Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Persevere sweet momma... persevere.

Four years.  I can't believe it's been four years.  Annalise stays with me always.  Sometimes I see an amazing sunrise or sunset here in Hawaii, then I think of her and smile.  Sometimes while playing in the park with Ava a butterfly will fly circles around us, then I think of her and smile.  Then some days I am just folding laundry or doing dishes and it hits me like a sucker punch in the gut.  I have to winch before the tears come uncontrollably.  Memories of my mom dressing her first grand baby in the outfit she will be buried in. The realization that she would be a spunky four year old, running circles around me right now.  I weep for all that was lost.

In these last four years James and I have been through highs and lows.  We have had revelations and victories in our personal lives and in our marriage.  We have matured... emotionally and spiritually like never before.  I have come to realize that all of this is because of our perseverance in the face of pain.

I read a bible verse two nights ago that hit me like a freight train.  I've read this verse before, but never has it struck such a chord of realization.  Two nights ago I realized why I feel stronger today, why our marriage has grown, why I'm a better mom and a better, wiser person.  It's because of this verse:

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Losing Annalise was undoubtedly the biggest trial of my life and tested my faith more than anything imaginable.  But I had a choice.  I could let this trial destroy me or I could persevere!!!  I'd like to think of myself as a fighter and that's what I've been doing... FIGHTING!  It's exhausting, but I've been fighting these last four years to be better, not bitter.

I never realized that this verse applied to me until two nights ago.  Then it just clicked as to why I feel stronger, more mature, more aware of myself and more confident than ever.  My perseverance is producing maturity and a sense of completeness in me.  How on earth could completeness have been born out of something that shattered my heart and my life into a million pieces?!  I don't know.  But I know God is good and he put me back together better than I was before, without me even realizing he was doing it.

Thank you God.
Thank you Annalise.

To all those mommas out there that are at the beginning of this journey.  I hope I can encourage you with these words.  I know you feel like your heart is shattered right now but I want you to FIGHT momma!  Persevere toward a brighter day.  I know that my daughter is smiling on her momma today because I did not quit when I felt like that black hole would just suck me down.  I fought for my family and I fought for myself.

Remembering and honoring our sweet girl who was stillborn at 26 weeks. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

New Paths

Wow. 2014. Time has just flown by. So much has happened in our lives since I last wrote to you all. Well, we are enjoying Ava - our energetic and persistent 20 month old who's current favorite word is "no".  We moved from Ohio to Hawaii!  We are LOVING life here in what is undoubtedly the most beautiful place on earth!  I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom, enjoying every day in the sunshine with my girl.

I have seen God's hand in every step of our journey here to Hawaii. It was a big faith leap to sell almost everything we owned and move half way across the world - so very far from our families - but it was truly the most freeing and currently the most healing process I've ever been through.  It would take me a while to share all the ways God has been tearing down the walls I have built up in my life, but it is happening.  I am learning things I never knew about myself and finding strength and courage I never dreamed I had. Every day is a struggle of the choices: the choice to have a good attitude,  the choice to love instead of harbor anger, the choice to be kind, the choice to give more of myself, to step outside my comfort zone... There are so many decisions that can lead us down the right path or the wrong path. Our road to joy and peace is just an active accumulation of conscientious decisions.  Take ownership of your path. That is what I am now doing.

I come back here now - to Annalise's blog - because my heart has been heavy recently. Even though I have moved so far away from the place we lost Annalise and where we laid her to rest, she has still followed me. She is here with us on this beautiful island and deep in my heart.  I see her every day in things - especially in Ava. When Ava sleeps, I see that she shares the same facial profile with her sister. Annalise's story has recently given me the opportunity to connect with another young mom, here in Hawaii, who's baby has been also been diagnosed with Trisomy 13. I cannot even tell you how much I wish we were the last family that ever had to suffer from this diagnosis. I physically hurt and emotionally am taken right back to the middle of my own circumstances when I hear another family has been given this diagnosis. Why?! Why?!

However, Annalise is there. I know that because of her, I have the ability and opportunity to relate and maybe even help these families a little. If I could encourage any mom who has been given the news that their little one in their womb has Trisomy 13, this is what I would say....

I know that most days you feel as though you are drowning in a sea of fear, uncertainty, sorrow and pain. I know that most days you question, "How am I going to be able to get though this?"  I know that it feels like God has forgotten you. I want to tell you that there are so many out there who care about you and know what you are feeling. Women who have walked the path you are walking right now. You are not alone. Unfortunately, this will be the most difficult thing you may ever have to do, but you will get through it.  You will soak in every second with your little one and those memories will eternally become a part of you... They will never leave. You will be stronger on the other side of this than you ever dreamed possible - and you will have your little one to thank for that. I can tell you that I know that I will never be the same... In a good way. Losing my girl to trisomy 13, set me on a path to more self-discovery than I ever dreamed I would experience. I'm still on that path. I can truly say that I am happy. I have joy. I have peace. And I know there is so much more to come.

Friday, October 12, 2012


I want to take a moment to use this platform to express some recent thoughts and feelings that I've had about abortions.  Seeing as a little over a year ago I was given the advice to abort Annalise when finding out about her "terminal diagnosis" at 20 weeks gestation I feel as though I've earned a minute to express my feelings on the topic.

With elections so near it seems like I hear about pro-life vs/ pro-choice every day - there is always something in my FaceBook news feeds about it or a campaign commercial on it.  I just finished watching the movie "OctoberBaby" (which I cried pretty much the whole way through) about girl who survived a failed abortion and went on to find her birth mother.

My stance has never been so strongly against abortions as it is now that I have experienced the loss of a baby against my own choices.  I was reading back over my first few entries on this blog and it's so difficult to remember those days filled with such overwhelming pain and horrendous choices.  I vividly remember sitting on the couch in the doctor's office when she asked James and me if we wanted to have an abortion.  I remember her strongly advising an abortion because "the fetus" had a 90% chance of dying in utero.  And I vividly remember feeling so offended that she would even dream such a thing could be a choice!  A "fetus" is a human - and this fetus was my human!  She was my first born baby and no matter how many cards were stacked against her, I was choosing to let this situation play out naturally, hoping and praying for the best.  I distinctly remember a voice screaming at the top of its lungs in my head over and over again saying: "I AM NOT GOING TO MURDER MY CHILD!"  There are arguments for pro-choice such as my situation:  the fetus will not survive because of a genetic abnormality.  Then there are arguments about the mother being raped; it's her body/her choice; mother is not prepared to care for a baby at such a young age... no matter the argument, the outcome of an abortion is still a murdered baby.  I also believe if I would have chosen to abort my baby that day, the emotional and spiritual baggage and consequences would have followed me and crippled me for the rest of my life.  If I would have chose to abort Annalise, this blog would not exist and I would not have had the opportunities to reach so many of you.  I have even had one reader tell me that my story stopped her from having an abortion, because she saw how completely I loved my unborn baby, how deeply the loss hurt me, and how strong I remained because of my faith.  Now that I have Ava, this unbelievable miracle, I can't fathom ever hurting such a precious and perfect little baby.

I have also met a lot of women through this experience who for some physical reason, are not able to have their own children and would give anything to adopt an unwanted baby.  There are good, amazing families out there who are desperate to adopt, and mothers are just killing babies by choice, instead of giving that child an opportunity to live.  I would give my own life to give Annalise the opportunity to live a full and healthy life.  My own life...

I am going to share a photo of Annalise on this post.  The first photo I have ever shared publicly.  I just want to show the world that at 25 weeks gestation, that little life is as human and complete as you and me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

1 year

My sweet Annalise,

I can't believe that it has been 1 year since I held you.  This last year has been so crazy.  It has been filled with pain, sorrow, anger, hatred, love, joy, anticipation, anxiety, fear... it has been exhausting.  I have thought of you every day and have missed you tremendously.  Thank you for the special moments when I just know that you are smiling at me from heaven and sending a little "hello" my way - moments such as hearing "our song" on the radio when I'm really feeling down and missing you.

This year has also brought us your sister - Ava.  Having all these first moments with Ava just makes me think of you even more and reinforces the pain of losing you.  I never knew until now the depths of what I was forfeiting when I lost you.  I look at your sister and I see you.  You two really look alike and I can't help but wonder if your personalities would have been similar. I thank God I will have you BOTH one day... what a blessing.

Daddy and I visited your "resting place" today and dressed it all up for your 1 year birthday - balloons and flowers.  I know you are having the most amazing celebration in heaven.  A celebration that can't compare to anything here on earth and I am grateful for that.

Happy Birthday sweetheart.
I love you with my whole heart...


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ava Grace

Sorry for not writing in so long.  How do I explain it without seeming heartless... I still think about Annalise all the time - constantly.  But, I have found that if I spend too much of my time dwelling on the pain of the loss that it's impossible to experience the joys of this new baby.  Trust me, I'm not "replacing" our girl with thoughts of this new little one... I think about both my girls constantly.  I just know, if I keep revisiting the pain, I will never be truly happy.

Ava Grace is what we named our new little one.  Friday May 11th makes 27 weeks along.  There are so many emotions going into this pregnancy... fear, joy, nervousness, anxiety, worry, anticipation.  It's been a crazy roller-coaster of happiness and fear.  I know for both James and I there are times that we are still holding our hopes and joy back because a little voice still comes into our heads saying, "Don't get too excited, it's not over yet... she could die too."  This is awful, I know, but I'm just being real - this feeling comes almost daily.  Then there are the times when Ava is just kicking around like crazy in there and my whole world stops for just a moment and I feel relieved, happy, hopeful and blissfully grateful.  Truly though, there is nothing to worry about because the doctors have given us perfect reports and the pregnancy is going along very smoothly (aside from some leg and back pain).

Just this weekend, I was working on preparing the nursery.  There was a large cardboard box in the closet filled with stuffed animals, toys clothes and blankets originally given to Annalise.  I was trying to decide what to give to Ava and what to put in a keepsake box.  Of course this brought the emotions and I just sat in the nursery closet and sobbed.  James heard me crying and came to comfort me... then we both just sobbed for a bit.  We miss our girl - that will never change.  I just pray that God can give me the strength not to dwell on the pain - and not to feel guilt for not dwelling on the pain.  I pray that I can be a happy and whole person for Ava.  I pray, with God's grace, I can be a good mother to her.