Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Labor and Delivery of my Beautiful Baby

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.


The doctor inserted the cervadil, which simply makes your cervix thin out so a baby can come through it. For some people, this alone can trigger labor, although it certainly isn’t the most common outcome. We didn’t think I’d be in that outlier group, and fully expected to be in that hospital for a good long while—at least a day or more—before anything began to happen.

But once again, I was the exception to the rule, and labor kick-started almost immediately! I began to have huge contractions every two minutes, sometimes even closer, but the pain was manageable in my typical “go big or go home” mentality. Because of all the hard work I’d put into the natural childbirth classes, I stubbornly insisted on bearing this pain without medications. I was in labor-mode, not allowing myself to think about the reality of this situation or how emotional it was. By that point, I was still in such a state of shock that I had almost forgotten why we were here. So we marched through the halls, pretending like we were every other happy couple about to have a baby, stopping and hunching over when the contractions came.

Somewhere in all of that pain, my family and Jeff’s mom showed up at the hospital. It was surreal seeing them there under these circumstances. I was very convinced this was a bad dream. I sat down in my bed, and my dad sat in a chair next to me and began to pray for miracles. Nobody knew what else to say or do. For such a normally chatty group, everyone was painfully quiet.

Totally numb, all I could think to say was, “I’m going to become a very bitter and angry person when this is all over.” My mom very quietly but firmly replied that I would not.

But I couldn’t even imagine how I would live past this day, I couldn’t imagine how I would feel when the loss of my daughter finally entirely hit me. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever smile again. I knew I would be forever changed.

Needing to feel useful, my family asked what they could go out and get us—they felt a need to help in some way! I hadn’t felt the urge to cry until that moment, when I replied that I would need my suitcase…because it had Grace’s coming-home outfit in it. Because, she would still need an outfit—to be buried in.

In the evening, the contractions became horrendous, and the nurses begged me to get an epidural. But, I had wanted to keep this one goal of going med-free, this one tiny part of my plan in tact, and refused the epidural again and again.

But eventually, it dawned on me that there was no real reason to avoid pain meds. There would be no reward at the end of this journey, no living healthy baby who would benefit by having no drugs in her innocent little body. Nobody was going to praise me for my pain tolerance; I wasn’t going to get cards of congratulations. When I had conversations with other mothers later, nobody was going to ask me to share my birth story, and I’d never get to brag about the experience of going epidural-free—nobody would want to know about the birth of a dead baby.

And I realized that my fear of epidurals’ risks—becoming paralyzed or even dying because of misplacement of the needle in the spine—were no longer an issue for me. If I died today, I thought, it would be better than having to live the rest of my life without Grace.

“Oh God, why her? Why couldn’t you have taken me? I would have gladly given my life for her! I would have done anything for her! A child should not die before her mother, “my soul cried out to Him. I felt so empty, so worthless.

I finally took the nurse’s suggestion to “stop being a martyr” and got the epidural. (I think everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief.) And compared to my emotional pain, I couldn’t even feel the pain of the needle going in. I think I must have been the easiest patient the anesthesiologist had ever encountered. The whole time, though, tears were flowing down my mom’s face and the doctor asked, “Why are you crying?! You should be excited!” I guess the doctor didn’t get the memo.


Unfortunately, instead of making this nightmarish journey more bearable, the epidural only made things worse. What control I had felt with managing my own pain and having something to work through to distract me from this horror, was taken away from me. Not only did I become confined to lying down in a bed because of the epidural and Foley catheter, but I also had more side effects from the epidural than I had ever heard of anyone experiencing before!

First, I began to shake uncontrollably. The shaking was so bad that I had to have my mom and mother-in-law hold down each of my legs because it was using all my energy to try to keep them still. I felt completely out of control of my body and mind– I felt like a mental patient! Then I started to swell. I hadn’t swollen at all during pregnancy, so this was shocking. My feet blew up and turned purple. My face was huge and puffy. My fingers looked and felt like they would burst.

Then I got a fever of 101, so I had to get antibiotics. From there, the drugs continued to multiply. I started to itch—all over—it was unbearable. Everyone kept telling me to sleep, but the itching (on top of having everyone in the room staring at me) made it impossible. I felt like I had bug-bites on literally every millimeter of skin and I was scratching ferociously. So, I got an anti-itch drug in my IV. That didn’t work, so they tried a different one. Now, I had been lying down for some time, not able to sit up because of the epidural, so I got heartburn. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and the stomach acid was eating me alive. So, I got heartburn meds.

As everything became more and more chaotic, nurses were telling me to get some sleep so I could have energy for pushing. They had no idea. In their world, things were moving along smoothly. In my world, everything was crashing down. When I closed my eyes, I kept feeling like my soul was being lifted out of my body. In my mind, I could look down and vividly see my lifeless body lying on the bed below—it was as if I was willing myself to die.

It was then that a song started playing in my head again. It was the same one as earlier, but this time it grew louder. “You made the world and saw that it was good, You sent your only son, for you are good, What a wonderful maker, What a wonderful savior, How majestic your whispers, And how humble your love…” I still didn’t know where it came from. I didn’t know who sang it, and I was shocked that my brain was reciting the words to a song that I thought I didn’t know. And it didn’t stop until we left the hospital. “With a strength like no other, And the heart of a father, How majestic your whispers, What a wonderful God.”

Midway through the night, the nurses decided to speed up the labor even more, so they gave me pitocin. Around that same time, my epidural began to not work. I could feel contractions all through the right side of my body, especially in my leg. I dealt with the pain for an hour, and then got the anesthesiologist to come in and fix the epi’s placement. Another hour went by, and it didn’t work. Well, my nurse was nowhere to be found, and I didn’t want to wake my mom and and mother-in-law who were finally asleep in the cold, hard floor of my room. But I was fully feeling every contraction! Minutes later, my IV machine started sounding its alarm because the epidural medicine bag had completely emptied.

This, of course, is when my body decided to begin its “transition”(a.k.a. the most painful) stage of labor. In horrific pain, I watched the monitors as my contractions would speed up to the highest peak in seconds, last for a good two minutes, with no real breaks in between. I got someone to run out and get my nurse, and they refilled the IV bag. Sadly, after the refill, the epidural STILL wasn’t working, and I was telling everyone around that this was the WORST pain of my life. What infuriated me was that I couldn’t even get up to walk through it; I had to lie there and allow it to torture me! I was dilating quickly, so the anesthesiologist had to run in, and (much to my severe dismay) take out the epidural and completely re-place it.

In all of that pain, I hadn’t even noticed that my water had broken. I looked down to see the soaking wet bed, then stared up at Jeff. I wanted to communicate to him all the disappointment I felt, knowing that instead of having some exciting TV-drama sort of water-breaking moment—out shopping or at church or at dinner with friends—my water had to break like this, under these sad circumstances. This just wasn’t fair.

The nurses told me that I was progressing unusually fast, and that in the future I should prepare myself for speedy labors with my next babies. Minutes later, they checked me and with surprised faces, said I was completely dilated and I could push when I felt ready.


Well, you can never feel “ready” to push out a dead baby. Dread and horror flooded my entire being. So I told myself I’d just hold her in. I simply would not be pushing her out. I couldn’t. I would just hope to wake up from this nightmare, in my own bed at home, and find that my baby was peacefully sleeping and kicking away inside me.

When I felt contractions, I would try to ignore them. Of course, only about seven minutes went by before I could feel the baby coming down, whether I was ready or not. The doctor and nurse came in, Jeff held my left leg and my mom and mother-in-law held the right, and it took only 10 quick pushes to get the baby completely out.

And when she came out, Grace didn’t cry. (I’m so deeply envious of anyone who has ever heard their baby cry.)

This is when the doctor saw the cord wound tightly several times around her long, beautiful little leg. Her source of life—the umbilical cord —had become her cause of death. The doctor handed me Grace, and I began to wail. Loudly.

I can’t even remember the depth of the pain well enough to describe it here, for I’d never experienced anything like it before, and I haven’t even experienced it since. It was by far the saddest moment of my entire life.


I cradled her lifeless body gently in my arms.

Her skin was torn in places and her lips were a dark crimson red, because she’d been in my womb too long without oxygen. It is unbearable for a mother to see her child like that—to think that any part of her child is imperfect, to imagine that Grace had gone through any pain. I wanted to bandage her skin, I wanted to hug her tight enough to warm her up, I wanted to breathe life into her limp body!

But those thoughts are too heavy for any human to bear.

And that’s why God blessed me with a hint of joy. For, she was my BABY and I was a proud MOTHER! I got to hold her! It was something I’d waited my entire life to do! She was a precious, gorgeous, perfect gift and I got to ADMIRE her!

At seven pounds, she was a chubby little girl for being born two weeks before her due date. She didn’t look tiny or fragile—she didn’t even have that “wrinkly old man” face that so many newborns have—she was completely beautifully feminine, with a soft, full face. Even with the feminine features, we could tell she had more Jeff-genes in her appearance than Heather-genes. Like Jeff, her lips were full, her nose was rounded, her earlobes were meaty, and her eyes turned down at the corners. She inherited the look that drew me to Jeff when we were teenagers! She would have gotten away with so much naughtiness with an innocent, adorable face like that!

But her body looked more like me. She was measured at 21 inches long, but we both noticed that when the nurse was measuring her, her little knees were bent, so we’re almost sure she was actually over 22 inches. She would have been tall! Her toes and feet looked exactly like a miniature version of mine, and later when we were home, we measured the footprints on her “death certificate” and they were a good three inches long each. So the ultrasound had been correct in indicating she was going to get the Heather Glasgow bigfoot-ness. Her legs were lanky too, and so were her arms. When everyone held her, we all remarked how heavy and big she felt.

Her coloring—porcelain pale with light blonde hair—was like the both of us. Her eyes were most assuredly blue (since we both have blue eyes, she had 100% genetic chance of getting blue too), but we weren’t able to see them. I tried opening her eyelids, but her eyes had darkened with death—they didn’t look like eyes. And not being able to look into your little girl’s eyes is torture.

I can’t even imagine how wonderful it feels to have your baby look up at you. It almost seems too good an experience for any human being to deserve. That type of blessing isn’t even of this world. It is most certainly a piece of heaven itself.

When I saw Jeffrey hold her, I fell in love with him a million times over. He looked more handsome than ever before, holding his daughter. He was a natural, completely meant for the role of father. He was so loving and gentle, powerful and strong; he looked like he could carry her every burden. He too would have sacrificed anything for her. It tore me apart to think that I couldn’t watch him hold her or parent her ever again.

The Remainder of November 4

Somewhere in the whirlwind of everything going on, the doctor stitched me up (I’d torn from such a fast delivery and big-boned baby) and did all the doctorly things. I let the nurse take Grace to be cleaned, measured and dressed in her beautiful pink coming-home outfit. She cut a lock of Grace’s blonde hair for us to keep, and did her footprints. Meanwhile, I threw up several times (from the drugs, anxiety and sheer shock of the situation), and had to get some anti-nausea meds. The placenta was looked at —it was perfect, Grace’s blood and skin sample were taken for genetic testing—all of which turned out perfectly healthy as well; everything about her was ideal. I couldn’t stop thinking what a healthy little baby she had been. I’d given her the perfect life; her entire existence was such a blissful, happy one.

Everyone there got to hold our precious gift. She was passed around the room, and my tears flowed as I watched my mom, dad, Jeff’s mom, and each of my sisters (except Jennifer, who was regrettably in CA) admire their long-awaited newest family member. At times, I worried that they might be scared or uncomfortable touching a dead person, but they lovingly assured me that they wanted to keep on holding her.

Time stood still as we enjoyed and loved on our little girl.

I wanted to hold her forever. I wanted to cuddle her and sing to her and talk to her. But, we didn’t get enough time. She faded so quickly. Within an hour, she no longer looked like the baby I had just birthed. She turned blue, cold, stiff. We didn’t have time to argue which side of the family she looked more like. We couldn’t stare and look at her from every angle. And pictures just don’t capture it all. I didn’t get to experience the little baby “head smell” that everyone says is so sweet. I didn’t even get to see that cute little pudgy butt that had poked out the top of my belly for the last three weeks of her life. It was the one body part that I totally missed when staring at my baby.

I was desperate to be able to nurture her and breastfeed that little open mouth. I wanted to be mommy to my baby. I wanted to bond with her. There were millions of moments that I didn’t get to share with my baby. Millions. I could sit with you and list forever everything I wanted to experience with her.

Goodbye My Baby

I know that some people will continue to hold their stillborn babies for hours in the hospital, because they can’t bear to part with them, regardless of how quickly the baby’s body fades. With us, though, we knew we would see Grace again. And in Heaven, she would look healthy and beautiful. Boy, I can’t wait!

The nurses knew there was no reason for us to remain in the maternity ward with all the happy new mothers, so they allowed us to check out, little more than 24 hours after arriving.

Our parents and my sisters left the hospital, allowing us time alone in the dimly lit room to have our final moments with Grace as a family of three. No words were spoken, except for “I love you so much, Grace” again and again, and of course our silent prayers to God, pleading for as much strength as He could give us, for we simply could not do this on our own.

We placed her on the baby bed, and I made sure she was tightly bundled in that warm blanket, so her body wouldn’t get hurt when she was moved to the morgue. I knew it didn’t matter now, but as a mom, I still felt the strong instinct to protect her.

My hopes and dreams were all wrapped up in that bundle of blankets, and I would have to leave them all behind at the hospital that day.

We told her goodbye, and held hands as I was wheel chaired out. We silently left the hospital with empty arms.

But in Heaven, Grace’s soul was already in the presence of our Almighty God, experiencing peace and joy beyond human description. She was already among angels, worshiping our Father, her hands raised to Him who knew that it was best to allow her to be taken out of our imperfect world. Together with all the souls in Heaven, she now sings out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

I can’t wait to hold you again, Grace.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My apologies

I’m sorry to have kept some of you in suspense. Many people emailed me asking how I was doing, and I feel guilty for not updating, especially since everyone was praying so hard for me. When I saw in my Google Analytics that this blog is still getting hundreds of hits, even though I haven’t posted in over a week, I knew I needed to come in and say something.

I canceled the surgical procedure. Have you ever had a feeling in your soul that you just should not do something? Just an overbearing feeling that you can’t seem to kick? Wednesday morning (the day that I was supposed to go in for the procedure), I woke up and started praying, and felt led to pray for exactly five minutes about the procedure. So, I went over and set the timer on the stove for five minutes, and prayed. When the alarm went off, I knew I needed to go call the doctor to say I couldn’t do it. Between the known risks of the procedure, and the bad feeling I had about it, I felt good about my decision. Telling the doctors my reasoning was a completely different story!

But now, we’re praying for direction, and for miracles. I want to have babies. Many of them. I want to be free from the fear of miscarriage. But I don’t want to put my future in doctors’ hands — I want to give it wholly to God. I need prayer.

Can I be vulnerable for a minute? (Please, be gentle in your comments.) It’s been a long time since I was genuinely happy. Sometimes I forget what it feels like to have that bubbling-over excitement that I used to get all the time about the future. I am still very much in the throes of mourning. And I desperately want to be a mommy again—the hope of new life would be the one thing that could bring my smile back.That’s not to say that I don’t have some OK or even good days, and I certainly don’t cry every single day, but that deep sadness weighs over me. It’s most present when I see babies, especially newborns, or babies the same age as what Grace would be now. It forces me to wonder what she’d look like now, to think about what she’d be doing now. It’s absolutely overwhelming. Which brings me to the next part of Grace’s story...

I have 2300 words of it written, but I just can’t seem to finish the entry. Somehow, by finishing it, I feel like I’m closing the book on her *life*. Saying “The End”. And writing about her birth, the most sad moment of my entire life, is gut-wrenching. When I write about Grace, it eats my entire day because I am absolutely overcome with anguish. Just writing ABOUT writing it is making a lump form in my throat and my eyes well up.

But, it’s coming.

To God be the glory!

"I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:9-11).

Thursday, August 13, 2009


As I have sliced my finger open and am having a hard time typing, I will post the next part of the story next week.

I want to ask for your prayers, though, as I am having an exploratory surgery of sorts on Monday to find out answers on why I have had now two miscarriages in 2009, both completely unrelated to anything else we've experienced in the past. We know that our God is the HEALER, the CREATOR, and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, so I know that in faith we can believe that I am already healed.

So that is what I'm asking you to pray: that they find nothing! That I am healed!

ETA: We have had to reschedule the surgery for Wednesday. Please keep up the prayers!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grace's Earthly End

Today, August 4, 2009, Grace would be nine months old, and I’d be planning her first birthday party. I'd plan to have a pink & brown cupcake party, with gluten free cupcakes, and Grace would have her first ever taste of sugar. She’d wear something beautiful in the same brand as her coming home outfit (Biscotti), or maybe a fluffy tutu-dress from Belle Ame.

But here, instead, is the beginning of the story of her only birthday. The only day I ever got to hold Grace in my arms.

Grace’s last weekend

I don’t usually write about the weather. I feel like that’s a tactic only used by fourth graders and lousy Christmas family newsletter writers. But when my daughter was last living, it was the most beautiful late autumn Jeff and I had ever seen. We’d had our wedding in the fall only three years before, and back then I would have paid thousands for trees this colorful. The vibrant fall seemed to sum up a perfect pregnancy, and seemed to signal the start of a new season of our lives, one of sheer excitement! (Now, with all the feelings of loss associated with it, I wonder now if I’ll even like the season ever again.)

Our third wedding anniversary was October 29, and we didn’t do much to celebrate – besides, what gift can you give one another that is better than the gift of new life, a child?! We were GIDDY!

Saturday…I ventured out to a brunch with my mommies group of all pregnant women, and held the first tiny baby born to the group. Soon, I thought, I would be holding my very own baby in my arms! Everyone reminded me that it was November 1, only 19 days left until my due date!

Sunday…we went to church, and Grace jammed out to the worship music! She always seemed to have a lot of fun in my belly! I felt extra special that day, and had worn a black dress with four-inch black heels (I’d been so thankful to never get any swelling, allowing me to wear heels!). I was enormous, and it seemed like every stranger I passed congratulated me. Our drive home, we passed the hospital where I would give birth, and I got all excited thinking about how in two weeks this same drive home would be the most happy drive of my life—with a baby in my arms!

…That evening, we went to the last session of our Bradley natural childbirth class. And Grace kicked all the while. Jeff said how excited he was about labor (ha! I was like, of course YOU’RE excited! I’m the one pushing this thing out!) —we were ready for this! (I was well prepared to give birth without pain medications or interventions, and felt very confident in the technique—I’d told everyone about it so I’d keep accountable!) Then we went home and Jeff videotaped actors for his Grace Epidemic project. (It is eerie watching that video now, knowing that it was the last day my Grace was alive.) And Grace kept right on kicking, as she always did. Later, Jeff gave me my nightly back massage—he’s the best husband ever—and we watched Grace move around in my belly (for what we didn’t know then would be the last time ever).

We headed to bed and I reached over and put my hand in the bassinet attached to our mattress, as I had gotten into the habit of doing, and imagined how in a few short weeks I would be stroking my peacefully sleeping baby there, admiring her, my offspring, the greatest blessing I’d ever received.

I prayed thanks, and fell asleep.

November 3, 2008

It was a dark day out, starting to drizzle, but my first thought was how something great was about to happen. I said aloud to Jeff, “For some reason, it feels like Christmas morning!” I cannot get over how weird that feeling was. Maybe God was trying to bless me with a calm before the storm…

…because the rest of that day can only be described as the worst of my life.

Jeff left for work, and I went downstairs to make Grace and I breakfast. I sipped my OJ, but Grace didn’t kick like she usually did with that jolt of fructose. Odd, I thought, but I wasn’t overwhelmingly alarmed, and went on talking to her, telling her I loved her as I always did. I was awake a little earlier than usual, anyway. I showered, but Grace didn’t move like normal with the water’s warmth. I poked the spot where I knew her butt was, but she was obviously sleeping. Still, I thought, it was early. Yet, when I got out, I really started to worry.

I went to the nursery and lay down on the floor next to her crib (like Jeff had been doing each morning as he prayed for her, for nine months) and gulped cold water, hoping it would wake her up. My heart started to race when she didn’t wake. My doctor’s appointment was scheduled for 9:30 that morning, and I left the house as quick as I could, speeding down the road and arriving ridiculously early. At the stoplight before the doctor’s building, the word started flashing through my head, stillbirth stillbirth stillbirth. Everything was a blur, as they weighed me, took my blood pressure, and Jeff arrived. All I could think or say was “I haven’t felt her kick this morning.”

The fluorescent lights in the room made it look so cold and horrible in there, increasing my panic. I could hear heartbeats from Dopplers thumping loudly through the thin walls of the rooms on either side of me. But when they tried to listen to my child’s heartbeat, it wasn’t there. “No,” Jeff said to me, and grabbed my hand tightly as the doctor rushed off to find the ultrasound machine. “She’s fine; it isn’t what you think; they’ll find it; please God.” (How would I have ever survived if Jeff hadn’t come to the appointment that day?)

The doctor rolled in the ancient-looking machine and fumbled the cord, clearly flustered, and got another doctor to help her. When they finally got it to work—my stomach is in knots as I type this—the ultrasound machine showed a lifeless little girl, a beautiful heart, but one that had stopped beating forevermore.

"I’m so sorry," was all the doctor said. I put my hands on my face, where they remained for the next several hours, and whispered, "Oh my God. Oh my God." This is when shock set in—the body’s gift to its emotional state—to help me survive the blow. I had become numb, and would stay that way for the next 24 hours. I thought back to my childhood, about the night when my friend’s dad had passed away in a tragic car accident, and about how we had gone to the hospital that night and saw the family. I remembered how I had hugged my friend and sobbed uncontrollably, but that she was strong and wasn’t crying. I finally understood it. That’s how I felt now. Crushed, flattened, beaten down to silence, to numbness. I couldn’t even cry.

Suddenly, I had to get this baby out. She seemed heavier than ever before. I hated how stiff her body felt, preventing me from even being able to expand my lungs and get a full breath, and then I hated myself for disliking anything about my poor child. But I couldn’t handle having this dead baby inside me. I needed her out NOW – it was URGENT! I repeated it to each of the doctors, but didn’t watch to see if they responded or not. Everything was so blurry.

Walking out of the office, I noticed that my hands were still on my face. I wondered what everyone in the waiting room thought of me – what did they think was wrong? Were they panicked about their own babies? I thought about all of those people on the news all the time, those women in Iraq or Israel after a bomb exploded and killed their families, and how they would always be running around, screaming and crying. I wondered when or if I would get to that point. Right now, I pretty much felt dead.

In the car, I saw our new pink baby carseat all strapped in and ready to go. Overcome with too much emotion, I’m pretty sure I almost passed out. We rushed to the hospital, where the marathon of labor and delivery—that grueling emotional and physical journey—began.

The Hospital

We walked in and although we’d already taken a tour of the hospital, were absolutely clueless where to go and wandered around blindly. Jeff asked someone at a desk where labor & delivery was, and with major attitude, she pointed down the hall, and said, “Um, In labor and delivery.” So strange, I thought, how people have so much anger. I had just lost my daughter and I wasn’t as angry as her.

It was dark and empty in there that day. The nurses were all huddled around the nurses’ station, probably talking about who they were going to vote for, as it was the day before the presidential elections, and they all turned around when they saw us coming. Immediately, we told them who we were, and silence fell.

I felt ill. This was not how it was supposed to go at all. I was supposed to walk in here in labor, already six centimeters dilated, and near ready to push, with everyone in awe at my strength and supernatural pain tolerance. And I would breastfeed my baby girl right away, and dress her in her beautiful pink lacy outfit (that was sitting inside the suitcase in our bedroom, already clean and ironed) and bring her home in that pink carseat to a house all set up just for her. But this? Nurses feeling sorry for me? I wanted to turn around and walk right back out.

A nurse brought us to a room on the quiet, empty side of the maternity ward, probably so we wouldn’t have to hear other people giving birth to living, crying babies. I wondered how they assigned a nurse to us. Did they draw straws? Did she owe someone something? I can’t imagine anyone volunteering for such a horrible event.

I think we must have been there over an hour before we even thought to call someone. How do you tell your parents, who have been looking forward to meeting their first grandbaby for nine months, that they will never get to? I hated that we would have to make one of these kinds of calls, the kind nobody ever wants to get, the kind that you think are only made in later life when your grandparents are getting on in years. That we would have to make one of those calls now, as healthy happy people in our twenties, it was too much to bear. I told Jeff he could call, but he didn’t have to if he didn’t want, and I sure wasn’t doing it.

He was so strong that day. He made the calls to our parents, one by one, out in the hallway. I’m so glad I didn’t have to see his face as he spoke those words. And he called his boss to tell him that he wouldn’t be back in for a very long time. Months later, we learned that his boss actually called our church that day to let them know about the situation, and thus we had our church praying for us from the very beginning.

On the phone, my dad didn’t believe the words that Jeff told him, saying that He knew our God was a miracle worker, and that Jesus could raise our baby from death. Until the next day when we left the hospital hours after Grace had been born, Dad didn’t believe that she was really gone. In my shock and numbness, I didn’t have the faith to believe that kind of miracle could happen. I loved my dad for it though—I loved his faith, and I loved his deep love for his granddaughter. If only I could go back, with the faith that I now have, and experience that day, I wonder if that miracle could happen? Could I have believed God and allowed him to work in such a big way? Maybe I wasn’t giving Him an “in.”

But God was there, beckoning me to him. Whether I wanted Him or not. All those years of my asking him to “be with me” to “comfort me” to “strengthen me” to “guide me” were coming to fruition. He was answering those prayers when I needed them most.

A song started playing in my head, one that I didn’t know I knew, but the words kept playing… “You spread out the skies, over empty space, said let there be light, in a dark and formless world…”

“Ugh,” I thought, “Go away music. Go away feelings. Go away everything.” I didn’t want to think, or pray, and I definitely didn’t want music. But the song kept right on playing in my head. “Gosh, where is that song from?”

Our nurse sat down on a stool in our room and asked me a gazillion questions. The doctors did too. Had I fallen recently? They all seemed to ask that question. Because, you know, there has to be someone to blame. Had the baby been kicking regularly the last few days? Car accident?

Everything had been so normal, the whole pregnancy! I felt not an ounce of guilt. Boy was I thankful at how perfectly I had treated Grace in there all nine months. There wasn’t anything I did that I wouldn’t do again. I wracked my brain, but no, there was nothing. This was as random and tragic as you could get.

Before beginning the induction, the doctor came in and prayed with us. One of the great things about our doctors’ office is that it was a Christian organization, and they were very open about the fact that they prayed for their patients. I don’t remember much about the prayer, except how I thought it was odd that she opened it by calling God “Daddy.” Maybe she did it on purpose, or maybe God just wanted us to hear it, but, He was a daddy too, and He too lost His only child.

Because it was so cloudy and gross outside that afternoon, you couldn’t tell if it was day or night, but it seemed like we’d already been there an eternity when 1:15 rolled around and it was time to get things started.

As it was still two weeks before my due date (I was 37 weeks and 4 days, to be exact), my body wasn’t even slightly ready to give birth. My belly hadn’t dropped, there was zero dilation, no contractions, no effacement, zip. It looked like Grace hadn’t planned on making her grand entrance for quite a while; she would have probably come quite late. We were well aware that because my body wasn’t ready, this induction may not work, and we could potentially end up having to go home and try this again on a different date or have a c-section—both which sounded like ways to somehow make my worst nightmare even worse.

In a small way, though, we felt like that part of things was already taken care of. People were praying for this delivery to go smoothly, and we could already feel God working through those prayers. This induction was going to work. And I was going to deliver a baby—who was no longer living. I’ve never been more scared in my life, or dreaded anything as much as I dreaded what was ahead of me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Pregnancy

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him... My heart rejoices in the Lord." - 1 Samuel 1:27 & 2:1

First Trimester

From day one, I was blessed with the perfect pregnancy. I got an enormous thrill watching as the lines on those pregnancy tests to which I’d become so addicted got darker and darker each day. I often c
arried around the latest one in my purse so I could look at it whenever I wanted to smile. Of course, after we got to see an ultrasound of our baby and watch its heartbeat on the monitor for the first time at just six weeks into the pregnancy, I pretty much had a constant smile on my face from then on.

I never got any morning sickness, or tiredness, or mood swi
ngs, or problems. For the first 12 weeks, I honestly prayed to get nausea or sore boobs, just to have some sign that I was really pregnant! Because of the lack of physical symptoms, we were certain we were having a boy, and picked out a boy name and bedding!

Even without symptoms, though, I felt an incredible bond with this baby. I would take long walks outside and pray for it while holding my hand on my belly. At nine weeks, I rented a Doppler, and would liste
n to the baby’s heartbeat every couple of days, just to reassure me that it was healthy. And I would cry every single time, praising God. That heartbeat was—and is, to this day—the best sound I have ever heard. I’m sure it can only be topped by the sound of one’s own healthy, living newborn’s cry— a sound I’d gladly give my right arm to hear.

Second Trimester

My belly grew quicker than most—it was pretty obvious even to strangers that I was pregnant at three months. On Mother’s Day I walked into the Sunday school at my church where I volunteered, and one of the four-year-olds came up to me and put her hand on my belly and asked, "Are you having a baby?" I was SHOCKED! I thought it must be some sixth sense kids have, but later that week, a cashier at Whol
e Foods asked me if I was pregnant too (the same woman later asked me in my third trimester if I was having twins, so clearly she thought I was extra-large the entire time).

Besides my rapidly expanding abdomen, my first physical sign of pregnancy was a rambunctious flutter of kicks at only 16 weeks. They felt like little q-tips poking me from the inside—it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I fell completely in love with this little one so utterly dependent on me.

I researched everything about how to have a healthy pregnancy and lived it out like the perfectionist I am. Instead of buying pretty maternity clothes, we put our funds into making a more healthy life for our growing baby—we had come so far that we were determined to do this right. I ate 100% organic food, free-ran
ge meat, wild-caught seafood. I quit coffee cold-turkey as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and didn’t have even one caffeinated coffee my entire pregnancy. (And if you know me, you know that is a MAJOR sacrifice.) I used only natural cleaners, detergents, and even beauty products. Any possible risk of chemical contact was cut out— I never pumped gas in the car (VOCs), we threw away any plastic we could, and switched from a vinyl shower curtain to a cloth one. We planned for baby’s life outside the womb to be clean too —organic cloth diapers, organic crib mattress, and organic bassinet. We wanted our baby to start out life with a clean slate.

A Scare

One Saturday morning, at only 17 weeks, I was surprised to wake up to a rock-hard belly. Poking it, I realized it was doing this at regular intervals every few minutes: hard, soft, hard, soft. Freaked out, I did what any mother would do—turned to trusty Mr. Google and searched my symptoms. And of course, I saw only the worst stories, and suddenly feared I was having pre-term labor. We called my doctor for instructions. She informed us that we were probably going to lose the baby (!!!), and that I would have to wait it out. She told us not go to the ER because there would be nothing they could do to save a baby at such an early stage!

Horrible thoughts went through my mind—what if I can’t ever carry a baby to term? What if this is the only time I get to experience the joy of pregnancy? What if something is wr
ong with me? How on earth will I go on without this baby? I won’t want to live. I turned pale, became dizzy, and began to shake uncontrollably.

Jeff knew that such a mental state wasn’t good for me, so we sped to the ER—despite the doctor’s advice. Upon hearing about the emerge
ncy, my mom dropped everything and drove all the way from her house to the hospital, and while we were waiting, she put her hand on my belly and felt the baby give a firm kick! God was reassuring us that the baby was healthy in there, although probably a little annoyed at the contracting uterus tightening around her.

Three hours of worry later, we found that nothing at all was wrong! What I’d been having were “practice” (Braxton Hicks) contractions, which are totally normal. Just for reassurance, we were offered an ultrasound, and it was then that we were surprised to learn our little baby was a beautifully healthy girl.

I praised God with every part of my being, and didn’t stop. I’ve never been happier in my entire life as I was when I was pregn
ant with Grace.

When we first saw her, she was kicking and punching in there, and then she leaned back, put her hands behind her head and crossed her legs like she was chillin’ in a hammock. Not only did we get to see that she was healthy (10 fingers, 10 toes, everything in place and w
orking) but we got to see her being a drama queen. :)

Who Grace Was

Grace developed a distinctive personality from early on. We had felt led to pray – since before conception – that she would become a leader, and would bring God praise.

And from the way Grace act
ed in the womb, it seemed that she was already headed towards becoming that leader-type personality! Her kicks were strong, right from the beginning. When she moved, it was decisive, never sluggish. Sometimes she’d push so hard that I could distinctly make out a hand (right at my hip bone), or foot (in my side) and butt (way up near my ribs). She’d just hold it there, sometimes for a whole 30 seconds, as if she was testing the strength of her muscles. The last three months, she would kick so forcefully while I was working, that I would be forced to relax my abs and lean back in my desk chair to give her some room to play. It seemed like she was already bossing me around. We prepared ourselves for a headstrong child!

She was so beautiful, even on ultrasound. What a tiny, feminine nose and face. What a perfect beating heart.

Already a girly girl at just 21 weeks, crossing her legs like a little ballerina!

23 weeks, viability milestone! I was thrilled that she could now survive outside the womb if born!

And she loved music. Every day, I played her worship songs, and her body
moved miraculously to the rhythm. She loved songs loud, with strong beats, and with powerful crescendos! She would have a dance party and I would sing along! She really liked “Agnus Dei” by Darlene Zschech, “Hosanna” by Hillsong United, and “Your Name” by Phillips, Craig and Dean, all which, interestingly, sung praise directly to God (instead of just singing about Him). Her life was full of praise, cheer, excitement!

Her name, Grace Evangeline, was a direct reference to what God had laid on our hearts about her purpose. The word “grace” itself means to give something to someone without the intent to receive anyt
hing in return. Jesus himself offered all of humanity the ultimate gift of grace – he sacrificed his own life for our sins – so that we could live eternally with Him. The gratefulness we felt to God, and for Him blessing us with this precious daughter, led us to name her “Grace.” She was to reflect Him, and His forgiving, unending love! And she was to spread that exciting story of grace, thus the name “Evangeline,” which means “bearer of good news.”

We didn’t know at the time how soon she would live up to her name, or how her purpose would be fulfilled without ever having cried life’s first cry.

I knew the name Grace had become really popular as a middle name, and I’d even heard a few people mention they didn’t like it at all as a first name, so we shared it with only a few family members. The last thing we needed was criticism, when God had already called this name a done deal.

Third Trimester

Just think, for nine months of pregnancy, every minute you’re alive is about the baby. Eating, breathing, sleeping, living
– it was all for Grace. The idea of doing something solely for myself had become some distant memory. Budget? It was overhauled to include baby furniture, baby clothes, and extra food. To-do list? It was cleared for things like “buy breast pump, paint nursery, register at the hospital.” Spare time? It was filled with birthing classes, doctors visits, researching cloth diapers and vaccinations and baby sleep theories.

In August, we moved into a bigger rental townhouse (with its way bigger rent payment) just for Grace. And I gave up my beloved VW Beetle and bought a bigger brand new SUV, with room for a car seat, just for Grace. Our life turned upside down for her.

And it was heavenly. I loved having someone “around” all the time to communicate with. Working from home, I never felt alone – Grace was always with me! Food I ate or movements I made or noises around me all got responses from Grace. I felt like she was giving
me her opinion on things. I took videos of my belly as she shimmied and kicked and hiccupped in there. We were already the best of friends – I couldn’t wait to be her best friend throughout her childhood, as my mom was with me.

In late pregnancy, everything happened as it should: my hip bones spread as they were supposed to, I passed my glucose test with flying colors, I never got any stretch marks, I slept a solid nine hours of sleep every night, I was already producing breast milk, I took outside walks daily, and Grace’s heart would beat clear and strong every time we Dopplered it. Grace’s size always measured ahead—our little overachiever! I loved being huge and pregnant, it was something I’d waited my whole life to experience.
While some people hate being told they look big when pregnant, I was thrilled to hear that comment! (And boy was I big – I gained a total of 43 pounds when all was said and done, and I never did quite figure out how I gained so much.)

Me & God

With every passing day, I had this increasing peace that I couldn’t fully describe. Nothing could bother me (except maybe that one pregnancy side effect of being hot all the time), not even the debates about the upcoming elections, which would have made non-pregnant me blow a gasket. Part of it, I’m sure, was the nicely balanced hormone levels. But mostly, it was that I had been blessed with everything I could possibly want. I was living my dream life. I remembered the desperation I had felt just one year before, and realized that God had finally delivered me. I was living out his grand plan for me: I was the mother of Grace Evangeline Young.

The whole pregnancy
, God had walked alongside me. I’d felt his undeniable presence and purpose every second of my day. From the beginning to the very end of my pregnancy, He had guided me to read through the Old Testament, to learn about His character. As I read, I had cheered on Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and especially David, and learned more about God than I had in my entire lifetime. I wondered why I had never before realized how exciting the first half of the Bible was! God was working amazing miracles back then, and I marveled at how He was creating a current-day miracle inside me!

Weirdly, by the end of October, I had made it to the book of Job, the gut-wrenching story in which God allows Satan to kill all of Job’s children and steal his worldly possessions in one fell swoop. I felt so uneasy about reading that book during pregnancy, and I tried to speed-read through multiple chapters a day, hoping to finish it without dwelling too much on its sadness. I wanted to be reading Psalms by the time Grace was born, praising and rejoicing! But as God would have it, I only made it to the chapter right before God begins to speak to Job, the day before November 3.

Last picture taken while Grace was still alive

As I reached the finish line of the pregnancy, we readied the house for Grace’s arrival. We had our three baby showers, accumulated baby stuff, had the nursery painted, furniture ordered, and hospital bags packed. When I visited the doctors, I learned that Grace was head-down, ready to go at any time! I was giddy with excitement when Jeff installed the baby’s carseat in the car and set up the bassinet in our room – it was all real now; this was really happening!

I was so blissfully unaware.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Beginning

Ever since Grace died, I’ve had a horrible aching in my soul, a nagging feeling, urging me to write what I’ve gone through. From the very beginning, I have not wanted to. Sometime during the first week when I came home from the hospital empty-handed, someone wrote to me in a sympathy card that I should write down everything that was happening to me in a journal to later use as my story about God’s love, but I was very stubborn about NOT writing. I felt blank, numb, and later, angry and negative. Why would I ever want to look back on these days? Why would anyone else? Couldn’t we just erase this whole time completely? I wanted to go into a coma for a year, and wake up not remembering this whole thing.

But God allowed Grace to die for a reason. I do not believe death is of God – it is of sin, of Satan – but God did not intervene when the life of my innocent child was taken. He instead chose to redeem the situation. He’s making an ugly thing beautiful. He’s transforming my broken life right now. And that’s why His spirit is leading me to write. Everyone needs to know that our God is a loving God. And after everything I’ve been through, even now as I am currently miscarrying a baby that I’ve carried for eight weeks, I can still say that I trust Him.

Emotionally right now, I am low. But spiritually, I’m nuzzling in close to our God. My faith in Him is increasing. My joy in Him is increasing. He is present and at work. It’s exciting!

Many of you have written me, asking how I’m doing or how you can pray for me, and most of those emails go unanswered. So, I’m going to write my story here. There are so many pieces to this, from the events that occurred, to the emotions that I’ve experienced, to the things I’ve questioned. For now, I’ll just share the beginning of the story.

To tell the story of my baby Grace, I have to start in 2007, long before she was conceived.

Or maybe even further back… to childhood. You see, I’ve always felt an undeniably strong desire to be a mother – I’ve always felt like that was my purpose on earth, like that’s THE reason God made me. And I know that can sound cliché. But I feel like other women have big dreams – become president of the US, or they want to fight some major injustice in this cruel world, or start a successful business, or live a life full of thrills and excitement, or some other noble goal. All I’ve ever wanted to do is bring little souls into this world and love them like crazy. All my life, I could think of nothing that would be more fulfilling than bringing forth life, of your own flesh and blood, creating something brand new with the person you love, watching that absolute miracle grow, pouring every ounce of yourself into this child, teaching them, sacrificing of yourself for their good. I would willingly get stretch marks and gain weight for a baby, I’d willingly do bed rest if necessary; anything for the thrill of new life!

I lived my life to adulthood with that as my priority, my big plan. And everyone knew me as “the one who wanted to be a mommy.” On our wedding day, the shaving cream decorations on our getaway car read “9 months!”

I even chose my career because I could do it from home as a mom – writing and graphic design. And in the summer of 2007, after two years of marriage, I quit my full-time ad agency job to start my own design company. I quickly found clients and eased right into the work-from-home lifestyle. In September, Jeff and I agreed that it was time we started a family. Everything was falling right into place!

We began the journey to parenthood by asking God to bless it. Holding hands and praying aloud, tears of joy streamed down our faces. We had waited so long for this! As someone with a severe case of Type A personality, I went into baby planning with the same gusto as I went into wedding planning. I researched every bit of fertility info I could get my hands on. And every morning at 6 a.m., the alarm would go off and Jeff would stick a thermometer in my mouth so I could chart my temperature that day. (To this day, basal thermometers are my life.)

That month, we tried for the first time to conceive, and it didn’t work out. I cried despairingly for hours and hours after we got a negative pregnancy test, because I had a deep sinking feeling that we really had an infertility problem. That same day, Jeff mentioned to me that a doctor had told him years ago that he had a physical issue stemming from a surgery he had as a child that could potentially cause infertility. Immediately, I set us up for a meeting with a specialist.

He was tested, and the results were dismal. The doctors said his issue was so severe that he would need surgery or we’d have to undergo fertility treatments to get pregnant, that our odds of conceiving on our own were incredibly low. We were devastated. We feared trying for long periods of time with no hope, we feared IUIs, we feared IVF (which sounded impossible because it costs as much as a new car, and our insurance wouldn’t pay for fertility treatments), we feared the label “infertile,” we feared failure.

I actually wrote in my journal that I felt like my closest friend had died. The one thing I wanted more in life than anything else seemed unreachable. I was so depressed that my mom was worried about me being home alone, and made me come down and spend time with her, and we just drove around in the car, talking.

But after a week of prayer and a strong sense of God’s presence, Jeff and I decided to ask Him for a miracle. We wouldn’t move forward with treatments of any kind. It was the first time in my life I actually felt completely under God’s control, that I was fully allowing Him to do with me what He wanted. We would certainly do our part – living healthily, avoiding strenuous exercise since it’s bad for fertility, doing everything we knew of to enhance fertility: avoiding caffeine and alcohol, me drinking gallons of grapefruit juice/green tea/pomegranate juice and eating loads of fresh pineapple, eating plenty of wild salmon, Jeff taking fertility vitamins, taking cod liver oil, and more – and the creation of a baby was up to God.

In December, our fourth month of trying, I opened up the Old Testament to Deuteronomy, a section of the Bible I usually avoided for fear of boredom, and landed on this:

“If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young.”

In my journal that day, I wrote, “I have complete faith that God is going to bless us with children.” With His power, I had a peace I’d never known before.

And in February 2008, He blessed us with our first pregnancy. Nine short days after ovulation I took a test, which was negative. I had never tested that early before -- maybe I had an intuition? (I was addicted to taking cheap pregnancy tests that you could buy online for like 85 cents per piece, and because they were so cheap, I didn’t mind taking tons of them. And of course, every month, I’d spend hours analyzing each one under different lights hoping to see a line.) Only ten days after ovulation, I knew with almost perfect assurance that I was pregnant, and sure enough, I saw a faintest-of-faint pink line on my pregnancy test - and I was sure it was a line, for I had seen so many stark white negative tests in the last six months. Jeff wasn’t convinced. Calmly, he said he was only “about 80% sure” he saw a line, but didn’t want to jump to conclusions. (Meanwhile, I was about to internally combust.) So, I took a digital. In less than a minute, that glorious word popped up with as much confidence and drama a little digital contraption can muster. PREGNANT.

I screamed! Jumping up and down and skipping and squealing, I showed Jeff the test. We BOTH started bawling our eyes out, just hugging as tight as we could. How could this have happened?! What about the infertility?! Praise God above, praise Him, praise His Name! It was absolutely unreal. It was a miracle.

Jeff took me by the hand and led me to the living room. We knelt by the ottoman, and Jeff thanked God aloud and prayed for our little baby’s future. I continued to sob the happiest tears of my life. We had begun this journey almost six months before with a prayer, and we found ourselves praying once again as God came through.

Next, I began hearing songs playing, each with the word “baby” in it -- Jeff had created a “procreation” soundtrack. Haha! Mariah Carey’s “You’ll Always Be My Baby” came on first. :)

Not wanting the elation and surprise to simmer the tiniest bit before we shared the news, we began calling our parents right away. My mom was first. When I blurted out that I’d gotten a positive PG test, she sobbed and shrieked and used up every calorie of energy left in that body of hers (she’d been on a 40-day juice fast for lent). I *loved* hearing my mom cry (she never cries, not even at my wedding). She began praising God, saying she had never had one doubt that He would give us a child. She knew all along that that was the life He had planned for me. I used to think that the reaction of the parents in “Father of the Bride Part 2” seemed heavenly, but that was nothing compared to my mother’s uncontainable gladness.

But on Valentine’s Day, a week or so after, I began to miscarry.

To someone who has never experienced the excitement that is a positive pregnancy test, it’s hard to explain how overwhelming and depressing it is to miscarry only a short period later. How can you love a baby you didn’t know? How can you miss someone who never breathed a breath? I always used to wonder (or, sadly, scoff at) women who said they “knew” they were pregnant from the moment of conception. Now I understood. I’d felt unusually positive and confident in God’s power that entire cycle. I had known I was pregnant before I ever took a test. I believe that those feelings were me sensing the presence of the baby’s soul. From then on, I believed a baby’s soul is present from the moment of conception.

In our desperation to get pregnant again, we decided to go ahead with the surgery that doctors had long suggested for Jeff. (Although, I’m really not sure why we did it, since we now knew we could get pregnant on our own.) Doctors warned us, though, not to expect to see positive results (a.k.a. pregnancy) from the surgery for several months, because it takes at least three months for sperm to generate and thus respond to the surgery.

But, only three weeks later… we were pregnant. And this time, it stuck for the long haul.

(Yes, you are allowed to laugh, because we were back to trying only four days after Jeffrey’s surgery. We didn’t want to miss one single cycle, regardless of his physical pain—especially because we’d heard you’re extra fertile after a miscarriage!)

I ovulated on March 3, 2008, and just seven days later, I could sense the baby’s presence. Ignoring it, though, because the previous month’s loss had left me heartbroken and fearful, I tried to live as normally as possible. We rented movies to watch in the evenings, and one night, as we watched “Dan in Real Life,” I felt sure that I was pregnant. No real symptoms to speak of, just the feeling that another person was in the room with us. The next morning, I got that beautiful little line on a pregnancy test. The line was evidence of our little Grace in progress!

Our happiness and excitement were slightly restrained by what had just happened to us only weeks before. Our early pregnancy innocence had been stolen from us because of the miscarriage. But my wise mom told me to have faith, that this was real, and that I needed to put my pregnancy worries in God’s hands. Growing new life was God’s business, and it was up to Him now.

Deep down, I knew this pregnancy was meant to be. Worries of miscarriage quickly left my mind as faith took over. Almost right away, we started sharing the news that a baby was coming!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm back!

I've decided that from now on, this blog will be deeper, less about my work and more about me. I'll be removing it from my design website so that it won't be linked at all to my business anymore. I'm ready to talk about nitty gritty stuff! Stay tuned in the next few days for posts.

Until then, I just want to put up one last plug for Sugarcoat Paperie. I'm hosting a Giveaway this Thursday on the Etsy Greetings Team blog. Here are the details:

Looking for some fine art custom invitations and personalized notes on high-quality paper, printed with archival inks? Too busy to plan your party’s theme, or waiting for a spare moment to make some stationery yourself? Here’s your chance to get beautiful invitations/notes for free!

Sugarcoat Paperie is offering SIX invitations, notes, or greetings of your choice for FREE. Go to my shop at and find your top two favorite items (they don’t have to be cards). Comment on the Sugarcoat Pa
perie giveaway post at between June 18 and June 20, telling me the top two favorite items, and which thing in the shop you want to win. You will be entered twice if you mention this contest on your blog! Simply link to your blog when you enter the contest! Leave your comment on the Etsy Greetings blog Giveaway entry by 11:59 p.m. (PDT) Saturday, June 20. Winners will be chosen randomly & announced by me Monday morning June 22.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A break...

I'm going to take a little break from blogging for a few weeks. I need to rethink where this blog is going, and how much personal information I want to share. I love blogging, and actually want to do much more of it than I have been currently, but I'm not sure the way I want to go about it. So, I'm off to think!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A reminder about the upcoming Mother's Day

I don't think I'll get around to designing a Mother's Day card this year. I had lots of cute ideas, and even sketched them out, but each time I tried to finish one I'd start sobbing. I probably should have stuck with flowers and hearts instead of drawing mothers and babies...

But I did want to put up this reminder, at the very least: Please, please, please don't forget to celebrate ALL of the mothers in your life this year, not just your own.

Celebrate mothers who lost their babies - whether they lost their baby at six weeks of pregnancy or 41 weeks or at five years. If you are a mother, you know how real that baby is from the moment you find out you're pregnant. You sense that soul living inside you. You feel all the love in the world for that child and would sacrifice your very own life for it. In pregnancy, you spend every waking hour with your child, thinking about them, worrying about their well-being, hoping and dreaming and praying about their future. Every woman who has been pregnant is a mom. Celebrate her!

Celebrate adoptive mothers. Celebrate foster mothers. Celebrate women who acted as a mother to you in your life. Celebrate women who are pregnant. Celebrate godmothers. Celebrate your friends who are mothers.

I used to say all the time that "I'm not a card person." It's not really my "love language" to give gifts or remember holidays or birthdays, and never really felt that it was too important to send cards. But when my baby died in November, and cards flowed in by the hundreds, I realized what a meaningful thing card-giving really was. During that period of shock and deep sadness, going to the mailbox was the one thing I had to look forward to every day - a reason to get out of bed and stop crying. Now I'm a card person, hands down.

So, send cards to all the mothers in your life this Mother's Day. It will mean so much that you thought of them. Or give them corsages to wear to church on Sunday. Or just give them a hug and wish them a very happy Mother's day.

Here are some cute card ideas from Etsy:

from byvikINK

from InvitaPaperStudio

from Earmark

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Me... celebrate Earth day?

For most of my life, I rolled my eyes when Earth day rolled around. When I was a kid, I wasn't into the whole "save the whales" thing; I never had an obsession with dolphins; my back-to-school shopping never included buying recycled notebook paper. To me, saving the earth was some abstract idea meant to make people feel guilty, but I didn't think you could actually make any long-term difference as an individual.

Then I started thinking about getting pregnant. I wanted to be as healthy as possible for the new little one.

And stumbled on some great reading material: I started with Nourishing Traditions, which made me question everything I thought I knew about diet and health. Then I moved onto The Omnivore's Dilemma, which blew my mind. I suddenly realized that pesticides sprayed on some random strawberries in some random country, didn't just affect the bugs eating the strawberries. The farm workers were getting sick from the pesticides, the whole county nearby would get sick drinking the water that would run off the farm, the animals would ingest the pesticides and we'd end up eating those animals (and strawberries!), and somewhere along the line, even the soils would become unbalanced and unhealthy... Oh, and then there's the whole issue of the strawberries being shipped long distances, using up our fossil fuels, and polluting our air. And it isn't just some abstract person's air, it's MY air, the air we're all breathing.

I kept reading up on the subject, and landed on the book "The Complete Organic Pregnancy," and then completely turned my life around. No longer was I going to think about environment the same way. It wasn't just "the environment," it was MY environment! The things we wear, touch, slather on, eat, and breathe, can expose us all to toxins! So, I started using biodegradable cleaning products, healthy beauty products, started using glass instead of plastic (especially for food!), got an organic mattress for my baby's crib, now use a fabric shower curtain instead of vinyl, started eating only organic food, and the list continues!

Now, I look for ways to buy healthy, handmade, local products wherever and whenever I can. Buying a product directly from the person who made it is by far the healthiest consumer habit. Etsy is one of my favorite ways to do that. How is it healthier?
  • no involvement of a big factory, polluting our air and water
  • there's little to no waste involved : your item is only created when there's a need!
  • products on Etsy often use recycled or "upcycled" goods: meaning no outgassing of new plastics, no new materials made, nothing added to the landfill!
  • less packaging!!!! you didn't buy that item because of its flashy plastic container and label - you bought it because it was great in and of itself!
  • and the benefits are even more monumental for your kids: you can buy wooden or cloth toys (since plastics have been linked to cancer, hormone imbalances and more), clothes and bedding made from natural fabrics, etc!
I Etsy :)

(I mean, how could you pass up these cute little slippers from prettylittle, anyway?!)

(Or this fabulous purse from fiaz co?!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter 2009

Happy Easter, everyone.

My holiday highlights:
  • It felt wonderful to be back in my pre-pregnancy size, in a happy pastel (dress above, from jcrew).
  • It's so liberating to worship my God and thank him for the hope of salvation and oneday meeting with Him and my daughter again in heaven. Easter is by far the most hopeful of all holidays!
  • The weekend was extra special because it was the kick-off of a great new event that my husband has been working toward for years: the Grace Epidemic. Check it out!

My holiday low:

  • I had a hard time just thinking about how it would have been Grace Evangeline's first Easter, and how I would've done her blonde hair with a little velcro bow and had her wear the cutest ruffly outfit (that would've matched me and Jeffrey's outfit colors). I had so many fun things planned for her first year.... And it was incredibly hard yesterday at church seeing so many babies that were my baby's age.
I also wanted to take a second to share some new projects I've been working on. These are a few of the MANY I have on my plate:

New Salon Service Menu: This new menu folds to a perfect square. It's a very simple, sleek, no-nonsense kind of design - the kind that makes my heart sing! (Click images for a semi-closer look)

Turtle Birthday Invitation
: I created this custom design for a friend. Although I would have never thought to come up with a turtle design on my own, it was a fun challenge and now I'm selling it in my Etsy shop!

Coming in the next weeks: a new client website, Peacock wedding invitations, Mother's day cards, and more!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Robin's Egg Blue - Etsy Treasury

My treasury this week features a quintessential spring color. It's similar to Restoration Hardware's oh-so-popular "silver sage," but here it's traditionally called "robin's egg blue."




Friday, March 20, 2009

A year ago...

Happy first day of Spring!

I have to say, this week has been really hard for me. I'm missing my daughter like crazy. Last year at this time we had just recently found out we were expecting, and our lives just couldn't be happier. In early April, we visited the cherry blossom festival in D.C. with some friends, and I was filled with inspiration and joy! The picture above was taken during that trip. It brings back a flood of great memories.

I'm really trying to find comfort through this whole thing. A few friends have referred me to a great blog written by a woman who also lost a daughter last year. Her story is so heartbreaking, and yet so hopeful. If you read it, you'll be addicted to it just like me: Bring the Rain.

Right now, I'm working on wedding invitations and also trying to come up with some ideas for Mother's Day cards. I look forward to sharing some of those projects with you in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

logos, advertising, invitations... a design frenzy

Business is surprisingly booming for me lately, despite this crazy and unstable economy. I'm not sure, but I think the reason is that companies have discovered how to stay afloat in hard times— they market and market and market some more. If nothing else, you've got to keep the customers thinking about you.

A large chunk of my work lately has consisted of identity projects—new businesses looking to brand themselves, or established businesses aiming to shake things up. Here are a few of my latest logo designs : three photographers and one exciting non-profit (about which I will probably make an entire blog post later). Two consist of vintage graphics combined with other unique elements, and two are more modern illustrations I created from scratch. (click the image for a closer look)

I've got more on the docket too! If you're interested in logo design, please contact me via my website or convo me on Etsy.

Along the same lines, I've realized *I* need to continue to market myself. I'm trying to get my Etsy shop off the ground, so I've started looking for venues to advertise and network. Craft Cult gets a ton of hits, so that was my first choice for advertising this week.

And I've been spending spare seconds adding a few new things to the shop. Most recently, I took my stippled cupcake drawing and created a birthday invitation with it. It has a nice vintage feel, especially with its deliciously textured paper.