Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Long-lost pregnancy photos found

I am so excited that last week I found some photos that have been missing for literally years. As I have worked on my pregnancy scrapbook, I was waiting to find these photos to include in the pages, but as the months and then years passed and there was no trace of them, I thought they were lost indefinitely. I knew we had taken photos on this trip, but don't recall ever seeing them. You know how some things weirdly seem to disappear?

Anyways, I am organizing and going through all my belongings lately, trying to simplify my life. And I happened to find a disc of photos with the long-lost pregnancy photos on it!

The photos are from a football game my mom, big brothers, and I went to on September 13, 2009. The game was in Charlotte, NC (about 3 hours from where I live in Raleigh) between the Philadelphia Eagles (my brother Joseph's favorite team) and the Carolina Panthers (my brother Adam's former favorite team). We spent a couple days in the city, staying at a hotel.

I was exactly 14 weeks pregnant at the time. I had told my mom I was pregnant just 5 days before this. I had just moved back to NC the day before this for my pregnancy. In just 6 days, I would have my very first ultrasound. I remember feeling so sick in the hotel room, but not being able to tell my brothers why (I wasn't quite ready to tell everyone about Lily). Adam and Joseph were 25 at the time and I was 20. Now I am 25, my little sister is 20, and my brothers are 30... time flies!!

This is just one of the many adventures Lily went on during her time on Earth! And I am so thankful to finally find the pictures to add to my pregnancy scrapbook. The things I have from my pregnancy are so dear to me! My brother also recently sent me his ticket from the game that he has kept all these years, so I can add that to the scrapbook too.

It makes me smile to see these pictures and to know that little Lily was growing away!

my big brothers and I

my brothers and I watching the game

my brother Joseph and I... look at that city skyline!

my mom and I
me in front of the stadium
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

My American Girl

One of the highlighted memories from my childhood is playing with my American Girl dolls (for whatever reason, I called them "Girl American" dolls). I got my first AG doll, Addy Walker, the Christmas when I was 7-years-old in 1996. Throughout the years, I added to my collection of beloved dolls. Some of my fondest memories are playing dolls with my friends and creating our own accessories for them.

I can't find any photos of me with my American Girl dolls at the moment, but here are a couple pictures I did find of me with one of my dolls that I loved.

At my grandparent's house one Christmas

When I went to Illinois to speak at a pregnancy center banquet where my friend Dusty works last October, we made a girl's trip out of it, where several of our friends came into town. We spent one day in Chicago, which was my first time there! My cousin Daniel lives there and it was so fun visiting with him, introducing him to my friends, and him showing us many things around the city.

At one point, we were just walking around and exploring when I glanced over and saw the American Girl Place. I gasped excitedly and said, "I forgot the American Girl Place was in Chicago!" I was being completely serious and was completely thrilled. My friends and cousin thought my reaction was funny. Daniel even said he wished he had gotten my reaction on camera haha. He said, "Hannah's childhood dream come true, just 15 years late!" It was quite funny. :)

I did forget that it was in Chicago because I haven't played with my dolls in years, obviously. So it was a special surprise to see it. We took some time looking around the store and I got a little souvenir to take home, a doll t-shirt that says American Girl Place on it.

As I mentioned, Addy was the first doll I chose, so had to get a couple pictures with her section.

Daniel and I checking things out at the store
Everything was so tiny and cute

The reason I am sharing all this is because it is something that reminds me of Lily. Because of how much I loved my American Girl dolls, I have looked forward to passing them on to my daughters for many years. I have kept them all these years in hopes of one-day daughters playing with the very dolls their mother played with in her childhood. 

And of course, Lily was my first-born daughter. This might seem like something small, but it is yet another lost hope and dream of Lily's life. I will never see my baby girl play with the dolls that meant so much to me. I will never see her brush their hair, hold them, or dress them. I will never capture photos of her with them. It feels like a big gaping hole, something so important in the life of a little girl.

And I will never get to take her to the American Girl Place. I would have loved to take her for a tea party there, like little girls love to do. It would have been so special. But instead of taking her to Chicago to the American Girl Place, I was in Illinois to speak at a banquet about her brief but beautiful life... and I went to the American Girl Place without my little girl, a grown woman seemingly out of place in a doll store. Yet, with a piece of my past childhood forever in my heart and dashed hopes and dreams for the childhood my American girl will never experience.

To this day, they still send me their catalogues (do they not realize people grow up? lol). And I enjoy flipping through the pages and seeing all the new things they now offer. I can't help but wonder what Lily might have liked. Would she have wanted one of the look-alike dolls? What would her look-alike doll even look like? And I can't help but hope that one day my desire for raising daughters will be fulfilled and I will have the need for the catalogues.

This post left me:

Monday, November 10, 2014

That positive sign too soon turned to flowers for a stone

When I was in Charlottesville a couple weeks ago, my sister, friends, and I went to Kroger to get a few snacks.

This is the same Kroger I went to in the summer of 2009 to get the pregnancy tests that confirmed Lily was on her way. There's currently a lot of construction and changes going on, so it looks very different than how I remember it. I don't think I've even been there since that summer.

I picked out a lovely fresh bouquet of flowers to take to Lily's spot and just felt very sad at how everything turned out, how much I never could have dreamed things would go in the past 5+ years.

From the beginning of Lily's life, getting those pregnancy tests, and all the crazy emotions that came with that.... to the end of Lily's life, getting flowers for her headstone, and all the crazy emotions that come with that.

It reminded me of a post I wrote last November called "From pregnancy test to headstone."

It also made me think of a poem I wrote this June where the last part says, "That positive sign too soon turned to words etched in stone. It all started with those two lines in June."

Oh, the irony of getting one thing that marked the beginning of her life at the same store that I am now getting another thing that marks the end. That positive sign too soon turned to flowers for a stone.

But you know what the beautiful part in it all is?

The beautiful part is how God changed my heart in the time between that pregnancy test and those flowers... how at first I saw my unborn child as a burden. And how now I see her as a blessing and love her more than anyone in this world. And how I got her a beautiful stone and take her fresh flowers because I love her so much.

The sadness I feel in missing her is even a tribute to how God changes our hearts at the core, and a testimony to the sanctity of each irreplaceable, precious LIFE.

This post left me:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lily Allen and stillbirth

There are so many random things that remind me of Lily Katherine.

For instance, you may have heard of a singer named Lily Allen. I don't know her music and don't think I've ever even heard anything by her. But anyways, I find it interesting that she shares a name with my daughter, Lily Allen, and she also had a baby who was stillborn the same year Lily was, in 2010.

Not only that, but her name is Lily Rose Beatrice Allen. My girl's name, my middle name, and our last name! And she had a baby stillborn in 2010. Pretty crazy similarities there. I don't think it "means" anything, it's just interesting that things like this literally always come across my path.

My friend Naomi even noticed this and sent me an article a few months back saying she thought I would find her name and story interesting. In that article, Lily talks about how devastating losing her son was/is and how she knows it is something she will never "get over." If I'm not mistaken, his 4th birthday was on October 31st.

I don't know her, but I am glad she is bringing more awareness to stillbirth.

This post left me:

Lily remembered at Waihi Beach

My friend Chloe wrote Lily's name in the sand on a beach in New Zealand where she lives.

She wrote: "Remembered Lily at Waihi Beach today :)"

Another awesome name in the sand picture to add to my growing collection!

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Does my heart good

My friend Chloe (who drew Lily's beautiful portrait) wrote me the following on Facebook:

"M and I were walking round the lake near our house the other day and there were these big areas covered in lilies and lily pads. I couldn't help but think of your beautiful girl all the way round."

It sure does my mother heart good to know she is being thought of by others besides me.

This post left me:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Her soul is mingled with mine forever

My Little One, My Dear One, My Love 
By Edward Searl

My little one, my dear one, my love,
you will be with me forever:
in the thin sunlight and long shadows
of a clear winter's day;
in the dawn excitement of birds
sounding in early spring;
in the rustle of heavy-leafed trees
in a mid-summer's night;
in the rich aromas and bright colors
of a warm autumn day.
All that is excellent,
brushed by Life's
brightness and shadow,
will remind me of you,
My little one, my dear one, my love.
You will beat with my heart,
see through my eyes,
hear with my ears,
feel on my skin.
Because your soul is mingled with my soul, forever,
My little one, my dear one, my love.

This is one of my favorite poems. It beautifully captures how my heart is knit to Lily's forever... through the passing of the seasons and the years, she will always be a part of me. She will always live on this Earth as long as I'm alive.

This post left me:
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