Two Years ago

Two years ago,  yesterday actually, our daughter Lily was born. I didn’t forget about her yesterday, I remembered her birth, but I didn’t write about it. I didn’t write about it because I couldn’t put it all in to words. How much she meant means to us, how much it still hurts sometimes to think of her death. I spent this weekend writing an article (out in December) about the hope I have in relation to the birth of a baby. It was a tough article to write. So I was spent.
It’s been interesting for me working again in L&D. My perspective has changed from when I was here before. I still enjoy it, but I’m even more in awe of the miracle birth is than I was years ago. The lives of Knox and Lily have made me so very thankful for every birth that happens. I was in a room last week and it was all I could do to keep from grinning like a big dumb idiot because I was just so happy for the parents that they were getting to welcome their baby. I mean seriously happy, elated, for two strangers that they were completely in love with their new little one. It’s caught me off guard.
I found myself working yesterday on her birthday. I thought about her a lot and what we were doing two years ago, waiting for her to be born. And when I came home, I snuggled my baby Zeb. As I breathed deep on the top of his head I thanked God for his safe birth just over a year ago. I thanked God for the perspective and the growth, as difficult and painful as it was, that He’s given me because of Lily’s birth. I’m thankful for the opportunity it’s given me to care for others.
Two years ago, we said hello and goodbye on the same day. We held her for the first time and the last time. We didn’t forget, we won’t ever forget. But we are thankful for her and the way she touched our lives and taught us much about the treasure of life.

2 years

This week marks 2 years ago that our lives, mine especially, was shaken to the core. Two years ago today our son Knox was born at 16 weeks.
The days leading up to his birth have replayed in my mind. On the first we’d had our sonogram after not being able to find heart tones for a couple of days. I can still picture the black hole in his chest, where his heart was no longer beating. My heart still sinks when I close my eyes. On the second we met with an OB doctor I’d never met and scheduled the induction. It was God’s providence that we made that relationship with him. I’m so thankful for his care. Because little did we know that 6 months later we’d be in his office again staring at a lifeless body in my womb and scheduling yet another induction for our daughter Lily.
And then today.
I remember walking in to the hospital the day’s events. I remember how scared I was, how sad. His birth, so thankful to be able to hold him and admire God’s handiwork. Thankful for nurses who made footprints, took pictures and prayed with me. Sobbing when they took him away. I remember the OR, fighting anesthesia with fear…waking and asking before my eyes were open if I was still whole, if they’d saved my uterus. And the next day being so weak, having my first allergic reaction ever (super scary for me) and then watching as someone else’s blood made it’s way through the IV tubing into my own arm. And leaving. Pale, weak and exhausted. Hollow and leaving a piece of me behind.
As I mourned I wrote. I wrote this series as I grieved his loss. Writing was often the only time I didn’t feel completely numb. It was my therapy.
Two years has passed since. The pain is less, but it’s still there. I still wonder how different our lives would be if he’d survived. I still wonder why he died. But through his life and his death I have learned much. God taught me a lot about trust, control, grief and caring for others. I gained a new perspective as a patient and hurting mother. I learned a lot about wrestling with God…and I did wrestle, I shook my fist, I cried out and I surrendered.
It’s been two years. His footprints still hang on our wall. A heart in our family tree to mark his presence in our family. And brothers who still talk about him…and a brother who bears his name (Zebediah Knox). A brother who will learn about the one who came before, the one he will meet in Heaven.
God is faithful. He is good even when we’re grieving the loss of a child…even when it doesn’t feel like He is good. I am thankful for the joy that He has shown me on the other side of this loss. I am thankful. Losing Knox allowed me to be teachable, mold-able…God used that experience to shape me more to the image of Christ.
So today, I remember the birth of my son whom I will meet for the first time with his sister and two other siblings in Heaven. What a glorious day that will be! Today our family remembers our Knox and we are thankful.

One year

A year ago today (5/19) our daughter Lily was born. She was born on our son Knox’s due date. We said goodbye to two babies in 6 months. I remember when we got pregnant with her that surely(surely!) God wouldn’t ask us to go through the grief of losing another baby.

When we were given her diagnosis, I was sure she was going to be the 1% that survived. But she didn’t and she was born on the day our son should have been born.

So much has happened in the last year and a half. We’ve said goodbye to two children and welcomed a new one to our family. Time has softened the grief a bit, but it’s still there under the surface. While I was pregnant with Zeb, I struggled with fear. I struggled to embrace and delight in the pregnancy because I *knew* that God could ask me to grieve another child. There is no promise that He won’t again. But I trusted that whatever He chose for us would be the best that He had for our family…even if we don’t always understand it. The morning Zeb was born all I could do was sit there and hold him praising God for the safe arrival of our baby. That I was holding him in my arms without grieving…but yet part of me did in a way. One child doesn’t replace another. Lily didn’t replace Knox and Zeb doesn’t replace either of them.

I still grieve the loss of our babies, I hurt deeply. I still have days where I’ll see an outfit and it will give me pause. It reminds me of a daughter I don’t get to hold here. I’ll see a hat or pair of shoes and I’m taken for a moment to the place where I know that a little girl is missing in our lives. I see Zeb and wonder if Knox would look as much like his brothers as Zeb does. I wonder if Knox would share the same bent pinky or one sided dimple with his brothers. I trust that one day I will know. What a marvelous day it will be to meet my children for the first time in Heaven.
But I am thankful. I am thankful…even as my heart still heals. While I grieve (yes still), I can minister. God has taught me and grown me. He has knit our family together tighter than before. He has blessed me with opportunity to share His love with others because of what He’s called me to go through. I am thankful too, for the healthy baby I have in arms tonight. While we have always viewed children as blessings and we have desired them…the true meaning of that blessing I think would, in some ways, be lost had we not been through losing Knox and Lily. I can truly say that while I am exhausted some mornings, I am so very thankful to have a baby to wake up with during the night. When I was pregnant, I would give thanks for every push and pull when he would move, when I was in labor I praised God for every contraction and now that Zeb is here…I am grateful for every late night feeding and early morning diaper change. We all are. 

Lily is not forgotten today, on this day…her birthday. Knox is not forgotten on this day…his due date. They are remembered every day. We talk about them and we have reminders of their special little lives in our home. Knox’s footprints hang in our hallway, Lily’s pictures are in our photo album and they are remembered and loved. They are part of our family.
We remember and are thankful.

24 weeks — How much longer?

I think I get asked this every day by one of my children. They are so very anxious to meet their baby brother (as are we) that they ask “how many more weeks?” on a regular basis. 16 weeks (ish) to go. Sometimes it seems so far away and sometimes it seems like time is going quickly.
Everything is going well. I am every so thankful for every kick and wiggle that I feel. I pray, thanking God, often. There are still moments where I am fearful or when I get anxious about what the future holds. So I focus on being thankful for every moment and every gift I’ve been given. I think that was one of the things I under-estimated about loss. The messed up brain stuff. Always waiting for the other shoe to fall or for something to go wrong. I wonder sometimes “Why is it so hard to believe God would give me something good again?” I am working on finding the joy and not being stressed.
So today, I am thankful as we count down the weeks…getting ever closer to meeting this little one God has given us.

One year–not forgotten

I have written this post and re-written this post several times in my mind. Sometimes I find myself at a complete loss for words and sometimes I could write a book. I don’t want to forget…
A year ago today I had a baby, Knox Cornelius. I was 16 weeks pregnant when he was born and that day was one of the most difficult days of my life. And that single event seemed to have kick off one of the most trying years we as a family has ever experienced.
I will never forget what it was like to see the sonogram confirming our fear that he was gone. I can still vividly see what that screen looked like with an empty silent chest. It is all still very vivid and very real. There isn’t a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of Knox, how that pregnancy ended and the fears that came along with losing a baby.
God used the experience of losing not one, but two, babies in the last year to teach me a lot…to grow and stretch me…something that is never easy or comfortable.
As I sit here writing this I am 23 weeks pregnant with my third baby in a year. I thought I would be writing this post with a new baby in my arms…she was due November 15 but that pregnancy ended as well in May, on his due date. The trauma of so much loss in a year has had a profound effect on me and how I’ve viewed and navigated this pregnancy. Kerry asked me the other night if I still thought about and feared losing this baby. Through tears and held back sobs I answered “Every day”.
Yet I know that God is in control, I know that He has a purpose for what ever the outcome will be and it is so hard not to be afraid. I trust that God will provide what I need every moment. God helped me navigate the anger (and I was angry!) and worry that followed in the days and weeks after Knox died. He continues to guide me through the anxiety that comes with being pregnant again after loss.
I have learned much in the year that has passed. I have made connections with people and have been able to offer support to people I wouldn’t have without Knox. We have been able to teach our sons the gift of life and how important babies are. We have had conversations we would have missed, they understand why we grieve our babies and that we anticipate seeing them again in Heaven. We were also reminded how deeply we were cared for and I learned to let others take care of me (something that was incredibly humbling and difficult to embrace).
Most of all though, I have learned to rely on God more fully. It has been reinforced that I am so not in control. My job isn’t to direct the events of my life, but to be obedient to what and where God has called me to be. He has used this time to strengthen my trust in Him and to remind me that comfort comes from Him…not doctors, hospitals, money or even health.
In losing Knox, God prepared me and built in me the faith that I would need to navigate the coming year… yet another loss that was to come in May, quitting my job to stay home, moving to a new community and the transition that comes with that and a new pregnancy (that seems to be going beautifully).
I do wonder what life would be like had he lived, I wonder what he will look like when we are reunited and I wonder what else I have to learn yet as part of losing a child (I am continually learning about this territory I find myself in). I wonder still, what the purpose has been…if it was just to grow me or if there is more. I can’t say that I’m “thankful” in the typical way, because I’m not thankful I lost a baby or that I had to learn the lessons I did…but I am thankful for what God has done in my life despite (and because of) the hurt.

22 weeks

I missed my update last week. Things are going well with my pregnancy so far. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about if we’re planning another home birth this time.
Yes we are.
We had such a wonderful experience having Titus at home that we’d like to do it again. That and it’s virtually impossible to find a doc here who will let me VBAC after having 3 c/s. We live 4 blocks from the hospital here in town and if we would need to transfer it would be a short trip. The closest OB doctor is an hour away and considering how quickly my labor went with Titus I don’t think we’d make it. So the plan is, Lord willing, that this baby will be born at home just as quickly and easily as Titus was.
I’ve finally gained a little weight. My last two full term pregnancies I gained less than 10 lbs with each of them. In fact, with Zeke I gained less than he weighed at birth and he was my biggest baby. I eat, I really do, it’s just how it goes I guess.
I’m feeling the baby move more which is reassuring. I have an anterior (front) placenta so sometimes when he kicks it’s like he’s kicking a pillow so it doesn’t always feel as strong as it could. The boys have been able to feel him kick from the outside though this week, which has been exciting for them. It took a minute for Zeke to realize what he was feeling, but once he did the smile on his face was priceless. Titus still has no idea what is going on.
I’ve noticed that I have to be much more aware of what I’m eating and how much water I’m drinking. I always underestimate how much protein I am eating and when I don’t get enough I feel rotten and I notice more swelling. I can’t really stand the texture of nuts when I’m pregnant, so I have to get a little more creative with snacks throughout the day. I really just forget to drink water during the day, I get busy and don’t realize how thirsty I am until I sit down for meals. I’ve decided to set a reminder every so often to make me stop and take a drink here and there.
We’re no where close to having a name for this little guy. We have a list, but nothing that strikes us yet. We take a while picking a name and this time is no different. We have definite criteria for our names and it’s likely that we’ll have to take a look at this little guy before he gets an official title.
I am so thankful to be 22 weeks. God reminds me on a daily basis to trust Him and there have been days that I’ve allowed the fear of losing another pregnancy creep in and rob me of my joy. The ability to continue carrying this baby is such a blessing and I am ever so thankful for each moment I have.

Week 19 — It's a…

Healthy baby! We had our sonogram this last week and everything looked good. For that, we are so very thankful for a good report.
I have been feeling the baby move a bit more which is reassuring. I felt the baby move a little later in my pregnancy than my others and it doesn’t happen as often, which had me a bit concerned a couple weeks ago. I found out at my sonogram that I have an anterior placenta, which means it’s on the front side of my uterus, so that serves as a cushion for feeling movement from the baby. I had an anterior placenta with Titus too. One of the big concerns with a placenta on the front and my history of c-sections is that the placenta can grow into the c-section scar, which can be a big problem after the baby is born. Thankfully, the placenta seems well out of the way of the scar and since it will be moving up as my uterus grows, it won’t grow down towards the scar. Whew! Good thing.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what we were having this time, I kind of wanted it to be a surprise. There was no hiding it though when we were watching the sono. This baby is definitely another boy and we are thrilled! When this baby is born we will have 5 boys in our home (and one waiting for us in eternity). I told Kerry that surely the comments we’ll get when we have 5 boys with us won’t be any worse than the ones we get now with 4 boys. One of our sons was a bit disappointed when he found out he was having a brother. He said “But mom! I prayed for a sister!” Once he was assured that a baby brother would want him to hold him as much as a sister would he seemed to be okay. The bigger brothers were both delighted! So now comes the big “name debate” at our house. It is completely likely that this little guy won’t have a name until after he is born. We like to lay eyes on them before we make it official.
I’ve been feeling okay this week, eating is still a challenge. Nothing ever sounds good and I have a really hard time making myself eat. I get hungry, but have a difficult time finding anything appetizing. This is all pretty typical for me. Spicy things generally go down easier, but still it takes a bit of convincing to make me feel like eating.
Here are a few pictures from our sonogram this past week.

18 weeks cravings and a peek

Well, I’ve made it to 18 weeks. I am ever so thankful for each passing day and each week that this baby lives. We pray daily for this little one and his or her health and birth. We thank God for giving us one more day.
We’ve had a rough week at our house this week. We were fighting two different bugs. The boys seemed to deal with the stomach bug and my husband had terrible headaches and fever. I can just tell you that stomach bugs in general aren’t something I handle well, but especially when I’m pregnant. Oh my goodness it was tough. I was thankful most of the time they got sick on a fairly empty stomach and my darling son, knowing how hard it was for me, tried really hard to not get sick around me. He kept apologizing to me for being sick and kept saying “I know it’s hard for you and I don’t want you to get sick.” Leave it to Otto. My heart just went out to him, I reassured him repeatedly that it was okay. Thankfully it appears everyone is on the mend.
Cravings have hit me big time this week. Breakfast is still hard though, nothing ever sounds good first thing in the morning. I hate to admit how many times my breakfast consists of either orange juice or chocolate milk. I just can’t seem to stomach anything else. I generally crave pretty savory kinds of things, like verenika (recipe coming this week). Spicy has been big on my list lately. I was really grateful when someone from church brought over a scalloped potato and ham dish for our family this week. It was really yummy and great with some hot sauce on top. 🙂 The boys are sure that this baby is a boy now because I want spicy food and that’s what I’ve wanted with each of them. I do have to say that I did make some brownies this week. I ate one. Actually I ate a spoonful of dough and then one brownie when they were done. So yeah, sweets aren’t big on my list.
We have a sono this week on Thursday. We are praying that we will see a happy healthy baby. It is hard for me not to be anxious every step of the way with this pregnancy. I pray regularly to give up my fears and that this baby will be healthy. This sono, in a way, seems like a big hurdle for us (for me). The last two sonograms I had were the ones that showed Knox and Lily had died. When I think about the sonogram, I remember what it was like to see those sonograms and the babies that we lost. It’s hard for me not to dwell on the images of empty chests, still babies and the sinking feeling I had each time. It is a daily struggle, sometimes moment by moment. I am thankful for a God who is walking this path with me.
I am still on the fence about whether I want to know if this baby is a boy or girl. We’ve found out with the others, but I’m just not sure I want to know this time. I can’t say why, but I’m just not sure. Kerry definitely wants to know and the boys want to know, in fact they’ve asked several times this week if we will tell them, so we’ll probably find out. I really just want to see a baby with all of his/her parts where they’re supposed to be, growing like he/she is supposed to.
We are thankful for another week. I’m thankful to be feeling bits of movement this week and I am looking forward to our sonogram on Thursday.

16 weeks — Scary

I’m not going to lie…this last week was scary for me. I haven’t made it to 16 weeks with a live baby the last 2 times I’ve been pregnant. As of this week I have spent 45 of the last 60 weeks pregnant and I don’t have a baby here to show for it. I spent three trimesters in the 1st trimester.
This week was, in a way, a milestone for me. I know realistically that there is no magical “safe” point in my pregnancy. I know that every week, every day, every moment is precious. While I *know* that realistically, there is still part of me that hopes that if this week is successful…next week will be do. We have prayed every day for this little baby, our children have prayed every day for this little baby…this child is always on our minds.
This week was scary.
I had a horrible cold. I felt miserable. There is no correlation whatsoever with having a cold and losing a baby, but it’s the thought that popped in to my mind. I hated to take any medication because of the effect it could have on our growing baby…even though I have a list of “safe” medications on my fridge. Every cough, every sneeze and every stuffed up breath I took, though I was worried if my cold was having an effect. There were so many times this week that I had to give up my fears to God…only to pick them back up again and start to fret.
This week was scary.
Then came today. The 16 week mark. The day we listen for the heartbeat. We listened after lunch this afternoon. Kerry was still home and we like to hear the heartbeat together. As the baby gets bigger, it should be easier to hear each week. But today I couldn’t find it. I searched and searched. I tried the other doppler (yes I have two). No matter what angle I held the probe, I couldn’t pick up the baby. My heart sank and I tried not to panic. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend searching because the boys had an art lesson. So I had to put the doppler away, put the little ones to bed for nap and carry on with my day. Kerry left for work and our afternoon and evening carried on. He told me to call an make see if I could make an appointment with an OB doc an hour away (the closest we have). I tried not to worry.
This week was scary.
All afternoon and evening, it was there niggling in the back of my mind. “What if” God makes you go through this again. “What if” you’ve lost this baby? “What if…What if…what if?” I was short tempered with the boys. I was grumpy, worried and starting to get angry. I didn’t want to try listening again with the boys around so I was going to try one more time after they went to sleep, but before Kerry got home. When I was alone and could grieve alone a bit.
I laid down with the boys to help them fall asleep like usual. There in the dark, I held my belly, cried and prayed. I was thankful for the blanket of dark and the fan to drown out the sniffles. Part of me was already grieving, part of me was angry and I begged, I questioned and I planned. I started to think about “what if”. I started in my mind to go through the steps, which doctor I would call for the induction, what would happen and how it would all go again.
I was scared.
The boys were restless tonight. I think they sensed something was up, but no one asked. They finally fell asleep and I stole away to the living room. Found my doppler and prayed. I closed my eyes (like that helps anything) and I listened.
The quick woosh, woosh, woosh of a heartbeat too quick to be my own. I checked my pulse to be sure. 70. I was hearing clearly, loudly 150s. I thanked God.
I breathed for the first time all evening.

Isaiah 41:10
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

14 weeks

Today was a big day. Today I turned 14 weeks pregnant. Most people would say “Yay! You’re at the *safe* point, you’re in the second trimester now!”. But that is far from the truth I know.
I have learned in the last year that no point in a pregnancy is *safe*. Sure, risk goes down, but you’re never *safe*. I have experienced 2 early losses (before 6 weeks), but until last December, bought into the myth that the second trimester was the safe part.
But…
Our daughter Lily was born on May 19, we found out she had died on May 18…the day I was 14 weeks pregnant. Our son Knox died when I was 15 weeks in December. With those losses, I felt like my innocence with pregnancy was lost. I knew after they died that no point is “safe”.

Lily at our 13 week sonogram

 

And today I turned 14 weeks with my current pregnancy, I am 6 months from my due date.  We are living in a new community and I don’t have a healthcare provider yet. I haven’t been able to find a midwife who will be willing to travel to where we live for a home birth and I don’t have a doctor who will let me VBAC here yet. God has always provided the right person to care for us when we needed them and we trust He’s going to do it again. So for now, I am doing my own prenatal care and monitoring my weight, blood pressure, heart rate and baby’s heart beat every week.  It’s been going well. I have easily found the heart beat every week for the last month. And I have been peaceful for the most part.
Then today came.

Daddy and Lily's finger just after she was born

14 weeks, it seemed like I was giving my anxiety over to God every moment of the day. I tried hard not to think about what today meant to me and why it was significant. The boys remembered what today was, they prayed specifically for the baby this morning, they asked when we would listen for the heart beat.
I debated for a long time today. I was trying to decided if I wanted to listen alone or with Kerry and the boys here. I thought about sneaking off to my bedroom while the boys were playing and Kerry was gone to a visitation. But that’s how I learned Knox and Lily had died. I was just listening at home and couldn’t find their heartbeats, I was alone both times.
So tonight, just before bed Kerry suggested we try together to hear our little one’s heartbeat. It is always such a highlight for Zeke to hear the baby. He gets so excited to hear “his baby”, but I didn’t want him to not hear it…I was scared. I pulled the doppler from the closet and laid down on the living room floor. I prayed.
I prayed, as I have every day, that God would protect this little one, that we would be able to hold this little one in our arms…alive…and that he/she would be able to be born at home. I have been able to tell my uterus is growing, which means the baby must be growing. And then we listened. Daddy and I held our breath and we listened.
Lily's foot at 14 weeks

We heard my heartbeat and the blood vessels feeding  my uterus and the placenta. The slow woosh, woosh beating in time with my heart. And just below, in the background we hear the light sound of baby. The faint gallop of hoof-beats. Slight relief, but I want louder…I want more…I want to listen until this baby is born…I want it to be the soundtrack of the next 6 months.
We wait and move the doppler…slow woosh, woosh…then galloping. Strong, loud, steady…my baby’s heart is still beating. I am thankful. I close my eyes in prayer. A prayer of gratitude and thankfulness. Thank you God, for the life of my baby. That this life is still here and we can hear the heart beat. Thank you God!
We listen for a few more minutes and are thankful for each beat we hear. Eventually the baby kicks and moves away. Then in a moment…my mind immediately goes to fear again. Knox had a heartbeat at 14 weeks. My baby is alive…for now.
Ugh! Where does that come from? Why do I let it in to steal the joy and blessing of a heart beating within me? I start to quote in my mind the scripture verse we’re memorizing as a family. “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philipians 4:8. Fear is not true, honorable, right, pure or any of the things mentioned in this verse. Fear is the language Satan speaks and uses to control.
There are many times I have to remind myself to be thankful for the blessings I have been given, to be thankful here in the moment for the blessing I have now. To remember, not to get caught up in the fear of what might happen or what has happened in the past. I know that today my baby is alive. I am joyful, hopeful and so very grateful.
Lily's hand

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.