Sunday, October 24

Fondant and Why my brain is Mush

Well, my adventures continue with the cakes decorating. I've been dying to learn more about fondant, and just couldn't wait until the next class starts in a few weeks, so I bought a ready-made pack and used it to make a cake for a housewarming/baby shower get-together.

So here it is! It was fun, but hard work. I forgot to put in the Gum-Tex and whew! Talk about a forearm workout. I won't make that mistake again :)

A few photos from the farm. Nathaniel is our dirt boy. He is definitely a farmer boy. He loves to get dirty, throw dirt and make a mess.

The baby of the family. He is finally, finally starting to feel better, thank GOD. It has been a long and exhausting 3 weeks of runny noses, cough, ear infections, medicines and sleepless nights. I felt like I was back on newborn schedule. Today, although he still has a runny nose, he actually seemed like himself. Good timing, too, because I was starting to forget what my happy baby was like. So if I didn't call you or email when I should have, told you the same story 2 or 3 times, and gave you a blank look when asked a complicated question, like what I did yesterday, well, now you know why. My brain has turned to a puddle of sleep-deprived mush. I'm hoping the situation will remedy itself soon.

My boys playing frisbee, enjoying the beautiful warm weather. Zach really got into throwing the frisbee under his leg. Always ready for a challenge!

Tuesday, October 19

Piece of Cake!

I have been taking a Wilton Cake Decorating Class this month and am really enjoying it. The class gets me out of the house, but more importantly, I hope it will give me the skills to provide a source of income in Nicaragua, as well as the tools to teach other women baking and decorating skills, so THEY can have a source of income.

The class is small and meets for a few hours each week. The teacher is fun and has her own bakery, out of her house. She is a wealth of knowledge! And after every class, I come home with a dessert (which the men in the house are enjoying immensely).

Here is my creation from last week's class. Next week is my last class and we will do another, more "spectacular" decorated cake. How fun!

I suppose if I had 10 lives to live, one would be as a dessert chef/wedding cake decorator. Yes, I'm one of those people who loves to watch food and cake shows (when I get the chance, which is pretty rare).

Sunday, October 17

Feliz Cumpleaños a Nathaniel

Happy Happy 4th Birthday, Nathaniel!

This is the first time we have celebrated Nathaniel's birthday in the U.S., so it felt extra special. While we enjoyed having our own family around, it was a bit sad to think that our friends in Nicaragua would be missing his birthday for the first time.

We had a piñata (of course!!), which the boys were quite excited about. We played some Nicaraguan worship songs while getting the food ready (shish kabobs, burgers, hot dogs, mashed potatoes) and enjoyed chatting with family while the cousins played together.

Nathaniel takes a shot at the piñata. The winter coats added a "special" touch :)

Kabobs on the grill, mmmmmm....

My first 3-D cake. It was a bit intimidating, but turned out better than I expected. One word of advice: Use the office clips to make sure the two halves do NOT come apart!

It is amazing to look over the past 4 years and see where God has brought us. You see, Nathaniel means "gift from God"; he is literally our miracle child.

After our baby girl died, we had another unexpected pregnancy a few short months later. This child was not to be, however, as the doctors discovered it to be a very rare and life-threatening ectopic. After several surgeries, blood transfusions, ambulance rides and ICU stays, the doctors recommended that we not have any more children. It would be too dangerous, for both the baby and myself.

The problem was that my uterus had been badly damaged from the ectopic. There was a high risk of uterine rupture with any future pregnancy. And when the uterus ruptures, the baby usually dies. And if the mother is not in the hospital when it happens, the mother dies from massive internal bleeding. Pretty serious stuff.

We checked with several specialists, even going to the chair of the perinatology department in Hershey Medical Center. He only asked me: Would I be willing to die for a chance at another baby? Would I be willing to leave my husband without a wife and my toddler without a mother? He did not recommend another pregnancy.

We were devastated. Devastated.

We felt so alone and torn apart at the seams. Where did we fit in? We couldn't go to infertility groups for support, because getting pregnant was not an issue. We found ourselves in a strange state, a place where we could get pregnant easily, but were told not to. It was a very dark and depressing time for us.

We spent a lot of time on our knees, praying and asking God what we should do. What His will was for us.

Six months later, we found ourselves pregnant again, much to our doctors chagrin. But we felt confident that God would protect us. Protect us meaning, that the baby would be okay. I was prepared to have a hysterectomy, knowing it was a very real risk.

However, we were not prepared to hear what the doctors had to say. The doctors did an ultrasound right away, to see how things looked. Later that day, the doctor called me and told me that the heartbeat was very slow. Too slow. Too slow meaning that I should expect to miscarry. I listened in stunned belief. My heart stopped. I had no words.

Did we not hear God correctly? Did we make a mistake?

We questioned God, we questioned our faith, we questioned our sanity.

Meanwhile, a nurse called and told me to call them "when it happened". They didn't even schedule another OB appointment for me, so sure were they of their diagnosis.

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And 6 weeks later, I was still pregnant and ready to go into my 2nd trimester.

I called the doctor's office and asked if I should schedule another appointment. I don't think "surprised" accurately explains their reaction.

The pregnancy was stressful, to say the least. I was ready to be done with the whole 9 months and have a baby in my arms. God and I talked a lot. And it was lonely. Few people knew how to support us. They wanted to be happy for us, but I struggled with fear on a daily basis. I couldn't read pregnancy magazines or think about preparing the nursery. I didn't really want to talk about being pregnant. I was in denial, in a strange sort of way. It was the only way I knew how to deal with the stress of it all. It was difficult for our friends and family too, I'm sure.

I started having regular contractions around 32 weeks, and by 35 weeks was having significant pain. I went in for my regular appointment and the doctors were fairly upset at the amount of pain and contractions I was having. They mentioned that I should have been on bed rest during the whole third trimester. An ultrasound was done, revealing an exceptionally thin uterine wall. But the problem is, nobody knows HOW thin it gets before rupturing. An amniocentesis was done, but the baby was not quite ready.

So the doctors decided to wait. A C-section was scheduled in another week, but I had a feeling I was not going to make it.

3 days later, I awoke with an urgency in my brain and a clear voice telling me to get to the hospital. I knew God was speaking to me. My pain had increased dramatically overnight.

So we went to the hospital and what do you know? My uterus ruptured in the OR, before the doctor had a chance to open me up. I was 36 weeks that day. I wondered what had happened when the normally talkative nurses suddenly quieted. I've learned that quiet is never a good sign.

Although our son had to remain in the NICU for 8 days due to respiratory distress, I thank God and give Him all the glory for giving us another son. That is why, 4 days after he was born, we named him "Nathaniel". God is still in the business of doing miracles.

Saturday, October 2


Kids can say the funniest things sometimes. And sometimes, they are not so funny.

My oldest son, Zach, has been asking lots of questions about our baby girl, Alaina, that died about 5 yrs ago. He swings from joy and eagerness in getting to meet her in heaven, to tears and sadness about not getting to see her while she was here on earth. He's been talking so much about her, that our third child, Nathaniel, has started to get in on it.

Nathaniel has been asking questions about Alaina, about heaven and about Jesus. They even insisted on going to see the stone and place where she is buried, so we took them to visit a few weeks back. I wondered if Zach would get teary-eyed, but he didn't. He just looked at the stone and then stated that he was glad she was with Jesus and that Jesus was taking care of her. We've been having interesting conversations, to say the least :) And Nathaniel likes to talk...

To everybody.

Which means I've found myself in a few awkward positions lately.

A few weeks ago, we visited a new church, and in the middle of Sunday School, Nathaniel started telling the teacher that he had a baby sister, but she died, and was now up in heaven. At first the teacher just smiled and said, Okay, but Nathaniel insisted on repeating the information to the teacher, and a look of realization what he was saying, because she just looked at me with this funny look on her face. She didn't ask me anything, but I told her that yes, I had a baby girl that died 5 yrs ago, and Nathaniel has taken a lot of interest in the subject lately. and then as if nothing happened, she went back to teaching the class.

But I must admit, I felt embarrassed when Nathaniel brought her up. Embarrassed that a stranger should know something so private and deep, that I had to explain my son's ramblings, and ashamed that I was one of those people.

You know, one of those people that has experienced a loss, and was changed forever.

Sometimes it feels like there are 3 groups of women in the world: those who have never had children, those who have had babies and everything went fine, and those who had babies and the babies died.

It's an interesting place to be in, because for a while afterwards, people tend to treat you like a leper. They don't know what to say, so they don't say anything. And since they have nothing to say to you, then they just avoid you. Our culture does not know how to handle loss gracefully. And then you start to wonder if your feelings are valid, especially when people talk about how God uses all things for good, and your baby is in a better place. Those statements don't validate your pain, your loss, your grief.

Which is why I started to wonder, Why do I feel embarrassed?

Yes, I lost a baby. More than one, actually.

And it was devastating and incredibly painful.

But I did nothing wrong.

It wasn't MY choice for my babies to die.

And it's not my fault that others don't know how to handle this kind of information.

But my response IS my choice.

Perhaps I should help them, inform them, and educate people on how to support people like me, how to walk with us on our journey of grief.