Journal Entry: Not much going on December 9th, 2008

Well, just thought I'd share that I'm ok. The day came and went. I teared up the first time when I opened my inbox and there was a note from my sister just letting us know she knows. I didn't have any major bawling episodes, thank goodness. Not like last year. I didn't feel like I was socked in the gut or have the shaking the heavens and the earth type of let down Just a few silent tears. Very few.

Around the hour that she was born, I soflty sang happy birthday to her, over my ol time favorite Baskin Robbins. I took A there as a treat for the both of us. The boys had a Christmas program at church then we went out to dinner with my mom. My meal was disappointing, so was the conversation when she said that A had reminded her of what the day was. I was surprised that A even acknowledged it at all, let alone spoke about it to someone else. On her Myspce she said she was sad and the header said "Happy Birthday Charlotte". Another set of tears flowed.

B didn't even remember what the day was. I was making breakfasat after church and I said "You know... today is Baby Girl's birthday". He said "huh?" Not once, but 3 times. He also said "I don't get it..." >>rolling my eyes here<<.

But instead of me making a big deal out of him forgetting I just sucked it in and continued making the French toast. He got pretty huffy and asked why there was so much tension now. I just shrugged my shoulders. I wasn't gonna fight him or try to make him feel bad. I figured ok, this is how it is now. A faded picture for some. But not to me.

So that was the 7th in a nutshell. I did have some other people call/email me to tell me they were thinking about us, but not many. That's ok. I knew this day would come.

I did receive a wonderful phone call yesterday though... my dear friend Amber called to tell me she's pregnant. I am so excited for them. One day, when I'm feeling up to it, I am going to post the whole story of our friendship. But it's heavy, and I know I'll cry. But for now... yay Amber!!

Journal Entry: December 6th, 2008 Even at 3 in the morning...

I woke up sometime around three am and haven't been able to go back to sleep yet. So I hopped on to the computer just to bore myself back to bed, but I guess Little Man had another idea. He woke up to vomit in his bed ::bleck::

So thankfully I was already wide awake and was able to tend to him without getting grumpy over lost sleep. Now we're both up.

B took the kids to a Christmas party at church last night and by the *looks* of things, the chili wasn't sitting well with Z. He's now watching tv on the couch as I hammer away at the computer.

I was sad to miss the party with my family, but last night was a good night for me. I had 5 girls come along with me to the church for an evening of fun and friendship. I was so happy that they showed up, we ended up staying out until about 10pm. (I'm going to also try to figure out how to link some other blogs to this one... it better explains why I'm so excited about it.)

While I am up, I've added a playlist of music that has particular meaning to me regarding Charlotte. It's something I've been meaning to do, but technology scares me a little and I'm not sure of what I'm doing. So tonight, er..uh.. this morning, I actually had time to fiddle around a bit. Like most people, music really ministers to my heart. The words of the song are what get me, nevermind the melody. Maybe now I can delete some of the other side bar clips and spiff up the blog a little bit. I feel like I'm rearranging the furniture in my house. I guess if it doesn't work out, I can always move things back to my usual comfort zone.

So, here's just a brief explanation of what the songs mean to me, in case anyone is interested..

  • "I am Free" by the Newsboys is probably the closest I can get to imagining what life is like for Charlotte now. She is free from pain, she is free to sing, she is free to dance before her King... and it's all for, and because of, what Jesus has done for us. Just thinking about it makes me tear up because I am so happy for her. I know, it may not seem like it in some of my posts, but I am abundantly happy for her that she is with Him. I can't begin to imagine the joy she experiences everyday, but through the words of this song, I can catch a glimpse of the exhilaration she must feel. I can practically *see* her running on the streets of gold.

  • "Bring the Rain" by Mercy Me is the anthem of my heart. People who have a relationship with Christ can understand this song on so many levels. Had I not had a relationship with him, I surely would have drowned in circumstance and sorrow. Because of this, I was truly able to say "Lord, what ever brings you glory, so be it. If it requires the life of my daughter, so be it. Bring it on. Whatever will bring You the most glory."

  • "I'm Not Alright" by Sanctus Real is the raw me sometimes. When I'm feeling like no one *gets me*, I think of this song.

  • "The Blessing" by John Waller reminds me that my purpose is greater than what is on the surface, and so is what happened with Charlotte.

So now I'm off to find something to snack on. I'm gonna look for some more cute things to add to the blog. We'll see what I come up with.

Journal Entry: December 1st, 2008- 2 years ago a heart stopped beating...

Seven Hundred Thirty days is close to One Thousand...right?
I've missed you daily.
"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere..." Psalms 84:10

Family Pictures November 30, 2008

We had our family pictures taken today. The last time we took pictures as a group, M was a little baby. Well, enough yapping from me... take a look....

Journal Entry: November 27, 2008 Something new in the Sweet Potatoes

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, [And] into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, [and] bless His name. For the LORD [is] good; His mercy [is] everlasting, And His truth [endures] to all generations..." Psalms 100:4-5

We have a family tradition. As much as tradition goes, it's not really noteworthy. It didn't start in a funny way, or really have a back story to it, but still, it's ours. We always have J & V here as well as whatever family is still in town. J & V started coming over because my friend, their daughter, would make the rounds at her in-laws for the holidays. It was just the two of them (later adding N to their clan) and it was just *our family* up here. It seemed only natural to have them join us. Afterall, I've been best friends with their daughter for almost 25 years. When this all started we still had our family down south. B has to work every Friday after Thanksgiving, so we have always had Thanksgiving here. It's grown over the past couple of years to include my mom and brother and now my sister and her family. Now it's "what we do". And we love it.

We've also come to love J & V very much and we share a lot of our life with them. I know they feel the same way. When we found out Charlotte was sick they, from a distance, loved us very closely. On Labor Day weekend, or thereabouts... while I was still pregnant with her, they hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner for us. Knowing that it very well may have been our only Thanksgiving with her in our world, they went all out. They had a full traditional meal (pies and all) just to give thanks to Him who created her. It meant so much to me. Much more than I think anyone knows.

Anyway, as with any tradition, there are the *usuals* that we eat. One of them being my own recipe for macaroni and cheese, praline sweet potaotes and my mom's recipe for ambrosia salad. These will be found at the *Big Three* holidays. Always.

But today, as I was making the sweet potatoes, I added a secret ingredient. Ok, not so much literally, but perhaps one small one... of my own tears.

I stood at the counter and was caught in the moment. My children were whizzing about the house, so excited for the *feast* that was to come. Little hands were being traced to make colorful roosters, my ears were filling with the sound of worship music and singing from my husband. I was totally immersed with thanksgiving. The baby in my womb, that occupies the place that my Charlotte did, was bouncing around, letting me know that yes, I am thankful for him too.

Tears were dripping, my heart was full. I was overcome with the emotion that... my gosh, I miss her, yet it is ok to go on. And as much as I want to be over it, I never will. B walks by and sees me crying and asks "are those tears of joy?". And in my heart I sing "Yes".

"Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, [And] to the young ravens that cry.
He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you. He makes peace [in] your borders, [And] fills you with the finest wheat" Psalms 147:7

Thank you Jesus, for your precious gift of life. Both here on Earth and into Eternity with You.

Journal Entry: November 24th, 2008 Frozen

::sigh:: When I look back at the last time I posted, I feel a little guilty because I haven't written anything in a while. Meanwhile, there has been much to write, I've just been avoiding it.

I have some tweaking to do on this blog because I want to add links to other blogs but I just haven't been able to put myself out there to do it. Somewhere inside me I feel like if I stop now, then Charlotte and her story is frozen. When in fact, it's not her story that has been frozen, but my heart.

A few weeks ago I hit a stride of constantly being in fear over this baby I'm now carrying. I was embarrassed to admit it to others because I felt like people had an idea of me being so strong that it was shameful for me to worry.
So instead, I shut down and gave in. One Saturday morning, as B was going to a Men's Breakfast with the church, I told him that the baby had died. All the night before I laid in bed crying with him beside me, not making any noise as my heart was breaking in half because I was gripped with sadness that something bad had happened. When he woke up in the morning, he didn't understand why I looked like I hadn't slept in days. It was because I hadn't. Well, needless to say, the baby hasn't died. But my point is that I was scared and I couldn't push through my fear enough to even pray about it. Where was all of the faith I had months ago? I wasn't/haven't been working it out.

So about 3 weeks ago we had our big ultrasound. We opted to get a Level II straight away instead of the basic and waiting to see if something was going to show up. The whole way to Sacramento I felt sick to my stomach. B and I drove in silence a good part of the way there, both not wanting to mention the obvious.

We got into the Doctor's office and I could barely breath. All of the familiar things were still there, except the genetic counselor now had braces. Don't ask me why I fixated on that, but I guess I was looking for something.. even the slightest thing... to be different this time around.

The scan took a lot less time to do than they told me it would. Twenty minutes, in and out. I was told it would take an hour and a half, at least. They called the Doc into read it and I was irritated to see it was the male doctor we had seen before with Charlotte. He was the same one that delivered the blow about her condition. I set my appt with the woman doctor, but she apparently had a family emergency, so he was covering her shift. ::deep breath::
The technician was also a different one, very friendly and talkative. She said she was aware of the problems of our last pregnancy, but didn't know all of the details. Immediately when she said this my eyes filled. It took a lot of blinking for me to not let them spill over as I laid still. But then the Tech leaned over to me and whispered "it's beautiful...". Well then I lost it.
She sat upright really quickly and assured me that the doctor would come back in to go over the images she took. Silently telling me what I already knew.. that she wasn't supposed to say anything, she's only the tech. Soon after, the Doctor came strolling in. All smiles. I wondered if he remembered who we were. That he had seen us before. Did he recognize my tear filled eyes.. did he understand the gravity of the words he was about to deliver to me and my husband?
He sat down and looked over all of the images rather quickly. We'd already told everyone we didn't want to find out the sex of the baby, so the tech and the counselor wrote it down on a piece of paper for us, sealed it in an envelope, and handed it to B who placed it into my purse. At one point the doctor stopped on an image of the baby's butt and legs. I asked if that was the bum hand he said yes. He then looked (in an exaggerated way) past me over to B and then back to the image. He then said "I was wondering who's profile it had." hmmm...

His next words wwere like a cool breeze. He said the baby was "perfection" and "beautiful". By this time, I was sitting up, but I may as well have been lying flat because I was floored. A huge sigh of relief came out of me and B at the same time I think, but I didn't even look at him until we were walking out of the scan room. I know though that we both had tear stained faces.

B really didn't want to find out the gender, but I would have if he wanted to. I made a pit stop at the potty and came out to the elevator. I pulled the envelope out and held it up to the sunlight. B looked at me and grabbed it out of my hands. "What are yo doing?!?" he asked. Well I was only kidding, I wasn't going to really open it. But then he tore the envelope open. I was shocked! We hadn't even made it out of the building and we caved, lol.
He chuckled and tilted his head and handed me the paper. "It's a BOY! congrats..." was scribbled on it. I started to cry. B asks what's wrong...he's healthy! "I know, but it's another stinky boy!" is what I said...just as the elevator doors opened. A woman stood there laughing and says "I guess you already have a boy?" to which I replied... "I have TWO stinky boys!!". ::sheesh::.
It took me a good 45 minutes to stop the water works. Even the calls I made to tell family and friends were all "Oh." and "Well..." which didn't help my emotions about it. Honestly, I felt like I was disappointing a lot of people.
How dumb that I would be so upset that it' s not a girl. But the more I accept it, the more excited I'm getting. In a very weird way I am glad that it's not a girl after all... I could see how I may have had some misguided ideas about it being a girl, in regards to Charlotte.
So now my only living daughter is turning 16 in May. She wanted to go skydiving, something I was considering letting her do. But when we came home and told her it's a boy, she was all smiles, until I let her know that skydiving is now out of the question and she can also forget about planning her own wedding. She's the only girl. Too bad. She's got me all to herself. haha.
One thing though, I'd noticed during the ultrasound was that this baby's head and the division of two lobes was so much more clearly defined than Charlotte's. His hand is also much more visible than hers was. Not a big deal. but it reminded me of the little things I was searching for with her. Tell tale signs of being OK.
Now knowing that this child is a boy has actually made me relax a lot more. It really is a different pregnancy. A different child. But knowing the difference has also made me want to just get on with my life, in a way.
Charlotte's anniversary is approaching quickly. I've probably mentioned it before, but I could kick myself now for having so many *special* dates to remember. We were told November 11th thru ultrasound that she was ok. She died December 1st. She was born December 7th. She was buried on another date. You see, I feel over loaded.

Last year I decided I wanted to honor her birthday every year with a holiday party. We would do an ornament exchange and have a dessert social. The meaning and significance would be only known to me and a couple of other people, but now, a part of me doesn't even want to do it. Finances are a part of it. Now isn't a good time to have a party, but also, I'm weary. I know next week will be tough on me. Well, perhaps it won't but I'm bracing myself for the tears and darkness to come. I thought last year I would be OK and it was so much harder on me than I expected. So this year I will let myself feel what ever I feel.
I don't like that I feel like my life has gone on and that it's ok. I want to be more sad. I don't want to be ready for another baby, but I am. I'm so confused. That's what I mean about being frozen. She's like a little snowflake. If you don't take time to notice how beautifully unique and intricate she was, she will melt and you won't even know it.

Journal Entry: October 19, 2008 Kitchen Closed

I think this very well may be my last pregnancy. You'd think 5 was enough, right? But somehow, it's a sad thing. I have been very sick and the exhaustion has taken it's toll. What was so exciting in the beginning has become a scary and dark place. I've done this many times before, but now somehow I'm charting unnavigated waters. Now it's not that ominous and depressing, but my anxiety over the health of this baby has grown. I know it's in direct relation to how often I have been in (and out) of the Word. But I'm afraid to completely dive into it again.

See, the last time I fully surrendered to the Lord, with out reservation, He gave me Charlotte and we all know what happened there. Yes, there was growth. Yes there was evidence made manifest in my life and the lives of others... but it still hurt. It hurts still. So bad that I just won't do that again, no way. Not if I can help it. But I'm also painfully aware that I have to surrender. My shoulders aren't big enough to carry this burden. I need the shoulders of Christ, who carried the cross. I need the shoulders of a Saviour.

And I've come to realize that I'm afraid to tell God He can have it all. Because what if He takes it all? I know I have no control over things, it's a spiritual war I'm going through, and I am fully aware of it. But what if I openly give my everything to Him and He puts me thru the fire again??

So thinking about how much this has been messing with my mind, I decided that I'm done. Kitchen closed.

Isn't it laughable? For me to think that I can just make a decision like this?? But there are some heavy rocks I've lifted from the river and I'm not sure if I can do it anymore. Not to mention the fact that being pregnant at 33 isn't the same as being pregnant at 17 or 27 or 29 or 31. It's taking it's toll on my body.

B and I have decided to not find out if this baby is a boy or a girl. I really want the big surprise at the end, but only if it is what I wanted. You see, I really want another baby girl. Will I get it? Who knows. But my first was not relished. I was too young to take in all that a baby girl had to offer, and let's just put it out there... my daughter is not much of a girly girl. That's ok. Really. I'm ok with it; but I would like a little girl to dress up and and well, you know. But there are no guarantees.

So part of me wants to find out before hand if it's a boy because I feel like I need time to prepare my heart to welcome a little man again. I love this child already, no matter what, but there is a whole other grieving process to go through if it is indeed a boy. I don't know how long that process is, or how deep, but I have been treading into those waters just thinking about it. Kind of bracing myself. I had every intuition telling me it is a girl. Then I analyze every twitch and roll and think maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it' s a boy. The comfort I find myself clinging to is the fact that God already knew what this child is before the foundations of the earth and that He isn't waiting until the last minute to make up His mind as to what it will be. He's not balancing my good deeds against His divine plan and leveraging it with a pink blankie over a blue one. (But oh how pretty pink is!)

The up-in-your-face fact of me not having another daughter is right on the surface. My eldest and I have hit a very rough teenage patch. And my youngest is in heaven. I'm alone in a house full of testosterone. Can I whine that it's not fair??

I also wanted to mention something that has been on my heart for sometime, but I have only shared with one other person. It's kind of heavy (for me at least) and I think that's why I waited to write about it, because I wanted to *get it right* first. But in waiting to write it out, I have also forgotten some of the tender nuances...

When I first found out I was pregnant (this time) I was very happy. But for some of the wrong reasons. Crazy reasons.

I thought *for sure* I would carry twins.

Why? I don't have a family line of them. I'm not "advanced in age" enough to have this as a serious consideration.

Wanna know why? Because a man was at my home shortly after Charlotte died that told me that maybe one day the Lord would bless me with twins. He would replenish and restore. I have held onto that statement for over a year and a half, hoping and literally praying that it was a prophetic word given through this man just for me. Then my excitement grew. My son and niece and a couple of others said they thought there were two in there. Whew! Two?? Oh my heart danced! Why? Because maybe, just maybe this would be true.

As I went into my first ultrasound the doctor said there was a heartbeat. Only one. Initially I was super happy that there even was that. Then I was sad because there was only a single one. Why?

This is where it is shameful (to me).

Because I somehow thought that if there were two, it would PROVE to the world God's faithfulness. That all of the things I had gone thru with Charlotte was true and real. I wasn't hanging onto false hope or making up things in my bereaved mind.

As I finish typing this (from under my rock) I have to say that I honestly and wholeheartedly KNOW that this was a wrong and sinful way for me to think. I know that God does not need to prove anything to anyone about His faithfulness, especially when it's based on my standards. It was a hard blow to own. but it's out there. Ain't nothin' much I can say about it now. ::shrug::.

But that's where I was at for a while. and I know... that no matter what... this child will suit me perfectly. It's the best gift I never knew I wanted.

Journal Entry: Spetember 18th, 2008 Meltdown like Pompeii

The reality is that I'm having another baby.

another. baby.

Even though right now it is only 3.5 inches long and weighs about an ounce, it's still a baby. The problem? I have no guarantee that it will be healthy. At this point I don't even consider what "normal" is, I'm just looking for alive.

I had a bit of a meltdown the other night. It was short lived and unexpected, but it was still hard. I was walking down the hall and became extremely anxious. Don't know what set me off, but I was glad to have been already walking in the direction of the bedroom where B was sleeping. I sat next to him on the bed and lowered my head and cried and cried.

He woke up, asking what the heck was wrong and I had to say it. I'm scared.

And in his *ever so tender* way of dealing with my emotions he told me to stop it.


He is right. He told me I have absolutely no right tell God that He HAS to make this one ok, and that I need to lay it down at His feet. Every single time I get to thinking something will be bad I've gotta let it go.

I told him that is the problem. I can't assume that anything will be fine ever again. I know I have to walk in faith that things will be ok, but let's face it: God doesn't always have the same plans we do.

I'd noticed that I haven' tbeen praying daily for this child as I set out to do in the beginning. Fear gripped my heart and shut it off *just in case*. I've really tried to overcome this, but I'm finding it's a lot easier said than done.

I'm ok now. I'm only writing it down I guess to remember later that I am struggling. More than I write about I suppose. It's hard to wear the armor from day to day.

Journal Entry: September 9, 2008 Is one really enough??

I had said several times that as long as there was good to be had and glory to be given for Charlotte's death, I would be satisfied. I would take rest in knowing that God indeed used her short life to reach into the heart of someone to turn them around to Him... then it would all be worth it.

At least one. Just one. Someone. anyone.

And the stories came in. People, strangers sometimes, who told me how much their relationship with the Lord grew during that season. The relationships that were buried under the dirt that had started to sprout. Those that were watered. Those that were harvested.

I never prayed the sinner's prayer with anyone. I never led anyone to the Lord. I just lived my life in a fishbowl. Maybe too much of a fishbowl at times, but nonetheless, He would work out the things which were to be.

And then very shortly after Charlotte died my best friend told me that she was the one. She was the one I had prayed salvation for because of this situation. Blindly begging God to save at least one.

Just one. someone. anyone.

At the time I didn't care who it was. Just please do not let this all be in vain. But as the days grew longer.. I wondered: was one enough? As Charlotte's memory fades, would one be enough to carry on a legacy? Would it all be for naught?

I rejoiced when she told me that she gave her heart to the Lord, but I was kinda like..."eh, ok thanks God. Who else ya got?" I didn't let it soak in. Then over the past year and a half I watched this person ebb and flow with her relationship with the Lord. It's a rocky ledge to stand on when looking at your friends who you've known almost your whole life come to accept Christ. You want to guard them and lead them. But you also want to stand aside and let God do the growing and pruning as you watch for fruit. And there was fruit. But it was her fruit, not mine. I couldn't even get a taste of it because it wasn't my season anymore. I was almost bitter.

This past weekend she went on a retreat with her church. I knew she had been struggling with very strong demons in her life for the past 2 or 3 months and it scared me for her. But she came back delivered. And I wept and howled in my soul. And even now, even as I type, I cry.

I was in the shower and it occurred to me that one is plenty. One is more than I have the right to ask for. One is not an "only". But it is priceless.

Who knows, maybe she is one of many. But I'm so glad she is the one.

Journal Entry: August 4, 2008 Sandwiched in the Middle

First the background:
My friend and I have a running joke that whenever I get pregnant, she gets pregnant. So I call her up the other day and we're chatting about things and here it comes:
I say, "So you know that it's gonna happen to you now, right? "
She says, "Oh no it's not! Besides, you're just trying to catch up to me. I already have four and your trying to get to the fourth."

Uh, no. Actually, this is my FIFTH.

"Charlotte was my fourth, remember?"
"Yeah, but..."
"No, I had to carry her to term and still give birth."
"Yeah, well, when I was a teenager I had a miscarriage, so that doesn't really count. You're just trying to catch up to me..."

Even typing this out makes me so mad. And this isn't the first time something dumb like this has been said. Once it was even said that by the fourth kid "the gene pool has slim pickin's and they just get whatever throw back genes they can." Ha ha ha, right? I know she wasn't referring directly to my daughter, just trying to make a joke, but com'mon! Have I been wearing a smile too broad that it makes people think I have forgotten about her like they have, because I haven't.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive. My friend and I have a very long history, but I can't help how I feel. Should I just toughen up and let stuff slide off my back? I thought after the genetic pool comment that I should be more prepared *next time* if something like that were to be said. So this time I corrected her with the fact that Charlotte was my fourth, I'm now on my fifth; but apparently it fell on deaf ears.

Word to the wise of whomever reads this: Don't EVER tell a bereaved parent that their child *didn't count*.

Ironically, I am so happy that Charlotte is somewhere in the middle. Lord willing that this baby is born alive and healthy, it will be the *end cap*. Right now I feel like Charlotte is somewhere floatin' around in outer space. A figment of my imagination. She's like a silent letter in a word. Not many people saw her, no one knew her, so now when people ask me how many children I have I can say 5 and not have that last one fall off my tongue.

Journal Entry: July 30, 2008 Call from Katie

Got a call from Katie in Genetics. Her familiar soft voice reassured me today. She offered me a Level II Ultrasound at 18 weeks. She also explained that there is a couple of additional screening tests that can be done sooner than that. They would only indicate the probability of Down's or Trisomy, and following that, an amnio is suggested. But she remembered how I adamently declined these tests with Charlotte and understands if I decline them now.

She actually said she thought I was *brave* and that she respected my decision to stand my ground for myself in declining further testing... way back when. **sigh**.

I never thought I'd be rootin' for Trisomy, but today I am.

Apparently the likelihood of having another child with some or all of the genetic problems that Charlotte had WITHOUT there being a Trisomy is greater than if Charlotte did have T18. If she did not have T18 and had those particular problems, the chance is greater that they could repeat themselves in subsequent children.

If she did indeed have T18 it could have been a total *fluke* or one of us could have carried it. We've already ruled out me being a carrier. It's almost a moot point right now if B carries it. Wouldn't change anything anyway.

But for now, if it's settled that she did have it then there is a 1% chance it could ever happen again. That brought me some relief today. At least until my next appointment. Here we go...

Journal Entry: July 23, 2008 Does this story have a happy ending?

I don't even know what to say.
I am so excited, nervous and scared. I found out Monday morning. Waited all day to tell B. I was so scared of his reaction. Of all the ways I could tell him, I emailed him. The irony in that is that he has been complaining to me about how much time I spend on the computer. Just recently he got a promotion from work and has been learning how to send and recieve emails. So I wrote him a note that says : How many lines do you see? and I'm wondering if you can see what I can see??

I waited for him to come home and kept urging him to check his email as he had something from his boss on there. He took his time in checking it. I finally told him to check it because we were waiting for an email from his dad. So he opens it up and reads it. Looks at the picture and shrugs his shoulders. "I don't get it" he says. Oi Vey!

So I sat there in silence, waiting for it to dawn on him. Then he lookes over at me and says "Is this from you?". Yep. So much for the hooplah. He sat back in the office chair and rubbed his forehead. After a few minutes had passed he stood up, gave me a hug and said that we are walking in the *shadow of death*. Gulp. He also said that he was 1.) excited 2.) nervous and 3.) scared. I confirmed that he is at least a *little* excited and we agreed to rest on that.

Now it's been only 2 days since I found out and I've already had my share of tears.

I have so many mixed emotions about this. I had just succumbed to the idea that maybe there were no more babies for us back in April or May. I had just witnessed my dear friend give birth last month and realized that labor is painful! I think I'm good. All done here! I started accepting the fact that I'm not getting pregnant.

Since last October, or there abouts, I had been ACTIVELY trying to get pregnant. For at least 6-8 months I was trying to no avail. I have to admit, Brian didn't really know when I ovulated or anything like that, but I did. I'd figured if he wasn't too worried about me NOT getting pregnant, they hey, why not stack the odds?? I didn't do anything devious, I just *lived my life* with my husband. There were no other explanations for not getting pregnant other than it was not God's timing. So I just assumed that we were done. Somewhere in the middle of it, I had gotten really angry and resentful. I shrugged it off and moved along.

B had even told a lot of people that we were done and he was adament about getting the 'ol snippity-snip. For a time that broke my heart. Then I felt peace that God was reminding me that B hadn't even called for an appointment for this and to relax. He had it under control. But still, I thought He was done with us. I even asked B if he was still planning on doing it... three or four days before I found out I was pregnant.

Then Monday came. I was only late by 1 day. But I just KNEW. I don't know why or how, but I did. I think I even know the exact moment. I had this thought of "Oh my gosh, you just got me pregnant!" but I didn't say anything to him. It was just a completely different feeling I had afterwards.

I expected to have a wide range of emotions about this. But I am quite surprised at the ones I've had so far.

In a way, I feel guilty.

I know that I have been blessed. I have good friends, close family, a nice home, healthy children, etc. I know a lot of people are not as fortunate as I am. That's when I start to feel bad. Like I already have *enough*. I have had so many people cover me in prayer and love on me from what had happened with Charlotte.. now people are loving on me and covering me in prayer over this baby too. I personally know of women that don't have people cheering them on when they get pregnant. Now I do. I don't know why I feel so guilty by that, but I do.

I also feel so unworthy.

I have a completely different perspective of children now. I do truly see them as gifts. Why have
I been given this gift when I don't deserve it? I have not prayed to become pregnant in (what seems like) a very long time (actually it's only been a couple of months). And now, here I am. Why is God blessing me this way? OR... is this going to be another faith tester? Gosh, I hope not! What if something is wrong. Or goes wrong? What if I miscarry? What if my health suffers? What if, what if, what if.

This sucks.

I can't even have an imaginary hallmark date. So what if I find out at 9, 12, 15 and 18 weeks that she is (oops, Freudian slip..haha) that the baby is ok. I'm still not out of the woods. Charlotte's heart stopped at 36 weeks! Oh Jesus, give me peace. I need to know that this will be ok. That I will not crack up in the meantime. what now?

Journal Entry: July 21, 2008 The puppies are here!

Just wanted to update really quickly that Coco had her puppies! They were born July 13th.
She indeed had 3. Two boys and one girl. The little girl is just darling. Her coat is beautiful. Chocolate brown and white. One brother is taffy and white and the other is a polka dotted black and white cow. They are all named and very much loved. Little Boy #1 is named Butters. Little Boy #2 Is Bon Bon (Named by my daughter, however I was calling him Oliver). And Little Miss is named Curry. So precious.
Our family went to a soccer game and when we came home, the first little boy was already born and literally hanging out of Coco, only attached by the cord. I'll spare all of the gorey details, but I will say that I was able to help deliver the second and third pup.

They are growing so fast already. They're eyes are still closed, but their bellies are getting soft and round.
I think I'm in love...

Journal Entry: July 11th, 2008 Unrealistic Anxiety

Today I took Coco to the vet. She is pregnant with her first litter and I went in to see if the Doc could count how many puppies she would have. Well, while she was out getting X rayed... I sat alone in the examination room. There was a nicely framed picture of a beagle puppy that was adorable! I blankly gazed at the ceiling it was so cute...they had paw prints embossed into the tiles. Anyway, I was looking around, praying that God would allow the puppies to be born healthy and that there would be the right number of them in there. I have had every puppy spoken for since before she was pregnant, and I din't know how I was going to pick and choose who would get what. I was hoping for a minimum of 5.

Then I had the idea of asking Brian if I could actually breed dogs. We could convert the garage into the space necessary since it's all finished off in there. But the idea is to sell them at a minimal cost (just to cover expenses) to bereaved families of those who have lost a baby or an infant. I don't know.. it was just a thought.

Well, as Coco was out of the room, I noticed it was taking a long time for the doctor to come back with the results. There was a flurry of activity outside the exam room door. The nurses were talking to each other and I could see them walking at an almost frantic pace past the room I was in. There is a small window in the door, just big enough to see slivers of people walking by. The voices were muffled so I couldn't hear what anyone was saying, but all of the sudden, I had anxiety that surprised me. My heart was racing and my eyes quickly filled up with tears. Where the heck was this coming from??

Where was my dog? Was she ok? What if they were xraying her and saw that the puppies died? What if all of the sudden she started convulsing? Were the nurses tending to her? Is this why they were rushing into the other room??

I had the sharpest pain in my chest. I couldn't catch my breath. What was I doing??

All of this only lasted about 5 minutes. Then I'd realized that this was Coco, not me. I calmed down and took a breath. Just then the doctor walked in. He said there are 3 puppies in there. He showed me the 2 views on X ray and we counted 3 little skulls with lots and lots of little bones.

Knowing how many she's expecting takes off a lot of pressure. I know exactly who is getting them now, I don't have to pick and choose.

But the doctor did warn me that there is a danger of only having 3 in there because they may grow too big and have trouble coming out. He told me what to watch for and how long to wait before we take her to the hospital, if we have to. This is sounding all too familiar.

But I feel much better now. The puppies should be here with in the next 3-6 days. :)

Journal Entry: July 1, 2008 Ash Heap

I'm sitting on a huge ash heap. It feels like it anyway. I have conquered the flames and am left sitting on top of a pile of smoldering ashes. I'm filthy dirty and my hair is cinged. But at least I am on top of the pile and not under it, right?

I'm writing this down tonight knowing there is a possibility of someone reading this that may get their feelings hurt. I am going to try to be as vague as possible about a *confession* I have to make just to try to protect another person. But I feel like I have to write it down, lest I forget the lesson.

There is a certain someone I know that is going through a situation that is largely of their own doing. Not all of it, but a large part of it. My opinion of the matter isn't as important as what my "judgements" and attitude have been about it. The fact is, I don't agree with what was allowed to transpire, I think it is wrong. But (1.) it's none of MY business and (2.) I don't know that if I were in the same situation that I would do differently. This brings me to two images I see in the mirror. Both of which leave a lump in my throat when I realize that the reflection is of me.

In this mirror, I see a few things. One of them is a judgemental spirit. The other is hypocrisy, and yet another jealousy. Very ugly words that can be used to describe my heart these days, and honestly, very hard to swallow. In one sense I want to deny these things are part of my character. But on the other hand, they are rising to the surface like a bubble about to pop.

So in this "situation", a certain someone is claiming that the sequence of events that is happening must be "from God" because they are looking to be working out in their favor. I am so tired of hearing that, it sounds so cliche. What I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around is that the overall situation seems to go against the very character of God... meaning that this person is doing something that their heart wants to do and saying that it is all ok, and that God is... in fact... blessing it and all of these *good* things that are happening are evidence of His blessing.

What I'm struggling with is... how can it be from God when it looks to be so worldly? And yet, they are the given answers to their prayers, so it seems, so how then is it NOT from God? ? ? Glimpse in the mirror...
#1.) Judgement. uck.

So creeping quietly into the picture comes jealousy and guilt.

In this situation, I'm watching this person get "blessed" over and above what is appropriate. How ridiculous does that sound? Like I actually have a say in what God chooses to bless someone with... but these are biggies. Materialistic in nature, I know.. so lame, but it's hard to take my eyes off of that. Now, in fairness, this person is a *praying kinda person* and is pouring their requests out to God. Asking for His favor and seemingly getting it! Why can't I get it too?

#2.) Jealousy

Well, I am very fond of this person, so much so that I'd better not say more because someone may figure out who I'm referring to. But because of my relationship to them, guilt settles into the cracks. Outwardly I pretend to be excited, but inside it's eating me up. What's worse is I'm having a heck of a time not backbiting and gossiping about it.

They, a dozen times over, are getting their heart's desire... How can I not be happy for 'em? How can I not rejoice with 'em when their prayers are answered?? Inside, I'm rolling my eyes...

Sheesh! What kind of person am I? What a lousy excuse for a Christian I've become! My inner feelings have not been very Christlike at all. Guilt/shame are all now rolled into one. But in all reality... I guess I haven't *become* this type of Christian, this is they type of person I have always been and have yet to shed off. And because of Christ... I can.

#3.) Guilt

As I type this I keep thinking.. will grace not abound? Where sin abounds, how much more will grace abound? I have no right to dictate to the Lord who He will or will not bless. I know that.

***Now comes the REAL horror show part of this epiphany...***
I realized that through the fervent prayers of this person, they are being built up. Their confidence in praying is being built. The more they pray and *get*... the more they pray (or so it seems). They're getting their prayers answerd left and right and the answer is ALWAYS good.

And there is a part of me... in the pit of my being where it's dark and ugly... that does not want them to be blessed. What my flesh wants is for their heart to be broken... just as much as mine is >>ouch, hard realization there<<.

A bubble bursting effect, that is just as big as all of my hopes and dreams were a year and a half ago... and how small and shattered they still feel at times...that's how I want someone...especially this person... to feel. I don't want to suffer this alone anymore. I guess because of my relationship to this person I feel they need to see how I feel for a while. How would they like it to have their heart ripped out of their body and attached to the bottom of their shoe like an old piece of bubblegum? Day in and day out. It's almost disheartening at times.

I want someone else's prayers to go unanswered.
I want someone else to carry the burden for a while.
I want someone else to be broken and hurting.
I want someone else to be confused at times and not hear clearly the voice of God.

I want someone else to be told "No".

You see... how ugly is that?? I may not have made sense through any of this... but I know what I'm getting at. Now that it's out I know I need to ask for forgiveness from God, but I'm not yet ready. This person will hopefully never know of the ill feelings I have toward their situation. I know it would hurt them deeply to think that I actually want them to be left in a lurch. I can't believe I even have that in me. It's so ugly. I'm embarrassed to admit it. But I have to get over myself and get back ontop of my heap.

It Just Doesn't Go Away...Journal Entry June 11, 2008

I finally did it. I made the call.
I had to. Brian just doesn't get it. He's not being mean about it, but it just doesn't seem to bother him that Charlotte still doesn't have a marker.

It makes my heart ache. It tears me up, but I don't bring it up that often to him because, well, I don't know why. I was hoping that he would take care of it because he said he wanted to. But he hasn't.

I almost feel like if he did take care of it he could really pour himself into it. Feel a stronger connection to her, like I have with this blog. I know it's not realistic, it's not his way... but somewhere in my head I think that the bigger, the more detailed, the more ornate... the more loved. How dumb is that? I know one doesn't equal the other, but I couldn't go another week without acknowledging her.

So I called the cemertry and ordered one. If Brian someday decideds to replace it, then so be it. Not a big deal to pull it up and replace it. It's only $100 to do that. But the liklihood that he will ever get it done is looking pretty slim. The man on the phone was very polite, not the Caretaker we dealt with before. Although he was nice too. But this one sounded younger. I thought that maybe if I said our name, that he would remember... he didn't.

I had to slowly spell her name. I had to ask for her middle name to be included. I yearned to ask if "baby" could be placed in it somewhere, but I didn't. I knew there wouldn't be any room. But I wanted to quietly mention that she was a baby.

I guess I got my chance to when he said that they would also place the birth and death dates at the bottom. I asked if they could only say December 2006 and he said no because there was no space for it. Big breath in...

I had to explain to him that we had conflicting dates because she was stillborn. She died December 1st but was born December 7th. Could you PLEASE just put December 2006?

"Ok, I can do that".
"Yeah, thanks." let breath out...

He says it will be placed in sometime this week. Maybe in time for Father's Day?

I hung up and cried.
And cried and cried.

Somehow, I thought it could be done without emotion. But they are still running high. Just under the surface of my skin it feels like. They just don't go away.

**edited to add picture** this marker is so damn ugly. I was so sad to see it. But at least it has her name on it. Maybe one day we'll change it. ugh.

Journal Entry March 25, 2008 66 inches

Sixty six inches. That's all there was. That's how many inches separated us this morning, if you count the flower can as 6 inches closer. I kneeled on the ground. I let my legs get wet and muddy. My knees were slighlty stained green. My face was stained drippy black. My fingernails were gritty with sand. I knimbly picked at the crabgrass around the flower can.

I was drawn there today. Out of compulsion, I drove there, found her plot and dug right in. Literally. I had no intentions of going there today, but as soon as I arrived, I felt this almost magnetic pull from the center of my being. It pulled me down to the ground. To get as close as I could to where she is. I wanted to lay flat ontop of her, but it was too wet. Not just damp, but really wet. So instead, I just kneeled and streched out. I had a clump of grass and dirt in my hand and the little roots that clung to the sand looked like her curly hair. I almost brought it home with me, but didn't.

I hardly ever go to the cemetery. But today, I just needed to be there. I laid my hands streched out on the wet grass and bawled my eyes out. One of the hardest cries I've had. Sobbing. Just sobbing.

I felt like I wanted to talk to her, tell her that I haven't forgotten her. Tell her that I love her. But she can't hear me. So I told Jesus. It didn't make me feel much better, but it helped a bit. I just needed to be there today. I needed to whisper her name. So many of the graves around her were decorated for Easter. Even those of the old people that have died at least 10-20 years ago. Somebody's mother, I'm sure. There's angels, fake flowers, candles... all kinds of stuff set out to mark the graves, but we don't even have a headstone for her. We wanted to get just the "right one" then let it slide from us. This was her Daddy's project. I was going to stay out of it. But then it was forgotten about.

I feel like such a crappy mom. Have I forgotten what she looks like? How did she smell? What did the weight of her feel like in my arms. I regret that my sister did not get to see her. My friends were there, but my sister should have been. I saw the dumb tin can for the flowers and noticed how the caretakers have edged the grass around it. I was thankful for that. That they are taking care of her. She's been there one summer already. But you can barely tell that she is there. The grass is green and lush. The plots are close together and there is nothing that signifies that my daughter is in there. Except the flower can.

There is a Magnolia tree planted nearby, so I took off a slip of a branch to bring home to transplant in our own back yard. I took off 3 leaves and put them in her can. I didn't have money to buy flowers on the way out there, but I thought this might show someone, anyone, that her mom visited her today. Someone does care still. I miss her so much.