Unexpected Journey: the story of Jessa’s Early Arrival

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As is the Hazleton fashion, I am late again today.  It was brought to my attention late yesterday evening a few days ago that it was National Preemie Day?  Who knew?  It’s so fitting, since the next day was the date that our baby girl’s birth was scheduled to take place, just one week before her due date of November 25th.

But I guess she is one Hazleton who has broken the mold of being late.

Since we were all celebrating preemies this past week, I thought it seemed apropos to jump back into blogging cold turkey and share our NICU journey.


Remembering Rebecca

Here’s the very last photo of my pregnant belly, though we didn’t know at the time it was taken.  A few days after we honored Rebecca’s birthday, I started having contractions that just didn’t feel right. Rather than the usual braxton Hicks, these were progressively painful. After a few days of this happening off and on, I went in to our hospital on the morning of September 29 to be checked out and was sent home with an antibiotic for what the doctor on call assumed was a kidney infection.  I suspected it wasn’t and was concerned because I could feel the baby very low.  I was right at 32 weeks pregnant.

By supper time that evening, I had vomitted up the antibiotic and contractions came back more forceful and back to back.  I was in extreme pain and the Dr. on call still hadn’t called us back after we had called the answering service twice.  I had a feeling we just needed to get in the car and head to the hospital.

We would be very thankful to God that we did just that.

Jeffrey quickly got the kids and some essentials together and we headed out the door. By 11:30pm, the kids had been dropped off at our friends’ house for the night and we were en route to the hospital.

Back on the labor and delivery floor for the 2nd time that day, we explained to the nurse what had been going on.  After maybe half an hour of back to back contractions, she decided to admit me for the night and I was moved from triage to a birthing room.  For the next half hour she worked to get fluids started on an IV, got me to sign all the necessary paperwork “just in case” we had to have a cesarean, and started me on pain meds plus a medication to help stop the contractions.

After this was all finished, I began to feel the pain meds take effect and relaxed, ready to settle in for some rest.  The nurse walked out to get something and I shifted in the bed and immediately felt what I thought was my water breaking.

It wasn’t.  Instead, I was hemorrhaging.

I knew immediately that we would deliver the baby within the hour.

If we had stayed home any longer that evening, things could have gone very, very badly. We are so thankful to God for getting us to the hospital just in time.

The next 20 minutes or so was a blur of heightened activity.  Several nurses rushed about preparing me for emergency delivery.  The Dr. came in to explain that I was likely experiencing a placental abruption (the placenta becomes detached from the uterine wall). Thankfully I felt very much at peace.  The anesthesiologist came in and explained we would not have time to do a spinal tap and I would be put to sleep for the procedure.  Again, I felt immense peace.  Before I knew it, I was being wheeled into the OR, and Jeffrey was leaning down to kiss me.  I knew in that moment that it was a possibility I wouldn’t see him or the kids again.  Again, I felt peace, and for some reason I also knew that the baby was going to be fine.

Laying on my back on the table, I heard the anesthesiologist tell me he was going to give me some oxygen and put a mask over my nose and mouth.  I woke up briefly some time later in a panic but then was out again. I’m gonna pause here to say: that was NOT an experience I ever want to repeat.

Our baby was delivered safely.  Jessa Erin Mei was born about 2:30 am on September 30th, weighing 3 lb 14 oz, but neither Daddy nor Mommy were “present” to experience her rushed birth.  We don’t even know if she cried!

As soon as I began to wake up, I was aware of Jeffrey being with me, and was assured that everything was okay.

Hours later, I was awake enough to call the NICU and ask about my baby.  Of course I had family members there to tell me about her, but Jeffrey urged me to call them myself, knowing it would be a comfort to me. The nurse taking care of her offered to take a picture of her for me, since I wouldn’t be able to go to the NICU until the next day when I was able to get out of bed. A while later she came to my room and brought a picture of Jessa she had printed out for me on the NICU printer.  My baby looked perfect and beautiful and I thanked the nurse over and over.

And so our journey as NICU parents had begun.

The next day, as soon as I was allowed to get out of bed, Jeffrey wheeled me down to the Neonatal nursery and I was able to see and touch my baby girl for the first time.  She was in a closed bed and Jennifer, her nurse for the evening, lowered it so I could reach my hand in through the opening without having to stand up from my wheel chair.  She was so tiny and I wanted to hold her so badly.

Not even 24 hours old, she already had her breathing tube removed.

Not even 24 hours old, she already had her breathing tube removed.


Having our “Special Delivery” meal after returning from the NICU.

For the next few days I slept as much as I could, used the hospital breast pump, and took milk down to the NICU to see my girl for every feeding except the midnight and 3am feedings.  My recovery seemed to be going more smoothly than any of my previous c-sections.  This was simply an answer to prayer. She was doing so well too, and moving through milestones faster than we expected.




Five days after I had entered the hospital, it was time for me to go home (they had let me stay a few extra days to be near the NICU).  It was difficult to yet again be leaving the hospital without my sweet little bundle, just as I had a year ago when Rebecca was born, but this time I had hope that that day would come.

It was strange to be at home without our baby, but an amazing comfort to be able to call up to the NICU any time of the night to check on her.  Each time I called whoever was “her” nurse for the night would tell me how much milk she had eaten, how she was sleeping, pooping, or anything else I wanted to know.  In the mornings, while getting ready to leave the house, or while pumping, I would call and the nurse would tell me if she had gained any grams and how her bilirubin count was, and how her morning feeding had gone.

The morning after I had returned home, I went straight back up to the hospital and the noise of the all the monitors and alarms  inside the NICU was a comforting sound as I scrubbed in and put a hospital gown over my clothes.

For the next few weeks our church family stepped into action, providing meals for us, watching kids, and giving me rides to the hospital and back, since I wasn’t supposed to drive for two weeks after surgery.  Because of the sacrifice of amazing friends, I was able to be with Jessa every day for her 9am and noon feedings, and spend countless hours just holding her on my chest while she slept.   Our job was to feed her, love her, and watch her grow.  The NICU nurses were amazing. 



On Wednesday evenings, we would drop the kids off at church to stay with friends while Jeffrey and I went on a quick “date” up to the NICU together.  This was priceless.  And on weekends, we would go to the hospital as a family.  Jeffrey would always let me spend the most time with Jessa while he and the kids took walks exploring the hospital and chapel, or they would camp out down in the cafeteria playing games or doing puzzles.






The long days began to run together, and although we had so much to be grateful for, we were feeling the stress as well.  Every day I counted on Jessa gaining weight, which was her ticket out of the NICU.  So if a feeding didn’t go well, and she was too sleepy to nurse or finish a bottle, I worried she would lose weight.
And we were feeling the exhaustion of the daily NICU visits, and the kids being apart from me for half the day.  Most days, by the time we got back home, I was starving, it was time to pump store milk and then wash the pump parts for the next pumping… Many days Jeff would come home from work to find me passed out on the couch.  We were so thankful friends were brining us meals – we counted on that for survival.


Then the day came when Dr. T told me quite suddenly and nonchalantly that she thought we’d move Jessa to an open crib.  I must have looked shocked because she kind of laughed and put her arm around me and asked if I was ready for that.  I knew moving to an open-air crib meant there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.  We knew she might initially lose weight, but that usually it wouldn’t take long for babies to bust out of the NICU once they moved to open crib.

One of her nurses who often took care of her at night would encourage me during my late night calls to check on her – telling me over and over that Jessa had really turned a corner, and it wouldn’t be long now.


A few days after she moved to open crib, Dr. T found me in a waiting room outside the NICU, munching on an apple in between Jessa’s feedings.  She asked what I was doing and then paused for a few seconds before asking if I was ready to take my baby home!  We had thought it would be several more days, but because she had continued to gain some weight every day since moving to open crib, they were ready to do her hearing screen and carseat challenge, and send her home that day or the next!

An hour later, I was anxiously standing by watching her monitors while she sat in a carseat, testing wether her oxygen saturation levels would drop while she was buckled into her seat.  I held my breath for that hour and sighed with relief when she passed. Jeff took off early and we busily prepared everything for her to come home the next day.


And just like that, our journey as NICU parents was ending.  Twenty-two days after she was born, we were finally bringing our daughter home – rejoicing for the miracle, b/c it was still five weeks before her due date!


Finally being wheeled out with my pink bundle!

The kids were so happy to finally have their sister home, and I know it was an added sweetness to hold her, after having to give up Rebecca to the Lord just a year earlier.


He is smitten.



She has thrived since being home, and although we are experiencing many weary, sleepless nights taking care of our little reflux-y baby, she’s such a sweet blessing.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Here Comes Spring

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We spent most of last year in such a fog that I find myself feeling like I’m waking up to March with a bit of dejavu.  Wasn’t it just last spring?

I love the few wonderful spring days we’ve had recently.  Warming us up from cold, wet winter… giving us a gentle respite before the harsh, humid summer hits.

The first quarter of the year has about flown by, and it’s been sprinkled with the good gifts from the Giver of Good Gifts.

Family field trips…

Eating out in Houston - and FREE ice cream!

Eating out in Houston – and FREE ice cream!

To the Children’s Museum.

Jeff built this molecular structure he thought I would recognize: caffeine.

Jeff built this molecular structure he thought I would recognize: caffeine.

I finally got my hands on something I’ve wanted to try for a long time…

Just Fiddlin Around

Just Fiddlin Around

I’ve been playing around with a few simple recipes from a place we miss very much…

The two of us got away for a date night in Houston!

Me and my Floating-Head-Friend

Me and my Floating-Head-Friend

We had the blessing of hearing David Platt speak and commission some workers being sent off to the harvest fields…
Comissioning DateIt was epic.

God is kind.  So grateful for a gentle start to this year.


My ‘Normal’ Day

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I have thought so much about blogging.  And then never could bring myself to do it.  Since the bulk of my writing last year was about Rebecca’s short life, it was hard to make the transition into writing about ‘normal’ things here again.  Like that would mean we had forgotten.  Grief is a process.

But things have been pretty normal lately… or our version of it.

We normally wake up to some form of the same routine every day, which has us finishing school and some of our chores by lunch time.  But today I decided we needed something different.  We had been cooped up in the house for days on end, with dreary weather outside.  My kids were starting to climb the walls.  No, really.

Hey, Hey we're the monkeys

Hey, Hey we’re the monkeys


People say we monkey around

People say we monkey around

monkey3Since the weather hasn’t really cooperated with outdoor time, the kids have spent a lot of free time jumping on the mini-trampoline, climbing the doorways, creating things…

You're never too old for playdoh

You’re never too old for playdoh

"Hula-Girl" by Maggie Hazleton

“Hula-Girl” by Maggie Hazleton

Corn Husk Dolls

Corn Husk Dolls

Can I tell you how my heart leaped when one of my daughters came up with the idea of making corn-husk dolls when it was her night to stay up late?  Well braid our hair and call us Laura Ingalls…

Oh, and reading.  Lots and LOTS of reading.

So, yes, I really needed to get our crew out of the house.  So this morning I woke everyone with the announcement that we were going to Chick-fil-a for breakfast!  Olivia, who loves CFA, promptly began yelling no, stomped her feet, and threw herself to the floor.  Yeah, she’s almost three.

The others got their buddy-teams together and got ready in record time and we were out the door.  CFA was nearly empty – yay! We enjoyed our breakfast and after everyone was cleaned up I actually let them go in the play place! (I know, my BFFs are both picking their jaws up off the floor.)  They had the whole place to themselves and I enjoyed a cup of coffee while making a grocery list.

After they played a while, I yanked lovingly coaxed everyone out and we put on jackets.  We saw Mr. Mike, our friend who owns the local CFA and he gave hugs to all the kids and sent us off with a gallon of lemonade because he and Mrs. Becky are just the BEST! They are so generous.  I loaded everyone up and we mustered up our cheerful spirits and good attitudes (mine included) to go next door to Walmart.

If you’ve ever seen our crew in Walmart, you know we kind of take up the aisle and we move kind of slow.  Everyone was *mostly* behaving, and by the time the 4th person asked us “are they all your kids?”  I answered
“Yes!  You know, I’ve never been asked that before!”
“No, I’m just joking, you’re the 4th person today.”

He was a sweet man who took it with a grin.  The woman next to him, picking out carrots said, “well, more power to ya.  I tell you what, after two I figured out what causes that and I put a stop to it!”

I wanted to respond with “well too bad you said no to all your blessings.”

But I behaved.

Earlier, when the younger (than I), more fit (than I) Mom with one youngster in her buggy walked by and gawked as she said, “man, you have your hands full!” I looked down at my kids gathered around me (only slightly because they’re gaining on me!)  I looked at their faces all peering at me. They had just heard someone (for the thousandth time) say that they were a handful.  And I asked them, “Is that a good thing?  Yes it is; we are blessed.”

Then another woman who had walked by during the “hands-full” remark came back around the corner quietly after the younger mom had left, and said, “My mom had eight kids.  I love to see big families.”  I love when people make those kind of remarks.

By the end of our shopping trip, half of the kids were using every last breath to tell me they were dying of thirst!

We checked out, got to the parking lot, loaded up, and pulled into the gas station.  Now, I don’t really like pumping gas because admittedly I’m spoiled and have a husband who has mostly pumped all the gas since we’ve been married.  And also…

Let me take a moment to address all you people who stand there pumping your gas and think that the ground right by your feet is a decent place to spit: it’s not!  It’s gross and inconsiderate.

Okay, I’ll go back to behavin’ now.

We made it home before the rain started again, and all these hands-full of kids helped me carry in the groceries AND put them away.

And you know what?  Not one of those culprits who were *dying* of thirst stopped to get a sip of water before skipping off to do their own thing before lunch.  Hmph.  I’m onto them.

I promptly began heating up a very healthy lunch of frozen corn dogs, apple slices, and baby carrots, and sent one of the kids to grab a stack of paper plates from our bulk stash from Sam’s.  Because yes, we care about the environment, so we don’t buy styrofoam.  You’re all welcome.

Alas, my courrier informed me we are completely out of paper plates!  I really don’t know how we’re going to function around here before we make another run to Sam’s Club.  Thankfully, I also have a stash of random leftover holiday and birthday paper plates.  So everyone enjoyed their lunch on the beautiful fall-decorated plates I’d been hoarding saving.  They felt extra special.

After lunch and table duties were complete and the almost-three-year-old was put back in her naptime spot a total of 47 times while I was writing this blog post, she finally fell asleep.  Just in time for the FedEx guy to pound loudly on the door for me to sign for a package!  Oh well, maybe the power nap will get her through the evening.

But now it’s time to get ready to leave for Spanish!  I wonder how you say “normal” in Espanol?

Adios, Amigos!






Changing Seasons

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It’s our first real ‘winter’ day!  It was in the 30’s when Jeff left for work this morning, and our old house is hanging on to the chill in the air, signaling me to put away my indoor flip-flops and pull out my sueded loafers for scuffing around on the hard floors.  (I’ll keep my flip flops within reach, though, because this is southeast Texas.  We’re due for at least a handful more days in the mid-seventies before January hits.)  I’ve loved the few weeks we’ve had of Heavenly weather, and I even got a few projects done out in the beautiful sun (like finally doing something with our blank, white mailbox).


But I’m not made for cold.  Today has me pulling out fuzzy sweaters and making plans to spend my birthday money on a stash of my favorite coffee. (Mountain Mama Roasters – go ahead and google; they are awesome and I’m so proud to be an in-real-life friend.)


Seven weeks have passed since I last held Rebecca and it seems like six months.  It feels like it was a dream that didn’t really happen.  The last three nights I have had different versions of the same dream I’ve been having for weeks: that I am trying to nurse or bottle-feed a newborn baby.  Sometimes it’s a baby I’ve birthed, sometimes a baby that was just placed in my arms.  Most times a boy, last night it was a girl.  It’s always a good dream, one I miss when I am awake.

I am trying to joyfully accept this season, enjoying my two and a half year old as perhaps the last baby we will raise.  I trust God’s sovereignty, and although I’ve prayed He will allow me to nurse and raise another baby, that might not be His plan.  So getting to nurse babies in my dreams seems like a sweet little present from Him.

Last week was my 6-week appointment with my OBGYN.  I was prepared for it to be an emotional afternoon, as I anticipated being around radiant pregnant mamas, full of promise… or mamas toting around their newborns.  I brought a book to keep myself occupied while I waited. But I wasn’t prepared for the emotions I felt at realizing this may be the last time I sit in this waiting room for a visit related to pregnancy.  I never opened my book.  I decided to take it all in – if this was going to be the last time, I was going to experience it to it’s fullest, painful or not.  I stared for a while at the artwork on the walls, and watched mamas shift uncomfortably in their chairs, their hands resting on full bellies.  I took in the smell of the office, and the sounds of muffled conversations and feet shuffling and nurses calling patients to come to the back.  I smiled at the nurse while she took my blood pressure (and rejoiced that it was back to normal).  And after I’d received a full ‘bill of health’ from my doctor,  I  walked slowly to the checkout station and waited for the clerk to enter my information into the computer.

“Okay, do you need to come back, or all you all done?”  she asked, ready to schedule a future appointment for me if I needed one.

I paused for a second before answering, “I’m all done.”

She smiled.  “Then have a nice day.”

And just like that, it was over.  My final doctor’s appointment related to Rebecca was over.  I walked out of the office but wasn’t quite ready to walk onto the elevator that would whisk me down to the first floor and dump me out into reality again.

I didn’t want this chapter to be closed just yet.  I didn’t want Rebecca’s story to be done.  I walked over and sat down on some chairs by the window, away from the elevator doors and just took in the moment a little longer, looking out over the rooftop of the building next to us, and at the adjacent parking garage.

Too bad this poetic moment doesn’t have a better view.  I wiped a tear and took a deep breath.  I let the elevator escort me on to normal life again.

Normal life is in full swing at our house.  Our form of messy, chaotic normal.  We celebrated Jeff’s birthday last night with homemade sloppy joes straight from Pioneer Woman’s cookbook.  You know you’ve struck gold when you’re friend’s pre-teen boy is asking his mom to get the recipe from you.  Score.



My Love

We stayed up a little too late letting the kids (all 13 with our two families combined) watch a movie while the grownups did grownup things… like hoot and holler while playing several rounds of Dutch Blitz.

In two days we’ll celebrate Lena’s birthday.  And we’ll have our first nine-year-old in the house.  Nine.  That means in only a year and a half I’ll have three 10-year-olds in the house.  Maybe this is a good season to embrace after all.


Thanksgiving is coming, and we have so much for which to be thankful.  I just want these days to slow down enough for me to soak it in and scratch some of it on paper and spend the time properly thanking God for the blessings.

I’ve been asked to write out our story for a friend’s blog, and it’s one of my greatest desires to use Rebecca’s story, her life, to point to God and to open eyes to choose LIFE for their baby – no matter how specially and uniquely designed their baby may be.

So I think it’s time.  Time to sit down and pour it all out and then put my feeble scroll into the Shepherd’s strong hand.  He’ll know what to do.

So excuse me, please, while I pour another cup of “Costa Rica Tarrazu” from my thermos and crack my knuckles over the keyboard.




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I am thinking of Rebecca a lot today.  I carried my coffee cup upstairs this morning to make my bed and set the mug down on my desk and couldn’t help but look at her photo there.


Desk Photo


Papa and Nai Nai (my parents) made this and sent it to us not long after we received Rebecca’s diagnosis.

I find myself today just wanting another peek at all her little features.  Sweet long fingers and perfect feet… long legs, and the tiniest of lips…  Sugar and spice and everything nice.

For being only 12 3/4" long, she had the long legs and big feet.

For being only 12 3/4″ long, she had the long legs and big feet.

I am so.very.thankful for two sweet friends who dropped everything and brought their cameras and captured the brief moments of her life here on earth.  I will never be able to thank them enough for that treasure.

In thinking about her so much and missing her today I haven’t cried, but I don’t count that as necessarily a victory.  The crying can be as good as the not-crying.

It’s just a sweet day of remembering.

She was loved.  She is loved still.

Even If…

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I mentioned something in my last post – that I wouldn’t change any of this experience with Rebecca.  The time we had with her was the blink of an eye and it was joyful and bittersweet, and losing her was sorrowful.  And I wouldn’t change any of that.  I hadn’t really solidified that in my heart until I let the thought escape through my fingers on the keyboard.  But once it was there in front of me, in black and white, I knew it was true.


Do I still wish Rebecca was healthy and with us?  Of course.  My daughter’s earthly, broken body is laying in a simple box in the ground, and I would rather have her healthy and nursing in my arms – no mother would say otherwise.


Even on the way to visit Rebecca’s grave yesterday, Carson said, “Mama, if God wanted to He could still fix Baby Becca and make her all better and send her back down to us.”


And, he’s right.  Of course God can do anything.


But you and I – and even my 4-year-old son – know that He’s not going to do that.  Yes, Jesus called Lazarus from the grave days after he died.  Yes, he raised the dead, more than once.


But this was not His plan for us.  And I wouldn’t change that.


Because I don’t want to change His plan.


Once, the disciples came across a blind man and asked Jesus, “hey, who’s sin caused this man to be blind?  Was it him?  Or was it his parents?” (John 9)

The Lord’s answer?  Neither.  “But that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  This man was born blind because God planned it that way.  God wanted – God made this man be born blind – yes, God caused the suffering.  Because He had a good plan.

This man was born blind, not because of sin, but so God’s work could be seen!

We like the story because the man ends up with a great blessing – being touched by the hand of God and receiving his sight.

But sometimes we forget that Jesus didn’t say, “he was born blind so that he could receive the great blessing one day of being part of the story of the Son of God and receiving his sight by a miracle.”  Nope.  God’s purpose wasn’t about the blind man at all.  It was about God.

It was about us seeing the hand – the power – of God.  It wasn’t about the man’s eyes being opened as much as it was about the people’s eyes being opened to God.

That day in July, when we had received the news that our baby had developed no brain, and probably had trisomy 13, and would not live after birth… I was devastated at God’s plan.  It seemed like a terrible suffering I could not endure.  It felt like swallowing poison mixed with gravel.

All I wanted was my baby.

But I will never forget the moment I had, heaving sobs in the bathroom stall, trying to gain control so I could face the faces that would be staring at me in the waiting room of the Dr.’s office… that moment in the bathroom stall, when I was only able to mouth the prayer, “God, this is not what I want… but I will walk this road if you want me to.”

Don’t get the wrong impression.  Those were not the words of a righteous, Godly, submissive, strong Christian woman.  No.  Those words came from a broken, sin-scarred girl who’s been through the cold, rocky valley before with her Shepherd and has uttered, “whom have I but You, Lord?”  I was only able to whisper that prayer in earnest because I know He’s all I’ve got.  And He is good.

But that doesn’t mean I will always be on the receiving end of a miracle.

My heart was stirred a few days ago when we were reading through the masterpiece of C.S. Lewis:  The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

There’s this one exchange that is my favorite – maybe in the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

Susan, upon being told that Aslan is not a man, but the great lion – the most dangerous and noble of all the creatures-   is unsure how she feels about this news.

“Ooh,” said Susan.  “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe?  I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.  “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Aslan_narnia_by_tralala1984Photo Credit

I knew that day when I told God I’d walk this road, this valley path, that it wasn’t going to be a safe one.  I knew that the dream I had for myself would likely die.  And it has.  My daughter died.  Jesus did not rescue any of us from that end.

But even if it wasn’t what I wanted –  I have tasted a tiny bit of the sweet fellowship with Jesus, that I believe only comes through suffering.   And I trust that God’s plan for Rebecca’s life and death goes beyond our family and our hurting hearts – that it’s about Him and turning other’s hearts toward Him.

Even if He doesn’t answer our prayer like we wanted to, we still praise Him.  Because He’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.

On the Shore

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How we’re doing, and other un-important matters.


Here we are, one month after our daughter’s birth and death.  Sweet and miraculous and sorrowful.  I wouldn’t change any of that.

One month after the storm whipped us up and landed us on the shore.  And really, it’s kind of like I’ve been on an island, just wandering around these past four weeks.

Rather aimlessly, I must admit.

We’ve been through actual storms before, and the aftermath of all of that, where you pilfer through your soaked or molded belongings and save what you can, let go of the rest.  That time after the winds cease, when you look around and quickly figure out what – or rather who – is really important in life.

Stuff isn’t, really.



When your head stops whirling and you find your feet under you again but you’re not really sure where you’re walking to – or if you should walk any direction at all.  Or maybe we should just be still a while.  Just sit here and brush off the sand and salt.



So really, that’s what we’ve done.

A month has flown by and the sun is shining.  I’m still choosing joy.  Most days, anyway.

There were – and still are – times of deep sadness and loss.  The waves of grief that come over you quite suddenly, out of nowhere.  Walking through the store and looking up to see that I’m passing by the baby section – and then running my hand over the big box of newborn diapers, feeling the stinging sensation in my nose before the moisture hits my eyes – because I know I won’t be needing diapers.

Realizing that in a few months a very dear friend of mine will give birth to her sweet baby… and wanting with all my heart to hold her baby, while simultaneously wanting with all my heart to NOT hold her baby.  Because the last baby I held was my own one-and-a-half pound treasure.  And the moment I hold another baby, Rebecca will NOT be the last baby I held, and somehow in my mind that puts more distance between us.

Because when you’re wandering around aimlessly on an island, logic somehow gets fuzzy.

In the weeks that followed Rebecca’s funeral I was still waist deep in the physical healing process, recovering not only from surgery, but from the effects of toxemia.  I was working so hard on physical healing that emotional healing was kind of an afterthought.  But I would find myself over and over again standing in a room without a clue as to why I had entered that room… or walking across the kitchen only to forget what I was doing.  Or looking at the clock and being shocked that it was almost supper time – and then being grateful so many people had brought food because I hadn’t even once thought about dinner preparation that day.

I’ve sat down many times to write about this journey, really wanting to not forget so many details – how I felt the moment Rebecca was born… the look of sheer joy on my kids’ faces when they met her… the dozens of ways people loved on us in those first few weeks.  The small glimpses of the kindness of God.  But every time I’ve opened my journal or my laptop to write, I’ve found myself just staring out the window. Just being still.


Now four weeks have passed and I’m finding myself coming out of the fog a bit and fumbling around for my compass.  I’m not sure I’m ready to go anywhere, but I want to at least know where I’m heading.

And when it’s time to tell the story, I want to come out of the quiet.

Because telling about God’s goodness is worth leaving your own private island.


Happy Birthday Baby Girl

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It’s Monday night.  I can’t believe tomorrow is Tuesday, and marks one week ago that the brunt of the storm came upon us.  One day I will sit down and write out the whole birth story.  Maybe I’ll share it.  Maybe I’ll just keep it to ponder in my own heart.  Even now it seems like it was just a dream.  Being wheeled from my OB appointment straight over to the hospital.  That long, long walk. The sweet nurse pushing me in silence through corridor after corridor as the temperature steadily got colder in each each new section we entered.


Rebecca Faith Hosanna was born on Tuesday evening, September 23, 2014, and never made a sound, but stayed with us about an hour.  I was so sorry I couldn’t keep her safe in my womb any longer, as toxemia had set in and time was critical.



The past week has been a blur of activity in trying to get my health stable, planning our daughter’s funeral, and riding each wave of emotion, but God has been a steady rock and shelter in this storm and His peace has perfectly covered us, never once wavering.



This wasn’t what we wanted, of course. Even so, God is good and loving and kind.  And we praise Him.

**Thankyou to Simone Trahan, who took these photos to document our time with Rebecca, and to Becky Book who also took some beautiful photos of our girl – something we will always treasure.

Just a Cloudy Wednesday

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August 20, 2014

It’s 4:44 in the afternoon and I’m sipping coffee from my pretty new mug that was an anniversary gift from Jeffrey.  We just celebrated 11 years on Saturday.  So much can happen in 11 years.

I came upstairs to scratch out some thoughts on my laptop and sat on my bed to hear a crinkling noise.  My 4-year-old boy has left me a surprise under my pillow.  Drawings of buildings and super-heroes in action, leaping from high places.

Amazing.  I love him.  Lots of amazing things have happened in 11 years.  I choose joy.  Rebecca is kicking and I just commented to someone a few minutes ago that our girls’ bedroom is full, but I hope to get to squeeze Rebecca in there one day.  Knowing that only a miracle from The Giver will make this possible.

Some have remarked about how strong I am.  How inspirational.

But that’s just it.  In the amazing stories, it’s generally the weak and ordinary ones who get to play a lead role.  The ones who wouldn’t have chosen to be in this story at all. Would I have?  Just months ago, the thought of losing a child would cause my breath to stall, my knees to shake.  Lord, please don’t ever ask that of me.

But here I am.  I am not strong; He is.
I am not full of faith; He is faithful.

I am not an inspiration; He is altogether Lovely and Loving and inspiring and weaving something beautiful from the ashes.

Didn’t I just say that in an email to one of my best friends?  God’s story never ends in ashes.  I’ve had that written to me by at least three people on three separate occasions in the past week.  I guess it’s sinking in.



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Choose Joy


 “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man
who takes refuge in Him.”  Psalm 34:8

August 18, 2014

I haven’t sat down to write in a while.  The days are running together and flying by on the calendar.  And surprisingly, most of our days are filled with peace.  With joy.

It amazes me that I make it through each day feeling generally peaceful.  That we can accept a smiling “congratulations” from a check-out clerk at the store, while she beams at my belly, and I can genuinely be happy and say “thank you,” and mean it.  Because of that I know that we are utterly covered in prayer.

I have my moments of bittersweet when Carson kisses my belly and talks to baby Rebecca, or Liv peeks into the folded up pack and play and asks “baby Becca in dere?”

But I enjoy every movement and kick.  I smile when a smartly-aimed little foot or elbow is able to slightly ‘bump’ a book or coffee mug that is nestled up to my belly.

I am genuinely happy to be carrying this bright girl.  My heart aches to think of not getting to bring her home.  To wonder if we will get to meet her while she still has breath.  To know that my milk will come and she may never partake of it. But I am still happy to have her as long as she is loaned to us.  Be that years or moments, it will be miraculous.

When we first heard the news I was devastated.  The kids weren’t with us and I couldn’t even contain my crying, so I couldn’t see how I could possibly carry on a normal routine and meet the needs of my children day in and day out.  The first day is still a blur that God surely carried me through.

How does anyone go through this without the CREATOR carrying them through?

But it didn’t take long for me to realize, after crying out to God and spending a lot of time in Psalms – that I can choose joy.  I can wallow in pity and wonder why this is happening to us and think about how unfair it is that – without a miracle – we will leave the hospital without our baby.

Or I can look around me and realize how much God has blessed me.

I have beautiful, smart, healthy, funny kids.  They bring so much life and joy to our world.  And I have many friends who have lost babies and children.  Women all over the world go through this every single day.

I have a safe haven to call home, while many live on the street, or live in terror and threat to their lives because of their faith or their race or their caste.

I have a loving husband, grounded solidly in God’s Word.  And he loves us.  And he never complains.

I looked around.  and the more I began to thank God, and proclaim – to myself – His utter goodness, the more I wondered how I could possibly complain about this momentary suffering.

Sure, I can complain.  Or I can choose to see how good God is.

I can choose joy.

So in a moment of clarity and thankfulness early one quiet morning, I grabbed my notecards and my pretty sharpie and jotted out at least half a dozen little signs with a simple message:

Choose joy.

Because I knew I’d need reminding.  I would fall back into self-pity again and I would need to see that message to my soul again.  From the truck dash.  From the kitchen counter.  The coffee table.  The bathroom sink.  The night stand…

I would need to be reminded again and again to decide to really see His goodness all around me.

And in that, be anchored in the storm.