30 October 2008

Remembering Our Second Angel

My mom recently commented to me on what a different Halloween this is from last year.  Today, we are anxiously awaiting the birth of this sweet little one God has blessed us with.  On this day last year my husband was working in Boston and I was having a D&C to put a final end to our second pregnancy.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away...blessed be his name.  Last year I was helping my parents pass out Halloween candy, resting, recovering and mourning our loss.  This year I will be with my sweet Kit and we will be passing out candy, anticipating B's arrival and feeling so much gratitude for the healing & gifts of this past year.

When I found out I was pregnant the second time I was so happy.  I honestly didn't have that much fear.  I believed what everyone told me when they said, "These things happen once...and then you will have a perfectly fine pregnancy."  I had no reason to believe that this baby wouldn't make it.  Our anniversary baby.  That's when I was due...right around our anniversary.  Kit was heading to Africa just when I was going to be 8 weeks along.  That's the earliest they would schedule an ultrasound to check on the baby's status.  As much as I wanted him to be there, I didn't think I could wait another 2 weeks to find out how the baby was doing.  Plus, I figured everything was fine and I'd have a precious little picture to show him when he got home.  I never imagined that the time he was in Africa would be some of the longest, loneliest days I have ever had.

I had my mom go with me to the appointment, just in case.  We had a long wait and I was glad she was there.  When the ultrasound tech did the scan she pointed out the baby and said, "There it is.  The baby is measuring about 6 weeks."  Well, I just lost it.  I knew the baby should have measured 8 weeks...and I knew in my heart at this stage that wasn't good.  The tech was confused and my mom explained what I had been through.  The tech tried to console me and pointed out that the baby did have a heartbeat (even though it was slow) and that maybe I was off on my dates.  I knew I wasn't off on my dates.  I knew something was wrong.  After that I had to stay and talk to a nurse.  My mom tried to pump me with hope and reassurance that everything was going to be ok.  I met with the nurse who could offer no explanations or suggestions other than for me to come back in a week to check the growth.  Having to tell Kit about this appointment when he called to tell me he had arrived in Africa safely totally sucked.  He was so excited to be there...and I so wanted him to have an amazing trip.  But, at the same time I needed his strength and I know he wished he was with me.

I ended up waiting a week and a half to schedule the next scan since I was supposed to go to Chicago for a conference that week and Kit would still be in Africa until that time...and I definitely wanted him to be there.  So on October 8th we had the ultrasound that showed us the baby had not grown and his heart had stopped beating.  This did not come as a surprise to me at all.  While I was definitely choosing to remain hopeful, I knew in my heart this baby was not going to stay with us.  In fact, I think the only reason I was able to stay hopeful was because of Lisa...our great ambassador of hope.  Right before I had the first ultrasound she found out that the leukemia had returned.  If she could be hopeful in the face of her fears...so could I.

That week and a half of waiting for the confirmation was a time of deep prayer and introspection.  That weekend I was alone so I spent Saturday at a retreat center right outside the city that has great trails and a prayer labyrinth that I love.  While I was walking the labyrinth I placed my hand on my belly and prayed a simple prayer...dear God, be with me and this baby.  Over and over like a mantra I said it.  And as I walked I felt the Spirit telling me that I was this baby's mother and that I shouldn't disconnect from him just because I was scared.  I felt something in me realize what a precious and holy gift it is to be the vessel for a little soul.  How amazing conception is!  From two little cells a miracle begins and God breathes life into existence.  What a gift to be a participant in this process.  It was a remarkable realization for me.  I finished walking the labyrinth and stepped onto the trail leading to the lake.  As soon as my feet hit the trail something inside of me said, "Now let him go."  I nodded my head and knew that I was not going to meet this baby here on earth.  But, as I was walking to the lake I felt that God was telling me not to worry...I would be a mother to an earth baby one day, it would just be a journey to get there.  When I got to the lake I took a big seed that I had found and dropped it in the lake to symbolize letting go of this baby...and accepting God's will.  This is why I wasn't surprised when we found out the baby was gone.

I know some of that may sound hokey and "out there".  But, it was probably one of the few times I have truly felt God's presence with me.  And I don't think it has anything to do with His presence...but, more to do with my openness to Him during that time of desperation.  I would like to say that I carried the peace of that day with me over the next month...but, I really didn't.  I had moments where I would remember and know that God was with me.  But, mostly there was a lot of sadness and anger and "why me".  I tried to miscarry naturally, but it just wasn't happening.  And having to have a D&C felt like the devastation-icing on the cake.  Although I can say now with the gift of hindsight, it was the best thing I could have done.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading.  I feel pretty emotional after reliving the journey of those days.  But, I think it's important for me to honor that baby and the lessons that he brought us.  It's also important for me to acknowledge that God has answered his promise and has given us another chance to be parents.

Here are some pictures from a trip my friend Amber and I took to the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky in mid-October last year.  We had this trip planned before I knew about the pregnancy or miscarriage...but, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  This monastery has always been one of my happy places and I was glad for the peace and quiet while I was struggling with so many questions. 

Abbey of Gethsemane
Peaceful Lake
Stolen Moment with the Deer

27 October 2008

38-39 Weeks

Dear Baby B--
Well, sweet girl, this is probably the last letter I will write you while you're growing in my belly.  And it's probably the last time I'll write to you as "Baby B" ;).  We're all so anxious to see what you look like...and what your name will be.  Your daddy and I have a couple of names picked out, but we have decided to wait and see who you are before choosing your name.  I'm hoping the decision will be easy once we see you!

The last two weeks have been long ones for several reasons.  Knowing that you could be here "any day now" for a couple of weeks has made the days go by very slowly.  Each day we wonder if this day will be our last one before you come.  And each day we get many calls and emails from people who are so ready to meet you and love on you (mainly your grannies!) wondering if you're here yet.  Everyone is definitely on baby watch '08.  Which will come first: you or the new president??  Your daddy is so excited for you to be here, too.  He keeps telling you to go ahead and come out to play.  But, I know he has appreciated the extra days you've waited so he can get things finished up at work.  

I know I've been saying it for months, but I just have to say it one more time...sweet B, carrying you, feeling you grow and having you with me constantly has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Dreaming about who you are and imagining what our new life as a family will be like has brought me so much joy.  I already love you so much I think my heart may explode when I finally have you in my arms.  Thank you for choosing us, little one.  And thank you, God, for letting her be a part of our family.  Now, come on!  We're all ready to meet you! ;)


25 October 2008

Saying Goodbye

"Live life possessed
Exceed your expectations
And never, never give up."

Lisa & Doug in the Bahamas

Last week the unimaginable happened.  As one of Doug's friends said at his service, "We lost a giant."  Wednesday morning of last week we received the news that Doug White, Lisa's dad, was killed in a car accident.  Those of us who know and love the Whites are still reeling with shock over the death of such an amazing man.  Especially since it hasn't even been a year since we lost Lisa.  I've struggled since the day we got that dreaded phone call with what (if anything) I wanted to say on this blog about losing Doug.  And I'm not really sure that I have anything to say...there really are no words.

But, what I would like to say is how much I want to take a piece of Doug's spirit with me in all that I do.  Everyone who spoke at his service (personal, professional and family) had one thing in common to say...which is that Doug "lived life to its fullest."  And he did.  There is no wondering where Lisa got that quality from.  Doug and Lynn White have taught both Kit and me so much about treating your friends as family and your family as friends.  The entire White clan are some of the most generous people I have ever known.  And I wish so much to carry their spirit of giving into the lives that God places in my path.

Please keep the White family in your thoughts and prayers.  So much loss...it really is unimaginable.  Hold the ones you love tight.  We really have no guarantee of what tomorrow is going to bring.

...in their element

Doug White
October 11, 1941 - October 14, 2008

20 October 2008

Happy Birthday Sydney!

I can't believe our precious niece Sydney turns 2 today!  It seriously seems like just yesterday that we were anxiously waiting for Sydney to make her arrival.  It doesn't seem possible that she has already become a big-little girl with such a sweet, fun personality.  Happy birthday, precious girl!  Get your mom & dad to tell you how much your Aunt Laura & Uncle Kit adore you.

playing with Uncle Kit

sweet moment with Aunt Laura

feeding Uncle Kit his bottle

18 October 2008

Quotable Quote*

"Baby, you know I'm weird.  Well, actually I'm the adult version of weird.  I'm eccentric."
--Kit Hughes
*said over coffee this morning in reference to another possible baby name

13 October 2008

36-37 Weeks

I have definitely felt a shift the past two weeks.  I've been feeling the final month "blahs" everyone always talks about.  And now I understand how women in their last month of pregnancy walk around saying, "I just want this baby out!"  Which is really just funny to me because last month I remember one day thinking, "I'm going to be so sad when she's not in my belly anymore.  I'm going to miss having her with me all the time and feeling her little kicks."  I guess the final month of pregnancy is God's way of preparing us to be ready to do the work of labor and let go of being pregnant.  I've been comparing it to having a teenager.  I've heard that the final teenage years are so difficult so that both the kid & the parents can be ready for the "separation".  Maybe this is a little something like that.

Now this paragraph is really just so I can remember how things are...so, if you don't want to hear all my "woe is me" chatter just skip ahead.  I know the complaining is annoying.  So, I had SEVERAL days last week of funky, funky intestinal stuff (won't go into details).  I was so sure that it was going to last until the end.  I was in so much pain one day I wondered if I was actually in labor!  I also have the dreaded swollen feet...which I was so proud that I didn't have up until now.  And unfortunately I do alot of walking at work which is pretty painful for my swelled up feet shoved into my work shoes.  And there's definitely no point in buying new shoes at this point.  Speaking of shoes, I'm now so big putting on my shoes (or rather socks & knee highs) is a major ordeal with lots of deep breaths & grunting.  Nice.  But, despite all of the pain & annoyances I am still so in love with this girl.  Sure, her movements are bigger and take up more space.  But, I still can't help feeling giddy whenever she starts dancing. 
I've started my weekly midwife appointments.  I tested negative for the strep B virus which is good.  And baby is head down and ready to go!  It's so cool that they can tell that just from feeling around on your belly.  The first time she did it and said that B was head down I said, "How can you tell??"  She just gave me a look like, "Silly girl...this is my JOB."  But, I didn't give her time to say that...I just said, "Oh yeah, that's your job."  So, now I know it's not her head I've been feeling press against my belly button...but, probably her little baby butt!  They'll start checking my dilation status next week.  Oh yeah, and as of today I'm officially "full term"...so, at this point it's B's game and she can start choosing her birthday!  We pretty much have everything ready.  Carseat installed: check.  Clothes washed: check.  Diapers stocked:  check.  Clean sheets on the cradle: check.  Arms ready to hold: CHECK!  Kit and I are both relaxed about the fact that it's ok if there are things left unfinished.  We're just so ready for her to be here!

The highlight of the past few weeks was going to see Wicked at the Fox last week.  I went with Kristen and one of her good friends, Shannon.  I was hesitant to let Kristen get me a ticket at first because I wasn't sure how I was going to be feeling...or wether or not baby girl would be here.  But, I'm so glad I went!  I haven't been to a musical in so long...and we had GREAT seats.  It is a fun show with lovable characters and catchy music.  It kind of felt like a last "hoorah" for me.  So, thanks K for knowing I would love that!  Who knows when I'll make it to a play again??

Well, people, I know you can never really know these things...but, I really think she's going to be here soon.  I won't go into details, but I've been having some signs that things are "moving".  And when I told my midwife about them today her eyes got big and she said, "Well, it sounds like you're getting ready!"  I know that doesn't mean a WHOLE lot...and you can be "getting ready" for several weeks.  But, it's exciting to think that it really could be "any day now"! 

08 October 2008

Radiant Light

"Those whom we have loved never really leave us.  They live on forever in our hearts and cast their radiant light onto our every shadow."

You can't read it from here, but that's what the plaque on this swing says.  My mom noticed it when I sent her a copy of this picture and she opened it on her computer.  The picture file was really large and it was zoomed in right on the plaque.  I was on the phone with her and she read it to me.  I thought it was a beautiful message and just had to share.  Oh, and yes, this is another one of Karen's fabulous shots.

02 October 2008

*The Final Countdown*

Alright people, we are in the final month of this thing!  I am literally in the home "stretch"...in every sense of the word.  It's so hard to believe that in a matter of weeks we'll have a baby girl living with us.  I guess it's not really something you can fully grasp until it happens.  I look at all her little onesies and socks and diapers and it's hard to imagine that SO soon a little body will be wearing them.  Ah well, I don't really have much to say...just wanted to share my freak out with everyone!

01 October 2008

Pregnant in the Park

Here's a sneak peak from our maternity photo shoot we did on Saturday.  I recently reconnected (thank God for Facebook!) with an old friend from high school, Karen, who is a very talented aspiring photographer.  She graciously followed us all over Piedmont Park with a keen eye for the perfect shot.  These are few pics she sent us from the afternoon...and I'm excited to see the rest!  It wasn't exactly a traditional "maternity" shoot...we took alot of just fun/artistic couple shots in addition to preggo ones.  I love this one with the city skyline.  You can see that my husband is definitely the photogenic one in the family.