Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lost... finger?

Dear Sophia,

You know, Daddy has a way of scaring me which is not very fun. Yesterday, while he was working, some film got caught in one of the machines. He reached in to free it, and it pulled his hand in. Now, Daddy has a large, blue medical tape-covered finger in the ring finger spot. According to the people who were fixing him up, if the cut had been even a centimeter deeper, he might have cut into the bone. Thankfully, he's okay. Thankfully again, he was wearing the plain silver band I got him for Father's Day instead of the stainless steel spinner we got for our marriage. The band didn't get caught, but if it had been the spinner, he would have lost the whole finger instead of just some blood. I was so grateful that he had been wearing a ring which could be safely cut if need be. Although I love Daddy unconditionally, whether he has all of his fingers or not, I appreciate the fact that he didn't lose one yesterday.

So, I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but I've been emailing back and forth with a lady from Alexandra's House. They have offered us a 3D/4D sonogram at no charge so we can spend time time enjoying your little features before you arrive. Isn't that great? Daddy was a little hesitant at first, and for good reason, but he came around in the end. I hope we have the opportunity to take advantage of this remarkable gift. It'd be nice to see those little hands and feet that punch and kick me all day!

** The next several paragraphs might get a teensie bit graphic at times. I'll mark when they're done. **

On a different note, Daddy had a tough day on Friday. The puppies had gotten out again, and Grandma and I had gone to pick them up from the pound. We got them home fine, put them on a couple ties so they wouldn't get out again and went about our day. Because I wanted to make sure they hadn't gotten out again, I was checking on them periodically. I checked a lot right at first, while Aunt Kym and I were watching a movie she'd brought upstairs, then went back to sleep for a while. Around 2:30pm, realizing I hadn't checked in a while, I looked outside and Duke, the younger puppy, was laying still on the ground. I opened a window and called his name, to no avail.

Worried, I called Grandma and asked her for advice. She said she'd come and check him after work, and I went downstairs to make sure the other puppy, Rox, had enough food and water (because the last thing we needed was for something to happen to him for some reason.) Now, I've never been one for dead bodies. I am great at finding them, unfortunately, but I'm just not comfortable with handling them. While I was down in the yard, I walked around Duke, who was definitely dead, to see if I could tell what had happened. I saw no marks, and I knew his collar hadn't been too tight because I'd put it on that morning and made sure he had plenty of room to breathe. I also knew he couldn't have been severely dehydrated because he'd promptly urinated (and not just for a couple seconds) when we got him into the yard that morning. Additionally, I had seen the shelter's facilities before and knew they provided each dog with their own water bowl and food.

I was dumbfounded. At first, I felt guilty. Was there something I had done? No, I had done everything I could to make sure they were comfortable and safe. So I waited for Grandma to come and see if she could find anything. Sure enough, when she got there, she flipped him over and there was a hole in his hip area where his intestines had been punctured and stuff was coming out. Long story short, we ended up going to the police where they had us meet with the Animal Control officer. She was dumbfounded too - she couldn't find an explanation for what might have happened to him. If it had been another animal, she said, his face would have been attacked too. The only other things were if someone had reached over the fence and shot him, or our other dog and he had been rough playing and he'd accidentally gotten him just right.

I was beside myself. Rox is one of the sweetest dogs you'll ever meet (in fact, out of the dogs my husband had, he was my favorite because he was so gentle and calm most of the time. Sure, he'd get excited, but he didn't jump up or even bark most of the time.) Additionally, how would Rox have gotten a hold on Duke's hip in such a way that he would puncture it down into the intestines? Yeah, I didn't think so either. Then, the possibility that someone might have shot Duke was crazy. It was bad enough that he'd been killed, but because of where he'd been injured he would not have died quickly. Really, that was a terrible way to go.

We ended up giving Rox back to his previous owners so he would be safe from a similar fate. I mainly felt bad for Daddy. As he'd pointed out, they were his way of dealing with everything that's going on and now one was dead and one wasn't ours anymore. Ultimately, it was Grandma who came to the rescue. She knew what they had meant to Daddy, and, although the puppy we'd given her was practically her baby, she offered her to him. Both reluctantly (because he wasn't totally okay with taking her puppy) and excitedly (because she is small enough to be safe with us in the house) we took her home with us. I'm happy to report that, even though we have a cat who obviously doesn't appreciate having a dog in the house, things have been going well and Daddy is happy again.

** End potentially gross stuff. **

On another note, I'm making something with your name on it! For a long time, I've had this purple material with faint white stars. A month or two ago, Grandma gave me some cross-stitching circle-things, and I've been collecting my different threads and needles since forever. A couple days ago, I decided I'd make something out of them for you. It will say "Miss Sophia Grace" and have your birth date on it underneath. The letters are little x's with lines between them so it looks like a constellation on top of the purple fabric with stars. So far, I love how it's turning out. It's a little light, but I don't mind. It is certainly a labor of love.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Things I Never Expected

Dear Sophia,

There are so many good people out there, but I'm sure you already knew that. Being a parent is mentally and physically taxing - I know, and I haven't even had to rough it out through some of the toughest parts - but I'm so grateful for those who have experienced the loss of a child or who are just kind-hearted and are there to support people like us.

Our journey began with a woman who had also lost her first daughter and kept a record for her remembrance. She didn't find out until she was about 8 months along (I think,) but that's still plenty of time to reflect on what is about to take place. I was given the link to her blog, along with her email address, by her sister. I had seen the photos of them at the grave yard; I had known for quite a while that someone in her family had lost a child. But I didn't think it was my place to pry - and it wasn't. Not then.

As soon as we found out about your condition, I wanted some kind of consolation. I was in desperate need to know that I wasn't the only mother out there upset about the fact that I would go through an entire pregnancy and leave the hospital empty-handed, that I wasn't alone in feeling the uncertainty this kind of diagnosis brings to every day while you're here. So, I read her blog. The whole thing. To my surprise, at one point or another, she mentioned everything I was thinking about and topics I hadn't even began to consider (such as whether I wanted to stay in the delivery unit while I was recovering or be moved to a place where I wouldn't be around perfectly healthy newborn babies to remind me of my loss.) She was a beacon of faith, hope, and peace, and her words brought many tears to my eyes.

Ultimately, I did send her a message, and she had more peace and comfort to offer. I will never forget the kindness she showed towards me. We're not close, but her words brought much-needed solace in a time of grieving.

In her second and last message to me (both of her messages had been extremely long - just what I needed), she mentioned something about "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" and how pictures were very important. I hadn't understood at the time what she meant. The two ideas didn't seem to go together. She is LDS, so it seemed strange that she would mention a line from a Catholic prayer, but I shrugged it off. I figured she'd just gotten a little mixed up. (You've gotta give me some credit - this was within the week after we found out about everything. I may not have been thinking too clearly.) In either case, that was the extent of my contact with her, but I am thankful for every bit of it.

On to the next influence: My dear friend, Lesley Black, and other good friends who have reached out. Lesley has always been there for me, ever since we met at school. We were in the same orientation and FHE groups during our first semester and lived two doors down from each other. We used to have weekly CSI nights, and when I was stressed I would often find her for refuge or companionship. This has not changed since the last time we saw each other over a year ago.

She doesn't have a Facebook account. We keep in touch through text and the rare email (which I am very bad at replying to - that might explain why there have been so few. Ha.) and she has been known to send me little care packages at exactly the right time. The first was at my second (and last) semester at college. Finals were quickly approaching and I was stressed, as can be expected. One day out of the blue, I received a small box with letter, mug and the dry ingredients for a mug-sized chocolate cake. It was heavenly - not because of the cake, necessarily, (although who wouldn't want spontaneous mug cake?) but because a friend cared enough for me to do such a simple but profound thing at a stressful time in my life.

The second was something I mentioned briefly in my Animals in Heaven post. Right after we found out the big news, she jumped into action and sent me a whole puzzle box full of chocolate, a letter, and a magazine she'd been holding on to for me for months. (The magazine had come for me after I left Rexburg the first time and, being the awesome friend she is, she grabbed it and kept it for me until she could send it with something else. Isn't that thoughtful?) Although emotional eating is not recommended, I didn't care. It was one of the sweetest and most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me.

Lesley is a great friend, whom I can only hope to emulate, but I have also been blessed with many other friends and even a few kind acquaintances. I had one friend solicit our address from Daddy, and she sent me a very thoughtful handwritten letter which I've included, along with Lesley's letter, in your memory bag. (It's officially a little purple backpack with a normal large pocket and a front pouch. The large pocket holds a half-inch binder for including the posts from this blog and other letters to you, as well as any large papers I receive which are in any way related. The front pouch holds the letters from Lesley and Alisha, as well as appointment cards, ultrasound pictures, and hospital bracelets.) Other friends have reached out to give their condolences and/or offer their own hope and understanding of your mission. I had one lady offer to be a doula for me and, if Charles wasn't adamant about wanting only us in the delivery room, I might have accepted.

Others, like the hospital nurses in the First Delivery Unit Visit, and my friend Erica have done all they could to make sure I'm comfortable or have what I need to be prepared for your coming. I heard about a week ago that there is a family in the ward who is going to do all they can to make sure we have a little white dress and cap for you when you are born. Overall, I have been so touched by the outpouring of charity and support towards us. It wasn't until this all started that I really felt like we belonged in the ward. Now, I can honestly say I am quite fond of a great many people there.

Remember how the first lady had mentioned "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep?" Well, the connection was made when, on a couple different blogs I read, mothers mentioned how their NILMDTS photographers were doing this or that. Although I was hesitant at first, I did finally ask about getting someone to take pictures for us. Our primary photographer has been wonderful. She has done all she can to make sure we are prepared and has assured me that only a wedding might interfere with her attendance, at which point she has made certain that there are multiple alternatives for us to call. We have been so blessed by her willingness to donate her time and efforts on our behalf.

A place called Alexandria's House is where the care package from the First Delivery Unit Visit post came from. The people there do all they can to "fill in the gaps," as they put it. They know what it's like to have lost a child, know where they wish someone had helped them, and are making an effort to fill in those gaps for other grieving families. The care package touched my heart so deeply. Included in it was a pamphlet for an associated group in our area who provides an opportunity for siblings who are losing a brother or sister to make a stuffed animal in their honor. Since we don't have any other children together and Onna's mother isn't responding to our requests to see her, I initially put it out of my mind... but it kept nagging at me.

So I went out on a limb and asked if they would make an exception. Now, I'm sure they don't want to do this in all cases, but I told them the situation and asked if they might consider us for their program. After a couple days of waiting, they said yes! They reiterated that the program is generally for children, but added that they would be honored to include us. I was so happy! I'm so excited to be able to make a little something to cuddle with while I'm missing my little angel.

I never expected such a response. I generally go about my life thinking the only people who care much to know about how I'm doing are my husband, mother, and close friends. But there are so many people who have reached out - so many who are dedicated to assisting in this time which at first seemed almost entirely hopeless. I believe this was part of your mission - to bring us together with these people who would be indispensable now and valuable friends in the future. Thank you for that, sweetie. You have helped my testimony of the Gospel of Christ grow so much. I am grateful to be your mother.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Delivery Unit Visit

Dear Sophia,

Yesterday, I called in to Dr. Gjoni's office because I've continued to have interesting symptoms similar to preterm labor. The short story is we went in, they took some blood, said my white blood cell count was a little high, and gave me an Rx for different antibiotics. But here's the long version:

Dr. Gjoni (who, by the way, we're not planning on using again. It's likely we'll go to Liberty and see the doctors there. The reception staff, at least, is already aware of us but they don't accept transfers this late in the pregnancy.) wasn't in because he's on vacation until today. I guess when he's out they leave his patients to another obstetrician in the obstetrics unit where they deliver the babies. She asked if I would like to come in and be seen by that doctor and I agreed. Daddy had thrown up that morning (might be TMI, but whatev's) so he was home and took me to see the fill-in obstetrician.

It was weird walking into the unit. I've never been in a place like that for myself or anyone else. There was no one at the front desk and we had to call on a little phone, but a nurse answered right away and let us back. The first thing the nurse did was lead us into a room and hand me the infamous little cup for, well, you know. When I came back out, I got to survey the room. Everything about it was unfamiliar to me - the bed I was to lay in, the spot by the window with a mattress-like cushion for sleeping on, the machinery by the bed. Charles settled down in a glider rocker by the bed, and the nurse had me sit down and lean back so they could take blood samples for testing. After that, the first nurse (her name was something like Deena) asked me to expose my stomach so she could place the heart rate monitors on me.

She tried for quite a few minutes, to no avail. After a while, all of us started to get nervous. The tension was evident. Deena started saying things like "it might be your age and you might not be far enough along for it to work well." Finally, she went to get a heart doppler. When she left the room, I turned to Charles and said "Are you ready for the worst?" Nodding, he quietly said "Yes, I am." However, a few minutes before Deena came back, I felt a kick. You were there. (Still are, but that's not related to the story at hand.)

When she finally returned, I had the confidence to say I knew you were there. After a bit, the doppler confirmed what we already knew. Soon enough, we heard your heart beat pumping along. When the second nurse, Carolynn, came in, she said the base line rate was 137. Thankfully, when she did finally get you to cooperate and not squirm off, your heart rate was going from anywhere between the 140's and 150's. It was nice getting to see my belly move with my heart beat then jolt with your kicks. Daddy got to see it too, which was great.

We didn't do much else than that. Carolynn came in and gave us all "medicine" (aka a piece of Dove almond dark chocolate) and we answered a bunch of questions about ourselves, our wishes for the day of your birth, and on from there. There were tears (and not just mine) and the giving of a sweet little care package which a local organization gives to hospitals for people in our situation. It had a lot of things for the day-of, like a blanket for you, a kit for making clay footprints, some fuzzy socks and lip gloss for me, and even a book of crossword puzzles for Daddy. There were even a few more things included. It was so nice. (As soon as we got home, I added all of that to our freshly-packed hospital bag. It's weird having it around, but a necessity none-the-less. Additionally, I definitely do want to use that blanket and footprint pad. I will keep those as long as I have the strength left in my body to look at or touch them.) 

Anyway, the doctor took me off of the antibiotic my doctor had given me, and put me on a different antibiotic. They gave us a minute to just sit there and listen to your heartbeat while they waited for the doctor to come back (he'd seen me right at the beginning of the visit very briefly and the rest was the nurses) and do a vaginal swab for more tests. It was really quite funny. Everything would be all steady until you would kick the heart monitor, at which point it'd be all muffled for a second, then go back to the steady beat. It was fun to listen to your heartbeat for more than a few seconds.

At one point I did break down and Daddy came over and hugged me tightly. It seemed like they were taking forever, and eventually I asked Daddy to come up onto the bed and cuddle with me - I needed to feel him close. It was nice to have him there. It's amazing how the Lord provides exactly what we need. Daddy has been there for all of the very important things, and I know it's because the Lord knows it's important to us that he's there.

After a while, Deena came in and said she was sorry - that the doctor had just decided to give me the antibiotic and thought we were done. He was in a different part of the hospital tending to other patients. They took me off of the machines, gave us discharge instructions which included information about premature labor (which is what we suspect is going to happen), and sent my new Rx off to the pharmacy. In a matter of minutes, we were out of the obstetrics unit and on our way home... and I guess that's a good place to end this entry.


(P.S. I have been feeling a lot less nauseated since I got off the first antibiotic and we'll see how this one goes.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Letter from Rebecca Kingsley

Dear Sophia,

Hi my name is Rebecca Kingsley and I am a friend of your mom's.  You are such a lucky girl to be coming to such a sweet lady that your mom is.  I don't know too much about your dad but I am sure he is just as amazing.  Okay first things first.  I met your mom at BYU Idaho in Barnes hall, girls dorms, one night.  We were only 2 apartments away from each other and we had never met.  There was a black out and luckily I had purchased 4 little electric candles.  I went out side and called softly to any girls who might be out side "any one need a light?" and I held up the little lights.  Your mom came over to me and we started talking.  I was engaged to my now husband at the time and we talked about weddings and stress and school and the gospel.  We sat out in the almost full moon light talking for quite a while.  I was going to go and sit with her in her apartment when all the lights came back on.  I gave her a hug and we parted ways that night.  When ever I would see her out in the quad or on campus I would wave and say hi.  

Okay flash forward ... I read online that your mom and dad were engaged and I was so excited for them! And I was even more excited when I found out your mom was pregnant with you!  When they found out you were sick, my heart broke for them.  Sophia, you need to know you have a friend already up in heaven waiting for you.  I am waiting till the millennium to see my first little one.  I was unable to carry the child even to the second trimester.  I am sure the 2 of you will be good friends.  

Dearest Sophia, you are so very loved by your mom and dad and all of their family.  You are also loved by many who do not know you.  Stay strong Little Sophia. If I could I would wrap my arms around both of your parents and you through this hard time but as my arms are not long enough, I will send my prayers heavenward so that Heavenly Father may hold all of you in His arms and bring you the comfort you all need.  I keep you all in my prayers. I know that your parents will be able to hold you, if not in this life than in the life to come, but I pray always for your healing and your ability to live with your parents in this life.  I love your mom as a sister and I love you, Dearest Little Sophia.  *hugs* "What ever happens God is in it."~Joseph Smith Jr.

Love you Darling, 
Rebecca Kingsley

All in the Details

Dear Sophia,

A few things have really developed since the last time I wrote. First, we found a photographer from an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (or NILMDTS.) Actually, we found a couple. Long story. In either case, we're going to try and use our first photographer as much as possible, but if for some reason she can't make it, the other photographer is going to step up. I feel so lucky to have these kinds of people who are willing to help in such a difficult time. That day will most likely be one of the hardest I've ever experienced, and it's great to know that there are people who are doing everything they can to ease the impact. I had a great half-hour-long talk with the photographer, then typed up some instructions for the day-of so we won't go into panic mode when everything goes down.

In other news, you're not in breech position anymore. I'm not entirely sure what to call the position you're in... horizontal is all I can think of. I'll look it up! So, apparently it's called "transverse lie" and it's perfectly normal before 26 weeks. Good job, sweetie. Now, let's try and be in the right position when you do come. Please, please, please? Pretty please? With a cherry on top?

In other, other news, Grandma told me that a family in the ward has offered to provide a little white dress and cap for you no matter when you're born. I felt so special for the second time yesterday when she said that.

Did I mention the young couple from the ward we've started spending time with? The other wife and I just felt like the Spirit was telling us we should get to know each other. Turns out, we get along really well! (Good thing, because we just found out she's been put on my Visiting Teaching list and I've been put on hers.) She had this sleepover a couple weeks ago (at their new house that's literally three blocks away,) and I couldn't stay overnight, but we spent the day getting to know each other. It was nice! Anyway, on Tuesday it was the first game of the NBA finals and we invited them over so the men could watch the game and Erica and I could do whatever we wanted and it was a lot of fun. Erica and I played ERS a couple times, she spent some time playing with the kittens (she loves them but she's allergic!) and the guys watched their game and talked to us (kinda - it was more like "Hey, honey, what do you think about blah, blah, blah" and they'd either be silent or say "What?") Tonight, we're planning on going to the Nutrition Center for dinner and maybe a jazz show in the park. It's no secret that I'm enjoying having friends in the ward.

Daddy had his own rough night last night. He said it's finally starting to feel real to him now (this was after I told him about the family offering to provide a dress and cap for you.) It would have broken your heart if you could see the way he cried over you... I know mine broke a little. All I could do was hold him close and have him take deep breaths until he could calm down. I realized he's probably hurting in a way I can't understand. You see, I've never held my own child in my arms before, or known what it's like to care for them at all hours of the night. He does. In fact, he's been hurting since before we even met. I remember he used to cry a lot over his first daughter, Onnamaria. She'll be 2 years old next month, but he hasn't seen her in quite a long time, and we don't feel safe going to see her. I would like to... I've never met her, but I'm not sure when it'll happen.

Anyway, he has been very upset about the fact that you'll be his second daughter, but he won't get to see you either. Last night he was upset about going to the hospital and leaving without you. I at least understand that much. I understand that I'm having to let you go before I get to know you, that it's weird to be pregnant and not be preparing for sleepless nights. In either case, I just know I can't forget that Daddy's hurting too. It's not all about me - and of course it's not - but I can't let the focus be on just me.

That reminds me of something else too. I want to make it my goal not to forget the little things I love about Daddy, like his freckles. It'll be interesting to see if you got his freckles - he even has them on his lips! I want to maintain a good relationship with him. I mean, I'd like to think that our relationship is already good, but I think it would be helpful to keep reminding myself why I was attracted to him in the first place... if that makes sense.

Anyway, I didn't really sleep last night, so I'm gonna try again. I love you sweetie.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pre-term Labor?

Dear Sophia,

I'm pretty sure I get to see you today! My appointment with the doctor is today and he usually does an ultrasound when I go in. We'll see how everything goes. I might update later. I just felt like I should say something because I haven't written anything recently. I don't really have much to report. I've been feeling icky: nauseated, sore, tired, dizzy, etc. We think I've just been having Braxton Hicks off and on but we'll see. I have a feeling you'll be coming early. Again, we'll see.



Dear Sophia,

You are beautiful. You were so cute at the appointment! You're starting to measure small now, but that was to be expected. Your little heartbeat was going ka-boink, ka boink, ka boink. It was such an adorable sound! On top of that, when he went up near your head, you were opening and closing your mouth like you were talking or making little baby noises. I love you so much sweetie. You sure warmed my heart this afternoon.

In other news, the doctor says I'm not close to going into preterm labor. My cervix can still feel the exam he did. Harumph. I guess that's good, though. We'll have you a little bit longer. He did say that it's likely that you'll be delivered early, but just not too very soon. I've been scheduled another month out with antibiotics for the next week just in case. Yay.

I can't wait to tell Daddy about what you were doing today. I feel like a proud mommy who is getting to see her baby do something for the first time. Of course, I was seeing your jaw bone move up and down, but I think it's just as good, considering the situation. Keep being cute, my little darling.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rough Night

Dear Sophia,

Mommy had a rough night, sweetheart. It's all feeling very real. For the last few days, I've been feeling strange. At one point, I had a very painful *something.* I laid down on the bed, and all-of-the-sudden my back and pelvis hurt like a really bad cramp. It lasted for about a minute, then was gone. Daddy and Grandma think it was a Braxton Hicks contraction. I've also been using the restroom a lot. It seems like just as I get comfortable, I need to go again. Blah. It's more difficult to get comfortable in bed, and while doing other things. I still feel you. It's not usually the large kicks like the one you gave Daddy, but I do feel you. It's hard to say if this is normal or not. I've never experienced anything like this before. I guess we'll see if anything significant is going on at my appointment in 5 days.

This weirdness is just making it all more real. I feel like things are coming sooner than I'm really ready for. Even before I knew you had Anencephaly, I was nervous about giving birth. Now, the experience includes handing you over before I even get to know what it's like to take care of you. I know this is the Lord's plan. I know it's because you're too perfect for this world. I also know trials are only trials because they test us - they make us take that step into the dark before we can see the light. No one said this would be easy. No one said I wouldn't break down every once in a while. It is significant that we weren't put on this world alone. We need each other, just like I needed Daddy to be willing to hold me close while I cried, keep asking what was wrong until I was willing to tell him, then give me a blessing of comfort.

I love you sweetie, and I'm happy for you. You must be such a sweet little girl to have this amazing opportunity. I look forward to getting to know you while we're in Heaven. Daddy and I are doing our best.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Who's child is she?"

Dear Sophia,

I was reading on another website, and I found a post I love. My favorite part is where she says

"He sent me more peace when I just thought of how "ironic" it is that He would choose ME to carry His child. She is not my child that He's taking - She is His and He chose me to give her to because He has been preparing me with a heart for life."

The post itself isn't much longer, but here's a link:
Baby Rachel's Legacy: Who's child is she?

She is so right, though. No child is wholly "ours." They ALL come from our Father in Heaven and we have been blessed with the trust to carry and (typically) eventually raise them or have the courage to carry them when all else says otherwise. We are all His children, all his family which has been sent here to Earth so we may be tested and tried. In the end, the ultimate goal is to be a whole, large family in the eternities. Nothing else matters - not the money we have, not our house, car, clothes. None of that "transfers" through into eternity. What does is our family, the connections we have made, and the lessons we have learned. Everything we have belongs to our Lord, from the blessing of having friends and family around us, down to every breath of breathable air and beat of your heart. It's important to always remember that as we are going through life.

It's very easy to forget the ultimate goal of being a family forever (including our brothers and sisters whom we aren't closely "related" to here on Earth) as we are going through the "hustle and bustle" of life. These little reminders are perfect, and right in line with the Lord's Plan of Happiness. He knows we aren't perfect and will often lose sight of what's important. A humble thank you to both Rachel and her mother. I needed this.

Sophia, I love you. You are a gift from our Lord and Savior. We are all His, including you, Daddy, and I, but you will always be a very dear part of our earthly family. You are such a sweet little reminder of the Lord's love and trust for Daddy and I. Again, thank you for coming.


Funny Things Charles Says

Dear Sophia,

You know what Daddy is really good at? Making me laugh. I thought for this post I would record some of the funny things he's said. I'll record the date if I have it.

June 6, 2012:
Me to Charles: "What 'cha doing?"
Charles: "Posting to Twitter."
Me: "Since when do you use Twitter?"
Charles: "Since I found I could update it on my phone."
Me: "Don't you have to have an account to do that?"
Charles: "I didn't think so..."
*A few seconds pass - he gets a text back from Twitter*
Twitter: "Welcome to Twitter! Type (whatever it was) to start the sign-up process now!"
Me: >_<

June 1, 2012:
Finished massaging Charles's arms and he says:

"My arms feel like broccoli."
"Broccoli, huh?"
"Yeah, steamed broccoli. I can't control them."
"So, steamed broccoli is out of control?"
`"Sometimes, yes."

May 31, 2012:
Charles just got done telling me how this girl that was kissing him a couple minutes ago had a really long tongue. He'd be in a lot of trouble if she wasn't our dog who was licking his face.

May 27, 2012:
Charles looks over at me, smiles and says: "I'm in mad love with you."
I'm in mad love with you too, honey. ;)

May 1, 2012:
Things I often hear from my sweetheart, Charles:

"You're beautiful."
"I love you."
"You win."
"You were right."

March 17, 2012:
Charles (to our cat, Stella): "You're fired. F-I-R-E-D-D-D-D, apostrophe a million times... I mean exclamation point!"

March 11, 2012:
Me: "Why is your shoulder so comfy?"
Charles: "I give it daily shots of cotton."

November 27, 2011:
Charles: "I knew something was going on. I just didn't know what. That's why I took off my shoes!"

Charles: "It is null and... not gonna happen!"
Me: "You mean null and void?"

Charles: "That too!"

Isn't he great? I love how he can make me laugh so easily. Most of the time he's not meaning to make me laugh, but I'll take what I can get. I sure do love him... or as he would say, I'm in "mad love" with him! We love you too, sweetie.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Feeling Sentimental - The Story of Us

Dear Sophia,

I was thinking of the day I met Daddy in person. I'll start from the beginning. One day while I was at school, I was "doing homework" (a.k.a. bumming around Facebook) and I noticed an ad for an LDS singles site called LDSPlanet.com. I checked it out, and ended up signing up for a subscription. Not much came from it while I was at school, but about two months later while I was on Summer break, I received a flirt from another member: "You're beautiful!" When I found it, he happened to be online and I initiated a chat. At the time, he seemed very glum. I had decided that all he needed was a friend, not more than that. The next day, I was on again at the same time he was and we ended up chatting some more. At one point, he said he wasn't big on the whole computer thing so I said he should find something to do. To my surprise, he said he couldn't - what he wanted to do wouldn't work. When I asked him to elaborate, he said he'd really like to take me on a date, maybe a picnic because the weather was nice outside. I thought that was sweet of him, but, as he pointed out, he was pretty sure there was no way he could because I was in Idaho and he was in Iowa.

Thing is, I was actually in Missouri at the time - three hours one way by car. When I told him, he was shocked. We ended up speaking on the phone... for hours and hours. After a few hours on the phone, we already knew we got along very well. At one point, he asked, "What would you say if I asked you to marry me?" My response, after a few moments of silence, was "Tentatively... yes." That was August 18, 2011. By August 20, 2011, he heard me say "Yes." During this time, we were both praying to know that it was right for us to get involved with each other and all we felt was great. On August 21, 2011 he asked how I would feel about him buying me a bus ticket to go and meet him in person. I was ecstatic. That whole week, we talked every minute we could - we couldn't get enough of each other!

On August 26, 2011, a co-worker graciously gave me a ride to the bus station. Due to a misunderstanding over where and when I was supposed to pick up my ticket and itinerary, I ended up without my ticket. I was very emotional. At the bus station, there was a phone number to call. The first person I spoke to told me I'd have to buy another ticket over the phone because I couldn't use the first one. Thankfully, my co-worker was willing to wait with me while I figured things out and called a different, more knowledgeable customer service person who helped me to find out how I could use the ticket Charles had paid for. Ultimately, though, I ended up without much information and I wasn't aware I was supposed to take the bus heading to Kansas City, MO. When I found out, I was devastated. However, with the help of a very nice security guard and my mother, we realized my itinerary included a four-hour layover in KCMO and, as long as I could get there before the bus left, I could pick up at that point in my itinerary.

Because my mother is awesome, she drove all the way to St. Joseph from Cameron to pick me (and a man I'd met who was heading to Wyoming) up and take us to KCMO. The bus station was a little... interesting but I stayed in contact with Charles the whole time. I was SO exhausted it's not even funny. I had worked all day, waited at the bus station for many hours, been in the car for about an hour, then had to wait at the bus station for the bus to arrive (late.) At one point I had to keep standing up so I wouldn't fall asleep.

Finally, the bus arrived and I got on. I was so relieved. I told Charles I was going to try to sleep on the bus and I would see him soon. Ahh! I was so excited.  My sleep was not great - I kept waking up and at every bus stop I was anxious about making sure I was always on the right bus in the right place.

After what seemed like forever, I woke up surrounded by Iowa State University. The last text I got from Charles was "Are you in a big bus?" I didn't answer. My heart was fluttering as I watched the tall, anxious man waiting on the sidewalk at the bus stop. I could tell he was trying to look through the windows to see me, but they were tinted. I grabbed my belongings, headed to the front of the bus, then climbed down the steps. Charles didn't have to ask if it was me - our eyes locked as soon as he could see me. I grabbed my other bag from underneath the bus then went right over to him, shaking like a leaf the whole time. Our first kiss happened there, at that bus stop, and the rest is history.

It's weird now to think about a time when Charles wasn't a part of my life. It's just so natural to be with him - and so weird to be without him that when I'm out with anyone else, I say things only he would get and put myself in awkward situations. I can't even tell you how many people I've come close to kissing as a show of appreciation or love. Oops!

Anyway, Sophia, that's how it happened - and now we have you on the way. We love you sweetie. We are so grateful for the opportunity to have you in our lives, if only for a short while. Just know that you are a product of love - love for each other, from our Heavenly Father, and for you. Thank you for coming.


Sunday, June 3, 2012


Dear Sophia,

Today was interesting. Went to Sacrament, came home to sleep because I felt awful, woke up and had dinner with a bunch of family members, went swimming. Still feeling off. Honey, are you coming early? I have an appointment with my obstetrician in 9 days. I guess we'll see. I'm a little undecided on how I feel about losing you this early...


Friday, June 1, 2012

Stories to Tell

Dear Sophia,

I guess birth defects are just one of those things you don't think about in the course of your normal life - until you encounter one either through your own experiences or through the experiences of those close to you. I remember during high school I had been around a family which I was aware had experienced a child's early death. I recall having seen photos of them in the graveyard, but I didn't know much more than that... until you came along. Until you came along, I never really had any "real-life" situation to talk about. I guess you could even say I didn't feel like I belonged with the "women." But you, Sophia - you have made me a woman. Of course I was a "woman" before you came along. I was barely 20 when I married Daddy, and I'm still only 20, but Daddy married a woman. Before you came along, I didn't feel like I belonged in my Relief Society at church. I was just a young woman in a room with many older, more experienced women who know what it's like to be mothers, to live through many decades of a lifetime. I couldn't relate. But now, sweetie, I'm starting to know what it's like. By no means am I anywhere close to their levels of experience, but at least I feel like I belong.

I've also realized that everyone has a story to tell. It seems like those who care enough to stop and talk to me about you and how I'm doing went through something traumatic or knew someone who went through something traumatic. A few weeks ago, this couple I'd never spoken with ended up letting me spill my guts to them for a good 40 minutes. It felt so good and I feel a closeness to them now. Then a couple other women have let me in on their own experiences. One of them went through something I would never have considered: her daughter survived (and is now a teenager) but had to spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital while they worked out how they were going to keep her insides inside of her. She'd been born without skin covering her abdomen. Scary!

I guess it's better not to know about all of these possibilities. The only reason I know anything about Anencephaly is because of you. I can't imagine having all the horrible things which can happen to little babies floating around in my mind. I know I have only been exposed to a tiny fraction of what could and does happen. It would be like reading a medical dictionary and thinking there was always something wrong with you. I would go crazy!

A woman I've recently become acquainted with found out she is pregnant today. Her previous baby, who is also named Sophia Grace, had Anencephaly too and another related condition called Iniencephaly. It has been interesting reading her thoughts before and after having her Sophia and even now as she prepares to go through another pregnancy. I know I will be just as nervous as she is. Sophia, you know the love we have for you. You will always be the first child in our little family. It will just be nice if and when we get to care for one of your siblings, tell them all about you, and teach them that you are (or will be, at that point - right now, you're kicking me) in Heaven with our Heavenly Father and our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. What a sweet conversation that will be!

Like I said, sweetie, everyone has a story. You are and will continue to be mine (and Daddy's, of course - that's part of what makes you special.) You are my first child, my first daughter, the first spirit the Lord has entrusted me with carrying. You are also perfect enough to be qualified to return to be with the Lord almost before your journey has begun. I love you honey. It's comforting to know that you already knew of my love before you came here. Believe me, it will only grow and grow. Thank you for coming to us, even if we will have to wait to get to know you. You have truly been a blessing.