Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Long Three Weeks...Week 1

  I said in an earlier post that I did not fully understand the "peace that passes all understanding" until the 3 weeks following our doctor appointment. God had granted Jarod & I a good nights sleep Sunday and when Monday morning came I listened to praise music all morning while I got ready.  I left early, and headed to school to prepare for my first days with my students.  When I arrived at school, I had both 5th grade teachers come to my room to check on me and make sure I had everything I needed.  Jim, my division head, came and found me to check on me and let me know he was there if I needed anything and then Julie, admission director, but more importantly the lady who would be my "mom" in Nashville over the next few weeks came to pray with me before we started the day.
  Monday afternoon, I gathered the 5th/6th grade team of teachers in a classroom and filled them in on what had happened.  I worked so closely with all of them that I felt they should all know what was going on.  As I spoke, I felt calm and confident that God was with me as I described to them the past few days.  I remember a couple of them saying "how could you sit there and tell us that without tears?"  For me, that was the first example of God's peace over me.  I sat in that room, explaining to all of them what was happening with no tears! 
  Tuesday, after school, I went out with 3 teachers to talk.  I broke down in tears in the restaurant, having no idea how I would handle the stress of the first weeks of school. I had just finished conferences with parents for each of my students.  The parents came in describing their child and giving me some insights into their children that could help me as I teach them.  I was feeling so overwhelmed.  I wanted to be the best teacher I could be for those students, but I didn't know if I would have the emotional strength to give to those kids like I should.  I worried I couldn't give them everything they needed.  My friends encouraged me to ask my mom to come up for a couple of days.  I wanted to think I could handle everything myself.  I did NOT want to have to ask for help.  I wanted Jarod and I to "be normal."  I felt like I was being swallowed by a wave and could not come up for air. So, my mom came up for a couple days, cleaned the house, stocked the freezer with food and did all those comforting things that a momma should do.  I don't know what I would have done without her those days.  Not having to think about dinner was a tremendous relief!  She went back to Birmingham, offering to come up ANYTIME we needed her and all we had to do was call.
  Jarod had an interview scheduled for this week as well.  He ended up delaying the interview as he tried to gather his thoughts and prepare for the interview later the next week.  Jarod had graduated from MBA school at Vanderbilt, and was still trying to get a job.  This was yet another "faith thing" for us as we found out about Harper Kate while Jarod still did not have a job.  
  As the week wore on, Jarod and I received more cards, texts, emails and phone calls checking on us than I could ever imagine.  Many cards contained scripture that we clung to over the next few weeks. The body of Christ served us in ways we couldn't possibly imagine that week.  Wednesday morning I came in to my classroom where there was a card that said "Cast your cares on God & your dinner plans on us."  Love, St. Paul.  There were 3 $50 gift cards in there for dinner.  Two of my best friends live in Nashville and both of them invited us to their houses for dinner.  We went and were able to relax while our sweet friends tried their best to distract us or help us talk through what we needed.
  This was an incredible week of learning for me.  What I learned through this waiting period deserves a post to itself.  I'll leave you with a passage of scripture that in the end spoke volumes as we made our decision of what to do.

Psalm 139:13-16
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Monday, June 27, 2011

We Were "Alone"

Sunday night we returned home from Birmingham.  We cried the way home, we talked about what we were going to do, we didn't know how we were going to make this decision.  One difficult thing that we both struggled with was how could God put us in a place to make this decision.  Why would He do such a thing?  Either we make the choice to bring our child into this world, then prepare to bury him/her or we terminate the pregnancy.  Do either of those choices look good or make sense to you?!?!
  We arrived back at our apartment Sunday night with heavy hearts.  As we put our luggage down in our room, we embraced and immediately broke down in tears.  Trust me there were few words spoken, but nothing could have spoken more loudly to me.  We were hurting and completely devastated.  After a few minutes, Jarod asked me one question.  Do you remember the song I sung to you when we got engaged?  This seemed like a very strange question at the time.  "Yes," I said, but really didn't understand what it had to do with that moment.  Immediately, we listened to it.  The song was "Go There With You," by Stephen Curtis Chapman.  The words are below.  As we sobbed through the song, we both realized that God had led us to this moment and had already prepared us both to walk through it TOGETHER. Let me take this time to say that without God first, and Jarod second, I would have never made it through this journey.  There is no doubt in my mind that he is the perfect person God prepared for me so that I could get through this.  He has been stronger than I could have ever asked him to be, has been an encourager and most of all has held my hand the whole time.  I'd never ask for a better father for Harper Kate.  Another song Jarod remembered from when he was young was "Hold On To Jesus," by Stephen Curtis Chapman.  Ok, so we listened to lots of SCC when we were younger. :)  Neither of us had listened to this song in a while, but nothing was more appropriate for that moment.  Here is a link to "Hold On To Jesus."
  As we went to bed that night, we begged God to give us the grace, strength, patience & faith to walk through the next few weeks.  We had obviously not gotten to the point yet where we could ask for healing for our child.  We would go back in 3 weeks for another ultrasound and then we'd have to make our decision as to what we would want to do.  I would be 15 weeks at that time. 

"Go There With You"--Stephen Curtis Chapman

I know you've heard me say these words before
But every time I say I love you the words mean something more
I spoke them as a promise right from the start
I said death would be the only thing that could tear us apart
And now that you are standing on the edge of the unknown
I love you means I'll be with you wherever you must go

I will take a heart whose nature is to beat for me alone
And fill it up with you - make all your joy and pain my own
No matter how deep a valley you go through
I will go there with you
And I will give myself to love the way Love gave itself for me
And climb with you to mountaintops or swim a raging sea
To the place where one heart is made from two
I will go there with you

I see it in your tears - you wonder where you are
The wind is growing colder and the sky is growing dark
Though it's something neither of us understands
We can walk through this together if we hold each other's hand
I said for better or worse I'd be with you
So no matter where you're going I will go there too

I will take a heart whose nature is to beat for me alone
And fill it up with you - make all your joy and pain my own
No matter how deep a valley you go through
I will go there with you

I known sometimes I let you down
But I won't let you go - we'll always be together

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where Do I Even Begin?

June of 2010 was a great month.  After trying for a year, we found out we were pregnant.  How exciting!  My dad is an OBGYN, so we would go to his office for ultrasounds almost every week just to check in. Fast forward to Friday, August 13.  Jarod and I had driven down from Nashville for a wedding for one of my good friends, and thought we would go to dad's office to check in on our little peanut.  Strangely, Jarod and I both had felt uneasy about going to the doctor that day on our drive down from Nashville, but neither of us had expressed it to each other.  As we sat in the ultrasound room with the tech, nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to find out.
  We began the ultrasound, everything looking fine until we got to Harper Kate's head.  Instead of lots of grey areas, which you want to see, there was mostly black.  Black meaning that there was little brain development and lots of fluid.  Of course, Jarod and I didn't know this at the time.  The ultrasound tech said "I see something in the brain, but don't worry.  Let me go get your dad to check."  At that point, we knew something was very wrong.  I looked to Jarod and he said "It's ok", but in reality we both knew it wasn't.
  My dad came in with a grim look on his face, only to have to tell us that our baby's head had a lot of fluid and more than likely wouldn't live.  Jarod said hearing those words literally took away his breath and he had to sit down to keep from passing out.  How could he be the one to deliver the news you would ask?  I know it wasn't easy for him, but I think he had to put all emotion aside (to the best of his ability) and be a professional, at least for a few minutes.  I burst into tears as we walked to my dad's office.  Immediately, my dad went into "fix it" mode.  He called my mom & she and my sister came down to my dad's office. We called Jarod's parents to let them know to pray & we would update them when we knew something.  He called a specialist at UAB and got us an appointment to go see him immediately.  My mom & dad drove with us to UAB and we had another, more detailed, ultrasound.
  I don't remember much from sitting in that room.  What I do remember is the doctor telling us that our baby more than likely would live to term and then wouldn't live more than a few hours or days and then we would have to bury him/her.  Then, he wanted us to consider the other option:  terminating the pregnancy....WHAT?  How could I actually have to think about this or make this decision?  ME?
  As we walked out of the dr. office, we met my mom in the waiting room where Mike & Betsy (my parents best friends for years) were sitting with my mom.  They were on their way to Mississippi and had stopped just to be there for us & my parents.  I broke down into tears, again, asking how in the world I could make this decision?  How can we have to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy or not?  How can this happen to me?  I collapsed into all of their arms while Jarod stood strong & quiet.
  We drove out to Jarod's parents house after leaving UAB.  Jarod talked to one of his good friends, encouraging him to not panic.  We cried our eyes out on the way, wondering how this could happen to us.  We drove up at Randy & Tammy's house and as I walked in saw my 4 year old nephew Cole.  He immediately knew something was wrong, came up and wanted me to hold him.  He was so concerned.  It really amazes me how kids know that something isn't right.  I held him until I told him that we were ok, then he was fine and went on about his day.
  It was so weird being in that situation.  We talked with Jarod's parents, sister and brother in law.  Being around family was surely where we needed to be.  Friday night we went to dinner at Mafiaosa's with Jarod's family.  We sat, trying to get our minds off of what we had heard that day, but there was NOTHING that could help me forget what felt like doom.  Saturday was my friend's wedding.  That night, as I was getting ready, I was sobbing in the shower.  I really didn't know how I would get through this wedding.  Abby helped me fix my hair, which was a disaster before she fixed it.  I felt like I couldn't function.  I met a couple of my friends at the wedding.  Jarod didn't feel like coming, which I completely understood, and he spent the night with his parents.  Jessica & Leigh met me at the wedding and stayed with me through the whole thing.  It was a "break" for me to be with my friends celebrating a joyous occasion for another one of our best friends.  Natalie, the girl getting married, had no idea what we had found out.  I felt terrible leaving the wedding early, but I couldn't bear being there for very long.  I gave Natalie a hug and headed out with Leigh. Leigh gave me the book I Will Carry You by Angie Smith when we got back to the car.  She had no clue what a gift that would be over the next few weeks.
  We spent the weekend talking, praying, reading Scripture.  Sunday we spent with Jarod's parents later in the afternoon.  It was the first time I really expressed my fears, honest thoughts and doubts.  Randy and Tammy sat with us, talked with us, and prepared us, as much as they could, to head back to Nashville.   I, of course, was starting school the next day.  How would I teach these kids with this burden on me?  The peace that passes all understanding that God granted both Jarod and I over the next 3 weeks was absolutely amazing.

This picture is from one of our first days in the NICU with Harper Kate.  After writing this post, a picture of her actually here is a huge blessing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We're Having Harper Kate!

  Before I get into Harper Kate's story, I don't want to forget when we found out we were having her.  We were in Birmingham.  I was doing some work at Pappagallo, and Jarod was working on job interviews, just enjoying being with family.  Working at Pappagallo, my stomach was feeling weird, but it really didn't cross through my mind to test anything.
  Finally, I went ahead and decided to take a test and found out it was positive.  Strangely, we found out while we were staying at my parents house. :)  I went into the bedroom, told Jarod and we both just stood in what felt like shock.  We were both so excited, embraced in a hug, and Jarod prayed for the health of our baby.
  The next day, I called a couple of my friends and told them.  I called my dad's nurse at his office & told her I needed to come sneak in for an ultrasound.  Jarod & I went that afternoon and saw the first picture of our little one.  I was only about 4-5 weeks.  That afternoon, my sister, Carrie, was at my parents house.  I went upstairs & told her.  She was able to help me come up with a fun, creative way to tell the rest of my family.
  Later that night, we were meeting Jarod's parents for dinner.  We picked up Jackson (Jarod's brother), and hung out with him while Randy & Tammy were at a wedding rehearsal.  While we were with Jackson, we handed him the ultrasound picture, knowing he would know what it was.  You see, he had seen 3 before because Jarod's sister, Abby, has 3 kids.  He was so excited, well as excited as a 11 year old boy would be. :)
   We met Jarod's parents at Jim-n-Nicks, and let Jackson show his mom the ultrasound picture.  Tammy's eyes filled with tears as she showed Randy.  They were so excited.  Obviously, we couldn't talk about anything else over dinner and after we finished headed to their house.  Abby & Brent were at a friends house, and we wanted them to come to Randy & Tammy's when they finished, but they decided to head home.  We couldn't tell them why we wanted them to come over, so we left them to their choice. :)  Jarod called his brother, Eric, and then we took a picture of the ultrasound photo & texted it to Abby & Brent, hoping they would see it and let us come over.  But...yet again, they were asleep.  We didn't get in touch with them until the next morning.  Abby called as soon as she woke up, freaking out.  I was so happy they finally knew.
  That afternoon, we were having dinner with my family.  Carrie & I had come up with a poem to tell my parents.  Since Carrie was due in November we came up with the idea of doublemint gum.  The poem said "We're doubling the pleasure, and doubling the fun.  Come late February the fun will have just begun at Cookie & Doc's house."  We gave the poem with a pack of gum attached to my dad & he knew immediately.  Finally, everyone knew & we were thrilled with the news.
  As the weeks went on we talked about names, whether we wanted boys or girls, looked at nursery ideas and got ready for our next ultrasound.  I was feeling great, never sick and so excited about what the future was going to hold for us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Do I have time for this?

After much thought about whether or not I wanted to find the time to blog, I've decided I think it would be extremely rewarding.  Harper Kate's story is one I never want to forget, and after losing it once, I want to have a way to remember every detail.  You see, I had written everything about Harper Kate's story on my computer, and just a few months ago, my computer crashed and I lost everything on my hard drive.  So, I've decided to log the story here, so that it is never lost again. To save everyone from reading a long post, I will write her story in parts eventually catching everyone up on our day to day progress.

Her story is one of joy, sorrow, highs and lows. I want this blog to be a place where I can have honest thoughts.  Be aware that some days there may be questions or thoughts that might not be the most positive you can imagine. :)  But...they are real, and I have to be honest with myself and other readers.

I look forward to sharing her story with you all.
Much love,