Saturday, December 31, 2011


I saw this on Facebook today and I couldn't have "said" it better myself. :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hurtful vs. Helpful

I got a great resource from Missing Grace when we lost Hannah called, "Hurtful and Helpful Things People Say and Do." In the beginning, it was nice to have so we could anticipate some of the things people might say in an effort to be comforting (although, some of the most hurtful things we heard weren't even on the list). And it was interesting to read through them because I think a lot of things on the hurtful list seem like reasonable things to say until you have experienced a loss. I have probably said one or two of them, not realizing JUST how hurtful they actually are when you're in the middle of grief.
A friend of mine just asked about what to say in a hard situation, and I shared this list with her. And then I thought, "Everyone needs to read this!"

Hurtful and Helpful Things People Say and Do
(Written by facilitators and bereaved parents who are members of GRACE Support Rights Missing GRACE Foundation)

"He/She is in a better place." The parents feel their loving home was a very good place to raise their child and their arms are aching for their baby now.
"It's God's will." Many bereaved parents hold the belief it was not God's will to have their baby die and they feel it's a tragedy that happened in a world where bad things can happen to good people and feel God did not cause it to happen. To say it is God's will may also imply this is God's judgment on the parents.
"God has a plan and it was His perfect plan for this to happen. All things work together for his good." Right now, the situation is not good and it is hard to see that good things could come of this tragedy. Let them discover on their own the blessings that may come over time.
"At least you have other children." The child they lost still had a special place in their life and is gone now and no other child can replace or fill that void.
"At least it wasn't a 'real' baby." (in reference to ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage)
"At least you weren't that far along." The moment they found out they were pregnant with that baby they began to love it, and they wish they had been able to get farther along to deliver their baby.
"At least you didn't get attached." Oh, but they were very attached.
"If it's not perfect, you don't want it." The parent felt their baby was perfect and no matter what health issue it had, they wanted the baby in their lives.
"It's not meant to be."
"Everything happens for a reason." Right now it is hard to make sense of this and find a good reason.
"You can have another one." Maybe they can, but maybe due to issues you are unaware of or they are unaware of they can't have another. Either way that sounds a long way off and it doesn't help now.
To ignore what happened and not say anything at all. To act like things are normal/fine.
"If your baby lived, then maybe he/she would have been bad or unhealthy so God took him/her."
Calling the baby "it." Not referring to the baby by his or her name.
Bringing up the loss of a pet or someone else's death as if to say it is a similar type of pain or experience. Each situation is unique and the grief is personal.
Expressing an attitude that parents should be over their loss by a set time. Bereaved parents don't get over their babies. They take steps forward in grief and find ways to carry on the memory of their child. They have a need to honor and remember their baby throughout life. Life after loss often requires finding a new normal. Strangers can become friends and friends can become strangers. The length of the grieving process is different for everyone.

To say: "I don't know what to say, but I'm so sorry. We are thinking of you and praying.
To acknowledge your own ignorance.
To send cards or forms of acknowledgment on anniversaries and/or out of the blue.
To give delayed acknowledgment vs. none at all.
To say their baby's name and talk about their baby.
To share that you are going to honor and commemorate their baby in some way.
To provide opportunities for parents to talk about their baby and their feelings.
To leave the door open for the parents to join you for events such as parties and showers but not pressure them or guilt them when they decline. Support them in their decisions.
Bring up your own infant loss if you have had one and be available to discuss your pain.
Offer to help them in daily life through the months after a loss: bring meals, clean house, watch other living children, giving the parents a chance to be alone, mow the lawn, shovel snow, run errands, send them for a massage or pampering.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


My dear baby, how we would have loved singing to you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm crabby

It is NOT the most wonderful time of the year.

Not this year, anyway.

Everything just feels wrong this year. I usually love Christmas and love the weeks leading up to it. Shopping and decorating and baking. But all of those things have felt like chores this year. All I really want to do is crawl up in bed and emerge sometime in April. Think I could get away with that?

I should have a big, round, pregnant belly right now. I pictured myself pregnant at Christmas. And since I have another March baby (Jack), I could actually imagine exactly HOW pregnant I would look and feel.

There should be freaking SNOW on the ground. It looks like September outside, for crying out loud. I'd like at least a little something to clue me into the fact that it's December. (But, of course, once January hits, I'd like the snow to continue to stay away).

I should be mourning the fact that I can't have an alcoholic drink on Christmas Eve, not mourning the fact that I AM able to drink this year.

There should be a baby kicking and flipping inside my body. There should be baby things collecting in our unborn baby's crib, not mementos of our stillborn daughter.

This is going to be a long week.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Mimi

Hannah got to meet her great grandmother yesterday! My sweet Mimi, four days shy of her 94th birthday, went home to be with the Lord. She had seven children, 17 grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. Quite the legacy!

There are so many things I remember about Mimi. She lived in Connecticut, so we only saw her when we traveled there every few years or when she came to Minnesota once in a while. When we visited her in Connecticut, I distinctly remember Frosted Flakes for breakfast and lots of The Price is Right. :)

She also taught me how to swear. Well, maybe not exactly on purpose. ;) But I remember mom blaming Mimi when she heard me swear for the first time. ("Where the hell did you get those shoes?")

Sadly, Mimi dealt with dementia for the last year or so of her life. I haven't seen her since Jack was about 18 months old, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have even recognized me if I'd seen her more recently. And for that, I am so thankful that she is in a better place. No more confusion, pain, or frustration.

Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.

Margaret Marie Berube
December 17, 1917 - December 13, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011


This is our pastor's sermon from this morning. If you have 40 minutes, I'd highly recommend it. I'm planning on watching it again. And then maybe again. :)

Monday, December 05, 2011

one month

My dear sweet Hannah,

Darling girl. I really wish I was writing this to document your first month here on earth. Instead, I am marking one month since you entered heaven and changed our world forever. And you have taught me so much in that one short month!

You have taught me that even in the midst of our worst nightmare, it wasn't impossible to feel the distinctive peace of God. And it truly was and is the peace that passes all understanding. Because I certainly don't understand how I can feel peace when I have lost you, my precious baby. But that peace has been there from the moment the ultrasound tech left the room and we knew that our lives were about to change forever. Even in the midst of crying and screaming and being really mad that we had to go through this, God was there. And he was the same in the middle of the nightmare as he was before we found out that you'd left us.

You have taught me how very precious my children are, whether or not they are here on this earth where I get to see them and hug them every day. And you've taught me that it is possible to love someone SO MUCH, even when I have never known them alive outside of me. I've always felt an inexplicable love toward my children as soon as I knew they were growing inside of me. How could I love someone so deeply before I had even seen or met them? And then to lay eyes on them after delivery! Being pregnant with you was such a different experience than with Jack and Leah because halfway through, we knew their genders. We decided to keep yours a surprise until delivery. And we WERE so surprised. I guess I thought you were going to be a boy. I didn't realize how much I thought that until you came out--I was so shocked that you were a girl! But now, after a month of knowing and missing you, I can't believe we didn't always know you were a girl. My precious, precious baby girl. :)

I miss you so much, Hannah. I love having pictures and videos of you, but I still want to hold you every day. There is some comfort that we know you're in heaven and we'll see you again, and that you never had to know the pain of this world. But I'd still rather have you here. Your brother and sister and daddy miss you too.

Love you, sweet girl.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hannah Bear

We decided to take a trip to the Build-a-Bear workshop this afternoon to make a Hannah Bear. :) I wanted to find or make little things to put inside the bear when we stuffed. So Jack drew a few little pictures.

I wrote some verses and her name with its meaning. I also found a heart that I wanted to put inside.
Dan found a verse that he carries around sometimes and wrote a note on the back.

Here's the bear we picked!
And time to stuff her. :)
Putting our treasures inside.
And giving her a "bath."
And plenty of hugs and kisses!
This was an idea I had shortly after we lost Hannah, but I went back and forth about doing it. I'm so glad we did, though! The kids LOVED it and they love having "baby Hannah" in our house.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


"Today was a difficult day.
Tomorrow will be better."
-Kevin Henkes, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

I just wish I actually believed that tomorrow was going to be better.
Especially since it's midnight and I'm still awake....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Her name in the sand

Shortly after we lost Hannah, in the slew of websites that I came across, I found one called "Names in the Sand." It is a project that a woman in Australia started after her son was stillborn. In the last three years, she has written nearly 13,000 names in the sand. So I added Hannah's information to the waiting list and assumed it would take a while. I checked on it a couple of times, though, and the list seemed to be moving pretty quickly. Sure enough, I got an email tonight that they'd written Hannah's name. You can see the whole entry here, but here's the picture.

I love it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Last night before bed, I was reading through the pile of cards we've gotten in the last three weeks. It's just something I do once in a while. :) There was one card that said "I have prayed that while you are down, you'll remember whose almighty hand you are in." Great reminder. And we're so grateful that God didn't just carry us through the first couple of days and then say, "Okay, it looks like you've got it from here. See you later!" We are LIVING in his hands right now. And I am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.

The card reminded me of this song, so I want to share the video. It's kind of dramatic and stereotypical of a 90s Christian music video (even though it was made in like 2005). Just listen to it without watching if that's distracting. ;) Anyway, I love a few of the lyrics enough to point out.

"Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing."
Great (and painful) reminder that this grief is going to be a journey. Even though people will go on with their lives around us, we will be in it for a while. I know that healing WILL come. Just not immediately.

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive."
Before we lost Hannah, our situation would have been one that I'd hear about and say, "I don't know how I'd survive if that happened to me." And then it did. And we survived. It's just one of those things that you don't know how you're going to get through until you HAVE to.

"The promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held."
In the days following Hannah's death, it did seem like everything around us was crumbling. Just stupid stuff, too. The enemy knew we were vulnerable and decided to kick us while we were down. But even in the midst of ALL of that, when we weren't sure how or when we'd be able to stand up again, he was still holding us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 31:19 How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.

Three weeks ago, it was hard to think about the approaching holidays, particularly Thanksgiving. I couldn't think of what I had to be thankful for in the middle of such pain. But obviously I have a lot to be thankful for. God is good, and even in the midst of grief, his goodness is so evident.

So even though I don't understand why things happen the way they do, I choose to give thanks. And not just today. :)

***I have to add to this post this morning. Before bed last night, I decided to read the Message version of the verse above and I loved it. "What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you, ready and waiting for all who run to you to escape an unkind world." A STACK of blessing. Love that!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hannah's video

As I mentioned in Hannah's story, we had an amazing ministry called Missing Grace who blessed us so deeply while we were in the hospital. They took pictures and video and just really honored Hannah. Well, when I went to the support group tonight, I got my DVD of all of the pictures and video clips, along with a video montage that they put together. And it's amazing, so I want to share it here. Please know that I realize not everyone will want to watch this. And that is really okay. But I also don't want to assume who does and doesn't want to watch it, so it's easier just to post it here and let you all decide. :)

WARNING: The following video contains images of a deceased baby, which may be disturbing to some viewers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We are not alone

Ever since I had Hannah, people with similar stories have seemingly come out of the woodwork. And it's so bittersweet. So comforting to know that we're not alone. But so sad to know that so many other people know this pain. Because no one should know what this feels like.

Tonight I went to the support group at Missing Grace. Dan wasn't feeling well, but I knew our friends Leah and Gary would be there, so I went by myself. It was so good to see Candy again and see their amazing facility. And I got to meet other women and couples who have experienced loss. From early miscarriage to second trimester loss to full term loss to SIDS. Amazing stories.

It was a little daunting to walk into a room of strangers to share my story and seek support. But I realized very quickly that these people were not going to be strangers for long. We all share a very heartbreaking bond and have so much to offer to each other. And I am very excited to get to know them all better as we continue to attend the group.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Too good not to share

Dan found this blog post by John Eldredge the other day. I especially love that it was written on Hannah's birthday. :)

Loving Jesus in the Pain

This has been a tough year for me. A year with a lot of suffering.

Both Stasi and I have been through a lot of physical affliction. There were accidents. Betrayals. My father died this year. On top of this, my friends have been suffering. A year with a lot of pain in it.

And there is nothing like suffering to wreak havoc in your relationship with God. The damage pain does to our relationship with Jesus is often far, far worse than the pain itself.

Every time I turned to Jesus in the midst of one episode of heartache then another, every single time I turned to him, the first thing he would say was, "Love me." At first it surprised me - aren't you supposed to say You loveme? I'm the one who's hurting here. But somehow, instinctively, I knew what he meant, knew what he was after. "Love me now, in this - not for this, but in this." And those words have been a rescue.

Here's why: Pain causes us to pull away from God. At the very moment we need him most, we pull back. Our soul withdraws, like a snail into its shell. Then you not only have the heartache, you have "lost" God for awhile too. Desolation on top of suffering. Sometimes it takes months, even years to recover the relationship. Jesus was rescuing me from that cycle by telling me to love him now, right in the midst of the pain.

On a soul level, when I love God in this place, it opens my heart and soul back up to him right where I need him most, right in the center of the pain. Too often what we cry out for is understanding - "why, God?" But I've learned over the years that when you are in the midst of the suffering, you don't often get understanding, and frankly, you don't need understanding - you need God.

And so dear friends I wanted to pass this along to you, for it has been a great help to me. Love Jesus, right there, right in the midst of the pain. Just start telling him you love him, right where you are hurting. For as you do, it enables your heart to open back up to him, it enables him to come to you in this very place. And it is Jesus that we need. Desperately.

Posted by John Eldredge 11/05/2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do I HAVE to?

Christmas is always really exciting for me. I love Christmas music, I love shopping for Christmas gifts, and I LOVE decorating my house.

This year just feels different. It feels harder to get into the spirit of things.

I've usually at least gotten my outside lights up by now, but I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that those might just not happen this year (unless I feel really motivated on Thanksgiving--I hear it's going to be 52 degrees!). And honestly, it doesn't take me more than an hour once I start. It's just not something I feel like doing if I ever happen upon an extra hour in my day.

The rest of the house is normally decorated in the week or so after Thanksgiving. But that's already next week! I'm not ready for that! I have to say, if it wasn't for Jack and Leah, I'd probably just skip the tree altogether this year. It's just too much work for something that doesn't feel as exciting as it usually does.

As for shopping, well everything so far has been done online. But that's just being smart. I mean, free shipping from Amazon if you spend at least $25? Who would deal with the malls when that's your alternative? :)

Good thing that Christmas happens regardless of my mood! And really, good thing that God chose to send his Son regardless of how the world felt about it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Never Once

To say that the last two weeks have been difficult would be putting it lightly. But as I lay in bed last night crying (that seems to be my crying time), I thought about how evident God's hand has been in the midst of the pain. From day one, really. And for that, I am so grateful.

Laying on that ultrasound table, the minute the tech walked out of the room I broke down. She didn't say anything, but she didn't have to. She knew why we were there. If she had seen a heartbeat, she would have said SOMETHING to ease my anxiety instead of just taking measurements for 5 minutes silently. As soon as she left and I started crying, Dan took my hand and prayed. I can't remember much of what he said in the midst of my crying, but I do remember that he asked God to bring peace. And He did. The rest of that day was filled with many tears and frustration, but in the midst of all of that was an inexplicable peace.

After the ultrasound, we met with my midwife. And after explaining some things, she shared about her own loss and said that this was just a very small part of a bigger picture. And the bigger picture is something that we can't see fully right now. And again, even though I was so devastated, that was comforting. God sees the whole picture. I don't need to. He is still God, even in the middle of my nightmare. Jesus is the same now as he was the morning of my appointment when I still thought everything was fine. God had bigger plans for Hannah--plans that didn't include life on this earth. And while most days I am really mad about that, God reminds me that His ways are way better than my own. And while I'd rather NOT be used by God in this way, I don't really have a choice!

Shortly after Hannah was born, I rediscovered a Matt Redman song and bought his newest album, 10,000 Reasons. It was mostly for the one song, but the whole album is really great. The song is "Never Once." And even two weeks into this journey, I know that the words are true now and will be for the rest of our lives. We are NOT in this alone. He hasn't just dumped us on the side of the road to figure things out for ourselves. He is walking this road with us, carrying us when we can't walk any longer. Sometimes it definitely feels like we're walking alone, but that's when I thank the Lord for his promises. "The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut 31:6)

Friday, November 18, 2011

I read

A lot. There's always something on my nightstand. Generally it's something for book club or just for fun. But I also read a lot to help me process stuff. And that's where I am right now. I actually tried to start my latest book club pick a couple of days after I had Hannah. Yeah, that was not happening. I'm sure it's a great book, but I decided that it's too hard for me to read about something other than grief and loss right now. It's just where my brain goes anyway, so getting into a different book was too hard.

My friend Leah went through a similar situation about a year ago and lost her sweet boy Isaiah at 20 weeks. I was able to talk to her after our fateful ultrasound and before induction. And both she and her husband Gary have been so wonderful to Dan and me in these weeks. Anyway, about a week and a half ago, I got a book in the mail. I had just gotten an email from Leah saying that she had ordered a book for me and that it might come that day. What a gift!

The book is I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy by Angie Smith (you'll see a link to her blog over there somewhere >>>>>>>). Angie is the wife of Todd Smith of the group Selah. After enduring a miscarriage and going on to have twin girls and another girl, they found themselves pregnant again. At 18 weeks, they found out that their fourth baby girl, Audrey, had multiple complications that were "not compatible with life." Her heart didn't have four chambers, her kidneys were failing, etc. It was recommended that they terminate the pregnancy at that point, but they decided to carry Audrey as long as they could. She was born at around 30 weeks and lived for 2 1/2 hours.

I finished the book last night, and I feel like I need to read it again. And then maybe again. There is just so much to absorb and I know I didn't do it completely the first time through. To read Angie's thoughts and struggles, but also her faith and trust in God, is truly amazing. And inspiring for someone like me in the beginning of this journey.

Next on the reading schedule (if I DON'T pick up I Will Carry You again right away) is Henri Nouwen's Turn My Mourning into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times. Angie actually references this book a few times in I Will Carry You and it was enough to make me want to read the whole thing. And I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with Henri Nouwen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More answers

I had a follow-up appointment with my midwife this morning. I was SO excited for it because I absolutely ADORE Kathrine.

After I had Hannah, Kathrine (who also experienced a second-trimester loss during her third pregnancy) told me that crocheting helped her in her grieving process. We had been talking about crocheting and knitting because I had made a hat for Hannah. Well, she was right about the crocheting. It's just a very easy way to escape. Not necessarily to escape my emotions and try to bury them or hide from something. It's become more of a time to actually sit still and finally be alone with my thoughts. So I made Kathrine a scarf. :) And I wrote her a long note and also got her a bag of MILK chocolate because she was very vocal about her distaste for dark chocolate at some point in a conversation during my labor. Anyway, she read the note and we both cried and chatted and cried and chatted some more. And I was reminded of why I was so looking forward to our visit!

When Hannah was born, the cause of death seemed to be pretty obvious because the cord was wrapped around her neck three times. But Kathrine still sent some of the placenta and part of the umbilical cord to be tested. The cord goes all the way down to Mayo Clinic and it takes a while to get the results back. But the placenta results did come back and they found that I had an infection where the placenta was attached to my uterus. So, it looks like that could have also been the cause. And since babies can get tangled in their cords multiple times throughout pregnancy, and even be born with it around their neck, I'm tempted to think that the infection was more likely the cause. But we'll never know. And we'll never know what caused the infection in the placenta. I am grateful that both the cord accident and the infection are flukes. Nothing happened that will greatly affect future pregnancies for us if that's a road we decide to travel down. We may still find out from the cord that I have a blood clotting issue. And that would simply require some action on my part during a future pregnancy (blood thinners, etc).

One thing that Kathrine did mention is if/when I do get pregnant again someday, I will be considered high risk. I'll have to do some blood tests early on to make sure everything is normal, there are other tests throughout the pregnancy, my 20-week ultrasound will be Level 2, etc. That's a bridge I don't need to worry about right now. We'll wait until we have to cross it.

So we got some more answers. Obviously nothing is going to give us a cut and dry reason for why this happened. But I'm glad it's not a total mystery; I think that would be harder to carry right now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hannah's story

Hannah Marie was our third baby, set to join big brother Jackson and big sister Leah. Unfortunately, we didn't get to bring her home. She left this world before she even entered it on November 5, due to a triple nuchal cord and a placenta infection.

Even though her birth story doesn't have a happy ending, I feel as though it deserves to be shared. So I will. :)

On Thursday morning, November 3, I had a routine midwife appointment. I'd been writing down a myriad of questions since my last appointment and my midwife, Kathrine, patiently and thoroughly answered everything for me. At the end of the appointment, she had me hop up on the exam table to check for baby's heartbeat. She tried for a while with the doppler but couldn't find anything. Neither she nor I thought much about that because we knew from my 20-week ultrasound that my placenta was anterior (on the front wall of my uterus), so it provided a nice buffer and we'd only ever heard the heartbeat with the doppler once at 11 weeks. So she rolled in an old ultrasound machine that the clinic had donated to them and tried to find it with that was but was again unsuccessful. It's a really grainy machine and she couldn't even get a good picture of the heart, much less a good enough picture to see if it was beating. She decided that I should get in for an ultrasound that afternoon at a different clinic, and she called and set that up for me.

I drove home, picked up the kids from my neighbor, and called Dan. I told him what had happened and that I had an ultrasound scheduled for 1:30. I said that I wasn't nervous but that I really didn't want to go alone. So he came home, we got Jack on the bus after lunch, brought Leah to a friend's house, and headed to the ultrasound.

After checking in, we were brought into an ultrasound room and the tech asked me a couple of questions and started the ultrasound. The screen was turned away from me, and as soon as she started, she didn't say a word. That was my first indication that something was up. She knew we were there to check for a heartbeat, so I assumed if she saw a heartbeat, she'd tell me and show me the screen and we'd all breathe a sigh of relief. She continued to take measurements and pictures in silence for about five minutes. Then she turned off the machine and said, "I'll be right back" and left the room. And I lost it. Dan held my hand and prayed while I bawled. The tech came back in about ten minutes later and said, "I talked to the radiologist and your midwife would like to see you right away at her office."

So we drove down the road back to my midwife's clinic where she met us in the hallway and hugged me while I cried. We found a room and she said, "What did they tell you?" I said, "Nothing, but I know it's not good." She confirmed that the baby had passed away and that we would have to induce labor. She said I could safely wait a few days if I needed to, but staying pregnant just felt too odd. Besides, Kathrine was on call at the hospital for the weekend, and she's really the only midwife in the practice (there are three total) that I know very well. So she called North Memorial to make sure there would be room for me on Friday morning, and we decided to go for it.

On Friday morning, my mom came to stay with our kids for the day(s) and Dan and I packed up and headed to the hospital. We checked in at Labor and Delivery and were brought to our room. Kathrine arrived shortly after we did and we talked through what we'd be doing to induce labor. After some paperwork and asking lots of questions, I got my first dose of cytotec (a tablet that is placed behind the cervix to help it start to dilate and efface). I was already at about 1 cm and 50% effaced, so I figured it wouldn't take too long to get to 4 cm (which is where my midwife wanted me to get before delivering). I was wrong. I don't know why I thought this would be faster than my labors with Jack and Leah (30 hours and 28 hours, respectively). I got the cytotec every four hours. After the second dose at about 2:00 pm, I also started a drug called fentanyl to take the edge off of some of the pain. Even though I had two unmedicated births with Jack and Leah, I had decided early on in the day that I was not about to tough it out with this one. I told my midwife that I could handle physical pain OR emotional pain--not both. The fentanyl worked okay for a while. I got a third dose of cytotec at 6:00 pm and was still at 1 cm and about 75% effaced. Kathrine said she would have liked to have seen the second dose do more than it did, so after the third dose didn't do much either, she decided we should probably try pitocin to get some contractions into a good labor pattern. I told her that if she was going to talk pitocin, then I was going to talk epidural. Just the thought of it freaked me out, but again, I knew I didn't want to feel this.

Luckily, they weren't in a hurry to start the pitocin, so they let me get the epidural first and make sure I was getting relief from it before the pitocin started. I'm so grateful for that because the epidural experience was an adventure. The anesthesiologist was a very dear man and felt terrible, but it took him three tries to get the needle in the right place. And holy mother of God, every time hurt so bad. He finally got the needle in correctly, but even then, something was wrong with the medicine actually making it into the tube. About an hour later, I was finally feeling relief and they started the pitocin.

It was about 11:30 pm by now and I had been awake since 3:30 am, so I was very glad for the chance to rest (as was Dan). Of course, my sleep was a little interrupted by my blood pressure cuff going off every 20 minutes and the nurse coming in to increase the pitocin every half hour. But it was still nice to rest my eyes. At about midnight, my nurse took my temperature and discovered that I had a fever of almost 102 degrees. So they added a penicillin drip to my IV in case I had an infection. (At one point I was hooked up to an ekg, the epidural, a contraction monitor, a blood pressure cuff, and an IV with pitocin, fluid, and penicillin. It was quite the sight. I couldn't move if I wanted to).

At about 1:45 am, I pushed my epidural button for more relief and it didn't do a whole lot, so I called my nurse and told her that I needed something adjusted. I was feeling way too much and it was getting way too painful. Kathrine came in and checked me and said that she'd like to break my water. The anesthesiologist came in because my nurse had called him in to increase my epidural. By the time he got to the side of my bed, I said, "It's too late! The baby is coming!" and I kind of freaked out. I wasn't ready for it to happen then. I thought Kathrine would break my water and I'd have to push. That was not the case at all. The baby (still in the amniotic sac) and the placenta all came out at once. (That was a huge answer to prayer--at 23 weeks, it can be trickier to deliver the placenta without issues and there was a chance I'd have to have a D&C).

The contractions stopped immediately and Dan and I just cried. Kathrine was working on getting the baby out of the sac and she finally was able to lift it to me, where I had two warm blankets on my chest to hold it. At this point, we still didn't know if it was a boy or a girl. I had wanted Dan to announce the gender when the baby came out, but it was in the sac and he couldn't see anything. So once the baby was in my blankets, we all looked at the same time and saw that she was a girl, and we named her Hannah Marie. (And all three of us thought, but didn't say out loud right away, "Jack really does have laser vision!"). Dan and I cried some more while Kathrine took care of cleaning me up a little bit. I noticed that her head seemed kind of misshapen, and I asked Kathrine if that was the problem (she had told me that the reason for all of this might be obvious at birth). She said that the bones are all still so soft at this point, so it was normal for her head to look like that. Then she told us that when she broke the sac, she had to unwrap the cord from around Hannah's neck three times. She said that was pretty obviously the cause of death. I was really grateful that it was so obvious. I didn't want to have to go through getting an autopsy or other tests to determine any chromosomal problems. She still sent some of my placenta and part of the cord to pathology to be tested for anything unusual.

My parents arrived shortly after she was born and were able to hold her and pray over her. It was an incredibly sacred time and I'm so glad we had it. At about 3:30 am, two wonderful women from a ministry called Missing Grace Foundation came and took such good care of us. They were really there to walk us through this experience so that we wouldn't have any regrets. They both lost babies (one at 33 weeks, one at 20 weeks) and were coming in with clear minds and the experience (from their own births and so many others that they've attended) to help us through each step.

They cleaned Hannah up and put a tiny outfit and hat on her. They wrapped her in a beautiful blanket with a beanbag sort of thing behind her (to give her some weight, but it was also filled with essential oils and smelled lovely). They took pictures and video the whole time they were there. They gave us a huge basket with gifts and resources. The nurse weighed and measured her (14 ounces and 11 1/2 inches), and they took her foot prints and hand prints. But most of all, they just let us hold her and love her for as long as we wanted.

The ladies from Missing Grace stayed for a couple of hours and after they left, Dan and I decided to rest some more (since I was literally falling asleep sitting up while people were talking to me). Dan fell asleep right away on his pull-out bed and I lay with Hannah for a while before I finally dozed off. I think we both slept on and off for a couple of hours. Dan decided to go get some breakfast and I took a bath. After another hour or so in our room, we decided it was time to say goodbye to Hannah. We cried together and hugged and kissed her and let Kathrine take her away. Then we packed up our stuff, signed some papers, and left to go home.

We were so glad to pick up Jack and Leah at my parents and hug and kiss them and love them. And they were happy to see us too. ;) So we headed home and began this very long journey ahead of us.

Right now everything is still so surreal. I can't believe that a week and a half ago, I went to a midwife appointment assuming everything was fine and ended that day completely devastated and lost. We are constantly overwhelmed by the love and support of those around us. The sadness comes in waves and sometimes it just knocks me off my feet when I am least expecting it.

Hannah Marie from Erin Bennett on Vimeo.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Hannah Marie

Our sweet baby girl was born early on Saturday morning, just over 23 weeks, straight into the arms of Jesus.

While we are so sad that we don't get to be her parents here on earth, we are incredibly grateful for the promise of heaven and know that we will see her again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

There's something missing!

My BABY boy just lost his first tooth! It's been loose for a little while, but on Friday I felt it and said, "You are losing this tooth this weekend!" (At which point he said, "Well, then you better make me a tooth fairy pillow!). And sure enough, he just pulled it out. It was more than ready to come. Pretty sure the tooth itself was dead and just hanging on by a thread. :)

Now I'm in a bind because I asked him the other day how much money he thought the tooth fairy was going to leave and he said "ten thousand dollars." I have some scrounging to do....

Monday, October 10, 2011

In love!

With this thumb-sucking little fetus!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coconut chicken

Someone shared this recipe on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I decided to add it to my
meal planning. Dan is a big coconut fan (or just a big coconut--you be the judge), and the person who posted it had wonderful things to say about it. Well, we had it tonight and it was a HUGE hit! Super yummy. Definitely something I'll make again! Enjoy. :)

Coconut Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (the recipe suggested coconut milk, but I wasn't about to buy it just for 1/4 cup, so I used regular milk)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs (this is really important--you need the crispiness of panko. They can be found in the asian food section at your grocery store)
vegetable oil
dipping sauce (the recipe called for sweet chili sauce, but I forgot to add it to my shopping list. So I ate mine plain and Dan used some ranch, but agreed that something with a bite would be awesome)

Prepare your dredging station by mixing the flour and salt in one bowl, the eggs and milk in another bowl, and the coconut and panko in a third bowl.
Pour about 1/4 cup oil into a large fry pan. While it gets hot, start dredging your chicken--first in the flour, then the egg mixture, then in the coconut and panko mixture. Set aside until your oil is hot (I didn't start dredging until my oil was hot, so it went straight into the pan).
Fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side. The coconut will let you know if your pan is too hot--it burns rather quickly. I don't know that from experience--I've just heard. ;)
Drain on paper towels to absorb the extra oil.
Four chicken breasts (about 20 strips) took me four batches in the pan. I probably could have done it in three, but I didn't want to crowd things.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My little Jedi masters :)

Last week, Jackson decided that he did not want to be Superman for Halloween again (the original plan, which had me doing a happy dance because it was easy). His new idea was to be something from Star Wars, so we did some looking online and landed on "Jedi." I thought, "well, it sure would be cute if Leah was Yoda!" So we looked at costumes online and found everything we needed on Amazon. For $56. Yeah, not happening. So I started searching for "how to make a Jedi costume" and found this:
Super easy instructions on making a Jedi robe, as well as what to wear under the robe to make it look more Jedi-ish. I found cheap fabric to make a robe and the under-stuff for Jack and a robe for Leah.

Step two was finding a Yoda hat for Leah. I found this on Etsy and fell in love. And it seemed pretty cheap, since I was saving so much on the costumes by making them myself. Well, I happened to teach myself how to crochet (with the help of YouTube) a couple
of weeks ago and thought, "I wonder if I could find an easy pattern for a yoda hat." I found this:
I decided to TRY it and go with the Etsy hat if all failed. Well, the hat whipped up in no time last night. I got the ears done this morning and attached them this afternoon. Super quick. I do want to starch them before Halloween--they're a little floppy
. But otherwise, I was quite pleased.

Here are the final results:

And now, of course, Halloween won't come quickly enough! Especially for Jackson, who isn't allowed to REALLY play with this costume until November. :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Off he goes!

I sent my baby boy to kindergarten today. I think his excitement helped me not fall apart. :) I'm anxious to hear all about his first day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

number three

Well, come March, Leah will no longer be my baby. She'll be my strong-willed middle child. :) And Jack will get to brush up on his big brother skills once more!

We told my family a couple of weeks ago:

And these are the pictures that Dan got before and after the announcement. :)

Excited to do this one more time. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

two years

Dear Leah,

You're TWO! Unfortunately, when you try to hold up two fingers, you look like this:We're working on it. If nothing else, you've got "10" down! When I woke you up this morning, I said, "Leah! It's your birthday!" And you said, "Birthday Birthday Elmo!" You were probably referring to your VERY exciting Elmo birthday party that we had here on Saturday. :) Elmo cake, Elmo cupcakes, Elmo presents. It was a dream come true for my little Elmo fan! But we did not have another Elmo party today. Sorry to disappoint. :)

My goodness, what a delightful 2-year-old you are! You are so quick to smile and laugh and just love to have fun. You mostly love to play with your big brother. And your babies! Oh, you love your babies. We got you a doll stroller and diaper bag for your birthday, and you have been pushing the stroller and carrying the diaper bag for two days straight. So has Jack, actually. Which is fine, but you don't HAVE to share with him. I mean, he doesn't let you get into all of his little tiny lego pieces. So you can draw a line too.

You also LOVE swimming. We are taking swimming lessons once a week this summer, and it's impossible to get you OUT of the water when it's time to go home! Both you and Jack are little fish! We've gone to the beach a couple of times too, but you're not as fond of that kind of water. Pools are okay. :)

One thing I love right now is watching you play with your friends. Sometimes it's just the other younger siblings at the park while Jack has t-ball practice. Sometimes it's when our neighbors Cooper and Carter come over to play after naptime. Sometimes it's when friends come over and bring their little people for you to play with. :)(And it's even more fun when you're wearing matching outfits!)

Well, my dear. It's hard to believe that I'm actually writing your two-year letter. Two years ago, at this very moment, I took this picture:

And this morning when I woke you up, I took this:

MY how you've changed! You are a wonderful, beautiful, smart, amazing little girl. And these first two years of your life have been an incredible blessing to our family. We LOVE you to pieces and can't wait to see what this next year holds. Thanks for being such a sweet heart. :)


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Old friends :)

I graduated from college with five very sweet friends, and eight years later the six of us have twelve children (with #13 on the way, thanks to Jenny)! We got together today and the kids had a TON of fun. We had to get a group shot. It's quite the crew. :)
(Click on the pictures to see them bigger)

That's Jackson, Caeden, Finn, Noah, Avery, Paige, Leah, Isaac, Layla, Abby, Clay, and Sam.

And the moms! Lisa, Holly, Jenny, me, Carrie, and Shannon.

Love you girls!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I'm an aunt!

Tomas Joseph Miller
7 lb 6 oz, 20 1/2 inches
Born at 7:29pm on the 4th of July

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When your five-year-old knocks your socks off

Last night, I had to run a couple errands with the kids after dinner. Dan was going to be working late, and I needed to stop at the UPS store and the bank. Getting out of the house was proving to be nearly impossible with a crabby almost-2-year-old. And I realized when we got out to the garage that Jack's car seat was still in the WAY back seat from our earlier trip to the new playground at Elm Creek with our neighbors. So I got Leah in her seat and then fought with Jack's seat to get it back where it belongs, all while dealing with a very odd pain in my wrist that came out of nowhere in the last week.

I finally got the seat taken care of, told Jack he could get himself in, and returned to my side of the car. When I got to Leah's door to close it, Jack said, "Mom, is there anything I can do for you right now?"

Ah! What 5-year-old DOES that? He caught me completely off-guard and I audibly sighed, closed Leah's door, and hopped in the front seat. I told him that was very, very nice of him to offer and that I'd let him know if I thought of something for him to do.

I'm sad that I was clearly frustrated enough for my son to recognize that I might need help. But I'm also blessed that Dan and I are raising a boy who is ABLE to recognize when someone might need for him to do something for them. That's what made my heart melt.

He offered again when we got home last night and I finally cashed in on the offer this afternoon and asked him to tidy up the living room. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I can fix that....

Leah will be 2 in July and I've decided that we're going to do an Elmo birthday party. Since I'm a bit of a planner, I found a custom Elmo shirt on Etsy and ordered it. Unfortunately, when it came, I was sorely disappointed in the size. I ordered a 3T because that's what size Leah is wearing right now. She even has a couple regular t-shirts that are 3T, so I was expecting the size to work. But it was like a night shirt:

I mean, it was practically down to her knees and past her elbows. Ridiculous! (Plus, when I paired it with the skirt I had made, it covered most of it and just looked dumb). So I emailed the woman who made it, told her it was HUGE, and asked if she had any sort of return or exchange policy on custom orders. She doesn't. (I then encouraged her to disclose in her listings that the sizes run big--as I perused her feedback, the common thread among neutral and negative comments was sizing).

So I decided I had a couple of options. First, I washed it on warm and dried it to see if it would shrink a little. It didn't. Then, after some encouragement from a couple of friends, I decided to try to take it in. I figured if it TOTALLY flopped, I could cut out the design and sew it on a shirt that fit. So I turned the shirt inside out and grabbed another t-shirt that fits her well and laid it on the Elmo shirt so that the tops lined up. I traced along the sides and under the arms and sewed a seam. Perfect! I could tell this was going to work. Then I turned the shirt back right side out, folded the bottom under, ironed the hem, and sewed it. Excellent. Did the same with each sleeve and VOILA!It fit! I was quite pleased with myself. And here is her whole birthday outfit:

Of course she'll wear some cute white sandals instead of socks. But it was like 48 degrees outside yesterday when I took this picture. We were definitely all wearing socks. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm a Believer!

So I've always been curious about the grocery store Aldi. We had two locations relatively close to us, but I just never got there. But I always meant to because I have friends who couldn't stop raving about the deals.

Well, a third relatively close location just recently opened up, and it happens to be the closest of the three relatively close locations. :) My neighbor and I decided to brave the unknown together (with our collective four children) and made our debut Aldi appearance on Thursday afternoon.

Since I had already done my "big" shopping trip for the week, I decided just to pick up a few things that we would normal buy and eat to compare prices and tastes. Aldi carries mostly their own brands of everything. Once in a while, they get a big shipment of some overstock of a name brand item. For instance, when we went on Thursday, they had big bags of M&Ms and jugs of Arizona iced tea. But otherwise, everything is an off brand. Now, I happen to buy mostly store brands anyway (unless a combination of sale and coupon gets me the name brands for a better deal). So the idea of off brands was just fine with me.

Just walking around the store, I was extremely impressed with the prices. A loaf of sandwich bread was $.99 (comparable quality to Cub's store brand loaf of sandwich bread, which is closer to $2). A pound of butter was $2.49, which is, unfortunately, a really great price right now. (Just yesterday, Target's store brand of Market Pantry had butter for over $4/lb). The trip was mostly to browse, but I did pick up a few things. Here's the rundown:

Cheese Sharks (like goldfish) $1.29
Honey Nut Cheerio-look-alikes $1.59
Fruit snacks $1.79
Graham crackers $1.19
Flour (5 lb) $1.63
Mandarin oranges (4-pk bowls) $1.49
English muffins (6) $.99
Tortilla chips $1.19
Hot dogs (10) $.75
Hot dog buns (8) $.79
Tortellini $1.99
Fruit strips $1.99
Brats (5) $2.99
Strawberries (8 oz) $1.59
Frozen corn $.65
Frozen green beans $1.49

For comparison, I entered all comparable products on the Coborn's Delivers website. Now, Coborn's is generally a little more expensive than Target or Cub, but I did pick their store brands whenever I could. The total for the same 16 items was over $51. I'd say I did pretty well!

So far, the things we've tried have been great. The English muffins are gone (thanks to a 5-year-old who decided he loved them), the cheese sharks are awesome, the brats were very similar in taste to Johnsonville, and the hot dog buns were amazing for being $.79. Fruit strips, tortilla chips, mandarin oranges, and hot dogs were also all very comparable to other store brands.

Since I'm a person who already shops at Cub, Target, Sam's, and occasionally Trader Joe's, I don't really want to add another store to the list of places I need to go to get what I want. But after just one trip, I'm fairly certain I can cut my Cub trips (which is great, since it's not exactly my favorite place to shop. And don't let Amy Garvin tell you differently). :)

I'm excited to go back with my actual shopping list and try more things. If you have never tried Aldi and would like to, there are a few things you need to know:

1) You have to bring your own bags and bag your own groceries.
2) You need a quarter to get a cart. You get it back when you return your cart.
3) You need either cash or a debit card with a pin. Now, my receipt says that they are now accepting all debit/check cards, but I don't know if that includes check cards that are issued by Visa (like my check card from Wells Fargo, for instance). I'll have to ask next time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Extreme Couponing

If I was important enough for such things, I'd first change the title of this new show on TLC to Insane Couponing. Because what I've seen in the first couple episodes was just that. Nothing short of completely insane.

For the record, I am ALL for clipping coupons. As someone trying to get out of debt and living on a strict budget, I am definitely dependent on finding sales and using coupons to get an even bigger deal. I am even fine with people stocking up on things that they use when they can get great deals. (I have a very humble stockpile on some shelving in our laundry room and recently bought an extra freezer to help with that storage space). However, I think there is a line between frugal and freaky, and in my opinion, that line was crossed on Extreme Couponing.

A friend on Facebook recently said "Extreme Couponing is just organized hoarding." I laughed and thought, "How TRUE!" Some of these people have very extensive organization systems in a room in their house, and everything (even though it looks like a small convenience store) is very contained. However, some people, like a woman I saw last night, have items stored in every available space in their house. Toilet paper under her kids' beds, 2-liter bottles of soda and rolls of paper towels completely filling closets, and shelves lining every hallway in the house. This woman even said she felt like her house was closing in on her. I can't imagine living like that. This particular family had enough paper towels and boxes of cereal to last her family for three years. But it's not as though she's going to stop buying those things for the next three years and live off her stockpile. She's going to keep accumulating and storing these items, making her house into a veritable warehouse store.

One woman knocked down a wall in her house to make a small closet to keep all of her newspaper coupon inserts. She had crates upon crates full of circulars. This same woman, in her stockpile, had loads of cat treats and cat food. And she didn't even have a cat. I think that illustrates what has been a huge rule for myself when couponing and finding deals. It doesn't matter if you get a product for ridiculously cheap. If the product isn't something you'll use, it's not a deal! The exception to that rule is if you can donate the item. So many times, these people are getting things for free (or being paid to take them), and they end up donating a LOT of it to a local food shelf, which is really great.

I truly think that some of these extreme couponers are actually addicted to what they do. I've seen these people spend anywhere from 35 to 60 hours a week on couponing--planning shopping trips, finding the right coupons, figuring out their transactions (since some stores have rules about how many coupons you can use on one transaction, etc). And sometimes their shopping trips are 4-5 hours long. That's a full-time job! And I guess that makes sense when these people are saving $40-60,000 for their families each year. That's their income for the work they do! But again, there is clearly a level of "thrill" that these couponers are attaining, and I really think it can become unhealthy. One woman last night was shopping for herself, as well as her daughter-in-law and a local food bank. At one point she said, "I am a person who needs to be needed." I sincerely hope this woman's self-worth isn't solely wrapped up in couponing, but after watching her episode, I can't be so sure.

All of this aside, it's hard to deny that the numbers are impressive. The people on the show are consistently saving 90-98% of their grocery bill. One family went through the store and had two different transactions totaling over $1101. Their out-of-pocket amount was $43.92. Another woman paid only $4.53 for groceries totaling $1161.22. She had two transactions--the first transaction actually ended with the store owing her money, which was carried over into her second transaction.

All in all, I think couponing is a fantastic way to save money when you shop. Even better if you can match up those coupons with store sales. And if you have the time and energy to devote to insane couponing, then by all means, have at it. I won't be joining you. But I will be impressed with your 95% savings. :)

You can catch Extreme Couponing on TLC on Wednesdays at 8:00 and 8:30. And I do recommend tuning in at least once. Even if you don't learn anything, it's really fascinating!

Friday, April 08, 2011


A few days ago, I watched at TED talk by the composer Eric Whitacre. It was super fascinating, and if you have 15 minutes to spare, I'd highly recommend it. The video after the TED talk is the final version of the song he refers to in the TED talk. (And don't worry--the song is not actually over 9's about 5, and the rest is credits). It's beautiful! Enjoy. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

five years

Dear Jack,

I am the mother of a five year old! That's a little crazy. Impossible, even. Except that it's true. Gosh, how did this happen? You were just a TINY (well....) baby and now you're a TALL boy. This morning, you woke up and came into our bedroom. "Mommy? Am I five now?" :)

Five years ago, we were blessed with a beautiful, 9lb 8oz, baby boy. And our lives changed, for the better, FOREVER! It was amazing. I remember thinking, "Wow. I can't remember what it was like before Jack was here." And I think that's exactly the way it should be. :)

Before I went to bed last night, I put all of your presents on the kitchen counter so we could have a little celebration this morning. Well, before you saw them, you asked if you could open ONE gift before your party. I said, "Jack! You can open ALL of your presents!" You were a little beside yourself. I'm not sure what you were most excited about--I think it was a tie between the Legos and the knight armor set. You make a pretty awesome knight!

The fact that your birthday fell on a Saturday was pretty fun. It might be the first time your birthday party was actually ON your birthday! Your party was, of course, Star Wars-themed. No-brainer. You are very interested in Star Wars right now. Scratch that, you're a little obsessed. :) You can turn anything in to a light saber! You got some fun Star Wars presents to add to your growing collection of Legos and figures. And I was honored to add to the theme with a very special Star Wars cake!

I think the biggest change this year is yet to come--you will go to kindergarten in the fall. And that's all I'm going to say about that because it makes me sad.

Your sister is still one of your favorite people in the world! Please don't let that change. You two just ADORE each other. I hate to say it, but I'm sure we'll get a few years down the road and think, "Remember when they loved each other?" :) It's so adorable to watch you together. Leah looks up to you so much, and she should. You're awesome! And you really do love playing with her. You know, when she's not stealing your Lego pieces or climbing on your stool when you're trying to eat lunch.

Well, you are just one of my favorite people in the world. I can't believe we've been blessed with you for five years already! I'm excited to see what the next year brings. Thank you for the JOY you bring to our family!

Hugs and kisses!
Mom :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The obligatory "after" picture

After the ordeal with our deck falling down, the association finally agreed to cover the cost and hired some builders to make a new one. It's all a HUGE blessing in disguise, and as of about 3:00 this afternoon, we have a brand new, beautiful deck! I'm a little bummed that it's still the middle of winter and we can't actually enjoy it right away, but I can't WAIT to spend some time on it this summer!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meet Jack.

Jack had a friend over today and at one point, Jack came upstairs for something. I was pretty sure it was to use the bathroom, but I wasn't really paying attention until he was headed back downstairs. I stopped him and said, "Hey, what were you doing up here?" (mostly making sure he flushed and washed his hands if he was, indeed, using the bathroom).
"Oh, I was just looking for something."
"What were you looking for?"
"Oh, I don't remember."
"Jack, did you go potty?"
"What were you doing up here, then?"
"Well.....I just came up here to give you a really big hug!"
I lost it at that point, and he thought it was really funny and said, "Just kidding!"
Finally, I told him that if I went in the bathroom and saw pee in the toilet, he was going to be in big trouble.
"Okay, I'll go flush and wash my hands."
Then he got a time-out for lying. Even though he mostly cracked me up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

eighteen months

Dear Leah,

It has been one and a half years since you have graced our family with your fabulous presence. Sometimes I can't believe it's been that long! It feels like yesterday I was looking at your hours-old face and feeling so blessed. But other days I can't begin to imagine what our family was like without you and it feels like you've been here forever. :) I read your birth story last night, which was magical and surreal and made me remember what a miracle new life is!

Physically, you have grown from a 9-pound 13-ounce teeny tiny baby into a 27-pound toddler! You are very tall (surprise, surprise) and are running around everywhere. You have the most incredible personality and know just how to make us laugh. Sometimes you know exactly how to make me pull all my hair out, too. But that just come with the toddler territory!

Your favorite thing in the WORLD right now is reading books. If I sit down for more than a minute, you run and grab a book and bring it back for me to read. You seem to prefer books with real animals and people in them. I think it's helping you learn some new words (because, let's face it, your big brother does all the talking and there hasn't been a reason to start before now). You love to point out animals in books and make their corresponding sounds. I have to say, when you hear an actual sheep for the first time, you're going to wonder why it's not "baa"ing more quickly.

You are full of kisses. For me, Jack, Daddy, Lucy (aka the most tolerant cat in the world), and all of the puppies and kitties in your books. They started as lovely, open-mouth smooches, but now they're so sweet! Your little pursed lips are just to die for. As are your warm, rosy cheeks when you wake up from a nap. Those are something I can't stop kissing!

I'd rather not be around the day something happens to one or both of your blankets. Because at this point, I'm not sure you could survive without them. It's pretty adorable how you ask for your "deedee" and walk around with it and suck on the corners, but you are HOOKED on this thing! It's actually quite nice that you have a "lovey." Your silly brother had nothing. No blanket, no pacifier, no animal. He didn't know what he was missing. :)

It's hard to believe, in the middle of this freezing cold winter, that we'll be celebrating your SECOND birthday in six short months when it's nice and warm. You have been an immense blessing to our family in these eighteen months. It's very exciting to think about the future of our family of four. Thank you for your sweet spirit and incredible heart! You make me so happy that I'm a mom.

Love you to pieces,