Thursday, October 29, 2015

Loving Others Through Loss


The past couple weeks, in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (Oct 15th),  I
have written a few posts about pregnancy loss - starting with observance of the day here and advice
for those going through the loss here.

I am wrapping up this little mini-series with advice for those loving on women (and men) who have
lost unborn children.  I had several friends and family members that loved me so well during this
time (and even now!) and a few who disappointed me a bit (but like I said in my last post, this is a
time to show grace as many people have no idea what to say!) 

I think it is great to have an idea how to minister to this group of people.  It may not be something
you ever face, but it is likely something that someone you know will face (1 in 4 women).  Mainly,
remember that this is a loss and respond as you would in other life losses.

Tragedy like miscarriages either leave us feeling incredibly lonely or incredibly loved.  As
believers, lets be the type of people who meet people in their brokenness and help them through!



1.        Let them grieve.

To you, it may just be a lost pregnancy or a disappointing break, but to your friend, it’s a lost child,  the death of someone she loved dearly.  Expecting her to bounce back immediately really diminishes her pain and makes her feel like her loss is not something she is allowed to mourn.  So, let her grieve and grieve how she needs – whether that’s with you by her side, or by herself – just knowing you are a phone call away.

2.       Grieve their baby.

The best thing someone can say to a mamma who lost their baby is that their baby will be missed. I knew so many people were grieving for me, but what touched me the most was when friends or families grieved with me.  When people die, many family and friends miss and remember them. This is not the case with unborn children.  No one really knows them yet so few people miss their little lives.  So, if you are a close friend or family member to someone who lost a baby, let them know that you will miss that child.  My sister was great about telling me how she missed this baby.  My sweet nephew was unhappy that the baby had to go to heaven because he wanted him/her here. And hearing how others missed our little Baby R warmed my heart. It’s good to know that your child – even your 12 week in utero child – is missed, loved and wanted.

3.       Say something.  Seriously, say anything. And say it more than once.

I had a lot of wonderful people say amazing encouraging things to me after my miscarriage – and I had a lot of people say the wrong thing.  I may have cringed at their words and tried to show grace, but the fact that they said anything at all meant the world.  What hurt me most were those who knew  and said nothing.  They may have avoided the topic out of selfishness and avoidance of awkwardness. Or, most likely they simply avoided the topic because they were fearful they would say something wrong. But, to me, it came across as not thinking my loss was worth acknowledging. 
So be willing to say something – and hopefully talk about it more than once.  I appreciated the friends who would check in with me every now and then and ask how I was doing.  At first, people are concerned but like any other loss, life moves on while you are still hurting. I can remember being overwhelmed by loss and the stress of trying to get pregnant again and just praying please someone ask me about it. At lunch, at brunch, via text, I just felt like I was drowning with pressure and sorrow and if someone would just ask me about it and really care what my answer was, I might not feel so alone.

4.       Say anything – but if you can, avoid the wrong things. Particularly anything that implies that the baby wasn’t “right”.

As I mentioned, most women who go through pregnancy loss are pretty gracious when you say the wrong thing because they get that it’s a hard topic and appreciate you trying. But, try avoiding phrases like “at least you can get pregnant” or “you’ll be pregnant again soon, no worries” or “the baby probably had a problem.”  That last comment, particularly, please avoid it.  I’ve read the statistics.  I know the chances are that my baby was chromosomally abnormal in some way, but I don’t need you to tell me that or to ask me if my fetus appeared deformed when I saw it because deformity or no deformity, I love my baby and wanted him or her to live. I didn’t sigh and think, thank goodness we avoided a problem child.
As I said, I generally saw the intention behind all these comments. People are trying to offer encouragement – so if you make a mistake in what you say, that’s fine. I probably make a mistake in what I say to you during tragedy. Let’s show each other grace and see people’s hearts, not their words. But, at the same time, if you can, try to say encouraging things like “I don’t know what to say, but I am here” and “I am sorry for your loss, your baby will be missed” etc.

5.       Make meals

This is a very  practical way to serve a family who has lost a baby.  We often think of meals as being a gift we give new mothers or those who have lost a family member, but so many situations in life call for this hospitable “meet their needs” type of blessing.  Obviously, this can’t always be done because you may not know about a pregnancy loss immediately, but if you do, offer a meal. If you can’t cook one, pick one up.  I was in a lot of physical pain – and on top of that, I was an emotional mess.  My mom, grandmother and sister all ordered meals for me.  A church friend brought us a meal.  Our entire week was covered.  I didn’t have to grocery shop, meal plan, cook or clean a bunch of dishes. I could come home from work and cry or sleep or take a shower or watch tv. 
Receiving meals blessed me two fold – (1) it met a practical need – literally giving me my daily bread and (2) it made me feel others saw our loss as real – because we all know that meals are made for big deal events.

6.       Be willing to be uncomfortable.

If you are a close friend, be willing to be uncomfortable in a couple different ways.  First, be willing to be uncomfortable talking about death and babies and pregnancy and loss.  Be willing to endure silence or rambling or tears. These aren’t easy topics and it may not always be fun to discuss.  These conversations may involve real tears, deep hurt and no clear answers.
Second, if you are a very close friend,  there’s a possibility that you will need to be willing to be uncomfortable to talk about gory facts. I certainly won’t go into details about miscarriage here on the world wide web.  But, delivering a dead fetus is not a pretty process – it’s messy and painful – while at the same time, very private. Afterwards, you feel like you experienced a trauma and have no one willing to acknowledge or discuss it.  About a month after the miscarriage, my friend gave me the biggest gift. She was in town for the weekend and over lunch, asked how I was feeling. I gave her a pat answer (assuming this was what she wanted) but she kept pushing – and asked the hard questions, the messy questions, about bleeding and pain and the whole horrible process of delivering a dead child.  She wanted details about what I had been through – and genuinely looked distraught as I told her.  The strange thing was as I left that very hard conversation, I was not crying or upset, I felt a bit more free.  I had been holding on to all these horrible details of our little one’s death and she had taken on a bit of the burden for me. She had acknowledged that miscarriage is more than just a word, but an actual painful process.  This obviously is not a role for everyone to play. I don’t want every casual acquaintance asking me such personal questions, but having one of my best friends enter into my world and hear about this unpleasantness was such a gift. And if someone very close to you has suffered a miscarriage, you might need to be willing to hear pieces of her messy story.

7.       Remember important dates.

Anniversaries aren’t always happy dates – this is a reality we all know. (IE, the date of a divorce, the date a relative died, etc)  This applies to miscarriage too – due dates, the date the baby died, mother’s day can all be difficult (although I will be the first to admit that mother’s day was surprisingly not that hard for me – because well, quite honestly, I’ve never experienced this date as a mother so I had nothing to compare it to….) So recognize those dates and give these women a little extra love on tough days. It means the world when people acknowledge those dates with a quick text, etc.

8.       Be willing to discuss infant loss publicly.

Many women who suffer miscarriage feel shame about it –  which makes no sense because it’s not their fault and they did nothing wrong.  I think this reason for shame is that it’s seen as a topic too dirty to talk about. Few people discuss it.  1 in 4 women will suffer a miscarriage in their lifetimes (this doesn’t even include number of men experiencing this loss) – so this subject should be an open one.  People jump to any type of cancer or diabetes or heart disease awareness campaign. They change their facebook pictures to rainbow colored after court decisions. We all support so many causes – and are willing to discuss and campaign and remember important issues and dates. So, at the same time, be willing to discuss miscarriage in a way where others feel safe to share their stories.

9. Pray (for them) and with them.

Obviously, prayer - and knowing someone is praying for you - is an extreme comfort to anyone facing tragedy. So, offer to pray for your friends facing pregnancy loss - and keep praying!


Miscarriage is hard on couples, but it also gives us an excellent opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to "comfort others as Christ comforts us." (2 Cor. 1:4)  


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Surviving Loss

As I mentioned last week, I plan to do a few posts on miscarriage for those who have faced it - and those who, sadly, will face it in the future.  For the first 6 months post miscarriage, I did not want to be open at all about this - and I felt alone in my battle.  But, there is no reason for shame or hiding, it's not a secret sin - or something even that unique that no one would understand. Many women (1 in 4) do understand - and it serves us well to talk about this issue.

When you lose a baby, it's often a silent pain - only you and your spouse and possibly your family miss that little one.  Others may grieve for you, but they can't really grieve your child.  It feels like every other person who dies has friends and co workers and families and teachers that miss his or her presence.  Not unborn babies. No one else really had the chance to love our baby yet except for us, so we were often mourning alone.  I think the loneliness is what makes a miscarriage so tough.  Almost all other forms of grief are both communal and personal - but with a baby lost before birth, the whole process is almost entirely isolated and personal.

I still miss our little one daily. Remembering this little life helps me to be grateful for my time as mommy to sweet Baby R, rather than just mourn what time I don't get. Time and prayer and God's sweet comfort and grace have helped ease this pain -but, making it through those first few months can be lonely and painful so I am sharing some of the things that worked best for me.



Surviving the first months after a miscarriage


1. Grieve

The first piece of advice I have seems so practical - grieve, and grieve how you feel is best.  It may be that you cry in the shower or go for long runs and pray or talk about your baby a lot or spend time praying and keeping the whole situation to yourself until you are ready to talk.  Grieve however you need to- but do grieve. Just because society often overlooks miscarriage doesn't mean you should. Take time to mourn that sweet baby.



2. Realize that your husband doesn't grieve the same way you do.

A friend gave me this advice and it was probably the best post-loss advice I received.  Dave missed our child and mourned, but it wasn't in the same way I did.  His body didn't go through the process of loss that mine did - and he did not feel the same sense of failure and shame that I did.  Also, because he is such a good husband, his main concern was me and making sure I was okay.  Dave mourned our baby, but he wasn't going to cry daily like I did.  So, realize that men and women grieve differently. (Also, check on your husband and ask how you can care for his hurting heart too)



3. Let your body heal.

My miscarriage occured later than most losses, so my healing process probably took longer than most. But, no matter how early or late your loss occurs, your  body will need time to repair.  Prepare yourself! I was not prepared to ache for weeks or have numerous appointments to have my hormone levels checked as they slowly fell back into not-pregnant range.  Your body has just been through a mini-trauma, so take it easy for awhile.  Take a day off work if you need to. Spend your weekends on the couch. Go to bed early. Also, it might be worth taking a couple months off trying to conceive.  I did not - and I regret that. We had two chemical pregnancies following our loss - my poor tired body was trying to get pregnant but it wasn't quite back to par.  I was so convinced that the only way to feel better was to be pregnant again, but I wish I had just let my body heal so I could avoid that frustration and extra hurt - and so maybe I could have lost a little first trimester weight I had gained with our baby.


4. Share with a few close friends.

So many women do not share about their miscarriages - and part of that is because it's not considered polite conversation. Maybe you don't want to share with everyone, but do find a few friends or family members who you can trust and let them know. Talk to a counselor or pastor if that's easier. This way, you have people praying for you and checking on you. I had precious ladies checking on me often - and just knowing that they saw my hurt and recognized this life made the process a little less lonely.


5. Protect your heart.

One thing I have learned with past hurt is that some people can't be trusted with your pain.  If you are talking about your loss with someone who is not supportive or doesn't seem to understand the gravity of it, then don't keep sharing with them.  If your heart is not safe, protect it. (and also a good reminder to us to all be the type of people who are a safe place for our friends) These people may be selfish - or they may just be clueless on what to say, but your sweet heart is facing enough pain at the moment - so don't subject it to any more hurt or rejection.


6. Honor your baby.

I think that the fact that we don't have pictures, a burial site or even know the gender of our lost one will always be hard.  But, we did find ways to commemorate our baby - a framed bible verse, saved ultrasound photos, a copy of the announcement card we were about to send, a necklace.  Picking a small way to remember your baby helps you feel like the child is not forgotten.




7. Expect that EVERYONE you know to end up pregnant or have a baby in the few months post-loss.

I say this jokingly, of course....but there is some truth to it. I am sure that I was just hyper aware of babies and pregnancies but it seemed everyone I knew was announcing their pregnancy last spring and even if I was happy for them, the reality of others having a child while we lost ours still stung.  So, prepare yourself for the fact that life goes on - and others will be announcing pregnancies. Also, protect your heart and do what you need to do to get through this - step away from facebook, have a good cry and margarita after baby showers, skip a baby shower and send a gift if you have to!  Realize that you can be happy for others and sad for yourself at the same time, but give yourself the grace to grieve.


8. Pick a goal, any goal.

After miscarriage, you spend a lot of your time grieving - or obsessing about getting pregnant again. So, pick a goal or a hobby or plan a vacation.  I decided to train for a 10k with a friend.  It gave me a goal, forced me to be healthy, made me get out of the house and socialize and brightened my spirits (endorphins, sunny weather!) Focusing on something other than pregnancy and loss can help you feel a bit more like yourself again. Wanting to be a mother was my big part of who I was last spring, but it wasn't the only thing about me - running, planning our vacations and spending time with friends helped me enjoy other pieces of myself.


9. Give grace.

People don't know what to say - or they say the wrong things. (For the record, it's worse to say nothing at all!)  If people are trying, give them grace. Chances are that you have failed to say the right thing before.  If people aren't trying, still try and give grace.  These may not be the friends and family you can trust your heart with (see above suggestion to protect your heart) but the truth is, they probably don't mean to be hurtful.  Recognize that sometimes when people don't know what to say, they say nothing - which may be the easy way out, but its not malicious.



10. Prepare yourself for the fact that not everyone will take this loss seriously.

The harsh reality is that a lot of people barely recognize pregnancy loss. They support all sorts of causes and awareness campaigns - but they don't really recognize your lost one as a baby. I think once I accepted that, I was less upset by it. I just expected that there would be friends who I had mourned break ups with and loved through really hard times who just wouldn't get the pain I was going through. (and thankfully, you can also find friends who are amazingly supportive - find your safe place there!)



11.  Run into the Savior's arms.

I dove into prayer, journaling and scripture reading after we lost the baby. It was good for me to see how God answered small prayers along the way.  I prayed for my hormone levels to drop. I prayed for my cycle to return.  I prayed for healing and comfort and days to get better. I prayed for a new pregnancy. And often, I just poured my heart out - to a God that was not afraid of my unpleasantness.  In the midst of a miscarriage, it feels like no one wants to deal with your messy heart - but we have a God who climbs into the mess with you.  The silver lining to pain is that it can drive you into the arms of your Savior.  I often times hope people will be the ones that get me through hard times, but the reality is that our Father is the best place to turn with our pain - especially the pain of a lost baby. He, too, knew the pain of losing a child - and that Son is the only reason I could have hope for seeing this baby again.

12. Speak Positively about the Future

After miscarriage, most women are mourning two things - their lost baby and their lost sense of security in pregnancy. While grieving her baby, a woman's heart is anxious, wondering if she will ever have another shot at motherhood and if so, will this new pregnancy be okay? (this worry is especially true if it is your first pregnancy and you don't have kiddos at home, reaffirming the fact that yes, you can and will have babies)  The reality is that most women who have a miscarriage go on to have a child. Statistics overwhelmingly show that women who miscarry have excellent odds at having healthy babies!  So,  go ahead and think hopefully about the future. That future pregnancy will come with its own set of fears but the good news is that you most likely will be pregnant again. So, talk positively to yourself- you can't undo the pain of this pregnancy, but you can be comforted by the fact that you most likely can and will have babies!



Losing a child is so hard - and so unrecognized, so for those walking through this, my heart aches for you.  I hope these suggestions help - but if they don't, find your own way of surviving! But, know this - you will survive - and you will always celebrate this little one. However, we serve a God who specializes in bringing beauty from pain!



Other posts about miscarriage can be found here and here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cover me in FALL

Fall is officially here!   And I am loving this cooler weather!  I am glad that this is the part of pregnancy where I feel great - so I can enjoy all the fun this season has to offer - hikes, a mountain getaway, lunch break walks - and a trip to Gettysburg this weekend.

But - one complaint: my cute fall wear is a bit limited.  I will be ordering a maternity puffer vest and I have a few maternity cord pants - but the truth is no pair of boots or blanket scarf can "flatter" or "hide" this bump, ha. Although, no worries - I will be trying to look at least a little cute and fallish (for the time being)!

Here is what I am loving for fall - some will work with my current figure- and some won't work as well, but even so, I am enjoying browsing!


(1) BARRINGTON TOTES

My sister introduced me to this website, Barrington Gifts and I am in LOVE.  I love these bags and purses.  The St. Anne tote is on my Christmas list. These two prints are my current favorites (especially the animal print) but there are so many cute prints to choose from! They also have some lovely leather bags.




(2) BLANKET SCARFS

I know, I am late to the game - at first, I was not a fan, but the more styles and "weights" I see, I really like them - and now want one!  I think I used to believe they were BULKY and HEAVY but this first one does not look to heavy!

In love with this scarf - if you see something similar anywhere, please tell me!!

UPDATE: Since posting this, I have been informed that the picture (from Pinterest) came from this blog post, I feel I should give credit to where credit is due - plus this blog looks super cute and I can't wait to follow! You should check her out too - and sadly, this scarf is sold out!)





(3) FRINGE BOOTS

Seriously, in LOVE with these - I may have to track them down. When asked if I was too old for them, my mom said they might be too tall for a mom- so I will have to think about it.  So, if you see a pair like this - minimal fringe, light brown color, but a little shorter - please tell me!  




(4) QUILTED VESTS

This trend does not seem to be leaving - and I, for one, am grateful. (or has this trend passed and I am just holding on to it? If so, please don't tell me....) In fact, I am about to order myself a maternity vest. (Super cool, I know...)



(5) UTILITY VEST/JACKET

I am really LOVING the utility vest/jacket look.  In fact, I may purchase a non-maternity piece and wear it open over the "belly" so that I can still wear it post-delivery. I would hate to waste money on a military pregnancy vest that probably won't still be in style when I have my next kid.



(bonus points for you if you noticed this picture ALSO includes a Barrington Tote!)


(6) THE STATEMENT CARDI

I have to admit, I LOVE the longer cardi look - but when worn over my big booty sometimes makes me look big - however, I have a couple springtime longer cardigans that are cute, so I think if you look hard, you can find the right long sweater for your body. Plus, as for maternity wear this winter, I am hoping that I already look big, so a big sweater can't do too much to add "bulk" haha. 


I have picked this long cardigan out at Old Navy Maternity and may order soon. It could be a fun fall addition to spice up my maternity clothing options.


(7) CAMEL COLORED EVERYTHING!!

I love camel in the fall- but sadly own very little of it (I have a camel wool coat and that may be it)  Although I love camel sweaters, I probably won't be buying one this year - unless it's a cheap maternity sweater on sale.  (My rules for maternity shopping: cheap or on sale, no need to spend a lot on temporary clothing  - UNLESS it's a dress for a special occasion - so this means most of the time, my color choices are limited to what's on sale...)




(8) DUCK BOOTS

I love LL Bean duck boots - and the moccasin version as well. I have no idea why I love duck boots so much - maybe because I live where it's cold and wet now? Maybe because my husband is a hunter? Who knows?? and I honestly have no idea when I would ever buy myself a pair because 130+ is way too much for me to spend on "weekend" boots - maybe I will watch the after Christmas sales? They are perfect weekend, cold wet weather shoes!

A cute plaid shirt, sweater, skinny jeans and duck boots - SCREAMS fall too me! LOVE!



(9) PLAID

This will always be on my fall list, even when it's not trendy - this preppy girl LOVES some plaid.  I have a couple checked collared maternity shirts - but I may have to buy a plaid one too - since my flannel plaid shirt for sure won't be fitting this winter.  Luckily, plaid is everywhere during the fall - so you can spend a lot or a little, depending on quality and brand. 



Old Navy Maternity Plaid - nothing fancy, but could get the job done for a season. Also, currently, only $19 :)



ALSO, the #1 Fall Style I will not be participating in - flared jeans.  A) My sister gave me a few pairs of maternity jeans so I feel no need to buy news ones and B) Extra weight on the middle and extra fabric on the bottom of my legs too? This seems like a huge disaster!


So, that's what I am daydreaming about for my fall wardrobe this weekend - what about you? Any must haves? Any new trends you love or hate? Do you go for the trends or stick to the fall staples - cozy sweaters, cords and plaids?






Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 15th

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Day.  Tonight, at 7 pm, many will participate in remembrance ceremonies - and even more will light a candle at home in remembrance of their lost children.  There wasn't a big ceremony in my region - which makes me a bit sad as I never really had a memorial or service for our Baby R - and we will be at small group during the designated lighting time - but when I get home, I do plan on lighting a candle for our son or daughter and praising the Lord for all 12 weeks of that little life.



I also thought that in honor of this remembrance day, I would do a few blog posts on pregnancy loss- a topic I have been hesitant to touch upon - because it seems taboo and I am scared of judgment from others for "over-sharing."  Also, I don't want to suddenly take up "miscarriage" as my cause.  I have had enough causes in my life - and honestly, at the ripe ole age of 31, I want my causes to be Jesus and people. I want to share about miscarriage so that hurting women don't feel alone and so that others know how to respond - BUT, I also don't want to ever present miscarriage as the greatest loss one can face. Often times, when we take up a cause and demand so passionately that our hurts be noticed, we miss the many broken hearts surrounding us.  It's a broken world and you may not have experienced a miscarriage, but you might be facing divorce, unplanned singleness, illness, job loss, marriage problems, sick children, loneliness, discrimination, addiction, infertility, broken families and so many other painful situations. Let's see each other's deep hurts and not compete for which broken pieces of our lives deserve more attention.  And let's love each other through those hurts and help one another see Jesus through our tears.


So over the next week, I will talk about making it through a miscarriage and how to support and love someone going through pregnancy loss.

But, today, I just wanted to say: If you have lost a child recently (or in the past), my heart goes out to you.  You are a mother in every sense of the word and have every right to mourn.  Know that I see your pain and I hurt for you. Know that our Savior sees your pain too - and came, died and rose again so that you will one day never face such pain again!

Also, I feel like October 15th should celebrate all of those who have lost little lives or are waiting for little lives. If you have faced infertility, are in the long adoption waiting game, are longing for a husband and children, or feel your chance at children has passed, you are in my heart and prayers today too.  There are different ways to mourn lost babies and the lost hope of babies - whether it's an empty nursery, another negative pregnancy test or a ring-less finger.

To our sweet Baby R - We miss you so much and think of you daily! You will always be our first little love. We take comfort in knowing that you are in a place with no more tears. Like King David said about his lost son, you cannot come to us, but one day, dear child, we will come to you. (2 Samuel 12:23) Oh, and guess what? You have a sister!

Finally, I just wanted to post this article by Gospel Coalition- the best article I have read about miscarriage - probably because it points the reader to the Gospel, which is the only real comfort in life. I wanted to share a few excerpts today because it is far more encouraging than anything I could ever say.


“I will surely multiply your pain in childbirth,” God said to Eve as he delivered her specific punishment, and again, “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16). How personally this aspect of the curse is felt by those, like myself, who’ve lost babies in the womb. For us, the pain God decreed for the female sex isn’t confined to the terrifying yet passing moments of childbirth—later compensated with the blessing of a baby to love and cherish. No, for us the physical pain of childbearing is followed only by the aching horrors of a cradle that will never be filled. In the case of miscarriage, the curse inherited from Eve robs women of the fruit of the womb entirely.
And yet this particular manifestation of the curse is only a small portion of the suffering humanity experiences as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. After addressing Eve, God turned to Adam and explained that their bodies would now begin to decay, eventually returning to the dust from which they came rather than living in unhindered fellowship with their Creator forever.
Since that day, death has been the enemy of every single person to walk this earth. Pain and suffering are common experiences for each of us, as our bodies groan under the devastating effects of the fall. This is why the apostle Paul said our bodies are “wasting away” (2 Cor. 4:16) and awaiting their coming redemption (Rom. 8:23). Though the worst consequence of the fall was certainly spiritual death (outside of salvation in Christ), there were also painful and fatal implications for our physical bodies.
Every human’s DNA has been compromised as a result of sin—our material bodies are broken at a foundational level. Not even the smallest, most helpless of our race—those yet to be born—are immune from the pull of death’s cold and unmerciful grip.
When a woman experiences a miscarriage, then, she isn’t simply suffering a random “pregnancy loss.” She’s experiencing, in stark reality, the extreme depths of our fallenness as a human race. She’s partaking bitterly of the inheritance purchased for us by our first parents; she’s experiencing the horrid wages of sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23).
But sin and death and loss isn't the end of the story.....

For we know that in that same garden where Adam and Eve received the curse that led to the existence of tragedies like miscarriage, they also received a promise. It was the promise of a Serpent-Crusher. God, being rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love, didn’t leave humanity without hope on that terrible day. He assured Adam and Eve that a man would be born into their world who would defeat the snake and reverse the curse (Gen. 3:15). He would be the second and better Adam—living in perfect obedience where the first had not, and then dying a death he wouldn’t deserve. He would be the perfect substitute for fallen men and women. He would bring life where once there was only death (1 Cor. 15:45).

By the power of God the Spirit, Mary’s womb bore the God the Son. He entered this world on a mission to save sinners and to conquer death. And in everything he succeeded.

And, finally....

There is hope for the woman who has miscarried since a baby was given to her more than 2,000 years ago. He lived for her, he died for her, and he will return for her. And on that final day he “will wipe away every tear from [her] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things [will] have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

So, on October 15th, we can have hope, because we do have a Savior that will overcome pain and loss! So light a candle tonight and remember your baby or the babies that other have lost - and know that we serve a King who has CONQUERED death!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

LIVING ON A PRAYER: the halfway point (weeks 17-20)

As I previously told you, no weekly updates from me, ha - maybe I will update more often closer to the end when we are on baby watch!  Instead, here is an update on weeks 17-20!  Little miss Anne Douglas did lots of growing - and although she is making mommy fatter, she is not making me so sick anymore - so, we will consider it a fair trade.  We have started looking at nursery items and called a local daycare which we plan to visit next week!  It's crazy to think that in 20 weeks or less, we will be a family of 3!


18 weeks!


20 weeks!

How Far Along: 

20.5 weeks - over half way there!

 Baby Size:

At 20 weeks, Annie D is the size of a small cantaloupe or a banana (depending on which fruit you prefer) - 10 inches from head to heal and almost 11 ounces!

Maternity Clothes:

Yes - I still have a few non-maternity tops and dresses that I mix in (mostly a size too big, bought that way to function during early pregnancy) But, mostly, it is maternity clothing! 

Sleep:

Not too bad. I wake up some, but not too much yet.


Movement:

I feel like I have felt a couple taps but I still don't know for sure. Once it's clear, I know I will go, "oh, so that's what has been happening..."  I have an anterior placenta which means it's on the front, blocking me from feeling baby girl's kicks so strongly.  Most people start feeling kicks in this time frame though - so I feel like it will be soon, even if I am a little on the late side. Can't wait!


Best Moment The Past 20 weeks:

No more morning sickness - and very few food aversions.  It is nice to eat a bigger variety of food again!  And, I have a clear bump now, not just chubs.

We had our anatomy scan yesterday - baby girl is growing right on time and has all her parts - but she has a big booty (girl gets it honest though - takes after mommy!)  We couldn't get a good view of her heart because little miss stubborn wouldn't flip over, so we will have another ultrasound in 2 weeks.


Food Cravings:

Sushi (preferably the raw items I can't have....), some sweets, light popcorn, occasionally salad (I don't know if this a craving per se or just an item that I am glad to welcome back into my diet again!)

Food Aversions:

I can eat a little of most of my previous aversions -- a little spice, a little mexican, a little eggs, a little seafood.  They may not still be my favorites but no huge aversions at the moment.

What I Miss:

Wine and sushi.


What I Am Looking Forward To:

Starting the nursery! Enjoying our last few "just the two of us" moments.  We are thrilled to be parents - but the reality of losing all our time together is starting to hit me.


Milestones:

"Oh we're halfway there, oo-oh, living on a prayer"


Pregnancy Symptoms:

 ITCHY SKIN! Round ligament pain, acne, occasional trouble sleeping, some swelling (my face is suddenly huge)

Also, the past 4 weeks have been a growth spurt. I was hungry ALL the time! But, I try to pack healthy snacks and meals at work so I don't eat junk all day.   I went from being up just a few pounds to being up almost 10.  I hope this slows down!  But, weeks 16-20 are huge for baby girl and her development so I am glad she is growing as she needs to be!


Gender:

A sweet baby GIRL!!! 


Weight Gain:

9 pounds. My goal was to only gain 6 pounds at the halfway point - so obviously, I get a big F.  But, to be fair, at almost 16 weeks, when i made this goal, I was only up 4 pounds so it seemed reasonable - but baby girl hit a growth spurt.  However, I asked the doctor about my gain and she said it's right on track, so I won't worry much and keep eating as healthy as I can manage.



Thursday, October 8, 2015

2015 Fall Reading List

Who is excited it's fall? ME, ME, ME!!   I will openly admit that I have a glass half empty approach to Fall. I mean, on the one hand, I LOVE FALL. I love the leaves and the pleasant weather and the pumpkins and sweaters and apple picking and decor and yummy soups and pastries.  Oh, and of course, I love the football. (Okay, so I really love most everything about fall - except pumpkin spice lattes, those drinks are nasty with a capital N)  But, I also start to get nervous when fall comes around - because we all know which season follows fall...nasty, cold, dreary winter.  Truthfully, winter isn't always bad. I mean, there's Christmas and Mardi Gras - and this year, there's Annie D's upcoming birth day. (20 more weeks - or less - but, who is counting? haha)  But a few months of cold wet weather is a bit depressing.  However, I am TRYING my best not to let me fear of winter rob me of the joy of fall. (probably a good lesson for life too, not just the seasons...)

One thing I am VERY excited about is diving into a few news books.  Good books and cozy sweaters and warm banked goods go together like white on rice. I envision myself curling up with a good book by a toasty fire with a blanket or sweater and pumpkin candle and hot cocoa or warm homemade treats! You know, imagine me in a pinterest picture...





In reality, we don't have a fireplace and although I love the idea of a cozy knit blanket and cup of cocoa, this will be what a lot of my reading looks like... (Thank you, Lord, for KINDLES)



But truthfully, what better way to survive your commute than a good book? Am I right?

Anyways, I read a lot of books during the 4 months I called summer, but now, my morning sickness is gone, I am travelling less - and my "fall time frame" is a bit shorter (just 2 months) so my list is a little shorter this time.  I hope to read 6 books over the next 2 months - and just like last time, I will try to enjoy a book from each of my 4 categories: parenting and marriage, fiction, sequels and nonfiction.  The categories are a bit more broad this time - but hey, it's 2 months, so I can't over commit!

Here's my FALL 2015 READING LIST:


Parenting/Home/Marriage: books to guide me in being a mom and wife (including a book on healthy eating during pregnancy)


The Sh*t No One Tells You: a Guide to Surviving your Baby's First Year by Dawn Dais


Basically, I woke up the other day and realized that I was halfway done with my pregnancy and had done NO PREP work.  The first trimester (and part of the second trimester as well), I was just surviving!  The first half of the second trimester, I was celebrating feeling well again. But goodness, only 20 weeks (or less) to get ready for little AD?? Time to get busy - starting with reading books. This one seems perfect - I want to know the nitty gritty on parenting a newborn- ups and downs and surprises!



Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman


I am about to be a mom and I love all things French - so this must be the perfect book for me. Plus, it has been rave about - so of course I need to read!



Trim Healthy Mama by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison


I have a general understanding of this eating plan -- healthy carbs, proteins and fats, very little sugar - and ideally, you pair your carbs, proteins and fats together a certain way.  You can do this diet intensely to lose weight - or a more gentle version to stay healthy during pregnancy.  The past few weeks (and the first couple weeks pre-morning sickness), I have *loosely* followed this plan, so maybe followed it 50 percent? I felt it was time to actually read the book and try to follow it a bit more rigidly. Although, by rigidly, I meat 75 percent. The reality is that I am STARVING and sometimes going to eat CAKE or PIZZA --haha, but the rest of the time, I can eat healthy. I don't want to deprive myself - as I am not dieting - just limit myself to not always "splurge" in the excuse of pregnancy!  I don't want to be HUGE - and also, I want to stay pretty healthy to help with delivery, swelling, etc. Hopefully, once I finish this book (about 50 pages in so far), I can form a game plan for the second half of pregnancy!


His Needs, Her Needs for Parents by Willard F. Harley, Jr.


I am so thrilled about our sweet baby girl on the way. Dave and I can't wait to be parents!  But, a part of me is sad to see our "just the two of us" stage of life coming to an end (or an end for the next few decades ha!)  Moving far away during the beginning of our marriage truly taught us to rely on each other and be the best of friends.  We bicker and irritate each other, but we didn't have the luxury of staying mad at one another because we needed each other! I know our relationship will change as we have children, but I am interested in finding ways to fight for it to still be good, possibly even better.  



Some type of baby sleeping book (TBD)

Dave works. I work. We don't have moms nearby. Please, Lord, let our baby be the type of child that can sleep train or get on some kind of schedule!  There are several sleeping advice books, so I have no idea which one I will read.  Honestly, I will probably read a few theories and find what works for us. But, seriously, please baby girl, be a good sleeper!



Fiction: you know, the fun books. :)

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly


I love Little Women - it was one of my favorite childhood books (on the same level as the Chronicles of Narnia for me which is a HUGE compliment to Miss Louisa May Alcott).  I loved Jo - and always related to how she felt different and awkward in her family and in the world.  I admired her passion, desire for justice, and spunkiness. So, when I found out there was a book about her great grand-daughters living in London who discover her letters in the attic, I knew I would have to dive in.  Confession: I read this book already (on the plane to and from Mississippi this weekend) and I loved it!!!


A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable


This book was on my list for the summer- but I never got to it.  A co-worker just shared how she knocked it out in one day because it was so good, so I knew I had to eventually get to it. Maybe I will tackle it this fall!


Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Likewise, this book was also on my summer reading list.  It is written by the author of What Alice Forgot which is a book that I really enjoyed.  So, hopefully, I am able to read it soon!



Sequels: follow ups to books I enjoyed this summer!


China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

If you remember, I read the first book this summer for book club (Crazy Rich Asians) and it was entertaining fluff - set in Asia which made it all the more interesting!  This is the sequel - and I can't wait to dive in!


The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion


The first book, The Rosie Project, was also a summer read for me - and I loved the quirky characters and sweet love story.  I felt like the book also had a happy upbeat message among a lot of the trash or negativity we read these days - you can't choose who you fall in love with and sometimes that person may not be "perfect on paper".  I know I will enjoy this sequel!




Non-Fiction: religious, self help or good ole fashion snarky humor (while dispensing life advice!)

Nice is Just a Place in France by the Betches

This is probably not a book I would have picked out for myself - but it is our book club pick for October, so I look forward to diving in. Some practical advice mixed with a little humor and sarcasm - I think I will enjoy! (I love my book club - the theme is best sellers - so it ranges from sassy books like this one, to biographies like Unbroken to beach reads to acclaimed literary works like All the Light We Cannot See.  ALWAYS a good variety, and definitely not too serious!) 


Prayer by Tim Keller


This book is mandatory - as it is our small group study book for the fall. I am already enjoying it!  I love Tim Keller - and I love how this book seems to be a summary of what other great Christian heroes say about prayer (and what the Bible says about prayer) - rather than his personal opinions.  Dave thinks it is a bit dry, like a lecture, but I am nerdy and love reading the theological and historical points!


For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker


I love Jen Hatmaker - but only recently started following her, so I have not read very much of her work.  Everyone is speaking highly of this book - and I think the topics of Grace and high standards (with myself and others) is something I could really relate to - and probably feel convicted by. Plus, the book was already on the family Kindle account. (Thanks mom)




So, there it is - my book list for fall. Here's hoping that my list motivates me to keep up my reading habit - even with visitors and a couple fun getaways planned and Saturday football! There are so many good options on this list that I don't know which book to start next!

What about you? Any books you have read this fall that you love? Any books you are planning to read?

***If you like this list, you can read my 2015 Summer Reading list here (final list with all my additions here) and the 2014 Summer Reading List here.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Little Daily Joys

It's midweek  and work has been crazy - the type of crazy where I have worked in the evenings and on the weekend and during lunch.  And it feels like I have worked a lot and am meeting all that is required of me-  YET everyone seems grouchy (which is probably because they have worked a lot too but always makes me stress like I have done something wrong!!) On top of that, I am at that lovely stage of pregnancy where you start to grow a lot and I HATE watching the scale go up and my belly expand! (I, obviously, want baby to grow - but truthfully, I wish I could keep her fairly small until the last month and she could do all the major weight gain THEN haha) We are in the process of making Christmas plans which is always stressful (why can't we live in a Christmas version of groundhog day so we can spend the holidays with each family and no one sacrifices any of their traditions?)  And, yesterday, a picture fell off the wall at night knocking a vase over while we slept - leaving watermarked wood for me to find in the morning (any tips for dealing with that??)

So - life has had a few *minor* frustrations - but let's be honest, nothing horrible - just the hum drum and stress of each week. With rainy weather and lack of sleep (Thank you, dear daughter!), it's easy to be grumpy if I don't remind myself of the MANY MANY little joys in my life.  Yesterday, popular blogger, Kelly at Kelly's Korner, wrote about the things that bring her joy and I thought I would join in!!



Things that bring me JOY today.....

(1) Coming home to this sweet guy! Neither one of us had a meeting or obligation last night and I was super excited for a lazy night to cook breakfast for dinner (almond flour pancakes and bacon --it's my go to pregnancy meal) and curl up in front of the TV with him!



(2) our sweet LITTLE GIRL!!  I keep having to pinch myself because - eek, I am having a daughter!! Although I ADORE my nephews, our family needs a little pink!  SO --I was not so secretly hoping for a girl -- and I am over the moon thrilled that R2 is a little lady!  Even though she sometimes makes me sick - and she's making me fat, each day I can't help be smile that she is all ours and is own her way!

(3) my sweet MISSISSIPPI friends.  This weekend, I am heading to Mississippi for my friend, Claire's bachelorette! I am ecstatic that I get to celebrate her upcoming nuptials and that I get to do so with all my favorites.  I love DC and the wonderful friends I have made here, but a huge piece of my heart misses the great friends I had back home. I always feel rejuvenated and full after I spend time with them!


(4) OXFORD, MS!  Oxford is one of my FAVORITE towns - so many fun memories (and a few bad ones: law school finals, yuck!)  I haven't been to Oxford since we moved to DC.  Luckily, that's where the celebratory weekend is - and I can't wait to see sweet friends and enjoy all the good food, shopping and wondering around this picture perfect town! (Maybe Annie D will end up with some new Rebel gear!)


(5) OLE MISS REBELS ARE #3.  Woohoo, now if we can just keep winning!

(6) DATE NIGHTS!  During first trimester, Dave and I spent so many evenings at home, watching TV and going to bed early.  Summer usually includes a lot of baseball games, morning walks, restaurants and our favorite, OUTDOOR MOVIES (we didn't see one single outdoor movie this summer!)  So, this weekend, when we decided to go to a Friday night movie, I felt like I was in the land of the living - plans, on a Friday night? woohoo! We saw The Intern which is super cute and I highly recommend it!

(7) FALL.  Leaves are turning and the air is cooler. Fall is here! There are pumpkins and mums everywhere!  We are going apple picking in a couple weeks and Halloween candy fills the grocery store aisles. My current favorite thing about fall is that boots still fit you even when you are pregnant!!!

(8) New TV. Okay, this makes me a boring person right - but I was excited to have some new TV shows/new seasons starting in September!



(9) Good books and my KINDLE!! I just started a wonderful book on the metro yesterday. I love that Kindle and the Kindle phone app allows me to read anywhere - even on boring metro rides!

(10) Baby Clothes.  I have hardly bought anything, just a few items in France. But, I am having so much fun looking up darling outfits for Anne Douglas! Aren't little girl clothes just the cutest things ever?


See, I found 10 things that bring me JOY - some major (baby girl!) and some minor (good tv shows) - in a matter of a few minutes! What about you? What is bringing you JOY today??? And if life is feeling stressful, how can you take a few minutes to enjoy one of these things that bring you so much happiness?