Knock Outs & Come Backs

I destroyed some rose bushes last week. And my hands, in the process.

We haven’t been the best with yard upkeep. We neglected our knock-outs into jungle-hood, and truth be told I still don’t know the names of all (any of) the other plants growing on our property, let alone how to care for them.  Therefore every time a neighbor drives by I assume they are shaking their head at the useless inhabitants of yellow Charleston.

What is happening with your day lilies, Frederick’s? (10 legit minutes googling “plant with yellow flowers” to remember they are called day lilies) And let’s be serious about that evergreen unibrow in front of the porch. Those were once 6 separate bushes! 

There are far more important things in life than impeccable landscape, I know. But it’s hard not to be self-conscious when your skill deficit is on display for all to see.

So for weeks Ron and I debated the best time/proper way to cut the rose bushes back. (Our very academic online research yielded different results.) Finally, one afternoon when Ron left for an IU game and Enzo was taking a late nap, I grabbed gloves and shears and started hacking like a mindless madwoman.

10 trash bags full of rose debris later. They could use some more shaping but whatever. I also did trim out the mini bushes a little. They are by no means the size they should be but they are no longer a unibrow. (Left side of photo) Which is good because clearly we already have a power brow, on the right.

The thorns broke through the thick barriers covering my hands, over and over again. More than once I contemplated torching the stupid things. Burning them to the ground and starting over in the Spring, with something decidedly less devilish. I didn’t. Primarily due to the immense likelihood I would bring the house down with them. But also because despite my frustration, I love roses. They’re pretty, they smell nice, and they make for good metaphors. 

Knockout roses bloom, die, and come back. Annually, + 2-3 times a season (for us anyway). While in bloom, they are so beautiful it’s easy to forgive their flaws. But if you aren’t looking at the whole picture, and you walk by during a dormant moment, you might wonder why on earth someone would plant vicious sticks in their yard.

Emphasis on the VICIOUS.

This journey to family has had more than it’s share of death and dormancy. (1 in 4 recognized pregnancies may end in miscarriage, but those odds aren’t evenly distributed. Many women I know have either had no miscarriages, or more than one.) And at times it has filled my mind with thorns. Loss may not be my fault, but the fact remains: two babies have lived and then died inside my body. Brevity of pregnancy doesn’t negate the impact of such an ugly, stabby truth. 

So sometimes when I look in the mirror, see pregnant women, or talk to God, fear, shame, and questioning break through the barrier divine trust has placed around my heart. Like spikes, breaking through my gloves.

In those moments I try to remember the bigger picture. 

Our Creator designed knock-out roses, and humans, to be resilient. We were not built to quit. So I continue forward, my splinter filled fingers holding tightly to the sparkly, hope-filled truth that this too, will pass. And when it does, when everything comes together, the beauty will be blinding.

I pray if you’re also in a season where you feel like you’re just standing around, all chopped down and ugly, you’ll join me in hope. Winter only lasts awhile, and it is always followed by Spring. <3

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Pay no mind to the diseased leaves.

Circa May 2016. A terrible quality picture, and not nearly as unruly as they were this year. But if you saw them in full bloom, in person, I guarantee you’d find them captivating. 

A Positive is Not a Promise

I knew I was ready for another baby when pregnancy announcements made me jealous.

I created a secret Pinterest board for Baby #2. Began dreaming of a name, mentally decorating a room.

Over the summer a faint second line and early hcg levels said I was pregnant. But those levels dropped and the line quickly faded, until they were gone.

Chemical pregnancy.
It felt like tripping up stairs in the dark.

My OB’s nurse practitioner referred to it as a miscarriage. Conception that failed very early. However I have friends who have been told that a CP is merely a FP. False positive.

I didn’t and I still don’t know what happened or what to believe.

Months later, two very solid lines on two different tests, followed by promising blood levels.  My progesterone was low again so I began taking supplements. Days turned to weeks and weeks became a month. As our ultrasound neared I was more and more excited. 3 more sleeps until we see our baby! 2 more sleeps until we hear the heartbeat! But 28 hours before my appointment, at 8 weeks and 2 days, I knew something was wrong.

I tried to have hope. Scoured the internet for message boards of women with my symptoms who went on to have healthy babies. There are many. And yet I knew I would not be one of them.

I prayed for a miracle but even as I did, I could almost feel my words bouncing back, hitting me in the face.

At the hospital, the ultrasound tech chose to take measurements before showing us the baby. Her quick glance at the start had shown her all she needed to see. Stillness. No flicker of a heartbeat. Finally she settled on the grainy, black and white image of a tiny human form, and confirmed our loss.

I nodded and thanked her for her time. But I did not cry.

In the room with the nurse practitioner, hearing the options in great, sympathetic detail, I asked questions and weighed my decision. But I did not cry.

I have moments, to be sure. Pity parties, where I wallow in the negativity. Blame myself for running too hard or drinking right up to the allotted amount of coffee. Blame my body and its low progesterone or seemingly hostile uterus. Blame God, Who must be punishing me for my sins.

But they are only moments. (Okay sometimes entire afternoons) Immature, absurd, ridiculous moments. I let myself feel them, then recognize them for the lies they are and let them go.

Tears do fall from my eyes, but this time….there are no distraught, grieving, gut-wrenching cries.

Not because this baby was any less loved.

Because

I know what is waiting on the other side.
This sadness will not last forever.

The morning of the ultrasound, my bible reading ended in Isaiah 66. That evening, I went back to find a line that had been repeating in my head all day:

Isaiah 66:12 For this is what the LORD says: I will extend peace to her like a river

I honestly do feel a current of peace running through me. It’s so strong, and would be inexplicable if I didn’t know better. 

Our Father is faithful. Abundantly, extravagantly, consistently so.
He was so patient with me, as I questioned Him in loss and pleaded for reassurance while carrying Enzo. No question went unanswered, no request was ignored.

And now? I spend my days hugging and kissing this marvelously handsome answered prayer. My sweet living proof of Romans 8:18 and 28. The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming, and We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I am very sad, but not devastatingly so. I know we will see our angel babies one day and God will redeem this hurt, in His time. Maybe with another healthy baby, maybe with continued peace and guidance to a new direction.

Meanwhile we choose to be grateful and joyful amid the pain, understanding His plan is far better than our own. He has proven He can be trusted. So trust we will.

 

 

*If you are finding out about this loss via the blog and not from a personal conversation, and you feel hurt by that, I’m sorry. It was a purposeful decision on my part. To instantly see or hear my sadness mirrored in the reaction of people who care about me, over and over…it’s not something I have felt like facing. I appreciate the concern and love so very much, but even though I’m doing better this time around it is still hard and exhausting to repeatedly answer the same questions or have to convince others I’m/we’re fine. I would rather convey as much information to as many people as I can, in one post than a hundred messages. I hope that makes sense and is not offensive.

 

I also wanted to share the story here because I believe the overall calm I’ve experienced is a God thing. Assuring me, He’s going to turn all of this into a good thing. There are a lot of people who need the peace and hope and joy only He can provide, especially now. At this time of year, in this stage of life, amid this state of the world. And in my opinion the most effective way to really reach hearts is to openly and honestly show them what God has done for mine. Thank you for caring enough to read this, I hope you’ll continue to follow along to see where our parenthood journey leads. <3 

Playroom Planning: Before

Now that Enzo is getting more mobile, we’re working on creating some designated play spaces for him in the house. Currently, he spends most of his time in the dining room. It’s the most convenient place we have, but he has outgrown it. Clearly.

It was ideal when he was contained to a jumper or an activity center but now that his toys are all up in my business 24/7 I want to find ways to contain it. The immediate solution is a rolling toy box (that will fit in a nearby walk-in closet) for main floor fun. I plan to dress it up with some decorative adhesives. 

The long term, permanent solution is to turn our screened in porch into an all-seasons room and make that a play room.That is a big project though, so in the meantime we are planning a play nook in the basement. 

 

It’s not a huge space, so I’ve been strategizing for months on what to include and how to organize it. I want it to be a space Enzo will love, of course, but I also want it to appeal to a range of ages so other kids can enjoy it when they come over. 

After talking with numerous caregivers of little people, we got a fairly clear idea of what some long-lasting toys might be. With those in mind, we’ve ordered 4 things so far. A slide, ball pit, tree, and bookshelf with a reading nook
(Photos obviously not mine, found on Google Images)



I am aware he will try to climb the tree. He tries to climb everything, so I’m pretty used to saying No and enduring the tantrum 5875030656 times a day.

I am super excited about these pieces, I can’t wait to see how Enzo reacts to the slide and ball pit. Once they get here and we see how they look, we’ll move to Phase 2 (final large pieces). We already have an awesome easel from my brother and his fiance. We are thinking about adding a small play kitchen and/or tool bench, along with a large acrylic mirror for babies, a felt board, and a magnetic board. Phase 3 will be decorations. <–Yes I promise, there will be color. It won’t all be gray, black and white. Although monochrome is trendy and I like it, there are no windows in this area of the basement so I plan to bring some bright and happy to it before it’s finished. 

If you have any suggestions on what to add in Phase 2, things your kids can’t get enough of, let me know! 

Enzo Alan: 12 Months

 

Age: 12 Months

Stats: Height 29.5 in (50%), Weight 22.8 lbs (42%), Head 46cm (45%)

Life Lately:

Not walking on his own, but basically running while pushing a walker. And chairs. And barstools. And anything else he can scrape across the hardwoods.

Working hard on eating more than puffs and veggie straws. The struggle of mealtime reached a boiling point a couple weeks ago and we have been working with my OT brother and his fiancé ever since, trying to steer behaviors (Enzo’s and mine) onto a more healthy, successful course. We’re improving, for the most part. Enzo has been skipping meals and that stresses me to no end but I’m trying very hard to let go and believe everyone when they say He’ll eat when he’s hungry.

Relatedly, when I ask him to point to certain foods, he almost always does so correctly. That was super impressive to me the first time he did it. I may or may not have scared him in shouty excitement.

Otherwise he has been in a wonderful mood lately (knock on wood.) Sleeping great at night, sleeping IN until 8 or 9, and repeating Daddy over and over all day long because Dad’s the cool parent and I’m the one that tries to make him eat nutritious foods he’s not interested in.

When he does say Mama it’s in a super creepy Walking Dead voice that makes me laugh….and maybe wonder if I should be sleeping with one eye open.

Other notables:

He likes to play with kitchen items (usually more than toys), clap, hug, point, and occasionally “dance” (bob up and down). It’s cute as all get out.

And last but not least, he has, on occasion, done all the moves to Itsy Bitsy Spider. For which I was prepared to give him ALL THE AWARDS. Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, his wash the spider out motion wins them all.


 

After Enzo’s birthday party, my brother asked: How are you feeling, now that he’s one? I didn’t know what to say really. I feel so many things at once.

I feel like God dropped the mic after He made my son.

I feel like I could not be happier, and that makes me uneasy.

I feel like if this is how fast life is going to go from now on…I am not pleased. I have no choice, I understand that. But just let it be known, world. I AM NOT PLEASED. It’s so hard to properly appreciate the magic of childhood when the days rush in and out, like a whisper on a breeze.

I feel like I want another baby, but I also really enjoy sleep. And fitting into my jeans.

Sometimes I see people bite their tongues, when I joke about jeans and sleep. No doubt wanting to chide me for my selfishness. It is a joke, for the record. I know now that the struggle of the first three months won’t last forever, and I can claw my way back to my fighting weight over time. Even so, that doesn’t mean the mere thought of doing it all again doesn’t make me cringe.

But the more pressing truth of the matter is a positive is not a promise.

Just because we had one beautiful, healthy boy, doesn’t garauntee us the same outcome again. We will try of course, but we don’t expect it to be all blissful sunshine and ignorant roses now that we have Enzo. Instead I imagine it to be like what a race car driver feels when he continues to race after surviving a catastrophic wreck. Even though he has gone on to compete again, every time he gets in that car…he remembers the potential price.

So yes. We hope to be pregnant again. Soon. In the meantime when you hear me joke about sleep and jeans just know that I really do enjoy those things. A lot. But underneath that jest, is a knot in my chest. Shaped like a question mark. Made up of fear.

A positive is not a promise. I know that well. Better than you may think. So try not to worry so much about my biological clock that you are tempted to turn my jokes into serious conversation. What will be will be, it’s in God’s hands. In the meantime, laugh with me. And tell me how good I look in my jeans. ;)