Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Rose Bud

The rose bud opens,
flowering, red blossom
Delightful
True Beauty.

The rose bud withers,
dries, black deterioration
Extinct
True End.

Our lives like the bud,
opens, yellow sun
Anticipation
True Joy.

Our lives grow,
exquisite, green sprouts
Fulfilling
True Adventure.

Our life fades,
shrivel, brown dirt
Decomposition
True Death.

Our rose bud blooms
burgeoning, rainbow flares
Glory
True Life.


By: Stormy Mitchell 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

33 Things

Today, 5 years ago, we said goodbye to Gideon for the last time on this earth.

We had his memorial service and spoke of all the beauty that came from his existence. We worshiped the Lord in thanksgiving and we wept bitterly. That day was one of the hardest days of my life.

Today 5 years from that day, it still takes my breath away to think of that day. How much despair and disbelief I felt. Who imagines they will lose their child? Who pictures their life and sees a funeral for their baby?  I remember so much from that day, from all of the hugs, to all of the tears. The words that our pastor and friends spoke, and the verses read from the bible. I can remember the songs and how each word was the cry of my heart, yet made it break a little more. I wrote all about that day here.

Since that day, a lot has changed. We have picked up the pieces and God has made a beautiful life from the ashes. BECAUSE of Gideon we have a beautiful life.

Today I am thinking of all the ways that Gideon has changed me. For the better.  So in honor of the 33 weeks that I got with him, I will share 33 different ways he has changed me. When he died, I knew there was a major shift in my life. I knew that I would never be able to go back to how I was before. I wondered if those changes would be permanent. Some of those feelings I had in the early days of grief have gone, but many of those changes have stayed. They are with me forever. 

These transformations within me are the beautiful scars that he left behind.

1) I appreciate things more and take less for granted.
2) Things that used to matter, no longer do. Things that used to not matter, now do.
3) I am a better wife. I love Todd with a deeper passion and honesty than before.
4) I am a better mommy. I would have been a wonderful mommy to Gideon because of everything we have been through before conceiving him, but I am a more compassionate and patient mom because of him. I truly never take them for granted. Every day I get with them, even the hard days, I'm grateful for because they are here with me.
5) I love more deeply. Gideon taught me that.
6) I am less judgmental,
7) I love Jesus more.
8) I am more patient.
9) I am more focused.
10) I really want to help others. I truly want to help other people because I genuinely love them.
11) I don't waste my time with those who are not to be supportive or loving. If you don't want to recognize him at all, then I don't need you in my life. And honestly, my life is richer for it. I refuse to let someone who wont remember the life of my son be a part of my own heart. If they don't want to see the blessings of him and the blessing that God will bring to them by allowing them to experience the pain and the joy, then they don't understand me at all. And those people are people who put negativity into my life. I don't waste my time on negativity.
12) I stop and appreciate beauty more. In every day moments, and in life changing moments, and in mundane moments.
13) I do not invest my heart into pointless things, and yet I dive heart first into things that I see as fruitful.
14) I complain less.
15) I worship more. Pain brings about the best worship
16) I am a better writer and artist.
17) I laugh even more than before.  I am a "throw your head back and loudly crack up" kind of person. I used to do that with ease and I had stopped for a long time. Now I do again, however it is different because I know what the other side feels like. I appreciate the laughter so much more. It is richer and more true.
18) I cry more easily. This may not be seen as a positive thing, but it is to me.
19) I love my family more deeply and I appreciate them more, my mom & dad, siblings, nieces, nephews and my extended family. My family has always meant a lot to me, but now I truly appreciate them. I'm glad for every day they are in my life.
20) My friendships are so much more true and real. My best friends are my MEND friends. We share everything, our whole lives (I think people assume we only talk about our dead children, we do talk about them, but we talk about everything!). My fellow infant loss friends just understand. I have these beautiful friends from before Gideon's death who are supportive and loving and I am so thankful for them. I am thankful for my friends from before and I am thankful for my newer friends, my friends since my loss.  I invest in all of my friends more than I ever did before. I take more time for them. I walk through the deepest lows and the highest highs with them.
21) I live with fervor. I want to experience all that life has for us  I want us to take adventures and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the world around us.
22) I have so much more grace with people.
23) I have embraced the geeky side of me and I love it.
24) I can sense the Holy Spirit more acutely when praying and in worship. I also feel connected to Gideon when I am worshiping God and in His presence, because I know that Gideon is standing in His presence too.
25) I'm so much more comfortable with pain and sitting with others in their pain. Our society likes to try to put a bandaid on our suffering to make it all better. But I know that doesn't help. Working through it helps. And I am always ready and willing to hold someone's hand as they walk through pain.
26) I have been more active in church. I love our church. It is so special and God works in the hearts of my church family. It is truly a place where I can call them my family. They have walked through the dark and the bright days.
27) I am even more self confident in every area of my life. I generally have always been very self assured, but one of the way he changed me is that I am even more so! Especially in the area of my looks. I have ever always thought I was beautiful and I've never really had body image issues, but I definitely don't now!!! I am beautiful!!!
28) I wear what I want and act how I want. I will not conform to how other people think I should be. I will be the person who God wants me to be. 
29) I look at Todd differently. I truly see him for the strong, loving, gentle man he is. He changed a lot when we lost Gideon and I can really see down into his soul now in a way that I thought I could before but I truly can see it now. But honestly I think going through tragedy is the only way to make you and your spouse connected in this way.
30) I see pregnancy differently. I see it more of a blessing than I ever did before. I see children as even more of a blessing, they are amazing gifts from God!!  I also see pregnancy with fear and anxiety. That is part of who I am now. But the flip side to that, is that I never take pregnancy for granted. I cherish it. I am truly in awe of the miracle of pregnancy.
31) I desire more for others to know Jesus truly and intimately.
32) I have wanderlust. I desire to travel and experience different, fun and new things. Maybe one day I will have the finances to do that more often.
33) I have strong desire for The New Earth when heaven and earth pass away and a new Earth is created!!! I love the life I live now and I work for the Kingdom with all my heart, but there will always be a part of me that is looking upward into the sky for the future when Jesus returns. I am not afraid of that anymore. 

There are so many more, I could easily list 33 more ways I have changed for the good for his 33 weeks. And then I could list 33 more, and then  do it again. I know as I live, and as the Lord continues to work, more and more of my heart will be transformed every day. Because God promised me that Gideon's life would make an impact on others. And one of the ways He is doing that, is through me.

I have changed. Forever. For good. 

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better, because I knew you, I have been changed for good..." -Changed For Good, Wicked
At Cocoa Beach on our vacation in April. Beaches always remind me of Gideon...always. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Five/Thirteen

Today we say Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven to our precious first born son, Gideon. We love you with all of our hearts. You are my little love. My arms ache to hold you today, and I miss you, But I am blessed to be your mommy and honored to get to love you. You give me immense joy. I am constantly in awe of how God uses your life, even 5 years later.

Today is also the 13th anniversary of mine and Todd's marriage. I love him more and more each day. My love for him is deeper because of what we have been through. We are truly one. We love each other in a way that cannot exist without walking through something like we have. He is my best friend. My mate. My love. The person with whom I am privileged to walk through this life. Todd, I could not ask for more. I am proud to be your wife. Happy anniversary! Here is to many more! I never take for granted all the time we have together. Every day I have with you is special, simply because of the love we share. Even the tough days, I always choose you. I always will. I love you. 

Also, this week is the 8th anniversary of the baby we lost through miscarriage in 2008.

What a week! What a month!

I'm extremely thankful that this month of May is full of an immense amount of love. What a blessing that is, to have so much love in our lives.
 
We have started adding Blessings in our M.E.N.D. newsletters. We each have a chance to write about a blessing that has come from the lives of our little ones in Heaven. Here is my first one: 








In our M.E.N.D. newsletter, we get to leave Birthday Tributes for our babies in Heaven.  
May 17, 2011. Together as a family. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What if?

Today, 5 years ago, on May 15th, 2011, Gideon slipped away from us and went to be with Jesus.

On that day we were told "I am so sorry". On that day, our world felt like nothing was ever going to be okay again. My breath left me that day, and it took many months for me to get it back. My laughter left. My hope. I was filled with emptiness. I was left with only dreams of what could have been. We went from being hopeful for the future because we were expecting our first son, to not knowing what the future would hold. Would we ever be normal again? We didn't know how to navigate the rest of our lives. How do you pick up the pieces? How do you learn to even breathe again?

I always say that I could use a million words, and there would not be words accurate enough to describe how it felt when we lost Gideon.

Two days after we found out he had died, I delivered him silently into this world. May 17, 2011 is a day that will be seared into our hearts and minds forever.

Five years later, we are here, standing. Standing strong. Standing with faith. Standing with grace. Standing because of grace. Standing together. We are full of love in a way we weren't before Gideon existed. He brought that love into our lives. We are more hopeful, more joyful, more thankful, more faithful. More everything.

 Just MORE because of him.

Most days I live, I live in light of my loss. I choose to live with more joy and grace and I choose to focus on the Lord more. I want to honor Him and Gideon with my life by helping others and walking with them through grief. I honor Gideon by loving deeply. We choose to live a life of joy.

But there are some days...Some days are just hard.

I promised myself and Gideon that I would honor him by doing this grief the best way I could. It does not honor him to ignore any feelings I may have. It only hurts myself and others. I know that through this pain, God is working. When we feel grief and hurt, I know that God is there.

So we have today. The anniversary of the day he died. This year the days line up. So in 2011, May 15th was a Sunday. Just like today is a Sunday. In 2011, May 17th was a tuesday, just like this year. Every day is lining up this year. And it makes it hard to breathe. I am reliving these days. I remember what I was doing at this time that Sunday 5 years ago, I remember that Todd had gotten home from work and I told him Gideon wasn't moving. I can put myself right back into that place. I can recall the tightness in my heart where I simultaneously knew something was wrong, yet not willing to admit it to myself. I can feel Todd's hands on my stomach and hear his voice saying "come on buddy, move for mommy and daddy." As time goes on today, I don't even need to look at the clock, my body knows what time it is and I recall all of the events and emotions from 5 years ago.

I struggle to breathe and I try not to burst into violent, wracking sobs, as to not concern my sweet living sons.

This year I play the "what if" game. Generally I do not do that. I could "what if" myself into a depression. I think most people could. We could play that game and make ourselves sad over what could have been in all areas of our lives, not just grief.Today, I have to.  I take the time to "what if". I will "what if" today and will not do it again for a long time. I know I have to today. I have to let myself go into that place. I have to let myself feel everything.....

What if I had known something was wrong? What if I had gone to the doctor earlier? What if I had cancelled my baby shower and just gone to the hospital that day?  What if I had trusted the feeling so deep inside of me and gone in and had him checked? What if I had been able to get a 3rd ultrasound and he could have been diagnosed with growth restriction? What if the ultrasound tech hadn't missed his membranous cord insertion? (I totally don't blame her, things happen.) What if I did something wrong? What if it really was my fault? What if I had gone in sooner? What if??? What if? What if?

What if?!!

What if he were here? What would it be like? What would he be like?

I see the little 5 year old boy with strawberry blonde hair that is curly and matches mine when I was a child. I can see that we would have cut his hair last month before our vacation, so it would be short, but coming back in with some curl again. He would look very grown up with his short hair. And I would want it to grow back in long so I could have my little boy be a baby for just a little longer. I see his green, timid eyes. I see him laughing with his brothers. I know he would have been shy, calm, and quiet, like I was when I was a child. I wonder what it would sound like. I hear his soft spoken voice call for me in the night when he needs me. I hear his laughter when he is playing outside. I hear his voice tell me of the things he is interested in and I wonder what that would be. I wonder if he would have loved the thrilling rides at Universal Studios and Disney World last month when we went on vacation, like his little brother. Or would he have been scared by them? If he is anything like me and his daddy, he would have loved them too.  I can almost feel his hand in mine. I can almost feel what it would feel like to hold him into my lap. My little 5 year old, maybe he wouldn't want to admit it, but still loves to cuddle mommy. Or maybe, he would be a cuddle bug and still love to snuggle and wrap himself up closely to me any chance he could get. That is what I think he would have been like. He would have been a snuggler. I can hear the sounds in my house. I can imagine the one more plate I would make every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can almost smell him. I can almost really feel him. I can almost feel his little kiss on my cheek. I can almost.

Almost.

But not quite.

And 5 years have gone by. Five years of grace. Five years of learning.  Five years of leaning on God. Five is a big year. For living children and for those who are dead. Five years.  And here I am. Still here. Standing. Thriving. And honestly, we are truly happy.

But a part of me will always wonder....what if?


"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

(Please forgive any typos. I don't do well with editing on days like today)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Don't.

Gideon isn't some sad thing that happened.

He isn't an unfortunate circumstance.

He is our son. A little boy. Someone who we love. And he also died.

His 5th birthday is coming up soon, on May 17th. That day is also mine and Todd's 13th wedding anniversary. On his birthday we choose to remember him. Not with sadness, but with thankfulness that he is our son. With thankfulness and gladness that he changed us in more ways than I can count. With gratefulness that his story is still touching people and God is using him to change lives.

If you choose to only focus on the sadness of his death and not the blessing of his life, that is not my fault. It is not my fault that you cannot see the joy and the good that Gideon has given us. You are missing out on a huge blessing by seeing him only in the terms of his death. Yet you should look at him and all the ways his life is beautiful. 

It is not my fault that you cannot come to terms with grief. It is your problem because you don't like to feel uncomfortable in your pain so you push it aside. You cannot deal with pain so you ignore it. I honor the lives of those who have died by being real and honest about my feelings. I choose to remember their lives. I will always remember the incredible life of Gideon.

His earthy 33 weeks and his eternal life are marked with immeasurable beauty.

Yes, I miss him and yes it breaks my heart that he isn't here. However, mostly I am thankful to the Lord that I got to have him for those 33 weeks and that he is always mine.

Always.

I have some people in our lives who have chosen on their own to only acknowledge our anniversary on May 17th and to completely ignore his birthday. These people will tell us "happy anniversary" but say nothing of him, yet, they know that May 17th is his birthday. Don't take it upon yourself to decide that it is too sad to recognize his birthday and to focus on only the happy part of that day. Don't you realize that those 2 cannot be separate? May 17th is forever both.

They ignore his birthday and in essence, they ignore him.

That is not ok with me. It is not ok to treat my son as if he didn't exist. As if he doesn't matter.

It is a day to be celebrated, because on that day May 17, 2003, when we got married, it was the day that was the beginning to the fateful and life changing day on May 17, 2011. When you choose to just tell me happy anniversary you are spitting in the face of the love that his life created. By doing so, you are telling me that he didn't matter at all. I cannot and will not accept that. He mattered and he still does.

You don't get to choose what I celebrate that day.
We do.

So don't ignore him. Don't pretend like he isn't a person. Don't pretend like it is only our anniversary. It is not. If you don't want to acknowledge him, then say nothing to me that day. I would rather have silence from you than to hear just "happy anniversary." 
  Some may see it as dwelling. But if your child died, and you still wanted to remember them, would that be dwelling? If your mother or father died, would you stop talking about them? No. You would tell stories of them and remember them on holidays and on their birthdays. So I do that with our son.
He is our son. He is a grandson, a nephew, a cousin. He is a big brother. 
He deserves to be remembered.

That date. May 17 is one of the most pivotal dates in our life as a family. We get to decide how to celebrate it. 

No one else.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Baby Boy #3--his name


Baby Boy #3 has a name!

Its a beautiful name. Right after we found out he was a boy when I was about 14 weeks pregnant, we started praying about the name that God would have us name our boy. We knew we wanted to keep our tradition of a Bible name for the first name and a family name for the middle name.
Look at those little arms! 
We have Gideon Zeller (Gideon from the Gideon of the bible in Judges and Zeller is my maiden last name) and Silas Todd (Silas is from the Silas in the bible who was a missionary with Paul and Todd is my husband's name). We started looking at all the bible names. I went through my list of names we had rejected with Gideon and Silas. They were great names, just not THEIR names.

We prayed a lot.

We narrowed it down to about 3 names. We wanted it to be someone in the bible who was Godly and had a name that has a good meaning. Finally, we knew. We knew what is his name was.

Justus Ryan.

One of his feet that kicks me all day long! 
Ryan is my brother's middle name, and it is the name he goes by. And I knew I wanted to honor my brother with naming one of my sons after him. My brother is really a great brother and is always protective and loving. Actually, Silas and my brother have very similar personalities.My brother is funny, very blunt and yet caring. I am honored to have my son named after him. (Also, my brother is very excited about this too! haha!)
The name Ryan means little king.

Justus in Biblical times was a surname given to men who are very Godly. Justus means, just or upright. This is what we pray for our Justus, that he is Godly, just and upright. There are multiple Justus' in the Bible. There are 2 verses that stood out to me and made me think, "yes, this is my son's name."

His little face!
Acts 18:7 says "Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God." So this Justus was a worshiper of God! That is exactly what I want for my sons.

The verse that stood out for me even more was Colossians 4:11 "Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me." This Justus in the bible was one of the co-workers for the Kingdom of God with Paul. And he was a comfort to Paul.

I have been learning a lot about the Kingdom of God and what it truly is, and with everything that I have learned lately, I KNOW that I want my son to be a worker for the Kingdom of God. I want him to reveal the Kingdom of God in this world, to be an active part of the Kingdom! What else could a mom want for her child? I want him to follow the Lord with all his heart and work for the Kingdom!

So, you see, Justus, working for the Kingdom and Ryan meaning Little King, go hand in hand.

So we knew. Our little boy is Justus.

We also picked a name for our little Baby A. For those who don't know. I was pregnant with twins at the beginning of this pregnancy. We lost Baby A through something called Vanishing Twin Syndrome. We believed in our hearts that Baby A and Baby B would be boy/girl twins. Well, when we found out that Baby B was a boy, we knew Baby A was a girl. So as we were picking a name for Justus, we were praying and thinking about a name for Baby A. We wanted a name that sounded like "twin names." And we gave her a name.

Joy.
You can see his head and his arm and hands. His hands were in front of his face the whole time. All of the Zeller babies like to do that. Put their hands by their heads. 

So we have Justus and Joy. They have names that go together, both begin with a J. We chose Joy because of how much joy she gave us in such a short time. When they showed me twins and I saw a little speck that was a baby. I began laughing! I was so elated! The woman who has trouble conceiving at all got pregnant with twins! And knowing that I will see her and our Gideon and Avery again gives me joy. God gives me joy in the midst of every trial.

So that is her name. From now on, when I refer to Joy you will know that Baby A is Joy.

I am the proud mom of 3 awesome boys. Gideon, Silas and Justus.

And the proud mom of 5 babies total; Avery, Gideon, Silas, Joy and Justus.
Thats one of the little hands that punches me! :D 

One day I will have all of them in my arms. Until then, I wait with joy, hope and faith.

I LOVE this one!!
I had my anatomy scan for Justus last week at 20 weeks 5 days. The anatomy scan is where they check to make sure the baby is totally healthy and does not have any major physical problems. We knew genetically that Justus was ok, but we were anxious to find out of he was totally healthy with a good umbilical cord insertion. Justus is wonderful. He has had a strong heartbeat. He s measuring right on track and has all of the markers that show that he is totally healthy. Kidneys, 4 chamber heart, 2 hemispheres of a brain, a perfect spine, etc. They checked the umbilical cord insertion into the placenta and it is perfect too! The membranous cord insertion (or velamentous cord insertion) is what Gideon had, and it was undetected. That ultimately caused his death. Justus doesn't have that. When I saw that I breathed a huge sigh of relief! I know other things can go wrong in pregnancies, but I am glad that he doesn't have the same thing his big brother had. I am praising God for every day I get with this little miracle!

He is still a boy!
Psalm 66:5 "Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!" (NLT)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A New Baby Brother/Sister?


Gideon and Silas are having a new baby...


BROTHER!

YES! Another boy!!! We could not be happier!! We are blessed and honored to be the parents of 3 very special boys.

I have had people ask me if I wanted a girl this time. I honestly have never cared. I have never been the kind of mom who would have been sad to have one gender over the other. I have always wanted children and wanted the children that God would give us. Boys or girls, whatever God decided.  I am just happy to have a child. I am honored to get to be a mommy.

I had some bloodwork done at 12 weeks to run some genetic testing on the baby. It was an option for me and we took it. If there had been some genetic abnormality we would have carried the baby no matter what. But we wanted to know. And a bonus is that we could find out the baby's gender! The blood test is simple. They take my blood and a cheek swab from Todd and then send it off to one of the few labs that runs this test. Then they pull out Todd's DNA and my DNA and they are able to decipher which parts of the baby's DNA is in my blood.

Small fragments of a baby's DNA runs through the mommy's blood. Isn't that amazing?


This is the video of how I told Todd that he is going to be a daddy of another little boy! He is over the moon!


When we got the genetic testing able to see if the baby has certain genetic abnormalities, he showed no markers for any of those abnormalities. That was the best news I could have gotten. Praise the LORD! We are not out of the clear yet. We won't be until this little guy is in our arms. I know that a lot could happen between now and 38 weeks. But we are holding onto hope and praying that we get to raise this little boy and that he doesn't join his big brother (or his twin) in Heaven.

I love being a boy mom! I love getting to snuggle my boy, to run, play and act silly all day! I love the energy of boys. I love that I get to get out all of his hand-me-downs from Gideon and Silas. My 3rd little boy will get to wear his big brothers' clothes. That makes this mama's heart happy. It is something they all share.

I wish that I could have all 3 of my boys with me. I wish I could have all 5 of my babies here. I wish that my arms were completely full of little stinky, sticky boys. One with red hair, one with blonde hair and a little baby. But, this will not be. So I rejoice for the boys I get to have with me. I feel the hole in my heart every day for the one who is not here. And I rejoice for him too. Because ALL of my boys are gifts and bring such sweet and abundant blessings in my life.

Here are some pics from my gender reveal I did with my family.
I let them spray me with silly string that was blue (which in hindsight was a mistake because my brother and niece are crazy. My brother kept spraying me in the face! haha! Even though we are both in our thirties, not much had changed. haha!). Everyone was surprised!

I had everyone pick a crown or a mustache for their guess of boy or girl. Livy chose both. 

My brother and sis-in-law were guessing girl! My brother is a nut! :D 


Blue Silly String everywhere!

This little boy does have a name already. We kept with our tradition and his first name is from the Bible and his middle name is a name from one of our families. We will be announcing his name soon. We are in the process of choosing a name for twin A (who we believe was a girl, since we think they were boy/girl twins). Once we do that, then we will announce the name.



And just because I love the way I look when I am pregnant. My latest bump pic! Having 3 babies in less than 4 years makes for a big belly when pregnant.
Barefoot and pregnant. :D 

Look at my oldest little boy in that picture! Isnt he handsome?!? I hope that this little guy looks like his older brothers. 


Psalm 66:5 "Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!" (NLT)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Vanishing

Vanishing Twin.

Something most people have never heard of and something even less people experience. Now I can add that to my list of losses.

At 5 weeks pregnant I went to the Dr. so he could do blood work to check my progesterone and HCG. Progesterone helps to sustain a pregnancy and HCG is the pregnancy hormone.
I had low progesterone with my pregnancy with Silas in the first trimester, so I wanted to make sure it was not a problem in this pregnancy too. My results came back with my progesterone as normal, but my HCG was very high and elevated past what is normal for a singleton pregnancy. My doctor had me come in for an early ultrasound. I was 5 weeks 2 days.

When the ultrasound tech scanned my uterus, that is when I saw it. 2 little sacs. 2 sacs. Twins! I said to her "is that what I think it is?" She said "looks like possible twins." I instantly started laughing. I could not stop. We looked at it and I saw something in both sacs, the early development of a baby but it was too early to see anything clearly or a heartbeat. But there was no denying, there were two babies! I thought "I am a twin mom!"

One of the sacs was round and the other was smaller and more flat. The ultrasound tech labeled the smaller sac Baby A, and the bigger sac Baby B. See those 2 beautiful sacs? Those are my twins.

There was a problem.

My doctor explained to me that in cases where one of the sacs isn't as developed, there is a 50% chance that the baby wont make it. Its called a Vanishing Twin. He and his staff were hopeful for me and excited at the possibility that I would be having twins come August.

I started praying that I got to keep both babies! I had church family, MEND family, my biological family and my friends all praying that both babies would make it. That I wouldn't lose one of the babies. We prayed that Baby A would make it. That Baby A would beat the odds. That when I went back in 2 weeks for a follow up ultrasound, that there would be two babies with two beautiful heartbeats. However, I had a feeling things would not work out the way I hoped. I think God was preparing me for what He knew would happen. I just felt in my heart that both babies would not make it. But I hoped and prayed constantly that God would allow me to keep both of them.

We went to our ultrasound appointment at 7 weeks and 2 days to check on the twins.

Baby A went to heaven sometime in the week prior.

Vanishing Twin.

The ultrasound tech scanned my uterus and I saw one baby. One baby with a heartbeat. One beautiful baby. But one baby, one heartbeat wasn't there. I began crying and so did Todd. My mom was there with me and I didn't look at her but I know she was crying too. We all wanted both of these babies so much. It was extremely bittersweet. One baby gone. One baby healthy with a beautiful heartbeat of 160.

Here is the surviving twin at 7 weeks 2 days. Pretty cute if I may say so myself.

There was life that was and yet was never was in my arms. This life that deserves to be honored and remembered. This baby that I loved so much already. Gone. Just gone. No physical evidence of his/her existence except for an ultrasound picture. I have had no bleeding, the baby literally vanished. My body will absorb the baby in time and there will be nothing physically left.

Some might say, think or wonder why God would allow us to know about this baby if we were just going to lose him or her. That was actually said to Todd by a friend of his. He thought it would have been better had we never known about the baby at all. Honestly, this really offended me!! Yes, it would be easier on my heart if I had never known this little life. But oh, I would miss out on the love. I would never want less love. I would never want to not know about one of my children!,

 I am glad I know about Baby A. I am glad I got to be a twin mom, even if just for a couple of weeks. Because God allowed us to know about Baby A, I believe He will bring gifts and good things from his/her life.

I always said as a kid that I wanted 5 children. Though I would have been happy with 6 children too (hehe). When we were not sure of the outcome for Baby A, my dad said  "No matter what happens, you will now always have 5 children." And he is so right, I may have 3 children in Heaven, but I am the mom of 5 kids! They are always mine and nothing can change that. I have one in my arms, one in my belly and 3 in my heart. My sweet Gideon who changed my life more than I can even say. Our Avery who was lost before I got to see her at all. And Baby A (who we will give a name, but we are still deciding) who I got to see but never got to know.

My sweet MEND family sent me flowers in memory of Baby A. I am so thankful that his/her life is already remembered. Only here for a few weeks, but he/she made an impact on our life. I cannot say how much this means to me. That my MEND family values the lives of each one of my children.

This year at the MEND Walk to Remember, I will be getting one more ornament. I will get 3 instead of 2, one for each baby I have in Heaven. I will have to order a new memory sign for the Walk to Remember, since the one I have now only has Gideon and Avery's names and dates on it. I will need one more name and date added to my sign. One more child to wonder what they would have been like. What it would have been like to have twins.

Part of me will always wonder.

Its hard. I am sad. I miss my baby. I miss what could have been. I keep seeing twins everywhere. I saw a set of twins today at the doctor's office. Instead of 2 car seats, we will only be buying one. Instead of preparing and reading up on nursing twins, I won't need to do any reading on nursing, because I already know how to nurse one baby. I wont be buying 2 of everything. I wont get to see my babies interact. I will never get to see the connection they would have had as twins. I will not get to feel 2 babies move inside of me, 4 arms and 4 legs to kick me.  I miss Baby A. But I am so happy and praising God for one healthy baby.



I had an ultrasound this week of our surviving twin. And he/she is perfect and growing! Baby B had a heart rater of 183 and is growing perfectly. Look at my cute little gummy bear!! You can see his/her arms and little legs! Look at that giant head! Must take after his/her daddy and big brothers!


Please pray for us. Pray as we are grieving Baby A. Please pray for our surviving baby. Please pray that he or she comes home and is in our arms come this August. Pray for my anxiety for this pregnancy. I am feeling positive but as I know, anything can happen at any point in my pregnancy. Just pray for us, this baby and our hearts.

Thank you all.

2 Thess 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." Thank you Lord for your promises!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Christmas Surprise

Merry Christmas!!!!

We have some exciting news!!

Gideon and Silas are big brothers!!!!



It really is a miracle. We are so happy!!!!!!

Please pray for us. Please pray for our pregnancy. Please pray that everything is healthy with this pregnancy!

Now, usually I never announce my pregnancies this soon. With our first pregnancy I didn't announce it at all except to family and close friends. We lost that baby through early miscarriage. With Gideon I waited to announce until I was 8 weeks and had gotten an ultrasound and we saw a heartbeat. With Silas I was about 15 weeks and we had gotten many ultrasounds and we were fairly confident things would be ok. With this pregnancy, I am now 6 weeks pregnant. 

My EDD is August 20, 2015. 

The reason I am announcing so early is because I truly covet prayers. Also, I want the people I love to celebrate with us!!! I want our family and friends to be excited about this blessing that has come into our lives. No matter how long it lasts. No matter what happens we want to celebrate this new life that God created! Todd and I want to bask in the miracle of this with our friends and family!!!!!

I have had one ultrasound and things are mostly looking good. There is one complication so please, please be praying for that. Please pray that everything is healthy and perfect!! 

We are so excited! As you all know, we struggle with infertility due to my PCOS. So this pregnancy is such a miracle!! Just as my other 3 pregnancies! Just like Gideon and Silas are miracles to me. Just me getting pregnant is a huge feat! I have almost no chance of getting pregnant, statistically and medically. But I dont believe in statistics. God can do ANYTHING!!!! 

Todd and I are over the moon! Silas keeps saying "I want a baby brodder." 

When I took the pregnancy test and it was positive, I just started laughing. I couldn't stop. I just laughed!!! Todd was at work and so I made Silas a "Big Brother" shirt and made a "Biggest Brother" shirt for our Gideon bear. That evening when he got home, Silas was wearing his shirt and Todd walked into our house and I told him to look at Silas' shirt and he did and he said "Oh, big brother." It had not clicked in his head yet. I said "You know what that means!?!" Then he said "OH!!!" And he smiled and looked shocked! 

He is already completely in love. And I was totally in love the moment 2 lines popped up.

The day I had my ultrasound last week, I couldn't stop laughing! I still periodically just burst out in fits of giggles because I am in such awe of God! 

Thank you all for your prayers and your celebration with us!!! Please pray for us and the complication with the pregnancy. 

Pray for peace to be with us and that fear does not creep in and take hold. We know that anything can happen. We know all too well the reality that is the death of a child. We know that in August we might not be bringing home a child. We know what can happen. But even knowing what can happen, we are going to trust God. No matter what, He will hold us and sustain us. 


We hope you have a very wonderful Christmas and your new year is filled with many moments when you feel and know that the Lord is close to you. He came to this earth and we can have a relationship  with Him. I pray that today and every day we all draw close to Him and focus on Him. He is the Creator of all life and miracles.

"For everything God created is good..." 1 Timothy 4:4

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A New Direction

I have been thinking about my writing and the direction I want it to go.

I want to make some changes.

Nothing major, but I have been wanting to open my blog up to be about more aspects of my life. This will always be a place for me to pour out my heart and to pour it out about Gideon and his life and how his life and death still have an impact on me daily.

I wont stop writing about him.

But lately, I have felt stuck in my writing on this blog. I have written some here, but not as much as I would like. I am in the process of writing a series of children's books and a novel and that has taken a lot of my writing time. I am busy with M.E.N.D., at church and with my husband and living son. I want to keep writing my heart (and I even have some ideas for upcoming blog posts!). But I wasnt sure what to do with my blog. I want to keep it going.and love writing here, but I feel kind of stuck. I mostly feel joy at being Gideon's mommy and joy from getting to see him again. I feel joy knowing that God still uses his life to impact this world. I miss him, oh yes. I miss his presence in my life. However, most of the time the joy outweighs the pain.  So, I have not been sure what to write about.

I've been waiting to get inspiration or direction. Then it came.

I was reading on Still Standing Magazine and one of the posts was about journal prompts. It was written by Beryl Young and she teaches photography classes online, as well as many other things. I took her photography class in 2012 and learned so much through that process about how to look at life through  lens and to process my grief with my camera. So when I saw her post on Still Standing, I read it. It is called 35 Journal Prompts for Finding Light After Loss. So that is what I will be doing, writing based on her journal prompts (and maybe some others that I find along the way). These will be interspersed throughout my blog, as I feel the desire to write one.

These prompts will sometimes be about Gideon and where I am on my journey of grief, but will be about other things as well.

I am excited to start this! So, I will begin with a simple one today:

25) I wish I could go to… because…

I wish I could go to Venice, Italy because I am in love what that city! I read a book, The City of Falling Angels, years ago by John Berendt, who also wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (another favorite of mine), and I fell in love with the book. It is a non-fiction book about his experiences and the stories of people he met while in Italy during the time right after the Fenice Opera House burned and during its rebuilding.
He talked about the people and the city. He wrote of the history and the art. Hearing about that, about it all made me want to know more. I looked at more pictures and read more on the history of the city and the people. I have always loved hand blown glass and that is something they have done there and in Murano just 1.5 kilometers away from Venice. I want to learn to blow glass. I love the Venetian and Murano glass. It is exquisite.
 My parents have been there and brought me back a hand blown glass butterfly charm for a necklace. Since I first read that book in 2006 I have wanted to go there. I am just a little obsessed with Italy and especially Venice.
I have heard that no matter where you stand in Venice, you can see something beautiful. I want to
experience that. I want to see everything that Italy has to offer. I want to ride in a gondola down the Grand Canal. I want to see the beauty, the culture, the people. I want to walk where people hundreds and hundreds of years ago walked. I want to see the art, the theatre, the opera. I want to see the architecture of many years past (I have an obsession with architecture, it comes with being a set designer, I think). I want to see the extravagant Rococo designs that don many of the homes and buildings in Venice. I am fascinated by the fact that their city is sinking and in some areas they have simply built on top of the old buildings, so if you were to go underground you would find these buildings of times past with newer buildings built on top of them.

I want to see the canals. I want to go to Venice in the off season when less people are traveling there to see what the city is like for the people who live there. However, I would love to go to a masked ball wearing a Venetian mask in the Carnival season.  Othello and The Merchant of Venice were set in Venice. The poet Ezra Pound lived there with his mistress until his death in the 1970s. Henry James wrote books that were set in Venice, like The Aspern Papers. I want to see the place where many famous authors have written about. Many movies have been shot in Venice. This isn't even mentioning many of the other famous people, artists and composers who lived in Venice.  So I wish I could go to Venice, Italy (really, all of Italy, but I wont be greedy, haha). Ok, I could go on...And I haven't even mentioned many of the specific places in Venice I want to see....


I want to walk along the streets with Todd's hand in mine while looking at all the buildings and walking in St. Mark's Square. I want to kiss him on the Rialto Bridge. I want to show Silas all the history and the
grand beauty. I want to experience all that there is to offer in this life. I want to go to Venice and to soak it all in.
So if any of you want to have mercy on me and take me there one day, I'd greatly appreciate it. I have my passport, I can be ready in about 2 hours.

Otherwise, Todd and I will be saving so we can go there one day. I can't wait!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Are you going to have more?

The most seemingly simple questions aren't always so simple.

"Are you going to try for some more kids?"  or "Ya'll are trying?"
"Aww! Don't you want another baby?"
"I bet you want a girl this time, right?"
"You don't want Silas to be alone do you?"
"Oh, so are you happy just to have the one?"
"How are you feeling about having more kids?"

Now that Silas is 2, I get one question probably more than any other, "are you going to have more?" It seems like such an easy question with a simple response. Really, its not. For many moms who have infertility or who lose babies, the answer can be quite complicated and emotional. I do not really mind the questions if your motivation for asking is based out of love. I love that people are invested in my life and the life of my family. I love that people love us  and our children. I am so blessed that I have family and friends who want to see us grow our family, knowing that no child can replace Gideon, but wanting to see us happy. I love that they want to celebrate our joys with us and grieve our losses with us. I am so grateful that most of the people around me have sensitive hearts, kind words and heartfelt prayers to speak over us.

I just need you to understand that when you do ask, sometimes it causes a stinging pain into my heart. And sometimes, it hard to give an answer. When you ask, it brings forth all these feelings that I try to keep at bay. Because its not simple. The thought of adding another person to our family is confusing and complicated.

"Are you going to have more?"
On the surface, this seems like an innocent enough question. But, I cannot answer it. I can do everything right, I can track my cycle, take drugs, take supplements, we could even do fertility treatment again, but ultimately God decides that. I wish it was easy for me, and for many couples answering this is easy: yes or no. Couples who haven't had infertility or lost a baby/babies can usually give an answer with no hesitation. I, however, cannot. Honestly, you dont know, the person you are asking might have gotten a diagnosis and cannot ever have children again. So asking this might hurt. For me, I dont know if I will ever be fertile again, so asking his hurts because I want more, but it may never happen. Do I believe God can do a miracle?  Absolutely, I just look at my 2 boys and I know He can and does.

"Are yall trying?" 
I don't think people realize what an intimate question this is. Think of it this way, this is what you are asking: are you timing your sexual intercourse for the days before and when you are ovulating? This is an extremely personal question. So unless we have a close enough relationship to discuss sexual intimacy, please consider what you are asking.

"Don't you want a baby?" 
Yes, I do. I would love to have a house filled with children! However, my ovaries don't work right so I may never have another biological child. The idea of adding another child to our family makes me a little anxious. Because if I get my hopes up, it may never happen and that will add to the disappointment. What if it is another 5 years before we bring home another living child after years of loss and struggle?
I don't ovulate on my own. I did fertility treatment for months after we finally got pregnant the first time, only to have a miscarriage. I took Vitex (which is an herbal supplement, derived from the Chasteberry plant,  that helps women with PCOS to ovulate) and that helped me to get pregnant with both Gideon and with Silas. But will God use the same method again? I don't know.  So you see, there is no simple answer.
What if you asked this question to someone you didn't know very well, just out of curiosity and little did you know that she was completely infertile. What if they had been told she had to have a hysterectomy? Or that she would never ovulate again or her husband had a zero sperm count? What if that morning she had gotten another negative pregnancy test? What if at that exact moment, she was miscarrying a baby you didn't know about?

"I bet you want a girl this time, right?"
 A girl would be great, so would a 3rd boy. Mostly I'd just like a living child in my arms. I don't care if I get to dress them up in pink and bows or blue and trucks, I just want them breathing.

"You dont want Silas to be alone, do you?"
 I'd like for him to have a sibling on this earth with him who he can play with, who can be there with him his entire life. But there are no guarantees. If I did get pregnant, I could lose another child. Or 2 more. What's to say that we do everything right, but our kids still die? Not everyone's babies die, I know that, but 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss, right now I am 2 for 3. Also, again, I have poor functioning ovaries and I could never get pregnant again, and God hasn't opened up a door for us to adopt yet. So for now, Silas will just have to deal with being loved and doted on by his mommy and daddy and playing with his cousins and friends. Its a tough life for him, I tell ya. ;)

"Oh, so are you happy just to have the one?"
I don't have "just the one." I have a son who died and I have a living son. It hurts me when people are dismissive of the fact that I have carried and given birth to 2 children. Am I happy to have Silas in my life? YES! But he is not just the only one I am happy to have. I am happy and blessed to have Gideon too, even if he isn't here anymore.

And last, but certainly not least:

"How are you feeling about having more kids?"
Now this is the best way to ask this question. It doesn't assume we can have more kids. It respects the sensitive feelings I may be having. This question puts the ball in my court. It opens up for me to say, "I dont want to talk about it," or "I am feeling anxious/excited/scared." It makes the ask-er sounds like they care. It allows me to share my heart with you, or to not share it if I don't want to. It acknowledges that we may be struggling. It acknowledges that babies, birth and pregnancy are sometimes sensitive subjects. It says to me that you are not discounting my pain of losing Gideon or the pain of infertility.

I have heard some form of these questions pretty often lately. I understand where people are coming from, I understand they want to know. Its human nature. Sometimes it comes from simple curiosity. Sometimes they ask because its just small talk. Sometimes it is nosiness. Sometimes it is that they think they know best for our family. Sometimes, and most of the times, it is out of love. It comes from knowing my heart about wanting to have more children and to be pregnant again.

My entire point of this is to think before you ask. You never know what kind of pain you might be causing someone by asking them a question that you see as a simple question. Things aren't always as they seem.

I used to ask some form of these questions, mostly from plain curiosity. Now I am much more careful how I ask and what I say to someone, because you just never know. If I do ask, it is because I care. It is because I want to pray for you. It is because I love you.

So right now, if I was to be asked "how are you feeling about having another baby?" my response would be: I am, once again, to the point where I realize that God will give us the children He wants us to have. If that is through my body, then great! If that is through adoption, then wonderful! (I really do want to adopt at some point! I am praying God opens that door for us!!) But please know that whatever happens, I am on my way to being ok with it. I am getting the the point where I am ok to have only Silas as the child I get to raise on this earth. I am completely happy to have him here and yet, I'd like to have more. I am getting to the point where I am at peace if we only have one child at home.

I have to remember that God will keep writing our story and because He writes it, it is beautiful.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Psalm 138:8


Thursday, June 26, 2014

What to say/What not to say

Here are a small list of things to help friends and families of parents who have lost a baby. 
I truly hope this helps someone to be a little more sensitive or know what to say to someone. 







Sometimes, saying nothing, but giving a hug and crying with the bereaved parent is the best thing you can do. 


"Always be humble and gentle..." Ephesians 4:2a


Friday, May 23, 2014

Gideon's 3rd birthday

This year for Gideon, his 3rd birthday, was harder than I expected.

I did a lot of crying. I think it was so agonizing because 3 years is when your child moves from being a baby/toddler into a big kid.

 I miss him and love him. And I cant wait to see him again
For his birthday, I made a cookie cake and a couple days after his birthday Silas and I went to the cemetery and decorated his Mailbox (thats what Todd calls his plot at the cemetery, I love that).  On his birthday, Todd and I remembered him and talked about him, like we do most days. The night of May 17th, of this year, M.E.N.D. held a viewing party for Return To Zero, starring Minnie Driver. It seemed like a great way to remember our son in Heaven. You see, Return to Zero is the first movie ever to be about stillbirth. It was a beautiful, raw and real portrayal of the reality of stillbirth. The death of your child and your dreams for them. (for more information about the movie  go to Return To Zero).

Most days last week were days where I cried.

It was like I was back in the early days. 

It was like I was right there again, in the moment after I had to say goodbye.

At one point, during one of my total break downs this past week. I was bawling and holding onto the Molly bear I have that weighs what Gideon weighed. My arms ached to hold him again. I wanted to see his eyes and to hear his laughter and hold his little hand. I wanted to hear him playing downstairs with his brother. My stomach hurt. I kept feeling phantom movement in my womb. I always feel a hole in my heart where he should be, but this day, it was horrible. The hole in my heart was ripped open and bleeding out with pain.

 I hurt SO much
.
 And I cried out to God. And God spoke so clearly to me. "Stormy, you are fulfilling My will in your life." Peace fell over me and I was able to breathe again. Everything I am experiencing will bring me closer to Him and will show people Himself. Even though it hurts, I am doing what God wants me to do. I wish my son was here with me, but I know that God is giving me beauty for the ashes.  

I would never trade one second I had with Gideon. I would do it all over again if it meant I got to have him and if it meant I get to be his mommy. I would do it again and again because I am blessed to have my own little warrior for God.

This is the birthday tribute I put in the M.E.N.D.. Newsletter for both of my babies that are with Jesus
 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

This is the article I wrote for the M.E.N.D. Newsletter this year about Mother's Day.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Silas!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my 2nd born son, Silas.
 I love you more than I can say! You are hilarious and so very smart. You make mommy and daddy laugh every single day. We can have full conversations with you. You are very silly and will run around and dance. You say "I'm fast!" You love Team Umizoomi, Mickey Mouse and Blues Clues best. You like to say "Bot is nice, Blue is nice, Steve is nice. Pete is nice." Pete is your favorite character on MMCH and Bot is your favorite on Umizoomi. You love to color and draw and you know you shapes and colors. You like to yell "school bus!" when you see one on the road, and you name all the animals and their sounds.You also love popcorn more than any other human I have seen! You still love baseball and other sports and you have been able to throw with almost perfect accuracy for an entire year and you can hit of a tee and catch balls. You finally love animals. You love to play with your cousins and you especially like Eke, Wiv, Beedy, PeePee and Caca (Zeke, Olivia Brady, Payton and Sky).I love hearing your laugh and your smile lights up a room.You are stubborn, independent and full of energy. Sometimes I look at you and I can see your big brother in the way you look and it makes me smile. You love snuggles and kisses and you tell me "I love you" and your voice sounds so sweet. You know Gideon  and you give his pictures kisses. You say his name "Didin," its very adorable.
I love you! You have no idea what you mean to us. There is something about you that is so special. God has big plans for your life. He will use you in many ways in your life to bring Him glory. I know and believe deep in my soul that He will do great things through you.
Your daddy and I are so proud of you.

Love forever and ever,
Mommy

I cant believe that he is 2. Two years ago at 9:10pm, I delivered him and held a beautiful screaming baby in my arms, just one day shy of 11 months after his brother was born. I am so so blessed to be the mommy of 2 very special boys.

Here are some pictures I took for his 2nd year. The bear in his picture is our Gideon bear from Molly Bears that weighs what Gideon did when he was born. Silas kept saying "That my bear." It was so cute.