Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blessings from above.....

It's been a while since I posted and I haven't posted yet on the newest blessings in our lives either so I thought it was about time! In July, Jeff and I found out we were expecting again! We were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves. Getting pregnant doesn't come as easily to us as it does to so many couples out there so we were so elated that God blessed us to become parents once again. We found out we were pregnant the day before Gracie's 9 month birthday. After the initial excitement wore off a bit, the anxiety of the entire situation began to set in. The beginning weeks seemed to drag on forever until we had our 10 week appt. Two days before our first appointment I began to experience some pain in my right lower quadrant of my stomach and after we did a quick rule out of appendix at work, the excessive worrying set in. Is my body getting ready to miscarry or is it a tubal pregnancy? A person's mind really begins to run! The night before our appt. the pain was really bad at midnight and I contemplated waking my husband up to go to the ER but something made me not go. I thought I will just wait til our appt. in the morning and we'll see what Dr. Witt thinks. Dr. Witt is the man that supported us and carried us through Gracie's pregnancy and delivery and we have complete trust in him....neither of us want to see any other doctor in regards to this pregnancy. We went in for our appt. and  Dr. Witt decided to do an US to rule out a tubal pregnancy or any other problem we could be having. We were both literally sick to our stomachs as we sat and waited for our US. When we went into the room Jeff sat in the chairs up against the wall....he had already prepared himself that things were going to be bad. The tech brought up the screen and said to us......"well you have two babies in your stomach." Jeff had the "shock and awe" expression upon his face for a moment and in one huge step was by the bedside with his eyes glued to the screen. We both stared at two babies in two sacks up on the screen....holy moly, who would have ever thought! As the tech focused in on both babies she said to the best of her ability she could see two complete skulls and these little babies were wiggling around on the screen right before our very eyes. When we were done and the tech handed us our pictures, my hands were shaking were so bad I could hardly take the pictures from her. We walked to the waiting room in complete disbelief....we had walked into that room believing our world was falling apart once again and the hopes of a family would once again be destroyed and we walked out with the knowledge that our family would be doubling in size! So the anxiety level was once again upped with the pregnancy being considered high risk just because there were two occupants instead of one. With the babies' older sister in heaven with God by her side we know our babies have the best of help to get here safely, but the mind is a powerful tool. No matter what you tell yourself, your mind is always playing out every scenario possible. Once you have a loved one leave you, you do get signs from them about certain situations if you pay attention. Gracie has sent us many signs along the way that are too significant to overlook. The day we found out we were pregnant we were sitting outside our house and we both looked up to the clouds at the exact same moment and carved out in the clouds was a perfect profile of our Gracie. It was not one of those cloud formations where you have to point out to the other person that there is the mouth, the nose and so was very clear and precise and we both saw it at the same exact moment. It was amazing! I told Jeff it was Gracie's way of telling us things were going to be ok and he agreed. Some time later after a long day, we were changing clothes to go to bed. Out of my pocket fell some loose change....when Jeff bent down to pick it up he stopped and told me to look at what fell on the floor. Laying together were two dimes and two pennies. Jeff had read somewhere about a year or so earlier that finding a penny and dime laying side by side is a sign of good here laid two dimes and two pennies laying side by side. We couldn't over look that sign either. At. our 18 week appt. we had another US that we thought was just to relieve our anxiety about the babies a bit, but they did their full anatomy/morphology US. Everything looked good they told us. All their organs looked good, their heads looked good, their brain development looked good and their growth looked good. It was like someone took a 500# weight off my shoulders that I didn't even realize was on my shoulders. I felt like I could breath again! Each appt. they have assured us that things look good but once again the mind does take over and the worrying never stops. I feel like a lot of mom's who lost a baby in a previous pregnancy....that our innocense has been lost. We don't have that innocent phase of pregnancy where you feel nothing but complete and total excitement and joy. We feel those feelings but we also have a very high level of anxiety. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop and something to be wrong. It is nice that we have each other to help us get through those times of doubt and when a particularly hard time comes along. Many of remember the exact minute of our previous pregnancies when our innocence was taken from us and those "landmark" moments in our other pregnancies are especially anxiety producing. So far we have made it through our big "landmark" moments and have arrived in one piece. My husband is a stoic man but we made a deal when we found out about Gracie's diagnosis that we would not with hold feelings from each other and to rely on one another to help us get through difficult patches and we have upheld that promise to this day. He is as nervous as I am and not a day goes by that I don't see the worry marks on his face when he watches me get ready for work and I leave his sight. When we are in each other's company, we feel the most peace....probably because we are the only two people that know exactly what we are feeling at that particular moment and most likely because we have been bonded in ways that cannot be explained. When one hears the expression that their husband is their rock...well Jeff is my rock and I am his rock. We lean on one another through the good and the bad. This pregnancy has been altogether different than my pregnancy with Gracie. My pregnancy with Gracie was physically very easy and I had very little discomfort....heck I was raking hay up until I was 42 weeks pregnant with her! This time around has been much different and mostly because of the extra hormones that come with the extra baby. I had "24 hour sickness" as I call it, because morning sickness doesn't quite cover what that was, for the first 4 1/2 months and shortly after that subsided I was measuring third trimester measurements and expereiencing a lot of back and pelvic discomfort. My pelvis is quite "loose" as they refer to it from all the extra relaxin hormone I have in my body so that has made working, sleeping, and doing every day things a bit more of a challenge. Yesterday we did our Christmas shopping which had taken it's toll on me physcially by the end of it all. When we went to bed last night I was obviously uncomfortable and beyond tired and Jeff knew that and he looked at me and said, "I know you are feeling miserable, but when we hold our babies this will all be worth it." Once again, a man of few words made a very impactful statement with just one sentence. Yes it will be worth it and I will go through any physical difficulty to keep these two babies cooking until it is safe for them to come out because that is our ultimate goal. We are currently 25 1/2 weeks pregnant with our two little girls, Anna Rose and Sarah Marie and we firmly believe God and Gracie will help get them through this pregnancy and things will work out. We have been doing all the things that we didn't get to do the first time around as parents.....put a nursery together, register for baby items, have baby showers being planned for us, buying things we want for our children such as clothes and so on. Sometimes we look at each other and think...."Are we really suppose to be doing these things?"....and then one of the twins (or both) will start up their kicking matches to remind us that this is very real indeed. As the Christmas season approaches us, we cannot help but reflect back to where we were emotionally last year and where we are at this year. It seems amazing how much things can change in a year. Our hearts still ache and yearn for our dear Gracie and they always will, but there is a sense of peace you come to with where things are at in your life. When we set our tree up we thought about the 14 month old little girl that we should be plucking away from the tree as she tries to take ornaments off the tree, but she isn't here. We wonder every single day about how she would look and how she would act if she were still here with us....and yes, it still brings tears to our eyes, but yet there is that sense of peace too. We see how having the twins upcoming arrival has given us hope in our future endeavor of having a family again. They have helped ignite our souls that were lost for a while after we lost our precious Gracie. You can bet that this Christmas that there are going to be lots of extra "thank you's" to God for our extra blessings from above from lots of different people in our family. Having and losing Gracie shaped Jeff into new people and will make us most likely very different in our parenting than if we wouldn't have had her. We know she has been along for every step of her sisters' upcoming arrival and will be there the day of their delivery as well to officially meet them. She will be a part of their lives, just as any other big sister would be, only in a very different way. Anna and Sarah will never have to wonder who their Guardian Angel is that is for sure. Their sister will be protective of them from the clouds up above and will continue to shower us with her blessings from above. God bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, October 22, 2012

One year later....

Saturday, October 20, 2012......It was the date of our first born, Gracie's first birthday. The day had birthday balloons, family, a birthday meal, and a birthday cake all included in it.....what was missing from our site.....our beloved birthday girl, Gracie. Some may think it's odd to have a birthday celebration for someone who isn't here on earth with us, but not when you are the parents to a precious little girl that holds tight to their heart strings. Gracie may not have been there in person, but all that was there knew her spirit was with us all day long. It may have been the sense of calmness and peace we felt when we first opened our eyes to a day that we had longed awaited for. Maybe it was the sense of happiness and the giggles from Gracie's "sister" Alex as we decorated her cake Saturday afternoon that let us know she was surrounding us. Maybe it was the fact that when we released balloons by her grave side that they drifted north towards our she was telling us to go home and celebrate and not dwell by her grave site as we did almost a year ago at her funeral. No matter where we looked and what we did that day, it was just as something....someone was holding you in a comforting embrace. People can believe what they want about death and what happens after the fact, but I truly believe our loved ones bring us comfort and peace from the other help us get through every day. Jeff and I talked about all the details of that day......we looked at the clock in the living room and noted the times when they took me to the OR for my c-section, when she was born, and talked of her smiles, her yawns, her beautiful, alert eyes, her chubby arms and legs, her little ears and her long fingers and toes. We then talked about what the past year has brought us....all the ups and downs and twists and turns......and we wondered how in the world we are still even remotely sane. We have changed so much.....we have developed into new people...people that our old friends may have accepted or may be confused by...either way, we are who we are. We've had to struggle to figure out where we fit in this world when our worlds stopped and the rest of the world kept spinning at super sonic speeds. Somehow we did it.....we did it together. The death of a child forever changes your relationship with your spouse. We look at each other differently....with more love and respect then we could ever imagine. I always knew my husband was a strong and stoic man, but the levels of his strength are more amazing than any could imagine. When I think of his strong face when he carried his daughters casket to her final resting place, that picture is forever burned in my mind....a face that showed sorrow, grief, love and emense pride. This life changing event was the first time I had ever seen my husband cry....and he was able to cry with me. We grieved together and loved together and came out the other side together as a united and strong front. I have no doubt that Gracie saw us through all those very difficult days. She is talked about every day at our house. Her pictures hang prominently on our fridge, living room and bedroom walls. Jeff has a picture of her in his shop so she is never far from his mind or sight. I have pictures of her on my computer slide show at work and her pictures grace my walls at work as well. I don't grow tired of looking at them and they never get old to me. Every time I look at her pictures it takes me back to those hours and minutes that we spent with her....the most precious minutes of our lives. We won't ever get that time back, so we are so grateful for the pictures we have so we can remember everything about that day. As her first birthday grew closer and closer we couldn't help but think about all we had missed out on this last year...all those baby milestones that so many parents get to experience with their children. We are at peace with what life has brought us, but I feel it is only human to think of all the "what if's" there are.....what if Gracie would have lived...what would she look like....what would she be like....and so on. I think we will always think that way and I guess one day our questions will all be answered when we are reunited with our daughter on the other side. For now....we go about our days remembering our precious little girl. We celebrate her life and all the blessings she has brought us and all the blessings she will continue to bring us. Happy Birthday baby girl....Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Coming out of the dark.....

Well it has been a very very long time since I have blogged......right before Mother's Day was actually my last blog entry. It isn't because I haven't had a lot on my mind or I am grieving less or thinking of Gracie less...I think I honestly needed some time to work through the "grief fog" people in the baby loss world talk about. The business of the farm life and working through my thoughts and emotions definatly helped me come out of the fog so to speak. It was around month 9 that I finally felt like I was looking at life through clear lenses again. After a year and half of waking around in a "fog" I almost didn't recognize myself. It kind of like when a new calf stands up for the first time and they have wobbly legs. Some days my legs still wobble, but I feel like I am getting my feet back on the ground again. I feel like I do still have a purpose here on this Earth after many months of feeling like I didn't. I am still Gracie's mommy and I always will be. When I think of my little girl or look at her pictures or visit her grave, the tears do not immediatly spring to my eyes as they once did. But a smile tends to creep across my lips as I remember her first smile, her first yawn, her first bottle feeding, her first diaper change, her first bath, getting to hold her the first time, seeing the enormous smile that crossed my husbands face when he looked at his daughter, and the memories continue. I remember all the people that came to see her and were forever touched by this little girl when they locked eyes with her. I remember the impact of my speeches at the Universities in Bismarck and how they impacted the students. I received cards from them and an email from their instructors with many of the students comments. I remember the NICU nurses big smiles when I deliver the Everlasting Grace blankets to the unit and how my little girl's story continues to touch people. When people talk about Gracie and not avoid her in conversation it makes Jeff and I feel good that people remember her and that she did touch their lives....we especially love to hear how she changed a lot of people's lives. There are days that tear still find me but they are not as's not that I'm not still sad because I am. The loss of a child leaves a hole in your heart that is palpable. Something that will be there forever......but at some point you are able integrate that part of your life with mainstream life. Everyday life sure does not stop when you world has and in the beginning months you feel as if you are being swallowed up by the world. You feel you don't know your identity anymore. In my case I almost feel like I had to create a new identity because I sure was not the same person I was before this whole process started. This new person is someone I am still getting to know, but I tend to like her. She's definatly matured and wisened up in life, but there are hints of the old Missy in there yet too. My sarcastic wit has returned along with my fiesty attitude....but I will saw there is a very large soft spot in the middle of all the toughness. When I look at a baby or hold my friend's babies, there is a spot in my heart that is very different than it used to be. Babies always melted my heart and have always been a natural with them, but there is a very different feeling there now. It's not really a feeling you can describe though or put into words. When I held my friend's little boy the other morning before I went to work and he gave me all his "hammy smiles" the pain that used to be there right after losing Gracie is now replaced by such a feeling of love. Everyone's children are their most precious gifts from God. They are what make them get out of bed in the morning and smile. I don't get to tangibly get to interact with our Gracie but things do happen that I know are not coincidences around here. I know her spirit is here with us....helping us try to return to life as we know it. Those moments we get with her in spirit, when we knowingly know she is amongst us are the most precious. They are what get us through the day. She has made things very clear to us in the past couple of months that she wants us happy and wants us to have joy in our lives. I don't think any child wants to see their parent unhappy whether they are in heaven or on Earth. She has made special efforts to maker her Mommy and Daddy happy again and are helping us come out of the dark.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is fast approaching and for most of my friends and family this is a happy day to spend celebrating their role as a mother.....well the role of a traditional mother. So what does a mother that is not in the traditional role do? Everywhere you go this coming Sunday, Mother's Day will be the theme and there will be lots of moms with their children everywhere your eyes look. While to most this is a normal bit of life, when you've lost a child this really throws you for a loop. While we are mothers in every essence of the word, our children are not here.....we have empty spots in our hearts where our children's memory dwell. It's been 6 1/2 months since our precious Gracie was here and touched us forever and was then gone to her heavenly home.......time does not heal all wounds as the saying goes. I feel as time passes my heart aches more and more for my little girl. My arms ache to cradle her and I long to kiss her so very much. I want to snuggle her in the rocking chair and pat her little butt as I rock her to sleep. While my head knows that she is with Jesus, my heart longs for her so very much. I feel selfish for wanting her here with me. I know she is happy where she is at and has no sufferings or pains....but I still want her here with me. I think of all the things I am missing with her....of those precious "firsts" that we should be getting to do with her. I know some days Jeff and I feel like this was all a dream. The other night we went to bed and Jeff crawled up behind me and said out of the blue....."Were you really pregnant and was Gracie really here or am I dreaming this all?" What do you say to your husband when he asks you that.....when you know his heart is hurting and this is his way of expressing it. Yes the past year did happen and while it is the most pain and hurt one can try to imagine going through, it was also a happy time too. The pain we feel as parents of a child in heaven is a difficult concept for most people to be able to comprehend so therefore it tends to make them uncomfortable. What we have gone through is by far not a normal thing, but it is our new normal. We talk about our daughter openly and freely and share our love and memories of her.....some people have a difficult time with this as it makes them uncomfortable. Death in general is a hard subject for most people to talk about, much less infant death. I feel society is much better about dealing with infant loss, but still has a ways to go. Jeff and I, along with many of the other parents of the infant loss community are working towards making infant loss more of an open subject in society. This post is not intended to make anyone feel badly about having their children or celebrating Mother's Day, but is to bring awareness that there are mother's out there that will be facing this day in a different way. These mother's are some of the most unbelievably wonderful women I have ever met. We have all supported each other through the good, bad and the ugly. When one of us has a bad day, we are all there to help pick each other up and to get through another day. I want to wish everyone a happy mother's day, but especially my fellow mom's of angel babies. I have heard the term often that being a mom is the hardest job you'll every do, but I will disagree with that and say that being a mom to an angel baby is the hardest job you will ever do.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Six months.......

So.........six months ago I remember laying in a hospital bed at St. Alexius Medical Center frustrated and emotionally and mentally exhausted. I had failed the first attempt at induction at 42 weeks of pregnancy. I began to wonder if our baby girl was hanging on for dear life in there. At 8pm we restarted the induction process and once again failed.....a vaginal delivery was just not in the cards for our dear Gracie. After 24 hours of pitocin I hadn't even dilated to one was off to the delivery room. On the eve of what should be Gracie's 6 month birthday with her mommy and daddy here on earth, a person cannot help but think about how drastically our lives have changed in the past 6 months....what a difference a half a year has made. Gracie should be here with us giggly, cooing, rolling over, playing peek a boo with her Daddy and quite possibly cutting some teeth (I was an early teether). But once again reality takes over and you look around and she's not here. Instead there is a granite head stone with my daughter's name and birthdate engraved on it at the cemetary. The room we have sitting empty waiting to become a nursery some day is still sitting empty. I have been told the 6 month mark is one of the hardest and I won't lie (I never do) is. There is something about a half of a year passing by without your baby that really hits hard. The problem is once again that they world doesn't stop when yours seems to stop. Even with the help of medication I have not been able to sleep more than 3-4 hours a night this past week....but somehow I drag myself out of bed and go to work and try to function somewhat normally. What I would like to do is crawl back into bed and just stay there....for various reasons besides being tired. When 5pm hits, I get to go my safe haven.....a place where I don't have to pretend everything ok. A place where the only other person in the world that knows how badly it hurts to lose Gracie is waiting for husband. There is a sense of relief when I pull into the yard.....I don't have to pretend anymore....I can just be me. I am thankful for my job because it does make me get back into somewhat of a routine and rejoin the world, but on the other hand trying to function during times of stress is difficult. This past week the anencephaly world lost a beautiful soul named Katie. She defied the odds of anencephaly and lived for 9 months.....over the past 9 months I have grown to know this little beauty through facebook. I feel like I know her personally and her family regardless that we have never met. I have noticed that when a family in the anencephaly world that I have grown particularly close to loses their child it stirs up a lot of emotions and it tends to throw me back to Oct. 20th. I relive every minute I had with Gracie.....her smell, her movement, her grip on my finger, and the noises she made. I think of every visitor that came to see her and all the things we fit into her 15 hours including her birthday party her Godfather Dan, Auntie Marcy, and special sister Alex had for her in the hospital. I remember her last breath....I remember Sarah listening for her heartbeat and it was gone.....all of those things are so fresh in my mind yet. The hurt is so raw.......... I would love nothing more than to stay in bed tomorrow and let the hurt just be there, but I will not. I will get out of bed and I will go to work and I will partake in life. As difficult as it may all be with all of those memories there, I feel Gracie would want nothing less of her mother. It's easy to tell the brain that Gracie is gone to be with Jesus and that I should be so happy about that because she has no pain or suffering there......but the heart tells me such a different story. My heart aches so badly for the child that we had wanted so much that it does feel like it's breaking. You hear the term, "suffering from a broken heart" and think of it as a figure of speech, but it is something that is very real. Ask any mother or father that has lost a child and they will tell you that you literally feel like your heart is broken in two. There is a real ache in your chest when you think of the child you should be tending to instead of doing so many other things.
   I created this blog to continue to write out my true feelings and rare hurt. I created this blog to let people into a world that they will most likely never have to be part of. I do not sugar coat things because I want people to know exactly how Jeff and I feel and what we are going through. I do this for one very simple spread awareness of infant loss and how it really impacts people's lives. "Back in the day" infant loss wasn't discussed and people were told to "get over" their child......this was of course said in pure ignorance. A lot of the moms in the anencephaly group that have blogs have them to do the same as I their feelings out, but at the same time to spread awareness of what it is like to lose something as precious as a child. You do not have to have your child with you for many years to love them any differently or any more than how much we loved our Gracie in the 15 hours we had her. A parent's love in the same no matter how much time you have with them. Our Gracie was a perfect mix of her mommy and daddy. The hurt is as real today as it was 6 months ago.....we are learning how live all over again with a whole new way of thinking. We hope that Gracie's story continues to impact everyone as it did 6 months ago.

Friday, April 6, 2012


So it is Easter's always been a fun holiday in our family and it's one of my husbands favorite holidaya as well. I think it will always be a little bit different for the both of us as we have both spent a great deal of this past week thinking about how different life was a year ago at Easter time.We knew at that time that there was a possibility that there was something wrong with our Gracie but still had the bit of hope to hang onto yet. Last year after I got off of work we drove to Bismarck and went to the clinic to have the life changing QUAD blood screening drawn. Dr. Witt had told us that if this test was off then we would have the option of having an amnio and then we would have our answers we had been looking for since March 15th. I think a lot of mother's tend to sense when something is wrong with their child and I was no different. I knew the test would come back badly, but no matter how much you make your brain think something your heart feels things all together differently. We went to Napoleon for Easter and as we sat in mass on Easter Sunday I looked around at all the babies....the little boys in their suits and the little girls in their beautiful Easter dresses and my heart couldn't help but make my brain think about us having a little one at Easter mass next year. I thought about how different our lives would be and how we would have to do things differently on the farm with our schedules. We on Monday at work on my lunch break I got the call from Dr. Witt that my test results were some of the lowest numbers he has ever seen on the QUAD screen and if we still wanted to do the amnio to get answers we could do it that week. I managed to hold it together for the phone call and I hung up and looked across the lunch table at my friend, Sarah and I had the total nuclear melt down at that point. Jeff was between Bismarck and McClusky and was stopping at the clinic when he got back....he had no idea what he was walking in on. We are lucky in the fact that God blessed us with Sarah as our friend and she sat us down and helped me tell Jeff some of the hardest news I have ever had to tell someone.....especially someone that I love with my entire heart and soul. We decided to do the amnio so we had some concrete results and we could start to deal with the reality of the situation. We went in that same week on Thursday and the standard protocol is to do an ultrasound to locate the placenta positioning and the babies' position and that is where the tech could plainly see our baby Gracie had anencephaly. The walls started to crumble in at that time and most days they feel like they continue to crumble in on top of us. I've been told the 6 month mark is the one of the most difficult times to go through and as the days mount to this milestone it is harder and harder to think, sleep and function. It's like this overwhelming event is creeping up on us. We talk of Gracie all the time at our house and are surrounded by photos and momentos of her, but only on occasion does my stoic husband say something to reveal how much he is truly hurting. Last night as we sat at the kitchen table out of the blue he states, "I miss Gracie and I miss holding her. I want her back so I can hold her again." Two heart ached for him. With so much going on at the farm now with calving and getting ready to go seeding, you tend to lose your feelings and emotions in the hustle and bustle. The Easter holiday really stirred things up at our house this past week and you can't help but relieve every single moment of how things occurred last year at this time. Sometimes I wonder how in the world we have managed to make it this far without completly losing our minds. I believe two reasons why we are managing to go on with life (so to speak) is first of all our faith in God, and second of all our true and unending love for one another. I speak highly of my husband often when I write about our loss, but nothing that I write is untrue. We are each other's best friends and each other's soul mates. I don't take that for granted as I know how fortunate I am. When either of us have a bad day with missing our daughter (me more often than him) we are always there for one another and are literally the shoulder the other cries on. There are not a lot of people that can relate to what we are each feeling and I know as we sit in mass on Easter Sunday we will both be thinking about the same thing as we see all of the young couples with their babies in church. We will both be feeling the same ache in our hearts and that feeling of emptiness. This past week a Bismarck magazine publication called Inspired Woman came out with a new issue. On the front cover is my sister in law, Cheryl and I......Cheryl wrote into the magazine when they had a contest on who inspires you. Cheryl wrote about Gracie and I and won first place. Gracie's story is not touching many, many, many more lives which is exactly what God's plan was for her. Here is the link in case you haven't read it yet:   My head knows why things happened with Gracie the way that they did, but my heart tells another story. My heart is one of a mother that longs to hold her child and see her precious face again. I see it when I close my eyes at night and it is the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning. Her face is in my mind as I go to work and take care of so many other people at the clinic and it is in my mind as I cook supper every evening. The image of her yawning and smiling enters my mind so often as does the image of her proud Daddy as he brought her into see me for the first time in the operating room. My mind drifts to her so many times during the brain knows she is gone, but my heart doesn't know how to deal with that realization fully. There will always be a little hole in our hearts from losing Gracie...I believe she took a piece of it with her to heaven and someday when we are together again our hearts will once again be whole.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

adjusting to life.....

It's been quite a while since I blogged last.....I've been a little lost in life. The time period between Gracie's 4th month and 5th month birthdays was particularly rough for one reason, just a bunch of little ones. The thoughts of what I am missing out on flooded me day in and day out and sleeping was more difficult than normal. I struggled to get out of bed every morning and go to work....I struggled to be part of society. What I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and stay there....the only problem is that when your world stops, the rest of the world doesn't. Most days you feel like you are barely keeping your head above water. Simple things like cleaning the house become so overwhelming that you have a panic attack when you start to think of everything that you have to do. The truth brain doesn't work the way it used to. I used to be able to take in all kind of information and be able to filter it and deal with when a bunch of things get thrown at me, I can't filter it and I get overwhelmed and start to panic about it. Even if it is something as simple as cleaning the house and I logically know it's not going to matter what I do first and how long it takes, my anxiety takes over. The fact that I know this is happening and can't stop it once again challenges my need of control in my life. I know I have to learn to develop coping mechanisms for this, but that is easier said than done. It's like trying to learn to live your life all over again. In the middle of trying to learn to live again.....I am missing my daughter....a lot. I can't help but look at other babies and think about everything I am missing with her. I feel like I've been robbed of so much. If she were still alive she would be cooing and smiling and learning all kinds of things. It never fails when Jeff and I go somewhere, there has to be a baby girl around the 5 month mark there. Seeing those babies triggers so many emotions and thoughts.....and tends to send me into a tailspin for a bit. I want my baby like any other mother does. I want to hold and cuddle her and feel her weight in my arms again. I want to sit and rock with her in the rocking chair. I don't want to go to the cemetary to see my daughter......but this is my new reality of life. It's not something  a person gets "used to" over night or even over a series of months. Some may feel that I should be farther along with "dealing with things" and be doing better....well life doesn't quite work that way. How does someone "get used" to those feelings of loss....a loss that big? There are a lot of unanswered questions in life for me that I have to figure out yet. It's very easy for those on the other side to feel that Jeff and I should be feeling a certain way and that we should be moving on......but until you go through something like this, no one can understand what we are feeling(and I hope no one has to feel this pain as we don't wish this on anyone). Day by day we discover new bits and peices of who we have now become. Thankfully Jeff and I have each other to lean on in these hard times and us becoming closer has been a huge gift. We don't know what our future holds and where it is going to take us, but we know that we are going there together. This past week we hit the milestone of Gracie's 5 month birthday....our minds drifted a lot and we talked of our hopes and dreams that we will never have with our little girl. At the end of that emotionally draining day, we crawled into bed together and curled up together. Jeff knew I was having a difficult day so he did what he does best and made me laugh as we cuddled together before going to sleep for the night. While some people complain about their spouses, I thank God for my spouse. He is such a gift to me and I will be forever grateful for his love. Together we trudge forth in life and together we figure things out. We know that our love for each other has brought us through this all and without it, our coping would be much more difficult. When we got married we had a song, Take My Hand and little did we know how true this song would be in our life. Here is a link:    So as with anything in life....we will stick together and get through the difficult times.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ignorant Bliss......

This past Saturday, January 28th marked one year ago that Jeff and I found out we were pregnant! After taking fertility medication we had finally conceived! YEAH! We thought we had finally won.....that we finally got our break! We were so overjoyed and all the plans we had for this little baby started to form! Jeff immediatly nicknamed the baby, Little Johnny (after John Deere of course) and talked about how he was going to teach the baby how to run the air seeder, and make hay, and combine, drive semi, take them fishing and hunting and the list went on and on! One thing was for sure....this baby was going to be a farmer not matter what. Jeff and I got a whole 6 weeks of what I now call ignorant bliss. During those 6 weeks we did what every parent does....dream of everything that is yet to come. All the hopes and dreams we had for our baby were made during this time. I had bought a sign at a local store in town for our baby's nursery that simply says, "Wishes and Dreams." This baby was what we had prayed for, wished for and dreamt about for so long. We really thought the hardest part of our journey was behind us since we were able to get pregnant. Little did we know what was ahead of us. On March 15th our lives became to crumble........we had a 10 week ultrasound since we had been on fertility medication and were told it was only to see if we were dealing with a single birth or a mutiple birth. We got our one picture from the US tech and headed to our appointment, blissfully unaware of what was yet to come. Our doctor walked in and with little tact said right off the bat, "Well the radiologist is having difficulty making out all of her cranial features. We're going to set you up to see a perinatologist in Fargo for further analysis of this, but that won't be until June." Now......this is where the appointment stopped for both Jeff and I. Our minds shut off at this very point and we had a whole 1 hour appt. after that yet. As a nurse I knew she was covering something just don't send a someone to a perinatologist for nothing. I was upset with how she conducted herself and needless to say, so was my friend Sarah. Sarah recommended Dr. Witt to us and we thought at this point, what did we really have to lose. We found a blessing from God when we walked into his office. He treated us with the utmost respect and with dignity and laid everything out for us. We didn't need a perinatologist....we did everything with him.
   I often think back to that blissful 6 weeks....the only 6 weeks of that pregnancy where I didn't have the weight of the world on my shoulders.....and think about all of our hopes and dreams for our little one. I had 6 weeks of being in a "normal" pregnancy......6 weeks out 42 weeks. I will always cherish those moments of feeling "normal" but I will also cherish the other 36 weeks. Although they were very stressful and brought a lot of tears, they also brought a lot of happiness and smiles. I was one of the fortunate ones that did not have a miserable pregnancy. There was little nausea, no excessive weight gain, and no excessive fluid retention. I was able to go about our normal daily lives and helped Jeff with raking hay even when I was 40 weeks pregnant. We decided that Gracie would help her Daddy farm from in the womb.....she went through pretty much every season on the farm from calving to seeding to haying to combining. She drove tractor with her mom, a LOT and loved it. When I would stop then she would kick up a storm! We laughed as we wondered what she thought about those rough hay fields! We cherished her kicks and movements. Knowing this was the only time we had with our daughter that was guaranteed, made us appreciate our pregnancy on a whole new level. We wouldn't change a thing....this was what God wanted. Gracie came into this world and was blissfully unaware of her condition and she was also unaware of how many lives she was impacting by being there. The people we had at the hospital with us thanked us for allowing them to be part of Gracie's was what God wanted. Everyone there that day saw a little bit of heaven and saw one of God's littlest workers. That was such a blessing for us to witness as parents......what a gift.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life..... today's society it is taken for granted on so many occasions and in so many situations. This past week a fellow anencephaly mommy had her precious baby boy, Andrew. Andrew is now 5 days old and is at home with his mommy and daddy....something they never thought would happen. What precious gift from God! His mom along with the rest of us mommies all had to make decisions right after receiving the most horrible news of our lives.....are you going to carry to term or induce early/abort your baby. I remember that moment of feeling like I had been slugged in the gut in the ultrasound room with the technician, our doctor, and a medical student staring at my husband and I right after they delivered the news our precious daughter wasn't going to make it. I remember them telling me that the defect Gracie had made her "incompatible with life." Those words are burned into my memory and will most likely be there for the rest of my life. We were given the same option as all the other anencephaly mommies were given....are you going to carry your baby the full 9 months or are you going to prematurly end your pregnancy. There was only one answer for us as neither of us believe in abortion, but most importantly we wanted to do the only thing we could do for our her. And we the full extreme. The love our hearts felt and continue to feel is not any different than any other parent's love for their children that they have been blessed to keep on this earth with them. She's a part of us and a part of our souls. Today is church, Father's sermon was about abortion since January 22nd marks the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in our nation. Father talked about how some do not view a baby in the womb just as that...a baby. They feel it isn't a baby until it is born. How wonderful for them to live a life of ignorance. Those wonderful little beings do so many things inuteral that babies do once they are born....they suck their thumbs, they get the hiccups, the can hear and are soothed by their parents voices and they react to their surroundings. In the words of Dr. Seuss..."A person is a person, no matter how small." I know there are liberals that will tell you that abortion is the choice of the parent....and why yes it is, but it doesn't neccessarily make it correct. I think back to that day when our doctor asked us what we wanted to do.......what if we wouldn't have carried Gracie to term? I think of everything we would have missed....what if this is our only pregnancy? We would have missed watching my body change and feeling her kick and all the antics she did while inuteral. We would have missed that parental bonding that you do with your child as you wait for them to join the world. People have said...."Well you could have spared yourself the pain of loving that child." No we wouldn't have.....we loved her from the minute we found out we were pregnant. There would have been no sparing the feelings of losing a child. Everyone does what is best for them and I am certainly not to judge them as that is not my job. I simply think of what people are missing out on. Just as baby Andrew's mommy and daddy.....they are on day 5 with their baby boy and who knows how many more days they have of memories to make with him! What a wonderful gift! This baby boy has already touched so many lives as his story continues to spread. You can't help but smile when you think of the love his mommy and daddy are experiencing. When Gracie was born her story was heard far and near and impacted so many people's lives.....her life was not in vain....and neither is baby Andrew's. They were sent here by God and as parents were lucky enough to experience their lives and love. People always say to me....."Gracie was sure lucky to have you guys as parents." My response is, "no , we were lucky to be chosen to be her parents." I know my fellow anencephaly mommies all feel the same way. When you hold your newborn child that you know you are going to lose, you can't help but know you are holding a peice of heaven in your arms. When you lock gazes with that beautiful child it is indeed like looking into God's face.....what a beautiful gift. Father said just in ND alone every week there are as many babies aborted that is the average size of a kindergarten class. This is just in I sat in church my heart couldn't help but ache for those children and their parents. I know a lot of the mom's that make these decisions are scared, uneducated, and alone and it saddens me that they have to make such a life altering decision in that state of mind. I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week and we were talking about Gracie and I said if someone would give me the choice to carry another pregnancy knowing from the start that I would lose that child, that I would do it. It is the most difficult, wonderful, beautiful, and life altering thing I have ever done. I don't have a single regret about my decision and that brings me a lot of peace of mind. There have been many, many, many tough days and I know there are many more ahead of us, but the reward of getting to know our daughter was worth it to us. After church today we decided to go the cemetary for a visit. These visits are always tough, but yet peaceful at the same time. I know Gracie is up with our Lord and is having a wonderful time playing with all of her anencephaly moms are convinced they have a club up there.......but of course you long to have your baby in  your arms again. Life is something that will never be taken for granted at our house, especially after witnessing our beautiful child come into their world and leave it. As the saying goes.....Life is fragile, handle with prayer.