Thursday, December 31, 2009


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 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. 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 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 was Randy Alcorn's 'HEAVEN' 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 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 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'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 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 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. 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!! 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, the butterfly, I have the strength and hope to believe. In time, I'll emerge from my cocoon--transformed.

I'm already 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


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 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 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.

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 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 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 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:

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 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