Saturday, January 23, 2016

Full Term

Life with a full term baby is so SO different.  I am not balancing feeding schedules and apnea monitors.  I do not have to lie awake at night, imagining the beeping of the alarm to signify they've stopped breathing.   I've never watched Hannah struggle to catch her breath, never stood by helpless as she turned blue, never had to teach her to eat.  She came out huge and round, ready to go.  She came out crying, ate as soon as I was stitched up, and had these beautiful full cheeks.

And yet, she is growing up before my very eyes.  Each day, she is SO much bigger than the day before.  She is developing so fast - in growth and what she is able to accomplish.  She knows nothing of the battle to overcome the way Warren and Dean did.  She was born knowing so much, possessing so much.  Oh, how I would have taken it all for granted were it not for my 2 little miracles sleeping upstairs.  I wouldn't have given it a second thought - the ease at which she accomplishes all these "normal" milestones, eating and sleeping and playing exactly like she is supposed to.

Our weeks with W&D are now filled with 6 therapy appointments, progress notes, and goals to achieve.  Two and a half years later, they still have to work for it.  But, you know what?  They will be better because of that.  They will be stronger.  They will understand work ethic and persistence from a young age.  Life with preemies hasn't been easy, from our end or theirs.  But we are all so much different, so much stronger, because of their journey.  As I think back on my pregnancy with the boys, as I continue to struggle with guilt and pain at not providing more for them, I have to remind myself that God is still bigger.  His plan is STILL better than mine, whether I understand that at this exact moment in time or not.  It's a constant struggle for me, that letting go and trusting.  Even if it's simply letting go and trusting with what has already happened.

I love Hannah immeasurably.  And life with just Hannah would have been so carefree and easy.  She's such a blessing, a joy, to raise.  Even in the wee hours of the morning, when she smiles up at me, I'm filled with such love.  But who I am, the mother I have become, is all shaped by years of trials.  Of saying goodbye to Reagan, of standing by unable to do anything but pray and wait and trust with the boys, of months in the NICU.  I watch Hannah as she is growing up so very fast, trying to not take a second of that time for granted, knowing that tomorrow is never promised but desperately trying to not live a life of fear.  If I had never experienced difficulty, loss, sorrow, trials and struggle with our first 3 children, I would never have known what a blessing life truly is.  I might begrudge those 3am wakings, the crying and fussing in the evening.  But God has taught me how precious life is, how precious my children are, and how short time on earth can really be.  It's a lesson I wish I didn't understand, and yet I am grateful, because it has given me a greater depth of love.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Saying Goodbye

This is a hard post to write, coming after a difficult decision for our family.  We are moving.  There, I said it.  My heart is heavy and a bit broken, though I know this is what is best for our family.

Andrew has accepted a position with Pinnacle, the company he worked for the first 5 years we were married.  It's a family business, and we're both so excited for him to work for such a Christ centered company doing something he loves.  The struggle for me lies within the move itself.  We haven't been able to be as involved in Charlotte and our community as I would have liked, or even as much as we did when we first moved.  Years filled with loss, bed rest, and then isolation took that from us.  I pictured our lives here, close to the mountains and beach, close to family, with our kids playing in the parks I drove past daily, playing t-ball on the field near our home, dancing in the studio with the neighbors, swimming in our awesome neighborhood pool.  I pictured this long before we were actually able to have kids, and the image shattered when we lost Reagan.  We talked of moving then, of trying to run away and escape the broken dreams that haunted me.  But God graciously gave us Warren and Dean, and then Hannah.  And the life I pictured slowly started to take root.  Though it was always broken, though our family is never complete, I pictured our children growing up here.  We talked of moving closer to Charlotte, getting more involved in the NICU at the hospital, doing more of the speaking engagements.  Most of what I pictured could happen in just about any town...the sports, the parks, dance recitals.  The scenery might be different.  The weather might be hotter.  But the activity, the memories we could create, would all be very similar.

Here's the hard part: Reagan.  This is Reagan's home, her only home.  This is where her butterfly is painted on the wall, the only remnant of her nursery.  This is where I held her and loved her.  This is where I said goodbye.  That's it.  She only gets one home, and I'm leaving it.  And Reagan's Garden.  We started that organization to reach families specifically in Charlotte, so that no one would ever feel as alone or isolated as we did.  And now?  We'll continue the services, I'll still be making cards and NICU boxes.  Hurting families here in Charlotte will continue to receive all the same materials of support because this is Reagan's home and where my passion lies.  But I won't be able to really minister to these hurting families, to potentially meet up with them for coffee, to hear face-to-face about their little ones gone too soon.  My passion, my heart, is still in this community.  I pray it will one day grow to include communities in Florida, and I trust that it will.  But in the mean time, I still feel like I'll always have one foot in Charlotte where our eldest daughter lived.

So, you ask, how can you support us?  We are in need of prayers - prayers for my heart as I leave this town, prayers for our family as we transition, and prayers for Reagan's Garden - that we would be able to find willing families to run support dinners, that we would continue to be able to grow and support families in Charlotte, that I would be able to keep up with making the cards and boxes so that no one goes without simply because we are not local anymore.  I want Reagan's memory to live on here, I want her life to continue to be impactful, I want to help families find hope amidst the loss and despair after suffering the death of their child.  It will be difficult, but I must trust that God can work out all the details.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy 2 months!

Happy 2 month birthday little Hannah!  Or should I say, not so little :).  Our petite little girl, who was down in the 12th percentile at her 1 month check up, hit a huge growth spurt and is in the 23rd (she's carrying most of the weight in her cheeks these days) weighing in at 10lb 4oz! Woo hoo!  I must say, it is so nice having a full term chunky baby.  After 2 kiddos who didn't reach the growth chart until their 2nd birthday, this is easy.  No weigh ins before and after every feeding, no consulting feeding specialists, no stressing and worrying over their lack of weight gain.  We still have our nursing struggles, don't you worry, but it is much different with a full term baby.

Hannah still loves to cuddle.  She is never happier than when she is asleep on my chest (as she is now), softly snoring away like her daddy and brother Warren.  She has slept as long as 6 hours at night which is incredibly important at helping me survive the days. She seems to only be incredibly fussy on the 4 days following any amount of dairy/soy intake.  So for now, none of that for this mama!  Totally worth the sacrifice to get the sleep.  And when my boys are whining and Hannah is crying at the same time it's, well, awful.  My head comes very close to exploding and the headache lasts far longer than the crying.  Let's just say that the whining is enough to make one go insane and Hannah's lungs are definitely not weak. We experienced some unfortunate days after a rather delicious Starbucks soy latte.  Never again...

But outside of that, she's a fairly laid back little girl.  Hannah still spends most of her time hanging out sleeping, eating, and pooping, as all 2 month olds should.  She's still fairly pampered with her expansive girly wardrobe.  Warren and Dean love helping me pick out her outfit each morning and require only a little guidance for weather appropriate attire.  She's just started smiling in recent days and will have a conversation of cooing with me.  I love those rare moments, when the boys are napping or with Andrew, Hannah is awake, and I'm able to really focus on her, playing and talking without guarding her head from flying wooden blocks.  It's a crazy household she's growing up in!

Love you so much sweet girl!  Don't grow up too fast for your mommy...