Saturday, February 28, 2009

"With Hope" Photo Montage

Dearest Felicity,
I miss you!

If the video is "bumpy", let it play through once with your volume turned down and then watch it the second time. It doesn't buffer well for some reason.

Friday, February 27, 2009

From Anne's House of Dreams

"Time will help you," said Marilla, who was racked with sympathy, but could never learn to express it in other than age-old formulas.

"It doesn't seem fair," said Anne rebelliously. "Babies are born and live where they are not wanted - where they will be neglected - where they will have no chance. I would have loved my baby so - and cared for it so tenderly - and tried to give her every chance for good. And yet I wasn't allowed to keep her."

"It was God's will, Anne," said Marilla, helpless before the riddle of the universe - the why of undeserved pain. "And little Joy is better off."

"I can't believe that," cried Anne bitterly. Then, seeing that Marilla looked shocked, she added passionately, "Why should she be born at all - why should anyone be born at all - if she's better off dead? I don't believe it is better for a child to die at birth than to live its life out - and love and be loved - and enjoy and suffer - and do its work - and develop a character that would give it a personality in eternity. And how do you know it was God's will? Perhaps it was a thwarting of His purpose by the Power of Evil. We can't be expected to be resigned to that."

"Oh, Anne, don't talk so," said Marilla, genuinely alarmed lest Anne were drifting into deep and dangerous waters. "We can't understand - but we must have faith - we must believe that all is for the best. I know you find it hard to think so, just now. But try to be brave - for Gilbert's sake. He's so worried about you. You aren't getting strong as fast as you should."

"Oh, I know I've been very selfish," sighed Anne. "I love Gilbert more than ever - and I want to live for his sake. But it seems as if part of me was buried over there in that little harbour graveyard - and it hurts so much that I'm afraid of life."

"It won't hurt so much always, Anne."

"The thought that it may stop hurting sometimes hurts me worse than all else, Marilla."

(An excerpt from Anne's House of Dreams written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1917. This scene is after the death of Anne's firstborn, Joyce, who dies the day she is born. This storyline was inspired by the stillbirth of Lucy Maud's second born son, Hugh Alexander MacDonald on August 13, 1914)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Been Thinking

I've been doing a lot of thinking the past couple of days (in between all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, schooling, and 2 yr. old potty breaks). It's taken me a few days to put together all those thoughts with some coherency. Here's what I've come up with:

I've got a lot of idols in my life.

Kind of goes against that whole "thou shall not make for thyself any idol out of anything. . ." (My six year old has it memorized, but he's sleeping presently and I'm too lazy to set my laptop down and reach four feet away to grab my Bible and type it out verbatim.) Sorry.

Over the years I've had a lot of idols in my life. Things that seemingly are good, but take my focus off of Christ, when I focus on them too much. Those idols have included relationships, security, my home, and more often than not, behaviors that I don't want to give up.

Since Felicity died, my main idol has been having another baby. This idol was initially created because I thought having another baby would take away the pain of losing Felicity. While having another baby does help with healing, it can't take away the pain of missing my daughter. Since my miscarriage, I found myself struggling with this idol again. Chances are, I could get pregnant again very quickly if I wanted to (and boy do I want to), but I know my body needs some time to heal. Waiting is not my game! I'm finally recognizing this desire as an idol. In and of itself, having a baby is a wonderful God-given gift, but if that's my main focus, there is definitely something out of place. I think God is calling me to be patient. He's wanting me to find my contentment in Him first, not in another baby.

True peace and happiness can come only through Christ. We are to be "content with such things as we have." Hebrews 13:5 (Just remembered we have e-sword on our computer - woohoo!) Please pray for me to focus on Christ - to find contentment in Him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Painful Story

Where do I begin? What a weekend we had. On Friday Paul and I had his annual engineering banquet to attend. It kept us out quite late, and thinking back on it now, I remember feeling well and thinking I should be tired and queasy.

Then on Saturday morning I noticed I was spotting, which has never happened to me before in a pregnancy. Needless to say, I was extremely upset. Light spotting continued during the day. I spoke with my midwife and a doctor and was advised to do bed rest with the intent to go in on Monday and get a shot of progesterone.

I woke at about 5:30 yesterday morning thinking I was bleeding heavily. I went to the bathroom and confirmed my worse fears. As I sat on the toilet, I began to lose a lot of clots and called out for Paul. He came in and held me. I began to feel faint. I passed out while he was holding me and he thought I was having a seizure. I stopped breathing, got all rigid, my eyes rolled back and I started grunting. I remember having all these images flashing in front of me. I came to after about 10 seconds and couldn't move my hands. It took me a while to gain control of my breathing and awhile after that before I started feeling better. I was exhausted and so sad, knowing I had miscarried. We went back to bed, but I didn't really sleep. I was crampy and just couldn't seem to quiet my mind enough to even doze.

I called my midwife a couple hours later and told her what had happened. She advised me to go to urgent care., not necessarily because of the miscarriage, but because of the fainting/seizure. She felt it was important to rule out a seizure. I was already exhausted and the thought of going to the hospital (where urgent care is and where we found out Felicity died) only added to my emotional exhaustion. I told her that Paul and I would talk about it. Plus we would have to wait until my parents could come and watch the boys.

I spent the morning resting and crying. I did something I'd been avoiding for some time. I watched the video of the pictures of Felicity that was made for us by our NILMDTS photographer. While watching it, I sobbed my heart out. I will admit that I had some real feelings of despair. I didn't (and still don't) understand why I was having to go through this after having already lost Felicity. I cried out to God and yet still felt so empty.

We finally went to urgent care around 2:15. As we pulled into the parking lot, I began to feel panicky. Being there brought so many thoughts of Felicity and with those thoughts, so much pain. My midwife met us there, which was a huge blessing. She has blessed us by being so much more than just a caregiver. The triage nurse lightly chastised us for waiting so long to come in. She admitted us to the ER rather than urgent care, based on what happened. We had assumed that would happen. As we were assigned to a room and the nurse began the standard care (blood pressure, IV, questions, etc.) I began to wonder what doctor might be treating me. I asked and the nurse told us that she had just come on duty and hadn't had a chance to look and see who the doctor on duty was. (We've been to this ER twice before and haven't been too pleased with the doctors we've seen there.) After the nurse left the room, Paul, Maureen, and I began talking about the doctor who treated Felicity. We tried to remember his name, but no one was certain of both his first and last name. Paul and I never got to meet him and thank him for trying to save Felicity.

After 15 minutes or so, the door opened and the doctor came it. My eyes immediately went to his name tag and when I read it, I knew it was Felicity's doctor. He came to shake my hand and I starting crying. I told him that he had worked to try to revive our daughter four months prior. He remembered right away. Through my tears, I thanked him for caring for her. As much as I hadn't wanted to go to the hospital, I knew then that it was providential that we had come and that we had waited until later in the day to come. Not that I wanted to lose a baby in order to meet this doctor, but I know now that meeting him is important to my healing. He told us that he had practiced Obstetrics for 10 years prior to Emergency Medicine and he had seen many knotted umbilical cords, but none as tightly knotted as Felicity's.

I was treated with compassion and care. The doctor seemed to have some faith as he referred to this baby as such, not diminishing my feelings in any way. He talked about the intricacies of how a baby is created in reference to why I may have lost this baby. I had to have a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood work. It was determined that I did not have a seizure. My miscarriage is most likely complete and the baby had possibly died prior to the ultrasound I had on the 12th. We'll never know. I have to have my HcG levels checked again tomorrow to make sure they're still dropping, to rule out the very slight chance of ectopic pregnancy.

Physically, I'm fine. Emotionally, I'm managing. I feel like I'm back to the beginning of my grief after losing Felicity. I know this baby was a different baby, but I'm having trouble separating the two, when it comes to my sadness. This baby would've been due on Oct. 9th, just three days after Felicity died, and two days before we buried her.

Though my despair was very deep yesterday, I've had a revelation from the Holy Spirit. While I will continue to be sad, Satan wants me to quit. He wants me to shake my fist at God and curse Him. Satan wants my marriage to fail and my children to not have a mother to care for them. Satan wants me to give up. Well, I am putting my foot down NOW! I refuse to let Satan win! I will continue on, with the help of my savior. I will see the new possibilities in each day and when I'm sad, I'll be sad, but I won't turn my back on God, regardless of my suffering. Satan will not win in my life! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

I realize that many people don't discuss miscarriages and I also refuse to do that. I've seen too many people suffer in silence, when sharing may help bring healing. Thank you all for your prayers and comments and messages! I read them and feel blessed to be so cared for by so many.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Baby in Heaven

We now have two babies in Heaven.

I know where they are, but I feel so lost!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pregnancy after Baby Loss

I cried myself to sleep last night, something that hasn't happened in awhile. I also cried yesterday morning while exercising. I love the idea of a new baby, but I miss Felicity so much. Her absence is still felt and will always be felt, despite another baby on the way.

I read a couple of amazing posts the other day about pregnancy after baby loss. They truly moved me and I wanted to share them with my readers, regardless of whether you've lost a baby or whether or not you're pregnant after losing a baby. I especially encourage those of you wanting to be pregnant after having lost the most precious thing in the world, your child, to read these. For those of you not in my "ugly shoes," these posts may help you understand how I feel. Sometimes there are things I'd love to try to write, but just can't find the emotional energy to do so. These women did it for me:



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why We Homeschool

This could be an incredibly long post as there are so many facets to homeschooling. I really want this to be concise and to the point. Have you ever heard this verse:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

I'm sure the majority of you reading this have. It's Deuteronomy 6:5. But do you know these verses:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when though risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house and thy gates.

These verses are the three verses that follow Deuteronomy 6:5. How can I teach my children to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might, if I send them to public schools where they are taught that God does not exist, everything is relative, and parents don't matter? Educating our children is a God-given right, which is also a constitutional right. It is a right that is being closely watched by the government and which may become harder and harder to protect.

I don't know what all schools are like obviously, but I've taught and subbed in quite a few, and despite the presence of many godly teachers, I know this is not an environment where the majority of kids can flourish. I know there is much wasted time each day where the teacher is busily trying to keep up with too many students and just as many behavior problems.

I'm not writing this to condemn parents who send their kids to public school. I am writing this to state my beliefs on why we homeschool our children. And just so you know, there are many trying days when I think about how easy it would be to send my children to public school. But we persevere. I am blessed to have a husband who supports our family in homeschooling and provides so that I am able to stay at home. I know there are many families who would love to homeschool, but can't because of various reason. If you are a homeschooling family, I applaud you and I encourage you to keep going when it's difficult.

It's hard to stop there, but I will. I'd love to hear why you homeschool!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Week in Review

On Wednesday, my labs came back from my doctor's appt. Everything looked good, except my progesterone levels were slightly low (this is a concern, because low progesterone can lead to miscarriage). Without knowing how far along I am, it was hard to know if they were truly low. Once I had an ultrasound, it could be determined if I was a good candidate for some progesterone therapy. So on Thursday afternoon, I had an ultrasound, rather than waiting until the 19th.

It's been hard even in just 2 1/2 weeks, to not overreact to every little thing. At the ultrasound, all we found out was that I'm not even six weeks yet. I'll admit it was hard to hear, but it explains why I'm still feeling so good. I was looking forward to seeing a heartbeat and finding out when I might be due. Not even being six weeks, my progesterone levels are within the normal range. Thank you Lord! I will go back in a month for another ultrasound and then they will be able to date the pregnancy. We figure I'm due mid-Oct.

Ethan and I started seeds for our garden this week. We start some stuff indoors and then transplant in May. We started celery, bell peppers, two kinds of watermelon, and two kinds of tomatoes. Despite the cold temperatures, I feel like spring is just around the corner and there's always so much to be done in the spring. We're hoping to have a garage sale, plus plant the garden, and go to a Christian home educators conference. Add into that lawn care, of which we only do the basics, care for any animals (cows and/or chickens) we might get, leading my local breastfeeding support group, church, and weeding the garden (which is an endless job), we get so busy. Homeschooling also seems to get harder in the spring, when the boys are restless to get outside. I'm learning to let go of some of my expectations in these areas.

Yesterday we went to the Homeschooler's Science Fair, out to lunch, and to Chuck E. Cheese. I opted out of CEC (I usually do) to go shopping. Paul has his annual engineering banquet on Friday night and I had nothing to wear. Thankfully it's not black-tie, because I just can't imagine trying to find something fancy to wear on this post-pregnant/newly pregnant body. I was able to find a couple of options thanks to super clearance deals at Kohl's, definitely worth waiting in line for 15 minutes for a dressing room!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Interesting Conversation

Here's a loose replay of a conversation I've had with 5 people so far (the receptionist at the doctor's office, the OB in-take nurse, the nurse at my doctor appt., my doctor, and the receptionist at the diagnostic clinic):

Me: "Hi, I need to make an appointment because I'm pregnant."

Them: "Congratulations! When was the first day of your last period?"

Me: "I'm not sure of the exact date, but it was sometime in November of 2005."

Them: Silence......... "Uh, okay."

Me: "I've been pregnant or nursing since them and never got my period back before getting pregnant again."

Them: more silence...."Okay, well when would you like to come in?"

End of conversation.

Yes, I haven't had a period in over 3 years! Paul and I have been married not quite 3.5 years and in that time I've only had my period 3x. I tease him that he should be appreciative of all the PMS he hasn't had to endure, but then again he's put up with a lot of pregnancy "issues."

Physically, I'm feeling great so far. This is unusual for me. These Schwendinger babies usually have me begging for mercy practically the moment I find out they are on the way. This time around, I've been able to exercise almost everyday, which may be one of the reasons I'm doing so well. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful. It's my goal during this pregnancy to be thankful no matter the circumstances.

Emotionally, I'm doing kind of how I expected. I still get overwhelmed at moments with the sadness of losing Felicity. This baby is not a replacement for her, just like this baby does not replace any of my living children. Each are created separate and unique and are loved individually. So, don't think the grief posts are over. I will always miss my daughter and writing about those feelings helps me sort through them.

Thank you for your prayers!!! Please continue to pray. After losing Felicity, each little twinge in my body makes me worry about this baby. So far, I'm doing well with giving these worries to God each day. I go for my dating ultrasound on Feb. 19th. Paul's hoping it's twins!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being Gently Led

My name means "little lamb" and the verse that goes along with that is Isaiah 40:11

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

As a child I wondered why this verse went with my name. Other than it being about lambs, it didn't really mean much to me. Now that I've live 30+ years of life, I cherish this verse. This verse became especially meaningful to me when my first husband decided he "wasn't happy" and didn't want to be married anymore. I was three months pregnant at the time after trying for over a year to get pregnant. And yet, God gently led me. He cared for me and provided for me, and my relationship with him was renewed in a powerful way.

I also find great peace and comfort knowing Felicity has been gathered into His arms and carried in His bosom. Despite my great desire to carry her in my arms, she is safely in the arms of the one who created her and knit her together in my womb; the ONE who knew the exact number of her days.

And now I find great comfort in this verse, because He again is "gently leading those that are with young." On Wednesday, we found out that I'm pregnant! Thank you Lord for this new life! We are thrilled and happy! We are also sad, knowing the frailty of life and that there on no guarantees that this baby will be healthy and whole. We trust God in all things. I know I will have to give Him my concerns and worries on a daily basis as we go through this pregnancy.

We are assuming this baby will be due right around Felicity's first birthday in heaven, so that brings another element of sadness into this bright picture. I feel like I'm experiencing a bizarre case of deja vu as we found out Felicity was on the way almost exactly a year ago. I go to the doctor on Monday and will then be scheduled for an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. (I never got my period back since Felicity's death and as Elijah was still nursing.)

You're probably wondering why I'm willing to share this pregnancy so soon with so many. Well, my greatest hope is that you will lift us up in prayer as we begin this journey after loss, especially in these next few weeks. I don't think I even need to say what we need prayer for, please pray as the spirit leads. I have felt so blessed during this grief journey by all your prayers and kind words. The Spirit of God is working through you!