Friday, September 29, 2017

A Rainbow of Hope

When we decided to "announce" that we were pregnant again, there were so many mixed emotions. When you become pregnant after loss, you face so many fears, emotions, and anxieties that are almost non-existent if you've never faced this kind of loss. There have been days griped by fear and anxiety where I feel as if I am drowning. This pregnancy has increased my faith and trust in God even further than before. Pregnancy after loss is so scary. There are decisions that I have to make every day. Whether I am going to let the fear of every little pain, cramp, or the future have control of my day. Am I going to give this baby to God and let him have all of the control. All are daily decisions that must be made. There are days that I fail and the worry overtakes me, but there are also good days. Throughout all of this, there has been one scripture that I have turned to and read continuously.

"She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, 'O  Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affiliation of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, bit will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.... And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, 'I have asked for him from the Lord.'" 1 Samuel 1

 We kept it a secret until we made it to our first appointment and ultrasound. Before going in for our first ultrasound we prayed that they would be able to pick up a heartbeat. Because we were so early, we didn't really expect them to be able to. When we saw the heartbeat, we were surprised, relieved, and grateful. To say we had mixed emotions would be the understatement of the century. So, we began to slowly tell a select few, mainly our parents and close friends.

Because of my history, the doctors wanted us to have a genetic blood test done at 10 weeks. This test would determine if the baby had the same chromosome abnormality as Aila, if there were any other abnormalities, and we would get a sooner than expected reveal of if it were a boy or a girl. Throughout the pregnancy I've had little milestones set up in my mind. If we make it to this, then this will happen. Getting to 10 weeks was huge for us. In our mind this mark was a big milestone. Once we made it and sent off the blood work, it seemed like forever before we got the results back. My anxiety, worry, fear, and stress levels were so high. The 'what ifs' continued to flood my mind. It seemed like no matter what I did I could not get the thoughts to go away. We were told it could take up to two weeks to get them back. Thankfully, it only took ours a week. When I saw that our nurse was calling, I was NOT expecting her to tell me that the results were in. I remember the phone call so vividly. She said everything came back perfect! There were absolutely no markers, and that we were having a baby boy. And in that moment, there was a new flood of emotions that took the place of the previous ones... peace, relief, and renewed hope that we might actually take this baby home. 

By our next ultrasound I was almost 12 weeks and I was so anxious. It's hard to even describe the fear that I felt on the way to our appointment and the silent chill than ran over me as we waited for the ultrasound tech. We found out that we lost Aila at 13 weeks, but she has stopped growing at 11. Before Chase came to pick us up, I had prepared myself to receive the worst news. When she called us into the room, I literally could not look at the screen. I felt so sick and my heart was beating out of my chest. But the moment I looked at the screen, I knew everything was ok. Our sweet baby boy was so active, with a perfect heartbeat. It was like he knew exactly what we needed to see. Fighting back tears, it was literally one of the best feelings seeing him move around. The tech asked us if we had the genetic testing done and if we knew what we were having. To our surprise he was also acting very much like his big brother, showing us that he was definitely a boy. 

At almost 14 weeks, we met with the Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctors at Winnie Palmer for yet another ultrasound. They were checking the growth and making sure the fluid behind his neck was in normal range. Through all the anxiety we were once again in awe of a very active baby boy. He kept arching his back, kicking his feet, and putting his hand over his face. We were able to see a cute little button nose and all ten fingers and toes. Everything on the ultrasound looked perfect. So perfect, in fact,  that the doctor didn't see a need for us to be constantly in their care. Although we are still high risk, we will continue to see our regular OB with hopefully only a few more visits to the MFM doctors. 

I had to add this one because we said it looks like he's worshipping in the womb. ;-) 
At our 16 week appointment, we didn't have an ultrasound, but we were able to hear our sweet boy's heartbeat. Yet again, everything is still perfect. I've been feeling a few flutters here and there since we were around 14 weeks, but this week I have felt stronger, more definite kicks. This was another big milestone in my mind. I started feeling Aiden and Olivia both at 17 weeks, so I was counting down the days until I could feel the baby moving. It's just a sweet reminder of the life and promise God has given us. 

The day we found out I was pregnant I had a really hard time. Normally the first person I would call would be my best friend Taylor. For those who are not familiar, Taylor went home to be with Jesus on June 1st of this year. We found out I was pregnant on July 3rd of this year. This was the day before Olivia's first birthday and just a month after I lost Taylor. My heart was hurting, but as I began to pray I felt so much hope and comfort. Shortly after we found out, I had a dream. Normally my dreams are nothing more than just my imagination playing itself out in silly ways, but this one was different. In the dream Taylor came up to me. She didn't say anything, but she had a baby with her. In the dream I felt overwhelmed with peace. I had been struggling with whether or not Taylor knew that I was pregnant again and how she won't be with me this time. But after the dream, I knew that not only did she know, but she is with us. It may not be physically, like I want with every part of me, but she is with us.

We aren't quite halfway there, but we are so excited that everything is going so well. We know that God is faithful and good, and that He is with us. He has given us promises that we hold onto and remind ourselves of almost daily. Our prayer and hope is that this baby is our happy, healthy Rainbow baby. We believe that God's timing is perfect and that He knows exactly what we need, when we need it. 

"but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he has promised." Romans 4:20-21

When we were trying to decide on a name, we wanted something that lived up to the promise that this baby is. We wanted a name that pointed to God and his goodness. After going through several names, we decided on.... 

Asa (AYS-a) is Hebrew, and means healer, physician. Samuel is Hebrew and means asked of God; heard by God

We are so ready for our precious Asa to be here! 💙

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Angel, Taylor

I'm sure some of you who know me and have been following, have been waiting on this blog.

Here as we wait
Seek Your face
Come and make Your throne upon our praise
On Memorial Day, we just happened to be in Greenville, FL, which is about half way between our home now, and where we grew up. We we had just left my Great Uncle's funeral when I got a text asking what was going on with Taylor (my best friend from school). I had no idea what this person was talking about, which immediately made me worry. You see, when I moved to Elba, AL in second grade, Taylor was one of the very first people I met. We immediately clicked and have been almost in-seperable since. She was "my person". She knew EVERYTHING about me. There was nothing that we didn't know about each other. So when I hadn't heard from her, but someone was asking about her, that meant they literally meant something was wrong with Taylor. Not her parents, not her husband, but her. As I'm trying to process and not completely go into freak out mode, I call her phone only this time her mom answered. At that moment they weren't sure exactly what was going on, but they knew it was her liver and she was in an ambulance being transported to UAB. I am so thankful for where we were that day, and that I was able to ride back with my parents to Alabama. My best friend needed me, and I knew I needed her.

Here in this place
Have Your way
The moment that we see You, we are changed

It was a long week, which felt more like a never ending rollercoaster, as we all prayed diligently and tried to fight for Taylor. There were so many ups and downs, but we really thought and believed she was going to pull through. She fought so hard and gave it her very best, but her body was just too tired. On Thursday, we heard the words that no one ever wants to hear about their daughter, wife, niece, cousin, best friend, or loved one. She was gone.

Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
In wonder and surrender we fall down

There were several times during the week when I told God the exact words Taylor told me on January 6th... I wish it was me. She doesn't deserve this, and it's just not fair. And it seemed like every time I would say or think that, I would hear Taylor's voice. She was younger than me by almost three months, but she was always trying to protect me, and I have so many stories of her doing just that. She holds a special place in my heart and life, she's always been there for me.

Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
Let every burning heart be holy ground
She was one of the very first people I called when I found out I was pregnant all three times. She's the person I would call or text when I was having a bad day or just needed to vent. She was the person I talked to almost all night at Christmas, when I was having a major breakdown because my baby girl wasn't here for her first Christmas. She's the person who I used to ride around town with for hours just to listen to music and do something. She's the person I built snowmen in a foot of snow with, because we didn't know if we would ever see "real" snow.

Here, not by power
Not by might
But only by the cross we come alive

We were each other's Maid of Honor. She not only knew, but acknowledged all three of my children, and was their Aunt TayTay. She was there for me and was one of the first people to hold Aiden after he was born. She was the only person, besides family, who came to see us the night we found out we lost Olivia. She is the only person besides my parents and sister who I called to tell we had also lost Aila. And if she didn't have to work and I hadn't told her no, she would have been right by my side then too. She saw and knew me at my worst, and loved me anyway. She was a huge part of my world for over 18 years. We may have been separated by distance, but that never changed our relationship. We were constantly texting or sending snap chats to each other.  We often joked that we knew each other better than our spouses knew us. That was just us. We were so much more than just friends, she would often tell me that I was the sister she never had, we just had something special.

Here, we're undone
By heaven's love revealed before our eyes

When you face death and loss, you see things differently. In 25 years, death has visited me a lot. I told myself that 2017 was going to be a year of change and new beginning, but a few days in we got hit with more death. You never imagine losing a child or a best friend. Even after losing our girls and getting hit with the most unexpected, I would have never imagined losing Taylor as well. I don't know why it happened, and have often questioned why her. The sting of death never changes, no matter how many times you face it.

When I was on the way to Birmingham, AL on Tuesday, I was in constant prayer. I didn't know what was going to happen, but I knew that God was in control. I was so anxious to just get there and for her to be ok. I told God over and over how much I needed her in my life, and that she HAD to be ok for me. When I was about 30 minutes outside of Birmingham, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me. In that moment, I felt God saying that Taylor was going to be ok, that He had her, but it was followed by a command. There was something that I had to do, not only for Him, but for Taylor. In my human mind I thought that meant that Taylor was going to be healed, that she would literally be ok. As things progressed, and she started declining, I felt God reminding me of what He had spoken to me. It wasn't until after she passed that I really understood what my mission was.

Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
In wonder and surrender we fall down

Had we not gone through what we went through almost exactly a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to do this thing that God was leading me to do. I wouldn't have had the courage to pray out loud in the Chapel and plead for Taylor's life with her family. I wouldn't have had the strength to pray the prayers I knew needed to be prayed in those delicate moments. I wouldn't have understood it.

Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
Let every burning heart be holy ground

On the way home, we were mostly quiet, but I told Chase what God told me. I then told Him something I never thought I would say... "What if this is the reason and purpose for Olivia and Aila's life?" Without them, I would not have gotten it. I would have missed what God was saying and I would have missed my purpose for this moment. This is the same thing he said to me earlier this year, when we visited friends who had just lost their son, but I didn't want to hear it then. I needed to see and come to this realization on my own. Their life is my ministry and it has a purpose.

Chains fall
Fear bow
Here, now
Jesus, you change everything

With death comes pain, fear, anxiety, and hurt. It's in these moments that we have a choice to make. I was asked shortly after we found out that Taylor was gone, how I still believe with everything that I've been through and now this. In that moment, I honestly didn't know how to answer. I was blunt. I was honest. I simply said, "I have no choice, but to believe." If I didn't, I wouldn't be here. I couldn't live with the sting of death without God. I don't understand why this happened, and I don't know when (if) I will. However, I do know that God works for the good of those who love Him. He has a purpose and a reason. We may never understand it on this side of Heaven, and while I'm still learning to be ok with that, I trust Him. We have to make a choice; we can get stuck in the cycle of asking why and questioning God, or we can fix our eyes on Him and allow Him to heal us.

Lives healed
Hope found
Here, now
Jesus, you change everything

In Matthew 14:22-33, we hear the story of Jesus walking on water, I'm sure we are all familiar with this scripture. The other day, Chase brought a few key points to my attention that I have never paid attention to before.

"Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come!” So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus extended His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"   Matthew 14:28-31

I.e. allow yourself to be drawn in two directiondoubt?”
I.e. allow yourself to be drawn in two directiondoubt?”
We often think that doubt was the reason Peter began to sink. Actually, it was when he began to take his eyes off of Jesus. When I take my focus off of the "story" and focus on the details, I feel like this scripture is talking about me... It's when I take my eyes off of Him that I feel like I am drowning in pain and fear. It's in those days that I feel like my world is crumbling around me. All I need in those moments is to fix my eyes on Jesus.

"Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

If we want to know that He is God in our lives, we must let go of everything else we are holding onto and place our focus on Him. This has been and is one of my biggest struggles; just letting go of the anxiety, the fear, the pain, the control, and letting Him take over. God intends to reveal Himself as a good Father and draw us to Him, in the midst of our brokenness. We have to be willing to give it to Him and meet Him there, in our messy, broken life. Often times we (especially myself) try to be everything we can to avoid the pain and suffering in our lives. We pretend to be ok and fake it, but in the pain there is a sweet, unexplainable encounter with God that is ONLY found in the suffering and pain. Be brave and confident in exposing all to God. He is ready to help you through.

"It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed."  Deuteronomy 31:8

Christ has 'gone before us' which means that He has already worked out the end of your story, and it has a good ending! The pain is not the end. There is always victory on the other side if you walk through it with Him.

"Cause me to hear your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk. For I lift up my should to you... in you I take shelter."  Psalm 143:8-9

I have kept coming back to this scripture for a little over a week now. Every time I open my bible, I read it. God has been using it as a tool to speak to me, and to bring my focus and attention back to him. Although it says 'morning'  every time I read it, I read it as 'mourning'. So what is it saying? The term Cause me means to not only externally make me see, but also to reveal it internally by the Spirit; to feel and perceive it, to have a sensible experience of it. Lovingkindness means tenderness, goodness, mercy. In the morning means speedily, quickly. I have been reading and praying this over my life since I read it a few days ago, that I would be able to see and feel God's goodness in the mourning. That He would just reveal Himself to me, to Taylor's parents, to her husband, and to all of her family. That His goodness would bring comfort and healing to us all.

Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
In wonder and surrender we fall down
Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
Let every burning heart be holy ground

I know without any questions asked, that one of the first things Taylor did was grab our precious angels. I can just imagine her holding and loving them both for me. One day we will all be reunited, and what a wonderful day that will be! 💕

We are raising money to start scholarship in honor of Taylor's life and legacy. If you feel led to give and help us reach our goal, I have included the link. If you scroll down to Coffee County, you will see the link for the Taylor Creel Stinson Scholarship.…/contribute-to-alumni-chapter-schol…/

Monday, April 3, 2017

Our Sleeping Beauties... Part 3

  13 weeks. It may not seem like a long time, but for someone who is counting down the days until their baby is "safe," it feels like a lifetime. The chances of a miscarriage are higher in the earlier weeks of pregnancy. After 8 weeks, usually when a heart beat can be picked up on an ultrasound, the chance of a miscarriage is only 3%. Each week that passes, the risk gets lower and lower. We thought we had made it past the first step when we entered the ultrasound room on January 5th. Instead, we found our hearts once again broken and in pieces. We just did not understand.

We did everything we could to keep this baby safe. We went through 53 shots, several vials of blood, and countless bruises to prevent another loss. So why did this happen again? After almost 3 months, we finally got our answer. 

Aila Elizabeth Hawsey was born on January 7th, 2017. This world was just too much for her precious little body. She had a form of Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome, but because of her specific genetic anomaly, it was not survivable. On Aila's DNA, the extra chromosome was not carried over completely, causing her body to stop developing. If the chromosome would have been carried over completely and had been "across the board" on the 21st chromosome, she could have possibly survived. However, in a Down Syndrome pregnancy, only 50% make it to the 2nd trimester. Only 50% of those who make it that far will actually make it to full-term. Out of 10 women carrying Down Syndrome babies, only 3 would make it to delivery. This statistic is absolutely heart-breaking to me. After speaking with the genetic counselor for a few minutes she assured us that the chances of this reoccurring in a future pregnancy are 1%. Our chances are not any more increased than someone who has had no losses. The two pregnancies were completely and totally unrelated, and there was nothing we could have done to prevent this. Through all of it we finally feel at peace and have closure. 

9 week ultrasound and heart beat.

Some people have questioned why I would go through the process of giving this baby a name or  why I would do that to myself. But I couldn't go on without giving her a name and an identity. She is just as much a part of our family as Aiden and Olivia. We want to be able to call all of our babies by their names, and we want Aiden to know that he has two little sisters in heaven waiting to be reunited with all of us. We wanted a name that held meaning true to who she was to us. 

Aila (Ay-lah) means "bringer of light"; in the Scottish form in means "from the strong place."
Elizabeth means "oath of God" or "God is abundance." 

From the moment we found out about her, she brought us light. Though she was only here a little while, she was and is a constant reminder of God's promise to us. We know that God is an abundant God and that He will give us the desires of our heart. He is a good Father, even when we don't understand the storms of life, He sends little reminders that He is with us. We know that God holds the future and that future is abundant in the promises He has made us. 

I have never viewed Jesus and what He did on the cross, what God did in that moment, and the resurrection like I do now. Everything we have been through in the past 9 months has completely changed everything about me. A few weeks ago, we did a sermon series titled Don't Waste Your Life. One of the messages was titled Don't Waist Your Pain. The past few weeks have been extremely hard me, emotionally, physically, mentally.... It's just been exhausting. They have been full of highs and lows. Nevertheless, I keep coming back to this scripture. I feel like I have failed miserable at bringing glory to God. I have let my pain take over and consume me. 

"So then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of [our great] God." 
1 Corinthians 10:31 AMP

Our world has been turned completely upside down, we have lost two children in 6 short months. Because of that pain we think differently, we see things differently, we take things differently, I over analyze everything, I worry about everything, and we feel the sting of death. We have faced  devastation. I wish none of us ever had to experience pain, I know and now see how it molds and shapes us into who we are. Chase and I have talked about how much God has moved in our pain; and without this loss, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Pain makes us vulnerable, humble, and in need. It brings us to our knees and pulls us in to our loving Savior's arms. It is in this pain we find God's healing and victory. We feel and see the need of a Savior. This pain that we feel is temporary. One day we will be reunited with our precious baby girls, and all of this pain will be worth it. 

"The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory. For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us! For [even the whole] creation [all nature] waits eagerly for the children of God to be revealed. For in this hope we were saved [by faith]. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait eagerly for it with patience and composure."  
2 Corinthians 2:16-19, 24-25 AMP

My prayer has always been that through Olivia and Aila's life, that God would be glorified. Through the pain, in the ugly rawness, in the vulnerability, and more so in the grief, He is the only one that matters. 

Olivia Grace and Aila Elizabeth

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Year in the Making

One year ago today I took a test that changed our life. I remember the day so vividly; it feels like yesterday. 
Chase explained the reasons why I should take a test, and I tried to argue my way out of it even being possible. 1) It took us almost a year to get pregnant with Aiden, (at that point we weren't even sure if we would be able to have kids without medical help). 2) Aiden was 7 days shy of being 8 months old, therefore it wasn't possible. If that wasn't enough to convince me other wise... 3) I was on the pill. I didn't want to believe we were even discussing the possibility. We talked and semi-joked about it, and I finally built up the courage to take the test.

Unreserved, unrestrained
Your love is wild
Your love is wild for me

Within a few seconds the result was very clear. We were pregnant, again. In that moment I felt like my heart stopped beating, and I immediately began crying. I didn't know how I was going to do it. I was worried about the comments we would receive because our kids were going to be so close in age.  Aiden was still a baby. While we were discussing the possibility and even taking the test, he was in his mamaRoo - if you don't know what that it is, it's basically a baby swing. He had just started really crawling and eating table food the month before, and while I felt like he was slowly getting more independent, he suddenly seemed so little. I felt guilt. It felt like we were forcing Aiden to grow up too quick. I felt like I wasn't going to really get to enjoy him in the baby and toddler stages. You know, the mom guilt that gets you every single time... I had no idea how I was going to be a mom to two under two, when my oldest baby was still a baby.

It isn't shy, it's unashamed
Your love is proud
To be seen with me

As we began to talk, Chase kept reassuring me that we would be ok and that we would make it work. We wanted our kids to be close in age, we just didn't expect them to be so close in age, but that was going to be ok. We continued to talk about how we would make it work as we finished getting ready for church. The last thing Chase said to me as he was walking out the door for practice not to call or text anyone. That lasted about one minute.

You don't give Your heart in pieces
You don't hide Yourself to tease us

Usually in times of panic, or trouble, or stress, or just to vent, there are two people I immediately call or text. Since it was like 7 a.m., I text one and called the other. Big sisters have a way of always calming you down and protecting you. That's how my sister has always been for me. When i was younger and terrified of bad weather, I would go to her room and ask to sleep with her. If we were at school and there was a tornado warning, she would come and find me in the hallway. If I was on bed rest, but not ready to bring a baby home, she would come and clean my house for me. She would also end up taking me to the hospital, to ultimately deliver my baby because of pre-eclampsia the very same day. If I needed advise on something that was happening with Aiden, I would call or text her. She was always there for me, helping me, caring for me, and protecting me. She is the only other person, besides my parents and extended family, that had known me my whole entire life.

Uncontrolled, uncontained
Your love is a fire
Burning bright for me

When she answered the phone I said the exact same thing I did with every one of our babies... I took a test because I am late, and I'm pregnant. Of course, each time the conversation was a little different. With Aiden, we were both so excited - only a few people knew what was going on behind the scenes and knew that the odds were not in our favor. With Olivia, she told me all the reasons why we would be ok. She explained how much Aiden would grow in 9 months. How it seems impossible right now because he is still a baby, but by then he will be walking and communicating. She calmed me down, and reassured me that all of my fears would work out. And she was right...

It's not just a spark
It's not just a flame
Your love is a light
That all the world will see
All the world will see

By the end of the day, some of the worries were still there, but I felt reassured in our ability to raise two children. We were new parents, but looking at Aiden made us more confident in ourselves.

You don't give Your heart in pieces

You don't hide Yourself to tease us

Looking back, I hate that I felt so guilty in the beginning. Knowing the outcome of this pregnancy, I see so many things I didn't see before.
The worry, the guilt, the fear didn't matter. I feel like I wasted so much time worrying about things that I either can't control or should just trust God to work out for my good. I wish I could rewind time and just soak in all of the pregnancy symptoms that so many (including myself) complain about. I wish I could count all the times i felt a kick or the times when my belly would jump because Olivia had the most precious hiccups. I wish I would have taken more pictures instead of being worried about all of the stuff that doesn't even matter anymore. I wish I could go back to when Aiden would cuddle and hold my belly, even though he didn't understand what was going on. I wish I would have recorded Chase's face when the tech said "I think it's a girl" and then again when he needed confirmation that we were for sure 100% pregnant with a girl. I wish I could see her with her big brother now. I wish we didn't have to feel the sting of death, not just once but twice now. There are so many things that I would change if I could just go back, but I can't. I can only change the future.

Your love's not fractured
It's not a troubled mind
It isn't anxious
It's not the restless kind

Without going through all of this, we would not be who we are today. We wouldn't be where we are. We wouldn't be able to hold and love others who are hurting and going through the exact same thing we did, and able to be 100% honest with them. We wouldn't have the {overflowing} empathy we have now because we have experienced true grief. We wouldn't be the parents we are today. Our life would look and be completely different than it is today, and for that we are thankful.
 Olivia's life mattered and completely changed us. If it didn't have an impact on anyone else, that would be ok, because through her God has pulled us closer. He is the ultimate healer and redeemer, and He always gets the victory.

Your love's not passive
It's never disengaged
It's always present
It hangs on every word we say

I have learned so much from her life, even though she was here for a very brief 24 weeks. All the worrying and stressing and fear over the future was for nothing.

I would much rather spend my time and thoughts on things that are holy, pure, and satisfying to Christ. It is a battle I face every day, but when we focus on God and His heart, the battle can be won.

Love keeps its promises
It keep its word
It honors what's sacred
'Cause its vows are good

From the moment we found out about her, we loved her. Even through the fear and worry, there was never a moment that I didn't want her. Olivia Grace was so loved and so wanted. Her personality was so different from that of her brothers. While she did move quite often, she was so calm and peaceful. Her movements were slow and graceful. When I was pregnant with Aiden he never, ever stopped moving. If you know him, then you know that this is true of him even now. His personality holds true to the meaning of his name. As I have shared before, Olivia Grace is a symbol of peace and God's grace, and that is exactly what she is. She taught us the true meaning of God's peace and grace. She is our perfect sleeping beauty.

Your love's not broken
It's not insecure
Your love's not selfish
Your love is pure

You don't give Your heart in pieces
You don't hide Yourself to tease us 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's not you, It's me...

It's really not you, it's me... That is my response for so many things now. The things that I can't handle. The things that automatically send me spiraling into an anxiety attack in a matter of seconds. I am a different person than I was 7 months ago. I've experienced more grief, anxiety, loss, hurt, and pain than some people do in a life time, and I'm not even 25 yet. In a matter of 6 months, I have lost not one, but two children.

I've decided that I have to start cutting certain things out of my life for a while. I can't control others, and it wouldn't be fair too; I also can't live in a bubble, and I don't expect everyone to walk on egg shells around me. However, there are certain things that I can control... Things like how much time I spend on social media, who shows up on my "timeline", who I surround myself with, and how I choose to live my life.

It's so easy for people to say, "Well you can't be like that," or "You just can't allow stuff to bother you," or "You just have to get over it." There are some times that I am ok seeing a pregnant woman, and there are other times where I completely lose it.  There are things that trigger so many emotions and so much pain, that it is almost impossible to imagine.

Today, I open up Facebook like most of us do, and the first thing I see is an ultrasound picture. In that moment, time froze. It felt as if my heart stopped beating and I could not breathe. I instantly lost it. Every bone in my body hurt. The last ultrasound I had, I found out that my baby's heart had stopped beating. Every single memory of my last two pregnancies flooded my mind. It's crippling and uncontrollable.

Those are things that you can't just "get over". You don't get over death. You have to learn to live with it and learn how to cope with it. That doesn't mean that it is going to be easy. That doesn't mean that the pain will go away. That doesn't mean that you are "ok" by the world's standard all the time. It means that sometimes you are emotional, sometimes you cry in public, sometimes you lash out because you are hurting, sometimes you want to be all alone. It means that you may lose friends or have to cut off certain relationships because they just don't get it. Your life is FOREVER changed. While the world around you moves on and forgets, you feel stuck in time.

I saw this quote, and it has stuck with me. You have no idea how many times I've heard "well at least you still have Aiden" or "at least it wasn't Aiden" or "at least you weren't as far along as you were with Olivia." None of this matters. It doesn't matter if you lost your child at 3 weeks, 40 weeks, 2 years, 25 years. That child is still your baby. That child matters. That child is instantly a piece of your heart and soul, the moment you find out they exist.

I don't understand why this happened. I don't understand why we are going through this. I don't understand why anyone has to go through the loss of a child. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I was reading and studying the bible, when something in a devotional spoke to me. It said while we don't understand why now, one day everything will make sense. The moment that we enter Heaven, all of the puzzle pieces will come together, and we will see the big picture. I can not wait for that day, for sooooooo many reasons.

This has been one of the scriptures that has spoken to me recently. I have quoted it, prayed it, read it, and truly believe it. I believe that God will keep his promise for us. He will give us the desires of our heart. He loves us and cares for us. He is with us every step of the way. It is by His sovereign strength and grace that we are able to get through this.

To those of you who remember our angel babies and have been there for us, thank you. We truly have felt so much love from people who genuinely care for us. Recently one of our best friends had bought a gift for the baby before everything happened, when 'they' gave it to me 'they' said, "This is for OUR angel baby." I had about 5,000 emotions in that moment, but it truly meant the world to me. I wanted to break down crying right there. This baby wasn't just loved and recognized by Chase and I, and it meant so much more than you can imagine. When parents go through loss, one of the best ways you can comfort them is by remembering. Acknowledging their babies that are in heaven. Showing that you care. Being there for them.

One of my biggest desires for my blog is that people will become more aware of not only the process of loss and grief, but the life after. That others will be more kind, compassionate, and loving when they encounter someone who has experienced true grief. Society says it's a taboo subject, and that people shouldn't talk about it. Women are expected just to "get over it" and move on. No one talks about how much your life is changed after loss. It's a journey that you have to take one step at a time, because you never know when a wave will come and knock you off your feet.

For those wondering, we are still waiting on our Anora test results to come back, they should be in by next week at the latest. I'm fairly positive there will be a blog following the results!

I have shared this song before, but it has been on my heart and mind all day. It's my anthem, my heart, my prayer. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

You Don't Miss a Thing...

We don't know why things happen, but we trust God has a purpose and plan for our lives. I posted a blog a few days ago, sharing some of the promises that God has given us, not knowing what the next day would hold.

 On January 5th, we had our first appointment with the high risk doctor that would be taking our "case." The appointment started with going over our medical history, followed by an ultrasound. As the nurse began to perform the ultrasound, I knew something was not right. After three pregnancies, you know exactly what to look for. The nurse's facial expression changed, as she fought to hide back tears before saying she was going to get the doctor.

When the doctor came in, he began to perform an ultrasound. He moved around a little before turning on the heart rate monitor. We knew that there was no heart beat before he did anything. He didn't have to say anything, we already knew what he was going to say.

The doctor gave us a few minutes before going over the details. Because of how far along we were and the fact that I was on blood thinners, we had to go through basically the same process that we did with Olivia, it just wouldn't be to the same extent. He wanted me to wait until the next morning for us to come in and be induced, so that the Lovenox could have time to get out of my system. He went over some of the details of my history and talked us through what was going to happen next. They gave us instructions on checking in to the hospital, and were very comforting during everything. We left, once again, broken-hearted.

The call came at 7:00 AM Friday morning that our room was ready. Thankfully, we had family who already had plans to be here this weekend, so they took Aiden with them while we went to the hospital.

We got to the hospital around 10, and finally started the induction process around 3 pm. At 6:10am on January 7, 2017, at 13 weeks, our 3rd baby was born. Because it was so early in the pregnancy, we were not able to determine if the baby was a boy or a girl, but thanks to testing, we will know in 1-2 weeks. They took a lot of blood samples and will be doing further testing on the blood and placenta to see if we can determine a reason as to why this happened medically.

During this process we have felt so much love and true empathy. People have not only said they love us and are hurting with us, but actually shown that they truly do care and are hurting. We are so thankful for the calls, texts, prayers, and love shown to us. We have felt strangely at peace throughout this whole process, and I truly believe it is because of all the people interceding on our behalf.

We know that this baby is with our precious Olivia Grace, in the arms of Jesus. While it hurts and is so painful, we know that God has got us. He has not left us, or forsaken us. He will give us the strength to get through this. He has given us a hope and a future. The promises that he has given to us in the past year still hold true, even when we do not see how. He will heal our broken hearts, and make us whole again.

Losing a child is never easy, no matter how long you carried the child, it hurts the same every time. During all of this, I've felt like we've had two options: 1) To dwell on the fact that life sucks, and begin to question God and allow anger to set in for God "allowing" this to happen not once, but twice; or 2) To turn to God and allow Him to comfort and hold us, and allow Him to pick up the pieces. I believe that God is a sovereign God, and that he is going to turn all of this around for His glory. Even though it does suck, and we are hurt and broken; He is going to pick up the pieces and turn it into something beautiful.

While we were meeting with the doctor, we spoke a little bit on the future, and what that will look like for our family. He believes that there may be something more going on in my body, and wants to do further testing, when we are ready. We are believing that we will get answers and closure.

We know that there will be a day where we will get to hold all of our babies... and on that day, we will never have to say goodbye. We have a hope for a future.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Six Months

    I haven't blogged in a while, because I just haven't felt like it, if I'm being completely honest... The past few weeks have been some of the hardest I've faced. I literally didn't want to do anything.

God I look to You, I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do

    Usually, I get in the Holiday Spirit right after Halloween. I start counting down the days until I can put my Christmas tree up, and {not so} secretly start playing my Christmas music. The Holidays usually bring a certain happiness and comfort. Knowing you'll get to spend time with family, buying and giving gifts, and just being able to relax for a few days; I have always loved it. This year was completely different...

God I look to You, You're where my help comes from
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do

This year I dreaded facing the Holidays. I didn't have the motivation or want to do anything. We finally put our Christmas tree up on the 16th of December. Partially because we left our ornaments in Alabama, but mostly because I didn't want to.  It took a lot for me to even buy Christmas presents, something I absolutely love doing. We were supposed to have a toddler and a baby this Christmas. We were supposed to be buying presents for 2 kids, not 1. One of the biggest things was that I felt so much guilt during the Holidays. Guilt for not being myself for Aiden. Guilt for feeling like I was leaving Olivia out. Guilt for not being in the mood for Christmas, and letting my feelings get in the way. Just so much guilt on top of a lot of pain and hurt. It was just so hard for me.

I will love You Lord my strength
I will love You Lord my shield

Then you have family gatherings. The ones where people say things like "I'm so glad everyone is together" or "everyone is accounted for." I wanted so bad to scream at those people, that "NO! Everyone is not together. A huge piece of my heart is missing." I know that most people don't think about it or even mean it when they say things like that, and most people don't have to deal with the pain and reality of child loss; but that doesn't make the words sting any less. It hurts knowing that Olivia won't get the chance to be in our family pictures or be physically present with our family. The death of a child is a pain and hurt that only those who have experienced it will understand; no matter how long that child lived, it still hurts the same.

I will love You Lord my rock 
Forever, all my days, I will love You God

I'm not telling you all of this to feel sorry for or have pity on me; I'm just being transparent. The Holidays were probably some of the hardest days I've faced. I knew that they would be bad, I just didn't know how hard they would be. I did truly enjoy spending time with our family. There is something about being Home and with family.

Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns forever all my days

    Once the Holidays were officially over, I knew there was one more day that we had to face before the wave would pass. The six month mark...

You're faithful all my days
When I forget I just see the rain
Cause I see you in the rain
Giving life to every little living thing

There are some months where the 4th is just another day, and then there are others where it feels like the world is on my shoulders. Today was one of those days... So much has happened in 6 short months, but one thing has not, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about our Olivia Grace.

I wonder how life would be with 2 under 2, how much Aiden would have loved and absolutely aggravated her, and how our family would look completely different.

 I see you in the rain
Giving life and breath to every living thing
Causing dead things to rise again...

It has been a hard and painful six months, but we are getting through it one step at a time. There are bad days and there are good days. We just have to live one day at a time.

   On November 3rd during all of this chaos and hurt and pain, we found out that we are pregnant again... The exact same day that we found out we were pregnant with Aiden 2 years ago. It was completely unpredicted, unseen, and completely God.

 I called Chase and asked if he could come home, trying not to tell him over the phone, he immediately responded with, "your pregnant". After taking another test for reassurance, we begin talking about what had to happen now. Chase sent me a scripture that I have read over and over since that day.

Slow down, take time
Breath in, he said
He'd reveal what's to come

"God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors."  Deuteronomy 30:3-5 (MSG)

The thoughts in his mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

The first line says it all. "God will restore everything you lost." While, Olivia can never be replaced or forgotten, our hearts can be healed and restored. We are in that process now. When we realized that our due date is July 11th, exactly one week after Olivia's birthday, we knew that this Rainbow baby is completely God-sent in His perfect timing.

Take courage, my heart
Stay steadfast, my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting

A baby born after loss is called a Rainbow baby. We've experienced the storm and rain. God has seen us through every step of the way. He has given us reminder after reminder that this baby is just that, a rainbow; a promise, a hope, and restorative healing.

I have posted this picture before, but it holds even more meaning to me now. I was actually pregnant and didn't know, when this picture was taken. 💗
There are days where I am overcome by fear and worry, that something may happen to this baby, and in those moments God always sends me a reminder, that He has us.

Hold on to your hope
As your triumph unfold
He's never-failing
He's never-failing

There have been days that I had to call or ask others who have walked this road before me for prayer because I knew I could not hold the weight anymore, and I have been instantly relieved. I had a complete mental break down one day, driving after work. As I began to pray and just pour my heart out to God, I look up and see a complete whole rainbow.

From beginning to End, it was all there. It was so big I couldn't get a picture of it, and I was driving. I knew, in that moment, not only did God hear my prayers and desires, He was showing me this Rainbow baby is going to be complete and whole. He is our hope and strength. He will get us through this pregnancy safely.

Sing praise, my soul
Find strength in joy
Let his words lead you on
Do not forget his great faithfulness
He'll finish all he's begun

There are still days that I am completely overwhelmed by fear and worry. Ultrasounds still give me so much anxiety and make me feel so sick. But we will take things one day at a time, and know that this precious baby was hand picked by Olivia Grace and sent to us as a precious reminder that she is with us.

And you who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep your promise to me 
That I will rise in your victory

There have two songs that have made an impact on me and felt like they were written for me. I usually include one song, but I couldn't decided on one, so I have included them both. ;-)