Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hope Floats

This post was featured on the Hope Mommies blog on 8-20-13. To read the entire post, click on the link at the bottom of this excerpt.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a real sucker for a good chick-flick, especially one with a happy ending. I’ll watch them over and over again, memorizing each line and crying at all the same parts as if I’m watching it for the very first time. Kind of like six years ago when I lost my son, Cohen. I couldn’t stop my mind from replaying every scene of that horrid day over and over again, rehashing every single detail and crying at all the same parts as if I was living the nightmare anew. It was like a movie I could not shut off. A horror flick with no happy ending. My least favorite genre.

I’d like for you to think that I was immediately able to raise my hands and give glory to God after Cohen died. That I never for one moment doubted God’s goodness. That I never had a lapse of faith. But that would be leading you astray. See, I believe that a real relationship with God is not about saying pretty prayers and endlessly quoting scriptures. It’s about honesty, vulnerability, raw emotion, and open communication.

So, I told God exactly how I felt about losing Cohen. I questioned how He could allow this to happen. If I felt like yelling and screaming and kicking my feet like a child, I did it. I figured, He’s God… He can take it. After all, didn’t Jacob wrestle with God and prevail? Sure, it left him crippled, but it was only after Jacob made peace with God and realized that He could not go on without Him that he received God’s blessing. And so my own struggle with God ensued.

As time marched on, so did my anger. I put up a wall around my heart, shrinking back into my shell like a hermit crab. No one was going to hurt me again, including God. But the longer I separated myself from Him, the more I felt I was dying inside of that shell of mine. I finally came to the point where I realized I had to have Him if I wanted to survive. Like Jacob, I had wrestled with God and prevailed. And yes, it left me crippled, but it’s in my weakness that He makes me strong. I also had to come to terms with the fact that God may allow more bad things to happen to me, but I know that He knows what is best. I, like Job, found myself saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”


Read the rest of this post on the Hope Mommies blog:
http://hopemommies.org/hope-floats

Friday, August 16, 2013

Losing Cohen (Updated)

(Revised 8-16-13 for Hope Mommies Blog)

When Chad was just one year old, we went to King's Daughter's Hospital (now McLane Children's Hospital Scott & White) early in the morning on July 12, 2007 to be induced into labor with our second child. That was the day that changed our lives forever. I don't think you can ever be prepared to lose a child, and it truly shook us to the core. It seems that no one really likes talking about the fact that babies sometimes die, but it happens more often than you'd like to think. Here's our story...

I still remember the taste of the red popsicle my nurse handed me that day. She said it would help with the bitter taste in my mouth from the antibiotics they gave me before inducing my labor. I remember it melting faster than I could swallow it down, leaving red stains on my hospital gown and forshadowing events that were soon to unfold, a foretelling omen of what was to come.

It all happened so fast from that point. I wish there were a way to rewind. To pause. To freeze-frame that moment in time and change the outcome. If I had only been more concerned and proactive when the doctor broke my water and blood immediately came out. If only I had been more argumentative when she told me that was normal. If only I had been more adamant and insisted on an immediate c-section rather than allowing my doctor to go perform another surgery on some other patient in the emergency room, rendering her unavailable in my moment of crisis. If only. If only. If only.

Soon after the doctor broke my water, Cohen's heart rate dropped dramatically, but my doctor had already left because, as I said before, she went to perform a surgery in the ER. After watching the nurses frantically trying to contact the doctor, they finally got in touch with her and I was rushed into the operating room for an emergency c-section. By the time they got Cohen out, he had already lost all of his blood and had passed away due to vasa previa. Vasa previa is a very rare condition affecting only 1 in 3000 pregnancies and has a 50-100% infant mortality rate when undiagnosed and when a c-section is not performed.

When I finally woke up from the general anesthesia, I remember asking my husband if we had lost the baby. He answered, "We lost the baby." Those were the loudest words I think I've ever heard. They still echo in my ears to this day.

In many ways, I feel like I failed my son. After all, he was absolutely perfect. There was no defect in him. No deformity. No disease. He was ready to be born. A day past his due date. It was my body that was at fault. The umbilical cord that connected us had split in two like a wishbone and had inserted itself into the side of the placenta instead of the middle and into the fetal membranes which ruptured when the doctor broke my water. The poor kid didn't have a fighting chance.

If that wasn't bad enough, I feel like I failed him even more by my decision to not hold him and say goodbye. I mean, what kind of mother does that, right? At the time, I thought it would be so much easier to let him go if I never held him at all, and perhaps it was. Most of the time, I'm glad about my decision, but sometimes, when I'm alone in a quiet room, it will hit me that my precious little boy was never held and adored by his mommy. That decision haunts me and left the bitter taste of regret in my mouth that no red popsicle would wash away. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.

It has been 6 years since we lost Cohen, and I'm so thankful to have found Hope Mommies (www.hopemommies.org). Hope Mommies exists to bring the hope of Christ to bereaved mothers and families experiencing infant loss and to change the way the world views infant loss by providing an ongoing Biblical community that serves the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of grieving families. If you know anyone who has lost a child, please send them in my direction. It would be my honor to walk alongside them in their journey toward hope and healing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Feeling 35

I'm 35 today, and surprisingly, I'm not ashamed to say it.

In reflecting upon this year, I'm reminded that a year ago today, I began a journey toward healthier eating and lost 55 pounds. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually like growing older. I like the 35 year-old me much better than the 25 year-old me. I wouldn't trade anything for the maturity, wisdom, and life experiences that it has afforded me, both the good and the bad.

While sometimes I still see myself as a little girl playing house, when I pause to reflect on all I've done and been through in my life, I guess I do FEEL 35. I felt 35 six years ago when I buried my child. I felt 35 when I celebrated fifteen years of marriage to my college sweetheart. I feel 35 every time I look at my three beautiful children... and let me tell you, 35 feels good. 

It feels like wisdom. It feels like beauty. Feels like strength.

If I could sit down with my 25 year-old self over a cup of hot tea, I would tell her that she has much more strength than she knows, and that she will brave one of life's deepest sorrows and prevail. Not that I am strong, but that in my weakness, His strength in me is made perfect.

So, I'll take the laugh lines. I'll take life's battle wounds. I'll take the birthing scars. Those will be my badges of honor, my crowning glories. Thank you, God, for each and every victory, each and every trial, each and every loss. You are shaping me and molding me into a more beautiful creation each and every year.

Here's to another year older and another year wiser.

Happy birthday to the 35 year-old me.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Inbetween

All my life, I've been inbetween. I was born eight years after my older sisters and eight years before my little brother. I remember always feeling too mature to hang out with kids my own age and too young to be accepted into the fascinating world of my older sisters. My childhood was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. Now that I have lost a child, I realize that I will always be sandwiched somewhere between sorrow and rejoicing, between despair and hope. You never really "get over" the loss of a child. Things just change. You develop a new "normal." You have good days and you have bad days. They come in waves. You go for weeks, months, even years thinking you have dealt with the loss, and then that pain somehow creeps back into your heart like a nagging sickness that just won't abate. Time does seem to dull the pain, but it is always there. It's what you do with that pain that matters. You can let it fester, slowly eating you away from the inside like a cancer or you can let the pain become your strength, waves of motivation ushering you to shore. On that journey toward healing, you can throw life vests to others you find along the way. That's what I hope to do with my pain. It has been five years since I lost Cohen, and while I would never want to go through that experience again, I can now see the good in it. Losing Cohen made me better. A better mother, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend. His little life was not lived in vain. I am forever changed, and I will always choose gratefulness, albeit juxtaposed with the pain.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making the Cut

After four pregnancies over the past eight years, none of my clothes were fitting and I was hardly recognizing myself in the mirror. Something had to be done. I decided to cut out sugar and processed foods and opted for fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, nuts, and yogurt. Over the past 6 months, I have lost 54 pounds simply by adopting a clean eating plan. Many people have asked me for tips on what to eat to lose weight, so here are my top five tips to losing weight the healthy way.

#1: Eating fat does not make you fat. Sugar and processed foods do that. When your blood sugar is high, your body has to produce insulin (the fat-storing hormone) to combat it. Processed foods also tax your liver, making it unable to concentrate on eliminating fat like it is supposed to do. Fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fish are good for you and necessary for healthy heart and brain function.


#2: It seems kind of elementary, but when you are hungry, EAT! Listen to your body. Feeling hungry is your body's way of giving you cues that it's time to eat. Just make sure to keep healthy snacks around so that you are not tempted to eat junk food. Conversely, when you are not hungry, DON'T EAT! Don't snack just because you're watching TV or bored.

#3: Read ingredient labels! Choose foods that have one ingredient like meat, veggies, fruit, cheese, nuts, yogurt. Stay away from added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, table salt, vegetable oils, refined or enriched flour, and especially ingredients that you don't even recognize. If you can't pronounce it, you should not be eating it.


#4: Stay around the perimeter of the grocery store. Most of what I buy at the grocery store is in the produce, meat, and dairy sections, making the occasional turn down the aisle for olive oil, applesauce, peanut butter, popcorn, sea salt, or almonds. Other than that, I stick to the perimeter! Think of the aisles as traps filled with processed foods.

#5: Don't get overwhelmed! Make one change at a time if that's all you can stomach. As long as you are gradually making changes toward clean eating, that's still a step in the right direction. Start by switching from table salt to sea salt. The next week, try cutting out sweets. After that, nix the sodas and opt for water. You don't have to throw away all the food in your pantry and fridge. Just eat what you have and then don't buy it again if it doesn't make the cut.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Let Me Be Frank

We welcomed a new family member into our home over the holidays. Allow me to introduce you to our new guinea pig, Frank Fifield. Since Chad has a Chocolate Lab named Summer, we decided to give Sarah Beth a pet of her very own. We allowed her to name him and keep him in her room. One of our favorite things we've done has been to put Frank in the bathtub and watch him swim. No really, guinea pigs are excellent swimmers. I had no idea until we googled it, but it's true! I also had no idea just how much they eat and poop. But frankly, if you are stuck in a cage all day, I guess there's not a whole heck of a lot else to do. Still, I find myself somewhat inspired by my newfound furry friend. This guy eats veggies like it's nobody's business! I'm talking lettuce, carrots, celery, bell peppers, you name it! I wish I had the discipline to eat like that. Frank is my new nutrition guru. He makes it look so easy.