Sunday, July 29, 2012

8 years

8 Years. I know I have written about this before, but here we are again. This week marks the due date of our first baby 8 years ago. Truly I cannot believe it has been 8 years. In so many ways, I still feel every little feeling from that day and the months, and years, that followed. Sometimes I feel like my sadness should've passed by now. It hasn't. Sure, I have the blessing of time, perspective, and family, but I will always be sad that sweet baby is not here. I think I will always be sad that I don't know this baby right now, and I don't know why. I guess someday I will. And for that, I am grateful.
Tragically, this year our experience and those feelings have been brought back to the surface as we have witnessed another sweet, sweet family very close to us experience a miscarriage. I remember the disappointment, the devastation, the questions, loneliness, wondering, IF, WHEN, What did we do (or not do)? WHY (why us, why now, why, why why)... I remember all of these things and a thousand and one other thoughts and feelings we had, but you know what I have realized recently? That is MY (and Ben's) experience. It does not compare to others. AND that's ok. I have always felt that at least if we had to go through this and be so devastated, AT LEAST we would be able to relate to others and *help??* others dealing with similar situations. Now I know that our experience is all our own. It is not the same. We all experience so differently. How unfair of me to assume that my ability to relate would equate with easing the burden of someone else's experience. I realize now that the best I can do is sympathize. It just is sad and disappointing and can be utterly devastating. AND as much as I want to, I can't make it better. I can't even make it hurt less. Oh, how I wish I could. I wish that all the pain and sadness we went through would mean others wouldn't have to. Alas, such is life.
Enough with my new found realization. On to more...
Because of these recent experiences, Ben and I have also had the chance to contemplate WHAT we learned, HOW we grew, and (could it be?) how we were BLESSED through tragedy... I feel like I need to document so that I will always remember and always keep my perspective.
*We feel like we grew so much as a couple. Before I miscarried, Ben and I plugged along in our own little worlds of work and school living and loving without *many* cares in the world. We were so in love. We were worried about how we would provide for and protect and properly nurture and care for this new little baby, but overall we were just head over heels in love with life and each other. Once I got so so so sick, for the first time in our married lives, I had to rely upon Ben. It was not cute, in fact, I was so sick the last couple of weeks of pregnancy (they didn't know why at the time, but later found out because of the partial molar pregnancy, my pregnancy hormones were 500 times that of a normal pregnant woman) that I had no ability to work, or really take care of my home or myself at all. I learned for the first time (as I think you only can through experience) just how dedicated and unconditionally loving and caring and worried Ben was. He helped me in every way. He prayed for me, and over me. He took care of everything and was an unwavering beacon to me as we trudged through the darkest days of our lives. I'm not sure there was any other way we could've grown so close. All of a sudden, we were devastated, but we were driven.
*We were given a sudden dose of reality, appreciation for the goodness of life, and the fragility too. As young 20 somethings, we were so idealistic. Everything was fine in life and somehow "worked out." After witnessing the fragile mortality of my life and that of our unborn child, I think we both learned not to take anything for granted. I didn't immediately miscarry. My water broke after throwing up so violently one night. So, when we went to the emergency room, I was still pregnant. Our baby was still alive. As we watched in the ultrasound room, our baby's heart was still beating. Our baby was moving around. AND we knew there was no medical way that things could end well. Our baby was not developed enough to survive, due to the partial molar part of the pregnancy. Basically, the mole had taken vital nutrients from our baby and prevented baby from developing appropriately. This was at 18 weeks. Nothing has ever broken my heart as that did. Even 8 years later, I can remember distinctly the blanket of horrifying sadness knowing what was coming to our sweet, innocent baby. Oh, that is a day I never want to relive. But, you know what? Ben and I learned how incredibly precious life is: everyday, everyone. What a blessing a healthy baby is!
*We learned exactly what we wanted. All of a sudden everything was incredibly clear. Before we lost our baby, I knew I wanted to be a mother. I always wanted to be a mother. I just had a huge idea of what I could do and wanted to do. I wanted to do everything, and Ben wanted me to too. This is very personal and very specific to Ben and I, but the minute I started thinking outside of my grief, I knew all I really wanted, ever, was to be a mother; to raise a family and be by my husband's side forever. All of my professional, educational accomplishments fell to the side at that moment. They truly meant very little compared to the opportunity of being a mother. We knew at that very moment beyond a shadow of a doubt that our singular goal was to have a family and raise them up to the Lord, to do His will. Everything else suddenly became a means to that end.
*We learned personal sadness, embarrassment, shame. It seemed like no one got it right. People were sad for us for a few days (outside of our close family) and that was that. Life for them went on, as it does. For us though, we were the ones the sad thing happened to. Then we became the sad couple that couldn't have babies. Some judged us for being married without kids for so long, others tried their best to explain explain explain. Explain my medical history to everyone and anyone. Explain our devastation and try to make it better. There were so many kind words, some mistaken kindness, and some insensitive things said. There were many, many tears some in public, most in private. Ben learned how to deal with that too... especially on Mothers' day and after baby blessings. And so we learned to deal with feeling bad, being patient with ourselves, our sadness, and others' insensitivity or misunderstanding.
*We learned about patience and timing. I learned that sometimes it just doesn't happen. Even when we were living our best and trying our hardest, it just was not Heavenly Fathers' will for us at that time. We have had to apply this life lesson to so many things that have come since then, but I first learned it, or truly experienced it, here. Tragically miscarrying our first baby and then not being able to get pregnant for 3 years, was difficult. I spent the entire 3 years pleading for the opportunity to be a mother. I worried the whole time that perhaps I never would get that chance. I wondered if I had done something wrong. Was I being punished? Were we not good enough? It sure seemed that way. I looked at everyone else as having the perfect life. In the end, I truly do believe there were life lessons we needed to learn this way, there were places we needed to go, things we needed to do that could not have happened any other way. It was certainly not our plan, but I do not regret this difficult path either, but I won't lie, I'm still sad...

 I apologize for this gush. My heart was just so full. I know that my Father in Heaven loves me and our first sweet little baby (and all of us). I know without a doubt that He loves us incredibly, unfailingly, and beyond anything we can imagine. One reason I know that, is because He allowed us the opportunity to struggle. He knew the anguish of our hearts and yet He knew exactly what we needed to gain from that experience. Only a truly loving parent could do that. He knows our hearts all the of the time. He was with us in our darkest times in that hospital room, and every time someone thought unkind things about us and every time I came trudging home so enveloped in sadness after church or wherever we were. He put people and blessings and learning experiences in our lives to lead us to where we are today, to be the parents, the couple, the eternal family we are today. We certainly are not perfect, but I want to say we really are grateful. Grateful for our blessings and grateful for all of our trials. I know someday we will understand. We will know why and it will all be ok.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Beginnings: Women of Value the Treasure Within

*Please see my dear friend and YW President's blog for more info and all the entire program complete with all details here

Just thought I'd link up to share this amazing night! I feel very fortunate to work with the teenage girls in our church and their amazing leaders. Every January, we hold a night where we recognize the new girls who will be turning 12 this year and introduce them to the Young Women program. We chose this year to focus on the 8 values of the program and women from the scriptures who exemplified those values. I can tell you this, I learned more and gained a stronger testimony of these amazing women from the scriptures than ever before. I feel truly blessed to know their stories and to have had a hand in introducing our young women to them. We had one of our girls who had completed that specific value introduce the woman from the scriptures (in the program we wrote) and then bear testimony of the significance of that particular value. It was awesome! I really loved this program:)
All the posters of the Women of Value were framed and placed in the front with their name plates in a smaller frame, corresponding fresh flowers for each value and the temple in the middle

Hannah (Faith), Emma Smith (Divine Nature), Rebekah (Individual Worth)

Mothers of the Stripling Warriors (Knowledge), AMAZING Salt Lake Temple Pic, Women of the Wilderness in 1 Nephi (Choice and Accoutability)

Ruth (good works), Esther (integrity), Mary (virtue)

Dessert! Cheesecake bar with toppings that corresponded with the value colors: Faith (white Chocolate), DN (blueberry sauce), IW (strawberry sauce), Knowledge (Kiwi sauce), C&A(Peach sauce), GW (Pineapple sauce), Integrity (Blackberry sauce), Virtue (butterscotch)

Winter Study in Phoenix

I know, it's an oxymoron:) How do you truly study winter in Phoenix:) You gotta get a little more creative, that's all! A couple of weeks ago, that was my assigned theme and it was so fun! We made snowglobes out of baby food jars (oops, no pics) with little snowmen erasers hot glued to the inside lid and lots of glitter in the jelly/water:) SO CUTE and even more than that, a HUGE hit with the 4 and 5 year old crowd (and Z)!
We also played in lots of fake snow (styrofoam, weird fake snow stuff from walmart and cotton balls) in the texture table with fake snowflakes thrown in and clothespins to try and manipulate with them.
I made snowshoes out of cardboard to go with the "snow cabin" and let the kids pretend to be inuits or something. They did a great job imagining this week. I think the imagination part is my favorite anyway:) They decorated their snow cabin and "bundled up" in all our winter gear while they pranced around in fake snowshoes and pretended to be hunting seals:) Too cute! I guess our snow gear comes in handy every once in awhile, right?!
We also did a science project the kids loved. I found the premise of the idea online, but can't remember where my flip flops are, let alone that website:) Anyway, the kids were able to choose 3 locations to put their ice cube (in identical containers). They chose 1. bookshelf, 2. oven, 3. outside the front door. Then they had to make a hypothesis on how it would look in 20 minutes. Third, we checked our results. We talked about WHY they chose their hypotheses and their reasoning and then reconciled with what really happened. Their little brains did some hard work and they were so happy with the results! Who knew ice and tupperware could be so amazing!?

All in all, it was a great week. I so love teaching preschool. I love doing journaling time with them and listening to their logic. I love watching them play and cohort and reconfigure and work together. Lucky, lucky me!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Just wanted to post this before I forget it... This year I remembered I was assigned the theme "trees and plants" two weeks before Christmas. Soo, of course I had to do Christmas Trees! I wasn't quite sure what to do with Dramatic Play, so I made this giant Christmas tree out of felt, complete with felt ornaments and also had Santa hats, gloves, scarves, etc. for the kiddos. It was a huge hit!! So huge, I left it up for the whole season. My kids would periodically go rearrange their tree, take off all the ornaments and start over. They have never been much for bothering our Christmas tree, but I (and they) were more than happy they had their own distraction. It was super cute and cost less than $4 at walmart in felt:)