Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Memories

These are some memories from November 2009...

Here is only the sweetest little girl and one of the best ultrasound photos ever! This was on November 24, 2009, when I was 24 weeks 2 days pregnant. Lily was looking right at us, as if she was saying "Hi Mommy" (which as you can see, my doctor wrote that). All my ultrasound photos and video mean so much to me, especially since I didn't get to meet Lily alive. But live she did! Can you see her sweet face? :)

And here is Lily waving at her mommy! Look at those precious, tiny fingers!

Yesterday (November 29th) in 2009, I was 25 weeks pregnant with Lily and had a fun maternity photo shoot with my sister and cousin. I'm so thankful for the pictures we took that day and treasure those sweet memories. Here are some of my favorite photos taken on that day.

I love this silly photo

my absolute favorite maternity photo
what joy she brought/brings me!
with my sister, Emma (a.k.a. "Bub")
with my cousin, Anna

I shared these pictures on my blog when we first took them and wrote this (also mentioning the appointment where the ultrasound photos above were taken):

"As of Sunday, I am in my 25th week of pregnancy. My cousin Anna was down visiting from Virginia for the weekend so she, my sister, and I had a little photo shoot. It's so fun to see how much my belly has grown in such a short amount of time! I had an appointment with my Dr. last Tuesday and he said Lily is already 2 pounds and over a foot long! He checked her heart, brain, lungs, among other things and said she is very healthy! She's growing at the right speed and is quite active these days! As of now, Lily is definitely an early riser, waking me in the mornings with all sorts of squirming and kicking around. If this is any indication of what's to come, I better change my sleeping patterns now to get ready for this wild child! All my tests have come back healthy thus far as well. On December 21st, I'll be getting tested for gestational diabetes. Anyways, I'll give more of an update later about what's been going on in my pregnancy these last few weeks. It's quite an exciting time!!"

It's special knowing that these belly pictures are from almost the same day that Lily was waving at her mommy in the womb. That's how big she was!


Friday, November 28, 2014

The Most Tangible Keepsake

The most tangible keepsake I have of Lily is this little snippet of her hair. Besides her foot and handprints, this is the only thing that is actually *of her.* It is beyond precious to me. Her hair color matched mine exactly. I wonder what her hair would be like now. I imagine it short and curly like mine was when I was the age she'd be. These things I have remind me she was real and she was truly here, even if for a brief moment in time.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

No more bitter, only sweet

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so thankful for the little girl who made me a mother and for the sacred moments that were spent with her, moments that are now memories (and pictures) that I will cherish for life.

Days like today are, and I imagine always will be, bittersweet for me. My heart overflows with gratitude for all the Lord has blessed me with, including the sweetness brought by Lily's beautiful life. Yet, the bitterness of her absence and the empty spot at the table where she'd be sitting is also deeply felt.

Missing you, sweet girl, and longing for Heaven where there will be no more bitter, only sweet.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A band that reminds me of Lily

My favorite band, Copeland, released their last album 6 years ago before "breaking up." They announced this past spring they were reuniting to make a new album. I've been waiting months for this and it finally released this week. It is my favorite album of theirs so far!

I'm such a big fan that I saw them in concert on their Farewell Tour in March 2010 when I was 9 months pregnant! I got to meet them and got their autographs and pictures with them, which are now in my pregnancy scrapbook. So they remind me of Lily.

at the concert - 9 months pregnant!
with my mom and sister before leaving for the Copeland concert
with Copeland's lead singer/pianist, Aaron Marsh
with Copelands guitar players, Bryan and Stephen Laurenson
with Copeland's drummer, Jonathan Bucklew

The music and lyrics are just so beautiful and make me feel so much, mostly thinking about Lily.

You can listen to all the songs from the new album on a playlist on YouTube HERE.

These are two of my favorites from the album:


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lily on Our Girl's Trip

Two of my dear friends (Bonnie from Alaska and Dusty from Illinois) that I met in Colorado at Ellerslie in the fall of 2011 came to visit me for almost a week at the end of October. We had such a special time - they met more of my family, we spent some time in Raleigh where I live, we visited the beach in North Carolina, and the mountains of Virginia. So much fun and adventure was packed into the six days they were here! I loved being able to share some of the places and people that mean the most to me.

It meant so much to me to be able to share Lily's spot with my friends. Dusty said she never could have imagined when I shared my testimony with her (and a few other girls) at a Starbucks in Colorado that she'd one day be seeing Lily's spot and all the other places I talked about (I gave them an extensive, but quick tour of the area and significant places to me).

Lily's spot with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background

Of course, there were reminders of Lily throughout our trip. One night, we ate at a diner at Carolina Beach (that I had been to before with my brother, sister, and sister-in-law). As soon as I opened the menu, I saw "Lily's Grilled Cheese." I ordered that. The name itself made me want to order it, but it was what I wanted anyways on the menu. :)

The very day after eating "Lily's Grilled Cheese" at the diner, I saw "Lili's" sandwich on the menu at the restaurant in Southport, NC where we ate. I ordered that too.

I found this adorable snowman flag with an embroidered "L" at a quaint shop in Southport to hang at Lily's spot for the winter.

I wrote my sweet girl's name on the shore at sunset on our walk.

At Harris Teeter in Crozet, VA, Dusty spotted "Lily's Dark Chocolate." I am thankful for reminders of my sweet girl all over the place. And thankful too for friends who talk about her and notice things like this as well and who also appreciate and think it's special to see these reminders.

It was so special to share Lily's scrapbook, memorial garden, and memory chest as well!

I also got to take the girls to see the pregnancy center where I volunteer each week. It was extra special because Dusty works at a pregnancy center in Illinois (one of the banquets I spoke at last fall) and Bonnie is an abortion survivor. So we all have hearts for LIFE!

with my mom
with my friend Amanda who is one of the nurses at the center
And here are just a few more photos from our girl's trip, Virginia and North Carolina edition!


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

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 again.


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.

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