the difference between snow and rain.

Last year was the rainiest year Knoxville has seen since the 1800s.  It rained all the time.  I talked about rain a lot, because it rained for more than a week straight after we found out Gabriel had T18.  It would rain on most of the days I had OB appointments.  Rain was a constant in our lives, and it represented how I felt really well.  2013 was a rainy year both physically and symbolically for us. 

 

Now we sit here in the year 2014.  It is a new year.  We continue to grieve for our sweet G.  We miss him.  I wish he was here – Jack would love having a brother to play with.  There are many moments where I think that Gabriel should be here with us.  But the truth of the matter is that he isn’t.  And while it is impossibly hard, we are not defeated because we have hope.  We are anchored in hope.  We trust that we will one day be reunited with our sweet G.  That we will know him well then.  And we trust that he is presently with our Father – being cradled and loved lavishly – so much more than we could ever do or imagine.  And knowing those things, thinking about those things reminds me of snow. 

 

There is nothing more pure, more new, more fresh than snow.  Watching the snow fall, watching it build and lay is a blessing for us.  To watch it fall from the sky and create beauty that is rarely seen on earth, is a special gift for us here.  Waking up in the morning to a fresh snow fall – one that is undisturbed and entirely peaceful is such a reminder to me that God makes all things new.  So with these recent snowfalls we have had, I am reminded of this about our Father.  And I am even more deeply stirred to think about how He has made our Gabriel new.  He has made him pure as snow.  And one day, He will do the same for us. 

 

It’s only fitting that this winter we have seen much more snow than usual for Knoxville.  While this time last year, all we got was rain, this year we seem to be sitting under snow.  A visual example of where we are in our lives.  In a season of awe appreciating God’s graciousness, His blessing, and His healing and new creation of our son who was so sick on this earth. 

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happy valentine’s day.

Happy Valentine’s Day dear friends!  I hope today is full of joy and love for you and your loved ones.  We were supposed to have a fun little party over here this morning so the kids could have some V-day fun.  But I am not feeling well, so we had to cancel.  I hate that we aren’t having fun decorating cookies and making fun cards now but am super thankful for precious friends.  When I texted to cancel this morning, I had so many friends offer to bring me something to help me feel better.  We are so blessed!

 

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happy valentines 2014 Happy Valentine’s from our little family of 4!

 

 

Last year we were celebrating Valentines with our sweet little baby G around.

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hearts

 

Last years post is here.

a broken heart.

One year ago, with Valentine’s Day looming and the worst news of our life a few weeks behind us, all I could focus on was the heart.  People were decorating with hearts all around, living this normal life, and all I could think of was that my baby had a broken heart – literally.  This child growing inside of me had a heart that was a terrible kind of broken – one that couldn’t be fixed.  And it was every where.  And it was always on my mind. 

 

This year looks different.  I see hearts all around this year and I remember our sweet baby G.  And I also see hope.  Our sweet G has a healed heart now.  He has been made whole and he no longer has a broken heart.  This year I even find myself putting up hearts, wanting to celebrate this day.  It’s amazing the difference when you don’t have a broken heart anymore.  And while my heart might just always be a little bit broken because I lost a child, I can also see the hope that comes with healing.  The hope that comes when you’ve celebrated hard days, held on tight, and are maybe just a little bit better for it.  The hope that comes when you see some more joy alongside the pain.  The hope that sits on each little construction paper heart – because you know each one of those represents something greater – love. 

 

As I reflect on a lot of heart issues of my own this week, I am reminded of my brokenness, my broken heart, but also just how much I have been healed.  Thankful for a week of reminders and the blessing of seeing healing in our lives. 

 

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9 months.

Nine months ago we met our sweet baby G face to face and loved on him while he was here with us.  And then 9 months ago we held him back out to the Lord.  G’s view is amazing now, and he is no longer sick.  Praise be to God. 

 

Gaby 9 months

 

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And thank you to my sweet friend, Becca, who made this banner for me to celebrate our baby boy. 

when you watch the world go by.

There are these moments in life that happen that are the worst.  It’s that feeling that you’re sitting there, looking out the window and the world is going on totally normal outside and you are completely frozen in time.  You feel like you can’t move, you can barely remember to keep breathing in and out.  You can’t understand what’s happening out there – how it’s so normal and looks like the world you used to know, but that world is totally gone for you.

 

This was my life a year and a few weeks ago.  I sat here on my couch, right where I’m typing from, and I watched out my window as the day turned to night and the night to day.  As neighbors came and went and cars drove by.  As there was rain, and sun, and much more rain.  Even as it snowed.  I watched it all happen wondering how on earth it could be so normal out there.  Why didn’t the outside look like how I felt on the inside?  Why was life moving on at normal speed while I was crumbling and wondering how to make it through a day.

 

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It’s weird how we have those moments.  They usually hit us in the midst of tragedy.  When our world has been rocked and what we’ve known has been taken.  My moment was in our greatest tragedy, after learning that our baby had Trisomy 18.  I was shaken to the core.  And life looked different to me from every angle.

 

But the weird thing about these moments is that they make us appreciate life so much more.  They make us enjoy and love the season of living, tremendously.  They make us humble, I believe, as memories of those moments flood back to us without warning.  And we remember that life is a gift, and each day precious, and that we are to appreciate it.

 

Those were the hardest days and the most challenging times, certainly.  And I wouldn’t want to go back to them.  But I do find myself sometimes reaching back to those days.  Those were days of brokenness.  A terrible time, but a time that taught me so much.  A time where I was desperate and just surviving, and I learned how to rely on only God to get through.  Now that a year has passed since we learned of G’s diagnosis, I lead a pretty normal life, and I’ve fallen back into a pattern of relying on myself a lot.  A year ago, I knew I wasn’t strong and I needed God’s strength to carry me through each day.  Now I feel stronger.  I feel like I can do things again.  Like I can manage life ok again.  But in reality, I should be just as desperate for God now as I was one year ago.

 

And as I sat looking out my window, remembering what it felt like one year ago to watch the world go by, I was reminded of all of these things.  Thankful for reminders of my brokenness and my need for a saving, grace-giving God.

one year later.

Today is January 7th.  On January 7th, 2013, our whole world changed forever.  What started out as an exciting day became the worst day of our lives.

It was a Monday and we were going that afternoon to have our big 20 week ultrasound and find out whether we were having a boy or a girl.  I worked part of the day, and Tommy had taken the day off.  I got up early and headed out the door for work right about the time Jack woke up.  Tommy got Jack ready and took him to preschool that day.  As soon as I left the house I felt sick, and as soon as I pulled into a parking spot at work I opened my car door and threw up.  [And since I was 20 weeks pregnant and I throw up hard, I also peed my pants.]  Not an awesome start to a work day, but I wasn’t going to let it get me down.  We were going to see our baby in a few hours.

I’m sure my patients didn’t appreciate any smells I brought into their rooms that day, but I got my work done and headed out about 2:45.  Tommy picked Jack up at preschool and got him down for his nap.  My brother came over to watch Jack while we went to the appointment.  So I ran home to meet Tommy, get Bradley set to watch Jack, and change clothes and brush my teeth!  Tommy and I took off for the doctor’s office.

Usually I went to the group’s office downtown at the hospital, but for this appointment I had scheduled it at their office out west since I would be working that day.  Tommy and I talked about life and about all of those exciting baby-dreaming things you talk about.  The sonographer called me back and gave me a cup for my urine sample.  While I was in the bathroom I realized that I hadn’t much prayed for this day or this appointment, and on my way out the bathroom door I felt it strongly pressed upon my heart to just say “His will be done”.  Which I’m not sure I’ve ever said before in my life.  And looking back on it, it’s pretty wild.

I headed into the ultrasound room where Tommy and the sonographer were waiting on me, and we got started.  What had started out chatty, quickly became just Tommy and I talking, and then just quiet.  There was nothing casual or exciting about her tone, and I just thought she wasn’t a friendly person.  Everything looked the same to me – just stuff I couldn’t identify.  She told us we were having a boy – that was the only thing I could identify.  And after 20 – 25 minutes, she said we were done.  Then she said she had some concerns and would show them to the doctor and he would talk to us about it.  So she took us out to the waiting room and said he would call us back.

We waited for what seemed like forever.  I remember telling Tommy that she really should have specified her level of concerns.  We were talking missing hand – cause I could totally handle that.  He laughed and agreed.  I don’t think either of us could have imagined how bad it would really be.  So we talked about mindless stuff – just talking to keep our minds from wondering what was going on.  I was so nervous.

Finally, a nurse called us back.  She got my weight and blood pressure – like any of that really mattered.  And she said the doctor would be right in.  We went to a big group where you rotate which doctors you see, so I had never seen this doctor before.  He was rattled.  Tommy and I learned last January that you never want to be the one who rattles doctors.  It doesn’t bode well.  He walked in the room and said there was no easy way to say this, but they saw problems with our baby’s brain, heart, and stomach and thought there were signs consistent with down syndrome.  I asked him how bad it was, and he said we should consider terminating.  He had a specific name for the heart defect the sonographer thought she saw, and Tommy memorized it so we could look it up.  The doctor told us we would go see the specialists and they would know more.  We went out to the front desk and the nice ladies there commented on how beautiful our baby was in the ultrasound pictures we had.  And they were still working on making our appointment.  They finished and gave us the instructions for where the Perinatal Center was and to be there at 1:30 the next day.

We walked out the door and just both started crying.  We stood by the elevators and cried for a few minutes before going down.  We got in the car and cried some more.  I remember needing Tommy to help me walk out of there.  I just leaned on him and walked and cried.  He drove us home.  I can’t remember much of what we talked about or how much we actually talked.  I just remember feeling helpless.  Our best case scenario at this point was a baby with Down Syndrome with a repairable heart defect.  And we prayed hard for that over the next 18 hours.

That night was a blur as we waited for our appointment the next day.  I remember us looking to the Bible for hope, I remember us praying for the best case scenario but also the ability to accept the worst.  And I remember the life of this sweet baby becoming so incredibly important to me that day.  We hadn’t talked about a name for him yet, so we sat down that night and picked out a name for him that would be as full of meaning as his life was of purpose.  And that was how we settled on Gabriel.

 

It’s hard for me to believe that we have now lived a full year of not a normal life.  It’s also really precious for me to look back on the time between January and May of last year when Gabriel was with us.  His life was precious and it’s so special to remember all of those moments we had with him.

 

I’ve never shared all of these details about January 7th before.  It’s a day that has changed my life forever, and it is certainly one of the worst days of my life.  But it doesn’t take away my hope.  It was the hardest day of my life up to that point, but we survived it.  God brought us through that day and all of the days to follow.  I wanted to share about that day one year ago because I know that some of you know exactly how that day feels.  I know you’ve lived your own version of it, and you have your story of your worst, shocking day to carry with you, too.  And I want you to know that you aren’t alone.  You are loved.  And I pray that you will carry that day as part of your beautiful story.  And for those who are walking this walk now, know it will get better.  It will never go away [and I’m thankful for that], but it will get better.  One day, you too, will be able to share your story while missing and remembering your loved one.  Or maybe celebrating their life and their healing.  And for those to come, know that your story is unique and precious, but that others have walked this before you and you will get through it, too.  And know that you can find help here.

 

Today we remember our sweet, precious boy, and celebrate a life that changed ours forever.  A life who shared about grace and love and blessings and God’s purpose.  We will always love and always miss our precious G.

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8 months.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months since we met our sweet little baby G.

8 months

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the
Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2-3 

a year in review.

I’ve seen everyone doing Instagram summaries of their year.  There are blog posts out there on every blog wrapping up the year.  I had planned to skip that one this year.  But this was a very important year for our family – one we won’t ever forget.  So my 2013 summary isn’t going to look as happy and glowy as many of them out there – but it’s real and it’s ours and it’s the year that changed us, shaped us, and taught us all about life, love, and God.  So here we go!

January

Started the year out excited to add a new baby to our family.  January 7th our lives changed forever when we found out Gabriel was sick.

After looking at our baby’s DNA, we were informed a couple of weeks later on a snow day that he did, indeed, have Trisomy 18.

We started walking this hard walk that has become our life – choosing to love, hope, and celebrate his life EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of it!

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Jack [and Gabriel’s] first snow!

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Videos of our sweet boy.

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Spending lots of time praying, trusting, listening.

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A snowy, dark drive home from another bad doctor’s appointment.

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I’m sorry and I love you pie from my sweet Granny.

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Perinatal cardiologist appointment.

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February

We celebrated our baby’s first Valentine’s Day.

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And Tommy got to work on Gabriel’s nursery – making it a perfect room for him.  It turned out beautifully when he was done!

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March

We continued living our days learning to walk in trust and to celebrate every single day of Gabriel’s life.

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We had a photo shoot gifted to us by our friend and photographer, Erin Rodgers, so that we could always have pictures of our time with Gabriel.

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April

We celebrated Tommy’s birthday!

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Tommy’s sister took some pictures for us  before our sweet G was born.

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Last family photo before Gabriel was born.

May – Our big month!

May 5th – Gabriel’s born alive!!

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Gabriel lived for 2 hours and is now in Heaven with our Father.
We had the sweetest graveside service to bury our baby boy.

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I had my first Mother’s Day as a mom to 2 one week after Gabriel was born.

Anni-Jack-a-birthday week came and we celebrated our anniversary, Jack’s 2nd birthday, and my birthday.

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June — 

We celebrated Father’s Day

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Celebrated Gabriel  Pictures 910

Celebrated Granny’s 82nd birthday  Pictures 969

And lived life with a lot of help from family and friends.  pictures 1489

July

I wore a heart monitor trying to find answers to health problems.

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One of our nightly readings of “We Were Gonna Have A Baby But We Had An Angel Instead”

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pictures 2275  Beach trip 2013 with my family

August

Beauty from ashes

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A picnic lunch with Granny.  A beautiful, sunny day with some of my favorite companions.  And our last special moment with Granny.

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September

Jack starts preschool!

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I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

Tommy and I snuck in some fun time.

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pictures 1507  Be still my heart.

Football game with friends.

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October

Gabriel’s marker came in.

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I wrote about hope for 31 days throughout October.

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fall pics

October was a busy and hard month.  I had surgery – a cholecystectomy.  Then several days later, my Granny died very suddenly and unexpectedly.  After her burial, a whole bunch of family came to our Gabriel’s grave.

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pictures 2432 Matching baseball players.

November  —

Erin Rodgers took our fall family pictures for us.  A sweet reminder of this season of our lives.

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December

Christmas as a family of 4, with only 3 of us here.  We celebrated the hope that is Christmas.

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And just a few of the many blessings from others…

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And plenty of fun and two year old business…

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This was our worst yet richest year.  It has been so hard, but we have been so blessed.  Although we wouldn’t have asked for the bad in this year, God has certainly used it in our lives.  We have clung to hope this year, and hope continues to be given to us.  We have hope that we will see our son again one day.  We are so thankful for all of you.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for prayers, for support, for cards, and gifts.  For everything.  I don’t say it nearly enough.  But we have been so immensely blessed this year, and when I look back over our year, I see hard, but behind it I see so much love.  Thank you for loving us and carrying us through such a rough year.  We love you all!

Happy New Year to you!

 

See last years wrap up here.

i wish Christmas was over.

So here’s this crazy thing:  I wish Christmas was over. 

 

There, I said it.  Call me crazy.  Write it off.  Label me emotional.  Or… maybe, just maybe you feel the same way? 

 

You see, never in my life have I felt this way before.  Ever.  I love Christmas.  Love it up and down.  Love celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Love the joy that comes with Christmas.  Love the hope.  Love all aspects of Christmas and the holiday season.  I love the trees, the lights, the shopping, the wrapping, the movies, the baking, the cooking, the sweets, the salty, the cards – oh the cards, probably my favorite part of “Christmas things”.  I love the picking out of the perfect card.  I love getting them in from others.  I love waiting for mine to arrive.  I love addressing them and praying for each family, each person I send them to.  To me, it’s worth the work.  I display the cards I get all over my living room.  I leave them up through January, at least. 

But I noticed something was wrong this week.  I have spent over a week working on my cards.  It’s been ok, but it really stressed me out this year.  And I found myself feeling differently than before towards it all.  So yesterday morning I texted this to my friend, Julie, who’s baby died in August: 

Moment of truth:  can Christmas be over yet? 

 

I thought I’d be ostracized from society for thinking such things.  Thought I’d be banned from the church.  That it might mean I don’t appreciate Jesus and His love for me.  But then I realized those things were crazy.  And let’s just be honest.  It’s just hard this year.  And it’s not just hard for me.  I know it’s hard for a lot of you, too.  I know it’s hard for Julie and her family.  I know it’s hard for my Grandfather who is spending his first Christmas without his wife after 63 years of Christmases with her.  I know it’s hard for the 3 different families I saw at the cemetery today burying loved ones.  I know it’s hard for my friend who has struggled with infertility for years.  I know it’s hard for the families who have nothing.  I know it’s hard for the families who have everything but feel empty.  I know it’s hard for the family estranged from loved ones.  I know it’s hard for people who lost a loved one a year ago or twenty years ago. 

 

This year I learned that Christmas isn’t always merry.  And in years past I judged and labeled people as grinches or as missing the true meaning of Christmas.  I get, and so appreciate and need, the true meaning of Christmas, but that doesn’t mean this one isn’t hard.  And the beautiful thing about that is that God knows that.  He knows how this time of year can be extra hard, and I believe He’s extra tender. 

 

So in all of this, I want to share that I get it now.  I get how it can be hard.  And I’m thankful my heart is more sensitive to it now.  I also wanted to share how I feel because after talking with several people who also told me they felt this way, I suspect that many of you might, too.  And I want you to know that you aren’t alone.  So know this Christmas, even if it’s hard for you, especially if it’s hard for you, that you aren’t alone.  And we’ll get through it. 

 

 

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when the holidays are hard.

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing about when the holidays are hard over on the Knoxville Moms Blog. 

 

The Holiday season is in full swing, and I’m having mixed feelings.  Part of me is excited, like I usually am this time of year.  But a larger part of me is a little resistant to the coming of this big season.

This is my first Holiday season since our deep loss.  This time last year we were expecting our second child, and I had great visions of what this Christmas would look like with two little ones.  But in May, our second son died, and now we have to learn how to celebrate this special time of year while our hearts are still broken

 

grief and the holidays

 

 

Check out the rest of the post over on the Knoxville Moms Blog site. 

 

Thanks for the love, friends!