Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tiny Tag

The loss of a baby is difficult at any stage. The farther you are into a pregnancy the closer the attachment you have made with this blessing, thus making the loss that more traumatizing. One of my biggest fears through all of this is that she would be forgotten. It would be easy for that to happen without the constant reminder of her through her presence. In my heart I know this is a silly little fear, but it still nags at me. I've struggled with a way to keep her with me, so imagine how overjoyed I was to receive this perfect gift from some of my work family.

It's called a "tiny tag" and it's perfect.

There are two tags on the necklace; one is the letter "E" and the other is a small heart. As soon as I saw it I knew it was exactly what I was searching for. Isn't it wonderful when people know just what you need before you do?

Needless to say I put it on the day they gave it to me and it hasn't come off since. It may seem silly but it is a comfort to me to be able to reach up and finger the tags as a reminder. She will also be in my heart, but now she is close to me as well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Season of Solitude

A few Sundays ago our pastor at Hope Church preached the benefits solitude has the potential to bring. This sermon spoke to me because of the season of solitude that has been forced upon me. 

I am a "doer", an action-taker in all situations. Any time a project was assigned at school I wanted to know the due date so I could begin planning how I would split it up to complete it with plenty of time to spare. I was the bossy one who insisted on doing the whole group project to ensure it was done how I thought would be right. In short, I've never been one to take well to seasons of solitude and rest.

David is quick to call me out and tell me I need to relax, and I am quick to tell him that to-do lists and a full calendar do relax me. So when a season of solitude and rest was forced on me, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to let go. It was only made possibly by others who stepped up and allowed me to take a step back.

Solitude can be just as dangerous a place as isolation, unless you are conscious about how you use that time. Our pastor warned against being one who constantly seeks that time of quiet and alone time. Someone who instead of filling their time caring for others with the occasional period of recharging instead does the opposite and rarely cares for others more than themselves.

Taking time to recharge and listen to Him was exactly what I needed, only I didn't realize I needed it so badly. I needed to take a step back and "refill my bucket" in order to pour out on others again. I'd become so focused on my job and ministries that I forgot to find Him in them. I was just going through the motions. 

While I wish it could have come in a very different way, I am thankful for this season of solitude. I have been able to journal through my emotions. I have been able to have as much time for daily prayer and meditation on the Word as I want. I have been able to step back and refocus myself where I need to be-in His way. 

I have been stilled and reminded that He is God.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Avoiding Isolation

Isolated is a dangerous place to find yourself. In December our pastor preached on the temptations that exist when you isolate yourself from community and other believers. I nodded along, took my notes, but didn’t think much about it. I mean, heck, everything was going well for me. Fast forward a few weeks and I was faced with a situation that sent me into an isolation mode.

After everything that happened I didn’t want to be around others. I didn’t want any one near me but David and my mom. An introvert by nature, this shouldn’t have been surprising. While I love being around people, I recharge in quiet settings. An afternoon with a book, or an evening in with a small group of friends is much more up my alley than a big night out. I do enjoy going out and spending time with others, but there is a time and place for everything.

Once David went back to work and I was alone again, I no longer wanted to be alone. For the first time in my entire life I craved the energy of others to help me recharge. I made a point to schedule an “adventure” for every day. I met with friends and family for lunch, scheduled a massage (glorious), and found myself at the local coffee shop working. This was new to me. I wasn’t used to needing to fill my hours with the energy of others.

It quickly dawned on me the significance of community. My wonderful husband continually preaches on the beauty community can bring to your life, but like the isolation sermons, I tuned it out because I felt “okay”. Why is it that so often we need such large eye-opening experiences to be reminded of God’s design for us?

In the recent weeks my soul has been exposed to the wonderful way God works through the support and love of our community. They have lessened our burdens in such amazing ways and come around us in such a beautiful way. It is clear God is working in them and we are immensely thankful. We were created for this type of community-to love those around us. The path of isolation that exists in this world is a dangerous one to follow, and just as we are called to love God we should love each other.

While it will not always be easy, I know I must constantly avoid the treacherous engulfment of isolation. I must make a point to ask others for help if I need it and not exhaust myself (physically and emotionally) by seeking independence. He beautifully crafted us to seek one another to lean on and I must learn to follow His plan for me.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
-John 13:34-35

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Kidney Question

In the midst of everything that has been going on a question arose, “what about my kidneys?”.

Last August the symptoms that led to my original diagnosis of minimal change disease came back. As soon as I spotted the signs I quickly scurried to the doctor and begin taking the prednisone again. I was disappointed with the news but knew there was nothing I could do about it.

Fast forward a month and we were celebrating the joyous news of our baby. I was quick to Google the effects of prednisone of an unborn baby and was surprised to learn that despite the possibility of a cleft palate, things looked safe. I started seeing a specialist at Maternal and Fetal Medicine as well as my high-risk OB and continued seeing my nephrologist.

Despite the annoyance of continually having appointments, things were going well. She was on pace with her growth and I was doing well. My kidneys were not leaking protein and my blood pressure was in the normal range. So, you can imagine our shock when we received the news the doctors could not find her heartbeat. Up until that appointment we were passing every test with flying colors and there were no causes for concern.

Obviously the doctors were concerned with the effect the pregnancy could have on my kidneys, so they took what seemed like a hundred tubes of blood at the hospital. Everything looked good for me. My kidneys continued to show healthy results.

I just had my first appointment with the nephrologist since everything happened. After talking about everything it was quickly determined that my “relapse” was actually the pregnancy. I’m thankful for the silver lining this brings because it means that my kidneys have continued to do their job. Of course, I wonder if the treatment had anything to do with the loss of Emerson, but I cannot allow myself to go down that “what if” path. 

So where does that leave us now? Some of you may have seen my tweet:

I've had a lot of anxiety about this. Prednisone (the steroid I'm on) can have lasting effects on the body, not to mention it completely stops ovulation. TMI? To be blunt, I do not like being on it. I am thankful for the way it helped me after the original diagnosis, but it's been very taxing on me. Also, if we ever hope to have another baby I cannot be on it. 

I went into my appointment fearful of what she would say to my request. Imagine my surprise when she mentioned her plans to have me taper off completely! I was overjoyed to hear this news! It will take about two months to completely remove it from my daily medicine rotation, but at least it will be gone. 

I continue to ask for your prayers as this happens. Prayers for the taper to go well and for my kidneys to respond healthily. Prayers that my body remains on the path to permanent health.
Many thanks.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Word of God

The Power of Prayer

This morning I was sitting in my classroom trying to get organized for the shortened day (they sent us home early because of foul weather!) when a sweet teacher friend of mine came in. She said she had an odd request and asked if she could pray for me. She said the Lord had placed it on her heart as she was walking past my classroom. I was so overcome with emotion I could barely stutter out a yes. This wonderful lady prayed beautiful words over me on a morning a really needed them.

Yesterday we got a baby magazine in the mail. I managed to get off all the email subscriptions, but had completely forgotten about the two magazines I had already signed up for in anticipation of Emerson's arrival. I didn't get the mail yesterday afternoon, so I found it this morning waiting for me. All I could think about all morning was how much I missed her. My friend's words were exactly what I needed to hear.

This morning was an amazing reminder of the power of prayer. God knew in that exact moment exactly what I needed to hear so he placed it on her heart to comfort me. I am constantly in awe of the wondrous way He works.

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Each Day

So how are you doing?

This is the most common question I've been asked. The answer?

Each day gets a little better.

And that's true. With each day I am able to talk about something new. It's less painful to talk about and I've been able to share more. 

Today, I was able to talk with a sweet friend of mine at work about being pregnant. She recently found out that after years of trying she and her husband will be blessed with their first later this year. I am so happy that she will get to feel the joy and excitement that I was fortunate enough to feel for a few months. 

Yesterday, I was able to say her name for the first time in conversation. I know that sounds silly, but I've just been referring to her as "her" or "the baby". It was too painful to say the name that we loved so much. It was difficult, but just as each day gets a little easier, each time I say it will hurt a little less.

I can now look at my belly without intense feelings of emotion. For the first few days I was at home I couldn't look down. I wore big, baggy sweatshirts so I didn't have to see it. It may sound ridiculous but it was so hard to come to terms with her not being there visible through that bump. I'm becoming more comfortable in my clothes again and I don't feel the need to hide as much.

So, yea, each day gets a little easier. Three weeks ago I couldn't fathom doing any of the above. Two weeks ago it was a pipe dream. One week ago I saw it in the future. Today I am able to do these things with the strength He has given me. It hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the knowledge that I am never alone is such a comfort. All things work for our good, and that constant reminder has stuck with me through this. He strengthened me to complete those things and He will strengthen me as I continue to seek peace and healing.

Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Warm Welcome Back

Today was my first day back, and I couldn't have asked for a better day.

My students welcomed me with hugs and cheers. 
Not to mention they listened better today than they've done since the beginning of the school year!

My work family helped make my life easier by continually offering to help me with odds and ends.

My admin team checked on me to see how I was doing.

Many offered their condolences and prayers.

All in all, it was a successful day back. Now, please excuse me while I nap from sheer exhaustion of being back in the swing of things!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thanks in Threes

It is easy to get caught up in the "woe is me" trap when grieving. I've noticed myself going down that slippery slope at times. This is a place when hate reigns instead of the love that heals. I've learned that despite how dark the days may seem there is still light somewhere. We still have so much to be thankful for. 

A sweet friend of mine suggested that I take the time each day to thank God for three things. Some days the items may come easier than others. Some days the items may be as simple as the roof over our heads. And some days we may grasp to find items, but they will be there.

It seems so basic, but I think this will have a profound effect on me during the healing process. I need to remember to be grateful for what I do have, and not lament over what I do not. The temptations of this world lead us to pine for more, but what about what we do have. 

I know that David and I have been immensely blessed in our marriage, our church, family, friends, etc. I could write for days on all that we have. So why do we so quickly wish for more? That is an answer found deep within each and every one of our hearts. 

We assumed that once we got past the first trimester of our pregnancy, we were "safe". We did not once consider anything could happen that would harm our sweet girl. We took for granted the blessing that was bestowed upon us.  My heart wonders how many others do the same thing? I pray that all those who are pregnant take a moment each day to thank Him for the miraculous blessing He has given them. I also pray that despite how crazy children may make parents (I've been a nanny, I can confidently say children will make you crazy) that those parents take a moment to thank Him for the blessing that they are.

This is a roundabout way of saying that instead of taking all we have for granted, I'm going to be more conscious about thanking Him for what we do have. Join me.

What three things are you thankful for?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lessening Burdens

If you know me then you know I don't do well giving up control of things. The oldest child and Type-A personality in me doesn't like to hand over things. I want to have my hand in everything. This experience has taught me to let go of a lot.

From the moment I told my colleagues what happened, they took control of all my work responsibilities. While there are many benefits to being a teacher, easily taking time off is not one of them. My students cannot just sit there and wait for my return like in other careers. I’ve been so blessed in that I’ve been able to step away and take time to heal while others have picked up my slack.

This has been the same case at church. I volunteer as part of the kid’s ministry and share responsibility with another woman. The weekend we were in the hospital both David and I were scheduled to serve at church. She has stepped up in such a beautiful way and removed the stresses that we felt at not being able to serve and leaving others hanging. Not to mention all the wonderful volunteers who have come forth to lessen any burdens we may feel.

Letting go of these responsibilities would have been a challenge for me in any normal situation, but in this one I had no choice. Stepping back now and realizing what these people have done for us brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. Without them we would be fifteen steps behind where we are now in our healing. They have all reminded us in different little ways to step back and take care of ourselves.

We are immensely thankful for these people and pray that one day we can lessen their burdens in the same way they have lessened ours.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mind Clearing Hike

One of the items on my 30 Before 30 List was to go hiking with David. We had been talking about doing it since college, but never got around to it. I figured by putting it on a "to-do" list we would definitely accomplish it. In the midst of all this, the crazy Mother Nature gave us a few days of 60 and 70 degree temps. We decided to take her up on it and head out to breathe in some fresh air and clear our heads a bit.

Our first attempt took us to the Whitewater Center. The key word is "attempt". It had rained for a few days prior to Saturday, but we didn't think much of it. To our surprise we were greeted with news that the trails were closed. The parking attendant informed us of a gravel trail we could try, but it was only eight tenths of a mile, and we would still have to pay for parking. Bleck. We decided to hit the road again and head for Crowder's Mountain.

About thirty minutes later we were hitting the trails. In our extreme naivete we decided to take on the "strenuous" 2.8 mile route. Little did we know the route was 2.8 miles one way, and that it didn't even take us to the top. The trail took us to another spot where we could either return to the visitor's center or we could keep going to get to the top. We felt fine and chose to keep going.

If the trail had continued as it was we would have been fine, but it began to go almost entirely up with no flat spots for rest. Then, there were the steepest set of stairs I had ever climbed, or at least it seemed that way. When we finally did reach the top (after quite a few breaks for me) we were out of breath and ready to rest. The view that greeted us made it all worth it.

Kind of foggy, but worth the climb.

David and Daisy had no interest in the view or the cliff you had to climb to see it.

After a few minutes of taking it all in we headed back down. Our adventurous pup did way better than both of us and was scaling rocks left and right.

She was in no mood to model for the camera.

The paths we took, both up the mountain and back down, varied as we walked. Some parts were rocky and covered with tree roots, while other parts were smooth and flat. A book we are reading for a marriage class through our church compared hiking a trail to the seasons of a marriage. Some moments are flat and mostly uneventful, while others are bumpy and keep you on your toes. We are in a season of bumps and challenges, but will see a season of rest eventually. We don't know when that will happen, but it will. 

David's strength through all this has amazed me. He has been able to have those difficult conversations with others that I am not quite ready for. He has held me when I've cried despite the other millions of things he could be doing. He has constantly pointed me to God when I've struggled, reminding me that we are not in this alone. Like the song says, "God gave me you for the ups and downs". Whether we're on a mountain and I need a break, or I'm crying on the couch and need a hug, God certainly gave me David for a reason.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Week of Firsts

This has been a week of firsts for me. 

First time to church on Sunday.
First day alone with no plans to meet anyone.
First doctor's appointment.
First time seeing my students and work family again.

These experiences have not been easy, but are necessary. As I mentioned yesterday, I feel like as soon as I take a few steps forward something sends me back. Instead of letting these reverse steps keep me moving in the wrong direction I'm focusing on letting Him propel me forward. 

I'm planning on heading back for good next week, but knew that if I handled it all in one day I would struggle to make it through. So, today I went into school to say hello and to conquer any emotions that came on. A sweet friend of mine suggested this, and I am thankful for her suggestion.

I cried through my prayers the whole way to the school. I prayed for strength and courage, as well as for peace and continued healing through this experience. I was unsure of what I would feel walking in the building that I was in two weeks ago, 6 months pregnant. The last time my students saw me was in December when I was clearly showing. They were all so excited when I announced that I was pregnant. Despite how old they wish they were, they are still young and I was nervous at how they would respond. They blew me away with their love. 

From the moment I walked in the door they showered me with hugs and love. They told me how much they missed me and begged me to come back. One student even made me promise I wouldn't leave again. Their warm response was exactly what I needed. I could tell some of them were nervous and didn't know what to say, and that's okay. This is the first time many of them have experienced death or loss of any kind and will undoubtedly feel a little awkward around me for a while.

My work family welcomed me back with open arms. There were many hugs and mentions of prayers, which meant so much to me. Hugs and prayers are what we need most right now. Even as we continue to heal and the days become easier, those hugs and prayers continue to fuel us. I am so thankful for these amazing people and how much they all have done to ease our ache. From sub plans (a teacher's nightmare) to coverage to meals to cards to flowers to prayers and hugs, this extended family has stepped in in such a beautiful way. 

I will officially head back next week, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to conquer the fears my firsts bring on with the love and support of those around me.

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 11:14

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Focusing on Him

Yesterday was our post-op appointment. I woke up nervous as all get out. I’m not exactly sure, but I think the only thing I can attribute it to is that the last time we were in that office we were hopeful and excited.

We arrived and they quickly took us back so we didn’t have to wait long in the waiting room. This was very much appreciated. After the general check of how I was doing the doctor came in. There were three doctors who treated me while we were in the hospital, and he was the one who induced labor. One silver lining to this entire experience was how well we were treated by all the staff. The doctors and nurses went out of their way to ease our pain and comfort us.

I’m not sure what I was expecting because we were told up front that we may never know what happened, but there were no new results to share. The only results they had were those from the amnio centensis. They were unable to grow any fetal cells to test for a chromosomal issue, but were able to determine this was not the result of any sort of infection.

He checked me out and determined that physically I am healing well, but cautioned against jumping too soon into anything. He patiently answered all of our questions and scheduled our next appointment for 4 weeks out. We’re hoping to have the results of the autopsy at that time.

I managed to hold it together until we got in the car where I broke down and sobbed. I’m not sure if it was the news of no results or being back in the office or what, but I just felt so beaten down. As I explained to my very patient, kind husband it seems that every time I take a step forward, something happens that sends me ten steps back. As a dear friend told me, this is going to happen. She reminded me that I must not focus on what we don’t know, but instead focus on what we do-that HE reigns true and will shine through this experience. He will never desert us or turn away. He is a constant presence just waiting for us with His arms wide open.

Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God of Grace

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
-1 Peter 5:10

David sent me this verse last week when I was having a rough day. I had read it before, but that was when I was in a different place. It's funny how differently a verse, or quote or song, can affect you depending on where you are. Originally I thought it was important to remember, now this is one that I lean on.

Many have sent me various verses to offer comfort, and I am so grateful for them. It's these verses that offer me support when I can't stop crying. It's these verses that bring joy through the painful dark periods. His love never fails, regardless of how much we hurt. He makes all things work together to bring us back to Him, even if we don't see the reason in the here and now.

I know He will restore me. The restoration will take place on His timetable, not my own. If this experience has taught me anything at all it's that the sooner I give Him control over me the sooner the healing will start.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What If?

I know I shouldn’t do this to myself, but I can’t help it. I’ve been asking what if a lot.

What if it was something I did?
What if it was something I ate, or didn’t eat?
What if I walked too much or too far?
What if it was the medication I’m on?
What if I could have prevented it and didn’t?
What if this is all my fault?

I know I shouldn’t think these things, but the uncertainty of it all has me questioning every minute of these last 6 months. Subconsciously I know that this happened for a reason and there was nothing I could have done, but I can’t help asking these questions.

Whenever I do start, I force myself to stop. I nip it in the bud and do not allow myself to travel down that path. Allowing myself to do that will only lead to trouble. I know that entertaining these questions squashes His presence and His healing of my heart.

 My tactic has become to pray for peace and healing in my heart when these questions arise. To not allow them to take over, because there is no benefit in letting them take control. To keep pushing forward and allowing the Lord to guide me through this darkness to the light that shines at the end of the tunnel.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
John 10: 27-29

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Be Still

It's been a week and each day is a little easier than the last. I've had some bad days, and some better days. 

Thursday was rough. It was David's first day back at work, and my first day alone. I had plans to meet a sweet friend of mine for lunch, but that wasn't until 11:45. My sweet husband stayed up with me late into the night (okay, 10:30) so I would be able to sleep in more. We also made a plan the night before of things I would do before lunch. Made sure the radio was on so things weren't too quiet. Even with our best efforts I still woke up sad. I got out of bed and decided to walk the dog (one of my "to-do's") in hopes the endorphins would cheer me up. No such luck. 

I managed to make it home before the sobs took over. Once I walked in the door I was crippled with sadness. Nothing in particular triggered it, but I couldn't stop crying. I made my way upstairs for a shower where it continued. I somehow ended up on our bed sobbing and crying out to the Lord for some reprieve. This is when I was struck with the verse,

Be still and know that I am God.

Around this time David texted me to check-in and I called him. Poor thing didn't know what he was getting himself into with that text. He helped me calm down and we talked it all out. I realized in the midst of it all that I missed her. I missed our sweet girl. My incredibly selfless husband helped remind me that while I feel apart from her, she is near because she is with Him. And the verse came to me again,

Be still and know that I am God.

It was as if He was reminding me to not lose faith. To not give up entirely. To still my fears and misery because He had not deserted me. He has been with me through this entire experience and He will not go anywhere. 

I know there are going to be good days, and bad ones. That there will be a time when I celebrate going an entire day without crying. And it will get easier to talk about her. I know these things. It's just a process as we get there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Many Thanks

Many thanks to everyone who has reached out to us. The prayers, support, love, and warm wishes mean more than we could ever put into words. We are blessed to have so many surround us when we need it most.

A sweet friend of mine from college posted this quote:

"An angel in the book of life wrote down your baby's birth.
Then whispered as she closed the book "
'too beautiful for earth'"

While this broke my heart to read, it also filled me with warmth. I'm not angry at God. I'm not struggling with this not being fair. More than anything else I am heartbroken. I am crushed by the feeling of loss toward our baby girl. But through that piercing sadness I do feel hope. 

I know God's plan is so much greater than our own. There IS a reason He took Emerson sooner than we were ready for. Throughout this process David and I have leaned on each other and our faith, without which we would still be crumpled up crying. We know that He is a god of redeeming love whose greater purpose will light this darkness.

Thank you again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


This is something I never thought I'd have to write, nor an emotion I ever thought I'd feel. We found out last Wednesday that our sweet baby girl was no longer with us. We were shocked. There were no words, just tears. 

There were no warning signs of problems. The likelihood of this happening so late in the pregnancy is very small. Prior to this visit, all signs pointed towards a healthy baby girl.

We don't know why, and may never. There are some tests being done, but there is no guarantee. 

We want to thank everyone who has reached out to us. We are blessed to have your love, support, and prayers.

Right now we just ask for your prayers as we grieve and navigate these waters towards healing.We continue to put our faith and trust in the Lord with the knowledge that His plan is greater than ours.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Rewind

Happy New Year's Eve one and all! I've decided that people fall into two distinct categories: they either loved the previous year and are hopeful for the new year, or they are totally over the previous year and are hopeful for better times in the new year. Regardless of which camp people fall into, no one ever wishes to stop time. People are always hopeful for the new year, and I am no different.

Here is a glimpse at some of what we've been up to . . .

I set some goals and created a 30 Before 30 List. 

I completed my first 5k.

My sweet husband guest posted and kick-started his blogging career again.

We ventured to Charleston, SC for a few days.

We witnessed my brother graduating from NCSU and his commissioning ceremony into the USMC.

We celebrated our 2nd Anniversary.

I had surgery on my foot to remove a cyst.

We spent a week at the beach with family.

My kidneys relapse, and we tackled the minimal change disease again.

We announced our little family would be growing in the coming year!

And much, much more. Thank you for joining us on this journey!