Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mommy Must-Haves

Before I get to it, I just want to say "thank you" to those who took a few minutes to fill out the survey! Your responses help me determine what, if any, changes need to be made around here to serve you best.  Based on the results, not many changes will be made, as it seems you're happy with the way Momster Mash is being run.  If you haven't had a chance to fill out the short, anonymous survey, you can do so HERE.  I'd love your input!

As a new mommy, for the second time, I thought I'd share a few items for baby, toddler and myself that I am simply adoring right now.  Of course, they are things I could live without, not necessarily "must-have", but they sure are fabulous.  Every baby, toddler and mommy will have different needs, so please share your "must-haves" in the comments at the end of this post so we can all benefit from what you've found to be helpful {Links provided for some}.


For Baby:
  • Boppy Lounger - Cannon doesn't need the movement of a swing (not yet, anyway), so the Boppy lounger is great because it's so easy to move around the house.  I'll take it up to the bathroom so he can chill in the lounger while I shower and get ready, put it on the kitchen floor while Lucy and I make dinner, etc...It soft and molded to hug baby's body, so I imagine it must be pretty cozy.  The lounger I have was a gift when Lucy was born, but we're already getting more use out of it the second time around. 
  • Shea Moisture Baby Lotion - This is the same lotion I've used for Lucy since she was a baby, and now Cannon gets it too.  It's perfect for delicate baby skin, especially during this dry winter weather. Not only does it smell SO amazing, but it is the legacy of Sofi Tucker, a 19-year-old widowed mother of 4, who began selling Shea nuts in Sierra Leone in 1912.  Sofi's grandchildren have continued to cultivate Shea Moisture, "ethically traded ingredients, sustainably produced, tested on family for four generations...never on animals."  I love the product, and love everything they stand for even more.  
  • Consignment - I've said it before, I'll say it a thousand more times...I LOVE shopping the consignment stores for my children's clothes.  It's especially nice for baby, because babies grow so quickly and don't "wear out" their clothes.  The consignment stores where I live keep their stores so well organized and the clothes they resell are in near perfect condition (I've even purchased items with tags still on).  I can buy a bag full of clothes for the same price, or less, as one new outfit from a department store.
For Toddler:
  • Netflix - Mostly Curious George, to be exact, but we watched Veggie Tales' "Jonah" yesterday and she was mesmerized.  I'm trying not to feel guilty about the amount of Netflix we've been watching lately, because with a newborn and a sleep-deprived mama, it really is a necessity some days.
  • Nail Polish - When Cannon was born, we gave Lucy chap stick and toddler nail polish I picked up from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  We gave them to her "from Cannon" when she met him and told her that Cannon heard how much she loved nail polish and chap stick and that he brought them for her. She loved it!  The nail polish is in a spill-proof bottle, dries almost instantly, and simply peels off.  It will keep her entertained for a good chunk of time...and she thought that was pretty nice of Cannon.
  • Play doh - Lately, Lucy has enjoyed having "play doh picnics"  I simply throw a blanket on the floor in front of the couch and give her play doh and "utensils" to mold her doh.  This is another way I keep her entertained while nursing Cannon.  She brings me "cupcakes" and "beans" and I find it pretty cute.
  • Finger Paint - This might not work with all toddlers, but Lucy doesn't like getting too messy with the finger paint.  She will only use one finger!  So I cover her little table with paper, put on her smock, and let her go to town.  Another distraction she can do on her own while I nurse baby. 
For Mommy:
  • Medela Postpartum Support - After baby, a mama's mid-section feels...loose and jiggly.  I have this support belt from when Lucy was born, and find it helpful to get things "sucked back in" to where they belong, and my midwife recommended it.  It's not comfortable enough to wear in public, and I would imagine it would be too uncomfortable to wear after a c-section for a while, but I wear it around the house for at least the first couple weeks.  
  • AdvoCare Spark - I feel caffeine really is a necessity right now. Baby Cannon is easy, but sleeping in 3-hour stretches and being rudely awakened by a toddler bright and early = "give me some caffeine!" Spark gives me a productive dose of energy without making me feel like I need more than one (like coffee) and doesn't give me an afternoon crash (like coffee).  Seriously, it's awesome.  I loved it before, but love it even more now that I have a newborn.
  • MAC Fix+ - I don't know how or why I haven't used this magic spray sooner!  My face is especially dry right now (combination of postpartum skin + winter skin), so I wash, moisturize and then spritz this on right before I apply my foundation, and it helps my foundation glide on so smoothly.  But let's be honest here, I rarely apply makeup these days, and if I want to be really honest with you...I currently don't always wash my face at night when I do wear makeup.  If I want to be really, REALLY honest...some days I just spray Fix+ on top of my second day makeup to freshen it up. This stuff is so versatile for my gross face right now.  And it smells so refreshing.  Seriously though, I'm not always this lazy; I am totally blaming the newborn.
  • Dry shampoo - While I'm being honest about my gross factor right now, let's talk about dry shampoo. I already had it on hand and would use every once in a while, but since baby #2 came along, I probably use it more than actual shampoo now.  Come on, I know I can't be the only one. Right?
  • L'Oreal Lumi Foundation - I've had this foundation for a while, but never really liked it.  For some reason, I'm in love with this stuff all of a sudden.  I think it may be in the name; it really does help liven up my dull, dry, postpartum skin.  It glides on smoothly with just enough coverage so it doesn't look like I'm trying too hard...I hope.  Finish makeup with a spray of MAC Fix+...even better! My tired, dry, mommy skin needs all the help it can get right now :)
Now it's your turn!  
Comment below this post with the items that you 
are currently loving and help your daily life as a mom.

Let's help each other out!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Meet Cannon!

Hello again!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, enjoying down time with family and fabulous food!  This was our BEST Thanksgiving yet, as we got to meet our son, Cannon Matthew, who was born early Thanksgiving morning.  
Yes, it's a new month, and while I do have a new Momster of the Month to introduce to you, I like to take December "off" from sharing MOMs; we are all busy right now.  So...we will pick back up in January with a new introduction for you.  

Ok, I'll give you a preview. Our January MOM will be sharing her very honest and very personal experience with Postpartum Depression with the hope that she can help another mama who may be struggling, and shed some light on a topic that many women don't want to open up about.  I know it may not seem like a joyous way to enter into a new year here on Momster Mash, but everyone envisions having a new baby to be a joyous, happy occasion...while the truth is 8-19% of women have frequent postpartum depressive symptoms, according to the CDC.  I am thankful to have not had to deal with PPD myself, but know it's very much a reality for so many.  Stay tuned to read more about this topic in January.  

On the topic of postpartum, I'm now a mama of two! While the new breast pump parts are boiling, my toddler is napping, and I have one hour until Cannon needs to eat, I thought I'd share his grand entrance with you {this post actually took me a couple days to get typed up!}

I'll start with the eve of his birth, Wednesday, November 26th.  I was only five days away from my due date, and hubby and I were discussing how we should really start going to bed early to rest up for Cannon's looming arrival.  Instead, we stayed up until 12:30 a.m. watching Silver Linings Playbook (great movie, by the way!).  When I got in bed I noticed some contractions, and although they were stronger than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing, they were not regular...until 2:00 a.m. I started timing them with my contraction timer app, and they were pretty consistently 8-9 minutes apart, and stronger than I remember Lucy's being at 8 minutes apart.  

At 3:00 a.m., one hour later, I woke up Matt and told him the customary "it's time!".  I called my midwife, Nancy, and she said to come in.  I tested positive for Group B Strep and needed to get on i.v. antibiotics as soon as possible.  We both showered and Matt got the car warmed up, and woke up our daughter to take to our neighbor's house.  We sent text messages to our families letting them know.  

We were on the road a little before 4:00 a.m. On the 30 minute drive to my midwife, my contractions grew stronger and closer together, about 4-5 minutes.  When we arrived, Nancy checked me and I was 5.5 cm dilated and 95% effaced.  She had just checked me 2 days prior and I was 1.5 cm dilated.  She hooked me up to my i.v. for antibiotics and I rested on the bed for about 30-45 minutes - not quite sure, it's all a little fuzzy :) - while my contractions grew stronger.  Nancy continually wrapped me in warm blankets from the dryer, just like my mom used to after bath time, and I found that so comforting...like my mom was there with me, hugging me.  Matt also sprayed my pillow with lavender-vanilla pillow mist that was my moms.  

About 4:45 a.m., my water broke.  WOWZERS!  So glad that didn't happen while grocery shopping 2 days prior! With Lucy, I only slowly leaked like I had no bladder control, but this...THIS was a crazy.  We got the pads I was lying on changed and within minutes I felt the urge to push.  The contractions with Cannon were more intense, and I think I had to push more with him, but overall, my total labor was 3 1/2 hours.  Lucy's was 9 hours total.  In my experience, faster is much more intense.  

Our 7 lb 10 oz boy was born on November 27 at 5:27 a.m.  About an entire pound bigger than Lucy was! He came out crying, but was immediately placed on my chest and immediately calmed down.  This is THE best part right here.  When I look into my child's eyes for the first time, the child that I've carried for 9 months, so anxious to meet.  The child I've already spent so much time praying over and dreaming for is finally in my arms.  His warm body melting into mine as he quickly relaxes and knows I am his mother.  


During the pushing I kept thinking "I'm so glad I'm not going to do this again!", but the MOMENT he was in my arms I said out loud "I can SO do this again!".  I remember pleading with my midwife, "how much worse is this going to get before he's out?!", and she replied with "It doesn't get worse, it just gets done."  That was the motivation I needed.  "Done" sounded amazing, and yet 2 more pushes when he was out...I already wanted to experience it all over again.  That is the miracle of child birth, of motherhood, and all of those hormones that have wreaked havoc on our bodies for the last 9 months, instantly make us feel such an overwhelming love for this tiny human we'd sign up to do it again.  Unfortunately, this is [most likely] our last child, and I'm so grateful that God gave these children to me!

I was greeted with one of two reactions when I told people I was planning a natural home birth.  "You are crazy!" or "That's so awesome!"  Some people thought I was crazy and told me there was no need to "be a hero" and to "just get the epidural", but this is the exact way I wanted to experience bringing my babies into the world and I don't regret it for a second.  I am thankful that certain interventions are available should I have needed them, and I completely support the women who choose to birth their babies in the way that's best for them.  With that said, if anyone lives in the South Seattle area and needs a recommendation for a midwife, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend Nancy Spencer with Lakeside Birth Center in Lake Tapps, She birthed both of my babies. Also, let me know if you have any questions regarding natural childbirth, or what I did to prepare.

When I was ready to leave, I got cleaned up, and we were back in the comfort of our home by 7:30 a.m.  I had prepared an overnight french toast casserole the night before, so we just had to pop it in the oven and Thanksgiving breakfast was served. Matt went next door to pick up Lucy just as his parents arrived, so we were able to enjoy breakfast together.  I had also prepped several dishes for a small Thanksgiving the night before, so with the help of his mom, we were easily able to enjoy our first Thanksgiving as a family of four (plus Grandma and Grandpa).

Of course I have mixed emotions about this being my first Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, without my mom.  Coupled with the fact that she is not here to meet my son and he will not have to opportunity to get to know her.  However, the birth of our little Cannon was timely.  A Thanksgiving baby took my mind off of the possibility for sadness over not having my mom, and replaced it with the overwhelming joy of the birth of our son and reminded me how very much there is to be grateful for. 

Cannon is such an easygoing baby! He only cries when he's hungry, and nurses like a champ.  He eats like clockwork every 3 hours, is awake and alert for a little bit and then falls right back to sleep.  Praying this easygoing gig keeps up :)

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."
~ Psalm 139:13-14 ~


Click here If you'd like to read the story of our daughter Lucy's birth in 2012 :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MOM Heather Part 2: Mesothelioma Survivor

I first introduced you to Heather back in April (Click here for PART 1 of Heather's story), which is also when I decided to put a hold on the blog for a while due to various circumstances, one of which was my mom's own battle with lung cancer.  I was honestly wondering if writing the remainder of Heather's story would be difficult for me after losing my mom to lung cancer in September, but it's not.  I find myself so overwhelmingly happy for Heather and her family, and that they have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.  We were given 14 more years with my mom after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2000, and I'm focusing my gratitude on that this Thanksgiving.  Of course I miss my mom terribly, and always will, but I'm trying to focus on the fact that there is always something to be thankful for :)

**          **          **

Heather believes she survived her diagnosis for several reasons.  Her mesothelioma was caught early and she sought out the best medical care she could find.  Heather says that "finding a specialist is VITAL in a mesothelioma diagnosis, it is unlike any other cancer, and should be treated by someone who knows what you are up against."  Heather also attributes her attitude and her faith to her survival, 
"I honestly never thought it would be the end of me, I would not take a death sentence as a diagnosis.  Just when you think you can't handle one more thing, somewhere, somehow you find the strength and determination to keep going.  My reason was my daughter.  Find a reason to fight and ask for help...my faith played a huge part in helping me. Rely on God, He never leaves us."

Heather's treatment included surgery to remove her lung and surrounding tissue, with a recovery time of about 3 months.  She then underwent 4 rounds of chemotherapy, 3 weeks apart, and 6 weeks of radiation.  "Al in all, it took about year from my diagnosis to my last treatment."

We've all heard of asbestos, and when I hear the word, I think of the 70s.  Most asbestos exposure used to happen in the workplace, in trades where asbestos was either used or manufactured.  But Heather explains that a younger generation of people are being diagnosed with mesothelioma, like Heather, because of second-hand exposure to their parents' work clothes when they were young.  That is how Heather was exposed, her dad worked with it.  

Heather says that most of all homes built before 1978 most likely have asbestos in there somewhere:
"most exposure now comes from household renovation.  Tearing out old asbestos tiles in floors and ceilings. Tearing asbestos insulation off of pipes and ducts, or removing asbestos insulation from the attic."  
There are no specific tests to see if one has mesothelioma.  Warning signs include shortness of breath, pleural effusion, rapid weight loss, pain in the shoulder area that doesn't go away, and maybe a persistent dry cough.  More information can be found on Mesothelioma.com.  If you have been exposed to asbestos, or are exhibiting any of these warning signs, Heather urges you to tell your doctor your concerns, "Mesothelioma has anywhere from a 10-50 year latency period, which is why it's so hard to diagnose."

It is ALWAYS recommended that you hire a professional before tackling a remodel project on an older home as to not expose yourself to asbestos.   Heather encourages you to educate yourself as to where asbestos is located by visiting The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.  Surprisingly, the use of asbestos is not illegal, because it is a naturally occurring, mined mineral.  So what can we do to help? Heather says "what we can do is work toward a ban on using it, or importing it by calling your State's Representatives and local government officials and tell them it needs to be banned." I have an idea!  If you happen to be doing a random acts of kindness Advent calendar with your children, as many moms I know are doing, contacting your government officials in regard to banning asbestos could be one of your acts!

MOM Heather Q&A:

Did you always want to have children?  
"My husband and I talked about having a daughter on our fist date!! We new right away when we met that we were IT… and so we always knew we would have kids… it just took us awhile to actually take the plunge, so to speak.. we waited 7 years after getting married to start a family. I went through a selfish stage in my 20's where I could not imagine having kids, but I was single at the time and working on my career, but as soon as Cams and I met, I knew I wanted a family with him.."

What do you enjoy most about motherhood?  
"I love the discoveries of something new.. I keep saying how much I love 8 year olds! 8 is such a great age,.. she is so involved and curious and loves to learn, every day I learn something new about her.. of course I said the same thing at age 7, age 6, age 5, and so on and so on!"

What traits do you hope to instill in your daughter? 
"I hope to instill my love of giving and helping.. and honesty."

Anything else you would like to add?
I just want to THANK YOU for taking the time to share my story and my passion… Without the help of people like you, we would not be able to spread the word of hope!! A cancer diagnosis does not mean a death sentence… Keep the hope alive.. :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Let's Catch Up


Hi Momsters, I'm so glad to be back!  I haven't posted anything on this blog since April when I introduced the last Momster of the Month (MOM), Heather, and her fight against and awareness of Mesothelioma.  I will complete sharing her story with you, but first I'd like to catch everyone up with what's been going on for the last 7 months.  

My mom was my very first MOM I featured on this blog, and I shared her story of survival and how she beat the odds against Stage 4 breast cancer.  Shockingly, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in December 2013 and put up a good fight.  Unfortunately, to say the least, she lost that battle and moved to be with her Heavenly Father on September 19, 2014.  She was never a smoker, but grew up surrounded by family members who were...in the car, in the house, she couldn't escape it.  The assumption by doctors is that this diagnosis was completely unrelated from her breast cancer, since she had been cancer-free for a number of years, and most likely caused by her exposure to second-hand smoke.  

There will never be a day I do not miss her.  I know she is in Heaven waiting to greet me again with a giant hug, but that doesn't mean I don't ache for a hug from her now on Earth. I miss being able to call her whenever I need to hear her reassuring voice and encouraging wisdom, or to share something adorable my daughter did today.  She was my biggest supporter of Momster Mash, and I want to keep this going in order to support each and every one of you.  

Every mother.

Everywhere.

Every mother facing a battle I don't want them to face alone.  

Every mother with encouraging wisdom to share.

Every mother needing to feel that we ARE in this together, and we need constant support from one another and reminders that God is WITH us and FOR us in the midst of whatever battle we may be facing...big or small.  

In the midst of such deep sadness, I'm also experiencing great joy as we will be welcoming our second child, a boy, into our family very soon.  In April, just 3 months after my miscarriage, I was surprised to find out I was pregnant so soon!  I am so very grateful that it happened so quickly, as I was able to share this news with my mom and she was also able to find out we were having a son.  I even got to share the name we have chosen with her before her passing.  

Come April, life was crazy.  I was working more than usual, traveling often on weekends to visit my mom, dealing with first trimester nausea and exhaustion, and my husband took a new job working Monday-Friday in a town 5 hours away.  Oh, and we have a 2-year-old daughter. The blog definitely took a backseat to life's other demands, and I accidentally let my domain name subscription lapse.  Once I realized this, I had issues getting it all sorted out.  I'm no website techy whiz, just teaching myself as I go.  

I'm now almost 38 weeks pregnant and officially on maternity leave, work has calmed down for my hubby (for the time being, anyway), and it feels like the dust surrounding me after losing my mom here on on earth is settling a bit.  She would want me to keep this going.  She knew how much joy Momster Mash brought me, and I want to continue to fill other moms with joy and encouragement as well. 

Thank you for being a part of my ministry that is Momster Mash, and for helping me and my mission of what Momster Mash is all about..."A sisterhood of mothers, encouraging one another as we grow".  If you are an "old faithful" Momster, THANK YOU for sticking around, for being a part of this amazing sisterhood, and for spreading the love to others.  

If you are new to Momster Mash, WELCOME!  Please take a look around and see what this is all about. You can visit the MOMs tab above to familiarize yourself with previous Momsters of the Month.  I already have some amazing MOMs lined up to pick up where I left off, and I look forward to sharing their stories with you.  They are stories of triumph, heartache, joy and sadness...but these stories helped to shape the incredible women behind them, and these women have graciously offered to share their stories with you so that you may find one more arena for healing, one more person to connect with, one more avenue for healing after whatever it is you may be facing.

Life WILL throw us curve balls. 
NONE of us are immune to trouble and heartache.  

It's how we face those curve balls and learn to heal from the heartache that defines us.  

And we don't have to do this alone.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MOM Heather: Asbestos Awareness Week

We've entered another month, and I have another amazing MOM to introduce to you! This is the first MOM I have interviewed whom I didn't already know, so I am allowed the opportunity to get to know her and be inspired right along with you. 

Heather Von St. James stumbled across my blog and contacted me last month to ask if I would be willing to assist her in spreading the news about Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7), and I am honored to do so.  Here on Momster Mash, the entire MONTH of April is being dedicated to asbestos awareness as we get to know Heather and her story. 
This February, Heather's father passed away due to Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma.  Although there is no specific way of proving a link, Heather is certain her father's carcinoma was directly related to his exposure to asbestos, due to his line of work in construction. 

When she was a young girl, Heather cherished the warmth and comfort of her father's work jacket, and would wear it any time she could when outside in the "bitter cold of South Dakota".  No one realized the danger of it at that time, but that work jacket was covered in dry wall dust...covered in asbestos.  Each time Heather wrapped herself in the comforting heavy nylon of her father's work jacket, she breathed in more and more asbestos. 

Fast forward about 30 years to 2005, Heather gave birth to her beautiful daughter Lily Rose, but felt "like crap".  She was having trouble breathing and was losing 5-7 pounds per week.  After many tests and ruling out other simple explanations, she was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma, of which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.  At the age of 36, and just three months after bringing her daughter into this world, she was faced with a dire diagnosis.  Heather was given 15 months to live without a drastic and "relatively new surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy".


Most people who receive a Mesothelioma diagnosis do not live past two years, but as you have probably realized, it is now nine years later and Heather is still alive!  She is still here to grow old with her husband, to guide and mold her daughter, and to love on her into teenage years and beyond.  Heather is still here to be one of the few mesothelioma survivors to share her story; a story of faith, hope and courage.

Heather is now dedicated to spreading awareness on the dangers of asbestos, educating others on minimizing exposure risk, taking steps to getting this lethal (and still legal) material banned, advocating for more research and treatment options, and offering hope to others diagnosed with mesothelioma. 

Stay tuned as Heather shares more of her story with us throughout the month of April, and to learn what you can do to partner with her and her mission of Asbestos Awareness; spread the word!  Be sure to sign up by email in the side bar ---> to have each post delivered straight to your inbox and 'like' Momster Mash on Facebook so you don't miss a Momster!

You can connect wither Heather on Facebook and learn more about mesothelioma on  The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.  You can also watch Heather tell her story in this video.
 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Devastating Landslide in Oso Hits Close to Home

I'm sure by now, the entire country has heard of the deadly landslide that took place in the small town of Oso, Washington after an entire mountainside collapsed.  Calling it a "mudslide" is undermining the gravity of this disaster.
www.seattlepi.com
Last Saturday, a 25-foot high mudslide rushed through Oso, demolishing nearly everything in it's path.  Oso is a small town north of Seattle, with a population of just about 200.  With 49 homes in the mudslide's path, there have been 16 bodes pulled from the aftermath and eight more located but not yet recovered; putting the death toll at 24 and the official missing person's number is 90. 
I have been glued to the news at home and on the radio on my commute, and have been tragically reminded just how precious and fleeting our minutes are. 
  • My friend's husband was running behind schedule for a hunting trip that day and missed it by mere minutes.  He was stopped behind the one mile stretch of highway that was taken out by the mudslide and the photo he posted on Facebook was how I heard about it; not yet realizing the magnitude of the situation.
  • A family left their Oso home for a trip to Costco just eight minutes before the mudslide.
  • A woman left her mother at home to watch her baby while she went to work for the day.  Grandmother and baby are gone.  This grandmother worked in a dental office for 20 years and they are also mourning her loss.
  • I used to work with a gal who lives in Oso, so of course I was worried that she got caught up in this.  Thankfully, her farm is not located in the area devastated by the mudslide. 
The crew working without ceasing to find more bodies is spurred by the hope that they may find people alive in an air pocket or trapped in a house.  Not to mention anyone who might have been driving on the highway at the time and washed away in their car. 
  • A four-year-old boy was rescued via helicopter after he was spotted from above; the mud ripped his pants right off of him.  His father and brothers are still missing.  My friend's son was friends with one of the brothers.
  • A woman talks about seeing the wave of earth rolling toward her house and braced herself to ride it out with her friend who was with her.  Mud filled her eyes, nose and mouth, but they fought with everything they had and thankfully survived.
As I was listening to the news reports on the radio yesterday on my drive home from work, I continued to feel more and more urgency to help.  This hits so close to home, as we live south of Seattle, in a valley, and it now has me thinking about the possibility that this could happen where we live as well. 
I pulled into a gas station and turned off my car to fill up, and when I got out, a lady in the car next to me had the exact same story I was listening to blaring on her radio, so I continued to listen with an aching heart.
Hearing the first-hand accounts from workers and volunteers about what they are experiencing at the site is so...heartbreaking.  I don't even know what other word to use to describe it.  A man broke down crying talking about coming across baby clothes, children's books and a box full of toys.  He picked up one of the books and on the inside cover was written "it's a beautiful world". 
It is a beautiful world...where bad things happen.  But the world is also filled with beautiful people who sacrifice their own comfort to help those in need. 

Mark Mulligan, AP, The Daily Herald, Everett
  • The picture above is a local boy who is a Senior in high school.  He's been working tirelessly helping the rescue crew, using duct tape to help keep the mud out of his boots.
  • A man immediately flew out from Pittsburg to help with search and rescue.  He has family who are among the missing.
  • Brave, generous people from around the country, and world, are traveling to Oso to offer their support and assistance with not only the rescue and recovery, but to also offer emotional support for the grieving families who survived.
Here are some ways you can help:
  1. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or online at the Red Cross donation site. 
  2. Donate to The Salvation Army here or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.  You can also send a check marked "disaster relief" to The Salvation Army, Northwest Divisional Headquarters, 111 Queen Anne Avenue N #300, Seattle, WA, 98109. 
  3. Five people remain in serious condition at Harborview, ranging in age from 5-months-old, to 81-years-old.  Thankfully they are all improving.  Cards or letters of well-wishes and prayers can be send to: "Oso Landslide Patient," Harborview Medical Center, 325 9th Avenue, Seattle WA, 98104
  4. You can donate to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Disaster Fund HERE.  Cascade Valley Hospital is location in Oso's neighboring town of Arlington, and all funds raised go to those affected by the mudslide. 
  5. Stay updated on various ways to donate via the Mudslide Info and Relief Effort Facebook page
  6. Click HERE for ways you can help pets affected by the mudslide.
  7. Ed Russell is a local business man collecting and delivering items necessary to help with the rescue efforts; items that might not come to mind when thinking about donating, but are so highly important.  i.e.: Volunteers are using their personal tractors and chainsaws to help rescue workers navigate through the rubble, and this equipment continually needs gas in order to operate.  Russell says there's no way to fathom just how grave the situation is at the slide site, and the need will continue for a long time to come.  The following items needed can be delivered or sent to his business address, or you can call Ed Russell at 425-308-2549 to ask how you can help.
Senior Aerospace AMT
20100 71st Ave. NE
Arlington, WA 98223
 
Non-perishable food
Baby items (diapers, baby formula)
Heavy duty work gloves
Shovels
Power saws
Work boots
Duct tape
Gas gift cards
Tylenol
Ibuprofen
Chainsaw bar oil
Two-stroke oil
Gas in cans
 *Many of these items can be purchased on Amazon.com
and shipped to Russell if you don't live in the area*
 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Humor and Hope After Miscarriage




The above picture was my first appointment with my midwife at the end of November, when I was 6 weeks pregnant, and Lucy sitting in the exact spot where she was born!  We hold on to the hopeful anticipation of the day we can return to this bed with good news. 

My appointment after the one above was not joyful, as I shared in  I am the Face: My Personal Story of Miscarriage.  As we are moving forward past this season of our lives, I have thought back to this painful time and realized there is some humor to be found, and sometimes it's healing to find the humor in the midst of pain...

Three days after my midwife confirmed what I already knew, miscarriage, I was able to see the OBGYN, Dr. Michael B. Smith (all I could think of was Michael W. Smith).  The first room is where my vitals were taken, introductions were made, and questions were asked.  He then decided he wanted to do an exam, and wanted to do so in a different room.  So I moved to room #2 and stripped from the waist down for a couple of people I had just met moments ago, Dr. Smith and his assistant.  Major awkward factor. 
 
As I stared at the speaker in the ceiling above me, pretending this wasn't awkward at all, I heard the speculum loudly click open a few times, with a final LOUD click, and then Dr. Smith said "uh oh...it broke." 

"What?! Wait, what broke? Where?!"  Needless to say I had many thoughts floating around in my head and was slightly worried about what broke and where.   I let out an uncomfortable laugh like everything was fine, when I was really freaking out just a little on the inside.
 
His assistant handed him a new speculum and we were on our way to awkward-land once again.  He was concerned with the amount of bleeding I was still having, even though my cervix was closed, so he wanted to do a vaginal ultrasound.  I was wondering to myself if he just wanted to make sure I didn't have speculum remnants remaining (I never did find out what part of the speculum broke, exactly).  I'll just take that as a sign that my kegels are paying off :)
 
The assistant quickly followed the Dr. out of the room to find out what he wanted to do next, and left me lying in wait on the table covered in a thin paper sheet, listening to "Smooth Operator" play on the radio and I just had to laugh out loud! "Seriously?!", I said to the speaker in the ceiling above me.

When the assistant returned, she told me we would have to move to another room to where the vaginal ultrasound machine was located.  Oh geeeez.  I had to get dressed and wait in the waiting room until they were ready, and then off to my third and final room of the day.
 
The vaginal ultrasound revealed everything looked good, he told me that if I was still bleeding come Monday, then he wanted to see me again.  Thankfully, as we had prayed it would, my body did what it was created to do in this circumstance and he didn't think any medication nor a D&C were needed. 
 
I said "thank you" and as Dr. Smith reached the door, he turned to face me and said...
 "better luck next time...and...happy new year". 

I'm not even kidding you right now.

Yes, I am trying to make light of the situation, and yet my heart is broken just the same.  I can now find some humor in this situation, because sometimes that's just what I need to do to regain my grasp on hope.  We are clinging to the hope that we will have another child to love one day and pray that God will fulfill the desire of our hearts when the time is right.

Friday, March 21, 2014

MOM Brea Part 4: And Then There Were Four

Would you like to catch up with MOM Brea?
Throughout the month of March, Brea has openly shared her story of infertility, angel babies and her miracle Ally who beat the odds.  I asked Brea to tell us about her little miracle, Ally:
"She is all that is good and right in the world.  Her birth was the most beautiful moment of my life.  Today, she is a spunky 2.5-year-old who never ceases to amaze us.  Often shy in unfamiliar situations, she easily shines when comfortable. When she began daycare at 12 months, her caregiver said she's like a 'ray of sunshine'...and all of the other children are instantly happier because she's there.  She's a master negotiator who knows what she wants...I know she's on track to be a leader.  Ally loves reading and story-telling, bikes, stickers, coloring, soccer, making up her own songs, and spending time with her BFF - Daddy."
Brea had been through the unimaginable to become a mommy, yet she immediately knew she wanted to start the journey all over again once she held her sweet Ally in her arms.  Brea and her husband began planning for Baby #2 while their little Ally was still an infant, but decided not to go the route of fertility medications this time.
"...I was too frightened and the path was too daunting.  Instead, when it was determined I was ovulating, I began an aggressive form of acupuncture in order to...increase the length of my luteal phase - which at that time was not long enough to sustain a pregnancy - as well as taking Chinese supplements.  I had my doubts, but I needed this to work.  Before I knew it, my luteal phase went from 8 days to 14 days."
Based on her basal temperature readings, which were "all over the map", during month two of trying to conceive, she assumed she had not ovulated and they would try again next month.  Brea recalls, "I was late, so I took a test early one morning, and low and behold, 2 pink lines immediately appeared."
Brea and her husband welcomed Hudson, her "heart and soul", into their family almost one year ago.
"I love that I'm his world; he's looking for me whenever he's not in my arms.  He has daddy's caring and empathetic eyes, and we've noticed that animals have an undeniable connection to him - another trait he gets from his daddy...He's happiest hanging his head upside down and when Ally tackles him.  He laughs when we touch his hands, and cries when we touch his nose...when the day comes that I no longer get to hold him in my arms to feed him, I will long for those tiny fingers to gently play with my lips, or tickle the underside of my thumb." 

I was honored to host Hudson's Little Gentleman Baby Shower which you can check out HERE.

While not on maternity leave, Brea works with children with special needs within the education system in Canada.  She enjoys reading, traveling and photography.  She is an amazing photographer (see above photo)!!  She makes time at least twice a week to exercise without her children nearby. 

Photo Credit:  Raney Day Photography
"We as mothers know who our personal goals are often put on the back burner to focus on our children and family", says Brea, "and that's how it is for me right now."  Yes!  I think we can all agree with that one. 

Brea shares a long-time passion of hers:  "Fifteen years ago, I learned of domestic sexual slavery through one of my professors. It was then I knew that working with children and youth who were being sexually exploited was what I wanted to do...and was working in the field in a student capacity." She regretfully passed up an opportunity to dive deeper into this work, because it wasn't the right timing.
Brea looks forward to the day when she can "focus on a dream I've had for nearly half my life!" This particular dream is to volunteer with an organization in which she and her husband have been offering financial support, Transitions Global in Cambodia, "an agency that works on restoring the lives of girls rescued from sex trafficking."

Thank you, Brea, for sharing your story and offering encouragement and hope to others!

Monday, March 17, 2014

MOM Brea Part 3: Support and Encouragement Through Loss

If you would like to catch up with MOM Brea's story:
 
To the momma reading this who may have struggled through infertility or pregnancy loss, Brea would like to offer up some words of encouragement for you.
"Pregnancy loss is an isolated club whom no one wants to belong.  Be true to your emotions and honor your feelings.  Everyone who has lost a baby will react differently, but whatever you're feeing in the days, weeks, months, or years after a loss is your truth.  Take the time you need to heal and feel whole again."
A "fantastic" resource Brea recommends is  Sidelines.  Sidelines is a non-profit, high-risk pregnancy support network of trained volunteers who have experienced similar issues. 
 
Maybe you have not personally experienced infertility or loss, but know someone who has.  It certainly has the potential to become the big elephant in the middle of the room, and it can be daunting to find the words of support.  Brea has some suggestions for those who aren't quite sure how to offer support to a loved one in this situation:
"Refrain from passing judgment or offering advice.  Listen to understand, not to reply.  Let your loved one know you support her.  Check in with her.  We felt so lifted up by the overwhelming response to our losses; we received cards, texts, emails, cards, prayers, silent hugs filled with love, and visits from family, friends, and even friends of friends who just wanted to say 'I'm sorry' or 'You're on my mind today'.  Even 3 years later, I'm truly touched when someone remembers how difficult March and April are for me."
Unfortunately, I have been on both the offering and receiving end of support. 
 
I delicately maneuvered around the appropriate gestures while Brea, and many others close to me, marched on through the battle field of infertility.  I have offered up very specific intercessory prayers for friends to have babies before I did (both before my first pregnancy and while we were trying for Baby #2) longing for them to experience the joy and thanksgiving of a little miracle before it happened for us.  And you know what?? Each one of those specific prayers was answered!!  I was blown away by God's faithfulness and love, and overjoyed for those highly anticipated pregnancies. 
 
After I shared my story, I received many private messages and emails from mommas who have been there; who have felt that pain, and understand how confusing it can be to navigate.  My miscarriage is far from what Brea had to endure, and it pales in comparison to the problems of this world and the life-threatening obstacles others battle every day, but it is mine and it will always be a part of who I am.  Don't devalue your grief mommas.
 
 
Near the end of 2013, I came across a book written by a blogger I follow, Natalie Lesnefsky, The Busy Budgeting Mama.  It's called Mommy Has an Angel and she wrote this book after the sudden and violent loss of her best friend to domestic violence.  Natalie wrote the book from a child's innocent perspective blanketed in a beautiful simplicity, because it was her own children's humble prayers that helped her to grieve and heal. 
 
I bought this book as a gift for Brea, and remembered it was tucked away upstairs when I experienced my miscarriage in January.  I dug it out and read it quietly by myself in my bedroom, then read it out loud to my daughter Lucy.  I found comfort in those sweet, colorful pages.
 
If you would like to purchase Mommy has an Angel for yourself, or for a loved one who may be grieving through any type of loss, the book can be purchased HERE.
 

 

 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

MOM Brea Part 2: Angel Babies

Soon after the barrage of infertility tests and procedures were under way, Brea and her husband Cy were ecstatic to find out she was pregnant.   They began dreaming of family life with their little one and Brea remembers how she "fell hard and fast, recognizing how lucky I was".  But then, just about 2 weeks after she found out she was pregnant, Brea was rushed into emergency surgery to remove a 6 week ectopic pregnancy.  "I was devastated and angry with my body for failing me.  This was my miracle and I lost it", explains Brea.
Brea gave her body some time to heal and her and Cy began trying for another baby a few months later.  That December, Brea decided to try her first round of Clomid, a drug designed to help with ovulation (simply put) and she explains how this would be her one and only round of Clomid.
"On Christmas day I found out I was pregnant.  This big fat positive lacked the fanfare of the last test that showed 2 lines.  This wasn't good.  This wasn't bad.  This just was.  We knew I was more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy (than a woman who had not experienced one) and my chances were even slightly more increased because I had taken Clomid."
Brea explains how she struggled with her emotions after discovering she was pregnant. 
"I struggled to keep from dreaming of the baby I was carrying and imagining her life, and ours with her in it.  In order to protect my heart, I had to ignore the early pregnancy symptoms - many of them mirroring those of my only other experience with being pregnant - and keep at the routines of my day to day life."
Brea and Cy arrived to their first ultrasound appointment "filled with anticipation" on January 4, 2011.  It was too early to determine if this pregnancy was also ectopic.  Another ultrasound on January 10th still didn't give them any answers.  Finally, at their ultrasound appointment on February 4, at 9 weeks 3 days gestation, they received some unexpected news. 
"At 9 weeks 3 days, the technician ruled out an ectopic pregnancy, and then invited the radiologist into the exam room.  He turned the screen towards me and pointed out the 2 large black spots with slight grey areas in my uterus.  'Twins', I whispered.  'Not quite', he replied, 'triplets: identical twins and a singleton.' We were shocked, speechless, and terrified.  There was so much to wrap our minds around!  3 babies!"
A few days later, Brea returned to her doctor so he could discuss the risks of her triplet pregnancy.  She was carrying Monochorionic-Monoamniotic identical twins, and a singleton.  "Mono twins" occur when the embryo does not split until after the amniotic sac is formed.  Because they share an amniotic sac (monoamniotic), share a placenta (monochorionic), and have their own umbilical cords, a Mono twin pregnancy is rare and very high risk.  Mono twins occur in 1 in 35,000 to 1 in 60,000 pregnancies, and in about 1% of twin pregnancies. Due to the close proximity of the two umbilical cords in the single amniotic sac, it is easy for the twins to become entangled among the cords, compressing the cords, and limiting their life-giving oxygen and food supply.  The survival rate of Mono twins is about 50%.  Consider in the factor of also carrying a singleton baby, and the risk and rarity of Brea's highly anticipated pregnancy now became an "extremely high-risk" pregnancy.  She was given news of bed rest and the need to stay at the Easter Seals house in Vancouver, B.C. at just 20 weeks to complete the remainder of her pregnancy, because where she lives in Nanaimo isn't equipped to handle such a unique pregnancy. 
"There have been many Mono twin success stories, but not so for Mono twins AND a singleton.  Sadly, the chances of all of our babies surviving were very slim", says Brea.  It was explained to Brea and Cy that if all of her babies did survive, they would be faced with severe life-long disabilities. 
"I sat silently as he stared me directly in the eyes and said 'If you were my daughter or wife, there would be no choice in my mind; the risk for you and them is too great'."  Brea tried to wrap her brain around what the doctor was telling her. 
Brea and Cy's 13-week gestation triplets were already experiencing TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome) and experiencing distress and they were aware they could lose all three of their babies at any time.  They were facing two options:
1) Carry on with the pregnancy the way it is and hope all of their babies survive.
2) Terminate the twins to give their sibling a chance at not only surviving, but a thriving life.
"The decision we were left with challenged our beliefs, and required us to examine our moral philosophies as individuals and as a couple. As much as we wanted to believe in miracles, we had to think logically of the risks and be realistic...nearly 3 years of struggling with infertility and loss...could we handle more heartache and to what degree?"
The expectant parents were left heartbroken, inconsolable, and for a time, isolated.  It's a terribly sensitive topic that evokes strong emotions in many, Brea and Cy included. 
"After many, many discussions, lots of tears, and the guidance of doctors and counselors, we decided that we would give our singleton a chance at life.  We can assume not everyone agreed with our decision, but never once did we receive anything but love and prayers.  In fact, we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support!"
Brea and Cy said goodbye to their twins, Taylor and Cameron, on March 7, 2011.  Brea explains that the selective reduction "was easily the most horrendous experience" of her life, and "unfortunately the procedure was anything but textbook." 
Their singleton did exactly what they had hoped for - thrived and survived!  On September 2, 2011 their little Ally made her entrance into the world to greet them face-to-face and Brea recalls that day, "It's so difficult to put into words what it was like to hold her for the first time; she was the sum of perseverance and pain, loss and love.  I think my first words to her were 'I've been waiting for you for a long time.'"

There isn't a day that goes by that Brea doesn't think of her angel babies, and the decisions she made,  "I wear three angels on a chain around my neck - one for each baby I lost - so they will always be close to my heart."  A friend carved a special memory box for Brea and Cy to keep sonogram pictures, heartbeat printouts, and letters and cards from friends.  On Ally's first birthday, Brea and Cy each wrote letters to their twins, Taylor and Cameron.  "We attached [the letters] to balloons and sent them skywards.  Mine was full of 'thank yous', 'I'm sorries', and 'forgive mes'; it was the closure that I needed."
I cannot even begin to imagine being faced with this situation, and it's impossible to know exactly what choices one would make until it is your reality to live and your decision to make.  My heart will always ache for Brea and Cy and this particular season of their lives and they will always remain in my prayers, especially this time of year as they remember their little ones they never had the chance to meet. 
I know this topic raises the opportunity to spark passionate debate amongst those who hold strong opinions, but this is not the time nor the place for debate and judgment.  This blog is a place for mothers to lift each other up, so let's do just that!
Please stay tuned for Part 3, as Brea offers some encouragement to those who may have been through a similar situation.  Brea will also offer some words of advice for those who have not been there themselves, but may need some guidance in regard to offering support to someone else.
Part 3: Support and Encouragement Through Loss

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Pot-Luck

 Here's the "dish" on my new adventure!
I'm thrilled to announce that I'm the newest addition to the collaborative writing effort over at
The Pot-Luck, a group of writers "bringing tasty treats to the table everyday"! About once a month, I will be contributing something new and fresh to The Pot-Luck, apart from what you can find on Momster Mash.  Because I stick to particular topic each month here, The Pot-Luck will give me a new avenue to share my random thoughts and targeted encouragement with even more people. 
 
Apart from giving those who find enjoyment in writing a new platform to do so, the goal of The Pot-Luck is "to find greater understanding of how communities can grow and collaborate to make a difference in people’s lives." 
 
You can read my first post, entitled Journey, HERE
 
You can also find The Pot-Luck on Facebook.
 
I invite you to follow along!
 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

MOM Brea Part 1: The Diagnosis

I recently shared my personal story of miscarriage, and commented on how I have painfully watched far too many friends navigate through infertility and miscarriage.  My dear friend Brea is just one of those friends whom openly shared her journey while still on that painful path.  I understand that many choose to not talk about their experience for personal reasons, and I value their decision.  It is my personal belief that sharing and talking about these experiences, especially with others who have been there and can truly empathize, can be just one path to healing; a way to purge bottled-up emotions with which we don't know what to do.
Brea has been through far more than I, and my heart still aches for her and this specific time in her life.  She has agreed to share her experiences with all of you Momsters, and Brea and I both hope that her story can help bring healing and community to those who have walked this path themselves, and compassion to those who know someone who has.
*          *          *
Let's start from the beginning...

Brea and her husband Cy met on Match.com in 2005 as a result of a dare.  Brea's friend "dared" her to set up a free 3-day trial, and it only took that long for Cy to find Brea and send her a message.  She wasn't taking this online dating too seriously, but explains how Cy's message stood out from the others she had received in those few days.  "...his was respectful and humble, so I went ahead and added him to MSN messenger.  We 'chatted' through MSN for hours, eventually graduating to the phone, and then finally meeting in Victoria B.C. several weeks later."

It's important to mention that Cy lived in Kirkland, WA, and Brea resided in Nanaimo, B.C., a 2.5-hour drive, a border crossing, and a 2-hour ferry ride away; not a quick trip across town.  Cy had been a Match.com "veteran" for some time already, when a crucial piece of this part of their story unfolded.  He made the decision to expand his profile search range...to Canada! 

Their meeting in person set off a romantic snowball that grew quickly to Cy promising he was going to marry Brea one day.  Brea laughed it off, but explains that "a year to the day we 'met' online, as we lounged in a hammock on the island of Kauai, he asked me to be his wife.  I, of course, said yes, and 9 months later we were married." 

My husband was already friends with Cy, through the saltwater aquarium hobby, and this is how I met Brea.  We attended their gorgeous cocktail party wedding and our friendship with the two has continued to grow over the years.
Brea and Cy on their wedding day, February 24, 2007
Like many newlyweds, there were a few things Brea and Cy wanted to do before they had children, but decided to "forgo birth control" and be ok with Brea getting pregnant if that happened before they were able to check off their pre-children bucket list.  The item topping their list was traveling around Europe, and that dream came true 2.5 years after they were married.  Brea had not become pregnant by this point, but didn't think much of it until after they returned home from their trip and actively began trying to conceive in August 2009.  Brea recalls when their journey to become parents began to take an unexpected path:
"It wasn't until later that year, while at a doctor's appointment (unrelated to conception and pregnancy) that [the doctor] asked me if Cy and I were going to have children.  As it turns out, that appointment changed the course of my life, and ultimately lead to an unexplained infertility diagnosis."
Having just turned 30, Brea was faced with the possibility that she may never have children of her own, and it was then that she truly realized just how much she longed to be a mother and how "desperately" she wanted children of her own.

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Raney Day Photography Photo Session WINNER!!

We have a winner of the Raney Day Photography photo session giveaway (a $300 value)!!
 
* * Natalie A. * *
 
 
Congratulations Natalie!!!!  I'm so excited for you and your family and the beautiful pictures you're going to get from Jessica Raney.  You are going to have a great time.
 
Thank you to everyone who entered, and a HUGE thank you to February's MOM Jessica for sharing your inspiring story of chasing and achieving dreams and for your generous giveaway. 

 
Didn't win?  I think you should still book a session with the amazingly talented Jessica!  I'm personally so looking forward to my family's photo session scheduled for May.  Visit Jessica's website www.RaneyDayPhotography.com for more information and to book your session; I promise you won't regret it!
 
Check back tomorrow as I introduce the Momster of the Month for March.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I am the Face: My Personal Story of Miscarriage

I was 9 weeks + 3 days pregnant with a little life I already loved with a love only an expectant mother could understand.  I was feeling great, with only a few moments of queeziness, and was thinking "wow, this pregnancy is already so much different than Lucy's". Matt and I wondered if this could mean we might be having a boy.  In hindsight, it probably meant that Baby #2 wasn't developing properly.  
Our early ultrasound with my midwife at 6 weeks.  I remember thinking that Lucy seemed larger at this point. 
My midwife told me my uterus was in a position such that it was difficult to get a decent angle
 
The spotting started on Friday, January 3rd, but I was trying not to get too worried about it.  It was very slight, and I know this can be completely normal in pregnancy.  However, I also had a very early miscarriage (1 week after a positive pregnancy test) in September 2013 that started with spotting, so I couldn't help but worry since I was further along with this pregnancy. 

I spoke to my midwife over the phone, desperate for a remedy; something that I could do to stop this from happening.  But it was too late.  She told me that unless the pain was severe, there was no need to go to the emergency room.  There was no mistaking what was happening, and I also now knew there was nothing I could do but ride it out and let it happen.

The spotting increased through Saturday and Sunday until it turned into heavy bleeding accompanied with cramping.  Throughout the course of Sunday night I was up often with severe cramping which was reminiscent of contractions, accompanied with a heavy amount of uncontrollable bleeding. 

It was intense. Although it was nowhere near the pain of childbirth, the emotional pain was terribly immense. 

I felt helpless. 

To make matters worse, Lucy was up all night so very sick.  In the thick of the miscarriage, Matt was preoccupied with taking care of her, so he didn't even know what was really going on with me at the time.  I felt scared, alone, and extremely heartbroken as I cried out to God to give me peace and for this to just be over as quickly as possible.
 
Around 1:30 a.m., January 6th, after it really started getting intense and I felt the passing of my baby, I crawled back into bed with Matt and Lucy.  "I just lost the baby".  It felt like moving a mountain as I forced the words out of my mouth before starting to sob.  He wrapped his strong, comforting arm around me, and with our Lucy tucked in between us, we cried together as a family.  In that moment, I felt so overwhelmed with love for the family I have been blessed with, yet I also felt such a deep sadness and emptiness for the child we already loved so much, and who would have made us a family of four.



The next day, I saw my midwife.  She confirmed my miscarriage via ultrasound, gave me my shot of Rhogam since I'm Rh- (CLICK HERE for more info about that), referred me to an OBGYN, and gave me a big, loving hug.   In her gentle, wise way she told me "Well, honey, sometimes we just need to remember that God knows best."  It's one thing to know and believe this, but it doesn't make the news any easier to take in the moment, still raw with emotion.
 
I would now be in my second trimester.  I would now be excitedly showing off my Baby #2 bump.  We had been brainstorming clever ways to announce my pregnancy to our wider circle of family and friends.  Instead, we were stopped in our tracks and left to try to wrap our brains around the fact that I'm no longer pregnant.  
Our attempt at getting a picture with Lucy in her "Big Sister" t-shirt; which is how we announced the news to our families.
It has been almost 2 months now, we are doing ok, and trust that God is good and his timing is perfect.  At first, I was mostly coping day-to-day, but sometimes, it was more like moment-to-moment.  I feel so much more at peace about the loss now that I've had a couple of months to process and heal.  I hesitated with the decision to share my story on the blog, but decided that if my story could help even one mother cope with her loss, it would be worth it. 
www.facesofloss.com

Statistics estimate that 1 in 4 women will miscarry, but the OBGYN told me it's more like 50%.  I have painfully watched so many friends struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss, and prayed that it would never happen to me.  But I am not immune to suffering and pain.  I want that mother who may be reading this, who is trying to cope and heal from her pregnancy loss to understand... "you are not alone".  
 
I personally believe that life begins at conception, so I wasn't just mourning a pregnancy. I needed to find a way to mourn my child I had not yet had the opportunity to meet. Each grieving mother will find her own way to mourn her loss and try to move on, but will never ever forget.

I don't want to forget.

There was no memorial service for our little life but we gratefully received a few condolences; not too many people knew I was pregnant.  As a believer, I know that I am not guaranteed a pleasant, pain-free life, but I am guaranteed guidance and peace as the difficult circumstances of life are navigated. 

What I also know, is that I feel great peace when I imagine our precious, tiny baby being lovingly cradled in the hands of our Heavenly Father until the day we can finally meet.
 
*          *          *
 
I will be focusing on the topics of infertility, pregnancy loss, and miracles for the month of March,
as the next Momster of the Month, a dear friend of mine, will be sharing her experiences with us.