Friday, October 31, 2014

Due Date Update

So our due date has come and gone. It's looking like our "October Baby" will be a November baby.

Just like with any pregnancy, as that date approaches you get excited, nervous, and then as it comes and goes...

Jason and I will never be "ready" for this, but we are ready to meet our sweet girl. I never thought I would be so excited to meet her. At this point (four days overdue) it completely overshadows my fear and most likely, our sorrow.

We had discussed inducing on Wednesday. We have people here and everyone is just waiting for Lily. Anxiousness doesn't even come close to describe it. And as many know, babies don't seem to come on their own when you are anxious and stressed.

On Tuesday I had been having contractions all day, so we were hopeful we either wouldn't need to be induced or I would have progressed enough for it to be successful. I woke up Wednesday morning with no contractions. :( Jason and I went for a walk and I just broke down. The stress and anxiety of everyone "watching" was just too much. And to top it all off, I just want to hold Lily. I want to give her a million kisses and soak up all the snuggles.

Jason and I stopped, sat down and I wept. Once again, I didn't think I had it in me to cry like that anymore. 

But my husband...I can't even tell you how much my love for him grew in this moment. He was not peaceful about inducing. He reminded me of what mattered most. It's not all the people watching and waiting. It's Lily. It's our family. 

We want to meet her more than anything, but we also want her to come to us in God's perfect time. We want to know that everything happens as it is meant to and when we put our full trust in God, we know we will have no regrets.

We went to Mass after we decided not to induce. We prayed a rosary before a statue of St. Therese and we surrendered our family into our Father's hands.

We have complete faith and trust that we will meet Lily in God's perfect time and it will be perfect.

Thank you so much for your continued love and prayers. We know with absolute certainty we could not do this without the love, prayers, and support of our family, friends, and even those we have never met.

And we have been soaking up so much love from our sweet Ted. He's been extra snuggly with Jason and me this week. His snuggles make everything better. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 6

It's the sixth day of our Novena for Lily and while there are many, many thoughts and emotions swirling through my mind and heart right now, there is one feeling that has overwhelmed me...


Never, in a million years, or even 20 weeks ago would I believe you if you told me in the days leading up to my daughter's birth and most likely, her passing, I would feel such a strong sense of peace.

I know with all of my heart it is from all of your heartfelt prayers. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

There are moments it still doesn't feel real or even possible that we could say our hellos and goodbyes in the same breath. 

Yesterday, Lily woke me up at 4:00am dancing away like she always does. But this time, she didn't stop and I couldn't go back to sleep. She danced, and kicked and flipped and my stomach was bouncing around like a bag of popcorn.

It's unimaginable that she won't be that strong when she's born. 

So our prayers continue and we continue to ask for peace as we prepare to meet our precious Lily and for all the days after. 

We pray that we can be fully present in the joy of her birth because she truly is a gift.

She is our gift.

And my sweet Ted...he seems to know just what I need right now too. ;-)

39 weeks with my dancing girl

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Novena for Lily Frances

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
― Thérèse de Lisieux

First, I just want to thank everyone, family and friends, even people we don't know, for all the prayers, meals, donations, babysitting and support for our family right now. We honestly could not have made it even this far without your support, especially your prayers.

Jason and I often feel we are just coasting off the grace. There is no other way to really describe it. I have no idea how anyone could get through this without a great support system. We are truly blessed.

We have decided to pray a Novena to St. Therese starting today (Saturday) for Lily. People keep asking what we need right now and honestly, what we need more than anything, is prayer. 

I have mentioned in previous posts that we are trying not to be too specific with our prayer requests, but as we get closer to meeting Lily, it's harder to not be specific.

If you would like to join us and pray the Novena with us, we ask that you keep two specific intentions in mind for us:

1. Our prayer all along has been for peace. We pray that God's peace would overwhelm us when Lily is born and that we will be at peace with God's will for her birth.

2. We pray for Joy. We are really trying to focus on the joy of her birth and not worry about anything after. As afraid as we are with the unknown, we cannot wait to meet our precious Lily.

Prayers to be said each day:
Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of divine love.
V. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O God, who have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be ever truly wise and rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love: O my God! I believe in Thee: strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee: do Thou secure them. I love Thee: teach me to love Thee daily more and more.

The Act of Contrition: O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance , and to amend my life. Amen.

Concluding Prayer Prayed Each Day:
O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.

Special Prayers for Each Day:
First Day

St. Thérèse, privileged Little Flower of Jesus and Mary, I approach you with childlike confidence and deep humility. I lay before you my desires, and beg that through your intercession they may be realized. Did you not promise to spend your heaven doing good upon earth? Grant me according to this promise the favors I am asking from you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but specially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Confidence in God. We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so powerful and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.
If you are nothing, do you forget that Jesus is everything? You have only to lose your nothingness in His Infinity and think only of loving Him.

Concluding Prayer

Second Day

O dear little Saint, now that you see the crucified Jesus in heaven, still bearing the wounds caused by sin, you know still more clearly than you did upon earth the value of souls, and the priceless worth of that Precious Blood which He shed to save them. As I am one of those children for whom Christ died, obtain for me all the graces I need in order to profit by that Precious Blood. Use your great power with our divine Lord and pray for me.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Sin. The only grace I ask, O Jesus, is never to offend Thee.
By love and not by fear, does a soul avoid committing the least fault.
Yes, even if I have on my conscience every possible crime, I should lose none of my confidence; my heart breaking with sorrow, I should go and throw myself into the arms of my Savior.
The remembrance of my faults humbles me and makes me afraid to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness.

Concluding Prayer

Third Day

Dear Little Flower, make all things lead me to heaven and God, Whether I look at the sun, the moon, the stars and the vast expanse in which they float, or whether I look at the flowers of the field, the trees of the forest, the beauties of the earth so full of color and so glorious, may they speak to me of the love and power of God; may they all sing His praises in my ear. Like you may I daily love Him more and more in return for His gifts. Teach me often to deny myself in my dealings with others, that I may offer to Jesus many little sacrifices.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: The Use of God’s Gifts. How much benefit have I received from the beauties of nature, bestowed in such abundance. How they raise me to Him who placed such wonders in this land of exile which is only to last a day.
O sparkling nature, if I did not see God in you, you would be naught but a great tomb.
With your little hand which caresses Mary, You sustain the universe and bestow life; and You think of me, O Jesus my little King.
I do not wish creatures to have one atom of my love. I wish to give all to Jesus, since He has shown me that He alone is perfect happiness.

Concluding Prayer

Fourth Day

Dear Little Flower of Carmel, bearing so patiently the disappointments and delays allowed by God, and preserving in the depths of your soul an unchanging peace because you sought only God’s will, ask for me complete conformity to that adorable Will in all the trials and disappointments of life. If the favors I am asking during this Novena are pleasing to God, obtain them for me. If not, it is true I shall feel the refusal keenly, but I too wish only God’s Will, and pray in the words you used, that I "may ever be perfectly fulfilled in me."

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Abandonment to God. I fear only one thing---to keep my own will; take it, my God, for I choose all that You choose.
The only happiness here below is to strive to be always content with what Jesus gives us.
I can demand nothing with fervor, except the perfect accomplishment of God’s will in my soul.
O my Beloved, I offer myself to You, that You may perfectly accomplish in me Your holy designs, and I will not allow anything created to be an obstacle in their path.

Concluding Prayer

Fifth Day

Little Flower of Jesus, from the very first moment of your religious life you thought only of denying yourself in all things so as to follow Jesus more perfectly; help me to bear patiently the trials of my daily life. Teach me to make use of the trials, the sufferings, the humiliations, that come my way, to learn to know myself better and to love God more.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the dayPatience in Sufferings. I do not fear trials sent by Jesus, for even in the most bitter suffering we can see that it is His loving hand which causes it.
When we are expecting nothing but suffering, we are quite surprised at the least joy; but then suffering itself becomes the greatest of joys when we seek it as a precious treasure.
Far from resembling those beautiful saints who practiced all sorts of austerities from childhood, my penance consisted in breaking my self-will, in keeping back a sharp reply, in doing little kindnesses to those about me, but considering these deeds as nothing.

Concluding Prayer

Sixth Day

St. Thérèse, Patroness of the Missions, be a great missionary throughout the world to the end of time. Remind our Master of His own words, "The harvest is great, but the laborers are few." Your zeal for souls was so great, obtain a like zeal for those now working for souls, and beg God to multiply their numbers, that the millions to whom Jesus is yet unknown may be brought to know, love and follow Him.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Zeal for souls. Let us work together for the salvation of souls. We have only the day of this life to save souls and to give them to the Lord as proofs of our love.
I tell Jesus that I am glad not to be able to see, with the eyes of my soul, this beautiful heaven which awaits me, in order that He may vouchsafe to open it forever to poor unbelievers.
I cannot perform brilliant works; I cannot preach the Gospel or shed my blood. But what matter? My brothers work in place of me, and I a little child, keep very close to the royal throne. I love for those who are carrying on the warfare.
My deeds, my little sufferings, can make God loved all over the world.

Concluding Prayer

Seventh Day

O little martyr of Love, you know now even better than in the days of your pilgrimage that Love embraces all vocations; that it is Love alone which counts, which unites us perfectly to God and conforms our will with His. All you sought on earth was love; to love Jesus as He had never yet been loved. Use your power in heaven to make us love Him. If only we love Him we shall desire to make Him loved by others; we shall pray much for souls. We shall no longer fear death, for it will unite us to Him forever. Obtain for us the grace to do all for the love of God, to give Him pleasure, to love Him so well that He may be pleased with us as He was with you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Love of God. I will love God alone and will not have the misfortune of attaching myself to creatures, now that my heart perceive what He has in store for those who love Him.
What attracts me to the kingdom of Heaven is the call of our Lord, the hope of loving Him as I have so desired and the thought that I shall be able to make Him loved by a great number of souls who will bless Him forever.
When Christ said, "Give Me a Drink," it was the love of His poor creatures that He, the Creator of all things, desired. He thirsted for love.
Remember that the dear Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone. Remember that He is consumed with a desire to come into your heart.

Concluding Prayer

Eighth Day

Dear St. Thérèse, like you I have to die one day. I beseech you, obtain from God, by reminding Him of your own precious death, that I may have a holy death, strengthened by the Sacraments of the Church, entirely resigned to the most holy Will of God, and burning with love for Him. May my last words on earth be, "My God. I love You."

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Death. It says in the catechism that death is nothing but the separation of the soul and body. Well, I have no fear of a separation which will unite me forever with the good God.
I am happy to die because I shall be able to help souls who are dear to me, far more than I can here below.
Life is not sad; it is very joyous. If you say, "This exile is sad," I understand you. We are wrong to give the name "life" to something which will end; it is only to the things of Heaven that we should apply this beautiful name.

Concluding Prayer

Ninth Day

Dear Little St. Thérèse, by love and suffering while you were on earth, you won the power with God which you now enjoy in heaven. Since your life there began, you have showered down countless blessings on this poor world; you have been an instrument made use of by your divine Spouse to work countless miracles. I beg of you to remember all my wants. Sufferings must come to me also, may I use them to love God more, and follow my Jesus better. You are especially the little missionary of love. Make me love Jesus more, and all others for His sake. With all my heart I thank the most Holy Trinity for the wonderful blessings conferred on you, and upon the world through you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: The Mission of the Little Flower. I do not intend to remain inactive in Heaven. I want to work for the Church and for souls. I have asked this of God and I am certain that He will grant my request.
I will spend my Heaven doing good upon earth. This is not impossible, since the angels though always enjoying the beatific vision, watch over us. No, I cannot be at rest until the end of the world.
I beseech Thee, O Jesus, to cast Thy divine glance on a great number of little souls. I beg of Thee to choose in this world a legion of little victims, worthy of Thy Love.

Concluding Prayer

O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

if love were enough

Two weeks from our due date and it still seems impossible...unimaginable that in less than two weeks I won't feel her kicks, that I might not be holding her in my arms.

The closer we get the more excited I am to meet Lily, even though it means letting her go too. I've never felt my heart being tugged so hard in two opposite directions.

My heart aches every single day when I think about what will most likely happen. My heart aches for Jason and me as we are about to go through every parent's worst nightmare. My heart aches for our family who may never meet our precious girl.

But most of all, my heart aches for Ted. 

Dear Ted,

One of my greatest desires for you is to have brothers and sisters close in age. Of course Lily will always be your sister, but just not the way I imagined it. 

People keep telling me what a blessing it is that you are too young to remember this. Part of me is grateful for that...every parent wants to spare their child any pain or sorrow.

But another part of me desperately wishes you will have your own memory of Lily to hold onto. That somehow, at 18 months old, you will be able to remember seeing your sister, that you will remember that despite the sadness, this journey has been so filled with love and grace.

I know you will have pictures and our stories, but I pray you grow up and somehow remember the day you get to meet her before saying goodbye. I hope it's something that you can hold onto forever, that when you face tough times in your life, you can remember meeting your sister. I hope and pray that the love and grace from that moment will carry you through a lifetime.

Your dad and I have tried so hard to create memories and keepsakes so you can grow up knowing how much we love you and Lily. We have beautiful blankets for you to snuggle with, many keepsakes and we will have pictures to tell her stories.

But it's not enough. How could it possibly be enough? None of these things will fill the emptiness in my heart or the person missing from our lives. Nothing can make up for you not having your sister to look after and protect...your sister to play with, to love and to be your best friend.

Ted, I am so sorry that you will not have your sister here with you. I'm so sorry that you will only know her through our stories and pictures. I am so sorry that we do not get to keep her.

I am so sorry.

I believe in miracles. I really do. Of course we pray and beg God for a miracle so we can keep Lily here. But, if we only focus on that miracle, we are going to miss all the others. Do you know who told me that? It was your aunt Kara. Kind of a miracle in itself because usually I am the one saying things like that to her. ;-)

But she's right. If we put all of our hope and faith into just that one miracle, we will miss all the rest. Your life will be full of amazing and wonderful things and I know Lily will have a hand in so many of them. I have complete faith in that. 

She's already taught me so much. She's taught me what true unconditional and selfless love is. She's taught me what it truly means to defend ALL life. She's taught me that my children are a true gift from God and to never take you or her for granted. And the most important thing that she's taught me is to place my family in the hands of God and never look back.

Every time I hear the chorus of this song, I think about what you will grow up knowing because Lily is your sister. I pray that her sweet life will teach you how truly sacred and precious ALL life is. I know in my heart you will be a better man because of your sister. 

I love you, Ted. And, if love were enough, we would get to keep her.

Love, Mom

Love like I'm not scared
Give when it's not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You

Ted and Lily :)

and some fun times at the zoo

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Surreal - 37 weeks

Full term...It seems as though the words "full term" have lost all meaning because, doesn't mean anything to us.

There should be a sense of accomplishment and excitement with the thought of "any day now", but we don't get that. Instead we get anxiety and sleep-deprivation, worrying about when exactly our world as we know it collapses.

We don't get to say all the standard cliche end of pregnancy things like...

"I can't wait to sleep on my back again."

"I can't wait to wear normal clothes again."

"I can't wait to NOT be pregnant anymore."

I can't say them or even really think them because they carry such a deeper meaning. Wishing to not be pregnant anymore means wishing my daughter is already gone.

It honestly seems surreal. My sister asked me how I was doing with everything and that's what I told her...SURREAL. There are moments I feel a sense of calm and peace, but I think it's more because I don't think I will really believe Lily's fate until I see her. 

Maybe it's expectant faith...or maybe it's just denial.

Or maybe it's because Lily dances in my belly all day long. Or that every doctor's appointment she's jumping and kicking and has the strongest heartbeat.

How is it possible that in three weeks that will be gone? Surreal, I tell you.

Last week was emotionally draining for Jason and me. We received a few more very special gifts from dear friends that just continue to remind us how blessed we are to be surrounded by so much love.

One of my dearest friends from Iowa made a beautiful quilt for Lily. She sent Lily the sweetest card and told her that she was thinking of her every single stitch. I love it so, so, so much.

Another one of my sweet friends asked a group of knitting prayer warriors to knit Lily a blanket. Each of these women (none of whom I've met) took turns knitting this gorgeous blanket and praying for Lily with every stitch. I can't wait to wrap her in this soft, cozy blanket.

And the other gift I received, leaves me more humbled than I have ever been. If you know me (or at least know Facebook me) you know that I am crazy-obsessed with this company Lily Jade. They make these beautiful designer diaper bags and I've been dying to own one. 

I've always, always, always wanted a really nice bag, but I've never found anything worthy of our hard-earned dollars...until I discovered Lily Jade. Beautiful bags that double as a diaper bag?! Sold!

So I've been saving my pennies...and entering Every. Single. Giveaway...Ever to try and win one. No luck with the rafflecopter. :(

Long story short, I came home on Friday and found a Lily Jade box! I couldn't believe it! I opened the box and found this stunning diaper bag and this amazing letter...

Hi Kellie,

I understand things seem uncertain and know your heart must hurt when you think about baby Lily Frances. I want to send our heartfelt prayers and love to you and your husband and hope that this small gift can serve as a reminder of God's love and nearness to you. He has your life in the palm of His hand and I pray that his peace will cover and comfort you.

There is a passage from the Song of Solomon that says "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys," which is the bride speaking to the bridegroom. I know that Lily Frances is God's little lily of the valley. He created her to be a delicate, pure, and precious gift. She too is in good hands, and I trust that in eternity, you'll see all the beauty that God intends for her to display. No matter what happens in the short term, her eternal life is only just beginning.

Love and prayers,

Landon Wood
Lily Jade

I love this company even more. The letter made me cry for many reasons. First, and foremost, the scripture about Lily and that they took the time to find it. Second, someone, somehow had to tell them about Lily (to get my address). I wish I knew who this person was so I could thank them properly (hint, hint). Third, they didn't have to do anything. Even if someone did tell them about Lily, they really didn't have to do anything and I would have never known. 

But, they took the time to read Lily's story, offer us prayers and scripture and gift us with this beautiful bag. My heart was so humbled and so thankful.

And while I know this bag is no replacement, it is a small reminder to me that despite all that we are going through, there is some goodness in the world. 

We are thankful for every sweet day we get with Lily, for every kick and roll. As much as we fear letting her go, we cannot wait to meet our sweet girl.

37 weeks with Ted (left), 37 weeks with Lily (right)

And we still smile, laugh and relish in the pure joy that is our sweet Ted ;-)

I couldn't imagine any of this without these two.
My heart is so full.