ourselves for what is most likely to come. In the meantime, keep praying for us because we mostly pray for Lily. We pray for her healing, whether here or in heaven. If she's healed in heaven, then our prayer is that we have an opportunity to tell her we love her before she goes.

As for us, I'm taking the bar again this summer. I'm looking forward to throwing myself into the law. Brandon is working always and continuing his PhD classes. Pray for our strength and to find the good in the bad. I do not want her time with us to be mostly sadness. So pray we have the courage to fight for good days and to turn to Him during this season. Pray our stress levels remain as normal as they can be in this situation so I don't go into labor early because our doctor does not want to prevent labor due to the complications that can occur with our situation.

Our families can use your prayers as well. This is not what we imagined for our first-born or any child for that matter. No one ever does, but they are standing beside us through it all.

Pray for our doctor. We have found a wonderful specialist in Arkansas that has our backs. He is straight-forward and entertains no bull when it comes to my health and is the most compassionate doctor we have met in some time.

Lastly, some statistics. Lily has full Trisomy 13, not mosaic. A lot of people have asked about that. There is a difference and we love that you are researching what we are going through this time. Lily's diagnosis was confirmed by two ultrasounds and an amniocentesis. We didn't find out about this through a blood test. A good website is trisomy.org and any educational articles are as well. Stay away from WebMd because it lists things that are inaccurate.

I don't know if I've mentioned what her defects are, but I'm too tired to look back at my blog at this point. We have been told she has a congenital heart defect in the form of missing the lower two chambers of her heart. I don't know a lot about CHDs, but her problems don't end there. Her right and left side of her brain are fused together which causes major problems as far as her brain communicating with other parts of her body or in some cases not at all.

Finally, as you can imagine, our view on the world has been changed for forever. The biggest things that we have realized is to make the most of every day and to tell each other we love you. We want to encourage you to do the same.

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Dresses - I am looking for two smocked dresses. Both of which I'd like to be pink. I want one with lions and the other with turtles on the neck. I'll need a newborn size.

I want one for the hospital and one for her funeral. I haven't really been able to look at kids anything because it's too hard. I waited to buy pretty much everything until we knew what we were having. My sisters, mom, Karen, and the committee were just waiting to pull the trigger. And then, well you know.

So if you're into smocked dresses, I would really appreciate your help in finding the two I've mentioned. Some day, I'm sure I'll be a smocked dress guru, but that day just isn't here for me right now.

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On Being Aware of One's Surroundings 

I'm not really sure how to start this section. I want anyone that reads this to know that I come from a place of love.

People aren't really sure what to say. That's the one thing we keep seeing. We still can't believe we are in this. I know that people don't want us to hurt and wish they could take it from us.

But dang...sometimes, people have foot in mouth disease.

A good family friend of ours is one of the first people I went to see after we found out about Lily. She had a little boy named Jordan that was stillborn. Her daughter's husband also came from a family who suffered a loss with a stillborn baby. Her name was Zoey. His dad called it the gold standard of misery when they lost their little girl. And he is right. This experience will be our gold standard of misery. I've learned that pretty much everything else is a minor inconvenience in comparison.

I don't want to sound condescending or come across as preaching. In fact, this will be the only time I mention it. The rest of the time if I see others complaining, I'll likely just take a break from social media. I just think it's worth me speaking up on my behalf and others who will experience this hell behind me.

But here it is - Be aware of your surroundings. 

Everyone grieves differently. Just because someone doesn't talk about it all the time, doesn't mean they aren't hurting. I'm at the beginning of this so things are going to hit me harder and more frequently right now. But these are just a few things I've seen.

  • Telling someone you know that has a perfectly healthy baby is something that person deserved is a knife in the gut for me. NO ONE deserves anything - healthy or not healthy -  in a child. Each and every one of them is a gift from God that has been entrusted to you as a parent for a short while. Plain and simple.  
  • Telling someone to not worry they can have another baby is hard to hear. I wanted and still want Lily. 
  • I've seen a ton of people complaining about various things regarding parenthood. And it's a hard pill to swallow. I would do just about anything to have your problems. I realize that all moms will grow weary at some point in their job, but be grateful that sleepless nights and nap refusals are the worst of your problems. 
  • Telling someone they knew someone who faced what we did, but had kids and they don't know how they made it otherwise.
I realize that everyone has their own battles they face and it's why I struggle even writing this section. You may not be in my situation, but I am certain you probably have your own gold standard of misery. I know tons of momma's that have faced infertility. I have a good friend that finally pregnant with twin boys and I watched her cry and be upset by for almost three years by people that didn't think about what they said. She is thrilled to finally be pregnant, but don't think for one second that she isn't mindful of those around her still waiting for their turn.

And that's all I want. I just want people to think before they speak and be aware of his/her surroundings.

I hate that this is my story now. I went to sit down to write this blog post tonight and I wished that I had a funny story to share instead. But that's just not where I am right now. Some day it will happen again.

In the meantime, I hope this finds you well and with those you love.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mama said, there'd be days like this...

About two weeks into this deal, I got tired of seeing people I knew. Because I was faced with two options, either they stared knowingly and said nothing. Or they asked, "How are you doing?"

I told Brandon that I was happy I don't know anyone in Arkansas because I can hide. That hiding only covers me so much.

The odd thing is that I'd rather people ask me, then not. I know the ones who don't ask are probably afraid they'll make me cry. It won't be the first time and it won't be the last. And quite frankly, I've already heard the worst part. I just haven't experienced it yet.

Yet, the question remains.

So here is my response for now.

Some days I feel like I am wounded from being shot, my heart hurts so much. The worst part? I know there is another shot coming and so I feel like I am staring down the barrel of the gun, just waiting for it to fire. It is absolutely heartbreaking and devastating to know the closer I get to the end of my pregnancy means the closer I am to saying goodbye. Before I knew about Lily's diagnosis, I thought this pregnancy would drag forever, and now I hold my breath waiting for her to kick every day, so I know she's still with me.

My heart hurts so much I feel like I'm suffocating.

Other days, I am mad. In fact, I'd say I have a lot of mad days. I'm a type A planner. There have been many times where my ways were not the best ways. But every time, God's plan has worked out even better than I could ever imagine.

Well let me tell you. Me winding up with a baby that is going to be with Jesus does not seem like a better way to me. I don't want her to be an angel looking out for me. I want Lily to be with me. I know God knows that. And some day I'm sure I'll learn why. But right now? I'm mad. I'm "that girl" who has a Trisomy 13 baby and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. And there's no explanation for it either.

You know, when a child dies from abuse or a tornado or in a horrible accident, it is absolutely awful. But at the end of the day, there is a cause.

I don't have anything or anyone to point to on this deal. The doctors have told us that this is just something that happens. It's awful, of course, but there isn't anything that we did. We have been told that over and over again.

WELL WHO DID? AND WHERE THE HELL DO THEY GET OFF?

And please don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to say the children lost in the situations I mentioned aren't awful. Because any loss is devastating.

But I just can't make heads or tails of this. We are figuring out things like where she'll be buried, who will do the service, what we want her to wear in the hospital and for the service, what funeral service to use, writing a birth plan with contingencies that include her born alive and stillborn...and the list of the terrible awful goes on and on.

We should be daydreaming about Christmas time and Thanksgiving. Figuring out how we would bust up the trip because she'd be a newborn and she'll need to nurse. Figuring out how we'd do Disney next February for my sister's cheer trip. My doorstep should be exploding with dresses I've bought and I should be talking about shower invites with my sisters and mom. I should be daydreaming about what she will be like when she grows up. I should be planning for her first OU football game. I should be teaching her about good music and great films.

And I'm not.

Then there are other days, where I am just zoned out. I don't really feel much of anything. Lily is always on the surface of my mind, but it's almost as if my mind won't let me think too hard about it. It's as if my body is trying to help me cope.

Finally, there are the "good" days. 

When I would get stressed about law school I had a mantra "It will all work out. Just breathe," and like Peter Pan, I had a happy thought that could calm the worst stomach aches, anxiety, and make me feel like I could fly - a baby.

The last of my childhood is gone. I know that might sound silly for a 29 year old to be saying, but when I thought about what my future looked like with our first little one, I did so entirely from my imagination. I've read about it on blogs, books, watched movies, watched it with my younger sister and brother. But I've never experienced it. It was one of the last rites of adulthood. And it is supposed to be happy.

I can't get that back. I'm different now.

I want so desperately to be happy for Lily. I don't want her entire life while inside of me to be sad or upset. She is still a miracle. I want her to know love her entire life.

So I fight for that, every hour of every day. Sometimes I don't do well with that fight like I mentioned and other times I do okay.

But I'm not giving up. It's just not who I am.

And then there are other times, when I need to act like this really isn't happening. The committee and my family are really good about just letting me be. They know when I need to talk and when I want to be a "normal person." While it might sound crazy, some times it happens simultaneously. I don't want to lose me in all of this. I still have a purpose and if I lose me, I lose the fight and that's just not an option.

So that's how I am doing. If you know me in real life or just through my blog, don't be afraid to ask. You might catch me on a good day or you might catch me on a bad day. But when you ask me, you're acknowledging me, and more importantly, you're acknowledging my sweet Lily girl. Ask my family about it as well.

Not talking about Lily is not an option for me.

Even though I struggle with all of the above, I want you to hear me when I say this: I still believe in God. 

Like I said, some days I'm mad as a hornet, but that doesn't mean that I'm not talking to Him.

On those days, I'm just yelling at Him.

On most days, my prayers and conversations are just a lot of the same lately. No one in this world wants her to be a miracle baby more than me and I tell Him that.

But in the last days,my prayers have shifted. I read Angie Smith's "I Will Carry You" recently and she talked about how Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus about Lazarus in John 11. They didn't ask Him to do certain things or meet certain needs. They told Him the problem and left Him to work.

I've been praying for healing here or in heaven. I've been praying for time with her. I still pray for those things, but not as much as I used to. He knows what the desires of my heart are.

Now I wake up in the middle of the night with John 11: 3 "Lord the one you love is sick" on my lips.

I don't know how the Great Physician is going to heal Lily yet. God is bigger than a 100% diagnosis. I truly believe that.

HOWEVER.

If He decides that healing Lily looks like her going to be with Him, it'll be okay.

Some days it'll suck like hell. On those days, I hope there are those praying for me to have peace and rest in the fact that I'll see her again healed and whole.

In the mean time, I'm going to let God be God and get busy living to the best of my ability.
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Hi y'all! The name's Samantha. You can call me Sam if you like. I am a somewhat newlywed that is Southern Baptist by denomination, a Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I'll be Sooner dead, Democrat by party, blonde to the core, and oldies but goodies kind of girl.
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