Friday, December 31, 2010

The End Of A Decade...

How could it be? JUST YESTERDAY, we were waiting, waiting, waiting to see if the whole world ended because of Y2K.

And now...a new decade.

2011. Somehow, 'Twenty-eleven' doesn't sound as cute or catchy as 'Tweny-Ten,' does it?

I can't even say that I am SO glad to see it go...because in doing so, I'm saying that I'm so glad to see all the days thus far of my little Luke's life go too and I'm just so thankful for each and every second I know he lives, I can't help but willingly swallow the lumps of sorrow so that I can still taste all the sweet joys this year has brought.

I've had a lot of hard, hard realizations this year. Obviously, realizing that the rest of my life will be lived without watching my first-born grow continues to happen. I think it will until I take my last breath.

I've also realized that when something so life-changing as losing one's child happens, there really are no rules or expectations that anyone can have--me of others and certainly not others of me.

Although both expectations of me and my expectations of others of course occur. They just really aren't fair on anyone's end.

I've realized another miracle--a full-term pregnancy of another amazing and precious little boy. I never honestly believed I'd have ONE of those, much less two.

I've realized that sometimes when we beg God for His comfort and assurances--they don't always automatically appear. Sure, sometimes they do...but often, it takes a little bit of time and perspective to be able to look back and see where He was at work. I think that's where the 'time heals' adage comes in...time doesn't heal, it just gives you the ability to see the other things that DO help heal.

I've realized a lot of things...but I think the one that's hit me the hardest in the last few days, really, is that I was never meant to be able to have both Matthew and Luke on this earth.

I know this will throw some into a whirlwind of thoughts about containing God and telling me how I can't possibly know or believe that...if those thoughts must become words, feel free...I'm just putting it out there. There are lots of women who have lost children and are subsequently pregnant, and bless their hearts, I often read about how they wish that they could have BOTH/ALL their children...the one(s) lost and the new little baby after the loss.

I sometimes find myself thinking that and then realize...it was simply not meant to be. I could never have Matthew and Luke on this earth. I walk by brothers--who I picture to be Matthew and Luke in another world--and think, "That should be me. I should have that."

But I shouldn't. I couldn't. Luke would not be if Matthew lived.

There's no use in even trying to convince me of otherwise--if Matthew had lived, we would NOT have done another round of IVF.

Yes, if Matthew had lived, we would not have 'prevented' any subsequent pregnancies, but honestly, after all the years of trying and all we had to go through just to get Matthew, seriously? Doubtful it would have *just* happened all of a sudden.

And if...IF it did...miraculously...it STILL wouldn't have been Luke. When we did our second IVF cycle, we did ICSI. Which means that the sperm used to fertilize one of my 16 eggs was HAND-CHOSEN. Not a random swimmer to an awaiting, freshly dropped egg. A PURPOSEFULLY picked little sperm PURPOSEFULLY joined with one of the 'hostile' eggs that made it to that point.

It was Luke. He was purposed. And since I firmly believe it was the hand of God that stood behind each and every choice and decision that went into the creation of Luke, it is also my firm belief that Matthew couldn't have lived and still those choices and decisions and purposes exist.

Again, I know this will rattle some. Trust me, it rattles me. It makes my heart hurt. It makes me wonder all sorts of things. It makes John suck his breath in just a bit and ponder how to respond to it (Matthew's and Luke's souls could have existed in any bodies is about as close to something I can wrap my arms around as he can get).

I just don't see any other way. To rationalize that God can do anything and if He wanted me to get pregnant, naturally, with Luke and all his specific DNA, on April 29, 2010 takes away some of the miracle I get in my belief that He blessed us tremendously with the successful IVF cycle.

To rationalize that we were meant to receive the blessing of a successful cycle and the healing properties that were given to us in that means that I have to accept that blessing as a result of Matthew not being alive.

I'd say it was a no-win...but I just can't do that either because regardless....I am the mother of two precious boys. One who waits for me in Heaven and one who is kicking me right now and I pray I meet and hold in just a few days. Two sweet little boys who without a doubt were meant to be. Given to me to love and cherish and mother, even though each child presents (and will continue to present!) unique situations in which I'll do so.

This year was truly the most difficult year of my entire life...and yet, I can't imagine how much more difficult it would have been without the joy and hope that has come with Luke. I told John that I felt like so much of Matthew's 'personality' was similar to mine...and there are some days I just miss that connection that I feel like he and I had. Luke, I feel, is very much his daddy's boy! He lives for food, likes to live the good life, and seems to even have a bit of fun poking at mommy! Matthew seemed very rule-oriented. Luke, not so much! I'm just grateful that I have had the joy of learning about and bonding with another little boy--a very different but just as precious little boy...and in a year that truly has brought me more heartache than imaginable, it has also given me renewed hope and restored happiness.

What do you say about a year like that? Wish it good riddance for the sorrow or wish for another year in which you can have more of that exhilaration and joy?

I don't know the answer, so I won't bother trying. I do know that we are looking forward to 2011 being one filled with a happiness and contentment that only God can provide, while we continue to figure out how to enjoy those blessings while we still ache for our Matthew.

Wishing for and praying for a gentle and joyous year for all.
xoxoxo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Slight Change Of Plans....

So....the contractions definitely kept coming!

The 'real' ones...the ones that really hurt, are pretty frequent, and make my entire stomach tighten up like it's a rock-hard medicine ball.

Until I went to bed. Then they settled down some, didn't keep me up (in fact, only remember one through the night!) and were ok this morning...until we got to our appointment and I told Dr. Sweeney about them. At first, he seemed like he wasn't worried and then I told him how many I'd been having and he looked a bit more concerned. When I told him I had a few that I was glad I had bones in my fingers (the better to bite down on when one of the contractions HURT!), he immediately said, "Let's get you hooked up and see what's going on."

So...off to another NST we went. Oh, and after that, a cervix check. UGGGGGHH....

I was SO glad that one of the 'perks' of this whole scheduled, early c-section was NO need for those checks. Have I mentioned how much they hurt?

No?

Well, THEY HURT.

Anyway...at first the contractions were about 8 minutes apart. Then 6. Then 3. Time to check that cervix out! I should say that they didn't hurt much more than they'd been hurting yesterday, but I do remember from Matthew some of the nurses being pretty impressed that I wasn't as uncomfortable as I should have been based on the strength and length of some of my contractions...even before medicine! I think I just have a little better tolerance than I give myself credit for sometimes. The nurse who did the exam was SO gentle...all things considered. I was about 1 cm., and 50% effaced. With Matthew, I was 1 cm. for weeks, though I never got past 50% effaced, even with 24+ hours of induced labor! We asked Dr. Sweeney what we should do--he said he'd admit me, but that Luke was doing fine, and he really felt like I just needed to REALLY take it easy--nay, bed rest--and call if anything changed. We asked if we should stay in Annapolis to be closer and he looked conflicted. He asked where we'd stay/what we'd do and when I said, "We'll just stay in a hotel...no big deal!" he looked relieved and said that wasn't a bad idea!

Not to mention John didn't sleep a wink last night. He feels too far away as well. I've been in bed all afternoon, rotating sides. It helps, though the frequency is consistent, the pain isn't really and that's what they said was more important. We'll head into Annapolis no later than Saturday and hang out until Tuesday for the big birthday party. I think that will make all parties involved rest a bit easier.

Luke has been going bonkers still....definitely enjoying his last few days of stay and throwing quite the party! I can't even explain how grateful I am for every single movement. I wake up in the middle of the night and tell myself, "He's probably sleeping; it's not a big deal that he isn't moving right now," and then I'll feel a little wiggle or roll and nearly cry...I do a LOT of thanking God for those little movements through the night...and I have to say I never, ever, EVER even thought about them with Matthew. He moved SO much during the day, I just assumed he HAD to get some rest at night. He was such a good sleeper...and was pretty kind to me as well.

Not that Luke is not...but I admit, I would rather be woken up with movements. Much more reassuring to me since I am aware of all too much since Matthew died.

Still looking at Tuesday...don't think he's going to be earlier, but it's better to be close by just to be safe.

Quite the busy day!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

37 Weeks, Braxton Hicks and Nursery Pictures!

Luke is scheduled to make his debut in 5 days, 19 hours, 12 minutes and 32 seconds.

Give or take, of course.

He is definitely flexing his muscle and getting ready! At our ultrasound on Monday, he fulfilled all the things needed for his biophysical profile in about 3 minutes. He was moving all over, breathing, strong...just having a grand old time in there. I told Dr. Sweeney that if he decided we may need to go earlier than Tuesday we'd be ok with that because Luke is STRONG! Not to mention, my latest worry is something rupturing at my scar site because it HURTS. He is really, really, REALLY down there and I'm just worried that all his moving and shaking down there could rupture the scar and then...well, I wouldn't be me if I didn't worry about something. Dr. Sweeney said it looked pretty good--but wants us to come in again tomorrow and be sure all is still well. He remeasured Luke again and feels that he's dead average at about 6 and a half pounds, or so...which is funny because that's what Matthew was AT BIRTH and if I went as long as I did with Matthew, I could have a 9 pounder! Whew!

Tomorrow will be the last ultrasound ("Until the next one," he says--ha ha!) and then, unless there's reason to go earlier, Tuesday we'll go in around 10 and hopefully deliver around 1:00 pm. Hard to believe.

I had my last OB appointment today. Luke was bouncing all over for the NST and John came along. Let me just say there is nothing funnier than watching your VERY micro-managing husband DYING to push the little 'movement' clicker when HE sees (or thinks he sees) movement but cringing when I don't because I didn't 'feel' the movement. Seriously, he was telling me, "Push it! He moved!"

Maybe he did, but I didn't feel it, and since I get to be the boss of that test, I have to say that I sort of took a little bit of glory in being the one with the clicker!!! John sat in that chair, though, clicking air as if it made a difference. He's so funny!

When Dr. Shonekan came in, she said, "Oh...some contractions, huh?" Umm...yep. I'd had them all morning, but not anything really patterned or predictable or too intense, so I wasn't too worried. I had about 8 or so (one a REALLY strong one!) in about 23 minutes or so, but they weren't really long and there was no rhyme or reason to them, so we aren't worried. I've continued to have them all day, and though I still feel like there's nothing more to them but they are Braxton Hicks, I'm keeping track of how long they last and sort of how frequently they come. We see Dr. Sweeney first thing in the morning, so we'll see what he says...still planning on Tuesday, though! I've gained 27 total pounds and think that's probably where I'll end up with overall pregnancy weight. Not too bad. Last night, John and I were looking at me at 27 weeks with Matthew and now...big, big, big difference. At this point with Matthew, I had gained over 42 pounds...mostly fluid. I've hardly had any swelling with Luke, which is one of the reasons I feel his movements even more and the BH feel stronger--Dr. Shonekan says I don't have my shock absorber!! I told her I didn't think I'd ever make it to 40 with Luke and she laughed and said she had no doubt I would have...my boys are obviously very happy in Hotel Mommy and like to stake their claims. That made me smile. Of course, with how much he was moving around this morning, John said he was having one last hurrah and throwing a party to trash Hotel Mommy. No security deposit coming back, we guess.

I have finally gotten around to taking pictures of Luke's room. I got the awesome painting Stephanie did the other day and John hung it last night. I also am including a picture of the quilt that was the inspiration for his room theme--I love that it's all unique and just for Luke. Hope he will love it too!









Monday, December 27, 2010

Guilt, Guilt, Guilt...

Some days, one feels like she just can't win.

Try and be happy and positive and excited for renewed hope and feel the guilt of leaving the sorrow of your dead child behind.

Mute your excitement and joy and anticipation out of respect for your sweet first-born and feel guilty for robbing your second.

Have hurt feelings because it seems as if few remembered your son and his existence at Christmas and then feel guilty because you realize you didn't really do anything special for him either. What does one do for their dead child? There's guilt in not even knowing...because the answer is that one does what is best for each individual...and that differs. Not feeling a burning desire to do 'X' or 'Y' leaves one feeling guilty.

Even airing feelings opens the guilt trap...guilt about coming across as complaining. Guilt about getting upset at something someone might say with the best of intentions and yet, makes you so aggravated you stew about it for days. Guilt about even having some of the feelings you are feeling guilty about because for Pete's sake--at least you have the joy of another child to love and to raise (you pray) and you know so many people who are struggling for that same joy to enter their lives.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

John and I have been talking a lot about where we are now and where we were a year ago. In the same breath that he notes, "We've come a long way," he also follows with, "But I wish people knew we aren't ever going to be the same and have a long way to go." I couldn't agree more. We HAVE come a long way. But in that coming along...it's easy for people to take that 'progress' as acceptance and being ready to 'close' the Matthew chapter as we open the 'Luke' chapter.

Nothing could be further from the truth. To us, our 'progress' is just a teeny, tiny leg of the loooooong road to when we all get to Heaven.

We anticipate that'll be a while.

The purpose of continuing to write on this blog after Matthew died was to continue to share my heart with a child or children who might read it. To continue our family's story. Obviously, as others read it (and Luke is more into Tumble Bumble or Who Hoots? read by Daddy!) there are days I do find myself writing for those who may read. It's those days I worry about writing something that someone is going to take the wrong way because it is inevitable that it happens.

So...knowing that...I preface the next words with the disclaimer that I do not in any way, shape or form claim that our thoughts and feelings are rational, only that they are ours. They are not directed at anyone, and trust me when I say they are laced in guilt for even thinking them, much less writing about them.

But John said Luke might want to know one day and since he NEVER voices opinions like that, I figured I would at least write our thoughts down.

I cannot explain how nice it was to have our Pensacola friends come to visit and to be able to talk about things that many sidestep because they don't want to hurt my feelings. I TOTALLY get and appreciate that people don't want to hurt my feelings, but it's nice to be asked questions about my feelings and be able to share them without worrying about being judged for them. It's so nice to be told, "I wouldn't hurt you for anything, so if I ask you anything or talk about anything that hurts you, please tell me." This allows me to share that I am comfortable talking about Matthew and what happened with him, and more, grateful for the opportunity to do so. It's nice to be asked, "Did this help you or does it not?" or "Would you prefer people to do this or for people to do that?" and to be able to answer honestly. I always make sure it is known that my feelings and thoughts are just mine...and might be very different for another person who has experienced what we have...but just being asked is so liberating.

That liberty is really such a needed balance to the guilt we sometimes feel about our reactions to very benign and kind things people say. John and I both agree that though we appreciate and understand the enthusiasm with which so many statements are spoken, they sometimes sting a little. Statements like, "Just wait...you won't have time for: (fill in the blank with appropriate leisure activity)." or "You'll see...parenthood is completely different than the books tell you," or "As a boy mom/dad, I can tell you: (again, fill in the blank with appropriate piece of boy advice)." or even (and this we feel REALLY guilty about because we KNOW people are just being nice), "So are you ready for Luke? Do you need anything for him?"

I think that one sometimes hurts us because it's as if people forget we were ready for Matthew. Technically, we've been 'ready' for Luke since Matthew died. We did not go to the hospital planning to bring Matthew home and then get ready for him. His room was done, his clothes and diapers were bought, his stocking was hung by the chimney with care. For Luke, we've changed many things, but mos have been 'inherited' from Matthew.

I know that's not what people mean, but rational or not, as I said, it sort of feels that way.

We've been waiting for our leisure activities to be dramatically reduced (or eliminated!) for years. We've been waiting to see all the antics that a little boy will bring into our home for years. Some of the things people share with us are things that we have dreamed of and planned for for years.

I know. Irrational. Regardless...on our hearts. I think at the core, it's because all of those thoughts and sentiments are ones you normally give (and I am sure I have!) to new parents--and we certainly do not feel like new parents.

Different, but not new. Our parenthood advice obviously can't with any experience base be shared to help soothe colic or suggest a better sling, but we absolutely have parenthood experience under our belts.

Parenting a baby or child who no longer lives presents an entirely different set of challenges, trust me.

And a lot of guilt.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

While I am glad that I have the posts I've written in the last few years to look back on and think about how things have been, I find it's very hard to reread many of them. Like can't do it without crying, crying, crying and more crying.

So I don't. Mostly.

I took the plunge and read a few from this time last year. Hard, hard, hard. On Christmas Eve last year, I was less than a month out from Matthew dying. I remember finding it hard to write, much less contemplate what was going to fit me so I could go to church. I remember coming downstairs and the whole family being pretty impressed with how I cleaned up, after basically spending 3 weeks straight in sweats and looking like a truck had run me over. I was grateful that Christmas Eve services are SO packed that there is really no opportunity for people you know to do much other than smile or wave at you from a pew a little bit away. I was not in the mood for people to hug on me or tell me how they were praying for us or thinking about us. I was grateful for those sentiments, but really was just trying to make it through without crying since we had my nephews and niece with us. I remember my niece singing her little heart out with every song and at the end of the service, belting out "That was GREAT!"

I remember taking cookies to our Labor & Delivery and practically running out of there once they were delivered because I could barely breathe.

I used the post I had used a few days before Matthew was born that detailed things I was grateful for and adding little commentary with my 'after Matthew' insight. I think I'll do that again...only with my 'year after Matthew' insight added as well.

Dear Lord, I am most thankful for:
Your grace, mercy, faithfulness and salvation
2009**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.**
2010**Again, I am so, so grateful for the promise of being with my sweet boy again one day. God's mercy has been abundant this year and I am so thankful."

My husband--he's brilliant, hard-working, an incredible father and provider
2009**Not only is he an amazing husband, I have had the privilege and honor of seeing him also be an incredible and devoted father.**
2010**Still so blessed.**

My precious, miraculous and stubborn little boy....I cannot wait to meet you
2009**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.**
2010**My precious and miraculous little BOYS. Days from Luke, I just cannot wrap my arms around how blessed I am to be the mother of two precious little boys.**

My family--regardless of current relationship status, I know I am loved
2009**I have so many family members that I could not imagine this time of our lives without. I am truly blessed.**
2010**Still and continuing, we are so wrapped up with care and concern.**

My friends--I am overwhelmed with people who care for me, worry about me and shower me with their attention and well-wishes
2009**This has never been more shown to me--I have never seen God more in action--than I have in the last month.**
2010**Oh my word....I can't describe the overwhelming feelings of gratitude I've had for the amazing and healing thoughts, prayers and actions of so many I am able to call friends! Whether 'in real life' or through the computer...the kindness and generosity and heartfelt compassion of friends has been such a blessing!**

My sweet Dixie Belle--though she is a PISTOL, she is a pistol full of snuggles and devotion
2009**I get such joy out of watching her in the snow...and we've had tons of it!**
2010**I guess I should add Sammy to the list! While he came at a time that I absolutely would NOT have chosen, he is a sweet, sweet boy who makes us laugh. There is no doubt that he and Luke will have lots of fun together!**

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
2009**Again, we are so blessed to be Americans.**
2010**Never truer.**

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...
2009**Bless their hearts...the little ones who have wrapped their arms around us have been so special to me.**
2010**It's no wonder Jesus loved the little children so specially as He did. They are just precious.**

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
2009**I cannot express how much I admire the bravery and the courage these people show.**
2010**I am still so often amazed when I see something on tv or read about something that just inspires me. Grateful for so many who sacrifice.**

Loved ones that I have lost...though I miss them terribly, I'm thankful for their part in my life
2009**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.**
2010**I think I was trying to say the right thing when I wrote that--the first part was written a few days before Matthew was born, and the 2009 part after he died. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'd still rather have him here with me. His role in our family is still precious, but I'd rather him be here with me and for me to be thankful for him as I tucked him into bed.**

Wishing a peaceful and gentle Christmas and praying for all to feel the warmth and grace from a Savior who was born to save the world.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chubby Cheeks and 36 Weeks!

Well....whew.

Just needed a breath!

It's been a busy week and I am so grateful! My sweet Pensacola Girls came in starting last Wednesday (missed you, Tina!) and as I suspected they would, the days just FLEW by! It was nothing to find it was 2 am and we were STILL jibber-jabbering, even with our eyes half closed! We made the last airport shuttle run last night, and the house is quiet in kind of a sad way...more for the dogs because they LOVED having some sweet little girls visit with them and treat them like they were the best things since sliced bread!

Now I am looking at the bottom of my computer screen and see a 22 on the calendar pad.

December 22.

Where has this year gone? How is it only 3 days before Christmas? I've been listening to Christmas music in the car on our drives, and with each song I sing to, I am so aware of this time last year. How "I'll Be Home For Christmas," nearly killed me...literally. I couldn't breathe listening to it...thinking about how DESPERATE I was to be Home...with Matthew. How he was there and I was here. Or the words from "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,".... "From now on, our troubles will be out of sight..."

Yeah, a year ago, there was no way that I could be sure I'd be able to get out of the bed the next morning, much less shower, get dressed and eat. Remember to breathe. Go for more than a half an hour without crying....my 'troubles' being out of sight was laughable at best.

Insult to injury at that time of year was more believable.

But here I've been....for a week of driving all over...and singing those very same songs. With a different perspective, of course, but determined to let Luke's 'first' Christmas be one where he hears his mommy sing words that she has always, always loved. Some songs still make me tear up, and I've not been brave enough to go back to my words from these days a year ago. There is obviously no doubt that we've known unimaginable sorrow this year but we've also known unimaginable blessings. "J" wrote something that SO warmed my heart...there's no way that Luke could ever fill the hole in my heart left by Matthew, but he has opened up parts I never knew could exist...and surely didn't think would exist after losing Matthew.

I don't know of a word that could more aptly define that statement than simply, "True." We are just nearly ecstatic some moments when Luke does something funny to us--like go nuts over food and especially candy and sugary stuff (which Dr. Polko told me to watch these days, darnit!). When he yawns or swallows on the ultrasounds...when he kicks around so much they can't get the fetal monitor to stay and get his heartbeat appropriately. When he smiles...

We are so blessed with and grateful for this sweet little boy.

He is doing fabulously. I'm measuring big still, which just makes me laugh. He is now in the 75th%tile and I have told everyone (and a few doctors agree!) that I don't know that I'd have made it to 40 weeks on my own anyway--he is definitely lower, my hips are DEFINITELY aware of it, he's bigger...there's just no place on my tummy that you can feel where there is NOT Luke pushing as hard as he can to fill that space! He's weighing in at 6 lbs., 9 oz., which is more than Matthew was at birth. Even if this is an overmeasurement, with the standard measure of error, he's probably at least about 6 lbs. He has chubby, chubby cheeks!!!! He has obviously enjoyed the cuisine of Hotel Mommy! Dr. Polko and I discussed the options for if he should decide to come a bit earlier than even the 38 weeks we planned, and came to the consensus that we had several, but should not necessarily plan on being too far from St. Mary's at the least and Annapolis at best. I think we'll make it to 38, but maybe just barely.

I'm gaining more steadily, about 25-26 pounds now and some light/moderate swelling is beginning. I think a lot of it has been me being so busy lately, not to mention it's just that time of a pregnancy when it should start if it will. It's not too bad at all and I plan to spend the next 11 days and 14 hours until his birthday just sort of taking it easy.

Still scheduled for 1:00 on January 4. Did I mention that's just a little over 11 days?

Don't know if I will get a chance to write before Christmas...we are looking at a possible Nor'easter this weekend and that could put a crimp in our travel plans because John doesn't want to be too far from home for too long either, and that includes taking the chance of being snowed in. We'll see.

In any event, for any who read, and for all who comment and take the time to give me a sweet word of encouragement or email or amazing little gift in the mail for me or for Luke or for Matthew....I just can't say thank you enough. I mean that literally. I am so behind in thank-you notes and acknowledgements and it's mostly due to the fact that we are just SO ABUNDANTLY blessed with the generosity of such precious hearts.

How appropriate to remember the generosity of a precious heart at this time of year...specifically the heart that so loved the world that He gave His only Son...so one day I'll see my first-born again.

Grateful.


Definitely still Mommy's lips and chin...look at those cheeks!


I LOVE this little pout!!!!



Me at 36 weeks..starting to fill out a bit more....

Dixie can't understand why a camera is pulled out and she is not asked to pose....

Pensacola Girls (minus Tina!)

Here's what's going on with Luke this week:

Week Thirty Six: Baby may drop into the birth canal

You are 36 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 34 weeks)
  • The baby is about 19 inches (48 cm) long.
  • Weight is around 6 pounds (2.7 kg).
  • The baby's body is becoming chubby as fat layers build.
  • Between now and birth they may gain about an ounce (30g) a day
  • You may feel contractions of the womb, called Braxton Hicks contractions.
36 weeksWhile it says that your baby weighs six and a half pounds this week and measures 19 inches long, this is only an estimate. In general, babies are gaining half a pound (225 grams) per week now. Baby continues gaining weight as fat deposits and is forming creases in the neck and wrists.

You may feel contractions of the womb, called Braxton Hicks contractions, which can be used to perform and practice breathing exercises. You may be visiting your caregiver weekly up until the birth. Regular internal exams may begin, to see if your cervix has softened, thinned, dilated or if your baby's head is dropping into the pelvis. Any of these could be signs of impending labor but there are no guarantees and you could be waiting for weeks yet. Your baby is almost ready, a pair of kidneys and the liver has begun processing some waste products, the only organ still to mature is the lungs.

38 weeksThis week your baby may drop into the birth canal, this is called 'lightening' or 'dropping'. If this is not your first baby, this 'lightening' may not occur until right before labor. Your care provider may refer to it by saying that your baby is now 'engaged'. The majority of babies are now in the birth position, either head down (vertex) or butt down (breech), most will maintain this position until birth. Any movements that they make are more likely to be rolls from side to side.You may notice when this happens because it will suddenly become much easier for you to breathe. While breathing becomes easier, walking may be the exact opposite. If your baby has dropped you may find yourself visiting the bathroom much more often as baby is resting right on top of your bladder again.

Keep talking - by now he or she can recognize you voice, and may respond to any loud noises with a swift kick out.

The average twin birth occurs between 36 and 37 weeks and the babies weigh an average of 5 pounds apiece. A baby's average size is now 18.5 inches (47 cm) and 6 pounds (2700 g).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Conflict...

I've had these thoughts rummaging around in my head for a bit now...just not sure how to voice them, and still not so sure--they are very jumbled thoughts.

We are 18 days and some hours from Luke's birthday. I can't even describe the joy and excitement I am feeling in anticipation.

Or the fear.
Or the anxiety.
Or the conflict.

So many people have told me that they guessed this pregnancy has draaaaaaaaaaaagggged for me, but for them, it's flown by.

In reality, it's not dragged for me at all. Well, in the last week and a half it has, but mostly, it's flown.

It's flown because I just cannot fathom how over a year has come between me and Matthew. I told Dr. Polko the other day that it might have dragged if it was a regular pregnancy where I wasn't worried about too much other than the 'normal' stuff...but trying to survive each day and then realizing how quickly those survived days have accumulated into more than a year just overwhelms me and sort of reminds me of the first days when I was just reminding myself to breathe.

I still have to do that sometimes.

Days like today remind me of then...cold and snowy...wondering how I'd make it through the next half hour without breaking down in tears and trying to haphazardly get things 'ready' for Christmas. Like then, I don't feel up to Christmas cards or letters this year. Pretty sure everyone on my list has a decent idea of how our year has been, and we just have so much going on right now that I'm pulling the pregnancy card and combining it with the grieving card and just not doing much more than the bare minimum of things needing to be done.

It's so hard to come to the realization that you've already had the best day you will ever have. By the time you were 36. I am sure some will find that a dramatic statement, and maybe feel that once again, I'm not giving enough credit to Luke and the joy he will bring because I am too saddened by the aching in my heart for my sweet Matthew.

Let them. I don't care. Walk in my shoes and then judge me.

Regardless of how dramatic the statement, it's true. I will have, God willing, many, many more wonderful and amazing days. I have had wonderful and amazing and miraculous days since Matthew died.

But the best one...the one where I don't know what it's like to own the 'rights' to a piece of property that contains my baby son's remains...that's already happened.

So, while I have just been extremely thankful for so much lately...I'm still struggling with the reconciliation of what's been lost and will never be again.

And I've started to get really, really aggravated with people who think another baby 'fixes' things. Is it just me, or does anyone ever pay attention to hearing about a woman who has lost a baby and then someone asking "Well, are they going to try again?"

Like that will fix it? Or, "She lost a baby a few months ago, but they plan to try again."

To me, 'trying again' implies failing at something and planning to be successful at it by attempting the same thing.

Like I got pregnant, but he died. Try again.
Like Matthew was born, but he died. Try again.

Like Matthew dying can be fixed with Luke living.

I just feel like whenever anyone is talking about a woman who has lost a baby, the subject of having another child ALWAYS comes up. I'm not sure why, because if a different family member or even friend were to pass, it would SO NOT BE APPROPRIATE to say, "Well, is he going to go get another wife?" "Are they going to try and find a new grandma?" "Well, when's she going to start looking for a new best friend?"

PEOPLE ARE NOT REPLACEABLE.

Of course LOTS of women who lose babies decide to get pregnant again and have another child. NOT TO REPLACE THE ONE THEY LOST.

Because pregnancy is amazing. Because one MISSES feeling the joy of little kicks and little jabs. Because it's just a miraculous process.

Or, because one wants to be a parent to a LIVING child. Don't doubt she isn't a parent. She just wants to parent a living child or children too.

The automaticity of questioning, "Are they going to try again?" after losing a child just bothers me. When the baby LIVES, no one immediately asks, "Are they going to have another?"

So why is it ok when the baby dies? I just don't think it is.

While there is NO doubt that Luke has brought such a tremendous amount of joy into our lives, it has in no way lessened the heartache or the loss I feel with Matthew being gone.

Those feelings, while diametrically opposed, absolutely can coexist. I'm proof, and I know a lot of other people are too.

As I said, very conflicting.

I read something a few days ago that was just so real to me. Mostly because I have really been dealing with the hard facts that come with Luke's sweet little life...while I will ALWAYS be able to say without a doubt that his life is PURPOSED and would not be in existence without the hand of God, that's something also that is difficult for me to reconcile.

We would NOT have done IVF if Matthew had lived.
We'd have transferred our little Yellow Fish and that would have been that, whichever way it turned out. And that little Yellow was not Luke and never would have been.

Those are just the facts.

So reading what I did was comforting. It was a viewpoint on Paul when he wrote that he was, "confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phillipians 1:6

The viewpoint was that the good work continued until the day of Christ.
Not until death.

In fact, this viewpoint argued, sometimes the purposes of God don't even get started until our deaths.

Which made me wonder about what more purpose Matthew's little life has...not IF there is more, but WHAT.

There's more. I feel it. I know it. I'm thankful for it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scare Tactics At 35 Weeks...

I think anyone who knows me *in real life* pretty much knows I'm an overachieving type of gal. Whereas John is the "Why spend a weekend studying for a 99 when I can spend an hour or two and get a 90?" type--I'm cut from more of the, "Ummm...because you CAN...and SHOULD!" cloth.

Now, in fairness...in the nearly 18 years John and I have been together, I have come to at least appreciate his philosophy (especially when it means spending more time with me and less time doing something that may not mean a lot in the bigger scheme of things).

But I still like to go above and beyond as a general rule. And I like for my children to do so as well.

I was always so glad that Matthew not only passed his tests, but did really well! Breathing? Oh yeah. Amniotic fluid, even with only one kidney? Yep. Movement? Seriously!!! Tone? Super. I think part of my worry about him going down in growth percentiles as he did was maybe even my subconscious worrying about him not being at the top of everything he could be.

Luke has been a good boy for his mommy--passing everything with flying colors and even exceeding in big ways lots of little things that his brother didn't really seem too worried about. I worried Luke wouldn't move as much as Matthew because I'd freak out wondering if everything was ok and though Luke still doesn't move as much, he moves a TON and is a bit more predictable in his moving, so that's a nice little trade-off for me.

I've had ultrasounds every other week since Luke was 6 weeks. I started weekly ultrasounds at 30 weeks. Normally, he is all over the place and I worry they won't be able to get the things they need because he's so active. Yesterday's ultrasound took a good bit longer...the baby was sleeping, apparently, and since she was doing a biophysical profile, she wanted to see him moving and breathing and such. So, it took a bit. He still got an 8/8, but when Dr. Sweeney came in, I told him about how the monitor went off last week at Dr. Polko's and someone I didn't know came in and was asking all sorts of questions and such...then when I saw Dr. Polko, she asked, "So when's the next time you see Sweeney?"--a question she has NEVER asked. I had answered that it was just a few days later, and asked her if I needed to see him sooner and she told me, "No...just curious."

I found it odd, but she said all was fine and I trust my doctors. There is such reassurance in being able to believe them.

In telling Dr. Sweeney, though, he asked if it would make me feel a bit better if he put me on their NST monitor there. In reality, these non-stress tests are SOOO stressful to me, but seeing as HE'S never offered that either, I figured he wouldn't if there wasn't a purpose. Of course, he told me not to read too much into it, and it was just to reassure me, but still.

Well...the strip had a ton of accelerations, and no decelerations, but one of the points of the test is looking for at least 2 accelerations that last for at least 15 seconds or more in a 20 minute time period.

No such luck. His heart rate was pretty low the whole time, about 115-120, which is still very normal and expected this far in the game, but one of the nurses came in and said, "Wow, your baby likes to hang low."

No, he doesn't really.

They kept me on the monitor for 40 minutes, since he failed one part in the first 20, and still didn't have the accelerations she wanted by the end. She was very nice, though, and told me that it was not a big deal at all because the tracing was beautiful and he'd done fabulously on the biophysical profile.

I'd still have liked him to pass ALL the things with flying colors.

Dr. Sweeney said that non-reactive but reassuring NSTs happen all the time and the ultrasound findings and movements they saw were great information and more accurate of his well-being.

To quote one of my favorite movies about the word 'reassuring,' "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

I had two lollipops and a big glass of cold water and he still wouldn't keep his heart rate up higher. John just said that's because he's like his test pilot daddy--calm and cool.

Hmm. Anway....

We did another ultrasound after, though, and he was moving and more wiggly and Dr. Sweeney said he looked great.

Again, I have NO doubt that if he was the teeniest bit worried, he'd have me in labor and delivery before I could blink...so, though I'd prefer Luke to not scare mommy as much, no one else seemed worried (John included) so I won't either.

But I'm dying to see how he does at his NST this morning! It was scheduled for later in the week, but my Pensacola Girls are coming in starting tomorrow and I switched it!!!! For a while I thought it might be silly to have an ultrasound on Monday afternoon and an NST on Tuesday morning, but now, not so much....

The surgery is still scheduled for the 4th, but has been moved to 1 pm. That's just fine with me.

Again, hard to believe.

No weight gain this week either...still hovering between 20-22 pounds total...I think the doctors are just now starting to hope I put a bit more on, but Luke still seems to be growing just fine, so I'm not too worried. In truth, this is how I figured my pregnancy with Matthew would have gone--I have NEVER been able to really put any weight on, and was shocked with 50 pounds with Matthew. Not upset, just surprised. This is more of how my body usually is with weight gain, even in light of many increased calories.

Didn't think we'd get any more great pictures, but Dr. Sweeney was on a mission yesterday--looking to reassure me--and he got a sweet, sweet little smile. Can't wait to hold that boy and see that smile face to face!

UPDATE: So, he TOTALLY kicked booty this morning at his appointment. Granted, I gulped the cold water and popped bubble gum like it was going out of style, but he was ALL over the place...and his heartrate was great. It was in the 130s, like normally...and not like the 110-115 of yesterday. I was 'done' with that test in like 6 minutes. And he's been moving like gangbusters all day, even though I've been all over the place running errands. Think my boy is like his mama...a morning person who pretty much feels like crashing around 2:30-3:00!! Also found out that I am STILL measuring 'big'--about two weeks ahead. I didn't realize this has been the trend for most of the pregnancy because I'm always so focused on Luke's stats, but essentially, I'm measuring about two weeks ahead and have been for a while. Which makes me feel even way better about going early at 38 weeks. Might even be a good thing that I've been getting our bags for the hospital together. He might just decide to surprise us on his own at 37 weeks or so...then again, thanks to my friend Nia, I have to say I wouldn't be that surprised after all!


Rare profile where Luke doesn't have his hands by his face!

I'm NOT looking to cooperate, thanks!


Oh, alright...since mommy's having such a rough afternoon...I'll smile!


Here's what's going on with Luke this week:

Week Thirty Five: Reflexes are coordinated

You are 35 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 33 weeks)
  • Your baby is now about 18.5 inches in length and weighs over 5.5 pounds.
  • Baby is about 47cm crown to heel and weighs almost 2.7 Kg.
  • The body of your baby is growing round due to developing fat layers.
  • Your baby's reflexes are coordinated.
  • Lungs are almost fully developed.
  • About 90% of babies born this week survive.
35 weeksMost babies gain about half pound per week in the last month of pregnancy. Fat stores accumulate in the legs and arms. These layers of fat will help them regulate their body temperature. Baby still doesn't have enough fat deposits beneath its skin to keep warm outside your womb. If born now the baby would probably be put in an incubator, about 90% of babies born this week survive.

Lungs are almost fully developed. Your baby's reflexes are coordinated, they turn their head, grasp firmly, and respond to sounds, light and touch. You should still feel movement every day. He or she is about 5 and a half pounds and growing fast, it is getting short of space in the womb.

Your uterus has become more cramped, your baby's kicks and other movements less forceful. You may want to check on your baby's movements from time to time and do a kick count.

Baby may push up against your ribs and make you a little breathless. Soon your baby's position changes to prepare itself for labor and delivery. The baby drops down in your pelvis and you will be able to breathe easily again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Be A Blessing...

It's that time of year, right? Everyone is happy and jolly...says, "Sure...I'll donate a dollar to whatever charity the store of your choice is touting," and feels good about doing so. We can dig a bit deeper into our pocket and not cringe when we see that red Salvation Army bucket because it IS Christmas, after all, and if you are ever going to give a few bucks, now is the time, isn't it? We see the Toys For Tots (SUPER WORTHY, by the way, and I'm not biased at all by being a Marine spouse!) boxes overflowing with the kindness and generosity of people who just can't imagine little ones not having something to squeal with glee over at Christmas.

So the bigger question is whether we can be that kind and generous with children across the world? Children who squeal with glee over FOOD. Food, people. Children who regularly frequent dumps for nutrition and clothing and shelter and children who languish in orphanages because they are stuck in such political tugs of war that they can't even be adopted, though they have so many people who would love nothing more than to give them forever homes.

It's no secret that Kyrgyzstan is close to our hearts...and has been for several years now. When I hear the song, "Love Them Like Jesus" (which I really can't listen to, if I am honest, because it still makes me break out in tears), I think of all the people we have been blessed with this year...all the people who have held our hands and cried with us and shared our heartache and joy and every emotion that we didn't imagine could even exist.

"The gifts lie in wait, in a room painted blue
Little blessing from Heaven would be there soon
Hope fades in the night, blue skies turn to grey
As the little one slips away

You’re holding their hand, you’re straining for words
You’re trying to make sense of it all
They’re desperate for hope, darkness clouding their view
They’re looking to you

Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side
Love them like Jesus"


I ask of you to love these little boys and girls in Kyrgyzstan. So many always ask what they can do...how they can help us or if we need anything. We are so abundantly blessed. The reality is that there really isn't much that we need. Or that can be done that eases the heartache of missing our Matthew.

But there are those who DO need. I may not be able to give my Matthew the Christmas I dreamed of giving, but I can help give those sweet children the gift of hope and knowing they are precious.

And so can you. Seriously...$5 makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE to a child.


This link will take you to John's site where you can donate. I didn't realize there were only 4 days left!!! If I am honest, I thought the challenge was that if the goal was raised, the person WOULDN'T get a pie in the face, and if I am REALLY honest, if the goal is achieved, I *may* play the pregnancy card and beg for a pardon this year! When you click on the US Donate button, it will go to Paypal and allow you to denote in the messages "I'd like to throw a pie at: " and you would enter my name. But honestly, I don't really care for the credit or not...I care about whether or not they meet the challenge...and those little boys and girls are fed and clothed and for even just one day, KNOW they are loved like Jesus loves them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Somebody Has A Birthday Planned!

January 4, 2011.

That date is tentatively scheduled to be Luke's birthday.

Surreal.

Yesterday's appointment was fabulous. We brought Snickerdoodles and chocolate covered pretzels (it's that time of year!) and I think they were a big hit. I asked John on Saturday what he thought we should bring and he said, "I think Dr. Sweeney would appreciate some Snickerdoodles."

I should mention that John's favorite cookie is a Snickerdoodle, but he assures me there was no ulterior motive.

Sure.

Anyway, Luke was doing fabulously. He was moving around tons and tons...which is certainly not new! He was also VERY head down (no surprise to me, my hips or my bladder!) and facing my back, so there were not any good facial pictures. Sounds like he's all set for delivery, doesn't it? Well...in about 27 days, he'll have his time! Dr. Sweeney said that Dr. Morris (the doctor who is going to do the surgery, and the head of Labor and Delivery at AAMC) was on vacation my 38th week. Of course he is...that's the way things go for me.

Usually.

Dr. Sweeney then said that even though he was on vacation that week, Dr. Morris said he'd come in any day we'd like to deliver. Seriously? The man is on vacation the week after New Year's and he's coming in to deliver for a woman he barely knows. Well, I guess it's more for Dr. Sweeney, which should say spades about what a rock star Dr. Sweeney is! In any event, we've been having our ultrasounds on Mondays, and I'll be 38 weeks on the 3rd of January. The plan is to go in on the 3rd in the afternoon for our ultrasound, stay the night in Annapolis (and pray that the Hokies win the Orange Bowl!!) and then head in for surgery at 7:30 the next morning.

So that Tuesday will be his birthday.

I am still having a hard time believing we will be bringing him home. We only had a few things left that I wanted to pick up for Luke but I wanted to wait until there were fewer than 30 days in case anything had to be returned. I know that sounds really sort of morbid on some level, but it's just the way I'm feeling. We bought the video monitor and I'll order the rest of his cloth diaper stash and other than that...that boy is SET!

He has lots of hair still...and was hard to measure because he was tucked and crossed and basically smooshed. Haley got about 5 pounds, but I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't a bit over that because he was only half a pound away from that two weeks ago. The best part was how huge his feet are! Haley said he was going to be born wearing a 9.5 shoe size! He obviously takes after his daddy and is like his big brother! I love that!

His kidney is still enlarged, but Dr. Sweeney is not too concerned. He said that he'll probably order an ultrasound there at the hospital after Luke is born to see if it is anything more than reflux. I'm not worried at all. Matthew only had one for most of my pregnancy, and then was found to have a pelvic kidney right before he was born. I have learned that one working and functional kidney is just fine, and for that I am grateful!

Still only gained about 20-21 pounds, but not sure how because I am hungry ALL. THE. TIME! This boy likes his food and my appetite has definitely picked up even more! John thinks it's hilarious! I have no swelling and no stretch marks, and every time Dr. Shonekan tells me, "Remember...you do pregnancy well," I have to say that I somewhat agree based on the way things are going.

If only I did bringing the baby home well...


Here are some pictures from this week:

33w6d...it's starting to get cold!!!!!

Hair and his little ear...

Check that foot out!!!!! Holy cow!!!!

Here's how Luke is developing this week:

Week Thirty Four: Rapid growth continues

You are 34 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 32 weeks)
  • Your baby now is approximately 18 inches long and weighs about 5.25 pounds.
  • Baby is now 46cm crown to heel and the weight is 2400 grams.
  • Your child has now an excellent chance of survival outside the womb.
  • Fat accumulations plumps up the arms and legs this week.
  • Eyes opened when awake and closed when sleeping.
  • The fingernails are now completely formed.
Even babies born earlier than this could survive outside the womb with hospital support although the risk of complications would be high. Your baby may have already turned to a head down position in preparation for birth. The skull bones are still pretty flexible and not completely joined to help to ease exit out of the narrow birth canal. Fat accumulations plumps up the arms and legs this week. The baby's skin is also becoming less wrinkled. Braxton Hicks contractions may be getting more numerous and stronger. Thanks to antibodies crossing the placenta the baby is developing immunities to mild infections.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's Not Any Easier....

I was so grateful that last Christmas, we had the blessing of shock, numbness and denial protecting us as we made it through the holiday season.

I have always always loved Christmas and have always loved it because of what it means. I love the purposed and happy hearts that Christmas time seems to bring out, but more, I love that Christmas came to be because of a precious little baby in a manger.

I really did consider the fact that Matthew had just passed a blessing in a way--and by that, I mean that we were already going through one of the 'firsts' (and a TOUGH one at that) that I knew was coming and we were just too overwhelmed with barely breathing to be noticing all the things that I do now.

I should be trying to keep him away from the ornaments on the tree. I should be buying little things for his stocking and presents under the tree for him. I should be bundling him up so that only his rosy cheeks are showing and going to visit Santa. I should be taking pictures with him in a sweet little holiday outfit and putting them on a Christmas card for everyone I know. I should be finishing up left-over birthday cake.

Things should be so, so much more different than they are now.

Which is not to say that I am not grateful for so many things that are the way they are now...just that it should be different, and a year passing doesn't make it any easier. This year, I am more acutely aware of what I don't have, and it's hard to keep that from overwhelming me as I focus on what I do.

I don't have that blanket of numb and dumb-founded to protect me this year.

Yesterday marked 52 weeks...exactly one year...since I had to leave the body of my sweet little boy in the ground at the cemetery. Ironically, the funeral home we used had a beautiful and sweet service for all those lost in the last year that we attended yesterday. They had a slideshow of all the people they arranged services for and I asked John, "What do you notice about this slideshow?"

He answered, "They are all old."

They weren't, of course...there were sadly about 4-5 teenagers/young adults....but of the many, many, MANY people on that slideshow...my Matthew was the youngest. The others had lived longer lives and their mommies had the chance to hold them and kiss their sweet little ears as they told them how special they were and how loved they were.

All my Matthew got from me was a touch on his cheek and his shoulder, and sobbing over his grave.

Today is the actual year date--December 5. Again, ironically, we sat in the same church pews and saw the same decorations that had been at Matthew's funeral...a year later. The church had been decorated for Christmas last year and honestly, it's very classic decoration that we didn't feel needed to be moved or rearranged for his funeral. I remember the fluffy, white netting material that was under Matthew's coffin. It was there again today, with a beautiful Christmas flower arrangement.

I didn't cry. Mostly, I wished that I had asked someone to take more pictures last year. At the time, I wasn't even thinking. I doubt making sure someone took pictures of my son's funeral was one of those must-dos I had on my list. I guess I also felt like it may have been a bit morbid. I mean, really...pictures at a funeral?

Of course. What else do I have?????? I sure as heck can't remember much. I can't remember who was there, but that a ton of people were. I can't remember what I ate, though I couldn't believe how many people were fed and taken care of. I can't remember much of what was said, though I have the audio cd available when I'm brave enough to listen. I can't remember much at all....and now, wish that there were pictures to help me remember. To give me more of him back. To remind me of things I never even knew...

Which is why I was so, so, so grateful when my sweet friend Terri showed me this picture she had on her computer. She thought it must have come from me, because from where else would it come?

But it didn't. I'd never seen it. A few weeks ago was the very first time I saw it and it makes me wonder what other pictures or things that happened are out there that I still don't know about...they are like little gifts every time something comes up. And that picture...taken a year ago today...is a little gift. A bittersweet gift, but gift nonetheless. It's the last memory I have of his little body, and though I know his body is just earthly and void of his spirit now--I have said it before and I'll never stop saying it.

I loved, loved, loved that little body. I prayed for that little body. I dreamed of every little inch of that precious body and couldn't miss that sweet skin more if it was my own. That body was priceless.

I thought I sort of dodged a bullet last year with the first month or so being just so overwhelmingly numb and that I could check "Hard 1st Christmas" off the box.

Who knew that "2nd Christmas" was going to be even more difficult?

Missing my sweet boy....and not believing it's been a year since I had to leave him there...


Friday, December 3, 2010

Luke is loved!

So...in trying to whittle my MUCH-TO-DO list down...I want to make sure that I write about the things I wanted to write about for Luke. Someone needs to tell me how to make that editing mark-through line when you type something in Blogger so I can go back and do that with my post of things I wanted to do.

I finally got some pictures from Luke's showers together...I meant to yesterday, but friends...yesterday was a hard day. My heart just hurt. It still does. In the last week or so, TWO mommies I 'know' who were in the middle of pregnancies after loss lost their precious babies. AGAIN. I came across an 18 year-old little girl who had just lost her 23 weaker 5 days ago. The OB appointment for me yesterday was just sad...two mommies learned their lives would never be the same. One whose due date was TODAY. NO REASON. My doctor was heartbroken. I was and have been heartbroken. I listened to SCC yesterday. There are many songs on his Beauty Will Rise CD that I have not been brave enough to listen to and I'm not sure why yesterday I bit the bullet and did so, but I did. Questions. His song Questions just resonated so much with me.

There's no escaping it. Whether it's through the computer or on the nightly news or in your OB's office for a relatively benign appointment...this world STINKS.SO.MUCH sometimes. I just couldn't bring myself to write about how loved we are and how blessed we are when my heart hurt so much for so many women.

And it still hurts, but right after Questions, I listened to I Will Trust You...and though I DO.NOT.GET.IT, I continue to trust. It's very hard on many days...but really, what else is there? What else is there if there is no hope in that trust?

On my darkest, darkest day, I still can't do anything but trust and believe in His Hope.

So anyway, YES....Luke is LOVED! Luke is proof that I don't understand, but am so grateful for the blessings regardless. I just cannot wait to meet him and hold him and hear him cry. I beg God nightly just to let me at least have those things...though I WANT so, so much more. I wrote about the surprise shower that my Bible Study ladies gave for me and another sweet friend due right before I am (though I think I'll beat her since I'll be scheduled!)...it was a total surprise and I cried and cried. Again, if you've never had a group of precious women lay their hands on you and just cover you in prayers of thanks for you and your children and your life...I'd HIGHLY suggest you find yourself a group of people who are willing to do so. It's amazing and powerful and we were just spoiled rotten that morning!!!!

Becky made this great cake!!!

Those gift baskets were OVERFLOWING!

Sweet, sweet, sweet women!!!

Lots of tears...joy and remembrance...
Luke's other shower was November 20. It was seriously a gorgeous, gorgeous day. The weather was amazing and I couldn't have ordered a prettier day. It was held at Mary's Hope on Church Cove and was a neat place. It was built in the late 1880s and was just such a pretty, pretty setting and perfect place to celebrate Luke. I loved people just mingling and visiting (and eating all the yummy stuff!) and we were blessed so abundantly with so many precious things for Luke.

And Matthew.

I can't even type that without just crying my eyes out. My Matthew. I miss him so much. I don't think anyone will ever have any idea of how touched my heart was with every word written and every thoughtful gift given as they celebrated Luke and remembered Matthew. Lord knows I know how hard it is to celebrate the life of one as you try to honor the memory of another and so, so, so many did it in such a precious way. Truly, truly, truly, the day was just perfect.

As perfect as it could be with one precious boy wiggling around in my stomach loving his cake...and one precious boy in Heaven waiting to show his mommy and daddy how perfect He is.

Mary's Hope on Church Cove...just beautiful!

Sweet little Grace Anne did this for Luke behind the house!

The turret that held the cake table with some of Luke's cruise pictures!

God Heard!

One of the food tables with the awesome cupcakes!

Some pics behind the house on the water...

Yes. We take every picture very seriously.

Shelby, me and Nanci...they did such a lovely, lovely job!

Luke's nursery quilt for the gift table...


Some sweet friends! Miss seeing them all the time!

Amy made this adorable aviator hat...and the pillow in my lap is one she made and part of Luke's nursery theme!

Amy also made this wall hanging for his room. I made the hat that's on the door knob!

Cannot WAIT to take all the hat pictures!!! Cousin Andi made our newest little Hokie this adorable hat!


How awesome is this porthole picture? Shelby's friend made it to match Luke's nursery theme!

John LOVED saying, "Look!! Bear Bottom! Bear Bottom!!" According to his driver's license, he IS a grown-up...but the jury's still out!