10 Things While My Baby Daddy was Gone for a Week

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John was out of town for five nights this past week. The longest trip since Jed has been born. I get it that other Mama’s have husbands gone much longer than me. And, let me just say, I’d rather give into the back-in-style-high-waisted Mom shorts rather than have him gone more. So, since I’m drinking ALL the coffee and still trying to recover, I only have energy for a brief top ten synopsis of my five nights alone with a 4 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old.

10) Leaving the airport, I totally thought I had it all figured out. “Oh, I got this.” YOU SO DUMB. One of them is asleep! You pacified the 4 year old with a sip of soda to stop the wailing of Daddy leaving! (You should buy more soda to try that trick again later) They’re strapped in the car seats, so they can’t go anywhere! It’s sweet to think that you’ve already got made…

9) By the time I get home, I had the big kids play outside. There were pooped panties. It was gross. I thought it was my worst poop situation of the week. I was wrong.

8) A {very} newly potty trained 3 year old can poop on the floor of her bedroom and use her feces to paint her wall in the time it takes for me to eat a fast lunch. Yes. Feces painted on the wall. If I could go back in time, I’d either potty train a year ago or just never.

7) Sometimes you ugly cry with a roll of paper towels in your hand, multiple disinfecting items at your feet, poop surrounding you, and drawings on the wall with poop that must resemble early caveman drawings. The 4 year old might say “Oh. Mommy’s crying.” But, not long after go back to general mayhem. The tears might get stronger.

6) You might think poop on the walls could be the only possible thing to induce tears that day. Well, you would be sorely wrong. In the time it takes to send a few text messages, the 3 year old can flush 5 brand new head wraps down the toilet. Miraculously, the cheapest toilet at Lowe’s won’t clog. It’s like the toilet knew John was gone and decided to cut the house some slack.

5) The second ugly cry of the day will cause the children to realize that, in fact, they have broken me. The 3 year old will sweetly say, “Oh, Mommy, don’t cry”. But, the 4 year old will turn on her, complete with actual finger pointing “You made Mommy cry! You flushed the bows!” Both of their Little personalities in crisis mode. Bless.

4) Chipotle is crazy crowded at 12:30pm on a Thursday when it’s your final day to care for the brood. But, thankfully, Angus Jack is not by 1pm. But, as soon as everyone gets settled and the baby finally sleeps, everyone will have to put the circus in the bathroom because the newly potty trained one has to go potty NOW. Instead of “Hold it because otherwise the food will get cold”, I wanted to avoid a bullet point number 8 in a public place, and traipsed to the bathroom.

3) Sometimes, two middle aged women will just stare at me while I take my three kids by myself to lunch at Mama Fu’s. They got a tad bit snarky with “Oh. You’ve got your hands full”. But, I was too tired to respond with my normal “Yes. Full of good things!” And, instead of giving the snark back, I smiled. I should’ve gotten some free edamame for that restraint. Or, maybe my prize was eating out for half of the meals while John was gone because WHO CAN DEAL WITH MEAL PREP IN CRISIS MODE?

2) Trying to take my first pictures for What I Wore while the photog husband is gone and the Littles run amuck? Awkward selfies.

1) I survived! And, more than survived, I actually thrived. These kids are the ones I’ve longed for since I was a kid myself. While I definitely love the fact that John and I parent as a team, I’m glad to know that Jesus will give me exactly what I need when I need it for these Littles

What I Wore- June 17, 2015

Okay, so before all of my sweet babies, I actually used to dress pretty well. After all of my babies? Hit or miss. I never seem to know what’s on trend, what’s not, what fits right on my I’ve-had-a-few-babies body, and just the all around time to shop or coordinate an outfit. 

But, in an effort to not wear John’s old t-shirts all of the time, I’m going to try linking up with The Pleated Poppy What I Wore Wednesday on (hopefully) a regular basis! I felt super silly about it at first. But, then, I noticed I actually made a little more effort this week. 

And, can we all laugh together at my terrible quality pictures?! I didn’t realize that taking a selfie was so difficult. Then, I realized my phone’s camera lens was smudged (little fingers perhaps?). And, that my Littles are always in my screenshot. Maybe I’ll perfect the art of selfies in this challenge? 

   
Shirt: Gap, Shorts: Gap, Sandals: Maurice’s, Smile: Product of uncertain selfie skills

  

Tank: H&M, Pants: Charlotte Russe, Sandals: Reef, Strange Angle: trying out new lighting 

 

Tank: H&M, Maxi Skirt: Target, Necklace: Can’t Remember, Awkward Angle: still trying to figure out a good fashion selfie

Six Months

Six months ago, my water had broken and it was time to welcome Little Man. It was the first {full term} time that I was in tears and not sure if I could do it. Anxiety, sadness, and fear threatened to choke the joy I didn’t even know was coming.

What if I didn’t bond with him over a fear of losing him, too? What if something does happen and we lose him? Will I keep checking the clock for the 45 minute marker after he’s born? What if each contraction pain reminds me of the last time I dealt with labor pains? 

Those were some of the questions plus many more that I had during Jed’s pregnancy. And, they all seemed to rush over my mind at 2am on a Tuesday morning. How would I walk back into a delivery room when I know what it’s like to walk out of one without your baby?

A friend came over to watch the girls and I bet she’s never seen such an unsure mother walking out the door to head to the hospital. Especially for a mother that’s birthed three before that night. But, we did what we could and snapped an awkward picture of myself before heading to the hospital. One of the very few pictures I even have to document our rainbow baby’s pregnancy.

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It was cold outside, but not too cold. The 20 minute drive to our chosen hospital was a bit surreal and then we were at the emergency room entrance {after hours entrance for L&D}. After a few contractions and some paperwork in triage, we were up to the room that I had feared for nine months. The room that held the ushering in of new life and our family’s next phase.

My admitting nurse would be off her shift very soon, but not before I cried all of the tears. Bless her soul, she seemed fairly new at her job and unsure how to handle a Mama that wasn’t decided if she could birth this baby without a broken heart. But, time marched on, as it always does, and the superstar nurse that would all but deliver our Jedidiah arrived.

She calmed me each time Jed’s heart rate dropped, which was quite a few times {and, the first time for this Mama to experience it at any of my births}. She explained and smiled and encouraged. She didn’t seem at all thrown by my obvious discomfort. And, discomfort of the body, any labor nurse is familiar. But, a discomfort deep down and beyond any explanation, takes a person placed by the Lord to be able to walk with a stranger.

I flipped through “Jed’s Birth Book” as I called it and read the Scriptures. God gave us many verses in our time with Him and God used others to give us even more. I spent the last couple of weeks before Jed’s birthday hand-making each page that I would flip through while he was about to enter a hurting family.

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John and I prayed over that room, those nurses, the doctor, and our baby. I would stop during a contraction and John would pick right up and continue praying. I’m not sure I’ve ever begged God for peace like I did that day. And, He brought it. Everything seemed to shift and we knew we had limited time until our lives would change forever. Again.

Four hours later, things got intense. Sweet nurse perfectly placed stays calm and declares that it’s time to have a baby. There was no time to wait for a doctor. Lots of nurses screaming for anyone that could come in and help. A heartbeat barely detected on a monitor, oxygen masks flying on, and lots of hard pushing. Everyone begins to look worried and I had a flash of “it’s happening again”. But, God is good and brings a deep peace that only He can. Doctor runs in just on time, and Jed is out. Sunny side up and out at an angle. But, out.

Is he okay?!” There was nothing else to scream.

Then, Little Man peed everywhere and everyone laughed. But, me.

Is. he. o.kay.?

Then, baby cries…what every Mom looks for to know that her baby is okay. Screams and cries and all is well with the world.

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I have never been so bonded so fast after having one of my babies. By the grace of God and the answer to many prayers, Jedidiah John was born to a Mama that was deeply in love with him. In the moments following his birth, he brought joy into a family that had been full of intense sorrow.

There may have never been a more scared Mama that entered that hospital room. But, there may have never been a more deeply grateful Mama that left that room.

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For the last six months, Jed has given everyone in our family a renewed sense of God’s faithfulness. God was good in the really bad. And, He’s been good in the really good. I rarely set Jed down and I don’t care how anyone {outside of our little family} feels about it. Jedidiah is one of our gifts of joy in the sorrow. He won’t always want to snuggle and while he does, I’m not putting that baby out of my arms.

And, what’s even better? While I snuggle him, his Daddy and sisters come in even closer. We all want a part of the gift that is Jed and for a few moments every day, it’s as though the world isn’t broken. God has taken the time to bring some beauty from ashes, this side of Heaven. And, we’ll spend the next six months continuing to marvel at how every single good gift is from Him.

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Birds

IMG_9999Okay, I’m always trying to make some kind of special moment with the kids. Before I became a parent, I was the best parent. Like, I was AWESOME. My kids never talked back. They went to sleep promptly at their bedtime. We played educational games. We never watched TV. And, we only ever ate the healthiest of food.

Imaginary kids are so easy.

Now that we all see where I’m headed with this post, I shall give you the latest and greatest of my “precious moments” parenting….

Apparently this is like bird birthing season because we have two nests at our house right now and I see another at the neighbors. Well, the one in the backyard was conveniently built on top of the fireplace exhaust (is that even what it’s called? BEATS ME. I’m from Florida). But, whatever it is, it gets hot when the fireplace is on. So, to avoid accidental scrambled eggs, we’ve been diligent to make sure that loose-hands-Charlotte isn’t allowed near the fireplace switch.
OKAY, TRUTH POLICE! Charlotte flipped the switch on once. But, John {believes} he caught it pretty quick.

Each time we’ve gone in the backyard, we check on the nest. It has been my “I’m rocking this parenting thing. I’m all, check out this nature. Check out life. Let’s observe and learn and cherish this together“.

Why do I think these things?

The girls have been super into it. {okay, okay, other than the very initial discovery and we tried to lift Ella up to look at the nest and she screamed as those we were lifting her up into her demise}.

IMG_0094Several days ago, the eggs hatched. We’ve loved checking on them every day and seeing their little balls of fluff hanging out in their nest. Then, it happened…

So, the girls asked to play in the backyard. Since Jed has been born, they’ve gone out to play in our fenced in backyard on their own. I open the window and they can come in and out the door {okay, okay, not a million times and I may say things like “IN. or. OUT.?!”}. But, it’s been a good little set up lately while I nurse Jed or get dinner ready. So, I’m nursing Jed and looking out the windows at them while they play. Ella whizzes by and swings the door open…
{panting heavily} “MOM!! The bird was flying and walking and hopping and…. The bird fell. We hit the bird

WHAT?!

I immediately stop feeding Jed (yeah, he was thrilled). I lay him on the ground (again, thrilled) and go running outside. At this point, Charlotte runs up. I ask them to take me to the bird. Way on the other end of the yard, I approach a bird on the ground with its wings flailed out and…

UNDERNEATH A TENNIS RACKET

Like a little bird prison. I immediately yell tell Charlotte to remove the tennis racket. I notice the bird is still breathing just fine and just staring around. I start frantically answering for the story.

IMG_0153I start to surmise that the bird was minding its own business, fell, and Charlotte put it in bird prison. I then begin to grasp that the bird prison was an effort to catch the bird and they began to say they wanted to hold it.
Well, I’m panicking now.

HAVE WE PARALYZED THIS BIRD?!

What is my logical next step? Call John. You know, because he’s totally sympathetic to the needs of me and this bird.
His responses were things like:

“Ohmygosh, first thing is to have the kids wash their hands so they don’t get bird germs.”

“It’s just a bird. If it dies, it dies”

Next thing I know, I’m screaming talking at the girls to go inside and wash their hands (because of bird germs?). And, don’t touch Jed. Then, I kept John on the phone while I knelt down by the bird to try and figure out how I can scoop it up to get it back in the nest.

I get down next to it and start to whisper sweet nothings while trying to gather my nerve. Turns out, the bird was a liar and wanted nothing to do with our family moments anymore. Guys, that bird done hopped up and flew away while squawking for backup. Next thing I know, birds are squawking from trees and everyone has been alerted to kill me. The second that bird jumped up I screamed the name of Jesus twice. Cue John bursting out laughing

“Are you screaming for Jesus to help you with the bird??”

Uhhhhh, YES, I am. It is telling its Mama bird to come peck my eyes out.

I realized that it was one of the baby birds and it was obviously just now learning to fly. Just the day before, the birds were in the nest and now all of them were out of the nest. I realized that the girls had nothing to do with the bird falling. They were trying to use the tennis racket to hold the bird and analyze it closer. They were somehow gentle with the racket and no injury to the bird. But, I mean, here’s the deal, if something insane (rather than precious) is gonna go down, it’s gonna go down with us.

Excuse me, I’ve gotta go see if it’s time to put the front porch birds into bird prison yet…

{Linking up with A Little R&R Wednesdays!}

Home

The idea of home has intrigued me so much lately.

Home town.

Home state.

Home church.

Home is where the heart is.

This earth is not our home.

So much seems to center around this idea of home, whether we realize it or not. What is home? How does one get home sick and what does that even mean? Why do we even care about the idea of home when we’re told that this earth is not our real home?

Last month we loaded up the car with all of the babies and all of the things to survive a week of vacation as a family. I haven’t been “home” to Orlando in a year and a half, so I had really been looking forward to getting back. A 17 hour drive {not including stops} was quite a task to take on with a just-turned-4-months-old-that-day, a 3 year old and a 4 year old, but we can do it! Especially to stop in Georgia, which will always be a “home” to us because it has our son’s final resting place.

I’ve dreamt of getting a picture of Jed as a baby next to his brothers resting place. Every time I think of it, I cry. Brothers. Grace. Mercy.

Well, we all got on the road a little later than expected. Ella woke up and had a poop accident. Yeah, what is it with our family and poop on road trips?! So, we hung out a little later to see if she was a fluke or a real illness. I also had a minor mental breakdown because we hadn’t started the world’s longest drive yet and I had a potentially sick kid.

Once we realized that Ella hadn’t needed the bathroom again and I pulled myself together, we loaded the car and left.

“OKAY. We can soooo do this”

There were even talks of “Let’s just drive this whole thing. We’ll take shifts and we’ll be there by tomorrow morning”

Well, because it’s us, we stopped approximately 37 times to get a mere 2 hours away from home (which we squeezed into four). Ella had to keep going to the bathroom. Each visit was a little more suspect than the last. BUT, she didn’t have any accidents and we kept stopping in time. No one else was sick, so maybe we should just keep going. I really debated turning around when we were only 2 hours out, but we’re already packed.

We can make it. 

Except, we can’t.

We get to Tupelo, MS, which is 6.5 hours away from our home. Or known to our family that day as 10.5 hours away. We stopped for dinner. And, when I pulled Jed out, I noticed that his eye was oozing a whole bunch of green. I thought it looked a little off, but now it was a whole lot of green.

I had another minor mental breakdown.

Therefore, let’s just stop here for the night because things are going crazy. Let’s get some sleep and we’ll hit it hard tomorrow. We all finally fall asleep.

Around 2:30am, John and I both wake up because the beds were horrible. Baaahhhh. After some whispered conversation, we decide that we’re both pretty wide awake. Let’s transfer the crew to the car and book it to Orlando. Ella wakes up from us shuffling around.

Bathroom trip.

Ugh. Okay, it’ll be fine. Let’s just get Jed up. I’ll nurse him and we’ll go. 

I get Jed.

His eye is now completely crusted over with green and swollen. Lovely.

Cue another mental breakdown. (Third one in 24 hours if you’re keeping track. Let’s also remember postpartum hormones. Yeah, I know. I feel sorry for me, too)

While I nurse Jed, John and I try to look up pediatric walk-in places in Orlando. We found a few, but then look at each other and realize, what the heck are we doing? We’ve got two out of three kids sick. And, coming from the last time we ignored the writing on the wall, we should probably just get home while we’re ahead.

So, we headed home. Like, Arkansas home.

I cried half of the drive. But, each time I cried, it was about time to stop for another poop trip for Ella.

We were so close to seeing Warner. But, so far.

We were so close to vacation. But, so far.

We were so close for me to get home for a bit. But, so far.

We’re not sure when we may be able to try again. We’ve tossed around the idea of just Jed and I going to Atlanta for a short trip to see his brother. The thought that Jed hasn’t been to see him yet really hurts my heart.

We’ve also tossed around the idea of going to Orlando this Fall. Whether I’m being a negative Nellie or a realist, I’m unsure. But, I just doubt that it will logistically work out. And, once we hit the Fall, it’ll be two years since I’ve been “home”. Like, Florida home.

Why is there such a pull to visit home? I’ve struggled with that since our failed attempt. But, I think the Lord has finally connected the pieces to the puzzle in my mind.

Our earthly home (whether it be a place, a town, a church or whatever) is one of the closest depictions we can get to the feeling of Heaven one day. A place to feel known, secure, loved, comfortable, renewed, and at peace. A place where you can take a deep breath.

Obviously, I feel “at home” with our little family. And, wherever they are is where I want to be. But, I don’t doubt that one day, when they’re off and married with their own families, the thought of coming home will be a gift that they treasure. At least, I can only hope that we will create a home where they feel safe and loved.

But, for me, today I sit and long for Heaven. If I don’t get to touch the ground of two of my earthly homes today, I can’t help but picture how much greater it will be to enter into paradise one day. No more botched road trips. No more graves to visit. No more missed friends and family. One day…

Warner’s Birthday Funnies

You know when something is super sad and you find yourself laughing? The harder you try to stop, the more you laugh. Guys, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I’m always finding something deep to share. Or something completely ridiculous. My life tends to oscillate between those two extremes. Therefore, if something is going to be super sad, it’s likely that some super funny things are going to happen, too.

For example, Warner’s funeral? Terribly sad, right? Yes, completely right. But, God gave us some humor, too. We bought two baskets of flowers for the girls to leave with their brother. They were very kidsy and brightly colored. What we didn’t realize was that they were also full of water. And, because I’m all “We need to make special moments out of this difficult time”, we gave one of the flower baskets to Ella. Approximately 4.5 seconds into holding her flowers, she realized it was full of water. So, every few minutes you heard a big pouring of water from Ella’s flower basket. Because, cmon?! A basket full of water to pour everywhere?? That’s a toddlers dream. I had to keep from belly laughing each time I heard the pouring of water during such a serious time.

That leads to Warner’s second birthday hilarity. So, we got our crap together and I managed to get all three kids out the door to an indoor play place in town. I’m feeling pretty much like Supermom because John had been out of town since the day before (first time since Jed was born). So, I had been all kinds of awesome that morning. I even put everyone in special outfits for Warner’s birthday (lots of Warner blue as we call it and Jed in Star Wars). We swoop into the play place parking lot and I’m ready.

I grab Jed first. I wrap him onto me. Again, feeling like SuperMom. Yeah, that’s right. I just took this long piece of fabric and knew exactly what to do with it. Baby boy is snug and ready to rock. BOOM. Pride always comes before a fall, guys. Learn from me, mmmkay?

Next, I get the girls out and we meander into the overpriced play place that basically has the same toys we already have at home. But, whatever, it’s a special day. So, let’s play with the germ infested toys rather than the ones we have at home. The girls scamper off and are owning place. (Side note: Ella is the sweetest kid ever at these places. Charlotte likes to tell everyone else what to do. Precious.)

All right, this place is bumpin’ because it’s Spring Break. Every stay at home mom in Northwest Arkansas was all “I know exactly where to take my kids to run amuck for a few hours”. Therefore, most of the seats were taken. But, God smiled down on me and saved the only glider rocker just for me. I slip into it and think about how awesome I am. I text John to tell him about all of my awesome. He agrees, because he’s smart.

Then, it happens.

Humph, what’s that warmth? Is Jed peeing in his diaper and I just feel the heat because he’s pressed up to me in the wrap? OH MY GOSH, IT IS WARM AND WET!!!!

I immediately start panicking texting John because WHAT ELSE AM I GOING TO DO?!

Jed could care less that he urinated all between the two of us. He was like a small animal. Peed, settled right on into it and immediately fell asleep. The girls are whizzing (see what I did there?) by and loving their most special time with all of the toys we already have at home. We had been there less than 5 minutes. I can’t drag the girls out because they’ll melt down (can you blame them? Only 5 minutes in germy paradise??). But, I left the other baby carrier and his car seat in the car. While I have a change of clothes for him readily available, I don’t have anything for my soiled shirt.

I decide to assess the outside of the wrap. It appears that I totally did own my wrap job and the pee has been contained between us and the seat of the wrap. I make the executive decision to live with the pee. No one else can tell and who cares? What’s some pee between mother and son?

Time goes on and I honestly forgot about the pee. Gross, but true. I also lost the glider rocker. I had to get up and tell Charlotte to stop doing something. As soon as I vacated it, a woman pounced. Bless her. I admire her gumption.

After I settled onto a wooden bench that I had been excommunicated to, I overhear the chair stealer on the phone. Something about “Did you see her post on Facebook??” And, her conversation ended with a “I’ll let you get back to your newspaper,” at which point, I wondered into what year I had been transported. But, enough about the chair stealer, whom I secretly admire.

Jed wakes up and starts to get hungry. I forgot my nursing cover. So, I decide to just lower him in the wrap and I’ll feed him that way. I’ll be covered to my comfort and he can stay secure to me in case I have a chance to run and steal the glider back. I start to untie the wrap to lower him…

THE PEE.

Guys, we’re talking I could wring the wrap out and a puddle of pee would hit that ground. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time to see a puddle of pee on the ground, but maybe the first time from a Mom that walked around in it for over an hour. I start to spazz. My eyes start darting around as though the toys I already own at home can give me a clue on what to do next. Nada.

At this point, Jed’s cries start to gain intensity…along with the looks of all the Mom’s from the state of Arkansas.

Bahhhh.

Okay, we’ve just gotta get to the car. This is when I drop any sense of SuperMom I have left. I go scrambling around to the two ends of this place to gather my big kids. I grab them and say

“We need to go now. Do you want a cookie? Or a cupcake?? We’ll get cupcakes. Come on!”

I didn’t even try anything before start to bribery. I just immediately went to code red of junk food in hopes that they would follow me without any complaints. It worked. They both traipsed after me like they owned me. They did.

We leave and I shove everyone in the car quickly. I check the damage. Me and Jed’s shirts are soaked. The wrap is full pee. I scavenge around the car to see if I have anything I can change into. Maybe having a messy car will finally pay off. Nope. But, if I could fashion a shirt out of a week old dirty diaper or an empty Chipotle cup, I’d be in business.

I get Jed cleaned up, changed, and fed. He’s now living the dream. I, on the other hand, have made a promise of junk food to the big kids. So, I take them to lunch. In my half dried pee shirt.

Best part? It was totally dry by the time we ended up at home and I spent most of the afternoon in the shirt until I remembered it was covered in pee. Is short term memory loss a thing?? Am I the girl from 50 First Dates when it comes to baby pee?

This is only half of the funny from Warner’s second birthday. I’m so grateful for a God that gives us joy even in the sorrow! We’re such a circus and I love it!

Warner’s Second Birthday

I’m a planner. Not a super great one. But, a planner. I see all of the things on my calendar and will think about them a lot ahead of time. Probably too much. Along with being someone that feels all of the feelings, I think all of the thoughts.
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Therefore, when something like Warner’s birthday is coming up, by the time the day has hit, I’ve already felt all of the things and thought all of the things. I talked about it a little bit here, but I think we’ve realized that the month of March will probably always be a minor disaster for me. We even joked that next year we should create a “Sad About Warner” budget for the month of March. Because, apparently, I give up on cooking dinner which leads to a lot of take-out. And, I also wander Target more frequently and hope that a new pair of sunglasses will make me less sad.
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But, with all of the pre-gaming I find myself doing before his birthday, I have been amazed at God’s grace these last two years. Both years, his birthday has been beautiful. And, peaceful. And, joyful. It can only be by the prayers of His people (which we are so grateful for!) and His lavishing of grace. I am SO grateful.
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The day before and the day after his birthday were hard. But, on the day of, me and the kids did a lot of celebrating. John was out of town until late that evening. So, we saved the cake and balloons until he was home. But, all of the celebrating included a shopping trip to pick the right toys for his resting place in Georgia (a friend put his new toys and flowers down for us! And, added a Happy Birthday balloon), a ring that John bought for me that has Warner’s birthstone, lots of pizza and ice cream (W’s favorites while in my belly), fun at an indoor play place, lunch at a new restaurant, a picnic by his tree at home, the happy birthday song with cupcakes and releasing balloons to make it all the way to Heaven to Warner.
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There were lots of sweet memories. Including some pretty hilarious ones which I’ll cover in much more detail soon. But, our family is so thankful for all of the prayers, kind words, and support! You’ve allowed our son to have weight in this world. And, for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Palm Sunday’s New Meaning

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”” -John 12:12-19

Two years ago, Palm Sunday was on March 24th. That’s the day we welcomed our first son into the world. I have never been more awestruck at Easter than I have been these last two years. Loss seems to bring that out.

On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus came in on a donkey.

Lowly.

Humble.

A servant.

Willingly headed to his death.

Jesus may have come quietly on that first Palm Sunday. The disciples may not have been able to understand it all until later. But, on that Palm Sunday two years ago? He came anything but quietly. He came in power and authority. He came as the giver of life. He came as the One that ushers His people from a broken world into a perfect eternity.

That first Palm Sunday, He rode into Jerusalem. A much different scene than my Palm Sunday two years ago. He made a tiny hospital room in Fayetteville, Georgia, become holy ground. There were no palm branches waving. No strength to cry “Hosanna!” But, there wasn’t a person in that room that didn’t sense the magnitude of Jesus Himself that day.

In the days and weeks leading up to Warner’s birth, we prayed. We prayed a lot. We searched every day for even more Scripture to pray over the life God had put under care. I still have my list of Scriptures we claimed and every once in a while, I’ll look through them. But, one of the things that we often prayed was for the angel of death to pass over my womb just like he did for the Israelites as they placed lamb’s blood on their door frames during the tenth plague {Exodus 11-13}. We prayed that the blood of the true lamb, Jesus Christ, would cover over my womb and protect against the angel of death. When we prayed these things, we had no idea how God would weave it all together in the end.

Warner was born on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013. He was born on the holiday that marks Jesus’ triumphal entry. The holiday that begins Jesus’ walk to the cross. The cross that gives me hope that I will see my son again. The day after Warner’s birth, Monday, March 25, 2013, began the celebration of Passover. That idea we prayed so many times over my womb, over his life, all melded together in the 45 minutes he lived. Death did pass over. One being that we had 45 minutes with him. That, in and of itself is a miracle. Two being that because of the first passover, years ago, the coming of Jesus was mirrored. And, Palm Sunday would happen. Then, Good Friday. Then, Easter. Then, a mother and a father with a shattered heart in a hospital as they say goodbye to their first son. But, they get the chance to live with the hope that it isn’t goodbye forever.

I don’t ever see a Palm Sunday passing again where I don’t reflect on Warner’s birth. Or Jesus’ triumphal entry into our family’s lives on March 24, 2013. Or how I can ignore the meaning of Passover like I did so many years before. There is a God that marks our lives in substantial ways, as long as we’re willing to see. Just like the disciples on that first Palm Sunday, it may take us a little bit to understand it. But, when we do, we can’t help but to wave those palm branches high

Dear Jennifer From Two Years Ago

Dear The Jennifer On the Eve of Warner’s Birth,

You always used to say that your biggest fear was one of your kids dying. One time you heard of a story of a baby that lived for 2 hours and died in their Mom’s arms. That story made you feel all the feelings and you thought “I could never ever do that”.

Right now, you have no idea that you’re going to meet your first son tomorrow. You’ve had contractions on and off for weeks now but they’ve always gone away. You’re exhausted from all of the blood loss and the low iron and the fact that your body isn’t even sure what it should be doing anymore. Every night you go to sleep claiming Scripture because you’re scared.

And, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for being scared. Who wouldn’t be scared? You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to do when the fear or the thoughts pop up. You go to His feet and open His Word. All of those verses that you didn’t even know existed about safety, security and protection? They’re preparing that hospital room to become holy ground tomorrow. You keep praying and memorizing those verses. God will bring them out in the right moments tomorrow.

Right now, you don’t think you could handle what you’re about to do tomorrow. That’s okay. You can’t handle it in this moment because God isn’t calling you to it right now. Don’t stress about the “what ifs”. It’s cheesy, but when God calls you to it, He’ll walk you through it. Today, He’s asking you to do exactly what you’re doing. Tomorrow will be a different path to walk, but He’s already preparing you. You just don’t know it yet.

Up to this point, for the last 12 years, you’ve dealt with panic attacks and intense anxiety that have waved in and out of your life. There’s been a whole lot of fear. And, while I wish I could tell you that will be a thing of the past, it hasn’t yet. But, that little boy you’re going to hold tomorrow, he’ll show you that if you can survive this, you can survive anything with Jesus. You’ll even say that to the nurses that surround you speechless while they watch you say goodbye. You won’t realize why they think it’s so profound until later. God will show lots of stuff He’s done in that little life later on down the road.

When you arrive at the hospital tomorrow morning, you’ll know what’s going to happen that afternoon. You’re not giving up. But, you’ll look at the bulletins on the wall and notice the L&D rooms everywhere. You’ll remember what it was like to meet your girls in those rooms. And, how this walk is a very different one. You’ll look around you and know that your life is about to change forever. But, here’s what’s hard for you to believe the night before this walk, you won’t be scared. You’ll be hurting, on many levels, but you won’t be scared. Instead that walk will be a sacred one. Almost as though Jesus is physically holding you up. Each step down that hall is one that’s ordained.

You’ll get settled into that Labor and Delivery room. You’ll remember the details of that room for a long time to come. The doctor will come in and examine you. Don’t worry, God has gone before you. Guess who’s on call? The same doctor that delivered the girls. You’re in good hands. And, that nurse? Her husband is a pastor just down the street. She’s got your back. And, guess what? They’re going to fight. They’re going to join in the fight for Warner’s life. They will give you more hope and faith in your situation than any other medical team would. God has placed them there. Because, He’s good. Don’t forget that. Especially today.

A lot of the day will be a blur and that’s okay. You’ll try all of the medicines and the tricks. Things will get a little scary at one point. They’ll stand over your bed as the fever still goes up and they won’t be sure what to do next. They’ve tried everything they can try and it won’t come down. At this point, you and your husbands prayers will start to turn towards your life. Listen to me: THAT IS OKAY. You’ve prayed over Warner for hours and days and weeks on end. It’s okay to turn the tables for five minutes and ask God to spare you for those little girls at home. You’re not giving up on Warner. You’re fighting for him and your girls.

There will come a point tomorrow when everyone realizes that baby is coming despite our efforts. You’ll learn that his heartbeat is still strong. This is when you’ll panic. Again, that’s okay. You think you can’t deliver a baby that’s alive only to watch him die. That’s a natural reaction. But, let me tell you, God will not be taken by surprise like you. He knows what He’s doing. He created that life and He has ordained every single second that heart beats outside of your womb. You will look back on those 45 minutes as being one of the most holy times in your life. Don’t fear it. Welcome it.

Today you don’t realize that tomorrow you’ll have to make decisions. Do you bury or cremate? The nurse will kindly tell you to start thinking about those options just a few minutes before he’s born. You’ll feel like you’re in a daze at the thought. It’s never crossed your mind before because you never saw yourself ending up here. You’ll be you and think you have to make the decision immediately. Girl, calm down. You’ve got time. The answer will come and it’ll bring peace.

Despite being in full blown, painful labor, you’ll walk it with grace. It’ll be the most graceful of all of your children’s births. God can be funny like that. He’s in the business of taking the ugly and making it beautiful. You’ll hand the day to Him and you’ll be right to do so. I promise that beauty will rise.

You’ll ask the nurse when she thinks he might here, she’ll answer she’s unsure. Fear will threaten to creep in at the thought of being all alone when he’s born. Squash the fear immediately. God has it all figured out. Warner will make his debut with two nurses present. Then, the room will fill quickly. Moments before he is born, you will scream the name of Jesus and ask Him to come. Do that. Do that a million times. He comes and He comes in power. Those verses you’ll start reciting? It’ll fill the room with the Truth. You can never go wrong with speaking out the Bible.

For the first time of the day, as Warner is born, you’ll cry and scream that it isn’t fair. Your eyes will be closed because you’re scared to look into the face of death. Again, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for that. Why? Because it isn’t fair. At all. And, you were never created to see death. This was not God’s design. You’ll sense the enemy prowling in a way you never have before. But, get ready, because warring Angels will battle on your behalf. God will protect that time with your son.

Don’t feel bad about having John hold him first. He’s your husband and Warner’s Daddy. He’ll be strong for the both of you in that moment. Let him. You’ll both treasure it later. I know, it’s hard to believe you could treasure any of it, but you will.

God will give you a peace and you’ll see your son for the first time. Nurses will be checking his vitals. And, then you’ll work up the nerve to hold him. It’s hard to believe now that you could fall in love that quickly, but you will. You’ll do all you can to show him the world around you in those 45 minutes. You’ll tell him about Jesus. About how much you love him. About how hard you tried for him. Daddy will show him out the window, giving him a glimpse of the outside world. You’ll later realize that was the only glimpse he’ll ever get.

And, here’s the thing, your Mama heart will ache later that you didn’t hold him long enough or didn’t tell him enough. That’s a lie. You did what you could and God was gracious to give you 45 minutes. That’s right. The night before you wouldn’t think of that as gracious but as terrible. But, it will be a gift. A gracious gift from a gracious God. You’ll always wish you had more time, but that’s just because death was never a part of His plan for creation. The day will come when He redeems all of that, but, for tomorrow, cherish the time you do get with that little boy.

You’ve loved that little boy well. And, you’ll love him well tomorrow. Tomorrow will change your life forever. You would think that it’ll change your life for the worse, but it won’t. Warner’s life will make you more like Jesus. His life will shift yours. And, that’s a good thing from a good God. People will try to look at you tomorrow and question how you could think God is still good. But, you know better than that.

I wish I could tell you that two years later, you wouldn’t hurt as much. But, the intensity will be just as strong, if not stronger in some ways. Again, don’t worry about what’s to come. Just walk what God’s asking you to walk today. And, for now that means going to sleep like every other night and asking God to have His hand on your womb. Take it from me, He’s listening and answers in a might way

My Journal Excerpt

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With Warner’s two year birthday approaching, I decided to pull out my old journal that I wrote in the days and weeks after his death. I’ve decided to share an excerpt from one of the entries because I remember that evening so well. Here it is:

June 26, 2013

About 20 minutes before the sun set, I came to the grave. I just needed to be here. I needed to be as close as I could get. I cried the whole way here and then just sat with him. I read the verses we prayed over him while pregnant. Then, I turned to the Psalms. I started at 26 since it’s the date and read through 29. I cried the hardest at 27. I read them all out loud.

27 :4 {“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple”} about did me in. As I sit broken at Warner’s grave, he is gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. One day, I will gaze upon it with him. It’s a day I long for with great anticipation.

As much as I miss him today, I know the Lord is holding me together. I played “Here’s My Heart” by David Crowder on my phone. It felt like old times with him in my belly and playing the song on my phone. I wish I could have just one more day with him. But, the truth is, I know that wouldn’t be enough. I’m looking forward to eternity.

It’s now completely dark and I’m in the car by his grave listening to the songs I worshipped to before and after his birth. It’s hard to leave. I know he’s in heaven, but this side of eternity, his grave is the closest thing I have to him.

Hold him for me tonight my precious Jesus! And, help me to love my girls well.

Jesus is faithful. He was faithful on Warner’s birthday. He was faithful the almost two years ago that tears stained my cheeks while I sat in a graveyard and penned my journal. He is faithful today. He can be trusted, my friends. That burden you carry today, He can carry it. I think that so many of us carry wounds that we’ve allowed the enemy to twist and make us believe that God inflicted them upon us. Dear friend, we serve a God that loves and meets you where you are. Not a God that arbitrarily strikes you and afflicts you. We’ve lost track of the real source of the pain and I can assure you that the real source of healing comes from the Lord. The moment we stop blaming God for an affliction He never created, is the moment we can invite Him in to carry the hurt for us, which is His desire. I refuse to blame Him for Warner’s death because death was never a part of His plan. And, I’ve been all the better for it. He has been able to care for my aching heart because I haven’t placed blame where blame wasn’t due. And, I am grateful for the hope to Heaven, to know that this isn’t the end of Warner’s story. It’s almost two years later and I still long for our reunion. Thank you, Jesus, it’s coming one day!