Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Books of the Week

Today is library day.... that means we have to return somewhere around 20 very good books. That makes me sad, BUT it also means that we can pick up more books ;} Hooray!!!

One book that I picked up three weeks ago is Jim Trelease's book The Read-Aloud Handbook. What an inspirational book!! I would highly recommend it to every parent, grandparent, nanny, babysitter, teacher - well, anyone who cares for kids! Trelease not only gives advice on the importance of and how to read aloud to children. He also gives book reviews and recommendations for specific age groups.

I've taken a list of recommendations from Trelease's book and started checking them out at our local public library. Thank goodness our library does not have a limit as to how many books a patron can check out at a time. :) I also gathered a few books that just interested me or had been recommended by friends.

Bye Bye Baby by Janet and Allan Ahlberg is one that we need to put on our wish list for Ellie's home library. I had requested this book from another library and the day I had to pick it up was the day after I delivered Maggie. It wasn't a pleasant day to say the least. But as Nick and I were driving home from the library I opened it up and read aloud the first page:
"There was once a baby who had no mommy. This baby lived in a little house all by himself. He fed himself and bathed himself. He even changed his own diaper. It was very sad."
I ended up reading the entire book out loud and we both were just laughing at the hilarious antics of this poor baby. It has a very delightful ending. I imagine anyone who picks up Bye Bye Baby will not be disappointed!

A nanny friend of mine recommended The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. (Jim Trelease encourages parents to read the names of authors and illustrators every time a book is read... so I'm learning to do that. It has a great advantage which I'll explain in another post.) I really like reading children's books that rhyme because it usually holds Ellie's attention well. The illustrations in The Bear Snores On are so adorable! It is easy for me to imagine myself sitting amongst the forest animals sipping tea and eating popcorn, until... Well, you'll just have to check it out and see what happens. ;) We're definitely going to be checking out more books from this series!

I love to bake! Being in the kitchen just fills me with endorphins from head to toe. But I'm also accident prone... ;p Hattie is accident prone too. Can you imagine how Hattie's baking accident could cause this wedding calamity?
The wind chimes were silent, the judge had to squint, the musicians could not play a note, the groom had no socks, the usher no ring, the flower girl cried for her shoes, the sky was dark on the faraway side, the bouquet of roses was missing a bud, and there wasn't a kiss for the bride.

"We can't have a wedding without a kiss," said the judge. The bride only cried.

Check out: Hattie Baked a Wedding Cake by Toby Speed and illustrated by Cathi Hepworth. What a fun-filled, nonsense read-aloud book for kids! It will bring a smile to your face. If Ellie were a bit older, I would mix up some cake batter with her and read this book while waiting for it to bake.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One day at a time...

I ache so badly today for my sweet baby Margaret. After I delivered her I held her tenderly for only a couple of minutes. It was so difficult because she was so, so fragile and her poor body was just a mess (not just because she had been dead but because of her deformities). I remember when Ellie was born how I just hugged her tight. I never got that chance with Maggie. It's hard to squeeze and kiss a dead baby :(

Today is hard. It's not just hard to see the pregnant women and babies around me. It's hard to ever dream of getting pregnant again. I'm not sure I want to put myself through that again.

But then Jesus reminds me... He carries me ONE day at a time. One moment at a time, He pours His grace upon me. Sometimes I am such an impatient person. If you don't believe me, ask my husband :) I don't deal well when I have to wait for something.

And on days like today when I feel that everything within me is broken and hurting, I literally look up to the heavens. There is one good and stable and faithful thing in my life; it's God. He is a rock when I am weak. He is powerful when I am powerless. He is faithful when I feel so unstable.

Today I'm not thinking about whether or not I'll ever be able to choose to get pregnant again. I'm thinking about how deeply His grace runs through me when I allow myself to be open to His will and ways in my life.

I can't imagine why He chose me to walk this journey... but it's amazing to feel His constant presence. He's there. I just have to choose to acknowledge that fact.

And today - when I was planning on making myself put away my maternity clothes - I know that He is OK with me grieving again over the loss. I can put the maternity clothes away another day. Right now, I need some time to just cling to Him more.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Books Beyond Borders

It started out as a very simple venture. Last night I had somehow come across an advertisement on Cragislist for "free, used children's books." I think my heart started racing immediately. Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that I had just downed my 3rd cup of coffee in the last hour (Hey, I'm not pregnant or breast-feeding so this is allowed!). I tried not to act too excited as I calmly walked across the living room to tell my beloved husband. "It's free," I reminded him sweetly.

I can't imagine why Nicholas would roll his eyes at me. He has somehow conjured up this fear that I married him for his money. He thinks one day he will wake up and we will be living in a house with books wall to wall, ceiling to floor. For some strange reason that doesn't make him happy. I keep telling him that I didn't marry him to steal his money; I married him because I thought he was cute and muscular. Somehow my reminding him of that fact seems to come about when I'm trying to convince him to take another adventure with me...

And so, at 8:20AM on Saturday morning, I was up, dressed, and "bouncy"... I was trying to be patient, but when free children's books are calling my name, it's hard. You would understand, wouldn't you? Well, I should have brought coffee to his bed. That would have probably smoothed things over immediately. Somehow my dear husband kindly managed to get himself ready in the nick of time. Ellie Bear was ready too although she was giving kind of a wondering look.

I have lived in Austin for only 2 1/2 years so I'm not completely familiar with the area. I scribbled some directions onto a sticky note and felt fairly confident that my fearless leader could get us there by the time the doors opened at 9AM. We would have made it there in plenty of time if I had written down the directions correctly. After about 15 or 20 minutes of meandering around east Austin with little to no clue as to where this warehouse was located I convinced Nicholas to stop at the postal service and ask directions. Unfortunately, there was no one there.

While Nick sat in the car trying to get directions from my mother on the phone, I saw a man coming out of the post office. He looked kind enough so I ran up to him and asked him if he could tell me where the warehouse was. In broken English he explained that it would be much easier to show me where it was than to tell me. So I ran back to the car, jumped in, and we quickly followed him in our car. In a short jiffy, we arrived.

To our surprise there were only about half a dozen vehicles at the warehouse. Aha! I knew we were in luck. Now, husbands who drive their wives some place on Saturday morning and end up getting lost and having to get help from complete strangers because their wife asked, need a special reward. I was trying to tell Nicholas how much I appreciated his kindness. I think he would have rather I just shut up ;D

We entered the warehouse and what did we see??? Thousands of books. Thousands of them, I tell you!! All of them just waiting for someone to take them home. Nick and I immediately grabbed a box and began to dig through, looking for the richest, most precious of treasures. (Well, I may be exaggerating a tiny bit...) It was wonderful. An hour later, we walked out of the warehouse sweaty and tired. But we had two boxes FILLED with books that we both agreed needed to be brought home.

Another day I will share a few of the treasures we were able to procure. But for now, I need to get busy trying to tuck the books away into their new home. I think they are as happy as can be!


Friday, September 24, 2010

A New "Normal"

Wow. For weeks I've been planning to start blogging again. Somehow life with a very active one year old and being pregnant seemed to drain me in every way. ;-) I woke up this morning realizing that today begins a different way of life for me. I would give anything to be able to still be pregnant with my sweet baby Margaret but obviously that wasn't God's plan for me.

I am learning about grieving... it's not one of those things you can schedule. I've lost loved ones before, but I never could have imagined how deeply a mother could love a baby even without ever getting to see that baby alive. I'm so glad for the moment I got to hold my baby. She was so delicate and tiny. So tiny!!! It may seem silly but I'm so, so, so grateful for the tiny footprints that the nurse gave me. Anyway, I am glad but Maggie is with Jesus but I must admit I'm more than a bit jealous that He gets to have her first ;-D

So life moves on... we're not going to forget the place that Margaret has in our hearts. But we're also not going to go on moaning and groaning because we have another dear daughter who needs our love and affection :) And Ellie has been a dear!! Today after I found her "reading" books aloud to her baby dolls I just started bawling. I know she didn't understand but she hugged me and kept smiling and saying, "Heeey!! Hey!!" It was too precious!!

So... I am working on some blog ideas. I'll be back when my brain is functioning a bit better ;)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Margaret Jacquelyn Harris - September 15, 2010

Our sweet baby Maggie went to be with Jesus... What a long week it has been. Rather than try to recap everything, I am going to paste the updates I posted on Facebook last week.

Update on 09/13/10

For those who have not heard... we went in today (21 weeks, 6 days gestation) to see our precious little baby. Just a routine ultrasound. I had been suspecting something was wrong for a while but had been reassured by everyone not to worry - I was probably just having a "normal" pregnancy. We could tell immediately that the sonographer was worried and, rather than beat around the bushes, I just asked her straight up, "What's wrong?" When she asked me if I had still been feeling pregnant I knew that the baby was dead. And she confirmed.

Thank you all for the love and support! We are still grieving but it was an amazing peace to get to see our baby girl via ultrasound this afternoon. As far as anyone could tell there was nothing in the world wrong with precious little Margaret Jacquelyn. She must have just been terribly anxious to go see her Creator! ;)

The roughest part is ahead as I will have to be induced and go through labor. (Past 14 weeks gestation they cannot do a D&C because the baby is just too big. It's also not really considered a miscarriage but a still birth.) Please pray that my body can rest before we have to go through that process and that it would be quick and without complication. Since we're still not sure what caused sweet MJ's passing we are all (dr's and nurses included) a little cautious about starting any induction until we know if there were further complications with my body.

God's grace has been sufficient. Grieving is part of the process and I truly believe God sees each tear and is putting them into a bottle... our grief is written in His book (ps 56). The support from friends, family, and our wonderful church family has been overwhelming. There have been times today where I really felt like a burden was lifted and we were being carried as we went from appointment to appointment.

We'll continue to keep our friends and family updated. Thank you for your continued prayer and support.

- Nick, Becca & Ellie (who has remained completely oblivious and has been totally spoiled with attention today)

Update on 09/15/10

A month ago I went in for my 17 week check-up. Michelle was the same midwife I had seen the last time (at my 13 week check-up) which is a little unusual because they try to rotate you between 5 midwives for each of the visits so that you are familiar with them all. She was so, so happy to hear that I was not sick. We had a very normal check-up. Sweet baby Margaret's heart rate was in the 130s which I noted as being a little strange because the very squirmy girl (who I actually didn't know was a girl then) had been having higher heart rates of 170 at previous check-ups. Michelle assured me that was normal for it to fluctuate.

I had one concern that day which makes me laugh now. I was very worried about my labor with Margaret being really fast ;-D Ellie's labor had only been 7 hrs and they told me to expect a somewhat faster labor the second time around. What a silly thing to worry about at 4 months ;-) But I always seem to find something to be "concerned" about...

Journal Entry:

"Michelle told me that I need to have some mantras to tell myself to settle my mind for labor.

"The curious thing about that is that I already have been memorizing Psalm 113.[I had memorized Ps 121 when I was very young and God chose that chapter to come to mind when I was in labor with Ellie. It was so comforting. This time I was proactive in picking a chapter and had memorized it already] The first verse says 'Prasie the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD.'

"Michelle suggesed some mantras such as, 'I am healthy. My baby is healthy. I have gone through labor before and I can do it again.'

"That's all fine but what if something changes? What if I or the baby or both of us have complications? Then what mantra can I rely on?

"There is POWER in God's name!!

"And I believe the truth of Ps 113 is that God is to be praised ALWAYS. God is holy! He is all powerful. He is to be praised.

"This morning we [in church] we sang songs of grace and redemption. The thought that God as my name enscribed on His hand and that no one can snatch me from Him?! Amazing! POWERFUL. And such a responsibility to pass on the legacy to my babies."

End of Journal Entry

God knew. He knew that I would be going into labor 4 months earlier than we had planned. He knew that when I went into labor that Margaret would have been with Him in Glory for a month. It's not fair that I have to go to the hospital this morning and be induced and go through all the things a normal mom goes through only to deliver a lifeless form. It really hurts and I'm not going to pretend like I have it all together just to prove to myself or others that I'm awesome or super spiritual.

I can say this, I have been bought. I'm redeemed. And the thought that my precious, sweet baby will never have to be in a world of sin and that she is with her Creator this morning is so precious to me. I am filled with peace although I have tears just rolling down my face as I type.

There have been times in the last 3 days that I have had a difficult time "feeling" like God is with me. But I look back on Ps 113. And I realize how powerful, how holy He is. I realize that He sent His one and only Son - HIS ONLY SON. I have a daughter already and I can't tell anyone how much she has helped already to heal Nick's heart and mine. She is a precious treasure to us. But God only had one Son and He willingly gave His Son to be sent to a corrupt and wicked world. He would have allowed His Son to be beaten and tortured and for Him to die a lonely, agonizing death just for me.

If I had not received God's gift of salvation I just cannot imagine the hopelessness I would be feeling right now. But I did receive that grace. I personally asked Christ to forgive me. I believed that He not only died, but He ROSE AGAIN. He lives for me now. He has given me the Holy Spirit which is not just a warm and fuzzy feeling inside me. Right now I don't feel warm and fuzzy at all. But the Holy Spirit speaks truth to me when the world and circumstances and my sinful nature speak lies.

And it's 5:03AM and I really need to go dry my hair and get ready to birth this baby girl. ;-) Please just continue to pray for strength. I'm not the only one hurting this morning. My parents and Nick and his parents are hurting knowing what we are all about to go through.

I don't want Margaret Jacquelyn's death to be in vain. I don't believe it is because it's already brought me so much closer to my Heavenly Father. But if there were one person out there who had never accepted the redemption that is in the cross, I wish by her passing that someone would see that there is a hope that all can have.

I love you all so much. Thank you for the continued prayers and love. I slept WELL last night and that's just a miracle. It may have been my imagination but I think I started contracting some through the night so here's hoping things move quickly this morning.

- Becca

Update on 09/16/10

I almost did not post this here because it is somewhat detailed. Just beware that it is the details of labor and if that makes you queasy or uncomfortable, please stop here.

Wednesday's Notes:

I just got home from the hospital. Thank you all so very, very, very much for the prayers!!!!

When the Dr. came in yesterday morning she reminded me that I was considered a high risk labor and we were really trying to act okay but to be honest, I was very afraid I would never walk out of the hospital alive. That may sound weird and paranoid but the clotting issue that they were considered about was a real risk. Thankfully it ended up not being an issue at all!! Thank goodness!!

My mom and Nick were with me through the whole labor. I feel really, really bad for the poor young nurses who were with me when I delivered. One looked like she was either going to cry or pass out.

They gave me Stadol (sp?) to sedate me after about 4 or 5 hrs of contractions. Because of how small everything was the monitor was having a really hard time tracking my contractions and I have a somewhat high pain tolerance so the nurse really couldn't tell where I was at... But since I'd had Ellie I could compare the pain I was in with where I would have been when I was pregnant with her (if that makes any sense at all). So I knew about where I was at without them telling me how far I was dilated.

Anyway... I hated the Stadol! It made me feel really weird (like I closed my eyes and pictured Santa Claus in our room) and I kept saying weird things. Nick was having a great time making fun of me but I could tell I was not making sense. BUT, I could feel every contraction and it was very painful.

The Stadol wore off after an hour and by then things happened fast. Around 4PM I started getting the shakes really, really bad!!! My mom was trying not to freak out and I knew it was transition but the nurse was just like, "Well, your hormones are changing, that's natural..." She suggested I get an epidural and I had already decided I wanted one... so she sent for the anesthesiologist.

The shakes were starting to settle down which made me think either I was getting really close or I was losing my mind and didn't have a clue what was going on. The anesthesiologist started prepping me and as I was leaning like I was worshiping something, I just started praying my heart out because I was in so much freaking pain. I wanted it all over so badly!!!

I couldn't tell but apparently the anesthesiologist had to go through three pairs of gloves before he found some that fit. Just as he got the right pair on and was about to insert the needle I felt a very strong urge to push. I told the nurse and she kind of freaked out and was trying to figure out if I still needed an epidural. (I was thinking, "Duh, no!") The poor girl was clueless (she was very young and I don't think she'd been through this kind of labor before). She decided to send the anesthesiologist out and he peaked his head in right after to say he could come back if I needed him. I just rolled my eyes. I took charge as she and the other nurse (who Nick and my mom think was an intern) stood there trying to figure out if they should get the Dr. or what... they helped me lay down (and I was in excruciating pain). One push and poor Maggie's body was delivered.

After that it was pretty quick. Everything except one large clot delivered within just a couple of pushes. We realized once we saw our sweet baby's body that she was extremely deformed. We really can't tell how long she had been dead, but it was probably not as long as we first thought. The doctor said that Margaret's body was the size of 16 week baby which didn't make sense with what we already knew. I told her that we heard the heartbeat at 17 weeks. She said that she understood... but although Margaret's heart was still working, her body had probably not been forming correctly for a long time - maybe from the beginning.

I rested well last night. I painlessly passed the very large clot last night and the recovery has been good.

Somehow they managed to get us footprints of Maggie's teeny, tiny feet. It breaks my heart but gives me peace at the same time. What's really super bizarre is that a week ago on Ellie's birthday we bought Ellie a "big sister" doll that happened to come with a little sister doll. We kind of laughed when we bought it because I kept saying that our baby was a girl and Nick said it was a boy but we didn't know then. Ironically, the baby doll that we bought is about the same size that Maggie was. I hope that doesn't gross anyone out but it makes me smile.

Another ironic thing was that sweet little Margaret was delivered at 4:44PM. Ellie was born on 09/09/09. I know that's just a little silly thing but it just makes me happy.

I am so happy that we had a baby girl... she is with Jesus and has a perfect body that will never have to suffer.

The chaplain came by today to help us make funeral plans and she had just come from NICU. She didn't tell us what the situation there was but it made me realize... if Margaret had been born full term I just don't know what we would have done. I really believe that God gives you difficult situations only when He is willing to allow you to go through those times with His grace. For whatever reason, He decided that having Margaret full term was not a situation He was willing for us to undergo. I am thankful for the peace that we have in Him.

Nick has had to work on making funeral arrangements today... and I am working on resting (or at least that's what I'm supposed to be doing). In the next day or two they said my milk will come in and I'm not looking forward to that but hopefully it will not take too long for me to get back to normal. Emotionally, today has been a lot more difficult for me than yesterday. I can't tell if it's PPD or just sorrow. I didn't have any PPD with Ellie so if that is what it is then it's a new experience for me. I am being very cared for and my Dr. gave me her personal cell phone number in case I need her. But I will have regular post partum check-ups with her too.

I can't express my gratitude enough for all the prayers and concerns. We've really been upheld by all the thoughts and prayers and I believe it is only by God's grace that I wasn't right in the middle of getting that epidural when I felt the urge to push. I can't imagine how uncomfortable that would have been.

Although Ellie has no idea what has been going on the last few days she is having a little bit of a rough time having been away from me so much. I'm not really supposed to be lifting her right now but I'm about the only person she wants so please just pray that my body bounces back quickly and that Ellie will let other people hold and love on her when I can't.

Thank you all so, so, so much!!!!