Annabelle Lyn: 26 Months

13 Jun

My last update on Annabelle was at 22 months. How has it been that long already? I had such good intentions of blogging about Annabelle at 2 years (24 months)!

Annabelle was 26 months on May 27 (so I’m even horribly late with this post).IMG_3408Size

Annabelle is still wearing 2T clothes and size 4 diapers, but is now wearing size 6 shoes. At her 2-year well child checkup, she was 25 lb 11 oz (35%), 33.75 inches tall (53%), and her head circumference is still in the 99th percentile, at 20 inches.IMG_3509Eating

Since my last post, we have discovered that Annabelle is also mildly allergic to soy, in addition to being lactose intolerant. She can handle eating Silk soy yogurt, but not drinking soy milk straight up. We also discovered at her 2-year doctor appointment that the rash we thought was caused by an allergic reaction is really just eczema.

So we’ve figured out a general range of food that doesn’t upset her stomach. She drinks lactose free whole milk, eats soy yogurt, and can have regular sharp or hard cheese in moderation. We let her have a little chocolate or ice cream now and again, but too much causes her to have diarrhea so we have to monitor that (which we should be doing anyway…). I’m very thankful that she’s not completely allergic to either dairy or soy!

Annabelle is still a pretty picky eater, but she really enjoys bacon, fruit of all kinds, cheese, yogurt, sausage, cereal, and applesauce. For treats, she loves chocolate, suckers, and gum.IMG_3522IMG_3622IMG_3633IMG_3819Sleeping

The big news here is that Annabelle and Emma are now sharing a bedroom! Right after Travis and I got back from Europe, we tried having Emma sleep in Annabelle’s room and for the first couple of nights, it was AWESOME. Both girls fell asleep on their own after chattering a bit. We thought we had found a miracle!

But then we moved Annabelle’s crib into Emma’s room, and it wasn’t quite the miracle we thought it would be. Getting the girls to bed at night at the same time is usually a disaster because they feed off each other and take forever to settle down, but putting them to bed at separate times also takes forever. I love cuddling with my girls at bedtime, but I really hate everything else about that time of day. My favorite night of the week is Thursday, because I have Bible study and get to skip out on bedtime. 😉

So overall, the girls sharing a room has had mixed success. I like that they’re together, and I think it will be good in the long run (and it frees up Annabelle’s room for a foster child, whenever that happens–waiting on the bureaucracy, ugh).IMG_3424Little by little, though, Annabelle is getting better at sleeping through the night. We had been rocking Annabelle to sleep and putting her down in her crib, but just this past week, we threw in the towel and did away with the crib. She is now on a twin mattress on the floor, which is mostly barricaded off from the rest of the room by a nightstand and a mattress railing. (She fell out of the toddler bed when we tried it one night.) We still lay in her room until she falls asleep (which sometimes takes a full hour!) but she sleeps through the night! WOOHOO!

We’re also trying to keep the big picture in mind. This is a phase. Annabelle will get through this. She will learn to fall asleep on her own, and sleep through the night. Emma was like this at the same age, and she is a champ now. So we do what we can to encourage good sleep habits, but we don’t go insane for it. It will happen. She will grow up.

Annabelle also still naps once a day, but we’re trying to shorten her naps because on her own, she’ll sleep 2-3 hours but then is a crazy night owl who won’t go to bed until 10.

Development

The biggest change in Annabelle’s development these past 4 months is her speech. She is talking up a storm. She is really good at repeating new words correctly after hearing them from us only once or twice, remembers a lot, and often uses several words together like “Hold the key” or “Put right there.” One of her favorite words is, of course, NOOOOOOOO. And she can count to 10! I’m not sure if it’s because Emma was so delayed in speech, but it is so awesome hearing Annabelle talk and know so much. I love it!IMG_3524Annabelle is still a bundle of energy and a cuddle bug. She is much more cautious about sensory things than her sister–when we went to the beach last weekend, Annabelle didn’t even want to put a toe in the water, while Emma went swimming almost immediately–but she is also independent (she says “Self” often, because she wants to do it by herself). She loves climbing on playgrounds, but won’t go down a steep slide by herself (“Lap. Mommy.”). When we were doing some landscaping a couple weeks ago, Emma got in the planter barefoot with me to remove sod clumps; Annabelle stayed in the grass. This past weekend, Emma took off her shoes to play in a puddle. Annabelle thought that was a good idea, but once her shoes were off, she wanted them right back on. Annabelle didn’t like the feeling of grass or sand as a baby either.IMG_3541IMG_3693IMG_3442I was determined to avoid bangs with Annabelle and for a long time, she let me put her long bangs up in a side ponytail to get them out of her face. But then she started pulling the ponytail out all the time. *sigh* So she got bangs.IMG_3450IMG_3811She’s still pretty stinkin’ adorable, but they require more upkeep. (Thankfully, I can bribe the girls with Starbursts and cut them myself.)

Annabelle is not yet potty trained, but she has peed and pooped on the potty several times. Just like with Emma, Annabelle is ready for it before I am. (But I need to get my butt in gear during the summer here.)IMG_3596IMG_3406IMG_2770IMG_2749IMG_2638And that’s Annabelle at 26…almost 27…months!

(I apologize to any of you who follow me on Instagram, as pretty much all of these photos are repeats. What can I say?)

Emma’s 4th and Annabelle’s 2nd Birthday Party

17 May

We celebrated Emma’s 4th birthday and Annabelle’s 2nd birthday with friends on the Saturday after Emma’s birthday. (The girls’ birthdays are only a week and a half apart on the calendar so we are doing joint parties for now!)

This year, we did a mermaid/beach theme because those are currently a couple of Emma’s favorite things, and Annabelle likes whatever big sister likes. Emma wore her mermaid costume from Halloween (for about the first 30 minutes) and I found a dress for Annabelle that looked mermaid-ish but could still be worn for other things.I tried to keep the decorations inexpensive, or use things I already had (like all the shells, I had collected on beach vacations). After spending oodles on Gerber daisies last year (unknowingly), I went with regular ones this time. 

I had taken a lot more pictures of the decorations with Travis’ phone, but he updated his iPhone soon afterward and couldn’t remember his iCloud password, so they were all lost. 😞

For an activity this year, the kids made “I Spy” bottles. I emptied bottles of ICE sparkling water, added sand from the decor section at Walmart, and found small trinkets at the dollar store and Big Lots, which I put in a muffin tin for easy assembly. The kids put one of each thing in their bottle and the adults helped superglue the bottles shut. I printed out a list with pictures of all the things they had added so they knew what to look for when playing with their bottles later. The girls have really enjoyed theirs! After the activity, it was time to eat! We had turkey and cheese croissants (with googly eyes to look like crabs), fruit salad, trail mix, goldfish crackers, and spinach & artichoke dip with chips. All Pinterest ideas but I ran out of time to make tent cards with creative names so the food choices probably seemed pretty random. 😂Then it was time for cake! I took the easy route this year and bought a tuxedo mousse cake from Costco. After cake, we opened gifts quickly and then went outside to play because we finally had a nice warm day! That doesn’t happen often at the beginning of April.  After most people had left, we tried to get a family photo. The girls were not very cooperative. Oh well. That night, we took advantage of the warm weather and the girls took a pool bath on the deck. So fun!!

My Habit of Cleaning for 5 Minutes Every Day

29 Apr

IMG_4035Like I mentioned in my last post, I stumbled across a book at the library called “Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” by Gretchen Rubin. I grabbed it because building better habits has been a desire of mine for a while, and the book delivered!

The three main nuggets I took away from the book were:

1. It’s easiest to create a new habit by tacking it onto an already-existing habit.

The author, Gretchen Rubin, used existing habits in her own life (brushing her teeth at night, eating breakfast, going to work) as cues for the new habits she was trying to adopt. Her goal was always to get to the point where she could do the habit without thinking–because that’s the definition of a habit. You want it to become so routine that you don’t even think twice about whether or not you do it; instead, you do it because x comes after y all the time.

2. The habit of the habit is more important than the habit itself.

Because the goal is for your habit to become something you do without even thinking, there can be no excuses for not doing it. No “Well I had a late night” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” or my favorite (and most often-used) “I just don’t feel like it right now.” The new habit you’re trying to create might be doing a particular something once a week, or three times a week, or every day, but whatever interval you decide said activity should be done, you must keep to that interval. Even if you’re phoning it in, a half-hearted effort is better for habit-keeping than no effort at all.

However, Rubin recognizes that there are days or weeks when your habit might not be appealing/practical or you’re out of your usual routine (like if your habit is exercise but you have the flu or are on vacation). In those instances, she says (1) Anything is better than nothing. If you’re sick and can’t work out, at least do something fitness-related during the time you would’ve spend working out so that you’re not completely getting off course. (2) If you’re going to be out of your usual routine, it would be better to decide ahead of time that you’re going to take a break from your habits, than to half-heartedly attempt to keep your habits up, only to fail miserably. Think about anytime you tried to bring homework on vacation. Did it ever get touched? I’m guessing no.

3. You have to create habits that fit with your personality.

This is the one aspect of creating and keeping habits that has always tripped me up. One area I’ve frequently tried to get better at is cleaning my house on a regular basis. Every so often, I would be inspired by someone who loved cleaning to adopt their overly ambitious Monthly Cleaning Schedule–or to at least create one of my own that was a little more manageable for my I Hate Cleaning personality.

Everything would go well for about a week. My house would be clean, I’d be motivated, and things were looking up. Then that second week, without fail, I’d give up on that plan whenever Bathroom day came along. (I really dislike cleaning bathrooms.)

Was I just doomed to the monthly cycle of letting my house get filthy and then binge cleaning? Was I just a person incapable of establishing any semblance of routine?

Rubin’s book helped me realize that I am a spontaneous person and almost all of my (non-parenting) decisions each day are based on “What I Feel Like Doing.” So then, if I wanted to establish a habit of cleaning my house, I had to devise a habit that would incorporate my spontaneity, instead of work against it.


Which leads me to:

My Habit of Cleaning for 5 Minutes Every Day

After reading Rubin’s book, I decided to make my goal stupid easy, because if I made it harder, it would never get off the ground with my habit-resistant personality. So my habit would be FIVE minutes of cleaning ANYTHING I felt like cleaning. No schedule, no rules, other than I had to clean for five minutes, every single day.

Out of that decision evolved our current morning routine. We had been in a funk where I’d let the girls watch iPad/phone while I drank a cup of coffee when we got up, but starting the day out on that slothful note gave our whole day a slothful feel. As I started to clean for five minutes in the morning, I realized that my cleaning time would be a great time for the girls to watch iPad/phone, so I started having them eat breakfast and get dressed first thing in the morning. They were more motivated for those things because of the reward of technology afterward, and we started our day out on the right foot.

While the girls were watching shows, I’d unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher, load the dirty breakfast dishes, wipe down the counters, and clean for five minutes. I always set a timer. Some days, I don’t feel like cleaning so I choose something super easy (like wiping down the toaster or our stainless steel garbage can), set the timer for 5 minutes, and am down the moment that buzzer goes off. Other days, I work until the buzzer goes off, and then finish the task I’m on. On the rare days I feel motivated or Hubs is watching the kids, I spend 15-45 minutes cleaning (like mopping the floors–can’t do that in five minutes). But I am happy to say that most cleaning chores can be accomplished in 5-10 minutes, even if it means breaking them down into smaller parts (for example, cleaning the bathroom sink and toilet one day, cleaning the tub the next).

The result of this has been two-fold:

My house is cleaner on a more regular basis.

Is everything clean all the time? Nope. But it’s cleaner than it was before AND cleaning no longer stresses me out. Best part? I don’t dread cleaning bathrooms anymore! Because I know that when that 5-minute timer goes off, I can be done cleaning if I want–no guilt.

My daily routine has taken shape.

For a loooong time, I have wanted a more consistent daily routine but was at a complete loss for how to create one that would allow for my spontaneous personality. As I started being consistent with this simple morning routine, I had insight and felt empowered to be more consistent with the rest of our day. I limit the girls’ technology time more, I don’t squander time on Facebook or Instagram as much, and I’m no longer trying to clean during naptime or while the girls are destroying things in another part of the house (seriously, iPad/phone time is the only thing that will immobilize them).

Since my personality is still powered a lot by what I “feel like doing,” I haven’t been 100% consistent with this routine. BUT regardless if I skip a day, I just get back on it the next day, or I find five minutes later in my day to clean. Remember, “the habit of the habit is more important than the habit itself!”

Do I think this routine would work for anyone? Yes and no.

Yes, I think that it’s simple enough anyone could put it into practice. I’m guessing that most people eat breakfast, and probably have an extra 5 minutes to clean something quickly.

No, this isn’t the only way to establish a habit of cleaning more consistently, or of starting your day out. Routines and habits are as plentiful as people, and as I learned reading Rubin’s book, you have to make sure your habits suit you, your personality, and your lifestyle in order for them to last the test of time.

Hope you enjoyed this window into my world! If you want to stay more up-to-date than just my limited blog posts, follow me on Instagram.

Life lately…

24 Apr

This poor little blog has been dominated too long by other urgent matters. I have so much to write about! So here’s what we’ve been up to (and what I hope to elaborate on in coming weeks):

  • I got a job! At the beginning of January, I started working at our church as the Children Ministry’s Assistant two days a week. Emma and Annabelle both go to the same daycare those days, and I think it has been a good change for all of us. I really enjoy my job, and getting out of the house to do adult things. Most of my days as a parent are spent feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m not very good at this parenting thing, so having time to do something that I am good at, is very rewarding! I’ve also been doing some freelance graphic design for the company Travis works for.
  • We went to Europe! Travis and I spent a week in Paris, Florence, and Rome in the middle of February just the two of us (an early celebration of our 10-year wedding anniversary in May) while all three grandparents wrangled the girls at our house. It was an amazing trip, but not without its stressful moments. I want to write detailed posts about each day of our trip (because this blog is also my online scrapbook 😉 ) so for now, I’ll just list a few of the things we got to see: the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Catacombs in Paris; the Duomo in Florence and nearby Tuscany; and the St. Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon in Rome. IMG_3010IMG_3311
  • We are soon to be licensed for foster care! We finished up all of the paperwork and training last week, and we should be licensed by the end of this week. After we’re licensed, we just wait to get a call about a child needing a home. It’s both exciting and daunting at the same time! To start out with, we’re only going to accept one child, under 24 months old. We are praying and trusting God to provide us with emotional strength, physical ability, and wisdom/discernment.
  • On a related note, we bought a minivan. With two medium-sized dogs, our SUV was already too small for our family–when we went on road trips, we had to pack our bags in totes and strap them onto a hitch carrier! We muscled through, but now that we are anticipating needing to transport three children, we finally took the plunge and traded the SUV in for a minivan. So far, I LOVE it.IMG_3953
  • I stumbled across a book at the library called “Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” by Gretchen Rubin. I grabbed it because building better habits has been a desire of mine for a while, and the book delivered! One lasting habit I’ve created since reading that book is our morning routine: we eat breakfast right when we get up, then the girls get dressed, and while they watch iPad or mommy’s phone, I do the breakfast dishes and clean for 5 minutes. It is a great start to our day, and has enabled me to keep our house cleaner, in an easier way, without getting overwhelmed. It has changed my cleaning life!! I’ll do a whole post about this soon.
  • The girls turned 2 and 4! We had a joint party on April 8, the day after Emma’s birthday. It was a mermaid theme, and we had a day with nice weather so could spend some time playing outside after cake and presents. So fun to celebrate with friends!
  • Emma is going to preschool next year at the public school in our district on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday. We still don’t know what our plan is for kindergarten, but for now, we have peace about this decision. The preschool is in the same school as their daycare right now, so I think the transition will go really easily.
  • I signed up for the Northwoods Triathlon in Nevis, Minnesota, on August 12. I did this race two years ago, and since it’s in Travis’ hometown, it’s a fun one to do. I need to start training for that in about a month! Travis was training for a half-marathon on May 20, but a couple weeks ago (about halfway through the plan), he injured his Achilles, and has only run once since. He’s pretty bummed. 😦
  • We threw my mother-in-law a surprise party for her 60th birthday this past Saturday. She was totally surprised! All of her kids and grandkids, and some family and friends came to celebrate. It was a great time.
  • Our big summer vacation is going to be a trip to South Haven, Michigan, with my whole family. We are renting an Airbnb right on the beach for a week at the end of June. I can’t wait! I think the girls are going to have a blast. We are also going to go up to Travis’ parents’ cabin in Voyageurs National Park for the 4th of July.

And that’s life lately!

Emma Grace: 3.75 Years

9 Mar

Emma is quickly approaching her 4th birthday on April 7, so I better get this update in before it’s too late!15672976_1332807490082903_846264537335391369_nSize

Emma is in 4T and 5T clothing, and size 9 shoes. I’m excited to find out her weight and height at her next well-child checkup!

Eating

Emma is still a really good eater. Usually, we let her choose what she eats for breakfast, lunch, and snacks (by giving her a few different options), and we make her eat at least a few bites of whatever we made for dinner—which usually requires that she sit on our lap and we help her eat, though she is fully capable of feeding herself. She reverts to baby-like behaviors often, but I’m guessing that is fairly common with this age.

Her favorite foods are yogurt, clementines, mandarin oranges, peaches, baby carrots, cereal, baby cereal, waffles, peanut butter on a spoon, PB&Js, mac & cheese, cheese & crackers, strawberries, blueberries, and applesauce. She will also consistently eat broccoli, sweet bell peppers, black beans, and sweet potato fries. She still is not a fan of meat of really any kind, but she will occasionally eat a chicken sausage. Her favorite treats are candy, ice cream, cheesy dibbles (Cheetos), and caffeine-free pop (soda to all you non-Minnesotans).

15697791_1332807883416197_1671014031762530795_n15726473_1332807670082885_2760584912961896007_n15780738_1332807703416215_2116758220268045907_nSleeping

Emma is still napping during the day (because I need her to!) but she is able to skip her nap and not completely lose it before bedtime—so some days, we let her skip her nap, and apparently, she no longer naps at daycare (which isn’t that surprising). She can’t skip her naps too many days in a row, though, or she is a zombie. Because she is between needing a nap and not needing one, she won’t settle down unless I rock her to sleep in a chair. It usually takes 15-20 minutes, which isn’t so bad, but I end up stumbling out of her room wanting to just take a nap myself instead of getting stuff done. I rock myself to sleep sometimes! Emma usually naps from about 2:00 to 4:00.

At night, Emma usually goes to bed between 9:00 and 9:30. The days she skips her naps, she goes down at more like 7:00 or 8:00. She usually wakes up around 7:30 in the morning.

IMG_2506 (Large)IMG_2684 (Large)IMG_2584 (Large)Development

Potty training is still a battle with this one. She is completely in undies during the day and at night, and has only had a few accidents in the past 3-4 months, but she still wants to poop in a diaper about half the time. Little by little, she is more responsive to our encouragement to poop on the potty. She gets ice cream as her reward!

IMG_2749 (Large)IMG_2667 (Large)IMG_2561 (Large)Things Emma has been loving lately:

  • Hide and Seek – We play this as a family after dinner and it is so fun. Emma loves it! Sometimes she yells to let us know where she is before we can find her, and she often hides where she had just found either me or Travis, but overall, Emma does really well at this game. Annabelle is too young to hide, but she is a good seeker! We complain that she always gives us away before Emma can find us.
  • Hiding from “the Bear” – Where Emma learned this, I have no idea, but she is frequently in a closet or under a blanket hiding from the Bear.
  • YouTube Kids – We put the YouTube kids app on their iPad and Emma discovered these videos of people playing with playdoh. It seriously is the weirdest thing—I’m surprised there are people out there making these videos, let alone people watching them. These people make faces, princess dresses, or cover plastic eggs in playdoh, then open them to reveal the prize toy inside. The other videos on YouTube Kids that Emma has been obsessed with lately are of the song “Daddy Finger,” PJ Masks, Peppa the Pig, and videos of nursery songs like Humpty Dumpty.
  • Playing in the snow—Though Emma doesn’t like wearing winter clothes, she does like playing outside in the snow. She often walks through the snow with just her shoes on (even though I tell her not to). She has enjoyed sledding, snowmobiling, and climbing on big snow piles this year. She also likes to help Daddy shovel the driveway.IMG_2566 (Large)15844768_10103166677744622_7747851522964179194_o
  • Baths—Emma’s love of water is going strong, and lately has manifested itself in the form of 2-3 baths a day. I have a love/hate relationship with baths. I like that the girls are contained in one spot and are usually pretty good at entertaining themselves in the bathtub, but I don’t like that I have to constantly remind them to not pour water outside the tub, or on each other’s heads (let’s be honest, Emma is the culprit of this most of the time). Annabelle usually ends up crying and wanting to get out early.
  • Painting and writing her name—Emma can write her first name (nice that it’s short!) and is learning the rest of the alphabet, though she gets easily discouraged when she tries a certain letter a few times and it doesn’t turn out. She also loves painting, and has recently gotten into puffy paints (covered in glitter of course) and watercolors. I like them too, because less mess!IMG_2568 (Large)15747611_1332807103416275_4427022023995455069_n
  • Doing makeup with Mommy—Anytime the girls catch me doing my makeup, they want to do some too. So I usually give them my powder compact and/or blush and that occupies them long enough for me to finish. Emma also enjoys putting sparkles on her face, and getting her nails painted.
  • Making messes—Emma frequently makes big piles of blankets, sheets, sleep sacks, toys, books, towels (pretty much whatever she can get her hands on) and when I lament that she made a giant mess, she says “I’m making a party.”IMG_2748 (Large)IMG_2561 (Large)img_2280

Funny things Emma says:

  • When asked how she slept at night, Emma will usually say something like, “I slept for 6 minutes.”
  • Emma has started asking how things work. She has been particularly interested in the smoke alarms on the ceiling in her bedroom.
  • Emma likes to tell stories, both about things that really happened and things that she makes up. We can’t always understand what she’s talking about, but she is very animated, so it must be a pretty good story.
  • Emma has started to say the phrases Travis and I use, like “Coming in hot,” “Let’s do this,” “Fine,” and “Deal” with a thumbs up. It’s pretty much hilarious. The other day, she also presented me with two options for playing with the water table outside in the cold: “Mom, we have two options. We can either wash the water table or we can play with it.”
  • At Christmas this year, she called candy canes “candilions” (like dandelions). Last year, she called them candy pops.

Things Emma doesn’t like:

  • Wearing anything in her hair—Whenever I put her hair up in a ponytail, even at her request, she pulls it out after about 10 minutes.
  • Wearing winter clothes—She doesn’t like wearing dresses with long sleeves, pants, socks, etc. If she could, she’d wear summer dresses, tank tops, and skirts all year long. She should’ve been born in a tropical climate. This was her at Christmas:IMG_2410 (Large)IMG_2395 (Large)

And that’s Emma at 3.75 years!

Thoughts on Grief: Miscarriage

3 Mar

It was a surprise–both the pregnancy and the loss. We had decided to forego any additional biological children in order to focus on foster care. But then on Dec 4, I took a pregnancy test (my period was late) and it came back positive. At first, we were disappointed because the pregnancy upset our plans–foster care, Europe, my new job. But over the course of December, we grew excited, talking about names, gender reveal methods, pregnancy announcements, etc.

But then the bleeding started. At first, it was just spotting. An ultrasound revealed that the baby was smaller than expected, with a heartbeat of 92 (slower than it should have been, I found out later). I also had a corpus luteum cyst on my left ovary, a subchorionic hemorrhage, and “debris” in the gestational sac. They said they expected these things to resolve on their own.

I left the doctor’s office with a bad feeling about the pregnancy, even though no one else, including the nurses, seemed to be overly concerned about things. I tried to put it out of my mind. We told my family about our exciting news over New Years weekend, and prayed for good news at the next ultrasound.

But that next ultrasound on Thursday showed the embryo had no growth from before, and no heartbeat, and the spotting I’d had had turned to blood. I had gone to the doctor’s office for the ultrasound alone. It wasn’t until the reality that we were losing the baby set in that I realized how fully pinned my hopes had been on hearing that things were fine.

I kept it together until I got out into the hallway and called Travis. The minute he answered the phone, I started sobbing. “The b-b-baby…d-d-doesn’t…h-h-have a…h-h-heartbeat,” I stammered. Travis quickly arranged for our neighbor to take the girls, even though it meant waking them up from their naps, and came to the hospital, while I sat in the nurse’s office and learned about our options. Travis arrived, we discussed what the nurse had said, and decided to wait and see if things would happen naturally. We scheduled an appointment with the OB for the following Monday, just in case things hadn’t progressed on their own by then.

After we left the hospital, we went to Caribou Coffee to digest what was happening before jumping back into the craziness of parenting. I confessed to Travis that I was mad at God. The thoughts running through my head were, “This is so like God. He gives us a surprise pregnancy and enough time to get excited about that change in our plans, and then the baby dies.” It felt like God was the ultimate manipulator, toying with our emotions just to prove to us how little control we have over our lives. “What was the point of this?!?” I screamed in my soul. I felt like we were just pawns in God’s schemes, and that He didn’t really care about us after all.

The next morning, Friday, I got up at 6 am to cramping and lots of blood. A surreal experience if there ever was one, knowing that it wasn’t just blood–it was my baby too. Thankfully, it wasn’t very painful, lasted only a few hours, and another ultrasound that following Monday showed that I did not need a D&C.

God enabled me to see His grace to us in the midst of our loss. I’m so incredibly thankful that my body miscarried on its own, and that it happened the day after we found out our baby had no heartbeat. I’m also grateful that we have the money to pay for the costly ultrasounds.

God also reminded me how I had prayed a few months earlier for Him to enable me to hold the options of having another biological child or pursuing foster care with open hands, willing to follow wherever He led. I discovered that I wasn’t as willing to follow as I had imagined myself to be. The Sunday following the miscarriage, I had a vision in church of Jesus standing on the other side of the waterfall, beckoning me to join Him with an outstretched hand. Am I willing to follow through the veil down the road of fully acknowledging and feeling my pain and sadness?

Faced with the sorrow of losing a baby less than a year after the death of my beloved mom, I felt the familiar feeling of not wanting to follow Jesus into hurt and pain. As if there were a choice; the hurt and pain are there regardless. For some reason, though, accepting the hurt and pain as God’s perfect plan makes the pain hurt more, makes the loss seem more final. It seems easier to kick against the goads and reject the reality of loss. With the death of my mom, I clung to God’s goodness and perfect ways like a buoy in a white-capped sea. With this miscarriage, though, I floundered in unbelief and anger.

It wasn’t until I humbled myself and read the Bible that God broke through my anger, bitterness, and accusations, and my heart softened. The truth was that Satan causes harm and destruction; God redeems and heals.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“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)

This experience revealed how close sin and unbelief are to me. They’re crouching at the door, waiting to devour me. And the only weapon I have is the sword of the Spirit–the Word. Truth. And the Truth is that “This God–his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30)

One unexpected grace that has come from this loss is that I appreciate and cherish my two daughters and husband more. I feel so blessed to have them–and I actually feel it in my heart, instead of just acknowledging it in my head. You would think that a loss like this would make you feel less content, not more. But losing an unborn baby has reinforced how much I truly love kids in general, and specifically my own kids–even when they’re driving me crazy, I’m so blessed that they’re mine.

This sadness has also made me aware that we are entering into a world of potential heartache with foster care. A world of unrealized hopes and dreams, of uncertain outcomes and tenuous relationships. But Travis and I continue to feel called in that direction.

Lord, whatever lies ahead, give us the faith and strength to follow You.

Grief: One Year

12 Feb

Today marks one year since my mom’s death.

One Year is a milestone. It means we have survived the “firsts”—the familiar holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, now all different due to the gaping hole left by my mom. We are still trying to figure out how to function as a family without her. She was the glue. She did a lot.

One Year also makes me realize that all this time, I’ve been subconsciously hoping that this was still just a nightmare. I want to say, “Ok this can be done now. We’ve had enough sorrow and pain.” I’m like a child being dragged somewhere, digging my fingernails into the living room rug, refusing to go along. I don’t want to keep going down this sorrow-filled journey. I don’t want to keep yearning to see and hear my mom. I want to just see and hear her. But One Year reminds me, this is permanent until heaven. Man, that hurts.

They say the First Year is the hardest, and I expected to crumble into a puddle of emotions and crying at every special occasion that was now being celebrated without my mom. But I didn’t. Those occasions were times to recall the happy memories, see the vast impact my mom made on our lives collectively, and relish family time, which my mom loved to the core of her being.

Instead, the hardest parts of the First Year were the things I didn’t even think would be hard. It was not having my mom call me after my first day at my new job. It was not being able to ask her for advice when the girls got sick or were driving me crazy. It was not being able to spend the week with her while Travis was hunting in Wyoming. It was not having her to go shopping with, or ask about decorating opinions, or just listen to me while I vented about life.

It wasn’t until my mom was gone that I realized how much I valued her as a friend.

She was an excellent listener, and she had the ability to draw me out like no one else, save my husband. I told her things I told no one else but Travis, and she always listened with support and love. We had entire phone conversations that were just me talking about my problems, and her listening. It wasn’t until we hung up that I realized I had no idea what was going on with her, because we talked about me the whole time.

She was interested in everyone, friendly, always asking questions, actually listening to the answers, and asking follow-up questions. It reminds me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

That was my mom. She loved life. She loved people.

She was my best friend.

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