Ugh, and Yet…

Sometimes life just brings us down. Insert “ugh” and “sigh.” It may be something huge like an illness or a disappointment.  Or it may be a series of little insignificant things piling on top of one another.  Either way, we feel the weight.

Lately I have been feeling the weight of my to-do list.  It is never ending and stares me in the face daily.  When I walk up the stairs and see the scuffed up, ugly pale yellow walls, I think “I can barely stand it anymore. I have to paint!” And my favorite color is yellow!  Just not this horrible shade.  But it stays on the list because the job won’t be easy, especially over the stairs.  Then I think of my final gifts to purchase for Christmas.  Normally I LOVE Christmas shopping… the thrill of finding a special gift for everyone that I love, the anticipation of when they are opened, and having them beautifully wrapped under the tree.  But not this year, with all of the uncertainty with work and therefore income, every dime spent feels heavy to my soul.  Then I look at the everyday stuff like laundry, dishes, meals, toys everywhere and then glance at Asher (my three year old) and think, why am I doing all of these chores and not enjoying the one-on-one time that I have with him.  It will be gone come next school year. Pressure mounting, the list unending, my attention pulled back and forth.

Yet, God grabs my attention and puts it all back into focus.  Don’t you love when you are reading the Bible and you come across the word “yet.”  Something exciting always comes after it! Today I was at a Bible study at church and we were wrapping up Beth Moore’s study, Children of the Day.  She ends it with a simple but powerful message and I felt a sense of relief from the weight of my list.

“For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful.” 2 Thessalonians 3:2b-3a

Wow.  I followed instruction and wrote on my left hand “For not all have faith.”  Then on the other hand, “But the Lord is faithful.”  Sometimes I’m the one without faith.  Sometimes it’s those we encounter at work, school, the neighborhood, or the grocery store.  But no matter what is weighing on us, no matter what circumstance we are facing or outside force that is trying to bring us down, the LORD IS FAITHFUL.

I need this reminder and even had the slight consideration to get a tattoo so I won’t forget.  I am thankful for His faithfulness to us and to the promises He gives us.  Even when I am weighed down by my endless responsibilities, I surrender them to God and He gives me a new perspective on my priorities.  Thank you Lord that you are faithful.

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Fast Forward Two Years

Wow, two years have flown by and I have completely abandoned my journal.  I went to comment on a fellow wordpress bloggers site, which of course logged me into mine.  Out of nostalgia I decided to take a peek and could not believe that my last update was TWO YEARS ago!  I know why I abandoned this journal… I thought that my purpose for it was offering hope during my pregnancy after HELLP syndrome and of course, I’m not pregnant nor plan on ever being pregnant again.  But as I looked more closely, I realized that the purpose was and still is to offer HOPE.  Not for the fear of reoccurrence of HELLP but rather hope within life’s difficult circumstances.  Has life now been rosy in these last two years? No way.  Has our home been perfect?  My boys angels?  Our income secure? No, no, and no.  Has Jesus been the same yesterday, today, and forever? YES and thank you, Jesus, for that!

I am sure that my readers have since moved on, encouraged by my uneventful pregnancy with hope for one for themselves.  I may be writing to no one other than myself, but I too need hope in my life and I continue to have hope to share.  So here I am.

Here is a brief run down from the past two years, future posts to follow:

2013: This was a year of uncertainty with work.  We had a very sudden and unexpected job change which moved us once again.  Fortunately, God took us back “home” to where Matt and I met and married.

2014:  This year has been one of many trials, losses, and hardships.  My grandmother passed away after a long, difficult illness and my sister-in-law died tragically.  I had a partial thyroidectomy, since causing additional health issues.  Work for Matt has once again become full of uncertainty. Fortunately good reports about the little boys: My HELLP baby turned 5, struggles with low iron but otherwise a healthy and smart kindergartener! My HELLP free baby is now 3 and has more energy than I thought possible.

Even though we have faced many sorrows this year, I don’t have to live in despair or fear of the future.  In the midst of the difficult times, I easily forget what God has already done for my family.  Why would He abandon me now?  I’m thankful to be able to look back on my own experiences (my HELLP Story) and see how great God has provided.  With these reminders, I find contentment with where I am and have hope for tomorrow.

For today, I leave you with this simple verse:

“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1

Because of this I have hope.

Where are we now?

Is it really October and the last time I posted was New Year’s Eve?  Guess I’ve been busy with two active little boys. :)  For those you have been following this journal and wondering where are they now? I thought I would give you an update.

My HELLP free baby Asher is now 13 months!  Every day he is looking more like  little boy and less like a baby.  We are having a big garage sale this weekend and getting rid of most of the baby stuff.  This is breaking my heart but my body is definitely glad that we are done with the “having babies” stage of life.  Asher is taking a few independent steps, says about 6 words but understands so much more, and is the happiest baby.  I don’t know how he can be so happy when he is such a bad sleeper but I love his smiles and laughter!

My HELLP baby Levi is 3 years old!!  Has it really been 3 years?  You would never guess that he was a 3lb 2oz baby.  He is tall for his age and everyone thinks that he is older than 3.  His behavior tells you otherwise. :)  We are potty training which is NOT fun.  I’m hoping that Asher is watching and learning so that he won’t be as difficult.  I just keep reminding myself that this too is just another season in life.  Levi loves to ride his tricycle and play outside.  But Disney Cars is his absolute favorite thing ever!

It looks like Matt and I will be facing some new challenges as possible layoffs are threatening his employment.  One of the GREAT things about God is that when we heard the news, we both experienced an amazing peace about it.  We have faced many trials in our 7 years of marriage and God has always proven Himself faithful.  Why should we doubt it now?  It just makes me appreciate even more all that He has given us.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33

That’s the update. Happy Fall to you all!

Faith in the New Year

I have to apologize for how long it has been since I have posted, but the boys keep me busy and tired.  I have a rare moment where both of them are napping at the same time and decided to reflect back on this past year.  I am amazed by how God has refined me by fire and my reaction to the trials that have come this past year.  At one time in my life I lived in fear, not trusting my life into God’s hands and trying to control the world around me.  Such a heavy burden to carry when there is no way I could control every aspect of life… our emotions, our health, our safety, ect.  Upon hitting my emotional bottom a few years ago, God taught me to lay it all into His hands and give up control.  By doing so I found freedom and peace.  I feel this past year was a true test to see if I really had surrendered, if I was actually trusting God with my life, my husband’s career, and my children’s health.

Faith means to have complete trust without question.  It is so easy to want to question… Why did I have HELLP Syndrome?  Why do I have to make the tough decision of whether or not to get pregnant again?  Why me?  I’ve been honest with God and have asked Him these questions, but I have also accepted the answers.  God sees the big picture in my life and knows the woman I will become having gone through these trials.  My relationship with Him will be stronger than I could imagine and I will learn what it means to trust.  As Ben Franklin said, ” Nothing is certain except death and taxes.”  I will die someday and it is best to be ready… besides, I already pay my taxes.  There is no guarantee for a perfect life, free from heartache, pain, and tears because that is the world we live in.  Corrupted by sin… my own and others.  But I know that my real home lies in heaven, where life will be perfect.  Until then I must live by faith, trusting that God will see me through this life and by His Son Jesus’ sacrifice, I am made holy enough to enter into God’s presence.  Thankfully He has blessed me to experience joy while here and grants me peace during the difficult times.  Matt, Levi, and Asher are my joys and I am blessed to be Matt’s wife and the boys’ mother.  This is a very happy new year indeed!

“So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire test and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”  1 Peter 1:6-7

Asher’s Story

Asher is our second miracle baby.  Another gift from God to our family.  Two years ago we had just taken our premature son Levi home from the NICU, still in shock from the trama HELLP Syndrome brought to our lives.  Facing the reality that having another child of our own was most likely not in our future, we shared this possibility with family and friends.  This decision was made quickly based on the severity of how sick I had become and the high probability that it would all happen again.  Matt didn’t want to lose his wife and raise Levi (and possibly another premature child) on his own and I didn’t want Levi to not have a mother.  Fortunately Levi was very healthy for being born 9 weeks early, but we also didn’t want to put another child at risk for having medical or physical problems.  So our decision at that time was no more children.  It broke my heart and fear had won the battle.

Fortunately God is greater than my fear!  He broke down the walls in our hearts over getting pregnant again and gave us the insight to seek professional advice.  After going to a specialist, we learned that there was a 60% chance of reoccurance for preeclampsia but they wouldn’t let it escalate to HELLP syndrome if possible.  So the odds of HELLPs was a lot lower.  Also if it did happen again it would be more likely to occur later in the pregnancy, giving the baby a better chance at being more developed and healthy.  With this new info and the prompting of God’s peace in our hearts, we decided to go for it.  Only four months later on Christmas Eve, we received the best gift… we found out that we were pregnant!

38 weeks and 4 days later, Asher William was born full term, healthy, and no signs of preeclampsia or HELLPs in Mama!  In my very first post, I mentioned that no matter what the outcome we would find joy at the end of this journey through a pregnancy after HELLP Syndrome.  And JOY we have found!  In Hebrew, Asher means “joyful.”  We didn’t choose this name based on the meaning but how appropriate it has become. 

For my own recollection and to those who are interested, here is the story of Asher’s birth.  The morning of August 23rd, I was preparing Levi to spend the day with my parents to give me the extra rest that I needed.  Just after 9 am, unknowningly my water began a slow leak.  After Levi was picked up, I had another small gush.  This began to concern me.  Calling Matt at work, he advised me not to wait for my doctor’s appointment later that afternoon but rather call them right away.  I called, left a message and waited.  10 minutes later, I called back, afraid that I was leaking amniotic fluid.  This time I told the receptionist that I was concerned and didn’t want to wait for a returned call.  She went and talked with a nurse, got back on the phone and said that it sounds like my water broke and I better head to the hospital. 

A call to Matt immediately brought him home from work, at a shockingly fast time.  He wasn’t sure how he would find me and was pleasantly surprised at my relatively calm state.  Just after 11am, we pulled into the hospital and made our way to labor and delivery triage.  The process started out slow.  Initially I wasn’t feeling any contractions and only had the slow leak of my water.  I received my IV and the decision was made for me to get the epidural and they would dose it when I was ready.  Having previously had a c-section and now trying for a VBAC, it was important for me to also be ready for surgery.  During this time of prep, my water finally broke while being checked.  I was already 3 to 4 centimeters and the labor process had begun.  As they were giving me my epidural, I decided to go ahead and dose it as the contraction were suddenly coming on strong. 

I was quite thrilled with how well I handled everything from internal monitors being put in, to the epidural and IV needles, and even feeling the contractions.  Labor progressed beautifully, gaining a centimeter per hour or so and the baby dropping into place.  We had one moment of Asher’s heart rate dropping, but all concern left once I had been repositioned.  Progress slowed a bit as the day went on and the nurses predictions of the baby being born before midnight became false as I began pushing at that time.  As active labor progressed, we realized that the baby was transverse, meaning he wasn’t face down but rather up and a bit to the side.  The goal now wasn’t to push him out but to try to turn him.  After two hours of pushing and little progress, my epidural wore off.  I do not know how women do it completely natural!  I continued to push as it actually helped relieve the pain but was encouraged to rest for awhile.  A new dose of meds gave me a renewed momentum to keep trying.  Another hour of pushing went by and the doctor made the decision that he wasn’t going to turn and the only way to get him out was by c-section.  Matt was relieved that this decision had finally been made as he hated seeing me in pain, but I could have gone all night trying if they would have let me.  The doctor was disappointed that the VBAC did not work out for me.  I too was disappointed but happy that I had at least tried.  I was prepared mentally and emotionally that a c-section could possibly occur. 

During this time of labor, my parents and Levi had visited twice and a pastor friend and his wife had come to pray with us.  I had invited Mom to stay during delivery and after the first 2 hours she had decided it was best to go home.  Dad wanted to be a part of the activities as well, so he had Levi camped out on a sofa in the lobby.  It was a good thing they left, as the c-section was not a spectator event.  I say that but Matt watched the entire thing.  He was surprised by the extent of the surgery and tells me that someday he may share what they actually did to me, but now is not a good time as I continue to recover. 

At 4:26 am, Asher was born.  Loud cries, pink skin, and surprisingly a head full of dark brown hair!  He was 8 lbs 6.9 oz, 22 in long, and beautiful!  Matt was able to hold him during the rest of my surgery and it was my turn to cuddle while I was in recovery.  It was such a joy to be able to experience EVERYTHING and to be able to take our healthy baby home with us three days later. 

 

Almost 4 weeks later, our family has found our routine and feels complete.  I am recovering well and with each day I gain more energy and endurance in overcoming my lack of sleep.  It is nice to feel like my old self once again.  Matt is truly a gem as he continues to help in every way with the boys and the house on top of his long days at work.  Levi absolutely loves his brother.  Holding Asher, hugging him, and helping Mama.  Asher has started cooing and spending longer time periods awake and alert, just taking us all in.  He is a content baby but isn’t afraid to use his strong set of lungs.  God has blessed me with each of my boys and I try not to take them and my life for granted.  For those who have been reading, THANK YOU for following our journey, encouraging us along the way, and praying for a HELLP free pregnancy.  God heard our prayers and blessed our family beyond measure!

 

Welcome HELLP Free Baby!

We are excited to announce that Asher William was born on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 4:26 am.  Baby Asher is beautifully healthy weighing 8 lbs 6.9 oz and 22 inches long.  I too am healthy and extremely happy that my water braking sent me to the hospital this time around.  Asher’s birth story is one I look forward to sharing and will have to make time this week to write it down.  For now, we are at home and adjusting to being a family of four.  It was 9 months ago that I surrendered this pregnancy over to the care of God and 9 months later He has answered our prayers.  HELLP syndrome free.  Preeclampsia Free.  The sweetest baby boy, a true gift from God!

Let me count the ways.

Pregnancy alone is not the easiest time in one’s life.  Adding on the emotional stress of being high risk  and taking care of a 2 year old can only make things harder.  Fortunately for me, I have the most incredible husband who has taken on so much of an extra burden to make life easier for me.

“How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”

  • Laundry – I may do a load here or there but the majority of our laundry is done every weekend by Matt, including folding and ironing.
  • Dishes – Every night before bed, Matt makes sure the dishwasher is full and runs it so that I have plenty of sippy cups and clean dishes the next day.
  • Yard Work – Now this will generally be Matt’s responsibility (until the boys are old enough to help mow), but having it solely upon his shoulders to take care of right now is an added burden.  But I must say, our yard looks beautiful and we are in the midst of the rainy season!
  • Cleaning – When I least expect it, I will hear the vacuum going or see the counters being wiped down.  I am amazed by Matt’s willingness to take care of the simple things at home as well.
  • Decorating – With everything that Matt already has going on, he doesn’t hesitate when I ask him to paint, hang pictures, and just follow my ideas in setting up our new house into our new home. 
  • The Toddler – My parents lately have been taking Levi in the mornings to give me extra time to rest or get things done, which I am incredibly blessed by their love for him.  Matt, after a long day at work, always takes the time to play with Levi, to help him during dinner, to get him ready for bed, to say his night-time prayers, and to tuck him in.  I get to enjoy cuddling with Levi before bed without the physical strain of wrestling with him in play and into his pjs.
  • Work – Matt is a wonderful, hard-working provider for our family.  He gets up in the morning before Levi and I do and puts in a long day.  And yet, doesn’t complain about his responsibilities at home even when he is tired.

These are just a few of the burdens that are laid upon Matt’s shoulders as I have grown bigger and bigger over the last few months.  He does them without complaint, without grumbling, without anger, without resentment.  Rather I see joy, patience, his strong work ethic, and the love he has for me and our children.  I look forward to having my energy and my body back, so that I am able to take some of the weight off of his shoulders, but in the mean time I must express how much I appreciate the sacrifices that Matt makes for our family.  I love you Matt, more than these words can express.

38 Weeks 2 days… the countdown is on!  8 days or less!!