Facing the Giants

It was about 8:30 in the morning and Bubby and I were strolling through Target to satisfy two cravings of mine.

One – a decaf Iced Latte from Starbucks

and two – some pancake mix.

Naturally after picking up the pancake mix (and some brownie mix) I headed to the clothes. How can you not pass by their clothes? :)

I don’t know how to explain it, but the girl stuff, the girl section – the baby girl section that is-  always gets me. I am so used to seeing it and being sad or avoiding it completely. I grieved the loss of not only our first child, but the loss of raising a daughter for so long.

I muffled under my breath that I can’t believe we’re really going to have another girl…

It STILL feels surreal. More dreamlike than reality.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that the first few weeks of this pregnancy were almost BLISS. I had so much confidence that things would be alright. Perfect. Just like Bubby.

I suppose the closer we get to the finish line (and that’s still far away, obviously), the reality just sets in.

Reality of all the things that could go wrong. 

I’ve been throwing this mental pity party of why does it have to be like this? and, why can’t I just have my children- all three of them with me? 

And then a thought, more like a question popped in my head. Almost like God asking me how much time I spend dwelling on the things I don’t have, versus the things that I do. Percentage-wise, I’d be too ashamed to even find out. The numbers would make it seem like I’ve lost more than I have, which is so, so wrong.

I do have a son.

I do have a beautiful little girl kicking more and more each day inside me.

And I DO have those 13 days to thank God for.

I have a lot.

Dear most unfriendly loss of joy and self-pity – you almost kicked my butt today but you did not win. 

The truth is I have a lot to be thankful for.

17 Weeks

We were in upstate New York this past weekend for my brother-in-law’s wedding.

Holy gorgeousness. Sometimes (no really, all the time) I wished I lived in a place that was surrounded by beauty that way.

Texas is nice, once you’re out of the cities.

Anyhoo, flying with Bubby wasn’t nearly as hard/ traumatic/ stressful as I thought it would be. He got a little antsy, but mostly he was awesome! Thanks to an endless supply of cookies, crackers, books, and milk.

Hubby and I were both in the wedding, and I have to say it was a blast!!

I realized at nine o’clock Saturday morning – the morning of the wedding – that baby girl and I have reached 17 weeks when my Babycenter app went off.

Within the past few days I’ve been feeling her kick and squirm a lot more. And Bubby is starting to point to my belly all by himself.

My heart is full.

So this is love {tricycle days}

Dear Bubby,

The other day I stubbed my toe and it hurt so bad that if I was a cussing woman, I would have let a few choice words go. I threw myself on the bed grabbing my toe, and you must have heard me yelling. I’m dramatic.

You ran over and asked me “You ‘kay?”

Why, yes sweet boy. You made it all okay. More than okay actually.

You also have become quite fond of the word ‘hurt’. When I spritz you with water (on accident) while making the canvases, you insist that it hurts. So cute.

When you fall off your tricycle you’re a brave boy but you always make sure and let me know where it hurts. And that is hurts.

You like granola! Who would have thought? I guess it sort of resembles cereal, so go you!

We practice a few minutes of quiet time each day now and I love how you know to grab a book and you wrestle your little body onto our comfy sofa until you’re positioned just right. I love how your feet rest at the edge of the sofa and you curl your toes as you turn the pages.

I love hearing you count. You can count to eight, and while I don’t really know how much of counting you really understand, hearing you repeat something we’ve been practicing for a while is beyond rewarding.

You sometimes call cows in the pastures we pass by elephants. And when I tell you they’re cows sometimes you’ll say “cow go Moooooo!!!” and sometimes you’ll give a silly grin and insist that they are elephants. You win either way!

Since my baby bump is popping out like crazy these days, you’re aware there’s something new happening. You point to the bump sometimes and repeat “baby guuurl!”

You get upset if I finish loading the dryer without your help. Sorry little man! I forget that laundry for you is not work, it’s fun.

You are OBSESSED with the movie Cars 2. You really love Mater. We bought you a stuffed toy Mater and he’s your sleeping buddy these days.

You are incredible. Yesterday a thought came to me I hadn’t thought about in a while. The thought that God must love me so much that he gave me you.

This Time

I can vividly remember thinking to myself in the NICU days, “I can’t wait til this part of my life is past.” That verse about ‘this too shall pass’ would run through my mind. If I had known what being past that part of life would really mean I wouldn’t have been so anxious to get off that NICU roller coaster. Like I’ve said so many times before, it never crossed my mind that we would actually lose her.

I find myself in that frame of mind these days, just counting the days (no, not literally, but close!) to the DAY I get to hold this sweet baby in my arms.

Smell her skin, study her little fingers, and soak up the fact that I can buy and make the cutest baby girl things.

And then I remember how haunting that frame of mind has been over the past three years… wanting to push the fast forward button too soon.

I have to pause right here and say that I believe God gave us that hope – to let us enjoy Jenna every moment that we could possibly have with her. And we did. Unguarded love filled that NICU bedside for 13 days, and we were unapologetic about how much time we spent next to her, skipping meals and missing phone calls. But every so often I’d take a deep breathe and anticipate better days. Days with our first born in our small two bedroom house. Days after this roller coaster. Days where we would look back and think of how far our little girl had come. The roller coaster had a way of flinging me off too soon, without much warning and a never-ending fall.

I don’t want that roller coaster to catch me off guard this time. God forbid, if there is a ‘this time’.

When I catch myself thinking about how I want the days to fast forward, I try to pause, and soak this new baby in, even now. I still can’t believe this is really happening sometimes. Another girl. Another beautiful, precious baby girl.

The Greatest Thing

Someone said in our meeting last week that children are the greatest thing you’ll ever be given. I guess it was the way it was worded that really hit me.

I mean, that is a no brainer, right? But I guess it felt good to have someone else validate that truth. Children really are the greatest thing you’ll ever be given. And… if that’s true… then they are the greatest thing you’ll ever miss if one leaves your world too soon.

Sometimes it amazes me how deep that scar runs.

I don’t carry the sadness of her death with me like I did that first year, and maybe even the second year. It was a sadness I couldn’t shake willingly. It was my burden to carry. And it still is to some extent, but grief has a way of changing.

The scar though, it runs deep.

Nothing can bring me tears quicker than thinking about the pain that surrounded those days, and even the bittersweet joy.

The greatest thing.

It’s a wonder we can find healing in this aftermath.

Lately I’ve been reading Bloom. A dear friend sent it to me after sharing that one of the main characters’ names is “Bubby”. *smile*

It is by far one of the greatest reads EVER.

I’ve only been able to read it a few days since it arrived, but I am more than half way done, which makes me sad!

***spoiler alert*** don’t read this if you plan on reading the book! ;)

In the book the author talks how she is grieving the loss of the relationship between her two daughters, that she had so longed for and even promised her eldest child. She didn’t lose a child, but she talks about how she lost a dream when her child came out with DS.

I can relate to losing a dream.

Just the other day we drove by a cemetery and usually I am the one to bring it up that we should go visit Jenna. Lately, I just can’t. But it’s not because I don’t want to, I just fear going there right now for some reason. It brings life and death too close together — in my mind. I heard Pete say “we haven’t been to see Jenna in a while…”.

“Yea, I know.” I suggested we go see her next week after the wedding. If he said something about going to see her it, it’s been a while.

I wanted to burst into tears because I must be the worst mother of a grave, ever.

I want to wrap my pregnant self in a bubble. Every little pain or twinge sends me into a guessing game (and sometimes a Googling game) of what on earth this or that could mean. The bubble makes me feel a little more safe about this pregnancy with Peach, but it also makes me feel even further away from Jenna. I think grief and new life coexisted much easier with my pregnancy with Bubby, not because I wanted it to, but because it had too. The grief was naturally raw and wrapping myself in a bubble wasn’t an option. I do remember feeling this living contradiction, a strangeness – holding a new life inside me while visiting her grave. I suppose that is when I learned that grief and joy really do coexist.

And their dance is sacred, beautiful and like no other. The steps are tricky. And if you let your guard down you’ll get so wrapped up in trying to lead this dance that you’ll miss the beauty these two make together if you’d just let go… and follow.

Needless to say, I’m relearning these steps… clumsy feet and all.

A Nickname for Her and the Winners

I am terrible, terrible, terrible. I had this giveaway going on and completely got sidetracked this week with announcing the two winners! I pulled names and just never got around to telling you who they were! Anyway, I won’t make you read through my whole post before getting to them! Without further adieu…

Congrats Deanna + Meg! You have been emailed with details on how to claim your prize :)

in case you still want to shop please use this discount code below to save you 20% off your entire purchase (good through this weekend)

HAPPY20

{shop here}

:::

(getting ideas for Carly’s brilliant-beyond-brilliant project this October!)

This week we have a meeting going on at our church. Things are crazy around my house. I scored about 50 boxes that other day behind a Charming Charlie’s they are opening around the corner (another obsession of mine), and the packing was scheduled to commence this past Monday… in my head. That is until I realized the packing would have to wait. This meeting is great, and lasts all week so there really is zero time for packing. Oh well.

Packing. Did I mention we are trying to move soon? House possibly going up for sale in October… baby due in late January/ early February. A wedding in New York next weekend.

Life is nutso. I promise everytime we move, I’m pregnant. All three times.

We have done it (with much loved and adored and very much appreciated help) two times, so we can do this again. We just need to move. We are not sure where, but my heart wants to be in the country. Somewhere quiet, inspiring, peaceful.

In spite of this crazy week, my friend Amanda reminded me about the Lantern Release next month. We finally arranged an event on facebook, so be sure to check it out here. Even if you live a gazillion miles from Texas you can still be involved :)

This Lantern Release is not on any special day, just a day to get together with other loss mamas, and celebrate our childrens’ lives together.

In other baby-related news, just about everyday I feel her move now. Some days stronger than others. And I think she likes Jalapeno chips, because she tends to kick enough for me to feel her move when I eat them.

Someone suggested I find a nickname for her, and I have been thinking a lot on it. The hard part about it is, her name has a nickname built into it, so I don’t want this nickname to stick, which I am afraid it might but it would help so much when writing about her :)

I never had a nickname for Jenna, but she did get called Angel a lot. Even though I don’t fully agree with calling babies and children in Heaven angels, I love the reference because she is and was absolutely perfect.

Of course Joseph’s nickname is Bubby.

And this new baby’s nickname will be Peach. For the sake of blogging and writing about her until she gets here anyway. Her nickname is in no way related to her real name, it’s just something I thought up since I was quickly losing the nickname battle against names like “sweet pea” and “daisy”.

You would think I have no imagination!

I will tell you that once we settle into our new place, I am so drawn to peach and grey for her nursery colors (inspired by this on Pinterest). Honestly I am so proud of myself for even thinking that far ahead. With Bubby I nearly scolded myself for even thinking of anything nursery-related. Of course, going out and actually buying it is a whole different story.

Baby Kicks and the Pregnancy I Don’t Remember

So the pregnancy books probably will toss off this amazing feeling as muscle spasms, my uterus growing, blah blah blah… but can I just say that I am almost 100% sure I felt her kick for the first time last night? At exactly 15 weeks. (and just a few minutes ago! She seems to be very active at night)

I’ve been feeling the other stuff for weeks, but this… well it feels like magic.

Every time it happens I silently go “Oh!” and smile, hold my small but growing belly, and think…

I can’t wait to meet her.

I felt Jenna move for the first time at 15 weeks too.

I think God knew I needed a happy lift after the pregnancy blues took me by storm on Friday evening. I ventured out to Target exactly one week after we found out we were having a girl, and I did it. I bought her her first something. Well almost first, since I made her her first somethings (the headbands). But regardless…

it was a big step.

Huge actually. I get tired of people telling me that everything will be alright. How can anyone possibly know that? They don’t know. I realize it is their noble gesture to rid me of my fear and help me enjoy this amazing, amazing little person growing inside.

The truth is I am struggling to find a way to curb these very real fears. Even though everything is going great so far. But ultimately I don’t want to have another pregnancy I barely remember.

Being pregnant again after Jenna for the first time was like nothing else. It was uncharted territory for me, and pregnancy was stripped of it’s innocence. I knew too much, and that kept me at bay for a long time when it came to bonding. Of course, any good mama will tell you it’s impossible not to bond, especially after hearing those heartbeats, and seeing them doing flips on the monitor.

When I think about my pregnancy with Bubby, it feels like a whirlwind and less like a beautiful nine month span.

I remember bleeding at 12 weeks or so. And the panic. The tears. The guilt. I thought we were losing him.

I remember being 28-ish weeks and sitting on the sofa with one of my dearest friends, Angela, and talking while my belly would wiggle. We’d laugh over his silly 3D ultrasound pictures and how one of them looked like he was laughing too.

I remember peeing on a stick and being filled with anxiety almost immediately when the pee stick read “Pregnant” within seconds. The one just a few hours ago (different brand, not digital) told me I wasn’t. But I knew… something was different.

I remember being amazed that I could grow a healthy baby. I had lost so much trust in my own body.

I remember the rash that covered me from head to toe, from the antibiotics at 30-ish weeks that had me looking like a spotted tomato.

I remember craving fruit. And sweets, oh my. I am not a sweet tooth (or I wasn’t in my pre-Bubby days), but I quickly became one with him.

Everything in between those monumental moments are a blur. I don’t feel guilty about it, considering how much anxiety and fear I was trying to surpress only months after losing Jenna. I was just so focused on getting him to viability so that there would at least be a chance. It turned out he would surpass viability and weigh a whopping 7 pounds, 5 ounces.

Since Friday I have been burning inside to do something. There are a bunch of things that keep me busy, but I want something just for her. I have this idea that I am working on, and I think it will help distract me at the very least. I hope to share pictures in the next few days if it all goes well. :)

Wishing you all a beautiful week xx

ps… I can’t tell you how much your sweet thoughts, comments, emails and prayers mean to me during this time!!

That Person

I held the envelope that nearly knocked the wind out of me Friday afternoon at about 5:15 pm. I was on cloud nine, just holding the envelope. Hearing the words “the baby’s doing beautifully“ again was music to my ears.

I was so happy.

I walked out of the doctor’s office and almost skipped to the elevator. I felt like the next few hours were going to kill me, and everyone waiting for a response of our baby’s gender.

I clicked the elevator button to send me back on my way downstairs. I couldn’t wait to hold my little boy again. He is just so missable. My blissful spirit was anything but prepared for what was waiting for me in the elevator.

The elevators in that building almost always take three and a half years to get to your floor, even though there are only three floors. But not this time. Almost immediately (or so it seems) they slid open. A young woman in her mid-twenties was hastily trying to cover up what was obviously a horrible day that had her face covered in tears.

My heart sank and I felt guilty for being the one with good news.

I shoved the envelope in my purse and my mind immediately went to that day in my life. I don’t even remember if anyone besides Pete noticed those tears… that face.

I slipped onto the elevator, with hesitation. I mean, those moments- they are so private. But at the same time I didn’t want to make her feel worse by sending her off by herself. As if my presence would make her day any worse.

I am sorry… but you should never have to leave the OB’s office in tears. Was it her OB appointment? Did they just tell her her baby had a genetic disorder? Was she even pregnant? My mind was racing.

That building is filled with nothing but women’s clinics (to my knowledge). Was she told she’d never be able to carry a precious life inside her?

I felt like I needed to hug her. But I didn’t. I glanced to my left, where she was standing and tried to think of something to say.

“Are you alright?”

Duh, Fran.

She almost began to tell me, but she lied. She was far from okay, but she also probably had no idea a stranger might just get her pain. On some level.

How awful that one place can send you off with so much happiness… and another family so much heartache.

We were those people three years ago, after a genetic counselor confirmed that our baby, who we had just found out was a girl hours earlier, could very likely come out with a chromosomal disorder. There were charts, questions and a whole bunch of answers I just don’t remember anymore.

Times like these I wish I had a baseball cap that said “I’ve been there, please don’t be afraid to cry in front of me!!”

Sigh.

Times like these, I will never understand. Times that leave you floored with happiness and heartache all at once.

Celebrating the New Shop Look & a Giveaway

I decided a while back that the old look wasn’t doing the canvases any justice. Nor was the overall theme. I mean the whole idea behind the subway art canvases is to celebrate life.

Celebrate it by creating pieces from your favorite photos and quotes, and throwing them up on a wall for everyone to see in your home as a collage.

But the new look has me absolutely in lurve! Click here to visit.

A sweet client sent this to me a while back, of how she displayed her twelve pieces.

Many people have asked me if they could use their own photos, and the answer is always ABSOLUTELY YES!! I can even use your photos that are not instagrams, and apply a filter to make them appear as though they are instagrams, or of course- crop them into a square and use them as they are. I always send you a proof for approval in this case to make sure the result meets and exceeds your expectations!

Today, I am giving away one piece to TWO lucky winners! You can choose a piece with a quote, or use your prize with one of your all time favorite photos. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter :)

Best of luck to everyone.

ps- this is open to everyone – worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Hope Looks Like After Loss

Hope looks like a smile hiding the guilt, but more than that- the overwhelming fear that lightning, though rare does strike twice in some places. I can’t seem to shake that thought today. So I’m blogging about it, hoping it will be far from my heart tomorrow.

Hope looks like a mother-soon-to-be contemplating venturing out into Target to look at baby girl things again.

Hope looks like box of fabric shoved out of storage to make some headbands for our own daughter. I always hoped I would be able to make some for our own child one day, and while I wish to the moon and back that I could do this for Jenna, my heart skipped a beat when I realized I could actually do this for our new baby girl yesterday.

Hope looks like a mother-soon-to-be falling madly in love with her baby growing inside of her. Unguarded love. This type of love that has overwhelmed by heart since the news on Friday has left me feeling completely vulnerable at the same time. I feel like up until now, I have been withdrawing myself a bit, fearful that something could happen. But something about finding out the sex of your baby, it just makes the whole pregnancy more real. So real that you just can’t help it anymore.

She is coming. And let me just say I wish I could just type out her name right now because her name is beyond gorgeous (in my humble opinion) ;) and well, the meaning behind it is something I just can’t get over. It’s perfect in every way.

Hope is telling Bubby he is going to have a baby sister, and watching him point his chubby little finger up against my fast-growing belly and repeating “bay-bee sistuh”.

Hope looks like a Pinterest board, with baby girl things, colors, and nursery ideas while the baby has not yet arrived.

Hope looks like the incredibly real joy that I cannot hide even if I wanted to when I tell people “The doctor said we are having a girl!!”.

Hope looks like a dream in my head, wondering what it will be like to mother two babies here, and a daughter in Heaven.

Hope looks like a bird who just got her feathers, ready to take on the world, and chase her dreams. Hope feels incredible.

Hope is also a vulnerable place. A place where dreams can be crushed. A place where you are challenged to embrace so much when you have so little to go by.

Hope looks like a heart pleading before God, but the inability to find even one word. I have no words, just an earnest cry that God lets us keep her.

Hope looks like this mama, unable to keep still. I feel like I need to do something. These next few months will no doubt be the longest months in a long time.

Wall of Hope

It was an honor… to be a part of this. I kid you not- there were hours and hours and hours late into the night perfecting each portrait and making edits over the span of the past 6+ months.

But this past Tuesday – to see the work in fruition and how it touched the families made it all worth it. More than worth it.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you it was bittersweet – the entire project.

I mean the whole idea is to give hope to NICU families that there are indeed happy endings in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Happy endings. Babies that come home. Babies that survive.

If you aren’t familiar with the Wall of Hope, each portrait was a picture of a NICU graduate. It had a picture of them in the NICU, and a picture of them today. It had their story, written by their parents, their birth weight, their time spent in the NICU and the things they love and enjoy today.

In one word, this wall is powerful. I couldn’t get over the presence of it. And to top it off, each child’s parents picked a word to represent their NICU journey – which was cut out of wood and hand painted by the kids themselves.

This project is and has been amazing!!!

Reading their stories, seeing their pictures and them watching the kids glow at seeing themselves on the wall was a magical experience. To be a part of my daughter’s hospital this way. We hope to continue to add to this beautiful wall too. There will sadly always be families that need just a little bit of hope.

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