Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Novena for Lily Frances

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
― Thérèse de Lisieux

First, I just want to thank everyone, family and friends, even people we don't know, for all the prayers, meals, donations, babysitting and support for our family right now. We honestly could not have made it even this far without your support, especially your prayers.

Jason and I often feel we are just coasting off the grace. There is no other way to really describe it. I have no idea how anyone could get through this without a great support system. We are truly blessed.

We have decided to pray a Novena to St. Therese starting today (Saturday) for Lily. People keep asking what we need right now and honestly, what we need more than anything, is prayer. 

I have mentioned in previous posts that we are trying not to be too specific with our prayer requests, but as we get closer to meeting Lily, it's harder to not be specific.

If you would like to join us and pray the Novena with us, we ask that you keep two specific intentions in mind for us:

1. Our prayer all along has been for peace. We pray that God's peace would overwhelm us when Lily is born and that we will be at peace with God's will for her birth.

2. We pray for Joy. We are really trying to focus on the joy of her birth and not worry about anything after. As afraid as we are with the unknown, we cannot wait to meet our precious Lily.

Prayers to be said each day:
Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of divine love.
V. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O God, who have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be ever truly wise and rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love: O my God! I believe in Thee: strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee: do Thou secure them. I love Thee: teach me to love Thee daily more and more.

The Act of Contrition: O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance , and to amend my life. Amen.

Concluding Prayer Prayed Each Day:
O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.

Special Prayers for Each Day:
First Day

St. Thérèse, privileged Little Flower of Jesus and Mary, I approach you with childlike confidence and deep humility. I lay before you my desires, and beg that through your intercession they may be realized. Did you not promise to spend your heaven doing good upon earth? Grant me according to this promise the favors I am asking from you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but specially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Confidence in God. We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so powerful and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.
If you are nothing, do you forget that Jesus is everything? You have only to lose your nothingness in His Infinity and think only of loving Him.

Concluding Prayer

Second Day

O dear little Saint, now that you see the crucified Jesus in heaven, still bearing the wounds caused by sin, you know still more clearly than you did upon earth the value of souls, and the priceless worth of that Precious Blood which He shed to save them. As I am one of those children for whom Christ died, obtain for me all the graces I need in order to profit by that Precious Blood. Use your great power with our divine Lord and pray for me.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Sin. The only grace I ask, O Jesus, is never to offend Thee.
By love and not by fear, does a soul avoid committing the least fault.
Yes, even if I have on my conscience every possible crime, I should lose none of my confidence; my heart breaking with sorrow, I should go and throw myself into the arms of my Savior.
The remembrance of my faults humbles me and makes me afraid to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness.

Concluding Prayer

Third Day

Dear Little Flower, make all things lead me to heaven and God, Whether I look at the sun, the moon, the stars and the vast expanse in which they float, or whether I look at the flowers of the field, the trees of the forest, the beauties of the earth so full of color and so glorious, may they speak to me of the love and power of God; may they all sing His praises in my ear. Like you may I daily love Him more and more in return for His gifts. Teach me often to deny myself in my dealings with others, that I may offer to Jesus many little sacrifices.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: The Use of God’s Gifts. How much benefit have I received from the beauties of nature, bestowed in such abundance. How they raise me to Him who placed such wonders in this land of exile which is only to last a day.
O sparkling nature, if I did not see God in you, you would be naught but a great tomb.
With your little hand which caresses Mary, You sustain the universe and bestow life; and You think of me, O Jesus my little King.
I do not wish creatures to have one atom of my love. I wish to give all to Jesus, since He has shown me that He alone is perfect happiness.

Concluding Prayer

Fourth Day

Dear Little Flower of Carmel, bearing so patiently the disappointments and delays allowed by God, and preserving in the depths of your soul an unchanging peace because you sought only God’s will, ask for me complete conformity to that adorable Will in all the trials and disappointments of life. If the favors I am asking during this Novena are pleasing to God, obtain them for me. If not, it is true I shall feel the refusal keenly, but I too wish only God’s Will, and pray in the words you used, that I "may ever be perfectly fulfilled in me."

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Abandonment to God. I fear only one thing---to keep my own will; take it, my God, for I choose all that You choose.
The only happiness here below is to strive to be always content with what Jesus gives us.
I can demand nothing with fervor, except the perfect accomplishment of God’s will in my soul.
O my Beloved, I offer myself to You, that You may perfectly accomplish in me Your holy designs, and I will not allow anything created to be an obstacle in their path.

Concluding Prayer

Fifth Day

Little Flower of Jesus, from the very first moment of your religious life you thought only of denying yourself in all things so as to follow Jesus more perfectly; help me to bear patiently the trials of my daily life. Teach me to make use of the trials, the sufferings, the humiliations, that come my way, to learn to know myself better and to love God more.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the dayPatience in Sufferings. I do not fear trials sent by Jesus, for even in the most bitter suffering we can see that it is His loving hand which causes it.
When we are expecting nothing but suffering, we are quite surprised at the least joy; but then suffering itself becomes the greatest of joys when we seek it as a precious treasure.
Far from resembling those beautiful saints who practiced all sorts of austerities from childhood, my penance consisted in breaking my self-will, in keeping back a sharp reply, in doing little kindnesses to those about me, but considering these deeds as nothing.

Concluding Prayer

Sixth Day

St. Thérèse, Patroness of the Missions, be a great missionary throughout the world to the end of time. Remind our Master of His own words, "The harvest is great, but the laborers are few." Your zeal for souls was so great, obtain a like zeal for those now working for souls, and beg God to multiply their numbers, that the millions to whom Jesus is yet unknown may be brought to know, love and follow Him.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Zeal for souls. Let us work together for the salvation of souls. We have only the day of this life to save souls and to give them to the Lord as proofs of our love.
I tell Jesus that I am glad not to be able to see, with the eyes of my soul, this beautiful heaven which awaits me, in order that He may vouchsafe to open it forever to poor unbelievers.
I cannot perform brilliant works; I cannot preach the Gospel or shed my blood. But what matter? My brothers work in place of me, and I a little child, keep very close to the royal throne. I love for those who are carrying on the warfare.
My deeds, my little sufferings, can make God loved all over the world.

Concluding Prayer

Seventh Day

O little martyr of Love, you know now even better than in the days of your pilgrimage that Love embraces all vocations; that it is Love alone which counts, which unites us perfectly to God and conforms our will with His. All you sought on earth was love; to love Jesus as He had never yet been loved. Use your power in heaven to make us love Him. If only we love Him we shall desire to make Him loved by others; we shall pray much for souls. We shall no longer fear death, for it will unite us to Him forever. Obtain for us the grace to do all for the love of God, to give Him pleasure, to love Him so well that He may be pleased with us as He was with you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Love of God. I will love God alone and will not have the misfortune of attaching myself to creatures, now that my heart perceive what He has in store for those who love Him.
What attracts me to the kingdom of Heaven is the call of our Lord, the hope of loving Him as I have so desired and the thought that I shall be able to make Him loved by a great number of souls who will bless Him forever.
When Christ said, "Give Me a Drink," it was the love of His poor creatures that He, the Creator of all things, desired. He thirsted for love.
Remember that the dear Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone. Remember that He is consumed with a desire to come into your heart.

Concluding Prayer

Eighth Day

Dear St. Thérèse, like you I have to die one day. I beseech you, obtain from God, by reminding Him of your own precious death, that I may have a holy death, strengthened by the Sacraments of the Church, entirely resigned to the most holy Will of God, and burning with love for Him. May my last words on earth be, "My God. I love You."

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Death. It says in the catechism that death is nothing but the separation of the soul and body. Well, I have no fear of a separation which will unite me forever with the good God.
I am happy to die because I shall be able to help souls who are dear to me, far more than I can here below.
Life is not sad; it is very joyous. If you say, "This exile is sad," I understand you. We are wrong to give the name "life" to something which will end; it is only to the things of Heaven that we should apply this beautiful name.

Concluding Prayer

Ninth Day

Dear Little St. Thérèse, by love and suffering while you were on earth, you won the power with God which you now enjoy in heaven. Since your life there began, you have showered down countless blessings on this poor world; you have been an instrument made use of by your divine Spouse to work countless miracles. I beg of you to remember all my wants. Sufferings must come to me also, may I use them to love God more, and follow my Jesus better. You are especially the little missionary of love. Make me love Jesus more, and all others for His sake. With all my heart I thank the most Holy Trinity for the wonderful blessings conferred on you, and upon the world through you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: The Mission of the Little Flower. I do not intend to remain inactive in Heaven. I want to work for the Church and for souls. I have asked this of God and I am certain that He will grant my request.
I will spend my Heaven doing good upon earth. This is not impossible, since the angels though always enjoying the beatific vision, watch over us. No, I cannot be at rest until the end of the world.
I beseech Thee, O Jesus, to cast Thy divine glance on a great number of little souls. I beg of Thee to choose in this world a legion of little victims, worthy of Thy Love.

Concluding Prayer

O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

if love were enough

Two weeks from our due date and it still seems impossible...unimaginable that in less than two weeks I won't feel her kicks, that I might not be holding her in my arms.

The closer we get the more excited I am to meet Lily, even though it means letting her go too. I've never felt my heart being tugged so hard in two opposite directions.

My heart aches every single day when I think about what will most likely happen. My heart aches for Jason and me as we are about to go through every parent's worst nightmare. My heart aches for our family who may never meet our precious girl.

But most of all, my heart aches for Ted. 

Dear Ted,

One of my greatest desires for you is to have brothers and sisters close in age. Of course Lily will always be your sister, but just not the way I imagined it. 

People keep telling me what a blessing it is that you are too young to remember this. Part of me is grateful for that...every parent wants to spare their child any pain or sorrow.

But another part of me desperately wishes you will have your own memory of Lily to hold onto. That somehow, at 18 months old, you will be able to remember seeing your sister, that you will remember that despite the sadness, this journey has been so filled with love and grace.

I know you will have pictures and our stories, but I pray you grow up and somehow remember the day you get to meet her before saying goodbye. I hope it's something that you can hold onto forever, that when you face tough times in your life, you can remember meeting your sister. I hope and pray that the love and grace from that moment will carry you through a lifetime.

Your dad and I have tried so hard to create memories and keepsakes so you can grow up knowing how much we love you and Lily. We have beautiful blankets for you to snuggle with, many keepsakes and we will have pictures to tell her stories.

But it's not enough. How could it possibly be enough? None of these things will fill the emptiness in my heart or the person missing from our lives. Nothing can make up for you not having your sister to look after and protect...your sister to play with, to love and to be your best friend.

Ted, I am so sorry that you will not have your sister here with you. I'm so sorry that you will only know her through our stories and pictures. I am so sorry that we do not get to keep her.

I am so sorry.

I believe in miracles. I really do. Of course we pray and beg God for a miracle so we can keep Lily here. But, if we only focus on that miracle, we are going to miss all the others. Do you know who told me that? It was your aunt Kara. Kind of a miracle in itself because usually I am the one saying things like that to her. ;-)

But she's right. If we put all of our hope and faith into just that one miracle, we will miss all the rest. Your life will be full of amazing and wonderful things and I know Lily will have a hand in so many of them. I have complete faith in that. 

She's already taught me so much. She's taught me what true unconditional and selfless love is. She's taught me what it truly means to defend ALL life. She's taught me that my children are a true gift from God and to never take you or her for granted. And the most important thing that she's taught me is to place my family in the hands of God and never look back.

Every time I hear the chorus of this song, I think about what you will grow up knowing because Lily is your sister. I pray that her sweet life will teach you how truly sacred and precious ALL life is. I know in my heart you will be a better man because of your sister. 

I love you, Ted. And, if love were enough, we would get to keep her.

Love, Mom

Love like I'm not scared
Give when it's not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You

Ted and Lily :)

and some fun times at the zoo

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Surreal - 37 weeks

Full term...It seems as though the words "full term" have lost all meaning because, doesn't mean anything to us.

There should be a sense of accomplishment and excitement with the thought of "any day now", but we don't get that. Instead we get anxiety and sleep-deprivation, worrying about when exactly our world as we know it collapses.

We don't get to say all the standard cliche end of pregnancy things like...

"I can't wait to sleep on my back again."

"I can't wait to wear normal clothes again."

"I can't wait to NOT be pregnant anymore."

I can't say them or even really think them because they carry such a deeper meaning. Wishing to not be pregnant anymore means wishing my daughter is already gone.

It honestly seems surreal. My sister asked me how I was doing with everything and that's what I told her...SURREAL. There are moments I feel a sense of calm and peace, but I think it's more because I don't think I will really believe Lily's fate until I see her. 

Maybe it's expectant faith...or maybe it's just denial.

Or maybe it's because Lily dances in my belly all day long. Or that every doctor's appointment she's jumping and kicking and has the strongest heartbeat.

How is it possible that in three weeks that will be gone? Surreal, I tell you.

Last week was emotionally draining for Jason and me. We received a few more very special gifts from dear friends that just continue to remind us how blessed we are to be surrounded by so much love.

One of my dearest friends from Iowa made a beautiful quilt for Lily. She sent Lily the sweetest card and told her that she was thinking of her every single stitch. I love it so, so, so much.

Another one of my sweet friends asked a group of knitting prayer warriors to knit Lily a blanket. Each of these women (none of whom I've met) took turns knitting this gorgeous blanket and praying for Lily with every stitch. I can't wait to wrap her in this soft, cozy blanket.

And the other gift I received, leaves me more humbled than I have ever been. If you know me (or at least know Facebook me) you know that I am crazy-obsessed with this company Lily Jade. They make these beautiful designer diaper bags and I've been dying to own one. 

I've always, always, always wanted a really nice bag, but I've never found anything worthy of our hard-earned dollars...until I discovered Lily Jade. Beautiful bags that double as a diaper bag?! Sold!

So I've been saving my pennies...and entering Every. Single. Giveaway...Ever to try and win one. No luck with the rafflecopter. :(

Long story short, I came home on Friday and found a Lily Jade box! I couldn't believe it! I opened the box and found this stunning diaper bag and this amazing letter...

Hi Kellie,

I understand things seem uncertain and know your heart must hurt when you think about baby Lily Frances. I want to send our heartfelt prayers and love to you and your husband and hope that this small gift can serve as a reminder of God's love and nearness to you. He has your life in the palm of His hand and I pray that his peace will cover and comfort you.

There is a passage from the Song of Solomon that says "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys," which is the bride speaking to the bridegroom. I know that Lily Frances is God's little lily of the valley. He created her to be a delicate, pure, and precious gift. She too is in good hands, and I trust that in eternity, you'll see all the beauty that God intends for her to display. No matter what happens in the short term, her eternal life is only just beginning.

Love and prayers,

Landon Wood
Lily Jade

I love this company even more. The letter made me cry for many reasons. First, and foremost, the scripture about Lily and that they took the time to find it. Second, someone, somehow had to tell them about Lily (to get my address). I wish I knew who this person was so I could thank them properly (hint, hint). Third, they didn't have to do anything. Even if someone did tell them about Lily, they really didn't have to do anything and I would have never known. 

But, they took the time to read Lily's story, offer us prayers and scripture and gift us with this beautiful bag. My heart was so humbled and so thankful.
And while I know this bag is no replacement, it is a small reminder to me that despite all that we are going through, there is some goodness in the world. 

We are thankful for every sweet day we get with Lily, for every kick and roll. As much as we fear letting her go, we cannot wait to meet our sweet girl.

37 weeks with Ted (left), 37 weeks with Lily (right)

And we still smile, laugh and relish in the pure joy that is our sweet Ted ;-)

I couldn't imagine any of this without these two.
My heart is so full.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Some days

Some days are so much worse than others. Some days I find myself crying all day long and I don't even know why. I mean, I know why, I just don't know what triggers it.

Maybe it's because on Friday Ted was 17 months and Saturday marked one month until Lily's due date. In one month, Ted will be one and a half and Lily will be...

Maybe it's because the weather is getting cooler. October used to be one of my favorite months to live in I fear it. I always long for Arizona fall and cool nights...right now I dread October.

Maybe it's because everyone else's life seems to be moving forward and we are stuck in this place. This place I never imagined being in, waiting for our whole world to drop. We listen to other people make plans for their lives, for their family and we can't make any. 

Actually, we can make plans...but they are plans I have no desire to make.

Some people speak so matter-of-factly and "practically" about our daughter's most likely fate. But is it really practical to plan your daughter's funeral before she is even born?  

Honestly, it seems ridiculous. We've done so many things to preserve Lily's memory, but this is just one thing I cannot bring myself to face. Others in the same or similar situation find comfort in making all the arrangements beforehand. I can't even allow myself to really think about it. Preserving her memory is something I can do...planning to never physically see her again is something I cannot. I can't even utter the words out loud. I can't seem to think past the moment where they will take her away from me because it just seems so...ridiculous.

I cried almost all day on and on, I couldn't stop. Just quiet tears all day long. When I got home though, there was a package waiting for me. Months ago, my aunt asked me for some shirts and material because she wanted to make a blanket for Lily. I gave her Jason's favorite tshirt, a few of Ted's favorite onesies, one of my beloved camp shirts and my flower girl dress from when I was little. It was so special to open it, especially after such an emotional day. I know my family is praying for us all the time, but to have this to hold onto...every time I look at it I will be reminded how much my family loves Lily.
On Saturday, my sweet friend Lisa gave up her morning with her family to take our family pictures. Even though they didn't go quite according to what I imagined (is that ever possible with a toddler?!), I absolutely cannot wait to see how she captured our little family. I know we will cherish these photos of our family of four.

This was the last "To-Do" on my list for Lily. I'm so happy to have all of these ways to preserve her memory, but it's still so bittersweet. Normally, I would never even consider family pictures when I am eight months pregnant, swollen and uncomfortable, but that is our reality and sometimes...most of the time, it really sucks. I was emotional the rest of the day thinking that October 27 was exactly one month away.

But again, things seem to happen just when we need them to. Our friends were having a family BBQ on Saturday afternoon. Jason didn't really want to go and I really wasn't excited about it either (sorry, friends). We both kept mentioning that we really didn't care to go. Our friends who were hosting have a son Ted's age and, honestly, we sucked it up and went so they could play together (again, sorry friends hosting the BBQ, but we've become hermits).I used to love gatherings like this, now I really hate being in large groups. I stayed close to Jason. At some point I looked up and my sister, brother-in-law and kids were there?! I had just seen her the night before and she didn't even mention the BBQ. They had all been working and planning for months to give us this beautiful quilt everyone contributed to for Lily. They also brought items to donate to Ryan House, for families in need of pediatric hospice care. Jason and I had no words, just more tears. Again, something we will cherish forever to remind us how much everyone loves our sweet Lily. 

My heart was so was exactly what we needed at that exact moment we needed it. 

And, of course there is this sweet boy, who fills my heart with so much joy I can barely contain it. I am so thankful that he will know his sister through all these amazing keepsakes. As much as our hearts ache these last few weeks, we are constantly reminded how blessed we are with the love and generous spirit of family and friends. 

"Thank you" is no where near enough.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Perfect peace

35 weeks...

There are days where this all feels like a cruel joke. Lily flips and turns and literally shakes my whole being with how strong she is. How is it possible that in six weeks or less that will all go away? 

This morning Ted was sitting on my lap drinking his milk and Lily was going crazy jumping around! She was actually lifting Ted up! How can she be so strong inside of me and most likely not survive more than a few hours outside of me? 

We've known of Lily's diagnosis for 16 weeks now and honestly, it still doesn't seem real. 

Around 32-33 weeks, I finally started showing. I was so heartbroken by my small belly, desperately wishing she would grow as she should, but now people comment and ask questions and I wish I could be more invisible again.

Ted and I were at the grocery store today and the lady in the checkout asked me how much longer..."Six weeks," I say.

"Wow! You are tiny!" Immediately tears start to sting my eyes. I'm not tiny, my baby is. 

Or it's someone asking about the age difference between Ted and Lily..."18 months," I say.

"Wow! You are going to have your hands full!" Tears sting my eyes again. But I'm not going to have my hands full. 

I would give anything to have my hands full.

Nesting when you have a fatal diagnosis looks a lot different. 

With Ted, I was busy cleaning out our house, decorating his room, organizing all the bins of toys, clothes, diapers, installing a car seat, etc. I exercised every day, spent time with friends, full of the "pregnancy glow" I had longed for forever. 

With Lily, I am just praying I've thought of every single way to preserve every single moment we have with her. 

We almost have all of our "To-Dos" completed. It brings a mixture of peace, sorrow and still disbelief.

Our To-Do's:
1. Contact Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
2. Hand/Foot molds and ornament provided by String of Pearls
3. A few hand-made outfits from two of the sweetest Etsy shops (Pearly Pea and Sew Delighted Boutique)
4. Build-a-Bear with Lily's heartbeat for Ted
5. Banner with her name for pictures and Ted's room
6. Scheduled family pictures
7. A crocheted blanket made by one of my dearest friends
8. A prayer shawl my aunt sent me made by women from her school
9. Knit (many) beanies to go with her sweet outfits
10. Get Ted a "big brother" t-shirt

Amidst all of these To-Do's, I am constantly praying I won't have any regrets. 

Jason and I have been praying for peace throughout all this and for the most part, we have felt it. We keep asking God that we will be at peace with when she is born, how she is born, who is there, how long we get with her. 

My mind keeps wanting to be more specific with my prayers, but I know the most important thing is for Jason and I to feel God's peace and know that no matter what, she is perfect and she will come to us in His own perfect way.

35 weeks with Lily

Friday, September 5, 2014

Still a miracle

I wake up every day terrified and grateful. Terrified that today is going to be the day I have to say goodbye to my daughter. Grateful that it's not that day yet. Grateful to have one more day of kicks, rolls and hiccups.

Yes, hiccups! 

Something that most women (myself included) take for granted in pregnancy. I was never sure I could even feel Ted's hiccups. I distinctly remember at one of Ted's ultrasounds the tech telling me he could see the baby hiccuping and asking me if I could feel it. I believe I lied and said, "yes". I honestly couldn't feel anything or tell the difference between a kick and a hiccup.

But with Lily...this sweet little girl seems to know exactly what her mama needs and exactly when she needs it. 

Every OB appointment is gut-wrenching and emotional. It always feels like we are hearing Lily's diagnosis for the first time. It never gets easier to hear it. Jason and I stress the whole weekend before. The day of the appointment I try to pay extra close attention to feeling Lily move, for fear that we will go in and be told her heart stopped. 

Our 31 week appointment was no different. I worried all day...all the moments in between her sweet kicks. Jason and I drove to the appointment in silence like we always seem to do. The anxiety and nerves really kick in as we sit and wait for the nurse to call our name. As we are sitting there, Lily relieves some of my fear and anxiety and she starts rolling and kicking.

But these kicks are different...not quite as strong and they have a rhythm. I told Jason that I thought she might have the hiccups! (One complication that can arise from Anencephaly is having an excess of amniotic fluid. This can happen because the babies don't know how to swallow the fluid. It can cause complications in the pregnancy including preterm labor.

Jason and I always get really emotional when we hear Lily's heartbeat. It is always so strong, so steady. But this time, also mixed with a different rhythm. Even our midwife could hear it...hiccupsDo you know why hiccups are so amazing when you are pregnant? It's a sign that your baby has the ability to swallow. 

Just knowing that Lily may be able to swallow and hiccup like other babies brought an overwhelming sense of peace. 

It reminded me that no matter what, her life is a miracle. 

People tell me (and often times I am reminding myself when Ted's on one of his daredevil missions) what a precious gift Ted is to us and how he is helping us get through this difficult time. While I appreciate it, and as I said, tell myself this, I feel like it can diminish Lily's worth. Ted is our miracle and so is Lily. I am grateful for Ted and for Lily.

She is worth every second of our sorrow and grief. She is worth every tear. Worth every contraction and minute of labor. Worth every lonely night and broken-hearted night that I don't get to hold her in my arms. In fact, her worth is why we grieve. I love Ted with every ounce of my being and my love for Lily is the same. My heart aches all day long when I think that I don't get to keep her. When I think about Ted growing up without his sister, I have such a heavy heart.

She is our miracle no matter how long we get with her...whether 5 minutes, 5 hours or 50 years. She is a miracle, created in God's own image and likeness. 

She is a miracle. She is my miracle.

I love this onesie found here :)

Some pictures of the dare devil in action.
Love him to pieces...
despite the number of times a day he makes my heart stop. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting game

30 Weeks - A fresh batch of nervousness and anxiousness has come over me lately. I think back to being 30 weeks pregnant with Ted. I was on my way to Iowa to celebrate with family and friends our upcoming arrival. My wonderful aunts threw me a shower and my sweet Iowa girls threw me another. It was a wonderful weekend of family and friends and celebration. I was starting to get "uncomfortable" with my pregnancy. Swollen ankles...seriously, they are my least favorite part of pregnancy. I can handle the growing belly, even the stretch marks, but nothing made me feel grosser than "kanckles"...ugh.

With Lily, I honestly barely even feel pregnant. My belly hasn't grown nearly as much as it should. If you don't know me and know that I am pregnant, you may just think I have a "perpetual gut". There was a time I would have been thrilled to not gain much pregnancy weight. Now it just means my little girl isn't growing like she should. I look down at my small belly and I can barely see past the tears. But, even though she is little, she is mighty! Her kicks are stronger than Ted's ever were. :)

I'm anxious and nervous all the time. Every slight ache in my stomach I feel may be the start of labor. There are days where I just want her to be get to the next stage of grief and suffering. But, then I will wake up in the morning and worry for hours until I feel her move. I'm not ready, but at the same time, sometimes I just want it "to be over". 

I hate thinking that or saying it out loud, but it's true. (I have promised to be honest in case anyone else reading this is going through something similar. There is no right or wrong emotion or feeling.) I know in my heart it will never "be over". No matter what, I will think of Lily every day and miss her terribly. But this waiting can really take its toll on your heart, your emotions and shatter all your hope. With Ted, there was anxiety, but it was minimal compared to our excitement to meet him. When my water broke with Ted, there was a slight panic, but then the rush of adrenaline because I knew it meant we would get to meet our baby soon, and...we would get to take him home.

I can't wait to meet Lily. To see her, to hold her in my arms, to examine her every little detail. To see if she has her brother's sweet cheeks. But I also walk in a shadow of fear for this moment. I'm afraid she won't be born alive. I'm just as afraid that she will be and I will have to watch her stop breathing. I can't stop thinking about the moment they will take her away from us and I will have to leave the hospital with empty arms.

To feel so helpless and hopeless is not in my nature. 

So, we continue to pray. As much as we try to prepare for our reality, we also beg God for a miracle. We pray for peace every day...that we will be at peace with her birth, her life, with however long we have with our sweet Lily girl. We do this, because honestly, it's all we have.

27 weeks on the left with Ted, 30 weeks on the right with Lily