Monday, November 29, 2010

A Time to Dance

It's Monday. The last Monday in November, 2010 to be exact. While the DATE isn't the same, this Monday last year marked the beginning of our journey in the birth of our firstborn. One year ago I was in a hospital bed in a small town hospital in my small hometown. We had gone up to visit my parents for Thanksgiving and were to be heading home that day. But when I awoke, I knew something was wrong, and it was. I won't give the details for the faint of stomach but a trip to the hospital was necessary. I was 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I spent one night there being treated by a doctor who wasn't an OB but took good care of me but frankly, didn't know what to do with me.

I'm going to take time reliving this experience in the coming weeks. If it bores you or it's an old story, I won't be offended if you don't stick with me.

As we approach our son Levi's 1st birthday, I'm celebrating his year but also remembering what the beginning was like. Ecclesiastes 3 has become very dear to my heart in the past month, and tonight verse 4 is so fitting. Verse 1 says "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:"
vs 4
"a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;"

This year, I'll Lord-willing be laughing and dancing as my miracle and gorgeous son turns one year old. But I'll also need some time to weep and mourn and remember the incredible beginning to his life. Because it's a great story, full of God's amazing power and faithfullness. And while it's got it's share of tears, it's all about God's glory. And so I think it's worth telling from my memories. And so, tonight as I remember sitting in lonely hospital with my husband and parents so far from home and watching that little heartbeat on a monitor, full of unknowns, I remember that God knew all along what would happen and the rest of the story. And He was there.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

True Thankfullness

I'm a little past Thanksgiving for my list, but to be honest I haven't been feeling all that thankful. If you had asked me Wednesday night I would have told you I was only thankful for my husband and son. (All of you count too, I just had a bad attitude)
We were headed up to my aunt's house Thursday morning, and I was being a good little passenger and trying to sleep but also trying out my newest technological advancement, texting. I know, I know, get into this decade. But seriously, I always hate it when people text others when they're supposed to be talking to me, whether in person or on the phone or whatever. So it was with kicking and dragging feet that I officially became a "texter". And I'm already addicted.
So I sent out a mass Thanksgiving text saying this: "Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?" The responses were so good for me. I got about 8-10 responses and they were nothing theological or lofty, just honest heartfelt thankfullness. And some heartfelt honesty from another friend who didn't feel very thankful either. As I tried to think of how to respond to those who asked, what are you thankful for? Ecclesiastes 3:11 came to mind, and I realized that I could be thankful for that promise.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Ecc. 3:11

I can be thankful that God makes all things beautiful in it's time. Even the memories of last holiday season. Even the pain of this loss. Someday, Heaven or here, it will be a beautiful thing and memory. Because one day I will know or not care why.

So here it goes with my ABC's of thankfullness:

Baby #2
Cherry Coke
Ecclesiastes 3:11
Grandparents, mine and Levi's
Honesty. It's a rare thing and precious
Intelligent conversations
Levi and Laughter, the best medicine together
Medicine for all my various ailments
Open hearts. Only then can God work in us
Pajamas, footy for Levi
Quandries and how they make me dependant on my Savior
Red Walls and Red Toasters and Red Mixers. They make me smile. :)
Second Chances
Tassimo, not mine, a friend's, but I love going to visit it
Usborne. Lots of books for my boy
Visions of Christmas
White Chocolate
X-Country Skis. They're beautiful
You, because you read my rambles
Zig-Zags... Because they make you stop and think...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Levi - 11 Months

Levi, you were 11 months on November 18th!
You are so incredibly big and cute! This month has been so memorable as you've gotten to be so much fun! You're growing like crazy too! Up that is, not outward, which is a bit of a struggle with your pants.
You weigh around 19 pounds (just guessing) and are wearing size 3 diapers. You are in 12 month clothes because you need the length in the pants. But we're so thankful for cloth diapers because the extra fluff in the bottom helps your pants stay up. Otherwise, you'll crawl right out of them.

You are wearing size 3 shoes, size 2 is definitely too small now! You now have 8 teeth but are constantly drooling so some more may be on the way. That 8th tooth finally came through this month and now you have 4 on top and 4 on bottom! You're even finally!!

You're now crawling the "normal" way and you figured out that it's a lot faster so you do it all the time! You are very fast! You've even managed to sneak up on the dog once or twice. He's so surprised that we just laugh. You can crawl up stairs on your own too!! You tried to go down them on your own too but that resulted in the fabulous rug burn you're now sporting on your head. You can open cupboard doors and pull books off the shelf. You stood on your own for the first time on the 17th. You were holding things in both hands and stood for about 10 seconds on your own. We're so proud! You're constantly on the go, you never sit still unless it's to watch Elmo for a few minutes.

Speaking of Elmo, you love him!! You're definitely a fan. You get so excited when he's on and if he leaves the TV screen you lose interest pretty fast. Christi and the girls bought you a small stuffed Elmo and he's now your favorite toy. You wake up in the morning and immediately look for him in your crib and spend time talking to him.

Talking wise, you said your first word!! "Uh-oh" it is! You say it so clearly and most often when Dexter is barking. It's pretty humorous. You do say "Da-Da" and you're attempting to say "Puppy" as well. You're learning how to say "Please" in ASL. You pretty much just wave your arms, but you know when to do it. You know what "Hi" and "Bye" means and wave at the appropriate times. You're still a growler! You growl a lot and it's really funny. You talk a lot. You're always jabbering and chattering a lot. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed you're moving and talking. If you're quiet it usually means you're getting into something. Which you do often. You jabber at us and reach to be picked up too. You try to pull yourself up if we're not fast enough. You're a little more cuddly now and will at times lay your head down on our shoulder if you're sleepy.

You went swimming again this month and you're finally big enough that it wasn't too cold! It took a while for you to relax but eventually you were kicking and splashing and even put your face in the water 3 times all by yourself!! You're going to be like your daddy and a big swimmer. At least we hope so!

You know what "No" means and you know what you're not supposed to touch or get into. But you're definitely stubborn and a sinful boy. You want into stuff no matter what. We're working on teaching you to obey the first time. You are very rebellious and holler and scream when you don't get your way or get something taken away.

You eat lots of big people food!! You feed yourself very well and have your "pincer" talent down pat. You always want what we're eating and you love to feed yourself.
You've learned to hold your own bottle and sippy cup though!!

It's so amazing to watch you grow and develop this month. No matter how stubborn you are, you're a great joy and we love you so much!! You are so fun at this age! You're constantly learning and growing and discovering things. You've changed so much this month and it's amazing how we can see you learn and realize things. There's no way to express how much you've changed, except to say you're really no longer a baby, you're a little toddler boy. It's just amazing to talk to you and realize that you understand and are processing it. It also makes what we say and do so much more of a responsibility. Because you're watching and listening always! I could go on and on because you've changed so much this month. But the biggest thing is that you continue to grown and realize your need of a Savior. Because you are sinful Levi, and that's more evident now than ever, and you need to ask Christ to forgive you one day. So we pray that you realize your sin at a young age and your need to be saved.

We love you Levi Nathaniel!! You're our boy and we're so thankful for you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It's Prematurity Awareness Day!

We have a personal stake in this day. As most of you know, Levi was born at 33 weeks, 6 days. He was so tiny at 4 pounds 10 ounces and 17 3/4 inches long! But he was sturdy. He never really bore that look of a preemie. He was just miniature.
He cried immediately and we had time for Andy to hold him, me to kiss him, and to get one quick family photo. Then he was whisked away to the NICU. Andrew went with him and took lots of pictures for me to see later. They weighed him, got him hooked up to monitors, got the footprints, and did lots of tests. His blood sugar was pretty low so he had to have an IV for a few days (in his foot, his arm veins just weren't big enough). He also had a feeding tube put in as he was too little and weak to be able to eat correctly. I got to hold him for the first time about 2 hours after he was born. He was so tiny but so perfect. I loved him immediately. It was torture to have to go back to my room and rest. I didn't get much sleep after his birth. Every time I woke up I wanted to go see him. Andy and I went later that night and got to see him get all cleaned up and learned a little more about his care. I was so out of it as I was in so much pain, but I remember him getting his hair washed and just rubbing his silky head. He definitely looked like his Daddy. But he has my nose, poor baby!

The following days are so clear and so fuzzy. I will say this, the day I was released from the hospital without my baby was one of the worst days of my life. Unless you've experienced it, it's hard to describe. But I firmly believe God has given every Momma that instinct, that gift, to nurture their baby. And when you have to leave him in the hospital, it's torture. We didn't realize then how fast that time would go, or how small it would be in the grand scheme of things. But each day was so long and hard at the time. We just didn't know when he would get to go home. It was hard to even fathom that. I remember a nurse saying we might be gone by New Year's, and being in shock because that was unthinkable at the time. Christmas Day was sad and lonely but wonderful too. Levi had the lid of his "giraffe" raised that day. A giraffe is what they called the isolette's. Because the lid could be raised up on a long neck like a giraffe. That was a big deal because it meant he was regulating his own temperature. That was one step to get to come home. If someone had told me we'd come home less than 2 weeks later, I wouldn't have believed them.

But we did get to come home, on January 4th, 2010. 18 days after Levi was born, we finally got sole care of him. And really, those first 18 days, you don't feel like the parent. Oh, you love your baby and care for them, but you're not the main caregiver, and that's hard. But without the NICU, the nurses, the neonatologists, and especially, the March of Dimes support program, it would have been a nightmare.

I know many people have issues and strong beliefs about the March of Dimes and some aspects of their program. But I need to tell you this, without their support program at St. Cloud Hospital (The only program in Minnesota!!) I would have been so desperately alone during that time. Andrew couldn't be there every day, he had to go back to work. I was an hour from home, trying to recover myself, and trying to learn to be a Momma and get my baby home, and I was alone. That support program provided activities, food, and the opportunity to make friends in the NICU with other parents and to share our sorrow and experiences. We even could laugh together.

So, I ask you to not only support the March of Dimes, but to realize that every baby is a miracle, and thanks to our gifts of modern medicine and programs, more and more babies are living. 100 years ago I doubt that Levi or I would have lived. But we did by God's grace and mercy. And by his gift of modern technology.

So today I'm thankful for the March of Dimes, and I'm thankful to ask you to help raise the awareness of prematurity and do all we can to stop it. So that no other parents have to go through what we did.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Clear the Air

So just to clear the air, a few words.
Yes, I had a miscarriage. Yes, I think about it every day, hour, minute, moment. Yes, there are times when I forget or don't think about it. Yes, those times are often shattered quickly by reality and sadness. Yes, I will get past this. No, I don't want to talk about it all the time. No, if I tell you I'm doing good, I'm not lying. I may be using that as a relative term. No, if you ask "really" and I say "really" that does not mean keep digging. No, I do not hate you if I don't open up my heart and soul to you. I may just be having a good day and not want to go any further; I may just not think you really need or want to hear about it. No, we may not be that close. Yes, grief is a very personal thing. Yes, I'm done talking about it for now...

So back to our scheduled blog. My son is currently throwing a fit. I'm rather ignoring it because I told him "No" and he proceeded to freak out. He has been disciplined and now I'm letting him be. Christi, you were right, he just needs a day to get back to his routine and sleep pattern. We've had a whole bunch of girls in our house the past 2 nights. It's been soooo much fun and stinkin' hilarious!! Levi has adored having 5 extra sets of eyes on him at all times. And the new sippy cup and Elmo doll? Amazing!! He's a very loved and blessed little boy. And that's what he is, a little boy. The girls dressed him today. They did an amazing job and he looks like my handsome...umm preppie almost? little man. Not my baby. And I'm okay with that today. Because I've seen the joy older kiddos can bring. And the hilarity that comes from their mouths.

We went swimming at the Y while they were here. Levi was rather scared of the noise at first, but then the mushroom waterfall shut off and he was a little braver. But at first, he just snuggled into my shoulder. Which I loved, because he doesn't do it much. But I made him sit in the water in my lap, and showed him to splash, and he loved it! He loved the little girls coming to splash with him. He loves his bath but this huge amount of water took a little getting used to. But by the end, I had him on his belly and he was kicking his legs and swimming with his arms.
And then, to our surprise, he put his face in the water! All by himself! 3 times!! He loved it until the last time when he got a little too much water in his face. But I was sooo proud of him!!

And so, while my heart is grieving, I've also realized my heart is outside my body. In the form of my son. And I'll never get it back. And that's okay. As I told my new Momma friend in my devo at her shower this weekend, "Your job is to put yourself out of a job" meaning, we're raising our little warriors to let them go and fight for what's right and for Christ. So my heart will never be fully mine. But for now, I'll enjoy the look of wonder on his face as he discovers something new. And I'll prepare to let him go. But I'll always have his Daddy!! And he's my favorite anyway!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Time

First of all, thank you to all of you who have expressed your sympathy. That very word, sympathy, is so much more real to me now. One definition:
sympathy: the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, esp. in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration.
I have felt that so much this week. The sharing of our grief. Some of you amazing women have shared your own stories of sorrow and grief. And in doing so, you have given me permission to mourn. I felt a bit of remorse a day or so after posting what I did about the loss of our baby. I felt as though I hadn't given myself any room to fully grieve. That I must always have the right attitude in order to glorify God. I do think anger can be a sin, in certain circumstances, but as someone so bravely reminded me, God can handle our anger. And He can. He can handle my sorrow, my tears, my confusion, my sharp feelings, my physical pain, my feelings of unfairness, my anger even.

And I feel all that. But mostly, because I ache. I ache physically because this whole process was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and I ache emotionally, because now it's just so real. My baby is gone. And if I didn't have the hope of knowing that my child was with the Lord, I couldn't handle the anguish. I had someone challenge my theology of where children and babies go when they die once. I don't know if they still think the way they did then, but I can only say this, God is sovereign, and none of us deserves saving. But even without my selfish pain now, I firmly believe He is merciful and holding all our little ones in His hands. God is righteous and Holy, but I have great faith that my child is with Him.

My emptiness and lonliness has an answer, that I will one day be with the Lord and rejoice that He took my child. For He knows and sees far better than I do what is right and good for my life. So while I ache to hold my child as a Mother should, I know that someday I can truely say that "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

And I am looking for reasons to laugh and smile and dance. Like the little bundle I was allowed to hold this morning. He is reason for rejoicing. And my son who now crawls and goes up stairs, proof that life does go on. And the incredible thanksgiving I feel for the gift of a friend who loved enough to talk me through and laugh me through the darkest moments. Those things are treasures and gifts worth laughing over.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Ecc 3:1, 2a, 4.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Blessed be the name of the LORD

"...The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21b

Our baby went home to the Lord sometime last week. There was no heartbeat at the doctor's today. We are sad, but we have hope. The Lord gave us this miracle from the beginning, and this is His Perfect plan for our lives. We refuse to be bitter and angry. Who alone is perfect and almighty? God. Not us. God.

"Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the ear. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book was written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. " Psalm 139:12-16

Our pain is not a mystery to God. He knows it and He knows our baby. He loves this baby more than we ever could. And frankly, I'm a bit envious, our child is with Christ. What more could I ask for them?
So we'll continue to weep and pray, but know this, God is faithful. He loves us and is not out to hurt us. He never leaves us in our grief. We will praise the Lord and give Him the glory. Not in spite of this, but because of it.

"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?" Psalm 139:7
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1