Thursday, January 11, 2018

Her Mama's Daughter

No doubt about it, she's her mama's girl. She received some baking "tools" for Christmas and the other day found a kitchen moved into our family room. Now she's always baking...especially cupcakes. Wonder where she got that from.... I've heard she does the same thing at church.  She is, by far, the one who has imitated me the most.  It's really quite something to watch sometimes.

She insists on taking many of her baking supplies to and from her bed at nap time and can be heard mixing away while she rests.  She rarely sleeps during her afternoon nap.  More typically she talks and sings as she resets her attitude. :)  Now she can bake, too.  She bakes and creates downstairs, too, of course, and one day not long after Christmas as she was working away she declared, "It's baking day!"  We think she got this from one of the Little House books that she loves to read so much (young child versions of the Little House in the Big Woods, etc with beautiful pictures).  In one of them, Ma has a "baking day."  I also have "baking days", but we think it's more likely she pulled this idea from the book.

One thing that cracks us all up on a daily basis is that she refers to her collection of things that travel to her bed as her "thing stuff."  Not her "things," not her "stuff," but always her "thing stuff."  We can't help but laugh.

P.S. Her hair is not usually quite so curly.  She woke up in dire need of a bath today and that hair is what happened!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Beacon of Hope?

Last year, several months after I lost baby #6, I woke up one morning with the sure knowledge that we were to try again.  Either that day or within the next few weeks, God also gave me a name - Sophia Kathryn.  Sophia means "wise" and encapsulates the idea that wisdom is from knowing the Lord, loving Him whole-heartedly, serving and pouring out one's life in service.  One meaning of Kathryn is "pure" and there are many verses in Scripture that talk about the pure in heart seeing God, being washed pure by God's word and pure religion being the kind that looks after others.  What a beautiful picture this was.  She was called to be a light in the darkness.  A beacon of hope and love to a lost world.  To purely shine the light of Christ. What a vision of hope.

In God's timing, it was a year later before I became pregnant again.  I was very calm for the first few weeks, but once we crossed the 8/9 week mark, I began experiencing levels of fear and anxiety that I never have before.  I have never had to fight the mental battle so hard to keep my eyes and mind focused on the Lord and the truth of His word.  I knew that whatever the result of this pregnancy was and whatever the health of this baby, it was God's choice for us, but it was so hard to keep my mind in a positive place.  One friend said something that really impacted me.  "God gives us no grace for our worries, but all the grace we could ever need for what we actually face."  This is truth.

We found out when I was 11 weeks pregnant that this baby was a girl.  This was my wildest, deepest dream - for Eliana to have a sister to walk through life with. To know I was pregnant with Sophia Kathryn, or SophieKate, as I planned to call her, was pure joy. However, I still struggled with the sense that I was going to lose this baby and was not really able to fully relax until around 16 weeks since at that point I had passed the time (15 weeks) when my latest loss had been.

We told our boys a few weeks later that the baby was a girl and planned to do a gender reveal to the rest of "the world" right after Christmas.  Something just kept telling me to wait.  I planned to do a Facebook reveal, as well as announce it in our annual Christmas letter which I just hadn't gotten around to writing yet.  I wrote about 80% of it last week, but just knew I needed to wait to send it.

The night of the 22nd I listened to SK's beautiful heartbeat, not knowing it would be last time I heard it.  The night of the 23rd I was up late and made the decision to not listen, all the while sensing there was a reason I was skipping it.  Christmas Eve night when I looked for it, it was not there.  Christmas morning, it was not there.  Nor Christmas afternoon or evening.  While there were stories online of people at this gestation whose babies sometimes went into hiding, I knew in my heart she was gone.  Philip and I went into the midwives office first thing on the 26th and got confirmation - no heartbeat.  This was the first time I was not alone when I found out one of my babies was gone.  To my surprise, I learned I would have to deliver her - she was too large to be safely removed through the procedure that I have already experienced many times.  I can't express the dread that came over me at the thought of having to endure labor for a baby who was already gone.  But what choice did I have?

One choice I had was to take it to prayer and my prayer warrior friends who had been faithfully praying me through this pregnancy.  I did and all day I received messages of hope and support and literally could feel in my body and mind the difference their prayers were making.  The day was peaceful, it was not overly physically painful and it was emotionally survivable. God's hand was present in at least the following ways:

1. Philip was with me when I first could not find her heartbeat at home
2. Philip was with me at the midwives office for the confirmation
3. He already had the day off because of Christmas vacation
4. The midwife on duty at the hospital was the one I would have chosen to walk through this with me
5. The nurse on duty was incredibly compassionate and loving towards me
6. I had family at my home to watch my children
7. It only took two doses of the medication (instead of 3 or 4 - each given 3 hours apart) to bring about delivery
8. I was able to deliver the afterbirth intact in the way that happens less than 50% of the time
9. We were able to go home the same day and not stay overnight
10. My physical pain was mild and my emotions stayed in check
11. We were able to hold her and take some photos and video before saying goodbye
12. We were able to send and receive messages from supportive friends and family all day
13. This happened in a week where I had almost nothing scheduled from a business standpoint or personal standpoint.
14. I have family in town all week, which enables me to stay off my feet and rest.  Or try anyway.

I did not expect to leave SophieKate in the hospital.  I did not expect this to be the beginning of fulfilling her God-given mission to be a Beacon of Hope in a dark world.  I did not choose this and I do not understand it.  But my mind goes back to a former pregnancy where God had given me a name for our baby - Luke, which means healer.  I thought I understood how Luke was going to bring healing to our family, but we lost him in pregnancy and my ideas were wrong.  Months later though, God showed me how he had fulfilled his mission.  Will God do that this time?  I don't know. But I must choose to trust that somehow this falls within His plan.  He is, after all, sovereign and all knowing.  Do I trust that?  Yes.

"Raw" is not a word I ever remember applying to myself post-loss, but it is applicable this time.
This morning as I sat in my quiet time space, hurting, weeping and struggling to understand, the Lord led me to Psalm 84:6, which says "As they go through the Valley of Baca (which means dry, weeping), they make it a place of springs" (by their choice to worship).  Worship can bring life into a place of weeping and death.  And so I made that choice - to worship God for who He is and trust His character which I know to be good and true.

What lies ahead for us?  I don't know.  I do know that I am incredibly grateful for each of my four children, whose love for me and each other bring such comfort and joy.  I know that out of my last nine pregnancies, only two babies have been born.  And I recognize that that statistic doesn't bring me a lot of hope or peace.  But I also recognize that God isn't a God of statistics or numbers or odds. Or fear.  But He IS the God of the impossible. What will that mean for us?  I don't know.  But I am willing to trust and obey.

He also led me to this quote in my journal from a conference I attended last March and I believe this is what He was speaking to me this morning - "Don't miss the best for fear of the hard."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Cookies and Gingerbread

We have several Christmas traditions revolving around cookies and gingerbread.  This year December 18 was baking day.  The boys got right in there with me rolling and cutting pieces for their gingerbread houses and cookies to decorate.  Maybe next year I'll turn them loose to do it by themselves!

 Next on the agenda was our annual trip to the Reston Town Center Hyatt to see the Gingerbread Display.  Eliana wasn't too impressed, but she did really enjoy her after-viewing Panera pastries!

I also hosted my annual girls Cookie Exchange this same week.  The flu and other mishaps reduced our numbers to 7, but we had a great time anyway!  And I love my new "team captain" shirt!
 Wednesday we took on the houses.  The boys had a blast.  And so did Eliana when she showed up after nap time and discovered the tasty scraps. :)

 The last cookie activity waited until family arrived - the decorating.  This was the first time in my life I ever saw my dad decorate a cookie!
 Works of art.  So fun and sooooo yummy!!

The 24th I spent most of the day (after church) in the kitchen. So much cooking to do, but so much more fun when wearing a Santa apron. :)  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Our Little Lemon

I'm updating because I know many of you want to of this morning we still have a heartbeat! 14 weeks yesterday. Thank you for your continued prayers and messages. I have been so on-edge for the last few weeks and as a result have been checking on baby every week. I am trying to stay hopeful and at this point have good reason to be, but I have just had the hardest time relaxing. My latest loss (which happened in 2007) was at about 15 weeks, so I don't feel all the way out of the woods just yet. And I'm really thankful for a practice that lets me call them up and say "I need a heartbeat check today!!"  

And yes, I am still exhausted all the time and terribly nauseated, although my food aversions seem to be lifting a bit.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Geography Nuts

Yesterday Caleb and Joshua competed in the LoCo Homeschooler National Geographic Bee and finished 1st and 2nd. We celebrate with a cookie cake since yesterday was National Cookie Day. Congrats boys! Caleb will take the State Bee qualifying exam in January.  The top 100 finishers for the state will go on to participate in the State level of the Geo Bee in early April in Farmville, VA!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Really Joshua?

Yes, folks, this is twice in 8 months... Broken elbow this time. Well, at least I can't fault him for the way he's handling it.  Cheerfully! 2017 shall be known as "The Year of the Broken Bones" since I broke a bone this year as well. 😕I have

Monday, November 27, 2017

13 Weeks!

I can hardly believe it...but I'm almost 13 weeks. I still don't feel relaxed and confident about this baby making it because I lost two after this point, but I continue to trust that no matter how it goes, God's got it. But of course it was certainly a huge relief to hear and see Pumpkin again today!  #stillbeating