Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Well, we had another good report this morning at the high-risk doctors' office. We saw Dr. K. after another ultrasound. She continues to think everything looks great, especially our little angel (who continues to remain in the frank breech position!!!). I guess she knows what she likes, and maybe she is just a little stubborn like her mother. Dr. K. says that she has until 35 or 36 weeks to turn, if I can make it that far. We will see! She wants me to complete another 24 hour urine test and definitely call Dr. B. if anything seems unusual or uncomfortable in the next 3 days. I will see him on Friday morning.

My amazing sister threw me a party yesterday with the help of my mother and her wonderful home. It wasn't a shower but a Blessingway, which is designed to celebrate the mother rather than the baby. Some dear friends and family gathered for food and fellowship. Then each person presented me with a bead, shared either a Bible verse, prayer, or quotation, and then discussed why she chose the particular bead(s). My sister closed the party with a prayer and described how she was going to string the beads together to make a necklace. I can use this necklace to either wear or hold when I am in labor and recall all of the thoughts and prayers the beads represent. This necklace will help me make it through labor and stay positive and hopeful in the process. (Once the necklace is made, I will post a picture of it!)

I have never felt so much love and support---it was truly a special afternoon. I am blessed to have Laura, my sister, in my life. She is so thoughtful and always knows exactly what I need to stay focused and motivated. I continue to thank God for all of your thoughts and prayers. Our little girl will be here before we know it---probably in less than 37 days/44 days (if we make it to 37 weeks)---amazing!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

We made it to 30 weeks! What a wonderful Christmas present!!! This is a huge milestone for us, because we lost our sweet James on this gestational day last spring. Wade and I have been anxiously waiting for this week, wondering if we could even make it this far. We made it with God's power, lots of prayer from family and friends, and faith in this pregnancy and our little girl.
At our appointment today, Dr. B. could not have been any happier with the ultrasound report and my blood pressure readings from this week. I just heard from his nurse a few minutes ago, and my blood-work on the preeclampsia labs looks good also. So all is well. The sonographer will give us another estimate on the her weight next week.

What a gift! I think it is finally sinking in to us that we will have a baby soon--probably in the next 5-6 weeks. Wade and I are thrilled and cannot wait to see this little miracle!

Christmas had a whole new meaning to us this year. We thank God for sending his son and for blessing us with family and friends and little miracles.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'll Be Home for Christmas

It was a day full of appointments. First, we had an ultrasound at the high-risk doctor's office, and then we met with Dr. C. The baby continues to look great. She is still breech with her hands and feet up by her head. The ultrasound tech tried to get a good 4-D shot of her face, but she kept covering her face up with her hands--pretty cute!! If I can find a scanner, I will try to post the picture on the blog. She passed all of the check points on the BPP (bio-physical profile) Scan. Basically, it tests the fluid levels, the baby's movements, her breathing, and heartbeat.

Dr. C. said he was impressed with my blood pressure readings from home. The readings in his office were even pretty good. So he took my 24-hour urine sample and said that we would know the results from that test later today. If my protein levels were higher than the numbers in the hospital, then he was going to recommend that I be admitted to the hospital. Needless-to-say Wade and I were pretty anxious all afternoon waiting on the results. I would gladly go back to the hospital, if that is what the doctors recommend, but selfishly I want to be home for Christmas!!!

I met with my internist, Dr. M., later in the afternoon. He wanted to check in with me around the 30th week to check my blood pressure, heart, and swelling. Everything continued to look stable. The good news is that we have plenty of room to increase my blood pressure medication, if we need to.

Finally late this afternoon, we received a message from Dr. C., and he was excited to report that actually my protein level had decreased. So he said not to worry and enjoy Christmas from the couch. Great News!!! I will continue to take it easy, take my medication, and monitor my bp, and I get to do it all from the comfort of my parents' house. God is definitely looking over this little baby and her parents, and we are so thankful to celebrate Jesus's birth from home!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Home and Health

I am so thankful to be home for strict bed rest. Last Monday in the hospital room I was faced with a great report on my health, and I have to say that made me a little nervous. I didn't really want to go home, because it was so nice to hear my little girl's heartbeat twice a day and know that the nurses were in charge of monitoring my health. However, all of my docs felt that my bp was nice and controlled and that I could safely monitor it from home. My blood work and urinalysis also looked good for the most part.

I had a moment of intense anxiety and fear when the doctors said I should probably go home, and then I decided to let it go. I said a litte prayer and talked to Wade. My mom offered to take us in, so that my family could all pitch in and help take care of me. Therefore, Wade and I decided we could do it and go home.

Once again-I am not in control of this pregnancy. I keep repeating this to myself. I am doing every thing that the doctors tell me to do, and that is all I can do. Ironically, my brother-in-law sent me a devotion that same day titled "Choosing To Live in Hope" by Henri J. M. Nouwen. He writes, "O God, by the redemptive grace of Jesus, help us to give up our compulsions to control completely our future and to turn more of our lives to you." Those words spoke to me and described exactly what I was feeling.

So here in the middle of my 29th week of pregnancy, I am feeling more positive and hopeful than I have felt in weeks. I can do this. I can go a few more weeks. We will have a baby. Wade and I are safe in God's hands, so I am not going to fear this pregnancy anymore. We had an appointment in the Baptist Hospital triage yesterday for a non-stress test (they monitor the baby's heartbeat and movements for thirty minutes), and she looks great--very healthy! My bp was even reasonably low for being in the hospital. This morning my machine read 99/67--amazing, and that was even before I took my meds.

Keep praying---I thank God every day for my family and friends and all of your thoughts and prayers.

May the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Monday, December 15, 2008

Going Home

This morning we were released from the Hospital and headed home to strict bed-rest. Melissa's parents have offered for us to stay at their home so that we can all constantly monitor her. We are trying to establish an internet connection at their house and will keep eveyone posted.

thanks for all the loving thoughts and prayers


Sunday, December 14, 2008

If Only in My Dreams

My sweet husband and I celebrated our 5th Anniversary yesterday, and although we were not in a very ideal location we still managed to have a very special day. We had always talked about returning to our honeymoon spot to celebrate our anniversary or spending a long weekend at a Bed and Breakfast or maybe even skiing. However, the last year taught us that we really don't know what each new day will bring. We can plan, but we have to understand that life is not predictable, easy, or fair. It's during those times when life doesn't go as planned that you can actually learn something about your life and your relationships.

So we started off our celebration with Star Bagel (one of our favorites). Then later in the day the nurses took us on a tour of the NICU. It was nice to familiarize ourselves with this unit and know that our little girl will receive state-of-the-art care in their new facility (if she even has to go there). For dinner I actually sat at a table, and Wade picked up a delicious meal from Flemings. Who knew they would fulfill a take-out order! We dimmed the lights and played Christmas music on our Ipod--very romantic, never mind the support stockings!

Then we cuddled in my hospital bed and watched our wedding ceremony and reception. It was so much fun to see our friends and loved ones celebrating. The footage from the reception includes many hilarious moments on the dance floor and special conversations and memories. However, watching the ceremony was my favorite part. The verses, homily, prayers, and vows now have such a different meaning in our lives. We watch this DVD every year on our anniversary, but this year those words touched me in a new way. I have a little more insight into what they mean and how they are woven into our lives because of James.

Last Christmas we dreamt of this year and how different it would be. Our little man would adorn our Christmas card. We would take his first picture with Santa. Our family would attend the earlier service on Christmas Eve, so that we could take sweet James. They were wonderful dreams, and although we do not get to experience them this year I feel a sense of comfort. I know that God will continue to surprise us with gifts--ones that we desire so dearly and ones that we do not even know of yet. We did not get the relaxing trip on an island or the romantic meal in the mountains, but Wade and I still have each other, our dreams, and hope that the Lord will provide us with our desire to have children.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 4

Good Morning! Yesterday afternoon was a little hectic, because I had another ultrasound. However, it was on my legs this time. The nurses were a little worried that I might have a blood clot in my legs. Luckily, the results were negative and all looks good. I will continue to wear these support hose and stretch my legs occasionally.
Later in the day, I started developing a rash on my face and skin and experienced a number of headaches; both symptoms can be side-effects from procardia (my new bp medication) and/or the steroid shots. Either way I woke up this morning without the "sunburn" and headaches and feel much better. We'll see if I develop those symptoms again after I take my daily dose of procardia--hopefully not!
That's about it for now--I am going to sit back and listen to my little sweetheart on the monitor. I love hearing that precious heartbeat! God is good!

Update: Dr. C. thinks I might have sinusitis, so he is starting me on antibiotics. Taking all precautions!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 3

Well for a short time this morning it looked like I might go home today, but my group of doctors met and decided it might be best for me to stick around through the weekend. Knowing that I tend to have high bp (it seems to be pretty regulated right now), some protein in my urine, and some headaches, they want to collect another 24 hour urine sample and do the monitoring of my bp and the baby here. This decision makes both Wade and I feel much more comfortable. I was really nervous about trying to monitor myself from home over the weekend.

So we are settling into our fabulous room and hope to get some good reports throughout the weekend. Dr. K. (Dr. C.'s colleague) doesn't think we will have to induce in the near future. Let's give our little sweetheart as much time as possible to fatten-up and grow. I had another ultrasound this morning, and she looks great. She is practicing her breathing, has good movements, and has a beautiful healthy heart!

One of my new dear friends, Danielle, (I met in Dr. B.'s office a few months ago--we share some similar experiences) reminded me to keep repeating Psalm 121. So I have been saying it all morning, and I continue to feel peace and comfort.

Thank you all for your kind emails and comments! Wade and I feel so much love and support from our amazing friends and family. We'll let you know if there are any more updates later today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 2 -Bigger Room

Well-it was a pretty uneventful day here in the hospital. I couldn't sleep last night due to the steroid shot, so I spent most of the night watching Wade sleep. Both doctors stopped by this morning to give their reports. Dr. B. even came in on his day off- the nicest man in the world!!!

They were both super excited about the health of the baby and the way my blood pressure had cooperated during the night. My early morning blood work showed some increase in my uric acid levels. They are not high enough to cause a concern right now, but Dr. B. wants to check my levels in the morning to watch for an increase. Dr. C. didn't seem worried about the uric acid at all; he is more comcerned with my 24 hour urine test to see if their is any protein in my urine (this is a major sign for preeclampsia).

So we turned in my collection late this evening and heard back from the lab around 8 PM. Unlike yesterday, there are some traces of protein in my urine--not too much but it is there. So they wanted me to stay over night, and I will meet with Dr. B. in the morning to discuss my future here. The nurses seem to think that I might be here for the long haul until the baby comes, because of my history with preeclampsia and losing James so suddenly. We will have to wait and see in the morning. In the mean time, they have moved me down to a larger room with a nice view!

I have always wanted them to go ahead and hospitalize me for the last few weeks just so someone else could monitor me, but now that I am actually here I am a little anxious and depressed about missing out on all of our regular Christmas festivities and family time. Wade and I celebrate our 5th year anniversary this Saturday, and we were looking forward to eating out in a fine restaurant. However, we will just have to turn this larger room into our own romantic dining room. We will remember this anniversary and Chrjstmas forever, and hopefully in January or early February we will hold our precious little girl---the most meanigful gift we will ever receive!

I will let you know in the morning what Dr. B. says. I took an ambien tonight (due to my second steroid shot), and it is really kicking in--sorry if this post doesn't make sense.
Take care and keep praying!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Visit to Baptist

Well it was a wonderful morning. I tutored my one precious student before school at OHS, shopped for some Christmas decorations and wrappings, and spent almost an hour and a half in Katy's Hallmark (It is amazing how that place can suck you in--I really don't know what all I bought there today, but apparently I needed it). Finally, I went home, put my feet up, and watched the refrigerator repair man fix the freezer fan.

After the frig was fixed, I decided to take my afternoon medication and check my blood pressure. Unfortunately, it was pretty high, which was surprising to me because my swelling was down and I didn't feel any side-effects. I waited a few minutes and then took another reading. It was even higher this second time, so I decided to call Dr. B. and let him know.

He said that it was too late to try to check me into his office, so he sent me down to the triage at Baptist Hospital. The thing about blood pressure is that it doesn't help it to be sent to the triage, especially when your last visit to the triage ended in tragedy. So I tried all of the breathing techniques I knew to drive down to the triage and told Wade to meet me there. When I finally settled into the temporary triage room, the nurses emptied my bladder with a catheter, measured my blood pressure, took a sample of my blood to check for preeclampsia, and monitored the baby's heartbeat for an hour or so. My blood pressure was high due to my hypertension, but the baby maintained a healthy heartbeat!

Then the nurse walked me down to another room for an ultrasound with Dr. C.'s nurse. She checked everything thoroughly including the amniotic fluid, baby's breathing, movement, and size. Everything looked great. She is about 2 lbs. 11 oz. and in the 69th percentile for her size. I am measuring right with my due date (27 weeks and 4 days).

An hour or so later Dr. B. met us in the triage room and discussed all of my blood work, the ultrasound, and my urine sample. He said that I got an A+ on my ultrasound, my blood work showed no signs for preeclampsia, and there was absolutely no protein in my urine. So everything looks great, except for my pesky blood pressure. Dr. B. and Dr. C. decided that it would be best for me to stay in the hospital for the next 48 hours on bed-rest, so that they could take a 24 hour urine sample and administer 2 rounds of steroids to help the baby's lungs mature (just in case we have to have a sudden delivery in the future). The steroids won't hurt the baby if we go all the way to full term, but they will definitely help her if we have to deliver early. They also started me on another blood pressure med in addition to my other medication.

So that is all I know for now. It was pretty scary for a second, because we are so close to the gestational age of when we lost James. Please continue to pray for my health, so that I can help this baby stay inside of me as long as possible. We love her so much already and can't wait to hold her! God is watching over us, and He will continue to hold both of our sweet children.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Third Trimester

Since I am about to enter the third trimester of my second pregnancy, I've decided to start writing about this little one growing inside of me. I will continue to write about James and his gifts, but I also want to include details about my little girl and give updates on her health.

They (doctors, books, nurses, friends, etc.) say every little day counts, and so that is my goal right now. Every morning I look at my calendar and draw a smiley face on the day before symbolizing my pleasure on surviving another day in this pregnancy. I want this little girl to have as much time as possible inside of me. The doctors have warned us that I will have to be hospitalized and induced if I develop preeclampsia again. They might let me go a few days or weeks in the hospital without inducing, if the disease is not too severe and the baby's health is fine, but it all depends on what happens.

One of the hardest lessons that I continue to struggle with is that I am not in control. My family struggled with this lesson just this week. Thursday morning we woke up to find that my grandmother had passed away in the early morning. My father was by her side during her passing. What a beautiful moment-grandmother was with him during his first breath of life, and he was with her during her last. She lived 84 wonderful years and suffered with dementia during the last 5 or so. My father shared with us yesterday what one of his friends had said. That we celebrate her life, but it is so hard to say goodbye to a whole generation. I hate that my father has to experience so much pain, but I know that she is with the Lord and that we are not in control of what happens in our lives.

Only God knows what will happen and He will provide me with the strength I need during this pregnancy. I really can't do anything more to change the outcome. I already monitor my blood pressure 3-4 times a day, take my medication (right now 10 pills a day), put my feet up for at least 2-3 hours every afternoon, and watch for changes in my swelling, eyesight, and headaches. So this little girl is in God's hands, and I have to strengthen my faith and trust in the Lord. That is what James is teaching me daily--to trust in the Lord. I know he is cheering for his baby sister and wants her to make it. James will always be our little angel watching over us.

Our little girl looks good right now. We are a few days past 27 weeks, which is great!! She is in the 48th percentile in size, and all of her organs are developing appropriately. During this week's ultrasound, she showed off her incredible flexibility. She was folded in half with her legs extending beyond her head. It is truly amazing how these little miracles move and grow inside such a small space!

Dr. B. continues to monitor my blood pressure and swelling. For the last two weeks, he has ordered preclampsia lab work to monitor my levels, and both weeks they have returned normal. I also do not have gestational diabetes or anemia.

So the health of this pregnancy looks great as we start the third trimester, but honestly Wade and I are still extremely nervous. Preeclampsia is a scary disease, as we have learned. It can develop quickly without much warning, so we continue to pray and just have to trust that the Lord will take care of us.

Please pray for peace, comfort, and good health during these next few weeks. I will continue to give updates after each appointment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time for me to reflect on the year. I look back on 2008 and still cannot believe what has happened in our lives. God has blessed our family in many ways and sitting around the table on Thanksgiving staring at my precious nephew I started to think about my blessings.

Hudson (my nephew), one of the dearest five-year-olds I know, led our conversation at the table. After the prayer, he wanted to share his Kindergarten worksheet on the story of Thanksgiving. Instead of reading it once, he wanted everyone at the table to take turns reading his work. So while we treated ourselves to Mom's delicious meal, the story was repeated multiple times around the table. It was precious, but Hudson wasn't finished yet! He quickly reminded us that we needed to share what we were thankful for this year.

As my family shared their blessings, I could feel the tears starting to stream down my face. I am extremely thankful for James and for this sweet little girl growing inside of me, but it was so painful to share that evening. I will always miss James and long to know him, but I am so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to carry him. He continues to strengthen my faith in the Lord and has taught me what kind of parent I want to be. (I will write more on that one later.)

I am also so blessed and thankful to carry this little girl. At the beginning of this pregnancy, my doubts and fears overwhelmed me (and sometimes still do). I had no idea how I would get this far in the pregnancy successfully. I am now 26 1/2 weeks and in the last week of my second trimester. The baby is in the 48th percentile in size (which is great), and I continue to maintain a stable blood pressure. Wade and I both are very thankful for this pregnancy and for this miraculous health.

Of course I am thankful for my loving husband and his patience, my parents, Wade's parents, our siblings, nephews, grandparents, extended families, and friends. The community of friends and family that surrounded us after James' death has meant so much to us and given us amazing support and hope.

This morning I pulled out the basket and started to reread the cards and letters we received last spring and summer. My favorite part of the day last April, May, and June was receiving the mail. The first couple of weeks, Wade would bring me the cards when he came home for lunch, because I did not feel like going outside. Gradually, I started making the trip to the mailbox my daily outing. Reading those letters and cards filled my heart with hope and love. Just knowing that others around us were praying for our family was so comforting. When Wade would get home for lunch, we would read the cards again and cry together. Then I would add the new cards to the basket.

We received cards from church members, colleagues, various students I taught over the last seven years, current students, students from OHS I haven't taught, our former teachers, old friends, new friends, our parents' friends and colleagues, neighbors and of course family members. We truly felt loved! Throughout the summer, I would pull out the basket and begin to reread those dear notes. Even now they continue to give me inspiration and hope, and just this week we have received some new cards. We are so blessed to have such devoted friends and family in our lives, and we are extremely thankful.

Thanksgiving has a whole new meaning to us this year. We will continue to count our blessings and thank God for the gifts in our lives, especially James and this growing baby girl.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weeping Hornbeam

After James' death, Wade and I made many tough decisions; decisions that we were not prepared for nor capable of making. In the hospital, many pastors visited us. Pastors from our church at the time, pastors from my childhood church, and pastors from my school's church all gathered around us at the hospital to pray for us and our sweet James. Those prayers were important to us and guided us in our first decision to have James baptized.

April 2, 2008 we had James baptized in the hospital. I don't know if that made sense to anyone else but us; we knew James was already with our Lord, and we wanted to have him blessed in this special ceremony. My hospital room was filled with pastors, my favorite nurse, and Dr. B. Our families listened and waited in the hallway. Wade and I held our precious angel in our hands and admired him during his baptism. We were so thankful to have the opportunity to hold him again and see him.

The Baptist nurses were incredible during our stay and departure and made many tough decisions for us. They presented us with a sweet quilted bag full of James' belongings, his tiny blue dress and hat, his blanket, his little lamb, a golden ring (which I wear sometimes around my neck), his footprints and measurements, some pictures, and lots of information on grieving.

One of the hardest conversations we experienced was with the chaplain of the hospital. We had to decide what to do with our dear James. Wade and I were not prepared to make this decision. We didn't know anything about funeral homes or the whole process. The chaplain assured us that we had plenty of time and that they would keep James safe and sound until we were ready.

A few weeks later, Wade had a wonderful idea to plant a tree at Cheekwood, a Botanical Garden, in honor of James. We wanted a safe place that we could always visit and remember our sweet baby boy for the rest our lives. On April 28 in the Robinson Water Garden at Cheekwood, we gathered around a beautiful Weeping Hornbeam (seen above), planted in honor of our special son. Before the service started, Wade and I spread James' ashes under the tree and prayed for him. Then one of my childhood pastors, K.C., led a Committal Service remembering James Walter. First he shared some scripture readings (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 23, Matthew 19:14). Then my precious sister read a letter written by my brother-in-law, who is a pastor in North Carolina and was not able to be there. This letter was given to me and Wade a few days after we lost James. It was wrapped in a delicate handkerchief and tied with a ribbon. It is the most meaningful and heartfelt letter that we have ever received, and my sister was so brave and dear to share it at the service. We ended the service with the Lord's Prayer and two songs, The Lark Ascending and You Are My Sunshine (I sang this song to James in the hospital), played on the violin.

It was a gorgeous day in April and a perfect service for our little James. On the back of the program, a traditional Gaelic blessing was printed. For the first month after I lost James, I repeated this blessing in my head; it was very comforting and provided hope for the future.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wade & Love

Lately, I have wrestled with the idea of love and how it can hurt to love someone so much and then lose them. Love is probably the most precious gift that God has given us--the ability to love one another. First, there is the love for our parents (children, siblings, grandparents, pets, etc.), an unconditional love. We are born with this love; it is so natural and easy (most of the time). It can bring us the greatest joy and the deepest pain throughout life. Then there is the love for our friends, which is more conditional; sometimes this love comes and goes, and it is not always natural.

There is also the love that joins a couple in marriage. I believe that God has created this love. Through your commitments to one another, you vow to be partners throughout life, to support each other, and to grow in your faith together as a family.

God has blessed me with that kind of love. Eight years ago I was lucky enough to meet Wade, and I realized immediately that he was different than other guys. Besides being extremely handsome, he has the best personality and outlook on life. He is definitely a glass half-full kind of guy and the most humble person that I know. He is calm while I can be (just a little) over-emotional. He is passionate about the environment, plants, trees, etc. while I am more passionate about education and the arts. His faith is strong and secure while I tend to worry. I love what he teaches me daily and the way that our personalities compliment each others.

For the last four and half years of marriage, I thought I understood our wedding vows. We were supporting each other and growing as partners. However, God had bigger plans for our marriage and lives. He blessed us with James. I know that it is hard to talk about and believe in 'silver linings'. However, I believe that James gave us many gifts and will continue to the rest of our lives. James taught his parents how to love.

I had no idea how wonderful my husband really was. Yes, I find him attractive physically, and I love his personality and intelligence. However, the way that he took care of me and opened-up emotionally during that week in the hospital and the many weeks that followed was the greatest gift. I did not know we were capable of loving each other that much. He knew exactly what I needed and was right by my side through it all. He held my hand, climbed into my hospital bed to hold me, talked with our visitors, and took notes on my medication. He was completely there for me throughout those awful days and weeks trying to help me heal physically, when I know he was broken mentally and emotionally. He was completely selfless and available. I cannot even imagine what it was like for him to go to work every day and come home to me every night. His strength was extraordinary.

I am just so overwhelmed with love and thankful for the many gifts that God has given us. God's love is the ultimate gift. He loves us, even though we sin and have many flaws (even Wade has a few). That is what makes us human, I guess. If only we could love like God--then maybe it wouldn't hurt so much when we lose the ones we love.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I spent the next 4 days in the hospital. They were days of complete shock. I cannot really remember the order of events or visitors; the doctors had warned me that this might happen. Magnesium or something in my IV can cause memory loss. I don't really know. I was so numb the first few days that I didn't even feel the magnesium, and when I finally felt it, it was awful. It definitely hurts going through your veins. It felt like a fire going up and down my arm.
Those first few days were days of grieving, and days of trying to wrap our heads around what just happened. Our hearts were broken, of course, but I found myself so worried and heartbroken for those around me. I hated to see my parents and in-laws so upset. They wanted to fix it and help their children feel better and heal. Just having them there to hold our hands and give us support meant everything to us.
Seeing our siblings for the first time was emotionally draining, because they were so scared for my health and wanted to see us happy. I remember my sister walking into the room for the first time and running over to embrace me. Her heart wept for me; she knew how much I wanted this little man. She had seen me fall in love with her own children, and she wanted me to have my own experience with kids.
Some of our closest friends and family also visited us in the hospital those first few days. Wade and I just felt so bad for them. We knew it was hard for all of them to come down there. What do you say to a couple that has just lost it all--their first son, hope, dreams, future? My heart went out to all of them. One of my dearest friends, Tricia, had just given birth in February to another beautiful daughter, and she rushed down to be by my side and hold my hand. She was so strong to be there and give me support. She took care of all communication for me, especially to OHS. I still have no idea how many emails or phone calls she made, but she did it all.
Our hearts and my blood pressure could only take so much, so the nurses and our families had to make some executive decisions on visitors. After the initial shock of the first two days, we tried to get the word out that cards/letters would be better than visitors, because every time we saw another friend or loved one we broke down and started the whole emotional process over again.
What haunted me most of all in the hospital those first few days was my precious third grade class. They were so emotionally tied to this little man 'Peanut' and could not wait to meet him. I constantly kept praying for their hearts and their faith in God. It hit me the night before I gave birth to James that someone was going to have to go into my classroom the next day and explain to the class that their teacher's baby boy was no longer alive. That realization hurt so badly. I didn't want their little innocent hearts to be broken, but I was going to have to trust in the Lord and His healing hands. There was nothing, once again, that I could do to change the outcome.
There were not many moments of quiet time for us, especially since the nurses and doctors were still trying to get my blood pressure stabilized and family members were constantly in the room providing love and support, which we needed and truly appreciated. Nighttime was obviously the quiet time around the hospital. It was a scary time for us, because that is when reality kicked in and we were left alone to our thoughts and emotions. What a blessing it was to have such an amazing husband during that time! I think I will spend the next post discussing Wade--because the Lord has truly blessed me with him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

James Walter

Well--this is obviously the hardest entry for me. To be honest I have avoided it as long as I can because it is so painful, but I want to share my memories and my special boy with you. I want to celebrate the biggest day of our life--seeing our beautiful son for the first time and holding him. That special day was exactly 30 weeks ago (210 days). I cannot believe how much has already changed in our lives and how my love for him grows every day.

My labor progressed throughout the night. I remember Dr. B. checking on me at some point in the middle of the night, and he predicted that we still had a few hours left of labor. He thought our son would come some time in the morning or around lunch time.

Around five-thirty or six in the morning, I started to feel some heavy pressure, and the sensation was a bit lower than it had been. I was concerned, but I thought this was all apart of the natural process. When the nurse came in to check on me, I explained the extreme pressure, and she checked me and decided that it was time to call Dr. B.

My mom returned to my side during that time, and I described the pressure to her. It felt like this baby was coming soon, so I told her to call Dad and have him bring the camera. I know this sounds a little bizarre to some people (to want a camera), but for thirty weeks Wade and I had anticipated this day---this amazing moment when we would see God's miracle, our son. We would see this beautiful creation that we made. It was suppose to be a moment of celebration, and I could not wrap my head around the idea that this was not going to be a celebration. We would see our beautiful creation, and then we would lose him all in one moment. It is like someone giving you a gift that you have prayed and wished for your entire life and then immediately taking it away.

My mother called him, and she left to update my mother-in-law on what was happening. During those next few minutes or so, I felt the baby really drop. Wade called for the nurse, and she explained that Dr. B. was about thirty minutes away. I explained to her that this baby was really coming out now, and that I was not joking. She checked me again and saw the baby's head. She quickly called for the on-call doctor.

Immediately my room filled with people: Dr. S., many nurses, my mom, my mother-in-law, and of course my precious Wade. I remember Wade grabbing my hand, and all I wanted to do was stare at him. We discussed briefly what we were going to do once our baby arrived. At first we agreed that we did not want to see him--that it would be too painful to hold him and name him.
(Those were our initial thoughts, but our plans quickly changed.)

Finally the room was ready for the delivery. Once again I was worried that Wade was going to faint, so I insisted that one of the nurses get him a stool or a chair. He sat right by my side, stroking my hand, and encouraging me. He was so brave and just the kind of support I needed. I think I just pushed two or three times--and James Walter was here.

He was beautiful. I remember that moment being so extremely peaceful and calm. Wade and I were filled with warmth and love, and we knew we had to look up at him. My favorite memory of James was watching the nurse carry him to the warming tray. His body was limp, but he looked like an angel to me--what a beautiful angel! Dr. S. finished the labor process, and the nurses cleaned James Walter. A few minutes later, the nurse handed James to us, so that we could really see our son and love him. Everyone left the room; finally Wade and I could enjoy the moment by ourselves.

James Walter was such a blessing! He was born at 6:20 AM on April 1, 2oo8. He weighed 2 pounds 3.25 ounces and was 14 inches long. That is Wade's favorite part, his length. He was so impressed with how long James already was. He was long and lean, just like his daddy. In fact, I think he looked a lot like his daddy. His lips were exactly the same. (When Wade is settling down to sleep at night, I love to stare at him because I see James's beautiful lips again.) His fingers were so long and beautiful. I have short and stubby ones, so I knew his fingers were a gift from his dad also. Wade and I both agreed that he probably had my feet, nice and petite, and my nose. He had a little dark hair on his head, not as much as we figured he would. However, Wade and I both had lighter and thinner hair as babies.

We spent the next half hour loving James. We prayed for him and asked God to hold him so tightly in his hands. We kissed him and told him how much we had wanted him and planned for his future. I sang "You Are My Sunshine" to my precious son. It was an amazing time between all three of us. God gave those special moments to us. There was no anger or anxiety in the room--just love, joy, and peace. Our hearts were overwhelmed with the joy of being parents to this sweet boy and with the sadness of having to let him go.

It was extremely hard to end that time together, but our hearts told us when it was time. Sometimes in life you have to come up for some air--give yourself a little break--so we decided to have the grandparents come back in at that time. We shared our little James with them. They each had a chance to hold and love him. We explained his name. James was the name of my father's grandfather, and Walter was the name of Wade's grandfather. We loved that name; we chose it months before we were even pregnant. Wade loved the fact that his son would have his exact initials--another neat way that father and son could be connected without having a junior.

Of course there were tears, but as I reflect back on those tender moments all I can remember is love. I had no idea how much I could love. Wade and I are so thankful now that we were given the opportunity to meet James--to hold him and touch him was such a gift, even if it killed us. Our journey in life is unpredictable, but I believe that God does have a plan for us. I also believe that our James is safe in His hands, and when I start to miss my little man it is comforting to know exactly where he is. He will always be in our hearts and safe in God's hands.

Monday, October 27, 2008


In the middle of such a horrific tragedy, there was a little comedy. I was in labor and did have an epidural to ease the pain. (I say all of this because some people don't understand that I actually went through the whole labor process--contractions, pressure, waiting, etc.) One annoying side effect of epidurals is that they can be a little uneven. That was particularly annoying to me, because I had one leg (I think it was my right one.) that was extremely numb and the other one still had a little feeling (which I liked). Of course, you don't want to feel the pain, but knowing that your leg is still alive is a comforting feeling.
After many hours, the dads went home to rest for a little while, and our moms tried to get settled in another room down the hall. The nurses encouraged me to try and get a little rest, so Wade rested on the built-in sofa area. However, my right leg and its numbness were killing me. I kept trying to bump or hit it to feel something. It was driving me nuts.
After a few frustrating minutes, I decided to call for the nurses to see if they could help me get comfortable. They brought more pillows in and tried to elevate my leg, since I had to rest on my side. I thought this repositioning would help, so I told them it felt better. In all of the commotion, Wade resumed his position by my side and was ready to help.
Minutes after the nurses left, I confessed to him that my leg was still really annoying me. So I got him to move it for me. Lifting and bending it felt wonderful. He did that for awhile. Then he stacked the pillows up again in between my legs and sat down next to me. I still wasn't satisfied. I wanted the problem resolved. So he went through the exercises again, but this time I insisted he lift my leg up and down. However, I was starting to get annoyed with my dear husband because he wasn't lifting my leg high enough. He insisted that my leg couldn't go any further. I didn't believe him.
Then my mother entered the room to see how I was doing. So Wade gladly handed this leg duty off to my mom. She went through the same procedures as Wade, and unfortunately the outcome was the same. She couldn't lift my leg high enough either. I was really annoyed with both of them at this point, especially when they started to laugh at me. They said it was because they had lifted my leg up as high as it could possibly go. Plus, I was saying funny things like, "You guys just don't know how to do it. If I could do it myself, I would show you."
After an hour or so of fighting over whether they were lifting my leg high enough or positioning it correctly, I finally got settled. As we reflect back on that night, it definitely was a funny moment shared between the three of us. Weeks later we all enjoyed retelling that story and sharing some good laughs over it. I believe God likes to do that- insert some comedic relief into our lives, especially when we need it the most.

Friday, October 24, 2008


So on Monday morning, I went in to teach my precious third graders. We had a lot to cover and many new units to begin. I was excited in the morning, because I felt my little man moving inside of me. I noticed that his movements felt more like turning and less like kicking. I was just glad that I felt him. As the day continued, I started noticing that my whole belly would tighten when he turned. I started to think that maybe I was having some contractions. I was unsure, but I knew that I would see Dr. B. in the morning. That gave me some peace of mind. I remember saying to my students that 'Peanut' was doing fine and that I would be at an appointment in the morning; I didn't want them to worry, when they didn't see me on Tuesday.

The swelling in my legs and feet had increased by the end of the day. I was exhausted from the full day of teaching, but I stayed an extra hour after school to prepare the Tues. folders (graded work from that week) and the substitute plans for the next morning. The movement (contractions) continued to strengthen, and by the time I headed home they even hurt a little.

I went by Walgreens on my way home to pick up my prenatal vitamins. As I waited for the prescription to be filled, the pain from the contractions intensified. I could not take this uncomfortable feeling, and my anxiety started. I called Dr. B.'s office from Walgreens, and luckily the nurse picked up the phone (which never happens). I explained that what I thought was movement had turned to pain and that these episodes were happening more frequently. She wanted me to go straight to Baptist Hospital, since Dr. B.'s office was closing. So I left Walgreens and immediately headed towards Wade's office. I called my sister on the drive over there. I remember asking her if everything was going to be okay, and she said she didn't know that I just needed to stay calm. I told her not to call Mom, because I had talked to Mom on my way over to Walgreens and didn't want to scare her even more.

When I arrived at Wade's office, he was not quite ready and said that he would be a few minutes. I told him that he had to come now--something was not right. He immediately left the office, and I let him take over the driving. On our way over we prayed for our little man--that he would be healthy and that God would watch over us at this time.

Once we arrived at Baptist, we parked in the emergency parking area for expectant parents. Since we were already registered with the hospital, it only took a few minutes for me to get back into the triage area. I begged to use the restroom first. So I changed into the lovely hospital gown and used the bathroom. Then a nurse entered the room and started the ultrasound. She was very talkative at first asking me questions about the contractions. I was watching that screen so closely looking for movement from my little man. The nurse stopped talking pretty abruptly, and I remember looking at Wade and squeezing his hand even tighter. I hadn't seen movement or a heartbeat on that monitor.

The room was silent. Wade and I knew without the nurse even confirming it that our little man was no longer alive. She started asking us questions like when did you last feel him move and did you have any bleeding. That is when the state of shock started. I think I started crying. She told me to stay calm. She left to get a higher level ultrasound machine and call the doctors. However, something told us that there was no hope left--that our baby boy had died. Nurses started rushing in and out of the room. The same nurse took my blood pressure reading. She just stared at me afterwards and immediately took it again. Another nurse started an IV on the top of my hand, so Wade had to let go for just a minute. I told him to call my father and let him know. He talked to my dad and told him that the nurse couldn't find a heartbeat in the ultrasound. My dad said that he was on his way.

Finally a doctor, Dr. C., entered the room. He was tall and very calm. He took my hand and explained to me that I was very sick. He said that the nurses could not find a heartbeat during the ultrasound, and that he wanted to perform another one once I was settled in the labor and delivery room. He wanted to get me started on Magnesium through my IV. He said my blood pressure was extremely high, and that magnesium would help. The nurses rushed me down to my room. Wade was right by my side the whole time. I don't know how he had the strength to function, but he immediately went into caregiver mode.

Dr. C. confirmed our loss after viewing another ultrasound. I could see all of my son's beautiful bones, and I prayed that I would see a miracle- just a movement or two- but I didn't. Dr. C. said that I had developed preeclampsia, a disease that can attack different organs in a mother's body. It looked like mine had attacked the placenta and caused it to abrupt prematurely. His first concern was my health. If the preeclampsia was left untreated, then I could develop eclampsia and have a seizure or stroke. Dr. B. entered the room shortly after that with tears in his eyes. He was so upset and just held my hand. He explained to us that once my health was stabilized he would start to induce my labor.

Moments later my parents rushed into the room, and I remember just wanting to be held and tears flowing down all of our cheeks. I had no idea how sick I was. No one had shared my blood pressure reading with me (on purpose). My emotions were filled with the enormous loss of our first son. However, everyone else knew how severe my health was, and they had double the fear and sadness. Wade's parents arrived a short time later, and we went through all of the emotions again.

Later that evening, Dr. B. arrived and said that my blood pressure was stabilizing and that he was going to induce my labor. He thought it would be best if I had an epidural, because it would help lower my bp and lesson the pain. I planned on getting one anyway. Once again Wade held my hand and gave me the courage I needed. I was more worried about him passing out during the epidural, because he hates hospitals and needles. However, we both did just fine.

The best word to describe that evening is numb. Wade and I were in a full state of shock, along with our families. Our emotions were numb and so was my body. We didn't know what to do. We couldn't go backwards in time. We couldn't change the events of the future. We were in God's hands. There was nothing we could do.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The pain in my chest faded over that next weekend, but the swelling in my legs and ankles continued. We were up at my parents' mountain home that weekend to get away from it all and enjoy the extra care and attention from my parents. I was feeling so much better physically, but the baby was still not moving as much, which truly worried me.
On Sunday we continued to relax on the mountain. I developed a headache in the back of my head and neck, so I spent the majority of the day on the couch with my legs elevated to also help the swelling. The headache continued through the evening, as we traveled home. Once again all I could take was Tylenol.
My body was extremely exhausted from the last month of illnesses and the lack of sleep. My mind was overwhelmed with worries for this baby and stress from work. I was going to go into work in the morning and complete one of my first full days in over two weeks. I needed to start the space unit and begin preparing my students for the upcoming achievement tests. Plus, I needed to prepare for the Grandparents' Day celebration, and I still wanted to help out with the production of the Willy Wonka musical.
After grading as many papers as I could, Wade and I settled into bed. We were ready to put this dreary month past us. I knew God would provide us with the strength we needed for the upcoming months. I was ready to celebrate my baby boy, and we had many showers coming up to honor him.
I don't remember if I was able to sleep that night. I do remember the 24 hours that followed.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I've always loved the spring. Besides the beautiful blooms and warm breezes, I was born then and of course that makes it my favorite time of year. I knew that this particular spring (2008) would be a wonderful one filled with parties for my baby boy and joy anticipating his arrival. I was ending my second trimester, and I felt fine. My 24 week appointment went well. We heard the heartbeat on the Doppler. My wonderful OB, Dr. B., measured my stomach, and everything looked great.

I don't remember exactly when my cold started turning into flu-like symptoms, but it did. It was the beginning of March and pretty bad timing, considering I had to turn in conference reports, prepare for class every day, teach my students during the day, grade papers after school, and average grades for the third quarter report cards. It was an extremely stressful time at school for everyone, but I had the pleasure of getting the flu on top of it all.

I was having all of the symptoms: congestion, fever, and tenderness. Luckily, my fever lasted only a day or two. However, the congestion and coughing continued. I felt so bad that I had to go in for some extra doctor visits early in March, especially since I was having such intense pain in my chest area. That really scared me; sometimes I felt like I was having a heart attack. I didn't know what was going on with my body. After visiting with Dr. B., he recommended that I see my internist, Dr. M. to make sure my heart was okay. The baby's heartbeat was fine, and he was moving all over the place.

After visiting Dr. M., I was diagnosed with costochondritis, which is inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone. It can be caused by upper respiratory infections, so it made sense that I would have severe chest pain. My heart was fine, and that was good to hear. However, this pain was so intense. It was hard for those around me to believe me. Only my dear Wade and mom truly understood, because they saw me crying every night. It hurt without even doing anything. Lying down, sitting, stretching, or standing, nothing could ease the pain. Ibuprofen or Aleve would have helped the pain, but since I was pregnant I couldn't take those medications. So I had to stick to Tylenol, which hardly helped. Usually, I would get an hour or two of sleep, and then wake up crying and decide to stand in a warm shower. That would kill some time, until I could take my next Tylenol.

I kept thinking to myself that I all I had to do was make it to spring break, then I could heal, relax,and focus on having a healthy third trimester. Somehow God gave me the strength to make it. The Tylenol helped me enough to get through that last week. Wade and I were traveling to Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida for the break. His family has a wonderful home there on the beach, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to travel one last time before our son arrived. We wanted to cherish this time together and enjoy long walks on the beach.

That weekend before our trip we were scheduled to take our childbirth education class at the hospital. The Tylenol continued to help my pain, so I knew that I could make it through a two day class. We learned so much that weekend and met a whole new set of families expecting that May and June. It seemed that all of Nashville was pregnant--very exciting!!!

I went in for our 28 week appointment that Monday morning, and the baby's measurements and heartbeat looked good. Dr. B. said we could travel, especially since we were on such a short flight. My chest pain concerned me, because annoyingly it had intensified over the last evening along with the swelling in my legs and feet.

We left for Florida that same evening. My pain continued to strengthen. It was like I could hardly take waiting the six hour period before my next dose of Tylenol. I hated it; I didn't want to depend on pain medication. I was scared for my baby boy. I wanted my body to heal, so that I could give him a healthy home to grow inside of for the next few months. The flight down to Florida was miserable. I cried the whole way. When we got there, my legs were severely swollen, and my pain was almost unbearable.

Wade felt completely helpless. He wanted to take away my pain, but he couldn't. We tried to walk on the beach that next morning, but the pain wouldn't allow it. We had to do something. The Tylenol wouldn't even work anymore. So Wade scheduled our flights home for that afternoon. I needed to be back home and have access to my doctors.

When we returned home, my mom spent a few nights with us. She would sleep in the bed with me, so Wade could get some good rest in the guest room. Tylenol no longer worked. My body was exhausted and lying down made the pain increase. So I spent all of my break in agony. I returned to Dr. B. and Dr. M.'s offices. Dr. B. decided to order an ultrasound to make sure the baby was okay. The baby looked fine, and the placenta and my cervix were also okay. The only concern was that the baby was measuring in the 30th percentile for weight. So he said that we would watch his growth in the next few weeks to make sure there was some consistency in his growth. Dr. M. was out of town, so I had to see another doctor in that practice. He examined my heart again and confirmed that everything was okay. I just had a severe case of costochondritis. There was nothing they could do. Sometimes it took months for this inflammation to heal.

I spent the next week in and out of school trying to heal. I would take warm bath after warm bath. My main concern was my son. There was too much stress and pain in my body, and I didn't want it to affect him. I noticed that his movements occured less frequently, and that really worried me.

Finally, Dr. B. prescribed a form of pain medication that was safe to take in the third trimester for just 72 hours. I took it that last weekend in March. We traveled up to my parents' cabin with them, so that my mom could watch me and give Wade some relief. I only took the medicine for the first 30 hours or so, because it truly helped me. For the first time in weeks, I was able to actually sleep and get more than 3 hours of it at one time. I didn't want to take any more medicine than I had to.

Although my swelling continued and my belly was beginning to become really uncomfortable, the pain in my chest was finally gone, and I was relieved. I wasn't worried about the planning or the nursery. We already had so much of it completed. The furniture was in place, and the floors were refinished. Now we could finally focus on having a delightful spring, and I was so excited about celebrating the arrival of my little man.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First and Second

Wade and I originally planned to wait until 12 weeks to share our wonderful news about our first baby, but as those first few weeks continued my morning sickness strengthened. So we had to tell our family, friends, and work earlier than planned (around 8 weeks). Everyone was very excited and could not wait to meet this little one. Our first few appointments were carefree and typical. We saw an embryo, then a heartbeat, and all of the first kicks and punches. Our due date was June 10, so that meant I could easily get through the year teaching my newest third grade class. My students were thrilled and immediately started calling this little one 'Peanut', because of the way he appeared on the ultrasound pictures. We were relieved to make it through the first trimester. Naturally we assumed the chances of losing this baby early were gone, and we were home-free.

We were surprised to hear in those following weeks that so many other friends and co-workers were also expecting. Wade and I started making a list of the people we knew and that quickly grew close to twenty. We were excited about the little friends that our baby would have one day.

The second trimester started and all was good. I was thrilled when I felt this baby for the first few times. It was incredible. It felt like a pulse to me or maybe a pop. I never had butterflies; I still don't know what that means. This baby would pop or turn frequently, and our bond continued to strengthen. I always felt bad for Wade, because I knew he also wanted to feel our sweet baby.

At the twenty week ultrasound, the baby was developing beautifully, and no concerns were raised about my health. Wade and I decided at that ultrasound to not find out the sex of the baby. The technician covered up the lower half of the baby, and the sex remained a mystery. . . .until later that afternoon when we watched the video of the ultrasound at home. We quickly found out that the video did show all of the lower half of the baby, and it pretty much looked like a boy to us. It was obvious! After another confirmation from an ultrasound tech, we celebrated the news of a healthy baby boy. I had always wanted that surprise moment of finding out the sex at birth. However, I was a little relieved to find out during my pregnancy, because it gave me a chance to start bonding with my son in a whole new way. . . plus all of the conveniences of picking out boy items ahead of time.

Soon after that appointment, Wade experienced his first kick from our son. I will always remember that night. He had joked about hearing the baby's heartbeat through my belly and feeling him kick, but I knew that he hadn't really felt him yet. However, one weekday night, we were all settling into bed, and Wade put his hand on my lower belly. The baby kicked, and we both felt him at the same time. It was truly special. I felt him from the inside, and Wade could finally feel him on the outside. It was a wonderful night and many sweet dreams followed.

Towards the end of my second trimester, I started to get some form of a cold which was annoying but nothing too surprising considering all that was going around the community and school. I tried to get more sleep and take it easy during those next few weeks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We're Pregnant!!!

Wade and I were thrilled to learn last autumn almost a year ago that we were pregnant with our first child. Personally, this news gave me extreme satisfaction considering that I have always known my purpose in life is to be a mother. I've wanted to be one ever since I was a little girl. I've been surrounded by children my whole life, through babysitting my dear neighbors, participating in summer camps, and teaching third and fourth grades at OHS. Although these opportunities blessed me in ways I could not even imagine, they did not fulfill my desire to have my own children.

Wade and I knew that we wanted to enjoy our marriage with just the two of us (and our sweet dog, Mabel) for the first few years. We wanted to experience life together and enjoy those years as a family of two. Everyone always told us that life would never be the same once you have kids, and you will never get those years back. However, ever since my precious nephews entered the world, my desire to have children has deepened. I love the way my sister has grown into a wonderful mother, and I want that too. I want adorable little ones calling me mommy. More than that I want to see Wade as a father, because I know he will be a perfect dad.

Back to my original point, we were very excited that October morning, and we knew that our lives from that day on would never be the same. That didn't bother us at all, because we were ready. We just had no idea at that point what the outcome would be--only positive thoughts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


In order to begin this new adventure in our lives (blogging) we will have to travel backwards a few years. Wade and I were blessed to meet each other about eight years ago through mutual friends. Our relationship was there from the beginning. Nothing was complicated or hard about the relationship - no games, no pressure, no worries - just love. God was definitely present in our lives, and we felt extremely comfortable around each other. We married three years later and settled into our first beautiful home. In those first few years of marriage, we experienced many adventures together: attending grad school, accepting new jobs, moving into another wonderful home, and completing licensure in landscape architecture. Everything was moving along perfectly as planned, until last March. That is when our hearts were broken for the very first time, when we realized how precious life is, and when our faith was shaken.

I am not a writer. I just feel that it is time for me to share the story of our precious little boy, our little man who lived inside of me for 30 weeks. He gave us so many gifts and will continue to do so the rest of our lives.