Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Other Babies

I have two children, but have had four pregnancies. Miscarriage is hard. You finally get pregnant. You get excited. You start planning how you'll tell people. You look nine months ahead on the calendar and start planning accordingly. You eventually start referring to the baby in everyday conversation. You get morning sickness. Then it's all taken away. No warning. No reason.

         When it happens, you are really sad, and that sadness hits you at different times later on. It’s really hard when dates come and go. Like when people announce they're pregnant and have almost the same due date you would've had. Or as months go by and people with children younger than yours announce that they're expecting, and you wonder when it'll ever be your turn. People tell you you’ll probably have more children, you’re young, and miscarriages usually mean the baby wouldn’t have survived anyway. I don’t want to hear those things because they don't help. I lost a baby, and that is devastating. It’s also connected to a million other emotions, like praying for comfort and learning what the Lord has in store for you and your family.

        Five years ago, we prayed and felt ready to start our family. I got pregnant soon after, but lost the baby at seven weeks. I remember Russ wrapping me in his arms while I cried and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't make the baby stay with us." Even though the doctors assured me this was very normal, especially for first pregnancies, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was lacking in some way. I was confused and scared that I might not ever be able to have a baby. During the following weeks, I thought constantly about when we’d be able to start trying again and how long it would take to start our family.

         About four months later, I found out I was pregnant with Sophia. You'd think we would be overjoyed, but instead, we were extremely cautious and skeptical. I felt guilty for not being excited. I was frightened and *constantly* worried my happiness could be taken away. Both Russ and I had put up emotional walls we didn't know were there. We refused to even discuss the future until I was 12 weeks along and we heard Sophia’s heartbeat. Even after that, every time anyone asked how I felt, I'd respond that my next doctor appointment was only ___ weeks away, so after I heard the heartbeat again, THAT'S when I'd be happy. It's a terrible way to live, and I wish I could say I found the faith to overcome that fear and worry during those early weeks, but I didn't. After I started feeling her move and got to see our precious little girl on the ultrasound, that is when I finally started allowing myself to feel truly excited.

       I was thrilled to learn I was pregnant again when Sophia was almost a year and a half old. Then at seven weeks: bleeding. I braced myself for the worst and went to the doctor, only to see the world's tiniest and most adorable heartbeat! Everything was fine! We still knew enough to be cautious, but I started getting excited that Sophia would have a little sibling right around her second birthday. As time went on, I wasn't really sick, which was odd because I was very sick with Sophia. Sure enough, the doctor could not find a heartbeat at my first appointment. Miscarriage #2. I was by myself when they told me. When I got home, Russ was holding Sophia, and I went and hugged them both so hard while we cried together. I don't think I'd ever been SO grateful for my little family. After the initial shock and sadness, I can honestly say I feel more peace that second time. It might be because I'd been through it before or because I did have one child already, but honestly, I felt comforted in a way I can only explain through faith and having an eternal perspective. I know I'll see both of my babies again.

         As we continued trying to grow our family, I felt a very strong reassurance, almost a voice telling me I would have a baby in the spring. As the months went on and I was not pregnant, I began to doubt yet again. I thought maybe it was my own desires, not really a prompting. Once again the Lord, in His own time, blessed me, and Grace was born the following June: spring. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, and I even had bleeding again and a few awful days when I thought I was losing yet another baby. During my pregnancy with Grace, I received two different Priesthood blessings. Both mentioned I would be able to keep this baby and everything would go smoothly with the delivery. I relied on the strength I felt from those blessings numerous times.

          My miscarriages remind me the Lord is in charge. The scriptures and prophets teach us to trust in the Lord’s timetable. I don't know how miscarriages play into the eternal scheme of things. What I do know is that at least with the second baby, I actually heard the tiny heartbeat before it was gone. I have a firm testimony those little bodies hold actual spirits. I truly believe there are two children waiting for Russ, Sophia, Grace and I. They are part of our eternal family, and one day I will be able to hold them in my arms.

Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow.
Richard G. Scott

Dear Baby,                                                                                         September 23, 2010
            Earlier this week, Daddy and I sent packages to your grandparents to let them know you are coming. We bought a pair of BYU baby booties, wrapped one for each set of grandparents and mailed it. Grandma and Grandpa Carson got theirs tonight and called to tell us how excited they are.
            I made my first appointment today. It’s not for another three weeks, but I have started feeling sick. Daddy always promised me that when I got pregnant he would buy me a rocking chair. So, we went and picked one up today. We will probably have lots of special moments in that chair. J I can’t wait! He put it together all by himself, and it is very comfortable. I hope you like it!

            The other night before bed, I sang you some Primary songs. I am sure you can’t hear them, but I wanted to sing to you about why you are coming to Earth. We love you, precious baby. We pray for you every night and hope that you are growing healthy and strong!

                                    Love,   Mommy         

Dear Baby,                                                                                         September 28, 2010
            Today we are very worried about you. I started bleeding and went to the doctor and got a blood test, but we won’t know the results until tomorrow. I.can’t describe how I am feeling. I know we only found out about you three weeks ago, but we love you SO MUCH. Daddy and I talk to you and about you constantly. I never knew I could get so excited so quickly. At first when I talked to the nurse, there was not much bleeding and she told me not to worry. Now that the bleeding is heavier and I am starting to have some mild cramps, I feel different. I am already mourning you. I feel like maybe I could have done something differently or that I am not special anymore because you could be gone. I shouldn’t talk like this because everything might be okay – it just doesn’t look good. From all I’ve learned, a miscarriage means that something with the baby isn’t right and so it would not be able to survive anyway. I hope that if you leave us it is only because you are very sick. Today when I was driving home from work, I made up a silly song about all the reasons you should stay and sang it to you over and over. J If it turns out that I lose you, dear baby, all I want to do is get pregnant again because now I know a small part of how it feels to truly and deeply love a child. I feel like nine months of being sick can hardly compare to how devastatingly sad I am right now. Daddy still has more hope than I do, but I just don’t know how to describe it other than that I feel …… different, like something is missing.
            According to my baby calendar, this week you should be the size of a raspberry and be developing the beautiful parts of your face. It makes me very sad to think that you have a little heartbeat in there, and we may never get to hear it.
I have been saying lots of prayers and KNOW that, no matter what, Heavenly Father will give me strength and peace and everything will be how it is supposed to be. I want to be a mommy. I didn’t know that a month ago. I thought I did, but now I know and I can’t wait. We love you. We LOVE you! You are the most special part of my life and some of the best times your daddy and I have had together are when we talk about you. Your daddy is a big help to me right now, reminding me that everything will be okay, no matter what. You will always be special to me, even if I don’t get to meet you in this life.
Love Always, Your Mommy

Dear Baby,                                                                                         September 29, 2010
            Well, Daddy and I went to the doctor today, and you are gone. I felt so close to you. I knew when you had left. I knew it.  I could feel it. I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. Daddy will never really know how that change and emptiness felt, but I know he misses you, too. We were sure you were a boy. We always felt like that. Today has been a little easier; I have tried to keep myself really busy.
I feel sadness, but also a strength I know can only come from the Savior. It’s incredible how quickly we fell in love with you. Daddy and I are both in a daze. I am not sure when the spirit enters the body, but one friend today told me that she believes that the spirits who are meant to come to us will come to us and that if this body was not strong enough for you, then another body would come and your same spirit would return. I’m not sure whether or not that’s true. This may all seem silly, but you are real to me, baby. I love you and want so badly to be your mommy. I told Daddy today that someday I will still rock our babies in the rocking chair he bought for me and you.
I talked to a friend who is also having a miscarriage right now. This is her third. She explained that she had many of the same feelings I had (not being able to have children, something must be wrong with me, etc), and talking to her made me feel like I wasn’t alone. We didn’t tell many people about this, but now I want to tell everyone. I want them to know how much I am hurting and how excited I was to think that you were coming. We ran into someone today who asked why we hadn’t had kids yet. It was heart-breaking to say we were working on it, and we’ll see. I have really grown a new dimension of understanding now that without this experience, I never would have known. I will be more careful with what I say to others, and I will be able to really understand if this tragedy happens to anyone else I know.
            Baby, thank you for letting me be your mommy, even if it was only for seven weeks.
Love you Forever, Mommy

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Virginia and a NYC Getaway

Two weeks ago, we took a trip to Virginia to visit my parents. Then Russ and I left the girls behind and went to New York for 3 days! It was my first time going, so we did a lot and had a lot of fun. I knew we were leaving the girls in good hands, but I was really glad they did better than I expected (especially Gracie - who had never been away from Mom and Dad before and has major separation anxiety).

We spent about 50 hours total in New York, and walked over 25 miles! Our feet and legs were so sore by the end (we joked that people need to train before visiting NYC :D). We took an embarrassing number of selfies because everyone seems to be rushing and busy all the time so we didn't want to ask people to take our pictures. Luckily, the weather was beautiful while we were there. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect trip! Here's a huge photo dump of the things we did:

9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was beautifully done and took you through the entire day. It was unique to have a museum about a day in history we actually remembered. It was very sobering and emotional to hear actual recordings of firefighters, survivors, and even phone calls made by the passengers on the downed airplanes.

Charging Bull Statue (which was swamped with tourists), Wall Street, Stock Exchange, walked by Trinity Church

 It started raining, so we waited it out at TGI Friday's where the food was 2x the price and the quality was probably half as good. haha But it was the only thing we ate all day since we were always on the move, and the restaurant was right down the street from the theater, so we were just happy to have a place to eat! That night we went and saw Wicked!!! It was my second time seeing it, and Russ's first time. It's awesome. We loved it!

The show got over at about 11, and we decided to walk back to our hotel. It was a pretty long walk, but we went right through Times Square. It was neat to see all the billboards at night, but the craziest part was that there were still so many people out and about (especially kids) and all the stores were still open! Our cell phone pictures don't do it justice, but here's an idea:

On Saturday morning we went to the Manhattan Temple. It was beautiful and so peaceful inside. We almost didn't go we could fit in more touring, but I figured since we already had a babysitter - we may as well take the chance to go! And we are both so, so glad we did! Then I had my first New York hot dog at Gray's Papaya, and we wandered around Central Park. We got lost a few times, but it was a really pretty fall day so we didn't mind. (Sidenote: we used the GPS non-stop to find our way around. Luckily it's pretty easy to navigate the areas we went, but the walking directions have to be pretty accurate since you're moving so slowly, and I think because of all the buildings around, the GPS had a really hard time working.) We saw the fountain Giselle dances around in Enchanted and a little castle.  It's kind of crazy to see all the people walking their dogs or pushing strollers in the middle of such a big, busy city!

Our hotel was just a few blocks north of the Empire State Building, and our room was on the 17th floor. We couldn't even see the ground, but we could hear the constant traffic. This city really doesn't ever sleep! It's crazy! Here's the view from our window - first looking up, then looking down.

If we'd been there longer or on a weekday, I would've gone to the plaza and tried to get on the background of the Today Show, but we still walked around the Rockafeller Center to see scenes we've seen on the Today Show, Jimmy Fallon, 30 Rock...and probably more.

Next we tried to get dessert at Serendipity (furthering our quest to visit as many movie places as we could think of), but ended up not being up to a 1.5 hour wait. We did, however, end up finding a shop with some of the best cupcakes I've ever had, so it was okay. :) Then we walked to Grand Central Station (and had to take a picture of the clock inside to show Sophia the clock on Madagascar) and to the Empire State Building, where we went up to the 86th floor. It was awesome to see the city at night, and we took a ton of pictures. Russ, loyal Cougar fan he is, was watching the football game on his phone during our wait.
Chrysler Building
I think our hotel may be down there somewhere
can't see anything, but I still think this picture turned out cool!
Times Square area - all lit up
the One World Trade Center, traffic, and a tiny, fuzzy Statue of Liberty out in the water

On Sunday morning, we rode the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to eat New York Pizza at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. It. was. delicious. We are lunch with a family we serendipitously ran into THREE times on our trip. We first met them while waiting for the bus in Virginia where they recognized Russ's BYU hat. We saw them later that night on the subway, completely randomly. Then on Sunday, we happened to pop up on a small entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge RIGHT as they were walking past. We took the hint and figured we were meant to meet them for some reason. So we had lunch with them and talked about Utah, BYU, our little girls, and lots of other things before heading back to pick up souvenirs and catch our bus back to Virginia.


My mom sent us lots of picture texts of the girls while we were gone, and we sure enjoyed seeing those! My brother Garrett was also visiting with his family at the same time, so I think having cousins around to play with helped both Sophia and Grace not miss us so much.
My mom texted...and I quote..."Gracie is like, I ain't need no mommy to be happy." 
In fact, I think Grace got spoiled while we were gone. A few times, she cried so much at night she ended up getting to snuggle in bed with Grandma and Granddad! She even gave Granddad a hug...and that's huge coming from her :)
the Grandparents even braved Church with the girls, and Grace fell asleep in Mom's arms! I am pretty jealous of those skills!
all the visiting grandkids!
We had a night flight out of Houston, but it was pretty empty, so the girls both stretched out and fell asleep! I was so proud of them. It's usually really hard for Sophia to fall asleep anywhere but a bed.

taking the shuttle to the airport

The day before we left for New York (and our first day in Virginia), we all went up to Washington DC to walk around a few of the memorials and go to the top of the Washington Monument. It was really cool to see everything from up high. Sophia was especially excited to see the White House because Doc McStuffins visited the White House in a recent episode. ;)

We got back from New York late Sunday night, so on Monday, we celebrated Sophia's birthday! We successfully tricked our daughter into believing her birthday was on Monday instead of Saturday since we were gone on her actual birthday. Luckily she's only 4. That probably wouldn't have worked if she was older! She had a pretty perfect birthday, though! She really likes pandas, so we went to the National Zoo and saw the pandas! Then we drove to the Washington DC Temple to look at the grounds and visitor's center. Grandma also made the meals Sophia requested and a pink birthday cake.
Sophia + south end of north-going panda :D
Checking out the new baby panda
I offered to buy her a stuffed panda, but all she wanted was to get a panda penny in the penny press machine. I was just fine with that! :) 
Uncle Garrett bought some popcorn and the kids swarmed him like birds swarm prices of bead!
 I love Grace in this candid shot, and I'm so glad she's finally warmed up to Grandma!

  Sophia and Grandma with the church bag she sewed for Sophia (and Grace totally photobombed this picture. Cute stinker!)
...and the pictures deteriorated as time went on :) 
As you can see, we had a really great time in both Virginia and New York! Thank you SO MUCH Mom and Dad for watching our little girls! :D