Carseat Shopping with Preschoolers- Britax Endeavours

As you know, I’ve been confined, a prisoner, if you will, on bed rest for the last month. For someone who LOVES baby things and happens to be pregnant…and in need of baby things…this was torture. So, one of my first stops on my first day of freedom was Buy Buy Baby to check out all that has changed since Bug was cooking in my belly. And, woah! It’s a LOT! One of my favorite things we checked out was the new Britax Endeavours infant carseat. This seat goes from 4-35lbs, which for a mama with a high risk of birthing a premie, this is great news!


Obviously, Bug exceeds the max weight limit! But he approves the comfort level!

With the steel anti-rebound bar, there is 30% less rebound in a front or rear crash.

Even Chuck could maneuver its user-friendly design.

“Baby” the cabbage patch doll appreciates the safety measures present both with or without a base. With latch or auto seatbelts, Baby is riding with exceedingly high safety standards.

Chuck really enjoyed learning about how she can help take care of her new baby sibling in this #1 safety-rated seat. Bug, on the other hand, enjoyed torturing his sister. What can I say, they were stoked to get out of the house, too! I dare you to watch to the end without laughing!

Carseat Shopping With Preschoolers- Video


*I was compensated to check out this rad seat. All children and their wackado behaviors are my own.

30 Days

Thirty days of confinement, rest, restrictions and caution. Thirty days of figuring out a new normal and a new sense of purpose. Thirty days to dwell in my thoughts and fears and hopes for this baby and our family.

I haven’t done them well. I don’t know how one does. Two young children who need every piece of me that I can’t physically give and one deep-rooted character of pride sitting in my heart; these have been my companions. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being INdependent until this last month. Ladies from bible study asked 10 times before they finally TOLD me they were coming to clean my kitchen. A meal train that ended up being a literal lifeline for my family was set up without me signing off…and I am so, so glad. Several friends grocery shopped, played mom-taxi and entertained my minions…all just by DOING. Because, you see, if there is one thing us moms are great at, it’s LOOKING as if we have it all under control….even if that’s not logistically possible. So, I dedicate the last thirty days to those who just DO. Thank you.

Now, the next thirty days? Who knows?! I was tentatively released from strict bed rest! It turns out the complete placenta previa that was aggravated by a pretty large subchorionic hematoma just…moved. I mean, last week it was bad. Really, really “you’re gonna have a c-section if you don’t go into preterm labor before,” bad. And this week, God said, “move!” and it did! Even my high risk doctor was surprised at the level of progress. The hematoma is still there and relatively large, but without the concern of the previa, it’s not as big of an issue right now. I am still on “light duty,” but I am able to leave the house. I can take Chuck to our Classical Conversations community day without reprimand and I can resume our normal dance/Awana/mops routine. Most exciting to me….TARGET! I know, so basic, right? But really, Chip and Joanna have been waiting for me. I must go!

I am 18.5 weeks at this point and while spending so much time with my own thoughts, I began to count down to different milestones. The most pivotal of these to me is 24 weeks. Twenty four weeks…the point of viability. The placemarker in gestation where I will never hear the words “there’s nothing we can (will) do. Just go home and manage your expectations.” Those words still burn in my ears after our traumatic night in the ER in Vegas. So, 24 weeks comes, get this, on Dec. 24! My little minnow will be statistically “viable,” a saveable miracle on Christmas Eve. How’s that for divine?!

This Sunday, Bug turns three and I can’t help but remember these milestones with him. His pregnancy was easy, for the most part, until the end. When I was 18 weeks with him, we were camping out in the mountains near Kern river, roasting marshmallows, blissfully unaware of just how much could go wrong. And here we are with this one, thanking God for each day closer to viability. It’s that way with life in general, right? We go along whistling until someone bumps us…and then someone bigger, then maybe a car or truck and then the whole dad-gum train runs us flat over and we are like, “good grief! I get it now! Life isn’t promised. Each day is a complete and utter gift. I get it.”

So, on Sunday, we will celebrate another gift of a day with our baby (middle) boy and we will once again get on our knees to thank our Heavenly Father for all the days we’ve had, and hope to have, to bring glory to Him, raising our tribe, sewing seeds of grace and mercy and working so very hard on clipping those ties to pride. Grateful for days and the ways, He shows us gently (or sometimes not SO gently) the reflection of the parts of ourselves we need to give to Him. I do get it now.


The Bed Rest Project

We’ve been given a diagnosis.

We drove four hours from Vegas, on pins and needles, because I had started to bleed again Monday morning. It is agonizing, that visualization that your baby is dying inside you and there’s nothing you can do about it. But, we slid into a parking space just in time for my OB to fit me in at the end of his day. We fidgeted in our seats and tried to entertain two car-weary kids in the waiting room in anticipation of what that ultrasound screen would show.

And then, there it was…the blip, blip, blip. We still had a heartbeat! And a subchorionic hemorage. After a visit with the high risk perinatalogist, the SCH was confirmed, as well as partial placenta previa. So, I’ve been prescribed complete bed rest for the foreseeable future. There is always the hope that the placenta moves and the hemorage heals itself, but until then, I will do whatever I’m told to keep this little one growing!

I’m almost 16 weeks and that’s the farthest we’ve made it since Bug. I’m counting everyday I get to feel flutters and hear that heartbeat as a giant blessing. I find myself still in disbelief that we might actually get to meet this one. We might actually get to smell that new baby smell and cradle a tiny little head again. It’s a strange space in which to live, straddling grief and joy. Guardedness and celebration.

The kids are excited. Chuck is sure I am growing a “Crystal Snowflake.” I haven’t the heart to tell her that, I am absolutely not going to be presenting her with either an exotic dancer or a recreational drug. Bug is sure it’s a boy and since the only sweet baby boy he knows is his auntie’s, he calls our baby by the same name. At least they will both be equally disappointed with our name choices!

They’ve been troopers with the bed rest thing. I keep reading blogs from women about how to stay sane on bed rest. They encourage things like, “finishing a good book,” or “catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones.” My favorite, though is “learn a new hobby like crocheting!” These people obviously have no preschoolers to entertain. I’m going to start a series on realistic activities to do from bed when you have kids. It will include things like, “learn to take the fewest steps possible to the bathroom to see what the two year old flushed. Again.” And, “try not to stress as you hear the entire contents of the top pantry shelf crash to the ground.” And my personal pick, “learn a new skill: interpret whether the silence is a blessing or worth investigating.” In the mean time, I’ve decided to document our daily bed rest diaries on Instagram under the hashtag #theBedrestProject. Check it out. Seriously riveting stuff, y’all!

Thank you for the prayers. I know I’ve asked for the reserves over the last year and a half. I’m reminded by those around me that this season (or decade) of life won’t last forever and soon enough, my prayers will be lavishly bestowed on others as theirs have been to us. I’m still waiting for the lesson in all this. Maybe there isn’t one, or at least one that we will know until that Glory day. But, I am thankful for today. So, so thankful for this life growing inside me.

Lessons from Sacrifice

The life we are promised…

The only thing we are promised is that we will leave this earth, just as we entered it, someday. Weathered, wiser (hopefully) and having impacted those around us long enough to be remembered for a generation or two, maybe.

And, of course, salvation, if you choose it. Sweet, sweet saving grace from a Father who knows our heart of hearts and still chooses to live with us for eternity. Does that move you? Shake you to the core?

I never fully grasped God’s desire for us until I had Chuck. After all, a parent’s love is difficult to simplify into words. But, I get it now. I get why God would want us with Him forever, despite the marker on the wall or the sleepless nights or the “I hate you-s” slung His way. I get how his perfectly infinite heart could burst at the thought of his child aching and writhing in pain. I can fathom how He would want to wrap my fragile self up in a cozy blanket of grace and set me up on the couch with a Good Book and sweet Word from Him to comfort my grieving soul, all while He works in the background to make all things work together for GOOD.

I get that parenting role because He made me for it. He gave me a mother’s soul. He gave me two precious, beautiful, living children to witness (and practice) His grace through everyday. I am so, so grateful for their role in sanctifying me.

However, He’s also given me six babies I carried, but never knew. Six devastations. Six opportunities to imagine futures and fingers and family portraits…that will never happen.  Six souls to mourn and miss minute by minute. Six disappointments and six losses that have left me ever more  confused about why God does, or doesn’t, do the things He does. Why does He promise in His Word that if we ask for the desires of our hearts, and ask according to His plan, that He will grant them? Why give us desires we cannot have fulfilled? Why does He say that He is always near, if, as of late, I don’t feel Him so close? And the always prevalent, why do bad things happen to good people?

I’ve had lots of months, days, minutes to contemplate my sadness, turned anger, turned bitterness, and finally, turned acceptance. I won’t have my babies in my arms until I get to heaven, but, finally I realized, God gets THAT. How much did He long for Jesus as He did His work on earth? How much did He suffer knowing He couldn’t save him from what was to come? Did He clench and pray and try to will that loss away like I did as I was losing my babies each time? Jesus didn’t desire to die on the cross. He even asked God to take that from Him if it was His will. HIS will. There’s the piece I was missing. Not mine. And desire is a matter of perspective. Jesus desired to save His people, though He didn’t desire to die an excruciating death. I desired to be a mother, but not lose my babies. My desire HAS been granted, if not in the way I wanted. And though I’ve denied Him in anger or wrestled with His will, He was always close. He was only a prayer away. A Word away. This is where the village comes in. Those who stand in the gap when you just. Can’t. Pray. Again. It’s rough. And lonely. But, they are there and He is there, listening, gently rocking and healing. When my daughter is so sad because I won’t let her keep the lizard she caught in the yard, she doesn’t want to talk to me. But, I’ll hug her anyway and console her sweet heart from a distance until she’s ready to talk again. But, I’ve never left her. God gets that.

Jesus was perfect, blameless, sinless…the best of people…yet the WORST thing happened to him. So, I guess, who am I to wonder why bad thing s happen to “good” people? Sin and Satan. That’s why. This world is broken. We are broken. Bad things will always happen, until God takes us home, because we don’t exist in the perfect vacuum of Heaven…yet. I get THAT now. And, I suppose, as I learn lessons of grace and parental love from my earthly babies, perhaps I have also learned THIS lesson of God’s sacrifice and parental pain from my heaven babies.

I can’t wait for the reunion in that perfect place some day. But, until then, I am rejoicing that my babies won’t know the pain of this world. Thank you, Lord, for granting them that sweet grace.


Secondary Infertility and losses

Last summer, I decided to take a break from facebook. We had just experienced the heartbreak of our second miscarriage. The ridiculousness of political rants and petty complaints became a very unwelcomed distraction from processing our pain. Leaving was good for me. I learned to cling tighter to my Savior, instead of drowning my mind in constantly refreshing my feed. Brent and I worked through our raw hurt together, again, this second time, and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. And again. During this year hiatus, we have grasped to a tiny life, five different times, only to be shattered as it slipped away. That’s six in total. Six babies in heaven. I’m still jaw-dropped at those words. Our most recent beloved went to be with Jesus this month, almost a year to the day of his sibling.

I’ve been reminded over and over again that God put us on this earth to live in community, to glorify Him. His love is only reflected by ours. So, this village, the people who’ve brought coffee or embraced snot-drenched sobs on their shoulders…these are the Hands and Feet. These are the ones who, without always the right words, show with action, the cross. Thank you.

There’ve been other tragedies and joys and endless hours of news, both personal and public, through the last year. It’s documented in my heart, instead of my page. Our actions, and inactions, haven’t always been understood or appreciated by those around us, and that’s ok. Healing and grieving and growing are processes, undertaken in intimacy with Jesus. Everyone does it differently. But, all you who’ve suffered, too, know, I know. And I love, too.

My babies all have names. They’ve all been loved for every second of their existence. Every bit of their being was felt and cherished. They will be remembered at due dates and loss dates…even if I have to reference my “list,” because there are so many. What mother doesn’t remember her baby’s birthday? I’m trying.

So, I suppose the point of this is…well, I’m not really sure. Maybe to try to express courage? Or insight for those who’ve wondered? Or just to document some late night, wine-induced rambling from an aching mama-heart.

Chuck and Bug are our world. They perfectly stretch our parent wings and if they complete our family, we are joy- filled. But, we stand in utter confusion at God’s plans for our family. It’s a sense of paralysis. So, I humbly ask, for those who’ve walked through the fire of secondary infertility or recurrent losses, please reach out. I need some anecdotal hope, one way or the other.

And to my husband, thank you for being mine. Thank you for holding my hand so tightly when I’m crashing to the ground. Thank you for carrying the weight this year. You have. All of it. This life hurts, but it’s also full of sweet, sweet joys and I’m so glad you’re the one by my side for them.


She wants another diaper genie? How rude!- And other comments on a second baby shower…

When we first found out we were pregnant with this little bug, we were understandably hesitant to show happiness, joy or even hopefulness, since just the month before we had lost Blue. But, slowly, as the months have gone by and the tiny heartbeat remains strong and the kicks come more regularly, the existence of this growing little nugget is cause for more and more excitement. We talk about names and plan our future adventures with a fourth family member in mind. It’s finally FUN!

Bug’s first headshot.


I am halfway through this pregnancy and with the 20th week comes the onslaught of many decisions, plans and, well, opinions! The latest question posed in my birth group (yes, I am one of those women who discusses things like breast tenderness and morning sickness with total strangers…SHOCKING, I know!) is “Would it be acceptable to have a baby shower for my second/third/fourth baby?”

Until this pregnancy, I never questioned it. Of course you should shower EVERY baby with love, attention and celebration because life is a miracle no matter which way you cut it. Heck, I have thrown a couple of subsequent child showers for friends myself! Had I performed some etiquette taboo?! For shame!

That is, of course, until I was faced with dissenting opinions by some of those people closest to me with the talk of a second shower for this baby. Apparently, “no one does that.” And, “it’s rude and seems like begging for gifts when you should already have everything from baby one.” And my favorite, “Why would you want to do another shower. Didn’t you get your fill of silly games the first time around?” Soooo…..

My first response was one of surprise because I simply didn’t know this position existed. And then I felt a bit defensive. Being a person who questions EVERYTHING, I wanted to know WHY no one does it, WHY it’s rude and WHY anyone WOULDN’T want to celebrate every additional child with which they are blessed.

What I have found is that just like many “etiquette” traditions that seem outdated and maybe even offensive, the “only have one baby shower EVER” argument is routed in old fashioned necessity. Back in an era when people were broke and popping kids out every year, it was seen as rude to expect other people who were just as broke and child-full as you to give you the necessary accouterments for every child YOU bore. Gifts that were given the first time around were often handmade and constructed to outlast 1, 2 or 5 kids. Very little was disposable and many things were handed down from sister to cousin to friend. There was no such thing as a sonogram to determine the gender of the growing little bundle of joy, so everything was created with neutrality in mind. Swings were made of wood instead of hot pink or Navy blue fabric making them perfectly acceptable for 4 kids of different sexes. Little boys wore dresses for crying out loud! Relatives and acquaintances alike brought food to the shower and for weeks after the birth of the baby and also helped out as a village with the older children to give mom the chance to bond with baby. In these ways, mother and baby were gifted and it was seen as a bit greedy to ask for more. In short, a “shower” was simply an outlet for a get-together of gift-giving.

This looks totally safe, right?
Girl or boy? You tell me.

And on that note, shouldn’t I still have everything from Chuck? I mean, she’ll only be almost 3 years older than this kid. Surely we have all the baby items to be handed down. Well, no. Actually, we pretty much have to buy everything except toys and clothes if this baby is a girl. We were in a really bad car accident when C was 10 months old and her carseat had to be “totaled out.” So, rather than replace it with another infant seat so close to her first birthday, we bought her big kid seat that she is still using. She is also still using her crib that has been converted into a toddler bed because I was trying to be so efficient with our purchase the first time around. In addition, she still uses her booster seat at the table because we never bought a high chair and her bouncer and swing were passed to friends and acquaintances who were in need. Every baby needs new diapers, wipes, burp cloths and toiletries since those obviously don’t pass from one child to another. So, no, we DON’T have everything if that is the argument against a shower. Every family has circumstances of which you may not be aware. Don’t be the judge. Instead, maybe ask “do you have everything you need?” That’s so helpful! And let’s be honest…nobody “needs” many of the gifts they receive at a shower anyway. Three diaper genies are given because people are thoughtful and love to celebrate a baby. Not because that is a number one necessity for kidlet!

Fast forward to today, 2014. Things are a bit different. Most people, including Hfoe and me, are perfectly capable of taking care of all the children we choose to have. My baby is not going to go naked if I don’t have a shower. My child will have a place to sleep and play and eat if nobody buys us a crib, a playmat or a highchair. In fact, I don’t want anyone to buy that stuff for us. I want to be self-sufficient. But, I also WANT to have a shower. It is NOT about the gifts. It is about celebrating this little life that Hfoe and I (and I suspect MANY of those who would be invited to a shower) have prayed so diligently for. It is about recognizing this baby is just as special as Chuck and just as wanted as baby Blue was. I want to talk and laugh and play silly games with those people who love this kid already in celebration of his or her BIRTH day. And isn’t that what a shower is today anyway? A pre-birthday party? I mean, why is it considered perfectly acceptable for people to throw a birthday party for each of their five children every year, but heaven forbid a second baby get a shower?!

I guess my point is this…in the old’n days, showers were for much needed gifts. Period. Today, showers are for celebration and eating good food and laughing at the joy on a new mom’s (or second-time mom’s) face when she feels that little one kick in a room full of her favorite people. Gifts are nice, but they aren’t the purpose. Gifts help, but they aren’t necessary. Gifts are fun, but they shouldn’t be a point of contention. If your focus is on the “rudeness” of ASKING for gifts, when in reality no gifts have been asked for, perhaps the person in the mirror is really the one with the skewed outlook. Give with a happy heart, but if you can’t, don’t. You will still be welcome at my party!

7 Things I Have Learned Through Grief

I have been keeping a running journal in my head for the last couple of months about little life lessons learned through grief. In my head it’s titled, “Laugh, cry, make inappropriate jokes.” But here, I will keep it simple.

1.       It may come in stages…all at once

When you are pregnant, people kind of expect you to be crazy, laughing one second and crying into a Kleenex in the next. But, when your baby dies, I think laughing weirds some people out. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. I found it kind of confusing that I would be sobbing in wretched pain at the thought of what was happening when a flash of anger so strong would hit me that I couldn’t stand to be around another human for fear of lashing out. Then two minutes later I would say something about my uterus being an inhospitable chamber of doom to any fetus who chose to take up residence and my poor husband would nervously chuckle, not sure if this was another one of my shock value “jokes” or if I was truly ready to launch myself off the nearest cliff. Man, grief is exhausting! But, I think we have finally made it to the final stage- acceptance, mostly intact, ailing reproductive organ humor and all.


2.       You are not alone

You know how before you buy a car, you look around and you think, “I’m going to get a Nissan Sentra. It’s a sensible family car and I don’t see 4,000 of them on my commute every day.” Then you buy a Nissan Sentra and you see 5,000 of them on your commute EACH WAY. Or, like me, you thoughtfully choose a traditional, yet UNcommon name for your baby girl and once she is born you meet 5 other babies in your immediate circle with that same name? Grief is like that. Before you go through something terrible, it seems like those things are so horrible and rare. You may even think, “Gosh, how in the world would I cope if that was me?” And then it IS you and all the other grieving folks come out of the woodwork and your eyes are opened to just how common this really is. It’s both sad and comforting to suffer together.


3.       People still say cliché things

“Everything happens for a reason, dear.” “God only gives you what you can handle.” “I’m sure God will bless you with another baby in time. He just needed this one in heaven.” Those are just a few of the gems I have heard, not including scientific reasoning and urgings to just move on. I could write a whole novel of what NOT to say to someone going through a miscarriage or, really, ANY grief. But, I won’t. For the most part, people are well-meaning and loving and just trying to help. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and just know that at one time, YOU were probably the one making trite comments. I know I have been! But, if I take one lesson away from this experience, I hope it is that the only truly sincere, helpful response to a person going through such deep, lonely waters is, “I’m so sorry you are going through this.” You can add on, “I will pray the Lord heals your heart,” as long as you truly mean it, but don’t say it and then walk away to forget. I cherished prayers from friends, because in the midst of the pain, my prayers didn’t sound very coherent. The Lord is the best healer and only HE has the correct words. So, rather than stumble around, leave it to the Master.


 4.       You don’t have to answer the door

Usually on Sunday mornings I am at church bright and early, but during the miscarriage and for a couple weeks following, I just couldn’t pull myself together to face our church family. So, I stayed home and learned this lesson….just because they knock doesn’t mean I have to answer. I saw them walking up the driveway because the blinds were open and I was sitting alone on the couch watching Dr. Charles Stanley. It was probably too late; I’m sure they saw, but I dashed to the bedroom anyway, frustrated with myself that I hadn’t turned the volume down on Dr. Stanley. They knocked once and my heart raced. I imagined these two suited men standing on my porch, feeling hurt that I was avoiding them because surely they knew I was home. They knocked again and I had to physically restrain my puffy-faced, snot and tear laden self from feeling the conflicted obligation to both open the door for these Mormon brothers because I was home on a Sunday and the distinct fear to, because of course I already go to church….well, not today. But usually. Oh, the snot? Yeah, sorry about that. I promise I’m not a heathen. In the end, they left and I sighed, relieved and guilty. I will have to apologize if they come around again (NOT on a Sunday, of course) but I think at the time I did the right thing.


5.       Coffee will SA-A-AAVE your soul

My favorite scene in any Friends episode is always when they come together in Central Perk. Some of the best one-liners are dropped over a cup of joe. I think the same is true in life. Especially in the midst of grief! Although, my hair never looks as good as Jennifer Aniston’s, I learned an entirely new appreciation for a hot mug of java as my closest friends gathered around to comfort me during my grief. Of course, we brought the coffee shop to my house, but there really was nothing better to lift my spirits than a text that said, “I’m stopping at the ‘bucks. What can I get you? I’m coming over.” In the comfort of my own poorly lit living room I could freely cry and giggle and make uncomfortable broken womb/dead baby jokes to those who know my true heart and could cry and giggle right along with me. No judgment. No pity. Just hugs and encouragement and sometimes, complete empathy. Ok, so maybe it’s not the coffee alone that will save you, but the warm trickle down your throat into your cold, dark shell will surely start the process!


6.       Kids give two flips about grief

Being sick while taking care of a sick kid is pretty much the absolute worst state of parenting I have personally experienced. Parenting while grieving is like that, except the kid feels fine and still wants to jump on you and run with you and be read to in high pitched, squealy voices. Hfoe, bless his heart, was the most perfect partner during everything because he took over many “mama” duties despite his own pain, so that I could recover. But, there is no substitute for “mama milk” and just when I thought all the life had left me, she would latch and suck out a little more. It reminded me of a saying I saw on a sports motivation poster once, “When you think you’ve given your all, give a little more.”  But, looking down at her sweet, quiet, suckling little face sure did fill my heart with love. Tons and tons of love. And after all, isn’t love the Neosporin to grief?


7.       The tears don’t last forever, but the ache might…and that’s ok.

It’s been two months since I started bleeding and I no longer cry every day. In fact, I don’t cry most days and it feels nice. The first day I didn’t feel the lump in my throat I remember clearly. Chuck and I were at the mall one beautiful Saturday morning while her Papa was at work. I just needed to return a couple of things and I decided since she was being a trooper, we would grab lunch while we were there. As we chewed our French fries, I looked over at my beautiful, growing, spunky little girl and I thought about what her sister may have looked like. I thought about how they may have been best buddies and how Chuck would have loved to “help” with the baby. I remember smiling and feeling a little pang in my chest, but no lump rose up in my throat, no tears welled in my eyes. It was nice. I realized at that moment that remembering and honoring our little blueberry didn’t mean I had to live in a state of depression over her. I could still live my beautiful life and love every second of what God has blessed us with. That wasn’t a disservice to her or a neglect of what was. It was actually the best way to honor her memory…with love and joy. And, it is the platform for moving forward. I am thankful for that day.



 Ultimately, through this grief process I have learned so much about myself and my family, life and love and our heavenly Father above. I appreciate the overwhelming comfort we have received in the way of cards, letters and books to read. People are good. So, so good. And maybe that is the purpose of grief….to remind us of that.

*Sidenote…a book that has been SO comforting to me through this is Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child. I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for scriptural truth regarding the fate of their child in Heaven.