May 30, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays: Flats Challenge Edition

Yesterday officially ended the flats challenge, which consisted of handwashing and line drying flats with only five covers daily. At night, we could use whatever diaper we wanted, though we were encouraged to try a flat wrapped in a prefold. (Honestly, I ended up using disposables several times, though I did put Abby in flats two nights on accident because she fell asleep earlier than I thought she would. Yay for Thirsties!)

I am so glad that I did take the challenge! At first, I was a little apprehensive, but I figured that since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I had at least a little more time than moms who work. And since Abby is only 16 weeks, she doesn't have nearly difficult diapers.

Some things the challenge taught me about flats:

1. That crunchy feeling from line drying doesn't have to be there! I just wrung them out a couple of times, and they were soft again!
2. Rinsing them out really does help! Even a "wet pail" or a soak all night just doesn't cut it like rinsing them immediately afterwards (especially with poopy or ammonia diapers).
3. Wearing rubber gloves not only saves your hands from becoming way too dry but also helps when rubbing stains out. Even works on covers!
4. There are other flat folds out there, and even though I use several, there's always something to be said about trying something new. I love the two folds I've found this week (the diaperbag fold and the airplane fold). So much trimmer than I though possible!

This is the diaperbag fold

SO much trimmer than my usual folds!
Another reason why I'm thankful for this challenge is that it really opened my eyes. My husband had been without work for several months before Abby was born, and then he was even out of a job for several weeks after. But God always provided for us. We never went without food (maybe some cravings, but not food!), we had some late bills that were paid for before any utilities were cut off, and we have never gone without the essentials.

One reason why I wanted to cloth diaper is because I knew that even with all of the diapers that had been given to us (and even with the ones still coming in), we would not be able to diaper our daughter with disposables. Thankfully, we had been given money that was set aside specifically for Abby's newborn/small-sized diaper stash. I had the information needed to cloth diaper, even in mostly flats, and I had a washing machine, even if it only runs cold water. I was even able to research several folds because, well, I had the time and I knew how to search for them.

The fact is that many families in similar situations to mine don't know about cloth diapers or they don't have washers or dryers to clean them with. The information just isn't there, so they re-use dried disposable diapers. This challenge was originally formed to raise awareness that there are other methods, other ways to save money on diapers, and that even this cheapest way is doable. Do I think that a single mom would have tons of time to do this? No. But in an emergency? This definitely works. When it's either diapers or food, this method definitely works. 

Do you know how often I have wished for a hot water heater in my washer? Hot water helps break down the detergent so that the diapers are rinsed out quicker. Even a warm wash would have helped. But now I realize just how blessed I am. Even though I don't have hot water running to my washer, I do have it running to my tub. A hot wash in a bucket with a plunger doesn't take that long. And here's the kicker: I can actually rinse my diapers in my cold-water-washer and then put them in the dryer, saving me lots of time! How selfish my wish seems now!

So my grace-gift list this week? I'm so thankful for:

my sister-in-law, who introduced me to modern cloth diapers and then showed me how easy using the most basic diapers really is
those who gave us the money for diapers :)
being able to get through Abby's first four months with the same diapers that were waiting for her at home
my cold-water-only washer!!
my dryer
having information from experience...and sharing it with others
diapers on the line...
being able to use my all-in-one and prefold cloth diapers again!!
tax return money (hopefully used to buy a couple more diapers)
God's great faithfulness: He brought us to the trial, and He is bringing us through it by His great love and grace!
winning diapers in giveaways! especially ones we can use for a long time!
finally trying out a Snappi (thanks to The Great Cloth Diaper Change in Memphis!)
the possibility of this challenge benefiting the lives of others
God's great many gifts that I could never deserve

Flats Challenge Link-Up, Day 7! 

May 27, 2011


Taking a small break from all the flats challenge talk that's been going on here for Five-Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo! Seriously, this has to be my favorite time of the week. Just writing for five minutes, no matter what's been going on or how busy my schedule is. I know I can take at least five minutes to write on one topic. :) And this week's topic? On forgetting.

The rules, in case you forgot them (I'm so punny!):
1. Write for 5 minutes flat without editing your voice.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Pony up the comment love for the five minuter who linked up before you.

Ready? Go!

These days, I'm forgetting what sleep looks like. I'm forgetting what it's like to not be exhausted. And my daughter seems to be forgetting how good it really feels to sleep for a bit. (Which may be why I'm avoiding that bucket of diapers today...) 

Sometimes I forget just how precious my little girl really is. It's pretty easy to do when she wakes up before midnight and just won't go to sleep. Until after 1 AM. But then she reminds me. She smiles oh-so-big, happy that she has her daddy and me all to herself on the floor. She laughs at us, and my husband calls her an evil genius. And my heart does this thing where I seriously am mad at her but can't stop smiling anyway. After all, when you see that grin, when you see the look that says that you're her world and she can't imagine why you'd want to be anywhere but with her, something melts. 

And when she wakes up at 9 only to be back asleep by 10:30, but you're already up and ready for the day and just had your cup of coffee, all you can do is smile and thank God once again for her life. 

I think I've used this picture before, but that smile is hard to capture!


That whole italics thing? I can't get it to go back to regular font. So, it's not for any special effect or anything. Just something that I can't fix...

May 26, 2011

Day 4 Flats Challenge

Flats, Day 4.

What am I doing again? Read the rules here at Dirty Diaper Laundry!

My honest feelings about flats? Just flats? See, you think I'd be used to it. After all, I have maybe 2 cloth diapers that are "modern." But. I also use disposables every now and then. (Maybe that's why I'm using disposables at night...I kinda miss that little convenience during the day!) It's not hard. It's not draining, even. But it isn't super-convenient either. It does help when I've already folded the flat into fourths, simply because all of the folds I use stem from that.

Here are links to some of my favorites:

Origami fold

Simple or Kite fold (I don't use this one yet because it really works better on older babies, but I list it here because it is so often used!)

Corners fold (This one was better when Abby was little. Can't use it much now because my flats aren't big enough!)

Twist fold (I actually do this one in fourths right now...sort of like a prefold's Bikini Twist fold, but this looks like it would last longer for her!)

Here are some more folds you might find interesting:

The Nappy Nanny

Diaper Swappers Forum

Today's main challenge was that we were out again. She ended up in the same diaper for a while, which is easy for me to do since she doesn't complain or leak (for the most part). I find that if I'm not proactive in changing her diapers, she ends up with maybe 5 a day. Not very good when she's sitting in her own urine for hours at a time! I usually catch the poo, so that isn't a factor often. Of course, I can't really do much about naptime or even at night, but during the day, I try to do as much as I can. Even that one extra diaper change can help so much.

Thankfully, I kept up with diapers on Wednesday, so I have only 5 or so that are dirty right now. Meaning that I can easily wait until the morning to wash them again. Ya know, when the sun is shining and all... :) Yay for a small break!

May 25, 2011

Flats Challenge: Suddenly It's Wednesday

I know what you're thinking. "Yep. She didn't make it. That whole handwashing thing? Couldn't take it. Now back to reality..."

Sorry, but that's just not the case. :)

I thought I'd get a "head start" Sunday night, so I put Abby in a flat wrapped in a prefold.(Suggested by Dirty Diaper Laundry, the host of this challenge.)

Yes, I use pins! Scary!

Abby's Thirsties Wrap Duo Size 2 snapped down to smallest setting
I had tried flats at night, flats with a flat as a doubler, flats with a doubler as a doubler, flats with a flat and a doubler as a doubler...and had thought that I would never be able to find a solution that would keep Abby's bum relatively dry at night. But this? This works beautifully! Instead of her bum being wet, it was mostly dry!

So far, the flats aren't the challenge. It's the handwashing that gets me. (Well, that and line drying...I do miss my nice, soft flats!) I've been filling a bucket up with water (and detergent for one "wash" cycle), wringing, rinsing, and generally just trying to get the ickies out. One thing that has helped me has been smelling the diapers. I can tell if they aren't getting clean enough because when they're truly clean, I smell nothing. I'll be honest, it's been hard to get them that clean. However, I normally smell ickies in the diapers after I wash them in the machines anyway, probably because we don't have a hot water heater hooked up to our washer. (And, no, we can't get one. Our landlord won't let us.)

My bucket with some cloth wipes added in (the Bumkins is from Sunday)

Soaking the diapers (Both the Bumkins and the Envibum are from Sunday)

One thing that really helps leftover ickies is drying diapers in the sun. Not only does it leave a nice, fresh scent, but the UV rays also disinfect the diapers! I already loved "line" drying my diapers, but I would put them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up. But if I'm really going to do this challenge "prairie style," then that's out of the question. I did find, though, that drying them inside the walk-in closet with the water heater gave them a much softer feel!

My first attempt at drying inside...took forever and left them crunchy feeling
Wasn't sure how this would work, but LOVE the softer results!

Yesterday, we were gone all day, so I just filled my little Grovia diaper duffel and headed out. I've always loved how well Thirsties covers work over longer periods. Not that I purposely don't change my daughter's diaper, but sometimes I get busy. With Thirsties, it really does take a LOT to leak, so I knew I wouldn't have problems yesterday. Well, Abby fell asleep last night before I changed her diaper or even put on her jammies. All she had on was one flat and her Thirsties cover. I had changed her diaper around 9 last night, and it took until 7 AM before she even leaked! Not that I want to put her in that situation often, but it's nice to know that I can if I have to.

I'm most likely going to do another summary on Friday or Saturday instead of writing one tomorrow. But I do want to get a list of several flat folds that you can try (if you so choose) as well as links to some of the diaper stores that sell flats. (Not all do, actually, and some are more expensive than others.) For this being the third day of the challenge, I think it's going fairly well. I'm pretty sure I can handle it. Not that I'd want to do it all the time, but I could if I needed to.

Interested? Find out more here at Dirty Diaper Laundry to find out more about why I'm being extra nutty this week! ;)

May 23, 2011

Flats Challenge...Say Whaaaat??

Might I beg your indulgence for a week?

Instead of my "normal" (I use the term loosely) posts, I'm going to be following my steps through the "flats challenge," a full week of using only flat cloth diapers...and cleaning them by hand washing and line drying! Disclaimer: I cloth diaper. I enjoy it. I also use disposables whenever I'm not feeling the cloth love, whether because I'm tired, sick, or traveling. I also use flats for the most part, but I have a feeling that if I had more pockets or all-in-ones that I would be more willing to use them all the time. Besides, they're just so cute!! However, I fully understand that it is solely my opinion and not right for every family out there. I hope that this week is enjoyable for everyone and not some ultra-tree-hugger propaganda. Maybe you'll learn something, and maybe you'll leave thinking I'm even more insane than you realized. I'm totally okay with either or even both! :)

Um...I'm doing what?? Yeah, I know. Slightly insane, huh? But I have two reasons for going out on a limb and agreeing to this challenge.

The first is that cloth diapers are an awesome way to save money, but most people glance over flats. After all, they're what our grandmothers used, they aren't the easiest to use, and *gasp* you actually have to pin them! (That last part isn't necessarily true, but more on that later.) For me, though, flats were the best option. We have a very, very tight budget, and any way to save money was important. The flats I bought (imagine flats from Nicky's Diapers) were about $20 for 12, and I bought 6 covers (2 Thirsties Duo Wraps, 2 Dappis in newborn, and 2 Dappis in small). This allowed me to have a hanging wet bag, a travel wet bag, and several other goodies to try until we could afford more. When people talk about cloth diapering online, most of them have pockets, all-in-ones, and "hybrids" in mind. Maybe a few "nuts" will go for the prefolds. But. I love my flats. And any way to bring them to the forefront is awesome, in my mind.

The second reason why I'm participating is because cloth diapering is often marketed as a great way to save money on disposables. But the people who really need to save money often don't have access to a washer or dryer. Or they use the laundromat, and all those extra rinses add up! Recently, an article floated around the cloth diapering scene that said many low-income families can't afford to buy more diapers. (Apparently the government doesn't hand them out like they do formula...which in so many ways is odd.) What do they do then? They use the diapers for much longer than is healthy for the baby. And/or they dry the diapers out, clean them up somewhat, and use them again. Lots of people in my cloth diapering world were shocked. After all, couldn't they save their money and buy some cloth? Couldn't they wash their diapers by hand? Um. Who wants to do that? This, by the way, is where the challenge came from in the first place. Its purpose is to show that you really can use flats while having no more than 5 covers...and hand wash them too!

To prepare for this challenge, I actually started washing my flats and prefolds by hand a week or so ago. I wanted to make sure that I had time to play with my wash routine before I started. In case you're wondering, I am using my imagine flats, 3 Thirsties Duo Wraps (2 size ones and 1 size 2 for night), and 2 Dappi covers in the small size. I'm also using some homemade laundry detergent for my diapers. I'll be washing them in a bucket in the tub. So far, what has worked is a warm rinse, hot wash (with detergent), warm rinse, and a cold rinse. I'm just wringing them out by hand (without even a plunger to help). I had been letting them dry inside (just to get a feel for how long it would take), but as long as it's sunny outside, I plan to "line dry" them. (Actually, I just lay them over the lawn chairs.) Again, I am already familiar with using flats on my little girl, so I haven't been trying any new folds. I do like to try them at random times, just not specifically for this challenge. I am using both pins and my snappi, depending on the fold. I really like to snappi my origami folds, but it's easier to pin the jelly roll and bikini twist.

So that's it. My reasons, my routine, and even what I'm using. (I went ahead and put Abby in a flat with a prefold folded in it tonight instead of my usual disposable. I use the "sposies" at night because they keep her bum dry and she has less of a chance of getting an ammonia burn.) I know that I dropped some super-secret-language words and probably mentioned lots of things that don't make much sense. If you have any questions, feel free to email or ask in the comments! I'll try to explain as best as I can. I love talking cloth, and I'm excited to be able to share this part of my life with you guys!


May 21, 2011

The Hard Questions

There are so many questions that have hard, life-altering answers. They're the ones that atheists and agnostics ask, the ones that they use to keep God at a distance. Because when you really look the answers, they seem so wrong.

Why do babies die? Why does God allow cancer, HIV, poverty, hunger? Why does God let children die of preventable diseases? Why does a faithful man get rewarded with an unfaithful wife? Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Well, there's the obvious. There is sin in the world, and we are an imperfect people. There must be a curse because there is evil.

But when it's you, when these things happen to you, those answers seem hollow. They are hollow. There's not real substance in them, and they leave hurt feelings. Why would God allow such things to happen to His people?

I'm reminded of something that Francis Chan said. In Isaiah 55, God says that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Francis said that to say, "I wouldn't believe in a God who..." means that we are making His thoughts submissive to our reasoning.

I actually came back to those verses a lot after my miscarriages. I had desperately wanted to be a mother. My mind was so set on it, my heart was preparing early on for this huge responsibility. I helped to raise my sisters (5 and 11 years younger than me), so I had already thought long and hard about how I wanted to parent and discipline.

After I married Drew, it seemed a natural progression to have children. When we finally found out that we were pregnant, I was ecstatic. No matter that I still had at least a year left of college; I could make it work. And then I miscarried. I was devastated, but I had hope for another child. When I miscarried the second baby, I was brought face to face with the reality that I might not have children the way that I originally thought. And I was brought very low with that reality.

After all, wasn't that the very thing I felt called to do? Wasn't motherhood something good? How could motherhood be a bad thing? It didn't make sense at all, especially when I had known for sure that God had called me to be a mother.

What I didn't realize that He was whittling away at my self-absorbed soul. He saw my imperfections and loved me enough to continue working in me. Because I am sinful. I am so very imperfect, even though I try so hard to be perfect. I am a perfectionist by nature, and I daily put myself down for not being enough or doing enough instead of leaning hard on Him who saved me by His grace.

I had to come face to face with the reality that I did not need to be a mother to be satisfied. I had to come to the point where I could fully tell God that He had all of me...all of my heart and all of my life. Fully, completely, no if's, no and's, no but's, and no strings attached. After all, He graciously gives me all I need. He graciously gives me life, breath, and I have no right to claim anything that He gives.

I have mentioned before how I have to give Him everything, all. "I Surrender All" is no longer just a song; it's a way of life. Even my daughter's life, as much as I adore her and want her to live for as long as possible, is not mine. I cannot claim it. It's His gift, and all I can do is thank Him for every moment I have with her. I'm pretty sure that this is what keeps me sane on the nights when she wakes up every 2 hours and I desperately need at least 4 more hours of sleep but she's wide awake.

Do I claim to know the mind of God? May it never be! I have no clue what God's ultimate purpose for any tragedy is. All I know is how God has worked in my life through this one hardship, and I don't even see all of the ways He changed me through that! There are ripples, and my experience has touched other lives in ways that only God knows. Even how I treat people in everyday life has changed. And looking back, I can see good in it. I can see His grace in it. But only in hindsight. And only by...His grace.

May 20, 2011

When Seasons Change...

Fridays just seem to appear out of nowhere these days! Maybe part of that is from the very little sleep I've been running on. :) Linking up with Lisa-Jo!

Anywho, if you have the inkling to join me, remember: five minutes writing, no editing, just creativity! Today will be extra fun because I'm using my little sister's itty bitty computer.


15 weeks ago, it was most definitely winter. Early February, dead, bare branches and brown grass. Then, she was born. In the midst of winter, my little blossom was born. The Friday after her birth, the last snow of our Southern winter fell.

Somehow, winter became spring. In the blink of an eye, there was green grass, blooming trees, and sunny days. She started wearing short sleeves, and I started leaving the socks off of her feet. She started smiling, laughing, and cooing just as the spring slowly came.

She is almost four months now, and the summer is starting. She knows us now, and even far away from her Daddy, she misses him. She got scared last night, screaming and wailing, and she wouldn't let go of me when I finally came to get her. Summer looks better than the spring.


Yeah...this little keyboard definitely didn't help. I kept having to stop and rewrite because suddenly words were being typed in the middle of other words. :) Oh well. Minor inconvenience on a very special weekend. My little sister is graduating high school! Congratulations, Sarah! I'm so proud of you!

May 16, 2011

Gifts on a Sleepless Monday

It's been another long night. My husband is now sick, and Abby kept us both up last night. She just doesn't want to sleep! The congestion, her acid-reflux, and teething are a mean match for my little one. So I let her sleep on my chest again, her poor little body finally giving in to rest (for at least an hour). Of course, this means that I cannot sleep a wink. I've never been one to sleep on my back (also possibly why I didn't sleep much in the hospital...)

Little One, just a few years ago, I would have given anyone that woke me up a look that killed. No, that's not true. I would give anyone who woke me up but you a look that could kill. But you? You need me. To cuddle, to rest, to sleep. And your daddy needs me to take care of you so he can rest. This selfless thing is getting a little easier, but only because I put it into practice daily. Only because I daily have to put aside myself for you. And even when you don't nap, won't nap, hate me leaving you (even just to grab a cup of coffee!), and can't abide being in another room, I know it's worth it. I know it's not only for your benefit, but also for mine. And even when I feel like I could sleep for days, when a 2-hour nap satisfies, when I almost miss the newborn days, I will choose to love, to serve, to give of myself. To pluck just a little more of myself out for you. To show you God.

Counting the gifts on this sleepless day:

naps, however short
seeing that gorgeous smile...makes this all worth it

making her smile through the tears
a husband feeling just a little better
14 beautiful, life-changing weeks
having a few moments to clean up
knowing that all of this is worth it
watching her figure out how to pull, how to grab
big, beautiful blue eyes that speak louder than words ever could
connecting with friends on pinterest
four (!) giveaway gifts
Celtic hymns playing on itunes
the certain peace that comes from true matter the circumstances
sugar plum spice soothing!
the two of us, cuddled at night

May 13, 2011

Deep Breath...

Again, cannot believe it's already Friday! The weeks just fly by... Time for Five-Minute Friday!! Five minutes, no worrying if it comes out right or not, no editing...just...writing. :) Because I think I can spare five minutes...


Abby cries again at 4...she had started sleeping through the night, but now? Now she is sick...and so am I. But I put aside my sleep, get up (after about five minutes of her crying), and nurse her once again. I pick her up, hold her, and recline against the pillows. But I can't fall asleep like this. I let her lay on my chest to breathe better, so she can sleep better...but I can't sleep like this. Deep breath...

She wakes up around 7:30...just as I finally fall asleep. And I nurse again. Deep breath...

This mothering thing? Sometimes I just want to give in. I get tired of all the needing. She needs me to play with her. She needs me to comfort her. She needs me to protect her, love her, feed her, make her feel better... Deep breath...

Because I am reminded that this baby phase is just that...a phase. One day, she won't need me anymore, just as I don't need my mother anymore. She won't be this little bundle of sweetness...I hear there's a this thing called the terrible two's? She won't be little. She won't need...and right now? I'm her world. So I take one more deep breath...calmly reassuring myself that this really is worth it.


May 10, 2011

Is It Tuesday Already??

Oh wow. To say that it's been a long week so far is an understatement! I'm still thinking it's Monday...

Sunday, we traveled down to Jackson to have Abiella dedicated at my dad's church. It was so sweet being able to publicly show that we have given her to God on Mother's Day, a day that for the previous two years has been so very hard. I will not say that this is my first Mother's Day, even though it is my first to celebrate with a child (which has made the past two years quite awkward...) It's my third. Just like Abiella is my third child, even if the world sees "just" one. Yet I am thankful, so thankful, for the many reminders of my other two children...even down to the dragonflies on Abby's pacifier. Their lives have changed me in ways I'll never fully understand, and I am so grateful to be their Mama.

We got home after midnight on Sunday, and when I woke up Monday morning, I was most definitely feeling under the weather. Allergies can be so annoying! Thankfully I slept most of it off today (I even grabbed a quick nap this afternoon!), and I think the dreamlike state is over. I hope so, anyway. It was so bad that as I was writing down my gift-count, I could not think of any words at all! I'm still pretty loopy, but things are looking up for the most part.

I am thankful for so much, even in my allergy-head-cold state.
Like caffeine that clears my head enough to think semi-clearly!
And definitely the time that I was able to spend with my family. The times are too few and too short lately!
I'm also thankful for Drew's family driving down to Jackson to be part of Abby's dedication, even if they were late. Their commitment to us and to Abby is truly humbling.
Sunny days that shine the brightest light into the living room.
Abby sleeping soundly (apparently her gums have been bothering her lately and I'm just now noticing!)
Homemade laundry detergent that works really well!
Homemade cloth diaper detergent that won't leave residue on my diapers!
The way that my mind is/isn't working...I'm pretty sure that this post is one of the most random yet!
The Envibum diaper that I won! Free diapering for my little girl? Yeah...definitely made my day!! And this company is just awesome! Love that they're Christ-based and that they donate $2 from every order to different organizations (including Crisis Pregnancy Center!)
Also for the hairbow set that I won...too sweet!
For dresses and blankets and sewing adventures...
For big, big smiles from my sweet girl...
For Coca-Cola goodness that helps me get through the day...
For pink toenails and clean hair in a ponytail...
For her reaching and grabbing and holding on tightly...
For the wonderful words my husband tells me, much more meaningful than any card could be...
For all of the dirty, yucky, coma-inducing, seemingly-endless days of new motherhood and the love that pours out...
For realizing that I still have a major attachment to my flats over fancy diapers...
For all the goodness and love poured out on wretched, horrid me.
Lord of all, to Thee I raise this, my hymn of grateful praise!

May 6, 2011

Motherhood Should Come With...

I had completely forgotten about Five-Minute Friday last night...until right after I posted about Abby's 3 month "birthday" and saw Lisa-Jo's post. :) So without further ado, Five-Minute Friday: Motherhood Should Come With...


Motherhood should come with a club. An all-exclusive, full-membership, clubhouse-included club. With a never-ending pot of coffee. Yep. Motherhood should come with this club: one with a guide for more than just newborn care. One with the rule that prohibits slandering because of child-rearing choices. One where women can just talk about their fears, their worries, their hopes and dreams without any judgement. Where they can just be accepted for whatever they decide to do because, after all, we're all in the same boat. We're all just making do with whatever we have, whether it's breastfed or formula-fed, co-sleeping or not, natural living or surviving in suburbia...the fact is that we're all raising whatever the best of our ability.

Oh, and we'd definitely have this as our theme song. :)


Want to join me? Head over to Lisa-Jo's and join in the fun!

Three Months!

Three months ago, I was up, awake with labor pains that had kept me from a nap already needed. And I stayed awake for at least two more days...for some reason I couldn't sleep for more than an hour with my sweet girl in this world!

She's still keeping me awake at night...not because she feeds often or even stays awake for very long. Nope...I just love holding her close in these sweet moments. Feeling her breathe against my chest, hearing her sighs. They are right up there with her big grins, giggles, and almost-laughs. Two years ago, I would have given anything for the incredible blessings I have now, and I try to stay mindful of that.

I'm not going to lie: I still feel like she is going to be taken from me any second. Which may be a blessing in disguise because I am forced to give her to God every moment of every day. The reality is that she isn't mine, and I can't live like she is. She is God's. He has lent her to me, and every single minute with her is a grace-gift from Him.

I don't feel that way very often, honestly. When she's fussy, the last thing I want to do is be grateful for her. When she wakes me up at night, I don't want to enjoy her or even hold her. I just want to sleep! But when I look into her eyes and see that she needs me, even when I'm tired of having to be there for her, I melt just a little. I am reminded of so many families who have lost babies, who would be ecstatic for one minute of the frustration that I sometimes feel, and I thank God for this miracle...and the miracle happens: I am thankful. Truly thankful. Even for the spit-up, the fussiness, the everywhere-poop, the I-have-to-be-held-and-entertained-NOW cries...all of it when I thank.

May 1, 2011

Two Years

Two years now.

Two years. Does the hurt ever really go away? No. It stays away longer, rests for a while, and then floods anew. Small things set it a day, a memory, the grief of someone else.

Sometimes I really wonder what exactly I'm grieving for. It isn't for an actual person whom I've met..."she" was never born. It isn't necessarily for a baby that I saw...there were no ultrasounds of Abiah.

I grieve for two things. I grieve for the dream that was lost, for the hope that was taken, for the promise unfulfilled here on Earth. And I also grieve for the girl I was, for the way I was before the dark set in. For the joy that I know I will never have again. The joy that lasted for eight sweet days before the dark. That unassuming, baby-will-come joy, the big-blossomed, life-is-here joy. Because the reality has set in that with life comes the certainty of matter how soon.

Two years. Three pregnancies. One baby here. Now.

I don't love Abiah (or Ronan) less for not being Abby or for not knowing them as long. I don't love Abby less because she was carried, birthed, and will live with a more aware mama. I love them differently. I know them differently. And I do find great joy both in knowing that my children are in Heaven and in living here with Abby.

But that initial hurt? That loss? It lingers. It's powerful. It's a reminder, though, that my home is not here.

"When God takes someone from us, it is always for a
good reason. When the sheep have grazed and thinned the grass
in the lower regions, the shepherd will take a little lamb in
his arms, carry it up the mountain where the grass is
green, lay it down, and soon the other sheep will follow.

Every now and then our Lord takes a lamb from the parched field
of a family up to those Heavenly Green Pastures, that the rest
of the family may keep their eyes on their true home and follow through."

--Fulton Sheen