Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Loss and Love {Our Angel Baby}

A month ago Ryan and I lost a precious child. I was still early on in my pregnancy and had actually only known I was pregnant for a short time. But the loss is still real. After experiencing the joy in getting pregnant, the pain and sadness of going through a miscarriage, and the weeks of emotions that followed, I have been feeling like I want to share our story. I know for many women, going through a miscarriage is a very private thing. I feel like that too, but at the same time I want to be able to talk about it. I written this to share my own experience and feelings.

First, let me say that we were SO EXCITED to find out that I was pregnant. We have been wanting to grow our family for a while. I was almost thinking of waiting a few days to tell Ryan so that I could plan a more creative announcement but I'm so glad now that I told him when I did. He came home from work and -BEFORE he knew anything - one of the first things he said was, "Oh...I was hoping you would have Eva in a cute Big Sister shirt. I don't know why, but for some reason I was expecting that." What??? I had hidden the positive pregnancy test in the back of Eva's tricycle. We were outside playing and I told him that I thought she had put rocks inside her bike so he should look. Then, SURPRISE! I think every mother has those early fears that something could happen to the new life inside of her that she already loves. I remember praying and telling myself not to worry but to just be thankful for the joy I felt in that moment. I remember thinking that even if the worse was to happen later on, I could always remember the days when I was happy. Wow. I am so glad I thought about this. I feel like that is just an example of the way God has loved us. Yes, we have gone through some very hard, sad days, but I am so grateful that I had happy days to completely love my child and trust God. Before this experience I would have said that I would have rather never gotten pregnant than to have to loose a baby. Now I can honestly say that for me personally, I would rather have a short time to love my child than for that child to never have been created. I am sure not every mother feels like this, and that is okay. No one should ever tell a grieving mama what she should feel or think.

The few days leading up to confirming our loss were really hard. It is awful that there is nothing they can do to stop a miscarriage. Things happened to start for us on a weekend so the OB at my doctor's office suggested I stay on bed rest until I could get in on Monday just in case it was anything else. I was pretty sure that I knew when I had lost the baby but I did rest with a small hope that maybe it would make a difference. It didn't. But I am thankful that I spent those days resting. For me, it took away any guilt that I think I would have felt had I looked back and thought I could have done anything different.

By the time my appointment came on Monday, I really, honestly already knew. It was still really sad going through the sonogram process but at least it wasn't a complete surprise. I cannot imagine the pain of going to a sonogram expecting to see a healthy baby only to hear such disappointing, heartbreaking news. Yes, I still cried so much, but I am thankful that God prepared my heart for that moment.

What have been the hardest parts? Obviously, losing a baby that we really prayed for and loved and wanted so much. The loss of this child will always be a part of us. The next thing that has been hard for me is that we didn't get to tell our friends and family in a happy way. Maybe that seems silly...but since we told them about our loss I wish we could have told them earlier about our pregnancy. I guess that would have made them sadder later on but I do kind of wish we could have shared our news earlier, although I am really glad we never shared our news with "the whole world" because it has allowed us to be more discrete in deciding who we are ready to talk to. It has also been hard talking to people in general. I am very aware that it is an awkward thing to talk about. Our friends and family love us and don't want us to feel more sad by bringing it up. Honestly there are times when I definitely do not want to talk about it....but then there are days when I really wish somebody would talk about it. Sorry, friends and family, that just put you in the hardest position ever. I guess if you aren't sure whether to talk about it, you can just tell you that you love us and you care about us. To me that kind of leaves the door open for us to talk or not. Also it's been really hard that all of this happened during such a busy season of our life. It honestly is frustrating that hard things happen during times when you do not have the ability to just stop everything. Ryan's work in ministry does not stop. My role as a mother does not stop. I guess it's good to have other things to focus on but sometimes it's incredibly hard and I long for time to slow down. I've also struggled with becoming very forgetful or easily irritated. I know that I have to give myself some grace, but it is frustrating to feel like that.

What have been the blessings? I would never, ever want anyone to have to lose a baby. It doesn't matter how far along you are, losing a baby is sad and the pain is real. I have seen goodness even in the pain though. I have experienced the peace of Jesus that truly does go beyond circumstances. I know some people doubt God when something bad and unfair happens. I have never been more sure of His presence. I have felt the love and prayers from our friends and family. Trust me, my heart has been broken just like any other woman out there who has miscarried. The fact that I am able to find days of joy (not just moments), that I am able to laugh, that I am able keep going is because so many people have prayed for us and loved us. I am thankful for the friends that shared food with us those first few days when I didn't want to do anything. I am thankful for the encouraging texts we received. I don't know what it would have been like before texting, but I am thankful for this way for people to reach out and encourage us in the moments where we just weren't up for talking on the phone. We have been encouraged to hear so many stories of other women who have miscarried and gone on to have healthy babies later on. (I wish NONE of these women had lived through that but it is helpful to at least hear that they can relate and have gone on). It has been a blessing to experience the strength of God to know that even when the worst happens, we actually can keep going.

Things are still hard for me. I don't feel like the length of a pregnancy is equal to the amount of love you can have for your baby. There have been dark days. Days when I feel sad or angry. Days when I don't want to talk to anybody or do anything. There have also been peaceful, joy-filled days, too! The changing hormones inside definitely do not make it easier. I do have tons of hope, though. Hope for whatever God has planned for our life, whether that is one more healthy baby, a house full of babies, or maybe not. For years I have prayed that God would give us whatever children He would want us to have. I really hope that God grows our family and Eva gets to grow up with a sibling, and maybe that will happen or maybe it won't.

Here are some thoughts that I have struggled through: Christians, or even pastor's families, are always strong. False. We are still human and have real emotions. Yes, we have faith but that doesn't mean that there aren't days when we feel really weak. At least you still have Eva and you are young enough to try again. These are both true and good things...but I am still upset. At least you weren't that far along. I can completely agree that as each day in a pregnancy progress, you do become more attached and excited about the reality of holding and loving your child. I can't imagine the heartbreak of loosing a baby at the end of a pregnancy rather than earlier on. But I still wish I had a sweet sonogram photo of our baby.

The Sunday before I miscarried, I taught the Pre-K Sunday school class at church. They learned about the story of Job and I remember reading them the verse, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job's loss was much greater than mine, but he kept going. Because God is good! Even on terrible days, even in pain, even when life just isn't fair. God is good. Good because He loves us more than we can imagine. Good because He is with us always, even in the days of darkness. The peace I have in Jesus really, truly does transcend understanding.

Hopefully our story will encourage somebody else who is struggling. Not every woman has a place to share or feels like sharing will help them. I understand that. Writing everything out has helped me process things, and I appreciate everybody who took the time to read all of it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend

Hope everybody had a great Easter holiday and now has plenty of candy to snack on for the coming months. More importantly, I hope you got a chance to worship our wonderful Creator as we celebrated the truth of the Resurrection of Christ. He is Risen! 
We started our Easter celebrations by going to my parents' house on Saturday evening. Eva got some good outside playtime with her Baba.
And plenty of squeezes from her Mamy!  I'm very thankful that my family lives close enough to be able to see them on special days.
My Grandpa was also there which is always special. He was sharing with me about his experience mentoring in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. The little boy he mentors is soooo lucky. I kinda wish he could come mentor ME for an hour a week!  I am so proud of who my grandpa is.
A big smile with a mouthful of candy! We did an egg hunt at my parents', which Eva seemed to really drag out since she is the kid. No competition. Plenty of time to stop and stuff her mouth full of candy after picking up and opening each egg.
Our church has an Easter Bunny on Sunday morning. Last year Eva was terrified. This year, she was basically stalking the EB as much as she kept asking her nursery teacher when she could go back and see him again. And she wanted me to take a ton of photos of her with the EB....which is silly because she knows it isn't real. Crazy girl.
Sunday evening we went to Ryan's parents' house. We missed the Bradleys that couldn't make it but had a really great time with everybody who was there! 
The cousin embrace. Mallory and Eva greet each other like this every time. I love it.
Sweet little girls doing their "princess pose." Mallory calls Eva "Diva," and I secretly love that too :) 
"Can we go find the eggs yet??!?!?" It's so hard to be patient when you're two.
"They finally let us go!!!!" Eva was so excited. She kept making that funny face. 
Reaching soooo high up for that hidden egg. I may have had to give her a boost. And point out that the egg was there in the first place.
Mamaw (Ryan's grandmother) with some of her great grandkids. I think they each found plenty of eggs. No shortage of sugar here.
Finally here is a family photo comparison between last Easter and this Easter. Woah. We've each changed a bit :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekend Update in iPhone Pics {4.13.14}

Well we are all the way to Wednesday, but here is a quick share from our weekend. Friday was really busy for Ryan but we got to have a quick family lunch at Founder's Plaza. For those who aren't familiar, this is a neat picnic spot out by DFW where you can watch planes taking off and landing. Ryan and Eva both enjoy watching planes so this is a great spot for us.
They have these statues of children pretending to fly and Eva kept asking me to take her picture with them. She rarely ASKS for me to take her picture. She kept running up to each one and imitating it and saying, "CHEESE! Mama! CHEESE!"
Friday afternoon Ryan put me to work helping to fold tshirts and pack bags for the contestants of the Live Like Josh basketball tournament. I am pretty quick at folding and rolling up shirts now!
Saturday morning we had the Trophy Club Easter Egg Hunt. I personally do not care at all about the Easter bunny and think it's a bit creepy. I was telling Eva about it ahead of time just so she wouldn't freak out when she saw it. I explained just like, "Oh, some people like to see cute bunnies in spring time. Our friend is pretending to dress up like a bunny today just like you play dress up. She's just being so silly." When we got there she was so excited to see our friend be a bunny and kept wanting her picture taken. Again. She better be this photo-ready for Easter next Sunday :) 
The egg hunt cracked me up (pun intended). We rushed to get to the right field before they started. On your mark, get set....slowly look for an egg. Hahaha, they weren't even hidden, only laid about everywhere and Eva was SO SLOW to pick up any egg. She was very cautious and only picked up about 12 before she decided she was done. When we hide empty eggs at home she really enjoys stuffing her basket, and I told her these eggs actually had candy in them! Oh, well. She was way more happy to see her little buddy, Brewer and noticed that he could walk a lot more now. 
After the egg hunt we went to the high school to help serve at the Live Like Josh basketball tournament that Ryan helped coordinate. Our other buddy, Grayson was there. I told Eva that it was his half-birthday (he's 6 months old) so she sang Happy Birthday to him all by herself and then handed him a pretend cake and said "Blow it out!" 
My husband is one hard working man. I don't think most people realize how hard he works for his job. Like pretty much non-stop hard all week long last week. I am proud to be his wife.
Finally on Sunday morning we had the 2 year celebration for Live Like Josh. Josh's family spoke and hopefully we were able to encourage tons of people!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Princess on the Throne {A tale of potty training success}

 2 weeks ago Eva had spent the night with Ryan's parents. While she was there her cousin, Mallory, came over to play. Mallory is about 4 months older than Eva and is potty trained. Eva came home and later that night told me, "Go potty." And then she did. That was it. She was potty trained.

Now, I take absolutely zero credit for this success. I tried with all my heart and determination to do the whole "Potty Train in 3 Days" thing back in August (like  7 months ago). It never really caught on and eventually I gave up and decided to try again later. You really can't "make" a child use the potty in a positive way before they decide they want to. My plan was to attempt potty training in the spring so that we wouldn't be dealing with so many layers of clothing.

Yep, I give all the credit to Mallory. I think seeing her use the potty so easily made Eva realize that she could do it too. I guess it's true that kids will do things at their own pace when they are ready. Eva is definitely not 100% potty trained, but I think she is doing really well. She is motivated and asks to go all the time. At home she mostly uses a little potty because it is so much easier for her to use, but when we are out and about she will use the big potty too (with some help - otherwise she might fall in!) We've even had a few days with no accidents which is so awesome! Most days aren't quite like that but I am so proud that she is moving in that direction. Plus we will be saving some $$$ on diapers...which we plan to put directly towards our increased cost of toilet paper :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Update in iPhone Pics {4.6.14}

Here is our latest weekend update....Friday morning we got to take Eva to see Disney on Ice. I had never seen this before so I wasn't sure what to expect or how Eva would do sitting for 2 hours to watch a show. It was awesome and she did great! Thanks, Nana, for the tickets to the show! I took a million photos but tried to narrow it down here.
This one is kind of dark and fuzzy, but look at the excitement on her face! For me the absolute best part of the show was seeing how excited she was. I enjoyed watching all the Disney stars skate, but I loved watching her even more.
The iPhone pictures in the arena weren't too clear, but here you can see a bunch of big characters. We got to see most of the Disney princesses as well as characters from The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and......
Toy Story! The only reason this picture is so clear is that I "borrowed" it from a friend off Facebook. This was definitely Eva's favorite part of the whole show! She likes the princesses but she LOVES Buzz Lightyear and the Toy Story cast. {The show had TONS of other characters but those were the movies that she knew the most about.} I'm sure this show was planned and created a while back, but I was a bit surprised that they didn't have any characters from Frozen. It seems like in this day and age you could easily switch out the costumes from any other prince/princess duet and put them in ones from Frozen. That would have been really great. I'm sure they will include them next year because we saw tons of little Elsa's dressed up for the show.
A short video for your enjoyment. {You probably can't view from an iPhone.} When I looked up about the show online they said that videos of the show were prohibited but at the show they announced that you were allowed to video as long as it wasn't for profitable use. I guess popularity of the iPhone has changed some rules over the years.
With Buzz and Woody. She was so happy to see them on this sign, I can't imagine her excitement if she ever got to go to Disneyland. 
Friday night we went to cheer on some Bobcat baseball. Our friends Gentry, Austin, and Malin were there so Eva spent most of the game sitting with them and not her lame parents. 
Saturday we let Eva go stay the night with my parents so that we could serve at the BNHS Taste and Talent Show. This event is a PTA fundraiser that is like a progressive dinner with food booths followed by a silent auction and talent show. Bara sponsored the chips and salsa booth. 
Sunday morning was a special one for Bara Church. Our friends Rachel and Alex did a baby dedication for sweet Grayson. 
Then we officially introduced our new worship leader,Brian, and said goodbye to our previous leader.
And finally Ryan got to baptize Malin, one of the girls in our youth group! What a special moment.
I love Malin and am so happy she has made the decision to follow Jesus!  
Sunday night our youth intern, Jesse, spoke at BSM about the upcoming anniversary for Live Like Josh. It was a night full of prayer and love. Our church will be hosting the 2 year Live Like Josh celebration next Sunday.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Break

Spring Break happened a few weeks ago but I never got around to blogging about it. It is actually somewhat funny to even call it "Spring Break" because it wasn't spring yet and Ryan worked the whole week, but since I knew lots of people having their official spring break we did extra fun things that week too.

Sunday: My mom and grandma Dede came to our church to hear Ryan preach. It was nice having some front row company from my family.
Monday: I think that was one of first warm days since like November. We took Eva to play at one of her favorite parks. Not a huge deal, but nice to soak up the sun together.
 Monday night we went to see a HS boys baseball game. Go Bobcats!
Tuesday: We met up with my friend Ashley and her little boy Jude at a park in Denton. I always enjoy meeting friends at the park so Eva can run around with their kids while the grown ups chat and enjoy coffee.
Wednesday: Ryan had to work a really long day so we went to my parents' house. We made cookies and had a great day with Mamy and Baba. This cookie was supposed to be for our friend, Austin, but Eva ended up eating it. Sorry, Austin.
Thursday: We took food to our pastor's wife, Kim. Kim had foot surgery and wasn't allowed to be walking around.
Their dog Teddy hopped up on the edge of the couch and Eva figured she should do the same. Ironically, Eva and Teddy have the same hair.
Friday: Two Christmases ago Eva got her first Barbie. I had found an old Ken doll at my parents' so I brought it home and surprised Eva with it on Friday. As a true Toy Story fan, she was really happy that Barbie finally had a Ken to play with. She calls Barbie "the mommy" and Ken "the daddy" and makes them dance around and then kiss....I guess we've set a good example for her :) Also, Ken really needs a shirt.
Friday night we went to stay the night with Ryan's parents. Mallory and her family came over so it was a silly pajama party for these two girls.
Saturday: In the morning Ryan and I had a breakfast date. We picked up some Grandy's breakfast and took it to eat at the Rockwall harbor where Ryan proposed. Why aren't there more Grandy's still in business???? Do not say that it is because of the food. Grandy's is one of the few fast food places I actually like.
Saturday night we got a warm rain storm so Eva got to play in her boots for a while. It must be wonderful to be a two year old playing in the rain.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

One day he is coming...

For the past month I felt like I have had nothing to blog about or no time in which to blog....this week I suddenly feel like I have TONS to blog about, although still not tons of time to blog. So here is another quick blog about what the Lord has laid on my heart these past few days.

Sunday night at youth Ryan taught about Easter. He did it from the stand point of, "So, what?" Why is Easter important? Why do we care that the story teaches us that Christ is risen? Why does that even matter?

It matters because it's TRUTH. That Jesus really is alive. As I was teaching about this with my group of small girls, I just felt so encouraged and excited about this truth. Jesus didn't just die and then have his soul go on to Heaven. Jesus overcame DEATH, ROSE to life again, and is ALIVE now. Wow. I have been praying that our students would be excited about this amazing truth that shows that Jesus is who he says he was, that teaches us that God's power and ability is infinitely greater than we can imagine, and that assures us that the peace Jesus offers us is real.

Then I started to think about how I want to teach Eva about Easter. I want my sweet girl to LOVE Easter as much as Christmas! Easter really is every bit if not more important than Christmas because we are celebrating that not only was our Savior born, but he is still ALIVE and with us!  So I've been busily planning this afternoon ways that I can make Easter meaningful, understandable, and exciting to a two year old. Yes, we will do the silly bunny and egg crafts because that's fun and she is two and loves all things art. I will dress her up in a sweet Easter dress and enjoy taking pictures of her hunting for eggs (which we will probably do at least 3 times). But I want to do more than that. I promise, she can already tell you that Easter is about chocolate bunnies and finding eggs. That is permanently in her brain. Now I want the part about God loving her SO MUCH that he would send his son to die so that she can know him FOREVER to be in her HEART.

What are my first steps? Well, I made the chalkboard above based on the song Glorious Day by Casting Crowns....but that's really more for me. For me to see it every time I walk our stairs. For me to remember that my love for Jesus matters to her. Then I order The Easter Story today from Amazon. She already has tons of books about finding eggs or with pictures of cute little animals. I wanted another special Easter book just about Jesus. Yes, we read it in her little Bible, but it's only a couple of pages and this will be something special that we can set out just at Easter. My other ideas are all on my Easter Pinterest Board.....I am really looking forward to doing the shortened, toddler version of Resurrection Eggs. In December I made up at "25 Days of Christmas" calendar with something to do each day, and I thought briefly about doing something like the "20 Days of Easter" but right now I am in a season of life where I probably don't need to try to do quite that much. I want this to be meaningful but also simple. Maybe just a few things each week would be better.

I encourage everyone who reads this to really ask God to show you new truths this Easter. Pray to be excited. Pray to be encouraged. Happy Easter!