Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet Brothers

Jackson has adjusted beautifully so far. We had the opportunity to visit Faith's place on her birthday, Septemeber 26. We released balloons, said prayers, and talked about our memories of the one blessed day we had with her. It was a great time to reflect with Jackson. He wanted to make sure we weren't "getting two babies in the dirt." We talked about praying for Austin and tried to reassure him as much as we could that we would get to bring him home. Such a hard thing to experience at age 4 (and 30 to be honest). I think Jackson's experience with Faith has made him and extra attentive big brother. Jackson wants to give Austin his paci, makes sure he is fed, and checks on his whereabouts when they are not in the same room. He is so so sweet to him. Jackson loves wearing matching clothes, wants to put on the same lotion after baths, and wants everything 'like brothers.'

He met Austin 3 days after he was born because Jackson had pneumonia. He was more than excited to see us and meet his brother. Such sweet moments!
Jackson's first time to hold Austin

Austin brought Jackson some 'Happy Big Brother' day gifts. Jackson loved them!

Holding hands

Austin's first night at home...they had to have on their matching pjs!

Our Miracle!!

I'm baaaack!!  I could not sit up to post much of anything these past few months because of strict bedrest. I was on bedrest for over 14 weeks-104 days! Every day was worth it. The miracle is that we made it to 36 weeks. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers, cards, calls, and support.  We lived on them and they kept my spirits up while I was in bed. We honestly could not have lasted  as long if it wasn't for our amazing families who kept us entertained, fed, and down! I am ever grateful for them putting their lives on hold to make sure this Little One grew to be strong. A special thanks to my mom who spent well over 75 days with us and is still hanging in there!  We honestly couldn't have lasted as long without the full team!

Here are some pics of our miracle baby. I am excited and honored to introduce Austin Thomas Bard to you. He was born October 3 (I can't believe he is already one week old! at 2:32 pm. He weighed in at a whopping 6 pounds 4 ounces and was 18.5 inches long. So far he is the happiest little guy and we are beyond smitten.

Daddy's duds for the OR

Just before heading in to the OR

The moment we met our Miracle!

He has Faith's hands...they are so sweet.

Absolutely smitten and completely in love!

I knew something was a little different last Sunday. I felt the need to clean things, but also began having some pressure pains. I had been contracting for 3 months and was nervous that I would not know when to go in to the hospital because I had been contracting every 3-10 minutes for such a long time. Talk about a long labor!  :)  Monday I was due to go to the doctor for a scheduled non-stress test. Mom and I had been going in every other day for monitoring because Austin's heartrate was non-reactive and the resistance of blood flow in his umbilical cord was too high.

As we woke Jackson up to to go school, he complained of his tummy hurting and seemed tired. We decided to keep him home with us. By the time we made it to my doctor's appointment, we knew something was going on with our Jackson. He was puny and not himself. He curled up on mom's shoulder and slept while I was monitored. Austin looked great and I had my usual contractions. I did mention to the nurse that I felt some pressure and, just to be sure, the doctor checked me. One beautiful part of our story is that my OB was on vacation, so our wonderful doctor that delivered Faith was on call! How great God is about weaving our lives into a lovely tapestry! Surprisingly I was 1.5 cm dilated, so we went straight to the hospital. After I saw the doctor we decided that Jackson needed to see his-he just wasn't feeling well and we thought he had a stomach virus or maybe strep throat. We made an appointment for him at 1:40 thinking that would be plenty of time before I went in for my c-section.

God gave me a little more time to myself in the triage room. Shawn hadn't arrived yet and mom had taken Jackson to the doctor. It was such a strange feeling to sit in labor by myself. I thought about Faith and Jackson, prayed for Austin, and treasured the last few moments of being pregnant. Shawn arrived about 12:45 and the nurse came to check on us at 1:25. She let us know then that we would be having Austin at 2:00. We had 35 minutes to get ready-goodness things moved fast.  All I could think of at that time was that Jackson would miss it. No one had made it to the hospital...it was just Shawn and I. Funny how God molds situations to be exactly what they need to be.

Austin was born at 2:32 and Shawn stayed with him from the moment he was born. He was even able to give him his first bath! I pulled out of the OR about 3:30 and saw Shawn's parents by the nursery window. I was so sick at that point that I couldn't turn to see Austin, but I realized Jackson wasn't there. Shawn's mom told me that Jackson had pneumonia as they wheeled me off to recovery. The next hour was truly excruciating. I was alone again. All I knew for sure was that my oldest baby was VERY sick and my youngest was hopefully doing alright for coming early...and I could do nothing to help either one of them. Talk about surrendering. They were all in the best hands, but I am their mommy and was with neither of them. Broke my heart. All I could do was pray. Then God sent me a familiar angel. Robin, our labor and delivery nurse from Faith, saw Shawn in the nursery. It was her day off from the hospital and she was teaching students. Her students were assigned to our delivery. She saw Shawn and then came to visit me in recovery. Oh how I cried when I saw her...afraid I might have squeezed her neck a little too hard. She knew us...she knew our girl...she knew our family...and she now knew our Austin. Thank God for angels!! Ms. Robin, you did it again-thank you, thank you!!

I was wheeled into our room about 5 or so Monday evening to a welcoming crowd of dear family and friends. I am so so thankful for everyone who came to meet our miracle baby. I found out that Jackson was doing ok

We spent the next few days enjoying visits from family and friends while we relished every moment with Austin. Yes, we are tired, but there is an overwhelming joy and peace being with him. We are relishing every moment, especially the quiet ones in the wee hours of the morning. I am so thankful for the time God has gifted us with him.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On our Knees...Again

Well, dear friends and prayer warriors, we have found reason for our knees to hit the Earth again. Our children have a special way of making their marks on our hearts and making sure they are truly loved and wanted before every taking a breath on this earth. Jackson brought us to our knees with the hole in his heart and by coming so early (at almost 34 weeks). Faith, of course, left her own mark on our hearts that will remain forever. Now this little guy is doing his due diligence to make sure he is just as special, loved, and wanted as his brother and sister.

First of all, praise God, this Little One appears to be healthy and growing so strong day by day. We have been blessed to have many ultrasounds and check-ups to make sure he is staying on target. It has been a bit of a rough ride with all the nausea and being on a zofran pump for 8 weeks to help me keep food down and gain some weight.  Oh how I miss food!! I have also been receiving lovely progesterone shots each week to hopefully help me carry this Little Guy to full term. Praise God for 26 weeks!!

I am asking for some prayers tonight. I have been wanting to update all of you on our progress for a while, but needed to make sure I took care of business first. We went in to our specialist, Dr. Adam, on June 23. At that appointment we found out that my cervix was shortening. It is supposed to measure 3.5-4.0, and mine was measuring 2.8. It was down from the previous 3.4 measurement 4 weeks prior. Dr. Adam was alarmed because it meant that our Little One was trying to come into this world WAY too early!  I was placed on restricted activity at that time. I didn't go too many places and tried to stay off my feet as much as possible. We returned to Dr. Adam 2 weeks later and found my cervix had shortened more to 2.7. Dr. Adam advised me not to leave the house and placed me on full bed rest. I was still able to be with Jackson, but tried to do even less.

On our last appointment with Dr.Adam, this week, my cervix measured a scary 2.2-definitely going the wrong direction! We are only 26 weeks along and need desperately to keep this precious Little One growing as long as possible. I am on meds to stop the contractions and haven't gotten out of bed in 3 days. I know the next step for us could be the hospital,so I am doing the best I can to stay horizontal. Oh how I pray to stay at home with my family!!

There are so many things I wanted to do during this time and it is hard to give them up. I wanted to shop and decorate the perfect nursery, take Jackson to every upcoming soccer practice and game, and join my friends at the beginning of the school year. I am beginning to accept that I cannot do much for the remainder of this pregnancy. I won't make every soccer game or practice. I won't be able to shop for the cute outfits and decor. I won't be able to return to work until after this Little One joins us. However, I know in my heart I am doing the right thing. Our job right now is to get this Little One here safely. Hopefully in the future this will seem like a small piece of time. Right now time seems to drag by-just praying to have a few more weeks for this Little One to finish developing. We are anxious to have this healthy little boy join our family!

Speaking of our amazing family, God keeps showing me what a blessing each person is to us! My sweet Jackson keeps me entertained with Batman boys and Spiderman games. Team Umizoomi is a favorite show for us. He is such a trooper and has taken such great care of me. As a mom, it feels so backwards...I should be providing for him and doting on him. This is not how I wanted to spend our last summer before his brother arrives! I am trying to keep my eyes on the big picture. God is growing this little precious boy of mine into an amazing man right before my eyes. I am amazed at the compassion, empathy, and care Jackson is able to show others. He is such a blessing! My sweet Shawn blesses me every day by taking on extra household duties. Jackson even says that Mommies don't cook, only Daddies cook! I am sure his future wife will thank me! Our families have put their lives on hold to help out as much as they can. We are truly blessed!

Thank you in advance for all of your prayers...I will keep you updated on our progress as often as I can (it takes a while to type laying down). I pray peace for each of you tonight...

On our knees is the best place for us to be!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tonight I am thankful for the darkness...

Jackson and I just returned home from my niece's dance recital.  She was absolutely gorgeous and I wish I had pictures to share with you. She is a graceful dancer and just seems to become more and more beautiful each time I watch her. She's developing into a wonderful young woman and it is a joy to watch!

That is actually not the reason I am writing tonight. I actually couldn't wait to spill all that I am feeling and there is no other place to put all of this, so please bear with me. I am just hoping God makes sense of this one....

I am thankful for the darkness tonight because, in the dark, no one could see me lose it. I went to her recital excited to watch her dance. I love seeing the dancers, their families, and all the flowers and balloons. It truly is a joyous occasion. I wasn't expecting this one. I sat down and the curtains rose to Chicago music and gorgeous high school company dancers. "All that Jazz" played and Jackson was enthralled with the beautiful costumes and lively music.

Then it all began...

The toddler girls walked out in their glittery pink tutus, feathery hats, and HUGE bows on their shoes. And I lost it. It zoomed me back to one year ago at Taylor's dance recital where I was elbowing Shawn telling him to get ready for all of this. I was prepping him for the videos, the glitz, and all the 'discussions' we would have on how much the costumes would cost. I knew with all my being that we were having a girl and I was so excited to experience the dance recital world as a mom bringing the make-up and the thousand bobby-pins. I would have stayed at the theater all day helping the girls get ready and would have an extra dab of glitter before heading out to the stage. I so vividly remember him smiling and rolling his eyes at me thinking I was crazy for wanting all the craze.

I watched as the precious little girls danced around the stage to their own beat and wondered if their parents appreciated them enough. Did these little girls' parents understand the blessing of recital day? Did they buy them flowers and tell them how proud they are of them? Did they give them an extra hug before they went on stage?

I finally brought myself back together about mid-way through the recital mainly because Jackson and his cousins made their way down to my lap. Oh how thankful I am for the reality of little boys. They each had their electronic device to keep them busy and entertained for the 2 hour show. One had an iPhone, one had a DS, and one had a Leapster. When they tired of one, they were happy to trade with their cousin. Everyone stopped to watch Taylor dance-you could see how proud they were of her!

Then it happened...

About 10 little toddler girls entered the stage with pink glittery costumes and wings. I saw the wings and teared up...had I only known what was coming next. Gut check! I can't tell you the name of the song or very many of the lyrics because I lost my breath and wanted to run away. Something about 'thank you for holding my hand and teaching me', 'you have given me wings to fly', 'there will never be goodbye because we are always together', and so on....Grief overcame me and I began to think about the 'nevers'.

I will never get to dress Faith in a glittery costume.
I will never get to watch her dance on stage.
I will never get to nudge Shawn when she does a beautiful leap.
I will never get to do so many things that I had dreamed of with her.

And just when I thought my heart could bear no more, a group of older dancers danced to 'Amazing Grace.' A wooden cross took center stage as a dozen dancers danced in praise to our Father.My heart broke into a thousand pieces because I know in that moment that Faith was dancing with Him who loves us most.

I will get to see Faith dance for her Father in a Heavenly costume.
I will get to see her dance on the grandest stage.
I will still nudge Shawn with pride as she praises Him with the most beautiful dance.
And I will get to spend forever with her praising the One who loves us the most.

My earthly self still hurts for her and aches to hold her and have these worldly experiences with her but, in the dark, I was reminded once again that it is not this world that will last forever. It is God's promise that I will see her and hold her again that keeps me going day to day...I just have to wait a bit longer. And she is worth waiting for.

I can't lie and say the tears have stopped, in fact they have been freely streaming down my face as I write. I do know that I held my sweet Jackson a little tighter and I rubbed my tummy a little sweeter today. I pray you can hold those that are dearest to you a little closer tonight.

And be thankful for the darkness-that is sometimes when you are reminded to look for the Light!

With much love,

PS...Thanks Aunt Sister for holding my hand through this one! I love you dearly!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Coming Back!

I am coming back to the real world, I think!  I can't wait to update you all on what has been happening with us. Truth is, I have been pretty wiped out the past few months, but I am ready to come out of my quiet place because there is so much to share with you!

For those of you whom I haven't seen or spoken to, or those of you halfway across the world, we are expecting our third blessing!  We are almost 20 weeks pregnant and due October 28, 2011. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to have another child and have been in constant prayer for this Little One's health. I am so happy to report that so far, so good. We did find out last week that we are having a little BOY, so Jackson will have a brother.

I am so sorry I haven't posted in so long-I have honestly been pretty sick with this one. I have been on different meds to help me gain weight and keep the food and liquids down, but so far there hasn't been a magical concoction. Things are getting better, though, and I am hoping to post more regularly...I'd love to catch you up with all of our family happenings and what God has been doing in our lives.  Plus, Jackson is growing up so fast that I can't wait to share more about our Big Boy!

With all the excitement, hopefulness, and love we are feeling, we still ache for our little girl. It is such a strange path...to have such gratefulness and love in your heart sitting alongside the sadness. Honestly, I think this is how our life will be from now on. Little girls are still hard to see and be around. Faith would be 9 months old now and surely decked out in bows on a daily basis. I often imagine the new things she would be learning now and how much fun it would have been to watch. There will never be enough children in our home to take Faith's place or fill the huge hole she has left in our hearts, but we will live on and we will love more than we ever imagined possible.

I am so happy to be back 'home' on here with you. Thank you for being my therapeutic friends, prayer partners, and life breathers.  We go back to the doctor in about 3 weeks (the longest stretch so far!) to see how this Little One is doing and we so appreciate your prayers.  I will be posting to keep you up to date and just share what God has done.

Talk with you all soon,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Blessing

It's hard to believe that it has been almost 6 months since our sweet Faith went to Heaven.  I am amazed some days that I still breath without her here. Every day I am reminded of how our Lord has blessed us beyond measure and I delight in walking so closely with Him. He is carrying us these days, still. We are waiting and trusting in Him.  I know His timing and His will are absolutely perfect and I continue to pray for peace and joy for you and yours.

I saw this posted on a friend's site and it has stuck with me these past days (and nights)!  I hope you are able to take a minute and pause to breath in a fresh Word. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."  So often during this past year I have been called to be still. Here is a new way of looking at the verse-take a word off of each line and a breath in between.  It goes like this...

Be still and know that I am God...
Be still and know that I AM...
Be still and know THAT...
Be still and KNOW...
Be still and...
Be still...

Each phrase contained such a new breath and light on the verse, it blessed me in so many ways. I have used it when I begin to worry or fear or stress. It has helped me focus on what is most important in this life and I hope it blesses you as well.

I continue to pray daily for you, sweet friends, as we continue along this journey. Love you dearly and I will check back in with you very soon. In the meantime, if this verse begins sticking with you, I would love to hear about it!

With much love!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Journal Entry-Letting Go

I hope this post finds all of you doing well. I wanted to share with you some of my journal thoughts. I had kept them private at first because I wasn't sure how they would come across...I wasn't sure I was ready to share.  I haven't kept much, if anything, from you, so I decided to share it all. Please consider yourself invited to the innermost part of my thought and prayer life (and now you have been at least forewarned!)!  :)

January, 2011

Giving up control is still difficult for me. I think sometimes that if I can just maintain a certain environment, things will go well and life will be uncomplicated. If I have learned anything by Faith, I have learned that this world is a much better place when I don't control things and let Him. (These words are even hard to confess, own, and write). The first few months after Faith was born, we were unable to think about trying again. Of course, this is often the first question from people. Doctors initially asked us to wait 3 months. Actually, when the doctor called in early December to tell us the autopsy reports were ready, she let us know it was time to start trying. We hadn't reached Faith's due date yet and it was already time to start thinking about hopping on the roller coaster???  NO WAY!  Neither Shawn or I were ready to get on to the up and down, twisting turning, stomach lurching ride we had just gotten off.

Christmas came...ohhh Christmas!  It is my absolute favorite time of year and this year was so special. Something happened during Christmas time.  I can't explain it, but something happened. A weight was lifted and I began to be part of the living again. I kept in contact with our doctors and each one recommended that we begin trying as soon as we were ready. I am almost 34 and, with our risk factors, they would like to see us pregnant again sooner than later. Shawn and I began having more conversations about the thought of going through this all over again.

So, four months after the loss of our daughter, we are giving up control once again. We have decided to let go and let God do what He needs to do with us. I have been blessed to meet moms and other families who have lost their children. Some are ready to try again the next day and some are never ready. I want to acknowledge here that each family is different. What these families have decided is right for them, and what we have decided through much prayer is that this is right for us. We are letting go and letting God decide our future.

We don't know what the future holds. I am honestly scared, no, petrified to think of all the possibilities. I feel helpless, out of control, and fearful of the uncertainty that lies ahead. I am also hopeful that we will be able to welcome a sweet little one into our family and watch him or her grow up with Jackson. I do know this...at this time, prayer is sustaining me and getting me through.  I could so easily cross to the dark side of fear and stay there. I am very mindful of my emotions and thoughts. I try to give fear its due time because it is an honest feeling. BUT, I spend the majority of my time repeating God's promises over and over and over again. I know that His word is true and I am clinging desperately to it.

My sweet friends, I do ask that you pray for us yet again as we embark on a new journey of trust. We don't know what our future holds, but we have at least decided that we are not in control and God's timing for our family is perfect. It is up to Him if and when He blesses us with another child. Until then, we are trusting Him and relying on His word.

May His word and Breath sustain each of you!  We love you dearly!