On my 25th birthday in June 2010 we found out we were pregnant with our first. We prepared everything for the arrival of our son Alexander Michael. On February 8, 2011 our hearts were broken when a week and a day before Alexander was due we were told that he had no heartbeat. Alexander was silently born on February 10, 2011 he weighed 6 lbs 10 oz, was 20 inches long, had sandy brown hair and really big feet. We love him and miss him dearly. This is my place for reflection on my life since his birth. We are currently expecting a rainbow baby named Oliver, a little brother due Sept 21, 2012. I love both my boys, the one who paints the clouds and my rainbow growing in my womb, tremendously and I thank God for blessing me with both of them everyday.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Letting Go

 My post this week comes out of a blog prompt from Sufficient Grace Ministries and is a continuation of Alexander's birth story that started three weeks ago and will continue for several weeks more. I wrote about saying hello to Alexander last week and this week I'll write about saying goodbye.

When you are expecting a baby you don't think about having to make arrangements with a funeral home. When I knew that Alexander wouldn't come home with us from the hospital I still didn't think about having to make arrangements for his little body. The nurses gave us a list of funeral homes in the area and asked us who to call. I didn't even know where to begin. Thankfully my pastor stepped in and told us about a few on the list, to help us make our decision.

We had decided we wanted him cremated and we wanted to scatter his ashes someplace natural and beautiful. Its what we both wanted to happen to our bodies when we die, so it was a natural choice for our son.

We were able to pick up Alexander's ashes a few weeks later. They were in a box, wrapped in paper, placed in a velvet bag. I placed his ashes in his crib, his room still set up to welcome him home, and covered them with the blanket I had made. We told him good night every night before bed.

In April during spring break we made the 8 hour drive up to Humboldt county. Alexander's ashes resting in his box, bundled up in his blanket, and placed in my backpack. We had decided to scatter Alexander's ashes in the redwood forests that we loved, had studied under, and met under. We picked up a friend along the way, stayed with yet another friend, and two more friends joined us to scatter his ashes.

It was Palm Sunday April 17, 2011, the beginning of holy week, a time of remembering Christ's death on the cross but also a time for remembering his resurrection. The very same death and resurrection that assured me that Alexander was in Christ's arms the second his heart stopped. It was also April, in Humboldt, which meant it was raining. The rain fit, like the sky was weeping with us as we said goodbye. We drove out to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and hiked up the the West Ridge Trail. My husband carrying Alexander's ashes in the backpack. Oh how I wished that it was a healthy, happy little boy he was carrying in a child carrier on a warm sunny day.

We hiked a ways with our 4 friends, then went a bit off the trail. We came to a clearing, made by a fallen giant. It was beautiful, the new life that sprung up from that fallen tree. We walked out onto the log and we unwrapped Alexander's ashes. My husband scattered the ashes throughout the clearing, flinging them in one wide ark as the rain quietly fell. I held Alexander's blanket. I had chosen some verses and a poem to read. I knew I would not be able to get through them myself. I asked our friends, Alexander's god parents to read them.

When we lose someone we love it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness. A longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch, We may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see you again someday, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean good-bye.  ~Irish funeral prayer

We held each other as these verses were read: 

 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 

 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

Psalm 46

 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
   to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”
 11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 My husband said some words to Alexander. He told his son about the forest, how much it meant to us, how beautiful it was even when it was raining, and how he could enjoy running through it or just sitting peacefully. We said goodbye and walked away. A weight had been lifted off of our shoulders. We still missed our baby boy, but there was a letting go, an acknowledgement that he was gone, he was no longer ours to take care of.

We decided not to have a memorial service. I felt the prayer in the hospital and the scattering of ashes was enough. I wasn't sure how I could celebrate the memory of a baby that never took a breath at the time. I know now how to remember his life with love, even a sort of happiness, and a definite peace. And we will be celebrating his life on his first birthday in just a few weeks with friends and family that have been supportive this past year. People we know who have been affected by Alexander's death but more importantly have been affected by his life.

Please join us in celebrating the memory of Alexander's life in just a couple weeks on Friday, February 10 by committing a random act of kindness. It could be something big or small as long as its kindness in memory of Alexander. If you do do something let us know what you did.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Saying Hello

My post this week comes out of a blog prompt from Sufficient Grace Ministries and is a continuation of Alexander's birth story that started two weeks ago and continued last week. Everything is a bit jumbled by way of what order it happened in.

 Alexander Michael Armes was silently born at 5:42 am on February 10, 2011. He weighed 6 lb 10 oz, was 20 inches long and had sandy brown hair. The nurses took him, cleaned him up a bit, wrapped him in a blanket, placed a knit hat on him and placed him in my arms.
 I don't think I looked at him at first. I just held him and felt his weight cradled in my right arm. They said he probably would have been closer to 8 lbs if he had been alive, he had lost water weight. He felt so good in my arms, but it was a limp weight. I long for the squirmy weight of my living son in my arms, his little hands reaching up to grab hair and face. I still do.

He was hard to look at, at first. Our earthly bodies are so delicate and begin to deteriorate the minute we die. Alexander had been gone for a couple days. He was bruised and broken. |My mother said "Oh, honey he is beautiful." Just as if he had been alive. I looked at him more carefully. He was beautiful. His nose was smashed but I think it was his daddy's. His daddy says it was mine. His cheeks were chubby just as all babies' cheeks should be.

I held him for a while then I offered him to my husband. He wasn't sure if he wanted to hold or see Alexander, but he did. I think we are both glad of it. He held him for a short time. My mom and my dad also took turns holding him.

I had brought a pajama/outfit to dress him in. It was supposed to be his coming home outfit. I also had brought a supper soft organic cotton receiving blanket to wrap him in. So my mom helped me unwrap him from the blanket the nurses had put him in. We looked at his little body. It was perfect. Long arms and long legs just like his mommy and his daddy. He had my hands with long tapered fingers, hands of an artist. He had these feet like large wedges. My mother-in-law told me later they looked like my husband's dad's feet. His feet and hands were so big. His feet were over 2 1/2 inches long. If babies are anything like puppies and grow into their feet he was going to be a big guy just like his daddy. We carefully dressed him in his outfit and wrapped him in his blanket.

I didn't wrap him in his blanket that I had made, because I didn't want to get it dirty and it is so big. I wish now I had laid him on it to take pictures but I didn't think I wanted pictures. I had seen this exhibit of Victorian Death Photography when I was a child. I thought it was so weird to take pictures of people after they were dead. I really understand it now, especially when those are the only photos you will ever be able to take. The nurse offered to call a photographer from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation, a wonderful foundation that offers free professional photography to families of stillborn or very sick infants. I turned it down. I didn't want to remember Alexander as dead. I did ask for foot prints, hand prints, and a lock of hair.

One of the nurses spent so much time getting good hand prints for me. Alexander's fingers kept curling, but with the help of my mom they were able to get good hand prints for me. I love those little hand and foot prints. She also convinced me that I wanted photos of his hands and feet. She also took a few of his face and placed them in a memory box for us. She said they were there if I ever wanted them, but I didn't have to look at them if I didn't want to. I'm so glad I have them now. I wish I had one of me holding Alexander.

I didn't actually hold him or cuddle him that much. I held him for a while and then had him placed on the baby cart where they measure the babies. I wanted him with me in my room, but I didn't feel the need to hold him. He wasn't there. It was just a body. He was already being held by Christ. I did get up, walk over and look at him resting peacefully several times. He was so beautiful and it broke my heart to look at him.

My pastor came in. She asked if she could look at him. Of course she could. She prayed with us some more, and I asked her to put a rose on the alter that next Sunday, just like they did for all the other babies that were born in the congregation. She asked me pink or red. I said red.

My dr. came to see how we were doing, even though she wasn't on duty for labor and delivery that day. She gave us a note for our memory box. The nurses brought in a beautiful paper box/coffin made of handmade paper that had flower petals and leaves in it. She arranged Alexander's body in it and left it open for us. I didn't want him shut in a box or taken by the funeral home until after we had left.

I was antsy. It seemed like I had been waiting so long to labor and give birth and now I was waiting to go home. The let me go home that afternoon. My body was doing really well. We got everything together. My dad took my bags out to the car. I got into the wheel chair and then couldn't find my husband. He appeared shortly. I asked him what he had been doing. He said he was saying goodbye. I stood up. I couldn't believe I hadn't said goodbye. I walked back in the room, and kissed Alexander for the first and last time.

The nurse wheeled me out of the hospital holding a small purple box and an empty blanket instead of my baby boy. I wondered if people who saw me knew about my broken heart. Leaving with empty arms was the hardest part. It made it final. My baby was with Jesus. Alexander spent his short life on earth entirely in my womb. His life changed our lives forever.

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days of ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Painted Clouds Always Cheer Up Mommy

I had a pretty hard time last night missing my baby boy a whole lot, wondering what he'd be like. This song pretty much sums up my feelings:

Gone Too Soon lyrics

today could've been the day
that you blow out your candles
make a wish as you close your eyes
today could've been the day
everybody was laughin'
instead i just sit here and cry
who would you be?
what would you look like
when you looked at me for the very first time?
today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a ray of light we never knew
gone too soon, yeah

would you have been president?
or a painter, an author or sing like your mother
one thing is evident
would've given all i had
would've loved ya like no other

who would you be?
what would you look like?
would you have my smile and her eyes?
today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a ray of light we never knew
gone too soon, yeah

not a day goes by, oh
i'm always asking why, oh

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a beautiful life we never knew
gone too soon
you were gone too soon, yeah

and not a day goes by
that i don't think of you

Although my husband likes to sing it "would you have been president? or a singer, an author, or paint like your mother..."

I like to think of Alexander painting up in heaven. Creating art with him as he grew up is one of the things that I miss the most. So whenever I see "painted clouds" I like to think that he was in heaven painting me a special picture. As I woke up this morning the sunrise was beautiful out my window. Very subtle pink clouds filled the sky. Then on the drive to school in the morning we saw this:

Alexander's way of telling us that he loves us too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Waiting to Say Hello, Waiting to Say Goodbye

My post this week comes out of a blog prompt from Sufficient Grace Ministries and is a continuation of Alexander's birth story that started last week.

After confirming that Alexander had died and figuring out what happened next. We drove home from the hospital/Dr's office to wait and prepare for the next day when we would induce labor. We drove home with the empty car-seat installed in the back seat that had been waiting to protect our little boy. A car-seat that would never hold my baby boy. We didn't talk much, my husband didn't want to break down while driving.

We got home, it seemed late that evening in February. I went back into the bedroom to call my parents, while my husband called his and put something together for dinner. Neither of us were very hungry but we needed to eat something for physical strength the next day. I called my mom, she immediately knew something was wrong as I tried to choke back sobs so I could talk. I told that Alexander had died. She asked what happened and if I needed them to come up right away. I asked her to tell my brothers and my grandma, anyone who needed to know. My dad and she would drive up the next day to be there for me when we induced labor. My parents were supposed to come up after Alexander was born and stay with us for a week to help out with their new grandson. My husband had a similar conversation with his mom. His family would come down for a visit in a few weeks to grieve with us instead of cooing over their first grandbaby.

I called my pastor. It took a couple calls to reach her that time of night she was in meetings. She asked if she could come over right then. I said yes. By the time she showed up at our door my husband had heated up some leftovers, stuffed french-toast he had made earlier that week as a celebration meal for my last week of school before Alexander arrived. The celebration food had turned into just something to eat. My pastor prayed with us, I think she read a bible passage or two, I don't remember. She asked if she could come to the hospital the next day before we induced. I told her yes.

I got on the computer and emailed my principal and his secretary to tell them I wouldn't be into work the next day. I was going to work one more day before going on maternity leave. I told them they could inform the staff but I didn't want phone calls or visits right then. I sent in lesson plans for the rest of the week and even finished and submitted my grades. I know most people wouldn't bother because family comes first but I needed to focus on something else just then. It was still early for bed but we decided to try to get some sleep anyway. I thought maybe I could go to sleep and wake up with it all being a dream.

Neither my husband or I slept much at all that night. We mostly held each other and cried off and on all night. We finally decided we weren't going to get any sleep and got out of bed around 3 am. Thus began the longest day of my life February 9th, 2011. 

I sat down on the couch and got out the blanket I was making for Alexander. I had started it before he was even conceived. I had worked on it throughout my pregnancy with him. It was practically finished. I made it in three panels and they just had to be hand sewn together. I cried and held it and after a while I began to sew it together.

I had to finish it for him, even if he would never be wrapped in it or sit on it and play. I did finish his blanket, it was stunning, a work of art and one of my few comforts in the coming days.

My husband brought me some water or maybe tea and asked If I needed anything. I said we should watch a movie. We put on "Stardust" a beautiful fantasy movie about love and good triumphing over evil. I had forgotten that it started with a baby being left on a doorstep.

After the movie we sat around, I think we may have taken showers, eaten breakfast, and gotten dressed at some point. I don't remember. I do know at some point we decided we needed to leave the apartment, the apartment that was ready to have a baby come home to it. The nursery was all set up, clothes washed and sorted, folded and put away into drawers. All the handmade gifts for Alexander, from my family, from my husband's family would never be used by him. It hurt to be there, I was restless, I wanted to do something, but all I could do was wait.

We drove to a park that we liked to walk in. We walked, and walked, and walked, stopping on occasion to hold each other and cry. I scowled at the man pushing a stroller with a toddler in it while drinking a beer. We could have walked forever, but my body still 9 months pregnant was hungry and beginning to give me some pain in my hip and lower back. We talked to my parents, they were an hour or so away. They would take us to lunch when they got there. We went out and got something to eat anyway.

My parents did arrive. My mom held me in one of those hugs only moms know how to give. She said she was so sorry as she cried with me. We went to lunch, I ate the soup and salad bar. We went back home. I had my husband get my hospital bags out of our car. I repacked them.  I took the outfit I had picked out as Alexander's coming home outfit and an organic cotton receiving blanket that was so soft. I placed those items in my bag. I took out the camera and left it and the diaper bag at home.

My parents drove us to the hospital. We walked up to labor and delivery where we waited to be checked in at the desk for my appointment to induce at 5:30 pm. After sitting there for too long (thankfully no women in labor came in during that time) we were taken to room 12. The room furthest away from all the other rooms, our door had a flower on it. I got dressed in the hospital gown, a nurse came to take blood samples for testing and set up my IV. The dr. came to talk to us. We discussed pain medication. Originally I didn't want any pain medication, but now Alexander was dead I was all for not feeling physical pain. I had emotional pain to deal with. He asked if I wanted to have one more ultrasound just to make sure. I declined. I couldn't hear those words again. He said he would be back to start the induction soon. My pastor arrived and read some bible verses and prayed with us. I think we sang Jesus loves me, I don't remember.We waited, and waited. I was hungry. The nursing staff brought us some food to eat. They said the dr. was doing an emergency c-section and would be there soon. My pastor went home for the night and said she would be back in the morning.

Right before 8 pm the dr came and put a pill up by my cervix to induce labor. Then the shift changed and I met new nurses and a new dr. They gave me an ambien to help me sleep. My parents went back to our house to try and get some sleep. My husband slept on the couch in the labor and delivery room. A lab tech came in to draw 14 more vials of blood. The new dr. had ordered more blood tests to see if there was an infection that cause Alexander's death. The new dr. came in from time to time to see how thing were progressing, he placed another pill by my cervix. I went from not dilated or effaced at all to like 4-5 cm in a few hours. He broke my water. Throughout this whole time I was sleeping between interruptions. At around 3am I woke up and was unable to go back to sleep because I was actually feeling my contractions.

That's about the time my parents arrived back at the hospital. I sent my dad back home to get the blanket I made for Alexander. I wanted to hold it. The nurses gave me something through the IV for the pain and started giving me fluids so I could get an epidural. I labored for what seemed like a long time. My dad came back at some point. I held that blanket for a time then gave it to my mom so it wouldn't get dirty. I asked for an epidural, the nurses said the dr. changed the order for a spinal tap because I was progressing so quickly. The anesthesiologist would be here soon. I had a lot of back labor and used the cow position (on hands and knees) I learned in prenatal yoga to help alleviate it. My husband squeezed my hips together like they taught us in our labor and delivery class. I felt like I needed to push and told the nurse. She let my try to push once and said it wouldn't be much longer.

The anesthesiologist was coming. So the sent everyone but my husband out of the room. The nurse told me to sit on the edge of the bed. I said I couldn't. She said yes you can and tried to help me. I tried but I couldn't I said "He is coming!" She said yes he's right outside the door, you just need to sit down. I said "no the baby is coming!" and she looked and Alexander was crowning. I gave birth to him after 3 short hours of hard labor, not having an epidural or a spinal tap. The nurses took him to clean him up before I met him.

It seemed like forever, but it was only a day. We waited to finally say hello, knowing we had to also say goodbye. 
Alexander Michael Armes was silently born at 5:42 am on February 10, 2011.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Finding Out You Were Born into Heaven

Today it has been 11 months since Alexander was born which means we're approaching his birthday. I had been thinking about how to tell his story, the story of how he was born into heaven and born on earth. Then I ran across these blog prompts called "walking with you" created by Sufficient Grace Ministries. It was an answer to my question of how to include all the the important details without writing a novel.

So here it goes:

The story of Finding Out You Were Born to Heaven

Right around 36 weeks towards the middle of January I started becoming concerned because Alexander wasn't moving as much. I asked every pregnant woman and previously pregnant woman I could find if it was normal. Some said their babies moved a lot the whole pregnancy. Most said it was normal because the baby had less room. I mentioned it to the Dr. at our appointment and she said it was normal for the baby to slow down. If I was concerned to stop and do a kick count. Alexander's heart was nice and strong that day, everything was normal and looked good. I would come back in 2 weeks and then again 1 week after that. I actually made a appointment for my due date. I was hoping Alexander would make his appearance before then. I couldn't wait to meet him.

Off and on for the next 2 weeks or so I would have anxiety about his movements but I shrugged it off as hormonal irrational fears. Alexander hiccuped constantly. I was still teaching and I would see my belly jump with each hiccup. I would gently pat my belly and feel a thumpy kick back. I did several kick counts during those two weeks, not knowing the importance of doing them regularly every day. He didn't move nearly as much as he did when I first did kick counts earlier in pregnancy.  I remember crying during Church Sunday Morning on Feb 6th praying that Alexander would be all right. I felt completely irrational doing that at the time.

I had planned to work up until Feb 9th a week before my due date. I didn't want to take too much time off before because I knew I would go stir crazy at home, and everything was ready for him. Progress report grades were due on the 9th so I thought it was the perfect time. I'd turn in grades, finish writing 7 weeks of lesson plans and leave my classes in the hands of a stranger.

On Tuesday Feb 8th 2011 my husband picked me up from school and we went to my Dr.'s appointment. I was 38 weeks and 6 days. As always the nurse came to get me and weighed me and took my blood pressure. I then met my husband in the exam room. My dr. came in and asked how I was doing. I was good, tired but good. I was going to go to work for one more day and then it was hanging out at home until I went into labor.

She got the doppler out to check Alexander's heart beat. But she didn't find it. I knew there was something wrong. She always found it right away. It was so strong it was easy to find even when he was tiny. She said that sometimes the babies move and make it difficult to find. She would go get the ultrasound machine and come back. I was so worried at this point. My husband was holding my hand, looking worried alternating between telling me it would be okay and asking Alexander to help us out. The Dr. came back with the ultrasound and said that the fluid was low and she was having trouble finding a heart beat. She was going to go get the grey-haired expert (a more experienced dr.). I was asked multiple times if my water had broken because the fluid was so low. I said over and over, when I was asked again I didn't know. I didn't think so but maybe it broke in the shower or something. This was my first pregnancy, its supposed to be obvious when your water breaks. Isn't it? I was also asked when the last time I felt movement was. I wasn't sure. I thought I had just felt a weak movement in the exam room, but that's all I had felt recently, weak movements.

The expert didn't see anything either. My dr. said she would send us down to radiology to the big ultrasound machine to make sure. When we were done in radiology we were supposed to go back up and talk to her. Someone would meet us there. I sat and cried, trying to hold back, to grasp for hope. She said she was sorry and gave me a hug.  We went down and checked in at the radiology desk, but the woman behind the counter didn't know what was going on. She gave me a bottle of water to drink and told us to wait. I don't know how long we waited but it seemed like too long. My husband went and talked to the lady and she took us back to sit on a bench outside the ultrasound room. Someone would be with us in a minute, the machine was in use. The room we saw Alexander move in, the room we found out he was a boy in. The whole time my husband was talking to me, trying to tell me it would be okay. We were both holding on to that tiny bit of hope that was left.

The ultrasound tech finally came and found us. She apologized it took so long that we weren't where she expected to find us. She took us back into the hospital part of the building. It was more of a curtained off part of the hall set up for ultrasound. She put the thing on my tummy and looked around for a while, longer than she probably should have. Finally those words "I'm sorry." I finally let go and wailed. That heart wrenching cry that's between a sob and a scream. That cry you see in movies when a mother's child is killed and you think they are over acting, but it makes you tear up anyway. My husband just held me for a while and we cried together. Our baby was dead. We wouldn't get to take him home. I wouldn't get to see him smile or change a dirty diaper or complain about sleepless nights. I wouldn't get to breastfeed him or teach him about art when he was older.

We did go back upstairs to talk to the dr. To find out what happens next. I think I even asked if we had him right then could they bring him back. After talking with the dr. we decided to induce the following evening. I wanted time to process things and rest up for labor. How could I go through labor knowing that my baby would never cry?

We drove home to wait. 

Alexander Michael Armes was born into heaven before he was born on earth.

 "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." 2 Samuel 12:23

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cherish: A Word for 2012

I'm not one to ever make New Year's resolutions. I figure if I want to change something in my life I don't have to wait for a new year to begin. I make monthly resolutions, weekly resolutions, daily resolutions, sometimes hourly resolutions. Adding or subtracting things from my life as I go. However this year several friends (check out their blogs here and here) introduced me to the concept of My One Word. Choosing one word for the year to exemplify what direction my life and my relationship with God will take. I loved this idea and quickly started thinking about a word for 2012. Who knew choosing just One word could be so difficult. Yes, I should have known. I have a minor in creative writing. I really want to choose more than one.

I thought about the word hope. After having my hopes and dreams for a life with a new baby boy come crashing down around me last February I had a hard time holding onto hope. Thinking about it for a while my hope was never lost. Its a good word but it didn't quite fit entirely.

Patience was the next word that I had in mind. I feel like I've been waiting forever. I waited for a couple years until we thought we were ready for a baby. I waited while I was pregnant to be able to hold Alexander in my arms and take him home. I didn't get to take him home and the waiting continued. I've been waiting this past year until it was time for us to try to conceive again, and now I'm waiting for the day we find out we are pregnant again (hopefully sooner rather than later). But than the waiting to meet that new baby starts all over again. And I feel like while I need to be patient, I also feel like I need to stop focusing on the waiting. I need to focus on the living right now because I will always be waiting for something and ultimately I'm waiting to meet my creator, hug my savior, and hold my boy in heaven again.

So then the word: cherish came to mind, to focus on cherishing the time I have with the people that matter, cherishing the time I'm given to use my talents and work in this world, to cherish this world and my relationship with my creator. Its a great word and its something that I need to focus on. If/when I get pregnant this year I want to focus on cherishing the time I have with that precious soul that will be growing inside me, whether that time is a moment or a lifetime. I want to focus on cherishing the wonderful relationship I have with my husband, because sadly not every one has that. I want to cherish the tings we do this year for Alexander. Tending his place in the garden, walking in his name to raise money for March for Dimes, using my artistic gifts to help other baby loss parents heal just a little bit. I want to cherish the quiet times I set aside for myself to be with my creator.

Intentionally and consciously cherishing the people, things, and time we are given is difficult. I often, like so many people, get caught up in the business of things that need to be done, distracted by the things that don't matter, or consumed by worry and the what ifs. I ask God this year to help me to focus on cherishing every aspect of my life, to slow down and pay attention to what I have and what I am doing.

Something I am cherishing today is noticing that the daffodils we planted for Alexander in the fall are beginning to sprout.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3