Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Haiti PART 2, Hunger

Today Sawyer and I met up with Steve for lunch at one of our favorite Mexican places.  After we ate all that we wanted, I asked for a couple of boxes to take home the leftovers.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't throw food out- I always take home what I didn't finish.  My parents have instilled this quality in me from a young age; Waste not, Want not.  That statement never rang more truth than in Haiti. As I'm scraping every last grain of rice into our to-go box, I was stung with a memory that I shared with Steve and I felt like it needed its own post.

Over the duration of our 10 days in Haiti, 8 or so of us at a time would bag up beans & rice into gallon ziplock bags.  These bags would later be distributed throughout the week to different villages.  There were always a couple different local Haitians who would be out on the deck while we bagged up rice, sometimes one of them would help us bag, sometimes they'd just be passing through, sometimes they'd just sit and watch.  One of the last days that we were there, we needed to bag up some rice and beans because we were planning on making a distribution run that evening.  There was a Haitian man standing there next to the rice, ready to help us bag.  Me and one of the girls from our group started scooping out rice while he held the bags open for us.  We had a good little rhythm going.  He didn't speak any english, but I was able to get out of him that his name was Cinnie.  Cinnie looked like he was in his 60's or so, he was very thin & had kind eyes.  As we would break to grab more bags or rice, he still just stood there, waiting for us to return so that he could resume his position of holding the bags open for us.  This specific bagging time lasted maybe 20 minutes, we were done, and Cinnie still stood there.  It didn't appear to me that he was begging or expecting anything, I think maybe he just liked being part of the team.  One member of our group started to clean our work area, sweeping up the grains of rice that had fallen onto the dirty floor and all over the table.  He asked out loud to nobody in particular, "Do I just throw this rice out?"  I quickly answered him "No, I think Cinnie might like that rice."  Cinnie could only understand that I spoke his name, so he looked at me, and I was able to somewhat ask him if he wanted the rice that was being swept up. He almost looked ashamed when he barely nodded his head.  The rice was now gathered in a dirt pile on the cement floor.  All together, it was maybe 1/4 cup.  I grabbed a little sandwich-sized ziplock baggie and helped Cinnie pick up the rice among all the dirt and trash that was swept up.  First, by little handfuls, then, grain by grain.  At this time, I remember wishing that I could photograph this moment.  That single photograph could have defined a large portion of my trip.  As we finished putting the dirty rice into his baggy, he started to walk off. I told him to stop, I wanted him to have more than a 1/4 cup of dirty rice. I went into my backpack and took out all my leftover snacks- melted trail mix, half eaten bag of beef jerky, a couple Cliff bars & some Pringles.  He was certainly grateful, struggling to wrap them up in each other in order to make it easier to carry.  I told him to wait once again while I went to grab him a large bag to carry everything in.  When I came back with the bag, I watched him juggling the snacks, trying to slip them all safely into the bag.  I watched him and felt again that this would be an amazing photo.  I grabbed my camera and looked at him through the viewfinder and thats when he looked up at me.  I was stopped by his self-conscious glance before I could take the photo.  Looking at this scene through a lens almost cheapened it.  I couldn't take the photo. I felt his immediate embarrassment and quickly put my camera down.  At this point, he had finished fitting all the snacks and rice into his bag.  I walked over and put my arm around him, and asked "Photo?"  He smiled and nodded.  He understood that I was now taking a photo of the both of us together, as friends. As equals.

There was another day that we visited The Village Across the Lake.  This was maybe the most poverty-stricken village that we distributed food & clothing to.  Just getting across the salty lake was a challenge in itself, with an old wooden boat and a motor that wouldn't start.  We finally made our way across the lake and we each were trying to crawl safely out of the boat.  Once out of the boat, I noticed there were a few adult villagers and one little boy on shore watching us. It was a scene straight out of National Geographic magazine, yet completely different, because I was in this scene. I felt their hunger, I felt their desperation.  This little boy was about 3 years old, wearing only a pair of old, torn up underwear.  He also wore the markings of true malnutrition, orange hair and yellow eyes.  He was studying all these interesting looking white people unload bags of food.  He stood still on the trash covered beach next to an old wooden row boat.  I was now as still as he was, unable to look away.  It was yet another moment that I wish I could have captured on camera.  Although, I suppose there is no need for photos of images you'll never forget.

These experiences, among others, taught me that some things shouldn't be photographed.  They're too precious. Too beautiful. Too meaningful.

After explaining to Steve about my lack of pictures, he related it to Walter Mitty.  To quote the fictional character, photographer Sean O'Connell, "Beautiful things don't ask for attention.  Sometimes I don't take the photo. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like the distraction of the camera.  I just want to stay in it."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Haiti PART 1

I'm writing this for myself, but also for the people who really want to know how Haiti was.  I know there will be some that ask about my trip just out of courtesy and thats okay, but for the ones who really want to know what I experienced, these next few posts will have lots of honesty and details.

I'll start at the beginning;

When Steve and I arrived home from the hospital on July 4th last year after losing our Hazel, I was in an indescribable dark place.  That morning, I booked a cruise scheduled for a couple months later. I needed something to look forward to, I felt so disconnected from everything and everyone and felt that this time away with Steve would help me to feel refreshed and renewed.

It didn't.

I came home from that cruise feeling more empty than ever.  I was feeling discouraged and wondering if I would ever get out of this depression, wondering if I would ever feel whole again.  Thanksgiving was coming around the corner and I started to feel that need (as we all do) to give back.  I cleaned out my closet and donated a few boxes of clothes to a women's shelter.  It wasn't enough, I had a deep urge to do more.  We had gone to dinner with our friends Trudy & Fernando, and Trudy told me that she was going to Haiti with her church group on a mission trip for 10 days.  I felt like this was exactly what I was being led to, and asked if I could join them.  This was definitely out of my comfort zone, coming along with a bunch of strangers that belonged to a different church than me, knowing only one person, leaving my family and going to a third world country.  Looking back, I know that I was being pushed and guided in to making these arrangements.  This was where I needed to be and what I needed to do, and The Lord made sure that I met all the requirements to be there.

I wasn't exactly sure what we'd be doing once we got there, but I knew that I was where I needed to be, so I didn't stress over details.  In a broad statement; Over 10 days, we bought and packaged beans, rice & vegetable oil and distributed them to about 600 families in about 10 different villages. One bag of beans & rice would last a family for about a week.  We sorted through donated clothes for men, women & children and also distributed those to the villages. We went to schools and orphanages, sharing the story of Noah's Arc with the kids, playing with and loving on the kids, making bracelets with them out of fuzzy pipe cleaners & beads, and passing out cookies & water to them.  I'll be writing in more detail about a few of my defining experiences in separate posts.

The fist couple days, I was feeling alone.  Although all the people I went with were very nice, I was feeling a bit on the outside with never having attended their church, not knowing any of the songs they were singing, and their prayers being a little different from mine.  I longed for Steve and Sawyer and some familiarity. There was an adjustment period for sure.  After those first couple days, I realized that I was focusing too much on myself and on my comfort.  I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself.  I realized that the things we had in common clearly outnumbered our differences.  We were all praying to the same God, we all were there to serve our brothers & sisters in Christ, and the things I saw that broke my heart also left their hearts broken.  We were the same.  So, I learned their songs and I joined in their heartfelt prayers.  When I did that, my perspective changed.  I was now able to focus on the reason why I was there.

Hope House Orphanage:
Yvrose (EveRose) is the woman who started this orphanage.  I felt such a connection to her.  When she was married to her first husband, all she wanted was to be a mother.  They tried and tried for a child.  All their efforts left them with 12 miscarriages and no children.  Her husband left her because she was unable to carry a child.  She later re-married and began funding a school in Haiti.  At this school, she made sure that these kids ate at least one meal, never turning anyone away.  A lot of these kids walk miles and miles on Monday morning to get to school.  They attend their classes, but more importantly, they get fed.  When school lets out, these kids find a tree or bush close by and sleep there for the night.  They wake up, and go back to school and eat once again.  They do this all week until Friday when they walk the many miles back to their homes.  A lot of them don't eat again until Monday when they return to school.  Today, Yvrose has grown the school (with help of donations) that it now regularly educates and feeds about 500 students daily.

When Yvrose was preserved from the devastating earthquake in 2010, she gathered up children who needed to find their parents.  Those children that were unable to find their parents or next of kin, she kept them and started an orphanage.  Although, I don't feel like 'orphanage' is the correct term, its more like a family.  Today, she has 32 children who call her 'Mom'.  I believe the oldest is 26 and the youngest is just a few months old.  She  and her husband have 4 cribs in their room for the 4 youngest babies there.  This is a photo of me and the youngest.  I couldn't get enough of her.  I held her close and kissed her softly.  And just for a flash, I felt that I was holding my own Hazel.  I felt her with me in these tender moments.

Yvrose receives lots of opportunities to give.  There are women and children who frequently come to her asking for food.  At times, Yvrose only has enough to feed her family for tomorrow.  When she gets asked for food, her thought goes something like this "When someone comes to me asking me for food because they don't have anything to feed their family today, how can I turn them away?  I have food for tomorrow that I cannot, in good conscience, keep for myself when they have nothing today.  I give them my food that I'd been saving for tomorrow and trust in God that He will provide.  If we have no food, I simply tell my 32 children that we are fasting.  They never know that its because we don't have food."  She is in the process of building a large wholesale type farm.  That way, when someone comes to her for food, she can sell them (at a very low cost) some eggs so that they can turn around and sell those eggs for a profit and use that money to sustain their family.  This will help stimulate their economy and also enable Yvrose to keep her food for her 32 children. It was at this moment that I received a prompting that the donations that I received from my friends & family for this Haiti trip, needed to go to Yvrose.  I pulled her aside and let her know that her story had touched me and I was told that I needed to give this money to her for her to spend on whatever she felt most necessary. She squeezed me close and kissed my cheek and let me know that she would be praying for me.  This seemed to be the course of our entire stay: My heart would break for these Haitians who were starving, and they in turn would pray for me.  

One of the first nights we were there, I mentioned during our devotional that I was feeling extreme humility and guilt.  Why was I born where I was born?  Why was I given the materialistic items and the opportunities that I was given?  I didn't deserve any of it, and I was having a really hard time making sense of it all.  Another lady responded to me that yes, I was indeed blessed, but that I needed to take this next week to open my eyes to all the qualities that these people embodied and to ponder on that and realize where I was lacking.  That was one of the more difficult realities that I had to face.  I don't have their sense of community.  I don't have their faith in God.  I don't praise my Heavenly Father for every grain of rice I've been given.  I have lost sight of what is important in this life.  I've completely lost my way.  These people are so focused on survival, singing praises to our Lord, and feeding themselves and their neighbors.  I have my focus on comfort, appearances, and keeping up with the Jones'.  I am ashamed. I am embarrassed.  I am regretful.  And I am repentant.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I've been meaning to get these thoughts out in the open for the past 3 months.  I don't know why its taken me this long. I want so desperately to move on and typing this out means re-reading my journal entry from 3 months ago and its painful.  But, sometimes I don't want to let go of the grief because that's how I can keep her close.

July 4, 2015

Our sweet Hazel was born on July 3rd at 7:12am.  She was 17 weeks & 1 day old.  We said 'hello' and 'goodbye'.  I've never hurt so much in all my life.

On July 2nd at 3:00am, I woke to bleeding.  I was so scared, but had been bleeding previously throughout my pregnancy on & off.  So, I'd hoped that it was just another bleed from my subchorionic hemorrhage.  When Steve got up at 6:00, I told him what was happening & we both agreed that we should go to our doctor as soon as they opened.  When we arrived, they said Dr. Nolte wouldn't be in for another 2 hours and recommend we go to the ER, so we did.  There, we had an ultrasound and saw a healthy heartbeat but also saw that the placenta had a tear and that's what was causing the bleeding.  We also saw, for the first time, that this was indeed a girl.  Our Hazel.  Dr. Nolte soon came in feeling optimistic, saying to continue to take it easy.  We all felt that this would continue on to be a healthy pregnancy but knew we needed to cancel all future plans for the next few months, including Steve's Master's program.  He wasn't super disappointed about that.

That evening we decided to share with our families all that we'd learned that day, including the news of this baby being a girl.  We felt it was important to pray specifically for Hazel.  Overall, it was a good day. Until that evening.

I noticed that I was having slight cramps around 8:00pm and about 30 minutes later, they'd worked up to full contractions that took my breath away, coming every 3 minutes.  Unbearable pain.  Steve called my brother & he and his wife came to stay with Sawyer while Steve took me back to the ER.  The 45 minute drive to Roosevelt was horrible.  I'd never felt so much physical pain for such a long time.  The contractions would not ease up.  I was bleeding heavily through all my clothes.  My whole body clenched contracting without giving me a break.  Screaming in pain, I wanted to pass out.  I wanted to not feel.  And the thought of what was probably happening to Hazel was just too much.  When we finally got there, Steve wheeled me in and there was a kind nurse who quickly helped me get out of my bloody clothes and get me into a clean gown.  I'm so appreciative of the amazingly kind staff who helped us.  The ER doctor came in with an ultrasound and started to scan my belly.  When he said that he needed another tech to come in, I knew then that this was bad.  Steve told me that he saw the heartbeat on the screen which gave me a little bit of hope.  The tech finally arrived and started doing another ultrasound.  I was terrified to ask, but I had to, "Do you see a heartbeat?" Her response was less than casual and almost upbeat "Barely.  Its very very slow."  Maybe if she knew how badly we wanted this baby, her tone would have been different.  Maybe if she knew that we'd spent the last 10 years working toward getting pregnant, she would have been a little apologetic.

The ER doctor came in and said that they didn't want to have to tell anyone that their baby is dying, but thats what it looked like.  When he left the room, Dr. Nolte came in and said something similar, that this was very unexpected, but my body was trying to deliver this baby.  However, he said that they were going to do all that they could to keep her inside.  Looking back, he knew she was already gone at that point, but it was important to him that they do all they could to appease Steve & me.  I so appreciate that, he is such a good doctor.  For the next 6 hours or so, I laid in a decline position to get her to come back up into my uterus.  They gave me Morphine a couple times in the ER, but once they transferred me to OB, they gave me Demerol for the pain.  This drug was so powerful, it took away much of my ability to feel emotional pain.  They also gave me medicine to keep my uterus from contracting.  I mentioned to Steve "It may be silly of me, but I still have hope."  He felt the same way.

During those 6 hours, we were alone for most of it.  I told Steve he needed to talk to Hazel & that my heart was somewhat relieved when I rubbed her through my belly, so maybe it would help him too.  He came close, gently patting her and telling her that he wanted her to stay.  Through tears, he told her about her big brother Sawyer, her dog Lucy and our house & big yard.  He let her know that he wanted to watch her grow up.  I was feeling peace at this time.  It was just the 3 of us.  I also felt that if this was her time, all would be okay.  I remember telling Steve "She might be needed more on the other side." His painful response, "But I need her here."  I couldn't argue that.  I needed her here too.

Steve had called his folks earlier to come up & releive my brother and his wife so they could go home.  On their way into town, they stopped at the hospital and stayed with us through the wee hours of the morning.  They let us know that all the family was praying for us and wanted to remind me that baby Hazel was a fighter. I wanted so badly to share in their optimism.

About 3:30am, our doctor came in for what would be the last ultrasound.  Having so much faith in our doctor, Steve's dad shook his hand and said "You're our favorite person in the world."  The look that Dr. Nolte gave him in return said "I'm not."  That look confirmed the feelings that nobody wanted to face.  As soon as the ultrasound began, it felt dark.  He held the wand over her, holding very still.  I held my breath.  He held the wand still for what felt like an hour, just staring at the screen.  He finally spoke regretfully, "You guys.  Im not seeing a heartbeat."  It was over.  But at the same time, it was just beginning.  This nightmare was starting when hope was ending.

I asked Steve's parents if we could be alone.  They headed to our house to be with Sawyer when he would wake in just a couple hours.

At this point, our doctor gave us options.  I could deliver our baby, we could hold & spend time with her, or they could perform a D&C surgery to remove her and the placenta.  We decided that we wanted to meet our baby.  They gave me a medication that would allow me to deliver her.  At 7:00am, the doctor came in.  It was time.  With the assistance from our nurse, he started pulling on the baby & asked me to push.  I don't remember much from this time, but I do remember exactly what she felt like against my skin as soon as she came out.  I let out a painful scream, not because I was physically hurting, but because I knew she was no longer with me.  I wasn't carrying her anymore.  This was perhaps the most painful feeling of it all.  The umbilical cord was too short for him to lift her up to me. I wanted to see her.  I wanted to hold her.

When they got the cord clamped off and cut, the nurse wrapped her tiny body and while handing her to me, she whispered "She's so perfect."  She WAS perfect.  She was so tiny and delicate.  I couldn't believe that I'd been growing her.  Everyone stepped out, giving the 3 of us our privacy.  We bawled, mourning the loss of our sweet baby.  I couldn't help but feel so guilty.  I couldn't carry her anymore.  My body wouldn't allow it.  I turned to Steve, choking through my tears "I'm sorry! I'm so so sorry!"  He was broken and it was my fault.  He told me to stop, that I didn't have anything to apologize for.

We held our baby, telling her how much we loved her and how so very special she was.

After our short time with her, she was taken to the nursery for her hand & foot prints.  Later, a woman from the mortuary came and visited with us.  She was so kind, letting us know that they would keep and preserve Hazel for us as long as we needed, free of charge.  Also, that the tiny baby casket would be provided for us, free of charge.  We would be able to take our daughter and bury her wherever we wanted. What a blessing.

Now we're home. Everything feels different.  I'm always thinking about my little girl and what might have been.

These past few days have shown me that my love for Steve is greater than I ever thought I could have for anyone.  He has been so strong and gentle.  I couldn't have done this without him.  My love for him has grown more in the past few days than it has in the past 10 years.  He was meant for me and I continue to try and be the one for him.  The love that I have for Sawyer has also grown.  I cherish him and I want to savor the time I have with him.  Nothing in this life is more important than these 2 people.  I look forward to the day when I can see my baby Hazel again, when I can take her by the hand and tell her how I love her and how much I've missed her.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hazel Shumway

Hazel Shumway
Born: 7:12 AM on July 3rd 2015
Height: 7.25 inches
Weight: 4.3 ounces

My heart is broken, truly broken for the first time in my life.  It is not fair that a father should have to hope and pray for faith that one day he will be reunited with his precious baby girl.  It is not fair that I will never get to play with her, hold her, sing to her, go on daddy daughter dates, watch her grow up, hear her laugh and comfort her when she cries.  It is not fair that we don’t get to watch her grow into a beautiful young woman, and I feel that it is certainly not fair that a parent should ever have to bury their child.
Hazel, although you were only with us for 17 short weeks I hope you know how grateful your mom and I are for that time.  In that short time our love grew deeper for our family and our love for you was instant.  Without ever having met you, so many prayers, thoughts and dreams were in your behalf.  It is amazing the love that parents have for their children; it is the true meaning of unconditional love.
July 2nd and 3rd were the hardest days of my life and even though they were hard I can now look back and see a few tender mercies from the Lord.
 #1: July 2nd; After our first scare that morning when Amy started bleeding, we went to the ER to see what was wrong.  The Dr. told us that Amy had a placenta abruption which was bad but not life threatening.  While they were performing the ultra sound the technician asked if we knew the sex of our baby.  We said we didn’t and asked if the technician had a good enough image to tell us what we were having.  She looks around for a second and then told us that she was 98% sure that we were having a girl.  Our sweet baby Hazel, we were so excited!  Finally knowing that this was our Hazel we called our families to ask them to fast and pray specifically for Amy and Hazel.  I feel that this was our first tender mercy, allowing us to know that we had a baby girl.
#2: Watching and hearing Amy go through pre-term labor was one of the worst things that I have ever had to experience.  As we are racing back to the ER Amy was in the worst pain that I had ever seen her in, so many tears and so much blood that I didn’t know what to say or think.  The ER Dr. gave us the bad news that Amy’s body was trying to deliver Hazel; although his bed side manner wasn’t the best, he did speak the truth.  Dr. Nolte finally came in and said there were a few things that we could try in order to help baby Hazel.  We tried them all and unfortunately at 3:00 AM on July 3rd baby Hazel had finished her earthly trial.  Devastation, broken hearted and with tear filled eyes we looked at the monitor, at our baby that no longer had a heartbeat.  We gained our composure and told Dr. Nolte we wanted to have time with our baby, so he helped Amy’s body finish the delivery.  At 7:12 AM July 3rd our precious baby Hazel was delivered.  Although our time with her was short this was our second tender mercy.  Allowing us to hold her, cry over her, physically tell her that we loved her and pray over her.  This time, even though it was short, was priceless.  
#3: With broken hearts and souls, we watched as they took our sweet Hazel from us.  The nurse took her in order to make molds of her hands, feet and face, truly a tender mercy to be able to have those for the rest of our lives.
#4: After the delivery, Amy was later wheeled into surgery to remove what her body didn’t naturally deliver.  Not only was this surgery and delivery excruciatingly painful physically, it had the same effect spiritually.  With so much going on we didn’t even think about how Hazel would be buried.  After talking to Mom and Dad Wharton, we knew that we wanted to take Hazel to a special place and bury her body with the proper respect.  We were worried that this would not be allowed, but another tender mercy from the Lord came when we were told we could bury her where we wanted, which is at the only home she ever lived. 
These have been two of the worst days of my life, but they have had small moments in them that have helped Amy and I deal with the worst nightmare we could ever imagine.  Family and friends have been amazing with their support and prayers.  Mom and Dad Shumway came out to watch Sawyer as well as Dalton and Katelynn.  We’ve received so many texts, emails and voicemails from family and friends wanting to help.  Truly though, the one thing we needed most at the end of this day was to hold Sawyer in our arms and shower him with hugs and kisses.  I don’t know why Hazel was taken from us.  I don’t know why our biggest challenge is having a family.  But I do know there would be no way I could handle these trials if it were not for the faith, strength and love of my sweet Amy.  She is such a special person that I don’t deserve, she is so strong, so thoughtful and so caring.  Amy is my heart and soul and it is only with her by my side that I can get through this life.  I love her so dearly, I love my sweet Sawyer more than I can even begin to explain and I will forever love my sweet Hazel whom I was blessed to hold for a short time.  I know God lives and he is real and because of our Savior Jesus Christ and His sacrifice I will be able to one day see, hold and love on my daughter Hazel again.       

Friday, June 5, 2015

IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization)

Steve and I have been trying to get pregnant for nine years.  Two & 1/2 years ago we decided to pursue IVF because we had exhausted all other fertility avenues. This was the next & final step. We filled out some paperwork & made an appointment for our first visit with an IVF doctor.  Immediately after our appointment was set, we both felt confused, lost & that we weren't doing the right thing.  That was the first time that we both felt right about adoption. I cancelled our IVF appointment and instead filled out & submitted our adoption paperwork.  Five months later, we brought home the most perfect baby boy. To read Sawyer's story, click here:

When Sawyer was 18 months old, we started to think about baby #2.  I had never given up on the dream of being able to conceive and carry a child, I always felt that we would be able to have children.  With those lingering feelings, we made an appointment with the Utah Fertility Center.  We met with Dr. Foulk and he thought that we would be great candidates for IVF.  I said "Great, lets get started ASAP!"  Months beforehand, we started to save the $15,000 that it would take for our IVF procedure.  I started a small business of making clothes for babies and kids and diligently saved every dime for our medical bills that I knew would be coming our way, as our insurance doesn't cover anything to do with infertility. We finally had enough saved through lots of support of friends, family & strangers.

In the following weeks, we received our medications & I started injecting myself daily with hormones. I'd make the 6 hour round trip drive to the doctor so they could check my hormone levels and monitor me via ultrasound. More injections, more blood draws, more driving back & forth. 

March 18: It was finally my egg retrieval day! This is the day that they extract all the eggs that I had been growing with the help of all the hormones. They were able to get 17 eggs! 17! I was so ecstatic!

March 19: Of the 17 eggs that were retrieved, 16 were injected with Steve's sperm & 15 of them had become embryos. The nurse was very pleased with those results.

March 23: Transfer day! Of the 15 embryos, they took two of the biggest and best and implanted them in my uterus.  The other 13 remain in the incubator and will hopefully grow enough that we can freeze them for future use.  We were SO excited about these 2 little miracle embryos and were praying that they would both attach so we could have twins.  After they implant the embryos, I had to lay very still for about 15 minutes.  Steve took Sawyer out of the room to let him run around and as the doctor was walking out of the room, he laid his hand on my stomach and pointed upward saying "Its all up to Him, now." As I was alone with my thoughts, I completely broke down realizing that I had no control over this situation. I prayed, begging my Heavenly Father for this to work.  I wanted both of these babies.  We would find out in 10 days if this worked, queue the longest 10 days of my life.

March 24: Got the call from the doctor's office that none of my other embryos progressed to the point that they'd be able to freeze them. Zero. That was our safety net.  If this time didn't work, at least we'd be able to dip into the freezer and try again.  But that backup plan is gone now. I sobbed, was inconsolable. 

March 30: Today I prayed harder than I think I'd ever prayed in my life. I begged the Lord to send me the souls of these 2 babies that were inside me. I want them both. They are my children that I was afraid I'd never have, and now they're inside me, and all I want to do is hold onto them. Both. Please, please, please let me keep these babies.  But if not, please help me through it. Ultimately, I know that Your plan is better than my dream.

April 2:  Its been 10 days!! Today is the day! We got the call, POSITIVE!! My HCG number was over 400 which is very high. High enough to support my hope for twins. It happened! I couldn't believe it, we were going to have our two babies that we've been praying for.  We won't know for sure till our 7 week ultrasound, but I was so sure they were both still in there.

April 24:  Today we had our very first ultrasound. The nurse came in and right away found a baby. The cutest little blob I've ever seen.  She asked me if I had had any bleeding. I told her that I hadn't and that I had been feeling great, just a little tired.  As she continued to look at the screen, I asked "Is there just one?" She immediately responded "Yep, I only see one in there and here's the heartbeat."  Such a flood of emotion came over me. I felt like I had lost a child, but at the same time I'm listening to the most beautiful heartbeat.  She then informed me that I had a Subchorionic Hemorrhage and that I needed to be on 'pelvic rest.' I asked "Wait, what does that mean? Subchor.... hemorrhage, what? What is that? And what does pelvic rest mean?" She let me know that it was a small pool of blood between the placenta and the uterus and that we shouldn't have intercourse, I shouldn't be working out and I shouldn't lift more than 10 pounds... and with that tidbit of info, she left the room.  Immediately I became unglued.  I realize that this may sound ungrateful, but I was so sure that both of our babies were there. I prayed and begged God for these babies, I was so hurt that He didn't answer my prayers. And not only did I lose a baby but now I'm scared of losing the other one due to this bleed that was inside.  On top of everything, I had completely ruined this experience for Steve. This was the first time that we had heard our baby's heartbeat and I was completely devastated. It was such a hard day for me, and I was feeling so guilty for not joining Steve in his excitement. I was scared to be happy, I might lose this baby.

May 2:  Started bleeding for the first time, I was so sure I was miscarrying.  We spent the whole day waiting on doctors & nurses, and then the rest of the day in the ER.  This was the first time that I witnessed Steve's fear and vulnerability during this whole process. We were scared that we were losing this baby we'd waited so long and worked so hard for.  We finally got back to the ultrasound room at the hospital and heard a heartbeat! The baby was fine, but my bleed had grown and was active and now bleeding out.

Over the next few weeks, I was on bed rest. I only got up to go to the bathroom. I couldn't pick up Sawyer, I couldn't even walk upstairs to his room to say his nightly prayers with him.  It was incredibly hard when all I could do is lay around feeling sorry for myself.  During this time, I had amazing friends and family members step up to the plate, taking Sawyer every day, bringing us food & offering to clean my house. Seriously, its truly humbling to be in that situation, unable to do anything for yourself or your family. I'm truly blessed with the most amazing friends and family members. Thank you so much, you know who you are. I'll never be able to repay you.  Steve brought his A game and took over all the mom duties after each day of his own work. Sawyer and I even stayed a week at Steve's parent's house and everyone pitched in there watching Sawyer and feeding me.  My mom flew out and stayed for a week which was so great.  So many acts of service from so many incredible people.

I graduated from the Fertility Center and was released to my OB which was such a big step! My bleed had gone from 5cm down to 2cm. Dr. Foulk reassured me "Just make it to 12 weeks. If you get to 12 weeks, your chances of miscarriage drop below 2%"  Less than 2%?! I'll take it!

May 28: First OB appointment: I had my 12 week ultrasound today!! We see the heartbeat and that sweet little baby dancing around.  I made it! My first milestone! My bleed has gone down to 1cm now, so its still continuing to shrink and heal. He says I don't need to be laying around anymore, I can get up and walk around. However, I still need to be on pelvic rest till my next appointment which is in 3 weeks. Those dreaded words. Steve's not going to be happy, add those 3 weeks, that makes 9 weeks of this 'friendship' that we've had...
I'm able to keep Sawyer home with me now which is such an amazing blessing. I've missed fighting him to change his diaper & cleaning up after his messes. Its funny how things are put into perspective when you have bigger fish to fry.

We are still taking things day by day, I panic just a little every time I have a cramp.  We are so grateful for getting this far, though.  I feel better now that I'm 13 weeks, but still feeling like we aren't quite outta the woods. 

I am so incredibly grateful for this baby that I get to grow.  I know there's a reason that both the embryos didn't attach. I don't know what that reason is, but I'm okay with that. After all, I know that His plan is better than my dream.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Holidays

Christmas Eve afternoon, we went sledding with Steve's two cousins and their families. It was so much fun! Sawyer wasn't too impressed by racing down the hill, but he wasn't upset about it either.

 This was our first Christmas with the 3 of us, and it was awesome.  We decided to have our family's Christmas on Christmas Eve since we'd be with the Shumways on the 25th.  I woke up to get Sawyer and to my surprise, Santa had come in the night! Steve is just so cute when it comes to the holidays and presents, he gets so excited. We each had our gift pile from Santa all set up.  So we made breakfast tacos after our workout, and then opened our presents. 
  Steve and I gave an old rocking horse a makeover for Sawyer. He's still pretty shaky on it, but I think he'll love it once he is able to balance. He loves to rock back and forth while he sits.

 We were surprised that Sawyer unwrapped his blocks with just a little help.  I can't wait for him to get excited for his birthday, presents & Santa.

 It was such a great Christmas, we can't wait to continue in our own family's traditions in years to come.

 So many facial expressions on this dude. He's so fun & completes us in countless ways!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Best of Days

This year's Thanksgiving will be the most memorable one.

Steve and I were sealed to Sawyer for all eternity in the Manti LDS temple.  That morning as we were getting ready for one of the biggest days of our lives, I could feel tensions growing between Steve and me, just as they do every other time we plan to go to the temple. I really felt the adversary working on us. I think we both realized what was happening and quickly changed our moods. We hurried out the door with our temple bags & Sawyer in hand and started on the drive down to Manti with my parents and brother in tow.  As we pulled up I started feeling anxious, I felt similar butterflies on our wedding day.  We greeted a few family members and friends before the three of us were taken to our dressing rooms.

Before entering the sealing room, Steve and I were dressed in white, hand in hand, sitting on a little bench in the hall waiting for certificates to be signed and such.  The feeling came, almost as if it were spoken to me "If you had children the way that you wanted, you would have missed this." It was at that moment that I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for this heavy trial that we've endured all these years.  I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me, it is so much better than what I had planned for myself.

It was now time for us to move into the sealing room.  This was the exact room that Steve and I were married in almost 8 years earlier.  I felt so much warmth as our closest friends and family members trickled into the room with us.  The Sealer had such an understanding of the trial that we've bared and spoke sweet words of council as we embark on this journey of parenthood.  As Sawyer was brought in dressed all in white, the mood of the room shifted suddenly and I felt like I was home. I've never been moved to tears as I was in that moment.  During the ceremony, it was as if Sawyer knew more of what was happening than we did.  Sawyer was alert and had locked eyes with the Sealer, and when the words were spoken "I seal you to your father", Sawyer immediately placed his hand on Steve's arm, like he fully understood the words that were being spoken. 

After the sealing ceremony, my dad held me close and whispered "The Lord kept His promise, didn't He." The feelings that I had felt for so many years of being forgotten, deserted and ignored have been gone for some time, but as I heard the words of my Dad, I really felt reclaimed by my Savior.  When I got to embrace my best friend, who is in the middle of her own infertility storm, I felt our souls touch. I felt the pain of her burden that is kindred to mine. I wanted to tell her to just keep moving forward, do all that you can do, go until you cant go anymore, and there will be a sweet reward at the end. But I didn't need to speak at all, I know she felt everything I felt.

The day was absolutely perfect.  I have been blessed far greater than I deserve and I will never forget my feelings of completeness.

For anyone that wants to know more about our church's temples and how you can become a forever family, please visit:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Favs

A favorite Halloween tradition- going to see Thriller with Tyson & Ashley.  Such a great show, it kicks off our Fall festivities!

We went out to a corn maze in Bluebell, Ut. It was my first time going to one of these, and honestly, I wasn't super impressed and felt that the $17 admission charge for us to walk around was kinda ridic. But, it provided me an opportunity to use my new camera that Steve got me. Editing these bad boys was worth it.

Stumbled across some goats at the maze. Love me some farm animals.

How beautiful are these tress' changing leaves?? We had such a fun date night with our besties walking around old neighborhood streets of SLC.  I just about died seeing all the beautiful architecture of the homes that were built in the 1800's. If we could buy a home here, my life would be complete.

The best thing about Fall? Sawyer gets to wear all his hats!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Crafternoon

Something about me: I love cardigans. If I find one that I love, I buy it in every color. There's something about adding that extra layer that makes me feel complete. Sooo, when I found a tutorial for a baby cardigan, I was all over it. I bought some white onsies, dye (I would have preferred grey but they were sold out, so I went with denim blue), and binding and then went to town. I already had a plethora of buttons at home, so I didn't need to purchase those. It really didn't take long to finish this little gem:

And to make it Sunday appropriate, all you need to add is a bow tie!

Sawyer has tons of bow ties, so I thought he may need an actual tie.  I don't love the clip-on's that seem to be so popular on the little guys, so I was excited that I could make him this one from one of Steve's old mission ties:

You just need someone who knows how to tie a tie, and then sew on some elastic. Super duper easy.

A special thanks to Sawyer for being such a happy male model for me today.