Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Is A Time For...

No worries, Baby Girl is fine.
But tears nonetheless. This amazing day has always brought me to tears, ever since I can remember. I remember standing outside on the farm on cold, snowy, starfilled nights as a small child just in awe and amazement of all God had done on Christmas. Even then, I grasped it. As much as we can.
And today? Today I heard a story on the radio, and a little boys voice who had just lost his baby calf, and he was encouraging all those who had lost ones they loved to remember all God gave us in Jesus, and that He had loved His son, but sent Him to die for us. He knows our pain and tears.
Tonight Levi and I were mixing up some cookies, and I couldn't help but cry. Because I remember. I remember a Christmas Eve 2 years ago, when Andrew and I finally had to kiss our tiny boy goodnight, and go find some food. We left a hospital and headed out into the festive streets just trying to find someplace that was open. We finally bought frozen pizza at the local Walgreens which was miraculously still open (I know, Chinese, duh, but it didn't occur to us in our sleep-deprived state). We took it back to the homey but not home guest house by the hospital and ate frozen pizza then watched a little Christmas TV and drug ourselves to bed. It was an amazing Christmas, being parents for the first time, but the hardest ever. I just remember feeling so ALONE. Wanting to have my baby safe and sound in my arms at home, not hooked up to monitors and all swaddled in plastic walls. No family near due to circumstances, just us, with our tiny boy, and lots of nurses.

And so I cried tonight, in pain for the loneliness I felt then, for the sorrow and emptiness I felt last year after losing our next baby, and for the simple hope I feel this year in our baby girl kicking in my womb. And I cry for all those who are shedding tears of sorrow during this joyous time.

Hear this: I am SO thankful for Christmas, and I love it. But the reality of the day and the sorrow that Christ was born for are so real to me. When I think of the loneliness I felt that Christmas, I can't help but think of Mary & Joseph, all those centuries ago. Mary, so very pregnant, ridiculed by her community, "knowing" glances following her, Joseph, taking on a stigma and title that didn't have to be his, traveling oh so far from home, all alone, and then in a cold, wet, stinky rock shelter giving birth to a blood covered and probably cold baby. A Baby born to die. They welcomed Him to the world all alone and probably terrified. But the Angel said "Peace, Be Still" not just to the shepherds, but to their hearts. They had a trust in God so big. They probably didn't know what the future would bring, that their baby would one day die a cruel death for my sins, and all those who would trust Him. But they trusted, and prayed.

So tonight, as I shed tears for our hurt, and for yours, and with gratefullness for the Babe who came to die, to be rejected by man, I pray healing for your heart. I pray that you will recognize that Christmas is only the beginning of the story. Jesus came, we are so thankful for that beauty, but He came to die, and to rise again, to defeat death, so that when we shed tears of sorrow for those we have lost, and for the pain, that there would be hope.

If something happens to Levi tomorrow, if he is gone, I have hope. I have hope in a God who didn't stay a Babe, but defeated the grave. I have 3 babies I will see again someday thanks to Jesus. I can shed tears of sadness, but I can have hope.

I love you Jesus. Happy Birthday. Tell my Babies I love them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking At You Baby

On Monday, I had a scheduled appointment in a larger city to the South East with a Perinatologist (high risk) Dr. and to have a level II ultrasound. Basically we spent over an hour with an ultrasound sonographer while she looked at every possible aspect of our baby and her surroundings. She looked for vessels and veins and joints and things I didn't even know existed. Seriously. Like normally teeny-tiny veins leading out of places I didn't even know were there. It was amazing to watch our baby girl for well over an hour kick and tumble around. It was awesome to see her roll around as I was feeling it too. We've had lots of ultrasounds, but none so in depth or so long. All I could think of as we watched the sonographer look at every little perfect detail of our baby who weighs less than a can of soda, was what the Psalmist said in Psalm 139:
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

It boggles my mind that at less than a foot long our baby is so perfectly and intricately complete. Oh yes, she has lots of growing and developing to do, but everything is there and working. Her 4 chambers of her heart are pumping blood faster than we could imagine, her brain is sending signals for blood flow all over her body. Her little kidneys, gallbladder, bladder, stomache, all working and preparing for life outside my womb. Oofda. No wonder the Psalmist said "Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

I've never really cried at an ultrasound of any of our living babies before. But I did this one, when the tech zoomed in on her wonderful profile and said "Hi Baby". I lost it. Because I can't wait to meet her. She looks beautiful. I already know how wonderful her big brother is, and I miss her older siblings that are with Jesus like crazy. So it makes it all the more special to see her beautiful profile and be so impatient to kiss her face and get to know her.

And in case you were wondering, she's perfect, really and truly perfect. Everything is working right and is there. There's a spot they check on the top of the spine at the base of the brain to make sure it's all closed over and correct. If it is, it rules out something like 90% of genetic deformaties. Her's is perfect.
We were told to expect 32-34 weeks gestation for delivery again, due to numerous things not related to her or her body, but similar to Levi's birth. We're prepared for whatever God has, and we're just so thankful for her wonderful life.

And now, the good stuff, some pictures. :) The cool thing about this appointment was they immediately burned about 12 photos of stuff during the ultrasound onto a CD for us to take home. Very cool and fun and precious memories.
The very cool profile that made me cry.

Our Precious Baby, that's her hand up by her mouth there.

Her leg is all stretched out here: Yes, she was kicking me. :)

I think this is the coolest picture of baby girl's leg, you can see the whole thing, so perfect!

And to see the details, her perfect foot, every bone just right.

After watching our Baby Girl kick around for over an hour and hearing relatively great news, I was finally able to go out and buy some girl clothes. Savers in this town had a 50% day on Monday, which was awesome. I not only found a few maternity things for me, but some super cute bigger girl stuff for Baby. It was a big step for me to actually spend money on this baby. I still struggle with days of fear, so stepping out and doing something tangible to say "this baby is reality and I choose to believe I will meet her and need things" was a big deal.
And the afternoon was very fun, Christi and her 4 girls came with to watch Levi during the appointment and to go to lunch and shopping with us. They all got to see some of the ultrasound and see baby. We had so much fun having them with us, and the girls all give excellent clothes opinions. :)

I'm still in awe of the Babe growing inside me. I loved being pregnant with Levi, but I don't think I grasped the miraculousness of it quite as much. After his crazy arrival, losing 3 babies, and now watching this one grow, I think I am beginning to understand just how precious and miraculous life is. Our God truly does do wonderful works, my soul will praise Him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Levi!

Levi turned 2 on Sunday, December 18th! In the days leading up to it I couldn't help but think of the difference from a year ago, and then 2 years ago. 2 years ago was totally crazy, being in the hospital for 2 weeks simply waiting, almost bored to tears just simply waiting for baby to appear. And then the craziness of 17 days in the NICU with my tiny son. Last year, I simply was breathing and living for the sake of celebrating my son's birthday and Christmas. His birthday signified all taht we'd been through and after losing one baby, the hope that may be ahead.

This year? It was just plain fun! Levi started to figure out when we asked "how old are you?" that "2!" was the right answer. I have this "thing" about making birthday cakes. I really have decided that I as Momma need to be the one to make my kids cakes. I have several friends who are really, really talented and make yummy and beautiful cakes. Mine taste pretty good but look a little less than gorgeous. But I still think it's important that I put out the effort to make something they will enjoy. There may be years where that just isn't the case, but so far, I've made both of Levi's cakes. Last year was a from scratch chocolate sheet cake with cool (real) little bulldozers/dump truck/diggers on top. I used brown frosting for dirt and some cool chocolate rocks to make it really realistic. This year? I have a boy who loves his monkey. Literally, he has a small stuffed monkey his Grandma gave him and he loves it. So I decided a monkey cake it would be. We went to the dollar store and picked up some plates and napkins and a few decorations for the party, and Levi wanted the snowman and snowflake plates/napkins. I gave him several options and those were the ones he wanted. I should have taken the hint and just made a snowman cake. 3 circles and a hat, how simple would that be? But no, I spent most of the afternoon and late into the night Saturday creating a monkey. It was so worth it, despite a frosting mishap and more crumbs than I cared for after cutting out all the little features. It was far from perfect, but was recognizable as a monkey and pretty cute too. :)

Levi thought it was pretty tasty. :) He asked for "more!".

Then it was present time! He did pretty well opening all the presents despite all the people and just wanting to play with the ones he had already opened.

Pretty fun presents!
This one ranked up in his favorites. Grammie & Grampie Preston got Levi a "Thomas Train" yellow bulldozer train to go with his wood train set we added too. He loves diggers and Thomas Train so he was pretty much in love. He slept with it that night. Then Christi & her girls got him an orange Thomas Train and now he has one for each hand.

Due to having so many gifts to open we let him open some from us later that evening and then Will & Val & Kiernan brought Levi a gift when they came to spend the night on Monday and then he got to open his Christmas gifts from Christi's girls yesterday. Needless to say he now thinks he should get to open a present every day. It took some convincing today that he needed to leave the gifts under the tree alone until Christmas day. He really obeys well but you can tell he wants to dig in. :)

Levi, I can't believe it's been 2 years since I heard your first little tiny miraculous cries. You were so tiny, but so perfect, and you were ours. You have come so very far and grown so very much. You are the joy of our lives. We are so thankful for you and for your life. You are our big boy and my baby all at once. I love you more than you will ever know. I pray big things for you.

I pray that Jesus will call you early in life, that you will choose to follow Him with your whole heart and life. I pray that you will be a world-changer, an extraordinary young man in your generation. That you will lead your generation to know Christ in a real and tangible way. That you will stand up for the weak and opressed, be a champion for those who can't champion themselves. That your life and words will be full of grace and gentleness, but that you will always speak truth and love. I pray for a woman who you will love and who will love you in return. For you to be a strong servant-leader husband who loves with his whole heart. To lead your children to Christ in a strong way, and to always be the Daddy they need. I pray you will always enjoy coming to visit. :)

I love you Levi, you are my gift from God. I love being your Mommy and am so thankful I get to spend almost every day with you. You challenge me to be more than I thought I could, and I will never regret my time with you.

Happy Birthday Precious Boy!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's On My Mind

I have so many random things going through my head, so maybe I should do bullet points. :) There may be no cohesiveness to this post then.

~I've been feeling the baby move off and on for a few weeks now. Which is awesome, except that it's also nerve-wracking. Because it's not consistent for a while. And when you feel the baby one day and not the next...ugh. More trust huh?

~Michelle Dugar (you know, 19 kids and counting) just announced that she miscarried at 19 weeks. Ugh again. Tear my heart out. And take my breath away. Scary. Again, trust. And prayers for their family.

~Andrew has blessed our family hugely and gotten a second job, at least for the Christmas season. It may last longer as the large chain store is renovating. It's crazy weird and hard to not have him around in the evenings or weekends. We are SO proud of him for working so hard. In fact, Levi can say that. "Daddy...(long pause) HARD!" Translation: Daddy workin' hard! Levi also says "Daddy 'Mazing!" Translation: Daddy Amazing! Yes, I taught him those things. I love my husband, and I'm so thankful for him. I want Levi and I to do all we can to encourage him. It's hard, it's very hard to not have him here. Levi really misses his Daddy when he's working both jobs. And I really miss my friend and the help he is. So many hours of single parenting can be trying. Which leads me to thankfullness. I am SO very thankful to be married to a man who loves being with his family. Who plays and spends so much time with his son that his son can't help but miss him. Who is such an encouragement and relief and partner to me. Who loves his family. So instead of griping and being nasty to him, I'll be honest, I'll tell him we miss him, but that we are so thankful for him. It also makes me pray extra hard for the single moms I know. Because I CAN NOT imagine. At least I know that there are days when we get to spend time with Andrew. That he's only a phone call away. That he's doing this 'cause he loves us and wants to take care of us. I am NOT alone. I can't imagine the women and men who do this on a daily basis with no support or spouse to love and encourage them. So know this, I'm praying for you.

~Levi's second birthday is 10 days away. I'm so excited and yet in a little bit of shock I think. It's been a crazy year for us, and I can't believe it went so fast. And I love Levi sooo much and can't wait for his excitement over cake and presents to unwrap. :) I'm sure it will be great fun. And no, I wouldn't want him to stay little forever. It's just crazy how short a time little really is.

~We have an appointment with the perinatologist and geneticist and not sure who all in a few weeks. I think I mentioned this. It's got me excited and nervous all at once. I'm excited to learn more about our baby girl and what to expect for the future of this pregnancy. I'm nervous because it may not all be good news. But we know and choose to trust God knows every step in this pregnancy, and He knows every moment of this baby girl's life.

~Can you tell trust is the theme of my life right now? Guess what? I don't do it well. I sometimes just push the fear away rather than fighting it. But my heart's cry is to fully trust God no matter what. And here's the thing. No matter how well I do or don't trust, I do know this: God is sovereign. So no matter if I choose to trust or not, He is still in control. He wants me to choose to trust, but even if I don't, He's still on the throne. Which makes me want to work at and choose to trust Him even more.

~This baby seems to want to make her presence very well known. The maternity pants have been pulled out. I was told to expect this with a second or 4th or whatever pregnancy. But still, hard to believe. Thankful for maternity pants though. :) So much more comfortable.

I think that's all I have on my brain for tonight. :) Again, thank you for your prayers, we love them and so appreciate them!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

All Things Pink

Blogger apparently decided to hate me for a few days, so I haven't been able to log in and officially confirm the news of "It's A...". Hopefully we're friends on facebook and you saw the cupcake already. If not, here ya go:

Yep, Pink it is!! I know it doesn't mean anything, but I really thought it was a girl the whole time, so I was very excited and ready when the Dr. said "Girl!". Andrew's excited, as excited as he gets. We both would have been very, very happy with 2 boys, but a girl is pretty neat. I told Andrew "good work". I know some people's ideal is a boy and a girl, but in reality, until this pregnancy, I only wanted boys. But now that it's reality, I'm very excited to have a daughter. Levi can say "Baby Sister" very well already. :) We're sure he has no idea what that means, but oh well. A dear, sweet, precious woman in my life brought me a baby gift today, of 3 pink and yellow outfits. PINK!!! She said I needed to visualize. Oh My Word! So excited!! I told Andrew it's a good thing it's not garage sale season. I may have gone a little crazy if it was. Another dear friend offered to make us cloth diapers with ruffles on the bottom. HA! I love it!! We've already discussed and somewhat decided on what to do to the kids room to make it less blue and more girlie while still being boy/girl friendly. Thankfully we have some talented friends in our lives.

In reality, it scares me a little to have a girl. I want our kids to be friends, and somehow 2 boys seemed less dangerous than a boy and a girl. I know (even from other people) that that doesn't assure anything, so it's just an irrational fear. A girl also seems to put a little more pressure on me. After all, Levi just has to model after his Daddy. A girl? Yep, that would be me she's watching. I know, I know, all kids watch both parents. But still.

Some of the exciting things? As one friend pointed out "Now you get to be the Mother of the Bride someday!" Ha! Love it! And I simply cannot wait to see Andrew with a daughter. I have the feeling he'll melt. A lot. She'll have him wrapped so tightly around her finger. And I'll love it.

I feel so very blessed. One thing I did want to dispel was the thought that having a boy and girl makes our family complete. It may or may not be. That's up to the Lord. But the two of us, Andrew and I, we do not fall into the category of believing that one of each is all we want or hope for. We will take each child as they come, and treasure their lives.

A Girl! The first Granddaughter on both sides. My parents have all grandsons so far so they are pretty excited. :) And since we have the only kids on Andrew's side, we're doing a good job of covering all the gaps.

Baby girl, We love you so much already. We are so excited for your arrival and thankful for your life. We'll love you to pieces, always.