Thursday, December 31, 2009

Faith.


I guess, or at the very least hope, that faith is what this year has been about.

I started it with faith that we still could possibly adopt a little girl from Kyrgyzstan, but knowing that it probably wouldn't happen and to build our family, we'd need to have a few other plans in place.

One of those plans required more faith...faith that God would finally bless us with a miracle and that the miracle of modern medical intervention would help. Friends, that faith was hard, after so many, many years of disappointment. Though some days it may not have seemed like it though, faith was what I had. Faith that I was destined to be a mother. Somehow.

When we found out we were pregnant, I had faith. Faith that it would be ok. Faith that God ordained this baby and faith that He was nothing less than a God-given answer to years and years of prayers.

When we found out about his kidney, I was scared, but I had faith. Faith in what the doctors said, faith in what I read, and faith that still, God had given this child to me and it was going to be ok. And it was.

When he seemed too small, I had faith. Faith again that Dr. Sweeney knew what he was talking about and all would be fine. Faith that if I just took it easy, continued to eat well and focused on nothing but growing and nourishing Matthew, he'd be healthy and happy. And he was.

When we were in the hospital, I had faith. I had faith that I was in the care of incredible people and that I was merely hours away from the most incredible gift--finally, kissing and holding Matthew.

When Dr. Shonekan realized something was wrong, and they were wheeling me in the OR at warp speed, I had faith. I prayed to God, out loud and for each hand that touched my body--each person who was contributing to bringing Matthew out and each person caring for him. I prayed God would guide their hands and lead them to success. And He did.

When Matthew was born, and the room was eerily quiet and they were doing CPR on Matthew, I had faith. I kept telling John, the nurses, the doctors, myself--anyone who would listen--that Matthew would be fine. "He'll be fine." "He's going to be fine." "He's a fighter. He's strong. He's God's child. He's going to be fine. He's ordained. He's going to be fine." But he wasn't.

When they brought him into my recovery room before they put him in the helicopter, and the Georgetown NICU doctor tried to tell me that my baby was very sick and they were going to try some procedure, I barely listened because I had FAITH he was going to be ok. She didn't know what she was talking about. He was going to be FINE. I felt it with every inch of my body. When I touched his face and his shoulder, and felt the softest skin I'd ever felt, I had faith that there would be some issues we'd have to face, but he'd survive and I was ready to check myself out of the hospital that minute to go up to Georgetown with him and John.

When mom and Connie came in and told me that John had called...and it wasn't good...I felt like I had been literally ripped apart and stabbed with burning pokers. And I felt, right then and there, my faith...gone. Shattered. Destroyed.

I wasn't even bitter, yet....more stunned. Totally and wholeheartedly STUNNED that this had happened. My faith had moved a mountain, I thought, and THIS was how it turned out? Absolutely unacceptable to me. Period.

And yes, the questions began. But not the ones everyone thought I was asking. I wasn't asking, "Why?" I wasn't asking, "Why us?" Not even curious about the reasons this happened. No...my questions were bigger, harder, scarier and worse. "WHERE?" "WHERE ARE YOU GOD?" "WHERE ARE YOU????????" "WHERE IS MY BABY?" The thought I hate the most? "I don't even know if you are real. All these years of belief...all these years of living for what I thought was YOU and I don't even know if you are real. And if you aren't, then Heaven isn't. And if Heaven is, where is it? And WHERE ARE YOU?"

This is what some might nonchalantly call a crisis of faith, but to me, it's so much more. It's the difference between life and death.

So, the days and weeks that I've been living recently have still been riddled with dark and scary questions and I feel like, for my own sanity's sake, I have to try and answer some of them before I close this book. These thoughts may ramble, but humor me and skip them if you like, as they really are for me to remember and look at in dark minutes and times. I have this picture in my head--that this is all a test...a test of whether or not I'd hold to the promise I made to God. He called me on it, and He's now seeing how I react--and I'm embarrassed and ashamed of myself so many days because I doubt I'm doing as I promised Him I'd do. But in this picture, it's about a year from now, and I am able to look back at these days and see God SCREAMING at me, "HERE I AM." So that's what I'm working toward...friends, please pray that I am able to find this success.




  • One of the first 'signs' that God may have sent was when we went to pick out a site for Matthew's burial. We looked at a couple of places, and then mom said, "Well, look...there's a butterfly. That must mean this is the spot." Butterflies hold a special place in my heart, for I always think of my mom when I see them. But to see one, on a cold November day...it was like my mom was saying, "Yep, this is a good spot."

  • Of course, the 'angel wing' at church on Matthew's funeral was a big one.

  • The first person I told I was pregnant was Hannah Pratz, our school nurse. The first person I saw when we pulled into the parking lot for the funeral was Hannah Pratz. I have not seen her in months, yet she was the first person I saw.

  • The church was FILLED with people...people I knew and didn't. God's army of angels in full force.

  • A special woman who lost several children, and who I thought had a different purpose in our life turned out to be a Godsend and comfort to me. She sent me a precious bracelet the morning of the funeral, and I realized our paths and worlds were even smaller than I thought.

  • As I said, I asked John for days, "Where is Heaven? Where IS it?" One day, randomly, John brought home a book one of his co-workers (another Marine, and let me tell you how truly humbled we have been by the amazing and faithful support of fellow Marine/Navy families) gave him...it was Randy Alcorn's 'HEAVEN'...as if God wrote me a note Himself.

  • The Saturday after the funeral, I still was asking "Where is my Matthew? Where is Heaven?" and lo and behold, a beautiful dish garden was delivered and was from some dear friends of ours. Inside, there was a beautiful angel statue and it said, "Angels are always near to those who are grieving to let them know their loved ones are safe in the arms of God." God telling me Matthew was safe in the arms of God.

  • I picked up Hanging on To Hope by Nancy Guthrie. I have had this book for years. I've started it and stopped it. Never got past a few pages...but the week Matthew died, I picked it up, restarted it, realized that she lost not one but two babies and her book was meant for me. I never even realized her grief was like mine...in all the years I've had the book. John and I now do her daily devotional before we go to bed.

  • In her introduction, Nancy mentions that her sister-in-law had suffered tragedy and Nancy had asked how she got through it. "Manna" was the answer...God provided her daily manna. The next day, John and I were in Chick-fil-A and he went to the restroom while I waited in the lobby. There, in a stack above the trashcans, were several newspapers. The title? MANNA...Good News From Heaven. Seriously, how often do you hear the word Manna, much less in two different days and situations?

  • I also read another book a dear friend sent, A Grace Disguised. One day I came to the part where he said he chose to believe in a bigger picture. I was moved by that paragraph, and before I went to bed, changed that to my FB status. Then, when we went to bed and did the devotional, Nancy's devotion for the day used the term, "the bigger picture" with regard to God's plan and how we fit in it. John even said, "Don't you see that as a sign?"

  • People email or call or send a FB message at EXACTLY the right time. Constantly. I'm just amazed...

  • A good friend sent me the perfect Bible verse: John 11:40--Did I not tell you if you believed, you would see the glory of God? He sent this after my FB status was "Lori Ennis is surrounded by angels." I made that my status because I received a blanket from old friends at a special school I used to teach at...randomly and lovingly sent by people I haven't 'seen' in years but are still part of a legion of angels God sent.

  • Today has been a rough day. Driving home from my appointments this morning, I just cried out to God, "I'm TRYING! I AM TRYING, God....don't you see how desperate I am? Don't you see how desperately I am trying to believe, have faith and glorify you? I AM TRYING, God...I AM TRYING."

What song comes on, less than a minute later? This, by Kutless:


What Faith Can Do
Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise


Friends, I have seen miracles happen this year. My son, my precious and beautiful son was given to me and I became a mother. That's what faith can do. That's what I will cling to in 2010.


Matthew, this ends your book....but never your place in my heart or our family. In posts and writings to come, you will be mentioned and loved...cherished and remembered. I wish more than anything in the world I had you with me, but know that even if you aren't, you will never be more precious to me than you are as my first child. My miracle, my monkey, my wiggle-worm. And if people really love me, they'll remember you to me as well...the thought of you brings me joy and I don't ever want to lose that.


Thank you, Lord, for the miracle of my son. I am forever grateful.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A year with our miracle...the best and worst year of my life

My 300th post.

Bittersweet, still. I need to find another synonym for bittersweet. Unfortunately, that "Mom" brain (aka Placenta Brain, but I prefer Mom) that I sort of pooh-poohed as not a real and physiological phenomenon but now TOTALLY believe in leaves me at a loss for words. Often.

This is a hard post because I have spent all morning realizing that I am so not as technologically savvy as I once used to be. I had to figure out how to turn the slideshow that John made for Matthew's funeral into a youtube video and then how to get that onto here. As I type, I'm still not convinced that it will work. If not, forgive me, I'll keep working on it but at a later time because it is too hard right now...emotionally, that is.

I was so proud of John for not only wanting to do this, but being able to do so as well. I remember saying I was not all that keen on taking pictures, but for John, I did. I am so very glad I did because they are now memories of the best and worst year of my life. Actually, it really wasn't *me* I was taking pictures of, but Matthew...and that was worth it!

I'll be changing the blog on January 1st. This background and header were perfect for my little monkey, and I planned to keep it until the end of the year so I could upload it to blurb and then change at the beginning of the year to reflect what was going on with Matthew at the time. I don't know what I'll change it to, but I know that every time I log onto it, it hurts my heart to see. It makes me smile, but it hurts my heart. Again, bittersweet. I pray for the day when it isn't quite as hard. I know it will never be easy.

Thank you, John, for putting this together and for the wonderful and precious memories.

Before you watch this, know I am aggravated beyond belief about that stupid wondershare thing on all the slides. Why offer a free trial if you are going to mark it like that. I'd rather pay some and have it CLEAN. I may figure out how to do it without that stupid mark, but in the meantime, here's what we had at the funeral, except for that dumb Wondershare mark.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One year ago today....

Well...I'd like to say that a year ago today, this post would be a long, distant memory for which I would feel completely and totally ashamed of myself for thinking and feeling.

And yet...sadly, still somewhat appropriate. Even a little bit ironic, if you will.

We are going back to Shady Grove at the end of January. Our hope is that we will be able to start a new cycle sometime mid-February/March...which I may or may not have mentioned is just about the time of year that we started Matthew's cycle.

Am I hopeful? Of course. I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't it. Am I apprehensive? How can I not be? I think I put it best in my post last year when I said that optimistic and realistic are not always the best of friends. I think, in light of the past year, I am entitled to say that I have every reason in the world to be nervous, not as expectant, skeptical and yep--even a little bit bitter about the fact that I spent nearly a year feeling like Matthew was invincible and ordained by God...and yet, I still don't have him. Still my arms are empty. Now, though, not only do I have the seemingly-always empty arms, but the gaping, crushing hole in my heart. A hole that will never be filled and has made me a new person: a mother who lost her precious miracle. Now, there is a dimension to my heartache that I never even imagined could physically be possible.

And yet...yesterday, I bought two ornaments that one puts pictures in. I have several ornaments I have bought for Matthew over the past few months, and they really are heartbreaking to look at when I think about the joy I had in buying them and the desperate ache I feel in them now only being reminders of what I don't have. Still I bought two more. One, a train to match his stocking and Granddad's love of trains, for Matthew. One, a sled full of toys, for Matthew's brother or sister. In this, I am once again putting my heart out there and believing that Matthew *will* have a brother or sister and even if it is just a sonogram picture we'll place in that ornament, next Christmas, we will put our tree up and remember the blessing we were given in being Matthew's parents and will celebrate the joy we will have in knowing his brother or sister is part of our life.

I am hopeful.

However, it is not the same kind of innocent faith and hope I once enjoyed. Even though the post from last year obviously shows my frustration, I still had not yet experienced the grief that has stolen my ability to blindly and joyfully jump out, knowing it will all be ok. The reality is that it MAY not. In fact, sad as I am to say it, I think that the facts are on my argument's side: It does not always work out the way you want, even if you are at the very last part of the race. This year, my faith will continue to be placed in God's bigger picture...one that I've learned allows for bad things to happen to good people because the world in which we live is simply a flawed world. My prayer is that should more tragedy befall us, we will be able to continue to give God glory, even though I admit that I struggle on a daily basis with dark, dark thoughts and places. I'd be lying if I said that I was completely ok with this bigger picture because in the end, it's for God's glory--I *want* to be there, but in my heart, I admit...I want Matthew more.
I think God, in losing His son, can understand that.

I think C.S. Lewis sums up my feelings right now... "We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." I'm not exactly doubting that there are blessings in store...for Matthew was such a blessing, and always will be. I just wonder how much more painful the road to the blessings in store may turn out to be...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

One Month....

In 14 minutes, Matthew would be one month old.

Funny that my life is now being monitored in minutes. That's how I seem to be living these days...minute by minute.

I've spent nearly the last year of my life in weeks--2 week wait, we're pregnant! 6 weeks, there's a heartbeat and it's great! 8 weeks, our Gummi Bear is beautiful! 12 weeks, great neuchal test. 20 weeks, he's a boy! 26 weeks, he has a good chance of survival if born. 32 weeks, I'm huge and he's not so much, but that's ok. 37 weeks, if he's born from any point on, life should still be fine. 40 weeks, he's living it up in Hotel Mommy. 40 weeks and 4 days...and he's dead. 44 weeks and 4 days and I'm still crushed...heartbroken and devastated. Still. Forever.

It's hard to believe it's been a month. It seems like yesterday that my entire world crashed. Yesterday he was still with me....yesterday, I felt him kick. Yesterday, daddy read to him and he bounced all over the place. If I could only have yesterday back.

And yet, I'm soooo thankful that this month is almost over. It's one down in the long string of months I have to spend without Matthew and wondering about what could have been...missing what was.

And I'm just crushed. Still. Forever.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Matthew's First Christmas...

So not what I thought it would be.

This time last year, we had just gone to see Dr. Kipersztock at Shady Grove, and he told me that he was worried about me being happy and optimistic so he wanted me to order the book, "Happy For No Reason" or something like that...He seemed to worry that after 10 years, I might be a little skeptical and that he wanted me to be happy for happy's sake.

Hmm. I bought the book, and frankly, thought it to be a little touchy-feely for my taste. I didn't bother reading past a few pages.

I WAS, however, really pleased with Dr. Kipersztock and really felt sort of like that Christmas was FINALLY going to be the last one without a sweet little stocking on my mantle. As we put up our Christmas tree, I imagined THIS year being the one that had baby stockings and handprint ornaments. Remember, in January, I bought a pink AND a blue Baby's First Christmas stocking?

This year, as we were so close to Christmas, and we 'knew' Matthew so well, I decided against the generic and knew I had to get him his very own stocking. When having John help me pick it out, I kept asking, "You want that one? Will that be good for his entire childhood?" We finally decided on the train one because his Granddad loved trains so much.

Who knew he'd ever even see it? Who knew he'd never look in it? Who knew it would hang on an easel at his funeral instead of our mantle on Christmas morning? Let me tell you, I don't think there is a soul on this planet that had a clue.

In light of all of this, though, I have to believe that God knew. That's why we were called in early for induction--so there wouldn't be as much going on. That's why Dr. Shonekan's hands worked so swiftly and with such experience. That's why Dr. Finkelston was there and able to get the anesthesia done so quickly, even though he had already long given me the epidural. That's why Margaret Ann was in the operating room with me, right beside me and holding my left hand and praying with me. That's why there were SEVERAL other people who probably wouldn't have been and they did amazing work. That's why everyone scheduled to work in Labor & Delivery those couple days are so worth their weight in gold for the care and love and support they gave us. I really believe all those people were put there by God Himself.

God knew. The hearts of so many people just overwhelmingly entwined with ours as they showed us just how loved and cared for we are. We were and still are enveloped in prayers on a constant basis, based on the countless (and much appreciated and loved) emails and cards and calls we get telling us so. An EKG machine and all the accessories needed for it will be bought and given to a hospital worlds away and will help save the lives of babies considered "unwanted" if you can imagine such a concept. This has touched our hearts in ways no one can know.

God knew we'd be fragile and broken...He has sent us family from all over, whether in person or via phone/email/FB...He has sent His love for us in the various gifts we have received from not only friends, but complete and total strangers who just feel for us.

I believe God knew...and though He certainly could change the outcome, He didn't. But He didn't because to do so eventually leads to the loss of free will...and that is something He's given and would make this world a very different place.

No, He knew that EVIL, pure and simple was coming to our lives...and He gave us many blessings in so many different forms to help us through this evil. That's how I'm feeling right now...this heartbreak in our life is EVIL. EVIL. EVIL. And me not spending Christmas with my precious son is not because God needed a little angel or so that he could be in a better place or any of those other well-intentioned cliches that people try to give...it's because we live in an evil and fallen world and bad things DO happen to good people.

Which is why I desperately and wholeheartedly am trying to be the victor in all of this. I really feel like it is a test of some sort and I simply refuse to fail. I refuse.

So Matthew, humor mommy some more in listening to her...or allowing her to write to you. I am heartbroken that you are not with us here. I didn't even realize that one's heart actually and physically HURTS, but it does. I still would give anything in the world to hold you and raise you.
But I am grateful for every second that we shared, and promise that I will continue to try and be faithful in my promise to God. Right now, that's the best way I know how to honor your memory.

Merry Christmas, my sweet first-born and beautiful son. Thank God for you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve....

I am a mother.

I cannot think of a better gift I could have been given than to be a mother.

More than that, I am the mother of the most beautiful, precious and loved little boy. I have always dreamed of being a mother, and though my precious angel is not with me this Christmas, through him, I was given an incredible honor and gift...the gift of motherhood.

I now belong to a club that I desperately wanted to be in. I have the battle scars to prove it! I have spent the months of pregnancy that one spends--dreaming, planning and loving...heartburn, backaches and no sleep. I wouldn't trade a single second of it, knowing that it was all part of the process that was my miracle.

I also belong to a club that I never, ever wanted to be part of, and whose very existence makes my stomach turn--that of mothers who have lost their children. It is a club that also leaves battle scars...and changes who I am forever. It changes my outlook; it changes my heart. I will find joy again, and do every day--it's just a different joy. I will certainly love Matthew's brother or sister, but will always watch them with wonder and think about how Matthew would have been in their same situations. I will never be able to take the leaps of pure faith that I once was able to do without an apprehension that only belongs to those who have had tragedy that rocked their world.

Tonight, though...tonight, as the world waits for Santa and decides that since it's Christmas, they should go to church, I am thankful. It's hard to be thankful when my heart is broken, but if I am supposed to be learning and growing in this, then I have to remember that I *DO* have many things for which I am thankful. I looked at the post I made just two days before Matthew was born, and just three days before he passed away. It's worth reposting...for these things I am still very thankful and count as priceless gifts:


Dear Lord, I am most thankful for:
Your grace, mercy, faithfulness and salvation
**Without this...there is no hope. Hope is what I live for today and tomorrow. This hope is what I cling to in knowing I will hold my son again. I do not always understand, but am able to accept that the things going on in my life may be a test and I promised to give God glory in all things.**

My husband--he's brilliant, hard-working, an incredible father and provider
**Not only is he an amazing husband, I have had the privilege and honor of seeing him also be an incredible and devoted father.**

My precious, miraculous and stubborn little boy....I cannot wait to meet you
**Though our time after you were born was merely minutes...if that...I am so glad I got to meet you, caress your cheek and shoulder, and that you and your daddy got to hold hands.**
My family--regardless of current relationship status, I know I am loved
**I have so many family members that I could not imagine this time of our lives without. I am truly blessed.**
My friends--I am overwhelmed with people who care for me, worry about me and shower me with their attention and well-wishes
**This has never been more shown to me--I have never seen God more in action--than I have in the last month.**

My sweet Dixie Belle--though she is a PISTOL, she is a pistol full of snuggles and devotion
**I get such joy out of watching her in the snow...and we've had tons of it!**

My country--how I was blessed to be born here, I'll never know, but am eternally grateful for the blessing of America and her freedoms
**Again, we are so blessed to be Americans.**
My "children"--every little boy and girl for whom I have had the privilege of being a part of his or her life has touched mine so deeply...
**Bless their hearts...the little ones who have wrapped their arms around us have been so special to me.**

People who are willing to sacrifice--whether it is for their faith, their convictions or their fellow human...realizing there is something more is so admirable
*I cannot express how much I admire the bravery and the courage these people show.*

Loved ones that I have lost...though I miss them terribly, I'm thankful for their part in my life
**This is now even more true. As much as missing Matthew hurts my heart, his part in my life--his role as my first-born son--is something I am so grateful for...he gave me the gift of motherhood and nothing can ever change that.**
Lord, thank you for the many, many gifts I've had in my life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Choose to Believe...

These days are so hard....

That is why I simply make myself choose to believe. I've been reading a book that a dear friend sent, and the author's grief and loss truly are ones that I thank God I don't have to endure. In this book, the author says that in the "randomness" of devastating tragedy, he chooses to believe there is a bigger picture...he is part of a very bad chapter in a very good book authored by God Himself. Though I admit that this does not lessen the ache in my arms for my gurgly little 3-week old, it does sort of sum up what I desperately hope is happening in my life. Without the belief that all good things work for those who love the Lord, there is no hope. Without hope, what is there? I simply cannot and refuse to believe that I will not ever see my Matthew again. I choose to believe there is a bigger picture.

Friends, don't doubt that this is part of my "Fake it until I make it," routine...because most days, that's how I feel. What you may see as strength, I see and know is simply doing what I have to do because the alternative is not acceptable. What you see as bravery, I see as cowardice--I would, in a split second, wish this was NOT ME and that I was holding Matthew while someone else's heart was broken. To borrow from Mary Beth Chapman after the loss of her daughter, she said in an interview "I've said, you know, somewhat coldly, 'I don't care whose lives are touched by this story and whose lives are changed or what good comes of it.' As the heart of a mom, I want Maria back."

That's exactly how I feel...at the core, in my heart as a mother, I want Matthew back.

And yet...I know lives have been touched. I know lives will be changed. The EKG machine in Kyrgyzstan alone is tangible proof that in this tragedy and horror that is my life, God is able to use it for good somewhere else. I choose to believe there is a bigger picture.

I have so many things jumbled in my mind these days...and I 'post' imaginary blogs all the time. There are simply things that I want to remember, and hope that someone who may stumble along to this site and read can relate to without feeling ashamed or even blasphemous.

Do not think for one second I have not questioned, "Is God even real?" or "Do I *really* believe in all I've always claimed to believe?" I've asked, "Where is Heaven? If God is real, and Heaven is REAL...WHERE IS IT? WHERE IS MY MATTHEW?" We've explored space...where is it? Where is my child? I cannot, cannot, cannot accept that his life simply exists no more and he will simply rot away in a box in the ground. I just cannot.

And yet, it is so hard to accept things that prior to this, in my head, I'd answer, "Lori--you are a human being. Your brain simply is not capable of understanding the things of God. His thoughts are not ours, and ours are not His." Prior to losing Matthew, that pat answer of simply not being able to comprehend the majesty of God because of my human brain was ok.


It's not now. It's not. So this is where I choose to believe. There have been so many little "signs" of God. One of the first that I came across was in Cindy LaJoy's post... Cyndi has always been so eloquent, but the day we came home from the hospital, and the day after, we just sat and asked..."Where is God?" I went to Cyndi's blog to see about her girls, and lo and behold...the perfect words at the perfect time.


At the funeral, God was everywhere. I have never seen so many people that I knew, and many I didn't know, gathered for no other reason but to support us and to love us. Not even at our wedding, and it was pretty decent sized. The funeral guest book alone had over 200 signatures...and I knew there were people I saw that didn't have a chance to sign. Many signatures represented two or more people...we were overwhelmed with emotions and the people who shared them. Grown men, some military men to boot, in tears. Doctors, nurses--people who certainly had better things to do with their time than to come and grieve with us--strangers who just felt for us and wanted to share their hearts. It was truly amazing. My precious little son being the reason that someone who didn't know God just may have...


But something that we all found really and truly amazing, was one of those things that normally one might look at and go, "Um, yeah...that's a mud puddle."


However, in light of the fact that so, so many of us were hurting and questioning and wondering, we found this sight comforting and awe-inspiring. Who are we to say that God couldn't use a mud puddle to give us comfort or send us an angel? Perhaps you may feel the same when you see the picture...

While our brains may be unable to comprehend the majesty of God, perhaps He sends us something we CAN comprehend...like an angel being with us at Matthew's funeral.
This 'mud puddle' was outside the church all morning... I choose to believe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Things that make me smile...

...Matthew was going to have curly hair. When the nurses whisked him out of the operating room into the nursery, I saw the back of his sweet little head. His hair was dark, and he had lots...and the patterns were there and very wavy. He had his mommy's hair.

...I truly and wholeheartedly believe he knew he was loved and cherished. I sang to him, I rocked him...I even patted my stomach often as I would have patted his little back when he was born. I have no doubt that he could feel how much love I had for him.

...We had so many sonogram pictures, which are now priceless to me! We knew him so intimately.

...I saw him yawn at one of our sonograms. That picture is perfect and precious in my mind.

...how long he was! Mom said that the nurses were saying 22 inches!!!! We don't have the official birth certificate yet, but I totally believe he was that long. The picture, our 'rough' measurements at the funeral home really make it seem real. Then again....I knew he was long--I felt it!!

...how perfect his skin was! I joked that he was going to be one of those babies that had a lot of acne because *I* had a ton of estrogen and lost my once-great skin...yet his was perfect. I don't mourn mine as much any more because I was more than glad to give it to him.

...his chin! That's his mommy, Grandma Jane and Great-Grandma Gosnell's chin! I can only imagine the things he could have gotten away with using that little pouty chin!

...this picture...I'm so thankful that John was able to truly meet our son, and more thankful than I can express that he was able to hold his hand, and have Matthew hold back. This picture is one taken in the nursery before he was med-evaced to Georgetown, and I love it because it has John, Matthew and me--even if the 'me' is just in my name on Matthew's little wrist. I guess you can say that this is the closest thing to a family picture that I have...and it's incredibly dear to my heart.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Three Weeks...

I still barely breathe.

I can hardly swallow.

I feel like I have been punched in the stomach.

My eyes sting.

My heart is broken.

I miss Matthew. I miss Matthew.

He should be in a cute little Christmas outfit or a snowsuit. I should be hanging his stocking. I should be ALL happy when I see others' baby pictures...not just mostly happy.

My life is forever changed. Everything for the rest of my life will be bittersweet. I have lost a piece of me and I'll never get it back.

I am not the same. I never will be.

I saw on a website a saying that I liked, though....like the butterfly, I have the strength and hope to believe. In time, I'll emerge from my cocoon--transformed.

I'm already transformed...now I just pray to be the person that God is asking me to be.

Matthew---your mommy loves you so much. I'd give anything in the world to have you and hold you. I'm clinging to the hope in seeing you again one day. I'll never let you go then.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Angels...

The forecast is for epic amounts of snow for Southern Maryland. As of now, 11-16 inches.

It would have been your first snow...and we'd have bundled you up and played for a few, few minutes. Daddy and his boy would make a snow angel.

It's night...and the snow falling is beautiful. My heart hurts so much right now. This is a pain that I never dreamed the depths of could exist.

I miss my Matthew.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Daddy....

I just want take a minute to honor Matthew's amazing and wonderful daddy.

Let me repeat, amazing and wonderful.

Though John, being a good Marine, would "Harumph," at my comment, I can honestly say that he loved Matthew so much he would have carried him if he could. (Please, no need to remind me of the Pregnant Man...really, this is simply the best analogy I can think of to establish how deeply John loved Matthew.)

I am so glad I have been able to chronicle the excitement I was so honored to see in John throughout the last months...excitement about conception. Excitement about his first heartbeat...when we saw little arms and legs...when he thought he was having a Molly...when he learned mommy was right and he was a Matthew...watching my stomach bounce, seeing him yawn, seeing him breathe and swim in my tummy....holding his hand and kissing his head. I can honestly say, without a doubt, that there is no other person on this planet who loved Matthew as much as I did--save his daddy. I knew he loved him from the second he knew of him, and honestly, I don't even think John knew how in love with him he was until he held him...for men, sometimes, I just don't know that they can understand that depth until they hold them.

I've always known that John was going to be a good dad...you can tell a lot about a man in how he treats his dogs and his mother. I know, I know...bad pairing, but it's true. A man who loves his mother and loves his dogs is a man that will love his children.

I never realized what an amazing dad John would be until the night he held Matthew in his arms as Matthew's little heart beat for the last few times...the strength he had to be there for his son amazes me! The love and devotion he had knowing there was no other place he could be is so pure.

I did not get to hold Matthew...in the traditional sense. He was whisked away, in an isolette, and gone....I maybe got to see him alive for all of 5 minutes put together, and that's a high estimation. But I held him in a most intimate and wonderful way and for that, I am forever grateful. People tell me they are sorry I did not get to hold him, and I have to honestly say, I'm not. I knew him so intimately...and that's priceless. In the most *unfair* of situations, I find it only fair that his first heartbeats began in me and his last ones were in the arms of his daddy...loving him and holding him tightly. I am so glad he was able to have that, for he loved Matthew just as much as I.

It just breaks my heart for John that it couldn't be more.

I can't write much more right now, my heart hurts and I'd like to stop crying for a bit. I just couldn't let another second go by without noting what an amazing man I married and how I hope and pray that he is able to be daddy to another son or daughter...and for longer than 8 precious hours. There is not a man alive that deserves it more.

John wrote this poem for Matthew, and it was on the funeral bulletin. I often joke that he got the Math brain and I got the English brain...but I think I may just have to realize that he got it all. No more eloquent words could have been spoken:

Rest Matthew
My dearest Matthew, do not cry,
For I have gazed into your eyes.
You were sent to us from high above,
So we could share your binding love.
Although your time with us was brief,
We know that God will provide relief.
The greatest hopes I had for you,
And all the things that you would do,
In my dreams you caught a fish,
And on a star you've made a wish.
You rolled on down a grassy knoll,
And in the backyard you've dug a hole.
Daddy knows what little boys do,
And he was sure you'd do it too.
You got to fly up in the sky,
But never did we hear you cry.
Now as we can feel that you're alright,
Rest Matthew, rest for us tonight.
Daddy

Monday, December 14, 2009

The New Normal

If you Google "New Normal" you will see many articles that pertain to the recession and/or the economy.

To me, it is something that has been forced upon us. I expected the New Normal to be so, so much different.

Family would be gone...John would go back to work....and Matthew and I would share precious and priceless moments at home living the white picket life I have been dreaming of forever. We'd nap, we'd make cookies for daddy; we'd simply adjust to a perfect little life and finally rejoice in our miraculous family.

My New Normal is hell. It's a life without any of that, and no matter how one dices it, it is horrible. It's a life that I have to literally wake up to every morning wishing I could just stay in bed for the rest of my life. I can't even swallow sometimes because tears just overwhelm me. I feel like I've been punched in the stomach, and am sickened at the thought of not having Matthew with me to the point of nausea.

I always joked with John that women who said that they loved being pregnant and wished they could be pregnant forever were lying because the backache and hip pain and foot pain and heartburn and all the rest certainly was NOT fun or love-worthy. That's not what they meant, though...what they meant was that they felt special. They felt they had purpose. They felt that there was nothing more important in the world than directing every little loving intention and action to this treasure that only they knew. *That* is what they love, and *that* is what they would want forever. I know this because this is exactly how I feel right now. That's the part of pregnancy that women miss, but most times, they have a beautiful little bundle of joy that gives them something new about which they feel that special purpose and intimacy. In this, I am empty and aching.

A sweet friend wrote to me and told me that she thought as John did that I should continue this blog, and still bind yearly and do as I planned before we lost Matthew, as this is our family's story. She is so right...it is the story of our family, tragic and heartbreaking as it is to us right now. My hope, my deepest heart's desire is that one day in the near future, we'd be able to share our family story with Matthew's brother(s) or sister(s) and be joyful for the opportunity to do so.

Many have asked, and frankly, I always remain overwhelmed at the thought of anyone actually reading what I write! We are still in Shady Grove's program, which is a blessing in that we are still able to retain hope in having a bigger family here on earth. All doctors and specialists involved want me to wait 3 months for healing to begin the next cycle. Time feels like eternity, for so many reasons, but I want to spend the next few months taking care of myself, and gearing myself up for the ups and downs that come with IVF and whatever comes next. One would think that having 5 more fresh cycles, as well as any frozen cycles that we may have, odds would be good for us to be successful with pregnancy again in the next year. Then again, the odds of this horror happening to us were less than .02%....that's right, less than two-hundredths of a percent....so Dr. Shonekan has told me that she no longer wants to hear me talk about odds and in that, I must agree. As I was told to cling to...."Everything works for the good of those who love the Lord." That's what I have to focus on and that's what I have to believe.

As always, I cannot express enough gratitude or appreciation for all the prayers and thoughts being sent to me and to John. I cannot believe that there were over *1100* hits to this blog the Monday we got home from the hospital. There are people all over the world--complete strangers--who are offering such comforting and encouraging words...please know that I am forever grateful for the support and John is so encouraged and touched as well. Please continue to lift us in your prayers, for I won't lie that my faith is surely being tested and I covet your prayers.

To my New Normal....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Two weeks...

Today, in 6 minutes, my sweet little boy would have been two weeks old.

Why write right now? I don't know, really...I've had so, so many things I want to say and tell Matthew and then I remember that he'll never read the words anyway and the purpose of the whole blog-turned-yearly-book was for his memory...well, in truth, I figured he may be interested in it, but his wife would have probably been more interested in it.

His daddy wanted me to keep writing. This would have been his book, and his daddy wants me to finish through the end of the year at least as I planned. Of course, I planned to start his new book with new posts on January 1, and that will never happen. John has been an amazing, amazing husband (though I already knew this) and if this is important to him, I certainly can comply.

I'm not ready to write about the funeral, though the outpouring from our church, the military, my school, the community and total strangers was and still remains unbelievable. Frankly, it was a blur, and high in the competition for the hardest day of my life. I can say that many, many people have told us how deeply it affected them, and we again are touched by so many.
It's hard to believe it was just a week ago. And yet, it's been a lifetime.

We have been surviving...that's the best thing I can say. We have amazing family, friends and support from so many various groups of people. I am still in shock, though, and honestly go through periods of absolute disbelief to total and udder grip-me-to-the-core reality. It turns out that it was NOT a placental abruption that happened, but a condition called Vasa Previa. Rare, like being struck by lightning, and most times, devastatingly fatal for the baby and life-threatening for the mother. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Dr. Shonekan's quick actions not only gave us several precious hours with Matthew, but saved my life. Truly. Our nurse at Shady Grove told me she knew of one other patient where the baby was lost and the mother went into strokes and was very touch and go because it was not known about, as in my case. If you are to research this, as I've done a little, I can say with all honesty that there was no way this would have ever been diagnosed. I *had* the heavy monitoring because of his kidney condition. I *had* the color Doppler. Dr. Polko examined the placenta with the pathologist herself and said that the vessel was so tiny and so close to something (can't remember what) that no one would have ever been able to diagnose it without a crystal ball.

Friends, your comments and posts and thoughts have been truly what has sustained me. So many comment on my bravery and my amazing attitude and I want there to be no disillusion. I am shattered. I am not brave; bravery is facing it when you have a choice not to. I have no choice, my life has to go on. I have a husband who loves me and whose heart's desire is to one day again hold a son or daughter, and for longer than a few hours. For him, I'll move Heaven and Earth to try and make that happen.

And my faith? I'm SO trying. I promised God that even if the most horrible happened, I'd try my best to be one of those 'strong and inspirational' people who glorify Him regardless. I never, ever dreamed that He'd call my bluff on it, but that matters not; the miracle of Matthew is one that I must be forever grateful to God for, and keep my promises. And if I am very honest, Matthew was the answer to prayer. God was faithful. He existed, he lived and he was given to us by God.

Please keep us in your prayers. These are dark days. We covet your prayers and encouragement. There's much more in my head, but my heart just can't keep me writing right now. Instead, I'll post another picture from the amazing angel who photographed Matthew for us....This one makes me smile because it shows how LONG Matthew was....I've been saying that for a while! I have other pictures, ones that I'll try to post as my heart can bear to do so. Looking at them is so, so bittersweet.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank you, friends....

John Matthew Ennis
November 28, 2009-November 29, 2009
Beloved and cherished first-born son and miracle

I cannot even begin to explain how comforting the thoughts and prayers from all over the world are. You have touched our hearts in such a deep and profound way, we are forever grateful.

Many have asked about what they could do....if you are so inclined to send flowers or something, please consider donating to the worthiest of causes... Steven Curtis Chapman's "One Little Heartbeat" has been a staple of my pregnancy music, and I dreamed about the impact my little Matthew would make on the world...one little heartbeat at a time. Now, though he is no longer with me, his memory can be honored by helping fund an EKG machine in Kyrgyzstan, and one little heartbeat at a time, he can help save other babies' lives. The information is as follows:

http://actofkindness.blogspot.com/2009/12/in-matthews-memory.html

You may also make checks payable to
Society of Cornelius

Memo: orphan account .EKG
and send them to

Possibilities International
Suite 253
525 Highland Road West
Kitchener, Ontario
N2M 5P4

The picture I am attaching is from one of the talented photographers who graciously give their time for these remembrances. The organization is Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and I can now say from experience, it is a priceless ministry. The info is as follows:

To donate to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep by web, click http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/donate/ or you can mail your check to:

The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation
7201 S. Broadway St. #150
Littleton, CO 80122



With so much love to you all,
Lori and John

Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodbye my angel....

John Matthew,

There are no words to tell you how much I love you and how much my heart aches to hold you right now. I have loved the thought of you for years and in the last months, the intimacy you and I have shared is now priceless to me.

Honestly, I do not know how I even have the strength to be writing this...my heart is broken and your daddy and I are just empty and aching. On one hand, I don't ever want to see this blog again--to be reminded of all the hope and promise we had in you.

On the other, the blessing you have been in our lives is worthy of so much more. It is because you lived, and we loved, that I write this final letter in your book.

You were a beautiful little boy. You had a head full of dark hair, your mommy's chin and your daddy's little lip and nose. Your skin was unbelievably soft and clear, and though I know every one says this about their baby, you truly were beautiful.

You were happy and healthy right up to the very second the doctor realized that there may have been a placental abruption...and whisked us to surgery. Doctor Shonekan was the fastest, most focused, compassionate and dedicated person I've ever seen...she had you out in 6 minutes. The miracle of all the extra staff being there and the care we received truly was indicative of God watching over us.

Your daddy was with you most every second he could be, and he held you as you took your last breaths and went on to Heaven. At first, we thought there may have been a chance you'd be fine, but resuscitating you over 5 times was simply too much for your little body. Daddy had to drive to Georgetown while you were medevaced, but hopefully you felt the literally hundreds and hundreds of people praying for you to be ok and not suffer. I felt them.

When Grandma and our dear friend Connie came back to my hospital, I knew that something had changed and it wasn't good. Daddy called and told us you were leaving us, and Bert prayed with us--over the phone to us in our room and to daddy and you as he held you in Georgetown. You were sent off to Heaven with daddy holding you, hearing the words of God and being very loved by the numerous people in my room crying for you.

And now, we are still in shock. Though you were only on this earth with us for about 8 hours, you have been in our hearts for years and will remain so. You, our beautiful first-born son...you may never read these words I've been writing for you, but still I hope you know how much you have been loved and how many people have been touched by the miracle of you.

I don't know what the future holds...for this blog, for our plans, for anything. I do know that your daddy and I are forever changed and cannot imagine any privilege better than being your parents. I remember very vividly promising you to God....thanking Him for the miracle of you and promising that you were His and I'd do all I could to commit you to Him. I never dreamed that would mean giving you back to Him just a few short hours after your birth. Even still, you will always remain our beautiful baby boy; our first-born son and dream-come-true. And we will always remain your loving mommy and daddy.

Goodbye, my sweet little boy. Words cannot describe how much your daddy and I love you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Guess What? They want you to come out!!!

Well, I just got a phone call from the hospital. They want to know if I was interested in coming in 48 hours early to start the induction. Really???? Apparently the next few days are going to be busy, and while they would be glad to have me still come in on Monday, Dr. Shonekan was looking at folders and pulled a few she thought might be interested in coming in earlier....so, while I of course am shaking a little bit from the reality and anxiety of it all, John is all, "Let's do it!"

So, do it I guess we will. We go in tonight at 7 pm. They'll do the cervidil treatment, let me 'sleep' through the night (ha ha, I've heard the cramping doesn't lend itself to that much, but nice thoughts....) and start the Pitocin tomorrow. With any luck then, he'll be born November 28th or 29th.

Well, Matthew....guess we'll be meeting you soon! Can't wait!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

How very, very disappointed in myself I am. I just tried to look back at this time last year so I could compare Thanksgiving Days and I didn't blog!!!! I was visiting with my sister, so I may not have had as easy access to the computer, but still.....the posts the day(s) before focused on the Pie Challenge for Kyrgyzstan (which can still be donated to and I am only $195 away....go here!) and how I was just *so* not feeling an adoption from Kyrgyzstan was going to happen and I was just so....sad. Sad children suffered and I couldn't do anything more. Sad that I *STILL* didn't have a little one to celebrate the holidays with. Sad that I was just trying to find something to not be sad about....Maybe I was just thinking I didn't have that much to be thankful for, and didn't feel like posting. This is where my disappointment is because even then, I was so blessed beyond belief and I'm angry I didn't recognize it more.

Though this is obviously an appropriate post because it is Thanksgiving Day, it is a post I could make every single day....and full of things I will try to remember more on a daily basis.
Dear Lord, I am most thankful for:
  • Your grace, mercy, faithfulness and salvation
  • My husband--he's brilliant, hard-working, an incredible father and provider
  • My precious, miraculous and stubborn little boy....I cannot wait to meet you
  • My family--regardless of current relationship status, I know I am loved
  • My friends--I am overwhelmed with people who care for me, worry about me and shower me with their attention and well-wishes
  • My sweet Dixie Belle--though she is a PISTOL, she is a pistol full of snuggles and devotion
  • My country--how I was blessed to be born here, I'll never know, but am eternally grateful for the blessing of America and her freedoms
  • My "children"--every little boy and girl for whom I have had the privilege of being a part of his or her life has touched mine so deeply...
  • People who are willing to sacrifice--whether it is for their faith, their convictions or their fellow human...realizing there is something more is so admirable
  • Loved ones that I have lost...though I miss them terribly, I'm thankful for their part in my life

There are so many things I have to be thankful for this year...even as I sit waiting for Matthew to make his debut, and am admittedly a little nervous about what labor is going be like, I am thankful that I have had the blessing of pregnancy--something I basically thought was never going to happen. Mom and I were talking last night about how different this time of year is than we thought it would be. We never in our wildest dreams imagined that we wouldn't have a little baby girl eating her first Thanksgiving dinner with us and we certainly didn't imagine that we would be waiting for a chubby-cheeked little baby boy to decide he was going to come out after all.

Again, Lord, thank you for your many, many blessings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hotel Mommy....

Good thing I give a fabulous family discount, because apparently, Matthew thinks Hotel Mommy is a great place to be. Much like his dad, he obviously enjoys a nice hotel and doesn't really like the thought of leaving if no need exists.

My Bishop Score was barely a 2. And Dr. Shonekan was probably being nice. I am still only 1 cm., but softer, and she said that was good because it wasn't like I was "Fort Knox" and she feels the cervidil will be successful. She then went on to say, though, that Matthew was "calling my bluff" and saying, "come get me!" and she did not think this baby was coming "without any external help."

Fabulous. I *finally* get to the point where I'd prefer to just go through the agony of a regular delivery so I don't have to have surgery to recover from and wait to hold the baby while they sew me up and I very likely may end up having to have a c-section anyway because the odds of a delivery ending up in a cesarean when inducing occurred with a low Bishop Score are WAY higher...and I can't see anything changing at this point. He was nowhere NEAR engaged--why should he be? It's way more fun to swim and do all his exercises up in my ribs! The L & D nurse was right--Dr. Shonekan is more gentle in the exam, but it still HURTS LIKE HECK. And for naught....she said that if I didn't want to have a check next Monday before they start the cervidil, that was reasonable...but John thinks it might not be a bad idea just to have a baseline for progress. I agree, but MAN....dread the thought.

So, it seems that Matthew's First Thanksgiving outfit will have to be traded in from a newborn size to a 9-12 month size for NEXT year. Little Turkey...already acting stubborn and establishing his position in the family. I hope he's living it up, though, because they're taking him at the beginning of next week, whether he wants to leave or not!

In the meantime, I received this poem today (thanks, Barb!!) and love it....

God made the world out of His dreams
Of magic mountains, oceans and streams,
Prairies and plains and wooded land,
Then paused and thought "I need someone to stand
On top of mountains, to conquer the seas,
Explore the plains and climb the trees.
Someone to start out small and to grow,
Sturdy, strong as a tree…" And so,
He created boys, full of spirit and fun,
To explore and conquer, to romp and run.
With dirty faces and banged up chins,
With courageous hearts and boyish grins.
When He had completed the task He'd begun
He surely said "A job well done."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey there, 7-pounder!

We had what I *hope* will be our last appointment with Dr. Sweeney just a while ago. He shook our hands and told us he enjoyed taking care of us these last months (baked goods for doctors go a long way, trust me!) as if he wouldn't be seeing us at our next scheduled appointment--next Monday, the 30th, and the day we go to the hospital to be induced if Matthew hasn't come. I hope he's right.

The sono tech was really having a great time with us and Matthew was very entertaining. He kept moving, was breathing up a storm and kicking my organs (my poor gall bladder is just being used for his own personal kicking bag) like crazy...and she felt really sorry for me! She's the one who likes to do the growth assessment as well, so we learned that Matthew was 7 lbs., 3 oz! This is a TREMENDOUS gain from last week, over a pound! Which leads me to believe (and hope, a little) that there is a little bit more of a discrepancy in measurements because of two different techs taking them. In any event, I'm pretty confident he's at least 6 pounds FOR SURE and probably a bit more based on how much more powerful the kicks and movements have been in the last week.

Tomorrow we'll get a Bishop Score from Dr. Shonekan and we'll see how close he is to coming on his own or how successful the induction may be. John thinks, "That little turkey will come on Thanksgiving Day," and that would be fine with me because then he would at least get to wear his First Thanksgiving outfit.

I'm not placing any bets on it though....he looked like he was having an AWFULLY good time in there!!

Oh, and Dr. Sweeney said he *is* betting...betting that he's found the second kidney. I bet he's right...it even looked just like a little kidney bean!! So, Uni-kidney may just turn into Pelvi-kidney!

The clock that mocks me....

When we first learned we were pregnant, John programmed a countdown clock to our due date. This countdown clock was originally Grandma's, and was used for her retirement countdown. We've been watching this countdown clock for the last 260ish days...and as I look at it right now, it says I have 13 hours. THIRTEEN HOURS. My dreams last night consisted of me saying to that clock, over and over, "You mock me, clock. You mock me." (I know, weird dream, but true)

Saturday night, I thought we might be in business as I was pretty much cramping/having contractions all night...but nothing regular enough or painful enough to wake John up and head to the hospital.

Needless to say, when we got up for church yesterday, I was EXHAUSTED. John must have been too, because he was CRANKY! Note all the caps in that word. Let me restate: CRANKY.

To wrap a very long (all day) story up: He was CRANKY, which aggravated me seeing as I figured if either of us got to claim rights on cranky yesterday, it should be the one who was NOT sleeping soundly the whole night before, but hey...that's just me. His cranky never let up, got worse, aggravated me even more, and I took it all out on the garden. I've been needing to pull the summer stuff out and rake and put the pansies and bulbs in for a while. I realize this is probably not a huge priority for most women a day and a half away from their due date, but it is to me as I love my garden and envision it as a cute little backdrop for pictures of Matthew in a few months.

John is king of hidden agenda. Apparently my plans interfered with his agenda (who knew?) and frankly, cranky AND a hidden agenda just were not what I wanted to deal with yesterday so I told him I'd handle it all on my own.

Which I did, mind you.

And paid for (heck, am still paying for) in spades. My muscles would be miserable today if I *wasn't* pregnant, but throw my aching, pregnant back and humongous pregnant belly in and I think miserable times 100 still doesn't cover it.

But hey, only 13 hours left, right? Once it's rundown, I'm resetting it for next week--Monday at 7 pm, to be precise. Anything that happens before that is gravy. Preferably on a turkey. That I am at home enjoying with mom, John's cousin and Matthew. On Thanksgiving Day.

Game on, clock.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Officially, the days are numbered!

Well, yesterday's visit to the OB was quite the informative and confirming one! As I have been bringing baked goodies to all my doctors, Dr. Shonekan asked me, "Where do you find the time?" I asked her if she was kidding--time seems to be all I have!!!! For the record, yesterday's were chocolate chip cookies from a package, so really, not much in the consumption of time arena.

Anyway, I relayed my plan to her and she was quite proud of me. Essentially, my due date is Tuesday. That's 40 weeks. I told her that I was ok with going to 41, but no later than that because that whole 40-42 week gestational period is "the norm" for most naturally conceived pregnancies where the time of conception is closely guessed at but not 100% known. I know the day and time Matthew was conceived and really don't want him to go over 41 weeks. She agreed. So, if Matthew doesn't decide to debut on his own, we'll go into the hospital on November 30 (I'll be 40 weeks and 6 days) at 7 pm and do the Cervidil treatment. Hopefully it will work and the next day will either be labor on my own or Pitocin to get it going....and Dr. Shonekan said that if we went according to that plan, he'd probably be born December 2. Sounds good to me. She was very happy with the fact that I'd rather have the baby naturally than a c-section. Yes, I know, I know....but here's my thought. Yes, I'd rather have the cesarean; HOWEVER, more than that, I'd rather have my baby on my chest to stay when he's born than have to have him in the warmer waiting while they put my innards back and sew me up. That's what it has all boiled down to, and Dr. Shonekan booked it all then and there.

I have an appointment with the specialist on Monday (who will look for the elusive pelvic kidney and make a new recommendation for the renal ultrasound) and my last appointment with Dr. Shonekan again Tuesday (where she'll do a check and get a Bishop score), which is his due date. Dr. Shonekan said she saw what Dr. Sweeney reported on and mentioned a pediatric nephrologist, so I'll have to ask him about that--she thought it was pretty funny that Matthew went from having something that 1 in 500 have to possibly having something that 1 in 3000 have, but also said that he "was totally" my son!!

The blood pressure was another issue. It has been fine (I assume) since the hospital! I had only taken it once, maybe Tuesday, since the hospital and it was good--I don't even remember what but in the 120s /70-80s....just fine. So, when they took my blood pressure yesterday, I wasn't one bit worried. Well, the left arm was 147/92 and the right arm was 161/97!!! What the heck? I was pretty much on the sofa all day yesterday and the swelling was actually not too bad and my blood pressure was that high? Ugh. They had me lay on my left side, again, and came back to check about 20 minutes later manually--it was 156/94!! I was so aggravated--John said I was worried because I get Chatty Cathy when I am nervous, but I really wasn't nervous, I was HUNGRY! I thought that they were going to send me to the hospital, *again*, and do all that testing, *again*, and nothing would come of it and I'd be STARVING still. I honestly and truly did not know what the blood pressure thing was, but I thought it was a fluke, and thankfully, so did Dr. Shonekan. She told me to just keep tabs on it, relax, and let her know if I have any other symptoms like blurred vision, headaches or shortness of breath (even more than I already have!)....last night when we got home it was about 128/70something and I just took it a few minutes ago and it was 117/78. So, again, I'm not worried.

I woke up at 3:58 this am with what I thought was a contraction. It may have been, for all I know. It was painful, woke me up and lasted a bit. But then Matthew moved (which is unusual for him in the middle of the night) and I was wide awake for the next hour and nothing else happened. My back and hips are really amping up again, so maybe I'm in that couple of days before period where things are starting to happen....here's hoping. Like I said, now that we have a plan, watch that little turkey decide to foil it all and come next week over the Thanksgiving holiday!

And I'd be very thankful for that....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just a little bit more....

Yesterday, I bought Matthew a little Christmas gift. We realize that at this point, he'll be maybe 3-4 weeks old at Christmas and will not have a clue...so aside from the sweet little train stocking (with Matthew's name, of course) we picked, finishing up things on the registry we still may need and the recordable Night Before Christmas book I got for him yesterday, there is no more shopping for him necessary.

I cannot express how much joy I have had in shopping for Matthew. Every little outfit, every little toy....I just imagine a sweet little boy giggling and gurgling and without a care in the world...and I realize how very blessed we are.

Then I look at John's site and tear up thinking of all those little ones. Little ones for whom $5 means the world. Little ones whose lives are so hard and so desperate that living in the dump is not only an option but a very distinct reality.

I am truly amazed that $300 has already been donated to have a pie thrown at me. I asked John if he was secretly donating!!! Those 60 little sweethearts who will get a taste of what Christmas is like humble me....especially since a measly $5 is such a MONUMENTAL amount of money for them.

I know there are lots of people doing this challenge, and honestly, the money ALL goes to the right place, so pie or not, it's the donations that count. But if you haven't donated, and can, even just $5, I'd be so happy. More than that, another little boy or girl will be given a taste of hope...and know that there *are* those that care.

To read about how it was last year, go here:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Funny daddy....

That daddy is hilarious. Some of the things we laugh at (together, really...I find it just as funny as he does) with this pregnancy are my humongous feet ("sausage toes") and legs (trunks, he calls them "stumpy trunks"), the food that inevitably gets all over my shirt somehow ("You've got quite a shelf there; good thing too since you get stuff all over it.") and the maternity underwear that could be used as substitute flags for the capitol should we ever need some extra material (though I told him we could laugh at how HUGE it was while I was pregnant, but when I am no longer pregnant, we do NOT laugh at the size of ANY clothing, specifically underwear!!!).

Actually, we laugh at a lot because it is all pretty funny....so here's the latest I thought was hilarious. Last night in bed I told john that I really wish that new knot in my foot would stop hurting because I actually had a lot of energy and things I wanted to do but limping around certainly put a crimp in those plans. I said, "Maybe I'll bake some Christmas cookies and freeze them." He said, very seriously, "How about you just focus on doing stuff to get him out of there?"

Oh, okay....why haven't I thought of that? Let me just pull out all my secrets that up to this point I have failed to exercise and talk Matthew out of there.

So, do you hear that Matthew? Daddy thinks I have some control over getting you to come out. I will say that the pregnancy ticker at the top of this page isn't working for some reason--can't download the picture--so maybe that's a good sign that I'm at the end? We can just tell daddy we worked on you coming out together!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

39 Weeks...and thankful!

In hindsight, I wish that I had made a little post each week as to what was going on throughout the pregnancy. I think between this blog and my pregnancy journal I've done a decent job of chronicling, but a consistent, weekly update is probably what I'll go for (at minimum) for when Matthew is born. In any event, today is 39 weeks and still no sign of my little guy deciding he wants to meet us. Some things going on:
  • He's still moving like crazy and I am thankful for that. It's probably the most reassuring thing I've ever felt and I know I will miss it (maybe not the karate chops to the kidney or gall bladder) when he's born.
  • Sleeping is the most foreign concept in the world to me. (PLEASE do not send me a cute comment that says something like, "Ha...you don't even KNOW what not sleeping is like...just wait until that baby is born." If I hear that one more time, I swear, I'll explode. I get it, babies wake up A LOT. I won't get much sleep once he's born either. Check.)
  • When I *do* fall asleep, I end up snoring. I've NEVER snored in my life. And it's not snoring-snoring...it's this weird, throaty thing that makes me feel like someone scraped my throat with a razor blade when I wake up in the morning. John says it's because I'm on my back, so we'll see if that's the case when Matthew is born.
  • I can sort of keep the swelling under control by just being off my feet but now I have some knotty thing in my right ankle (much like the thing they thought was a clot in my left ankle) that REALLY hurts and pretty much makes me limp if I put any pressure on it. It's very varicose-veiny looking and so again, I'm pretty sure it's just some veins or something being cut-off. I actually have some energy, and would like to do some things, but putting any pressure on it really is not comfortable.
  • I'm tired of looking at birth announcements, personalized stockings, bubble outfits and Christmas shopping online. I have an announcement style we really like, but it is on card stock and not glossy paper, which I'd like. There are just TOO many stocking styles out there and to pick one for a little boy for life is just overwhelming. It's probably going to something with a train for his grand-dad and that will be that. There are so many cute little bubble outfits and smocked things for boys (I know where ever John is right now, a chill ran up and down his spine!) but I just don't know what size he'll be so it's just overwhelming to look. And Christmas shopping? Too much online to look at. I just need John to say: "Buy this for____; buy this for ______; buy this for ____." My brain is mush these days.
  • Another *perk* of being laid-up day in and day out is having lots of time to blog-hop. I posted the other day about how thankful I was that this whole process has been relatively non-eventful and I still feel that way. There are so many blogs out there about trials of infertility and I just am so thankful that when we did decide to go IVF, it was as successful as it has been. Granted, it took 10 years of heartache to get there, but for success with our first official cycle, I am eternally grateful to God.
  • We have our next OB appointment on Thursday. At this appointment, I imagine we'll decide that if he's not born by December 1 (the day I am 41 weeks), we'll induce. Next Monday is the next specialist appointment and we'll look for that kidney again, and then Tuesday (my due date) will be the last OB appointment before Thanksgiving....it will be a pretty dry doctor time from Tuesday the 24th to Tuesday the 30th, so my hope is that the little stinker will think that's a FINE time to come! In the meantime, we wait.

And wait. And wait some more.....but heck, after this long--what's a few days more?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Uni-kidney no more??

Well, after our exciting day yesterday (ha ha) we were up SUPER bright and early this morning so we could get to Dr. Sweeney's by 8:00.

(I don't miss getting up at 5 AM...and we got up this early on Saturday too so we could get to the car place. Of course...it's not like I was really sleeping anyway, but still.....)

We had a sono tech I've never had before, and she was very intent on what she was looking at on the screen. I could tell she didn't really want to do a growth assessment because the last one was only 2 weeks ago and she was worried he'd be smaller and I'd freak out. (Did she hear about me crying on the table two weeks ago?) At this point, I'm pretty confident he's at least 5 pounds, so no more freaking out....just hoping to GET HIM OUT! In any event, two Mondays ago he was 5 lbs., 9 oz. and this morning he was 6 lbs., 1 oz. Not quite as much growth as I expected (13th percentile for growth), but at this point, plenty big enough for me. Speaking of big...or little, hopefully....John said he paid attention to the head circumference and it measured 8.9 cm. I've always said I hoped he took after his daddy and had a little head...I don't know how much bigger his head will get in the next two weeks (John says not much) and maybe I am naive, but in my mind, if I dilate to 10 cm., and his head stays that size, I'm liking those stats!

When Dr. Sweeney came in, I told him Drs. Polko and Shonekan were more content to let Matthew get to 41 weeks than to make a plan for 39. He said, "Well, okay then." I told him I was fine with that too...although if he thought he needed to come out earlier, by all means tell us! He was pretty interested in what he was seeing on the screen and then told us that he may be imagining things, but he thought he saw some kidney tissue! The sono tech had seen it first and told him...and he was actually pretty surprised since we had been looking pretty closely for another one this whole pregnancy. He's interested to see what it looks like next week (though here's hoping there is NO next week appointment!) and may amend his recommendations for the renal ultrasound when Matthew is born. As of now, he is ok with the ultrasound being done on an outpatient basis after he's born. If this is a pelvic kidney, as he now suspects it may be, he will request a renal ultrasound the day Matthew is born for nephrology consult. True to his lineage....Matthew's odds of having one normal kidney and one pelvic kidney are 1:3000!!!! It's funny because there is actually less possibility of complication for Matthew if he only had one kidney vice him having one normal kidney and one pelvic kidney. Even still, because his one normal one has been fabulous, and a pelvic kidney may function fine (many pelvic kidneys function normally, but in some people, it can be small or have abnormality in the drainage system) , we'll just be on the lookout for a few different things than we would with only one. We may not have to worry as much about contact sports (though I am JUST fine with him not playing football!) and such, but may have more UTI and recurrent infections. In any event, until he has his very own ultrasound and we see that there is another kidney and how functional it is, we are just surmising. Worst case scenario, from what I've been researching, would be that it isn't functional, and could be problematic or it could be functional but he could have hydronephrosis and they may need to be surgically remove it. Honestly, I don't think that's the case....so I am not even close to worrying about it.

I must admit, we were pretty surprised though! This little guy never ceases to amaze me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Occupancy Still Requested....

What a beautiful day! We FINALLY had some sun, it was nearly 70 degrees (for the middle of November!!!!) and all was well.

Except the swelling was UNUSUALLY horrid and my blood pressure was sky high. Normally it is pretty low--in fact, some doctor in my history once told me that my blood pressure being low like it is could increase my risk for strokes. (Hey, thanks for giving me something ELSE to worry about!) Anyway, 146/94 is high for *anyone* and certainly for a pregnant woman who has some heavy duty swelling so I called my OB. Dr. Polko was on-call and I was sure she'd just say take it easy and see me on Thursday. Nope. She said go to Labor and Delivery and we'd check it out.

After I cried a bit (the reality was a little scary) and then took a shower, did my hair and put on make-up (she didn't say go IMMEDIATELY) we headed over. I really and truly did not think anything would come of it, but bless John's heart, he was pretty excited in hopes that all was ok, but that we'd have to get Matthew out. My bp at the hospital was 142/89 and they had me turn on my left side and recheck. After about 20 minutes on my left side, it was 110/80. 15 minutes later and still on my left side, it was 104/68--which is typically what it usually runs. That pattern continued and that's good news. Essentially Matthew, as he gets bigger, takes up more and more space in me. Duh. Yeah, well in doing so, in addition to going to town on my organs, he also cuts off all sorts of veins and arteries and so forth. Or something like that. In any event, the bottom line is that the swelling and blood pressure are here to stay as long as he's in there. And, as the nurse said, "He's very happy and having a good time in there. You are miserable, but occupancy is still requested by him."

So...much like his daddy partying it up in college, Matthew has decided he likes it where he is, is having a good time and the swelling and blood pressure are incidentals...much like the lack of breathing, lack of sleep, back aches and internal organ bullying that I've been having.

That's fine by me. His days are numbered! The labor and delivery nurse was really great and gave me more helpful information than I have gotten from all four of my highly paid doctors! She really made me feel a bit better about him going to 41 weeks, being induced and how the whole process will work. She also was very encouraging and told me that she was really impressed with all the education John and I have and all we have gone through to get to this point but that for now, she'd just take it easy, read some books and wait for Matthew. I've done everything well and he's obviously proof of it, so I don't need to borrow worry. Sounds good to me. She also told me that Dr. Polko tends to be one of the more, um, agressive checkers of my practice, ("She likes to get way up in there and really shake things around!") and let me know that Dr. Shonekan, who will check me again at 40 weeks if I haven't already delivered, is much more gentle. Whew.

And though Dr. Sweeney says, "Real estate is getting awfully expensive in there," Matthew is still "requesting occupancy." Guess I won't rule December out after all....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Miraculous

Matthew,

I just want to tell you that I never, ever, ever forget what a miracle you are. As I blog-hop here and there and see so many women JUST LIKE ME who want nothing more than to be a mom....and I watch their trials through infertility (and so relate with 10 years of heartache)...I just still can't believe the miracle of you coming to us now--as our 'peers' have kids in high school, with fewer eggs retrieved and even fewer fertilized and even *fewer* that made it to even being able to transfer. I am thankful beyond belief that we were so blessed to be successful with our IVF cycle on our first attempt. I am grateful for your health and your constant activity in mommy's tummy. I am still in awe of the fact that in just a few days (I HOPE) I will be the mommy of a wiggly baby boy, and daddy and I cannot wait to meet you.

Know that I will always be grateful to God for the miracle of you, and that though the road here hasn't been easy, feeling you move inside me and sitting in your chair in your room is truly worth all the disappointment and heartbreak. I know I've questioned God so many times...and I now know you are His answer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't rule out December...again.

Well, we saw Dr. Polko today and she also basically said, "Don't rule out December." I may have mentioned that my OB's office is pretty laid back, as in they basically listen to the heartbeat, put a measuring tape on my stomach and say, "Yep, you're good," each exam. I've been chalking that mostly up to the fact that I see Dr. Sweeney so regularly and as Dr. Davis said two weeks ago, what he does is quite a bit more advanced so what they do at my regular OB appointment is sort of redundant at best.

Well, Dr. Sweeney is all about Matthew, so today I had Dr. Polko do the internal exam so we could see if he was even thinking about making his appearances...and found out why they are so 'laid back,' about exams and stuff--they H * U * R * T!!!!!!!!!! A lot. I did not think it was possible for her arm to be any further...well, anyway, it HURT. She then told me that's why she usually doesn't do those exams until 40 weeks--she KNOWS they hurt and she doesn't really see any point to doing them until 40 weeks or more anyway. I am in total agreement with her at this point, and can say I will *NOT* be voluntarily requesting to be checked.

As for the results of the check....nada. In fact, it's never a good sign when your OB says, "D*mn, woman, you're tight." She then told me I was dilated a centimeter, maybe...and maybe 30% effaced. We then discussed making plans and she essentially told me that I needed to try and sucker the other two doctors because she's seen too many bad situations come when we tried to bring babies out before they were ready. As for Dr. Sweeney's recommendation of making a plan for 39 weeks? "Yeah, well, he gets to look at them in there. (pointing to belly) *I'm* the one that delivers them and I know what I've seen." And again, she has a point. She said she figured that Dr. Shonekan would be ok with scheduling an induction on the 23rd, but that still wasn't the best case scenario because I could be stuck in labor for 3 days and then have to do a C-section anyway. NO WAY! I'd rather just schedule a C-section. To which she said, "Eh...you don't really want to do that--at least not at week 40. Maybe 41."

She was not plussed by the fact that I am swollen up like Jimmy Dean sausage links, nor that I am not sleeping at all, nor that I am not able to breathe. "You're breathing. You'd be dead if you weren't." You'd think that I'd be aggravated by her attitude about it all, but I'm not. Because all that aside, as I was sitting there crying, she got up and hugged me and said, "I know. It hurts. It'll be ok." So, while I am miserable, it won't be that much longer and I can make it.

She's right. I can. So Matthew, come whenever you want. I'm not making any plans for you coming. I know they'll want probably want to induce at 41 weeks, and at that point, I may make a decision about inducing or scheduling a c-section, but other than that...if you want to be born in December, fine, be born in December.

Just remember that the closer your birthday is to Christmas, the more bleak your present situation looks. I know lots of people who HATED having their birthdays so close to Christmas because they felt shorted on the presents. I'm just saying....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

38 is here!

Week 38-- 14 days and counting! Trust me, SOOOO counting!

Our appointment yesterday went wonderfully. Again he scored an 8/8 on the biophysical profile--there was no point in the Non-stress test because we scored so well on the breathing, muscle tone, and ESPECIALLY movement!!! I've been saying it all along...that boy is a mover! He was not being very cooperative about showing much or staying still for the sono-tech but she was able to show me a little more the hair (I *sorta* saw what she was talking about) and she gave me some insight into why right under my right rib cage and the right side of my back hurt so much--apparently Matthew is "wreaking havoc" (her words, not mine, but I'll agree!) on my gall bladder (which has been shoved up practically under my rib cage) and my right kidney (hence the horrible, never-goes-away pain on the right side of my back) and she could see it all. Not only are my organs just all jammed where ever they can find room but she kept pointing out how he was kicking, kicking and kicking them all!! It *does* hurt and has for awhile, but I have to admit, I find it really kind of funny. Obviously he has no clue of what he's doing, but he sure is going to town in doing it!

They were also very surprised that my OB isn't talking about a plan to induce and somewhat surprised that he hasn't popped out already because he's plum out of room. I know, I know...the body is amazing, can do amazing things, yada yada...I've heard it all, thanks. My body already has done AMAZING things and now is just not getting any bigger but Matthew is. I'm very glad for him getting bigger, but the lack of room for him can't be comfortable for him because it sure as heck isn't for me. Dr. Sweeney (GOD LOVE THAT MAN) said, "Well, your OB can't do anything before 39 weeks unless I find something wrong and that's just not the case, buuuuuttttt....you can certainly make a plan for week 39." I brought them turtle brownie torte and asked what I needed to bring next week for him to write "Get that baby out!" and he said it should be pretty obvious to the OB. Next Monday we'll do another growth assessment and I expect he'll be at least 6 lbs. and some change, and I'll be 39 weeks that Tuesday. Matthew's due date is one week from that, but in talking with John (and now having Dr. Sweeney's opinion weighing in) I'm going to look at trying to get something started on the 23rd ( the Monday before Thanksgiving and I'll be 39 weeks and 6 days) so that he can be here before Thanksgiving.

Frankly, I think a Thanksgiving baby would ROCK but I don't want to take any chances with staff being skeletal because of the holiday. The sono tech agreed. So, we'll see....

In any event, I will have an exam on Thursday to see how things are going down there and we may be able to tell some more from that about whether or not we even need to worry about any of this. In the meantime, Matthew is doing fabulously and seems to be very happy and content. That's worth my lack of sleep, inability to breathe and internal organs being used as kickbags.

Here's hoping it's not too much longer of that, though, and he gets to be happy and content on the outside!!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Christmas Challenge....

Here's the chance my husband has been waiting for....

John Wright is once again issuing his Christmas challenge to give children of Kyrgyzstan a happy Christmas memory this year. I told him I'd do my best to raise the $500 my husband will need to put a pie in my face and I will, but I'm going to request Boston Creme! Pictures will of course be provided.

Seriously--the challenge is for as many people as possible to raise as much money as possible ($500 being the pie marker) so that so many deserving children can simply be given a wonderful Christmas this year. Here's what I think is SO sad...$5 makes a difference for a child. FIVE DOLLARS. I spend $5 at the gas station on a pack of gum and a soda. I spend MORE than that at Taco Bell, for Pete's sake....$5 is all it takes to make a child's Christmas this year. So...if you can, whether I get a pie in the face or not, please think about forgoing the trip to Dunkin Donuts tomorrow morning and donate to these children. I can promise you, that money will NOT go to waste and you'll be part of something that a child across the world will remember forever.

SO worth it, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Take a guess!!

Well, due to the overwhelming interest in guessing when Matthew will make his grand entrance to the world, I figured I'd at least make it a little interesting. I started a guessing game on ExpectNet and anyone can play. The interesting part is that whoever guesses closest will get a $25 donation made in their honor to the charity of their choice. I realize that won't fund major operations, but it can buy a couple of mattresses for someone in Kyrgyzstan or go toward researching the cure for Cancer, Lupus, Heart Disease, etc., or help make someone's Christmas a little warmer or well-fed--you get the picture. At the very least it is fun to guess and winning helps someone less fortunate.

So...go here, or click on the button on the side (I think) and take a guess!

As for Mala's inquiry on how Matthew's arrival will be announced, I can say that Facebook will be updated by John and he also has a distribution list put together on his Blackberry that I *think* he can use to email if anyone wants to send their email address. I'm sure I'll blog...just not sure when!

The countdown clock said 20 days last night. Unbelievable. Any day now!!!!