Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Sunday, November 24, 2013


When you are young, time seems long.  Your parent tells you that something will happen "next year" and it feels like it will never come.  As you get older you realize just how relatively short a time a year actually is.  You realize that a year is actually not that long, and when you're busy living life, it goes pretty fast.  Suddenly that vacation you were planning, or that wedding you were anticipating, or the holiday plans you couldn't wait for - arrive.  In the blink of an eye it comes and goes.  What they say is true...time moves faster as you get older.  I still feel like the same 22 year old that graduated from college and began her first year of fresh-faced teaching, clad in a navy blue blazer for my interview (a trait my former principal always affectionately reminds me of!) 

But then I realize something...I'm obviously no longer that 22-year old.  I'm nearly 15 years older and, even scarier, halfway to retirement eligibility within our state's public school system.  I look at the current 23-year old that I work with and it's so often like looking in a mirror.  The youthfulness, the pep, the energy, the idealism.  All of which are positive attributes.  And I still think of myself as a positive person.  But my life at 36 years old is so vastly different.  I could not, at 22, have imagined that one day down the road my life would be measured in minutes. 

See, with a new baby under our roof, we measure so many things in minutes...

He slept for 35 minutes.

He's been awake for 90 minutes.

I just changed that diaper 15 minutes ago.

He's been crying for 5 minutes.

He's been cooing for 17 minutes.

I've been listening to him snore for 12 minutes.

He played in his crib this morning for 20 minutes.

He nursed for 10 minutes. 

I left for work a few minutes later than normal - because I was snuggling my sleeping son on my chest for just a few more minutes.

I've been told by so many veteran parents, "The days are long, but the years are short."  We have wholeheartedly taken the advice to enjoy every minute that we have now.  Thanks in part to that wonderful advice, and I believe also largely because of our life experience, we cherish every. single. minute. 

We listen to James laugh and coo and giggle and "talk" and smile and laugh ourselves at his seemingly innate ability to mostly entertain himself.  Inevitably with the sheer joy he brings, I feel a twinge of sadness.  At the minutes we didn't get with Faith.  And the minutes we did...because she was such a powerful reminder that our lives are truly measured in minutes. 

When you're 10, you can't imagine that minutes will every go by so fast or matter so much.  Those minutes you wait on Christmas morning seem to drag on forever.  Twenty or so years later, you just wish that those minutes would take a little longer...and wish there was some way to permanently imprint them on your memory. 

So, I leave a little later for work some mornings.  I snuggle a little longer with my sleeping baby than the "experts" recommend if you ever want your child to sleep independently.  I breathe in his baby smell while I can and choose to enjoy the early morning hours, smiles, and cups of coffee that come with his 6 a.m. wake-up call.  I ignore that I'd like to sleep a little more and instead focus on the fact that before I can even blink, he'll be sleeping later than me and I'll have to chase him out of bed at noon. 

Minutes are precious. 

My grandfather was able to come to the hospital to meet James the day he was born.  Just a week later, my grandfather passed away at the age of 89.  For awhile (and still a bit, if I'm honest), I felt a tremendous amount of guilt and sadness that he never held James and that we didn't get pictures of them together.  I know my grandfather didn't think anything of it, more than likely, but it is one of my biggest regrets.  And now he's gone, and I have to live with that.  But those minutes in the hospital?  The 30 or so minutes that he was in the same room and got to meet him?  Those minutes mattered.  And a week later when I learned that he was in the hospital and there was nothing left to do, I left my one-week old baby in the hands of my loving and wonderful husband so that I could squeeze out a few more minutes with my grandfather.  I had to time it carefully...nurse, drive to the hospital, spend time holding Grandpa's hand, drive home to nurse again.  I got an hour or so.  60 precious, quiet, pensive, emotional minutes to be with my grandfather.  Minutes I will never regret. 

Minutes matter...we live our life in minutes.  When the hustle and the rush of life gets overwhelming, stop and count the minutes.  Because they go by so very, very quickly.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Sounds I Hear

As I sit in my living room on this November evening, I am listening to the sounds of laughter and cooing.  My husband and my son.  The big James laughing at the little James, who is cooing and "talking" in response to Daddy's voice.  It has - again - been too long since I wrote here.  As you can see, life has changed dramatically in our household since July. 

I could write about the day he was born, on a Monday morning, early - and fast.  So fast in fact that Jamie never had a chance to call anyone to tell them we were headed to the hospital, until after our little miracle arrived.  My mom thought he was kidding when he said, "She had the baby!"

I could tell you about the first few weeks at home - the laughter we shared at 2 a.m. as we navigated the challenges of nursing a newborn, the sleepless nights, the paranoia that something would happen to James - or I could tell you that over time that paranoia has subsided and we have embraced the pure joy that has come with his arrival. 

I will tell you about the amazing journey it is to bring a rainbow into the world.  A rainbow baby is one that comes after the loss of a baby...because a rainbow is beauty after a storm; not to negate the ravages of the storm, but to show something of beauty and hope.  James is our rainbow baby. 

He was born at 8 lbs. 11 oz. and 21 inches long with a full head of dark, beautiful hair.  It is amazing to me how quickly you learn about your child.  He is, after all, not yet 12 weeks old, but I know him.  He has dimples and a charming smile, loves to nurse, and is a happy, content little guy.  He has found his hands and started to "talk" to us regularly.  James is the baby that makes you want ten more babies. 

By far the most amazing thing about this journey is seeing our family transform from a twosome to a threesome.  Even after such a short time, I simply can't imagine our life without him.  It is hard to remember a life without him in it...we have been so blessed.  Watching my husband become a father has to be the single greatest series of moments I have ever experienced.  Jamie is as enchanted with James as I am...we sit together and laugh at his smiles and coos.  Sometimes I just sit back and watch them together - and just listen to the sounds that have changed my house.  A squeak, a squawk, a cry...a coo, a giggle, a sing-song voice that belongs to me or Jamie.  We do more laundry than ever before, and there is so much "stuff" sitting around our house.  But I don't care - because he is amazing.  And totally worth it. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Almost there...

We are almost there...close to the end of this leg of the journey.  Close to the day that Baby will join us.  We have a room (nearly) ready.  We've painted and cleaned and organized a small room and closet into a functional space.  A chair has been ordered and is on its way - thank you, Target and the gift cards we got for shower gifts.  We've had the baby showers...a big step we never took with Faith.  That felt huge - exciting, anxious, happy - but definitely, huge.  Clothes are being washed, dried, and organized by size.  My lovably neurotic-about-clutter husband has been a HUGE help in the process.  I couldn't have done it without him, and have a whole new respect for single parents that must do all of this alone.
When we learned of Faith's diagnosis, a baby shower was planned.  Invitations had gone out...and then my mother, sister-in-law, and best friend had to make the first of some really terrible phone calls that summer.  To tell people that the shower was cancelled.  How do you, after all, celebrate the arrival of a baby you're not even sure will be born alive?  It may sound morbid, but it was our very real living nightmare.   So, we've surpassed all sorts of milestones we never got to with Faith.  I've gotten past the point in this pregnancy where we got with Faith - this baby moves and squirms and kicks - and it is a truly miraculous feeling.
Last week, we had maternity pictures taken.  Jamie's cousin is a budding photographer, eager to build her professional portfolio.  As you can see, she does beautiful work and offered to do pictures for us.  For four years, I have regretted that we do not have more pictures of me pregnant, of us together during the time when things were okay with Faith - that most of our pictures are in the hospital after her birth, though I treasure those.  This time I was determined to chronicle this miracle along the way and cherish the journey, even when it makes me nervous.  Which, for the record, it does almost daily.  I am so happy about these pictures.  It captures our joy...our excitement...our Faith that we will have a healthy baby and bring him or her home.  All signs point to that outcome.  If I'm honest, I find myself getting more and more anxious as the weeks go by.  Most of the time, I keep it together and can push away the thoughts that creep in and once again, rob me of the blissfully ignorant joy that all pregnant women should get to experience.  Unfortunately, that is not our experience.  We experience pregnancy and the anticipation of a baby clouded in fear and nerves and trepidation, on top of the joy and excitement we feel about this new baby.

Next week is the week in July I dread every year...the week it all fell apart with Faith.  I am determined to make it through that week and choose joy this summer.  Choose to focus on the positive things we have, the new baby I feel kick and squirm on a daily basis.  We talk about names and have our house nearly ready for our new miracle.  Thank you to Joanna for helping us to capture this very special time in our lives.


Monday, April 1, 2013

A Long Walk

I have been silent here for too long, and for that I apologize.  It has not been without reason; just reason we were not ready to share with the world. 

Until now. 

We are halfway to a new miracle...a new baby will be joining us - God willing - mid-August. 

It has taken us 20 weeks to feel ready to share with the world.  For many weeks, it was a secret we kept to ourselves...a little treasure we held close to our hearts while we nervously held our breath.  6 weeks passed, we had a first ultrasound and saw that amazing little flutter on the screen.  A heartbeat.  A real, beating heart.  Then 9 weeks and we decided to tell our immediate families. 

We made it to 11 weeks and the first set of tests, screenings, and more ultrasounds.  We got the next bit of reassuring news...Baby looks good and is growing right on target.  "Normal" never sounded so extraordinary as we got back blood work that dropped our risk of trisomies into the almost non-existent area. We breathed a little easier.  Made it through the first several doctor's appointments.  Heard a heartbeat for the first time.  I started to actually look and feel pregnant, as we began to tell friends and co-workers.

Last week we accomplished yet another major milestone - 20 weeks, the "big" ultrasound, the halfway point.  Again, more good news from doctors and technicians..."Normal development," "nothing of concern."  So today, I told my students - who, up to this point, were oblivious to the fact that I was pregnant thanks to some very creative clothing choices on my part. 
And now it's time to share it with the rest of you.  Those that we haven't seen or talked with, but are ready to include in our journey. 

And this is a journey.  For we live in a world where "I'm pregnant" doesn't necessarily translate into, "I'm going to have a baby."  Choosing to take the leap of faith required to walk this path again requires...well, I don't know that I've figured it out yet.  I know that with each passing day, each passing week, each accomplished milestone, we breathe a bit easier.  I have set small goals...get past 6 weeks, to the first doctor's appointment, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, end of first trimester.  Make it to the "First Look" ultrasound, 16 weeks, 20 weeks...get to the next doctor's appointment, that stage of "viability," the glucose test, get to the every 2-week doctor's get the drift.  One day at a time has never held such power. 

Because it's not just about our's about every woman and every loss I have ever known.  When this is your world, you become acquainted with catastrophes no one should ever know.  You become an encyclopedia of "what ifs."  Because it's how you survive..."If I can just get past where __________ had her loss, I'll feel better."  You personalize every loss - and pray every single day.  I pray everyday that we'll get to keep this baby and bring this baby home.  Until that day comes, and we're physically holding this new little one, we will be holding our breath. 

While this walk comes with a tremendous amount of anxiety and nerves, we are cautiously optimistic.  I have a fabulous doctor who has been my doctor since before we had Faith.  She knows our history and she and her office have been wonderful...with every phone call, every weird symptom, every strange question.  Offering every bit of reassurance humanly possible.  I could not ask for greater support as we navigate through this part of life.  

To those of you that have taken this long walk with us over the last 3 1/2 years, I thank you.  With every person we told about this new baby, I was nervous.  Nervous to make it "real."  And with every announcement, people have been joyous and excited and supportive.  We couldn't ask for better people to share this with.  We are excited, and scared, and on any given day, any number of other emotions.  But, the time has come to let you all take this long walk with us.  So, while we don't know if Baby is a boy or a girl (and won't be finding out until Baby's arrival), we know Faith is watching out for us.  A guardian to her mom and dad, and an angel watching over this new blessing.  I only wish that our new addition would be able to know his/her big sister.  Though they won't know each other in the traditional sense, this little one will know about the big sister they have and how much they are wanted and loved before they've even arrive.   

With love,