Sunday, August 13, 2017

Please don't forget my babies

Over the past 2 months, we have been asked how we are doing and if there is any way we need help.  I have yet to come up with a good answer for these questions.  Most of the time I don't have much of anything to say.  Sometimes, I don't even respond to the text.  But I notice the message, and I so appreciate that, in that moment, my son is being remembered.

Here's the thing, there are no "right" words.  There is nothing that anyone has ever said that helps take away the pain, guilt, anguish, bitterness, etc of what I am feeling.  There was nothing with Reagan either.  It's part of why I still feel uncomfortable myself when I have a conversation with a new loss Mommy, when Reagan's Garden brought me woman after woman who had experienced the same pain.  Even then, I had no words.

One of the biggest questions I got after starting Reagan's Garden was from friends who were trying to comfort their friends who had just lost a child.  Wanting to know what they should do and what they should say.  The one thing that stuck out to me with Reagan was how no one wanted to talk about HER.  Maybe they would ask how I was doing, but after a few weeks even that became few and far between.  I can really only think of 2 friends who EVER asked about my healing and only 1 who made the jump to ask about Reagan.  But I remember sitting there, feeling so grateful someone loved me enough to want to know my daughter too.  (thank you dear friend!)  To want to know about the labor, about what it was like to see my firstborn, about how I felt when I had to give her back, what it was like to pick up her ashes.  So, that is what I always shared with those who would contact me - to make sure to mention the child by name, to bring him or her up in the conversation on how you are doing.

The other point I always stressed was that this is a long-term journey.  It was over 4 years before I could hear of a woman pregnant with a little girl and not feel myself being pulled into a world of bitterness and pain.  Now, bear in mind I had a second daughter 3 years later.  So, Hannah was turning 1 and I still felt like I somehow had a corner on the market of all baby girls.  Ridiculous, I know.  Along that 4 year journey we also experienced life in the NICU and isolation and the birth of 3 children and a move, so maybe that played a role in the delayed healing.  Or maybe that healing time is completely normal?  Who knows.  Regardless, we felt completely forgotten after about 6 weeks.  No more cards, no more flowers, no more "I'm thinking about you texts".  It was like all healing was supposed to be finished.  And I wasn't ready.  I was still reeling, still trying to figure out how to get out of bed and get to work.  And then I'd come home from work and either go to bed and crumble or run to God with Hope.  One of the 2 extremes, nothing in the middle.  With Lucas, I am so thankful for friends who have continued to check in on us, who are loving us the way they know how.

For anyone who has friends who have experienced infant loss, please remember our babies.  Please use their names.  When you see something that makes you think of them, let us know.  When your heart is heavy for us, let us know.  When the texts stop coming, when the cards stop coming, we feel forgotten.  I will live every day of the rest of my life missing my 2 children.  I gave birth to them, held them, and said goodbye, all in a matter of hours.  That is all the time I will ever get here.  I will never forget, and I see reminders of both children everywhere I turn.  But it is so comforting to know that someone else remember them too.  That I am not as alone as I feel, but that Lucas and Reagan made some impact on a life outside our home.  People may say the wrong thing, may even say something that ends up being unintentionally hurtful.  But, at least they are trying, and at least they remember.  The silence hurts most of all.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Two Months

Today marks two months since I said goodbye to Lucas.  Two months since I last saw his face.  Two months since the last day I was physically able to be his mommy, since I kissed his little forehead, since I studied his upturned nose, since I sang him songs, since I held him close.  Two months of constant heartbreak, continual reminders, and overwhelming doubt and guilt.  The thing is, I know it gets better.  I know from Reagan that in a few years, I won't want to scream anymore.  I won't find myself sobbing uncontrollably as often.  It's hard to see and feel on moments like today, when the grief is crashing over me.  When it seems like the world has officially moved on and we are left on our own, still struggling to understand what happened.

It took about 2 years before I stopped counting the months after Reagan died.  Two years before I stopped catching my breath at the dates 30/31/1 - the day of her death, the day of her birth, and the day we said goodbye.  I imagine the same will be true with Lucas.  That the dates 9/10 will be a trigger for quite some time.  That I won't want to be around people or work on my happy face on those dates for a while.  So, here I am today, only 2 months into this second journey.  Broken, and yet so very thankful for those precious moments we had.  Grateful for these pictures I can pour over, for the memories we have, for the special family time I will always cherish.  And I'm thankful that I am secure in my future with Lucas and Reagan, that I know our story is not over.

My dear, sweet Lucas, I miss you so very much.  And I love you so very much.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of you or wish you were here with us.  You would have loved our mountain escape, loved playing in the woods with your siblings.  I could just imagine you in a few years, rolling around with those crazy boys and fighting for who would get the biggest walking stick.  I'm afraid you would probably never have won that battle.  I HATE that I won't know, though, that I'll never get to see that moment here.  My heart breaks for all the things that I will miss.  But I am so thankful for you, and that I am your mommy.  Always and forever, my love.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hands Full



"You've got your hands full!"

Over the past 4 years, I've heard this statement constantly.  I used to get it when I'd go out alone with just the twins, especially as people would learn they were twin boys.  And once I was pregnant with Hannah, the comments increased.  Spending hours walking through Target or Publix while our house was on the market, with Hannah crying or nursing and pushing a double stroller with screaming 2-year-old toddler boys, well, I could see where they were coming from.  My hands were literally full.  But the comment always stings.  Because, my hands aren't as full as they should be...

From the very beginning, we've been missing our children.  I used to cringe when people said that to me with the twins, because it was a painful reminder that my hands should be more full.  These past several weeks, Dean and Warren have started to become slightly self sufficient.  They play with each other, they can open the car door and buckle themselves into the car seat, they can clean up their own room.  All these tasks I had been working on with them since I got pregnant with Lucas, and they are finally mastering it.  My goal was to try to make things a little easier on myself before he was born, to lessen their dependence, to make my hands less full so I could care for Lucas and Hannah without feeling quite so overwhelmed.  They're all good tasks, all things Dean and Warren should be doing anyway.  I don't regret this emphasis on their growing independence.  But it hurts, that reminder that I don't have 2 of my children here, that I won't actually ever need this ridiculous quad stroller.  I'm not overwhelmed with the tasks of parenting and the sleepless nights from a crying baby, but overwhelmed with the crushing grief of missing my son and daughter, and the broken dreams that haunt my nights.  I still cannot believe we are back here again...


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So, as I heard this statement last week, another "you're hands are full" comment as I walked quickly through publix to grab a few items, with children who wanted what they could not have and were happy to let strangers know, I let a few tears fall.  Knowing and longing for the babies I never got to raise, never got to experience their temper tantrums or the angst of going on a grocery run with 5 kids 5 and under.  So many moments to grieve, so many reminders surrounding me.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Celebration of Life



So, last night I gathered with a group of people who get it, who KNOW, who are part of the club you never want to be involved with.  And we celebrated our babies together.

We headed up with Winter Park for a night out, to the Celebration of Life for the Finley Project.  I wasn't sure how I felt about all this - a bit overwhelmed, a bit guilty, a bit unsure.  But also excited, grateful for a chance to feel understood, to not feel like I needed to just get over it.  Because, we learned nearly 5 years ago, that just never happens.  And I struggle to function in everyday environments, feeling like I have to pretend to have it all together, trying my hardest not to cry or scream or break down at the sight of every pregnant woman or newborn baby.  Trying not to go to the dark and bitter place, trying not to blame God for this awful new normal I am living.

So, yesterday, I could just be me, Meghan mommy of 5, desperately missing 2 of my babies.  I arrived early to the event and was sent up to a suite for some time of pampering with the other mommies.  This involved massages, hair, and makeup, a chance for me to not have to worry about getting myself put together because someone else would take care of it.  As I sat there, I battled through guilt - guilt at being out, at relaxing, at allowing myself to be pampered.  And I battled the ever present bitterness, sitting between pregnant women rubbing their bellies, thinking that was EXACTLY what I should be doing now.  And yet, there we were, all women with all different stories, yet deeply connected.  We shared in the loss of our children.   For without that, we never would have met, would have had no reason to be together in this room.

And, for the first time since Lucas' memorial, we got to talk about our sweet boy.  We were able to share about him and a bit about his story.  We got to hear about the other boys and girls who are his new playmates.  We connected and bonded over this indescribable pain as we shared the beauty and heartache of our stories.  It was emotional, sure, but so wonderful to have people who asked real questions, who didn't cringe or become silent, who hugged us even though we had never seen them before.  I even met another mommy who also had 2 stillbirths.  I've often felt like I was the only one, the only one who has had to endure this not just once, but twice.  And it's helpful to know there are others out there too, and that we are all making it through.  Overall, it was a beautiful night, a great way to honor our sweet Lucas.


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Saturday, July 15, 2017

What happened

For the most part, our community has been overwhelmingly supportive.  People have supported us in some incredible ways as we face life without another of our children.  But, here recently, I've been getting some questions.  And some subtle hints, almost accusations.  So, I want to just address this upfront.  Because, I feel like even when people haven't asked, they're wondering.  What happened?

With Reagan, we never knew.  We had no clue why she died.  One minute she was healthy, the next she wasn't.  She was normal, I was normal.  And yet, she was gone.  I've spent nearly 5 years questioning myself, wondering if I did something wrong.  Did I eat the wrong food?  Did I come into contact with something?  Did I not sleep enough, not eat enough vegetables, not wash said vegetables long enough, work too hard, swim in dirty water, etc.  I imagine I'll wonder these for a lifetime.  Because, we have no answers.  None.  No clue, not even a guess, as to what went wrong.

For Lucas, that is different.  He was healthy, I was healthy.  And yet, he died.  It's like getting struck my lightening twice.  But this time, we have some answers.  I still wonder if I should have known something, I still question my mommy instincts, I still wonder what is wrong with me.  But, the answers help cut down on the blame, on the guilt, just a bit.  Lucas suffered a cord accident.  There, I wrote those words.  Our precious baby boy, perfectly formed, died because of a "fluke".  His cord developed abnormally thin in the middle.  We knew about his velamentous cord insertion and were monitoring that, but that was not the area where they found a problem.  It was right in the middle, where it suddenly became only 2mm in diameter on the outside, not enough space for nutrients to continue to pass.  That is all.  Not a syndrome, not a condition that Lucas had, not something I put on my face or ate or did or didn't do.  Having an answer helps some days.  The questions do not.

Monday, July 10, 2017

One Month Closer

One month ago, I was holding Lucas for the first time.  I'm so grateful labor was long enough that the horrors of yesterday are separate from the joys of today.  Because, holding Lucas was pure joy.  Delivering him, helping him into his first and only diaper, kissing his sweet forehead, reading him his first book...these are the moments that make me feel like his mommy.  And I can celebrate that today.

I thought for a long time about what I'd like to do for today.  Yesterday was miserable, reliving the moment we learned he was gone over and over again.  But today?  Well, it's still so difficult of course, there is still so much pain surrounding the memories.  The quiet of his birth, the lack of monitors beeping, the smiles on the doctor's/nurse's face.  But through it all, there is immeasurable joy.  Because our time together was so special, full of such great memories.  Memories we knew would need to last us a lifetime, and so we absorbed every second of our time together. And I can sit here today and look back through our pictures, and remember his sweet little face.  And how ridiculous it was the he had a unibrow at 23.5 weeks.  And that a nearly 1 pound baby could have a little chub to his cheeks.  Oh, he was so cute. 

So, I imagined what we would have done today if he survived.  If he was fighting it out in the NICU today.  Well, for the boys, we bought them presents - clothes, a new book to read as we sat together in the NICU, and some special things for their room.  At 1 month old, we finally began to think of decorating their room.  But Lucas is gone, and doesn't need those things.  But...maybe another little boy would.  Maybe another little boy born today would appreciate a surprise blessing.  So, we headed to the store.  And I took a few deep breaths and headed into the baby boy section.  And together, the kids and I picked out some special items for a baby boy we would never know, including a pink plaid romper that Dean absolutely loved.  If it came in 4T he might have gotten one.



And then we did the most difficult part.  We walked into the hospital, past the triage room, past the memories of the gut wrenching cries I let out, down the hall of labor and deliver.  And we handed everything over to the nurses with tears in our eyes, with tears in their eyes.  Then we walked out.  The ride down the elevator was the hardest part, remembering it all too well, when I made that trip after handing over my son.  


So today, I am 1 month closer.  One month closer to be reunited for forever with my sweet Lucas.  And Reagan.  And Reagan's twin.  Half of my children are gone.  I pray they would be proud of us, that they would always know how much we love and miss them.  My dear Lucas - Mommy misses you more than words could ever express.  My heart breaks at knowing all the moments I will miss, all the while knowing that you are loved and cared for beyond what I can fathom.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

One Month

Today marks 1 month since the darkest day of my life, again.  One month since we learned our sweet Lucas had gone to be with Jesus.  One month since the nurse sadly shook her head no, tears streaming down her face.  One month since my life shattered.  One month since I last had hope.

There are so many painful reminders all around me.  Even fun things that I can now do that I couldn't because of my pregnancy restrictions - jump into a pool, ride a roller coaster or water slide with Warren and Dean, carry Hannah AND my diaper bag, go for a run - all these things that I've been looking forward to doing again, but now they're surrounded by guilt.  Guilt because Lucas is gone, because I shouldn't enjoy something that I shouldn't be doing if everything was perfect.  I've loved seeing my kids' faces as they laugh at me in the pool again.  Hannah was too little last summer to remember any of it, so she's especially found joy at swimming dates with mommy this week.  But, underlying it all, mixed in to each "happy" moment, is the grief and pain at missing my boy so desperately.

I miss Lucas so much I physically hurt.  Sometimes I feel like I can't breath through it all.  But I've tried my best to put on my happy face and make Lucas' life count for something.  I could so easily bury myself in my covers, hiding from the world, never leaving our home.  It's what I actually want to do every second of every day.  But then my desire to be Lucas' mommy takes over, and I chose to shower (sometimes), get dressed, and take a step forward.  I do my best to not go running from the park when the pregnant women gathered around me are complaining about how miserable it is to be big in the heat of the summer.  I try not to break down while looking for children's books and seeing the display of  "Big sister" books.  Because, Reagan should have had those first, and then Hannah.  But ultimately, we have no reason to be reading them in our home.  Broken.  I would do anything to go back to June 9 and have a different outcome.  To arrive at the hospital concerned and anxious and be told that everything was okay.  As I lie awake at night, I relive those moments over and over, questioning, processing, and ultimately crumbling all over again as I hold Lucas' sweet baby blanket and look through his pictures.  I cannot believe it has already been a month since he died, that tomorrow will mark 1 month since I met him and said goodbye.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Disappointed

I've been asked a lot these past few weeks how I'm doing.  It's not a bad question, it's a very natural one.  And one that lets me know people are still thinking about us and remember Lucas, so I appreciate it.  But it's given me a lot of reason to think through my answer.

Ultimately, some days are better than others.  Some days I can run and play with Hannah.  Some days here little giggle makes my heart soar.  Some days I can enjoy her.  (I should state Warren and Dean are gone this week...)  But other times I can hardly get out of bed.  I want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world.  I find myself absentmindedly rubbing my belly before I remember with a start that all that remains is a pudgy reminder of the child I once carried.  And then I cry this big, ugly cry, and Hannah gives me this look like Mommy's gone crazy.  And so the cycle goes...

When I think about it though, I'm not as angry anymore.  Still a bit bitter and jealous of all the other women who seem to have it all so easy, who go through pregnancy without a care, who conceive the exact weekend they want, and then have the audacity to complain in front of me about their pregnancy symptoms.  But mostly, I'm disappointed.  I'm disappointed that the God of the universe, my heavenly Father, who I can think of as "Daddy," is letting this happen.  That the first pregnancy when I trusted Him, when I wasn't overcome with anxiety and worry, ended like this.  I know better than most that babies die, we learned that with Reagan.  I know that pregnancy can be filled with complications and end with severe prematurity, we learned that with Warren and Dean.  And I know that I can think everything is about to go wrong, live in fear for 8 long months, waiting for terrible news that is never delivered; we learned that with Hannah.  But this time?  Well, this time I really trusted God.  I never thought something would go wrong.  I had only a few brief moments of anxiety, once when I didn't feel him for a few days around 18 weeks, and once as I approached 21/22 weeks when we lost Reagan and I went into labor with the twins.  I feel like my Daddy has failed me, that He has let me down.  Again.  That He didn't take care of me.  Or Lucas.  And though I know Lucas is actually very much taken care of, that He is loved beyond what I could ever do, I'm not really strong enough to remember that in the daily moments.  I just miss my sweet little boy too much.

I had great plans for this week, this time with just Hannah and Lucas.  I was going to put the twin's room together with their big boy beds and their new bedding, as we transitioned their old cribs into Lucas' room.  I was going to get everything ready for Lucas' arrival as, now in the 3rd trimester, I knew he could potentially arrive at any time.  And now, I'm sitting in a quiet house while Hannah naps.  My new to-do list includes boxing up my maternity clothes, cancelling our diaper subscription, unsubscribing from pregnancy emails, and trying to stop the auto shipments of the medications that were going to help keep me from going into labor.  How much can one endure?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

FOUR

Happy 4th birthday Warren and Dean!!

Wow, I cannot believe we are here, that my little boys are not so little anymore.  In some ways, I feel like it has taken forever for us to reach this point, forever for them to finally hit 4.  (And 4 sounds so old to me, right??  Like suddenly they should be self-sufficient??)  But in other ways, well, it seems like I was just holding their tiny little bodies as they battled for their lives.

I've learned a lot about micro preemies since Warren and Dean were born, a term I didn't even know existed.  But, here is what I know about my boys.  They are fighters-for the first years of their lives, they battled every day.  The battled to eat and gain weight, to maintain their temperature, to breathe on their own, to hit their milestones, to meet their developmental goals.  Things we took for granted with Hannah took months or years to accomplish.  Or we're still working on them.  Starting life in the 2nd trimester is certainly not the way we would have chosen for them.  But they are strong.

And Warren and Dean are funny.  They have these great little personalities, with a bit of spunk mixed in.  They make me smile or laugh on days when I don't even want to get out of bed.  Warren has the greatest giggle, and Dean, a deep belly laugh.  Their imaginations are incredible, and anything goes during play time.  They can build intricate towers, bridges, or jets with legos, and can work on them for hours.  And they are each others' best friend.  There is something special about a twin bond, something that runs deep when every moment of life is shared together.  We didn't see this much in the first years, but oh we do now.  There is no one they would rather play with, no one they quite love like one another.  It's quite tender to see.

I'm so thankful I get to be their mommy, that I get to know all these great things about my sweet big boys.  Warren and Dean - you bring so much joy and happiness into our home, and a bit of chaos, and a new volume level that I've grown to love and appreciate.  I love you so very much, always and forever.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Missing

A piece of my heart is missing.  Two, actually.  Ripped out suddenly.  I'm overcome with it all, with the shock and disbelief that Lucas is really gone.  How?  How can this be?  How can life just keep going on all around - how do we smile and celebrate our twin's 4th birthday, how do I take them to the park, how do I take a breath and put on my happy face and pretend to be fine?

I felt like it took 4 years with Reagan.  Maybe that's too long, maybe that's not normal...but it took me 4 years before I could celebrate with other women when they got pregnant, when they had girls.  Four years before I wouldn't spontaneously break down in the store when I saw someone who resembled what I imagined her to look like at 2, 3, or 4.   My heart always ached for her, I always missed her at family events, holidays, vacations.  I always wondered what it would have been like for Hannah to have a sister to play with.  I still wonder those things, still feel that ache, but it's an ache filled with less bitterness and anger and angst.  It's more of a recognition that our family is incomplete, that our daughter is missing.

But now??  Can a parent really overcome losing 2 children?  Can I go through these years of grief again?  Can I face a future always wondering, always thinking about what we are missing out on with Lucas.  This time around, I know more.  I know what it's like to hold a crying baby when they just need you in the middle of the night, I know what it's like to nurse a baby to sleep, I know what it's like the first time they call you mommy.  I feel more deeply what I'm missing with Lucas because it's not just what ifs in my mind, it's what I've lived through over the past 4 years.  So many beautiful little moments I'll never have.  Oh my sweet boy, how I miss you.

So, how do I move forward from here? When all I want to do is hide, curl up in bed, never face the world again.  How do I give my kids a fun summer, let them be kids and run free and play, when I just don't have the strength?  I keep thinking back to that last moment of hope, and that's what hurts the most.  The last moment I thought things might be okay.  Obviously we headed to the hospital for a reason, but home dopplers are unreliable.  And I had just felt him the day before.  I just keep thinking back to the ultrasound tech, and how she took a minute to scan things, face blank.  I remember anxiously looking at her, eyes darting between her and Andrew, waiting.  And then she silently shook her head.  That was it, that was the end.  I feel naive for thinking things would actually be okay, for having that moment of hope.  I feel disillusioned and disappointed by the God I've served for as long as I can remember.  And right now, I'm too weak to even cry out to Him.  I'm living in a fog.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lucas' Memorial

Lucas had a beautiful memorial service yesterday.  Our families and community rallied behind us to help us put together something that would celebrate our sweet boy and his brief time here with us.  I've had several people ask if we would record Lucas' service, which we did not do.  I didn't think to talk to Andrew about it until the service was starting, and then I wasn't sure I would want to watch it again, thought it might be too painful.  But, I have the words I shared about my Lucas:

Isaiah 65 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be an infant who lives but a few days or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.  They will build houses and dwell in them, they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people, my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune, for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them”

I first studied these words in detail after the death of our first daughter, Reagan.  I poured over them, relishing in the truths and promises of the Lord.  I found so much comfort in knowing more about my eternity, and my entire perspective on life was altered.  I never imagined I would be reading them again after experiencing the same loss.  Never thought I would find myself in this place again, saying goodbye all too soon to a child I loved so dearly.

I first laid eyes on Lucas in January and, amidst the craziness and distractions of raising 3 other little ones, I loved him in an instant.  He was such a happy boy on all our ultrasounds – we watched him smile, watched him wave, watched him suck this thumb.  He was always active, never quite wanting to be still for his pictures, very much like his older brothers.  When we found out we were having a boy, we were shocked.  I had been so sure he was going to be a girl.  But oh, we were excited.  And we immediately started planning how we would do life with another Savant boy running around in our home.

We dreamt about how Lucas would fit into our crazy, messy life.  It certainly would have been an entertaining place to grow up, with older brothers who are wild, carefree, and loud, who love to play and laugh and sing.  I could see Lucas following around behind them, wanting so badly to be a big boy just like them.  And I could totally see them plowing right over him, knocking him down.  But I would have been right there to kiss away the tears and make his boo boos all better.  Hannah would have been a great big sister, once she got over her jealously of not being the baby anymore.  She came to every appointment with me, watching the screen intently, learning to say “baby” for the first time.  Andrew was excited to have a 3rd boy, to complete his golf foursome, to coach his baseball team, to teach him how to be a man.  And me?  Well, I was just ready to care for him.  To love him, give him kisses, rock him to sleep.  I didn’t want anything more than to just be his mommy and all the daily tasks that went with that.  I wanted to see him play in the woods, to zoom trucks around the house, to build the most intricate train track, to stack Legos and form tall towers or whatever his imagination could think up.  I wanted to dance with him in the kitchen when he was still too little to stand, to jump around and be silly to some of my favorite songs, and to hold him at night when he just needed his mommy. 

But God had different plans for Lucas.  And, though I can’t wrap my head around the why, that I can’t understand His will and His plan, I am so grateful for the time I had with my son.  I’m thankful for the quiet moments in the middle of the night when he would kick so hard, grateful for the way he’d wake me up by pounding on my bladder.  And I love that we got so many ultrasound pictures, that our ultrasound tech was kind and let us see him for longer than was needed for the measurements, that we have pictures of him smiling, that I saw him suck his thumb, and he waved to us.  These are precious moments I will treasure. 

On the morning of June 9, I woke uneasy.  And I couldn’t find a heartbeat on the Doppler.  As we headed to the hospital, I prayed that I was wrong, that I was overreacting, that our sweet boy was fine.  God chose to answer those prayers in a different way than I had hoped.  As I saw the image of our son, still, on the ultrasound, I broke.  We broke.  And our sweet boy, Lucas Robert Savant, was born the following morning at 4:41 am.  He weighed 14.8 ounces and was 11.5 inches long.  He was perfect.  He was fearfully and wonderfully made, beautiful.  I think he looked the most like Warren, but I could see all my other children in his sweet little face.  He had Reagan’s big pouty lips, Dean’s upturned nose, Hannah’s full cheeks, and Warren’s eyes, eyebrows, and chin.  I wonder what he would have looked like when he laughed – would his nose crinkle a bit like mine and Hannah’s?  Would his eyes pour with tears like Dean’s when he got sad?  I hate that I will not know the answer to these questions any time soon; that I have to watch my other children grow up knowing our family is incomplete, knowing they have an older sister and baby brother that are but a memory to them.

Having faced this before, we knew our time was limited, that we had a few hours to create a lifetime of memories.  I loved my morning with Lucas.  I’m so thankful he was born in the quiet hours of the morning to give us some time together.  I took in his face, memorizing each little detail.  I read him some new books, rocking him in our chair, kissed his forehead, and sang him a lullaby.  All these normal things parents get to do with their children, only I knew I would never do them again this side of heaven.


But that is where Isaiah 65 comes in.  I don’t get to those things with Lucas here, in my timing, in my will.  BUT, I get an eternity with Lucas, filled with Joy and wonder as we worship our Creator.  There will be no weeping or crying.  Infants will not die.  And I will be reunited with the children I lost.  We will get to see them laugh and smile.  We’ll watch them dancing on streets of gold.  We’ll run and play ball, and explore God’s creation.  And as we walk through the pearly gates into heaven, Lucas can run to us with his tiny perfect feet and embrace us for the first time.  Oh, what a moment that will be.  Lucas is loved perfectly now by the God who created him.  He is well cared for, longing for nothing.  Never will he experience the pain and heartbreak this world brings.  He went straight into the arms of Jesus.  Today, I am resting in that, in where my son is, in our eternity together.


We also chose to share a slide show of Lucas, sharing most all of our pictures of him and how we spent our time.



video




Saturday, June 17, 2017

How are you

I've been asked how I'm doing more times in the last week than ever before in my life.  While I appreciate that we are being considered, that people are checking in on us, I haven't figured out the appropriate response to that yet.  Just exactly how honest and vulnerable to be.  Because, I'm afraid if I utter one word of truth, I'll lose it.  The truth is, I'm barely holding it together.  I cry constantly, any chance I let myself think about what is happening.  I feel immense guilt when I try to play with my living children that I am forgetting Lucas, but guilt when I am hiding in the bathroom from them because I can't let them see me like this.  How do I love them, support them, encourage them when all I want to do is find a quiet spot.  I am not okay.  My body has failed, and another child of mine is gone.  I'm left in this horrific place, experiencing normal postpartum pains, engorged and unable to cuddle with my kids, all painful reminders of what should have been.  I still need maternity clothes, but I can't bear to put them on.  Instead, I have them in a pile in my closet, unable to pack them away yet unable to put them on.  So I'm settling on my 1 pair of stretchy pants that still fit, despite the fact that it is 95 degrees outside.  And yet, I know when this goes away, so will any physical trace of Lucas' life.  And that, perhaps, is the cruelest of all.

This week, I'm planning Lucas' memorial service, trying to figure out what words to use to communicate so much more than just my grief, trying to find the purpose behind his life.  His service is Wednesday.  Along side this, Father's Day is tomorrow.  And I can't bring myself to come up with all my usual cute handmade gifts, all the special things I would normally do to show Andrew how much we love and appreciate him.  No man is more deserving, no man has done more for their family.  I tried to go shopping today, and found myself sobbing uncontrollably in the Walmart parking lot.  Walmart - the last date I had with Dean, the night before Lucas died, when Dean was just so excited to pick out special juice and suckers, and when I thought nothing was wrong.  What a terrible place to be my last happy spot, because I normally hate Walmart.  And then, in one week, we are celebrating Dean and Warren's 4th birthday.  A birthday party, two weeks after Lucas died.  How??  How can I face our friends and family, put on my happy face, and sing to my oldest boys?  How can I celebrate them while my heart is still breaking, when my body is still recovering, when my mind is still reeling??  I don't want them to resent Lucas, to miss out on things because he is gone and Mommy needs more time.  But it's all just so hard.  Putting one foot in front of the other, taking steps forward in life, seems so much harder this time.

So, how am I doing?  Well, not sure any of this fully answers that question.  I'm broken, hurting, confused, angry, and torn.  I'm overcome with guilt, facing the truth that my "hostile" environment will likely cause this again, trying to come to terms with the fact that these 3 I have here may be all I ever have.  I'm searching for peace and guidance, as the truths I have known to be true seem to be, in fact, false.  I am paralyzed at the thought of facing people, of running into the multitude of women I know who are pregnant or just had babies, afraid of the bitterness I've battled for years after Reagan died.  And, ultimately, I'm not sure where to go from here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Week

It has been one week.  One week since our lives were forever changed, shattered.  One week since we headed to the hospital, praying I was overreacting to the lack of movement I felt the night before.  One week since I thought surely everything would be fine, that God wouldn't have us endure this again.  One week since our triage nurse told us, with tears streaming down her face, that she couldn't find a heartbeat.  And one week since I saw my baby Lucas, appearing to just be sleeping, but ultrasound missing that little heart flutter.  I remember this sound coming out of my mouth, hardly recognizable.  I remember crying out "no" and repeating all sorts of words of anguish in this weird babbling.  And then I remember going numb, feeling too much pain to even let myself feel anymore.  And less than 24 hours later, Lucas was born.

Grieving this time is so very different.  We had few responsibilities with Reagan and every second of every day in the weeks after she was born were spent thinking about her, doing things for her, crying over her.  But now?  Well, there's so much more going on.  Just like in pregnancy, poor Lucas doesn't get as much attention as I'd like to give him.  But I will say, I didn't smile for a long time after Reagan died.  And now?  Well, my kids are crazy, and they're funny, and sometimes they'll say ridiculous things to make me laugh.  Or at least smile.

I find myself frustrated that they don't have a clue, that their lives are unphased by our family's tragedy.  I would never wish them to be so sad, never want them crying and broken, but sometimes I just wish they'd recognize that Mommy and Daddy are sad and just need a few minutes every now and then to think about Lucas.  Probably too much to ask of our almost 4-year-olds.  Instead, they are fighting over toys and throwing temper tantrums, far more than usual, over the most ridiculous things.  I don't know what I would do without a community willing to step in and take them for a few hours in the afternoon.

So, as a week has past, so many things have happened.  I was induced and Lucas was born.  We were able to spend some time with him, and then we said goodbye.  Since coming home, we've expanded our Reagan's Garden space to create a Lucas Garden.  For Andrew, this involved moving sod and digging up plants.  But we now have a space outside where we can sit and look at flowers planted for each of our heavenly children, carefully picked and planted through tears.  We've created a photo book for our boy, with our favorite pictures of the day and our pregnancy, special moments that celebrate his brief life here with us.  And we've begun the work of planning his memorial service.  I remember planning Reagan's, knowing I would be speaking, and breaking.  I remember telling my mom how no parent should ever have to do this, that it just felt so very wrong.  And here we are, doing it again.  Trying to create a service that will honor Lucas' life, that is unique to him and how we think of him, but that will still point to the hope we have in our Savior.  Because ultimately, without Jesus, this would be the end.  Lucas' life would be over, and we would never see him again.  And, though I am still incredibly hurt and angry, though  I am confused and broken, I HAVE to trust and rest in that truth.  I have to remember that God is good and His plan is perfect, even when writing those words makes me want to scream.  I get eternity with my boy.  With my sweet Lucas.  With Reagan.  Our story does not end here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anger

It's the middle of the night and I should be sleeping.  Ultimately, I should be sleeping with baby Lucas dancing away in my belly.  But instead, I am lying awake in pain.  Physical and emotion.  With Reagan, I was in shock at what I experienced after delivery.  I certainly hadn't gotten that far in my pregnancy books to have a clue about labor, delivery, and postpartum healing.  This time, I felt more prepared.  And yet, I'd just done this twice with living babies.  So, now my body and my heart know that feeling too, what it's like to be up in the middle of the night because of crying, to be bone tired because of caring for a little one (or two).  And that makes these middle of the night wake-ups so much more painful.  I know what I am missing.

So, I am angry.  I keep hearing that I am strong.  And brave.  Well, I don't feel strong.  I feel weak.  I couldn't protect my child, couldn't keep him safe.  I tried, but I failed.  And it seems that God failed me too.  I know he didn't fail Lucas - that Lucas is safe and happy and healthy.  That Lucas has his Heavenly Father to care for him, and 2 siblings to play with.  But it just doesn't seem like God is really for me this time, and I am so angry with Him right now.  The moments of peace, the joy at seeing my son, they're there at times.  But right now I just want to scream.  I'm angry that I am planning a memorial service for the second time.  I'm angry that I endured 12 weeks of daily shots that my body fought every step of the way - bruised and swollen and some days unable to walk.  I'm angry that my morning sickness never went away, that I had 23 weeks of feeling so sick.  I'm angry thinking of all I gave up to try to keep Lucas safe - the events we didn't do, the food I didn't eat, the time I spent resting instead of playing with my children - and that NONE of that even mattered.  He's gone anyway.  And all my attempts to protect him weren't enough.  I would gladly give up anything to protect my children, and I naively thought I was doing that.  I'm angry that God chose to take Lucas early, that this freak cord accident happened to us when we've already endured so much.  I'm angry that this is my 4th, FOURTH, 2nd trimester baby.  I'm angry that my postpartum body serves as a constant reminder of what should be but isn't.  I'm angry that my milk coming in creates so much pain that I can't snuggle my children, can't sleep at night.  I'm angry that I finally allowed myself to relax and start prepping for his arrival, that shipments are still coming in.  That we were just picking out the few things we wanted new or different for this time around.  I'm angry that I ordered a whole stack of maternity clothes, laughingly saying it was about time on baby #5, only now to face a stack of unworn clothes I'm going to have to return.  I'm angry that my laundry is full of the few maternity clothes I did own and that they don't have a home anymore, that they are just sitting there in Lucas' nursery.

I KNOW the Truth.  I know that God has a plan, a purpose.  I know that His ways are best, that His plan is sovereign.  But why? WHY?  God can use another family now, because I just cannot anymore.  Reagan forever changed my perspective on heaven and my eternity, and I am thankful for that in these early days.  But it just hurts so much to feel.  And so I keep bouncing back to numb.  I imagine it's my way of protecting myself.  But I don't want to be numb.  Or angry.  I just want my boy back.  I just want to find a way to do something, change something, that would give us a different outcome.  I want to go back to Monday when we got incredible ultrasound pictures of him, when we were reassured that he was healthy, when I saw him sucking his little thumb.  To go back to those moments when I thought life would be okay.  When the worst I planned on was being sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  I want to go back to that time and beg God to spare his life.  But I've been down this road before, and I know that none of that is possible.  That I will spend the next days, weeks, years bouncing back and forth between places of peace and understanding, anger and bitterness, and utter despair.  That I will feel Lucas' absence at every family gathering, every holiday, every birthday.  That I will always keep track of what he should be doing - when he should be born, when he should be walking, when he should be going off to preschool.  The knowing made the hospital time so special, allowed me to focus solely on him and our time together, gave me a chance to soak up and memorize every aspect of his little body.  But now?  Now, the knowing only hurts.  I'm angry about things that haven't even happened yet because I know that they will.

It's been 72 hours since Lucas was born.  Since I saw him for the very first time.  My precious child.  I've been questioning if we missed something on Monday's ultrasound.  If we should have looked more at the cord.  Not that we could have known anything was coming, but those doubts are there nonetheless.  Reagan was 3 days shy of "viability."  Lucas though, he was on the other side.  If we had seen something on Monday, could he have survived?  And would we have wanted that life for him?  I just don't know.  But oh, how I long for him.  How I miss him.  How I wish I could have heard his laugh just once. He looked like Warren - would he have Warren's giggle?  Or seen his eyes.  What color would they be? Would he start to get my freckles like Dean?  Would he snuggle with me like Hannah?  I'll spend the rest of my life wondering these and so many more.  How can one sleep when I keep thinking of more?

Oh my sweet Lucas, your mommy misses you so much.  So very much.  Amidst the distractions of your siblings, amidst caring for them and managing their temper tantrums, I long for you.  I don't know how to do this every day, when it hurts to much, to try to stay strong for your siblings, to put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.  I'm so sorry son, so very sorry.  I love you dearly, and this was not at all what I wanted.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday, I said goodbye to my son.  It felt like my heart was breaking into a thousand pieces.  I don't know how I am going to make it through this again.  How much can one endure?

Lucas was born in the early hours of the morning while the rest of the world was sleeping.  I had a handful of regrets with Reagan.  None in our time together, but I always thought if I would do it again, I would stand strong in my decision to not use pain control and not cave in the final hour.  I wanted to feel every second of time I had with her.  And I so wish we had pictures.  Our hospital didn't say anything about infant loss photography, and we just didn't know our options.  The only picture I have of Reagan's face is the one in my head.  So, I knew going into this again, I didn't want to make the same choices.  I battled through some intense labor, but God knew when I'd reached the end of what my body would tolerate, and Lucas was born relatively quickly, 9 hours after induction began without the need for a 3rd cesarean.  He was quietly cleaned and handed to me.


He was beautiful.  His face was just perfect.  He had a sweet little upturned nose, peaceful resting eyes, and big pouty lips (just like Reagan and Dean).  He had a true Savant chin, and just a hint of pudgy cheek.  The hair that he did have was blonde, just like Reagan's.  I could see pieces of all 5 of us right there on his little face.  


Lucas had the most precious little hands.  Perfectly formed, just tiny, resting.  I held his hand for a moment, relishing the feeling of his little fingers on mine.  The detail was amazing, truly amazing.  And I just soaked it in.  And he had some big boy feet!  All the texture in the sole of his foot, long thin toes.

  


We were so blessed to be able to spend some time with our sweet boy before we had to say goodbye.  I knew from Reagan all the special things I wanted to do.  So Andrew went out Friday night to get him a few things that would be just for him.  No hand-me-downs allowed when you have such a brief time together.  He found a great blue and white blanket used for our professional pictures, the one thing Lucas was wrapped in that we get to keep forever.  He also bought him a few books so we could have some new reading material for our special boy.  We spent our morning soaking up every second we had together - took some pictures early in the day, had the kids come up and meet their baby brother, rocked and held him while reading his new books and singing all our favorite songs.  It was a special time filled with a mix of joy and sorrow.  I am so grateful for those precious hours with Lucas, and so devastated that those hours are all I get.  

  

  


  

And then, that was it.  Our time was over.  A lifetime of memories were crammed into those few hours.  I couldn't hand him over.  I couldn't let him go.  Knowing what it feels like to never see your child again, knowing the recovery that was ahead, knowing the stillness I would feel in my belly as I tried to sleep.  It was all suddenly to much for me.  I am broken.  Again.  Oh, how I miss my Lucas.  Andrew bravely carried him over to the nurse, swaddled in his sweet blanket, gave him a kiss on his forehead.  And then we fell apart, leaning on each over, overcome with grief.

Less than 12 hours after he was born, I was home.  I am so thankful for our doctor who made an exception for us and allowed us to leave without spending the postpartum time, allowed me to come home and snuggle 3 of my kids.  And I am so thankful that I have those kids.  That the sounds of their laughter fill our home.  That they can make me smile.  That Hannah knows how much I need her baby snuggles and is willing to crawl up in my lap and let me hold her.  That Dean and Warren love their baby brother so much and want to know more about him.  That my parents drove down to meet Lucas and help with kid management so I have the time to sit and write and process some of this out.  That I have a community that rallied behind us and took care of our kids without question while we were in the hospital, are bringing us meals and supplies.  God is providing for us during these dark days when I have no strength, when I am so angry with Him, when I just want to scream.  Even now, I know that He is with me.








Saturday, June 10, 2017

Time together

Our brief time with Lucas has been incredibly sweet. He enter the world silently early this morning at 4:41AM weighing 14.8 ounces and 11.5 inches long. Our lives will never be the same. 

Holding my baby boy

Reading Lucas his first book

Such a sweet little hand holding on to Mommy's 💙

Big man baby feet




Friday, June 9, 2017

Lucas Robert Savant

I cannot believe I am about to write these words. That I am facing a lifetime of not knowing my child. That God has called another one home. Why? WHY?!? 

On Monday, we had a great OB appointment. We saw Lucas smiling and sucking his thumb. We got some incredible pictures. He was happy. The week went perfectly, we had no reason to suspect anything. And then, Thursday night he wasn't active. I didn't feel any kicks. This is not unusual for us at just over 23 weeks, so I didn't think much of it. But I was unsettled all night. And had some more cramping and contractions than usual. To put my mind at ease, I grabbed a Doppler Friday morning.  Only I wasn't reassured, I was met with silence. Trembling, I called Andrew.  And together we came to the hospital, only to confirm our worst nightmare was repeating itself. There was our sweet Lucas, still, chest missing that little flutter. 

As I lie here waiting for contractions to pick up, waiting to meet Lucas, to hold is precious body for the first and only time, I am overcome. Broken. Confused. Angry. I don't even know what to feel, how to process. I am questioning God's goodness. Surely that must be meant for someone else. How can we be facing this again?

Oh my baby Lucas, how hard this is. I love you so very much. You were loved before we even saw you, prayed for from before you existed. You were wanted, and you will be greatly missed. I was so looking forward to kissing your pudgy cheeks, to rocking you to sleep, to figuring out how in the world to do life with you in this crazy world of little people. Your big brothers gave you kisses every night before bed, sometimes even over kisses for their mommy. They couldn't wait to have a baby brother to play with, and they even said they'd share their toys with you, which is no small feat. And your daddy, oh how he loves you. He was so looking forward to having a golf foursome all ready, to coaching you in baseball, to taking you to Clemson. Our family is broken without you, my child. 

But you also have an incredible big sister, who you will get to know far sooner than any of us. She can take your hand and teach you to dance. And you have another sibling we never knew, who was gone in an instant. And most of all, you are meeting Jesus.  And though I am very angry with Him right now, hurt and confused and unable to express myself, I know that He will care for you. That He loves you. And so, my Lucas, you are not alone.  And you are immensely loved.



Friday, May 26, 2017

10 year anniversary


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10 years...an entire decade.  It seems like a long time and, yet, not long enough.  Our decade together has been filled to the brim with joy and happy memories, great trips and shows, quiet moments and cuddles, and heartbreak and sorrow.  Through it all, I have learned immeasurably about love, sacrifice, and family.


I still remember those moments, exactly 10 years ago to the minute, when I was waiting in my white wedding dress to be escorted down the aisle.  I wasn't the least bit nervous or unsure, confident of the 22-year-old versions of us, with just a touch of anticipation.  I was so excited to finally begin our life together, to set off on new adventures, to wake up with you by my side.  Those first years were relatively carefree.  Don't get me wrong, we both worked hard, but we had no major stressors, and a lot of fun.  Weekends were spent lounging by the pool, visiting with friends, studying or playing golf, and getting to know each other.


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And then came some hard years.  Years of infertility, of wondering if our hopes of ever having children would be fulfilled.  You held my hand as I sobbed over another failed month, more negative results and bad news, and countless tests.  You stood by my side, never once blaming me for what my body was failing to do, encouraging me even when I refused to listen to what you said.

And then we celebrated pure joy, as we planned and prepared to bring our daughter into this world.  I loved watching your face as you talked about your little girl, as you played with my hair while I napped, as we planned out her room.  And then she was gone, just like that.  And we both learned so much through the pain of her death.  Some of my most tender memories are with you during those weeks following.  I remember how you held me that night before she was born, sleeping for the only time in her nursery.  How you rubbed my back through my contractions, reading scriptures to me to calm me, loving us both so perfectly.  And I remember the expression on your face when you saw your daughter for the first time, as she was laid silently in my arms, pure love.

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You were just as supportive when I was pregnant with Dean and Warren - in an out of the hospital several times, on bed rest.  You handled all the cooking and cleaning during that whole time, in addition to your job and managing doctor appointments, and never once complained.  You were pushed to the brink of your comfort zone during those months and learned far more than you ever expected or wanted to know.  And yet, every night, you cuddled up with me in that hospital bed, holding me tight, praying over your children.

Ironically, it was the months and years after we brought home the boys that would test us the most.  The sleepless nights, the stress of feeding, the colic and crying and crying and crying (and crying..), the years of isolation and inability to just settle into "normal," the therapy appointments, the weekly goals, the growth chart.  Having children instantly exposed our weaknesses, and how much we need our God.  We're still in this stage of learning how to love each other well while balancing the demands of some very demanding kids.  But, there is no one I'd rather have by my side, for any of these moments.  No one else I want to fall asleep with or wake up next to.  No one else I want to share my heart with.  I love you for your ability to make me smile, your strength when I am falling apart, your desire for good things for your family, your devotion to your children, your work ethic, and mostly for how you lead our family.  Always & Forever.  Happy 10 year anniversary to the best husband and father a girl could ever ask for!





Thursday, May 18, 2017

The silence of drowning

So, we had a few seconds of excitement this morning in the Savant household.  First of all, it was such a fun morning.  It's been a long time since we've had a full morning at home without having anything going on - no school, no church, no MOPS, no play dates or trips to the park.  So, we played.  And played hard.  We made a big breakfast together, all ate around the table, then made pretend breakfast in the playroom kitchen.  We played hide and seek and chase and laughed lots.  And then we got dressed and headed outside to the pool.

Hannah LOVES the pool.  She just walks around on our sun shelf or around the bench portion of the spa.  I would never think of leaving her out there, but she's remarkably safe and never tries to leave where she can't touch.  She HATES her life jacket and actually throws herself backwards to get out of it, so it sometimes feels less safe to have her in that, especially if I'm already planning on being in the pool with them.  So, Hannah is walking in the spa.  Over and over and over.  Every time she gets to the pool side, she stops and waves and smiles.  Warren and Dean are playing with her.  It's a glorious time.  Then, Dean decides he wants to swim in the "big" pool.  Without his puddle jumper.  We're working on their swimming, but they're certainly not what I would consider "swimmers."  So, I get in the big pool with Dean to help him, keeping my eye on Warren and Hannah in the attached hot tub aka "little pool."  Everyone is having fun.  And then Hannah goes under.  I'm fairly sure that Warren helped create this situation, but I couldn't actually see that from my point of view.  As quickly as my pregnant body will allow, I get to Hannah and pull her right out.  She was completely fine - under for at most 10 seconds.  She didn't seem scared, never coughed or was out of breath, just calmly sunk to the bottom with her big eyes wide open, staring straight up, waiting for someone to rescue her.

So, here's what struck me.  I was never worried that Hannah was drowning, because I saw the point when she went under and was there quickly.  But if my back had been turned?  If Dean was needing more help in the big pool?  If someone else was loud and distracting me?  Here's the thing...Hannah was silent.  No splashing, no noise.  And Warren?  Warren was literally inches away from her and wasn't alarmed in the slightest.  No helping her, no calling out for Mommy.  Just watching his baby sister sink.  I stressed to him after this that Hannah couldn't swim, that he needed to help or yell or something if he ever saw someone under the water like that.  His response?  Blank stare.  And a "but she was in my way" comment that got the initial suspicion going.

So, from now on, Hannah stays with me in whichever pool I'm in.  Not convenient, but I'm only going to get slower.  And if I miss the initial under the water moment, well, things can be very different.  Any looking a bit more intensely at some swim lessons for her!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day

I started a Bereaved Mother's Day post on that day last week, and I just haven't been able to let myself get back in the mindset to finish it.  The lack of nap times, the start of a new job, the pregnancy hormones.  Well, it all makes for writing anything that requires focus and meaning a bit more difficult.

So, this year, on Mother's Day, I'm going to focus on the children I have in front of me.  I'm still thinking of and missing my sweet Reagan.  I'm still worrying over this little boys who still refuses to move, anxiously awaiting our echo and ultrasound next week to figure out a little more of what is going on.  Those are still heavy on my heart.  But, this morning my kiddos (and mostly my husband) made me feel extra special!

My morning started by being woken by 3 cute kids in their jammies.  Dean and Warren came running in to wish me Happy Mother's Day in a true boy fashion - door flung open, a bit of screaming, and some jumping on the bed.  I was greeted with my very own breakfast in bed complete with yogurt, fruit, and gluten-free pancakes, no easy early morning feat.  My sweet boys gobbled up all my fruit and half of my pancakes, leaving me with some Greek yogurt.  I tried sharing that with Hannah, who gave me a look of horror as she promptly spit it back out on her jammies and my sheets :).  Doesn't get any better than this!

This was my first ever year getting those adorable fill-in-the-blank cards made at school, and they made my heart melt.  (Thank you Tammy!!)  I have realized, though, that perhaps my kids have never actually looked at me.  And clearly have no concept of age.  And had NONE of the same answers, so at least life isn't too predictable here.  But their little personalities just showed through, made me laugh and smile.  Perfect answers for their 3 year old hearts.  And the coloring I received on their other papers and cards - well, let's just say it was nice to feel so loved.




Saturday, March 11, 2017

Living with the fear

This pregnancy has been a fairly easy one.  I've never experienced fatigue quite like this, and I'm incredibly nauseous despite taking the strongest dose of meds I can, but these symptoms are ultimately blessings because they calm my anxious mind.  On days when I feel better, when I don't want to curl up in bed, I start to worry.  So, I'll take these symptoms.  At least for a little bit longer, until I feel kicks.  Then there's really no point to them anymore, and they can surely be gone!  And, I've only had 1 emergency appointment so far.  All things considered, this is good for me.  By this point with Reagan, I had experienced miscarriage of her twin.  By this point with the boys, I had been hospitalized for a week, told I was having a miscarriage, then told my water broke, then sent home to miscarry in my own timing.  And by this point with Hannah, I was having such terrible anxiety I could hardly function.  

But I received some unsettling news at my appointment this week.  I've spent the last several days playing it over and over in my mind.  I have another subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH).  Now, I haven't taken the time to google this, though I believe it is fairly common.  I think the doctor said 5-10%?  Not entirely sure, I completely quit listening when she said those words.  Why?  Because, that is what started the problems with Warren and Dean.  I had a massive SCH.  Now, this one is not nearly as large, at least at this point, but immediately I started having flashbacks to those early days with the twins.  I think I'm too weak to handle something like that again.  When I closed my eyes there, all I could see was the blood.  Everywhere.  Maybe that's too graphic for a public blog, but there it is.  I've never seen anything like that before.  So now it seems I get to sit and wait around for the clot to come out, for the bleeding to resume, for something to happen.  Doc used the word when, not if.  And we have a long drive to get to an office that can visualize what is going on.  I have this image of me being out with the kids, hemorrhaging at the park and arguing with them to get them to the car and buckled in their carseats so we can get to the hospital.  It sounds extreme as I type it, but it's a very real possibility.  I just hate that THAT is my first thought as I plan an outing.  My escape.  How I can, as quickly as possible, get everyone to the car and get out of there without drawing too much attention to ourselves.  

As the doctor is rattling on about my increased risk of miscarriage and how there's nothing they can do about it, I'm having a near panic attack as I relive that moment of 4 years ago.  As I imagine my kids living that moment alongside of me.  And do you know what this tells me?  My faith is so weak.  I know in my head that God is in control, that He has this little one in his hand, that this child was planned and his days are counted.  And I know in my head that God loves me, loves my child.  But, here's the difficulty, I don't trust these truths with my heart.  Because Reagan is dead, and how can I wrap my head around that??  Because my pregnancy with Warren and Dean was so horrific, they were so early.  Even though I know God worked a miracle in their lives, that they - according to every doctor I was seeing - shouldn't have survived that first trimester or those nights in labor, I still question why He chose for those to be their statistics in the first place.  I mean, what is wrong with me?  That I could see God's hand so clearly at work, so clearly loving our family, and still find a way to question his goodness and mercy.  "Oh, the depth of Your riches".  How I pray I might more fully grasp the truth of this verse, as I so quickly listen to the other voices.  

All this to say, please be praying for this precious little one.  For God to protect this life, for a full term pregnancy, and for completely healing from the SCH.  But also for my heart - for me to trust that God is love and mercy, even when I don't feel it.  For me to spiral down into self pity and despair, waiting for something awful to happen.  For me to find joy while pregnant, delighting in this little life God has entrusted with me.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A long awaited post

I have not sat down to blog in months.  If I'm honest, I've not felt as though I have many thoughts worth jotting down.  Days pass in a frantic rush of being late, temper tantrums, and trying to get it all done.  Without nap times, I have little time to myself, much less to collect my thoughts.  And then the time to sit and write them down?  Well, you can look back and see that just hasn't happened.  I'm writing now in the midst of naked wrestling, because I gave up on getting the boys to listen and come get their shirts, and they are happy at the moment.  Letting things go...that is the moral of the day.

So let's see, since Hannah's birthday, we've celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. And then our big news....we headed back to Charlotte to meet another of our sweet babies. I thought for sure this one wouldn't work.  How could it??  The odds were so against us.  So much so that, for a crazy few minutes, we actually talked about transferring 2 little ones.  Could you even imagine if I had twins again???  Oh, the terror!  But, we were wrong, our faith was weak but God was BIG.  And, against all odds, we are pregnant with another baby.  Baby Savant #5 is scheduled to enter this world in September.  And oh, how I love this little one already, though she does not get nearly the attention our others got during pregnancy.  And poor child didn't get a single blog post during the transfer, waiting, or early parts of pregnancy.  Fatigue hit me hard, something about being pregnant in my 30s perhaps??  And the nausea....I think this magical thing happens when you see your baby for the first time - you get complete amnesia in how awful it was getting them to that point.

So, BabySav5 is looking great on ultrasounds.  This week, she was kicking away.  At least for that 45 seconds I got to see her on the ultrasound.  Oh, how I miss my team of doctors who legitimately cared for me and my baby, who walked the journey along side of us.  Sure haven't found that here.  Anyway, baby looks great.  But there is this big scary thing...another subchorionic hemorrhage.  This is what started my complications with the boys, which led to me losing so much blood, being hospitalized for 7 weeks, on bed rest, and ultimately their incredibly early arrival into this world.  Now, this SCH is small...so far.  But in the back of my mind now is this fear, this anxiety, this little voice telling me not to get too attached.  And I hate, hate, how I let myself be robbed of my joy in just a moment.  The doctor said it very casually, at the end of my appointment.  I only know the risks and what it can mean because I've walked it before.  When I mentioned that and my previous experience, she was like "oh, this isn't your first pregnancy?"  So clearly, they're doing a great job looking at my chart...

Add to the emotions of being pregnant, being told I now have a higher risk of losing this child, being exhausted and overwhelmed with caring for the children I already have...today is our sweet Reagan's due date.  This is the first year we haven't received all the oriental trading and birthday magazines to help us plan her party.  In some ways, it's a relief to not have that painful reminder coming at me, catching me off guard every February.  But in another way, it's just a hurtful reminder of how the rest of the world has moved on.

So, please be in prayer for us for many things.  For this growing child to stay healthy without the complications of my previous pregnancy.  For me to not live in fear and anxiety, anticipating the worst.  For peace in our household - not quiet, as I love the sound of little ones, even in the crazy times.  For our hearts as we continue to miss and long for our oldest daughter, even as we celebrate the life of her youngest sibling.

(**I should add, in the hours since I started writing this post, in 30 second increments at a time, I have broken up a few brawls, served breakfast, cleaned up said breakfast thrown to the floor, played a bit, found Hannah playing in a toilet full of pee with her brother's toothbrush, given Hannah a bath, dressed 3 kids, mopped the floor)