This morning during our praise & worship time (singing) at church, my eyes started welling up with tears as they started a song. I couldn't quite figure out why.....until it dawned on me, it was one of the songs that was sang at Noah's memorial service. I have often wondered what songs were sang that day because I can't remember. I was in such a fog just trying to get through the funeral that I couldn't even tell you who all was there along with a lot of other details. In the bulletin from Noah's service, it only mentions a time of singing and didn't list the songs. During the song this morning with tears streaming down my face, I leaned over and asked Kevin if this song was from Noah's service and he said yes. Pretty crazy how your subconscious/body can take you back to poignant time when triggered by something like a song, even if you can't seem to recall it. Needless to say, I just stood there crying like the day I did when it was played at Noah's memorial service. *sigh* That's how it goes with my life now, there are often many things that out of the blue will just bring me to tears. All I can do is go with it & hope those around me at the time can be understanding.

Today our pastor gave a visual illustration during his sermon that I thought was really neat. Granted, I am not going to do it justice trying to explain it here (sorry Pastor Adam). But I thought it was worth sharing. During his lesson, he mentioned that too often we start with grace but yet live as though our relationship with God depends on good works and effort (Gal 3:1-5). He had a fake tree on stage and a basket of apples. The point behind this was to show that so often we do things as Christians because it's our "duty", not because we desire to. That instead of letting our fruit grow on our tree that shows growth in Christ inwardly  (John 15:4-5), we hang the fruit on our tree ourselves instead to show "works" outwardly. So let's say we get up in the morning and go drag ourselves to do devotions because we "have" to. We glance through them and do our duty....aka, hang our apple on the tree ourselves. But what eventually happens to fruit that is hung on a tree instead of grown on a tree? It rots, it doesn't last. And what did we gain from that? Nothing, all we did was "works". He said we won't grow this way, that all we are doing is confirming outwardly but staying stuck inwardly.

Sure it's easy to just go do some "works" to look good or because it's the thing you "should" do, but what is that going to accomplish long term? We should be doing things because we truly desire to. He gave another example that if he showed up one night at home & knocked on his door with flowers in hand for his wife. She answers and he says honey I'm taking you out for the night. She asks why? He answers and says because it's my husbandly duty. Ouch! Sure it's what he should do but he's just "hanging his apple on the tree". Answer #2 he gave stated he is taking her out because he loves her. Ok that is better....but answer #3 was because he loves her and there is no other person in the world he wants to spend time with. His point behind these different answers was to illustrate how we are either hanging our own apples out of duty, or a real, true desire to do things out of love for Christ. (1 John 5:1-5).

So.....are you hanging your own apples on your tree or are you growing them??

If you'd like to listen to his lesson from today, it can be found here under February 27th (though it's not posted currently, I imagine tomorrow it will be).

Here is the song from this morning that made me tear up since it was sung at Noah's memorial service.

20wk ultrasound

Today finally arrived. We had made this appointment 8wks ago and it was hard to believe it was finally here. Of course, it would figure that we've been dealing with sick kiddos for the last week so I was worried I'd have to go alone. Not to mention, the kids all really needed to go to this appointment for their own sake as they have been worried about the baby. Last night 3 of them just were not good at all. Thankfully this morning God gave them the energy to be able to go (though one of them crashed in bed as soon as we came home and another laid down a bit after that). I'm sure their brief burst of energy was due to many of you praying they'd have the strength to attend!

We had an audiologist appt to get one of the twins hearing aids fixed as it's in the building right next door to my appt. After that was done, we headed over to Maternal Fetal Medicine. I am thankful Kevin was able to take some time off work to be with us. The same gal who did all our ultrasounds with Noah was going to be doing this one, so I was thankful for that. I admit I didn't really eat breakfast this morning. I was too nervous to and honestly felt like I could puke.

It is still hard for me to walk into this office. It's only been 9 months since I was first here for that visit that forever changed our lives. The day we were told our son had a condition "incompatible with life" and was going to die. So you can imagine the anxiety I had sitting here. Our sonographer said she wanted to capture the ultrasound on DVD for us, so we were waiting for that specific room to open up. It's the same room we had all our scans with Noah done.

When she first started to look at the baby, we saw right away the baby had his/her one hand by their face. The same way baby was at 11wks.....and the same way Noah was always positioned! I was thankful as she did the detailed look at each part of the baby, she told us what she was seeing in terms if things looked ok or not. Usually they don't say anything and let the doctor look at the results and they are the ones to tell you. All the physical anomalies Noah had she checked out on this baby, in addition to a lot of other things. She said everything looked as it should anatomically. The baby is also measuring correctly with my due date.

The doctor then came in and did a quick scan herself of the baby. Again we were told that everything looks good physically but that obviously we can't get 100% guarantee unless we were to do an amniocentesis, which they would gladly do if we wanted it. We are holding off as they aren't seeing anything that would raise a red flag at this point. They said they do want to monitor the baby and are having me come back in 6wks to do another ultrasound. So just like we've been doing, we will just continue to take it one day at a time. If something comes up, we'll look into further testing. But as of today, the baby looks good and we are thankful for that. Right after this appointment I had one with the OB. She again reiterated what the specialist said and said they will just continue to monitor us & that I will return to them in 4wks.

I know the statement has been made to us that I'm sure we'll just feel so much better after this ultrasound and will be able to relax now. Honestly, not really. While we are able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that physically the doctor said baby looks good, we still know everything is out of our hands & many things could still happen. Not that we are focusing on the negative, but after you've been through something like we did with losing Noah, you realize just how real the possibilities are that things CAN happen. We don't have the mindset of "oh that will never happen to me", because it did. We don't take for granted each day that I carry this baby alive because we know that it's a gift that can be gone in the blink of an eye. I think we won't be able to finally relax a bit until this baby is born.

It's been said to me that no matter when you get pregnant again after losing a baby, whether it's a few months or a few years later, there are a lot of emotions that go along with it. And we are experiancing that as well. I can't even begin to try and put it into words. I just ask for sensitivity & compassion from others regarding it. I know I've been asked if we've picked out names or how excited we must be about this new baby. And I really don't give much of an answer because I don't know what to say. I guess in some ways we're scared to plan ahead too much for fear something could happen. Because last time we planned so much for Noah and all those dreams were shattered.

Pregnancy after losing a child is far different than pregnancy where that never happened. Don't get me wrong, we are thankful & excited for being blessed with this precious life. But this baby in no way lessens our grieving for Noah nor does this baby replace Noah in any way! I think a lot of people thought when I announced we were expecting, that we'd all feel a lot better or be back to our old selves. But it just doesn't work like that. In same sense, I think our grieving is interpreted as we aren't excited for this baby. Like I said it's just a mix of emotions, and very hard to try to explain. We're still just trying to process a lot. But I'm told from others who have been in my shoes, that it's completely normal what we're experiancing and how we are acting.

I am so thankful for the outpouring of encouraging notes and prayers that upheld us for this appointment! We definitely felt them and are very appreciative of the continued support from so many of you. We just can't do this on our own. I know I don't always get the chance to thank each of you personally, but please know the prayers, the random texts/messages/cards to check on us or to encourage us, & phone calls mean a lot! They always come at a time when I need it the most. Even the other, week a friend called me out of the blue to bring the kids & I lunch & kept us company for the afternoon on a day when God knew that was something I desperately needed. A meal was brought to us last week on a day that happened to be we needed the extra help due to a lot of circumstances. Thank you all for following God's prompting when He leads you to do things for others.

And now for the pictures of our 6th child from today. WOW....I am a mom to SIX kids!!!!!! Thank you Lord!!!

Here is the wee-ones profile......
Here is a pic of the one leg bent up along with the foot at the top right hand area...

And here is a cool 3D video of baby moving it's little arm around waving. You can see the face, eyes, mouth, nose & an ear as well.....

Are you honest?

Several things prompted me today to this topic. I read a blog talking about a similar topic, a friends facebook status, and just my own life situations (and yes, these all occured today). How often do we feel we need to put on the facade of having a "perfect life"? I mean, as Christians, aren't we supposed to have it together? And if we don't, does that mean we aren't walking like we should?

Let me tell you, that is far from the truth! Here is an excerpt from Jenny from a Mother's Heritage who was a guest blogger on Raising Arrows found here .

We all feel the pressure, don’t we? Even within the church, we try to hide our weaknesses and somehow feel that to live the Christian life, we must always be “up”. But, is this really what the Lord would have? I used to think the Lord would only be glorified in my large family if people saw that I had it all together. But, I am learning differently.

The Christian walk is a walk of faith. It is the unseen. It is in the tears and the surrender to that hard road ahead that bears the fruit. It is in bearing one another’s burdens that we so fulfill the law of Christ. How can we bear each other’s burdens, if we appear to not have any? So no, I do not have it altogether. And I am not going to pretend that this walk is easy. I am not always “doing it”. I get tired and discouraged. But, I have an all-sufficient God, who calls me to daily look up to Him. Every day, every moment…every second. And it is when I think I am at the end…He is there. This is where His glory lies. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. In what the world sees as the weak and foolish things, He is magnified. So, today sisters, whatever situation you might be facing…let’s seek to LEAN. Not to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps…but to LEAN.

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? Song of Solomon 8:5
I guess that sort've explains why I have really tried to be open & honest lately about where I am on this journey, as difficult as that has been. Unfortunately I can't be as open as I would like to be since my blog is public. There are people reading this who have put my family in harms way in the past so I have to refrain from sharing some things. But I have really tried to be as open & honest as I can be. Many people have really seemed to appreciate and embrace this as I have received many messages of support and prayer for putting myself out there as well as messages from those who care to know more details in order to support us. Then there are some who run from such brutal honesty.Why, I am not sure. All I can say is I hope they never are faced with such a life changing situation that others turn from them in their time of need.

The kids all still have their own struggles just like I have had lately. Last night about 11:15, one of the kids came up bawling because of missing Noah. Then it was stated that they are scared something is going to happen to this baby. After that, it was asked WHY did this happen to us? (losing Noah). How in the world can we answer that? We can't. And we were honest that we just don't have the answer. We know what the Bible says in that God does things for our own good. But how in the world can you even begin to say losing Noah was for our own good? I certainly don't get it & struggle with it. Every day, I long for him in my arms & have shed an oceanful of tears because I miss him. Then the next question that was asked of us was "did I (said child) do something wrong to cause Noah to die". WOW. That is such a heavy question for a child to ask. Of course we reassured them that Noah going to Heaven had nothing to do with anything any of us did. But these are the kind of things our kids have thought about. :( Talk about being honest. I am so thankful our kids have the relationship with us that they do so that they can put their true feelings out there. That is more than a lot of adults can do.

So I guess I challenge you to be honest about your life. Because you can't grow unless you are honest with yourself and those around you.
Many thanks to Amy from Raising Arrows for her giveaway that I was blessed to have won today!!! You can read about it here. She has a neat website & I've really been encouraged by the things she has shared about her own life.

Today the weather hit 70 and let me tell ya, what a joy it was to feel the warm air & see the bright sun for a change! I really wish it was here to stay. Even though I have a sick kiddo today & couldn't really go anywhere, I still got myself outside to enjoy the day for a bit and even opened up some windows in the house. I am reminded that no matter what you have going on in your life or even in the midst of the trials, there is ALWAYS  things you can be thankful for. And today I am thankful for this gorgeous day!
I've been sent many things lately by friends (thank you!) and I just thought I'd share a few here today.....

Please Be Gentle

by: Carol Adams

Please be gentle with me for I am grieving...
the sea I swim in is a lonely one
and the shore seems miles away...

Waves of despair numb my soul
as I struggle through each day...
My heart is heavy with sorrow...

I want to shout and scream and repeatedly ask "WHY"...
At times my grief overwhelms me and I weep bitterly..

So great is my loss...

Please don't turn away from me
or tell me to move on with my life...
I must embrace my pain before I can heal...

Companion me through my tears...
sit with me in loving silence...
honor me where I am on this journey...

Don't forget me or my child...
Listen patiently to my story...
I may need to tell it over and over again...
It's how I begin to grasp the enormity of my loss...

Nurture me though the weeks and months ahead...
Forgive me when I am distant or inconsolable...
A Small flame still burns inside my heart...

Memories trigger both laughter and tears...
There is no right or wrong way to grieve...

We each must find our own paths...
but... please will you walk beside me?

Thank you Lord, for all that I learn from my brokenness...
and for the courage it takes to live with my pain...
and for the strength it has taken to stay on shore...

Think Before You Speak & Act

Dear Friend today you broke my heart
In a place that was unbroken
You did it with your thoughtless words
That should not have been spoken

You know that I am grieving;
My pain is deep and real,
Your hurtful words pierce like a knife
How do you think I feel?

You may not suffer from my loss
Or share this lonely grief;
But I'm mourning my baby,
Who's life was much too brief.

I'm sure you don't know how I feel,
I don't expect you to.
Don't ask me to get over it...
That's something I can't do.

Without grief, there's no healing
It's a journey I must make.
It's not the path that I would chose,
But one I'm forced to take.

No matter how you chose to see
What I am going through,
I need compassion and support,
I'd do the same for you.

- By Gwen Flowers

I love you Noah!

7 months ago today at 6:30am, craddled in my arms & surrounded by daddy & your siblings, you fell asleep peacefully & were ushered into the arms of our heavenly Father. You are so blessed Noah to only have ever known love in your short life. No pain, no heartaches of this world....only love in it's purest form. We look forward to the day when we are reunited as a family once again. Until then, remember how much we love, cherish & miss you Noah! ♥

The world may never notice
If a Snowdrop doesn't bloom,
Or even pause to wonder
If the petals fall too soon.

But every life that ever forms,
Or ever comes to be,
Touches the world in some small way
For all eternity.

The little one we longed for
Was swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was then planted
Is a light that still shines on.

And though our arms are empty,
Our hearts know what to do.
Every beating of our hearts
Says that we love you.

Thank you to the many dear friends who remembered today, whether by notes, phone calls, messages or prayers. For reaching out and talking, for embracing the many tears I had today & not being afraid of them and for caring enough to ask questions & encourage me. Thank you for taking to heart the previous blog and links I shared and learning from them. God is definitely using our story for a greater purpose as many of you have shared your thoughts lately on what I talked about which has been a blessing to me. While it doesn't ease our grief, it's a comfort to know Noah is teaching so many people things they may have never had the chance to have learned. Myself including. It's a painful journey that I am still muddling my way through and one I pray you will never have to endure.

So this Valentines day, love & embrace your not so tidy house, the fingerprints on the wall that always seem to appear and let go of all the trivial things that really don't matter for eternity. Because it means you are blessed to have your kids with you, showering you with love in all the little ways I am missing with Noah. The slobbery kisses, goofy giggles, and even night time feedings. Kevin, the kids & I all miss what Noah would be doing here with us today.

7 months old

7 months ago today Noah you came into this world crying when the doctors said you wouldn't. It just seems like yesterday I held you in my arms. Many people sent messages or called letting us know they thought of you today. During your brief life, you touched so many others lives my sweet son! Happy 7 month birthday Noah!!! ♥

You weighed a whopping 6lb 10oz when the doctors said you would only be 3-4lbs. You were also 19" just like all 4 of your older siblings. You proved the doctors wrong in many ways and showed us just how big our God really is!!

Some honest thoughts

It's been challenging at times lately dealing with a lot of things. You have grieving & the winter blues, throw some pregnancy hormones in there and yeah, it makes for some tough days (and I'm not even throwing in all the day to day stuff). Ok, so saying "tough" is putting it mildly to be honest. Very few people know my daily struggles because most run from that intimate detail the second they hear you say you aren't doing so good. So usually the standard answer to "how are you" is "ok". Because honestly even in my grief, I am still sensitive to others feelings and hate making people feel uncomfortable.

Sure, some days are good and I get a glimpse of some sense of normalcy. Well, the "new normal", as life as I knew it will never be the same. And I am thankful for those days as I know in time I will see more of them.

But it's also a struggle for me to see how others have been towards me since losing Noah. It's hard enough dealing with all that I have to but then add in everything else, well, I feel pretty alone at times. As one person told me recently "everyone is there for the drama but no one is around later on". And those later on times are some of the hardest. I've experianced being ignored, avoided and excluded, which are some of the worst things to do to someone who is already feeling isolated from grief. Sometimes it's intentional other times it's not. Irregardless, the exclusion is a constant reminder that we are different from most other people around us which hurts. Even when it's done out of "good intent" thinking we may not be up for it, it's still hurtful.  Don't assume we may not want to be a part of something or be up for it, ask & let us make that decision. Just being asked, no matter what our answer is, can mean the world & let's us know we are being thought of  and still included.

My grief/bad days get taken personally which then causes more avoidance. So at times I feel like I need to put my happy face on just so those few people around me won't turn & run the other way. Which in the end causes me more issues to deal with as I feel like I then need to watch what I say or do so it doesn't get misinterpreted, when all it is is our grief speaking & nothing more. I guess I am a people pleaser & have a hard time just focusing on myself even with all I've gone through. Though I am trying to work on that for my own health.

I know the standard thing a grieving person is told is "let me know if you need something, or call me if you want to talk or do something, etc". Well I can tell you that's the last thing most grieving people will do as it makes us feel like we are being a burden or forcing ourselves on someone who may have just said that to be nice. I have appreciated & been thankful for those people who have taken charge for me when I simply can't. Those of you that know me personally know that is so opposite of my personality as I'm normally the leader & outgoing one. But there are times I just am not able to.

Anyway, maybe this was just a rambling of words making no sense or others reading this are saying gee it's been long enough get over it. Whatever your thoughts, I felt lead to share just a brief glimpse into some of the things I've been dealing with at times as I know there are others out there also struggling or may possibly have someone else in their life who might need a hand right now. It's hard to open up at times and share because you know there are people out there judging you & thinking they know better. It's my hope & prayer that maybe this will help someone else in some way only God knows about.

I found another blogger who shared some great thoughts herself that may be helpful to others out there who may have a grieving person in their life: (I believe there are about 10 topics) How to Help Your Grieving Friend
Hard to believe we are 8 days into February already. Even still, winter seems to be d r a g g i n g! The kids really enjoyed the foot of snow we got the other week. Though they were bummed they didn't get "snow days" like all the public school kids. I reminded them they will thank me when they are done with school in May! Even though they still had to do school work, the kids had plenty of time to play in the snow. They made snowmen, 6 of varing sizes to be exact. One representing each of the kids including the new baby.

Kevin took them out one day and made 3 huge snow forts. Not sure what possessed me, but I gave the kids bottles of water with food coloing in them to "paint" the forts. Needless to say it looked like a box of fruit loops threw up in our front yard (for all the neighbors to see of course!) haha Oh well, the kids had a blast and that's all that mattered.

Thank you to the many of you who either sent me messages or talked to me in person about those links I shared the other week. I am glad they helped put into words what I just couldn't seem to express. I also appreciated the prayers & support I received after I shared. I certainly can't travel this journey on my own & am thankful to have others who reach out and help me during the tough days still.

A friend who was encouraging me shared the following in an article she was reading about grief & thought it also described what she has seen others & myself go through. So I wanted to share it here as it was another good description:

The experience of grief is lifelong – it does not go away after a certain amount of time. Yes, it softens but always there is a place in your heart and your soul that yearns for that child.

There are no stages to grief – it is not that organized of a process. Rather, grief is like entering chaos, with emotions and experiences swirling about you in such a way that normal life feels impossible at times. The job of grief is to re-order the chaos – and that takes time – a long time.

We are familiar with the sorrow of grief, but it is so much more than that. Grief is emotional – overwhelming sorrow, a raging anger, guilt at what was undone or unsaid. Grief also impacts our minds. It is normal to be confused, and have trouble remembering things. Grief is physical – people who are grieving tend to be very tired and yet sleep is often hard. It is normal to have physical symptoms of grief.

 Grief impacts our abilities and desire to interact with others. It all seems so meaningless – and somehow wrong that normal life is going on when something so terrible has happened. A bereaved parent’s world has stopped – and yet everyone else goes forward. It is an isolating experience to lose a child.