Friday, December 23, 2011


I have always loved Christmas.  I still love it.

But having Christmas arrive less than six weeks after our tremendous loss has been strange.  It's confusing to have such deep sorrow during a time that typically brings such happiness. 

When I look at the beautiful ornaments that hang on the tree in William's honor, I am filled with joy and pain.  I feel joy because he lived.  I feel pain because he lives no longer.

His stocking hangs above the fireplace.  We will fill it each year with items to donate to a child in need.  The thought of this new tradition brings me happiness.  William will never reach into his stocking on Christmas morning.  The realization of this loss brings me intense sadness.

In the midst of my grief, I strive to remember why we celebrate Christmas.  With gratitude, I reflect on the gift of Jesus and how His birth, death, and resurrection has made it possible for us to spend eternity in Heaven.

Today, my husband and I visited the cemetery for the first time since William's burial.  On the way there, we stopped and bought two small plants to place on his grave.  As we picked them out, I choked back tears.  Instead of buying presents for our son, we were preparing to visit his grave.
Later, we wept as we knelt together in front of the temporary marker that bears his name.  I ran my fingers across each letter.  My heart ached.  

As I looked around the cemetery, I noticed countless graves with wreaths or other Christmas items placed on them.  I realized that people come to the cemetery at Christmas as a way to honor their loved remember them. 

We will now do the same.  We know William resides in Heaven, but visiting his grave is a way for us to say, We remember you.  We miss you.  We love you.

As we drove home, we listened to Christmas music.  Away in a Manger played softly on the radio as I looked out the window.  I listened to the familiar words with a new perspective... 

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Miss You

It's been almost four weeks since you were born
It's been almost four weeks since you died
I miss you
I miss you so much
When we were separated
My body longed to care for you
My heart longed to beat beside yours
I am so lonely for you
This morning I looked up at our skylight
I watched a single ladybug crawl slowly across the window
And I cried
I cried because I miss telling you about the world
I cried for all the ladybugs you'll never see
I sat beside the Christmas tree
And I cried
I cried because I wanted to spend this Christmas with you
I cried for every Christmas we won't be together
I cry for you often
I cry for everything we had
I cry for everything we'll never have
And I know things will get easier
But this winter feels unending
The coldness of your absence makes my heart ache
And I know you are now living in perfect eternity
But it feels as though you belong with me
In my body
Or in my arms
And I'm trying to accept that you're gone
But I miss you
Your life changed my life
So I grieve for you
Because I read that grief is the cost of loving someone
And I loved you so deeply
And will love you forever

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moments of Grief

I am still working on writing William's birth story.  It is a difficult story to tell and I'm writing about it as I feel led.

In the meanwhile, I am working through my grief on a moment by moment basis.  I knew it would be difficult, but I didn't anticipate how exhausting it would be.

My sadness is amplified at unexpected times and triggered by unexpected things.

I sit at the kitchen table and stare at the petals that have fallen from the vase of flowers.  I realize that the flowers are dying and begin to cry.

The flowers are dying.  My baby died.  Why do beautiful things die?

I stand in front of the dishwasher and look at the green light that tells me the dishes are clean and need to be put away.  I see the clothes piled in the hamper.  I hear the garbage truck beeping as it drives around our neighborhood to pick up the trash.

How do these ordinary things keep happening when I'm in such extraordinary pain? 

My Mom takes me to the grocery store to help me get a couple things we need.  I stand in the produce department and look at all the people rushing around buying fruit and vegetables.  I want to stop them and tell them that I had a baby.

I know you can't tell, I imagine myself saying, but I gave birth to a baby boy two weeks ago.

It really happened.

He used to be alive...and now he isn't.

I realize it would be irrational to say these things to strangers, so I quietly shop for my food.

But I do find myself longing to talk about William.
To say his name out loud.
To affirm that he existed.

Sometimes I open my eyes in the morning and think, How has this happened?

Sometimes I stop what I'm doing and say, He died...our baby died.

I say the words aloud because it's a way for me to process and accept that it happened.  The words are hard to say and I'm sure they are hard to read or hear, but they are true.

I think that these moments of grief are necessary.
They are painful.
They are uncomfortable.
But they are still necessary.

Sometimes I have to fight feelings of failure.

Pull yourself together, Ali.
Stop crying.
Where's your faith in God?

But then I stop myself.

Because it's ok for me to grieve.  If I need to cry, I can cry.  I'm allowed to miss my baby.

Having faith in God does not mean that I won't or shouldn't feel pain.  God doesn't require me to pretend that I'm not devastated by the loss of William.

So instead of putting unrealistic expectations on myself, I will accept my need to grieve.

I will allow myself to validate the sad things that have happened by saying them aloud.  But even in my moments of grief, there are other truths that need to be remembered. 

They need to spoken aloud, as well.

God is good, even when life feels bad

Hope endures, even when pain is all I see

God is near, even when I feel so very alone

My moments of grief will lessen over time...I will feel happiness again...

I will feel happiness again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

No, Honey, He Has Passed

I lay back on the table and lift my shirt, exposing my stomach.  This particular nurse has checked William's heartbeat several times and knows to start on my right side.  I know where William is and I know that she is placing the doppler exactly over his body.

Instead of the familiar whooshing sound of his heartbeat, I hear nothing but white noise.

I cover my face with my hand and start gasping.  She is moving the doppler around my stomach.


My gasping turns to wailing.  I'm pressing my hands against my mouth to stifle the screams.  My husband is holding me.  He is crying.

The nurse's eyes are red and filling with tears.  She says something I cannot hear because I'm crying in agony.  She walks out of the room and comes back with another nurse.

I grab her hand as the new nurse moves the doppler around with urgency.  The new nurse stops for a moment and listens to a faint slow heartbeat.  The two nurses begin talking to one another.  They are trying to figure out if it's William's heartbeat or mine.

I know that it's mine.  I know his heartbeat and I know it has stopped.

They leave to get the doctor.  I'm sobbing in my husband's arms.  The doctor comes in and tells me that we are moving rooms so she can do an ultrasound.

I can barely walk as we emerge from the room and begin crossing the hallway.  There are four or five nurses standing in the hallway watching us.  Some of them are crying.

I know there are patients waiting only a few footsteps away for their appointments.  I know their babies are alive and mine is dead.  I am biting my arm to keep from screaming.

I lay on the table and lift my shirt a second time.  I tell the doctor to turn the screen away from us.  My husband has draped his body over mine.  We are crying.

I look at the doctor as she stares at the screen, shaking her head.

Is he alive? I ask in desperation.  I already know the answer.

No, honey, he has passed.

A nurse walks in.

My baby died, I tell her through the sobs.

Another nurse walks in.

My baby has died, I say again.

The doctor shudders and looks away.  When she faces me, I can see she is beginning to cry and trying to gain composure.

Each time someone new comes in the room, I tell them that my baby has died.  I'm saying it again and again so that I can believe it to be true.

My screaming turns to moaning.

God, please help us.  Please help us. baby...I whisper.  I'm wrapping my arms around my stomach, trying to hold him through the barrier of my skin.   

We love you...Mommy loves you.  Mommy's here.

My sister-in-law has been waiting for us and comes in after the doctor tells her what has happened.  She is crying.  We place our hands on my stomach.

I suddenly realize that we must go to CHOP now.  I begin telling the doctor what to say when she calls.  I'm frantic.  She gently tells me that she knows what to tell them.  I begin saying goodbye to the nurses.  Some of them hug me.  Most of them are still crying.

They let us leave through a back exit so that we don't have to walk through the waiting room.  I stop crying as the elevator slowly descends.  We walk to the car.  I'm numb.

In the car, my husband hands me William's clothes and blanket.  As we drive to CHOP, I begin removing the tags and stickers.

Silent tears are streaming down my face as I prepare for my baby.  I stroke the sleeper we've chosen for him with my fingers.  I hold the matching hat to my lips and begin kissing the fabric.  I gently rub the beautiful blue blanket against my neck.  I do the same with each piece of his outfit.  I use his clothing and blanket to wipe away my tears.  I do all of this slowly, as if performing a sacred ritual.  I want William to be surrounded by my scent when he's born.

It's the only way I can care for him right now...and it calms me.

I look out of the car window.  The sun is shining.  It's a beautiful day to meet our son.

My stomach is cramping as we park the car.  We walk to the elevator and I wonder if I'm just nervous or having contractions. 

The elevator opens at the fifth floor and we begin walking to the special delivery unit.  As we approach the waiting room, I see my doctor.  There are many doctors at CHOP, and they are all wonderful, but this doctor is our special doctor.  She has worked with us the most and has talked to us and cared for us.  We love and trust her.

She sees us.  We are walking toward one another and I open my arms.

As she embraces me, I whisper, Do you know?

She nods sadly and tightens her embrace.

She leaves briefly to prepare for my admission.  While she is gone, our genetic councilor arrives.  She has been so dedicated to us and we love and trust her, as well. 

Do you know? I whisper.

Yes, she says quietly as she hugs me.

Our doctor comes back and we walk quietly into the delivery unit.  My body is shaking violently as we walk into the room that has been chosen for me to deliver our son.


Realizing that William's heart had stopped beating was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.  At first, I wondered if I should try to forget this part of his birth story.  But I feel an urging to remember...even though it's so painful.

William's heart stopped beating.

It's so hard to accept, but it happened.  It's part of his story. 

I have come to understand that part of my love and commitment to William is acknowledging every part of his story, even the most devastating.

My prayer is that God will help me process the traumatic moments of William's story.  As time passes, I pray that He will ease the pain and brokenness I feel while allowing all the memories of William's story to remain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday Morning

On Friday we had learned that William was beginning to fade.  Over the weekend, we waited for our next heartbeat check on Monday. 

On Sunday night, I slept deeply.  I found it hard to wake on Monday morning.  I half-heartedly added a few items to the bag we had packed in case we had to rush to the hospital.  I just didn't feel as though Monday was going to be the day. 

We were going to my local OB's office for the check and would go on to CHOP if no heartbeat was found.  I just didn't believe it would happen like that.  I was sure that if William's heart stopped that week, we would discover it at our weekly CHOP appointment on Wednesday.

As we waited to go to the heartbeat check, I reminded my husband to get the bag we had packed.  We don't need it today, but we should have it just in case.

I sat on the couch and read to William.  I read him a children's book about a parent telling his child how much he loved him.  I rubbed my belly longing for him to kick.  I could feel exactly where his body was on my right side.  He always loved being on my right side.  Sometimes I would get up out of bed and there would be a huge bulge to the right of my belly button.  I loved imagining him curled up in his favorite spot within me.

Just before we left, I snapped a few pictures of myself in the mirror and asked my husband to take a picture of my belly.  I rarely did this throughout my pregnancy, but those pictures are such a treasure to me now.  I didn't realize they would be the last pictures of me carrying William.

We got in the car and drove to the doctor's office.  I awkwardly walked up the path to the door.  Even though I was just under 7 months pregnant, I was measuring much bigger.  I looked 9 months pregnant and ready to deliver at any moment.

Don't worry, said a woman standing by the door, You're in the home stretch now!

How could she have known the truth to her words?

We walked back to the examining room and the nurse asked if I wanted her to take my blood pressure and weight.

That would be great, I said.  Let's listen to the heartbeat first.

Why did I feel so confident that we would hear it?


I'm going to write about William's birth with a level of detail and candor that goes deeper than my typical style of writing.  It may be difficult for some people to read, but I'll do this because it helps me process what happened.  I'll also do this because William's birth is now part of my journey as a mother. 

Mothers often share their birth stories.  They talk about whether they had a vaginal delivery or a Cesarian.  They talk about how long they labored and how they managed their pain.  I want to share my story, too...but my story is one of birth and death.    

Our society is often uncomfortable talking about death.  The death of an infant makes people even more uncomfortable.  Years ago, people rarely spoke of their stillborn children.  They were made to feel as though they ought to forget the move on.  I believe that every child's story is worthy of telling, no matter what the circumstances or outcome. 

William was born still, but he was still born.  His birth story deserves to be told, and I've earned the right to tell it. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter is Here

William Daniel Lake
was born into Heaven
on November 14, 2011 at 11:48 pm
He weighed 3 lbs and was 14 inches long
He had my nose and my husband's mouth
His feet were perfect

Today we had a beautiful service to recognize and celebrate his life.  Then, as the sun shone down on us and the winter wind blew, we buried our precious son.

I am going to write about William's birth and will continue to share what his life means to me. 
Our story as a family is not over and William's will not be forgotten.

For a short time
I had your body in my body
I carried your belly in my belly
And now, though I have your heart in my heart
and feel your soul in my soul
I will never again have your hand in my hand
I miss your life in my life

Poem written by a grieving mother named Johanna to her daughter, Ashley Rose

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Waiting for Winter

The seasons in William's life are beginning to change.  As the leaves continue falling from the trees, our baby's life is beginning to fade.

Wednesday morning, I didn't feel him move at all.  We went to our appointment at CHOP and his heartbeat was present and within normal range.  As the day continued, I felt only small movements...a tap here, a thump there.  Thursday came and went with nothing but one or two weak sensations of movement.  I felt uneasy, knowing that just days before William's kicks were consistent and strong.

On Friday morning, as the sun rose I called CHOP.  The doctor told me that I needed to do a heartbeat check that morning.  He didn't say it aggressively, but I could tell he was serious.  We made a quick plan to go to our local doctor for a heartbeat check and if there wasn't a heartbeat, we would continue on to CHOP.  My husband went to work until the local office opened.  I began packing.

As I gathered my things and put them in the bag, I kept glancing in the mirror.  I knew that this could be the day and it was possible I wouldn't be pregnant for much longer.  I lay my hand on my stomach, soaking in the image of my baby still in my body.

We went to the doctor's office and the nurse found his heartbeat immediately.  I was relieved, but couldn't shake the feeling that something was still terribly wrong.  Why isn't he moving?

The doctor from CHOP called me a few hours later and explained that William has entered into the final stages of his condition.  His body is weakening and he will now spend most of the time sleeping, in a semi-conscious state.  His systems will slowly shut down and his heart will be the last thing to stop.  She assured me that he is not in pain and will not suffer.  The timeline is uncertain.  It could be hours, days, or maybe weeks before he passes.

When the call ended, I gasped and began sobbing.  I wasn't shocked.  I knew this was coming, but nothing prepares you for the moment you truly realize your baby is dying.

With a heavy heart, my husband had gone back to work and my mom was spending the day with me.  We lay our hands on my stomach and cried.  We told him we were there and that we loved him.

I write this post as the sun is rising.  Tears stream down my face.  I think back to spring, when everything was new and hope overflowed in my heart.  William's life had just begun and I spent long hours daydreaming about the future.

Summer arrived and William grew.  As the world outside flourished with life, our sweet baby kept getting bigger and bigger.  I fell more deeply in love with him. 

As summer ended, we learned of his condition.  In utter shock and pain, we entered into fall.

Fall began with grief and uncertainty.  But my heart began to change with the colors of the leaves.  I was determined to see the beauty of this season.  Even though autumn is a time when the lush landscapes fade away and a chilly darkness begins to fall, it's always been my favorite season. 

Endings can be beautiful.

I decided to embrace the autumn of William's life, to search for beauty amidst the pain.  Of all the seasons of William's life, this has been the most precious.  The time we've spent together as a family will be a treasure to me for the rest of my life.     

And now winter is upon us, both outside and within my heart.  It is a time where life does not truly go away, but is hidden from our sight.  Unless there is a great miracle, for which we always hope, William will be born into his life in Heaven and we will continue living here without him.    

And so we wait for winter.

We wait with William.

Because that is what we do when we love someone.  We stay with them through every season. 

We hold their hand
and hold them close. 
We speak words of love to them
and then we let them go.

So with an anguished but grateful heart,

I gently stroke my belly where William sleeps,
because I cannot yet hold his hand.

I hold him safely in the center of my body,
because I cannot yet hold him in my arms.

I speak softly to him, telling him that he is dearly loved.

And when God chooses...

I will let him go.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Have Two Hearts

It was only a few days after we received William's initial diagnosis of a Cystic Hygroma.  I was still processing what we had learned and was desperately holding on to the hope that it wouldn't develop any further and he could be in the 8% that survive this condition. 

I am a second grade teacher and my students were very excited about me having a baby in February.  After we received William's diagnosis, I had a very simple discussion with them.  I did not go into details, but I told them that my baby wasn't feeling well and that it made me sad.  Children have such a clear sense of basic emotions and I found that several students went out of their way to encourage me throughout the days that followed our discussion.   

I was walking around my classroom, monitoring my students as they worked on an assignment I had given them.  One little boy looked up at me and told me that I had done a good job teaching them that day.  I smiled and said That makes my heart feel happy.  Thank you!

I felt a little 7 year old hand reach up and touch my arm.  I looked down at one of the little girls in my class who was sitting directly in front of where I was standing.  She softly patted my arm and said,

Remember...You still have two hearts.

Her words stopped me in my tracks.  There was something so incredibly profound and supportive about her perspective. 

I did have two hearts in my heart and William's heart.  It was such a simple and direct reminder that I still had my baby and his heart was still beating, no matter what the diagnosis predicted.

I've thought of my student's words from time to time throughout the past eleven weeks of waiting and uncertainty. 

I have two hearts.  I still have two hearts.

When we were told that William has hydrops, his chance for survival went from 8% to practically 0%.  We went to CHOP to try to find out more information.

What they discovered through hours of ultrasound and a thorough echo-cardiogram, was that William's heart was working very hard.  Too hard.

When babies are developing in the womb, they require blood that is rich in nutrients and oxygen.  This blood travels through the umbilical vein and other parts of the baby's circulatory system.  The umbilical vein travels through the liver before sending the blood into the heart.  There is a little shunt called the Ductus Venosus that is critical in processing and moving the blood along to the heart.

William does not appear to have a Ductus Venosus.  If he does have one, it is not open or functioning the way it should.  This means that William's heart is working overtime.  He is not getting properly processed blood in his heart which is causing his cardiac output to be much higher than is typical for a baby of his gestational age and size. 

I'm sure there is a much more medically eloquent way of explaining this, but this is how we understand the situation based on what we've discussed with the specialists at CHOP.

The doctors feel that William's excessive fluid around his body (Cystic Hygroma) and within his body (Hydrops) is due to the fact that his heart is working too hard.  They have explained that it is very likely his heart will come to the point where it can't continue working and it will stop.   

Essentially, our baby is in congestive heart failure.

This breaks my heart.  Even though the doctors have assured me that William is not suffering and is not experiencing discomfort or pain, my heart is breaking for him. 

My poor baby, your little heart is working so hard.  I desperately wish we could fix it.

Every week, we go to CHOP for monitoring.  They always listen for his heartbeat with a fetal heart monitor or they look for his heartbeat through an ultrasound.  The moments leading up to his heartbeat check are often torturous for me.  I know that it's a real possibility that his heart will no longer be beating.

When I hear it, I almost always start to cry.  I feel relief wash over me along with a sense of pride that he is still here with us, fighting to live.

When we went to CHOP this morning, I had such a feeling of dread.  I hadn't felt him move all morning and wondered if today was the day.  The doctors have already indicated that he's held on longer than they expected.  Each day he continues to live is truly a miracle.

When she placed the monitor on my stomach, his little heartbeat came across clear and strong.  My body was shaking with relief.

Oh, William, you are such a strong boy.  We love you so much.

Despite his condition, William has continued to grow and develop.  In fact, he's a little ahead in his measurements (which are done without counting the fluid).  It doesn't change the prognosis they are giving him, but it makes me feel good.  I like to think of him as my big strong boy whose legs kick and whose heart beats. 

I often have a lot to think about on our car ride home from CHOP each week.  It's hard to digest the information they have to give us while we are there.  But getting the chance to hear his heartbeat always gives me such a sense of joy and a gratefulness to God.  I don't take a single day that William's heart continues to beat for granted. 

I have two hearts.  I still have two hearts.

Thank you, God.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Family Time

I hear my husband call my name and I open my eyes, barely awake.  He's opening the blinds beside our bed.   

Look outside, he says. We have to tell William about snow!

I smile as we lay beside one another and look out the window.  We take turns telling our baby boy about the wintery scene outside.  We tell him that snow is cold and white.  We tell him why snow is fun.  We talk to him for several minutes about a variety of things.

This is something we do now.  We intentionally talk to our baby.  Not because we think he understands what we are saying, but because we want to share ourselves with him.  We want to tell him about the world.  We want him to hear our voices and sense that we are together.

It's a way to spend time together as a family...and it feels good.

When we first received William's diagnosis, I hardly left the house.  The level of pain and shock was high and I found it hard to cope with the outside world.  One Saturday morning, my husband suggested we go for a drive.  It would be good to get out of the house, but we wouldn't be required to interact with people.  We just weren't ready for that yet.

We drove with no destination in mind.  Neither of us could barely utter a word, so we held hands and listened to music.   Sometimes there just aren't words.

Quiet tears rolled down my face as we passed parks where William would likely never play.  I held my breath as we passed soccer fields full of little boys, thinking about the teams that William may never join.  I ached as we drove, longing for my son to live...grieving for all he may never experience.

I want so much for you.  You are so wanted.

As we drove, I allowed myself to feel the unavoidable pain and disappointment of our situation.  I believe it's healthy and normal to feel these things and I don't deny myself moments of appropriate grief.

We finally found our way back home.  I felt drained, but I also felt comforted. 

We woke up the next day and I found myself asking if we could go on another drive.  My husband eagerly agreed.  We both felt a sense of healing from our previous drive and thought it was worthwhile to go again.

We headed in a new direction.  I quietly listened to the music, allowing the words to encourage me.  I looked out the window and occasionally pointed out beautiful houses or trees to my husband.  I found myself smiling once or twice.  Again, we came home feeling strangely refreshed from our drive.

When the next weekend arrived, we didn't even discuss it.  We just knew we were going for another drive.  With each new drive, I found my attitude shifting.  Instead of focusing on what may never be, I started to notice and appreciate what is.

We started talking a little bit more to one another, and soon we found ourselves talking to William.  Our aimless drives began to have specific destinations.

We drove to where my husband went to elementary school.  We drove to his old church.  We drove to my old schools, too.  We drove to places that meant something to us.

William, this is where Daddy scored a soccer goal and everyone cheered...

This is where Mommy went to school and learned how to read...

This is where your grandparents live.  They love you so much...

I began singing along with the music.  I began telling William about the things I could see out the window.  I found that it felt so good to teach him things, to be his eyes.

I'm grounded in reality enough to understand that he's not at the developmental point where he comprehends what I'm saying to him.  Yet, I know he can hear my voice and sense my presence. 

Talking to him and sharing ourselves with him gives us the opportunity to validate his place in our family.  It's one way for us to show him that he is our precious son and we are proud to be his parents. 

We are proud to be a family.

Our situation is unique and we've had to change our expectations and our plans.  I never thought our time with William could be so limited.

So we adjust.  We change how we define a lifetime.  We embrace the time that we have.

As I sit on the couch, I feel him kick.  I know he's awake and moving, so I rub my stomach and begin talking to him.  I walk across the room and stand beneath the skylight window, peering into the sun.  There are at least five ladybugs crawling around on the surface of the window.

William, there are ladybugs that live in our skylight.  They crawl all around on their little tiny legs, which is kind of fun to watch.  They are red with small black polka dots.  I don't really like insects, but I've always loved ladybugs.  They are really quite special and beautiful...

...just like you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

Perhaps you've seen this poster before.  I saw it a year or two ago and always thought it was rather clever and inspiring.  It was created by the British government at the very beginning of World War II.  It was intended to be distributed in order to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster.

I always thought the origin of this poster was very interesting, but I find it particularly poignant right now.  I don't have first hand experience with the horror of war.  I've never faced a military attack or been forced to flee during an invasion.  However, I'm going to guess that nothing fully prepares you for what you face during times of battle.

Likewise, I find myself in the midst of an unforeseen crisis and I often feel incredibly unprepared. 

What prepares you for the news that your baby is dying? 
What prepares you to deliver a baby who has passed away or will die shortly after birth? 


Not books.  Not websites.  Not long talks with others who have walked this journey.

There are some battles in this life that you must face moment-to-moment.  Carrying a baby with a fatal diagnosis is one of those battles.  I have certainly read some excerpts of books, visited websites, and talked with a few very strong women who have experienced similar loss.  We are doing what we can to be as prepared as possible for what may come, but there is only so much we can do.   

My thoughts take me back to last Sunday.  On Saturday night, I went to bed after a lovely evening of full of family, good food, and pumpkin carving in honor of my birthday.  William kicked away as I drifted off to sleep.  He often moves the most throughout the night.  I find myself looking forward to his precious movements when I wake early in the morning.

On Sunday, I opened my eyes before the sun came up and lay waiting to feel him move. 


I tried not to panic, feeling sure that he would start squirming soon.  The morning wore on as I drifted in and out of sleep.  I became more and more aware of his lack of movement, but refused to dwell on it.

Surely he'll move after I eat breakfast and drink some juice.

The hours passed and I didn't feel anything.  My anxiety began to increase.

It is time, God?
Please, no.  
I'm not ready!  Please, please...
I need more time
I don't want to say goodbye

As the afternoon turned to evening, I began to feel frantic.  I grabbed the computer and searched the Babies R Us website, my hands shaking.  I have had my heart set on picking out an outfit and a blanket for him.  There's so little I may be able to buy for him.  I so wanted him to have something that was chosen specifically for him by his Mama.

I searched for preemie sized clothing and blankets for baby boys, thinking someone could go to the store and pick them up for us if today was the day.  But it became too painful to look through the items on the screen.  I pushed aside the computer, tears streaming down my face. 

I wanted so much more, God.
I'm trying so hard to accept the time we've been given,
but I ache for so much more

If I felt no movement after 24 hours, I knew we were supposed to call CHOP.

I don't want to call CHOP
Please kick, William
Please move for Mommy

My husband tried to stay calm, but every so often he would ask me if the baby moved yet.  We were both waiting...waiting to find out if it was time to face something we could hardly imagine.

As we prepared for bed, my thoughts were all over the place. 

I felt angry.  Why do we have to be in this place of uncertainty?

I felt fear.  But I don't know how to deliver a baby. 

I felt panic.  What if I never feel him kick again?  What if he's...gone 

I felt a deep sadness for which there are no words.  At this point it had been about 24 hours since I'd felt him move and I began preparing to call CHOP first thing in the morning.

As I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, I felt a small thump. 

I froze, hardly able to breath.  Is that you, baby boy?  Move some more for me, William. 

Two more thumps. 

The relief poured over me like warm water.  His movements increased throughout the night and by morning, he was practically dancing.

Although I was relieved beyond words that William was still with us, I found myself feeling very traumatized on Monday.  His lack of movement and the possibility that his life could be over gave me a glimpse into the unspeakable pain we could experience if that is the outcome that awaits us.  Yet again, I realized how one cannot fully prepare for loss of a loved one.

Since I do not know exactly what's ahead and can only walk through this battle moment-by-moment, there are some things I will commit to doing in the meanwhile.

I will cling to God, trusting that He will carry me through the moments of unimaginable grief that may come in my life.

I will pray that He guides me through all the moments for which I cannot prepare.  

I will carry my precious son and give him all the comfort, warmth, and love I can possibly give him.

I will cry, because I love my baby and the threat to his life warrants sadness and heartache.

I will laugh, because I want William's life to include so much more than my tears and brokenness.  I want him to hear and feel the joy of laughter every day of his life. 

I will sing, because I want to share the gift of music with him.

I will hope, because each day his heart beats is a miracle.

I will honor his life, because he is a precious gift from God.

I will love him.  I will love God.  I will love others.

And amidst the battles, the storms, and the moments for which no one could ever prepare...I will do my best to keep calm and carry on.   

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Morn Shall Tearless Be

I have days when joy and hope help to cushion my pain, but I also have days when the sadness and heartache feel insurmountable.  It's a sadness that I've never felt before.  It seeps into my body and I ache, inside and out.  

And then there are the nights.  I find myself staring out into the darkness, wondering if the morning will ever appear.

How can this be, God?
How can this be...

A few nights ago, I woke in the middle of the night.  William was moving as I placed my hand onto my stomach.  The joy and the pain mingled together.  I smiled as silent tears ran down my cheeks. 

My husband slept soundly beside me as I reached for my cell phone.  I opened up the calendar screen and scrolled to William's due date.  I pressed the screen to my face as my silent tears turned into muffled sobs.  I let my phone drop down to my chest and I held it over my heart.  As I held his due date close, I longed for my baby to be born alive and well while simultaneously preparing for a different and devastating outcome.   

Help me, God
If it's your will for me to let go,
Help me let go

I find that moments like these are part of an important process of surrendering my own plans and expectations to God's will. 

It's a painful process.  In fact, sometimes it's excruciating.

I recently purchased an album of classic hymns sung by Chris Rice.  His voice calms me and the long-treasured lyrics of each hymn soothe my heart.  A verse from the hymn, "O Love That Will Not Let me Go" has really resonated with me.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be. 

I accept the days of sadness and the nights of pain as part of this journey I'm walking.  I accept them because I know that it is normal to grieve when the circumstances in your life take a painful and unexpected turn.  It's normal to grieve when you are forced to alter your hopes and dreams and adjust to a new and unfamiliar reality.  Surrendering your plans and expectations is so very hard.

But I will continue to seek joy, despite my circumstances.
I will believe that God is good, even when life feels bad
I will allow the beauty of William's life to soak into my heart

God, please help me endure the nights of weeping
And believe that joy will come in the morning

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Choosing His Name

William Daniel Lake

William's name is very special to us.

William is part of my father-in-law's name and Daniel is my father's name.  Our fathers are both men of strength and character.  They love God, love their families, and treat people with compassion and respect.  These are qualities that we admire and we are proud to name our first son after each of them.

The name William means "Will, Desire."  It also means "Helmet, Protection."  We so deeply desired to be parents and William has been a dream come true.  We don't know what the future holds for our family, but William will always be our first child.  We have and will continue to cherish every single moment of his life.  We pray that his body is protected from pain and shielded from suffering.  Our hope is for William to feel safe, comfortable, and deeply loved throughout his life.

We have given you a name of significance because your life is significant.  
You are loved and valued.
You matter so very much, darling boy.
The illness that is harming your body is tragic,
but you are not a tragedy.
You are a precious gift from God
Who has knit you together and knows you inside and out.
We are so very thankful for you, William Daniel.
We love you now and always.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Reclaiming Joy

During our time of trying to have a child without success, I had some very sad days. When happiness escaped me, I began to adopt the notion of choosing joy.

For me, happiness is linked to external circumstances.  When positive things are happening in my life, I experience happiness.  I view joy quite differently.  I feel that joy comes from within.  It is not dependent on the circumstances in my life.  As a Christian, I believe the source of this joy is God.

When the darkness closes in, I can choose to dig deep within me to find joy.  Sometimes it's buried beneath my sadness, but when I choose to's always there.  That joy can glow in the corner of my heart, helping me hold on to hope.

A little less than two years ago, I remember coming home from a dear friend's house in tears.  I watched her darling child play on the carpet while she and I discussed the hopelessness I was feeling about ever conceiving a baby.  She prayed with me and encouraged me and loved me.  But when I got in the car to drive home, the doubts pinched at my heart and the tears began to flow.

But what's the plan, God?  What's the plan?
I'm lonely for a child.  I long to be a mother like so many of my friends.  
Do you even care?  Are you even listening?

I came home to our quiet, empty house.  I stood aimlessly in the kitchen as my sadness began to form into anger.

Should I throw something?
Should I yell?
I am so disappointed, God.

And that's when I realized I had a choice to make.  I could give myself over to the bitterness. 

Or I could choose joy.

Through a blur of tears, I began writing on the blank chalkboard hanging on our kitchen wall.  I wrote three words...

"I am blessed"

I chose joy.  I chose to love my husband more than ever before.  I chose to love the children in my life until God blessed me with my own.  I chose to be grateful for our home and our jobs and our families.  I chose to hope.

The day we left that doctor's office with the devastating news of William's condition, I felt as if the glow of joy within my heart had finally gone out.  I felt as if I were in some sort of terrible game, and I was losing.

I tried, God. 
I can't do it anymore.
Losing this baby will break me beyond repair.

For several days, when I looked at the chalkboard my eyes would narrow in bitterness.

I am not blessed...I am destroyed

And then I began to feel the familiar longing to dig beneath the sadness for joy.
And do you know what?

I still couldn't find it.

A few days later I would dig again.  Through my pain and weeping, I kept digging.

And slowly...I began to find it again.

I decided to reclaim joy. 

It's a choice I have to make every single day.  Some days I'm successful and other days I'm not.  But I know that God has placed a joy in my heart that cannot be stolen, despite my circumstances.

Today was a particularly low day for me.  The joy was hard to find...but it's still there.

As I write this, William is wiggling inside of me.  So I choose joy.
Our friends and family continue to love us, pray for us, support us.  So I choose joy.
William has been a part of our family for 22 weeks and 2 days.  So I choose joy.
God has made me a mother.  So I choose joy.

As I sit in our family room, I can see the chalkboard hanging in our kitchen.  I've never erased it.  It reminds me that I made a choice that day.  It reminds me to recognize the blessings in my life.

Most importantly, it reminds me to choose joy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Poem for William

 Tonight I wrote this poem for William...

God Bless You, My Love

God bless you tonight
As you continue to fight
How I wish I could set you free
From this illness that threatens
To shorten your life
And take you away from me

God bless your ten toes
Your small hands and your nose
There's no part of you that I don't love
You are perfect to me
My greatest gift
Given directly to me from above

God bless your sweet heart
That's worked hard from the start
To help you develop and grow
Each time that I've heard
It's quick steady beat
I've found my own heart is aglow

God bless you, my boy
My source of great joy
May you never know sorrow or pain
I will love you forever
Long beyond the goodbyes
And will yearn to be with you again

Who Will Carry Me?

For many, it's a very painful and difficult choice to make.  For us, it seemed there was no other choice possible.

I was going to carry William, no matter what the diagnosis.

When your baby is given a fatal diagnosis during pregnancy, the conversation tends to immediately go to termination.  Not only are you processing truly devastating news, but then you are faced with a life or death decision.  If you don't walk into the situation with a firm understanding of your feelings on terminating a pregnancy, it can be overwhelming and confusing.  Even though my husband and I knew that termination was not an option for us, I am truly sensitive to the struggle people have in this situation.

No one is prepared to face this type of news.  The world you were in before walking into that office feels unrecognizable when you walk out of that office.  Nothing is the same.  You are in shock and battling hopelessness and confusion. 

At the beginning of my pregnancy, I remember looking at the screen through eyes filled with tears.  There was our baby.  There was a little black circle with a small white light blinking right in the center of it.  The heartbeat.  I was mesmerized.  I remember so clearly how I felt.  In a voice softer than a whisper I said, I will love you forever.  I knew in that moment that I was willing to do anything for this precious baby.

As our story unfolded I was faced with doing the most difficult thing I could ever imagine.  Even though I feel absolutely privileged and grateful to carry William, the pain of my role in this situation is excruciating. 

The reality is that I am carrying a baby that is believed to be dying.  We know that God can heal him, but we also know that He could welcome baby Will into Heaven now instead of later. 

The room we had been cleaning out to be his nursery now goes untouched.  We don't pick out paint colors.  We don't register.  Our families don't plan baby showers.  We don't read books about having and raising babies.  We don't do the things we thought we'd do at this point.

Instead, we go to appointments and I lay in silence listening for his heartbeat, is today the day?  We go to appointments where they give us details about how to prepare to have a still born baby or a baby who dies shortly after birth.  We choose a funeral home.  We choose a cemetery.  We are given information about the grieving process.

Instead of preparing for a new life, we prepare for a likely and untimely death.  We aren't preparing to say hello, we are preparing to say goodbye.

We live in constant tension between hoping for a miracle and facing the possibility of a bitter reality.

And in the meanwhile, I carry William.  I carry him and love him and cherish every single moment.  Even through all the pain, I have no regrets.  I know with all my heart that God has chosen William just for us.  He has chosen my husband and I specifically for William.

The decision to continue a pregnancy that the doctors have deemed a "failure" was not a hard decision for us.  We pleaded with God to give us a child and choosing to end our baby's life because of his diagnosis was not an option. 

But does the ease with which we made our decision make this journey any easier? 


It's important to me that I am honest through this journey.  I have no desire to appear self-righteous.  I don't want to act like I am a pillar of strength who gets up each day bravely facing the road before me, confident that everything will turn out alright.  Even though I believe without a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision, I am still a disappointed and frightened young mother.  I still shake in the middle of the night at the thought of going through labor and delivery for the first time under these circumstances.  I still cry angry tears, asking God why He doesn't change this situation.  I still doubt my ability to actually walk this road.

I want to carry William, God.  I am honored to carry the gift you have given us.  
But who will carry me?  
I don't think I can really do this, God.  I feel like I'm stumbling and falling.  
I'm not strong enough...who will carry me?

 As I face my own weakness, I have to cling to God's promises and His strength.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed" Psalm 34:18

Please rescue me, God.  
I need You to carry me.  
I can't do this on my own.  
I will carry William while You carry me...I trust You to carry us both.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not Today

I wake up.  The sun is shining through the cracks in the blinds.  I reach down to feel my stomach. 

It's ok.  He's still with me.

In my dream, I was searching our bedrooms for William.  I couldn't find him anywhere and lay on the hallway floor in anguish.  As I turn over in bed I'm relieved he's still here.

It was just a dream.

And then it hits me.  One morning I will wake and he won't be with me any longer.

But not today, Ali.  Not today.  Today he is still here. 

I make the choice to get up.  My body wants to stay in bed all day under the weight of my sadness.  I start small by telling myself to stand up.  Once I stand up, I tell myself to walk to the bathroom.  I do my morning routine step by step, convincing myself to face the day.  By the time I am in the shower, I find myself singing softly to William, assuring him that I will love and carry him today and all my life.  I am feeling a little bit stronger.

My sister takes me to the doctor for our weekly heartbeat check.  I've felt him move so much lately, but not this morning.  As we turn into the hospital, I feel a thump.  It's as if William is saying, "It's ok, Mommy.  I'm here."

The nurse squeezes cold gel onto my stomach and turns on the monitor.  The galloping sound of my precious boy's heart fills the room.  The nurse looks at me and smiles.  I smile, too.  Each moment with William is priceless.

As we walk out of the office, I begin to imagine what it will be like on the day they don't find the heartbeat.  I'm so frightened.  I blink away tears. 

That day may come...but it's not today, Ali.  Not today.  Today he is still here.

We drive to my parents' house.  My husband is at work and will meet us later for dinner.  My mom, sister, and I are going to look at a cemetery.  As much as we hope for a miracle, we realize that arrangements need to be made.  We will be in no condition to make these decisions in the darkest hours of our grief.

We pull into the cemetery and pass through the large iron gates.  The headstones appear just ahead and I take a deep breath.

Why am I here?  How could I possibly be here?

We park the car and begin walking around.  My eyes fall on a grave with a small stone.  It says "Baby Boy".  His birthday is the same as mine.  I gasp and cover my face with my hands, stifling my cries.  I compose myself and keep walking.

It's peaceful and serene.  I see a small office attached to a two car garage.  I walk that way to get information because I figure that is what you do when trying to find a cemetery.  We arrive at the office and I muster up the courage to ask the man some questions about burying my infant son.  He talks to me as if we are discussing the weather or some objects I'd like him to store.  He's abrupt and speaks to me roughly.

Don't you see that I'm pregnant?  Can you not sense my pain?  I don't need you to cry with me, but could you just speak to me kindly?

He hands me a paper with all the pricing.  I quietly hand it to my sister.  She folds it in stunned silence.  My mom, sister, and I walk away from the office.  We say a few things to each other and then begin walking through the cemetery again.  We are without words.

We each walk in slightly different directions, facing our individual grief.  With the sun shining down on me, I feel the urge to fall to the ground.  I want to lay with my face in the grass and scream. 

Instead, I keep walking.

Again, I resist laying on the ground with outstretched arms.  I feel like screaming out in surrender, screaming out in brokenness. 

William moves within me and I breath in deeply.  I keep walking.  There will be a day for mourning.

But it's not today, Ali.  Not today.  Today he is still here.

My mom, sister, and I gather together and begin walking toward the car.  We talk as we look at the graves we pass.  Sometimes, we cry.

I sit on the couch in my parents' house, staring ahead vacantly.  Silent tears fall down my face.  I sense God working in my heart, giving me strength to keep going.  Even when it's so hard, I still believe He is near to us.  I believe He loves us and will guide us while we walk this road.  I believe in His promises.

But it's hard, God.  Today was so hard.  

He knows.

We are not abandoned.  We are not alone.  Not today, not tomorrow...not ever.    


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

His Sweet Feet

I have a special love for William's feet. 

It began at the beginning.  As we went for our weekly ultrasounds, I was delighted by the tiny arms and legs that began growing out of his little bean-shaped body.  As his legs began to grow, we could see little feet emerging.  I would day dream about nuzzling and kissing my baby's tiny toes.  I would tell my husband that I just couldn't wait until February to hug and squeeze and cuddle with our baby.  We would just have to be patient, we would say.

Time passed and we graduated from needing to have weekly ultrasounds.  Our baby was doing well and we would now go to the perinatal testing center for further ultrasounds like every other "normal" pregnancy.  When we arrived at our ultrasound in August, we looked at the screen with excitement as William kicked his legs and moved his little feet around.  We didn't know it was a boy yet, but I knew that my little girl or little boy had the most wonderful feet I'd ever seen.  As the technician scanned across my stomach, she was so quiet. 

Scan. Click. Scan. Click.

She seemed to be taking a lot of pictures of the baby.  I was hopeful that she'd print some out for us to take home.  She got up to leave without telling me to clean up.  The doctor walked in.  Why is the doctor here?  I don't remember them saying we'd see a doctor?  He introduced himself and then began to scan across my stomach.

Scan. Click. Scan. Click.

He told me to clean up and use the bathroom if I needed.  He would meet us in his office.  Why are we going into his office?  Is this what everyone does?

I began to feel nervous, but my husband said he was sure everything was fine.  We sat down in his office and he shut the door. 

Everything wasn't fine.

As we walked to our car, I felt as though I was wading through water.  The world had looked so different before we went into the office.  Everything had changed.  Instead of ultrasound pictures, I had a piece of paper clutched in my hand that had the doctor's words scribbled across the front.  Cystic Hygroma...later fetal demise...chromosomal abnormalitiesWhat did it all mean?

Before our ultrasound in September, I had prayed to never hear the word "hydrops".  A Cystic Hygroma was bad enough, but hydrops would mean the worst.  I knew that Cystic Hygromas sometimes develop into hydrops, a condition where fluid begins to accumulate inside the baby's body around his major organs.  Please God, no hydrops.

As she began scanning, I immediately saw the dark areas in his chest.  I didn't even need to ask.  He has hydrops.  I lay silently, letting her scan every section of his body knowing that at the end they would tell us he wouldn't survive.  Don't fall apart, Ali.  Just keep watching her scan William's body.  Look at his feet.  Just look at his precious feet kicking back and forth. 

We asked for pictures this time, but she said he wasn't positioned well for pictures...and he was too swollen.  With sadness, she handed us one picture before leaving.  It was a picture of his foot.  Oh, my darling boy.  Your feet are so beautiful.

The same doctor as before came back and quietly began scanning.

Scan. Click. Scan. Click.

He asked me to clean up and for us to come back to his office.  There's a lot going on, he said.

I wiped the once-warm gel off my stomach and shivered.  I walked into the bathroom that was shared between my room and the room next door.  As I locked each door, I heard people laughing in the next room.  I wanted to burst in and make them stop.  How can you laugh? Don't you know my baby is dying?

I looked around the bathroom at the cartoon strips hanging on the walls.  They depicted women making cleverly snide remarks during labor or lamenting about midnight feedings and sleepless nights.  I am going to go through labor.  I am going to have sleepless nights.  But I won't be taking home my baby.

As I washed my hands, I stared at myself in the mirror.  I've never seen myself look so sad.  Who are you?  How has this happened?  Will you ever be happy again?  I looked's hard to see yourself that way.

As we sat in his office, he began listing things of concern about William.  The Cystic Hygroma was worse.  He had hydrops around his lungs.  There were other anomalies such as his feet. The doctor said with certainty that our baby wasn't going to survive.  I asked more about his feet.  He said they were "club" meaning they weren't growing correctly and were facing inward.  This is a benign condition but could indicate more serious underlying causes.  He moved on to other things, but my mind couldn't focus on anything but William's feet.

Why, God?  Why his feet?  Could you not have spared his feet?  Must everything be taken from me?

As we went through the next week, we grieved and cried over William's new prognosis.  We were scheduled to go to CHOP to get more information.  There's much to say about our CHOP visit, but that can be for another day.  They were so kind to us and spent so much time explaining everything they know about William's condition.  After a long meeting with the doctor, I realized she hadn't said a word about William's feet.  I don't remember whether it was my husband or I who asked about his feet first.  We knew he had a fatal diagnosis.  We knew his feet were the least of his issues.  But what about his feet?  Just tell me about his precious feet?

She said that he didn't have club feet.  Club feet are fixed into position and William moves his feet around freely.  The diagnosis of club feet was not an accurate finding in the previous ultrasound.  With a smile she said that he does move his feet in a funny way,  but his feet are totally fine.

Thank you, God.  Thank you for his feet.

I've found myself pulling out the beautiful ultrasound pictures they gave us at CHOP and searching for the one of his foot.  I love every single part of William, but there is just something so special about his feet.

Keep kicking your legs, baby boy.  Move your feet however you like.  

I love you exactly the way you are.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Waiting for William

On Mother's Day, I took my first injection.

After a couple years of trying and doing failed infertility treatments and procedures, we began the journey of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). We knew IVF could be in our future, but we were so hopeful that it wouldn't get to that point. IVF is painful, invasive, and expensive. What doctors are able to do in situations like ours is amazing and wonderful...but it isn't simple or easy.

We had taken a break from all fertility related procedures and medications so that we could clear our minds, pray about our future, and give my body a break. My body and my spirit were tired. I had lost my beloved aunt to cancer in September and I felt overwhelmed with disappointment. Why hadn't God answered our prayers for her healing? Why hadn't God answered our prayers for a child? I needed to work through my disappointment and reconnect with God.

It took about 7 months before we felt emotionally, financially, and physically ready to proceed with IVF. We went to appointments and injection trainings. They took what appeared to be ten thousand tubes of blood from me. And in early May, I closed my eyes while my husband gave me my first injection. It was Mother's Day and I was willing in my heart to do anything to be a mother. In some ways, I feel that I started loving William that very day...weeks before his life even began.

Soon we felt that we were pros. I had the whole injection and medication schedule written out and faithfully followed their directions. With anxious but excited anticipation, we crossed off the days to when our family could begin.

IVF consists of two very involved procedures. Both required a few days of bed rest and both involved pain and discomfort for me. The day of the second procedure, they gave us a picture of our embryos. We joked about being in a select group of parents who knew what their children looked like at only 8 cells old. I still have the pictures.

After the second procedure we knew I could either become pregnant with two babies, one baby, or no babies. The two week wait was torturous. The injections continued and tend to cause symptoms that mirror pregnancy, so there was no way to know before I went in for the blood test.

During the last week of my school year, we got the call. I was pregnant! Really pregnant! My levels were high and the thought of twins entered my mind. I can't really put into words the joy in my heart when we got the news. After years of wanting and desiring a child, God had answered our prayers. We cried in thankfulness and gratitude.

Even though my pregnancy was confirmed completely, I took several pregnancy tests because I longed for the experience of seeing the positive results. I relished every moment.

Within weeks, an ultrasound confirmed our suspicion. Twins! Our joy couldn't be contained. We were over the moon with happiness and praised God from the depths of our hearts. Our parents and siblings celebrated with us and it was and always will be one of the happiest times of my life.

Shortly after this time, we found ourselves looking at the ultrasound monitor and saw that one baby's heart was beating and one was not. They sometimes refer to this as "vanishing twin syndrome". Sometimes in early pregnancy, one twin does not survive while the other thrives and there's no explanation for it. This seemed to be the case for us. Even though our joy and relief over the progress of our one baby didn't change, our hearts grieved for our second baby who was never to grow.

I went forward with an attitude of peace, trusting that God's plan was good and His timing perfect. Our baby was growing and doing perfectly...God had given us so much for which to be thankful. But every time I saw a set of twins walk by in the grocery store or at the park, I felt a small pang of loss for what could have been.

The weeks went on and we watched our baby grow. I was practically couch ridden with nausea all summer but was thankful for every minute of it. Every symptom of pregnancy filled my heart with absolute happiness. We began planning and praying and waiting for our baby to grow healthy and strong so that we could take him or her home with us in February.

I thought that waiting for William was ones of the the hardest things I'd ever do. I thought that was our testimony. A testimony of waiting and holding on to hope for God to start our family.

I never imagined we would be where we are today. I never imagined we'd be faced with saying goodbye to our long-desired and precious son. I'd be lying if I said I haven't experienced anger, disappointment and utter confusion at the place God has us in. However, I don't feel abandoned by God. A friend sent me this quote and I find it so true as I'm walking through the darkest time of my life so far...

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Our love and appreciation for William has only been deepened by the waiting.

William was so worth the wait.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Forever a Family

It's hard to know where to start. I have so much to say about so many things. I desired to start this blog because I felt it would be healing to write out our story and allow others to read it. Our story has so many chapters already and I imagine I'll write them each when I'm ready.

Today I want to begin by writing about our family. Right now there are three people in our family. We hope there are more members in our family someday, but there will never be less than three. I am 20 weeks pregnant with our first baby. My husband and I love our son with all of our hearts. We have named him William Daniel. His name was chosen with purpose and I will write more about that in the future. Baby William is our precious gift from God. We already know him in such a special way. I'm eager to share more of his story.

My husband and I got married in 2007. We knew that God had designed us each to be parents and couldn't wait to begin that journey together. We also knew that it wouldn't be a simple one. As we knowingly faced a battle against infertility, we clung to Jeremiah 29:11 (it's written out beneath the title of this blog). We even had it inscribed on the inside of our wedding bands. Committing ourselves to God's plan for our life is an irreplaceable part of our commitment to one another. We hold on to the truth that God has our future in His hands and that future is one of hope.

I plan to share many chapters of our story, but today I will focus only on the recent main events. Over the past six weeks, a series of dates have become painful, but important parts of our family's story.

On August 24th, during a routine ultrasound, they told us that William is very sick and may not survive. We began a journey filled with uncertainty, fear, and sadness.

On August 31st, we went in for testing to find out more.

On September 12th, they called us with news that our baby is a boy and he has normal chromosomes. He was still in great danger, but we rejoiced in this piece of good news and named him William Daniel.

On September 22nd, during a follow-up ultrasound, they told us that William is extremely sick and will not survive. The things they told us were devastating. We grieved, our hearts feeling shocked and broken.

On September 30th, we went to CHOP to find out more. They treated us with compassion and respect. With sadness in their eyes, they confirmed that William cannot survive his condition. They know more information about why he is so sick, but they will continue to work with us to find out as much as possible.

Our family is now in an in-between place. We believe that God is fully capable of doing a miracle in William's body, but we also know that may not be His plan. We sense that we need to prepare to say goodbye.

As my belly grows and I feel William move throughout the day, I experience joy mingled with pain. There are moments of true anguish within my heart...moments where I'm unable to find words to describe my sorrow. But William's diagnosis has not changed my love for him. If anything, I love him more than I ever could have loved him at 20 weeks. His short life is and will forever be full of value and significance. He is our first child and he is dearly loved. I will love and honor him all the days of his life and all the days beyond.

My husband, William, and I became a family the moment William's life began.

I will forever be a mother.
My husband will forever be a father.
William will forever be our first son.

No matter what happens, we are forever a family.