Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Short Story Noah Inspired

This short story was sent to me by a member of our church after hearing our story of Noah.

"Several months ago at a meeting, you shared the story of your first born child. It is a tender story. Enclosed is a story that I wrote following that meeting. I enjoyed writing it. My hope is that it is as fun to read. Thanks for sharing your story and your lives at our church. We are blessed by your being with us."

The Story of Noah
(Sans the Ark and Many Animals)

By D. Prewitt 

It was the spring of life; a new marriage and their first child on the way - life in full bloom. Their friends too; young women sharing stories of the first kick and plans of showers.  Mothers with daughters recalling each step with a smile and the words, "When I was pregnant with you..."

They sat nervously in the doctor's office. The doctor had requested a special consultation. It was their third visit but things had been going well. The news came swiftly yet each word seemed to hang in the air. "Your baby has a condition that is incompatible with life." In that instant their hopes and dreams crashed without a sound. Joy was replaced with heartache. "Could it be happening to us?" they thought.

The next months passed by slowly. Follow up visits confirmed the first diagnosis. There was nothing to be done. It was inoperable. The nay Noah was born was a brutal confirmation of scientific accuracy. The little child lived, breathed and died in just a few moments. For the mother and father, love, sorrow and grief all within the rise and fall of his little breast.

Time passed. The young couple lived a full life. They had more children and grandchildren. Finally, when the woman called to her heavenly home, they had three great-grandchildren.

She was greeted in heaven by her parents and many friends and that preceded her. The Lord, Himself, was working through the crowd toward her when she heard a strange voice. She was certain that she had never heard it before but yet it seemed familiar. Even more peculiar, the voice belonged to a  man who looked a little like her father-in-law.

"Hello, mom. My name is Noah," he said. "I wasn't able to tell you this before but you were a terrific mother to me. You fed me and kept me warm. You protected me with your body. I could always hear you sing. I felt your pain when you knew I wouldn't be with you long. The safety of your womb was all I knew of life. I felt your love. Happy Mother's day, mom!"

About that time, the Lord embraced her. "Well done," he said. "We were especially proud of you and Noah. You had the special role of living the words of love to your generation. Come and enjoy peace in my presence."

"The king shall reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Noah's Birthday: One Year Later

Last weekend marked one year since Noah was born. We didn't really know how to commemorate it - who does? We talked about several different things - planting trees, donating books or premie clothing, monetary donations - but when it comes down to it, we just wanted to be with people who had loved and supported us, walked with us, and made five trips to the airport in one day.

The week leading up to Noah's birthday was highly emotional for me. I am so glad, so blessed, that Dave was able to be home (not deployed) at this time.

We had dinner with Katie (Tom was stuck in AZ for the night), and fellow first-pregnancy-Trisomy 18 family, Kelly and Dan (who now have three lovely, healthy children). While there were many families who loved and supported us and Noah, if we were to have invited everyone, it would have been too many people and felt less personal. Katie made fresh peach pie - which many people who where here on Noah's birthday last year will remember as the best pie in the entire world. For real, that pie healed and comforted many wounds last summer. As such, Katie gave me a recipe card for "Noah's Famous Peach Pie."

All in all, it was a quiet day - a normal day - which is what we wanted this year.

I saw three individual signs of God's love for us on Noah's birthday.

1.  As I spent some time working in the yard, I noticed that my one surviving sunflower (of the 20+ I had originally planted) had finally bloomed. Additionally, I found a rogue sunflower seedling sprouting in the grass and repotted it.

2.  We received our first letter from our Compassion child. In April, Dave and I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. I chose Saju because his birthday was close to Noah's.

3.  God kept us busy with God. We spent the morning with our Pastor at a New Members class to become members of the church that's nurtured us these past hard years. I know that's not an "obvious" sign of God, but it kept us occupied, which is what I needed - not to dwell, but to be busy and with other God-loving christians.

"and whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." -Matthew 18:5

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trisomy 18 Foundation: On Holidays

As far as foundations go, Trisomy 18 foundation's website is in need of a make-over but the support they provide has been awesome. Specifically, their emails and cards around holidays.

At Christmas we received a card, an email on Mother's Day, and a preemptive email for Father's Day. And since the whole organization is built to support families who have children that have been diagnosed with T18, and therefore support many grieving families, they know exactly what to say. They really get it. It is seriously so refreshing to open a card/email and have it be spot-on. I remember I cried with the Christmas card because it was exactly where we were. It was as if their card put in to words exactly how I didn't realize I'd been feeling.

Christmas Card:
Dear Ann,
 We know how difficult this holiday season is without your precious Noah Patrick Every day without our babies is hard, but the first holidays hold a special emptiness. We want you to know that we are here to remember Noah Patrick with you, to grieve with you and to share memories with you.
We will not let Noah Patrick be forgotten because we believe that every child with Trisomy 18 ... no matter how fragile or brief their days, forever changes our world.
May you and your family find some peace and joy this holiday season.
With warm wishes from all of us, 
Trisomy 18 Foundation Staff and Volunteers

 On Mother's Day:

This Sunday, as we celebrate all mothers in the Trisomy 18 community -- we recognize that every child...no matter how fragile their life or brief their days...that child transforms a woman into a mother -- forever.
To all our mothers, we honor and celebrate the blessings of your special love for your very precious child impacted by Trisomy 18. 
To extended family members, friends, and caregivers, we encourage you to reach out to the mothers you know in your community to acknowledge them as the amazing Mothers they are. Remind them of their gifts and how much they've given to all their children -- those still with us today and those that have gone ahead of us from this life to the next.

From all our hearts to yours, have a gentle and loving Mother's Day,
Victoria J. Miller
Executive Director (And Isaac's Mom...forever) 

And on Father's Day:

Join us in Honoring all Fathers we know who love a child with Trisomy 18 this Sunday. . .
When we think of a father, the following words often come to mind: strong, protective, problem-solver, loving, and wise. A father takes on these roles with his children, wife or partner. 
Often, a diagnosis of Trisomy 18 causes a father to set side his own feelings while caring for his affected family. It can be difficult to share his feelings about Trisomy 18 and how it has impacted his family, including himself. 
Whether you are expecting, raising, or grieving the loss of a child with Trisomy 18, we know that you are a father — today and every day. 
If you are the family member or friend of a father who has been touched by Trisomy 18, please take time to acknowledge him on Father's Day. While his journey may be different than most, he still is a father. 
And so for many reasons we will always be lifelong supporters of the Trisomy 18 Foundation. Because they rock. One way we do that is through yearly monetary donations. Another way we support them is by using GoodSearch. If you haven't heard of GoodSearch, it's a search engine powered by Yahoo - but each search donates money to the organization of your choice: We chose Trisomy 18 Foundation. They've a sister site called GoodShop in which a certain amount of your purchase is donated.




Sunday, May 29, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere

The last week has been hard for me. I find I've been fighting off impending bitterness. Bitterness toward not being pregnant, toward people that are pregnant, toward people with young children. I know - I believe - that we will get pregnant and have other children. What I struggle with is that I want it now - not in a year. I know - I believe that it will happen in God's time, but I struggle with reconciling God's Timing with Annie's Desired Timing. I struggle to stay positive.

I was at Target last week looking for a baby shower card for a friend. (I always hate going to Target - or any department store - because it's impossible to not walk past the children's and baby's sections.) As I was looking for a card for my friend, what I became struck with was how many cards took the event so lightly. Cute rhymes about changing diapers, sleepless nights, pink and blue everywhere, life changing event  - blah blah blah. The problem I encountered was that every card assumed the baby would be born and survive. Morbid, I know. But it is also my reality - my only experience having children is that all children do not live. So as I looked at ducks and flowers, I had tears running down my face because I thought it was  all so sad and unfair. Sad because I never got to receive any of these cards - unfair because I should be looking at baby cards and criticizing them for being so positive and presumptive.

So that was rough.

I attended the baby shower. It's the first baby shower I've been to since I lost Noah. It was hard. It was hard because that is what I want to be: pregnant. And it was hard to watch and awkwardly participate in the game where you try and guess how big the mom-to-be's belly is using a length of string. To me it just seemed to not take seriously that there is a life inside there. Maybe that's not it. Maybe I didn't like it because the game made me focus on the fact I wasn't pregnant and want to be pregnant. Maybe I didn't like the game because I never got to be that big. I don't know - but I didn't like it. The shower was also hard for me because I only knew three out of the eleven people there - which means that only those three knew about my experience. My eyes filled with tears and my throat became tight as I watched my friend give a guest a present for her upcoming baby boy. (My friend is having a girl.) I think that baby girls are easier for me to emotionally deal with because Noah was a boy - so baby boys therefore are harder on me emotionally because it reminds me that I never got to receive cute little onesies for Noah.

But I kept myself together because 1) I didn't want to cry and inadvertently make a scene and make it be all about me and 2) I didn't want to have to explain to any of the people there why I was crying at a baby shower.

I now know that two of the other women at the shower have experience with infertility. So it makes me wonder how they felt about all of it, too.

Lastly, at least for now, the Thursday Night Markets have started back up in town. On Thursday nights, there's a big farmer's market, beer garden, live band, yummy produce, carousel rides, bounce houses and corn on a stick. Here you can play the game "Find A Woman Who Is Not Pregnant" or the spin-off game, "Find A Parent Without A Child Under 12 Months."

And so, the English major in me, leaves you with these words:

Day after day, day after day
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where
Nor any drop to drink!
-Coleridge's "The Rhyme of  the Ancient Mariner"

Monday, May 2, 2011

A sigh of relief

I breathed out a sigh of relief on May 1st: April is over.

Last April was decidedly the most difficult time in my life thus far. April 5th of last year, we had an ultrasound in Fresno. A few days prior, I had received a call from my doctor that the 15week - or is it 18week? - screening test came back with some abnormalities.

I tried not to panic but tried to gather as much information from the doctor as I could. I asked him to please wait a minute while I walked out to my car so that I could hear him better and take some notes. The conversation led me to so many questions, but I obviously hoped for the best and took comfort in the fact that both Dave and I, and our families have healthy backgrounds, so the tests were probably a false positive. Additionally, all the pregnancy books tell you that false positives are a possibility.

Looking back, I am proud of myself for calming down, taking a breath, and taking notes. I knew that Dave would want to know exactly what the doctor had said and writing it down is the only way to remember!

April 5th was awful for so many reasons. The news we received, the manner it was given, and the way we were treated after were horrendous.

The following days and weeks were so sharply painful. Even today, I am not sure which was harder for us - learning that our son would die, or his actual still-birth/death.  We grieved both times, and both times differently. In April, we cried for days over the loss of the child we thought we would have had, the fact that we were told there would be no birthday or subsequent birthdays. In July, we grieved the loss of the child we did have, because, contrary to so many of our doctors, Noah was a person, he did exist, and despite - and because of - all his physical abnormalities, he was so loved.

This April passed quietly. Dave was home for half of it. I had spring break while he was home and did nothing outstanding. Dave and I now find the value of boring - sometimes, when nothing is happening, it is so much better than what could be happening.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One comment: Two days.

Ever have one comment destroy your week? This is about the comment that ruined two days of my last week. It took me a good 4 hours to realize that this was the cause of my bad mood.

Last week, we attended a pre-deployment brief together. It was essentially an hour long lecture in which most wives create honey-do lists. Honey: I need a will, a POA, and a new credit card. I need access to your bank account, access to your myPay, and we need to get the oil changed. It focuses on preparing the service-member and family members for preventative measures should an issue arise while your spouse is at sea. Credit card stolen? "Well, mame, your name is not on this account so I cannot help you." It prevents conversations like that.

There was a presentation from a TriCare (military health care) representative. One of the major health situations that could occur while your spouse is away is the birth of a child. Or prenatal visits. I was immediately spun in to an awful mood when the presenter made these comments:

"While VFA-200 was deployed, there were 14 babies - let's see if you can beat that!"

......(this is me getting steamed-up angry)

Let's address the general problems I find in the statement before addressing the personal problems I perceive in this statement.

First of all, let us not make having children a competition. There are too many people who have too many children. Trust me, I've met them. So many children that they cannot care for them properly. I've seen them in waiting rooms and even in my classroom. (And for some families, the number of "too many" could be two. I'm not saying that having four children is irresponsible. Maybe seven. The Duggars (TLC's 19 Kids and Counting) are irresponsible in my opinion, however, they do manage to provide for their children.)

Secondly, this statement makes having children sound like it is as easy as making scrambled eggs: Whisk and pour. It is not that easy. There are plenty, hundreds, thousands, of people want children so badly and cannot have them. There are plenty of people wanting children right now. 

To make a statement like that implies that those people who want children but are not having them are doing something wrong or have failed in some way. Guess what I didn't do any thing wrong - I had a baby and he was still taken from me. Where do I fall in your little count, Madame? Would you have counted me in your "14 babies"?

Lastly, it is a thoughtless statement. It angers me. I want to be one of your stupid statistics, Madame Speaker.  I want to have been one of your "babies." Don't you think I'm trying?

But not all people can have babies and keep them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Worth it.

Sometimes children say the darndest things. Sometimes children are so much wiser than their tender age.

I began working at a local elementary school about two months ago. I mainly interact with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. It's interesting to see what a seven-year old's world view is, what their concept of reality is. I have had many children ask: how old are you? are you married? do you have any kids?

The first two are easy. I don't mind sharing my age with seven and eight year olds - they have no concept of age and think 26 is old anyway. They are probably beginning to to place age and roles in boxes (ie -at 15 you are in high school, at 25 you are married with children). A good number of the children will respond, "My mom is 26,  and she has thee kids." Good for her, kiddo, go for her... That's usually how I respond, too, "Well, that's cool."

About two weeks ago I had this same conversation with a first grader. And for some reason I just decided to tell her. I was interested to see how a seven year old would process the information. Here is how our conversation went:

"Ms. Wiggly, do you have a husband?"
"Do you have any kids?"
"... Well, I had a baby, but he died."
"Why?" (Duh, should have seen that coming..)
"Well, because he's waiting for me in heaven now."
"How big of a baby was he?"
"Just a tiny baby."
"That happened to my brother. My older brother died when he was just a tiny baby. He's waiting for me in heaven, too."

Gosh, it just made my day - my week - for several reasons.

1) She didn't cry.

2) She processed it well.

3) Something like this had happened to her family.

4) Most importantly, something like this had happened in her family before she was born and her parents made a conscious decision to tell their later daughter about her big brother.

5) She called him "my big brother." I love that she referred to him as a member of her family.

It was so refreshing to have told a student. Not that she remembered ten minutes later, but still. I had shared with a student and it hadn't backfired. If you'll recall, I have had some issues sharing about Noah with the wrong people in the past. She had not only taken it well, but had a story to share with me. It made me feel a little bit more normal, and it gave me hope. A tragedy had happened to her family, and while I do not know the details, her family (probably) grieved, still grieves, and continued to believe in having a family.

Because when it comes down to it, it's worth it: the terror of losing another child is worth it for the gain of having a child. Children are worth it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Wal-Mart Warning

I'm tagging this as Waiting Room Stories because it just seems to fit so well there...


I've been taking my basal body temperature every morning. Supposedly, you can find a pattern and know when you ovulate. Therefore, this method is common among those looking to conceive and among those looking not to conceive - aka  Natural Family Planning. Well, I've been having problems figuring out my rhythm. So I decided to double up and also take an ovulation test every morning.

I purchased an ovulation prediction kit from the local Wal-Mart. It was $21 with a $7 mail-in rebate. Hey, $7 is $7 and I bought it. I come home, clip off the bar code, add the receipt and address, stamp and seal the envelope and Slider and I walk it to the mailbox. Done! I'm waiting for a check any day, now.

After our little walk, I decide to see what this is actually all about. Basically, the kit comes with a vile of litmus-type tests. You pee in a provided cup, stick the litmus end in the cup, wait five minutes, and read your results: one line, not ovulating; two lines, ovulating.

My kit is conspicuously missing the cup I'm supposed to pee in. If only I had read the directions before clipping the bar code, sealing the receipt in an envelope, and sticking it in the mail box.

Figures! Who decides, "I need ONE cup. I know. I'll get one from the ovulation kits...." Weird.

Only at Wal-Mart.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Not a day goes by that I don't find a reason to cry. (Though I don't cry every day [anymore].) I just seem to be much more sensitive to just everything - nothing in particular - just everything. Every sermon at church just seems to hit home more so that it used to.

Of course there are things that am obviously more sensitive to: new borns, babies, pregnant women, the baby aisles and sections at stores. It still hurts. And while it still hurts, while I'm still irrevocably sad about losing Noah, I've arrived at the point where I can look at those baby onesies and say, "Some day that will be me picking out onesies."

Yes, we've arrived at the point where we are actively trying to have another baby. We were probably ready about two or three months ago to start trying, but I refused to get pregnant in December because I knew I wouldn't be able to handle our new baby having the same time line as Noah - the same week for the 12 week ultrasound, the 18 week tests, the 20 week sonogram. It would be too hard for me, and seemed unfair to Noah: That was his time.

But being ready to be pregnant is so hard when you're not actually pregnant. I know we are blessed - so blessed - because we know that we can conceive naturally, that my body can handle being pregnant and a natural birth. However, we wanted to have already had a baby by now (which we have, just not with the outcome we had expected) - we wanted to be working on child #2 (which we still are, again, just not how we had expected). We were ready eighteen months ago to parents (which we are, though not in the way we had hoped), and so each month that ticks by is like an eternity.

What complicates matters even further is the Navy. I remember telling friends in college who looked at me cross-eyed when I'd answer, I don't know where he's moving, "Being married to [or in a relationship with] someone in the military is like being in a relation ship with three people: You, Him, and The Military." We can't have the control over things that many civilians have. As a result, we have about five months of  "attempts" in the next year and a half.


The only thing to do is to take a deep breath and remember: His Timing is Perfect. HTIP.