Fear Less continued....

I meant to mention this in yesterday's post, but I got ahead of myself. One thing I left with from yesterday's message was something the guest speaker said that really struck home with me.

It's something that I already knew....something that has been rolling around in my head for months.....but when he said it, it just hit me. He said (this is not verbatim) that when our fear stems from a tragic event, we should consider the purpose - how does God want us to use this event to impact the lives of others. Perhaps whatever the tragedy may be, God allowed it to happen because He knew someone else down the road would experience that same tragedy and they would need us to be a source of comfort, encouragement, and hope.

I let that marinate for a while after he said it, and I thought, you know.....God has already used our loss to form bonds and friendships we would never have had otherwise. He has also used us and Ayden to spread His message of hope. Wow.... I am completely humbled by that. From a young age, I prayed for God to use me in some way. When we got married and began talking about kids, we would pray for our children....even before they were conceived....we would pray that more than anything, they would choose Christ and allow Him to use them as He saw fit. I remember sitting with Ayden many times telling him that God had big plans for him - that God was going to use him to change lives. I never knew it would be so true. So many people tell us how we've impacted them or inspired them.....and I never know how to respond. We didn't do anything. We aren't actively trying to inspire or impact anyone, but I guess God is, and if I can be a vessel, then that's what I'll be. Do I feel deserving of that at all? Nope. I'm no better than anyone else, and I most certainly have my flaws. But I do trust Him, and I know that His will is going to be done whether I like it or not, so I'd better just accept whatever He has in store for me.

Now, would I give all of that up to have Ayden back? In a second! I love the bonds we've made with people and the impact we've seen as a result, but more than any of that, I will always want my baby more. That's my selfish nature as a human and a parent grieving for her child. However, I can't change the circumstances, so I have one of two options - accept God's purpose in this and choose to let it work for His glory - or - shut down, dwell in sorrow, and never move past it. Some days, the choice is not as easy as it may seem, but I feel like we've done pretty well with option number one. We're trying to, at least....

Now for a bit of random info.

1. There are 10 days left in the school year. TEN DAYS until I'm no longer employed. That scares me just a little.

2. Collen is mover and a shaker these days, and he definitely has a routine down. Active in the mornings and especially after lunch, then very calm from about 5pm-11pm. Around 11:30, he wakes up and moves all around, and then I'll feel him off and on throughout the night. I think he's going to keep us very busy. He is different than Ayden in this way. Ayden was very laid back, even in the womb....never very busy. He was more of a wiggler. Collen is a kicker, and he lets out some pretty hard kicks from time to time. He'll move from position to position....in one moment he'll be head down, kicking my ribs....the next moment, he's flipped to his side and he's kicking me in my side! Busy, busy boy. Ironically, his heart rate is lower than Ayden's. I don't remember Ayden being below 150...maybe 145....(I'm sure he leveled out...) but Collen's heart rate continues to level out and stay on the lower end of the spectrum. He lives up to the old wives tales.....Ayden never did.

3. In July, I will be a part of the Tar River Writing Project. If you've ever heard of the National Writing Project, it's a local extension of that. To be completely honest, I'm not sure why I thought doing this would be a good idea right now. I mean, I will be 32 weeks pregnant when it starts, and it lasts through all of July. Plus, I'm not teaching next year, so I won't even be able to apply all of the writing strategies we discuss and explore. However, I am looking forward to having something that will keep me busy. I'm hoping to make some connections with other teachers, learn a lot of new things, and possibly have some staff development opportunities as a result. It'll probably fly by and before we know it, it'll be August, and we'll be that much closer to meeting Collen.

4. I was told I'd hear back on my glucose test today, but I didn't hear anything. I'm taking that as good news! Woo!


Fear Less

Our pastor has started a new sermon series entitled, "Fear Less." Last Sunday was the first installment. Tough doesn't begin to describe that sermon for me....

Let me, first, put it into perspective for you. Before the sermon was the baby dedication/parent commitment. 11 families were up on that stage. But all I could think was, "There should be twelve." We should have been up there, holding Ayden, experiencing that moment with him. Instead, we were sitting in the crowd....looking on....so longingly, wishing that could be us. I made it through the ceremony without crying, but that took some effort.

After that, the set of songs that we sang were all songs that are difficult for me. It's hard to worship when you feel beaten with every song. That's terrible isn't it? I mean, they're worship songs. I'm meant to worship my God - a God I completely believe in - I'm meant to sing those words from my heart. But when your heart is broken and those words suddenly take on a heavier weight and meaning, it can become too much. So, I did not make it through worship without crying. In fact, I don't know that I stopped crying throughout the rest of the service.

We had our break in between for communion and offering....still crying....

Then, Tim began the message. I don't remember the message word for word, but the main point of it was that in life we are faced with many fears and many circumstances that place these fears in our lives. He ran through certain scenarios like cancer, loss of job, divorce, and then he went to the one that struck a chord with me - being told, "We did everything we could for him. There's nothing more we can do. We can't save him." At that point, I was a mess....borderline sobbing. I looked around that room wondering how many people there have actually had to hear those words....to face that reality directly....to have those words spoken in reference to someone who was your whole world. I know many of us have lost loved ones, yes, but in this case I'm thinking of a parent, spouse, sibling, or child. If you narrow it down, not that many people in that room could say they know - first hand - the weight that those words carry and how haunting they can be.

Anyway, that sermon was mostly about the reasons we fear and the hope we have in Christ in defeating these fears. I wish I could elaborate more, but I spent most of that sermon clouded and just trying to stay in my seat. I remember that it was a great message, though, and I have been thinking about it all week.

Today was better. I think because I knew what the series was about, so I was little more prepared. Also, we had a guest speaker, and while he was great....he wasn't Tim....and I just love to hear Tim preach. He has a way of relaying the message on a level that speaks to me and what I need at that moment.

I always knew that God used the words "Do not fear" or "Do not be afraid" pretty often, but apparently, He uses them very often in His Word. Aside from "Love you neighbor as yourself," it is one of the top commands. So, why do we continue to fear? Fear is such a strong part of our nature. Why can't we let it go? Why do we worry and dwell on things outside of our control? If I knew the answers, my life would be a lot less complicated.

Before we lost Ayden, I was very good at living life without fear - or so I thought. I think I was so sure God wouldn't do that to us that I had convinced myself that I wasn't afraitd of the most tragic things that could happen. Truth is, I was afraid. I was terrified. But I pushed that away so much that it became this false sense of hope and confidence for me. I think my mindset was that if I said I trusted God enough....or said I wasn't afraid enough....then I would actually believe it and God would grant us grace and keep us from what we were most afraid of. It doesn't work that way, though.

Since losing Ayden, I have become crippled with fear at times. Soon after losing him, I remember being terrified of who I would lose next. Lately, I've had dreams of losing Jeremy either in death or by him leaving me. My number one fear is that every person I treasure and love is going to be taken from me. When I first learned I was pregnant, I was petrified. Normally, most women would be ecstatic, so happy yet a little scared. I was terrified. It has really challenged my faith and my strength. I can say that I have progressed. With every day that passes, trust is being restored. The real test will be when Collen is born. I know I can have a healthy pregnancy (although, I know that isn't promised at all), and I know we can have 4 months of wonderful, but what about after that? For the first year of Collen's life, it is going to be a struggle for me not to be fearful and worried 24/7. I often wonder if God even expects me to face this without fear! I'm only human, and I am so weak. He must understand how difficult all of this is and will be. However, I want so badly to just let it all go and live His command - to face it all without fear. It can be done, but it's so much easier said than done. We lived our lives according to His will, in prayer, trusting Him with our lives and Ayden's, and the worst still happened. It's hard not to be fearful after that. It would be different if we weren't believers....if we hadn't trusted Him to begin with. This takes us to a whole new level of faith and trust, and it's going to be a daily....moment by moment struggle.

Ultimately, we really don't have a reason to fear because what God has for us after this life is the ultimate goal. However, it's what happens between now and then - it's what we're faced with in the time being - that is difficult to face. We live such backward lives. Our focus is so skewed. The world tells us that our focus should be on wealth, health, and success. The world asks so much of us. If we focus on what's going on around us....what others have compared to us....our hardships compared to others' success....the imbalance of wealth....all of it - how are we not to worry? Yet, all God wants is for us to trust Him....not to worry and not to fear....just trust Him. We make it so hard.....

At this point, all I can say is that I'm working on it, but I know I have a long way to go. I pray that God will be patient with me and help me take the little steps I need to take in order to make it to where He wants me to be.



A blog-reader commented, recommending that I visit this blog. This one post left me so encouraged, so I thought I would share it with all of you...especially those of you who know how important it is to acknowledge the number of children you have when one is no longer here...


I am a mother of TWO - two beautiful boys. God has shown me so much through both of them, and I long for the day when we will all be together as a whole family.


Also, a big, HUGE, gigantic thank you to Amy from AZ! She knows why I'm thanking her. :) Thank you so very much. I was humbled when I realized who had sent them. Could you possibly email me your mailing address so I can send you a real thank you card? :) Thanks for thinking of us and of Collen.


AND...one more thing. Today, I visited the Accidental Artist once again to get some painting therapy in. I went with a friend of mine, and I thoroughly enjoyed some girl time. I did bubble paint for the first time. It was rather interesting. I had to channel my inner 5-year-old and blow bubbles in a cup until it overflowed onto the pottery. The process was a tad embarassing, but the outcome was pretty neat. I'll post pictures soon. I was pleased with my burst of creativity - it doesn't happen often. While we were there, THE question came up. Ugh... "How old is your 1st child?" Me: "Umm....well...." Lady: "Young?" Me: "Noooo....uummm...." Lady: continues on with her thought without even realizing what was going on. I have yet to answer that question with my intended answer. The person either just continues talking or the way the question is asked doesn't easily lead into the answer. I know it's coming, though.


Baby dedication tomorrow at church. I plan on going. While I don't know what my reaction will be, I want to be there to rejoice with our church family. It's uplifting to see families committing to raise their children in the ways of the Lord. And, while we won't get to actually participate tomorrow, we know that we have committed to raising our children as godly, faithful parents. We don't need a special service to feel validated - nor do the parents participating tomorrow. So, while we didn't make a public commitment, in front of friends and family, there is no doubting that that was our intent from the start. As mentioned in an earlier post, Ayden was with us at last year's dedication service, and we didn't get to participate, but I remember repeating after those parents that day.....so he was part of a service....and I love that I have that memory with him.

Lastly, this is my last full week with my students. I have such mixed emotions. I'm excited for them and all that the future holds for them. They are a great group of students (or kids, as I call them. They are "my kids.") I wouldn't have come back this semester if I hadn't known I would be teaching them. They made every day worth looking forward to, and they continue to be a source of comfort and encouragement. So, this week will be bittersweet. They will finish their senior projects on Thursday by giving their speeches in front of community judges. They're all so nervous, but I think they're going to do great! I'm so proud of them, and I'm honored to have been able to be a part of this part of their high school career. I hope I've been an impact in some small way. I've felt so limited this semester - like I could only give so much. Most days, I felt like I was running on fumes....just doing my best to make it through the day. I often apologized to them for not being able to give them the full "Mrs. Jones experience." They graciously understand, though. They have been so giving, kind, compassionate, and patient with me.....and for that, I am so appreciative. I'll miss them so much. However, they will remain with me forever. When I think back to this past year, I will always think of them and the strength they gave me each and every day. I hope they will remember me for more than the tragedy they've had to watch me endure, but I also hope that they've been able to gain something by seeing me through it all. They knew me before all of this, so I hope they'll hold on to the good and the bad and understand how both can shape a person in a tremendous way. So proud of you class of 2010!


Double digits

Saturday will mark 99 days.

99 days until Collen's expected arrival!

I've been impatiently awaiting the day I could post this blog! I know that my little ticker down to the right won't read 99 days until Monday, but it's a little off. I've been marking a new week every Saturday since one of our ultrasounds had Collen measuring a couple days ahead of what we first thought. So, Saturday - we reach double digits!

I never expected to make it this far. With each passing week, I become more and more used to the idea of accepting that Collen is coming - our second child will, God-willing, join us in about 3 months.

When we first found out I was pregnant, back in December, I remember setting milestones for myself - just make it to 8, 12, 16, 20 weeks. Once we reached 20 weeks, the next milestone was 24 weeks. I'll make it to 26 weeks on Saturday.

I still prepare myself daily for something bad to happen. I guess because I know, better than a lot of people, that I am not immune to tragedy. It's happened once, and it can happen again. As much as I long for children, I realize just how much we take on when we make the decision to become parents. Sure, when you decide you want kids and first find out your efforts have worked - a baby is on the way - your first thoughts are of this cute little baby with cute little clothes and sweet baby smells. Then, you begin to prepare yourself for when this little baby grows up, you discuss the schools he/she will go to, the accomplishments he/she will make. The list goes on and on. You have hopes and dreams for this little miracle. Most people don't consider the other alternative first off. You don't consider how you will handle the news of the loss of this child, having to plan a memorial service, paying for plots in a memorial park...financing those plots at 26 years old....and ultimately outliving that child.

When you become a parent, you have to accept that your life could take one path or the other....and there really isn't a whole lot you can do to prevent it. That's a huge responsibility. With Collen, I have done my best to remain hopeful, to even let myself consider my own hopes and dreams for him. However, I've also had to have the same talk with God that I had with Ayden. I know that God could choose to take Collen, too. I know that it is not my decision, and ultimately, His will will be done. Collen is as much His as Ayden is. Our job is to just guide and direct Collen for his life here on this earth....for as long as God deems necessary.

I'll stop there. I let my post get heavy again. Sorry...my mind has just been full lately, so I have to release everything here. I promise I'm not soooo serious all the time, but I guess it comes with the territory. It's part of the new me....

So....99 days...or less....until Collen joins us. I'm so excited to meet this little miracle. He has already been such a huge blessing to us. I look forward to the plans God has for his life...whatever they may be.

Keep growing little man.....we'll see you soon. :)


The question of practicality.....

Lately, with my ever-growing belly, announcement of the completion of our baby registry, planning baby showers for this summer, and my very public "coming to grips" posts on storage containers and such....I knew I'd face questions. Recently, the question of practicality came up.

Someone asked if it was entirely practical that we have decided not to use any of Ayden's things for Collen just because those things are Ayden's. Why wouldn't we want Collen to share a connection with is brother by wearing his clothes, playing with his toys, using his stroller and carseat. Lastly, that it is important that we remember the life that is here on earth, which is Collen.

First, I'd like to say: while the comment kind of stung, especially the last part because every day we remember Collen - and his brother - at the same time. I don't know about most of you, but grieving the loss of a child while pregnant with another is not an easy thing to do, nor is it natural. We find joy in Collen but sorrow in our loss - and his - he will feel a since of loss as he grows older, too. So, trying to balance all of that - not an easy task. Anyway, this question/comment is someone's opinion....and I in no way devalue another's opinions. However, the beautiful thing about opinions is - I don't have to fully agree.

So, while I completely understand where this person is coming from, I cannot say that I hold the same outlook.

Second, I'm not under the delusion that this person is the only person to ask this question. I'm sure many have wondered the same thing. The only difference is, you didn't say it "out loud."

So, if you've thought it, pondered it, wondered aloud with others.....

To answer the question simply........we just can't. But since I never do anything simply, I'll elaborate for you:

To address practicality, we are re-using the following:

1. Some shoes
2. Furniture
3. Some toys
4. Some bedding
5. Playmats
6. Bouncy seats/papisan chairs
7. Bottles
8. Other miscellaneous items

So, you see, we are going to re-use quite a bit of the items that were meant for Ayden. These things I can face. These I can watch Collen use and enjoy and be content knowing that he has a connection with his brother through these things. I had actually gotten myself to the point of being okay with using the clothing Ayden never wore; however, the seasons don't match up. I can't put my 6 month old in short sleeve onesies on a 32 degree winter day. So, common sense won out there, and I had to register for clothes that would fit the seasons Collen would wear them in.

Now to the other side. The things we can't bring ourselves to re-use:

1. Blankets Ayden used
2. Clothes Ayden wore
3. Shoes Ayden wore
4. Toys that were very special to Ayden - his favorites and ours - the ones we picked out just for him
5. Ayden's bathtub
6. The stroller and carseat

Why can't we use these things? It should be obvious. Each one holds such a strong connection to Ayden. If Ayden was still here, this wouldn't be such an issue. I'd be happy to watch Collen use his big brother's things and for Ayden to see his little brother enjoy his things. But, Ayden isn't here. And each time I see the things listed above, that's all I see - He isn't here to use those blankets, wear those clothes, use that bathtub, ride in that stroller. They were all bought, meant, and used for Ayden. And each time I look at them, my heart breaks all over again.

So, yes, it would be practical, but my question is - would anyone else put themselves through voluntary anguish for the sake of practicality? Maybe some people can, but I certainly can't. When I'm out in public and see another couple with the same stroller we used for Ayden, I still turn and walk the other way. When I see that same blue and green bathtub - all I see is Ayden.

How fair is that to Collen?

Jeremy and I agree very strongly that we want Collen to be his own person. Now, I realize that he could still be his own person wearing his brother's hand-me-downs. However, as I said earlier, this isn't the typical "big-brother-gets-older-and-outgrows-his-clothes-so-we-pass-them-down" situation. If we were to put Collen in one of our favorite of Ayden's outfits, how fair would that be to him? to us? Not fair at all. All we would see would be Ayden, and all we would have is the painful reminder that Collen's big brother isn't here. We're reminded of it enough every day.....this would just be added pain. And it isn't fair to Collen for his parents to be saddened by the sight of him in his brother's clothes for the sake of practicality. So, we see it as us definitely remembering/considering the life we have here in Collen - by not rehashing and reopening old wounds for the sake of him using things that belonged to his brother. We'd like to keep him out of therapy if possible....(was that bad timing for that little joke? My humor is sometimes off....)

I have another answer to this question, and it's a very simple answer to why I feel the need to preserve the things that were meant for Ayden:

Because it's all we have left of him. Ayden isn't coming back to us here on this earth. I'm not going to see that little face, those bright blue eyes, those long fingers and toes, or that sweet, sweet smile for a very long time. So, why do I feel the need to cling to every little thing that was his? It's all that's left. So, maybe I'm being selfish, maybe I'm being impractical, but to me, I'm preserving my 4 months with my baby boy by preserving the things that were solely his and meant to be his. And I think that's answer enough for anyone.

Only until you've been where we are can you understand just how difficult the sight of a kelly green, 3-month old romper, with a monkey on it is for us. Every piece of clothing, every toy, every blanket is linked to a memory of Ayden. A memory we don't want to lose. A memory we want to be just ours and his.

So, while it may not seem like the dictionary definition of practical to pack away these things and never use them again - for us as grieving parents who are just trying to move forward with our 2nd child....with the constant reminder of the child who is no longer here....this is completely practical to us.


I kindly ask that you please not comment with anything unkind to the person who sparked this post. Again, it was a question - and their opinion. My students will be the first to tell you that the one thing I welcome is differing opinions because it means we're all individuals with our own beliefs. That's how we learn from each other. And what works for one may not work for the other. That's just how it goes. I am not in any way upset with this person - not at all. So, if I'm not upset, you certainly shouldn't be. Thanks for the question and the boldness with which you asked. It's a legitimate question, and it allowed me to really think about the reasons behind our actions. We feel that we're making the best choice for us in this situation, and that's what matters most.


"An Ugly Pair of Shoes"

Of all the pairs of shoes I own....these by far are the most uncomfortable, but I have no choice but to wear them every day:

“An Ugly Pair of Shoes”

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them,
and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad
that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes
that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are
might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes
you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on,
you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one
who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them
so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes
I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.


Storage Containers

I was at Target the other day....just buying a few things, checking off the list. Lately, I've been grappling with the fact that we are going to have to pack up Ayden's things. Our house isn't that big, and in order to make space for Collen's things, we will have to pack away Ayden's.

I don't want to do this.

I stood in Target...looking over toward the storage/organization section....knowing what I had to do. I never in my life thought that buying storage containers would be such a difficult, dreaded task. I made my way over, took a deep breath, and decided on the first ones I saw. I didn't need to stand there any longer than I had to. My mind raced...thinking that all the people around me saw was a pregnant lady buying storage containers. They had no idea that this woman was buying containers that would hold the clothing and belongings of her baby boy who was no longer with her.....that the decision she was having to make in that moment was a very difficult one....that the things going into those containers would be cute baby clothing that had never been worn....will never be worn by the one intended to wear it.....that each piece she would place into the boxes would evoke tears, pain, and so much loss.

In that moment, I realized that what I used to know as ordinary, will never be ordinary again. I can't even buy storage containers without it provoking a painful moment. I can't walk past a family of 3 boys and a baby girl without thinking...."if we have another boy, we will be parents to three boys....but one will be missing." One will always be missing.....therefore, what many people consider ordinary and common tasks will be the opposite for us....forever. When we're 50 and our friends' kids are graduating college...getting married...talking about their kids and their accomplishments....the sting will still be there - 23 years from now.

In my head, I just kept hearing..."I don't want to do this."

I went home, feeling strong enough to start on it. However, once I put the boxes inside his room, I just couldn't. I couldn't even fathom taking things out of the closet and off of the shelves. His room is the only room that has been left untouched. We've gradually moved things around in the rest of the house, but not in his room. Changing his room is going to feel like we're removing him.... it's the last room that is fully him....completely as it was when he was here. I can look at it and become flooded with so many happy memories. I'm afraid to change it because then the memories will change....become muddled....faint. I know this isn't much different than when a child grows older and a new child is brought in....changes are made....things don't stay the same. But, obviously, this is different.

I just wish someone would buy this house and solve this problem for us. I wouldn't have a choice then.


Baby Registry

Several of you have asked about our baby registry for Collen and have suggested that I put a link on my blog. We've finally gotten our registries pretty complete, so here you go:

I am more than humbled that so many of you have expressed an interest in sending us gifts for Collen. I've tried to consolidate our registries onto one, but the website I used did not allow me to sync our Babies R'Us registry. However, we are registered at Target and Babies R'Us, and you can also use our online registry at MyRegistry.com. If you choose to go to the specific store sites, you can just search for Lindsay and Jeremy Jones - Greenville, NC on all three, and they should pop up.

This should also be helpful for family who live out of town/country and can't make it to the showers this summer. With MyRegistry.com, it just ships to our house. Pretty neat! What will they come up with next?

And if it appears that I registered for A LOT of cloth diapers.....I did. I can't decide between Thirsties and GDiapers, so I'm just going to decide which we like best once we use them. I love them both, so we'll see. We're new to cloth diapering, so we're just going with it... I'm so excited about it, though. :)

If you have any issues, just let me know.....


Collen, the comforter

Collen must have read my blog. When I woke up again this morning, at my usual time, he decided that this morning he would be awake....very awake...and do a little happy dance for his mommy. He gave up his morning nap for me.

Thank you my sweet Collen. My heart swelled with love for you in that moment, and I felt so comforted. I can't wait to see you and hold you in my arms. You already seem to have this connection with me, and I love that so much.

25 weeks on Saturday. 15 weeks or less (I'm hoping less) until Collen joins the Joneses.


The Blink of an Eye

I read this on another blog, and it just struck me.

“They say that time in Heaven is compared to the “blink of an eye” for us here on this earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of my son running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies. So happy and completely caught up in what he is doing, that by the time he turns around to see if I’m behind him…..I will be.”

I had heard the idea of Heaven and the blink of an eye so many times before this, but when I read it this way.....I just felt a small trickle of peace.

It's a beautiful truth.


Still so real...

I still wake up at night expecting to be holding him.

I woke up last night for my nightly potty break. It was 4:45....almost 5...almost mine and Ayden's snuggle time. I still wake up, every morning -every. single. morning. - around that time. That was the time that Ayden began to get restless and the only thing he needed or wanted at that moment...every single morning....was me. I would pick him up out of his "bed" (pack'n play) and put him on my chest. He'd fall right back to sleep, and I'd just lie there and breathe him in. It was the most precious part of my entire day. I looked forward to it every morning. I still do.

This morning, as I said, I woke up. As I got back into bed, I laid there and just felt so empty. I wanted so badly to be holding him, breathing him in. On our last morning together, I remember falling asleep while I was holding him. I wouldn't do that often because it scared me to fall asleep while he was on my chest. I was so afraid he'd roll off. When I woke up, I looked down to find him in the crook of my arm, head back, mouth wide open, sleeping so soundly. He was okay, but it still scared me because he had moved. I remember my thought was first one of worry - I immediately checked to see if he was breathing. Once I realized he was fine, I remember the relief, "He's okay. Whew....he's still here with me." Completely oblivious to the fact that he wouldn't be with us anymore in 4 short hours.

When I wake up in the mornings, I remember THAT morning....our last morning....and that little face...mouth wide open....and the brief terror that rushed through me, followed by the sweet relief that he was still with me. It paled in comparison to the terror I would feel only hours later. When I wake up in the mornings, that's when I have my "why sessions" - Why can't he just be here? Why can't I have that back? Why can't I have him back?

Collen seems to be opposite. He is always very still in the early mornings. So still, that I become terrified. I lie there poking my belly waiting for a little nudge. Most of the time, I get one, but it seems very reluctant.

I know what many of you are thinking. "But just think....you get to have that with Collen." Yes. You're right. I do. And I look forward to it....more than you can imagine. But I also, more than you can imagine, miss it so terribly with Ayden. Collen won't replace Ayden. Having him won't magically make it all better...easier. He will help numb the pain, but he won't cure it. Some days, I get so exhausted by the reality that this is my life. Forever. I will long for my baby boy forever. I have to live with only memories of him for the rest of my life. And that will never change. It's so daunting, and as I said....exhausting...at times.

I think that story of our last morning was the one story I hadn't told anyone about. It was my last one that I haven't shared. The last one from only my memory. That makes me sadder than you can imagine. I don't have new memories. I won't get new memories with Ayden. I can only relive four months of stories, moments, and memories. I only have 4 months of pictures and videos. That's it. 4 beautiful, wonderful, life-changing, precious months.

Sorry to be such a downer today....almost like I've regressed. But that's grief I guess. 2 steps forward, a million steps back. Today, I just miss Ayden. I miss him every day....so very much....today has just been tougher than usual.

Most days I can keep things in perspective:

He's gone, but not forever.
I have the assurance that I will be with again someday.
Our family will be whole again.

It's easy, on the grand scale, to keep that perspective. But when you break it down into smaller pieces.....it just gets hard. I realize that the loss I feel is for myself...not for him. I realize that I mourn for myself...not for him. I cry because my child died. Those last two words should never be placed together, yet that's my reality. I cry because I miss him, and I long for what was taken so abruptly from me. I cry because I hate that life will move forward and so many people will never know how truly wonderful he was...that this world is without his sweet spirit. I grieve because it hurts, and sometimes it's just hard to face yet another day knowing that I'm living without my precious child. Sometimes, it's just too hard.

No one ever asks for this to be their life. And I often wonder why God chose this for us. Some days, I get so sick of being told how strong I am. I don't want to be strong. I don't want to inspire anyone. And why on earth did I have to lose my child to touch someone's life? Why did my child have to die for him to touch someone's life? Yet, that is my reality. And I have to choose how I deal with it. So, I choose to step back and see how this has affected people....not just me. Of course, most of this is selfish - inward focused - looking at how this tragedy has affected me. How can it not be? However, when I step back and try to see the big picture (I say try because I don't believe the big picture has been revealed at all....it'll be years before I see it...if ever), I do see how many lives have been touched....by Ayden. What an accomplishment! I'll never touch as many lives as he has. Never. And he did it in 4 months. I'm so honored and blessed to be Ayden's mommy. I don't like it all that he had to be taken from us for people to be touched in this way, but I guess I can't do anything about that. But what I can do is choose how I handle all of this in a way that will honor Ayden and make him proud of me. And I can also choose hope, and I'm so very glad that I have that choice. Because without it, I know my perspective would be so different.


Revised Birthday Slideshow

Many of you have emailed pictures to us of your own celebrations for Ayden's birthday. Thank you so, so much for joining us in celebrating such a special day. I was so humbled to learn just how many people thought of us and of Ayden and went so far as to send up their own balloons along with ours. You didn't have to take the time out of your busy lives to do this, but the fact that you did is just so thoughtful and inspiring. I can't say thank you enough....

Below is an updated slideshow of pictures I have received from many of you. I've included them with our pictures, so once you get through the pictures you've already seen, you'll see the pictures from everyone else.

Thank you again.....so, so much.

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Thank you, Ayden....

For making me a MOM......

For showing me what it means to love without ceasing....

And for showing me how much you loved me each and every day....

I wish I was holding you today, gazing into those beautiful blue eyes, and seeing my heart right there in my arms. Because of you, I am the person I am today. Thank you for showing me what happiness, contentment, joy, and unconditional love are all about. I am forever changed....and absolutely for the better....because of you. I love you, sweet boy.


23 weeks, 6 days

I feel huge. Well, huge for almost 24 weeks. My midwife assures me I am measuring just as I should. I just tell myself that while I may look bigger this time around, it doesn't mean I'm actually BIG....it just means Collen needs a lot of wiggle room, so my body is compensating.

But, really, with Ayden I was much smaller at this point. They say you're bigger the 2nd time around (and 3rd, 4th, etc.), so I'm just telling myself I'm normal.

Collen is definitely getting stronger and bigger. Today, for the first time, I saw him moving around from the outside. I finally saw those little kicks! In those moments, the world just stops. I love it.

My sister told me that she thought I could be pregnant for the rest of my life. I do enjoy it that much. I told her I so could....I'm never happier or more calm than when I'm pregnant. It agrees with me. The hormones do kick in from time to time, though. Don't get me wrong. But, I do love being pregnant.

I have my glucose test on May 28th. I so hope I pass. I was borderline last time, so I'm hoping I avoid GD this time, too.

24 weeks on Saturday! Ready for the summer to fly by....


Oh, Mother's Day.....

.....that's what comes to mind each time I am reminded that Sunday is Mother's Day. And believe me, I'm reminded many times a day..... At this point, I'm pretty much dreading it.

The months of April - August are going to be difficult for us this year.

April - My birthday, Ayden's birthday, the days leading up to his birthday and memories of the anticipation of the birth of our first born child.....

May - Mother's Day, Ayden's "due date" (May 4th; yesterday), The baby dedication at church - May 23rd.

June - Father's Day, memories of our summer with him

July - Continued memories of our summer with him, milestones we remember reaching with him

August - Probably our happiest of memories of him - when his personality began to really shine through - first big smiles, first laughs, memories of our happy, healthy, sweet, beautiful boy. All of that to then have to face........The day we had to say goodbye.

August is also when we will meet Mr. Collen. So, we will endure a true roller coaster this summer, especially in August. Someone asked me today how I was feeling about having another boy; how I was dealing with it. It was the first time someone actually acknowledged and understood right away that another boy is going to be difficult. I told her that I really had to face it one day at a time. I told her how I've tried to process it all in my mind....looking at Collen and seeing Collen....not seeing Ayden. Dressing Collen, feeding Collen, bathing Collen.....and reminding myself, "this isn't Ayden. I can't have Ayden again." That may be a bizarre thought to many of you....but this pregnancy has been a whirlwind. I catch myself calling Collen, Ayden. And each time his name begins to come out of my mouth, I'm hit once again with the fact that he isn't coming back. I won't have my Ayden back. I'm so afraid of Collen growing up feeling like he was second best.....like we had him so our hearts wouldn't be crushed without his brother, feeling like he was just a substitute. It kills me to know that he will have those thoughts. And don't say he won't because he WILL. I know he will. As hard as we try to prevent it, he will deal with those ideas and insecurities. And we'll deal with our own side of it. We'll be thrilled and elated to meet Collen, to know our second child. Our hearts will be full of so much love and adoration for him. But our hearts will ache for Ayden in the same beat. We'll never look at Collen and not think of Ayden. It's all so hard to grasp. So, when my co-worker asked me that question, I struggled to articulate it all.....just as I've struggled to write all of this. It's hard to put into words.

Jeremy and I went Mother's Day card shopping tonight. It quickly became depressing, and ended with me frantically grabbing at cards so I could rush Jeremy out of the store before I had a meltdown. I was okay when looking for a card for my Mom. However, I knew I wanted to get my mom and Jeremy's mom, "Grandma" cards. But how do you shop for a card for your child who is no longer here? How am I supposed to do that without breaking down right there in the middle of Hallmark? "How is this even my life?" is what I kept repeating in my mind. So, I searched, and I found some that would work....but I kept looking at them all saying, "Why don't you have a card for ME...one that fits our situation? Does anyone ever consider how difficult this is for us who are without our children???" I guess that would be too depressing, but it would be nice if they would acknowledge it. All of it is just not fair.

I will forever cherish Mother's Day, 2009. Ayden was almost 2 weeks old, and it was his first Sunday at church. That day also happened to be our church's baby dedication Sunday (I'll get to that in a second). We didn't know about the dedication, or we would have been up on that stage, proudly showing everyone our little Ayden and vowing our dedication as godly parents. I remember that day so clearly - my first Mother's Day, and I will always have the memory of sharing it with Ayden. That is probably going to be one of the most precious memories I'll have for the rest of my life. I remember how proud I felt to be celebrated as Mom....so amazing. Being a mother is the most awesome gift God could have ever given me. As soon as Ayden was born and I saw this beautiful little baby, I knew I was meant to be a mother....his mother. And he made that clear, too, by showing me how much he loved and needed me every day. Babies can't do much....but I can tell you that they do show love, especially to their parents....even at a young age. I've seen it and felt it, and it's breathtaking.

So, as this Mother's Day approaches, we're faced with yet another holiday without him. Another milestone in our grief. Another page added to the book we never intended to write.

May 23rd is our church's baby dedication Sunday.....the one we would have included Ayden in. I can't begin to tell you how heartbreaking it is to know that on that Sunday, when all the parents are lined up on the stage holding their children, we won't be up there because Ayden isn't here. There will be a family missing from that group....a child missing. They will show the slideshow of pictures of happy, beautiful, smiling babies.....except one won't be there. I can't tell you how much I looked forward to this day when Ayden was born. We talked about it a lot, wondering when they next dedication day would be because we couldn't wait to be up there with Ayden. To proclaim our vow as believers and godly parents. Our first witness to our son. I realize that we didn't need a special service to make that proclamation. We had already dedicated ourselves as Christian parents, but it's the meaning and symbolism behind it that we wanted to be a part of. Last time, we didn't find out in time, so we had to wait. Now, we're still left waiting.....

I want to go that Sunday, and I feel like I'll be able to. It'll just be really hard.

Now that I've cried through my whole post, I'll leave you with a bit of positive news. I'm now 23 (almost 24) weeks along with Collen. He gets stronger by the day. I can tell because I'm feeling him more and every day, which is such a relief! He seems to be pretty active all the time. He has his quiet moments, but when he's awake, he's moving! I can't wait until he's just a little bit bigger. Those movements won't be questionable at all! Jeremy has finally felt him kick, but only once. His kicks still aren't strong enough to be felt from the outside all the time. I think the anterior placenta has a lot to do with that. His heart beat is steady in the 140s, and sleeping and getting comfortable are becoming more of a challenge for me. I was getting out of bed the other morning and found myself struggling like a turtle on its back. Jeremy thought I was just overexaggerating the whole thing, so he just watched and laughed. Yeah....it was funny for about a second until I realized I really couldn't get myself up. It's definitely noticable that I'm pregnant, which is nice, but I wish my belly was invisible to everyone but Jeremy and myself. I know the questions are coming.....the questions I dread answering.

Questions like:

"Is this your first?"

And after that:
"How old is your first?"


"You're having a boy? Oh, there's nothing like the relationship between a baby boy and his mom."


"Are you sure you're ready for kids?"
(ignorantly asked when annoyed parents are fed up with their kids who are running around screaming.....not knowing that I'd die to have Ayden here running around screaming....)

I've had to face "the question" twice and have been able to elude it, sort of. Both times it was asked by perfect strangers not at all in an atmosphere conducive to the answer I wanted to give.
So, I'm sure a post on the questions will come soon.

I hope everyone has a good Mother's Day. I will especially be thinking of my friends who are without their children this Mother's Day. Special prayers go up for you this weekend and every day.


I'm not above shameless begging....

Someone.....please....please....PLEASE....buy our house!!!!

It's really a cute house - SEE!! And here are some pictures.

Really, I don't understand why our house hasn't sold yet. It has been on the market since February. I know, that really isn't THAT long. But, seriously, more than one realtor said they thought it would sell in 90 days. Umm...we're getting close to that mark, and still no offers.

People have come to see it, but we get little feedback. One couple liked the price but wanted new construction. I guess I can't blame them, but our house has the updates that the new construction doesn't have. So, they could get a somewhat older home WITH the updates, in a good location, with one of the biggest backyards in the neighborhood, and still get it cheaper than a new model. I'm just sayin'......

In all seriousness, I need this house to sell. In 3.5 months, Collen will be joining us. I would love nothing more than the opportunity to have a fresh start with him in a new (to us) house. The nursery is still as we left it. I can't bring myself to start packing things up. It doesn't seem right at all. That's Ayden's room. Those are his things. How do I just put it all in boxes, put it in storage, out of my sight? I know that if our house doesn't sell before Collen's born, we're going to be forced to pack it all up and send it away for storage. That kills me. We don't have room to store it all, so we would have to send it to one of our parents' houses until our house actually does sell. I don't want to do that. I don't want his things away from me....out of sight and out of reach. I want to be able to store his things in our house, where I can get to them when I need them.

We have found a house we're in love with. It's perfect for our pets, for us, great storage, 2 car garage, out in the country, well cared for. Everything we want!!! But, we can't have it until our house goes. Do you know how frustrating that is??? The perfect house is out there....ready to be snatched up.....but one thing stands in your way. I live in constant anxiety that that house is going to be gone before we can get it. :( I know there are other houses. I know, in the grand scheme of things, this really isn't that big of a deal. Yes, under ordinary circumstances, it's no big deal. But for us....to be able to move forward....in the way that we want to....the way that we need to in order to feel some sort of normalcy returning to our lives....we need someone to buy this house so we can have a new start.

I'm trying to be patient. I pray every day for God to send someone who wants our cute little house. It really is cute....I'm not just saying that. I know someone will come along....and I hope I meet this "someone" really soon. They'll never know how much of a help they've been to us.....
God bless 'em.

If you know of anyone in the Greenville area looking for a house, send them to ours! 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, well kept, one of the biggest backyards in the neighborhood, laminate wood flooring, updated appliances, cabinets, hardware, etc. Very convenient to everything. About a mile from the hospital, convenient to hwy 264 and all area shopping centers as well as ECU.

Ok, I'm done advertising. Told you....I'm not above shameless.