Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Firefighter Baby Shower

My sister, Amanda,  is going to be having her first baby in one month! We got to host a shower for her last Sunday and it was so much fun to plan! My brother-in-law is a firefighter so that was our theme, even though they are probably really sick of  firefighter baby stuff now. But it was too cute to pass up and was different than the typical blue baby shower for a boy.


Entry table: We had a baby book as the guest book and had everyone fill out their return address on an envelope for the thank you cards (Amanda appreciated this)!

Food & decor

The cake: My friend Kim did an amazing job on the themed cake and cupcakes!

Late night diapers: Have everyone write a message on a diaper for the mom and dad-to-be. People came up with some funny stuff!

Shower games: I am not the biggest fan of shower games. Our goal was to pick 2 quick games that were not super obnoxious, and we accomplished that goal! I actually liked these games and they did not take long at all! For the "Baby Babble Word Scramble", the first person to unscramble all of the baby-related words won a prize. In the next game, we played 18 songs that have the word baby in them and you try to guess the title and artist of each song (1 point for each). Whoever had the most points won a prize. 

Gift Opening!

Party favors

Lots of fun with friends and family!

The Hostesses

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making it through a Miscarriage

I never planned to write a post about this, and a lot of people don't even know about what Brad and I recently went through. However, I thought long and hard about what helped us and continues to help us get past this sad event in our lives. First and foremost it was God, but encouragement from family, friends and even strangers has played a huge role as well. Reading stories from other women and families that have experienced this kind of loss helped me to relate to them and somehow contributed to finding comfort through the storm, and I am hoping my story will do the same for someone else.

Another reason that I want to share my story is because mine is not over yet. Most of the experiences I read about were encouraging because in the end, the women have babies! They share about their growing families and how God answered their prayers in His timing. But what about the time in between? How do you trust that God has the best intentions for you when you have experienced such a loss, and how do you overcome the fear that this may happen again? I'll start from the beginning...

Brad and I got married in May of 2012, and never planned to wait too long to start a family. The idea of being parents has always been exciting to us. We always imagined the perfect scenario in our minds: The excitement of our family and friends, the perfect pregnancy, and a beautiful, healthy baby.

In July of 2013 I started feeling kind of funny. As someone who had never been able to nap in the past, the dead giveaway was the 2-3 hour naps I suddenly required to make it through the day. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! So then naturally I took three more...just to be sure. All positive. We were so surprised and so happy! What made the situation even more fun was the fact that my sister and brother-in-law had told Brad and I only a couple weeks before that they were pregnant with their first baby too! Our parents were going to be shocked.

We made our first doctor appointment and I pushed through the first six weeks of my pregnancy. I felt awful. I was constantly tired and nauseated. I could not eat enough to make my stomach feel full and hated food at the same time. I was experiencing the pregnancy of Elizabeth Banks in the movie "What to Expect When You're Expecting". Brad and I laughed it off, knowing it would be worth it in 9 months...right? The first appointment went great and we were loaded up with baby literature and prenatal vitamins! We scheduled our next appointment for the first sonogram and counted down the days in excitement until it came.

While out to dinner with both sets of our parents in early August, we couldn't hold it in anymore! As Brad prayed for the food, he added in a special thanks for the baby we were about to have. Cue the screaming mothers. Everyone was ecstatic and our 8 week appointment where we would get to see our baby for the first time was just around the corner!

Then the day came. We drove up to the doctor's office and prepared for the joy of seeing the baby. No fear, just nerves of excitement. Nothing could have prepared us for what the doctor was going to say..."I'm sorry, I have some bad news for you guys". He could not find a heartbeat. He kept looking just to be sure, but nothing. Our hearts sank and we felt like we were in a nightmare. How could this happen to us?

That night and the weeks to follow were filled with a lot of tears, but we were given hope that the baby could still be alive by things we read and stories from friends who did not see heartbeats until later in their pregnancies. We were not in denial thinking that the baby was okay, we just know that our God is capable of anything. We were constant in prayer for the life of this little one and for the will of God. 

He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine... Ephesians 3:20

I had no symptoms of a miscarriage and we continued to get opinions from other doctors. At first, the baby's size was consistent with what it was supposed to be, and we had continued hope. But appointment after appointment, there was still no heartbeat. I had a total of 5 sonograms before it was confirmed. Eventually, there was no more development or growth, and still no heartbeat. We had lost a child...our first child.

Throughout my life I have known others that had miscarriages, but you can never understand the pain unless you have been there. Yes it's sad, but it's not like they ever met the child so it can't be that hard, right? Wrong, so very wrong. We loved our baby with our whole hearts the moment we saw that positive test, and losing him or her was the most painful thing I have experienced in my life thus far. I didn't know how I was going to go back to normal life or when a minute would pass without feeling sad. Something as small as mowing the lawn was a struggle for Brad during this time, because anything besides the baby just seemed futile. Everywhere I went there were pregnant women and babies, and you can just forget about getting on Facebook for a year, because it is baby central. Even though I was so happy for others that were expecting, every pregnancy announcement and "bumpdate" was a stab in the heart. Let's not even talk about the parking spaces that are "Reserved for Expectant Mothers" sobfest. And then there was that dreaded question, "So when are you guys gonna have kids?". A forced smile followed by, "not sure" was just about all we could muster up. Just making it through each day was not going to cut it, so where do we go from here?

I cannot imagine making it through this situation if God was not our foundation. There were days when we felt really sorry for ourselves and I cried myself to sleep a lot (and yes...I am crying right now). I still struggle with our loss everyday,  but we serve a God who comforts us when life is hard.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2

Knowing that God has a perfect plan for our lives gives me an indescribable hope for the future. I think I will always get sad when I look back on this trial, but I will continue to rejoice knowing that God works for the good of those who love Him. You could spend your whole life asking why something happened, but you will never have any peace until you give it over to God. His plan and his timing are far better than anything we can imagine for ourselves.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

This is not your typical miscarriage story where I now start talking about the 5 kids that God has blessed us with since our loss (hopefully it will be someday!), but that is why I found it important to share this. Because nobody talks about the in between. Nobody talks about the need have complete faith in God and trust that his plan is perfect, even if it happens again or even He never gives you a child, because for some that is the case. Some days are harder than others, but through it all, God is good!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

Earlier in this post I mentioned overcoming fear. Fear that you will lose another child or the fear that you will never have one. I might not be the best person to give advice on this, because I struggle with this fear every day. I would be lying if I told you that I am not absolutely terrified that this could happen again, but that is a miserable way to live. When I find myself worrying about the future, I have to stop and recognize that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it (Bradley helps remind me of that). Constant prayer and faith that God is in control is the only thing that can appease my mind. It's all in His hands.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

My heart breaks for those who have gone through this, whether it has happened once or multiple times. I literally ache when I hear about the loss of a child or someone struggling to get pregnant at all. It is a pain that cannot be described. But that pain can be replaced by peace and hope through Jesus. We are hopeful that God will give us a healthy baby in His timing (something that we will never take for granted), and continue to pray that His will reigns in our lives. Recently, a lot of people have opened up to us about similar experiences they had and have been a huge encouragement to us. I hope that we are able to do the same for others that have to go through this.