Day 81 – Blissful Happiness

I think back to this time last year, a time when I had another countdown ticking away in my head. How significant the month of April has become in my life. Last year, I eagerly awaited the meeting of my birth daughter! It was an event that I had dreamt of and imagined for 17 years leading up to that marvelous day. I remember how nervous I was, yet how blissfully happy and excited. And then finally came the moment that I got to see her, to hug her and release the tears of absolute euphoria that had been building up for so long! What a precious, incredible moment that was; one that I will never ever forget. I love that my dear, sweet husband was right there with me, just as enchanted as I was, as if she were his own birth daughter!

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Here we are again, ardently awaiting another great meeting of monumental proportions. Most of the same emotions are present, except for maybe the blissful happiness at this point. A looming sorrow hangs in the balance, threatening to tip the scale in its favor. I don’t want to acknowledge it, but I know it’s there. The tests, the statistics, the studies, the stories, the pictures… They’re all hinting at the sadness. The potential of crippling grief will not deter me from finding joy in what ultimately is to come–no matter what the outcome is.

I awoke this morning from a dream in which I was holding Nora. This was the first time I’ve dreamt of holding her (that I can remember). As with all of my pregnancies, I logically know there is a baby in there, but it isn’t until I am actually holding that new little life that I really fully comprehend the great, unimaginable, unconditional love between a parent and child. There is nothing like it. That blinding love was right there in my dream. My cheek rested on her soft little head and all was right with the world in that very moment of blissful happiness.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed (blissfully happy) when his glory is revealed.”
(1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV)

Day 76 – The Dew on the Grass

These next few weeks are all I have left of “status quo”. Past April 17th I have NO plans for absolutely anything except what ever it is that God has in store. For really the first time ever in my life I feel like a big PAUSE button has been pressed. My life sits there frozen on the screen, most likely with a dumbfounded expression on my face. I’m scared to have the PLAY button pressed again because I’ve become used to this state of motionless uncertainty. Strangely, I’ve become comfortable in what once seemed like the endlessness of it all. Suddenly the light at the end of the tunnel has become very visible and it just keeps getting brighter and brighter. Yes, I’m very anxious to see what exists on the other side of this, but I’m also understandably fearful of the unknown.

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(My hubzbind took this awesome picture of Greta in the creek tunnel)

As we draw nearer to meeting Nora, I’ve made it a point to really savor these next 23 days. I refuse to let them be ruined by the fallacy of my imagination.

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Usually, I like to end my blog entries with an appropriate Bible verse that ties in with the theme of what ever I wrote about. I was at that point of looking for one when I typed in a specific, but seemingly random Bible verse into my phone’s Bible app.

I just sat here staring at these words with tears welling up in my eyes… in absolute awe.  Let me explain…

We had a perfect day at the zoo today where we met some new friends. (I love all of the sweet people God has been placing in our lives as a direct result of my sweet Nora–people I might never have met.) Early this morning in prayer and conversation with God, I  told Him that I wanted to hear a lion roar at the zoo. If you’ve ever had the experience of hearing a lion roar in person, it is nothing short of incredible! The power of it shakes through your entire body and can be heard up to 5 miles away!  You can physically feel the sound of it. It wasn’t that I was testing God or that I doubt Him. I just wanted some tangible, obvious reassurance that He hears me and that He’s here with me. We saw some sleepy lions this afternoon, none of which had anything to roar about. Never at any point was I disappointed or upset about not hearing a lion roar. I KNOW God is with me, I KNOW He hears me. It wasn’t until just now that I read this particular Bible verse that I even remembered my request.

In search of “the perfect Biblical reference” I typed in Proverbs 19:12. It wasn’t what I had been looking for at that moment, but is it ever perfect:

“A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.” (Proverbs 19:12 NIV)

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No, I didn’t get to experience the roar of a lion today, but I will most certainly give thanks for the dew on the grass! Wow.

Day 70 – 4D Ultrasound

We were blessed with another amazing opportunity to peek in at Nora with a 4D  ultrasound at Stork Vision! I’m so thankful for the compassion and generosity that these sweet people have given us.

It has been 5 weeks since our last 4D ultrasound. Nora seems to have grown considerably since then. She’s definitely got some sweet chubby little cheekies (which I can’t wait to “bite”)! There were even some little hair wisps detected! That was a real surprise, considering Gavin & Greta barely had any hair at all! She must take after her oldest sister!  :)

Here are some of the images from today:

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I wonder what she thinks about in there, not as if though she has all that many life experiences to ponder upon. I wonder if she could see/feel the warm sunshine shining through my skin this morning. I wonder if she could hear the symposium of bird songs, the distant train whistle. I wonder if she could smell the fresh fragrance of spring in the air. I wonder if she could sense the glorious pink and purple sky at dusk. Despite the brokenness of this world there remains the contrast of beauty shown forth in God’s artistry; mere hints of heaven on earth.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 NIV)

Day 68 – Rescue

Feeling a bit off-kilter today since the moment I opened my eyes and realized it was the 17th. Nora will be here in exactly a month. My pulse and breathing seem to accelerate with each passing moment,  only taking a break during brief intervals of distraction. I live these days on auto-pilot, just going through the motions, trying to replicate some sense of normal for my family and for myself.

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I know that everyone has their own trials in life, if not currently, they have had or will have. But how easy it is to look at complete strangers and imagine how “perfect” their lives must be in comparison to my own. I know from my own experience that a smile can do a pretty good job of concealing the mountain of hurt inside me. Certainly the same holds true for the rest of the world. Any showdown of resentment or jealousy that festers up toward the “happy, perfect people” is a waste of time and energy. Of what benefit is it to compare myself to others? God created us all uniquely and no two life experiences could possibly be the same. To utilize the worn out saying: It is comparing apples to oranges! It would be very, very easy to let the bitterness seep through my veins like a deadly poison. At times it is tempting to let go and collapse into a heap of defeat and self-pity, letting the waves take me under. It’s during these times of weakness that my spiritual survival instinct kicks in. I know to call out to Jesus. Without fail He rescues me and guides me back into the shallow waters. I’m surrendering, but I’m not giving up.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
(Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

Day 65 – Beautiful Afternoon

I am currently enjoying a bout of Nora’s little hiccups. These were once a rare occurence, but seem to be taking place a little more frequently.

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We spent a beautiful afternoon down at the creek, just little Nora and I. I brought my paints with me and decorated a couple of rocks. I have a hard time just sitting still without doing something with my hands. I’ve also wanted to create something(s) artistic while I’m pregnant–Nora as my inspiration. Utilizing one of my tiniest paint brushes, we created this “belly rock”:

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It opens up to reveal a sweet little fetus that fits together with a mother’s heart, which is where Nora will always be, close to my heart.

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“The LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 94:22)

Day 63 – Tightrope

The past four months have flown by in a frenzy of emotions. We went from the ignorant, blissful assumption that everything was completely normal with this pregnancy, “Why wouldn’t it be??” progressively downward into a panicked quest for answers. That path led to a steep and sudden drop off. “Your baby is showing a third chromosome for trisomy 18.” I took a running start, ready to jump off the edge into the abyss below, but instead found myself balancing precariously on a slippery tightrope. “Stay focused. Don’t look down. Don’t look up. Don’t look behind you. Keep your eyes directly in front of you, focused on the foreground. Go. You can do it. Go.” One foot placed faithfully in front of the other, I’m slowly making my way across to a new and foreign existence. I can see nothing but a few short feet of rope in front of me. The rope fades off into a mysterious nebula before disappearing altogether. There are moments where I feel like I’m about to lose my balance, waving my arms, frantically trying to regain it. I feel the heat from the flames below threatening to engulf me. Ever so surely a gentle presence grabs a hold of me and steadies me on my feet again. I heave a sigh of relief and my racing heart relaxes back into a comfortable employment.

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“Go. You can do it,” the voice whispers, “I’m right behind you. I’m right in front of you. I am above you, I am below you. I will not let you fall.”

With ardent reassurance I continue placing one foot in front of the other.

“He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Day 61 – Crossing Paths

In a little over a month Nora Rose will enter into this world. I’m so very excited to meet this little acrobat. While I am also very afraid of all of the unknowns, I fully trust in God. I trust his plan and I trust He will give us the strength and resources to make it through any outcome. I’ve finally reached a point that I can begin to prepare for each possible outcome, which starts with Nora’s birth plan. That will list our wants and needs for Nora’s care involving every possible occurrence. So much to think about!!

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We have been given a few examples of birth plans from other families in similar circumstances to go by. One in particular was of great benefit to us. It was provided by a couple we met by chance over the internet. Their beautiful baby girl Alexandria blessed them with 50 days of her sweet life. Despite the newness of their pain and loss, Doug and Kim were very open about talking on the phone with us. They just recently lost their precious baby girl on February 4th of this year to Trisomy 18. It was evident through their tribute video how very much this little girl was loved and cherished every moment of her short life. Of course they are very sad, sometimes overwhelmed with their grief, but they made it very clear to us that they had no regrets about choosing to bring baby Alex into this world. If Nora chooses to migrate to heaven on tiny angel wings, it makes me smile to know she’ll have such a sweet little angel friend waiting to play with her.

Here is Alexandria’s video.

Please also visit their beautiful blog: www.alexandriasjourney.org

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4)

Day 58 – Gratitude

Though my heart is heavy, it is a heart that is also grateful. Over and over again these past few weeks a common topic has been presented to me from various unrelated sources besides the Bible itself. This entry is a bit of a reiteration of my previous entry… But, it is as if God really wants to make it clear to me right now that gratitude is the best defense against my fear and uncertainty. I surmise that it would be excusable, permissible, maybe even expected that I would be crippled with fear and blinded by uncertainty with everything we’ve been faced with. If you’d have asked me how I thought I’d respond to this situation prior to actually being in it, I would have imagined just that. Initially, that was the direction I was headed. God lovingly put his arms around me (because I allowed Him to) and steered me in the opposite direction. As he veered me off the wretched path of hopelessness and armed me with this message of gratitude, I’ve discovered this alternative way of dealing with life’s struggles instead of following my own human nature. While the outcome of Nora’s prognosis is literally uncertain, God’s love for me, God’s love for my family, including Nora is most definitely certain. He already knows the final outcome. I praise Him for whatever that is because I am confident in His will.

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My snug little Nora and I sit beside a trickling creek in a blanket of warm sunshine. This is the creek that runs past our backyard at the bottom of a steep hill. The creek that I was so enamored with when we were first looking at the house. I imagined how relaxing and soothing it would be to come down here with a book or a set of paints and just soak in the surroundings. Back then I had no idea just how therapeutic this tranquil environment would prove to be. The sound of the water confides ancient secrets to the stoic slabs of rock, and the wind whispers in urgent tones to the branches of the trees. The smell of the earth and water are the sweetest perfume, seemingly derived for my sole pleasure. I am thankful for this gorgeous sunny day, this beautiful backyard and the time in which to spend it. I am filled with gratitude that I share this moment with the precious little soul within me.

Day 52 – Thankful Heart

It wasn’t the best of days. I found myself a little more fragile and high-strung than I had set out to be. It seemed like everywhere I went today there was a new baby unwittingly flaunted in front of me. The disgruntled newborn in Target this evening nearly sent me over the edge. It was that distinct cry of an infant… only days, maybe weeks old. The tears involuntarily welled up in my eyes as I quickened my pace away from the sound and frantically tried to remember what I had even come there for. The new layout of the store wasn’t making things any easier on me as I accidentally wound up in a maze of bottles and receiving blankets… cute little pink booties and baby rattles sneered at me. Is this how it’s going to be? Am I just a time bomb ready to detonate at any given second?

I’m not angry or envious of the people with babies! I am genuinely happy and excited for them. But I do have to admit that it is really hard for me to be around newborns right now and I anticipate that it will be for some time to come. There is just something about that sweet bundle of innocence, that precious newborn cry that poignantly reacts with my maternal deprivation of a “normal” healthy baby. I have control of very little right now, add to that my response to being around newborns. Not that it is anyone’s fault or that I expect people to stop having babies and bringing them out in public! It is my irrepressible response that I’m uncomfortable with – nothing against the babies or parents themselves.

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Nora’s heartbeat teddy bear

Despite my inner turmoil, I continue to sustain a thankful heart. I’m thankful that God made Nora at all! How could she exist in eternity if she never existed here on earth? I’m thankful that I will get to see her there someday, if her time with us here is short. During my period of waiting, I am reminded to be thankful in all circumstances (even if it involves barking dogs while I’m trying to sleep!):  “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I find that the gratitude in my heart strangles out the anger, fear and pain that creeps in.  There is just no room for it. As I type these words a sense of peace quenches my soul, proof to me of God’s true love.