Thursday, January 18, 2018

When You Finally See and Hold Your Baby

According to my Facebook Memories, on this date in 2010, I shared that I was "getting more and more tired and uncomfortable with every week." I was 32 weeks gestation.

My friend Bex commented on that post and said, "when you finally hold Lily in your arms you will forget all the discomfort. :) <3"

I responded and told her I was sure I would and how excited I was. I told her I had an appointment that morning and that everything was going well.

Along the same lines, I remember my mom telling me while I was laboring through the night, hours before arriving at the hospital, that I should picture Lily's face through the contractions... the sweet face I'd imagined countless times before. She said that would help me get through the pain, focusing on the beauty to come after the pain of labor and birth.

And it did help. All the physical pain was suddenly erased when my daughter came into this world and I gasped with awe over her beauty and the perfection of every detail of her. 

In birthing her, I was able to do something tangible as her mommy, and that is a gift. The emotional pain of what I was facing for the rest of my life far outweighed the temporary physical pain.

When I finally saw and kissed her sweet face, it was all worth it... all the months of morning sickness, the aches and pains, and stretch marks, and the labor. 

When anticipating birth and holding her for the first time, I never could have imagined what that would entail or that her heart would have ceased. I never imagined those little eyes would never gaze back. 

When you're pregnant, you often hear things along the same lines of "it'll all be worth it when you go home with your precious new baby." But not all of us do. You don't envision as a mother with a healthy baby and pregnancy that the months of nurturing them in the womb and laboring for them to be birthed will result in a tiny coffin and leaving the hospital with less than you came.

Yet that was my reality and as painful as it was and is... Seeing her face was worth it. Holding her was worth it. Visiting a headstone all these years has been worth it. Choosing life is worth it. Loving her is worth it. 💗


Lily Remembered in Bridgewater

We got some snow here in Bridgewater, Virginia, so I of course had to write my girl's name. ❄️⛄️❤️⛄️❄️  #LilyKatTravelstheGlobe #LilyKatsNameintheSnow   


Her Prints

Oh, my dear, sweet girl...

Your prints make me lose my breath...

Utter beauty, boundless preciousness, and the reminder of how real you are and how very real it is that you aren't here. 💗  #printsonmyheart #foreverandaday


Lily Remembered in Egypt

Lily visited Cairo, Egypt recently with my friend, Emmakate! ❤️  #LilyKatTravelstheGlobe


Lily Remembered in Virginia

Lily-girl was remembered by my sweet friend, Shannon, with her name in the snow in Wilsons, Virginia! 💗 ❄️   #LilyKatTravelstheGlobe #LilyKatsNameintheSnow 


Lily Remembered in Alaska

Lily visited Ketchikan, Alaska Christmas week with Gina! ❄️ ⛄️ ❤️  #LilyKatTravelstheGlobe #LilyKatsNameintheSnow


Lily Remembered in Austria

My friend, Laura, thought of Lily on her recent travels to Vienna, Austria! ❤️  #LilyKatTravelstheGlobe


Christmas Greetings from South Africa

A special Christmas greeting for Lily Katherine from her South African friend, Lily-Grace. ❤️ 🎄 ❤️   #LilyKatTravelstheGlobe 



One of my loss mom friends, Janelle, made this pretty snowflake graphic in Lily's honor. ❤️ ❄️ ❤️


Christmas Graphic

The Still Aware organization made this Christmas graphic in Lily's honor. ❤️ 🎄 ❤️   


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

✨ 2017✨

(I'm just getting around to sharing my reflection post for last year).

As I've been reflecting over the past year and am anticipating the coming year, I'm amazed at all that can happen in just 12 months time. 2017 has been a doozy of a year, full of much difficulty and much growth too. Even when life sometimes feels like nothing is happening, when you take the time to look back and remember God's faithfulness, you actually see how much He is doing.

On April 14th (Good Friday), my grandmother "Bumma" unexpectedly passed away from an abdominal aortic aneurism. She was healthy and sharp in mind up until the day before her death. This unexpected goodbye left my entire family reeling. With the loss of Bumma, I lost my best friend and my last living grandparent.

Most of my family after Bumma's service in April

My mom and I were entrusted with the sacred task of capturing Bumma's life and legacy in her obituary... what an honor that was. 

Bumma was honored in The Hospice of the Piedmont newsletter.

Another loss experienced this year was my mom's best friend since Kindergarten, Ruby, who passed away on February 6th from cancer. We call this "Ruby's sunset," captured on the day of her burial service.

In January, I started a new job with the ministry in Raleigh where I had interned in the Fall of 2016. Then in June, I sadly had to quit this job that seemed so right for me because of circumstances outside of my control, circumstances that were painful and difficult to process.

It seemed God was bringing a guy into my life in the spring which was incredibly exciting, only for it to all unravel and leave me asking so many questions and feeling disappointed.

In the midst of so many hard things this year, I look back and see how God has been using those things to grow my character and to strengthen my heart and trust in Him and dependence upon Him. I am seeing with fresh eyes that He works all things together for good for those who love Him, as He promises to do (Romans 8:28).

There were also many positives from this year...

Lily's 7th birthday was on March 16th. My mom, brother Adam, and I spent her special day at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The Lord gave such beautiful healing gifts through her birthday season.

My mom, brother Adam, and I taking the ferry to Southport on Lily's birthday

Cookies we took to the nurses at Rex for Lily's birthday

Lily's legacy expanded this year, through different projects done in her honor and opportunities I had to share our story. For one thing, the hospital where she was born got a Cuddle Cot!

Names in the snow project in Lily's honor

Names in the sand project in honor of Lily on her birthday...
I also did a project on flower petals for Mother's Day.

I was honored to have been a finalist in the Author/Blogger International category at The Butterfly Awards.

I was touched by all the people who remembered Lily this year in many ways, from sending cards and gifts, to writing her name in the sand all over the world, to even simply just letting me know they were thinking of her.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Wave of Light

Cousins at the Remembrance Walk in October

In July, I spoke at a church in Virginia and got to meet my dear friend, Shannon, who I connected with through my blog. We shared memories and mementos of our beautiful daughters of Heaven.

In July, I also spoke at Camp Joshua North Carolina, which is something I look forward to each summer.

Then I spoke at an Angel of Hope Candlelight Christmas Service in December in Virginia.

In May, my darling niece, Harvest, turned 1! She has grown so much this year and is walking, talking, and getting into all sorts of mischief. ;) That girl absolutely has my heart.

My family :)

I loved taking Harvest's 1-year photos!

I started attending a new church and growth group in Raleigh, which I've loved and has helped me mature in my walk with Christ. I met many new friends there!

I also met other friends that I've grown to treasure, like Shannon (mentioned above) and Ashley.

I had some fun adventures this year... from visiting Lancaster County, Pennsylvania...

Catching up with Jennie, an Ellerslie friend in PA

 To visiting the beach with friends in the summer...

Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Wrightsville Beach, NC

To visiting Chicago in the spring for a friend's wedding and to visit my cousin, Daniel...

Wherever I go, there she is too

Yours truly in Chicago... at Navy Pier :)

Reuniting with old friends/roomies in Illinois

Friends getting married!

Chicago cousin time!

Daniel taking me around to do the tourist thing

To visiting Maryland and Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest in Virginia...

I played a mouse named Daisy in the play, Cinderella, in June! That was so much fun.

Cinderella cast!

The animals :)

Mice twins! #OopsieDaisy

Then I was in a Christmas choir as well, also through STP.

I even tried new things with my hair. ;)

Another highlight of the year was when my dear Aussie friend, Lissy, came to visit me in August, and I shared both North Carolina and Virginia with her. :)

Mini Ellerslie reunion!
Another mini Ellerslie reunion!

Taking friends to visit my girl's spot!

My Aussie friend visited Lily's spot!

God has used the painful things to bring beauty... He used Bumma's passing to bring my extended family closer together. He also used it to reconnect me with an old friend who I hadn't spoken to in probably a decade. He used the closed door at the ministry in Raleigh to open another door at a ministry in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area. He's been stirring within me a desire for change and for adventure and now I see he was preparing me for this new job and move. It's been faith-building to see His faithful guidance and how He is in all the details, from the biggest to the smallest. On January 1st, on the first day of the New Year, I moved to a new state for a new job and am so excited to see what God holds for me in 2018. I will share more about this later!

Here are a few other highlights from 2017...

My 28th birthday was on August 12th

My crazy cat lady costume for Halloween ;)

My cousin, Thomas, made Homecoming Court for the third consecutive year as a high-school junior! I was excited to be there for him.

His team also won the States cross-country meet in Virginia! My Uncle Lindy is the coach. :)

The Pregnancy Center Banquet

Rend Collective concert in Maryland! They are my favorite band! #thoseIrishaccentstho

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