Why I March…

IMG_4614

Many of you know that we gave birth to this beautiful baby boy at 27 weeks last February.  This precious boy was 1 pound, 15 ounces at birth.  This picture is the first time I was finally able to see my little boy.  I was too sick to see him for the first 2 days.  He is 3 days old here.  Prematurity is near and dear to our hearts.  After spending 3 months in the NICU, we witnessed so much.  We were certainly blessed to have not only survived such an early birth, but to have thrived.  Many babies are surviving such young gestation because of the work of March of Dimes.  But, there are many that don’t and babies who struggle even more than my beloved boy.

In honor of these babies, I am marching in the March of Dimes walk to help raise money for babies who struggle with prematurity, babies born with birth defects, and to raise funds, awareness and research for early infant mortality.

I walk to honor my son.

I walk in memory of Baby Jesse Amandus.

I walk in Thanks to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and all of the hands who have played and continue to play a role in our journey.  They not only help us survive, but to thrive.  As always, a special shout out to CHN for all of the continued love and support.

If you or anyone you think may be interested in supporting our cause.  I invite you to visit our page (simply click on the link):

March for Babies

Thank You!!!

 

We’re all Here

IMG_6444

Almighty God,
bless this dear child,
born before his time,
yet made in your image
and perfect in your sight
and Father, we ask that if it be
Thy will, that this beautiful
infant grow stronger and
healthier with each passing day.
Give us, O Lord, the strength
to entrust to your care,
this precious little one
so very much beloved,
and grant us the grace
to pray as Jesus taught us,
that “Thy will be done”.
by: ukok

Friends,
I’d like to introduce a very special baby. His name is Jesse.

IMG_6413

Jesse was born last Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 4:25am weighing 1lb, 15oz. He only 24 weeks and 6 days to grow and develop inside his Mommy.  Today, Jesse is 1 week old, with a corrected age of 27 weeks and 6 days.  He’s a miracle.  He’s a fighter.  He’s a survivor.  I invite you to continue to pray for this precious baby boy and for those giving him care.

Church of the Holy Nativity, also known as CHN, had a Prayer Vigil for Jesse on Tuesday and we tied prayer knots in this blanket for him.  It now covers his isolette.  Each candle also represents someone praying for this amazing boy.  We want his mommies to know we are lifting them up in prayer as well.  I will update you as I get information, but for now please lift him up in prayer.

A Celebration and a Baptism

Announcement

Our story in a nutshell, but it’s so much more.

We had a beautiful celebratory Father’s Day weekend.  A first, for us!  Saturday we had a “Welcome Home” party in lieu of  a shower for our little miracle, our gift from God.  We are overwhelmed by the love and support people continue to give us as well as their presence at these events.  We are so blessed.

Shower1

Another mommy calming the wee one!

Shower17

Enjoying the festivities…as long as he’s constantly fed!  It truly amazes me how much this guy eats!  His favorite is still Mommy’s milk!  By the way, breastfeeders to be…I love these bottles!  They’re great for transitioning back and forth from bottle to boob or boob to bottle!

Christen1
Preparing for his baptism…

Come to me, come. Let the little children come.  Come and receive the kingdom of God.

May all of you find the blessings and promises of God as I have this first Father’s Day weekend.

Wow, sometimes the world just spins!

Dear Friends,

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog or been on line to check in with all of you.  As many of you know after struggling with infertility for quite some time, we were finally able to achieve pregnancy with IVF.  As happy as we were with the pregnancy, it was difficult for me to write about it, with so many I knew struggling with infertility still.  It still hurts that there are so many great moms and dads out there who are just waiting to fill their arms.

In that light, I thought I should share that my world changed in February.  I got very sick with HELLP syndrome rather quickly and they had to deliver the baby very early.  I was 27weeks 4days.  My baby boy came in to the world weighing 1lb 15oz. by emergent C-section.  I was so sick, I wasn’t able to see him until day 3.

Jonathan3

I cried when I finally saw him for the first time.  In fear, in relief, but mostly…in hope.  My beautiful church, CHN, held a Prayer Vigil 2 days after he was born…

IMG_4654

I wasn’t able to attend as sick as I was in the hospital, but my mom and sweet husband were able to, and brought back the bulletin so that I could read it.  Our beautiful Rev. Liz wrote a lovely prayer that still brings tears to my eyes:

“Gracious and all knowing God, We pray for your abundant blessings on this little newborn, Jonathan.  We look at this tiny baby and by faith we see:  Soft little ears that will one day hear and receive the message of God’s love and grace.  Precious little fingers that will one day reach out with acts of kindness to the world.  Cute little feet with tiny little toes that will one day bring blessings to the world.  Lord, we also see a tender tiny heart and tender tiny lungs.  We lift him to you, Lord God, and pray that you will sustain him in these very early days.  May this child always have an open heart to you and to your word, and may he grow up sure in the knowledge of your love and presence, all the days of his life.  All these things we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Today, my little preemie is 31 weeks 1day (we go by gestational age when they are preemies).  He is now weighing in at 1050gm or 2.5lb.  Almost all of those tubes you see have been discontinued.  We are working on helping him grow.  I’d like to ask for prayers for continued progress.

Jonathan42

Surprise!

BlessRide35

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Do you like surprises?  I generally like surprises, specially if they bring automatic joy.  Sometimes surprises bring uncertainty and shock.  That’s kind of what my Saturday was like. 

I got an email on Thursday afternoon that there would be an URGENT Executive Session of the Vestry this Saturday.  Now, I should preface that this is my third and final year on Vestry, and this has never happened before.  There was no other explanation, just a sense of urgency to be at the meeting.  I have to tell you, this left me with some anxiety regarding what this meeting would be about. 

I would like to tell you about my rector and priest at Church of the Holy Nativity, The Rev. Aimee Eyer-Delevett.  Yes, you can click on the link and her bio will appear, but that is not the same as hearing personal stories.  The first time I met Rev. Aimee in the Fall of 2007, I was trying sneak in to this little church that kept compelling me to “check it out” after I had moved to the area.  I tried to sneak in, but there is really no place to sneak in this church.  I did my best and sat in the middle near an elderly couple.  As the processional started, I noticed the priest was walking in, in sneakers.  Wow, I thought, this is a really casual church.  Now after the service, the lady next to me put her arm through mine and asked if I would have a cup of coffee with her. Now remember, I was trying to sneak in and sneak out…but who am I to tell sweet little Harriet, no?  Needless to say, I found myself sitting down to a cup of coffee.  As I sat people started sitting with me and introducing themselves and next thing I knew Adult Formation was starting.  (I can’t just get up and walk out in the middle of a “talk!”….I thought)  Well, so I stayed.  As I listened to the speaker, I realized she was familiar.  So I kept staring and staring until I placed her.  I had taken care of her before in the Cardiac ICU.  She looked great!  She was thriving!  Suddenly it dawned on me, connections, God brought me here.  I was already connected in so many ways to the body (the people) of this church.  Oh, and that strange priest that led the service in her sneakers…she was prepared for Crop Walk Sunday!  This was the beginning on my journey with CHN or Church of the Holy Nativity.

Through the years, as you might imagine, I’ve gotten to know Rev. Aimee so much more and on a much deeper level.  Not only is she my priest, but she is also my friend.  She has listened to my hopes, my fears, my struggles and has been there for the joys.  She provided my husband and I marriage counseling before our marriage.  She married us.  She blessed my womb before my first IVF and embryo transfer (that so many knew nothing about), and anointed me with oil.  What is special about Rev. Aimee, is that not only did she listen to my joys, challenges and hurts, but she shared hers as well.  Most certainly not all of them, but there is a vulnerability and authenticity that just exudes from her spirit.

Saturday morning, I found out that Rev. Aimee will be taking leave from her position at CHN as rector.  October 26th will be her last day with us.  She received a call from All Saints by the Sea in Montecito, CA to be their rector and accepted the call.  This is the letter that just went out to the parish (CHN).  We are so sad, but also know that God is working through Rev. Aimee, and that in our sorrow there is also hope.  Hope for us at CHN, but also hope for those at All Saints by the Sea.  As I said to Rev. Aimee, “I can only wish for you to grow and share your leadership, love and compassion to those who need you.”  Godspeed my dear, dear friend.  Know that you will be taking a piece of my heart with you, just as you are leaving a piece of yours.

Prayer2

 

Looking for Faith

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.  ~Mathew 21:22

Faith:  Complete trust and confidence in someone or something.  Belief that is not based on proof.

You may wonder why I’m reflecting on faith.  I’ve had a difficult time being still enough in body, mind, and heart to write these last few weeks.  It’s been a whirlwind rollercoaster with ups and downs.

Good Friday, April 18, 2014, really was a good day for me.  I went to the doctor’s office in the morning to have my pregnancy test.  I took Freddie (my dog) out when I got home, and while coming in was told that I had a flower delivery.  Really?  I wondered who on earth would send me flowers.  I got the package and opened the note.  My friend Karin had sent them to me with a note that said:  “Just because I’m thinking of you.”  I promptly burst into tears.

It was at this point that I began to wonder if I was pregnant.  I’ve never cried over flowers.  Gotten excited and full of smiles, yes.  Cried non-stop, not so much.  The phone rang at 11:50am and caller ID said it was FCI.  I’d never received a call so early with any lab results, so my first thought was “Oh no!  They need to do a re-draw.  Something was wrong with the specimen.”  “Hello?”  The other voice replied, “Congratulations!”  “Who is this?”  “It’s Fran, you’re pregnant!”  Me, I was speechless, and of course I started crying again.  I got off of the phone and texted my husband the great news, who was waiting at work with bated breath.  This is my very first pregnancy.  Ever.

It was Good Friday, and I had work to do as well.  I was to chant the Passion at CHN, my church.  It’s a beautiful service that ends in darkness and candlelight as we venerate the cross.

Veneration of the Cross

I did chant the Passion that night, and here at the foot of the cross Thanked Jesus for giving me life.  As I cried, my priest put her arm around me and I whispered, “I’m pregnant.”….and so we both cried and held each other.  Blessed.

Saturday, April 19th, came and with it The Great Easter Vigil.  We had no deacon this year, and I was honored to be asked to sing the Exultet, an opening proclamation of sorts, at our service at CHN.  I would like to share the words, so you can conceive what this newly-found pregnant woman was singing…

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our King.  Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.  Rejoice and be glad now, Mother church, and let your holy courts in radiant light resound with the praises of your people.  All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever, Amen.

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice to praise you, the invisible, almighty and eternal God, and your only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.  This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and lead them through the Red Sea on dry land.  This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.  This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.  How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.  How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away.  It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn.  It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.  How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.  Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor.  May it shine continually to drive away all darkness.  May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning – he who gives light to all creation, and who lives and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.

All I can say about that is Thank You.

Fast forward to Wednesday, April 30th, our first ultrasound.  I was exactly 6 weeks to the day.

Twins!  One embryo had a definite yolk sac and the other did not.  I was to return for another ultrasound in 1 week.

The heartbreak began on our anniversary, Wednesday, May 7th.  I should tell you that my best friend’s mother-in-law who was on hospice had just passed away, and her funeral was scheduled for this day.  I pray she finds restful peace.

My husband had a deposition this morning and I had to be at FCI for my repeat ultrasound to check on progress.  Afterwards, we were to head to the Northern Suburbs to be with our close friends/family to honor Anita, and show our love and support as well.  So, we went our separate ways to start, but I thank God that my husband was made it in time for the ultrasound.  Baby A did have a heartbeat detected by ultrasound.  You could see the movement, however baby A was 1 week behind in measurements for gestational age.  Baby B was not making any progress and there was still no yolk sac.  I am exactly 7 weeks here.  The bright white spot is the heartbeat.

We were taken into a conference room and told to be “cautiously optimistic.”  We are both medical people, and in our world, that translates to; prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Has anyone ever said this to you before?  We had naught a moment to be excited about our baby’s heartbeat, and we were okay with one, but now taking in the news that our pregnancy might not be sustainable.  The goal has never been to have multiples, but to just have a baby.

So here we are, it’s our wedding anniversary, we are filled with fear and sorrow for our pregnancy, and now we are on our way to a funeral.  No time to take it all in.  Just keep moving.  Just keep going.  This is the heart of my silence.  I just want to be strong.  I don’t want to tell you I’m falling apart inside.

I was told to come and see the doctor the following day.  When I got there, she decided to check and see how things were looking and to do another ultrasound.  I was alone this time.  My husband was at work.  Baby A still had a heartbeat seen on ultrasound, but it was a little slower, 94.  I was told we were walking on a tight-rope.  The ultrasound tech was already giving me advice about what to do should I lose the baby.  I finally said, I’m not giving up.  As long as this baby has a heartbeat, I’m not giving up.  They assured me that they weren’t either.  I cried for the entire rest of the day, while my dog, Freddie, licked my tears.

So here I am, looking for faith.  In 2 days I will be 8 weeks, and 1 day.  I am scheduled for another ultrasound and a visit with the doctor.  I need optimism.  I need prayers.  I’m anxious.  I need faith.  In my heart, I know that all will be well, that I can rise above whatever this journey brings. But also in my heart, I hope for a child to tell stories, to sing songs, and to laugh with.  I still feel that this is a divine pregnancy.  God is with me now, just as he was when we walked together through Lent.

and the Journey rolls on…

Well, my injections are well underway in preparation for the FET (frozen embryo transfer).

I wasn’t able to make the Ash Wednesday service at CHN (Church of the Holy Nativity), my home parish, so Rich and I decided to go to the 2pm Mass at Holy Name CathedralThe Frances Xavier Warde School along with their own Monsignor Dan Mayall, lead the mass.  I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be.  The gathering hymn was Lord of all Hopefulness.  Singing, I felt like I was brining all of my own hopes and dreams to the altar.

As the Right Reverend Jeffrey D. Lee said in his Ash Wednesday devotion, “This is a day about the pilgrim way we all walk together toward the waters of new life awaiting for us at Easter.  I feel as though at every turn, God is reminding me that new life is awaiting us at Easter.

To make it even more interesting, I was asked just this week, to sing the Exultet (an Easter proclamation) at The Great Vigil of Easter at CHN.  Normally, this would be done by the deacon, but since we do not have one at this time, I’ve been asked and given this great honor.  I can’t think of a better time to meditate on these words and learn this piece.

I leave you with my devotions today, focusing on scripture meaningful to me in times of difficulty.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so you also share in our comfort.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.