Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It still hurts

My heart is still hurting, a combination of our loss and the pain I see in my children, especially Th. He is my child who is very compassionate and tender-hearted and has taken the news harder than the others. I think it's because he's older and he understands more, and truthfully TJ and I underestimated his level of maturity and understanding. He teared up when we told the kids, but he was able to keep his composure and not let loose. But, he did immediately ask about the health and well-being of the other baby and wanted to know, "What if the other baby dies, too?" That took me by surprise as I was not prepared for that question. TJ handled it well and simply said, "Then we won't have any new babies and it will live with Jesus, too." But, I know the thought is weighing on his mind as his teacher told me last night on the phone that he told her what happened. I hate that he has become distracted by this news; I don't want the kids to worry so I am trying my best to be an example, fully trusting in God's goodness throughout this entire situation.

I went to church on Sunday and it was very difficult. I managed to get more than half-way through the service before grief took over. I had to get up and go to the bathroom to cry. Grief comes when I least expect it and usually at the worst time. Thankfully my church family rallied around me with hugs, tears, and lots of words of support and encouragement. It prepared me to go to my sis-in-law's house later in the afternoon because there I was, just another face in the crowd. I did tear up for a few minutes as I watched a mother and her 2 twin boys, about 4 or 5 months old. It was so difficult to sit there and act happy when inside I felt like my heart was being shredded to pieces. Plus, to have family around me acting like everything was normal made my being there that much more difficult. TJ and I left shortly after that because he knew I was struggling to keep my composure.

School has been a good distraction, although I had a grief moment while in the storage room picking out googly eyes yesterday. I told you it comes at random times and moments! My kids (both at school and at home) help keep me busy enough during the day that I don't have time to give in to my feelings for the most part. I have been so tired at night that my thoughts don't keep me up, either. I am thankful for that.

I have a strong faith in God and I know He is in control of all things and all situations. I also know this did not happen as a surprise to Him; He ordained it and specifically chose me to go through this trial. Although I do not like it nor understand it, it is something I must endure in order to grow to be more like Christ. I am struggling each and every day but I know it is for my good and God's glory that this happened. I ask that you pray for our family as you think of it. Pray for the health and wellness of the living baby, and for us as we grieve the loss of a precious life. This is the second miscarriage I have had and, although it does not lessen the pain, I know I will get through it. I still cannot look at the u/s pictures without crying, knowing there were two but now only 1 remains. Also pray for my kids to not worry but rather fully trust in God's sovereignty. Pray for healing of a wounded heart and opportunities for me to show my trust and faith in the Lord to others as a result of this trial.

*Psa. 119: 68, 75-76- "You [Lord] are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. "

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to normal? Hardly!

It’s been an up-and-down kind of day for me. I did good for the most part, but I had my moments. I still haven’t fully accepted everything so I find myself studying the u/s picture searching for anything that remotely resembles a second baby. It’s not there, and it never will be. The pain of that reality still stings. Bad. I used to be a mother-of-multiples, now I'm not. How do I acknowledge this baby without acknowledging the other?

With my last miscarriage I questioned everything: what did I do, how could I have prevented it, why did this happen. With this one, I am not questioning anything with the exception of one thing: I just want to know what went wrong. When I found out about the twins, both babies had good, strong heartbeats. The doctors never informed me of this “Vanishing Twin Syndrome” since both babies seemed to be doing well. A viable heartbeat reduced the risk of miscarriage (or VTS) to less than 1 percent. I know I will never know until I get to heaven and can see and hold my children again, but until then, that will be the question that haunts my thoughts when I least expect it, and it is that very question that causes me to give in to my grief. Thinking back to that day when I had the first u/s and seeing/hearing both babies’ heartbeats on the screen was the most thrilling sound in my life and it filled me with pure joy (and a tinge of panic at the thought of having 2!) It is in that memory that I mourn the loss of life that once was and rejoice in the life that still is. It is a constant battle of emotions, grief and joy, difficult to explain.

On a different note, we decided to sell our house. We have been debating on whether or not to do so, but we finally reached a decision last weekend. We have already begun searching for a bigger house, and I will admit, I am very happy. This house holds so many memories, good and bad. A new house (not new, just different) will sort of be like a “fresh start” for our family, or at least for me. TJ has been working on finishing the final details on some projects around here and we hope to list ours in the next week or so. Pray it sells quickly and that we are able to find the perfect house to meet our needs. We are going to look at some houses tomorrow evening and even the kids are so excited! T.G. has requested we buy a pink house, while Ta prefers green. I like that they are open to the idea of moving even though this house has been the only one they’ve ever known. In October we will celebrate our 6th anniversary of living here. It’s been good to us in many ways, but it’s time to move on. Plus, we need more space! :)

*I am thankful for God's truths. Phil. 4:4

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grief and a Blessing

I do better with writing than I do with talking, especially when it comes to not-so-good news. I could never call each individual person, especially through the tears. I had my regular doctor’s appointment today. They did an ultrasound, and prior to that the doctor and I were talking about the last u/s. She was encouraged by the shape of the egg sacs and was very optimistic about the outcome of today’s u/s. However, much to our surprise, one of the babies has died. I’m not sure when as it is simply gone, like it never existed. It’s a phenomenon called “Vanishing Twin” and rather than having a miscarriage, the mother’s body absorbs it. The other baby looks great and the heartbeat is still nice and strong. A blessing in this tragedy.

I am in a state of shock. I still can’t believe it. I feel like a part of me is missing- I can’t really explain it. I am grieving, but how do I grieve a baby I never met? I suppose I am grieving shattered dreams. Although I knew it was going to be difficult, I was so excited and anticipating their arrival. I had been thinking of names and looking forward to this new chapter in my life. This pregnancy has been a rollercoaster since it began, and I just can’t help but wish the crazy ride would end. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt God’s sovereignty in this situation, but in my human mind I don’t understand it. I may never understand it as painful as it is.

We have not told the kids yet. I never realized until today how excited they are, too. In the car driving to pick up soccer uniforms, I could hear the boys in the back talking about seat assignments when we get our bigger vehicle and the babies arrive. I had to fight back the urge to cry! They are going to be devastated and I pray that, as much as possible, they are able to understand what happened. We are going to keep it simple and tell them the baby died and is living with Jesus now. The baby will not have to suffer any pains on this earth as he/she was able to go right away to Jesus. That is a truth I have been telling myself since I saw the u/s. I know it’s true, but it still hurts.

I also wonder if this baby will instinctively know it was a twin. Oh well, it doesn’t matter now anyway.

This baby’s birth will be so very bittersweet for me, I know it already. I am thankful I am in such a supportive church and have such supportive friends who can relate to this loss because of miscarriage. I also know the wonderful work the Lord did in my life with my last miscarriage, and once the pain of this raw wound heals, I know He will do another great work through this trial. Please pray for our family as we grieve the loss of our precious baby.

*Job 23:10- “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday, Th!

Today is Th's birthday. I can't believe how quickly the years have passed since the Lord blessed us with him.

Some hallmarks to his last year include:
  • entering and successfully completing kindergarten in public school

  • growing tall enough to ride some of the "big" rides at Carowinds

  • learning to read and enjoying it, especially when reading to his brother or sister

  • figuring out to spell words when TJ and I don't want the kids to know what we're talking about :)

  • a growing imagination that impresses me each time he uses it

We are probably one of the few families who does not own a video game system. I am not into video games, and neither is TJ, so that has never really been a desire for us. Plus, I limit their television viewing each day. As a result, the kids play more and use their imaginations more. My boys love to build things, and play so well together for the most part. Th is able to see something in his mind and construct it out of blocks, train tracks, Lego's, or blankets. He takes after me in that aspect (I am a very visual person- I see things in my mind and remember things by taking a "picture". This has come in very handy, especially when driving. I remember how landmarks look. If I misplace something, I also remember where items are located based on how they look. It's hard to explain). Anyway, this year he has invented so many really cool things (his latest is a bunk bed set that has a crib on the bottom- how wonderful if that were true!) it amazes me. Sometimes he puts his inventions on paper for me to save. I like when he does that because they really are good ideas and well thought out.

He is kind and tenderhearted, and has a burden for our unsaved family members. He prays for them on a regular basis, and he wants to be a missionary when he gets older. He just completed a bible study so that he can get baptized as that is something he has wanted to do for a long time. He truly understands salvation and shares it with others, something I need to learn from his example.

I pray the Lord will continue to work in his young life, molding and shaping him into whatever the Lord would have him do. He is growing into a godly young man and I thank the Lord for that, and am thankful for our church for equipping TJ and I to raise our family according to God's word.

*I am thankful for Th and love him dearly.*

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Teagan!

Here are a few pictures of her first year, along with the Lord’s blessings throughout. . .

September 21, 2008, 2 1/2 weeks before her due date of October 8th.
At birth- 7 lbs, 4 oz.
All cleaned up. . .

She was very jaundice. She had to sleep on a light bed for about 3 weeks after we brought her home. So thankful for God's provision in providing a smaller "bili-bed" that we could have in our home rather than keeping her in the hospital for that long.
At 3 months old, her first Christmas. . .

At 6 months old, eating solid food like a big girl. . .

At 5 months old Teagan was still not holding her neck steady nor rolling over. I knew something was wrong and mentioned it to her pediatrician. He referred me to BabyNet, South Carolina's name of the portion of the special ed law that covers children birth to age 3. Teagan qualified for physical therapy and this is her at almost 7 months old, sitting supported. Again, so thankful for the Lord's intervention. You can read about it here, here, and here.

Because of Easter Seals (who Teagan receives her therapy through), Teagan was able to receive a "season pass" to Monkey Joe's. Here she is in one of the infant inflatables. She is 9 months old in this picture. . . As you can see, she is now able to sit unsupported (but she is still very wobbly).

Teagan and her siblings at the beach. . . 9 months old

Happy 1st birthday! Teagan has 2 teeth on the bottom and is able to pull herself up to stand. She is also standing unsupported for short amounts of time. She will "cruise" along the furniture but has not taken any steps on her own. She is getting stronger every day. In addition to still receiving physical therapy, Teagan is also receiving Occupational Therapy once per week to help her overcome a mild fine-motor delay. She also has some sensory issues we are working on, particularly her tactile defensiveness (she does not like to be touched on or near her hands, and also does not like the texture of certain things, such as thicker baby food). But, overall she has made great progress thanks to her EI, Crystal, and her PT, Kathy, both of whom she adores (and so do I)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big Dig

While I was busy cleaning out the toys and such, TJ took the older kids so I could work without interruption. He dropped T.G. off at his mom's house and took the boys to a local fundraiser event in Greer, The Big Dig. For a fee, the boys were able to drive real construction equipment. Needless to say, they had a blast! Here are some pictures from the day. . .

On the shuttle to the dig site (Ta's first ride on a bus- he was excited!)

Ta operating the digger. . .

Th operating the bulldozer. . .

Th driving a road grader. . .

Ta scooping up a pile of dirt in the front-end loader. . .
It should be obvious how much fun they had- I wish I could have enjoyed it with them instead of de-cluttering at home, but Lord willing we can go as a family next year! =)
*I am thankful for a husband who is so involved with his children.*

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A quiet week. . .

Not really much to talk about this week. I spent the day yesterday going through all the toys we own trying to make room for toys received from 3 birthdays and Christmas coming up in the next 3 months. I separated everything into 4 piles: keep, toss, sell, & donate. Although it doesn't seem like I made a huge dent in our toy supply, I donated 1 huge bag of toys, trashed another, and have 3 boxes and 2 piles of toys in my bedroom that need to be cleaned and priced to sell. I have registered for a local consignment sale next week, so I need to get everything finished between now and next Tuesday. If I work on it a little each night, I should finish. I am not looking to get rich, but it will be nice to have a little extra money to put away for the babies we need to plan for.

I am excited for tomorrow. My sis is having an ultrasound to determine her baby's gender. She wants a boy but would be okay with another girl. I just want to know because I'm excited for her. I'm glad she's moved back to Ohio so that she can have help from family. I remember going from 1 child to 2; it was when Th broke his leg so it was a difficult transition. Plus, like I did, she is going to school at the same time. She is studying nursing so her classes are technical and difficult. She is doing very well in the program and I am so proud of her!

Th and T.G. are in our church's mission drama this afternoon, so we are getting ready for that. They've been practicing each Sunday for a few weeks now and tonight's the big night. Th is really excited about it! Our mission's conference begins Wednesday and goes until next Sunday. We LOVE mission's conference; it's our favorite time of year. Every year we have lunch with the missionaries (this year it's on Thursday) and we host a missionary family for supper (which will be on Friday). Our kids love it, too. We pray for various missionaries but by meeting a different family each year, it makes the mission field and the purpose behind missions more concrete to the kids. Th has said from a very young age that he wants to be a missionary, and if that is truly God's calling on his life, then participating in the mission's conference in this way will help him to learn more about the life of a missionary. We have a Fall Fellowship with the missionaries on Saturday at another church member's home. That is always fun because they have a small pond on their property. The kids look forward to fishing since they rarely get to go. Sunday the week will wrap up with services preached by different missionaries. Our pastor began our church as a missionary, so this is something very near and dear to his heart. Have I said how thankful I am for our church? =)

Well, time to work on some preschool stuff. We studied the letter 'A' last week and the kids made ant hills and ants out of sand and raisins. I need to draw legs on the ants. . .

Monday, September 7, 2009

School and such

The first week of school went well. It was very exhausting (more than I anticipated!) but very fun. I have a wonderful class (17 in all) and I think it will be a great year. We begin our study of letters this week so I have been busy preparing mini-lessons to accompany each letter. I will admit I am surprised at the amount of preparation I need to do even in preschool. I thought because I was teaching only half-days the work load would be less; boy, was I wrong! I have brought work home with me each day, mainly because at the end of the day my own kids are ready to leave so I can't really finish up things at school. I am also surprised at how quickly the morning passes. It seems like we never have enough time to finish all that I want to get done in one day; I suppose I will learn to better manage our time as I get used to our daily routine. We do lots of art projects, and I am still working on timing those better so that we can finish them in one day rather than two.

On a different note, I have been really wanting to share about how the Lord has worked in my life in the past month or so. As most of you know, TJ and I were trying not to get pregnant, so when I found out I was expecting I was stunned, let alone when I found out about the twins (if that's not evidence of a miracle, I don't know what is!). But, in His providence, God has brought several women into my life who have twins: there is a family in my church who have natural twin daughters and another family who have adopted twin girls. Also, a student in my preschool class has twin sisters, and the mother has been so supportive. She has emailed me different local events for parents of multiples, and has given tips and advice even this early on. All of them have been very helpful and it never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works; it's always when I least expect it!

In addition to placing people in my life, the Lord has also provided for us in other ways. A woman at church has been giving us 2 loaves of bread for several weeks now. They are fresh-baked and all different flavors. She typically gives us one loaf for sandwiches (i.e. Italian, sourdough, wheat, white) and another flavored (blueberry, cherry cheesecake, cinnamon raisin). They are soooo good and the kids love them! Not that bread is terribly expensive, but not having to buy it helps, and saving money is what we need to do most right now. Also, another lady has been going to different sales and buying name-brand clothes and shoes for the kids. I have nothing against hand-me-downs and could never afford to consistently purchase Baby Gap, Gymboree, or Children's Place clothing for all of my children all of the time. This lady finds clothes at excellent prices and has already given me 2 boxes full of clothes for the kids. That in itself is such a blessing, especially because Th and T.G. are the oldest boy and girl, meaning I have to buy their clothes new.

Every year for Christmas my in-laws buy the kids clothes, but because Ta and T.G. are small for their ages, the clothes immediately go into storage. Last year Ta got 5T clothes and T.G. got 3T clothes. They were adorable and much appreciated, but it will be at least another year before they can wear them; Ta is just now in 4T and T.G. is in 24 month/2T. I just moved both of them up. I don't have a lot of summer clothes for either one of them in size 4T or 24m so they are still wearing their 3T/18m summer clothes. In the spring I will have to buy some in the correct sizes because I've looked at clearance stuff but there isn't a wide range of options- I think I'm too late in the season. But, I did tell my friend who does the clothing ministry for us my situation so perhaps as she shops, she will have better luck than I did in finding summer clothes.

I also bought myself another bible. I love it! It's a topical bible, meaning the bible verses are arranged by topic rather than by book/chapter/verse. I have been wanting to study the character of God for some time but didn't know how to go about it. With this new bible, I can simply look up the attribute I am studying (i.e. faithfulness of God) and immediately find all the verses that relate to that particular attribute. This will be a very time-consuming and exhaustive study, but one that is very important for me to do in order to better know my God. I have a notebook that I will write out each verse in and than as I go through the different attributes, I will arrange them alphabetically in my notebook. This will probably take me years to do but I can do it, one attribute at a time. If I can discipline myself enough to get through college and raise a family, I can do this! Plus, this is way more important and will help me grow as a Christian wife, mother, friend, and teacher.

TJ is working today so the kids and I are headed to the park. Have a great Labor Day!

*I am thankful for God and His love for me.*

Friday, September 4, 2009

Brandon Update

Brandon's family set up a CaringBridge site. I encourage you to read it, and if you feel so inclined, sign the guestbook with a word of encouragement. Even if Brandon or his family does not know you, this is a difficult time for them and any/all words of encouragement are appreciated. Thank you in advance!


P.S. Cancer sucks!