Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Faith and Fear

My due date is September 11th, which when I first heard caused major eye-rolling. Of course it would be one of the saddest days in American history. I thought about it for a moment and thought deep and hard about whether this was some sort of sign that bode bad news ahead and decided it was a silly thought.

On the flip side, it is also my mother's birthday. So when people ask and I tell them mainly to gauge their reaction on whether or not I should see it as a bad omen I quickly interject afterwards that I am trying to focus on the positive aspect of it being a happy day too for our family. Because as I wrote previously, my mom is awesome.

Pregnancy after loss is a constant battle of trying to stay optimistic for me. Past experience tells me to be careful with my heart, to guard it keep away anything that could cause pain in the future if this doesn't work out again. Don't even THINK about buying baby clothes, it tells me. A baby shower? You are openly going to receive things that you will just have to pack away never to be used? It reasons. It tries scare tactics and the more I read about other people's experiences the more nervous I get because sometimes things aren't all rainbows and butterflies after a loss.

But I also feel that if I don't prepare, if I don't show all signs of hope for a good future that I will regret not having that hope whether this turns out the way I want or not. So I am ignoring the fear and choosing faith. I am choosing to hope and have joy NOW instead of holding my breath. Because, if there is one thing I have learned over the past year it is that you do not waste any moments to have gratitude and joy. I try to be conscious of the moments that are good, even in my circumstances. I focus on gratitude for being able to be pregnant again and I focus on gratitude for the beautiful living child that I have and I focus on gratitude for a kind, understanding husband and I focus and I bring myself to awareness of all the good that surrounds me.

I am pretty sure Satan wants to rob me of any and all joy and live in a hole fearful of all that could happen and for me choosing to live that way is misery. When I choose faith in a loving Heavenly Father, faith that whatever is ahead of me will be for my good, I feel peace and yes, I feel joy too.

So this baby's due date is September 11th and I will ALWAYS interject that it is my mother's birthday because that is one small way I am choosing faith, being aware of the sadness that has occurred but focusing on the joy that I know that I grew up knowing that day to be.

Plus, how many babies are actually born on their due date?

*Pictures are from a hike up to Balanced Rock in Idaho. For size reference, if Kyle was standing at the base of where the balancing starts he would be as tall as that white line about halfway up. Needless to say, it's a pretty big rock to be balancing so precariously.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Legacy of Strength

My maternal grandmother Patricia Jean Turner was a woman of strength. In the years that I knew her she was a pillar of grace and intelligence and taught me how to carry myself and respect those around me. She passed away when I was a freshman in high school and I can still remember my world tumbling and crashing down around me when I found out. It was my first real exposure to death and she was someone who I loved and adored. She died due to a stroke related to a brain tumor. It was her second time facing brain cancer.

I remember before I was aware that the cancer had returned I was watching the movie Little Women in her room. The tumor was already disabling her from many things and often she would say and do things that were out of the ordinary, but the only things I can ever remember her doing during this period were those that confirmed her strength of character.

 I was sprawled out across her bed and she was going through her closet. She tried to reach for something on a high shelf and I started sensing frustration. My grandmother, who we affectionately called Bebis due to her Texan drawl trying to pronounce "babies!" when we would visit, turned around at me and told me something I have always remembered. She said, whenever you get mad or frustrated or feel like something isn't possible, just count to three and try again, you'll be able to do it. I watched as she counted and reached one last time and she got whatever she was reaching for.

It is a strange memory but one that to me reveals so much about her. The funny thing is, it's not like the counting is magical or anything, but in the counting you remember that you are capable. She was always teaching me like that, weaving in lessons and manners into every moment, reminding me to be kind to every person, to stand up for myself, to care more about quality than quantity.

She argued eloquently, dressed impeccably, laughed wholeheartedly and loved sincerely. Through her example, she showed me how to hold my head up when times are hard, not because you can't cry or grieve or be mad but to remember that with God, you are strong. She remained beautiful, kind, and consistent to what she knew to be right and true until the day she died. She passed on a legacy of strength.

My mother, where to words begin to describe the woman who has become my absolute best friend. My mother is my hero, she learned strength and grace and kindness and understanding from her mother and everyday growing up with her was a treasure. In many circumstances of my mother's life she had every reason to be angry at the trials life had given her, but through each of them I have looked back and seen that she was nothing but a beacon of light and strength to our family. She handled complicated situations with love and clarity of mind. Her strength radiates out in exuberant optimism and cheerfulness. She is the absolute best advice giver from hair colors to potty training to relationships and I am grateful that she too taught me that I am strong and can do hard things.

Over the past year I have received several times the words, "You are so strong...." What I have learned that as a mother I have a legacy of strength, a legacy of strong mothers who have gone through hard things. They have taught me that I have that strength too. That strength lies within me to access with the help of a loving, kind God. A God who believes in me and believes in every woman out there that we have the capability to be strong, in whatever form that looks like for us.

So a Happy Mother's day to all of the mothers out there who show their strength in so many moments of each day. You are strong and that strength is beautiful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I Want to Remember This

This past year has been an interesting one for Max and I. We have had to learn to adjust as Kyle's internships took us to new places for short amounts of time. Basically we have had to learn to spend A LOT of time together and each day I am amazed at this marvelous boy I get to spend my time with. 

I want to remember how each day all day he asks, "Mama, I want food." Each time I will respond with, "I would love to get something for you, what would you like?" and he responds back, "I want food." It has turned into a comical annoyance as I suggest and guide him into the kitchen to help me figure out what "food" means to him. I still have NO idea. I can suggest toast, eggs, sandwiches, fruit, veggies and he will always return with, "I want food." In fact, at one point Kyle was with him while I was catching up on sleep in the morning and he beckoned to me from the other room for some food and Kyle offered cereal to which he agreed. Then Max beckoned to me again requesting food. Kyle reminded him he was getting cereal and Max responded, "I just want to ask mom, 'I want food.'"

He loves chocolate milk and will hold his small container in the cart of the grocery store until he is settled in the car. The first time he received this treat, I told him he had to wait until it was purchased and so he will pretend to drink it while I do my shopping. But he wont drink it once it is purchased either, only in the car. He tends to attach to certain rules and routines like that.

Out of nowhere one day he told us there was a dragon in his room (we read one book about dragons loving tacos but where he got the idea of fighting dragons is beyond me). Kyle suggested they find swords and fight the dragon. This is now a daily occurrence. We fight dragons everywhere. My favorite was mid flight he fought dragons on the airplane using straws and sent them out the window. He stated matter-of-factly, "I save everyone now."

He loves the outdoors. He most in his element when we are playing outside and I am letting him explore with space. He climbs hills, throws rocks, turns sticks into swords, and does it all on repeat. He never gets bored of it. He loves when we tell him we are going on a hike and will often request to walk most of it on his own. The other day we found the side of a large rock hollowed out just big enough for him to fit in. It became his cave and we stayed there for an hour, just him going in an out and finding rocks and sticks to call his own and put inside this special place.

He spits. He spits when he is angry, excited, obstinate, or feeling goofy. He knows not to spit inside but that doesn't stop him when I see that twinkle of mischief in his eye and the smirk on his face. We are working on it and he knows how to use a rag to clean up quite well now.

He generally loves to help and participate and learn the rules cleaning and keeping things tidy. He will put away his clothes and take dirty ones to the dirty laundry pile. He does not love helping to make the bed. He would much rather jump on the bed and crawl under the blankets.

He has two pair of shoes, his slip-on shoes (crocs) and his fast running shoes (sneakers). He loves his crocs because he can put them on by himself and he loves his sneakers because he can demonstrate how fast he can run, every time.

He can't keep a secret, at least he can't keep a secret from me. While visiting my brothers, my brother Robert decided to try to sneak him more jellybeans after he had received his last three. My brother whispered to him (without my knowledge), "Don't tell your mom I gave you more jellybeans. This is going to be a secret." Immediately Max calls out to me excitedly, "MOM! I got more jellybeans!" 

We play school together sometimes using a school bus toy and figures. He will add a lego motorcycle ninja to the group and it has turned into a legitimate learning time for Max. This is the only time where he will sing songs with me. So I try to do it often. We sing, count, read, practice our ABC's and draw pictures. All under the guise that it is school for the wooden figurines. 

He is incredibly inquisitive asking me how things work and explaining it back to me, making sure he has it right. He will also explain it to friends and family, testing out the knowledge his mother gave him, making sure it is correct. Along with that, he often narrates to me what he is doing asking me if I think it is a good idea, "Mom. That a good idea?" "Yes Max, that sounds like a great idea." "No, it's not a great idea. It's a good idea."

He will not join in a conversation unless he is 100% comfortable. If someone in the store or even someone he is familiar with tries to ask him a question or engage him in a conversation and he isn't up to it, he blows a raspberry or his tongue at them. People mainly laugh, but I completely understand. He is a unique mix of shy and stubborn. 

He is a joy to be around. His determination and precision are admirable and his sense of humor is adorable. He  can aggravate me and fill me with laughter all under 5 minutes.

He gives the best hugs and kisses and the smile on his face at the end of his day as he snuggles his stuffed blue dog lets me know that he is filled with love and light. It makes me love motherhood and express gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the special joy  and perspective this child brings.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Replenishing Oil

I recently started following an Instagram account, mormonfaces, that posts pictures and quotes from different members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes the quotes are funny and sometimes they take you back with how profound they are. The other day, one reminded me of a truth that I have been learning since James' death.

I love her thought about how much more difficult it is once everyone steps away and you have to start finding your own footing again. I remember remarking to a friend at one point that I was constantly reminded of the parable of ten virgins and the lesson I always learned was be prepared for when you need that oil, be prepared for the lights to go out so that you aren't stumbling in darkness but can still see the path to walk on. The problem I remarked to her, was that I felt like I had used up all my oil. That is when things got much more difficult for me.

At times I felt lost and alone and I wondered why the pain and heartache had to continue and yes, I would get mad at God for all of it. There were days where I wanted nothing to do with Him, but ultimately my heart wanted that peace that I knew had been provided before. It wanted that peace that was there waiting to be received not just for my benefit, but for my family.

It actually reminds me of another scripture story. In the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath, the widow is about to use up the last of her meal and oil. She is collecting firewood to prepare a last meal for her and her son, expecting death to come soon, when the prophet Elijah approaches her (directed by God) to ask for food. In a test of faith, she is asked to make a bit of bread for him first and if she does, she will never be without meal and oil again. I can only imagine her internal dilemma deciding to obey this prophets words. I can imagine her pouring and preparing the last of what she has for someone else, for her to light the small fire and cook this food, hoping that this man's words will be true. I think of her often in that moment when she is encouraged to trust that there is more oil in the container, that it is not all gone. What astonishment and  relief must have passed through this mother's heart as she discovered that there was more oil! How her faith must have been strengthened in God's ability to provide as she put her faith and trust in a promise from one of his servants! 

When I chose to trust and obey, my lamp is full for the day. When I did what I knew would bring that peace day to day, the peace was always there. Reading my scriptures, getting outside, praying, and writing in my journal were all crucial to help me get through each day. Not only that, but when I choose to do that which "fills my lamp," I see and experience much greater joy with my husband and Max. It is hard to parent after loss and grief can rob you from feeling joy with what you do have. As my lamp is lit, I see and notice the beauty of my child and I feel more deeply the love that exists between me and my husband. 

That obvious community support always feels like it goes away but God's support and concern for me never did. It was always there. Eventually, I realized the support of friends was always there too. Learning to let Him replenish my oil, I just had to recognize it, I had to show that I was willing and ready to receive it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Come Together

This past week was spent returning to my home state, relishing in the evergreens and connection that I feel in Washington.

Idaho has proved to be a hard adjustment for me, mainly because it is such a temporary arrangement and I just miss my friends. I miss connecting and talking and gaining inspiration from the many diverse mothers that I know that expand my mind and have helped me to be a better mother, wife, friend. 

Two days before we were supposed to leave I was talking to my mom and just broke down on the phone, it was unexpected but I recognized immediately that I just missed people, I missed my people, my friends and family. So when I finally touched down in Seattle and set up a few visits with friends I hadn't seen in awhile I TALKED and TALKED and got five months worth of conversations squeezed out into an hour or two. But it felt good and I felt so thankful for friends who understand that I can be an incessant talker that goes on wild tangents and often loses her train of thought or purpose of thought....

Uncle Robbie and Max= Twins

Just being with them and feeling their love for me and my family rejuvenated my spirits and reminded me that no matter how far away I am from them, those connections are always there. 

Our March for Babies walk was on Saturday and I had wonderful friends who showed up and I was SO glad to see them and I was just so glad to walk in the beautiful sunshine with them and talk out my feelings ALL over again with a new set of friends and then eat sno-cones and pizza and cheese zombies (a local elementary school delicacy of processed cheese baked between homemade bread....kinda like a grilled cheese but not grilled). The event was wonderful and I reached my personal goal with some cash donations and our team did wonderfully! 

It felt so good to do something positive in memory of James and I want to thank everyone once again from the bottom of my heart for donating and supporting my effort to help others in his memory.

Our original purpose in visiting Washington was to see my ObGyn and get my 20 week ultrasound, yes the one where you find out the gender. Typically we opt out of finding out the gender, no real reason other than we didn't mind waiting and kinda liked the surprise. But I hated that I hadn't known all that time I carried James, it feels like I missed out on prime bonding time and so we decided to find out for baby #3. 

The only stipulation was that I had to wait to find out until I could be with Kyle, it was my main birthday present to him and so the technician wrote it down in an envelope and I carried it in my purse to be opened once we were reunited. 

The results?

Baby Boy Prescott #3 comes early September!

I am overjoyed it is a boy, I thought he was a girl but I knew that because I thought that, it would be a boy because that was how I was with both Max and James. I am overjoyed that Max will have a living brother close in age, this was one of my regrets in losing James and to be having this new baby boy is a definite highlight. 

Now I want to be very clear that this baby is NOT replacing James in ANY way. I will always hold firm in my belief that James was and is his own person. This new baby is also a new person, unique and special with his own spirit. Every now and then, I will have a well-meaning acquaintance say something like, "now Max will have a sibling!" or something along those lines and I want to be clear that he already DOES have a sibling. I don't get upset or angry when people say this, I have learned that stillbirth is uncharted territory for so many people and most people just don't know what to say or do. I have learned to believe that people always mean well and if there was folly on their part, it is just because they aren't thinking clearly (wether through absence of understanding or nervousness that they will say the wrong thing). 

All this to say, that although James cannot be physically seen with the eyes, I believe in all sincerity of my heart that his spirit is with us often and he will always act as a guardian angel for our family. I think of him constantly, sometimes in sadness and sometimes reflecting on effect he has had on our lives for good, and that makes me happy. Most often, I just think of what it would be like in small moments if he were there. He blends in seamlessly into my everyday life, an invisible angel on my hip, crawling and clapping along. Smiling and giggling on my lap taking part in the memories we are making as a family. His spirit is inseparably intertwined in our lives and I know that it will continue that way as I choose to make it so.

We are grateful for this new life that will be joining our family and I am grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ for providing me with the tools to better understand and cope with this unexpected journey we are on. My faith in Christ is what allows me to know that James is with me, that he can be a part of my life and most importantly, that joy and happiness is still possible. 

Now more than ever have I come to realize how important family is to me and how friends have become family. The connections we make on this earth are what bind us in love and understanding. As we strive to connect and talk and share our perspectives and ideas and be open to those different ideas, we can all benefit in understanding and in joy.

p.s. We have a few names in mind but I am always open to suggestions!