Saturday, April 26, 2014

hello, baby!

WOW. I can’t believe this is happening.

I’m only 13 weeks! Look at that belly! I’ve been having a hard time hiding it this past week. Now I don’t have to hide it any longer. :)

Where to even begin? I suppose I should start by saying we are HAPPY. And oh, so very thankful. Getting pregnant was an answer to prayer. We weren’t sure how long it would take or if we could even get pregnant again. We’ve learned not to take anything for granted.

My prayer from before I even got pregnant was that with our next baby I would have a spirit of hope and not fear. That I would choose to trust in God’s sovereignty, even though it was God in His sovereignty who decided to take my first baby away.
I’d be lying if I said I never worry. Or have panic attacks. Or call the doctor multiple times a week. Or brace myself to see blood on my underwear every time I use the bathroom.

This pregnancy is all the more bittersweet because of our loss. I’m glad that I got to be John’s mama, but I long to be a mama who holds a living, breathing baby!

John was the first person I told when I saw the lines on the pregnancy test. You’re going to be a big brother, I whispered. Then I wept and wept. Joyful tears and terrified tears flowed together and I felt myself falling into the arms of God for the millionth time this year.

It is strange—grieving the death of one baby while rejoicing over the life of another. It hasn’t even been a year since John's little heart stopped beating. I still ache for him. I found myself singing to this baby in the shower for the first time the other day. Normally I sing to John in the shower. I sang to him when he was dying, and I sang to him for months after. On Tuesday though, I sang new words. I made up some little ditty, the main line being “I hope I get to hold you.”

(I had to take a break from this post after writing those words because I burst into tears and had to put it aside for a while.)

The memories I have of carrying and losing John are still incredibly fresh. I want to meet this baby so much it hurts my chest every time I tell him/her “I love you” or watch Andy kiss my belly.

It occurs to me constantly that I wouldn’t be pregnant with this baby if John had lived. I don’t really know how I feel about that. I wanted John. I still want John. I want this baby, too. But I can’t have both. I can’t live each day in the past, so I’m placing my gaze forward while keeping my baby in heaven close to my heart.

Baby, even though we miss your brother, your daddy and I are glad to know you. You were and are prayed for. You were and are wanted. You are loved.


I was going to end it there, but many of you have followed our journey and probably have some questions for us. My doctors are not considering my current pregnancy high risk. They will change that if anything alerts them at my 20 week appt. (Truthfully, I’m grateful for this. If I were considered high risk I would get more ultrasounds, but I’d also have to go back to the same perinatal specialist and that place only holds bad memories for me.) I originally scheduled first trimester screening but ultimately decided to cancel the appointment after days of having extreme anxiety over it. We have heard a healthy heartbeat three times and my doctors have encouraged me to come in and hear it any time I get nervous or just need some reassurance. I’m still in the throes of morning sickness and seem to spend my days eating and sleeping and doing little else.

THANK YOU for praying for us and loving on us! Keep praying! Pray for our hearts to continue to heal. Pray for us to place our trust in the Lord and not open the door to worry. Pray that this baby grows perfectly and comes out strong and healthy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

more than sorrow

Sadness is probably your first reaction when you think of losing a baby. It’s a horrible thing to imagine. When I lost my baby at 34 weeks, I expected sorrow to sink in and stick around for a long time. I knew that there would be other “side effects” and challenges, but I didn’t know exactly what they would be or what they would feel like. During the past nine months since losing my son, I’ve had time to reflect on what caused me additional pain and what brought me comfort. I’ve also been given a desire to share my experience in hope that I can bring hope to others who have also been touched by loss.

A month or so ago my friend Jackie mentioned that she working on a blog post listing those unexpected challenges of losing a baby that I mentioned. (Jackie shares about her miscarriage here.) The more she talked about what she planned on sharing, the more I wanted to join in on her project. I’ve been impressed by her willingness to talk about her struggles and I’m honored to come alongside her and share my thoughts as well.

Hormone levels
Jackie - If you've ever been pregnant or know anyone who is/has been, you're probably aware of the hormone craziness that happens during pregnancy. This can cause nausea, vomiting, moodiness, etc. When you miscarry, it takes your body quite a while to regulate your hormone levels -- in other words, your body still thinks you're pregnant for days or even weeks after losing the baby! This was especially hard because you're already emotional about losing your baby, but then you have extra emotional-ness (I know that's not a word) because your body is still so confused. If someone you know is experiencing this type of loss, be aware that it may take some time for the hormones to level out. Be patient!

Laura - The extra emotional-ness is NO FUN. I remember bursting into tears while my mom was cutting my hair a couple weeks after John died. She asked what was wrong and I said, “I don’t know!” It’s hard to differentiate between grief and emotions that are caused by hormone levels. You might ask your doctor if there are any medicines or natural remedies you can try if you’re struggling with something in particular. I took melatonin occasionally to help with insomnia, and I considered going on an anti-depressant but ultimately decided to wait and see if the “fog” lifted.

Body Shape
Jackie - To add some salt to the wound, the baby weight doesn't disappear right away. (No, not everyone gains weight super early in pregnancy, but for me and baby #2, there was definitely some spreading of the hips and pudge in the gut.) Just like after delivering a full-term baby, it takes a while for everything to go back to its place (if it ever does). I find this especially hard because you don't have a baby to "justify" the excess weight you're carrying. Instead, you're left with the daily reminder that you did have a baby and now you just have the weight. (Disclaimer: I am NOT saying being a certain size or weight is the goal here, rather that having the weight gained from pregnancy -- even a minor amount in early pregnancy -- is a difficult reminder of what didn't last.)

Laura - I had quite a lot of weight to lose since I lost my baby in my third trimester. Even though my baby was itty-bitty, my body still thought I was carrying a normal 34-week old! Several people asked me if I was pregnant after I had just lost my baby. Ugh! I was often tempted to use food as a comfort from my pain, but ultimately found that cooking my own meals and taking longs walks both calmed me and helped me to lose my baby weight. If you lose your baby later in your pregnancy (or shortly after giving birth), you also might have to deal with lactating and other bodily…issues. I was overcome with grief when my body started producing milk and I had to bind my chest to stop the flow. I had been so looking forward to the sweet connection that comes with nursing a baby. The incision scar from my c-section was also a tough (and ugly) reminder of my loss. Thankfully it looks much better now.

"At least" comments
Jackie - Before I lost my baby, Laura shared with me that “at least” comments were hurtful for her to hear. I now understand what she meant on a whole new level. This is when you're discussing your situation with someone and they respond with, "At least _____ didn’t happen to you." Having used this phrase myself, I know that it is used with great intention. When having a conversation with someone in pain, our goal is to encourage them and maybe even cheer them up. BUT, when using "at least" comments, it feels like you're down-playing my pain. It sounds like you're saying, "Being upset over your situation is pretty silly, because it could have been worse." When you're hurting, you know there are situations worse than your own, but the pain you're experiencing is still pain. If you know someone who is grieving or going through a hard time, don't disregard their emotions with "at least" comments. Instead, use words like, "I am so sorry you are hurting in this way. I hate that this has happened to you. Can I help or encourage you in any way?"

Laura - Have you seen this video about empathy? The concept of “at least” comments being hurtful is brought up, and I found such comfort in realizing that I wasn’t crazy for hating hearing those words! I echo Jackie’s suggestion that instead of making comparisons, voice your sadness and ask how you can help. Also, “at least” comments aren’t the only hurtful things people say. Try to refrain from saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I was also told, “God must need your baby more than you do.” Um, no. That’s foolish talk. A hug, a hot meal and/or a bunch of prayers will help someone who is suffering much more than empty words that don’t contain an ounce of truth.

The "When are you having a baby?" question
Jackie - As a married lady, I find that people's go-to question is, "When are you having a/your next baby?" This is not a bad question in and of itself, but when dealing with miscarriage, it's just another reminder of the loss. I would simply advise you to be careful when asking this question.

Laura - Ah, this one is hard! I respond to this by saying, “I don’t know. I had a stillbirth last summer. We are hoping for a healthy pregnancy in the future.” Maybe that seems like a harsh response, but it’s the truth!

Medical Bills
Jackie - Kevin and I got new health care knowing we were trying to have a baby (and because ObamaCare said we had to). We opted for really good coverage because hospital stays and baby deliveries are pricey. (Gideon's total was $36,000 before insurance -- NOT including the doctor fees. Granted, I was in the hospital for six days because I had pre-eclampsia and hopefully that won't happen again, but you never know.) Our specific insurance plan is pretty expensive monthly, but for having a baby, we would have a one time copay of $20 to the doctor and a $350/day hospital fee (with a max of $1050), making it cheaper in the long run than a less expensive policy. (Trust me, I did all the calculations.) When I had my first doctor's appointment after becoming pregnant, I paid that one-time $20 copay. BUT once I lost the baby, this no longer applied, and I ended up owing for every appointment I had, plus lab tests and shots I had done prior to losing the baby. Receiving the bill for this was a huge slap in the face. Had my baby lived, that $20 would've covered all my doctor's costs, but since I lost my baby, I owed money. (Luckily, it wasn't an enormous amount, but it still made me feel sick.)

Laura - Medical bills add major insult to injury. I wondered, “Isn’t it enough that I had to go through losing my baby? Why should we have to pay thousands of dollars when we got NOTHING in return?” You know your bank account will never be the same once you get pregnant, but you also think that you’re going to get a beautiful, healthy baby in the end.

Jackie - After losing my baby, I found myself going through a whole list of what-ifs (and still do at times). What if I lost my baby because I drank coffee while I was pregnant. What if my baby died because I stepped in a neighborhood cat's poop and tracked it through the house, so of course I needed to clean it up. (Cat poop is a big no-no while pregnant.) What if that time Gideon jumped on my stomach killed the baby. What if helping paint the exterior of our house caused the baby to die from the fumes. What if, what if, what if. The day we found out our baby was dead, my doctor assured me it was nothing I did (she must have read my mind because I didn't say anything.), but the what-ifs still arose. I guess my advice in regard to this one is to NEVER (I hope no one would do this anyway) try to diagnose why it happened. Don't ask how much caffeine she had or if she lifted heavy boxes or whatever reasoning you've read/heard for miscarriage. Most likely, she wasn't responsible at all; it just happened.

Laura - I didn’t go over too many “what ifs” in my head after we found out John was dying, but I DO have a lot of what ifs swirling around when it comes to any future pregnancies. What if we can’t get pregnant? What if my next baby dies? What if I spend the rest of my life getting pregnant over and over but losing each baby? I hear those questions in my head every day, but I also fight every day to rest in God’s faithfulness and to have hope for the future.

Recognizing pride
Jackie - I want to start off by saying that this one is very specific to me; it may or may not apply to someone else. This is tricky to explain because on one hand it was very helpful and encouraging to have people supporting me throughout this horrid experience. I had people bringing me meals, texting me, praying for me, etc. I appreciated all of that, truly. BUT, in the midst of receiving lots of encouragement, it often felt like pity. I honestly hate when people feel sorry for me. I much prefer to have everything together and under control. All and all, this is just proof of my massive amount of pride. So really, the tough part of this wasn't actually receiving sympathy, rather recognizing how prideful I am through receiving it. Through this miscarriage, God wrecked my idol of appearing tough/organized/all-together. The reality is I'm not any of those things. When people would ask me questions regarding my loss, I cried (and still do at times). When someone would send me a text saying they were praying, I would cry. Losing my baby was harder than I ever imagined and showed me (and others) how weak I truly am.

Laura - I can definitely relate to struggling with pride. I felt the need to “keep it all together” a LOT, which is ridiculous. I would never expect someone who just lost a baby to have it all together. We are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. I also battled a lot of guilt and lies right after losing my baby. I wrote about how I found grace through my grief here.

source unknown

Monday, April 21, 2014

popping in…plus, cookies!

came here for cookies? scroll down for the recipe. :)

Ohhh hellooooo there. I know, I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. Shame on me! But I’ll be real… every time I open up the “new post” window I end up closing it within minutes because I either think but I don’t want this to be a food blog OR but I don’t want this to be a “poor Laura, her baby died” blog OR but I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing.

Well all of that sounds pretty silly now that I’ve laid it out there. A lot of y’all love to cook (and I love to eat), so why not post recipes? A lot of y’all know me personally and care about how my heart is healing, and those who don’t know me personally might care because their hurt is hurting, too. Why not post about my baby? It’s my blog, and he’s my baby! And I should always be willing to write for the sake of writing, because that’s what a writer is supposed to do! AGH! (I’m not yelling at you, I’m yelling at myself.)


It’s been an interesting year so far. There have been a lot of ups and downs... a lot of sorrow and sickness and a lot of time spent in prayer. I’ve seen growth in my relationship with God and also in my marriage. I’ve seen changes in the way I grieve. I’ve been experiencing a period of… quietness? Solitude? I’m not sure what to call it. I spend a lot of time out of doors, walking the dog or sitting with her on our deck or our stoop. I’ve always enjoyed being outside, but ever since John died I find it more than just relaxing. It’s healing. (Up until your neighbor starts screaming at her children to “shut up” or all the neighborhood dogs start barking.) I’m finding joy in the little things—gratitude in every thing I can possibly think of. When I approach God with frustration or exhaustion, it helps to have something to bring to mind and say, “but, thank you for ____.” Sometimes it’s my bed, or my book, or my husband. Or dessert.

Other times it’s answered prayer. The kind of answered prayer that you recognize INSTANTLY and think whoa, that was only You, God!  I’ve been seeing a lot of that lately, and it makes me tear up just thinking about it. I know God has a lot of reasons for answering prayer, but I like to think that He’s been answering mine lately not just for His glory but also because I needed to be given clear signs that He is working in my life. That He hears me when I call.

One of those answered prayers has to do with my desire to share God’s truths with other people in person—not just through my blog, or through my articles on (Here’s my most recent article, btw. It’s a reflection on Isaiah 6.)

I miss meeting with other women and sharing about how God is working in my life. I miss seeing the look on peoples faces as they begin to understand how much God loves them and how accessible His gift of salvation is. I’ve been praying that God would put someone in my life that wanted to learn more about Him, and He has! You know you “click” with someone when you go out to grab coffee and end up chatting for four hours straight. :)

Bear with me, friends. Sometimes my thoughts seem to be so many they could fill a book, and other times I feel completely blank.

In case I feel blank for a bit longer, here are some cookies to tide you over. I wrote about these back in 2010 (what!) but thought I should re-post about them since they’re so fantastic.

photo by Alice Currah 
"The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!"
slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life
time from start to finish: about 25 minutes
makes 48 cookies (easy to halve, though I recommend forming balls out of cookie dough and freezing half of a full batch. You can bake them from their frozen state.)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
½ cup sugar
1½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2¾ cups all-purpose flour (if halving the recipe, use one cup + 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
1 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
2. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (about three minutes on medium-high speed).
3. Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional two minutes.
4. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated.
5. Mix in chocolate chips until well distributed. 
6. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet that’s either lightly greased or lined with parchment paper.
7. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. (I remove them at 12 min.)
8. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Then remove the cookies and place on a plate or room-temperature surface and let cool for another couple of minutes.

To give your cookies that crackled look like they have in the picture, quickly bang the cookie sheet against the stovetop one time. That should do the trick! Just make sure you don’t bang so hard that the cookies fall off. :)