Monday, December 9, 2013

Three and One

Since 2013 is winding down, I thought it would be a good time to post an update about my girls. My, how they're growing, as little ones tend to do! We've been busy at our house with birthday season this Fall. Lily turned three in September, my hubby's birthday is in October, and Anna turned one in November - on Thanksgiving Day this year. It has been a crazy, fun, and special time!

It's hard to believe that Lily is three. She's truly a joy, this special girl. She's just the right mixture of silly and sweet, girlie and dainty but not at all a diva, clever and smart. She absolutely loves Peter Pan (the old Disney cartoon), so that's what we did for her party theme. In fact, it also provided the theme for our whole family's Halloween costumes this year (more on that later).

Here are a few pictures from her Neverland-themed party in September:

Next came October, and we continued the Peter Pan theme with our costumes. Lily wanted to be Captain Hook (love her imagination!), so we dressed Anna up as Smee. Their daddy was Peter Pan, and I was Wendy. We had a blast!

November was a special month, as it was Anna's first Thanksgiving and her first birthday, all on the same day. Anna is a little Mommy's girl (quite a change from her big sis). She loves music, loves to dance, and loves to eat. She adds so much joy to our family!

We chose a theme of butterflies and pinwheels for her big day. Here are a few photos from her party:

It has been a fun year of firsts for Anna. She is quite a bundle of energy! Having two little ones close together is fun, but it's also more challenging than I ever imagined. Of course, we're still joyful every day for the opportunity to be parents to these two precious gifts.

To wrap up, here's a collage of all of Anna's month-by-month pictures to show how much she has grown and changed:

What a year it has been! I hope this time of year finds you counting your blessings as well, as you celebrate the holiday season with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beauty For Ashes

Writing about the babies we lost helps me to deal with the continued grief that is always there. There are things, like the passing of time, lessons learned, and the births of my daughters, that have helped to ease the burden of those losses, but nothing can ever take the pain or the memories away. And I've come to terms with that. Remembering them is important to me, and the process of giving each of them names has been part of my healing process as well.

Revisiting those experiences, one by one, felt like something I needed to do. Recurrent pregnancy loss has been a huge part of my life. I've been married to my husband for 15 years, more than half of which were nearly consumed by miscarriage and infertility. There was a lot of pain there, but we've come a long way. For that, I am thankful. And I'm constantly amazed and grateful that, by the grace of God, our story didn't end there.

After we lost little Aaron Joseph, our sixth baby, we experienced a new form of anguish: unexplained infertility. The weeks and months and, eventually, three years went by with no changes. After six pregnancies in six years, it seemed there might be no more chances. While we had some renewed hope and a new doctor, we still didn't know exactly why the first six pregnancies had ended too early. I wanted another chance. I hoped and prayed for another chance. But I was also terrified. Those three quiet years gave me some perspective. The fog had cleared a little bit and enough time had passed for me to realize that I never wanted to go back to that horror again. I knew, however, that it was a risk we'd have to take if we were ever going to see that dream realized and that longing fulfilled.

Above all I always trusted that my God was in control, even when my circumstances felt totally out of control. He's in the miracle business. That's what He does! Beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)

He had something wonderful in store, and it was just around the corner. I'm just thankful that I held on for it.

Twelve years after we were married, nine years after we started trying to conceive, and eight years after the first positive pregnancy test, we finally looked upon the face of our daughter.

Two years and two months later, we held another daughter in our arms.

I don't know why it all happened the way that it did. I don't know why there was so much pain before the beauty, but I suppose that's what makes it all the more beautiful.