Sunday, June 27, 2010

my Amani

when I first got pregnant, there was a day when little mna looked at my belly and said "Amani! Amani!" i only recognized that word because i knew that word. it's a Kenyan word, and i only knew that because my sweet friend and college roomate, Raechel, moved to Kenya after college to work in a center for refugee women and the name of the center was Amani. i told my husband about the experience--could he have just named our baby?--and little man continued to say it at random times throughout my pregnancy.
tuesday morning we got in the car to go to get the ultrasound that would ultimately tell me that we had lost our baby. i woke up that morning already knowing what was going to happen, and i was terrified. the minute that we pulled out of the driveway, my son said "Amani!" over and over again for about a minute. and i wept.
so when we found out what had happened, my husband and I agreed that our baby's name is Amani, and it gave us comfort to think of our Amani up in heaven in the arms of God....

i knew my body still hadn't gone through the miscarriage. the baby, the sac, the placenta--everything in my uterus had to come out. my midwife told me that i would get labor contractions and that it would feel like childbirth, and be just as intense. i didn't quite believe her, but waited for some type of cramping to begin.

when it didn't, i decided to set a doctor's appointment to get a D&C, which is procedure where they give you anesthesia, dialate your cervix and use a device to suck and scrape everything out of your uterus. i usually prefer the most natural route, but at this point i just wanted it to all be over.

a girl that i know who had a miscarriage, and a D&C, told me that funeral homes will pick up the remains of the baby and cremate them for free. she and her husband had that done and they felt that burying the ashes gave them a bit of closure and peace. i decided that sounded nice, and planned to do so myself.
at the doctor's office, i was given a very thorough ultrasound. she told me that my body had already begun the process, and that the baby was already gone. i decided to go home and let my body finish what it had begun. i continued to rub clary sage and lavender oils on my belly at the urging of my doula, and drink red raspberry leaf tea day and night to prepare my uterus (red raspberry leaf tea is what i swear made my last labor so short, i drank it three times a day in my last trimester). by nighttime, contractions had began. i went to sleep, but at 3 am the intensity of the contractions began to wake me from my sleep. i was still able to sleep in between contractions. at 5 am i could no longer lay down, i had to get up and move my body into the positions that it told me to get in. as the pain intensified, it occurred to me that i didn't really know what i was trying to do. i had been so prepared for childbirth. i knew exactly what to expect, and exactly what to do at each point of labor. but now i didn't have a baby to push out. what was the point of this? was i supposed to eventually push? i needed a goal, and searched frantically on my iphone internet for some clue. for the first time i found first hand accounts of miscarriages and realized that it really is like childbirth for a lot of women who are further along. finally i found a woman that said a huge glob of something came out of her and then it was over. so i sat down on the toilet in the most intense pain that a human being can ever feel, and breathed through the ever intensifying contractions, told God over and over again that I couldn't handle it anymore, and waited for the huge glob. at 6:15 it finally came and I had officially labored (naturally) twice in my life. my entire body shook for 20 minutes and i cried because i didn't have a baby in my arms.
but i still had peace.
after my visit with the doctor, my husband called and what he said changed the course of my grieving: "this might sound weird, but i had this thought--this overwhelming feeling--that our baby isn't going to stay in heaven. the baby is going to be given back to us again!". Peace flooded over me like a waterfall, and I knew that was the reason that the baby was already gone in the ultrasound. i wasn't able to put it in the ground and close that chapter, because it isn't over. Amani is in heaven right now with my Father, being ministered to and loved on, and very soon (hopefully just a few months), I will have Amani back with me again. this might sound strange, but i believe it with all my heart. our next child's middle name might be Amani, to honor who he or she is, and the special journey they took back to the heart of the Father for a little while.

God has been amazingly gracious to me during this time. i keep using the words "comfort" and "strength" and "peace" because i don't have any better words to describe what i have felt these past few days. i would never have imagined i could feel those things during a time like this, but that's just the kind of Father that we have. i have been wrapped in His love, and i have not pushed it away. i have embraced it, and clinged to it for dear life.
and now I wait longingly for my Amani to return to me.

Amani means Peace.
how fitting

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

this is a broken heart

i'm the kind of person who retreats when i'm hurting. i don't do good with words. i do good alone in my head, and when i write. so i'm going to try to write and process this miscarriage, although i'm not entirely sure what to say yet.
it happens all the time, and yet i never thought it would happen to me. ever. i never even considered it. especially after my nearly perfect last pregnancy and birth. i'm healthy, i take care of myself...
I remember before i got pregnant with my son, one of our friends had a miscarriage in her 6th month. it was a surprise pregnancy. her two children were already 19 and 21, but she and her family and friends were ecstatic about this new little one. i felt sad for her, and kept her in my prayers, but my husband and I never really did much to show our condolences or to be there for her, or even to let her know how sorry we were. part of me just didn't know what to say, and the other part of me didn't know what a huge deal it is. when i got pregnant with my son I remembered what she had gone through and I finally got it, and I felt awful for my lack of concern for her. i still feel awful.

and this--experiencing it myself--it is crushing. i just didn't know it hurt this much--emotionally. the pain is overwhelming.

our sweet baby only made it to 8 weeks. i found this out at 16 weeks.
what hurts the most is that i had dreams in my heart for this baby. for four months i had been making plans, knowing that he or she would be born close to my son's 2nd birthday. i couldn't wait to watch him be a big brother and take care of his new little baby. we talked all day about the baby in mama's belly, and he knew to point to my belly and say baby and lift up my shirt and look for it. i knew when the baby would learn to sit up, and to crawl and to walk. i listened to songs about our growing family.
i loved this new baby. and i couldn't wait to hold it in my arms.
but now i won't hold this baby in my arms.
and that is devastating.

i don't think this blog post will ever communicate the pain that i am feeling. hope deferred makes the heart grow sick. my heart is VERY sick right now. my heart is very broken right now.

yet, through all of these feelings and emotions, i am finding so much strength in the Lord. my sweet sister said that i would feel everyones prayers, and she was right. i feel so much comfort. and somehow, my mind and heart are focusing on the truth. the truth is that
God is Sovereign.
He alone can restore my heart.
and He has already begun. I can literally feel my Father's arms around me at all times right now like never before. how does He do that? how can i feel anything but pain in a time like this? He knows my hurt and my pain. and He cares.
He is my Comforter.
and God alone is Lord over life. We can't control things no matter how much we want to. But decisions over life and death really are best left to Him. a friend shared this verse, which has meant a lot. Isaiah 57:1 explains "The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil." we can't know what the Lord was saving this baby from. and to think the God actually loves our children more than we do--it is impossible to comprehend, but at the same time such a wonderful thought. He really has their best interest at heart. He has our best interest at heart.
and while I might not ever get to hold this baby (in this life), the baby was born straight into Heaven! imagine that! straight into the arms of our Father. I can feel His arms around my baby just as I can feel His arms around me.

these are truths that i know and believe. i have trusted Him and clinged to Him more than i ever thought possible during this time. He alone can restore me. He alone.

and so i cry a lot of tears, and i keep praising God. it is all that I know to do. it is all that my hurting soul and my broken heart know to do.
i keep one song on repeat. it's by Hillsong, and some of the lyrics say:

In the quiet
in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of your presence
I know there I am restored....

In the chaos and confusion
I know You're Sovereign still
in the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

There is no one else for me
none but Jesus
crucified to set me free
now I live to bring Him praise

all of my HOPE
all of my STRENGTH
all my delight is in You, Lord

it is true. ALL my delight....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

green smoothie revolution!

have you heard about 'green smoothies'? This is the newest craze in our family.
They were developed by raw food pioneer, chef and auther, Victoria Boutenko, (wrote "Green Smoothie Revolution") and they provide endless health benefits! One of the most important things lacking from our diets is usually dark leafy greens. And once blended, they are even more easily digested by your system, allowing your body to get even more of the nutrients out of them (plus they are raw in the smoothie, not cooked so they retain all their nutritional value).

Ok, so here's some of the benefits of green smoothies, just to name a FEW:
1. According to Victoria Boutenko in her book, 12 Steps to Raw Foods, "when blended well, most of the cell walls in the greens and fruits are ruptured, making the valuable nutrients easy for the body to assimilate. Green smoothies literally start to get absorbed in your mouth."
2. They are full of fiber which is very important for good colon ecology and elimination of waste.
3. They are chlorophyll rich. Chlorophyll is the blood of the plant and it is the molecule that most closely resembles human blood. It purifies our blood. It fights bad breath and bad body odor. It is an immune enhancer. It can help to correct anemia. It will rejuvenate your body.
4. They give you much more than the minimal requirements of fruits and veggies recommended by the American Cancer Society.
5. They are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals.
6. They will help to bring down the acidity in your pH and make you more alkaline. Cancer does not grow in an alkaline body. In fact, most disease grows in an acid environment

There are so many ways you can make your green smoothie, so you should definitely experiment to find your favorites. As a general rule, start out using 40% greens (spinach, collard greens, romaine lettuce, kale greens....anything green!) and 60% fruit. But, I do have a suggestion for getting started. Actually it's how i make my smoothie every day. I use about a handful of spinach and 2 bananas and some water. Something about the bananas and the spinach makes it taste so smooth and almost like nothing. You can add honey or real maple syrup if you need it, or just add more banana. You might have to tinker with it to get it perfect.

***note: do not use spinach every day. spinach has phytates in it, which blocks the absorption of iron. (soy has the most phytates of anything ever, one of the 1,000 reasons not to drink/eat soy)
So try it if you are interested! You might not need your cup of coffee anymore in the morning from all the extra energy you'll have! Even Ndi LOVES them and begs for more!