Join the Conversation of Hope, Miscarriage Mom…

April 15th stopped being referred to as “Tax Day” for me a long time ago.  That date forever changed once my doctor assigned it to my second child as the much-anticipated due date.  In the heat of August 2010, ultrasound photos in-hand, I started to envision the child I carried in my tummy and the happy future that was sure to come with this surprise baby.  Just days after seeing my little one in the womb, I was forced to say an abrupt and heart-breaking good-bye.  Every hope and dream I had been carrying came to a crashing halt.  I’d never felt such a hurt in my heart.  I’d never been faced with such an agony that literally pulls at the pit of your being.  It was an experience that changed me, deeply.  My eyes lost their innocent sparkle that night.  My heart became tainted with worries I never knew I could carry.  Miscarriage can wreck a woman, friends.  I was wrecked that lonely weekend in late August – mind, body and spirit.  But, thankfully, that wasn’t the end of my story.  It was only the first chapter.  The healing that came in the months and years to follow is why I am who I am today, and why I can say with joy and boldness that my child is still very much a part of me, our family, and my life.

When I opened up about my experience on this blog, it also opened many doors to speak with close friends about their own.  During an impromptu play date with two of my close friends, who are also bloggers, we just started talking about our miscarriages over coffee cake.  The kids played and we chatted away…sharing our stories…our challenges…the surprise and disappointment we felt at the lack of resources available to moms like us.  It was then that we decided to change that, together.  This project has been a long-time coming, so I am thrilled to announce that we have finally released our e-book, “Blessings Through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom.” You can find it by clicking here.  Betsy Moore of BMooreHealthy, Becky Mansfield of Your Modern Family, and I have set out to create a resource for other moms who have experienced loss through miscarriage.  Whether you are experiencing one now or had one many years ago, this book was created with you in mind.

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This book is extra special, because it has been written in the form of conversations. Picture the three of us sitting in front of a group of moms, sharing our stories, crying, hugging each other and finding ways to move forward side-by-side. We pray that this book helps other moms find peace through all the sadness and grief attached to miscarriage. And we’re not the only moms sharing our stories in this book.  Many other mothers have so graciously offered up their testimonies of loss and hope as well.  I found myself in awe of the strength of these warrior-mamas.  Each of our stories is so unique, but there are also many common threads that will forever knit our hearts together.  I am so full of joy to finally share this book with you. You can find it here:

miscarriage link

IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL FIND:

Totally Blindsided: Receiving the News

Finding a Lifeline: Longing for Support

The Warrior Within: Finding Strength in Fragile Moments

The Ripple Effect: Learning to Lean On and Love Through

Next Steps: Moving Forward in Hope and Health

Blessings through Raindrops: Finding Meaning and Choosing to Celebrate Life

From the Other Side: A Spouse’s Perspective

Additional Resources

Our Hope for You

A Shared Experience: Stories from Other Miscarriage Moms

And so much more…

At the end of each chapter, you will also find a question/questions or reflection point(s).  We thought it necessary to, not just talk at you, but, let you have your voice be heard as well – even if it’s only your own eyes that will ever read the responses.  We have found that both writing and talking about our loss has added to our healing, and sometimes, it’s been through the gentle leading of a friend or mentor during conversation that has prompted some of our most valuable revelations.  And, because we know that often times you just need to hold a book of this nature in your hands and write your thoughts all over its pages, we are eager to offer a paperback edition in the very near future.

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If you have any questions about the book, or if you are having difficulty downloading it, feel free to send Betsy, Becky and I an e-mail to miscarriagebook@gmail.com, or contact me directly at kloverhouseblog@gmail.com. From the bottom of our hearts, we hope and pray that this book helps you find an anchor of peace while going through one of the most challenging times in your life.  

Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You are never, ever alone. Welcome to the fiercest, most accepting club we know; it’s an honor to walk this road with you.   

xo,

Kristi

FIND ADDITIONAL MISCARRIAGE-RELATED POSTS ON KLOVER HOUSE HERE:

I Think It’s Time

Celebrating our Heaven Baby

A Pregnancy Ritual and a Very Intimate Detail about EJ

I Chose Truth

Babies and Banana Bread

Dear Daughter, Let’s Talk about Abortion

Dear Daughter,

Let’s talk about abortion.

abortion

Abortion, by definition is:

The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

A medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus.

 

It’s a hot topic right now.  Honestly, it’s a hot topic for me everyday, all day, any day for reasons you will know and for some you may never be privy to, because they are not my stories to tell.  But, because of the election coming up this year, it’s a point that many are talking about, and not for reasons I am happy to report.

You see, dear daughter, our nation is currently in a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, and we, as a people, are walking around in a gray fog.  Nothing is simple.  Everyone is afraid to speak up.  Well, if you’re conservative, anyway, because they’ll call you names.  They’ll make you look like a restrictive, unloving, terrible person. (John 15:18, Mark 13:13) Your life and words hold a mirror to their issues, and they don’t dare go any deeper than the surface of life.  They aren’t ugly, they’re “free”.  They’re not under the influence of selfishness and evil; they’re liberated.  Are they?  Are they free?  Is an addict on a high, free?  Sadly, no.  They are bound, because their freedom is false, but it’s too difficult to be sober…to feel…to be broken…to deal… So they lie and live in a fantasy.  Such is the state of our culture.  They lie to themselves to get through without breaking down.  The blood on our hands looks less offensive when you’re already wearing rose-colored glasses.

You see, dear daughter, the stuff below the surface hurts.  It’s downright overwhelming at times, and it’ll make you think way too hard.  It’ll keep you up at night.  It’ll make you cry in the shower.  It will haunt you while you sip your coffee.  It will seem so much bigger than anything you could ever change.

Who wants to think about rape and incest when they can think about lattes and play groups?  Who wants to read about itty bitty babies being stuck with needles and how it has been proven that they try to flee in a womb that was created to first and foremost protect its creation?  We’ve got shopping to do, errands to run, friends to call, and nails to get done.  We don’t have time for thinking so much it hurts and praying so much it impedes on our comfortable lifestyle.

To them, it’s uncomfortable, maybe even morbid, to attribute humanity to a “fetus” whose limbs are ripped apart and whose brains are suctioned away.  God forbid we be a morbid people.  That would make for such a depressing life, right?  So we sweep it away and just make it simple.  Don’t sweep it, honey.  They need you not to turn away.

You’ll hear:

It’s not a baby…

It’s an effect of something evil…

It’s an inconvenience…

It’s going to suffer anyway…

It’s not wanted…

It doesn’t matter…

But it does, baby.  It matters so much.  They matter so much.  They are me, you, your sisters, your classmates, your children.  They matter.  They matter.  They matter.  I get caught up, uttering it like a prayer bleeding from my heart.

Sweet daughter, it does matter.  It is real.  It isn’t an effect – it’s a person.  If God is in control, who are we to determine who lives and dies? If we are waiting for convenience, we will surely wait forever. Someone out there wants it desperately. It does matter.  It does.

I read a headline today calling one of the conservative front-runners horrible names because he was quoted telling rape victims to “suck it up”.  He’s being told to “go to hell”; he has undoubtedly ticked some people off.  He’s insensitive?  He’s ignorant?  He’s cruel?  Do they even realize the names that they are calling him…the attributes they are giving him are laughable in the fact that they are for the dismembering of infants?  They are discounted as worthy, simply because of their origin.

Dear daughter, I hate to even think the thoughts, but I was recently challenged by someone we love on my stance.  “What if your child…”  And I answered the clearest that I have ever answered anything in my life.  I know it was the Holy Spirit in me.  So, here is what I said to them and what I have to say to you, my sweet angel.

Those who believe abortion is okay under certain circumstances have a deeper issue.

It could be fear, anxiety, shame, anger, selfishness, resentment, unbelief, embarrassment, hatred…

The baby is not the problem – the issue is.

What if we saw rape and incest as evil, but a child as redemption?

What if we told the doctors to save?  To do their jobs and their best and try to save both lives?  

What if we rejected the bad report and believed for a miracle? And if the miracle didn’t come, we leaned on Grace and loved anyway?

What if we gave a family the gift of a child if we weren’t ready or able to do it ourselves?

What if we changed?  What if?

We don’t want the headache.  If we outlaw abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother…  It won’t fix the problem.  It will most-likely turn us into a nation of liars.

It won’t fix the fear.  It won’t fix the shame.  It won’t fix the rebellion.

But Jesus and taking that courageous step into motherhood can.

Before I brought a child into this world, I stood in the shower with an active babe kicking wildly in my belly.  I was at the end of the road, and delivery was near.  I had just read an article on Facebook about a woman who had tragically lost her life during childbirth.  It engulfed me in thick fear, daughter.  Suddenly, I saw my child as a danger.  It could kill me.  This could be it.  The enemy had managed to make my own beloved a threat.  The tears rolled fast down my cheeks that night, and I begged my husband to “save me.”  If it came down to a choice, “choose me.”  “Of course,” he said.  “We can make another baby; I can’t make another you.”  A fear and response that I’m sure many have expressed.  Oh, but it was a mistake, dear one.  For, there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another. (John 15:13)  My fear and doubt took my belly, swollen with promise, and villainized it.

The moment I knew my child outside of my womb, everything changed.

The veil was torn, and I saw the intended depth of my humanity.  It was so much bigger and deeper than me.  My motherhood went below the surface that day and became my purpose.  I would lay my life down for you a thousand times.  No question.  My husband can find a new wife, but the world only gets one you, and you would be worth that sacrifice.  Those mothers don’t know.  They are me in the shower, being swallowed up by fear.  Their husbands are those fathers choosing the one they love over the one they didn’t know they’d love more than life itself.  They don’t know, daughter.  They don’t know.

You can be a voice of change in the darkness, dear one.  You can tell the world about redemption and hope and faith and love.  You can make them think.  You can make them uncomfortable, but aware of a better way.  You can invite any who will listen to go deeper and beyond the surface of this life.  You can stand with the victimized and violated and show them the truth of God’s love and bigger plan.  You can be the friend that pushes fear aside and tells your peers that a baby is not the enemy to their bright futures.  Choose the hard road, the narrow one, my child.  Choose to stand up for the weak and the forgotten.  Choose to love the unloved and the neglected.  Honor their lives with your tears in the shower and your prayers late at night.  I think that the angels rejoice over you when you do.  They sing over the infants playing at the feet of Jesus.  They say, “You are loved!  You aren’t forgotten, and your life matters to them, precious child!”

And if, in the sad and terrible chance that we ever face these scenarios that they speak of, we will walk that road together.  I would cry, pray, and hold you.  I would hail you as a hero, and honor your bravery and love.  And together, we would kiss the face of the most beautiful baby that ever lived, because he/she would be part of you

Abortion is not the answer, baby.  With it comes a whole host of new heartache.

For now, dear daughter, I will do my best to raise you up beneath the shadow of the Most-High God.  I will raise you up to be a mighty woman of God, who prays and believes that anything is possible – even the ability for our God to make beauty from ashes.  I will raise you to hope for better things, to pray for the lost and shallow, to believe for a lifetime of witnessing the miraculous.  That’s what I will do, and it is my prayer that you and your generation will not carry the weight of the sins of mine.  Believe in life, dear daughter, and protect it.

xoxo,

Mommy

Psalm 8:2

Psalm 8:2

If you, or someone you know has experienced abortion, and you are looking for something to help heal your heart, free you from guilt or shame, please consider the book, “I’ll Hold You in Heaven,” by Jack Hayford (aff. link).

Diastasis Recti: Shame in the Middle

Diastasis Recti: a separation of your outermost abdominal muscles. The job of these muscles (called rectus abdominis), is to support your back and your organs.

Umbilical hernia: a sac (pouch) formed from the inner lining of your belly (abdominal cavity) that pushes through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button.

Shame: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute

Me: all of the above

diastasis

Five months ago, my sweet Miriam Jane was born.  She was actually my smallest baby, born at just 6lbs, 14oz.

miribirth

Many of you may remember my complaint towards the end of this fourth full-term pregnancy that my upper mid-section was burning all day, every day, without rest.  I went on to find out that I had developed diastasis recti, an abdominal separation that is common among women of short stature and having multiple pregnancies (or multiple babies in a single pregnancy).  This pic is me at 38 weeks.  Miriam Jane made her debut just four days later.

miribelly

During my quick check in the hospital after delivering, one of the doctors advised that I have my abdomen checked well at my six-week postpartum appointment, and until that point, take it easy.  When I went in, they recommended that I continue to wear a belly band and forgo all exercise for an additional eight weeks.  That’s fourteen weeks postpartum of no exercise.  They also informed me that, in addition to having at least a 3 cm separation, I had an umbilical hernia.  My doctor suggested I see a surgeon and warned me against doing any core exercise that could exacerbate the issues.

I left my appointment feeling so discouraged.  Not only did I find it sickening that a part of my body that was supposed to stay intact on the inside was oozing through to the outside, but the thought of surgical repair scared me to death.  Realize, I have had four natural births, zero epidurals, no c-sections…  The closest I’ve ever gotten to a real surgery was a D&C after losing EJ, and, other than anesthesia, I would consider it a pretty easy/non-life-threatening procedure.  I don’t do surgery, friends.  I am terrified.

A friend of a friend recently messaged me a detailed description of her surgery.  I had to open it about six times to make it all the way through.  I kept getting queasy just reading about it.  As much as I’d love a nip and a tuck to heal and flatten this pooch out…I can’t.

So, like any chicken would do, I vowed to watch it just heal and melt away. Amen.

Yep.  Not happening.

Granted, my diet lately hasn’t helped (way too many sweets), and I am pretty sure that I’m one of those breastfeeding moms whose body hangs onto weight rather than burns it away, because I am still 25 lbs heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight, and it hasn’t budged by even a pound in four months.

I never had any problems like this before.  Just my natural activity had done wonders after my previous deliveries.  Between running around after the kids and good eating habits, I could always get back to my normal weight/shape fairly easily.

This is me just five months after having Eden Grace.  No tricks, no diet programs, gym memberships, belly bands, or workout videos.  This is just how my body bounced back before.  I call it the “I am a busy mom of three” regimen.  You know the one…you have coffee for breakfast, get to eat a handful of blueberries for lunch, devour a healthy dinner in 45.7 seconds, and you never sit down…

meande

Notice, my “mommy tummy” was relatively small, especially in comparison to my stomach now.  The “I am an even busier mom of four” regimen isn’t working, and according to what I’ve read on diastasis recti…it’s never going to.  I have to be more intentional this time, more focused.

Those closest to me already knew about my stomach’s condition, so they’ve never said anything in naivete.  Unlike strangers, they’ve never judged me as lazy, pregnant, large, or alcoholic.

Yep.  Alcoholic.

That was a new one for me.

Enter shame.

We went to visit my brother and his family in WV this past weekend and ended up having to take one of our daughters to MedExpress for a suspected UTI.  We left Ava and Eden with my sister-in-law, and hubs and I took Isla and Miriam with us to see the doctor.  Hubs dropped the three of us off and ran some errands, expecting to be back before we were even called into the room.

If you’ve been to a MedExpress, then you know that you check in, sit and wait, and then you go to another window to verify information, sign a couple of forms and pay your co-pay.  We had already been waiting for some time when we were finally called to the billing window.  The only other people in the waiting area consisted of a woman (by herself) and a married couple (probably in their late 70s).  It was quiet and peaceful.  I had just had a nice, heartfelt conversation with the staff member at the billing window, and I returned to our seats feeling totally at peace with the moment.  Isla, before returning to coloring a picture of Elsa that I had brought along, stopped to coo over Miriam, who was pleasantly hanging out in her carseat.

The elderly woman made a comment to me across the rows noting how much Isla loves her baby sister.  “Yes,” I replied.  “She’s one of four, and she’s by far the most nurturing.”  Then, I sat down next to Isla, who had returned to her artwork.

That’s when I heard the man’s whispers.  Apparently, he didn’t know how to whisper very well.

She must drink a lot of beer.  (brief pause)  Why else would she have a belly like that?

His wife in quiet rebuttal:

She did say she had four kids.

And when I heard the wife’s response, I knew it was me.  Initially, I just thought he was talking about someone else.  A friend, a family member…  I just thought they were resuming a conversation that was taking place while I was at the window.  I was wrong, of course, and when it clicked, something snapped in my spirit.  I felt it.  It was a dead-emptiness that suddenly took over all of my thoughts, and I felt such…shame.

I never, ever felt that way before.

Beer belly?  I never even drink.  Like never.  It’s kind of a joke between one of my friends and I that she’s going to find me a wine that I can drink, because I honestly hate the taste of alcohol.

I know, you might be thinking: What’s the big deal?  If I were you, I would’ve turned around and said x,y,z…  Who cares, right?

I tried thinking those things too.  I almost turned around and explained my condition, but I didn’t.  I just sat there, in my cloud of shame and hurt feelings.

My husband walked in just as the nurse called Isla back to see the doctor.

When I told him about the whispers later on, I broke down into tears.

After consoling me, he joked, “You should’ve told them that you drink a case a day and you were drunk right then.  How else can you stay sane with all of those kids?”  I told him that I’d be dealing with a whole other can of worms, but I appreciated his humor.

Fast-forward to two days later.  Isla had her follow-up with her regular pediatrician, and then I took her fabric shopping with me in a fun, upscale neighborhood nearby.  Since I was pricing fabric for an upcoming wedding, I spent a great deal of time speaking with the shop employee.  She was so kind and helpful, so our conversation eventually turned personal with her telling me about her daughter just having a baby boy.  Then it came.  The naive and innocent dagger.

Looking directly at Isla, she said:

It looks like your mommy is going to have a baby too!

And the automatic response came quickly:

No, I just had one.

Just had one…  How long can that possibly work?  Five months, eight months, a year?  Just is reserved for newbies.  I am quickly crossing that imaginary line, if I haven’t crossed it already.

So, I did what I do.  Left the shop with a smile and a “thank you”, and took Isla to the local coffee shop, where I drowned my hurt in a blended caramel latte and a double chocolate biscotti.  Counter-productive, huh?  I know.

Since then, I’ve had a few more cries, I’ve googled a lot, I’ve called my ob/gyne doctor, and I’ve decided to buckle down and take care of this problem.  I’m still trying to avoid surgery, and luckily, my hernia is umbilical, so bringing my abdominal muscles back together should also remedy the hernia.

I have created a Pinterest board to keep all of the information I find in one place.  I am also looking into the Tupler Technique (aff. link).  I’ll keep you posted on that.  The burning pain is less noticeable, but still present, so I am going to be more diligent in wearing a belly band and remaining aware of my posture throughout the day.

As far as the shame part, I’d just appreciate your prayers.  I know that until I am able to flatten up, the comments and questions are probably going to keep coming.  Please, be kind to those moms you see out there whose postpartum bellies are still hanging around.  They just might be facing the mother of all tummy troubles too.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Mother of Multiples…

First baby:

The baby is everything. You are one with the baby. You wake up thinking about baby. You take your 600th belly picture in the mirror as soon as you step out of bed. You admire your maternity clothes and can’t wait to wear them. You push your ‘bump’ out at 12 weeks, convincing yourself that you are ready for those panty-hose-topped-pants. You wear them shamelessly to work, although you have to hold them up for 90% of the day. You push your ‘bump’ out even further and revel in the chance to blurt, “December 5th!” when a passerby asks your due date. You anxiously await all signs of being with child…the bloating, puking, gagging…it’s all cool, b/c you’re maternal and all. Yep. Comes with the territory, so bring on the sore biddies and heightened sense of smell. You record every hiccup, and you can count down the weeks, days, hours to your next appointment with your ob/gyne. You can’t wait to talk to her about the 1200 new moles on your arms and sternum, peeing in a cup, and showing off your linea nigra. You do your kick counts like a champ and remember how long it’s been since you last felt her move…down to the minute. You reread the same chapter in the ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ over and over, b/c you can’t get enough of the authors telling you that your baby is now the size of a pinto bean. You peek forward a chapter and well up with excitement that next week, you’ll be able to add heartburn to your list of possible effects of pregnancy. That does, of course, mean lots and lots of hair on her head, you know. You imagine your child much like a cartoon drawing just kind of hanging out in there, sucking it’s little thumb and smiling at the sound of your voice. Everyone is asking to feel the belly and practically clawing at your sweater for a chance to “feel the baby kick”. Your cell blows up exactly one hour after each prenatal visit with questions from your husband, in-laws, parents, and siblings eager to hear how the new bambino is progressing. You sing to the belly, read to the belly, and rub the belly every chance you get. You are a straight-up pregnancy-obsessed baby-lovin’ mama. Bring on the due date!

Second Baby:

You expect the heartburn by Week 3. You are super excited to give your first peanut a sibling, and this pregnancy already feels totally different than the first, so you convince yourself that it must be the opposite sex, and everyone tells you that is going to be the opposite sex, b/c one of each seems to be the ideal. You expect it all to be on ‘replay’, but, to your surprise, almost nothing seems to feel or happen the same, and you are amazed that you have to reread the ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ book again. You skim and skip chapters, b/c you are an ‘expert’ now. You remember to take your single belly picture a day late each week, but baby will never know, right? You’ll just snap a quick shot before eating a pound of bacon for breakfast so that you look the right amount of pregnant in each photo. Your number one mission in this pregnancy is to prepare child numero uno for the arrival of little bambino. You read up on how to introduce your toddler to a new baby, how to potty-train said toddler before baby arrives, when to transition toddler into a toddler bed so as not to permanently damage them emotionally for life, and then head to the Chinese gender predictor, which tells you that you are having a second girl, and you agree with your gut that it must be bogus. You can’t stop eating and your face exploded six months too soon, so this has to be a man-child. Nope. Girl number two. The ‘reveal’ is met with a few tears and “Aww, that’s nice,” b/c everyone is secretly (or not so secretly) pitying your husband. You immediately plan for child number three, b/c society simply cannot function if you dare stop at two children of the same gender. Let’s get this baby out. There’s work to do and now you have nothing blue to shop for. Baby number one will be just fine, b/c you followed all of the advice to the letter, and this isn’t your first rodeo, so we’re good. Let’s roll.

Third Baby:

You take a major ride on the guilt-train, b/c you barely have two minutes to dote on the belly. You forget to sing, read, and rub. Part of you is a little afraid that this may be your last, so you should be savoring every moment and flutter, but you are too busy chasing little people day-in and day-out to really give anything or anyone else much thought. You drag both little people to every appointment, b/c it’s too hard to get them ready and out the door on time, let alone lug them to a sitter for your 20 second appointment. You load up the diaper bag with fruit snacks and M&Ms in hopes that the steady stream of bribery will keep them from paying attention to the weird places you may have to expose whilst sitting beneath a paper gown. You really hope that they don’t try to play ‘baby doctor’ at home and are already imagining the mess of toilet paper as they construct their own ‘baby doctor dresses’ before you catch them trying to poke one another in the bum. You don’t remember to take your belly pictures, b/c you can’t seem to get a moment in the bathroom alone and, let’s face it, you just plain forget. You attribute your lack of anything resembling motivation or nesting to pregnancy brain and sleep deprivation. You’re most-likely correct on that one. Heartburn kicked in on Day Two, and you are rocking your Old Navy maternity leggings before the pink line even dried. You don’t bother caring about cravings or whether or not you are carrying ‘high’ or ‘low.’ This is not your first baby. You are going to stretch beyond all human comprehension, and you are going to eat whatever you want, when you want, and ain’t nobody gonna stop ya. You’re not worried a bit about delivery, b/c you keep hearing jokes about this one ‘just falling out’ and you kind of believe them. Oh yeah, and it’s gonna be a boy this time, b/c that’s what everyone expects. Nope. Girl number three. Ok, you get it. You’re meant to be a girl-mama, and you didn’t need to prep anyone this time for anything, b/c it’s a girls’ world around here anyway. No biggie.

Fourth Baby:

Fourth baby? Fourth baby?! Hubby is going to pass out or run away. He thought you were ‘done’, but God had another plan. So do all of the older ladies at Target. They keep asking you if you are going to ‘try for that boy’ and they send their condolences to your husband. You spend your days answering questions with, “Yes, they’re all mine.” “No, they are not twins.” “Yep. All girls.” “Full hands, full heart, right.” You stroll around the grocery store fearing that people are thinking that maybe you’re in need of a television, or assuming that you’re just the knocked up nanny for a rich doctor. After all, none of your kids actually look like you. You are happy to flash your wedding ring at every turn and drop lines about ‘homeschool’, so that at least they take you as one of those ‘religious’ people that ‘like having babies.’ Maybe you should invest in a ’19 and Counting’ t-shirt or something. (I’m picking on stereotypes here, b/c you know they exist!) You forget your doctor appointments and search frantically for your appointment card in the big pile of mess that once resembled an overly-organized diaper bag of a mom with too much time on her hands. Now you’re lucky if there’s actually a diaper and wipes in there beneath the old cheerios, church bulletins, one shoe, and used Kleenex. You have to count in your planner to figure out how many weeks you are, and you save the Baby Center emails in the event that you forget how many days you have left to get the nursery ready. You haven’t begun to transition or potty-train the last child, and the thought of the newest addition refusing a crib actually brings you some comfort, b/c it buys you at least six more months to actually get her room ready. Oh yeah, that’s right, “she”, b/c of course it’s another girl. You don’t think to mention it, b/c no one bothers to ask this time. No one asks to feel your baby kick, and the post-appointment-play-by-play to your family members that was your first pregnancy is a distant memory. You know…the numerous texts you received an hour after each doctor visit, “How was it?” “How’s baby?” “What was the heart rate?” Yeah. That probably doesn’t happen anymore, so don’t be alarmed. They know when the baby is due and they’ll just catch up with you at the hospital after she’s here.  Of course your entire crew still accompanies you to the doctor visits.  You try to contain them, but you never remember to stock the bag with bribes and your only goal is to leave with all persons accounted for and no one having played in the biohazardous waste bin.  And belly pictures?  What belly pictures?  On her third birthday, you’ll sort through photos to fill in a page every 6 weeks or so.  You know that one taken on Christmas morning?  You’re not wearing a bra and still in your pajamas, but your huge bump is half visible beneath the two kids crawling across your lap.  Yep.  that one works perfectly for, oh I don’t know, say…Week 32?  Great!

And while you realize that many things change as you add more babies to your nest, and people don’t react or behave the way that you wish they would… One thing remains the same, and it’s the most important…

Whether it’s child One or child Ten…

That baby is wanted, loved, and will grow your heart in ways that you could never have imagined. Your quiver won’t be the only thing that is full, and every night as you lay them down and kiss their sweet faces, you’ll find yourself whispering, “Thank you, Jesus. My cup overflows.”

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“bipolar nesting disorder”

Hubby made the joke the other night, “Boy, I love the nesting phase.”

I was bum-up, shoulders-deep under our bed, pulling out probably six months worth of toys, lint, random books, etc. All of this to vacuum. To vacuum. It was also 8pm. I was determined. I was dead-tired, but there was a mission in front of me that I wasn’t about to abort.

I shot him a glance (you know the kind) and said, “You know how it is. These pockets of motivation leave as quickly as they come.” He agreed and left me to my madness.

Nesting.

Yep. It has hit. Something feels different this time around, though. I am choosing to call it “Bipolar Nesting Disorder”.

When it hits…it hits hard and look out! I cleaned the big girls’ room two days after Christmas, made my hubs go to Ikea for a second, matching dresser (since they had been sharing one all of these months), assemble it, and I went to town. Packed up all of Isla’s 3T clothes, shifted all of Ava’s 4T over and filled Ava’s side with her thankfully expanding (thanks to Christmas) 5T stash. All of their little pants are neatly folded and laying in perfect little rows, socks are all matched, and not a hanger has been spared.

(My Isla snapped this pic of me in action – torpedo belly and all.)

Sure enough, though, as soon as I slowed down, I sloooowed way down. I’m like a prego on speed and then I crash for like 36 hours. It’s quite annoying really.

Sadly, my nesting energy hasn’t been beneficial for my kiddos. You’d think that if I have the energy to scrub a floor that I’d be inclined to build a puzzle or dance in the kitchen, but… I baked cookies with my three year old while the little one napped and the big one ran an errand with her dad, and I was dragging the whole time. The silver lining to that, however, is that I didn’t care much about the flour being splashed onto the floor, or that her fingers were covered in butter. Whatever! Sure, just dump all the sugar in; why not?! You’re doing great, love! Yep, eat a few more M&Ms. Tired and pregnant can sometimes equal rock star mom. Other times, it also has the potential to transform me into a full-blown ogre.

Isn’t she such a baking beauty?!

So…why do we nest? I’m not sure why everyone does or doesn’t, but I think I know why I do…

I have an agenda before baby comes and I aim to accomplish a certain list of things before she comes and I am even more tired and busy.

I know that I want to introduce a baby to a cleaner, more organized home, and hopefully that will also increase the sense of peace and calm in the home.

No one else is going to do it. 
Yep. I said it. The kids aren’t going to – they’re too small. The hubs isn’t – he’s too busy with work and I have seen his idea of clean, and it just doesn’t cut it for this ridiculous perfectionist. Sorry, babe. It’s not you; it’s me. And…I can’t afford a house-cleaning service or a professional organizer, so… Mama’s gotta put some elbow grease into it when these nesting highs hit.

Here’s my list (we’ll all laugh together after her arrival in about seven weeks when I fill you in on what I actually accomplished!)


  • Finish organizing closets/clothes (donate and pack up any sizes not in use)
  • Clean out the basement
  • Move all of my shoes from the gigantic shelf in the basement to an upstairs location (to be determined)
  • Sand and paint gigantic shelf for the playroom (move to the playroom)
  • Organize the playroom
  • Finish painting the dining room (1 wall), living room (2 walls), and playroom (all) (A girl can dream.)
  • Put away Christmas decor (That probably should have been first on the list, huh? I guess these are listed in no specific order…)
  • Finish installing curtain rods and hanging curtains. (Yeah, we’ve been here for over a year and don’t have blinds. Privacy needs to be a priority…)
  • And finally, get the baby’s room and clothes ready. I feel like Eden’s infancy was such a blur, b/c we had just moved in, so her old baby clothes are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

That’s it! Not much, right?! lol

I know; I know. And on top of that, I have hopes of picking up with the blogging and reworking my Eden Gray schedule to suit a growing family. More to come on all of that at a later date.

So anyway…  humor me!  Tell me all about your nesting experiences!  Us crazy ladies need to hear it, so testify!  What kind of nesting experiences have you had (or even currently having)?  I’ll read them tomorrow when my low hits, and I can’t get my rear off of the couch.

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5 things i’ve learned from our gender reveal party

yesterday, we found out the sex of our 5th baby. (we have three amazing daughters and one baby in heaven due to a miscarriage in 2010.) knowing that this would *probably* (hubs would say *absolutely*) be our last time experiencing the thrill of finding out if the little person fluttering around inside is male or female, i convinced him to let me host a little get-together. we kept it simple – parents and siblings (along with our nieces and nephews).

we found out the way that we always have. i purchased two scrapbooking stickers from michael’s. one read: “baby girl”, the other “baby boy”. we asked the ultrasound technician to place the correct sticker in an envelope that i had prepared ahead of time. i always write the date on the envelope along with the words, “baby d number _ is a…”, and then, i put the sticker in their baby book later on. after the appointment, we sit together in the car and open it in private. i love that we created a tradition for ourselves and stuck to it.

as far as the party and how to reveal, i had seen so many great ideas via facebook announcements and pinterest. my youngest brother used the balloons-coming-out-of-a-box technique. my other brother just revealed that they are having a girl using the hidden pink icing in a cupcake idea, and my sister-in-law used the confetti in the popped balloons technique to reveal that they were having a boy. i was stumped. 

one of my sisters-law-in found the silly string reveal on pinterest and i was sold. (you buy either pink or blue silly string, and cover the outside somehow. i used spray paint to cover the cans, and we just left the colored caps in the garage. then you spray whomever with the spray. we chose to squirt our kiddos. God bless them. sweet, tolerant, forgiving babies.)

all of that said, here are five things that i have learned through our ‘gender reveal’:

1) they are fun! seriously, it was a blast. to see our parents and siblings standing all together waiting for the news. that was special. i regret having never done it before. it will be remembered forever.

2) along those lines, i tried to remember how we told our family members after previous ultrasounds, and you know what? i can’t remember! terrible, right?! when we were told that our first was a girl, we took a little girl’s outfit and a little boy’s outfit over to my in-laws’ and had them pick which they thought, and then we held up the right choice. i remember that experience well, b/c it was a sort of mini reveal gathering, but for all of the other children, i think we just called or texted right away. can you say “boring”?! yep.  i’m so glad that we chose to have one!

3) the third thing that i figured out via the big reveal…i wish i was on the receiving side of the surprise! waiting…anticipating what color was about to shoot out of those little cans… so exciting! i hope everyone enjoyed it as much as i imagine i would have, had i been in their shoes.

4) even if you or your spouse thinks that they are “silly” or “a waste of time/money”, go for it. i know you’ll be glad that you did. we had ours following dinner. i made cupcakes as a snack and had a big pitcher of sweet tea out. everyone just helped themselves. we had our reveal in the yard and then visited for a little while afterwards. it was simple, inexpensive, and most importantly, special. there are so few times in life in which we are granted the opportunity to make a lasting memory with our loved ones – weddings, family vacations, graduations, birthdays…why not carve out a little time to celebrate something as wonderful as that newest member of the family? i mean, other than a baby shower (and most people only get one for their first child), not much happens in the form of an official celebration during the pregnancy. obviously this only applies if you chose to find out the gender (and i actually didn’t want to this time, but hubby wins. always.), but if you do find out, i say go for it! have a little party!

5) and finally, the last thing that was impressed upon me now that i’ve had a reveal party…if your children are involved, aka going to be used as props, haha, make sure to do a few things first. remind them what it is that you’re actually doing. a three-year-old isn’t going to remember that the party is to find out if they are expecting a brother or a sister, or that pink means girl, blue means boy, and they certainly won’t ‘get it’ when you zip them in the forehead with a high-powered stream of foam without a warning reminder as to what is about to happen to them. i’m sure that between the excitement of the crowd and the crazy snakelike objects flying at their eyeballs, they were thinking, “run for your life!” well, ava actually did run.  i think that isla was stunned, and eden broke out in a full panic-cry. mission accomplished, mom and dad. j/k! that aspect was a total mom-fail! in our haste to start the fun, we completely forgot to give the girls a refresher. nope. it was all, “ready, aim, FIRE!” poor things. oh well. what’s done, is done. i’m pretty sure that they forgive us, and now that they know what ‘silly string’ is, they are fans. (ps. the dollar store has multiple colors, and they are of course just $1. a steal compared to target’s can going for $3.50.)

so without further ado…here’s the link to our facebook page where you can find the video. i hope that inspires you to try a reveal of your own! (and i hope you don’t think we are cruel! haha we just got a wee bit excited…)

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a pregnancy ritual and a very intimate detail about ej

hello, friends. you’re probably all asleep as i write this, but i’ve got something on my heart tonight. i just finished my nightly cup of hot tea. it’s a pregnancy ritual that started during my first pregnancy (ava), and is still going strong today. not sure why it’s only during pregnancy, and on the hot, humid, summer nights to boot, but it is. a cup of hot black tea with one tsp. of sugar and a splash of whole milk. my grandma has made us tea that way since i was little, and it is by far my favorite way to drink it. i take my prenatal vitamin with it, brush my teeth and hit the hay. except for tonight, that is – i’m writing this first. and i’ve got about 30 minutes before the vitamin-induced nausea kicks in.

hubby rented ‘heaven is for real’ tonight. i have been wanting to read the book ever since it came out. i don’t know why i haven’t yet. maybe every time i think of it money’s tight or something, but i am going to make a point of buying it now.

i never questioned or doubted this little boy’s story from day one. i believe 100% that heaven is in fact real, so i embraced the movie with my whole, open heart. i didn’t watch it for some cinematic wow.  i watched it with the faith of a child, longing to catch a glimpse of Heaven.  to imagine angels singing, the beauty of every sight, the possibility of seeing Jesus as He really is. breath-taking. so many moments left me in tears – not necessarily sad ones either. i would describe them as being similar to tears of feeling overwhelmed. like when you bring your new baby home, and emotion just hits you, and you can’t do anything but cry…those kind of tears.

the part that caught my heart and attention the most, however, was the scene in which he tells his mom about his heaven-sister (seen in part in the trailer below). i.broke. bawled like a baby. wept. my husband looked over at me, like he often does during intense or moving scenes, and he knew what to expect. my face buried in my hands, eyelids clenched so hard, silent sobs and gross sniffles. all i could say between breaths was ‘don’t look at me!’, but a moment later, as i explained myself to him, i realized that i was explaining something to myself at the same time.

‘i’m not crying b/c i am sad. i am crying b/c it is so awesome.’

awesome.
‘extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.’

awesome.

God, you are awesome.
the fact that our ej is in Heaven with you, growing, thriving, constantly and eternally surrounded by joy, peace, beauty, angels, love…everything wonderful…that is awesome. that throws me to my knees inside. how incredible is the God we have?!

i don’t want to give the entire scene away, but i have to include this, b/c it is so powerful and why i am writing this post. the mother asks her son for his heaven-sister’s name, and he tells her something along the lines of, ‘she doesn’t have one. you never gave one to her.’ she agrees, saying that he was right, and that they didn’t know if she was in fact a he or she.

i think that was the moment that broke me.  i know it was.  it brought back my dream of ej. do you remember? you can read that post afterwards {here}, if you’d like. i want to tell you something that i have only ever told my husband.

ej is a daughter, and i believe her name is jade.

when i first lost the baby, i told myself many things to ease the pain and silence the ‘whys’. one of the lies i tried to buy was, ‘the baby was a boy, and maybe my body just can’t carry boys.’ lie. in a sense, i was cursing myself, speaking limits over my God-given body and eliminating the thought of ever carrying a son. the brain can think pretty irrational things when your heart is being torn. now, 10 wks pregnant with our fifth child, i am confident that there is a great chance that this is a son, and that this pregnancy will be healthy, regardless.

one thing this lie caused me to do was doubt – doubt the reality of my dream and doubt God’s message to my aching heart. i asked my husband when we were out to dinner last year for ej’s birthday celebration what he really thought – do you think ej is a boy or a girl? he said with absolute certainty, ‘girl’. even in that moment, three years after God speaking to me so clearly in that dream, i waivered. i wanted to put my trust in Him completely; i wanted to believe that what happened was so real, but there was still that little sliver of doubt lingering in the back of my mind. after tonight, He reminded me so strongly of my dream and the tender way He introduced me to the truth. i am so grateful for that encounter, and i will not be afraid to put total trust in what He told me anymore. ej is a baby girl and her name is jade.

i am sure we will call her ej forever, b/c that’s what we have called her and what the girls are growing up calling her, but it means something to me to tell you about her fully and to confess my fear and doubt to you. i hope our story encourages you. i hope it grows your faith. most importantly, i hope it reminds you that you have a loving Father in Heaven who knows you, understands your heart’s cry, and longs to speak to you.

and if you have a heaven-baby – a miscarriage, a stillbirth, an abortion – name him/her. your baby is alive and well, waiting to see you someday, and you, as his/her mother/father, have been given the awesome gift of bestowing a name. thinking again about that movie, his sister had aged, she was probably at least six, i would guess, and she did not have a name. the Lord, in His power, did not assign her a name. that floored me. even in eternity, He seems to say,’ your mother and father will give you a name, and even if it takes several decades, it doesn’t matter, b/c i know you.’ He knows the name, but it’s our gift to give it. let that sink in.

and just as an aside, b/c i don’t take it lightly, if you have experienced abortion, i pray that Holy Spirit would visit you right now, that He would minister to your heart, heal your deepest wounds, and lift the heaviest of burdens from your heart. you are forgiven, and you are not any less loved or adored by Jesus. i pray that you would come to that understanding and that you would have peace. you cannot change the past, but you have the gift of the future. you have the gift of dreams each night and endless opportunities for God to visit you and speak gently to your spirit. you have the gift of meeting your little one in Heaven one day. live like it. think like it. smile b/c of it. the story doesn’t end here. we don’t end here, and they didn’t end there.

well, thanks for allowing me to share this intimate part of my story with you. be blessed. until next time…

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pin-it party #51!

hello again, pin-it party friends!  if this is your first time joining us, welcome!  we’re always happy that you spend a little of your weekend with us!  we’re heading out to experience our very first swim lessons!  

somehow, the mister managed to escape pool duty, but at least i had an excuse for an updated and more modest swimsuit purchase!  enjoy browsing everyone’s pins and don’t forget to leave some of your own, if you’d like!  i am sure that you will find many great things here!   

a popular pin from last week’s link-up was this one.  whitney, of beauty in the mess, shares with us a great boppy product perfect for newborn-lounging and offers a discount code within the post as well.  i’m personally a huge fan of her blog, and her patience and grace as a mommy amazes me!  thanks for sharing the review and savings with us, whitney!  baby girl is precious!!!

participating in the party is so easy!
here’s what to do:

1. follow the co-hosts on pinterest (links below)

paula from beauty through imperfection

becky from your modern family

gabrielle from MamaGab

me! kristi from klover house


2. pin our “pin-it party” picture. (one of these)

3. add as many of your great pins as you want!  remember to get your pins from pinterest & not from your blog page. it will make it easier to re-pin a pin instead of a post.

4. hop around and re-pin other pins from this page- lets share the love!

5. adding your link gives us permission to use an image from the pin (or post connected to the pin) to feature on next week’s pin-it party. because of this we ask that you only link up images from your own site, and images that you have taken, created or have legal rights to.

thanks!!!! REMEMBER: when it asks for your NAME, you can put your PIN NAME or your BLOG NAME. essentially, it’s your pin’s title.

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“New Life Within” is here!

remember when i shared my two writings, “dear baby” and “my love is a sunset” with you a few weeks ago?
well, the book is complete and avaible in paperback on amazon!
i am so excited to be a part of this project, and i pray it goes far in reaching expecting mothers. proceeds from the book sales will go towards encouraging women to choose life via the Gabriel Network.
thank you for supporting me during this process! your words of affirmation definitely helped me to find the confidence to submit my work. my cup overflows!

you can find the book by clicking on the image below:

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my love is a sunset

image credit: tommyscapes via photopin cc

Not too long ago, I was thinking about my postpartum experiences (I have delivered three babies to date). I began considering all of the emotions that follow a birth. You’ll read about ‘baby blues’, post-partum depression, crying at the drop of a hat… Delivering a baby, combined with the all of the raw and new emotions, hormone adjustments, parental responsibilities, and paradigm shifts can really create a complex experience for most, if not all, new mothers. I often think in pictures, so imagine, if you will, a work of art. Some of the brushstrokes are deliberate, detailed, prepared for, yet others are spontaneous splatters that you create in the moment and embrace with faith and abandon. That’s motherhood. It’s a living work of art and your life’s masterpiece.

As I was considering all of this, I was struggling with the differences that came with each birth experience and the bonds I had felt I had made, or not made, with each child. When my first daughter was born, I felt such a sense of awe. She amazed me. Becoming a parent amazed me. Every moment, milestone, and detail was like a revelation. I was overcome with the desire to love and protect this child with every ounce of my being.  It was a fierce and passionate love.  I probably became the epitome of “Helicopter Mom”.

Before conceiving my second daughter, I miscarried a child. The weight of that loss, coupled with a complicated pregnancy really wore on me – mind, body, and soul. My ‘bright and shining one’, as I like to call her, really fought to be here, and even her birth was a battle for this mama. I can’t tell you whether or not all of those things affected my ability to feel ‘normal’ afterwards, but ‘normal’ I was not. I felt very disconnected, like I had to fight for even her love. The emotions were not familiar for me, and I carried a great deal of guilt during those days. Even though I know I never had to, I would often find myself trying to win her smiles, laughter, and kisses. It was such a difference from my first go at being “Mommy”. It felt stormy and intense in a completely unique way.  The passion was there, but the peace and security that I wanted desperately to feel was not.  I feared that she wasn’t getting what she needed from me, emotionally day in and out.

Nearly two years later, my third daughter came to be, and just like the second was different from the first, the third was an experience all of its own as well. With this child, I felt a peace that I had yet to know. It was as if I acquired a new level of trust with myself and the world. No longer the ‘Helicopter Mom’ that emerged with the first, and no longer the sad and striving mom that was ridden with anxiety after the second, I seemed to have found a stride and a balance.  Then it happened.  Even my peace made me feel guilty! What was it about this time around that made me feel this way? What was it about this child?  Those were the tough questions that would plague me throughout the day.  I struggled and wrestled and worried if any of this reflected my love for these children and if they could feel any of the effects if it had.

And then it hit me.

“Your love is like a sunset.”

What?

Yes.  My love is like a sunset.

I think perhaps God was depositing a little imagery into my worried mind. (After all, the One who created me knows that I think best in pictures.)  A mother’s love for her child is a sunset. Have you ever seen a sunset that you couldn’t find beauty in? That you couldn’t appreciate? Every sunset is a masterpiece. Every color, no matter how dark or light, adds to its splendor. One majestic sunset can’t be stacked against another. One child can’t ever be more or less loved than another. That is my love for my babies. If I had to paint a sunset for each of my children, for the first, it would consist of fiery oranges and golds. For the second, it would be deep – made up of the most beautiful purples your eyes have ever seen. For the third, it would be serene and light, made up of wispy blues and pinks. That is my love for them. It is complex, but it is beautiful always. I no longer carry guilt when I look back on those days. Instead, I see in my mind’s eye the masterpiece. I see the sunsets, and I feel the love depicted in every hue.

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