Friday, February 26, 2010

Babies update #11

Can you believe February is almost over?! March begins tomorrow and I am really excited that we have made it this far in our pregnancy with the girls and no significant problems so far. It seems that time has really flown by in this pregnancy and at the same time it also feels like it has been a long time too.

Anyway, enough with the confusing talk and on with the latest and greatest. I saw my dear old doc on Thursday afternoon and everything checks out so far. I am measuring 41 weeks, which is good, and am 10 pounds away from weighing 200 lbs! Whoa! Never thought I'd ever weigh that much! But of course, it's all for the girls and a good thing too. I've enjoyed lots of Chick-fil-A milkshakes! :)

Along with another doctor's appointment we'll have one more ultrasound in less than 2 weeks and that will be the determining factor for how the girls might be arriving. If A hasn't turned around then we'll schedule a c-section. But he also said that even if A is head down, 40-50% of the time you end up having to have a c-section anyway. So... it looks like we're preparing for major surgery which is ok with us. We just want them born safely and happily!

At my next appointment and ultrasound I will be 34 weeks and at that point will start going every week until they are born. I will also be going every week to the labor and delivery unit for an NST, or a non-stress test. They will monitor me and the girls and watch for their heart rates to accelerate and decelerate for a certain period of time. From 34 weeks on I'll be spending a lot of time at the doctor's office and at the hospital. A great time for catching up on any reading I want to get done before our world is illuminated by these two precious girls!

Yeah for being so far along and no problems to speak of!! Thanks for all of those prayers for us and the girls! We are so thankful for each of you, whether we know you or not. Pretty soon we'll be introducing them to you, with such pride and joy!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quite the love story

I was asked by an intern at our church college ministry to share my "love story with God" to a group of college women. It's sort of like my testimony although it doesn't go back to 8th grade and how I asked the Lord into my heart, how he changed my life from then on, etc.

I said yes, not really knowing why I was saying yes except that I was wanting to go to the college thing that night anyway. Now let me reassure you, I am not wanting to fit in with the college crowd or wear bump-its so that my hair sticks up a foot high over my head. I am interested in sharing my experiences in the hopes that I might encourage some of the women in that age group.

In a really neat way, I heard about this new ministry within the college ministry. It's something the interns and college ministry staff are wanting to put together to encourage college kids to find mentors and develop relationships with them. Well, I have been wanting to do that and God pretty much put me in the same Starbucks as a group of women who were discussing this very ministry, before it had even started. Had Jacob not been with me, I doubt I would have spoken up, so he did for me. He interrupted their chatter and told them that I was wanting to be a part of their ministry and could I get some info on it. :) I, of course, am trying not to turn red in the face or sweat through my layers of maternity tops.

They were really sweet and one of the women, an intern at the church, got my info and we went to coffee a few weeks later. She told me all about the ministry and how I could be a part of it. I went to their first meeting in January and really enjoyed it.

Last night was their second night and they asked me to share my love story with God. Wow, I feel so humbled by another opportunity to share my story and Molly's too. After working on my talk all day long I decided it was good enough to share with the world as well.

So.. here's what I said to them:

My love story with the Lord

When I think of a love story, my mind overflows with word pictures of: happily ever after, in love, perfect harmony, and days spent in pure bliss. Anything with the word love next to it creates images in our minds of pure happiness, joy, delight, and content hearts.

Here’s another set of words:

Heart-wrenching, tears pouring down your cheeks, a broken heart, dark valleys, great unknowns, unanswered questions, and letting go of what you hold so dear.

Do those words create images of a love story? Does that sound like something you long for and want to be a part of? Does that sound like something a loving God would weave into your love story?

No one likes pain or welcomes it with open arms. We prefer comfort and enjoyment to pain and suffering. And yet, as I think through my own personal love story with God, I see both beauty and suffering at the same time. I see a broken heart and delight, tears and joy, dark valleys and happily ever after.

How can that be? Well, let me tell you a story of one of the greatest people I have had the privilege of knowing.

Her name is Molly Ann. She accomplished more in her life than some ever will. She brought hearts together. She changed lives. She brought hope and light to many. She was remarkable.

And the best part about Molly: She was my daughter.

Since I don’t have time to tell you every bit of her story, here are a few things I want you to know about her.

Molly was born June 13th, 2008 with a rare brain aneurism, something we didn’t know about when I was pregnant with her. It’s so rare that there are only 6 cases reported each year in the US. Looking at her, you would have had no idea that anything was wrong. She was perfectly formed and beautiful, with steely blue eyes, and dark hair.

She lived for 7 wonderful days and fulfilled her life purpose beautifully. We made some great memories while she was alive. We got to give her a bath, took a few thousand pictures of her, and held her multiple times. She was, and still is, one of the greatest gifts my husband and I have ever received.

She drew me closer to the throne of God without uttering a word. As a result of her life and death, I have experienced a love from God that I have never known before. Holding her as she was ushered into the presence of God was the holiest moment I have ever experienced. I knew that in her death, God was still holding us tightly and loving us.

My love story is one of great highs and deep lows. Before I had Molly, there wasn’t much in my life that I had experienced that really drove me to my knees before God. I experienced break-ups, mistakes, letdowns, disappointments, and frustrations, but never had I experienced a pain like this.

About a month before Molly died, I remember hearing about the death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter, Maria. I recall thinking about what it would be like if we lost our daughter. “I can’t imagine going through that.” “How would we handle losing a son or daughter?” I also thought to myself, "well that won't happen to us."

I know I prayed on several occasions for God to use me in a mighty way, that he would give me a love story that I was proud of and that I could share with the world. I wanted a ministry and without knowing it, I was about to get one.

Going into labor at 41 weeks, I had no idea how our lives were about to change. In the midst of tests, questions, tubes and wires all over Molly’s precious body, holding her close, and then letting her go, God was continually weaving our love story together, wrapping me up in security and affection.

Molly’s story is heart-wrenching and it often brings tears to my eyes when I tell it. Our hearts broke the week of her life and the days that followed. We could not believe we were just meeting our new daughter and saying good-bye all at the same time. Our world shattered as we both entered into the dark valley of grief and asked many questions of the Lord. At the same time, I also experienced an incredible peace that surpassed my own understanding. I found hope in the life and death of my daughter. As painful as it was to watch my daughter die, it was a holy place and one that has altered the course of my life forever.

You might not think that we were experiencing God’s love after Molly died. It can be difficult to see how a love story could have death as a part of it.

Yet, I must tell you that God can love us through great pain and suffering. God was not afraid to hurt and cause suffering, because He loved us so much. We think we cannot experience pain and love at the same time, but the truth is, we did experience the love of God while we were experiencing such deep pain. Having to let our daughter die did not stop God from showing his love to us. His love continues even when we’re in pain. I believe that we have a mistaken notion that we can’t experience both at the same time.

There’s a verse that I want to share with you. Something you might have heard before, but this time I hope that you’ll hear it with fresh perspective:

John 16:33 “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

The four words I want to highlight here are “YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE”. If you’ve never been told this before, please hear it now. You will have trouble. That is a promise from God. Doing everything right and making all the right decisions doesn’t mean you won’t experience suffering in one form or another. If you can accept that truth now you won’t be completely shocked when pain, suffering, and trouble happen to you.

Less than a year after Molly died, we experienced another tragedy. We miscarried a little boy at 14 weeks gestation. People all around us could not believe we were going through yet another loss. I could not believe they were so shocked. And yet it makes sense, with all the comfort we like to give ourselves, it’s easy to see how we can be shocked when others or ourselves go through suffering.

One thing that I have learned as a result of losing two kids is that there are no guarantees in this life. There is no promise that I’ll wake up tomorrow, that I’ll have more kids, that my husband and I will live to be old and gray.

As you can tell, I’m pregnant again. This time, I’m having twins. Twin girls. When something difficult happens to you, you begin to wonder if you won’t experience the same thing again. I’ve struggled with fear and worry in this pregnancy and sometimes I share it with others and sometimes I do not.

When I have shared it, some have said to me that everything will be fine, that this time I’ll bring home my babies, that I will for sure have what I have wanted because “you’ve been through enough suffering.” My response is that there is no “enough suffering” until we go to be with Jesus. There is no promise that I will endure X amount of suffering and then the rest of my life I’ll get what I deserve because I suffered well. No way. I have a choice in how I respond to suffering and pain.

You know what, I love my life and I love my relationship with God. He doesn’t owe me anything and yet he has given me so many things, things I do not deserve.

I am so thankful that God took Molly the way that he did. God has given me so many ways to minister to other moms who have lost kids, or who have never lost kids but have a renewed perspective after hearing Molly’s story. I am so thankful for this story! What a blessing that I get to share with others the deep gratitude that I have for my Savior for giving me a daughter, even if only for 7 days.

Discussion Questions:

What sort of love story do you want God to have with you?

How has your love story been different than what you thought it would be like?

How will you respond when your love story doesn’t go quite like you thought it would?

Babies update #10 and more

I know, I know, it's been a week since I saw my doctor and am just now writing to share it with the world. :) Thankfully, this appointment went just like the last 57 have and so that is why I have delayed in sharing.

And so with my toast propped up on my belly and our pups wrestling on the bed, I'll get to it. :)

We had another ultrasound a few hours before my appointment with Dr. A. I have these great appointments every month, which I think is just wonderful and so much fun. Jacob, on the other hand, still thinks the babies look like constellations and can't tell much of a difference between heads and toes. But he comes anyway, to my delight, and sits through the 45 minute appointment.

The ultrasound went great. According to the tech's measurements, the babies are weighing just an ounce in difference. Baby A is weighing 3 lbs. 4 oz. and baby B is weighing in at 3 lbs. 5 oz. Stacey, the tech, did say that at some point we would notice one of the babies starting to weigh more than the other and that the amount of amniotic fluid would lessen as they start to run out of room. As if there's more room to be had, at this point. I can't imagine how I could get any bigger or that my stomach will stretch another inch! Ouch!

Both babies were measuring fine and everything checked out great, much to our delight and joy! Baby A was being a bit more cooperative than her usually compliant sister, so we saw more of her than we did of B. A was found opening and closing her mouth and of course we got some great photos of that! We could even see her tongue, from the profile view of her mouth. Another neat thing that we saw was that she has a bit of hair on her head! We're not surprised since Molly had hair too, but it is fun to know and see on the big screen. Who knew you could see hair on a black and white ultrasound? Crazy!

The slightly big news from the ultrasound is that little Miss A must have other plans in mind for their entry into the world because she is currently standing straight up in my tummy. She's not just breech, she's a footling breech which means that her feet are what's been kicking at my bladder lately. Her sister, on the other hand, is right where we'd like them both to be: head down. Thank you very much, Miss B!

Now, I don't really care how the girls are born... I just want them to be born safely and without complications. I would prefer to have them the way most babies are born, but I don't really get a say in this now do I? You can be praying that they would be born safe and sound and stay as long as possible in my tummy. We are expecting a higher chance of a c-section than before, since Miss A has been head up in the last few ultrasounds. She could still flip around though, and that would be great!

My appointment with Dr. A went well, with nothing much to report. He does think that I have a good chance of hanging on to the girls till 38 weeks. I see him every two weeks for another month, when I'll be 34 weeks and then I'll see him every week until the girls are born.

In other belly news, my mom was just here for a few days and she did a great job at painting the nursery with a bit of pink. Here's what it looked like when we had the room ready for Molly's big debut:

Now, get ready for the finished product. Drum roll, please....

We added some pink paint above the brown stripe and on the ceiling. We also added a pink lamp that I got at TJ Maxx for $11 and a pink and red polka dotted sheet and changing pad cover.

I love how the room looks and it definitely feels more and more ready as small changes are made. For the past year and a half it was my "office" where I sat and read my bible, an assortment of books on grief, or checked my emails. It had to be converted back to the nursery which meant getting rid of my stacks of books and piles of papers. I am super excited with how it has turned out.

You might be wondering how I am doing. At 31 weeks, I currently move at the speed of a three year old and sleep propped up on four pillows and blankets tucked under my belly for support. Sleep is difficult, although I have had a good few nights lately. Some would say it is in preparation for the girls coming. I laugh knowing that while I won't be sleeping much when they get here, why suffer now?

I am really doing well though and can hardly complain. Having two in my belly is way different than having one, and I am enjoying it as much as I can while I have them all to myself.