The Navigator has Arrived!

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Our wonderful miracle, our little Navigator, made his arrival on April 22. He was 7 lb 8 oz and 21 inches long. Labor was fast and intense but we were thrilled when he finally arrived.

The past two weeks have been nothing less than a blur, but the little guy is fitting perfectly into our family. The Wingman absolutely adores him and he frequently calls him “Brother.” He loves to hold Brother and take care of him.

The Pilot of course is an incredible Daddy and we were able to figure out a good tag-team system for the first couple weeks. He is back at work this week and I am excited to figure out our groove and see what our new life will look like!

When I hold the Navigator close and feel his little body breathing next to mine, it still almost doesn’t feel real. I am so so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be his mom.

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Experiencing Pregnancy After Loss/es

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Today I am 38 weeks pregnant.  It still feels pretty surreal and definitely doesn’t seem real that any day now I could go into labor and we will be welcoming this little boy into our arms!

Each pregnancy after each previous loss has gotten progressively harder.  How do you balance grief and joy?  How do you hold fear and hope together?

pregnancy after loss

Especially the first 6 months or so of pregnancy, it was really hard to make small talk about our pregnancy.  People would come up enthusing about the baby and I would just smile and try to engage in the small talk.  We were excited.  So excited.  But as my husband said several times…we were cautiously optimistic.  As excited and hopeful as we were, we also were acutely aware of the fact that at any moment something could go wrong.

Pregnancy after loss looks different for different people.  Here are a few ways it has affected us….

-PAL is hearing your 4 year old say many times throughout the pregnancy, “I hope this baby doesn’t die.”

-PAL is calculating your due date and having mixed feelings of pain and joy as you realize this baby has the same due date as your second baby would have.

-PAL is smiling politely when you hear for the umpteenth time that your bad morning sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy…when you know that has no bearing on the health of your child as morning sickness accompanied your last two pregnancies as well.

-It is knowing that while most people say you are out of the danger zone at 12 weeks, there really isn’t any safe zone.  Loss can happen at any time.

-It is being afraid that your body’s health issues will once again fight against the precious child inside you.

-It is Googling baby’s weekly development, praying for his body’s development, and also Googling the percentage of babies that survive birth at your week of gestation as well as the risks associated with birth that early.

-It is having the most vivid flashbacks of death, labor, and birth, that will cause panic attacks.

-It’s being 7 months pregnant before you realize, “This might actually be happening!  We might just be bringing a live baby home…and soon!”

-It is those moments when your husband, son, and yourself, all accidentally call your baby by your last baby’s name and then that moment where you just look at each other and remember that that baby is gone.  This is a new baby.

-It is knowing that this baby can never replace the other individual lives lost.

-It is feeling nervous and brave and emotions you can’t even define when you pull out your oldest’s baby clothes to wash and put in the nursery.

-It is choosing to act in hope when your emotions try to pull you down.

-It is moving forward in faith to plan a nursery, to plan a baby shower.

-It is cherishing each day more, loving your children harder, knowing that there is never a guarantee of tomorrow.

-It is looking forward with such incredible joy to the moment that we finally get to hold this little one in our arms, alive and healthy.

-It is knowing that this sweet boy, and all our children, are loved by the Lord so much more than I could ever possibly love them.

Being pregnant again after repeat losses has affected all three of us.  The grief, joy, and trust that we have helped each other through has grown us as a family.

It has been heart breaking to see the Wingman continue to process the loss of his other brother and siblings.  He bonded right away with the Aviator and really had a hard time when he died.  It took him a much longer time to bond with this baby, but it has been the sweetest thing in the world to see him in the past few months as he is getting so excited to meet him!  (Almost every time I have a check-up, his whole face lights up and he says, “Is today the day he’s going to be born??”)

And while the Pilot and I process and deal with things so very differently, it has also been heart breaking and amazing to see him during this pregnancy.  The fear and difference in pregnancy after loss does not just affect the Mom.  It has affected our whole family.

I am beyond thankful for the people who have been praying for us and for the precious boy growing inside me.

I feel strongly in raising awareness for miscarriage and pregnancy after loss.  It is hard to be vulnerable, but the amount of women I have met in person and online who feel as if they have to suffer alone makes it worth it to share.  And I am pretty sure I will never tire of talking about all five of our children.  They are all so incredibly loved and I am so proud of each of them.

2018 – The Year of Growth

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Here we are, a month into the year, and I am finally sitting down to write this post that has been sitting in my drafts for, well, about a month.

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The past few years have been incredibly difficult.  I used to always have a word of the year.  A goal word.  Usually that word chose me.  I would just be sitting there, contemplating the year, and a single word would clearly pop into my mind.  Not these past few years.  Unless the word was just “survive.”

So I was a little surprised this year when I sat down to contemplate the year.  First of all, I purchased a Bloom daily planner and I love it.  There are spots for yearly and monthly goals.  They also included a vision board of sorts for the year.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to at least give it a try.  It took a while, to be honest, of just sitting and thinking and wondering about the year.

But finally a few goals came to mind.  A few words inspired me.  I sat in those words until one word seemed to sum them all up.  Nothing super specific.  It’s actually pretty vague.  But it sums it up well.

Growth.

This year I want to grow.  I want to take steps forward.  I don’t want to just survive anymore.

I ended up creating a “vision board” in which I included all the words that were swirling in my mind.  This is my vision for 2018…

…Give grace
….Fearless
….Invest
….Flourish
….Release
….Surrender
….Patience
….Courage
….Gentle
….GROWTH

For a few more specific goals, I knew I wanted to grow in my family relationships, specifically toward my husband and kids.  I also knew I wanted to continue to work toward having a clean, peaceful, organized home.

And as I get closer to another big change coming up in our family, I know I will need to really hold on to a lot of the above words.

I am 27 weeks pregnant with our 5th baby.  While we are very excited, the trauma of what we have been through with our last three children has greatly affected my husband, living son, and me.  I knew I needed to grow this year.  Grow in grief, grow in healing, grow in release, grow in moving forward fearlessly, having courage, etc.

2018 is going to be a huge year of growth.  I am scared, apprehensive, hopeful, and ready.

 

 

Our Little Aviator

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March 23.

Today was my EDD with our 4th baby, our little Aviator.

I had had a good amount of morning sickness.  It was not as intense as it was with the Wingman, but it lasted a few weeks longer.  At 11 weeks, I felt little taps.  I thought I must be imagining it since it was so early, but the taps only got stronger and more frequent.  It was definitely baby!  I bet the Aviator had quite the feisty personality with how much he moved around! 🙂

It was a Wednesday.  Wednesday, October 5th.  I was a day shy of 16 weeks.  It was the last day I felt him move and the last day of his life.  It was about 10 am.  I only know that because I was at a Dr appointment.  The lady had just asked if this was my first baby and I was once again confronted with the painful decision….do I mask my pain and the truth and say, “It’s my second” or do I tell the truth and what my heart wants to say and risk making the situation uncomfortable by saying, “My 4th, but two are with Jesus.”  Answering her was painful, but just a moment later, I felt three firm taps from baby.  It was as if he knew Mommy needed some reassurance right then.

That was the last sign of life.

We didn’t know the gender, but almost the entire pregnancy, the Wingman was convinced it was a boy.  He even picked a name.  A random name that he made up.

When our child was born, we learned that he was indeed a boy.  Our son.

Maybe someday I will share more of my pregnancy or his birth story.

Today is a strange day.  I want to just sit and cry, but the tears won’t come.

I was able to drop the Wingman off at a friend’s house today.  I just wanted a day where I didn’t have to pretend everything was ok, I didn’t have to wear a mask, I didn’t have to be strong for anyone else.

People ask how I am doing.  I still don’t know how to answer that question.  The pain is different now.  The grief is different.  But will I ever be “okay” again?  No, not in the sense of ever returning to “normal,” or how I was before.  I am changed.  I am different.

I have wrestled with so many theological questions.  Some of them I know exactly what is true.  Some of them I have no idea.  But I have had to hold onto the fact that, no matter what those answers are, God is good.  God is loving.  God does care.  Even though the world around me moves on, God sees.  And He cares.

Instead of having a huge belly and packing a bag for the birth center, I am sorting bills and scheduling Dr appointments.  Instead of welcoming home a newborn, I will be having surgery to hopefully fix (one of) my problems so that hopefully we will not have another loss.

Instead of preparing the Wingman to have a new baby in the home, I hear him say, “You, me and Daddy are sad about our baby.  But when I get to heaven, I will be so happy to see him and I will give him a big hug!”  He brings up his brother to his friends.  I hear him say in conversation, “Our baby died.”  His little mind is processing it as best as he can.  I answer all that he says, not wanting to keep him locked in grief, but not wanting to dismiss his valid 3 year old grief.  He lost his brother.  He has mentioned several times how sad he is that he didn’t get to say good-bye and he has talked about wanting to teach him how to play games when he gets to heaven.  He lost his brother.  He is such a good big brother, and it hurts so much that his first experiences as a big brother have to be this painful and confusing for him.

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.”
Psalm 139:13-16

Our youngest son, along with his two older siblings, are in heaven right now.  And their souls know very well how wonderful are His works.  They are dancing and praising and worshiping.  Right at this very moment, their joy is unspeakable.  They know no tears and no pain.  They are loved and cherished by the King of Kings.

My pain sometimes feels unbearable.  But I am reminded that Jesus conquered death.  It is for this reason, for this awful repercussion of living in a fallen world, it is for the death of my children, it is for sin, that Jesus died.  He is the Victor.  Someday all will be put right.

Every Day Is a Step of Faith

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The past few months have taught me about faith in ways that I never understood before.

step of faith

Faith is not always big and bold.  Faith is not necessarily unwavering.  Faith is not an absence of emotions in the presence of trust.

Wayne Grudem defines faith as follows…

“Trust or dependence on God based on the fact that we take him at his word and believe what he has said.”

I always had a picture in my mind of what faith looked like.  And that picture was always of a bold confidence, an unwavering peace, a complete and total trust.

Lately my faith has looked quite different.

Every day in life is a step of faith.  And for me that has become even more true since losing my two children in miscarriages.

I have struggled with a lot of crazy anxiety issues since my losses.

I could lose another pregnancy.

I could lose the Wingman.  Something could happen to him.  I have had very vivid images of terrible things happening to him that tear my heart in two and cause my chest to tighten.

It is almost paralyzing.  And you know what can sometimes make me even more scared?  The thought that if I follow God, He might lead me through that.  Of course, the reality is that even if I don’t follow God, these things could happen.

But that thought of releasing control to God can be hard.  It takes faith.  Faith to wake up each day and say, “I am in Your hands.  The Wingman is in Your hands.”

Faith is stepping out and following Him, even when your steps are small and faltering.

Faith is being bold enough to step foot out of the door, knowing that a car crash could take the people you hold most dear.

Faith is allowing someone to babysit the Wingman, knowing that he could have a terrible accident while I’m gone.

Faith is getting out of bed to face each day.

Because all of those things require me leaning on the Shepherd’s staff.  It requires me to say, “God You are the One who is holding us in Your hands.”  I barely have strength to lift my head and look at the path.  Sometimes I am scared to look at the path.  But I cling to His staff and I say, “I don’t know if we’re going the right way, but I know You can see this entire path, with all its twists and turns.”

Sometimes I think that means that my faith must be the size of a mustard seed, because it isn’t that bold, unwavering confidence.

And sometimes I wonder if that means my faith is strong, because I have experienced some of the deepest pain of my life and yet I am still choosing to say, “God You are good.  Your ways are good.  Lead me.”

Whether it is mustard seed faith or mountain moving faith, it is some sort of deep.  A depth that I have not experienced quite like this before.

So this is me….embracing my mustard seed.  This is me getting up each morning.  This is me allowing my son to still be a 2 year old and not stifling him in the name of protecting him.  This is me continuing to plan outings and ways for my son to thrive.  This is me pursuing fertility health so that I can hopefully get pregnant again.  This is me, in all my vulnerability, handing God what is most precious to me.  My family.  My husband. My children.  My son who I have here every day….my babies in heaven….and my future babies.

-Bonnie

To my Precious Child Yet to Be

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My precious baby,

Words cannot describe how much I love you already.  As of yet, you aren’t even a line on a stick, but I long for you.  I long to have you in my belly, to feel you kick, to hold you close once you are born.  I want to kiss your head, your face, your hands.

I pray for you.  I hope every day that God will give you to us.  You will be our rainbow baby, our precious miracle that comes after miscarriage.

infertility TTC rainbow baby

You have such an amazing father.  Such a wonderful big brother.  He will be so happy to meet you!!  I know he will help take good care of you.  You have two precious big siblings with Jesus as well and someday we will all be together.

Sometimes I feel like it will be forever until I can meet you.  Until I can get some sign that you will in fact one day be a reality.  But I have hope.  Hope that someday you will become two pink lines.  That you will grow in my belly and I will be nauseous and starving because of you.  That you will kick me in the ribs and as I rub away the pain I will smile knowing that my precious little one caused it.

You are our precious miracle.  I hope to meet you soon, but I am content to wait.  I know that God’s timing in giving you to us will be perfect.

I love you more than words can express.

Love,

Mommy

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31 Days ttc infertility

Toddler Activities

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1. Flash Cards.  The Wingman has loved these flashcards that I purchased on Amazon.  Usually we keep it pretty low key.  I’ll hand him one card at a time, telling him the word, and he will stack them in the cardboard box they came in.  Sometimes he just has fun stacking (still a win as he learns better hand control!), sometimes he’ll repeat the words, and sometimes he’ll stare at the picture and soak it in.  (BTW, his favorite card is the one with the cookie on it. 😉 )

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2.  Bowling.  Get some plastic cups and set them up like bowling pins.  Then roll a ball from a couple feet away and watch them fly!

3.  Chores.  Wingman loves to help.  The first task he took an interest in was emptying the dishwasher.  He likes to help with the silverware specifically, but also anything else he can reach on the bottom rack.  He now knows where to put the silverware, my mixing bowls, and my cutting boards.  Other jobs he likes to help with are sweeping, dusting, and spritzing things with a spray bottle of water.

4.  Spray bottle of water.  Sometimes this is helpful (such as when I’m mopping)….sometimes it isn’t so much.  But he already knows the routine…now when he grabs the spray bottle, he’ll grab a towel for the other hand. 😉

5.  Puzzles.  He loves Melissa and Doug chunky puzzles!  He’ll put the pieces in, then say, “More!” and we’ll start over.  He’s even started to play games with it and pretend to put a piece in the wrong spot, then we’ll giggle and say, “Nooo!!!” and then he’ll put it in the correct spot.
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6.  Little Baby Bum.  This one is his favorite.  I used to be against toddler usage of technology….but I have been surprised, amazed, and impressed with how much he was truly learned from these videos.  He has learned colors, shapes, counting, and singing.  Obviously, movies and videos should come in moderation, but I am now definitely an advocate of intentional video watching. 😉

What are some of your toddlers favorite activities?

-Bonnie