CHARLOTTE GRACE LY IS HERE!

On Saturday, February 28th—her exact due date—our precious Charlotte came into the world.

2:30 PM.  9 hours of labor (I’ll write her birth story later)

7 lbs. 12 oz.

20.5 inches long.

Our perfect little girl.

IMG_0747

 

IMG_0767

She’s now 9 days old and already looks so different from these pictures!  Right now she is in the hospital being treated for jaundice, but we pray she will come home this Wednesday.

More to come!

 

Read more

NEVER-CHANGING GOODNESS

There is something that has been pressing on my heart for awhile now, and I wanted to write it out while I still have time to blog.

I’m sitting here, 39 1/2 weeks pregnant, carrying a healthy 7 pound little girl in my belly, thinking how blessed I am.

Almost every day I catch myself staring at my huge belly in the mirror, with tears in my eyes, having a hard time believing that we are about to have another child.  A healthy child, that will most likely be perfectly healthy when she is born.  She will most likely come home with us from the hospital, and she will most likely grow up healthy and live a long life.

God is good.

In this season of my life He is so, so good.

But when I stare at my belly now, I also think to the last time I had a big belly.  The belly that held my first daughter, Sophia.  She wasn’t born healthy.  She never came home from the hospital, and she only lived 47 days, all of which she was extremely sick.

She died.  We were devastated.  My whole self was changed. But, God was still good.  In that season of my life He was so, so good.

After Sophia died, when I was once able to look at Facebook again, I started seeing other women who had lost children get pregnant again.  The were having their “rainbow babies.”  And when I saw their pregnancy announcements, my first thoughts were not of congratulations.  I did not feel happiness in my hearts for them.  I felt jealous.  I thought, “Why do they deserve another child, and not me?”

Then as months passed, and my heart began to heal a little, my reactions to pregnancy announcements became “Wow, God is sure being good to them.”

I think that my feelings, reactions and thoughts were all completely normal for a grieving parent, or a person who has always wanted to become a parent.  But my idea of God’s goodness during those early months of my grief was not correct.  I was basing His goodness on my circumstances, seeing it as a fluid thing that could move in and out of my life.

I learned so much about God’s love and goodness after Sophia died.  And what I want to make clear in this post is that I don’t feel that just because we became pregnant again with Charlotte, that God has been good to us.  I don’t feel He has was good just because He gave us a child to foster just four months after we lost Sophia.

So many of us feel that when times are good, that God is good.  And that when times are bad, that God is either bad or just not being good to us.

“”I am the LORD, and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6

But when we fall into those deceitful thoughts, we rob ourselves of so much love and tenderness that our Heavenly Father so wants to give us in those darkest of moments.  We lose the chance to learn some of life’s most valuable lessons.  We are unable to grow in our faith because we believe that God has abandoned us.  That His goodness has temporarily ceased.

For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.  Psalm 100:5

There is a song by Kari Jobe called, “Love Came Down.”  It has come to have very special meaning to me, and I wanted to share some of the lyrics with you.

The first verse says:

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear Your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that You’ve done
And the life I have
Because of Your son

This verse is my Sophia season.  It is also my season with our foster son, Champ.  It represents all of us in our dark times, because Lord knows, we all have them.

The second verse says:

When my heart is filled with hope
Every promise comes my way
When I feel Your hands of grace
Rest upon me
Staying desperate for You, God
Staying humble at Your feet
I will lift these hands in praise
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that You’ve done
And the life I have
Because of Your son

This verse represents my current season.  We have been blessed with another child, and so far she is completely healthy.  The verse is all the highs in our life when we simply cannot believe how blessed we have been.

The two verses speak to two very different seasons of life.  And yet, the words following each verse, the chorus, are exactly the same.

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours
Lord I’m forever Yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am Yours
I am forever Yours

I know these are just lyrics to a song, but they echo the truths of the Bible so well.  This song reminds us of what God so desperately wants us to remember: He is always good.  He is always there.

When Jesus was sent to this Earth, died on the cross and rose again, He provided a way for you to never be alone.  He made meaning out of our sometimes meaningless circumstances.  He gave our lives a purpose, a direction, and set them on a course that would lead us to eternal life with Him in Heaven.

 

It doesn’t matter the season of your life.  He is still good.  He is still there.

Whether good or bad.

Excruciating or exceptional.

Hopeless or hopeful.

He is constant.  He doesn’t change.  He is love.

He is yours, and your are His.  Forever.

God is good all the time.  All the time, He is good.

 

Read more

CHARLOTTE’S NURSERY

Hey friends! I cannot believe how long it has been since I last posted on this blog!  Last time we had just found out Charlotte’s gender and we revealed her name.  That was around 19 weeks, and I’ll be 39 weeks on Saturday.  Wow, how time flies!  I received a few comments a couple weeks ago asking about Charlotte and wondering how she was, and I realized that I need to be more diligent in blogging.  So many of you have been praying for us, which we appreciate more than you can ever know, and so you need up-to-date info!

Quick recap on the pregnancy before I share photos of her nursery:

N.O.R.M.A.L  has been the theme of this pregnancy, and can I tell you how wonderful that is?  There is one time in life where you want your child to be completely unexceptional and normal, and that is during pregnancy.  And thankfully, that’s what Charlotte has been.  Of course we’ve heard a few little things here and there that made me over-analyze and go google crazy, but nothing has panned out to be of any concern.  She really could come any day now (although the doctor says she doesn’t look ready to pop out anytime soon…) so please continue to pray for us.  Oh, and if you’d like more up-to-date information (as in, not 4 months late…) you can always “like” Sophia’s facebook page where I still post about Charlotte, Champ, and other big news in our lives.

And without further ado, here are some shots of Charlotte’s nursery:

nurs11

This is the view from the hallway.  Her walls are painted light pink, and when the sun is bright it makes half the hallway pink too.

Right when you walk in (on the left wall) are two little pieces of art I made for her:

nurs9

The “precious child of God” I stitched onto some cardstock, and the “Oh! hello little rainbow” I just made on the computer and printed at home. *In the child grief community a “rainbow baby” is what you call a child born after you have previously lost one.*

Then on the right side wall we have a dresser that doubles as a changing table (I wanted it right by the door for easy access) and a small side table that will hold wipes, lotion, her sound machine, and all of her books (at an easy height for her to, one day, grab herself).

nurs10

nurs21

nurs13

This will be her view as she gets her diapers changed.

Our landlord won’t let us put any holes in our walls (no nails, screws, etc) so everything we put up has to be using Command hooks.  Because of this I was too nervous to hang anything heavy over the changing table (or crib), so I left the wall there blank.  The hanging pom poms are very light, so if they ever did fall on her they wouldn’t cause any damage.  To the right of the changing table I hung some heavier art (button art I made, and the print was a gift to me from my sister after Sophia died) and to the left is a little bow holder I made from a picture frame, and a little bird hook to hang all her head bands.

nurs23

Also on that side of the nursery is a built in book shelf.  This room was originally our office/Dave’s man cave, but we decided to switch rooms with the old nursery.  The old nursery room had so many memories of Sophia and Champ, and we just wanted a fresh start for Charlotte.

At first I really wasn’t crazy about the glass doors, but now I know it will make it easier to see when we’re running low on diapers or wipes or other things.  As you can see we have quite the stash already built up from the baby shower (thanks friends!) so we should be set for the first 2-3 months.

nurs14

 

Turning left into the room, it looks like this:

Unfortunately city/apartment living means that you have to cram lots of stuff into little spaces, so even thought this room feels a bit cluttered to me, all the items have to be here.  The futon should come in handy for late night feedings (once she’s sleeping by herself in the nursery), bedtime stories, and just a fun place for her to play when she gets older.

Above the windows we have this super cute clock:

On the far wall (as you can see in the photo above) we have another bookcase that holds baskets full of swaddlers, burp cloths, bibs, hats, and toys.  On top we have one of our Sophia bears, as well as the shadow boxes I made for her memorial service.  It was important for us include Sophia in this room, but still make it mostly for Charlotte.

Also on that wall is a white wardrobe for more storage, and on top we have memory boxes for both our girls, as well as a high chair we will one day use.

nurs15

The last part of the nursery is her crib!  We love this sweet little crib so much. (That curtained area is our “storage closet.”  We don’t have a single closet in our apartment, so we have been creative! I hope Charlotte doesn’t mind sharing her room with our suitcases and floor steamer.)

nurs20

Bed bugs will always be around and you are going to want to call in the professionals to take a look. BedBugBuffalo.com can exterminate the bed bugs before they start spreading from one end to the other. It will save time and effort while ensuring the nursery of your child is in safe hands.

nurs17

nurs18

I made the bunting for above the crib, and my parents helped me hang it all up.

These 3 stuffed animals are the first that Charlotte got and funny enough, this is the Chinese lunar year of the goat/sheep (same word in Chinese).  The pig is from her “Charlotte’s Web” baby shower (hopefully I’ll get around to posting photos from that soon). I also put an air conditioning installed by Ac-Hawaii.com. This is a company that is going to ensure the AC is in good shape and will work for years to come without giving you trouble!

nurs2

 

So that is her nursery!  Due to space issues and no-holes-in-the-walls policies, it’s not exactly my “dream nursery” but I think it turned out ok with what I had to work with. We still can’t believe that within a week or two she will be home with us, Lord willing, and we will finally be able to use all these baby things that we never got to use with Sophia.  God is so good!

I’ll end with a shot of one last decoration…to HIM be the glory!

nurs12

Read more

BABY #2 GENDER AND NAME REVEAL!

I wanted to give a quick update on how this second pregnancy is going, as well as share our new baby’s gender (if you haven’t read the news on Facebook yet) and the baby’s name.

First of all, tomorrow I will be 19 weeks, and things are going perfectly normal, which is still a crazy concept for me to truly comprehend.  At our last ultrasound, 3 weeks ago, the baby’s brain structure looked normal, her profile looked normal, her heart looked normal, and there were no signs of a cleft lip.  Praise the Lord!  It’s such a foreign thing to hear actual good news at an ultrasound—with Sophia it was just visit after visit of doctors telling us our baby was going to die.  I admit, I still struggle with the fear of losing the precious one and the transferring of Sophia’s illnesses unto this baby, but it’s something I am working on.  With God’s help I hope to be able to continue to enjoy a healthy, normal pregnancy and receive it with joy instead of fear.

Anyways, on to the big news!

We’re having a little…………………..

bw reveal 2

…girl!  (in case that wasn’t clear from this photo.)

And we’ve decided to name our precious little girl:

her name

 

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for Charlotte and myself (as well as Dave!), and please continue to pray that this pregnancy will remain healthy and normal, and that in 4 1/2 months we will be able to have our sweet girl home with us.

ALL ABOUT BABY #2!

Hey everyone, sorry this blog has been so quiet.  I have always had a hard time with blogging transitions: the ending of one type of regular posting (Sophia’s letters) and the beginning of another.  It seems  surreal that my last post on this blog was a letter to my dead daughter, and this post is all about our new baby.  God has been so, so good to us in the hard times and in the good and I’m happy to share about both.

For those of you who were a little shocked by the title of this post (and aren’t connected to me on Facebook) YES, we are pregnant again!  We announced it about two weeks ago, but I haven’t said much about it since, so I’ll use this post to share all the details we know so far about this precious 15 1/2 week old.

When did we find out I was pregnant? On June 26th.

How did we find out? Well, the obvious answer is through a positive pregnancy test, but I’ll share more of that story: A few days before I took the test I had been feeling some nausea off and on, and had been feeling a bit more fatigued than normal.  Although I had that little voice in the back of my head saying “maybe you’re pregnant!” I pretty much ignored it since I had felt all these things before and not been pregnant.  Ever since Sophia passed away we knew we wanted another baby, and sometimes I wanted it so much that physical symptoms of pregnancy were manifested.  I had probably taken about 10 pregnancy tests prior to our positive one, off and on throughout the past year.  The day I got the positive result, I told myself just to go out and buy a pregnancy test so I could take it, get the negative, and shut that voice up in my head once and for all.  I didn’t want to tell Dave I was taking this test since I really thought it would be negative, and didn’t want to involve him in another heartache.  So, I told a little white lie, that I was going to get lunch (which I did get) but also went to the drugstore and purchased a pregnancy test (that part I didn’t tell him.)  I waited until he went to work, and Champ was taking a nap, and decided to take the test.  You’re supposed to wait 3 minutes from the time you pee on the stick, so I stood outside the bathroom that entire time.  At the end of the three minutes I slowly peeked my head around the door and tiptoed in, almost as if the test were an explosive device or something.  When I saw the two pink lines (which means positive) I was SHOCKED.  Shock and fear were the first emotions that went through me, not happiness.  I remember just pacing around the house saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh” over and over again.  Then, I drank a big glass of water and took another test just to make sure the first one wasn’t faulty.  Sure enough, another set of pink lines.  I remember crying out to God begging him not to take this baby from us.  I was so scared because now the potential for loss was there again, the potential for all the pain we had just waded through with Sophia.  The pain of infertility and wanting a child are very strong and sharp, but in my opinion, the pain of losing a child is even greater and deeper.  Now that we had those two pink lines, the stakes had gone up dramatically and we were put back in the shooting range again with the potential to get hit.  I got the results from the second pregnancy test at 1:29, and Dave’s first class started at 1:30, so I knew there was no way I could call him and bombard him with this huge news right before starting work.  So, I had to sit with all this for four hours before he came home that afternoon.

How did I tell Dave? The day before I had started leaving little “I love you because…” notes for him, so I figured I would use those as a decoy for sharing the big news with him.  I put the two (washed) pregnancy tests in a box (the only box I had on hand was a box that held tubes of oil paints) and on top of the box put a note that said “I love you because of the wonderful, loving father that you were to Sophia…” and inside the box, on top of the tests, had another note that said “and for the wonderful father you will be to this precious new one.”  When he got home I told him that I had another note to give him, and he went into our room to read it.   At first he just read the top note and smiled a little, then he opened the box.  Now, because it was a box for paints, and the ends of the pregnancy tests were blue and pink, at first he thought I was just giving him some paints.  But he lifted up the note, saw the other end of the tests, and his head shot up.  He said in the most serious voice “No.  Are you serious?”  I started laughing and said, “Well, it’s not Champ’s pee.”  Then he actually took the time to read the note and said “Noooo, are you kidding?” (this time with a huge smile on his face) and I just said “I don’t think so.”  It was a wonderful moment!

20140626_184927

How did the first doctor’s visits go? About a week after getting the positive test I was able to see the doctor to confirm the pregnancy.  It had taken so long to actually get in to see the doctor that Dave had left for work, and I was alone.  I was terrified of getting bad news on my own, but thankfully my parents (who had been out of the city) were just coming back in on the train and my mom was able to make it to the appointment and go in with me.  That first visit the doctor confirmed one embryo in my uterus.  It was official, I was really pregnant!  At that visit she thought I was only 4-5 weeks along, so she told me to come back the next week to see if the baby was still growing.  We went back this next week (this time Dave was able to be there) and sure enough the little “blob” had grown.  We were officially six weeks pregnant!  We had another appointment two weeks later to listen for a heartbeat, and if that sounded ok I’d officially become a “pregnant patient.”  Up until they hear the heartbeat they don’t really consider you officially pregnant.  At eight weeks Dave and I went back, and I was extremely nervous.  Ok, I was extremely nervous for each visit, but for this one especially.  I knew that I had continued to experience pregnancy symptoms, but I still so scared to hear the bad news that there was no heartbeat.  When we finally got into the ultrasound room and the doctor pulled up the image of our baby, one of the first things she said was “the heartbeat looks stronger.”  Those words were beautiful music to my ears! 

 

Read more

NUMBERS (28 WEEKS)

Dear precious Sophia,

In two days you would have turned 8 months old.  If you had been born healthy we would be watching you scoot around the floor and learning to crawl.  You would have known my face and voice so well, and you would probably be starting to babble.  I wish you were still here, but not as sick as you were.  When daddy and I look at pictures of you, in those last days, we see how sick you were and thank God that you didn’t have to suffer one more day.  I’m glad that you are whole and in Heaven, but oh how much I miss you.

Yesterday I was thinking about other parents who lose their children and I began a search for numbers.

Here’s what I found (according to this source)

  • There are about 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year.
  • 900,000 to 1 million of those end in pregnancy losses EVERY year.
  •       More than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage (occurring during the first 20 weeks).
  •       Approximately 26,000 end in stillbirth (considered stillbirth after 20 weeks)
  •       Approximately 19,000 end in infant death during the first month.
  •       Approximately 39,000 end in infant death during the first year.
  •       Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.
  •       Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
  •       An estimated 80% of all miscarriages are single miscarriages. The vast majority of women suffering one miscarriage can expect to have a normal pregnancy next time.
  •       An estimated 19% of the adult population has experienced the death of a child (this includes miscarriages through adult-aged children).
    These numbers break my heart and bring me to my knees.
    My soul aches for the millions more who are experiencing, or have experienced, the same type of grief that I am.  Thinking that there are so many households that are blanketed in the same black cloud as ours was, is just unbelievable.
    Numbers like this make me wonder why God allows so  much of this type of sadness to occur.  This type of sadness, the loss of a child, is so deep and so life changing.  This type of sadness is like none other I have ever experienced, and I don’t think I’ll ever (God willing) feel the same way as I did those first few months after we lost you.
    These numbers make me think about the endless sea of faces I pass by each week.  Statistics prove that some of those people are putting on the same mask that I did.  They are trying to appear normal while inside they are screaming.  These numbers make me want to look a little closer in the eyes of that woman who stands next to me in the elevator, or waits in line behind me at the grocery store.  Is she a part of the same statistics that I am?
    More than anything these numbers make me want to get on my knees and pray for the millions of broken hearted parents around this world who will forever be haunted by a thousand “what if’s?”.

hold in our hearts forever

    After I thought about these numbers, I wanted to revisit some old numbers that I once looked at.  They are the numbers that told me you would never make it to birth, and if you did, you would die within the first 24 hours.

-95% of babies with Trisomy 13 are miscarried or born still.
– 82% of babies born alive with Trisomy 13 die within the first month of life.
– The median age for a baby with Trisomy 13 is just under 3 days.

Baby girl, you defied all these odds!  By the grace of God, you lived for 47 beautiful days, and I cherished each one of them.

IMG_7621

I love this picture of you.  You were so strong to be able to breathe on your own for a few hours.

Love you, and miss you.

-Mommy 

Read more

PLACES WHERE GRACE IS (27 WEEKS)

My beautiful Sophia,

Mommy has been thinking about writing this post for several weeks now, but God kept putting other things on my heart to share.  Usually throughout the week God is hinting about what I should write to you, but sometimes I sit down to type with no pre-planned ideas and a letter just flows out of me.  I like to pray before I write posts sometimes because although these letters are written to you, darling, many other people read them too.  Friends of mine and daddy’s, family members who loved you so much, mommies who have had their hearts broken like mine, and so, so many who prayed for you.  These letters serve as a mending of my heart, but also as a healing to others.

And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today, Sophia.  I wanted to talk about how God is taking the torn apart pieces of my life and is lovingly putting them back together.

I know that in the past 6 months God has been with me, and I know that He never leaves His children in their darkest hours, but there have been several specific moments during this time that I have been stopped in my tracks and completely overcome by His grace.

Places where grace is.

The first of these moments was just a short time after you passed away.  I was asked to donate my breast milk to a baby who had lost his mother during child birth.  At the time I was very happy to do it, and felt glad that I simply didn’t have to throw away a freezer full of milk, but now that I am out of my cloud of grief I can truly see how amazing that was.  In those first days after you passed, when the world seemed so wrong, God was allowing me to make something right.  He was redeeming your loss of life by allowing another to be saved.  A place where grace was.

The next moment came two days after we started caring for your foster brother, Champ.  He was in the hospital for an overnight EEG, and we were forced to go back to the same floor in the hospital where you had lived and died.  As I sat there in the hospital room with him, 50 feet from the PICU room I once sat in with you, I felt a profound sense of wonderful closure.  God was allowing my wish to come true…to be able to care for a baby in one of the regular rooms (what we had always hoped for you).  I had always wondered what it would feel like to not have to leave you because of strict visiting hours, or to be able to have visitors come and go as they pleased.  I held Champ on the plastic hospital chair and cried tears of peace.  A place where grace was.

Another moment came a few weeks ago.  Champ woke up during the middle of the night and was having a hard time falling asleep.  I was walking around in circles in his (and your) room, softly bouncing him up and down, and whispering “shuusssshh” over and over.  Suddenly I stopped and tears poured from eyes—this was what I had always wanted.  I had always wanted you to come home so I could rock you to sleep.  I had dreamt of those bleary-eyed late nights when you wouldn’t sleep because it would have meant you were out of the hospital and with us.  In that moment with Champ I felt redemption for those minutes cut short with you due to limiting visiting hours.  I felt the goodness and grace of God in the darkness of that late night.  I heard Him whispering “I know this wasn’t the plan, but this is still good, and I am still good.”  A place where   grace was.

The latest moment came last week when I took Champ to meet with his birth mother.  I was apprehensive about the meeting because of the emotions surrounding it.  On one hand I have begun to identify as a mother figure in Champ’s life and it was hard to think about “giving him up” for a short time– even if it was to his birth mother.  On the other hand I so deeply understood what she must be going through, having to lose her child, and I knew the joy she would feel to see him again.  I imagined what it would be like to see Sophia again, for a short time, and then to have to leave her again.  My heart was broken for his mother and my heart was broken for me.  I prayed a lot before the meeting, and was at peace the entire time.  Towards the end of the visit I got to share your story and thank her for allowing her little boy to help heal my heart.  When she heard that I had lost you, tears streamed from her eyes, and in that moment we were completely connected.  It didn’t matter that we were from different cultures or spoke different languages.  We were just two mothers who knew we would never have the babies that we had once carried inside us.  We understood each other’s pain and heartache.  It was a beautiful moment of healing and understanding for us both.  She thanked me for taking care of Champ and told me that she felt peace for the first time, knowing that he was getting so much love. A place where so much grace was.

There is a song that I have come to hold very dear in my heart.  It’s called “Unredeemed” and it so accurately describes my situation that it brings me to tears each time I hear it.

unredeemed

 

Your grandpa asked me and daddy to speak at an upcoming Sanctity of Life service at our church.  He asked us to share your story and talk about how our decision to keep and love you changed our lives.  I know that there is going to be someone there who will be touched by your life, Sophia.  I know there will be many who will see just how special each life is, no matter what doctors say, and that once again you will leave your mark on this Earth. Places where grace is.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Psalm 30:11-12

God is going to keep redeeming my darkest moments, and I know He will keep showing me more places where His grace is.

 

I love you Sophia.  Thank you for all you have given me.

Love always and forever,

Mommy 

Read more

THOSE WHO MISSED MEETING YOU (21 WEEKS)

My dearest Sophia girl,

Yesterday your Uncle Stephen and your Auntie Becca arrived in Taiwan for the holidays.  I was so excited to see them, especially Auntie Becca because I hadn’t seen her in a year.  The last time I saw her I was pregnant with you.  It was right around the time that I felt you kick me for the very first time, and the reality that a tiny person was growing inside of me was really starting to sink in.  Last Christmas she bought you a beautiful pink dress with flowers on the front—I did not know at that time that it would be the one and only dress we would put you in.  After you died.

When I was thinking about their arrival last week I realized that instead of having you to introduce her to, all I would be able to show her were boxes of mementos and pictures of memories.  It made me so sad that she missed your life, and will never be able to meet you this side of Heaven (thankfully your Uncle Stephen was here to meet you and hold you and kiss you.) That made me think of all the other people who missed meeting you.

Sophia, I know the exact number of people who actually got to meet you in person (besides the countless nurses and doctors).  13.  Only 13 people ever breathed the same air as you, and got to feel your soft skin.  And do you know how many people knew about your life, and prayed for you?  Thousands.

13.  Thousands.  There were a lot of people who never got to meet you.

IMG_8115

The reason we didn’t really allow visitors to see you was definitely a selfish one…we wanted all the time we could have to be with you.  We were only allowed to see you for 2 1/2 hours a day, 2 people at a time, and if visitors were with you, that meant we weren’t.  And my sweet daughter, I just couldn’t give up those precious minutes to many people.

So because of that decision, and the fact that we live in Taiwan, my heart aches that you were never held by your Auntie Rachel, or Auntie Becca, or Auntie Alice, or Auntie Cathy.  It kills me that your grandpa Ly had to go back to America 2 days before you were born…because you decided to come 10 days late when all the doctors told us you would come early.

And I know that instead of picking out the cutest outfit and headband for you to wear when you would meet all those people, all I can do is arrange your photos and blankets and hospital bracelets in a way that shows off your life in the best way possible.  For the rest of my life the life of my daughter, you, is confined to boxes and memory cards.

That breaks my heart.

I’m so thankful for Heaven, though.  I’m thankful that God made a way for all those people, and more, to be able to meet you one day.  So we wait for that day, and I wait for the chance to one day say again “here is my daughter.”

I love you.

Love,

Mommy 

Read more

CHOOSING LOVE

Days after we lost Sophia I began to pray that God would bring us another child.  I asked that He would fill our empty arms through whatever means He chose; pregnancy, adoption, or some other act of His hand.  I prayed that prayer every day, several times a day, with full belief that one day He would answer it.

I asked for another child not because Sophia’s life meant any less to me, but because I wanted to have a way to continue to be a mother.  The day I found out I was pregnant my “mother heart” began to grow, and the first time I saw her, it’s size quadrupled.  My heart was full of so much love for my daughter, and full of so much joy in being a mother.  When she died 47 days later, my “mother heart” did not die with her.  It continued to beat and stay strong—full of so much love to give away to my child.

I was left as a parent with no one to parent.

And so I prayed that God would bring us another child to love, another child to pour out all that God had filled me with.

Four months later, Champ entered our life.

IMG_85991

When I first told my family and some close friends that Dave and I were interested in fostering an orphan, many of their first reactions were “Are you sure this is something you can handle?”  They were worried that fostering would be just setting us up for heartbreak again.  You see, Champ isn’t our adopted son, meaning most likely we will take care of him and then have to pass him along to his forever family.

They weren’t sure if we were making a good decision, emotionally, and in turn were concerned for our fragile hearts.

Hearing this concern it would have been easy to go into self-protection mode and agree that maybe fostering wasn’t the best choice for us in this season of our lives.  But I was quickly reminded of what I learned from Sophia.

Almost a year ago I wrote my first letter to my little girl, and in that letter I made a choice to open my heart to love, no matter what the outcome of her life would be.

It’s so hard being your mommy sometimes.  I don’t know how to love you.  I want to love you with every last bit of me, but I’m so afraid of giving you that love and then losing you.  I’m so afraid of how much it would hurt.

I hate that when I buy you sweet little outfits I always have a voice in the back of my head that says “I wonder if she’ll even get to wear this.”

But do you now what’s even scarier than the thought of loving you and losing you?  The idea that I wouldn’t allow myself to absolutely and completely love you for the next five months, and then after seeing your precious face feel so much regret.  That is far worse than loving and losing you.

So my sweet baby I am choosing to love you with everything that I am.  I am choosing to believe that you will live and that I’ll be able to love you outside of my tummy.  I choose to believe that God will be merciful on your precious body and will give me the opportunity to pour out all the love I’ve been storing up out on you one day.

That decision to choose love, for her, was one of the best decisions of my life.  Because I chose to love her despite the pain that would come, I have no regrets about her life.  I can sleep at night knowing that I didn’t hold back an ounce of my love for her.  I can rest easy knowing that the last thing she heard in this world was my voice telling her “I love you” and the last thing she felt was the strength of my arms wrapped around her.

And so when people ask us, “how could you open your heart again to this little boy, knowing that you will probably have to say goodbye to him too?”, the answer is simple.  I can open my home and heart to him because he is what God has placed in my life, at this moment, as someone who needs the love of a mother, and I’m a mother who is in need of loving a child.  I saw how the risks of loving without abandon paid off in Sophia’s life, and I know the same will be in the case of Champ.

Will it break my heart to have to say goodbye to Champ someday?  Absolutely, yes.  But that doesn’t mean that I can let the fear of that make me withhold love from a child who needs it so much.  God doesn’t promise a life that is free of sacrifice or pain, but He does promise to be there when those things happen.  He promises that when my heart is broken again He will be right there with His needle and thread to lovingly stitch it back together again.

I chose to love because it is what I have been called to do, and because it’s what He first did for me (1 John 4:19).

So I encourage you all to not let the fear of heartbreak prevent you from giving to someone who needs your love.  You will rob yourself of endless moments of joy and love, lessons learned, and the fulfillment that only comes from selflessly pouring yourself out.

Choose love, and choose to use the opportunities that God has given you, no matter the fear of what the future could bring.  He goes before us and will never leave us along the way. 

Read more

MEET CHAMP (20 WEEKS)

Dear Sophia,

This week I want to introduce you to your new foster brother, Champ:

IMG_85951

He’s actually been living with us for the last 4 weeks!  And I hope you don’t mind, but he’s sleeping in your nursery.  In fact, we’ve been able to use lots of your things for Champ.  He uses your car seat and stroller and changing table and baby monitor.  But don’t worry, we don’t make him wear your cute pink dresses.

It’s been great having him in our house, but I’d be lying if I said I sometimes wished that he was you.

And it’s great that all of the wonderful gifts that our friends gave us while I was pregnant are being used, but I wish they were being used by you.

Having Champ here is so bittersweet.  It’s so wonderful to have a baby to care for and a little one to hold in my arms.  But it’s heartbreaking that that baby isn’t you.  It’s hard to not question why God couldn’t have allowed you to come home from the hospital.

There are a lot of similarities between him and you.  He was born the day before your due date.   You both were born with a cleft lip and palate and you both had some very “special” needs.  He was without oxygen after he was born and because of that has problems with seizures.  We spend each night holding him and walking him back and forth to try and calm him down when the seizures wake him up.

I know that he needs us, and I know that we need him.  And I know that if it hadn’t been for your life, Champ would not be in our lives right now.  So thank you, Sophia, for helping to give Champ a better life.  Thank you, Sophia, for preparing our hearts to love babies with special needs and circumstances.  Thank you, Sophia for allowing us to look pass diagnoses to see the God-made creation behind it.

Once again your influence and legacy lives on.  Wow, I am so proud that you are my daughter.

I love you to the moon and back,

Mommy 

Read more

APPLE CHIPS

I am a big snacker.

I mean, who isn’t?

Unfortunately most snacks are not healthy, especially those that are sweet or crunchy.  Well, I have the perfect healthy snack that is both sweet and crunchy.

apple chip close up

Apple chips!

These delicious cuties are the perfect answer to your sweet tooth and won’t add any inches to your waist.

Plus, with fall in full swing you’ll be able to use the sweetest, freshest apples of the year.

IMG_8434

 

My only complaint about them is that they do take a long time to make.

Two hours.

Yeah, I know.  But, all that time they are just sitting in the oven.  You can go on with your daily activities while they crisp away.

IMG_8423

 

And now to try out my new recipe maker ( you can print it right off my blog post!):

APPLE CHIPS

Apple Chips
Serves 1
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 2 hours
Total time 2 hours, 5 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Snack
Misc Child Friendly

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large apple (Fuji, gala, or granny smith)
  • mandolin

DIRECTIONS

Step 1
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Wash and core (if desired) your apple. You don’t have to core the apple (see picture of my chips) but can if that’s the look you prefer.
Step 2
Using a mandolin, thinly slice the apple (if you don’t have a mandolin you could use a very sharp knife, but the slices need to be very thin)
Step 3
Place apple slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (slices from the entire apple will take up two baking sheets)
Step 4
Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon (if desired)
Step 5
Place your baking trays in the oven and bake for one hour. After one hour flip the chips over and then continue cooking for another hour.
Step 6
After cooking time is up, turn off the oven and allow the chips to cool inside the oven. Enjoy your guilt free chips!
 

Read more