Thursday, October 27, 2016

You Should Know This Girl

If you don't know my friend Jenny, you should. And if you don't know her, my hope for you is that you have a Jenny, your own Jenny, in your life. They just make things a little better. A little brighter. And whole lot more fun.

When I moved back to Illinois, my childhood hometown, I was nervous to leave my circle of friends. My friends in Charleston were family. We had long since crossed that beautiful bridge that takes a friendship into a bond that doesn't require blood, but requires all of life's ups and downs that create trust, empathy, faith and love for one another. Leaving those girls was terrifying.

Moving back to Illinois was wonderful in that it brought me closer to family and into my husband's home. Although this was my hometown, a lot of my closest girlfriends no longer lived here. They had moved not only out of state, but to different coasts. This fact created a friendship void in my new, married life and brought a small struggle with resentment into it as well (if I'm being totally honest with you). I felt as though I had let go of my life, my career, my church, my home and my friends for marriage and that is a lot to add to a relationship.

Thankfully, one of the sweetest friends that I still had in town was awesome at inviting me into her circle. This friend, Jessica, opened her book club, girls' nights out and bunco group to me and I was so grateful for her inclusion and open arms. Jess gave me opportunities to have outings and friends of my own, which started healing some of that resentment that bubbled up from time to time..

Cue my first night at bunco where I nervously walked into a party of 20 women, with only one of which I knew. Throughout the evening, I watched as one of the girls in the group had everyone belly laughing over her stories of her five, FIVE kids, their shananigans and everyday life. There was something about her that just made you want to smile a little bigger and laugh a little harder. Or maybe it was the wine? Either way, that was my introduction of Jenny and I was pretty much a fan from that day on.

Jenny, like I said, is a mother of five beautiful kids. She epitomizes the phrase "if you think my hands are full, you should see my heart." She is creative beyond normal human expectation and throws a mean theme party. She is the friend I never knew I needed until I had her. She makes me laugh so hard it hurts sometimes. She doesn't get caught up in drama and I respect that and crave that in our dramatic world. She is loyal and fierce. She and Jessica not only show up at your grandpa's visitation, but come with homemade cookies and a gift card for a girl's "date night" to the movies and Steak'n'Shake because their fries and milkshakes heal the soul. She brings homecooked meals when you deliver a baby and again when you loss one. Seriously, when does she have time to cook for me when she has to cook for 5 kids? She loves vintage goodness as much as I do and we've had a blast selling our treasures together at many a show. We've also stood in rain and wind storms together and held onto our booth tent to prevent it from being ripped from the ground and ruining countless hours and countless dollars worth of inventory. She'll laugh with you, cry with you, dance with you and do life with you. Real life, not just social life. She is the real deal, folks. What you see is what you get, and thankfully for those of us who know her, what we get from her is way more than we could ever give back.

Like I said, if you don't know her, you should.

Happy Birthday to my beautiful and creative and hilarious friend, Jenny. I kept thinking "what can I get the girl who can make pretty much everything?" So hopefully this humble little shout out is a small gift that reflects how so many people feel about you. You're an amazing mom, awesome friend, comedian, creative genius, breath of fresh air, a mother to admire and respect, a crazy-hard worker and someone I wish everyone could know.

Happy Birthday to the friend I never knew I needed until I had you. So thankful for you! Now pass me a Raz-Ber-Rita so we can have a proper toast. Cheers, friend!

PS...To Jessica, this blog is also for you! You were a lifeline for me when I first moved back and have remained one since. Thank you so very much! I LOVE doing life with you all, especially when it requires costumes:)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Open Letter to K-Love

Can I just tell you that I have tried to write something, anything, for the last four days, and as you can see by my silence, I've got nothing, folks. Nada. I'm pretty sure my post last Wednesday used up about 90% of my allotted words for the month.

Tim, you're welcome for my lack of remaining words from now until Oct. 31st.

I keep finding myself stuck in this place between I just poured out the darkest part of my soul and I should post something about Nash's Halloween costume. Hmmm, somehow that gap seems like the Grand Canyon of creative outlets and I'm not sure how to make that leap. But seriously, where does one go from something so raw and honest?

Maybe tomorrow I'll be up to posting about Nash's costume or our upcoming Ironman Triathlon adventure to Florida in November, but today, I'll leave with you this rant deep thought.

Over the last few weeks, ALL I have wanted to listen to on the radio is K-Love. I'm thirsty for worship music and it's truly all my mind can handle right now. The majority of the day they play exactly what my heart needs to hear. I find myself lost in the music which is a welcomed escape from my own thoughts most of the time. That is until the first few notes of the song below is played. And then, I just can't. I can't listen, but I can't turn it off either. I can't listen and be okay. And I can't listen without ugly tears.

Dearest K-Love,
You have been a life line for me over the last month (and a few weeks before), and for that I am eternally grateful for bringing worship to me wherever and whenever I need it. But, for the Love of literally all things holy, please stop playing "Thy Will" 147 times a day. I get it, it's a beautiful song, and the reason Hillary wrote it is heartbreakingly beautiful, but MY heart cannot take it. For those of us in these trenches of the meaning behind that song, I, and maybe we, cannot do it that many times a day. My heart can't go there and still walk into a meeting or grocery store or order lunch in a drive-thru without looking like I'm on the verge of a psychotic break or like I have been hit by an emotional Mack truck. There just aren't enough tears and mascara to carry me through the amount of times you play this tune on a daily basis.

Can we make a compromise? How about you play it 3 times a day? Maybe cue one of them for 5:15pm when most of us mommas are driving home and clinging to the promise of our ponytails and sweatpants anyway. Then, sweet K-Love, you can play it 5 times in a  row if your heart desires, because at that point my brave face is getting weary and transparent anyway. But playing it 147 times, ALL DAY LONG, makes me want to punch you in the face and I'm pretty sure our Lord frowns on me wanting to punch a Christian radio station in the face. Even amongst my heart ache. There is no excuse and I'm sorry for that thought.

Do we have a deal, pretty please? I love you, I love "Thy Will" and Hillary Scott for capturing our heartbreak so perfectly, but I can't. I just can't. The minute she opens with "I'm so confused, I thought I heard you loud and clear", I'm DONE. Useless. Incapacitated. And sadly, I have things I need to do that require me to not be in the fetal position in my car all the livelong day.
Thank you for listening, K-Love.
Many Blessings and much love.

And if somehow you've escaped this beautiful, gut-wrenching song, here you go....or just turn on K-Love and wait about 2.7 minutes for it to play.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Humbling Love

Your support. Your words. Your prayers. You typing out her name. All of those things have spoken life into a dark part of my heart. Thank you. I mean it.

So many people shared words like courageous, brave and strong, and although I am humbled by them, I feel as though I am anything but. My fear talked me out of hitting "post" about 5 times last night. I was scared and I still am. It's scary to fully expose your thoughts and your true, raw self. But thankfully, not a single person responded with anything but kindness. In a world that can be so judgy and dark, you all brought light. Bright light.

For those of you who shared your loss with me and others in your comments, please know that I shed tears each time I read of yet another life gone too soon. I see you and I felt you. Your pain may be 30 years old or two days old, but from everything I've read in the last 3 weeks, I'm guessing it's still very much real and fresh. I'm guessing you know their due date and how old they'd be today. And I can confidently say in knowing all of you, they'd be amazing reflections of their moms and dads. I will hold them in my heart and cannot wait for the day that you get to see them again (or even for the very first time)! Thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me. This a club that none of us asked to join, but there is healing there in our shared pain. YOU are brave and courageous and strong.

And because I shared with you all the description of the empty picture frame that I had purchased for Selah's room, I wanted to share the beautiful gift that was hand painted yesterday by a very talented friend. Although we will never have a picture for her frame, my heart is happy that it will not remain empty. Thank you, Ali, for the gorgeous gift. I cannot wait to put your artwork inside of her frame. If the Lord allows, maybe someday we'll have a third name to add to our list of blessings below their siblings, Nash and Selah.


Thank you. We are humbled. You have made her known. I hope to one day be able to be a reminder of hope for each of you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Our Journey With Selah Jayne

I had a daughter. I will always have a daughter. Her name is Selah Jayne.

There, I said it.

She is now known.

So is the piece of my heart that vanished as she left us far too soon. But at least now you know that she existed. As a mom, I felt this need for others to know that she existed and she was our child.
She was so very real.

I've fought an internal battle on sharing this with the world for the last three weeks. My heart urges me, pokes and prods me, but my mind kept coming back to "no way" and "people won't get it" or "people might think why is she sharing this?"  But after a long weekend of battling the waves of emotion that threatened to erupt anytime an old friend asked me "how many children do you have now?" or "do you think you'll have more?", my mind slowly started taking one more step closer to where my heart stood. It's a place I NEVER wanted to stand, but it's where we've been led on our journey and I can't live in two separate realities any longer. Nor do I want this baby to be tucked away like a secret we're keeping.

So here's our story of the journey to Selah Jayne...

For two years following Nash's arrival, Tim and I made a decision to wait to try for a second child until the summer of 2016. Thanks to an unrelated doctor's appointment in June, it appeared the stars were aligning for our second child to make their presence a reality in the near future. It felt like the Lord was all over the timing of this decision. On July 11th we found out we were pregnant. I cried happy, excited tears as well as terrified tears to have 2 kiddos under the age of three. I simply could not wait to tell Tim that night and ran out to buy a "Big Brother" shirt for Nash to wear to surprise his dad that evening.

That pure joy and excitement lasted two days. Two days.

I will spare you details, but we have learned throughout my last two pregnancies that we don't get to be the family with stress-free pregnancies. By the grace of God, we can get pregnant, so I am NOT complaining at all, but our pregnancies bring a level of stress with them that keeps us from rushing out to buy clothes or paint nurseries. My body creates complications that result in extra ultrasounds and lots of fear. I have been told that my body is a mystery by three different medical professionals now, but thankfully I don't have to look far to see our vibrant two year old who keeps us clinging to the hope that it can happen successfully.

Over weeks of scares and threatened loss, I'd drop everything and rush to my amazing doctor's office only to find our baby viable, and then growing and then moving around as if waving to us. Every time I thought it was ending, there was that precious life still holding strong and that heartbeat that took my breath away each time. Yet again, I was carrying a fighter and was praising the Lord for His protection.

Thanks to a special blood test, on August 26th Tim and I found out we were having a girl. A GIRL! For as long as I can remember wanting to be a mom, I have wanted to have a daughter. I grew up daydreaming of having a boy first and then a girl. That way my boy would protect my girl.
On August 26th, my dream came true. I was brought to instant, happy tears and immediately prayed she'd stay healthy and with us.

With visions of amazingly cute headbands and dresses with bloomers, I fought the urge to rush out and shop. I made a pact with myself that I wouldn't buy anything until we crossed into the 2nd trimester. At exactly 14 weeks I allowed myself to buy her four outfits and a frame for her room that read "You are Loved...Always."

Just four days later is when things started to take a turn. On the week of Sept. 19th, my 15th week, I saw the doctor every day, Monday-Thursday. On Monday we received scary news of a possible amniotic leak and an issue with my body that could cause pre-term labor at any point. The prognosis was not good and I was told that this was an emergency situation. The following day, a special ultrasound was scheduled and I went in thinking the worst. Cue the ultrasound and there she was moving around and growing right on track. Hallelujah! The specialist saw no rupture and again said "you're a mystery" and then sent us on our way with full hearts and answered prayers. On Wednesday, more scary symptoms arose which brought me back in to the doctor yet again. Still, things seemed okay.

Until they weren't.

On Thursday, I was again rushed back in for more miscarriage symptoms. I asked Tim to go with me "just in case", but in my heart I knew she'd be fine. She's always fine through the scares. So I laid back and waited while my doctor preformed a handheld ultrasound just to take a quick look. Thinking about that silence still makes me want to vomit.

After about 20 seconds of silence, I said "you're being too quiet for too long". And that was the last sentence I ever spoke before my life and my heart as I knew them changed. Probably forever.

"I'm quiet because I believe I'm looking at a baby who's passed away" replied my doctor. 13 words stole a part of my soul. 13 words will haunt me until I take my last breath.

I asked the nurse to get Tim from the waiting room and when he came through the door, I told him she was gone. My heart shattered again seeing his face. Disbelief and pain.

She was healthy and strong and my body failed to protect her. Disbelief and pain.

After we did a full ultrasound to confirm and to see her one last time, we were left with two options: deliver her in the hospital due to being too far along to deliver at home or opt for surgery. We asked for a night to process everything and make a decision as a family.  Our doctor granted us that request. So we went home and tried to decide between two totally sucky, crappy options. You see, when you become pregnant, you're given folders and resources to prepare you for welcoming your baby home. No one gives you a single pamphlet when your world comes crashing down. And there's certainly no good option for how to bring everything to a close. All options lead to empty arms and four cute little outfits hanging in an empty nursery.

With one night to make our decision, my body had a different plan and went into labor around 2am. I tried to ride it out until morning, but after 2 hours of contractions every 3 minutes, there was no slowing down this train. We arrived at the hospital at 4:30am on Sept. 23rd and were back at home by 5pm that evening. It was done. I was no longer carrying my girl and I was broken into a million pieces. Some pieces which may slowly start to come back together I'd imagine, but some of those pieces are gone. As my doctor shared with me, as he listened to my broken thoughts and my mental wrestling match of guilt on what I could've done differently, he looked me in the eyes and said "you're different now. You're always going to be different." And he was right. How had I become the 1-2% chance of losing my baby in the 2nd trimester? Why? How? I don't want to be different. I want to be the same I was three weeks ago. I want her back. I want HER. Period.

Over the last three weeks, I have ridden the waves of a sadness I never knew existed. I have been angry. Angry at myself and angry at God. I have questioned everything. Everything. I have second guessed ever trying again for fear of my body failing to protect another child. I have felt guilty for even thinking about trying again as it'll never bring back our girl. I have felt physical pain walking passed the closed door of her future nursery. And I have questioned Heaven more than I have in my 37 years combined. What is she doing there? Is she still tiny or is she the full image of who God created through us? Does she have my nose and her dad's blue eyes? Is she playing? Does she know she had parents who loved her, fought for her and prayed for her decades before she existed?
Does she even know her name?

One of the things that has brought me immense comfort has been to name our girl. She made it a long, eventful 15 weeks and we had known she was a girl for over a month. She needed a name. And not just any name, but a name fit for the Heavens, just like our daughter was fit for them.

By the grace of God and through a writer I had never heard of until 3 hours before we found out she was gone, I stumbled across one of the prettiest words I now know...Selah.
Selah, pronounced "Say-la" is a word woven into the Bible 74 times and with many translations. The one translation that struck me the most was "lifted up". With her being lifted straight up to Heaven from me, I just knew that was her name. There was no doubt in my mind that was her name. And Jayne, meaning "Gift from God", just made sense too.
So on Sept. 23, 2016, our daughter was named Selah Jayne, our lifted up gift from God.

If you've made it this far in this long story, thank you. You have helped make our Selah Jayne known and real on this earth and in turn, have made my heart known. This is by far the hardest thing I have gone through. I have a new found respect for parents who have suffered similar losses, and especially those who have lost a child, at any age, on this side of Heaven. My heart breaks for you and sees you. No one should know the pain, but also the loss of so many dreams and the countless "who would you have become" questions.  It's cruel and it's brutal and it steals something from you.

BUT, some day, thanks to Jesus' promises, we will see our babies and see their beautiful faces and hold their hands and hear their laugh for the first time. Oh how I cannot wait for that day! And we will get to tell them how incredibly loved they are and have been every day we took a breath. We will hold them and rock them and know them. THAT is what keeps me from losing all the hope. Because without that sliver of hope and Jesus, I'd be a goner.

Selah Jayne, you were tremendously loved long before your time and every day after. We talk about you daily and you are ever present in bedtime prayers with your brother. I am so proud and honored to be your mom and to have been chosen to carry you your whole life. I will live out of the words on your picture frame versus just hanging them on your wall. You are loved...Always.
I Love you,

PS...Special thank you to those of you who have been by our side through this journey. Your texts, calls, hugs, prayers, meals, tears, a shared book about Heaven, flowers and more, have brought comfort when I couldn't find it on my own and you made us feel less alone in our grief. Thank you. You mean the world to us. And to Tim, thank you for being our rock through your own pain. I couldn't ask for more.

PPS...If you've lost a baby too, please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to pray for you and keep your little one in my heart too. I'm so very sorry. I see you.