The Party

You guys. Shine this year was amazing. Everyone looked so fantastic, the drinks were flowing, the auction was incredible, the volunteers were ON IT, the games were wild (per usual), the dance floor was lit, the list goes on. Check out the video to see what I mean. Everyone had such a great time!

I learned a great deal from last year’s event, so this year’s went much smoother. I was less overwhelmed with the event itself, so I seriously had the best time. It does my heart so much good to have a celebration for my girl that truly reflects her legacy of joy and giving. However….

About a week before this year’s Shine event, I felt paralyzed. My throat felt tight, my heart was constantly pounding, and my head was spinning. It took me a while to realize exactly what I was feeling, but when it finally dawned on me I saw it so clearly. I was angry. Like, ANGRY. I still am.

I’m angry that while planning an incredible and joyous event, I can’t FULLY embrace and enjoy all of it because in the back of my mind I know all of this is happening because my baby died.

I’m angry because I didn’t choose any of this. When I was pregnant with Annie I was in nursing school. I graduated, got my license, and I haven’t worked a single day as an RN. Life has changed in so many crazy ways since the day I began my nursing journey. The day before the event, I broke down in tears and just kept saying over and over, “how did I get here?”

On Annie’s actual birthday, my family and I were out of town. Usually I go through her box of belongings and mementos on that day, cry, and remember. This year I didn’t. The day came and went while we played in the clear crisp water of the Frio River in Texas with family. A few days later we came across her box while working on the house, and I stopped everything to go through her precious things. I came across the bag with her hospital blanket. I carefully unwrapped it and brought it to my face, I pressed it to my cheek and took a deep breath in. I started to cry.

Robert looked knowingly at me and said, “does it still smell like her?”

I looked at him and said, “I don’t know.”

Then I wept. Hard.

I’m angry that the day she was with us is getting further and further away and those memories that were once firm and crisp are fading away.

My girls, of course, flocked to me and hugged me as I cried. I realized one of them was trembling. I looked up, and my tear stained face was looking directly into the tear stained face of my sweet Harper Lou. Harper was only two when Annie was born, but now she is eight and has some big feelings about her sister. She cried with me, because she is deeply hurt that she has a sister that isn’t here with her. She knows how precious sisters are, and the older she gets, the more she feels something missing. Oh, man, am I angry about that. 

One of the things that makes me angry and I feel like I can actually do something about, is this. Any time I expressed anger or sadness or anything negative about Shine and the event, someone would “yeah, but” me. For example, I would say something like, “I hate that we even have to do this. I hate that we’re having a party ‘in honor of’ instead of ‘for’ Annie.” And then someone, (everyone, including my own husband), would reply, “yeah, but look at all the amazing things that are being done in her name!” Or, “yeah, but wow! You raised money for a good cause!” etc, etc.

Good people of the world, can we NOT do this. I understand that it comes from a place of love and compassion, and I know for a fact I’m guilty of doing this myself. It is so hard to see people we love in pain. I’m here to tell you that it has the complete opposite effect, however. It piles MORE negative feelings on top of the ones we already have. Instead of being sad and angry that my baby died, now I’m sad and angry that my baby died, I feel guilty for not solely being grateful that so many people have contributed their time and treasure to her event, and I feel ashamed that I shared a dark part of myself with someone. That makes me think next time I’ll just keep it to myself and only tell people the good stuff… (or, because I’m Abbey and a hardcore enneagram 4, I put all my feelings on the internet because they have to go somewhere or I’ll explode.)

Honesty and vulnerability have seriously been like a weapon for me. The more honest and vulnerable I am, the more I can fight the darkness that wells up. This year has been so hard. I think it was harder because last year was fairly easy, and I thought that meant it would continue to get easier. I have been fighting chaos and depression in my heart and mind, and I need my weapon now more than ever, because I am so, beyond angry, that this is all we get. I am doomed to a lifetime of birthday parties without the birthday girl, and I made this realization the week before her celebration. When I think this thought, my face tenses with stress and I feel tears of anger and pain running down my clenched jaw. This is awful, and no amounts of “yeah, buts” will ever wash this away.

There is an infinite amount of ands to be had though…

This is all we get AND I’m going to continue to make the best of it. ✨

 

 

 

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The Stars

Twinkle, twinkle…count the stars.

You’ll count to six.

Annie was born six years ago this year – this logo emphasizes those years.

A star for each year.

See the five lines?

These lines represent the Ahern Daughters.

Some of the lines overlap, others don’t necessarily touch – yet they are all united.

This visually represents their connection to their sister in Heaven.

-Rachel Leslie, Polka Square


The theme for Shine 2019 is so incredibly meaningful to us. A few weeks ago we were notified by our friends at LifeShare of Oklahoma about a gift we were receiving. One of the companies that received part of Annie’s organ donation, the International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine, was gifting her with a star. Our family gets to name it, we received a map of it’s location, and we will be able to look up at the night sky and see Pistol Annie literally SHINING bright. I have also learned that IIAM refers to the stars their donors receive as the Galaxy of Guardians and HOW PRECIOUS IS THAT.

This news was a bit overwhelming to me, not only because it is a thoughtful way to honor her and her organ donation, but because it has been difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that pieces of my daughter are still around and being used for medical advancements six whole years after she left us. Not to mention all the donors who came after her because she paved the way. I tend to think of Annie’s organ donation as this singular event that happened in the hours after she died in my arms. In my mind it was a thing that happened, but in reality, it is something that is still happening. This reminder that she is still working has completely changed my perspective.

Shine 2019 is three short months away, and we are so very excited. Last year was an unbelievably joyous event. It felt so good to truly celebrate our daughter, and to support a wonderful organization that performs real and positive change in our city. We are proud to support The Spero Project with the proceeds of Shine again this year. This year’s event will be held again at Aloft Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City on June 21. The evening begins at 7:00 pm with cocktails and delicious food. During that time, guests may bid on fantastic silent auction items, play various games to win wine, gift cards, and other prizes. Guests will also enjoy live music and dancing. Ticket price includes entry, two drink tickets, and food. Please join us for this fun and joyful event! (Cocktail attire)

Tickets are now available on our website! Advance sale tickets are $65. We hope you are able to join us! There are also many other ways to be involved in Shine. We have several sponsorship opportunities for businesses, you could donate an item for our silent auction, you could donate a gift card or wine as prizes for our games, or you could donate directly to The Spero Project.

Thank you to all of you who have supported us over the past six years. We are truly able to shine because of the love and support we have received.

Many thanks to Rachel Leslie who designed this year’s logo. She is so incredibly intentional, and understands the complexities of grief and celebration in a way that only moms like us do.

Thank you, Rachel. I’m so grateful for your friendship.

LOL (lots of love),

Abbey

The Gift

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” 
― Mary Oliver

Ahern Family-30

Six years ago, I was carrying my daughter who I knew was not made for this world. There were so many unknowns. I didn’t know if she would make it to delivery, and if she did, I didn’t know how long she would stay with us. I didn’t know how to parent my older two girls through that season. I had no idea what grief and healing looked like. I had zero clue what life on the other side of that turmoil would be like. It was so so dark.

I also knew that Annie’s birthday would always be sad, because it was the day she left us. However, it was also the day she LIVED. Her entire life was filled with love and family and faith and hope. She changed me, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to honor that.

Pistol Annie Ahern-318

I am here today to tell you how much unexpected beauty and good has come from that darkness. Hosting SHINE is my way of not only honoring my daughter and the lives she has changed, but also to be a light to others in the darkness. It has been six long years without Annie. I still have my fair share of darkness. I still don’t know a LOT of things. But thanks to the help of my husband, my four living daughters, my friends, my faith, and counseling, I am here and I can feel myself shining again.

SHINE was an idea I had when I was pregnant with Annie, and was finally able to execute last year. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a LOT of help (lookin at you Amy Ray Events ). It was so incredible. For the very first time, I had fun on my daughter’s birthday. We laughed, we celebrated, we ate, we played, we drank, we danced, we cried many happy tears, and we PARTIED. There was so much palpable joy. It exceeded all of my dreams. All of the proceeds went to our friends at The Spero Project, and it was incredible. I can’t wait to do it again.

Many of our friends and family have asked us, “why The Spero Project? If this is a party for Annie, wouldn’t you guys have it benefit LifeShare because of Annie’s organ donation?” This is a valid question, and I want to answer it for those of you who have wondered the same thing.

My family and I are adamant supporters of LifeShare of Oklahoma. We appreciate their life saving mission. We support them with monetary donations and we are active LifeShare Advocates (aka volunteers). When I began to plan SHINE 2018, I definitely wanted to include them in the celebration because they are like family to us. They were there at SHINE with a table and a lovely volunteer to spread the word about organ donation and register new donors, because they have been just as supportive of us over the years.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but when I chose a recipient for the proceeds of SHINE, I knew it had to be The Spero Project. One reason why is because SHINE is not a humongous event, and I felt like the amount of money we raised could make a very big difference in a smaller organization like Spero.


Here is a message from Kim Bandy, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Spero Project:

Thank you again for your kindness toward Spero and the refugee community!  Last year’s SHINE funds were tremendously helpful in making the Student Support program possible. This program offers an after-school program 4 days per week, tutoring, translation assistance, liaison support between parents and schools, an educational Summer program, field trips, and college and scholarship application assistance. Throughout the year, the program serves around 40 students per month, many of whom get support daily. 

For students whose parents are not native English speakers, this resource is so needed to ensure they are thriving in our school system. The largest group of students in the program is the Burmese population and we are lucky to have a Burmese staff member, Sang, leading the program who can offer both translation and much-needed emotional support to students adjusting to the United States the same way she did years ago. 

We calculate a cost of approximately $25,000 for a year of the Student Support Program (staff, volunteer management, supplies and educational resources, vehicle, insurance), so last year’s SHINE event covered more than 2/3 of the cost of the whole program!!


Annie’s legacy is big and multifaceted. Organ donation is a big part of that legacy, but so is bringing light into the darkness. The Spero Project does that with it’s many projects, and I invite you to learn more about their life changing work on their website.

We really hope you can make it to celebrate with us this year. SHINE is being held on June 21 at Aloft Hotel in downtown OKC. There will be food, games, prizes, drinks, live music and dancing. It is an incredible way to celebrate our sweet girl and the light that can only come from the darkness.

http://www.shineokc.com

LOL (lots of love),

Abbey

SHINE Web Format (99 of 265)

The Fifth

shine

If you told me five years ago that I would be looking forward to Annie’s birthday, I would have collapsed into a giant sweaty pregnant pile and cried until you were so uncomfortable you ran away. If you would have told me 4 years ago, I might have done the same thing because I was pregnant again and a hot anxious mess. 3 years ago? I might have punched you because I was on my own with a deployed husband. 2 years ago I might have punched you because that’s when I got super angry about loss and was drunk… a lot… Last year I was doing ok, but I still probably wouldn’t have believed you. This year, it’s so very true.

I have such a sense of joyful anticipation about Annie’s upcoming birthday celebration, because this year it’s finally going to be what it’s SUPPOSED to be. I’m going to share a bit today about why and how Shine came to be.

Before Annie was even born, I KNEW I was supposed to host a fundraising event for her birthday. It was this feeling that captured my heart in a way that I can’t even explain. At the time I didn’t even know what it was going to look like, or who the funds would be raised for, but the seed of the idea was there while Annie was still in my belly.

Annie was born, she lived, then she left. The next year was messy, hard, and so so sad. There was not a lot of planning or really that much living going on with me. Her first birthday came and went. My husband Robert’s family has a beautiful Thanksgiving tradition where we write 3 things we are thankful for that happened in the past year, and 3 things we are prayerful for in the next year, and we tuck them away to read at the next Thanksgiving. For 4 years how I have felt guilt and shame at Thanksgiving because another year had passed and I read where I had written “Annie’s birthday party” on the previous year’s card, and it hadn’t happened. It didn’t happen because I wasn’t ready. I knew I wasn’t ready.

Last Thanksgiving when I wrote “Annie’s birthday party”, I had a renewed sense of hope. I have FELT all the feelings that have come my way these past 5 years. I know so much more than I did then. I am equipped. I have supporters. I have experience in asking for help, emotional and physical. I am crying as I write this, because I just realized that I am looking forward to reading my Thanksgiving cards this year. It’s happening. I’m ready.

I am writing this to tell you that Annie’s birthday party is going to be fun. It’s going to be special, and joyful, and meaningful, and for me, monumental.  Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” I love this verse for what it says and what it doesn’t say. It says “God causes everything to work together.” It doesn’t say only the #blessed things that happen. Everything means the good stuff, and it also means the really really SHITTY stuff. I am a believer, but I in no way claim to have all the answers. I don’t know why some babies die. What I do know is that I have SEEN babies who have lived only for precious months, days, hours, and those who never even took their first breath change this world for the better. That’s everything. I have also met their mommas who smile after losing those babies. That means something. Yeah, that’s everything.

I want to celebrate. I want to dance. I want to laugh. I want to cry (because I cry when I’m happy). And I want you to join me.

Happy Birthday Annie. Momma’s doing her best to spread your gorgeous light.

 

-All proceeds of Shine go directly to our friends at The Spero Project. I hope you consider joining us to celebrate Annie and contribute to the life changing work at The Spero Project!

Buy your tickets here today!!!

Frankie Pop

On the morning of August 18 Robert, Iva and I went in for my 37 week checkup. I had been feeling bad all week, and by this time I was completely over it. The week had been so hectic already because it was the big girls’ first full week back at school. Getting back into that routine is not for the faint of heart, let me tell ya. We already had experienced one of those moments at breakfast (I think it was on Tuesday) where one daughter looked at me and said that today was her day to bring snacks for her whole class and she was going to bring goldfish. I actually laughed in her precious naive little face. We had no goldfish, or any food for that matter. I hadn’t been to the store in 2 weeks because NOPE when I was that huge and miserable. We live a good 20+ minutes from a grocery store (in the opposite direction of the school) so she got to learn an important life lesson that day about preparation and notification.

I waddled into my doctor’s office and grunted as I stepped on the scale. I rolled my eyes when I saw the number on the scale had jumped 11 pounds since the Friday before, because I knew what was coming. The lower half of my body had become so ridiculously swollen over the previous few days, I was surprised it wasn’t more than 11 pounds. Then the nurse took my blood pressure, and Robert and I looked knowingly at each other when we saw the reading. My BP had been creeping up during the 3rd trimester, but had stayed in the safe range until that morning. As soon as my doctor walked in and asked me when was the last time I had had anything to eat or drink, I wanted to cry, dance, do a herkie, and of course, eat a burrito because now I couldn’t. I’ve had several c sections, so I know that question means it’s baby time. He told us to go home, pack a bag and come back to be monitored so we could officially diagnose me with preeclampsia if that was the case, and possibly deliver that day.

I was so beyond relieved. I’m a lot older now than when I was pregnant with Dylan, my oldest, and this baby is my fifth. My body is weary, and I’m a lot more cranky and loud about it than I was in my twenties. This pregnancy was hard on me and I wanted this kid out. I was 37 weeks so we were in the safe zone to deliver. Both Rob and I knew there was no guarantee our baby wouldn’t need help, heck Iva was born at 41 weeks and needed 4 days in the NICU. We just prayed and hoped for the best.

We went home and packed, took and posted a final belly pic (I cropped out my terrifying marshmallow feet), made childcare arrangements, then we headed back to the hospital. After a period of monitoring it was clear that I did indeed have preeclampsia and delivery was the best course of action. I went back to the operating room alone for the part of the procedure I hate the most. Getting the spinal is not particularly painful or difficult, but having to do it without my husband while in a chilly and sterile environment where everyone is wearing masks and all you can see are their shifty eyes counting all of the shiny sharp things just skyrockets my anxiety. I laid down and got prepped, and Rob came in. This was when I had the “holy crap, we’re having a baby!” moment. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, there is something totally overwhelming and humbling about bringing new life into the world.

Surgery always seems to go super fast, and suddenly it was time to drop the blue drape. (C section mommas, if you don’t know about the clear drape option, ask your doc if it’s available! This was the first time I was able to see my baby pop out, and it was fantastic. Your belly + operating drapes obscure all of the sketchy stuff, FYI) I peered through the clear drape and saw a ticked off little face and shoulders rising up, and I looked at my husband and he said “It’s a girl!”

Of course it is. Our fifth little lady. I started crying of course, and they took the baby over to the table for her assessment. It was supposed to be super quick and we were planning on doing skin to skin, but I noticed Robert had stopped taking pictures. He was looking at two nurses as they were explaining things to him, and he was nodding a lot. I kept asking “is she ok?!” and was reassured that she was fine, but she needed help. I strained to listen to what the nurses were saying and I heard what I had been dreading. She was having trouble breathing, her oxygen was low and respirations were high, and she needed to be transitioned to the NICU. CUE ABBEY’S GIANT SOB FEST. (God bless my doctor for his ability to finish operating on my belly while I was bawling. That can’t be easy.) The nurses told Robert that we had to wait for a transport team to come and take our baby. Robert asked them if I could hold her while we waited, and they brought her to me. They laid this tiny precious baby on my chest and covered us with warm blankets. She had her tiny eyes open and we just stared at each other. I was lost in those eyes until I heard the nurses commenting how her oxygen level was rising. They also noted that her respirations were slowing. Transport showed up and one of the nurses said “let’s give her a few more minutes, she’s doing better.” God bless THEM for giving us time. We apparently just needed each other. She stabilized, my doctor finished my surgery, they moved me to a bed and took me to a room. WHILE I HELD MY BABY. 😭😭😭😭😭 I still can’t believe it. The whole time Rob and I were asking each other, “is this for real?!”

We named our sweet girl Margaret Francis. Daddy calls her Margie, Iva calls her Frankie Pop, and we are all just beyond obsessed. All of her sisters touch and kiss her from the moment they wake up (even when she’s nursing so that’s awkward). She sleeps fairly well at night as long as I’m holding her, and I’m not even mad about it because I binge watched Narcos on Netflix and it was awesome. With 3 big sisters she had to hit the ground running, so she’s already spent a day at the zoo, a day at Silver Dollar City, and been on her first road trip, so she’s the best baby in the whole wide world.

Robert and I have danced around the decision of whether or not we are done having babies, but right now I’m not making any decisions because I’m crazy hormonal and exhausted and old and exhausted and hungry and exhausted. I cry when we broach the subject, because right this moment I feel like I don’t want any more children because I can’t handle the ones we have. It has been a difficult adjustment this go round because my recovery was challenging and Robert wasn’t able to take any time off of work. (PRAISE THE LORD and THANK YOU to all who took Iva off my hands and brought food. We would not have survived without you!) I do feel like we are leaning towards being finished, but I want to make that decision because we feel like our family is complete, not because I feel overwhelmed and desperate. So we’ll just kick that can down the road a bit. Plus, the van is pretty dang full…

I am so grateful that Margaret is here, she is healthy and growing, and she is so very loved. She looks so much like big sisters Harper and Annie. She is my second rainbow baby, and I praise God for that enormous gift.

I will say that my grief journey has gotten easier with time. Annie died 4 years ago, and during that time there has been so much pain, exhaustion, depression, fear, anger, growth, learning, acceptance, and healing. I’m a completely different person. I’m usually thankful for that, but lately I’ve been kinda pissed about it.

-I’m pissed that I make new friends when babies die.

-I’m pissed that I’m terrified and not excited for friends posting “tomorrow is our ultrasound! I can’t wait to see if it’s a boy or a girl!” because I know there’s SO much more they can see. Or not see.

-I’m pissed that there is no break. I catch myself relaxing in the normalcy of life only to wake up to a message about a new family with a new diagnosis.

-I’m pissed that far too many of my friends have had funerals for their children, or never even got to meet them in the first place.

-I’m pissed that my daughter is in a box on the shelf in my living room and I can’t decide what to do with her ashes because nothing feels right or good enough.

-I’m pissed that two of my daughters never got to meet their big sister.

Please know that even though I am THOROUGHLY pissed about all of these things and so much more, I wouldn’t call myself an angry person. I have realized that I am capable of feeling so many things at once, and being able to name the things I’m pissed about has helped me to sort of release them. There is absolutely nothing I can do about any of the things on the above list and I refuse to let this anger gobble me up, so the best thing I’ve come up with to do is to put it on the internet in list form for strangers to read. 🤷🏻‍♀️

To those of you beginning your grief journey, I weep for you. I also want to encourage you. “This too shall pass” has proven to be a big ole crock for me, and good. I never want the desire for my daughter to pass. “This too shall get better, then hard again, then a little bit better, then hard again, and finally you will learn to manage it” is more true in my experience. I pray so so so fervently for those of you waiting for your own form of healing. I pray for those waiting for rainbows, for those who can’t get out of bed, for those of us who struggle with guilt when we want, no, NEED time away from the children we have. I have been so thankful for this outlet. Sharing has been therapeutic for me, so I encourage anyone who has the urge to do so to go for it. It is so freeing to find that I am not alone.

Speaking of time away from children, my two oldest are at school and my two youngest are asleep, so imma bout to make a latte and find a new show on Netflix. ✌🏼

Abbey

The Fifth

Overall this has not been an “emotional” pregnancy, which is super weird. Anyone who really knows me know that I cry with ALL the feelings, but not this time. If anything, I’ve been kind of an angry and annoyed pregnant lady this go round… that is, until the last week or so. I can feel the fear creeping in, and I’m fighting it with all I have.

It started the other day when my oldest asked me, “so, what do you mean when you say you want the doctor to pop your baby out and then you want everyone to leave you guys alone?” She has overheard me say this multiple times, and I understand her confusion. It’s a weird thing to want. This will be my 5th delivery, and all of my babies were taken from me after they were born except for Dylan. Harper (my 2nd) was taken to the NICU and I couldn’t go see her for 24 hours. Annie was taken to the OBICU, and luckily I got to join her, but then she left this earth forever. Iva was taken to the NICU and I couldn’t go see her for a few hours. So yeah. I want them to “pop my baby out”, give it to me, and leave. It’s traumatic to be with your baby for it’s entire existence, and then it’s gone.
I have no control over how delivery will go, other than planning a c-section. I have no control over my health post delivery, or the health of our baby. That’s what scares me so much. Rob and I were talking about this the other night, and along with the fear comes waves of guilt, because we have been sheltered and provided for every step of the way on our journey of parenthood. How dare I be afraid.
I have been fighting some dark thoughts as well, for example, even though we have had two ultrasounds and been given a clean bill of health for this baby so far, there is no guarantee that everything will be fine. Then, I read the recent articles about the musician and his sweet wife who died just hours after giving birth to her first baby. My heart shattered for them. This will be my FIFTH C-SECTION. When I think about what could go wrong, and possibly leaving Robert alone with what will likely be four little girls I just start sobbing. I know they would all be ok, but still.
I don’t even really know why I’m writing this. I think thoughts like this are given a far greater power when kept in secret, so maybe admitting them will strip them of that. I want to be free of them.
There are some things within my control, though. Robert and I have asked our families not to come to the hospital the day the baby is delivered. We have never had time alone to bond with our babies after they are born, and obviously that is something I desperately want and need. That is a very difficult thing to ask (and to be asked of, I’m sure) but we have been so grateful for everyone’s unwavering support.
This has been an “uneventful” pregnancy, thank the lord, so I know that all of these thoughts and feelings are products of an overactive mind. I am trying not to worry until there is something to worry about, and keep my hope, faith, and trust in the one who has never failed me. And God willing, they will pop this kid out and leave me alone. ❤

The News

I can’t hold it in one more second, not that I’ve done the best job of keeping it a secret… We are expecting our fifth baby in September! 


I’ll just address some things right out of the gate.

-Yes, we know we’re nuts, but I think we’re the good kind. Like pecans. ❤ My goal has always been to get a TV show like the Duggars but with beer and dancing, so we’ve still got a ways to go. 

-No, we aren’t “trying” for a boy. Our camp is pretty divided on who wants what, and I think we are going to wait and be surprised on baby’s birthday. Im assuming it’s a girl, but in the off chance it is a boy, please send brochures or manuals or something. I’ll have absolutely no idea what to do.

-I’ve already deflected too many questions about the logistics of conception while living in a travel trailer with three kids. Obviously it’s possible. 😂 We are finally living in the house, although it’s still a major construction zone, so stress levels have gone down a bit. 

-I’m personally hoping for a new hair color to add to our Neapolitan girls… Blue would be cool.

-Pregnancy after loss is just plain difficult.

The last one is the reason I’m blogging instead of just posting our news. My first pregnancy after Annie was with Iva. That time was so stressful, dripping in fear, and I was still actively grieving. I had hoped this one would be different, more joyful, and so far it really has been. Our first prenatal appointment went so well. We were able to see our tiny new one, heart beating perfectly, and I was so at peace. 

Today we had our second appointment, and the Nurse Practitioner student who is working with my doctor started looking for the heartbeat with the Doppler. We had all three girls with us, so Robert and I were trying to get them to stay still and listen, then we realized she wasn’t finding anything. My doctor took over and time slowly ticked by. My heart was pounding and Robert came over and took his comforting spot at my head stroking my hair. After a few minutes I lost it. I panicked and started crying, Iva was asking why, Dylan and Harper seemed confused and concerned, and Robert continued to stroke my hair. Our doctor sent for the ultrasound machine and was quickly able to show us a wriggly little baby with a beautiful beating heart. ❤❤❤ The baby’s position plus how small it is made it difficult (impossible) to find a heartbeat via Doppler. God bless our doctor who is so patient and kind. He has been with us through a traumatic early delivery with Harper Lou, a tragic loss with Annie, an emotionally difficult pregnancy with Iva, an early miscarriage, and now this. He and Robert are a very good and calm team during my more animated moments. ☺️

I still feel emotionally “lighter” compared to my first post-loss pregnancy, but I still feel super braced. This world is not perfect, and I will continue to pray for Hallelujah Spaghetti O’s (because of course that’s what Iva named it) and for us to be able to handle whatever comes our way. ❤🙌🏼🍝