Update on Angie and our little one

Scott here. I just wanted to give an update on the latest. We are sitting in the labor and delivery ward of the same hospital where Angie delivered Lizzy and Joshua. We feel so taken care of here. This was not our original plan, to come here. But, God knows what our family needs. Please continue to pray for us as we wait for Gabriel/Gabrielle to arrive.

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Our baby is gone

It’s colder than I’d realized when I slipped on a thin, long-sleeved shirt and jeans before the walk tonight. My belly protruded against the wine-colored shirt and jeans, but I couldn’t bear to dress in anything else. Nothing with elastic bands and half-moons of stretchy black in front.

Scott was doing bedtime with the kids so I could walk and process my heart under the stary sky, led in worship by my newly-refound favorite CD. (“Underneath My Wings” has played often in my ears these last 3 days.)

Our brief joy has suddenly turned into deep sadness.

Wednesday afternoon we found out that our baby has gone to be with the Lord. I hadn’t been experiencing any symptoms of anything wrong with the pregnancy, unlike the miscarriage of Micah (at 10 weeks) last year.

So it was completely unexpected when, during a routine scan on Wednesday, that we discovered the baby’s heart was no longer beating. An ultrasound confirmed the worst. The baby measured the size of one at 13 weeks, showing that he/she likely died about 2 weeks ago, as I am at 15 weeks.

The first of the many ways God’s clearly carried our family was in His provision of my dear friend, Abby, to be with me at the appointment. Scott hadn’t come to the appointment because I’d assured him it was not necessary.

Just a quick 15-min appointment, Honey. The ultrasound next Tuesday is the one I’d love you at.

The night before the appointment, God brought to mind the idea to ask Abby to come with, figuring I’d enjoy some good time with her in the car up and back. Only God knew I’d be desperately thankful for Abby’s fiercely-compassionate hold mixed with her tears after Kelly, the tech, gave us the news.

Shock. Unbelief.

Not again, Lord. Oh, not again!  The first words–a moan and sob, married–after it started sinking in.

No. I don’t want to tell Scott. Oh no. I don’t want to tell Lizzy. 

Oh, Lord.

We stopped by to see Cathy before we left, who’d delivered both Lizzy & Joshua. She wept with me and hugged me tightly. More like family than my midwife.

I handed Abby my keys and we started the 40-minute journey back home.

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 4.56.44 PM.pngWe drove into a storm I didn’t know was even on the forecast. Abby commented that she didn’t think rain was predicted either and wondered if it was the Lord weeping with me.

I arrived home to Scott, home alone because Abby’s husband had kindly taken our kids so Scott could have some space.

Navigating around the bags of maternity clothes newly offered me in the entryway, I found Scott.

My partner. My Beloved. The father of 4 precious lives–only 2 that we get to hold in our arms. Never could I have imagined this good man God would provide, nor could I have imagined what we’d walk through with these losses.

We talked and cried. Tried to wrap our minds and hearts around what happened. We decided to wait until the next day after school to tell the kids, not wanting to tell them the very sad news before their bedtime.

Abby provided dinner for us to eat at home, while feeding our kids with her brood. She also offered to line up Emma (a new, much-loved teen in our lives) to watch our kids so that we could have more time together and not have to try to keep it together in front of them at bedtime. We readily said yes, knowing that the kids love to hug and kiss “little Bub” (Aussie affectionate term for a baby) before bed and I knew that’d undo me.

We went to bed, exhausted, a little after 9 and woke at 7. The kids woke barely before 7. (Thank you, Tawnny and others, who without our knowing, prayed we’d rest.)

And I felt so normal. Painfully normal. My body yet to confess anything is wrong.

Scott offered to let me continue to rest, packed the kids’ lunches and got them off to school. He’d taken the day off of work and so we got to spend it together.

In the afternoon, we both picked up the kids, sat down to a snack together, then huddled together on the couch to tell them the baby was gone. The news was as devastating to Lizzy as we’d envisioned.

Our wonderful pastor, BJ, stopped by just before we told the kids, and waited for us to do so before coming in and praying with our family. We felt so very cared for.

He left and Lizzy sobbed for what seemed like forever while I held her. She asked lots of good–hard–questions.

“Will the baby have a heartbeat again?”

“No, sweetheart.”

“Can we go back to when the baby was jumping (the ultrasound from 5 weeks ago showed a strong heartbeat and a fist-pumping, active baby) and [start over]?”

After awhile, we offered to all cuddle up–2 new furry animals God prompted me to buy the kids that day and us 4–and watch “The Peanuts Movie” and the kids excitedly agreed.

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What a funny movie that was just what we needed for the release of more emotions, this time laughter. Oh, how Lizzy laughed at the slapstick portions! At times she was red and breathless. Thank You, Jesus, for that joy!

Joshua processed things differently, not fully having the loss click until right before bed when he confessed he was sad and accepted my offer to hold him. Scott said he watched Joshua’s face as his eyes searched beyond the ceiling, thinking.

The tenderest part of last night was holding Lizzy on my lap, my fingers running through her hair and watching her text one of her best friends in Australia, Angie. It was an unrushed hour as my 5-year-old tender soul found words to describe her heart. (My mom mentioned just that day that it might be healthy for Lizzy to have someone to tell the news to. So smart, Mom! Then, on her own, Lizzy asked to text Angie when she couldn’t sleep. I immediately said yes.)

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On her own initiative, Lizzy had been creating gifts for the baby. These hand-made gifts give insight into her heart.

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My favorites are the butterfly (bottom, made of string), the “spirals” (paper and muffin liner) as mobiles above the crib, and the “lovies”–cut out of paper, with cotton balls inside, then taped closed.

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My planner girl created a room layout of where the crib (“cot here”) could go. Seemingly not phased by 3 children in one small room.

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She drew this today of the baby. (That’d be the umbilical cord, not super-hero green belly button spray.)

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 9.11.50 PM.pngWe continue to be held by the Lord through the hands of friends. Meals and gift cards. Flowers. Offers to have the kids over to play. Treasured notes. Incredible hugs.

God granted us a name today: Gabriel, if a boy. Gabrielle, if a girl.

Both mean The Lord is my strength.

Oh, how He has been.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Highs and Lows (both diabetic and life)

One week. Four major events.

Monday: Lizzy jumped into her inaugural swim lessons.

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Tuesday: Joshua turned 3.

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Thursday: Lizzy ended up in the ER after a (likely?) febrile seizure that afternoon from quickly-spiked 104 fever. The children’s hospital nearby is renown and we’re so grateful for her good care. She was dismissed at midnight and she’s completely back to herself except for an upper respiratory infection.

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Saturday: I joined Lizzy in the white wristband club.

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[I’m writing this for any fellow diabetics to say, this is a humbling, hard, and at-times-not-scientific road we walk. But, how Jesus has met me on it these 17 years and I pray He is meeting you, too.]

My blood sugar reading at noon was a scary-high of 514. About an hour into trying to get it down, I discovered that the tubing on my insulin pump was faulty and hadn’t been allowing insulin to pass through to my body. My blood sugar was only creeping down the scale, so I gave myself a manual injection in addition to changing my infusion set on my pump.

My protective husband was rightfully concerned and wanted to take me to the ER. I asked for an hour more before we went. I really wanted–and believed–that I was better able to handle my diabetes.

In that hour, my numbers started to drop. At first, I was thrilled to see a drop to 371. Then, I started to panic. 7 minutes later I tested and I was 276.

I’d never experienced anything like that kind of plummet. And I got really scared. I looked at Scott who’d looked at my blood sugar meter and we both knew. He swept up the kids and a few things and I grabbed the orange juice container from the fridge and started to drink my first of what I knew would be several glasses of juice, as an quick means of getting sugar (carbs) in my system quickly.

The ER was 8 minutes away in the opposite direction as we’d gone for Lizzy 2 days ago. Was that only just 2 days ago?

By the time we arrive, my blood sugar cliff-dive seems to have been reduced to more of a trickle. The relief is similar to two days ago when Lizzy’s temperature started dropping and chirpy Lizzy returned to us.

After being observed for about 3 hours, my blood sugar hit the sweet spot of 100. Goodbye, they said.

And I see that it’s only God’s grace. Today. This week. This year.

God’s grace that we both came home from the ER.

God’s grace that I have a little boy who lives to laugh loudly and has celebrated lots of days around the sun.

God’s grace that I have a little girl who has a strong body to splash in the water.

God’s grace that a little life once tucked inside of me is not in my arms, born to me this week, but rather worshipping the One Good and Gracious God who holds everything together.

Oh, how I want to know and love and trust that One more and more.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians, chapter 1, verses 16 & 17.

A shout out to our stand-in Aussie grandparents, Wes & Judy, for caring for our kids today. I think the kids got the better end of the today’s stick, for sure. 🙂

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Birthday with penguins :: Micah’s plant blossoms

Almost a year ago, we bought a Groupon deal for a 1-night stay at a cabin at a KOA-type place on Phillip Island, home of the little penguins.

We couldn’t use the deal on Friday or Saturday nights, so we cashed it in for my falls-on-a-Sunday birthday this year.

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Translation: temp is in Celsius (beautiful during day) and “caravan”=RVs
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Bundle up the kids as the sun sets and the cool Antarctic breeze blows over the water. We dressed in winter coats, beanies (stocking caps) and mittens, covered in blankets, and were glad we did. 
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The penguins start coming out of the water at dusk, so you sit and wait for awhile before you start spotting them. Tiny–from a distance–and in big groups, like swarms of bees that quickly waddle up into the sand, then quickly waddle back into the water, as if they can’t make up their mind about what they’ll do. The hilarious things is, they do this every night from what we hear. (This image and the next one are thanks to the Penguin Parade website as photography after dusk is prohibited.)
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These are little penguins! I had no idea there were fully-grown penguins that were anything less than the big ones we’ve seen at zoos. How creative is our God to make these creatures! The best part was after they’d come on land, they start making their way up the hill, waddling underneath the boardwalks — and then next to us — we walked on to get back to our cars. They were right there next to us. Oh, I wish I could have taken a picture of the kids on one side of the fence and these tuxedoed birds on the other. Joshua was a giant in comparison, as they came up to his knee or thigh.

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The next day we enjoyed the sun again (I tell you–Melbourne weather!) and went to the corner of the island, to The Nobbies. What a rock! Off in the distance is a strip of land and, with binoculars, we could see seals sun bathing. 

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Where’s Waldo? If you look closely, you’ll see a little penguin in the upper/left/middle section, living amongst the sea gulls. (I’m still a bit traumatised at how sea gulls have now swooped on me twice since living here, most recently that evening as we waited for the penguins, we munched on nuts and…well, bye bye nut. With Joshua on my lap. He was already crying and afraid of them. He turned his head and missed the should-be-used-for-military-secret-ops-with-that-precise-tactic grab otherwise we might have had to leave right then.) 
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We came home to the surprise (for me, at least, but Scott knew) gift of a dinner all ready, flowers, a cake and a card from our dear friends, the Ungs. It was an amazing gift in and of itself, but I felt like it was also a sweet ending to a great-but-whiny mini vacation. I’ve been sick with some yucky respiratory junk for almost 2 weeks that I can’t kick and cough more than I sleep, the kids were whiney and not as grateful as I’d have liked, I was whiney and not as grateful as I’d have liked. I wanted strangers to burst into spontaneous rounds of happy birthday and hand me American chocolate birthday cake. And for American friends to pop out from amongst the penguins and hug me. There’s still a deep ache, even after 14 months of living here, to be known well here. The ache undoubtedly has been felt more, recently, after having the Michaels here and then celebrating another birthday. For my story to be a lightweight backdrop to a conversation, not for my story to be what we talk about, because it’s not yet known to a friend. But, it takes time. And I’m still learning what that looks like and how to be patient. At 41 I didn’t know I’d still be learning so much about resting in Jesus about friendships, too. But, spring and the hope of new is here, at least Down Under. Our Gardenia bush, our “Micah plant” has started to blossom. Oh, the fragrance. Life.

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I asked if I could take a picture of Lizzy with the bush. This is what she did. My heart caught in my throat a bit at her spontaneous hug.

 

 

 

Happy Aussie Father’s Day, Scott!

Sunday was Father’s Day here and Scott’s playfully proposed that we should celebrate both Father’s Days (U.S. and Australia) from now on, wherever we live.

I mean, how can I say no to this face?

How I love this wonderful man who--many times--gives me a very needed belly laugh. (This one came an evening he shaved off...in stages...his goat tee. And posed, each time, asking what I thought.
How I love this wonderful man and father of my kids who–many times–gives me a very needed belly laugh. (This one came an evening he shaved off…in stages…his goatee. And posed, each time, asking what I thought. I pretty much said no to 1970s-Scott.)
Can I say after only one
Can I say after only one “find” that we’re a geocaching family? If you don’t know what geocaching is, but you like hide-and-go-seek with a little tiny dollar-store trinket treasure spurring on your steps and GPS compass, this is for you. It’s a great way to be outside as a family and explore your city. (Yes, it may be the 1st week of spring but it’s still BRRRR cold here.)
The little black box was hidden in a tree but we found it! We took a little treasure, left a little treasure and wrote our names in the logbook.
The little black box was hidden in a tree but we found it! We took a little treasure, left a little treasure and wrote our names in the logbook.
The first geo-caching adventure was so fun that we found one on the way to dinner and, although we never found the treasure, we found this great park. Loved these wobbly stairs that are a balance challenge...even to me. I tell you, this country has the best parks!
The first geocaching adventure was so fun that we found one on the way to dinner and, although we never found the treasure, we found this great park. Loved these wobbly stairs that are a balance challenge…even to me. I tell you, this country has the best parks!
Nothing says
Nothing says “we love you, Daddy!” like a BBQ sandwich, French fries and a root beer at an American restaurant called Big Boy BBQ. Cue food coma.
After the kids and I made this collage and Lizzy was writing on the mat, I realized with a gulp that God has so kindly included a memory of Micah in the way His divinely had my picture of the kids on the bike have the memorial plant off to the side in the frame. How thankful I am that you're the dad to our kids, Scotty! I love you!
After the kids and I made this collage and Lizzy was writing on the mat, I realized with a gulp that God has so kindly included a memory of Micah in the way His divinely had my picture of the kids on the bike have the memorial plant off to the side in the frame. How thankful I am that you’re the dad to our kids, Scotty! I love you!

To Rejoice

Screen shot 2015-08-05 at 3.15.48 PMThere are tiny, peeking-out shoots on our Gardenia.

I noticed the celery-colored surprise one morning and it halted me.

It’d been a few days — a week? — of reprieve from the acute pain of loss. But then, in a moment, the plant we bought to remember baby Micah reminded me.

I’m sad again. The tears aren’t as hot and the heart gash isn’t so deep but the emotional scar tissue is thin and I inhale quickly — involuntarily — upon a touch of it.

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Like the other day. Lizzy’s now drawing eyebrows (I’m so thankful).

She told me this is our family and that I’m holding baby Micah.

Screen shot 2015-08-05 at 3.10.17 PMWords and care I didn’t know I needed until they came yesterday. God’s care is evidenced, yet again, as I think about how He prompted these two friends to write and send these 2 and 3 weeks ago, orchestrating that I’d receive these on just the right day.

And so, back to the tender new shoots on the Gardenia, I am pointed by God to choose joy. Even amidst — especially? — seasons like this.

To “rejoice” in God means to dwell on and remind ourselves of who God is, who we are, and what He has done for us. Sometimes our emotions respond and follow when we do this, and sometimes they do not. But therefore we must not define rejoicing as something that precludes feelings of grief, or doubt, weakness, and pain. Rejoicing in suffering happens within sorrow.” (Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, p.253)

I read that a week after the miscarriage and its insight still makes me a bit off kilter, like with new glasses that my eyes aren’t used to.

That’s what rejoicing is really about? It’s just a few degrees from what I’d have told you had you asked. Yet…I didn’t really understand…all the way. But my heart and mind nod, resounding that that’s what they were meant to do.

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I bought this bracelet with some Christmas gift money in March, not knowing what the year would bring.

Much like an Israelite having the Law on their forehead in hopes of a physical reminder to believe God, I wanted a reminder on my right hand, knowing I’d see it often.

It’s anything less than a magical cure for my days of that are sad, those of seeming manic motherhood or those unsteady ones as I still am learning to walk in a new culture.

Seeing it, I’m reminded of how I have a choice — many, many choices, actually — daily to employ the Holy Spirit’s power to choose joy. To choose to believe Him and that He’s good.

When this bracelet wears out, I think I know exactly what I’ll have engraved on the next one.

the doctor appointments continue

Last Thursday I had a follow-up appointment with my GP to see what/if I needed to do, now that it’d been almost 2 weeks since the miscarriage. She gave me this referral, below, for another internal ultrasound to ensure my body was healing and nothing from the pregnancy remained to potentially cause infection.

Screen shot 2015-07-09 at 9.28.42 AMI can’t expect my doctor, however kind, to share my view that this was my baby, but what she wrote made me cry because it was just so clinical: “Check for any products of conception.” I wanted to scream, this was LIFE!

So yesterday, I had the follow-up. The next appointment.

The ultrasound tech, Carolyn, was compassionate. Everything looks good. One small spot that their specialist doctor will review pictures and size/volume of, but most likely fine and they’ll say just let body release.

She said to call and make a follow-up appointment with my GP with results.

I was crying afterwards with Scott. It seemed unfair that the choice for a D&C would seemed to have equaled “all done and over,” at least, physically…when I know with great clarity that God had me choose this path instead. But, still, my heart was bruised from hearing “another appointment.”

I feel like this has been such a long road of waiting for the actual miscarriage to happen, and now for the line of appointments that I keep thinking will grant me the gift of the words, “it’s over.” Like, somehow, that will release me to grieve and I’ll be all done. I know that’s not the case but my heart’s clamoring today for a sort of closure in some area of this hurt.

For my heart that was delighting in the little one that, if a girl, might wear something like this next year.

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