2 Months Old

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Another month has passed in the life of Charlotte Grace! She is definitely not a “newborn” anymore (not just in clothes…she wears 3 months now) but in her behavior and development.  This month has  been so fun because we saw the emergence of her SMILE!

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Her favorite place to flash her gorgeous grin is on her changing table.  Something about that changing table is pretty magical to her, and no matter her mood, once you lay her on it she will just start smiling.  It’s the funniest thing!  In the past few days she has started really reacting to Dave and I and smiling when she sees us.  That is just heart melting.  It makes the long sleepless nights and the long fussy days all worth it.  To know that she really knows us now, and smiles in response to us, is just the best.

This past month she has grown A LOT—2 1/2 pounds and over an inch in length!  Each time we give her a bath I discover a new little roll under her neck or on her thighs, haha.  From the beginning I have been a little scared about being able to provide enough calories for her from just breastfeeding, and I think this last month really confirmed that we’re doing just fine.  She just feels more “substantial” now and not so much like a frail newborn. 

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Charlotte got to spend lots of time with her grandparents from America while they were here, and also continued to get lots of love from her grandparents who live here in Taiwan (my parents live about 5 minutes away.) 

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We celebrated our first Easter with Charlotte, and it was extra special because she also got dedicated at our church.  It was awesome getting to have both sets of grandparents there.  The short service was definitely emotional since it was something we had always dreamed of doing with Sophia.

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Development wise, Charlotte continues to be right on track!  Her neck control has gotten even better (despite HATING tummy time) and she can push her chest off the ground and hold it up using her arms as support.  When she lies on her back we’re already starting to see the beginnings of her rolling over because she turns her head to the side really far and tries to kick her legs.  In the last few weeks she has started reaching for and batting at toys, although her aim is not very good yet.  Her eye sight has also developed more so she can follow me with her eyes and head as I move around the room.  She now gets comforted (or at least stops crying for a few seconds) when she hears our voices, and really loves to be sung to.  Another big discovery for Charlotte this month is her hands!  She loves to suck on them (usually both at the same time) and she is trying hard to find her thumb more and more.  I love this new milestone because she can soothe herself for a few minutes by sucking on them, which buys me a few more minutes of getting chores done.

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This month has been a bit challenging with her day sleeping.  She continues to sleep fairly well at night (she still gets up every 2-3.5 hours to eat), but during the day it is almost impossible to get her to sleep by herself.  I have to hold her, or lay next to her, or put her in the baby carrier in order for her to take a nap.  This just means that unless Dave Is home, I really can’t do anything else during the day.  We try to do the same techniques during the day as at night, but once the sun comes up she is over sleeping in her crib!  I really hope that in this upcoming month she will start to nap by herself, and in her crib, during the day so I don’t feel so exhausted and COMPLETELY tied to her all the time.  If any of you have any advice/tips on this please feel free to share!

We do have a few prayer requests for her health.  First, we discovered that she has thrush in her mouth.  Thrush is not really harmful, just an overgrowth of yeast, but it can be really hard to get rid of and causes some soreness in her mouth.  Please pray we’ll be able to get rid of it quickly so she gets some relief and is not on medication for a prolonged period.  Secondly, and a little more serious, is we need prayer for her intestinal tract.  For the past 5 weeks she has had irregular stools (sorry for the TMI) and a test showed she also has blood in her stool.  Usually this is a sign that she has an allergy to something in the breast milk.  The most common allergy is to cow’s milk, so I have cut out all dairy in my diet, but so far her stools are the same.  Yesterday she had another check for blood and we’ll know the results in a day or two.  Thankfully, Charlotte doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort because of this condition.  Still, prolonged mucous and blood in her stool, and diarrhea isn’t good for her.  Please pray that we will have wisdom to know what is causing these irregularities (whether it be another food I need to eliminate from my diet), and that this will not cause any damage to her little body.

Overall, though, Charlotte continues to be a very healthy and happy little girl!

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As a stay-at-home mom I try to take each day at a time, and remember that one bad day doesn’t mean the next will be as hard.  I continue to pray for patience, wisdom, and the physical strength to be a good mom (I don’t understand how you moms with more than one child do it!).  I already see how God is teaching me so much through being Charlotte’s mom, and I thank Him for our little miracle every day!

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Charlotte’s Birth Story

Now that my baby girl is over 6 weeks old, I figure it’s about time I got her birth story written out!

Charlotte’s birth story starts a bit before her actual birth.  Ever since I was about 30 weeks pregnant, we had been speculating on when she would arrive.  My due date was February 28th, but Dave had an almost 2 week vacation (due to Chinese New Year) that started on February 14th, so we had really hoped she would come around the 14th.  We talked so much about her coming on the 14th that it started to feel like it was my real due date.  So when the 14th came and went, and then another week passed, it felt like I was already overdue.  By the 26th and 27th of February I was about at my wit’s end.  I still hadn’t technically reached my due date, but emotionally and physically I was ready for the pregnancy to be over.  Actually, the pregnancy was quite easy, physically, it was more the anxiousness of actually seeing a live and healthy baby that was driving me crazy.  I just wanted her to be here so I could really see she was ok.  I wanted to hear her screams and feel her in my arms.

On Friday, February 27th, Dave and I went to lunch with my parents at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Smokey Joe’s (yes, they have Tex-Mex here in Taiwan).  We decided to walk there since I was trying to do a lot of walking to potentially induce labor, and it was about at 20 minute walk each way.  I had a chicken taco salad for lunch, and even ate the jalapeños (which I normally wouldn’t) in an effort to bring this child into the world.  I felt completely normal all day, and really had no signs of impending labor.  That night Dave and I went to the elementary school that is next to our apartment to walk around the track, like we had been doing most nights for the past week.  I remember while we were walking saying to him, “I wonder if walking to the restaurant and walking on the track will make her come tonight.”  Little did I know, I was right! 

That night I had a terrible time sleeping.  I think I went to bed around 1 AM, but just laid in bed for a few hours.  Finally around 3 AM or so I fell asleep.  That night I actually had dreams that I went into labor, but in my dream I died during childbirth!  In my dream the doctor was coming to tell my family that I had died, when I woke up.  My first contraction is what woke me up at 5:35 AM.  Since I had been asleep I wasn’t sure if it was really a contraction, so I lay awake waiting to see if another came.  A few minutes later I felt another one.  Could this be it? I wanted to wait for a few more contractions before I woke Dave up, but sure enough it was the real thing!  After having 4 regular contractions I walked to his side of the bed, gently shook him awake, and said “Are you ready to have a baby today?”  We both couldn’t believe she was finally on the way, and that it was exactly her due date!

Now, besides believing I would have Charlotte a few weeks early, I also felt that her labor would be extremely short since Sophia’s labor and delivery lasted almost exactly 5 hours.  Most people say that the second child comes faster, and a lot of times in half the time as the first.  I was actually concerned that my labor would be so fast that I would not make it to the hospital in time!  So, when contractions started I fully believed I would be having this baby well before noon.  I had decided to leave for the hospital when the contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart, so I hunkered down and waited (for what I thought) would be a very short time.

Like with Sophia’s labor, I was going to have a natural birth with no pain medication, and I wanted to be left alone.  I didn’t want Dave fussing over me, and I didn’t want anyone talking to me.  I labored in silence with Sophia, but with Charlotte I had a CD with calming music and sounds (made for people in labor), and listening to it really helped me. 

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I know it’s hard to see, but here is my labor music on my iPod, and my room where I labored.

So, I put on the labor music, turned off the lights in my bedroom, and breathed through each contraction.  At this point the contractions weren’t too terrible, so in between contractions I was going around the house picking up and cleaning.  I guess it was my final nesting instinct.  I even washed the dishes—if I had a contraction I would go back to my dark room, breathe through it, and then return to the kitchen.  Dave periodically checked in on me, but otherwise just waited in the living room for me to give him the orders to drive me to the hospital.

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Dave was just hanging out and watching “Friends” while he waited.

Like I mentioned before, I thought this would be a really short labor.  After a few hours passed and my contractions still weren’t regularly three minutes apart, I started to realize this might not be as quick as I thought.  Around 9:30 AM the contractions started getting more intense, and instead of my regular slow breathing, I felt this instinct to make a low moaning sound.  When I made the “oooooohhhh” sounds it just helped with the pain, so I stuck with that for my pain management technique.  The first time I did it Dave can rushing into the room and was like, “Are you ok?!”  I think he was used to my silent laboring, but I had to do what I had to do. 

We arrived at the hospital around 10 AM (my mom and dad met us there) and when they checked me I was dilated only 2 cm! I couldn’t believe that I had already been laboring for several hours and still had such a long way to go. 

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Making sure I’m in real labor before they admit me to a labor room.

After they verified that I was indeed in labor, I was moved into my labor/delivery room.  For Charlotte’s birth I delivered in a different hospital than I did with Sophia because it’s the only hospital in Kaohsiung where you can labor and deliver in the same room.  If you read Sophia’s birth story, you’ll remember that the hardest part of the whole ordeal was having to move from my labor room to the delivery “chair.”  In this new hospital the bed was able to be adapted for delivery, so I didn’t have to go anywhere.

In the labor room I had my headphones in with the labor music on repeat, and I just swayed or braced myself against the wall, or leaned on Dave during contractions.  By 12 PM I was dilated to 5, and I was really starting to feel exhausted.  Since I had only slept about 2 hours the night before, my body just wanted to rest but I knew I had a few more hours of labor and all the pushing to get through.  Each hour I would have to lay down in the bed to have Charlotte’s heart rate checked (otherwise I was standing the whole time) but eventually the contractions that happened when I stood up from the bed were so intense that I just labored the rest of the time lying down.  My mom and Dave were glad I was finally laying down and giving my body some rest, since I think they were worried I wouldn’t have the energy to push! 

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At 1 PM I was dilated to 6 cm and by 2 PM I was at 7 cm.  When the nurse checked me at 2 PM she told me that she thought I was close, and just to call her when I felt the urge to push.  Well, two contractions after she left and I felt a strong urge to push.  This was it!  I started pushing, and like with Sophia, I hated the pushing part!  It was so much more painful to me than the contractions, and at first I wasn’t pushing very strong because it hurt so much.  The doctor came in and I could feel the excitement picking up in the room.  I so wanted it all to be over, but there was a lot of pushing and pain that needed to happen first.  I just wanted it to be over, so with each push I bore down as hard as I could and held my breath.  I guess I was holding my breath for too long because Dave said I was turning purple.  The nurses put an oxygen cannula under my nose to help me, but I really only remember that happening from pictures.  I was in so much pain!  Finally, at 2:30 PM our little Charlotte Grace came into this world.

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They immediately put her onto my stomach, and she was very dark purple and wasn’t crying yet.  I remember how she felt so soft and so slimy at the same time.  I really wanted to have that “fall in love” moment with her, but I was still in so much pain it was hard to think of anything but it.   I just kept saying, “Is she ok?” and “Thank you Jesus.”  I had her on me for just a few moments, and then they needed to take her to suction some of the fluid out of her mouth and nose.  She apparently had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid because they not only used the suction bulb, but had to use the suction machine several times. 

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After she seemed clear, and we had heard that precious cry, they brought her back to me for skin-to-skin, and to try breast feeding.  Our poor little girl had been so traumatized from all the suction that she didn’t even want to open her mouth.  It was still so nice just to feel her there next to me, but during that time the doctor was sewing up my tears and I was still feeling so much pain.  Seriously, all I can remember is the pain.  Oh, and saying, “I’m never doing this again!”

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I so wanted to enjoy this moment but all I felt was PAAAAIIIN

After a few minutes of skin-to-skin they had to suction even more fluid out of her which was so sad to see and hear.  I knew it was hurting her, but I also knew it was the best thing for her.  After that second round of suctioning she was much better and her color improved.  Her Apgar scores were 8 and 9.

Dave finally had a chance to hold her, and it was amazing watching him with her for the first time.  It was definitely love at first sight for those two!

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The nurses then took her away to measure her, weight her, clean her up, and do some tests.  Dave was able to be there for a short time, but I didn’t get to see her again for almost two hours!  For a brief time I had the same feelings I had with Sophia—did I really have a baby? Is this real?  But when they brought her to our recovery room, and she was able to breastfeed again (she latched on right away!) that’s when I had the “ohmygoshIlovehersomuch!” moment.

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Overall, Charlotte’s labor and delivery were much harder and longer than Sophia’s, much more painful, but I was able to recover faster this time.  I don’t think I’m still in that “I’m never having another baby again” place, but I think I’d like to wait quite awhile before I’m ready for another one.

Still, it was all worth it to be able to have such a beautiful and precious little girl!

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1 Month Old

Can you believe Charlotte is already one month old?  Yeah, neither can we!

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Since our last update at two weeks, Charlotte has officially sent in her application for an American passport (see mug shot below) and social security number, and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day!

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She is now weighing in at about 4 kg, or 8.8 lbs, and is growing more and more every day!

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It’s amazing how quickly she is changing!  In the last two weeks she has started using her arms and hands so much more, and when she nurses she always grabs onto my shirt or hair and holds tight for most of the feeding.  She also has figured out how to get her thumb in her mouth, which is just about the cutest thing, since she can’t fold the other fingers down yet and they pretty much just cover her entire face.  One time she actually had both hands at her mouth and was switching off sticking both thumbs in.  I was a thumb sucker too, so I think it runs in the family!

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In the last few days she has been able to meet some very important people. Dave’s parents flew in from America…

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and she got to meet Champ!

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I promise she was happy to see him…it was just time to eat!

 

Her jaundice is almost completely gone now (thank the Lord!) and the doctor didn’t even have to do a blood test this last visit.

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She continues to be a pretty great sleeper at night, and can sleep for 3-4 hours at a time before she wakes up to eat.  I’m very blessed that she sleeps much better at night than in the day.  For her day naps I usually have to hold her or lay beside her, but at night all it takes is a tight swaddle and she sleeps soundly in her crib.

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On her one month “birthday” (which was yesterday, the 28th) we had a small little celebration at my parent’s house, and it was extra special because both sets of grandparents could be there!

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Overall, she is doing so well and we continue to be amazed each day at how much we can love someone we’ve only known for a month!  I look forward in the upcoming month to her smile appearing for the first time, and I think it’s not too far off…

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2 weeks old

It seems almost impossible to believe that our little Charlotte Grace is already two weeks old!

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In some ways it seems like she was just born, and in some ways it seems like she has already been with us for months!

I know I haven’t posted her birth story yet (still working on it) but I wanted to share some of what has happened to us, as a family, in the first two weeks, and share how Charlotte is growing.  After this I will monthly give updates on our girl…although I’m sure there will be some other posts in between.

The first few days of Charlotte’s life were pretty typical.  We were in the hospital—she was rooming in with us—and most of the time revolved around nursing and sleeping (as it still does, now).  The day we were supposed to be discharged from the hospital they took Charlotte to do one last well being check.   Dave went with them, and when he came back without her, I knew something was wrong.  He said that she had been tested for jaundice, and her bilirubin level was at 17.  The doctor wanted her to be at a level of 10 before she could go home, and since he knew we wanted out of the hospital ASAP, he said she would need to be under phototherapy for 12-18 hours a day.  This meant she would basically stay in the nursery 24 hours a day receiving the phototherapy, with breaks only to let me feed her.

We knew that jaundice wasn’t a serious condition, but the idea that we would be separated from her was really hard.  It brought back all of the memories of Sophia, and I became very emotional.  The first time I went to the baby room to feed her I just wept and wept.  I couldn’t believe that, once again, we were in a situation where we couldn’t see our own child when we wanted.  I had to ask permission to be able to feed her. 

The doctor thought that after 48 hours under the phototherapy regimen she should be able to go home.  So, 2 days later they checked her bilirubin level again and it was at 13.  I was devastated.  I started to cry, and the doctors seemed so upset at the fact that I was crying that they told us we could take her home.  We were instructed to bring her back in another 48 hours to get another bilirubin blood test, and if her level was below 17, she could stay home with us. Well, those were the words that we were waiting to hear!! We got to bring our baby home from the hospital!  Again, that had always been our dream for Sophia—a dream that was never realized.  For most parents this seems like the most normal thing in the world, but for us it was a dream come true.

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Those first two days back home were so wonderful, and yet very stressful for me.  As the sole provider of her source of food, I felt a lot of pressure to get her well fed, which in turn would allow her to have lots of dirty diapers, which in turn would help lower her bilirubin levels.  As the two days passed we watched her skin color get darker and redder, and we knew that things weren’t looking good.

At her appointment her blood test came back with a level of 20, which is quite high, and the doctor told us she would have to be readmitted to the hospital right away.  We would have to give her formula for 24 hours (he believed she has breast milk jaundice) and she would most likely be in the hospital for 4 days.

Hearing that totally broke our hearts.  Again, we were going back to a NICU.  Again, we would only be able to see our baby for short periods each day (their visiting hours were just 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night!).  It was a flashback to Sophia all over again.

Now, to those of you who are thinking, “it’s just jaundice! that is so common and nothing to worry about”, I want to say that we know jaundice isn’t serious.  We didn’t think she was never going to come out of the hospital, but it just brought back a lot of memories/feelings/fears from our ordeal with Sophia.  Many of our friends and family tried to comfort us by telling us not to worry, and that we shouldn’t be upset, but I think they weren’t considering the  past experiences we have endured.  It was kind of our small version of post traumatic stress. 

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After 24 hours on formula, her level dropped to 15 and they told me I could breastfeed her again.  So, that began 4 crazy days of driving to and from the hospital every four hours, and pumping breast milk every two hours I wasn’t at the hospital.  After her first day back on breast milk her level dropped to 13, and then 48 hours later her level was 9.6.  We could finally take our little girl back home again!!!

We were allowed to take her home with another doctor’s appointment and blood check scheduled for 48 hours later.  Again, during those 2 days I was completely stressed out.  I was so afraid she was going to have to go back into the hospital.  Every hour she didn’t have a dirty diaper I just imagined her levels rising and rising.  We checked her skin every half hour.  It was torture.  Thankfully, at the next appointment her level had only risen to about 13, which was  acceptable.  No more hospital stays, and no more doctor visits or blood draws for two more weeks!

That day when we came home from the doctor’s appointment I was determined to enjoy my baby girl.  I put my cell phone away since I had been constantly Google-ing every fear or thought that entered my brain.  I reminded myself that she was healthy, she was ok, she was not going to die like Sophia did.  That day we spent hours just laying in bed together, skin to skin, and it was amazing.  For the first time in her almost two weeks of life, I could really just relax and enjoy her.  I could marvel at this perfect gift from above, and I spent time just thanking God for this precious blessing.

I am now trying to relax more, and just trust my body and hers.  It’s hard though.  I think it’s hard for any mom to do that, but especially for a first child after a loss.  Projecting Sophia’s life onto Charlotte is all too easy, and I have to pray all the time that God will help me to enjoy her, and not live in fear.  Please pray for us that we can continue to live in full trust of God, and not fear of the past.

And now onto a quick recap of what Charlotte has been up to these past two weeks:

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It’s amazing how much she has changed in two weeks!  In the last few days she has had longer periods of being awake (when she’s not eating) and so it’s been fun to really start interacting with her.  She can follow toys with her eyes and turns her head to follow them as well.  Her favorite toy is a black and red ladybug puppet we bought on a whim just a few days before she was born.  At night she sleeps quite well, and usually I have to wake her up to feed her.  She has been great at nursing since birth, and it continues to be her absolute favorite thing to do.  Not only does she nurse for food, but for comfort, so we are eager to try out a pacifier after she is a month old or so.  She has amazing neck control and strength, and can easily lift up her head and turn it from side to side.  She will even hold her head and trunk up on her elbows when laid on her tummy, for a few seconds. 

Since Dave and I were so used to Sophia’s condition and all of Champ’s delays as our version of “normal”, Charlotte already amazes us at what she is able to do!

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Charlotte Grace Ly is here!

On Saturday, February 28th—her exact due date—our precious Charlotte came into the world.

2:30 PM.  9 hours of labor (I’ll write her birth story later)

7 lbs. 12 oz.

20.5 inches long.

Our perfect little girl.

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She’s now 9 days old and already looks so different from these pictures!  Right now she is in the hospital being treated for jaundice, but we pray she will come home this Wednesday. 

More to come!

Never-changing Goodness

There is something that has been pressing on my heart for awhile now, and I wanted to write it out while I still have time to blog.

I’m sitting here, 39 1/2 weeks pregnant, carrying a healthy 7 pound little girl in my belly, thinking how blessed I am. 

Almost every day I catch myself staring at my huge belly in the mirror, with tears in my eyes, having a hard time believing that we are about to have another child.  A healthy child, that will most likely be perfectly healthy when she is born.  She will most likely come home with us from the hospital, and she will most likely grow up healthy and live a long life.

God is good.

In this season of my life He is so, so good.

But when I stare at my belly now, I also think to the last time I had a big belly.  The belly that held my first daughter, Sophia.  She wasn’t born healthy.  She never came home from the hospital, and she only lived 47 days, all of which she was extremely sick.

She died.  We were devastated.  My whole self was changed. But, God was still good.  In that season of my life He was so, so good.

After Sophia died, when I was once able to look at Facebook again, I started seeing other women who had lost children get pregnant again.  The were having their “rainbow babies.”  And when I saw their pregnancy announcements, my first thoughts were not of congratulations.  I did not feel happiness in my hearts for them.  I felt jealous.  I thought, “Why do they deserve another child, and not me?”

Then as months passed, and my heart began to heal a little, my reactions to pregnancy announcements became “Wow, God is sure being good to them.”

I think that my feelings, reactions and thoughts were all completely normal for a grieving parent, or a person who has always wanted to become a parent.  But my idea of God’s goodness during those early months of my grief was not correct.  I was basing His goodness on my circumstances, seeing it as a fluid thing that could move in and out of my life.

I learned so much about God’s love and goodness after Sophia died.  And what I want to make clear in this post is that I don’t feel that just because we became pregnant again with Charlotte, that God has been good to us.  I don’t feel He has was good just because He gave us a child to foster just four months after we lost Sophia. 

So many of us feel that when times are good, that God is good.  And that when times are bad, that God is either bad or just not being good to us. 

“"I am the LORD, and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6

But when we fall into those deceitful thoughts, we rob ourselves of so much love and tenderness that our Heavenly Father so wants to give us in those darkest of moments.  We lose the chance to learn some of life’s most valuable lessons.  We are unable to grow in our faith because we believe that God has abandoned us.  That His goodness has temporarily ceased.

For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.  Psalm 100:5

There is a song by Kari Jobe called, “Love Came Down.”  It has come to have very special meaning to me, and I wanted to share some of the lyrics with you.

The first verse says:

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear Your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that You’ve done
And the life I have
Because of Your son

This verse is my Sophia season.  It is also my season with our foster son, Champ.  It represents all of us in our dark times, because Lord knows, we all have them. 

The second verse says:

When my heart is filled with hope
Every promise comes my way
When I feel Your hands of grace
Rest upon me
Staying desperate for You, God
Staying humble at Your feet
I will lift these hands in praise
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that You’ve done
And the life I have
Because of Your son

This verse represents my current season.  We have been blessed with another child, and so far she is completely healthy.  The verse is all the highs in our life when we simply cannot believe how blessed we have been.

The two verses speak to two very different seasons of life.  And yet, the words following each verse, the chorus, are exactly the same.

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours
Lord I’m forever Yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am Yours
I am forever Yours

I know these are just lyrics to a song, but they echo the truths of the Bible so well.  This song reminds us of what God so desperately wants us to remember: He is always good.  He is always there.

When Jesus was sent to this Earth, died on the cross and rose again, He provided a way for you to never be alone.  He made meaning out of our sometimes meaningless circumstances.  He gave our lives a purpose, a direction, and set them on a course that would lead us to eternal life with Him in Heaven.

 

It doesn’t matter the season of your life.  He is still good.  He is still there.

Whether good or bad.

Excruciating or exceptional.

Hopeless or hopeful.

He is constant.  He doesn’t change.  He is love. 

He is yours, and your are His.  Forever.

God is good all the time.  All the time, He is good.

Charlotte’s Nursery

Hey friends! I cannot believe how long it has been since I last posted on this blog!  Last time we had just found out Charlotte’s gender and we revealed her name.  That was around 19 weeks, and I’ll be 39 weeks on Saturday.  Wow, how time flies!  I received a few comments a couple weeks ago asking about Charlotte and wondering how she was, and I realized that I need to be more diligent in blogging.  So many of you have been praying for us, which we appreciate more than you can ever know, and so you need up-to-date info! 

Quick recap on the pregnancy before I share photos of her nursery:

N.O.R.M.A.L  has been the theme of this pregnancy, and can I tell you how wonderful that is?  There is one time in life where you want your child to be completely unexceptional and normal, and that is during pregnancy.  And thankfully, that’s what Charlotte has been.  Of course we’ve heard a few little things here and there that made me over-analyze and go google crazy, but nothing has panned out to be of any concern.  She really could come any day now (although the doctor says she doesn’t look ready to pop out anytime soon…) so please continue to pray for us.  Oh, and if you’d like more up-to-date information (as in, not 4 months late…) you can always “like” Sophia’s facebook page where I still post about Charlotte, Champ, and other big news in our lives. 

And without further ado, here are some shots of Charlotte’s nursery:

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This is the view from the hallway.  Her walls are painted light pink, and when the sun is bright it makes half the hallway pink too.

 

Right when you walk in (on the left wall) are two little pieces of art I made for her:

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The “precious child of God” I stitched onto some cardstock, and the “Oh! hello little rainbow” I just made on the computer and printed at home. *In the child grief community a “rainbow baby” is what you call a child born after you have previously lost one.*

 

Then on the right side wall we have a dresser that doubles as a changing table (I wanted it right by the door for easy access) and a small side table that will hold wipes, lotion, her sound machine, and all of her books (at an easy height for her to, one day, grab herself).

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This will be her view as she gets her diapers changed.

Our landlord won’t let us put any holes in our walls (no nails, screws, etc) so everything we put up has to be using Command hooks.  Because of this I was too nervous to hang anything heavy over the changing table (or crib), so I left the wall there blank.  The hanging pom poms are very light, so if they ever did fall on her they wouldn’t cause any damage.  To the right of the changing table I hung some heavier art (button art I made, and the print was a gift to me from my sister after Sophia died) and to the left is a little bow holder I made from a picture frame, and a little bird hook to hang all her head bands.

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Also on that side of the nursery is a built in book shelf.  This room was originally our office/Dave’s man cave, but we decided to switch rooms with the old nursery.  The old nursery room had so many memories of Sophia and Champ, and we just wanted a fresh start for Charlotte. 

At first I really wasn’t crazy about the glass doors, but now I know it will make it easier to see when we’re running low on diapers or wipes or other things.  As you can see we have quite the stash already built up from the baby shower (thanks friends!) so we should be set for the first 2-3 months.

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Turning left into the room, it looks like this:

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Unfortunately city/apartment living means that you have to cram lots of stuff into little spaces, so even thought this room feels a bit cluttered to me, all the items have to be here.  The futon should come in handy for late night feedings (once she’s sleeping by herself in the nursery), bedtime stories, and just a fun place for her to play when she gets older. 

Above the windows we have this super cute clock:

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On the far wall (as you can see in the photo above) we have another bookcase that holds baskets full of swaddlers, burp cloths, bibs, hats, and toys.  On top we have one of our Sophia bears, as well as the shadow boxes I made for her memorial service.  It was important for us include Sophia in this room, but still make it mostly for Charlotte.

Also on that wall is a white wardrobe for more storage, and on top we have memory boxes for both our girls, as well as a high chair we will one day use.

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The last part of the nursery is her crib!  We love this sweet little crib so much. (That curtained area is our “storage closet.”  We don’t have a single closet in our apartment, so we have be creative! I hope Charlotte doesn’t mind sharing her room with our suitcases and floor steamer.)

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I made the bunting for above the crib, and my parents helped me hang it all up.

These 3 stuffed animals are the first that Charlotte got and funny enough, this is the Chinese lunar year of the goat/sheep (same word in Chinese).  The pig is from her “Charlotte’s Web” baby shower (hopefully I’ll get around to posting photos from that soon).

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So that is her nursery!  Due to space issues and no-holes-in-the-walls policies, it’s not exactly my “dream nursery” but I think it turned out ok with what I had to work with.  We still can’t believe that within a week or two she will be home with us, Lord willing, and we will finally be able to use all these baby things that we never got to use with Sophia.  God is so good! 

I’ll end with a shot of one last decoration…to HIM be the glory!

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Baby #2 gender AND name reveal!

 

I wanted to give a quick update on how this second pregnancy is going, as well as share our new baby’s gender (if you haven’t read the news on Facebook yet) and the baby’s name.

First of all, tomorrow I will be 19 weeks, and things are going perfectly normal, which is still a crazy concept for me to truly comprehend.  At our last ultrasound, 3 weeks ago, the baby’s brain structure looked normal, her profile looked normal, her heart looked normal, and there were no signs of a cleft lip.  Praise the Lord!  It’s such a foreign thing to hear actual good news at an ultrasound—with Sophia it was just visit after visit of doctors telling us our baby was going to die.  I admit, I still struggle with the fear of losing the precious one and the transferring of Sophia’s illnesses unto this baby, but it’s something I am working on.  With God’s help I hope to be able to continue to enjoy a healthy, normal pregnancy and receive it with joy instead of fear.

Anyways, on to the big news!

We’re having a little…………………..

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…girl!  (in case that wasn’t clear from this photo.)

And we’ve decided to name our precious little girl:

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Thank you to all of you who have been praying for Charlotte and myself (as well as Dave!), and please continue to pray that this pregnancy will remain healthy and normal, and that in 4 1/2 months we will be able to have our sweet girl home with us.

All about Baby #2!

Hey everyone, sorry this blog has been so quiet.  I have always had a hard time with blogging transitions: the ending of one type of regular posting (Sophia’s letters) and the beginning of another.  It seems  surreal that my last post on this blog was a letter to my dead daughter, and this post is all about our new baby.  God has been so, so good to us in the hard times and in the good and I’m happy to share about both.

For those of you who were a little shocked by the title of this post (and aren’t connected to me on Facebook) YES, we are pregnant again!  We announced it about two weeks ago, but I haven’t said much about it since, so I’ll use this post to share all the details we know so far about this precious 15 1/2 week old.

When did we find out I was pregnant? On June 26th. 

How did we find out? Well, the obvious answer is through a positive pregnancy test, but I’ll share more of that story: A few days before I took the test I had been feeling some nausea off and on, and had been feeling a bit more fatigued than normal.  Although I had that little voice in the back of my head saying “maybe you’re pregnant!” I pretty much ignored it since I had felt all these things before and not been pregnant.  Ever since Sophia passed away we knew we wanted another baby, and sometimes I wanted it so much that physical symptoms of pregnancy were manifested.  I had probably taken about 10 pregnancy tests prior to our positive one, off and on throughout the past year.  The day I got the positive result, I told myself just to go out and buy a pregnancy test so I could take it, get the negative, and shut that voice up in my head once and for all.  I didn’t want to tell Dave I was taking this test since I really thought it would be negative, and didn’t want to involve him in another heartache.  So, I told a little white lie, that I was going to get lunch (which I did get) but also went to the drugstore and purchased a pregnancy test (that part I didn’t tell him.)  I waited until he went to work, and Champ was taking a nap, and decided to take the test.  You’re supposed to wait 3 minutes from the time you pee on the stick, so I stood outside the bathroom that entire time.  At the end of the three minutes I slowly peeked my head around the door and tiptoed in, almost as if the test were an explosive device or something.  When I saw the two pink lines (which means positive) I was SHOCKED.  Shock and fear were the first emotions that went through me, not happiness.  I remember just pacing around the house saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh” over and over again.  Then, I drank a big glass of water and took another test just to make sure the first one wasn’t faulty.  Sure enough, another set of pink lines.  I remember crying out to God begging him not to take this baby from us.  I was so scared because now the potential for loss was there again, the potential for all the pain we had just waded through with Sophia.  The pain of infertility and wanting a child are very strong and sharp, but in my opinion, the pain of losing a child is even greater and deeper.  Now that we had those two pink lines, the stakes had gone up dramatically and we were put back in the shooting range again with the potential to get hit.  I got the results from the second pregnancy test at 1:29, and Dave’s first class started at 1:30, so I knew there was no way I could call him and bombard him with this huge news right before starting work.  So, I had to sit with all this for four hours before he came home that afternoon.

How did I tell Dave? The day before I had started leaving little “I love you because…” notes for him, so I figured I would use those as a decoy for sharing the big news with him.  I put the two (washed) pregnancy tests in a box (the only box I had on hand was a box that held tubes of oil paints) and on top of the box put a note that said “I love you because of the wonderful, loving father that you were to Sophia…” and inside the box, on top of the tests, had another note that said “and for the wonderful father you will be to this precious new one.”  When he got home I told him that I had another note to give him, and he went into our room to read it.   At first he just read the top note and smiled a little, then he opened the box.  Now, because it was a box for paints, and the ends of the pregnancy tests were blue and pink, at first he thought I was just giving him some paints.  But he lifted up the note, saw the other end of the tests, and his head shot up.  He said in the most serious voice “No.  Are you serious?”  I started laughing and said, “Well, it’s not Champ’s pee.”  Then he actually took the time to read the note and said “Noooo, are you kidding?” (this time with a huge smile on his face) and I just said “I don’t think so.”  It was a wonderful moment!

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How did the first doctor’s visits go? About a week after getting the positive test I was able to see the doctor to confirm the pregnancy.  It had taken so long to actually get in to see the doctor that Dave had left for work, and I was alone.  I was terrified of getting bad news on my own, but thankfully my parents (who had been out of the city) were just coming back in on the train and my mom was able to make it to the appointment and go in with me.  That first visit the doctor confirmed one embryo in my uterus.  It was official, I was really pregnant!  At that visit she thought I was only 4-5 weeks along, so she told me to come back the next week to see if the baby was still growing.  We went back this next week (this time Dave was able to be there) and sure enough the little “blob” had grown.  We were officially six weeks pregnant!  We had another appointment two weeks later to listen for a heartbeat, and if that sounded ok I’d officially become a “pregnant patient.”  Up until they hear the heartbeat they don’t really consider you officially pregnant.  At eight weeks Dave and I went back, and I was extremely nervous.  Ok, I was extremely nervous for each visit, but for this one especially.  I knew that I had continued to experience pregnancy symptoms, but I still so scared to hear the bad news that there was no heartbeat.  When we finally got into the ultrasound room and the doctor pulled up the image of our baby, one of the first things she said was “the heartbeat looks stronger.”  Those words were beautiful music to my ears!  Then, we got to hear the heartbeat and it was the sweetest little washing-machine-like noise I had ever heard!

Our latest visit (which was about two weeks ago) was the one I was fearing the most.  While we had been visiting America we had told all of our friends and family about the baby.  People had given us congratulations and hugs and tears of happiness had been shed.  It all felt “real”—like we really might be able to have a healthy child—but the last ultrasound was one that could make all that happiness come crashing down.  I was about 13 1/2 weeks, which was right around the same time we learned of all of Sophia’s problems.  Although hearing this second baby’s heartbeat was a great sign, we had also heard Sophia’s heartbeat, and had not known of any problems at that time.  I knew that the baby would be big enough at 13 1/2 weeks to see any of the physical problems that Sophia had, and I was a wreck.  To make matters worse, the appointment had been scheduled for the afternoon which meant that Dave wouldn’t be able to come with me.  Thankfully, though, my awesome mom was available.  It didn’t help that we had to wait a really long time to see the doctor.  My anxiety was building, and even though I was praying for peace, I was preparing myself for the worst.  When the ultrasound wand touched my belly for the first time, the first thing I noticed was how big the baby had gotten!  In the previous ultrasounds it had just looked like a little blob, and now it looked like a baby!  I could clearly see the head and body and arms and legs.  The first image was a perfect little profile shot, one we had never been able to see with Sophia.  The doctor immediately began pointing out the different parts of the body, and when she came to the face she said “and this is the nose.”  My mom and I looked at each other and said “the NOSE!”  That was one of the features that had first raised red flags with Sophia—she had not had a nasal bone.  Just seeing that nose lifted all the anxiety away from me!  Throughout the rest of the ultrasound he/she was squirming away, waving it’s arms, putting it’s hand near it’s mouth, and generally just being the cutest thing ever.  I heard the words “healthy and normal” which were words we had NEVER heard with Sophia.  I finally got to experience what millions of other mothers get to experience—a normal ultrasound filled with normal (which means good!) news. 

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I love that in this picture our little one is waving “hi!”

Do you have a nickname for this baby? Yes, we are calling this little one “peanut.”

Will you find out the gender of this baby? Yes, next Tuesday! We can’t wait.  I’d love to have another little girl, and Dave would love to have a little boy.  However, we will both be more than happy just to have a healthy child, no matter the gender.

When is the baby due?  Our little peanut is scheduled to arrive at the end of February 2015.  Although, if this one is anything like his/her bigger sister, I wouldn’t be shocked if it decided to stay in there until March.

How have you been feeling? In some ways this pregnancy has been very similar to Sophia’s (mostly sickness in the afternoon, nausea if I let myself get hungry, fatigue).  Most of my symptoms stopped right around 10 weeks, and with Sophia they stopped around 8 weeks.  As with Sophia I have had a super sensitive gag reflex, which makes brushing my teeth a challenge, but overall I feel pretty good.  Now that I’m in my second trimester I have more energy and my biggest symptoms is headaches that come when I’m hungry.  Basically, as long as my belly is full, this baby seems happy!

How are you dealing with pregnancy after loss? As I mentioned above, fear and anxiety were some of the first emotions I experienced with this baby.  It hasn’t been until this last ultrasound that I could truly relax a little and start to get excited about this baby.  I find that I’m constantly having to choose hope and happiness instead of fear and detachment.  We know that pregnancies do not guarantee a living, healthy child.  We know that at any point in this pregnancy or delivery we could lose this baby.  But, we also realize that this is the reality with any pregnancy.  So, just as I did with Sophia, I try to chose love and I try to bond with this baby in any way that I can.

Because we have  experienced the greatest loss, the loss of a child, and because we have seen that God carried us through that, we feel that even if God chooses to take this baby away from us we will still be ok.  It is not something I hope to ever have to go through again, but we know that we will survive it—because we have before.

 

I  want to thank all of you who have prayed for us during our pregnancy with Sophia, during her life, after her death, and even now.  Please pray that this baby will remain healthy.  Please pray that we will live in fear and anxiety for the next 5 1/2 months, but will be able to truly enjoy this gift that God has blessed us with.

Lastly, I want to write to those women who are reading this, and are still waiting on their tiny miracle.  Perhaps you’ve birthed and lost a child, and are still waiting for your rainbow baby (what the grief community calls a baby born after the loss of a child.)  Perhaps you’ve had the joy of a positive pregnancy tests a few or many times, but have never been able to hold your precious little one.  Or perhaps that pregnancy test has never been positive for you, and you still wait for that day.  I want you to know that I pray for all you ladies, and I understand where you are because I have been in the shoes of all of you.  I want you to know that I struggle with posting the joy of this pregnancy because I know for many of you it just adds salt to your wounds.  I love you all and pray that God will fill your hearts with the peace that only comes from Him and that He will prepare you for the future that He has already planned for you, whether that involves children or not. Let us remember that He is Good, and He is Love, no matter our circumstances.  To Him be all the glory and all the first love in our hearts!

Looking Back and Looking Forward (52 Weeks)

My dear Sophia,

This is my 52nd letter to you, and my last in this year-long series of letters.  I know that I can write you more in the future, but it will be the last of my weekly letters to you. 

Of course that means that it’s officially been a year since you went to Heaven.  This past Tuesday marked the one year anniversary of your death.  Daddy and I spent parts of the day looking at pictures of you, and I finally watched the video that your Uncle Stephen made of your life (I hadn’t watched it since your memorial service last year).  That night your grandma, grandpa, and uncle came over and we just had a fun time laughing about nothing and generally having a good time.  At first I didn’t know if that was ok—to me laughing on the one year anniversary of your death—but the day in its entirety really summed up what this last year has been for me.  Many parts of the year were spent in sadness and spent reflecting on your short, precious life.  But there were other parts when my mom and dad (your grandparents) and your daddy helped me laugh and smile again and helped me move on from all those tears.

I think the reason I’m writing you this letter so late in the week is because I really wasn’t sure what to write to you.  Since this is the last letter I wanted to make it extra special, but the words just weren’t coming to me.

So I’ve decided that this last letter will be a reflection on the previous 51 letters I’ve written to you.  It will be a way for me to see how I’ve changed in the last year and a way for you to see my love for you stretched out over the past 365 days:


Week 1: I didn’t know that the worst part of being sad isn’t the crying, it’s the lack of crying.  At least when I cry I feel like I can let some of the hurt go, but most of the time I can’t let it go.  It just sits in me as I stare off into space.

Week 2: The day I gave birth to you you were pink, fresh, and so delicate.  And just like those roses, your life was all too short.  I wanted to keep you so much longer than I was able to.

Week 3: It was during that time that I realized my grief is a lot like those waves. It comes and goes, but it is always there.  Sometimes it comes quickly, in waves that are right on top of each other.  I feel consumed by it, like I can’t breathe, and for short moments it seems like I am drowning.

Week 4: And why me?  Why did I have to lose my first baby through miscarriage and my second baby to heart failure?  Why does God think that I am able to handle all of this?  Because I’ll be honest, right now I don’t think that I can.

Week 5: It’s hard to imagine being able to have a normal conversation with friends; one where my mind doesn’t wander off to you.  I can’t fathom that one day I will actually want to leave the house and go out and do “fun things.”

Week 6: You see, just because you’re not here doesn’t mean that I can stop parenting you—I just have to do it in a different way than the other mommies who still get to hold their babies.

Week 7: I used to think it was really strange when people would leave things untouched after a loved one died.  I thought it was weird that they would leave entire rooms exactly how they had been left the day that person passed away.  I used to think that, but now I get it.  I totally get it.

Week 8: But as quickly as I felt that goodness, it was drowned out with guilt.  I felt guilty that I was laughing and smiling again.  I felt guilty that I didn’t feel consumed by grief.

Week 9: I never thought that this would be the road my pregnancy with you would lead me. I didn’t think a year ago that the surprise of your life wouldn’t be long followed by the sorrow of your death.

Week 10: Sophia, this life after you is so strange.  It’s a strange dance between grief and relief and happiness and hurt and guilt and stress and so many more things.  It’s a life that the doe-eyed newlywed, three years ago, would never have imagined for her and her husband.  It’s a life that forces mommy to, each day, get up out of bed and try to make something of the circumstances God has given me.

Week 11: It’s in the darkness of night when the tears threaten to never end that I hold the tightest to His promises.  It’s in the moments at the store when smiling families are all around me and my empty arms, that I have to force myself to remember:  God keeps His promises.

Week 12: I truly believe that in a year I will be able to look back and marvel at the way our Loving Father carried my through all of this.  I know that eventually He will redeem these dark days and I will see more of the good than the bad.

Week 13: You, Super Girl, brought together a community of people who might never have known each other if it hadn’t been for you.  Their overwhelming love for you caused a bright light to shine in our darkest days.  You were so, so, so loved.

Week 14: I used to think about how excited you would have been to meet Jesus for the first time in Heaven, but then I corrected myself: you met Jesus long before you went to Heaven.  He was with you every second of your life here in Earth, and I believe with all my heart that you felt Him and knew He was there.

Week 15: I grieve the loss of being a mom to a living child.  I grieve the silence in the nursery.  I grieve the unused stroller and car seat and all the cute outfits that still have tags on them.  I grieve the fact that I am still childless, when all I’ve ever wanted was to have a child.

Week 16: Sophia, baby, it was such a wonderful dream.  While I was dreaming it, it was so vivid, and I felt right there in the moment.  When I woke up the next morning I didn’t remember it right away though.  It wasn’t until about an hour after being awake that the memories of the dream came flooding back to me, and I relived them with a huge smile on my face.

Week 17: No matter the time, no matter if God blesses us with other children, no matter the changes that life has in store for me…you will always have my heart and my love.  And I will never stop cherishing the moments that we got to spend together—especially the moments you spent in my arms.

Week 18: I can’t tell you how many times I had visualized carrying you out of the PICU and bringing you to a regular hospital room; one where we could be with you 24 hours a day.  That day never came, and the fact that it happened this week with another baby was surreal, wonderful, and devastating all at once.

Week 19: I’m thankful that even though I daily lose my faith and trust, He is always there gently pushing me on and reminding me of His goodness.  Sophia, He is so, so good to us all.

Week 20: Having Champ here is so bittersweet.  It’s so wonderful to have a baby to care for and a little one to hold in my arms.  But it’s heartbreaking that that baby isn’t you.  It’s hard to not question why God couldn’t have allowed you to come home from the hospital.

Week 21: Sophia, I know the exact number of people who actually got to meet you in person (besides the countless nurses and doctors).  13.  Only 13 people ever breathed the same air as you, and got to feel your soft skin.  And do you know how many people knew about your life, and prayed for you?  Thousands.

Week 22: Last Christmas I was feeling your kicks for the first time, and buying you your first outfits.  I was praying for your healing several times a day, and I was believing that this Christmas you would be home with us.

Week 23: It’s amazing to think that even though we got to see some beautiful works of God’s hand, they are nothing in comparison to the beauties you get to see every second in Heaven.

Week 24: I know there are no years or even time in Heaven and I know there was not a big 2014 celebration with the angels.  But I want you to know that even though you don’t feel the ache of each year that passes while we are separated, I do.  I feel it so deeply and heavily.

Week 25: I want to be the same mommy to Champ as I was able to be to you.  I see now that all the times people commented on how strong I was, or complimented me on my calmness, they were really just giving glory to God…because it all just came from Him.  Without Him I am so frail, and worried, and weak.  I need Him so much, Sophia, and that’s a lesson I should never forget.

Week 26: Today marks the one year anniversary of your daddy and me moving to Taiwan, and tomorrow marks 6 months since you passed away.  I thought that this week I would write about those last days with you, something I still haven’t really done…but I’m still not quite ready to go back there.

Week 27: God is going to keep redeeming my darkest moments, and I know He will keep showing me more places where His grace is.

Week 28: These numbers make me think about the endless sea of faces I pass by each week.  Statistics prove that some of those people are putting on the same mask that I did.  They are trying to appear normal while inside they are screaming.

Week 29: My brain knows that your sickness wasn’t my fault and that I did all that was humanly possible to keep you alive.  But my heart has never really let me stop believing that somehow…somehow…there was something else I could have done to help you.

Week 30: Since your death I have joined an exclusive club—the “parents of dead children” club.  It’s one that you would never wish to join, and you don’t have a choice as to whether or not you’re admitted as a member.  It’s the worst club in the world, yet at the same time there are beautiful kinships that are found there.

Week 31: Just because you died, that doesn’t mean that I have a “get out of another baby-death free card.”  And just because we struggled with infertility before you, it doesn’t mean that now another baby will come as soon as I want it to be here.  Those things just aren’t promised to me.

Week 32: So here’s to the many more adventures that I can share with you.  Here’s to the experiences that I am learning not to shy away from, but embrace, knowing that I carry you with me.

Week 33: There are little to no surprises about your life anymore.  There isn’t any fact about your health, or the events of your 47 days of life that I don’t know.  There will never be any new milestones in your life, new stories to tell, or any new photographs to share.  Except for the new stories that arise that are connected to your legacy, there will never be anything that I could learn about you that I don’t already know now.

Week 34: It still amazes me how God chose this specific little boy to come into our home.  He chose a baby that had so many similarities to you, so that we’d be able to experience some of the things we never got to do with you—even if it’s a surgery.

Week 35: I told the nurse about how we knew you would be sick before you were born, but we chose to love you anyway.  I told her that your face didn’t look “normal” either, but that you were the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen.  I told her how much we loved you, simply because you were our daughter and a gift from God.

Week 36: When you go through a big loss, like we did when we lost you, it’s easy to think that God is going to take it easy on you from then on. You want to believe that pregnancies will come easy, babies will be born healthy, and life will be smooth sailing because you’ve been through the roughest of storms and surely that was enough.  I’ve learned that isn’t the way things work.

Week 37: He is a really, really great daddy.  And it breaks my heart that he only got to be your daddy for 47 days.  It breaks my heart that you didn’t get to know him more, and that he didn’t get to live out his daddy dreams in you.  My heart breaks for the relationship that could have been that died on July 22, 2013. 

Week 38: Thank you, Sophia, for giving me a chance to experience love and gain empathy in an area of life that I might never have.  Even though you have been gone for almost 9 months you still continue to teach me lessons and shape my life.

Week 39: When I stop to reflect on all these changes I realize that I am different.  I am not the same.

Week 40: If I just keep moving, maybe grief will never catch me. But the thing is, I know that’s not healthy.  That is an unsustainable way to go through life, especially life that has been slathered in grief.  I know that I have to dig deep, sift through the pain, keep remembering the precious things, and not let Satan rob me of my hope that is found in Christ.

Week 41: I think the biggest reason why I’m so torn up about Mother’s Day is that it is so much bigger than just the loss of you—it’s a reminder of the loss and unfulfillment of my biggest wish, to be a mother.

Week 42: Living life with you would have been very, very hard, but I would still trade anything for just one chance to experience life with you outside of the hospital.

Week 43: Everything in the PICU felt as if no time had passed.  So many of the same smells, sounds, and people.  I walked past one room and heard “Wow, Sophia’s mommy!” as another one of your nurses smiled at me.  It was such a surreal moment.  Being there gave me a sense of closure to a piece of my grief journey.  It gave me a chance to feel like I was near you again.  And there are very few chances that I get to feel that.

Week 44: But God has been trying to show me that it hasn’t all been in vein.  He has been trying to show me that in my weakness His power and strength shine through.  He’s been trying to show me that His grace is all that I need.  He’s been trying to get me to understand that even if I don’t have all the desires of my heart granted, He is still good and my life is still full because He is in it.

Week 45: So I guess, Sophia, there is not more fitting way to end your birthday letter than the way we began your birthday one year ago…trusting in the Lord.  In this last year He has shown Himself to be compassionate, forgiving, comforting, grace-giving, and good.  I’m so glad that you are celebrating this first birthday with the Heavenly Father who loves you so much.

Week 46: The rain remains in the fact that I still miss you.  It remains in the fact that I still have no child to call my own.  It remains in the fact that Champ has gone through trial after trial after trial with little to no rest in between.  In this storm Christ has been my umbrella.  He has protected me from the worst of the downpour, but that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a deluge around me.

Week 47: I was a mess this past year.  I fell apart in pieces, and had to be put back together again.  Some of the pieces came back together the same way they always had, but some of them just didn’t fit like they used to.  And because of this I was forced to sort of mod-podge myself back together, trying to make the new me, the Real me, as close to the Old me as possible.  But, I look different now.  I am not as shiny and new as before, I have so many more scars and tears.  However, I like to think (now) that this new me, this Real me, can’t be ugly.  It simply is just different.  Real.

Week 48: So, Sophia, that’s what I’m choosing for this next year.  I choose joy.  I choose to find that joy in the fact that God loves me, and has my best planned for me.  I choose joy because no matter the trials and tribulations that this world throws at me, Christ has suffered more, and because of that suffering, He has allowed me to have the hope of Heaven.

Week 49: I guess I just want to look back and remember you this week, because I know that after your fourth week you started to get really sick.  I know what is coming in 19 days.  I know how the story ends.  But for now I just want to remember you before the edema and all the heart breaking news.

Week 50: I hate that I had to let you go.  But I love that I got to love you.

Week 51: After you died I locked away my grief into different rooms in my heart.  Some of the doors I could easily open and I could enter the rooms without fear.  Other rooms stayed shut for longer, and only after time was I able to go in.  Then there were the rooms that were tucked the deepest into my heart, with the strongest locks.  This week I feel God is giving me the strength to unlock the doors of the scariest rooms of my grief, and enter.


Wow, baby girl.  What a year we have had.  What changes I see in myself and the world around me. 

These letters to you have helped me to process my grief and in turn heal from it.  They have allowed me to feel connected to you and to hold on to being your mommy for another year. 

God only knows what this next year holds for me and daddy, and only God can provide the strength and grace we will need to live out each day without you.

As I’ve said hundreds of times before, I love you Sophia Faith.  The love in my heart for you will never fade, and I will never forget all that you have taught me.

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All my love, forever and ever,

Mommy