Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Glory Baby

By Watermark:

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…
Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do
Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Time is Here

Just wanted to post an update letting you all know that Layla went to be with her Savior sometime within the last 24-48 hrs. We are currently at the hospital where I am being induced. Please pray for us all as we go through this, we feel very overwhelmed as we thought we had more time. God is still good though, and we know that she is being loved on by Jesus. Please pray for peace and strength. Thank you

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Helpful Quotes

"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?" 
-C.S. Lewis

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

These quotes have helped me a lot through this process. I really, really, REALLY like to understand and know things. If something has an explanation, I want to know it. So going through the many doctors appointments with no answer as to why Layla has this condition has been very hard. I have told God many times "if I just knew WHY You are allowing this, it would help." But would it? I still wouldn't like it, I still wouldn't want it. Pregnancy, whether it is with a healthy baby or with complications, is such a lesson in trusting God. You truly have no control over the situation. Trying to remember that as long as He is here, all will be well. All will be made right. Thank you Jesus for that. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Helpful Resources

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Drew and I were able to go to Houston to see family, and we had such a great time! Loved getting to just relax and enjoy time with family. Thinking about all that we have to be thankful for,  I have been thinking about how through this pregnancy Drew and I have been so blessed by the support and countless resources God has brought to our attention through family, friends, books, etc... I wanted to create a list of all that we have found in hopes that these resources might help someone else going through a similar situation. When we first found out about Layla's diagnosis we felt so scared, upset, and helpless. How do you even begin to cope with something like that? Dealing with all this is a daily struggle for us, but through various resources we have been encouraged, supported, and helped. Here are the sites, books, etc... that have guided us through this process and I pray that it will support and bless others as well:


*I Will Carry You, by Angie Smith
*A Gift of Time, by Amy Kuebelbeck and Deborah L. Davis
*Heaven is For Real, by Todd Burpo

*babycenter.com (They have a ton of online support groups; I joined the "Carrying Pregnancy Despite Poor or Fatal Prenatal Diagnosis" and cannot put into words the support I have found in talking with the women in my group who are going through situations very similar to mine.)

*http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/ (Amazing organization that specializes in remembrance photography-they will come to the hospital and take professional photos of your baby and you free of charge.)

*http://stringofpearlsonline.org/ (Organization that provides a number of services for families that lose their baby before, during, or shortly after birth. They provide community resources, help with birth and funeral planning, and will send you a beautiful keepsake kit free of charge.)

*http://perinatalhospice.org/Home_Page.html (A great page of resources, plus hospitals across the country that have perinatal hospice programs and will walk with families through the process of carrying and saying goodbye to their child. There is not a program in Oklahoma unfortunately, but there are many elsewhere.)

*http://www.threadsoflove.org/ (They provide blankets, clothing, and other handmade items for premature and sick babies, as well as those babies that are not expected to live long after birth. My mom got in touch with a wonderful lady in the organization who is making Layla a beautiful gown as a gift to us, I can't wait to see how lovely she will look.)

This is by no means an extensive list, just the resources God has shown us so far that have really blessed us. I am sure I will have to add to this list as we find more. All of these resources truly honor your child and make us feel so supported and loved. They are a reflection of God's loving care-that he is taking care of Layla and providing us with some tangible memories and keepsakes of our time with her. If you are going through this situation, I pray that you will find comfort through these resources. Know that you are not alone and there are many people who will walk with you through this if you would like. If you aren't going through this but know someone who is, please share these sites and books with them. It can be so overwhelming and you can really feel very alone at times, so giving them some tangible things to read/research that let them know that others have gone through it can be an enormous help.


Thursday, November 10, 2011


I have really wrestled with God over Layla, asking Him over and over "why??" and being angry with Him and wanting so badly to bring my baby home and get to do all those wonderful fun baby things. Something He showed me the other morning though is that I really have no right to demand He give me anything. I don't say that in a self-hatred, you shouldn't ask God for stuff kind of way, but in the truth of my smallness and God's greatness. Just to know Him is an amazing thing that I could never, ever earn. I think He wants us to ask Him to move, to bless, to be present, but to also remember how blessed we are to have HIM, and that He is 100% enough. Tough to remember, but the peace in that is overwhelming. Something else He reminded me of is what an honor it is to carry Layla right now, in this moment. We are just as much her parents if she lives 1 day or thousands. Praise God for His tender mercies and joys, that for today I get to enjoy feeling my daughter kick and move around, and I get the privilege of caring for her for whatever time God gives me to do so, because first and foremost she is His. Here is a song that has really spoken to me lately:

The Valley Song (Sing of Your Mercy) by Jars of Clay
You have led me to the sadnessI have carried this painon a back bruised, nearly brokenI'm crying out to You
I will sing of Your mercythat leads me through valleys of sorrowto rivers of joy
when death, like a gypsycomes to steal what I loveI will still look to the heavensI will still seek Your facebut I fear You aren't listeningbecause there are no wordsjust the stillnessand the hungerfor a faith that assures
I will sing of Your mercythat leads me through valleys of sorrowto rivers of joy
alleluia, alleluiaalleluia, alleluia
while we wait for rescuewith our eyes tightly shutface to the ground using our handsto cover the fatal cutthough the pain is an oceantossing us around, around, aroundYou have calmed greater watershigher mountains have come down
I will sing of Your mercythat leads me through valleys of sorrowto rivers of joyI will sing of Your mercythat leads me through valleys of sorrowto rivers of joyalleluia, alleluiaalleluia, alleluia

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not Ready

I should probably start off by saying this is going to be a heavy post. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to be completely honest with this journey, and that means sharing the hard stuff. Also, if there are any other people out there going through the same thing our prayer is that we can be a help to you by being real and authentic.

That being said, it is getting more difficult emotionally as we get closer to Layla's due date. My anxiety is rising as what once seemed so far away is approaching much too quickly. At the last ultrasound the tech turned on the 4D machine which I wasn't expecting. It was amazing the images we were given and I am so thankful for all the pictures we are getting, but when I saw her little face (which is shaped like Drew's :) ) I just about lost it. I don't want to give her up, plain and simple. I want to take her home and watch her grow. Drew and I were talking the other night and he made a good point, "most parents go to the hospital full of excitement, and we won't be feeling that way." I have read through my support groups that the delivery day is very peaceful, even though it is hard. I am praying that for us, that the day she is born will be a day of peace and joy for all of us. We feel so weak and unequiped to handle this, but then I am reminded that our Father has told us that "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 2 Corinthians 12:9. I am clinging to that truth, because He is the only way we are getting through this. He may still work a miracle for us, and we are praying He does, and if He doesn't we are praying for strength to accept His will and get through it. Jesus is the same, no matter what.

One last thought that a friend told me that just resonated with me: Layla is so loved already, by us, her family, friends, and countless others. What more can you hope for your child than to be loved? And at the end of all this, she gets to bask in not only our love, but the love of the One who created the heavens, and her.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our "Night Star"

We are having a girl! It makes it seem so much more real knowing this. We are so excited to be having a precious little girl and love talking about "her" instead of "baby" :) It is hard thinking about having to say goodbye to her, and my heart breaks when I think of all the special moments we are going to miss if she goes home to the Lord, but we are trying to treasure the moments we have with her now. When Drew and I were talking about baby names I really wanted to pick a name that had a special meaning-I love it when you hear a name and then learn the amazing meaning behind it. After a lot of searching, agreeing and disagreeing, we finally decided on Layla Esther. Layla means "night" and Esther means "star", and for us it just fit. Also, Layla is the name of the orphanage I was blessed to help with in Ethiopia, so that made her name that much more special.

Before we knew we were having a girl we had Layla Esther picked out, but the only people who knew were our family and a few friends.  Our dear friend Alison was already working on a quilt (gender neutral) for baby and sent me a picture of it to see what I thought (she lives in South Dakota and was going to mail it to us when she finished). At this point I had not mentioned the name to her. When I saw the picture, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing-it was covered in a dark blue fabric with stars! It was as if the Lord was saying "you are having a girl, and I haven't forgotten her-I love her and know every detail about her." Then a few weeks later when we found out that we were having a girl, I wasn't surprised. God had shown up through our friend and reminded us that He knows our Layla. It is so incredible to me how even when we don't necessarily feel God speaking to us sometimes, He can speak to others about us and use them to remind us of His presence. What an amazing Savior we have that cares enough to speak to us through the details of our lives-a quilt, a name, etc...

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name." -Psalm 147:3-4


Saturday, September 10, 2011

"even if He does not..."

On the 8th we had another appointment with Dr. Stanley. These appointments always stir mixed feelings from Drew and I-we love seeing baby grow, but it is also sad because we are reminded of baby's condition and our complete inability to do anything about it.

When we first started the ultrasound and we saw baby's profile it looked, for a few seconds, like his/her little head was perfect! Unfortunately we then saw what we have seen before, that the condition was the same. We always go in with hope, because we know that with a word the Lord could heal our child. So to be truthful it really sucks to see nothing changed. We also found out that baby does indeed have a heart abnormality. Dr. Stanley said that due to this, along with the encephalocele and acrania, we will probably have 1 day or less with our little one, though you never know. There were definitely some blessings in the appointment though-we found out the gender (will share after our reveal party with our family on the 18th), and got to see baby move around like crazy! He/she also had their hands behind their head, in a relaxing like pose, which is something that Drew does a lot when he sleeps (and something I never do). It was so sweet to see him/her acting like their daddy :)

With this post I really wanted to focus on something my friend Liz shared with me while we were talking about the latest ultrasound. We were talking about how it is hard sometimes when people say to Drew and I-"we are praying for complete healing for your baby". It is not that we don't appreciate that and believe me, we are praying for that as well, but all I can think of when people say that (and they don't say anything else) is "what if he/she isn't healed?" Liz reminded me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that is in Daniel 3. In Babylon at that time the king set up a golden statue and required that all the people bow down and worship the idol. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, because of their faith in God, refused to bow down and worship anything or anyone other than the Lord. This made the king very angry and he told them that if they did not worship his gods or bow down to the golden idol that he would have them thrown into a fiery furnace. I love how they responded to the king: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)

"even if He does not"....

When Liz reminded me of this story, I was so touched I started tearing up. I feel like this is what the Lord is teaching us through this-that He is still God and still deserving of all our trust, love and devotion. Those men knew and believed that God could save them, but they also acknowledged that even if He did not decide to rescue them from the furnace, that they were still going to trust and follow Him.

"even if He does not"...heal our child, can I trust Him? Can I cling to the truth that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him? (Romans 8:28) My hope and prayer is that I can-that I can walk this road in faith and say "my God is good, and in Him I will put my hope" no matter what happens.

We are so thankful for the prayers for healing, and we ask that they continue because we know that our God can do anything, but please also pray for this journey, because I think that may be what this is all about. I do not want this post to make anyone feel bad or guilty, I just want to share what has been on both mine and Drew's hearts through this process and share what the Lord is teaching us in hopes that it might help someone else going through a terrible situation.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

A day at a time

Many people have asked us how we are dealing with things since the diagnosis, and the main thing I always say is "we are taking it a day at a time". Each day is different-sometimes I feel pretty good and other days it is hard not to continuously cry. Thankfully Drew and I tend to switch off on our hard days, so when one of us is having a tough time, the other one can support and comfort them. It is amazing to me how God gives us those extra glimpses of His love on especially hard days-a text, a card, just someone checking on us-they all remind me that He is here and He is walking with us on this journey.

We saw the specialist again on Thursday the 25th-baby has grown quite a bit! They tried to see if they could determine if we were having a little girl or a little boy, but baby was being "modest" as I put it and crossing his/her legs ha! The heart rate was a strong 143, so we were happy about that. Unfortunately the abnormality on baby's head has grown, which the doctor says is part of having encephalocele and acrania (as baby grows so does everything else). That was disappointing to see, because even though we knew it wasn't likely that it would have shrunk, we still were hoping. After the ultrasound we were able to have time with Dr. Stanley to ask any/all questions. He was so patient with listening to and answering all our questions-I had many from researching online. One of my biggest questions was if the baby's head was operable-if there was any chance of fixing it. Online I read stories of baby's with encephelaceles that were able to have surgery after birth and survive. Dr. Stanley told us that in some cases that was true, but only when the encephaloceles were small. Our baby's is very large and severe, and since it is already that way so early in the pregnancy, and with the acrania (no top of the skull), it does not look like it is operable. He did say that they would keep looking and that you never know for sure until the baby is born. We are so thankful for our doctor-we know that if he sees any chance of saving our child, that he will tell us and try it. We feel a real peace about trusting him with our child because of his honesty and his hope-we know that the outcome for this will probably not be good, but we are blessed to have a doctor that is open to a miracle.

We also learned at the appointment that I will more than likely need a C-section to give the baby a better chance of surviving delivery. Dr. Stanley explained that babies with these conditions don't survive a typical labor a lot of the time, so to give the baby a less traumatic delivery and hopefully give us a bit more time, we are taking his advice and scheduling a C-section.

We left the appointment sad, but at the same time we feel a sense of peace. Does that sound strange? It does to me. The only explanation I have for that is Jesus. When I stop to think about this whole thing, I get overwhelmed. Yet through all that we have joy talking about baby and looking at the pictures in the ultrasound. What a gift the Lord has given us in this child, that even though we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me" -Psalm 23:4.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our story

I wanted to start blogging to share what my husband Drew and I are going through in our lives right now. We have been so blessed by the support. love, and prayers of family and friends, but to be honest it has been difficult and tiring emotionally to retell our story over and over, and making sure everyone is updated. We want to walk this journey with you all, and so I decided to start this blog.

To give a bit of history Drew and I have been married since January 2010. He truly is the most wonderful, godly man I know and it has been so much fun being married to him. We always knew we wanted to have kids, and surprised many when we said we would love to have 6! Having a house full of love, laughter, and little ones has been one of our dreams and something we felt like the Lord had placed on our hearts. In late April 2011, we were shocked and excited to find out that I was 5 weeks pregnant! We had always talked about having kids after 2 years of marriage, so we were a little overwhelmed by the news, but still so happy. We immediately started talking about names and how we wanted to share our joy with our families. Three days later I started having some spotting and basically freaked out. I went to bed that night praying for God to take care of our sweet child. The next morning on May 2nd I miscarried. We were devastated. We spent a lot of time crying and praying and trying to make sense of it all, but anyone that has lost a baby (at any stage of pregnancy) will tell you that you can't. I spent a lot of time going on walks, crying and talking to God about all of this. His comfort and presence is the only thing that carried us both through that time. I never got my "whys" answered, but what I did receive was much better: HIM. Both Drew and I grew in our relationship not only with each other, but with Jesus. He taught us more about clinging to Him and trusting Him with EVERY part of our lives.

After that we thought it would be best to wait awhile before trying to get pregnant again. Little did we know that God had other plans. The beginning of June I started to feel those same little symptoms again and took a test "just to see". Sure enough I was pregnant again! This time we had more caution with our excitement. We were definitely still so happy, but it was hard not to worry that we might lose this baby too. Lots of prayers asking God to help us trust Him were lifted up those first few weeks especially. Each week though I would have more symptoms (which I read were great signs of a healthy pregnancy) and absolutely no spotting. We gradually let our worries fade as we shared the news with family and friends and started joyfully anticipating our little one. I had my first ultrasound at 8.5 weeks and started crying when I heard that sweet, strong heartbeat. Everything looked great! We were so happy and relieved.

Drew and I had committed to helping lead a mission trip to Ecuador in July, but due to the pregnancy and my intense symptoms (lots of nausea) we decided it would be best if he went and I stayed home. During the time he was gone a friend told me about the free ultrasounds that Hope Pregnancy Center was doing to give their volunteers training on their new equipment. If you have not heard of Hope, you should check out this wonderful ministry, http://thinkimpregnant.org/. I thought "another chance to see my baby, sign me up!" so I scheduled an ultrasound for August 2nd. My mom met me there and we ooh'ed and ahh'ed over the pictures-baby had grown so much! I couldn't wait to show Drew the pictures when he got home on August 18th. Two days later, I received a call from one of the nurses at Hope. She told me that the radiologist looked at my pictures and could not see the baby's head clearly, and recommended that I get another ultrasound from my doctor. She told me repeatedly that she did not think there was anything wrong, that the pictures were blurry and that was more than likely the cause of him wanting me to get one from my doctor. Those of you who know me know that I am a worrier by nature and so even though my head was saying that it was probably nothing, my heart was in a panic that something could be wrong. My doctor was not able to get me in until the following week, but thankfully my mom called my aunt, who is a radiologist at Baptist Hospital in OKC, and got me an appointment there with her the next morning.

My mom and I went to the appointment that morning, anxious but thinking that we were going to see baby healthy as can be. They did the ultrasound and my aunt told me that something was indeed wrong with my sweet baby's head and heart. She said that the baby had some kind of disorder where their brain was coming out of the top of their skull, and that there was something wrong with his/her heart as well. She told us that she was surprised I hadn't miscarried yet, and that I had a good chance of losing the baby at any time. If I did not lose the baby and carried to term, our baby would be "incompatible with life" and would not survive outside of me. She immediately scheduled an appointment for me the next week with a specialist at Mercy Hospital. I knew it saddened her to tell us this news, but I am SO thankful that she was able to see me and tell us what was going on, even if it was hard to hear. To say I was in shock would be an understatement. My mom and I just kept crying, I couldn't make sense of any of it. I kept thinking "how am I going to tell Drew?" My heart was broken. The next few days were a blur-calling Drew and getting him home (the ultrasound was on Friday and he was able to fly back from Ecuador on Sunday), talking with family and friends, and trying to process the news. Through this I cannot stress enough the huge blessing our family and friends were (and continue to be) in supporting us-to making me eat when I did not want to, to praying over us, crying with us, and just being with us. We have talked several times about how we don't know how we would get through this without the support and love we have received.

On Thursday August 11th we had our appointment with Dr. Stanley at Mercy Hospital. He confirmed what my aunt had thought, our sweet child was, in medical terms, "incompatible with life." We found out that he/she probably have either acrania or encephalocele-it is a rare disorder/neural tube defect in which the bones of the skull do not close completely, creating a gap through which cerebral spinal fluid, brain tissue and the membrane that covers the brain to come out of the gap in the skull. The doctor thinks that there may also be an abnormality with the baby's heart, but as I was only 13 1/2 weeks at the appointment it is hard to determine (baby's heart rate that day was 154 so still good). This is something that according to our doctor does not get better. I have a 20% chance of miscarrying, but more than likely I will carry the baby to full term. The doctor said that I will have a normal pregnancy (no danger to me and no complications for me), and that if the baby survives labor that we will have maybe 1-3 days with baby before the Lord takes him/her home. We were given 2 choices-to terminate or to continue to carry. We know that God has a perfect plan for this child and that He numbers their days and has a purpose for them, so we are choosing to carry. We know it will be very difficult emotionally, but we are going to try to treasure each and every moment with our child and thank God for the joy and whatever time we have with him/her. We are still grieving but have such a peace about our decision-this baby is God's and we are going to trust Him to take care of him/her. Please keep praying for us-the next 6 months are not going to be easy, and we still hope and pray for a miracle, but our biggest prayer is that the Lord's will be done and that He be glorified no matter what happens.

I named this blog "Alabaster Jars" because of the story in John 12 of Mary anointing Jesus with a jar of expensive perfume. In the book I Will Carry You by Angie Smith (which I recommend every mother read), Angie talks a lot about this story and it just resonated with me. Here is a portion that spoke to my heart:

"So she was holding a bottle of perfume, which, according to scholars, would be worth approximately $30,000 in our economy. She shattered it, and as she wiped her hair along Jesus' feet, she had no idea what her role was in bringing God the Father glory. So how can we presume we do?
Every one of us is given alabaster jars in our lives. Moments that have been chosen from before there was time, where we will follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and glorify our Father with our offering.....Is it possible that we are chosen to undergo something when all the while the Lord knows that it will be given to Him in sweet surrender?"

So many times I have already asked "why? why this God? Two babies have to go home to you? I don't get it", and I am sure through this journey Drew and I will ask many more times. Something I am learning though, is that there is One who is walking this road with me. An answer I do have is this: He loves me, He loves us, He loves this baby, and He loves you. That NEVER changes. So I have to give this alabaster jar to the only One who can take my sorrow and turn it into something beautiful and use it for good.

"And regardless of whether or not your Lazarus walks out of the tomb, I pray that you continue to worship the Lord, keeping what He has given you until the moment you are called to give it away. And as the glass shatters all around you and you grow dizzy from the intoxicating smell of pure love, get as close to His feet as you can. And know this. It was always meant to fall from your hands. And He is glorified in the shattering."  -I Will Carry You 

We hope and pray you will take this journey with us and be brought closer to the Savior through it.