baby gaby.

Yesterday I was doing just fine when out of nowhere the deep sorrow, the grief, the hurt all hit me.  I was driving to Walgreens and out of nowhere started thinking about having to pick out a coffin for our baby boy.  How is that right?  That I could type that sentence, let alone it be true.  And that’s what brought it on.  It was so weird because it did just come out of nowhere, and then I was able to pick myself up and regain composure and do the rest of my day normal.  I’ve read about grief being like that.  Heard from moms who have lost babies that it happens and will keep happening.  I guess that was my first out of the blue grief moment, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.


Tommy and I decided several weeks ago that we would research and do the things necessary to make plans for what will happen after Gabriel passes away.  Not that we aren’t holding out hope for him living for a little while [I pray every day that God will bless us with time with Gabriel] but to make it easier when that time does come.  For us, it brings more peace, although that word hardly seems appropriate, to have things planned, so that when we do need those plans, they are already in place.  We don’t want to have to plan a funeral and find a burial space and pick a coffin while we’re deeply grieving our son’s death.  We want to spend that time remembering him and focusing on the moments we had with him, rather than details of a funeral.  So while it hardly seems right to do those things while he’s alive and we can feel him moving in my belly, we will prepare in case that’s the road we have to walk after his birth.  Again — hoping, hoping, hoping for time with our sweet baby boy while he is alive.  But our reality says that life is short, especially with a fatal chromosomal syndrome.  So we do the things of reality but hold out for the greatest of hopes.


I’ve been ignoring a lot of the reality things lately, which is fine, I think, but sooner or later I have to face them.  We have decisions to make and lots of things to think about, and I thought I would decide on them right away once we had confirmed Gabriel’s diagnosis but I’ve surprised myself.  I’m a planner and I like decisions to be made and done.  But I guess this time because the decisions are the biggest of my life, I feel better not thinking about them and putting them off, rather than making them.  In the meantime, I will just enjoy my days with Baby Gaby, as I affectionately refer to him.  I’m not a fan of the name or nickname Gabe.  I’m sorry if that’s your loved one’s name… just doesn’t fit my little guy.  But apparently Baby Gaby does — who doesn’t like a rhyme?  So me and Baby Gaby celebrate 27 weeks this week!!  27!!  It is amazing, and I am so thankful for all of these weeks.  I truly didn’t think I’d see 27 weeks, 7 weeks ago.  And at the same time, I am becoming acutely aware that I am approaching the “home stretch” of the pregnancy as my emails tell me.  Heading into the 3rd trimester, which is a huge blessing, is also a bittersweet time for us.  Days of sweetness, days I treasure, marked with the tinge that the end is coming.  That days will soon come where I must make decisions.  Days where I will be counting down on my time with my boy inside of me.  Days where all of our wonderings and what-ifs will come to be.  Days my heart cannot bear to face but at the same time must.  Days of hope.


Please keep praying for us.  We are in great need of God’s love, power, and hope.



21 months.

Our Jack Jack is 21 months today.  I can hardly believe it.  In fact, I’ve had to count it out several times to make sure I’m right.  Seems like he was a little babe just yesterday, yet at the same time it seems like he’s been this fun little buddy of ours forever.  Time is funny like that.





Here’s a very brief recap of Jack’s life at 21 months:


A week ago he started sleeping in his big boy bed, and he has done great!  It was a scary transition but with the help of a new turtle/star nightlight, and the fact that Jack is just an awesome and really brave boy, he’s doing great in his new bed.





Jack is still an active, active boy.  He loves to run, climb, play, and be adventurous.  He definitely keeps us on our toes and keeps us busy.  He’s also a very reserved, shy, and careful spirit.  He’s cautious with new people and in new places.  He watches for a long time before he decides to join in, but once he does join he goes at it fully — as long as he can check in with me and Tommy and let us know how much fun he’s having.  He loves fiercely!  I don’t know if I’ve ever known anyone who loves as much as Jack does.  He goes all out.  He gives us big hugs and kisses, too.  He misses his family when he doesn’t get to see them, and talks about them all the time.  I mean probably a dozen times a day he asks questions about his grandparents, aunt, and uncle.






He is getting really good at letting us know what he wants.  There is still some frustration there on both ends when he just can’t quite communicate with us what he is wanting, but for the most part he gets his point across.  He’s good at going through the cabinets or fridge to pick out a snack.  He answers us when we give him 2 choices.  He is doing a great job with using his fork and spoon.  And he still loves his fruits and vegetables.  Tonight he ate all of his broccoli and then took all of mine off my plate and ate it all, too.  That’s par for the course around here.  I’m not complaining.






I was trying to think of some of the words he says these days and was so so happy to come up with such a long list.  I know there are many more I’m not thinking of now, but our boy is talking really well.  I’m so thankful and relieved because he was so slow to say words and was on the bottom of the “normal scale” for words he was saying.  So it’s just great to hear so much from him.

Here’s a list of some of his most commonly spoken words:


Geesh — for truck

Eyes — for milk





Meow meow with hand motions on face — for cat






Most of his family member’s names

Ya Ya — for Lady and Eli, our dogs



Makes a noise for helicopter






Sheets — this is new since he got his new sheets for his big boy bed






He says Woah!  a lot!  Usually when we’re in the car and he sees a truck, some construction, or something else that otherwise impresses him enough to warrant an excited scream.  I love when he does this!  It’s so fun to see him excited and passionate about things.



Happy 21 months Jack!

one year ago.

One year and one week ago we closed on our house in Maryland.  It was brutal.  It exhausted us emotionally, physically, and financially.  We learned a lot in the aftermath — like it’s OK to say no to an offer or you don’t have to work with a certain realtor just because you feel like you have to.  Especially when they aren’t working in your best interest.  And I beat myself up for awhile after the sale about whether we did the right thing and handled things right.  I would frequently ask Tommy “what if we’d done this or this or this”.  And he told me I had to let it go.  It was over and we were glad not to have to keep up with a house over 10 hours away.  And he was right.  In the last year I have let go of it.  It took some time, and I’m still a bit bitter about the whole house selling/buying/real estate agent/negotiating thing.  But it’s long over, and we have to look at the experience  and learn from it.


So in a last look of sorts at our first home — the one where we poured sweat, blood, and tears, I’m taking a walk down memory lane.  Seriously, if anyone ever pulls up that kitchen flooring they will be disturbed at the amount of Tommy blood on the floor boards.  Lots of work done there [I wrote about here, here, and here].  That whole house was full of lessons.  From the day we started looking for it, to the day we sold it.  And it will always be a house that makes me smile when I remember it.  We brought Jack home to that house after wondering if we’d ever get to bring him home.  We had the best neighbors there. We raised 2 puppies there.  We had some sweet times with dear friends there.  It was where our marriage started.  Lots of sweet memories that I hope I never forget.  So to commemorate it, I’m filling this post with lots of pictures.  Some are before/during/after pics.  Most are just of every day things that I love to remember looking back through pictures.



new headboard2

Our first DIY headboard.  An easy, cheap, fun project.








The guest bedroom…


guest bedroom

From this after we moved in…



guest bedroom4

To this after some painting and sprucing up…




To this…




To this [getting better]…




To this!


And this!


With a sweet, new little bundle in place.




The back door entry way…


back entry

From this…




To this!  [ignore the paint on the floor.  it came right up]




The kitchen…



From this…



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To this!





















The time when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and needed IVs to help me get fluids and keep things down.












Tiny patch of a front yard made it look like mowing was easy, but the almost half-acre backyard made up for it.












The view I so often had of the dogs out the kitchen window.  They loved that yard, had plenty of room to roam, plenty of animals to hunt and chase, and plenty of shady trees to keep them cool in the summer.  It was pretty much a perfect backyard, except for the 35 dead animals buried back there — but that’s a story for another day.




So many pretty things popped up in the spring.  I loved the colors and surprise of not knowing what was going to come up after 60+ years of things being planted there.











The time we chopped down the holly tree because it was ugly and poked Tommy every time he got out of his truck.  The two of us tackled that thing and hauled it off bit by bit.  Then we put this lovely little garden there instead.






Our dining room.



birthday presents
















Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, and milestones.



tommy shoveling

Shoveling.  Lots of shoveling.  I thought when I married Tommy that I would never have to shovel snow since he’s done plenty of it having grown up in Colorado.  And then he traveled.  And we got 3 blizzards our first Maryland winter.  So I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled.  For this little snow, I left it for him to do when he got home from a business trip.  Tennessee girls are not made for shoveling.  Lesson learned.




This was Lady’s perch where she could see the street.  That bay window was her territory, and this scene of Tommy plus dogs was a common one.




My favorite kitchen floor which Tommy worked so hard to install.  And my favorite golden lab lounging in one of his many spots in the old house.



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Tommy, remember when we used to have breakable things around and actually did this on a Saturday?  Yeah, me either.





The house where we brought Jack home.

















Lauren's phone 214








Waiting out our first hurricane — for all 3 of us.  Jack was scared but we only got a tropical storm after all.



Tommy's phone 138

Tommy used to spend many hours out on the front porch with Jack.  Whenever Jack was fussy, the fresh air, sunshine, and Daddy would always do the trick.



Thanks for taking a stroll down memory lane with me.  Now that it’s been a year since we sold the Maryland house, I really feel like time has moved forward so much.  We are so settled in our lives in Tennessee and have grown and changed so much in that time.  But I love to remember.  I love looking back and seeing where we were and where we are now.  So I would tell you this will probably be one of my last recaps of Maryland, but in all honesty, it probably isn’t.  But for now, while I enjoyed the memories, I’m turning back around to be very much in the present.  Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Happy week ahead to you!













morgan family fun day.

This post has details of our day Monday.  Consider yourself warned that it’s probably over-the-top-obnoxious.


I think any time Tommy has an extra day off, I call it Morgan Family Fun Day.  We love a good day of family fun, and being a stay-at-home mom I really love having him around for any extra days.  So yesterday we took full advantage of his day off for President’s Day and lived it up.


First off, Jack was up at 6 am.  This is probably normal for a lot of moms and a lot of toddlers, but it is not for us.  I’ve done my up-early time, my up-all-night time, and I know I’ll do it again some day — God willing.  But as long as Jack has tubes in his ears, the kid is a good sleeper, and I can’t remember the last time he woke up before 8 am.  Hate me, moms, but it’s true.  Tommy took care of that, and I stayed in bed until after 8.  Me – 1, Tommy – 0.


In need of adventure, we braved the mall on a day when kids were out of school.  After a little food court action, mall walking, and mostly elevator riding, we headed home for a nap.  The boys napped while I scoured the internet for toddler bedding.  Not liking my options.


As soon as Jack woke up we took off for the zoo.  It was a sunny, high-50’s day, and we’re all in need of a little Vitamin D.  Although apparently me the most, based on my recent lab work.  Nurses think it’s funny when a dietitian has a vitamin deficiency.  So I’ve learned.  So we thought we were awesome zoo-goers getting there later in the day, getting a great parking spot, and watching most of the crowd leave.  Turns out they were leaving because the zoo was closing in 20 minutes.  So we walked as fast as we could to get as far into the zoo as we could and then took our time walking back out when they kicked us out.  It was a parent fail, but I would do it again.  We got to see some animals and Jack loves any adventure where Dada and Mama are involved.  Win-win.  We topped the day off with pizza for me and Jack [and Gabriel] and Fuji for Tommy.




zoo zoo2








I thoroughly enjoyed my President’s Day.  Hope you did, too!

valentines day.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, full of sweetness and love.  I’ve never been big into Valentine’s Day but there are some things about the day that I love.  I’ve always  loved getting loved on by my parents.  Special gift bags from them — I remember years where mom picked out pjs for us and one year Dad got me and my sister some awesome heart earrings.  I still like getting a little something from them even though I’m grown.  And now I get goodies from my in-laws, too.


I appreciate the reminder to spend the day loving on others.  We tried to spread a little love with some homemade cards, courtesy of Jack.  I’m finding all of these little holidays are more fun now with Jack around.  The kid is great fun and it’s really exciting just to celebrate with him and watch him discover this world.


So I loved on my love-bug all day, and that was the best.  We also decided to celebrate yesterday as Gabriel’s first Valentine’s Day.  Since we may not get to celebrate that milestone with him next year, we made sure to mark it this year.





And I’m sure he enjoyed the chocolate covered strawberries just as much as I did.





I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about hearts.  Everyone talks about hearts and heart day and yada yada yada.  Every one of those mentions reminded me that our baby boy has a broken heart.  And the thing about it that hurt, is that’s not his biggest problem.  You would think a severe heart defect that a pediatric cardiologist rates as an 8 out of 10, where 10 is irreparable, would be the biggest concern.  But it’s not for us.  It’s just one issue, and probably not the one that will get him.  My heart hurt for all trisomy 18 families, and their pain and loss.  And while I mostly think of Valentine’s Day as a corny little day, it’s sometimes corny little days that make you hurt realizing you don’t get to spend them with your special someones.





My gift from Tommy yesterday was a little shopping trip to the maternity store.  It’s the first time I’ve shopped for maternity clothes with this pregnancy.  I have a lot of stuff from when I was pregnant with Jack, and since my due dates are the exact same day I have no issues with seasons.  But there were a couple of things I was in need of, and I think Tommy’s line of thinking was that he wants this to still be special and celebrated.  We will still buy the clothes, do the nursery, get a few things for Baby Gabriel.  We will enjoy this pregnancy.  We will celebrate it and him.  And those are declarations we make, really as much for ourselves as anything else.  Sometimes I need reminding, and he did a great job of reminding me yesterday.  And it was fun to look around the store, especially since Tommy was chasing Jack everywhere, and think about our baby.



So we had a good day.  It was really fun, and I got to spend it with my favorite boys.  I think I’m coming around to this holiday.

sweet sweet boy.

I have been blown away lately with how sweet Jack is.  He is just a sweet boy with the biggest, most tender heart.  I LOVE how big his heart is.  He gives out hugs and kisses, he runs to Tommy and me yelling out “maaaammaaa”  and “daaaaddddaaa”, and he talks about his family all day long.  The boy is full of love.


Tonight was a rich treat for my heart.  We were at Bible study and before we left at the end Tommy and I caught Jack handing out hugs to the other kids.  Totally unprompted, bringing him and us true joy.  He would hug a friend then burst into a loud “yaaaaaa” and clapping.


Jack has also recently discovered the world of babies, and he is a huge fan.  Tonight I found him standing over a baby who was laying in his carseat giving him kisses on the head.  No one was around, he had no idea anyone was watching.  I just stood there so he couldn’t see me, watching him as he gently touched the baby’s feet, then legs, then patted his head, and then leaned over for multiple gentle kisses on the head.  He’s never seen us do this.  Until recently, we’ve not even been around babies.  But he knows, naturally, to be gentle and to love on those sweet babies.  It makes my heart swell with joy and love and blessing, and it makes my heart break a little at the same time.


We have longed for Jack to have a little brother.  In just 3 months, we will be welcoming baby Gabriel into our lives.  We had imagined this would be normal.  That we would transition to a family of four, teaching Jack how to love and be a big brother.  Tonight brought me confirmation to what I’ve been thinking for awhile– Jack already knows how to be a big brother.  It’s in him; God is growing that seed in him.  And while we pray he has the opportunity to be a big brother in person with Gabriel for a little while, even if he doesn’t he will always be his big brother.  And I believe that there will always be a place in his heart for his baby brother.


So in the mean time we are preparing Jack for the arrival of his baby brother.  We continue to talk about baby Gabriel.  He’s enjoying watching the guest room transform into baby Gabriel’s room.  And the concept of baby is definitely one he is absorbing.  I am so thankful for the tender heart of our boy.  It comes with its own challenges and worries for me, but I wouldn’t trade his sweet heart for anything.




the weekend.

This weekend was really good for us.  Not good in the way a weekend used to be good, but good for our hearts.


One of the things people told me and I realized quickly at the beginning of this journey was that I would go through ups and downs, different emotions, different stages of grief.  We’ll have that grief full on after Gabriel is no longer with us, but we’re dealing with it in some ways now, too.


The first 2 1/2 to 3 weeks I was fully immersed in everything.  The diagnosis, the reality, the planning, the decisions to be made, the sharing of our news.  I lived it every day.  I talked about it a lot.  I shared it with people.  I read books, looked at websites, gathered information.  And while the results of our amniocentesis were not at all surprising, I found myself deeply sad to know it was definite.  There was no chance that he might not have T18.  And it struck me differently than I thought it would.  Just because you know something is coming, doesn’t mean it’s any easier when it comes.  [And as I type that, I realize it’s probably foreshadowing to my future as well.]


So the next 2 1/2 weeks, up until this weekend, were very different for me.  I kind of shut it all out.  The reality was still there; I’ve never been in denial about it, but I wasn’t focusing on it.  I so badly wished it would be different.  I couldn’t quite process it.  Or didn’t want to.  I didn’t read any books, any blogs, any websites.  I didn’t reach out at all.  I didn’t share.  When people would ask me about my pregnancy, I just answered their questions normally and didn’t mention anything about Gabriel’s diagnosis.  And I don’t think those things are bad or wrong.  I think it was a different stage for me.  In general though, I do want to share about Gabriel.  It’s his story, it’s our story, and it’s a story I pray brings God glory.  It’s worthy of sharing.


So I was actually happy when this weekend rolled around and things turned.  We did some things and I faced our reality head on, and I like it better that way.  I know there will be many more back and forths– I realize that.  I also realize that it’s easier to ignore and pretend life’s different, than it is to face our hard reality.  So this weekend we did some things that were hard but important and therefore, good for our hearts.  Tommy started painting the nursery.  He got most of the priming done.  But Jack was not happy about his daddy doing something besides playing with him, so Tommy’s work was cut short yesterday.  We hope to get the actual color on the walls next weekend!  Then I can get to decorating.  Very exciting!










I spent a lot of time Saturday back on the internet learning, researching, collecting information.  I also did something normal that seems kind of silly for us now.  I started a baby registry.  Mostly I did it because I got a big coupon and gift card for signing up, and the practical side of me says that Jack uses a lot of diapers and food and I’ll take a discount.  But I also want to buy some new sheets for the crib and a few other nursery items, so I put those on there.  Plus, if Gabriel has some time with us, there are several things we’ll need to get!  I’ve realized that I’ve counted our boy’s days far too many times, assuming they’d be limited to none, but I don’t know that.  God knows exactly how many minutes, hours, or days Gabriel will have, and I’m going to be praying that he blesses us with time with him.


After I set up the registry, I did some research on perinatal hospice.  How can that be?  I certainly never in my life thought I’d have an afternoon that contains both of those events.  It was good, really, to learn more about our options as we will have to make decisions far too soon.  In the meantime, I was really happy this weekend to hit 25 weeks!  It feels like a mile marker week for me, not sure why.  But I guess every week is.  So this week, we continue to prepare for Gabriel.  Prepare his room, prepare for his arrival, prepare our hearts.



oh my heart.

Please take  a few minutes to watch this video.


If it’s not showing up in the post, you can use the link below to copy and paste it into your browser.  Or you can go to YouTube and search “99 Balloons, Eliot’s Story”.


Perspective really changes things, doesn’t it?  Our house in Maryland was old.  It was built in the ’40s and had a ton of “character” and “charm”, which if you know anything about real estate you know that means old and weird/dumpy.  We loved our house!  It really was charming to us.  There were so many imperfections in that house, that you couldn’t really just notice one thing.  We had plaster walls, so our walls weren’t even straight, much less smooth.  Sometimes a nail hole dressed the wall up and distracted from the years of peeling paint and the fact that it bowed in the middle.  I never even thought twice about our walls in Maryland.  We had much bigger problems.  Like totally renovating the kitchen before we moved in.  Or getting electrical stuff safe and up to code.  Or cleaning… A LOT.


We live in a new house in Tennessee.  Well, it’s not brand new — it’s 8 years old, but to us that’s pretty spankin’ new.  And I have been getting worked up over these places in the walls where nails are showing.  It’s just a few spots where the paint over the nail has chipped off.  It’s where the dry wall is nailed in.  Dry wall.  Our walls are smooth as butter.  Yet for some reason, this imperfection has been driving me crazy.  I found myself thinking it was ridiculous and we needed to fix it.


Then I remembered where we used to live.  I remembered how our walls looked before.  I remembered the details of how the living room wall would look at night in the light of the lamp because we had no overhead lighting.  The way you could see the strokes of paint and plaster, the texture showing through.  And I stopped.  How could I really be getting worked up about some nails showing?  A year and a half ago, I would have smacked myself upside the head for such ridiculousness.  But it’s all about our perspective.  Where we are and what our daily view is.  Now that I’m used to looking at these perfectly straight, smooth walls, I notice the slightest imperfection.  Before, all there was was imperfection, and that was what I was used to looking at.


Six weeks ago I was talking about how huge I was when I was pregnant with Jack.  Whenever I tell people that, they never believe me.  Yes, I am a little person, but y’all know pregnancy can do some things to the body.  My husband, who is never one to talk about weight and things of that sort, will be the first to admit that I was gigantic in those days.  I’m sure every woman feels huge, but I literally felt like a beached whale at the end.  And in my mind, since then, I’ve always talked about it in a negative tone.  Thinking about how big I was and how hard it was to get around, etc. etc.


Now my perspective has changed.  I would love to be big.  I truly hope I get to be pregnant with Gabriel long enough to get big.  I wish I had a pregnancy where my biggest concern was how big I was.  I wish I was growing a big baby who made me look huge.  Instead, I look small because I have a small, sick baby.  And I have no promises that he’ll keep growing.  No guarantees that I’ll be pregnant to term.  I hear pregnant women talking about how big they look and how they look full-term even though their not.  And it breaks my heart.  It hurts to hear those things now, knowing that I may not have them.  Knowing that these women don’t know the weight of what they’re saying.


My perspective has been rocked in so many ways.  My life has changed.  It is changing.  And while I’ve never been one big on change, I’m realizing that my natural tendency is getting in the way.  My natural tendency says to just buckle down and get through this.  Not to let it change who I am.  But how could I not?  How could my core be rocked and my heart broken and I not be completely changed?  And the beauty of it is that God is in the business of healing hearts and changing us.  He wants me to be completely changed by this.  He wants to use it to make me more like Him.  And I’m so thankful for that.  My flesh fights against it, but my heart is hopeful knowing God will change me.


And we know that for those who love God all things work together

for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

Romans 8:28 

why you always wear pants.

When I’m just running out real quickly and I don’t want to get dressed, I always hear my mom’s voice in my head.  Especially when it comes to dressing my child.  So yesterday after dinner Jack was a hot mess.  I needed to run out and pick up my prescription real quick and Tommy was working late, so I cleaned the naked, dirty boy up, put a shirt on him and put him in the car.  I did have the thought that I should put pants and shoes on him, but I thought no, we’re just going through the drive thru and then coming straight home.


CVS was not on my side, and we ended up inside the store for a good 30 minutes.  Yep.  I was that mom with the half naked, shoeless, coughing, up-past-his-bedtime toddler in CVS.  And that’s why you always wear pants.