Wednesday, June 5, 2013


My body finally released Baby #6 on Monday after waiting almost two weeks since we got that news that he (my feeling) did not have a heartbeat.  It was providential actually.  After mourning his death for more than a week, I went to see an OB/GYN who would be able to do a D&C if that's the path we chose.  I did not want surgery, but was afraid and overwhelmed by the idea of waiting for weeks for my body to let go.

The doctor gave me a prescription for misoprostal, which I planned to take on Saturday night before bed.  But on Saturday morning, I felt a small pop and then began to leak fluid all day along with some spotting.  Cramping amped up on Sunday with more spotting and then I awoke at about 5 am Monday morning and said to Paul, "This is it." as I hurried to the bathroom.

For about 5 hours I lost a lot of blood and clots and the baby.  (One thing I hoped to do with a miscarriage at home is bury my baby, but due to the amount of blood, I was not able to find him.)  Sorry if that's too much info.  I wanted to share this experience in all it's grittiness as I don't think people understand what an actual miscarriage is like.  I think the general assumption is that you just start to bleed, like a period, sometimes knowing beforehand that the baby has died.  This is infrequently the case.  I had actual labor pains during those 5 hours.  I passed so much blood so quickly that I passed out once and each time I went to the bathroom, Paul had to kneel on the floor in front of the toilet so I could I lean on him to prevent myself from blacking out again.  He'd help me clean up and then support me the 10 feet or so back to the bed or in the beginning, the floor next to the bed, because I couldn't even get to the bed.  It was awful.  I can attest to it being harder the farther along you are.  Full-term labor is easier.  And I'm not even counting the emotional part.  I did not have any strength to even think about how I felt emotionally during it all. 

I was incredibly weak all day and in the afternoon, I passed the placenta. By that time I'd had some time to think about how I was feeling emotionally.  Believe it or not, I watched "What to Expect While You're Expecting" in bed that morning after the labor pains had passed.  Paul had checked it out from the library right before we found out this baby had died.  Then we got the news and I said, "I can't watch that."  But after awhile of thinking about it, I felt like I HAD to watch it.  I wanted to mock it, to be able to be offended at Hollywood for making yet another pregnancy movie that was unrealistic and stupid.  To mock the fact that they had chosen model looking actresses to play pregnant women when they'd never experienced pregnancy in real life.  BUT, I was surprised.  Yes, it was cheesy and unrealistic in parts, but in other parts is was shockingly real.  One character has a later miscarriage, one character can't get pregnant and pursues adoption.  One of the characters struggles through all the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy despite being an "expert" on all things pregnancy and baby related.  One of the actresses struggled in real life to get pregnant and ended up having to use a surrogate.  I laughed and I cried and it helped. 

My mom was here with us, during it all.  That was helpful.  She served me food - making me the most delicious beef roast, which helped me so much after all that blood loss.  She added an element that I think all women need during times like these.  Paul was so supportive, but my mom knew what I needed when at times I didn't know myself.  She's continues to grieve her sister's unexpected death almost 7 months ago, and she grieved for this baby with me.  I am so thankful I have her in my life.

Now, I'm trying to remember how happy I was before this baby existed.  I was content and I had accepted that we were "done." I am struggling with that now.  For me, there's nothing like the joy of a new baby.  I was so looking forward to a newborn and nursing again.  But my "baby" is almost 3.5 yrs old and I don't think I could emotionally handle another potentially difficult pregnancy or miscarriage - it's just so devastating. We won't do anything permanent or hormonal to keep from getting pregnant, just use NFP, so it's still in the hands of God.  I know He can heal my wounded spirit and give me back a joyful faith and I'm fully expecting that to happen, but for awhile, I will grieve.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Three and Three

Much has happened in the past 6 months.  But what's bringing me back to blogging, is the thing that fueled my blogging spirit for so many years....grief.

In March, Paul and I were able to take a short, but wonderful second honeymoon.  A few weeks after we returned home, on the cusp of our family recovering from the stomach flu, we found out I was expecting a baby.  Baby #6.  We always count our heavenly babies too. 

Within days, I was sick and tired and it began to feel very real.  At 6 weeks I began progesterone injections.  Caleb began asking daily when the baby would come out and play with him.  At just over 7 weeks, I saw our sweet baby via ultrasound, heartbeat strong and healthy.  At 8 weeks, I'd already been to Maternal Fetal Medicine to discuss the pregnancy.  My antibodies were low this time around (1:4) and there was hope this baby would not need the same intense monitoring that Caleb needed. 

Then yesterday at my regular doctor's appt., she couldn't find baby's heartbeat.  I was 10 weeks 3 days.  So she sent me off to get an ultrasound.  At the ultrasound, it was very obvious that baby's heart was not beating. 

So grief.  It's my companion again.  I do feel better today after being incredibly sad and crying tons yesterday.  Maybe that's acceptance after the shock and disbelief of yesterday.  May it's just today and tomorrow will be difficult again. 

To complicate all the emotional stuff, we have to decide how to let things proceed.  I'm not even spotting yet, so it could take awhile if we let things happen naturally.  That's my preference.  I'm not thrilled with waiting too long, but I'm not thrilled with the thought of having a D&C either.  So for awhile - a week maybe - the plan is to wait.  Many people are praying for us  which is helpful.  This verse was part of our devotions last night: Isaiah 49:15-16 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she not have compassion on the son of her womb?  yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

So now I have three children on earth and three children in Heaven.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

Merry Christmas!
Every year it is a gift to sit down and write this letter, sharing with you the blessings that have occurred in our lives the past year.  Even when difficult times come, I have grown increasingly more aware of how blessed our family is.  We have health, shelter, food, each other, and grace through faith in Christ.  That is so much more than the majority of people in the world have.  May God help us care for those in need, knowing that all people are loved by Him. 

Paul is still working at Honeywell.  In June, he was sent to China for two weeks for a work project.  Since then lots of changes have happened at work, but we can be thankful that he is gainfully employed.  He is looking for employment opportunities at other companies, so we will see what the future holds.  In February, Paul and I attended the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) conference in LaCrosse, WI.  It was exciting to learn more about organic food and farming, and we didn't mind time alone together either.  Paul was able to harvest honey this August, getting almost 2 gallons from our three hives.  This fall we were disappointed to lose all 7 of our chickens to what we think was an owl, but thankfully it happened right before winter when they don't lay as many eggs.

I am still homeschooling Ethan and Elijah, while running interference with Caleb.  I added a large section of strawberries to the garden this year, which was exciting except for when the deer nibbled on them a few times.  The garden did AMAZING this year despite drought conditions all over the nation.  I finally learned to pressure can and it's very satisfying to see our canned carrots, green beans, and tomato sauce in the cupboards.  And better yet, we've eaten some of it and we're still alive - ha!  I am learning how to crochet, which is something I've wanted to do for some time.  Hi, my name is Rachel and I'm addicted to yarn.

Ethan is 10 (yikes!) and a 5th grader.  He excels in his schoolwork which is a blessing, even though he "doesn't like" math.  He doesn't like to write either, but definitely has a talent for it.  He continues to pursue drama classes in our homeschool co-op and loves AWANA, winning 2nd place for speed at the Grand Prix car race in March.  He's been learning piano for over a year and a half already.  He is growing so fast!

Elijah is 6 and a 1st grader.  He is a pretty proficient reader already and nothing makes me happier than to see him reading on his own, esp. if he's reading aloud to Caleb.  He is also growing like a weed, wearing many of the clothes Ethan wore just last year.  The boys were thrilled to get a play set this summer, courtesy of Daddy and Papa.  Now I can send them out for recess when the need arises.  Both big boys participated in the MN Creation Science Home School Science Fair in February.

Caleb will be three in January and is a full of exuberance and affection.  The grandparents affectionately refer to him as "the tornado."  He always refers to himself as "me."  "Me love you, Mommy."  He loves acting like Bear Grylls and is often jumping off cliffs (the couch) and swimming across rivers (the carpet).  Of course in true Man vs. Wild fashion, this often involves stripping down to his diaper first.  He is slowly learning potty training (read Mom and Dad aren't as focused this time around!) 

In May, we traveled to South Dakota and Wyoming for a family vacation.  My parents joined us, which was fun for everyone.  We saw lots of sites: the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, Devil's Tower, and Crazy Horse Monument.  My mom's health had been deteriorating due to heart problems, so it was a blessing to build more memories.  In October, she had a successful open heart surgery to repair her mitral valve and close a hole in her heart. 

Just two and a half weeks after Mom's surgery, her younger sister Cathy, unexpectedly stopped breathing due to an undetected cyst growing near her thyroid.  After almost week in a coma her body started to give out even though she was on life support.   So we said goodbye as Cathy slipped from mortality to immortality.  Because of her faith in Jesus as Savior, we know her spirit is in Heaven, playing with Felicity I like to imagine.  She was such an important part of our lives and since she was unmarried and had no children, she poured herself into the lives of Ethan, Elijah, and Caleb.  They loved her as more than a great-aunt, she was their playmate and friend.  She has left us sad, but with many memories and great hope in Heaven.  She left a great legacy in that she was an organ donor.  The boys have taken over the care of her much loved guinea pig, Gabby, their first indoor pet. 

We pray this letter finds you thankful in all circumstances and knowing that God loves you so much that He sent his only Son to die for your sins so that you might spend eternity with Him in Heaven. 

Paul, Rachel, and boys

Blog readers: My apologies for being an absentee blogger.  Life has dictated that I spent less time blogging and in reality blogging has lost some of the importance it used to have in my life.  Right after I started blogging, Felicity died and this blog became all about my grief and healing, along with a smattering of family life.  Through the grace of God, the years have healed much of my grief.  I hope to pick back up with the family posts, but doubt it will be with any regularity.  Blessings to you as you continue to blog.  I am still reading!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Happy Summer

Wow - has it really been over 4 months since my last post?!  I've thought of posting often, but never really get past thinking about it, until yesterday when I signed into my blog, but didn't get any farther than that until today.  Blogger sure has changed.

We're all doing well.  Life is busy as always.  Plenty to do.  People besides myself to feed, clothe, diaper, transport, educate, and get to bed.  A husband that I don't get to see as much as we'd both like.  A garden to keep from getting eaten up by weeds.  Chickens that are molting at the wrong time of year.  A two year old who does pretty much everything I don't want him to do, but has a smile to melt my heart.  A 9 year old who's almost 10 who has dealt with some minor (but difficult) health issues the past couple of months.  A now reading fluently 5, almost 6 year old that loves to help mom and dad with whatever they're working on.  Another vacation - this time to the Black Hills of South Dakota and a little time in WY.  A two week business trip to China for Paul and two weeks of solo parenting for me.  Two approaching birthdays! 

All in all, a very blessed life.  And it's summer time!  Yay!  We're "done" with school, but Ethan has a weekly list of assignments to accomplish each week on his time table.  We're hoping to be outside a lot.  Caleb is different than either of my other boys.  He does not hesitate to get dirty outside, so he's getting a bath pretty much every time he goes outside.  I doubt I'll be blogging much, but we'll see.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Caleb!

Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Washington Vacation: Days 5-6

Day 5 - Monday, October 24th, 2011

Our second night in WA was spent in Ocean Shores, a touristy town on the Pacific Ocean. We were there during the off-season, which in my opinion, made it especially enjoyable. Our hotel room (another Guest House Inn and Suites) was the biggest one on our trip and definitely our favorite, with lots of room to move around and a beautiful view of the ocean right outside our window. We got there late and only stayed the one night, so we didn't get to enjoy it as much as we could have.

the view out our hotel room window

our room (plenty of beds and room to move)

When planning this trip, we made the decision to move every night. Because we wanted to see so much of the state, this was the only way to make it happen. We woke Monday morning, got ready, ate breakfast, and got down to the beach as soon as we could. We had to walk about 1/2 mile on trails through a brushy area to get down to the ocean. The weather was WONDERFUL - of course, I'm the type that loves when it's cool enough to wear layers, but not necessarily need a jacket - and the sun was shining.

Our cute toddler at breakfast (love that off center toothy grin!)

Walking about 1/2 mile down to the beach through this brushy area

Yes, I did go on the trip too as evidenced by a rare self photo

Seeing the Pacific Ocean (or any ocean for that matter for Elijah and Caleb) for the first time

Always remembering our sweet girl

We hung out at the beach for awhile, taking lots of pictures and video, writing Felicity's name in the sand, getting a little wet, finding the exoskeletons of many crabs and a few shells. Then we walked back towards the hotel, made a quick stop at Sharky's (tourist trap!), and then back to the hotel to pack up. We left Oceans Shores around 10:30 or so. We had about 170 miles to travel - all the way to Port Angeles, with plans to stop a few times. Caleb fell asleep right away, so we decided to put on as many miles as week could while he was sleeping. The boys were entertained by listening to Jonathan Park on cd while Caleb slept. The scenery was beautiful as we were alternately in woods then right along the Pacific coast. As lunchtime neared, it was beginning to be apparent that we wouldn't be finding any place to eat anytime soon. It was really remote where we were which even required ALL of us not wearing diapers to relieve ourselves in the beauty of God's creation.

Finally we got to a gas station and Paul purchased an emergency loaf of bread and some 'meat' masquerading as salami. The cashier had told him that there was a lodge a few miles ahead with a restaurant, but it wasn't until we got there, that we knew we had hit the jackpot for food. Kalaloch Lodge (and cabins) were beautifully situated in a small cove opening right up to the ocean. Not only was the food yummy, but the view was spectacular. After lunch and a major diaper blowout, we headed down to the beach. It was so much prettier than Ocean Shores, with trees all along the beach rather than hotels.

The view from our table inside the restaurant

Down at the beach, looking towards shore (the water was really moving in and out)

An even prettier place for photos of Felicity's name in the sand
The view looking south

There was lots of dead fall along the beach and the boys even found a shelter that had been made out of the trees.
We could've stayed there all day, playing and exploring. Paul wandered way out into the water as it was receding and climbed on the rocks out there.

Finally we decided to leave because not far up the coast was our next stop: the HOH National Rainforest, where we planned on doing some hiking before the final leg of the car trip to Port Angeles.

Unfortunately, we didn't arrive in the rainforest until almost 4pm, not anticipating the long drive from the main road into the forest itself. It was worth it though, even though we only stayed an hour and a half. Being that it was the end of the day and we were in a rainforest, it was quite dark (thankful for a flash on my camera or my pictures wouldn't have turned out)

Towards the edge of part of the rainforest, we found a river bed that we weren't able to cross, but explored nonetheless. We were hoping to see some elk, but didn't. A couple that we cross paths with while walking, saw a herd of about 10. I was slightly glad we didn't see any as there were signs about not getting too close as the bull elks could charge.

We were back in the car about 5:15 and trying to get to our hotel before it got too late. This involved fast food for supper and still we arrived past 8:30. We stayed at the Olympic Lodge, which was by far the ritziest of the hotels we stayed at. I forgot to get a picture of the room, but the lobby photo shows that it was no Super 8 Motel.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Olympic Lodge didn't have continental breakfast, it was that nice (ha!) and we opted not to pay $8.95 for 2 organic eggs at the lodge restaurant, so we ate yogurt and applesauce for breakfast in the room, while we hurriedly got ready. We wanted to catch an early-ish ferry across Puget Sound from Port Townsend, rather than driving back through Tacoma, Olympia, and Seattle. Taking the ferry would save us about 4 hours of extra driving. Our next leg of our trip was going to take us back east.

Arriving at the ferry dock

2nd to last car on - whew!

Goodbye, Port Townsend (what little we saw of you was nice!)
Inside the ferry

The ferry ride was pretty cool. The ferry itself was HUGE and immaculate. The ride took about 30 minutes and we docked on Whidbey Island. From there, we could drive the rest of the way across Puget Sound as there we bridges over the water. We had plans the following day to meet a realtor in Omak (north central WA) and look at some property he had for sale.

Once back to the mainland, we would be driving through the Northern Cascade Mountain range. It was beautiful, but the drive was dampened by my car sickness. I didn't actually get sick, just felt icky the whole drive. We made stops again for bathroom breaks a la nature, but little else. Again the drive took longer than we anticipated.

A beautiful snow-capped peak in the distance

We ended up spending the night in Winthrop, a small western-themed town. It kind of felt like a different world after being near the ocean and the rainforest the day before. Washington is unique in that is has 4 very different ecosystems: ocean, rainforest, mountain, and desert. We stayed at a tiny motel in a tiny room, but it was warm and w/o bedbugs, plus we ate a unique little restaurant with delicious food, so it worked out.

To be continued......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Washington State Trip Days 1-4

In October, we took a family trip to Washington state. We went on the amtrak train which was quite the adventure.

Day 1 - Thursday, Oct. 20th, 2011
We got on the train late on the night of the 20th. I think our departure time was supposed to be 11:15 pm, but we didn't pull out of the station until 11:45 or so. We rented the family sleeper suite. Suite is an exaggeration. The room measured 5'2" by 9'5" and that was with the beds up. With the beds (two lower and two upper berths) down there was enough room for one person to be standing. It was small and old, but we had chosen this method of traveling for the experience. As soon as we got on the train, we tried to get settled and to sleep. The boys were excited so going to sleep wasn't the easiest thing to do. The first few hours were spent shivering as our car was super cold (and blowing right on my head) and we couldn't get the heat to work or anyone attend to it (shout out to having an old train car). Finally they seemed to figure it out and we got some sleep.

Day 2 - Friday, Oct. 21, 2011
We got up fairly early which was expected with children and the fact that they started announcing stops again sometime around 6:30 a.m. Since we purchased a sleeping car fare (which was essentially the same cost as flying or the cost of driving - with meals, gas, hotels, wear and tear on the vehicle, etc.), all of our meals were included, so we headed up to the dining car early. We were able to order whatever we wanted off the menu and breakfast was a good meal to eat on the train.

We were in the western part of North Dakota by then, I think and while the scenery wasn't thrilling, Paul and the boys did see a female moose. After breakfast, Paul and I took showers, which was an interesting experience - it was actually not as bad as I anticipated and cleaner than the toilets. (FYI - there is one shower in each sleeping car and about 4 bathrooms. The sleeping car can hold approximately 20-25 people, I think.) We spent most of the day in our sleeping car. We had brought the dvd player for the boys and in between meals, naps, getting off the train at a couple of stops to walk around, and dealing with my motion sickness, the day went fairly quickly and we were all ready for bed early after such an late night the night previous.

Day 3
We woke up while it was still dark and we were in the mountains. At breakfast we were in a long tunnel and when we finally got out, we were in the Cascade Mountain range. It was overcast and rainy so we couldn't see much. We were scheduled to be in Seattle at 1o:15. Soon after getting out of the moutains, the train track was right along Puget Sound. This was everyone's first view of the Pacific Ocean (except Paul who is more well-traveled than the rest of us) and there were some cool sights. With our impending arrival, we were getting VERY anxious to be off the train.

Seattle's train station is interesting. There is NO parking other than a few spaces for loading and unloading. With four large bags, three car seats, plus backpacks and such, we were full loaded. We hoped the car rental place would pick us up with a van so we could all go get our rental car, but that was not the case. So Paul went as much luggage as he could, while the boys and I and the rest of our stuff hung out at the train station. Once Paul got back with the rental car, we were off. It was lunch (Jack in the Box - nothing to get excited about) in the car so Caleb could nap. We headed towards Kelso where our first night's hotel was. The plan was to spend the rest of day getting to the hotel with maybe some sightseeing. The following day we would visit Mount St. Helens.

On the way to Kelso, we stopped to get me some coffee and saw a sign for a Mt. St. Helen's visitors center. Coming from MN, visitor's centers in state parks and such are nice and usually free. This visitor's center was nice, but not free and was not really catering to the ages of our children, so after using the (free) restrooms, we took the trail there which gave us a nice view of Silver Lake. It was an overcast day so there was no view of Mt. St. Helens. (The volcano itself was 30 miles away), but the trail was nice and it felt wonderful to walk after being cooped up on the train for so long.

Caleb - 21 months old today!

After that it was not much farther to our hotel. It was a Guesthouse Inn and Suites, a place we have never stayed at before and it was nice. When we book hotel rooms, we always try for a king size bed since Caleb sleeps with us and a sofa sleeper for Ethan and Elijah. This room actually had a king size bed and a separate bedroom with bunk beds for the boys. I personally enjoyed sleeping on the train (I had the biggest bed on the train too, since I shared with Caleb), but it was nice to be able to sleep in a real bed again. (Side note: we ALWAYS check for bed bugs at hotels before we bring our luggage in. While we've never found any, we have relatives who have experienced them and know that we do not want to go through what they've been through.)

After getting settled (read boys running, jumping, and generally being wild), we went to supper at Bonanza (a restaurant we used to have in MN). We bought a GPS especially for our trip and it was nice to have it in order to find things like restaurants and such, but it's hard to know if you're going to like what you choose. Bonanza wasn't bad, per say, but it wasn't good enough for what we paid.

Day 4 - Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who doesn't love a free continental breakfast - certainly not us! After breakfast, we packed up (we stayed in different locales every night, so each morning, there was lots of packing to do!) and headed out. Mt. St. Helen's was only 30 miles away, but there were many sights around it to see. It was another really cloudy day, but we were still hoping to see a lot. First we drove up to Ape Cave. We only had one quick view of the mountain on the way there, but it was not the eruption side and we only saw it for a moment as we were driving. Ape Cave is the longest lava tube known in North America. It was formed after the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's 2,500 years ago. It is basically a pitch black cave that dead ends after about 3/4 of a mile. (Oh, and it is VERY wet!) Armed with only a few small flashlights, we braved the blackness.

I attempted to get a photo after we climbed down the steps and peered into the entrance, but it was too dark. You literally go from daylight to pitch blackness.

Here is a view right looking back up the stairs that we came down.

There are two cave walking options to choose from: easy or hard. Easy is still fairly difficult, but at least we didn't have to scale any 8ft tall lava boulders. (Paul would've tried it!) It was hard enough walking through the easy part, but it was still quite the experience. We didn't even go all the way to the end. At some parts the ceiling was only 8-10 feet high and in other parts it had to have been 30-40 ft.

Here's Paul and Caleb coming back out after our hike through the cave and back. (There wasn't anything telling us why the cave is called Ape Cave, but I looked it up online when we got home and what I found out was quite interesting.)

Afterwards, we ate sandwiches in the car before heading to lava canyon. There's a state park that you can drive through and see various areas that were impacted by the recent eruption 20 years ago. Hiking through Lava Canyon was one of our favorite parts of the trip. It was beautiful, even as cloudy as it was. And walking the suspension bridge was so cool!

lava flow

The beginning of the Lava Canyon Hike.

It was a great day, with an unfortunate ending. After leaving Lava Canyon Park, we were going to head up to an observation area about 20 miles away, hoping to still get closer to the volcano and to see the eruption side. The roads there were twisting and winding and up and down and Caleb was trying to fall asleep for a late nap, when he woke up, started fussing, and then projectile vomited all over.

We all handled it quite well. We were able to pull over right away and get him and his car seat out and somewhat cleaned up (as most parents know, vomit requires a great deal of clean up and still things will smell). A park service ranger even pulled over, but failed to even get out of his vehicle when we mentioned vomit. It was late already - past 4 and we still had to drive over 100 miles to get to Ocean Shores, where we had a reservation for that night. So we skipped any further site seeing and drove to Ocean Shores. We arrived late, past 8 and everyone was exhausted. Thankfully that was Caleb's only vomit incident and it was obviously a car sick thing, not illness. Paul put the whole car seat in the shower, took it all apart, and then washed it in the on-site laundry at the hotel. We had brought an old car seat because of traveling on the train and such and it was a blessing. The pullover part had kept the vomit from going all over the car. We were so glad to be out of the car after a long day and our hotel was AMAZING!