Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Just a Girl

Just a girl,
A girl of 15
A gift given to the wrong one
Left her feeling used, damaged, demeaned

It's too late for me, she thought
What I've done, I can't forget
The lie that she was now worthless
Set her up for years of heartbreak and regret

Who would want her now?
Someone broken, complicated, not white
Surely no one would
She couldn't see she was still her Father's delight

Despite her sin and wrong choices
He had a glorious plan unfolding
An unborn baby girl He used
Her future He was molding

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The day we were told, "She's a GIRL!"

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body." -Psalm 139:14-15

Five years ago today (on October 9, 2009) I had a 3D/4D ultrasound at the Triangle Imaging Center in Cary, North Carolina. I was 17 weeks 5 days gestation at the time. The main reason I wanted to go was to be told the gender of my baby, though I already believed in my heart she was a GIRL! It was my second ultrasound and I (think??) the first time I heard her heartbeat (which I have a recording of to this day, something I am soooo incredibly thankful for!). I also have a DVD recording of my entire ultrasound from that day, many ultrasound images, and a DVD recording of my mom, sister, and I in the ultrasound room. The photos below are still images taken from that video (so special to have!). We could see Lily on both the little screen as shown in the photos, as well as on a large television screen on the wall.






Below are a couple of my favorite ultrasound images from that day. It is special that I still have the little captions I wrote with my ultrasound pictures when I shared them on Facebook while I was pregnant. I have included those captions with the photos. :)

Pudgy little belly.
The cutest profile I've ever seen! She's blowing kisses!
Look at that teeny little foot! She's smiling - happy little baby. :)
Definitely a little GIRL!
Her perfect little heartbeat. I love hearing it!
Her "drama queen" pose she does a lot. :)

One day soon, I would like to share the ultrasound DVD I have, as well as a recording of Lily's heartbeat. These are some of the only things I have of her life to share. This ultrasound is the only recording I have of her while she was living, rather than a lifetime of home movies. I cannot express how thankful I am to have these things, a glimpse into the only world my sweetheart ever knew. She was real!

Each year on this date, I like to watch that ultrasound DVD and remember my beautiful daughter. It brings tears to my eyes to see my face light up as I'm watching my little girl dance for me. My mom is gently resting her hand on my arm throughout the ultrasound, as a physical representation of how supportive she was through my pregnancy. You can just hear the excitement and joy in our voices. It makes me laugh to hear what we were joking about, such as when my mom told the lady doing my ultrasound that she had already bought a lot of baby girl items and she was glad she wouldn't need to return them. :) As you can tell, we were pretty confident Lily was a girl. And my mom was thrilled to be a grandmother and my sister was excited to be an aunt.

I am not even sure how we found out about the Triangle Imaging Center and 3D/4D ultrasounds, but I am so glad we did. Honestly, I believe it was orchestrated by the Lord so that He could bless me with priceless mementos from Lily's life. I do wish that I had gone again in the third trimester of pregnancy, to have seen Lily's face more filled out, so I could know her more and how she'd look as a *living* fullterm baby. 

Here is what I wrote about that date in Lily's pregnancy scrapbook:

"On October 9, 2009, Grandma Dukes, Auntie Em, and I went to the Triangle Imaging Center in Cary for a 3D/4D ultrasound at 3:30 p.m. The main reason we went was to find out conclusively if you were a boy or girl (though we believed in our hearts you were a girl!) It was so special to see you on the screen - very active! You were so spunky! We said you were doing your "drama queen" pose. At first, Ms. Kim thought you were a boy and we were all quiet. But then she said, "nope, she's definitely a little girl!" and we excitedly gasped. Of course, we would have been happy either way, but we just knew you were our Lily girl. Your daddy and I made a bet - he bet you were a boy and I bet you were a girl (obviously mommy won!) Your daddy was able to watch the entire ultrasound and listen in to our conversation online through Sonostream Live. That was neat since he never got to be at an ultrasound in person. We video recorded our time there (including your heartbeat). 

Lily's scrapbook has four full pages from this day, with pictures, memories, and other fun details and decorations, which I look forward to sharing soon when I share her scrapbook! 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Lily's stocking being made with love

My grandmother "Bumma" is currently knitting Lily Katherine's memorial stocking for me to keep forever. She made me a stocking, her first granddaughter, when I was a little girl and is now making my little girl, her first great-granddaughter, a stocking. It is something special the three of us can share. We picked out the yarn in August and now while at Massanutten this week, I am with her as she creates it with love.


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maybe at times repetitive

I've been struggling with wanting to express how I am feeling lately, but not knowing exactly how to. The thing is, each time I think of something to write, I remember that I have already written it before. I don't want to sound redundant. Repetitive.

I don't want this space to grow old. Boring. Lifeless. I want to keep writing here because this is Lily's space, where I am able to grieve and share her life, where her memory and legacy are kept alive. I don't plan on not sharing anymore because I still do have a lot to share, whether that be ways I or others honor Lily, or whatever else.

But, there is a part of me that feels like I've already shared all my feelings. I've written hundreds of posts on this blog over the past 5 years and it has helped me so much. But how many times and ways can I say how much I love and miss Lily? How can I come up with a new and fresh way to open up my heart?

I know that a lot of the things I feel are indeed things I've already felt and expressed. I relive the time when Lily was here with each calendar year. I share what I was doing in my pregnancy at this time in 2009 and 2010. Because for me, those are the only memories I have of Lily and that is how I share her life. I can't share what she did today, what funny thing she said, or what she wore. I am not sure why my brain works the way it does, but I literally remember so many details, especially surrounding dates. To give you an example, I remember friend's birthdays from middle school, even all these years later. I definitely remember so many dates from my pregnancy and what exactly I was doing on that day. It can be both a good and a bad thing. I want to remember these things, because they are all I have, yet it makes every year painful to think about. Will it always be this way? I'm not sure.

I am coming to the realization that no matter how many posts I write or how many ways I try to explain, words will always fail to express the depth of my heart. How much I love Lily, how much I long for her, how thankful I am to be her mother, how losing her has changed me and so many aspects of my life... no words could ever come close to describing these things. How can I even try? These things are so much more powerful and intense than any words could begin to articulate.

But, I will go on writing still. Because that is what I know. That is how I love her, mother her, share her.

I appreciate whoever reads these words and cares to hear about Lily, repetitive or not.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Beach in the Fall

Each year, my mom Ginny, sister Emma, and I, along with my mom's best friend from college (Grace a.k.a. "Aunt G"), take a trip to the Carolina coast for a couple days of fun, rest, and relaxation. The last weekend of September we took our annual trip. The weather was perfect, just gorgeous (it usually is this time of year at the beach).

Our trip reminded me of my sweet Lily girl and our trip to Topsail Island 5 years ago almost to the day. I was 16 weeks pregnant at the time. As you can see in the photo below, I was finally starting to look pregnant, rather than just feel pregnant.

Lily had oh so many adventures during her short time on Earth and I will forever cherish those sacred memories. I cannot believe it's been 5 years. I wish she was there this year, wearing an adorable swimsuit, building sandcastles, and squealing excitedly as her toes are greeted by the chilly Atlantic Ocean water. As soon as we pulled into our hotel, an overwhelming feeling of missing her washed over me.

That's my mom and Grace in the background

I still have this Topsail Island hat that I got in 2009 in Lily's memory chest

This is what I wrote about that trip to Topsail in Lily's pregnancy scrapbook:

"At the end of September/beginning of October, "Aunt G" (your grandmother's best friend named Grace) took us to Topsail Island for a short getaway vacation. We had a blast, staying at the Jolly Roger Inn right on the beach, eating delicious seafood at a local restaurant, splashing around in the waves at Surf City (where there is ironically a sign that says "no surfing allowed") with your Auntie Em and laughing hysterically as she held us up in the water in her small arms (we really floated), watching the breathtaking sunrise over the ocean, feeding the seagulls cocoa puffs from our balcony, watching and listening to the waves crashing upon the shore, walking down the pier, taking a lovely walk along the water's edge, relaxing in the sand and soaking up the sun, enjoying the beautiful fall weather and the presence of the Lord. You're a beach girl like your mommy!"

I will share more photos of that trip when I eventually share my pregnancy scrapbook (it's quite an undertaking to get all the photos and descriptions up on my blog!).

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Lily remembered at Prince Edward Island

My friend Naomi recently sent me a few pictures she took while on vacation this summer at Prince Edward Island in Canada.

This is what she said: "Hi! We went to PEI this summer and I took many pictures of your Lily's name for you...here are a few including one in a potato field (they are everywhere) (as I know the "thing" with hashbrowns and the cute nickname "Spud"...) and the others were at Cabot Beach. I hope they make you smile!"

The beautiful photos absolutely make me smile, Naomi! Thank you so much for being so thoughtful and sweet. It means more than I can say to know when people are thinking of my girl and I.

As always, it is special to have Lily's name written in the sand on beaches around the world. Not only that, but it is so dear that Naomi remembered the "thing" about hashbrowns and Lily's nickname. Lily's due date was on March 14th, 2010 (National Potato Chip Day). The biggest craving I had throughout my pregnancy were hashbrowns. All. the. time. Because of this, one of Lily's many nicknames was "Spud." I have shared this on my blog and it is so sweet that Naomi remembered. The potato field pictures are so unique! Perfect for my lil' Spud. :)

I have always dreamed of visiting PEI (mostly because of my love for Anne of Green Gables) and Naomi even remembered that I had mentioned that before. What a thoughtful friend. :)






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Friday, October 3, 2014

October - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Most everybody knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two of my aunts are survivors of breast cancer. There is pink everywhere, from people you see wearing t-shirts at the grocery store to NFL players sporting pink shoes on the field. There are several walks to support this cause and billions of dollars pored into research. Millions of people acknowledge it, which I think is a wonderful thing. You basically can't live in the United States and not hear about it constantly during the month of October.

But, not many people know that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is far too often overshadowed by other causes. I would never want those other causes to be forgotten about, I just want P.A.I.L. (pregnancy and infant loss) to be spoken about as well. I want commercials about it and money being put into it by giant corporations. I am just saying it is a worthwhile thing to research, understand, and talk about. 

My daughter was stillborn at fullterm. I had a completely normal, healthy pregnancy and she was a healthy baby. She had a full autopsy done and nobody could give me a reason medically for why it happened. Don't you think it's about time something was done about this? In the United States of America in the 21st century, thousands of babies should not be dying with no explanation. 

The purpose of this month is: “To inform and educate the public about pregnancy and infant loss so they can better learn how to respond with compassion to affected families.” -Robyn Bear

Why aren't more people talking about it? I think part of it is because it's an uncomfortable thing to talk about babies dying and people think it will never happen to them. But, the main reason I think P.A.I.L. isn't spoken about or acknowledged is because people have minimized the value of the unborn in our society. In a country where our President doesn't place value on babies who are born alive after a failed abortion and wants them to be left on a table to suffer and die, I think it's quite obvious. The unborn are so quickly disposed of, as if they are waste. No wonder people don't think it matters when someone miscarries or loses a baby. After all, they were just a blob of tissue, right? They weren't a baby yet, so what's there to be upset about? I ask you, then, when exactly is the baby an actual baby? Was Lily not a baby because she never breathed outside my womb, though she made it to fullterm? What about the mother who miscarries her very much loved and wanted baby? Is it a baby only when the mother wants it, but otherwise it's just cells? We need to talk about this! And I believe once this cause is acknowledged more, people will start valuing and understanding the sanctity of all LIFE.

Women around the world, from all walks of life, are affected by pregnancy and infant loss. 1 in 4 women will face a pregnancy/infant loss in her lifetime. Some more than one.

If you have never lost a baby yourself, please help us stop the silence and raise awareness because chances are this cause has probably already affected someone you love. Please educate yourself so you know how to support somebody if they lose their baby. Consider changing your profile picture to the blue and pink awareness ribbon that is pictured above. Blue and pink for the precious boys and girls who are no longer here. Let's show compassion. Tell someone who you know has lost a baby that you are thinking of them this month.

This month, I honor and remember all the precious ones who are no longer with us, the sons and daughters of Heaven. Their lives are important and they will forever remained loved and missed by those who know them. Let's get the word out about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Share your story. Speak out!

Lily Katherine
March 16th, 2010

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