May 14, 2017

Charity: Mother's Day


I’d like to begin with a quote by Elder Holland. This quote comes from an October General Conference Address, “Behold Thy Mother”.

"To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle – and all will – I say, Be peaceful. Believe in God and Yourself."
Every Circumstance, who might this include? 
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor New Mothers, Experienced Mothers, Mothers of children who thrive, mothers of children who face mental and physical challenges, Mothers of children never held, Mothers of Children on this side and the other side of the veil, single mothers, mothers who feel so connected to the divine calling, and those that fight through the pains of postpartum depression and other mental illnesses…and so many other circumstances unnamed…

Elder Holland Continues: “You are doing better than you think you are. In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion, and like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’

When anyone is asked, “What is Charity?” like a reflex they respond, “It is the Pure Love of Christ.” We say it, but do we truly understand it? What is the love of Christ like? Endless, Long-suffering, sacrificing, faithful, carrying, bearing, and sustaining…in Isaiah 53:4, it states, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”  Is this not also the role of a Mother?

A Mother carries her children for nine months, carrying, sustain and creating a temporal home for a precious spirit child of God. I remember the day I read my first pregnancy test, “positive” this is something I was certain, I would not see, not for a long time. I had grown up expecting to struggle to have children, but was infinitely blessed to not have to suffer the unbelievable pain of repeated negative test, and confusion like so many mothers do. I remember sensing the great and burdensome responsibility of caring for one of God’s children. 

Elder Holland writes, “Not only do they bear us, but they continue bearing with us…it is the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat…most mothers know instinctively that is a sacred trust of the highest order…”

Instinctively mothers begin to develop this Christ like Love, this Pure Love as their child develops within, but this is the beginning, of an eternal path, this path will not be easy, consistently pleasant, or full of all the ideas on your Pinterest boards successfully carried out. I found early on in my journey of Motherhood, that it would not be as I anticipated at all. I was struck with debilitating postpartum depression, and guilt wrecked me that I didn’t feel more connected to my own child. However, as Christ did…I continued despite any pain or emotional distress.

Moroni 7:45 explains how even in my state of darkness amidst unbelievable beauty and light could still resemble Charity, “Charity suffereth long…it beareth all things…hopeth all things…endureth all things.” And so I endured. Through pushing through the burden of my own trials, I have come to find focus on my child, focus on the good when everything else feels wrong, and endure, with this endurance I have found peace and joy in motherhood.

Charity in a more traditional sense emulates the selflessness of a mother, her wiliness to give up the most basic necessities to provide happiness and comfort to her children. My mom is a perfect example of, “charity seeketh not her own…rejoices in truth…believeth and hopeth all things…” She radiates congeniality and her spirit reaches everyone she meets.  One would never know her physical trials as she serves without complaint, and lives her life as a virtuous example. I remember watching her as a teenager and young adult, I watched how she interacted with everyone she met, making each person feel so individually important and loved. Is this not the relationship we all seek to have with our Father in Heaven and with our Savior? I s this not the type of love we know they emulate…seemingly unconditional, instantaneous, valued love.

For More From Brittany King: www.thisistillagoodlife.com
Charity is built, it is not bestowed with a magical wand of motherhood like a knighting ceremony…Moroni 10:20, “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.” Faith and hope…I truly believe that these are skills that are obtained and cultivated as any skill in this life is. One of my best friends has, in my mind, perfected these skills as a mother. She suffered 3 years of infertility, a miscarriage, a miracle, a loss of that miracle at 5 weeks old- all of which were spent in the NICU, a second and third miscarriage in the two years following the birth of her son.  She writes, “this is still a good life” as she spreads messages of hope and unshakable faith to all those who follow her on social media, offering comfort to other mothers whose hearts and arms ache for a child, the one that is yet to be or the one that returned to their Heavenly Father. Even if your children are not physically here with you, know that you are beyond fulfilling your role as a mother, and your fulfill it every single day, whether or not that child was ever in your arms. The Pure Love of Christ/Motherhood is instantaneous, and you have it.

This love is in no way simply limited to mothers, nor is it limited solely to women, but on days like mother’s day, when your time has yet to arrive to experience Motherhood first hand it can be difficult to hear the glorious tales of motherhood and the divine gift so many have been given, please know, “my dear sisters – grandmothers, mothers, aunts, friends -- never underestimate the power of YOUR influence for good, especially in the lives of our precious children and youth” (Uchtdorf, Influence of Righteous Women).


I truly believe, every woman, a mother – let us expand our vision, and remember all the women both past and present who have done so much to ‘mother’ the world – continually shaping, molding, working for , and nurturing our collective souls. One by one by one.” 

May you know your power, your worth, and your ability to emulate charity no matter your circumstance. 

July 30, 2016

Wyatt Jack & the Great Race Horse

Cowboy Wyatt Jack & the Great Race Horse

By Aunt Meg

          On a dusty orange road in the middle of somewhere a tumble weed wobbled past a forest of cactus. Rows of saguaro cacti reach for the sky, they stand so still as people walk by.  Plants with spikes don’t seem very friendly, but they are helpful to so many! In this place full of un-huggable plants and dust, lives a great cowboy who everyone trusts.
          Cowboy Wyatt Jack is small, but brave! He saves stranded kittens and he stitches his grandmother new mittens. He waves to every person in town; he helps out when he sees someone looking down. When the wind blows and the dust swirls, Wyatt Jack saddles up his horse, Pearl; he races off to find lost animals from the farmers’ corrals. How can Cowboy Wyatt ride through the dust? How can anyone handle such extreme gusts?

          You see, Wyatt Jack is very, very small, he wears boots, chaps, and a hat that is very, very TALL! Whenever Wyatt races through thick desert storms he pulls his tall hat over his entire form!  When it all settles down and the dirt covers the town, all you will see of little Cowboy Jack is his horse and his hat coming racin’ back.

          All the cows in their barns, all the pigs are in their pens, and everyone can come outside again. “Thank you Cowboy Wyatt Jack,” the town members scream, “you and your horse make such a good team!”

          Wyatt hops down from his horse named Pearl, pulls his hat up from his rusted spurs to the top of his head in one big whirl! He smiled as the dust cloud from his hat disappeared, but then something caught his eye that seemed a bit weird.

          Passed a ten foot cactus, behind a shop that sells hats, and an arena where Cowboy Wyatt used to practice, there was a broken fence. This old pile of wood was always wobbly, but it was totally destroyed by the windstorm’s ferocity!

          “What was behind that fence?” asked a young girl. “The greatest horse that ever raced, no other horse alive could keep his pace.” Wyatt Jack knew what he needed to do. He turned to Pearl, and hopped on her back, and just like that he pulled down his hat! Wyatt called Pearl onward and off they went, down the dusty road, where the tumble weed wobbles, passed a wild turkey that gave a loud gobble, through the thick spikes which made him yell, “YIKES!” Pearl and Wyatt Jack searched to the horizon and back, with nothing to show, but an empty knap sack.

          Riding into the town, Wyatt Jack sat, shedding a tear on his horse’s back. “Where could he be?” Little Wyatt wondered, “Where would I go if I were a great race horse?”  He thought, and he wondered, until he grew tired. Then on the saddle he snuggled, falling to sleep, but still feeling troubled.

          Under the stars, in that dusty place, Wyatt Jack had a dream, he was in a race! He and Pearl had lined up to start, next to them was another horse ready to dart!  Music began to play, and a man stood high above holding a banner, soon he waved it in a serious manner! The horses were off, and Wyatt Jack was behind, he spurred Pearl onward, and forward she leaped, into the race on a course that seemed very steep!

          Down a red rock cliff, around a herd of sheep, up over a plateau, and into the deep. A tunnel was a head as Wyatt Jack raced on, it seemed like all the other horses had gone.  With a bit of coaxing, and a lot of kind words, Pearl was flying like a bird! Over the course, Wyatt looked down and he noticed something strange, the missing horse was leading across the range! Across the finish line one, two, three, Wyatt woke up and knew where his race horse would be!

          Around a bend, past a trickling spring, there was an old racetrack with a bell that used to ring. Wyatt walked up to the start gate, and what did he see? The famous racing horse, Gutsy! Cowboy Wyatt approached him, and whispered, “Hello, I saw you race here long, long ago.  You ran so fast no one could catch you, I now see why you came here when the wind blew.”  Gutsy wanted one last race, so Pearl and Wyatt took their place, once around the track and then back to the town! That will help Gutsy feel better, hands down!

          Once around the track the horses and Wyatt went, faster and faster, around each corner and stretch, Gutsy and Pearl were running neck and neck! Both horses crossed the finish line at the exact same time, Gutsy neighed and the track bell chimed! Back to town went Wyatt Jack, bring along Pearl and Gutsy. Again the townspeople came scampering out as the sun rose and the light glimmered off of Wyatt’s big hat, it was clear to see that Cowboy Jack had brought the famous horse back!

          “Thank you again, Cowboy Wyatt!” the Sheriff exclaimed, “I just wanted to help.” Cowboy Wyatt proclaimed. “Good things come from those who help, those who are kind, and those who don’t leave anyone behind.” What other adventures and missions lie instore for Cowboy Wyatt Jack?  As he rides into the sunset, completely covered in his tall, tall hat.

October 18, 2015

The Highlight Reel.

"The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone's highlight reels."
 
-Steven Furtick

 
I was eleven the first time I thought about killing myself.  Bullies at school, a changing body, learning disabilities, and undiagnosed depression had pushed my adolescent mind to a near breaking point.
 
Every time I have had the notion to write about my struggle with depression and anxiety I have typically pushed the idea away.  Why? Because no one needs to hear the negative dribble, because it would invoke a slew of pity from people around me...No, because I am afraid, like so many others who deal with mental illness we are afraid of letting others see who we are, what our struggles are, what our behind the scenes looks like.  Mental illness has a stigma, no matter how many celebrities have tweeted about it or entered rehab for it...there is a stigma.
   
We live in a world of highlight reels.  Facebook walls, Instagram feeds, tweets, and blog posts paint pictures of perfect lives.  My highlight reel is beautiful.  It is what my 11 year old self would have considered a perfect life.  I have a sweet and thoughtful husband, who was my first love,  I have an incredibly amazing little boy, and my dream job (yes, really).  I have spent many sleepless nights wondering, and praying, why isn't this enough? Why aren't I happy?
 
My depression and anxiety increased significantly after I was married. This is a position I never thought I would be in. I stared blankly at the highlight reels of other newlyweds, and I wondered, "why are they so happy? why aren't I happy?"  I refused to get treatment, I didn't need help, I needed to snap out of whatever this was.  My anxiety attacks increased, almost daily I was completely wiped out by shaking, sobbing, hyperventilating, gut wrenching attacks.  My highlight reel never waivered, a perfect Instagram feed, a witty and sarcastic Facebook wall, and a fa├žade that fooled most people. By all accounts I was happy. Behind the scenes; ''I'm crazy," I sob to Phill as I literally cling to life and my rational thoughts, crumpled up on our kitchen floor.  Week to week I am plagued with debilitating panic attacks.  I feel broken, and fearful that others see me as I see myself...broken, crazy, and out of control. The stigma.
When I was 22, I sat on the edge of my bed and wondered...how do I end this? My mind raced back to when I was eleven...how do I end this?
 
Highlight reels. While tortuous when used as a comparison tool, they can be life sustaining.  Mine has sustained me multiple times. As the thoughts have streamed into my troubled mind, "how do I end this, I'm done." my highlight reel plays, like an endless stream of silver linings... and I make it one more day.
 
October 2013, Elder Holland gave a talk in General Conference entitled, "Like a Broken Vessel" and I have listened to it and read it hundreds of times since.  In this talk he addresses how I have been feeling for my entire life..."this dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement." It's not a lack of positive thinking, but rather a true condition that is so often misunderstood.
 He counseled, "never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend...through any illness or difficulty there is much in this life to be hopeful about and grateful for...Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee.  Though we may feel we are, "like a broken vessel," we must remember, broken minds can be healed...the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind." I sat on the couch listening to this talk, tears streaming down my face...the reality ~ I could no longer rely on my highlight reel, my behind the scenes had become too dark. To this divinely inspired message I owe my life.
 
I have since sought treatment for my struggle, however, they have not been successful and my mind feels more broken and distressed than ever.  Yet, we cannot lose ourselves in darkness, we have to push forward to find the light. There is much to be hoped for...the ability to truly live in your own highlight reel and not drown in the skewed reality of the reels around us.  May we all strive to be a little more honest, and proud of our behind the scenes.  The struggles bring more joy to the highlights.  May we seek to understand one another better and to lift each other up, rather than assume we are all living in the glorious reality we portray online (because most of us are not).
 
My highlight reel is beautiful, but it is not my complete reality. My reality is a struggle to continue, a fear that others will think I am weak, and a powerful, yet slippery, grip on all I have to live for.  No matter what you are facing behind the scenes, know that you are not alone.  Know that you are loved, and use your reel to guide you through darkness.
  "You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it." 
 
I fight. I fall. I survive.
 

August 23, 2015

Are You My Mother?

Midnight, I sat in Ian's nursery, rocking him in my arms and I began to read him a story, "Are You My Mother?" as many are aware of in this story, a sweet baby bird wakes up to find that his mother is gone, when he falls from the nest he is off to find his mommy.  From creature to creature this baby bird wanders, the kitten, the cow, the dog, the chicken, the Snort (tractor), all of them reply that the are not this baby's mother. 

Often as I've read this book I've thought, this is stupid...how did this bird not know who his mother was? Did the mother spend so little time in the nest that the baby didn't know her well enough? Then came my fear (as overly dramatic as it may sound), will Ian be this baby bird? Wondering if all those who care for him day after day are in fact his mother?  Will he know me? The mama bird had to leave the nest so often that her baby didn't know her!

I'm going back to work tomorrow, I'm leaving the nest. I think of all the changes that will be happening in Ian's life in the course of a school year - smiling, sitting, scooting, crawling, squawking, rolling, and so much more. I will miss so many of these "firsts".  The mama bird in the story left the nest out of necessity, she had to find food for her baby bird, she had to provide.  After she had provided for her baby she would return back to him, care for him, love him, and then again leave the nest to provide. I am the mama bird. 

A lot of guilt has accompanied the strain of returning to work...moms stay home I grew up thinking, when I grow up my job will be at home being a mom.  "Good" moms stay home. I feel this is what used to be our societal norm..."good" moms stay home. That's not an accurate picture at all, I've had to change my way of thinking.  "Good" moms make sure their baby's needs are met, good moms want what is best for their babies, good moms worry about their babies, and do everything in their power to provide a good life for their babies...I am leaving the nest, and like the mama bird in the story, I am leaving to provide for my sweet baby bird. I am leaving to give him a good life, to provide him with the necessities of life - food, shelter, clothing...and with those necessities, and the limited time we will have together I will give him so much love. 

He may not spend the most time with me...but I will work so hard for him, for Phill, for my family. The mother bird in the story was not neglectful or selfish, she was doing what she could to help her baby, and that is what I will do too. I wish I could stay, see all the firsts, but instead I will be there in spirit, and provide like the mama bird in the story...and in the end I will return home, scoop up my confused little bundle and convince him that I'm his mother, and I love him endlessly.

August 11, 2015

A Baby Changes Everything.

 
A baby changes everything. For nine months this phrase would swim into my mind, I tried to imagine the changes that were ahead of us. If a baby changes EVERYTHING, what will our life be like? You can never imagine, never predict, and never comprehend- you spend nearly 300 days trying to picture it. In one moment, one out of body experiencing moment, your comfortable life of two turns into an unpredictable beautiful mess of three.

Honesty Hammer: I didn't love pregnancy, it was hard, I was riddled with crippling anxiety, my body bloated to an embarrassing size (which my doctor enjoyed pointing out to me), and my every move was a spectator sport to bystanders around me (yes, I know it is hilarious to watch a 9 months pregnant mammoth try to reach the bagels on the bottom shelf at Walmart, but geez, did you have to whip out the Milk Duds and Popcorn?!). Disclaimer: I would never discredit the incredible gift I was given to carry my baby with as few complications as possible. I will never complain about that, I know there are many who long for that opportunity. I have known that longing, but we must all find humor in our situations!

The weeks of pregnancy slowly turn into months, and by the time you reach week 30, you don't remember life before pregnancy.  The ability to take a full breath, to not have to give yourself a wide birth when taking corners, locating a bathroom at every stop, or having your belly do the wave as hands, belonging to who knows, lunge towards the midriff you'd always kept to yourself!


Week 37, the Summer heat was getting to me like the cabin fever scene in Muppet Treasure Island. I had started to progress I was sitting at 3 and 90%, sweet! That means my baby is coming ANY DAY! Lies...38 weeks, no progress! I was certain that I would probably go over my due date and being in a super stable condition I couldn't handle the thought of two or three more weeks pregnant! I expressed these (ridiculous) feelings to the Nurse Practitioner, she suggested if I wanted a chance of being induced early then I could sign up for a study they were doing at McKay Dee - The premise of the study was to determine if deliveries went better if a woman was induced a week prior to her due date vs a week after. So far they have found that a week prior reduces the number of C-sections, because the babies have not reached an unmanageable weight (typically). The study was done kind of like a lottery, you sign up and they randomize you into one of two categories: Induction or Waiting.  The waiting group will have to go into labor on their own with not assistance from the doctor, and the Induction group would be induced within a couple days of their 39th week.


So, crazed with July heat and hormones I signed up the for the study. The nurse put my information into the computer and prepared to place me randomly in one of the two groups. She, reassuringly said, "the last woman was placed into the induction group and I've never gotten two inductions in a row" Holding my breath and the longest 10 seconds of my life, the nurse yells, "INDUCTION!" Sweet heaven above, a light at the end of the bloated tunnel!

Winning lottery baby ticket in hand I only had four more days of being pregnant! Hallelujah! July 8th came slower than the passed 9 months. Phill and I spent the morning walking aimlessly around any store that was open at 8 in the morning to bide our time until the hospital called.  We took a turn about Beus's Pond, and finally at 10:30 we got the call! I'd never moved so fast in my whole life walking into the hospital and into Labor and Delivery.

By 11am I was in my room, hooked up to an excessive number of tubes, wires, and monitors.  My contractions were easy to deal with as the Pitocin was increased, I spent some time on the exercise ball, and I was still a 3 when we started.  I progressed about a centimeter and hour, at 5 centimeters they broke my water, and by 6cm I was game for an epidural! I'm not a fan of pain, but I am a fan of modern medicine! The epidural made me itchy ALL over, it was like I had rolled in hay!


 


I honestly enjoyed labor, the epidural made everything so relaxing, and time passed quickly. By 8 it was time to start pushing. I was so at ease and excited, pushing was weirdly my favorite part, probably because I actually felt like I was doing something.  The epidural kind of takes way all of the "effort" of labor, so I was grateful to finally feel like I was doing something to get my baby here!

At 9:05pm our baby Ian was born,8.9 perfect pounds and 21 adorable inches. That moment is such a blur. I saw this little body, so perfect and so real and then they gave him to me...? He was mine? There are no words, it is the most surreal experience, it's unmeasurable love and fear coexisting in a blissful chaos.







Ian is now a month old, he is so sweet.  Motherly love didn't come instantly for me, I loved him of course, but I am surprised at how I've grown to love him more and more.  Being a mom is the most difficult thing I have never done. A baby truly changes everything, a baby will change how you see yourself - an inadequate girl, who spends every minute of every day trying to prove herself to a little piece of heaven, to prove that I can be your mom.  God gave me this great responsibility, and I know that he is helping me despite my doubts in myself. A baby changes how you see your husband- Phill is my balance and my calm in this storm.  When I am crying, and the baby is crying he will comfort us both so seamlessly.  He makes an effort to make sure I feel loved when I am overwhelmed.  He is so sweet and perfect with Ian I love to watch them interact. A baby changes your life as you know it...I could pretend it is a perfect amazing change and I'd never have it any other way, but there are moments when our sweet baby has changed everything and it's a lot to deal with. In these moments of weakness and distress I am grateful for all I have, for the gift I've been given to raise this beautiful, clingy, bright eyed boy.



June 6, 2015

Time is Ticking

In a matter of weeks we will be parents to an actual external wiggling, crying, spitting, beautiful tiny human...I've never been so terrified or so calm in my life. Those two opposites of chaos and bliss will most likely define the rest of our lives. Welcome to parenthood.  Many look back at the day their first baby is born and note it as the day they became parents...I have always felt the moment that second pink line floats into view you're a parent...I've been a parent for almost 250 days, along the way I have written little notes here and there to calm my nerves and paranoia as I wait for this baby to come. I began writing it the week I found out I was pregnant, it has been random and cathartic, so here you are the ramblings of an overly hormonal woman:

11/3/14 ~ Today's the day I've always dreamed about.  Peeing on that weird shaped stick, flipping it over and seeing a big old PREGNANT staring back at me.  When I took the test I expected it to be negative. Everything I was feeling, all of my "symptoms",  seemed very time of monthly.  I couldn't resist checking though, it was about four days before my missed period, but I couldn't wait.  I did as the magic pregnancy test box instructed...trying to do it very quietly with Phill in the next room.  I paused, I waited, I prayed, I looked.....pregnant.

I've known how I wanted to tell Phill for a long time! I was so excited about the idea! I thought I would have so much time to prepare my epically adorable plan...not so much.
I came out of the bathroom shaking, I tried to act natural, the positive pregnancy test in my sweater pocket...I slyly took our Adventure Book that Phill had made me our first Christmas and hauled it up stairs. My game plan had always been that I would make a page in it announcing that we were pregnant, I thought that when I found out he wouldn't be home and I'd have plenty of time to get it together, but I couldn't wait. I hurried and took a picture of the test, printed it out and wrote shakily on the page.
He had come up the stairs, and I walked into our room holding the book, not having a good reason for having the book, I casually said we should look at it.  We reminisced about all of our grand adventures, I was so nervous. Finally we turned to the page, he stared at it...
and he stammered, "you're pregnant?" his face was priceless, his eyes filled with tears, I couldn't believe it still so I just stared at the page as well and pulled out the test from my pocket. Positive. Pregnant. Parents.

I was certain that I had gotten a false positive. I was excited, but this couldn't be real? We ran to the store and bought two more tests...positive. I was so afraid it wasn't real that I had Phill give me a Priesthood blessing.  In my blessing he mentioned how much Heavenly Father loved me, he said that he felt the presence of my Grandpa Charlie and Grandpa Low there with us as he told me through the spirit that I was pregnant.
This is real life.
The next morning I took one more just to be safe. I called the Doctor...I said it for the first time out loud, "I'm pregnant." Those words coming out of my mouth sounded so crazy that I forgot what I was supposed to ask the Doctor's office.  I laughed with the secretary that I was so dumbfounded by the idea that I didn't know what to do. The next day I would go to the doctor and take another test.
I took Phill with me, despite the 5 positive tests sitting on our bathroom counter I felt it might still be negative. They called me back, I did what I've become very talented at doing, and waited...they called me back again, on the table was a kit to draw my blood, that meant pregnant. This is real life. My blood was drawn and my next two appointments made. We're having a baby.

11/4/14
Hi Baby,
It's your mommy! I can't believe you are real and that you are growing inside of me! Your daddy and I love you so much already! Stay strong in there love. We want to see your beautiful face and feel your amazing light in our lives. Stay with us baby, we love you.
-Mom

11/10/14
It had been a week and about 8 pregnancy tests, and I still couldn't put my mind at ease about our Baby B. I needed expert help...to the Grandparents!
It's early, I felt it was too early to tell anyone about our little poppy seed, but I needed the reassurance parents are so gifted at giving. Phill insightfully persuaded me to tell them. We put a plan together in the matter of minutes. We would write them a message from baby in the back of our favorite book, Mustache Baby!
The note said: "Hi Grandma and Grandpa, I can't wait for you to read to me July 2015! Love, Baby B"
My mom looked at us sitting on the couch every part of me shaking, "We're having a baby" we responded to her surprised face. She replied with a joy filled "you did it!" 
The fears melted away for a brief moment, and then I told them about my fears and they told me about the joys. Baby B is blessed to have such amazingly wonderful grandparents.
They even gave us baby's first official gift, a book called Hello America! We read it together and laughed about all the times ahead. When we left mom held me tight, kissed her hand and patted my tummy...stay in there baby. Yes, please stay. You are so loved.

11/13/14
5 weeks along
10 days of knowing you
12 positive pregnancy tests
2 major cravings - Instant Potatoes & Ravioli
5 restless nights
10+ mood swings...daily
2 cases of pregnancy brain
1 apple seed sized babe
1 happy and nervous mom

11/22/14

Hi baby,
It's the week of Thanksgiving, and you are somewhere between a sweet pea and a blueberry.  You've made it so far already and I love you more each day.  I am thankful that you are a part of our family, and that you are here with me now.  You truly are my favorite miracle.  We love you.

12/4/14

There are days in your life that you may feel will never come.   December 4, 2014 was that day for me.  I had waited my whole life for this day, and in the month waiting for you to grow big enough to be seen I think I waited another lifetime.  I was so in love with the idea of you that I was afraid you wouldn't be there when the time came!
Daddy and I got to the hospital 30 minutes early, we were so anxious to see you! We waited, and waited, we watched all the people who came after us get called in before us.  One more lifetime of waiting and then it was finally our turn. We met your doctor, she is fun baby you'll like her. 
Finally, I laid back on the table, put my feet in the gloriously comfortable stirrups and in less than 10 seconds there you were.  My baby, our baby, on the screen.  I could see your little heart moving in the center of your gummy bear shape.  We were able to hear your heart it was beating so strong.  Good job baby.  Keep growing, we love you.




12/26/14

Guess what baby?! All of your Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents know about you now, and they are so excited to meet you! You were the perfect Christmas present. Nana and Papa were so excited about you their eyes filled with tears of joy.
Tio Ben in Mexico was so surprised he beamed with excitement to hear about you!   Uncle Rick called us as soon as we sent him your picture, he's so excited for you to arrive! You received Christmas presents from Aunt Kait who loves you so much already, and Grandma and Grandpa Westbroek bought you your first puppy dog.  I can't wait for you to hold it and love it. 
More than ever I can't wait to hold and love you.  Stay with us baby. We love you.





2/3/15
17 weeks, we went to see you again, I was so nervous.  Daddy was excited to see you and find out if you'd be a boy or a girl.  We got to our appointment early, waited, and waited.  A knock on the door...the nurse said we'd have to come back later, because the doctor was delivering a baby. I had a mild heart attack, but was determined to come back and see you!
A few hours later, there we were again, waiting...and waiting. Finally our turn to go into the ultrasound room again. Jelly on the belly, a few swipes of the magic ultrasound wand and there you were, kicking around, our little boy.  wow.
You became so real to us in that moment. Parents of a baby boy. Love. fear. joy.

2/25/15

Baby Boy- confirmed!
Starting to feel you move
141 heart beats per minute
9 inches long
2 strong legs
2 wiggling arms
10 amazing fingers and toes
12 ounces
1 noticeable bump


3rd Trimester Adventures:
Birthing Class - daddy wore a belly and felt you REALLY move for the first time!
Mover and a Shaker - You move almost all the time baby! You love to push against my right side and stretch...silly baby.
Mommy turned 24 & finished her first year of teaching.
Grandma drooled on Mom's tummy while talking to you!
Started getting our house ready for you to arrive!
Mom's belly grew to the size of a house!
T-minus 5 weeks until your due date! We love you!

 

April 26, 2015

Thank you Grandma.

Last Friday my beautiful grandma passed away after a hard battle with mortality. I was blessed to be not only her granddaughter, but one of her caregiver as well.  I was given the opportunity to speak at her funeral Friday, I'm grateful for her life of service and love.


I am on the tail end of the parade of grandchildren and I know there are thousands of memories filed away in each of our heads, I wish we all had the opportunity to share them.  I felt pressed to speak about grandma not as she was in a time that I was too young to remember, but rather a time that occupied the last twenty years of her life, a time of limitations, strength, love, and amazing lessons.  Grandma was known for her service, I was young when she was diagnosed with a disease that consumed most of her physical abilities.  However I do have memories of her kindness.  I to this day have my Muffy Bear dressed in the outfit she sewed for her, and I clearly remember the perfectly painted clothing on her Disney princess dolls to make them modest, I still carry with me a tremendous guilt for eating the insides of her freshly made bread, leaving behind a warm crust shell, and sitting silently as she asked who had eaten the insides…sorry Grandma that was me. I remember a sleep over in which I had forgotten my Teddy bear, Megan 101, never forget the Bear! Crying in the back room she brought me an armful of stuffed animals to comfort me. Grandma taught me to serve, even in the small moments I remember of her being able to truly do so the way she liked.

As we all grew older grandma changed, I remember hand rails in the hallways of her house appearing, the walker in the kitchen, and finally the wheel chair.  I remember her as she started to struggle to speak, this is the grandma I knew best, and this is the grandma I loved the most. She always smiled when we came, that was one thing she never lost.  The master of the facial expression. Grandma had the ability to communicate so much without saying a word. A few of my favorite expressions were: the disappointed you are making me eat dinner before dessert face, the you're not leaving so soon face, the sarcastic eye roll when she knows you're teasing or she's had enough of your sass face.  The give me that frosty right now face, the stares of total love and sweetness, the bright eyes when you told her something exciting, the open mouth with big eyes when the news was extra special! Grandma taught me that words aren't always necessary.

The way we were able to communicate with grandma was far greater than any actual conversation to me, her ability to convey emotion through her facial expressions and spirit mean more to me than any long conversation we might have had.

The memories I have of grandma is not a list of physical limitation, missed outings, or lack of discussion, but rather the privilege of sensing her spirit, where words ceased her spirit worked overtime to radiate warmth, love, and humor. Grandma lived a life of service, her physical body made most of those common acts of service out of her ability, however, one of the greatest acts of service she ever gave was to allow me, and so many others to serve her.  As a woman who was rarely served herself, I can imagine how trying it must have been for her to allow a seemingly endless sea of caregivers to take care of her and serve her. Grandma taught me to be servable.

Grandma's words when spoken were worth the struggle it took her to speak, One Sunday night when we were having a slumber party as I liked to call them, she gave me a beautiful piece of wisdom to ponder, I had moved her to the couch to sit with me, we'd made brownies, and we'd watched a girly movie.  I put her to bed with some effort, I had run my first half-marathon the day before and I could barely move.  About an hour later, I hear her moving in her room, I cringed as I stood with my sore muscles and I entered her room.  And there I find grandma on the floor at the foot of the bed, her you caught me facial expression beaming up at me, “what are you doing I asked!?”  I have so much to do, it's time to get going! She replied.  I chuckled and said it's one in the morning, no one has anything to do! We laughed, and I told her we'd have to wait for my dad to come get her off the floor because my muscles were too sore from the race. She looked at me sternly, and said, "Why do you run, when you can't even walk?" This phrase has stayed with me ever since, what lessons could I learn from this philosophical question, I have thought it many time as I felt overwhelmed or felt that I wasn't doing enough, when feelings of inadequacy floated into my brain...why am I running, if I can’t even walk? Patience will bring progress, Grandma taught me patience. Not only patience with others, but patience with myself.

Patience with yourself and others, service and being servable, these are all great traits, but they do not come easy...Grandma taught me that too, as she struggled through this mortal existence with such a frustrating disease grandma handled each moment, each phase, and each day with grace, humor, and realism. To make it through this life we must be willing to handle trials with grace, to ward off negativity and sadness with humor in our situation, and to embrace our reality as a part of God's greater plan.  Grandma taught me this, and I will push forward always thinking of her grace, humor, and realism to overcome each trial I face.
There are a flood of emotions as we enter new phases in our life, a life without grandma’s wit and wisdom readily present, but I will always remember her grace and her spirit that gave me strength when life was too much. I am grateful for the lessons and for the beautiful ride. We love you and we will miss you