Angels Among Us: Our Christmas Prayers Answered!

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We were a bundle of nerves going to our appointment today to check on “Wilbur‘s” progress.  You name the scenario, I had envisioned it.  I had thought of the best case scenarios and the worst case scenarios and the in-between scenarios.  Every time I had a negative thought, I told myself, “NO!” and replaced it with a positive one…but I’ll tell ya, I had to do that a lot.  I even yelled “NO!” at myself so loudly in my dreams that I woke myself and John up!

Today, driving to the appointment the song “Angels Among Us” came on the radio and I made John stop our conversation so I could listen.  It’s a little cheesy, but I’ve always loved it because it was a song we sang in our sorority and after losing Callie, it had a different meaning for me.  The lyrics talk about how angels walk amongst us, in you and in me, and I connected it to my feelings of having ‘Earth angels’ who help you in your times of need.

Suddenly, in the middle of the song, a large shuttle bus swerved into our lane to avoid another car.  John slammed on his brakes and I shouted, “Lord, please protect us!!!”  I could see us heading straight for the back-corner of that bus- right into my side of the car.

I’m not sure how, but we stopped a few feet shy of that bus and luckily no one rear-ended us.  As my heart slowed down to a normal beat, I heard the  song continuing like there had never been an interruption, “Ohhh, I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above, they come to you and me, in our darkest hours…”

Later at the doctor’s office, we were taken back for ultrasounds and met an upbeat technician with beautiful dark skin and a gorgeous Nigerian accent.  Entering the room, we could hear Christian worship songs playing softly in the background (there’s never music!) from the tech’s Pandora Station.  She was bubbly and talked to us about her kids humorously but with so much love behind every word.  With every breath she told us how she asked God for patience with this or prayed to him to help her with that and it became clear that she was a deeply faithful woman.

I was listening, but also kind of tuning her out as I hyper-analyzed every measurement she made on the baby.  Is she growing?  What does that number mean?  Is her foot turned funny?  Questions zipped through my mind at a rapid speed.  At some point, she asked us how old our first was.  We told her about Callie and then told her Charlotte was 20 months old and that her favorite word is “No”.  She laughed and said, “After ‘no’ comes ‘why’.”

And then she told us a story that left me with chills.  She said once she was listening to her pastor’s sermon.  It was a story of a young boy who was racing to greet his father who was returning home from work after a long day.  The boy, joyfully distracted, ran right over top of some railroad tracks in the path of an oncoming train.  The father screamed out to his son and told him to GET DOWN!  The boy listened right away and his life was spared because the train rolled right over top of him, leaving him unharmed.

The tech looked us in the eyes as she told us, “You see, if he had stop to ask, “Why?”, he would have been killed instantly by the train.  It is the same way with God.  You have to trust Him and not stop and ask, “Why?”.”

My eyes filled up with tears as she finished the story, lovingly telling us that she reminds her son of that story every time he bugs her with a “Why?” question…”because I said so!”  she laughed.  But my heart was still back on the parable of the boy, his father, and the train.  I sat there thinking, here is another Earth Angel, right in front of us– just like my Maggiano Angel from that Valentine’s Day so long ago.  It was no accident that she was our technician today, when out of all of our bajillions of visits we’ve never seen her.  We were meant to cross paths and meant to hear that message.

She left me with a feeling of peace that was soon followed up with joy- because, GREAT NEWS!  ‘Wilbur’ grew!  She made great progress and even caught up a few days!  She’s still small, but the fact that she didn’t fall any further behind and actually made further progress than expected was OUTSTANDING news.

The doctor told me to keep doing whatever it is that we are doing and that he will check up on us again in two more weeks.  That means more rest, eating enough protein to qualify me for an NFL linebacker, and keep praying and staying positive.

We have no doubt that the love, support, and prayers from all of you played a part in today’s outcome.

We also know that there were angels among us today.

Especially one dressed in yellow with sunshine glistening off of her wings.

Merry Christmas everyone!  We feel so blessed to have our Christmas prayers answered this day.

xoxo

PPL<3

“I was walking home from school, on a cold winter day
Took a shortcut through the woods, and I lost my way
It was getting late, and I was scared and alone
But then a kind old man, took my hand, and led me home
Mama couldn’t see him, oh but he was standing there
And I knew in my heart, he was the answer to my prayers

Oh I believe there are, angels among us
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love

When life held troubled times, and had me down on my knees
There’s always been someone, to come along, and comfort me
A kind word from a stranger, to lend a helping hand
A phone call from a friend, just to say, I understand
But ain’t it kind of funny, at the dark end of the road
That someone lights the way, with just a single ray of hope

Oh I believe there are, angels among us
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love

They wear so many faces, show up in the strangest places
To grace us with their mercy, in our time of need

Oh I believe there are, angels among us
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love
To guide us with a light of love”

Wilbur

25weeks-2John has been re-reading Charlotte’s Web and has taken to reading it aloud to Baby #3 lately.  We have obviously always loved the book and decorated Charlotte’s nursery with a Charlotte’s Web theme when she was born.  Charlotte, the spider, is a loyal friend- brave, intelligent, and selfless.  It wasn’t until John started reading the book again to our littlest rainbow that I realized how special Wilbur is too.

Wilbur the pig is the runt of the litter.  The farmer’s daughter, Fern, saves him from being killed because he is “small and weak” and “will never amount to anything”.  With some mothering love, Fern nurses him into being a strong, healthy pig who then has to worry about becoming the Christmas ham for his new family.  You can’t help but fall in love with Wilbur.  He is innocent, sweet, polite, and cheerful.  He loves unconditionally.  The author mentions numerous times how Fern, and his new friend, Charlotte, look upon him with utmost affection.

You probably know how the story goes… Charlotte begins writing words in her web as a way to show Wilbur’s humans that he is an extraordinary pig, one worth saving.  When John read the following quote the other night, I couldn’t help but make connections to our own lives right now:

“Have you heard about the words that appeared in the spider’s web?” asked Mrs. Arable nervously.

“Yes,” replied the doctor.[..]

“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”

“Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian.  “I don’t understand it.  But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place.  When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle.  But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.

“What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle- it’s just a web.”

“Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.

Mrs. Arable shifted uneasily in her chair.  “No,” she replied.  “But I can crochet a doily and I can knit a sock.”

“Sure,” said the doctor.  “But somebody taught you, didn’t they?”

“My mother taught me.”

“Well, who taught a spider?  A young spider knows how to spin a web without any instructions from anybody.  Don’t you regard that as a miracle?”

“I suppose so,” said Mrs. Arable.  “I never looked at it that way before.  Still, I don’t understand how those words got into the web.  I don’t understand it, and I don’t like what I can’t understand.”

“None of us do,” said Dr. Dorian, sighing.  “I’m a doctor.  Doctors are supposed to understand everything.  But I don’t understand everything, and I don’t intend to let it worry me.

Sometimes you don’t realize how miraculous the smallest, ordinary things are around you until something big happens.  I’ve been praying for a miracle -that we will hear at our next appointment that everything is just fine- but I’ve missed the miracle right in front of me.  Baby #3, our runt, our Wilbur.  She is a miracle already.  So is Charlotte.  So is everything else that is gloriously ordinary in our lives.  We don’t really like hearing worrisome news at doctor’s appointments and we like it even less that we can’t understand it.  But I’m going to do my best to stop trying to understand it, and I’m trying to not let it worry me.

Today at church, our pastor talked about Mary and how she was struck with fear when the angel told her that she would become Jesus’ mother in Luke 1: 26-38.  Despite this fear, the implications her pregnancy would have, and the multitude of questions she must have had running through her mind, she gave herself over to God completely and allowed herself to be his servant.  What a gift she gave to God and what a gift He gave to her and to the world!  She did not understand.  She didn’t know what to expect.  But she trusted God and found peace in that.  And look at where that trust led.

After watching the lighting of the candles on the advent wreath- faith, hope, love, and joy- and listening to these words, I felt strengthened and peaceful.  Like Dr. Dorian mentioned in Charlotte’s Web, I don’t know everything but it gives me great peace that I don’t have to.  It’s in God’s hands.

Thank you so much for praying for our “Wilbur” ;-)  We have been so comforted by your messages of support.  We are so lucky and so blessed.  I hope you all have a wonderfully, amazing Christmas.  We’ll keep you posted on how things are going after our next appointment!

Leaving you with our favorite Christmas song right now…

Prayer Request: An Update on Baby #3

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, but so much has transpired…

It’s a girl!  Baby #3, our third girl, has worked her way into my heart like I had faith that she would.

But she is a little girl.

Our most recent visit to the maternal fetal specialist left us in tears.  Our second little rainbow isn’t growing like she should.  She’s lagging behind and increasing our doctor’s worry about her well-being.  He doesn’t know what is going on.  All of our tests have been normal so far.  She looks perfect in her ultrasounds.  The fetal echocardiogram went well.

She’s just unexplainably not growing at the pace we need her to grow.

I asked if she’s just petite.  He said, “No.”  No waiver, no doubt in his voice.  Oh, that I wish there was!  Could be a genetic disorder.  Could be an issue with the placenta or umbilical cord.  Could be inexplicable.

So now we wait.  We go every two weeks to check her growth.  I have to limit my activity.  But mostly, we wait.

The doctor says she will be born early and small…we just don’t know how early and how small.

I can’t even tell you how terrifying it is to contemplate all of the different scenarios that have been laid before us right now.  It would be terrifying for anyone, but it is utterly gut-wrenching after losing Callie.  After holding her hand in the CICU.  After telling her goodbye.

I feel so guilty for my detached feelings at the beginning of this pregnancy.  Is this karma?  I don’t think God is that cruel.  But, I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed that things aren’t going smoothly right now.  I felt like we had earned the right somehow to not have any more bad things happen to us.  Haven’t we had enough?

The absolute only thing we can do right now is try to be positive.  Fear and negativity will not get us anywhere.  We are choosing to believe that this little girl is healthy and that she will continue to grow.  We are choosing to believe that she will get to the third trimester (we are 24 weeks now)…and beyond!  We WILL hold this baby.  We WILL take her home from the hospital.  She WILL be fine.

Please pray these things with us.

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December’s K4C-  Please join us in doing an act of kindness in Callie’s memory this month!

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Nov. Kindness for Callie

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Oooops!  Half-way through November…how did that happen?  Please join me in thinking of those who are less fortunate this month by doing a Kindness for Callie for those who are homeless or going through a hard time financially.  This is a month where so many of us pause to reflect on what we are thankful for.  Don’t forget to give back!  :-)

Baby #3

Charlotte, proudly announcing that we are expecting our third child, our second rainbow in April :)

Charlotte, proudly announcing that we are expecting our third child, our second rainbow in April :)

Baby #3.

How can I explain to you the roller coaster that has been Baby #3 this far?

I just spent this rainy afternoon reading back my old posts from Charlotte’s pregnancy.  I was blown away by how differently I feel this time around.  John and I were still very much in grief from losing Callie when I became pregnant with Charlotte.  I was so sad and so scared throughout it all.  I fought so hard to stay hopeful, face my fears, and maintain faith.

I’d like to tell you that this baby’s pregnancy has been the complete opposite…happy and carefree!  But, that’s not exactly true.

I’m not sure how to explain this time around…

When I first saw the positive test, we were on vacation.  I slipped back into bed and whispered to Charlotte that she was going to be a big sister and left the test there as a surprise for John unsure about my own feelings.  When he came back beaming, I had trouble beaming back.  I was happy, I suppose, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited.

As time went on, I tried really hard not to think about the fact that I was even pregnant.  I avoided talking about it with John and fake smiled when I did have to discuss it.  I felt relief upon seeing our little bean at the first ultrasound, but not exactly joy or wonder.  More like “blah”.

Before Callie passed away, John and I had always dreamed of having three kids.  It sounded like the perfect number.  I thought that losing Callie would make us want kids so much more, potentially leading us down the path to having a boatload of kids.  In actuality though, that just wasn’t the case-  for me, at least.

I realized that after being robbed of a future of Callie, I was taken down to the most fundamental and basic desires.  Lord, I just wanted a baby that would stay with us.  Please, God, just let me hold a baby.  Please, please let me hear a cry.  Let me change diapers.  Let me nurse her.  Oh, God if I could just have this one thing, please, please, please.  And then Charlotte came.  She never took Callie’s place, but she did answer so many of my prayers.

I was good.  More than good- filled with absolute contentment in every sense of the word.  You see, after having Charlotte, my heart was so full I just couldn’t possibly dream of having any more room left in it.

How in the world could I need anything else?

And it was in this mind frame that I went into Baby #3-  reluctantly, with the distant goal of giving the gift of a sibling here on earth for Charlotte to know and play with.  This sounds so horrible, but it wasn’t for me at all.  It was for Charlotte.  It was for John.  For our families.

Because like I said, I was good.

I spent much of the first trimester battling some pretty bad mood swings and a general feeling of discontent, mixed with strong nausea and fatigue.  I will also add that during this time, Charlotte was waking up in the middle of the night constantly and only wanting mommy, so I was downright exhausted.  I broke down in tears often and felt such guilt at my lack of ability to bond with my growing baby and feel excited and grateful for the gift that he or she is.  Finally, I had enough and went back to my therapist to talk things through.

And- poof!  I felt better!  I vented and she listened.  I started to realize that my lack of excitement, was really just my fear:  repackaged and redesigned.  Fear of not being able to handle two kids.  Fear of not being able to love each of them enough.  Fear of taking away my undivided attention from Charlotte.  Mix those fears in with some of the old fears… what if something happens?  why mess with a good thing?…and I was a just a ball of emotions.  Getting it off my chest and owning my feelings has helped me tremendously.  Oh yeah, and getting more sleep and having my hormones calm down a bit didn’t hurt either ;-)

I’ll be 100% honest with you and tell you that, although I feel much happier, stronger, and less fearful, I am still not jumping up and down with excitement.  Maybe this is how it feels after experiencing pregnancy for the third time?  Maybe I’m too busy chasing Charlotte, teaching students, and managing a growing business to really even think about anything more than the moment right in front of me?  But I do know that I’m not alone in these feelings and that so many other mothers have felt the same way.  I’m not sure if I’ll start jumping up and down any time soon (or at all!) but I do know that each day makes me feel better, more ‘into it’, and enthusiastic.  I’m very much looking forward to more ultrasounds, more opportunities to get to know this little one, and the kicks that will make it feel “real”.

And here’s the other thing I’m going to be honest about.  I’m in this with my whole heart:  I want this baby and I know that after he or she arrives, I will never be able to imagine my life without him or her in it.

But…

…I can also completely understand now why some people choose not to have another.  Especially those who have experienced loss.  Because truth be told…I was good, allllllll good.  That intense satisfaction is an amazing feeling and I do not doubt that my life would have been very full and happy should we have chosen that path.

But we didn’t.  And I know that this path will be awesome… I just had to get my bearings first.

So, that’s me right now.  Happy to be past the black cloud that was the first trimester with a better outlook for the next two.  Enjoying Charlotte with my whole heart.  Letting hope slide into my heart in bits and pieces and preparing for it to grow and stretch to limits I never imagined were possible.

Love,

me

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Please join us tonight for the International Wave of Light in memory of Callie and other babies lost too soon.  Light a candle at 7 p.m. wherever you are.  We appreciate it so much!

Sept/Oct Kindness for Callie

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Oops!  Totally forgot to post September’s K4C theme with all the back to school craziness…and guess what??  The theme is SCHOOL!   It’s not too late to do something really nice for the teachers, principals, and other staff members at your local school.  They work hard all school year, but the beginning of the year is so unbelievably stressful and they do their work with such patience and love.  Show them some love!

 

While I’m at it, I thought I’d go ahead and post October’s theme as well since I have the tendancy to be a *little* late with these.  I chose “Fight Cancer” as the theme for October because that is breast cancer awareness month…but I’m certainly thinking of so many others.  When I sat down to write these monthly themes, I didn’t know that September was Childhood Cancer awareness month and I probably would have changed things around a little because of that because of a special little guy we know who is so brave and for his brave mommy and daddy.  Please consider buying a Team Trevor shirt :-)  I’m also especially thinking of a good friend who is fighting her own battle with colon cancer and has the most amazing positive spirit.  Thinking and praying for you every single day.OctoberK4C.jpg

August K4C: Children & Update on the Garden

Thanks to Carly and Mark for donating Callie's marker.  It's beautiful.

Thanks to Carly and Mark for donating Callie’s marker. It’s beautiful.

 

When Callie passed away, John and I had to make the most heart-wrenching decisions.  I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to contemplate things like burial vs. cremation when it comes to your baby.  We felt sick, drained, tortured.  What was the right thing to do?  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a “right” thing to do…no rules, no instruction manual, no guide for the path we were walking.  Ultimately, after discussing it with our pastor, we decided to have Callie cremated and buried her ashes in the prayer garden at church, which we later redesigned in her memory.  We marked her resting place with a rock with the inscription, “Sunshine Angel”, because it was just too cruel to see her name and short life written in stone on a grave.

As time has gone on, John and I have gone on a roller coaster of emotions when thinking back on these decisions.  A lot of times, we wish we could go back and change our minds.  We miss her and wish we could be close to her again.  But we know that no matter what we would have decided, the outcome would still be the same.

She is in heaven.

On Earth, her soul dances in the sunlight on wings of yellow butterflies, or floats to the ground on the back of a feather, or pops up when you least expect it in a million different forms.  I see her all the time everywhere I go.  But I know she truly resides in heaven.

Yet even with this knowledge, I began feeling empty when I looked at the spot where she was buried in the garden.  That part of me that had not wanted to see her little name in stone began longing for just that.  I needed to see it.  And I needed others to see it too.  She mattered, she was here, she was loved, and she will never be forgotten.

We put Callie’s new marker in the garden last month.  Just this past Sunday, we visited her after church and after watching John and I put a kiss on the stone, Charlotte bent down and touched her big sister’s rock just as sweet as could be.  I’m not sure she will ever understand just how meaningful that was for us but it was a beautiful moment that I wanted to share with you.

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This summer is going faster than the blink of an eye.  I’ve loved every sweet moment of being home with Charlotte.  She is so active and fun and her smile lights up a room.  This month for Kindness for Callie, the theme is “children”.  I’ve always had a soft spot for kids, but even more so after becoming a mom.  I hope that you can find a way this month to do a little act of kindness to brighten a deserving child’s day!