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! 

Photobucket
This post left me:

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.


Photobucket
This post left me:

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.

Photobucket
This post left me:

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!).

Photobucket
This post left me:

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. :)






Photobucket
This post left me:

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

Photobucket
This post left me:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On Purity and Abstinence

Something that has been weighing heavily on my heart to write about is the topic of purity and abstinence. I have hesitated in writing about this topic for two reasons: one, it’s an uncomfortable message and two, I am not exactly the most “qualified” person to be talking about it.

Almost a decade ago, I gave away something I can never get back – my virginity. I was only 15, still just a girl in so many ways. To be honest, I am not even entirely sure how it happened. You see, I had planned on remaining a virgin until marriage. But, somehow along the way, the world seduced me. I believed the lies that sex is not that big of a deal and everybody’s doing it. I wanted to feel beautiful and desirable and to be loved. As the song goes, I was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” There are many things that led to the loss of my virginity. Only recently have I been revisiting those years and God has been revealing hidden hurts and reasons as to how and why it happened as it did. I may share more about this later, but as of right now, I am still processing.

A point I want to make is that I was a “good Christian girl” who wanted to remain a virgin until marriage. Sexual temptation can happen to anybody; any living, breathing human, even Christian teens in youth groups and young adults at Christian colleges. Don’t be so prideful as to think it could never happen to you or your child. That is why it is so important to talk about and understand the reasons for abstinence and purity.

Modern culture glorifies premarital sex. It is seen as something that “normal” young people do. In fact, if you don't have sex before a certain age deemed appropriate by society, you are scoffed at and ridiculed. 

As media portrays sex outside of marriage as something desirable…

You aren’t told how you will be haunted, tormented, and anguished by your sinful choices.

You aren’t told that in your temporary pleasure, you will gain lasting heartache.

You aren’t told how you will battle with the agony of guilt and regret, and the bitterness of shame.

You aren’t told how these choices won’t just affect you in the moment, but for many, many years to come.

You aren’t told how wounded, used, and worthless you will feel.

You aren’t told how the memories won’t fade and the faces and experiences won’t be forgotten, even though you want them to be.

When you do marry the love of your life one day in the future, you aren’t told how the past will still be a part of you.

You aren’t told about the dread that’ll sweep over your heart when thinking about one day sharing with your spouse with a tear-stained, puffy face the mistakes you made and how you didn’t honor and love them all the days of your life.

You aren’t told how you’ll feel like tattered rags, tainted, like you’ve “gone too far,” and that you’re undeserving of a spouse who loves Jesus.

You aren’t told about the possibility of unplanned pregnancy, abortion, and all the pain and heartache that comes with that.

You aren’t told about the possibility of STD’s and how horrible they are (I am thankful God protected me from this possible consequence of promiscuity). 

You aren’t told how your body, your heart, your soul, are all making promises to someone who you were never meant to be tied to, whether or not you intend to keep those promises.

You aren’t told about the confusion that will invade your heart and mind.

You aren’t told how you are sinning against your own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

What you are told is that sex outside of marriage is a liberating and fulfilling experience.

I am here to say that something the world says brings pleasure and satisfaction in actuality brings heartache and regret, when not in God’s proper context of a covenant marriage. Yes, sex outside of marriage can be pleasurable and fun. But the pleasure is fleeting when it is not how God intended it to be.

With all my heart, I wish I could go back and do some things in my life differently. I wish I knew what I know now without knowing the heartache of it all. I wish I could think about wearing a white dress on my wedding day without feeling like a fraud.

I know that God is working even in the midst of my sorrow and regret. I know that He works all things together for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. He will bring beauty from the ashes of my sinful choices in the area of purity and abstinence, just as He has brought beauty from the ashes of my abortion and unplanned pregnancies, as well as the loss of my little Lily.

Out of the greatest sin and sorrow, He can birth the deepest passion and purpose. I believe I can speak about purity and abstinence in a way that I never could have had I not made the choices that I did. I can speak about it in a way that those who have always lived in purity and remained abstinent until marriage cannot. I can speak about from my own experience what comes when you don’t live a life glorifying to the Lord. I can also speak about His amazing ability to restore and redeem in this area.

I may not be the most “qualified” to speak about abstinence and purity, but God has a way of choosing the weak ones, the least likely among us. He says I’m qualified. He says I am washed white as snow. He says I am cleansed of my sins and redeemed. He has given me a new heart, with new desires. He says I am pure, I am whole. He says I will wear a white dress on my wedding day with grace and dignity, unspeakably and undeservedly grateful for what He purchased for me on the Cross at Calvary.

As I continue to walk through the healing and restoration process, I believe the doors will open for me, as unqualified as I might seem, to share about the beauty and importance of purity. And how He delights to redeem us, our merciful and loving Jesus. He can bring renewed purity. My Lily is a symbol to me of my renewed purity in Christ. Her name means "innocence and purity."

I want to share the truth with my generation, that living a life of abstinence and purity is beautiful and God-honoring. It also honors future spouses, and keeps hearts from years of heartache and regret.

Many young people who hear about purity and abstinence may think if they have already fallen into sexual sin, that it is “too late” for them. That there is no point in being pure because they’ve already given themselves away. That is a lie! When we repent and turn from our sins, the Lord is faithful to forgive and wash us white as snow.

As Corrie ten Boom said, “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Thank You, Jesus, for turning one of my biggest heartaches and regrets into one of my greatest passions, sharing Your truth and bringing glory to Your Name.

Photobucket
This post left me:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...