Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday

Thursday, December 18, 2008 - Just a normal day for most people and it was normal for me up until my OBGYN visit that afternoon. "Fluid looks a little low. Maybe you are dehydrated or maybe it is something else. Let's wait a couple of weeks and let you come back to be checked again." Needless to say, I was concerned and worried about my low fluid for the next 12 days.

Little did I know that those 12 days would be the last 12 days where the excitement of a pending arrival and the joys of Christmas filled my heart with happiness. It is hard to believe that almost 1 year has passed since our happy little world came crashing down.

It is so weird to feel guilty because I've had a "good" day meaning that I didn't get emotional at some point or didn't sit aimlessly for hours doing nothing but think of her and the what-ifs. I've gotten good at giving advice and even deflecting unwanted attention or comments with just a simple (albeit rehearsed) statement.

But really nothing helps erase the memories of last Christmas season.... The thrill of knowing that THIS Christmas would be spent with the newest member of our family. Making memories with her, buying gifts for her that she wouldn't remember receiving, taking her first picture with Santa, toting her to all of the holiday events, playing "pass the baby" at family Christmas', reading the Christmas story to her like I had heard so many Christmas' with my family, starting traditions with our little family that would last a lifetime.

None of that will happen this Christmas and it is a painful time to reflect upon what we are obviously missing this season.

What we do have is the hope and assurance in our Lord, Jesus Christ who was born to a young woman (no doubt nervous and apprehensive about her responsibilities as a new mother) and a working class man (who was probably just as nervous about providing for his new wife who had conceived in an impossible way) almost 2000 years ago. This trusting couple's long roadtrip ended in a cancelled reservation and less than appealing accomodations that even some animals would snub their noses at. Mary was probably tired, achy, irritable, swollen and ready to have her baby (Ladies, can you relate?) And in that miraculous night a perfect baby was born and that baby grew to become the most influential person to ever have walked the Earth. Jesus Christ willingly gave His life for me so that I could one day be with Him in Heaven. And now He holds in His loving arms my sweet baby, Lizzy Ann. My spirit seems very broken during these darker days but I am so grateful for His sacrifice that allows me to see her again one day.

We are so thankful for each of you who have loved us, prayed for us and held us up this past year. I cannot believe that a year has passed and we are now facing the 1st anniversaries of many horrible days. I cannot write this post without hearing my anthem play in my head...

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

-Casting Crowns

Praying for a Merry Christmas for each of you. Love you all so very much.

-Johnna

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alaska

Just getting back from Alaska and finally feeling like I'm on Alabama time!! Will post photos soon.
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones!
Johnna

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friends

Please keep my friends, Preston and Janelle Hite, in your prayers. They moved to China this summer for Preston to teach music and found out that they were expecting triplets. Janelle and their young son, Logan, came back to the states a few weeks ago so she could go on bed rest. Unexpectedly, Janelle went into labor on Friday night at 24 weeks and 4 days. Preston came home immediately but did not make it in time for the births of their babies.

Nathan - 1 lb. 9 oz; Owen - 1 lb. 6 oz; Amelia Marie - 1 lb. 6 oz.

Nathan and Owen are hanging in there but sadly Amelia Marie was just not strong enough to stay with her family. She is a sweet angel now and I know that Janelle and Preston's hearts must be broken.

Because of our experience this past year, my heart aches in a way I've never known each time I hear of someone who is going through the aftermath of loosing a child. Truthfully, I haven't seen Preston or Janelle in many years but I've followed their journeys via their blog recently and I know that they will need many many many prayers in the coming months.

Thank you all.

Love you,
Johnna

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Exciting News

Just a few weeks ago, Jeremy and I were asked to be the Shoals Area Ambassador Family for the 2010 March of Dimes March for Babies. This is a charity close to our hearts and we were so honored to be asked to help with their big fundraiser!!

Jeremy is doing his part to garner support from area businesses and institutions. He is so good at talking to people and telling our story so I'm thankful that God has placed this opportunity in our life!

It's a far-fetched wish but I hope that the MOD can continue to develop research and cures for birth defects like Lizzy Ann's. No parent should ever hear the news we heard on December 30, 2008 and the MOD is continuing to make developments in the treatment of birth defects while babies are in-utero so that can be changed for all families.

We are in the very beginning stages of this great event but we would like to ask for your prayers and support as we do what we feel is God's will for us as Lizzy Ann's parents. Every phone call we make or personal email we send in an effort to raise money for the MOD will be in honor of our precious girl. Her life on earth was brief but her legacy will be one that leads to starting healthy lives for thousands of other babies born in our area.

Other news....

Work. Work. Work. and a little more Work. This time of year is always busy for a band director and Jeremy stays busy with his classes, committee work, consultant status and research. We are very thankful to have great jobs in this economy so we will NOT complain about working!! I was asked to teach a few lessons again at UNA (bassoon) so I'm excited about that starting up next week. After Christmas 2008, I really didn't play my bassoon at all until a few weeks ago. That's the absolute longest I've ever put it down but I needed that time to just not think about music. Happy to get back to playing and performing.

We are taking a break in November to go to Alaska. Our friends, the Lynch's, moved there in July and we wanted to go visit them and see the beautiful Alaskan scenery. I am slightly concerned about the weather while we will be there because I'm pretty cold-natured and I may turn into a popsicle while I'm there!! I've researched heated underwear but it would be my luck to get a short it my shorts while out skiing or something. I did purchase a few hats, gloves and earmuffs at TJMaxx yesterday so maybe I'll be warm-enough!

One more soapbox.... :)

For a long time now, I've been conscious about removing a word from my vocabulary that is now common vernacular for silly, stupid, dumb, funny, etc... and it's the r-word (i.e. "retard" or "retarded"). I've listened to students say if for too long and over the past few years I've outlawed it in my presence. Today, I had a student bust out with the r-word in the middle of a class and I was SHOCKED at the number of kids that just didn't care that it was an inappropriate term. So now, I'm on the warpath to ELIMINATE this word from the vocabulary of the students at my school. I pledged my support to "Spreading the Word to End the Word" at www.r-word.org and I would ask you to do the same.

I want to encourage EVERYONE to stop using the r-word and replace it with intellectual disability if you are referring to a person and if you are using the r-word as a demeaning, deragatory or mis-guided joke then STOP using it.

Stepping down off soap box......

Thank you for continuing to read. Love you all.
-Johnna

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In Heaven's Arms

In late June, my dear friend, Krista, sent me an email with a mp3 of a beautiful song called "In Heaven's Arms" by composer Eric Genuis. Krista is an amazing soprano that I became friends with while at UA. We were sisters in SAI and have remained in contact through the years.

I have selfishly kept this song to myself for the past few months and listen to it in the car almost everyday on my way to work. It's been my little private time with God and Lizzy Ann but I wanted to share not only Krista's beautiful voice (and sweet spirit) but the talent of Eric Genuis.

Mr. Genuis and his wife have lost 7 babies to various complications and his faith is apparent in these beautiful songs. Please visit his site and listen to his other works.

Thank you, Krista. Much love. -Johnna

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SCC

Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife lost one of their daughters in a freak accident this past year and he has written this beautiful song for his new album (due out November 3rd). She was 5 years old.

I cannot imagine loving a precious child and raising them only to have them taken home too early. This song is just beautiful. Have some tissues.





We love you all.
-Johnna

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roses

A friend of mine just emailed me and the tag at the bottom of her email was...

Jeremiah 29:11 "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."

I don't know how many times I've read that scripture over the past 8 months but in just the past few moments it hit me square in the face.

"For I know" - God knows his plan for us. We are not sure of it yet but in His time it will be revealed. And if we knew what this plan was, we naturally would want to change it!! He knows better than to trust us with such knowledge!
"the plans" - God is thinking BIG. He doesn't have just one little plan but has multiple plans for our lives and will allow them to unfold.
"I have for you" - He has specially formed these plans to fit us perfectly. We may only see glimpses of the greatness He has in store for our lives but God knows the awesomeness of His master design.
"declares the LORD" - whispers the Lord... No. says the Lord... No. DECLARES the Lord. Emphatic and authoritative.
"plans to prosper you" - He will give us the desires of our heart if those are truly of Him. These are our joys, our dreams, our miracles.
"and not to harm you" - The quote "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger" comes to mind. We may go through times that may make death appealing but God's love for us is so powerful that he will deliver us from those dark days if we allow Him.
"plans to give you hope" - Our hope is in knowing that God's plan is real and defined.
"and a future." - God's plan for us is eternal and that future is brighter than any we could make for ourselves here on Earth. But His plan for us in our earthly existence allows us to think of the future that will be filled with His blessings.

God's plan for me is unclear. I'm really confused about many things in my life right now but I know that His plans have already been set in motion for my future. I will find hope in this.

My mom's oldest sister, Aunt Nina, pulled me aside at my cousin Walter's birthday party a few weeks ago to talk for a few minutes. She too lost infant children (4 to be exact) and understands many of my emotions now. She told me what my grandmother (Becky) told her when she was trying to understand why this was happening to her and her babies. My grandmother said "When you pick roses from your garden, you don't just pick all of the full bloom roses to put in your bouquet. You choose a few new little rosebuds as well to place in the bouquet. God is the same way. He chooses many older blooms for his bouquet but wants to have a few younger ones as well." My grandmother might not have had an extensive education but she was so wise. I like thinking of Lizzy Ann as a beautiful little pink rose in God's beautiful bouquet of lives. Small and sweet just like her precious life.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We love you, we love you, we love you.

-Johnna

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wish List

I received the following "wish list" from a friend of our family who lost his adult daughter a few years ago. Thank you for sharing this with me and I hope by me passing this along others can find themselves more understood during a difficult loss.

I've altered the words so that it applies to Jeremy and I but you could insert your name and the name of your lost loved one if you choose to use this.

A Bereaved Parent's Wish List

1. I wish my Lizzy Ann had not died. I wish I had her back.

2. I wish you would not be afraid to speak about Lizzy Ann; or say her name. Lizzy Ann was very much alive in my womb and is very important to me. I need to hear that her short life was important to you as well.

3. Should I cry or get emotional when Lizzy Ann is discussed, it is not because you have hurt me. Lizzy Ann's death is the reason for my tears and talking about her allows me to share my grief. Thank you for being open enough to allow me to grieve in your presence.

4. Being a "bereaved parent" is not contagious; please do not shy away from me. I need you now more than ever.

5. I know that you pray and think of me often. I also know that Lizzy Ann's death hurts and pains you, too. I wish that you would let me know through a phone call, note, card or a big hug.

6. I wish you would not expect my grief to be over by now. These first few months have been extremely traumatic for me. I am working very hard to gain ground in recovery but please understand that my heart will never fully heal. I will always miss Lizzy Ann and will pray for the sweet day that I kiss her once again.

7. Grieving & hurting is part of the healing process. Please allow me to do so as needed and understand that "happiness" is a foreign word at this time. I may smile, laugh or even show my old self at times but know that this is the facade I have to have up in order to function in the world.

8. The reactions to the grief I am experiencing are normal and include anger, forgetfulness, depression, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness. Please forgive me when I am quiet, withdraw, irritable or "out of sorts."

9. When you ask me "How are you doing?" please know that my standard answer is "I'm doing okay." That unfortunately is not the case every day. Not every day is good, not every day is even tolerable but I'm praying for God's strength everyday and know that days will be better.

10. This experience has changed me forever. When Lizzy Ann died, a part of me died with her that will not be returned to me until I meet her again in Heaven. I am not the same person and I am thankful to have been changed by her short, sweet, perfect life.

11. I am so thankful that my family and friends have lifted me up and carried me through many bad days. Even though you may not be able to relate to my grief (and I hope you never can relate), you have been loving and supportive throughout the journey.

Dear God,
I praise you for your love and peace that has covered and carried me through the storms. I thank you for your grace and perfect plan for my life.
Thank you for Elizabeth Ann and her perfect life. She may not be an angel in the biblical sense but her little life has changed mine in a way I did not think was possible. Thank you for keeping her in your presence until I can hold her again.
Thank you for sending your precious Son to die for me so that I can spend my eternity with you. I love you, I love you, I love you.
-Johnna

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Still here...

Hi everyone. Just wanted to let you know that we are still here and doing better.

The days have flown by over the past 3 months and I cannot believe that I start back to work on Wednesday!! Wow. I would be lying if I said that I was completely prepared to go back and not a bit anxious or apprehensive. If my nights haven't been sleepless enough for the obvious reasons, now I cannot get my mind off of this coming year. Please pray for me to have strength on the days that I'm having trouble just getting dressed and pray that the good days come more frequently and for longer spans of time.

I wish that I had a little more time tonight but I need to work on a powerpoint for pre-registration tomorrow afternoon (band recruiting time).

Thank you all for your continued prayers. We feel so blessed to have such an amazing support system.

Love to you all,
Johnna

Monday, July 6, 2009

mondays

I hate Mondays. I always have and I think I always will. There's just something awful about them....

Well, it has been quite some time since I've last blogged mainly because our computer is caput but hopefully we will get it back soon. Thanks Ron for helping us out!!!

Jeremy asked me the other day when I planned on blogging again and I'll tell you what I told him.... I feel as though I relive the same day over and over again. Day after day. Week after week. Who wants to read about my life that is currently on a hamster wheel?? Even when I change the scenery or do something different, I still feel the same.

We have a wreath on our front door that is made of white feathers with a big pink bow on the bottom. I have put my hand up so many times as I've gone in the house thinking "I should take this down now" but I just cannot do it. It's like saying "I'm over her and ready to move on" if I take it down. And I'm not over her. I'm not ready to move on and I'm not sure that you ever fully recover. Our library table is covered with cards and her momentos that I just need to have out right now. It's like she's in the house with us when I see those little baby things. I just want her to be with us so badly that I feel physically sick some days. God has comforted me so much but it's impossible to not suffer for the loss of something so precious.

We are going on a family vacation in a few weeks and I'm very excited about spending time with my peeps. Jeremy has even been to the tanning bed a few times in order to "knock off the white." Looking forward to sun, sand and surf for a whole week!!! The last time I was at the beach was about 2 weeks before Elizabeth was born and I remember being scared that she wasn't moving very much that week. I stayed up all night one night waiting for her to move. I think she was lulled to sleep by the ocean every day, all day. :) Sweet baby girl.

This past Tuesday I headed to Hartselle to visit my dad's family for a few days. The McGee clan always have room for me and just include me in their activities. We went swimming and shopping and had trouble finding a decent lunch one day (long story). Aunt Carol gave me a beautiful brush and comb set before I left on Thursday. She had bought it before we found out about Elizabeth's condition and she thought she would just hold on to it until we had another baby but decided that it was meant to be Elizabeth's. Our girl had so much hair that she needed a couple of brush and comb sets!! Of course, the best part about visiting Aunt Carol and Uncle Donald is eating Uncle Donald's okra. Aunt Carol is a great cook and she knows that I LOVE okra!!! Thanks for sharing it with me! I love you all!!

Well, I need to get some things done today but just wanted to check in with my blogger friends. Thank you for continuing to follow our journey. We love you.
Johnna

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6 weeks out

It has been a long time since my last post but I have tried to write quite a few posts during that time. Many times I find myself pondering the words of Thumper while trying to write a post... "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I find myself having little to nothing positive to write about and feel that my words are a pity party. Yes, I need to express those thoughts but just simply typing them usually helps me feel relieved and I do not feel the need to post. But hopefully this post will give you a few updates on us...

This week has been full of emotions due to many important events. On Wednesday, Jeremy and I met with a genetics counselor at UAB to discuss any information that they could provide regarding Lizzy Ann's condition. Unfortunately, we were never able to have an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling during the pregnancy so a sample of placenta was taken after Lizzy Ann's arrival. Because those types of samples are sometimes damaged, we were told by Dr. Stutts that the sample may not provide any chromosomal information regarding Lizzy Ann and his prediction rang true on Wednesday afternoon. UAB could not provide us any definitive answers or 100% assurance that something like this wasn't a possibility in the future BUT their percentage for recurrence was very low but we will undergo renal imaging just to confirm that our renal systems are in perfect condition with no defects. So what does all of this mean?? We feel that our chances to have other children with no renal conditions will be fairly good and hope that God gives us more children in His time.

As you can imagine, discussing your child's imperfections in a very clinical setting is difficult and honestly a little disturbing. Although Lizzy Ann was not "perfect" by medical standards here on earth, she is MORE than perfect to Jeremy and I and now is a whole being in Heaven.

BABY Timeline
Saturday, October 4, 2008 - 9:00pm - Jessica and I experienced our Sister-Telepathy and both thought I was pregnant but did not discuss this with each other until later.
Monday, October 6, 2008 - 7:55am - POSITIVE PREGNANCY TEST (in my band room bathroom at CCHS)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - Confirmed pregnancy at ART-Huntsville (only 4 weeks along!!)
Thursday, October 16, 2008 - Given due date of June 17th
November 10, 2008 - Given OFFICIAL due date of June 13th- Put a "Baby Time" countdown clock on my cell phone opening screen.

Well, my countdown clock was changed to "Elizabeth Ann" after we decided she was in fact a girl (after calling her "he" for many many months.... oops). The clock is still ticking and now reads "2 days." It is so hard to believe that this has all happened and that I'm not going to be leaving the hospital sometime early next week with a perfectly healthy baby girl. But I'm not. So Saturday may be a little tough for me. I've been trying to picture her being held by my Grandmother Becky or Jeremy's Pop-Pop. I can imagine that Granny Fran and Liz are all fighting for a chance to get close enough to talk about all of her hair. :)

Also, the day that made Lizzy Ann possible is June 14, 2003. Our wedding day. Flag Day. This Sunday is our 6th anniversary and I could not be prouder or more thankful for the wonderful man God made just for me. Jeremy is a walking oxymoron. As my dad says, "He's the box most men are delivered in" but he is so incredibly gentle. His big hobby is firearms but got upset the first time he went hunting and shot a deer. He was voted "most likely to drive a school bus" in high school but has an Associates, Bachelors, 2 Masters and a PhD. Jeremy loves me more than I deserve and I hope he would say the same about me. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MY SWEET!

If you were one of our wedding guests 6 years ago, please post a comment of a fun memory you had that day!! We could use a few laughs and a walk down memory lane!!

God has been so good to me and I am trying to be thankful for these darker days. He has made us better Christians and strengthened our marriage through these trials. Happier days will come and I will "Praise You In This Storm" until those days are here.

I AM working on "Thank You" notes so please do not think that I am not truly grateful for everything that has been done or given to us!!! I am just a little SLOW these days!!

Love you all,
Johnna

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Girls

You cannot walk a road like ours without friends. Of course, you always have your family but your friends are the ones that see you often and minister to you on a different level.

This past week was filled with smiles and tears with my girlfriends.

Around 3 on last Tuesday afternoon, Jeremy checked our mailbox and found an envelope from Canada. In the package was a beautiful silver necklace with a silver pendant that has an emerald in it. Emerald is the May birthstone. Lizzy Ann's birthstone. The note from my friends Ginger, Lori and Jennifer explained that they wanted me to have something that reminded me of Elizabeth Ann. If ever there were three friends that would jump the moon for me, it would be these three amazing women. If you know me well, you know I love jewelry and this was especially meaningful. It made my day.

Also on Tuesday, I got to have a great visit with my girlfriends from FH. They brought a great dinner for us but I enjoyed their company even more than their meal. I love listening to them tell funny stories about the students in their classes (many of whom I know) and give me updates on my other teacher friends in their system. Although we only spent 1 year teaching together, these wonderful women will be a part of my life for years and years to come. Thank you for loving me!!

On Wednesday, we went to eat at a new Chinese/Sushi restaurant in Florence and I have to admit that it was really good. The sushi we had was some of the best I've ever had and extremely affordable. If you don't live in this area, then you do not understand that it is a BIG DEAL when we get a new restaurant. When Olive Garden opened a few years ago, you would have thought that Emeril Lagasse himself was cooking the dinners. It was packed at all hours for MONTHS. Ridiculous.

We are slowly getting back to doing the things that we used to do. Jeremy is helping me get the yard spruced up and we are making plans to add a deck off the back of the house. Despite trying to stay busy, I find myself just sitting and watching pictures of Lizzy Ann scroll on my screensaver. Sometimes hours will roll by before I realize that I've been just watching and daydreaming of her. That is time well spent in my opinion. I never want to forget one detail of her preciousness and the pictures help burn that into my brain.

I want to talk about depression a little because I feel like people often feel so guilty about feeling depressed and try to hide it from others. I have felt the dark blanket of depression since almost day 1 of this journey but didn't seek medical assistance until mid-April. My doctor offered me (and Jeremy) a prescription and I accepted. I thought that I would wait to begin taking the medication and actually didn't take the first dose until Sunday, April 26th. Little did I know that Elizabeth Ann would arrive only 5 short days later. I am so glad that I decided to take medication and not try to "manage" this on my own. It has not decreased the pain I feel or made all my days bright and wonderful but it has helped keep my highs and lows closer together which in turn helps me function a little better. I was afraid that this would make me feel like a "zombie" but it hasn't so I'm going to stick with it for a while.

I had the chance to spend a few days with my parents in Pelham (Thursday-today) and enjoyed just relaxing. My mom and dad have a great backyard and have worked on it a lot since my dad retired last summer. So we did a little shopping at a few local nurseries and got some good gardening ideas. We also went to a wedding on Saturday and it was really a beautifully simple wedding....very sweet couple.

Jeremy came down on Sunday and today we went by Elizabeth Ann's grave to check on things. They have placed a temporary marker there until her gravestone is ready to be placed. We know she is not in that grave but it doesn't make it easier knowing that you've left your child somewhere you cannot be 24/7. It is just hard to wrap my head around what has happened over the past 24 days. It's only been 24 days since she was alive in my belly. It seems like a lifetime ago.

We have gotten so many cards in the mail and it has been very heartwarming to know that someone is thinking of us. Thank you for continuing to pray for us. We love you all.

-Johnna

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's me

Well, I'm blogging again....sorta. I have so much to say but just don't know how to say it. Bear with my "stream of consciousness" style of writing until I'm a little more cohesive.

It's been 2 weeks since we buried our precious baby and it feels like it was a lifetime ago. Days are long and nights are even longer but most days are beginning to be tolerable. I've talked with friends on the phone some and emailed a little as well but I'm still not back to my normal communicative self. Jeremy and I have had a few days alone and it's been nice reflecting on the choices we made for Elizabeth Ann's arrival and talked about what we wish we would have done (Yes, there is always something you remember later that you wish you would have done differently no matter how much you had prepared and planned).

I never posted a few of the blogs I wrote about 2 of my best friends that were pregnant alongside me this year. The three of us went to UA together and they're delivery dates were in early May whereas I was mid-June. I was so jealous of their uncomplicated pregnancies and their chance to be a mommy, again. Although I love them dearly, I did not want to talk to them about their pregnancies, did not want to hear the happiness in their voices, did not want to think about other people having healthy, normal babies that would come home with them from the hospital. I just couldn't bear it. Unfortunately, I think I hurt them both through my silence and distanced friendship. I regret not being more open with my feelings during our pregnancies but I was so afraid to tell them what I really thought most days. I am happy to say that they have both given birth to healthy baby girls. Moms and babies are doing well.

So many things have caused my heart to hurt....

-The pregnant teenage girl at Wal-Mart who was buying groceries with a WIC card. I admit the first thing through my mind always was..."Jeremy and I are supporting her and her child through our hard work each day. I wonder if the dad will even be involved." Terrible, I know.

-Church and work friends that were having healthy babies left and right. We probably have at least 10 friends and co-workers that have had a child in the past year. We're just at the age where EVERYONE is having a baby.

-My newly-made friends that have been through what we're experiencing. I hurt for them because I'm now a member of their club and it isn't one I ever thought I would have to join.

-Random people in stores/restaurants that have children out at all hours of the night, or children that looked like they could be sick, or children that just looked sad. I wondered if their parents really knew how lucky they were to have that little miracle.

-Pregnant women making comments like "I just want this to be over" or "Remind me to never get pregnant again." My heart just sank when I had to hear these sorts of things.

Our journey has been one that I never want someone else to have to walk but wouldn't erase for all the money in the world. Because of this journey, I am the mommy of a precious baby that was in the arms of Jesus before she was ever in mine.

But I miss Lizzy Ann desperately. My arms ache to hold her for just one more minute. To smell her sweet baby scent. To hold her long thin fingers that looked just like Jessica's. To kiss her lips that look just like mine. To brush her hair that looked just like Jeremy's. To sing to her a nighttime lullaby. To tell her how much I love her.

Rock... Meet hard place. I know where she is. I'm thankful for God's promises that allow her to be with Him forever. But that doesn't make me miss her any less. It doesn't allow me to not dream of her being in the room next to mine. It doesn't change the fact that I'm a mommy without a baby.

That's it for tonight. Jeremy is grilling dinner and I need to clean-up the house a bit.

Thank you for all of your comments on the blog. They have helped encourage us and hold us up on the really bad days. We love you all.

-Johnna

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sweet Baby

This is the slideshow we made for the memorial visitation in Pelham. Christy Britten was the photographer that took the beautiful photos of Elizabeth Ann. We are so grateful to her for her talent and time.

The songs used are:

In The Garden (sung by Anne Murray) - This is Jeremy's favorite hymn (and my granddad's too).
Who Am I (Casting Crowns) - Just love this song.... and Mark & Melanie Hall
Glory Baby (Watershed) - Sweet song about babies gone too soon
Baby Mine (Dumbo movie) - Just a sweet mom to baby song that I've always loved

video



Please continue to pray for us as we grieve our loss and as Johnna physically heals. We are so thankful to each person who has visited with us, sent cards/emails/etc., brought food, sent flowers and lifted us up in prayer.

Much love,

Jeremy & Johnna

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our Angel





Dear Friends,

Following an unexpected emergency induction, at 5pm yesterday (May 1st) we welcomed into the world Elizabeth Ann Stafford (3lb, 11oz, 14"). She was beautiful and perfect when she arrived, and even more so when we said goodbye. We knew her time on earth would be short, and we are so thankful for every moment we were given. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks.

We will hold a family graveside service on Monday but would like to invite friends and family to join us for a memorial visitation on Tuesday, May 5th from 5-7pm at First Baptist Church of Pelham (http://www.fbcpelham.org/).

Thank you for your love and prayers over the past 4 months. Our journey with Elizabeth Ann is not over and we would appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers as we try to grieve and heal. Please continue to check our blog. We will try to post a few pictures of our beautiful Lizzy Ann in the coming days.

We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Stutts and the wonderful nursing staff of Helen Keller Hospital. They were the blessings we needed during a difficult time. Thank you all for your professionalism but more so for your love and compassion.

Much love,
Jeremy & Johnna

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scriptures and Quotes

These are just a few of the things I've read over and over. If you sent me one of these scriptures or quotes, then thank you. I have read a wonderful book that I would recommend to any who has lost or knows someone who has lost a child. My sister's friend, Paige, gave it to me in January and I've read it twice already and keep it with me to help me through the really bad days. Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur

I know that many people face difficult times in life and many of these Bible verses can be applied to many situations. I hope they can be of comfort to others as well.




Pslam 31:14-15a But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I will say ' YOU are my God.' My times are in Your hands.

Isaiah 27:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

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.

Isa. 43:1b I have called you by YOUR name: You are mine

Elizabeth
Language/cultural Origin: Hebrew
Inherent Meaning: Oath of God
Spiritual Connotation: Consecrated
Scripture: Romans 6:23 But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ann
Language/cultural Origin: English
Inherent Meaning: graceful
Spiritual Connotation: Understanding
Scripture: Psalms 111:10 the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.


Zeph. 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

"There are two ways to look at life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is." -Albert Einstein

"You are so precious to me, sweet as can be, baby of mine" -Mrs. Jumbo (Dumbo's Mother)

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Psalm 22:10 From my mother's womb you have been my God.

Psalm 71:6 By You I have been upheld from birth; you are He who took me out of my mother's womb.

“If I never met you, I would have dreamt you into being.” -Sebastian Chantoix

“I will carry your first cry with me everywhere I go” – Anonymous

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above…

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord…

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart…

1 Samuel 1:27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him....

Psalm 56:8 Thou tellest my wanderings:put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? "God sees, knows and records in writing all our troubles, distresses and sufferings. Every tear shed by a faithful believer is treasured by God and carefully preserved in His memory. He keeps record so that He can comfort and reward us according to our suffering on earth. For every trial in which we remain faithful to God, we will reap an abundance of joy and glory when we are with Him in heaven. Thus when troubles, anxieties or grievous trials come our way, we must never forget that God looks at us lovingly through all our disappointing experiences, illnesses, sleepless nights, financial trials or hardships in the workplace."

Psalm 91:11 May the Lord give his angels charge over you, to guide you in all of your ways….

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalms 33:20 He is our help and our shield.

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nearing

The date I once longed for is now quickly approaching and I wish that there were a way to stop time. I want to stop the world and just spend the next forever with my baby girl. Nothing is easy these days.... God's hand is present every day but my pain is still so overwhelming at times. Strangely enough, I would rather go through my day in sadness than to miss a moment thinking of and being with Elizabeth Ann. Time is just wasted if it isn't being spent thinking of my precious girl or praying in earnest for her.


What has been on my mind lately are the what would be the first things we would have done together??

- I would have shown you your room. It was going to be very cute. Shades of cream and brown with the cutest bedding set. A comfy chair for Mommy and Daddy to rock you in, lots of books about interesting things, clothes galore

-Gone to church. Everyone would have talked about how much hair you have (how could you not have bunches of hair with genes like this) and how sweet you are. You would have probably enjoyed the music too loudly but that's okay.

-Met your big brother, Dewey. You would probably not have realized that Dewey had sniffed every inch of anything that had come near you and already knew exactly who you were. You would have smiled a big baby smile the first time he licked your fingers or toes.

-You would have been passed around to every family member that lived within 100 miles. Every one of them would have tried to figure out who you looked like... Mommy or Daddy.

-So many more firsts during those first few days.....


My dreams are more disturbing now than they were and my sleep is difficult most nights. I've dreamed that she was born still and I never got to hold her. I dreamed that everyone I didn't want around was in the delivery room and it was just like a circus. I've dreamed that I didn't know that I was in labor and had her in a public place. Mornings are so hard for me because I've spent the whole night tossing/turning and having incredibly horrible dreams. Could anyone actually feel rested enough to get up and go teach children after these sort of nights?? I've woken myself up many times crying but not knowing why exactly. More bad dreams I guess....


I've also been frightened 2 times now because she has been so still and quiet. Both times, she didn't move at all for at least 10+ hours and I panicked. Jessica was sleeping with me one night (at the beach) and I kept her up most of the night waiting to see if I could feel Elizabeth move. When she finally did many hours later, I woke Jessica up to tell her the good news. I'm sure that Jessica slept less that night than she has in many moons.... Poor sister.


I fear not seeing Elizabeth Ann alive for even if it's just for a moment. I know that I will see her and hold her and have a chance to be with her but I want to smell her skin, see her open her eyes, watch her breathe, have her clench my finger in her fist, listen to her cry. These things are so important to me now.


It is so hard for people to understand that we no longer have "good" days. We have days where we don't cry as much or feel a little better but there are not many laughing, carry-free, happy-go-lucky moments in our life right now. God is walking with us, holding us, carrying us but the sadness is still present and sometimes overwhelming. We will try to put on a happy face as much as possible and go about our lives but say a quick prayer for us if you see that we are just not doing well enough to fake it these days. I had planned to work until the end of the school year if possible but each day is harder and I'm not sure how much longer I will make it. Today, I sat at my desk and cried for a long time. 2 kids and a school employee came in to deliver things to me and I'm sure they thought I'd lost my mind. It is not fair to my students to be here when I'm basically useless. Pray for me as I make a decision about what to do during the last few weeks of school.

Continue to pray for Elizabeth Ann!! I dream of what it would feel like to hear our doctor say, "She's perfect. You can go home with her in 2 days." What a miraculous moment to hear words like that from someone in the medical profession!! Help me plead with God for his mercy and grace to be extended to us and make Elizabeth Ann whole and perfect. I know how selfish it is to want an unaccountable, sinless baby to have to live in an imperfect and sin filled world but my heart wants her here with me and Jeremy.

We have planned to induce labor so that we can make better plans for her arrival. We will induce sometime in either late May or early June. Pray for our doctor's as they help us prepare for the induction and delivery date. Pray that we have kind and compassionate nurses and staff around us at all times during labor/delivery. Pray for our family and friends that may not have the opportunity to see Elizabeth Ann while she is with us.

Thank you for all of the kind comments on the last post. It helped me through a tough week. I will leave the "allow all" comments button on for now. Feel free to leave us a note of encouragement. We need them badly most days.

Love you all,
Johnna

Monday, April 20, 2009

Comment please

Many of you have told me that you are reading our blog but do not have a Google account so you can't comment.... Through Sunday of this week I've allowed all comments from anyone & everyone. I will still moderate them for content but please let us know who's out there. We started the blog for our benefit but now realize the reach it has and we would love to hear from you. Strangers, old friends, new friends, family.....

Thank you for loving us.
jjs

Please pray

Please keep us in your prayers this week especially. I'm having some rough days and do not feel like blogging right now. Also, I'm attending my school's spring music trip this weekend and need prayers for strength and patience with my students.

We are 32 weeks and counting. Pray for our precious baby, Elizabeth Ann.

Love,
Johnna

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weekend update

We had a great appointment on Friday with Dr. Head. He was informative and caring and exactly what we had hoped for in a delivery doctor. Plus, he's a band dad!! :) How funny.
We also got to see the labor/delivery suites and they are very nice so we feel a bit more settled about delivery in Birmingham now.

We had a great Easter Sunday with family and saw TONS of FBCP folks as well. Usually, we go to the 10:45 service with Mom but we went to the 9:15 with Dad instead and we saw so many more people than usual!! I guess all my old friends are early birds! :) Thank you FBCP for your hugs, love and prayers over the past 15 weeks. We love you all so much!!

This will be a brief post because I'M HEADED TO THE BEACH!! Woohoo! We are heading out this afternoon and I've got some running to do before then so..... Pray for my Z-pack to kick in today and keep working this week. I've had a little congestion that's moved into my chest and have developed a rattling cough over the past few days. I'm sure it's just the affects of seasonal allergies but I'd rather not be sick!!

Love,
Johnna

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter

Busy weekend and week ahead.... Today is the last day of school before spring break and I could not be more ready for the chance to GET OUT OF HERE!!! This has been an extremely long semester so far and I desperately need a break from everything school.

Friday morning, we will travel to Birmingham and meet with our delivery doctor for the first time. I am excited to finally meet Dr. Head but nervous as well because this begins the finalization of our plans for Elizabeth's arrival. Pray for Dr. Head and his colleagues so that they might assist in making the best choices for my health and Elizabeth's safe arrival. We will also try to take a quick tour of the Labor/Delivery unit at Shelby while we are in the area. Over the past few weeks, we have learned that many of our friends are nurses/staff work in that area of the hospital so it will be great having people that love us close by.

Mom, Jessica and I are heading to Gulf Shores Tuesday-Friday of next week and I couldn't be more excited!!! GIRL TIME!! I love my husband and I could spend almost every moment of the day with him but I'm so thankful for the time I will get to have with the two most important women in my life. We have plans to do a lot of people watching, general lounging and did I mention a whole lotta NOTHING.

Speaking of the beach... what is the first thing you think of when you begin planning a beach trip? Bathing suits. Oy. I tried on EVERY swimsuit I have and let Jeremy tell me what he thought... big mistake. His expressions alone were priceless. One particular tankini had the tendency to act like a roll up window shade when pulled down over my big belly. Frightening. So, if you are vacationing in Gulf Shores this next week, please do not be alarmed if you see a sight that makes your children run and hide. It's just me...in a swimsuit. Now, where is my self-tanner? Nothing says "spring break" like oompa-loompa tinted skin.....

Today is Maundy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday. Let us each remember those events that changed the world 2000 years ago. Where would we be without Christ's sacrifice for our unworthy souls? I wanted to watch the Passion of Christ this Easter season because of the beautiful portrayal of Mary in the film. By no means am I comparing myself to Mary but I have had a glimpse of the pain she must have felt. She was a humble woman that spent her whole life knowing that her sweet child was the Son of God and that there would be a day when he would leave her to serve his Father in a mighty way. I pray everyday that my sweet Elizabeth Ann's presence on earth will be a testament to God's love and grace and that her departure will bring God glory and honor. Oh how Mary must have felt.....

Celebrate this miraculous time of year with your family and have a Blessed Easter Sunday!

Love,
Johnna

Monday, April 6, 2009

Choo-Choo

Well, we had a great weekend visiting our friends, Ginger & Bruce in Chattanooga. They are in the midst of finding a good buyer for their home and trying to make plans for Bruce to house hunt in Alaska. Plus, they have 11 month-old twins (boy & girl) so they are super busy right now trying to prepare for the big move.

Jeremy asked me a couple of times this weekend how I was doing because he was worried about me being around babies. Actually, Ginger's are not little babies anymore so it didn't bother me really but being around any small children/babies always makes my mind wander to the "what-ifs" of course. That is just natural and I've tried to avoid my friends that have very small infants because I don't know exactly how I would react. Easier just to avoid the unknown right now....

As I stood in line at TJ Maxx yesterday, I noticed a woman behind me toting tons of stuff to the register. She was very pregnant and I just thought, "Get a buggy, lady." She started talking to an acquaintance in the line and was explaining that she would probably have to deliver at 38 weeks because the baby was very large, etc. Towards the end of the conversation she said and I quote, "I just want this over with." Only God kept me from jumping her and telling her how incredibly selfish she was being by wanting to "get it over with." Those moments are more frequent these days primarily because I'm more aware of pregnant women now than I ever have been in my life.

I started thinking last week about the demographic we will be in if things keep progressing as is. For a long time, we were in the married/no children group and then we started trying and were in the the married/trying for kids (but not announcing it) group. That was not a fun group to be in because nosey/rude people just kept assuming that they could ask us why we didn't have kids yet!! But now, we are in the married/soon-t0-be-parents group and may only get to be members for a short time before people put us back in the married/no children group. I don't know why that bothers me so much but it really does. Jeremy and I will always be Elizabeth Ann's parents no matter how short her time with us may be and I hope that our family, friends and others can always see that her presence in our lives was real.

Even though Elizabeth's presence on earth may be brief, we know that her life has purpose and we don't ever want to trivialize what her time with us really is... a miracle. Think about it, a baby with no kidneys and no fluid has lived in me for 30 weeks and has made great progress during that time. God has allowed her to grow and thrive during these 30 weeks!! I have read hundreds of stories about babies with BRA and so many of them are induced early or are born still at 20-26 weeks and I am so grateful for the time we have had with our sweet girl. Jeremy and I keep talking about the gift we have been given.... Time. God allowed us to discover this condition early on and make our hearts ready for the possible outcomes. But during this time, we have developed an immense bond with our baby that many parents may never have even though they may raise a child to adulthood.

Keep praying for us and praying for a miraculous healing of our girl. Pray that God will give me a "stupid people" shield over the next few weeks. I'm very sensitive these days and many comments/actions have sent me overboard when just a few weeks ago I wouldn't have batted an eye. I've been selfishly asking for prayer for Jeremy and I and failing to ask for prayer for my family. They have suffered immeasureably over the past 15 weeks as well and have been so helpful in making preparations for delivery and after. They have faithfully prayed for us and been diligent in checking on us frequently. We have a wonderful family and are so thankful for their love and support. Please pray for them as they tend to us and help us prepare for the coming weeks.

-John & Jo (my mom and dad)
- Barbara (Jeremy's mom)
-Jessica & Chris (my sister and her husband)
- Charles & Melissa (Jeremy's brother and his wife)
-Aunt Margaret, Walter, Futrals, D. Hayden's, J. Hayden's
- Uncle Donald & Aunt Carol, D. McGee's and Parmer's
- Aunt Nina, Aunt Christine & Uncle Joe (and their families)

Medical Prayers- Please pray for these medical professionals that will caring for Elizabeth and I.

-Dr. Stutts (OB)
- Melinda (ultrasound tech)
- Dr. Stutts entire staff
-Dr. Head (delivery doctor)
- Dr. Head's nurses and staff
- Labor/Delivery nurses at hospital

After our first MFMC visit in January, Jeremy, my parents and I met with Bro. Mike & Mrs. Mary at FBCP to talk and pray for few minutes. As we talked, my dad grabbed a bible and read to us Psalm 139:16. At first, I hated that verse because I felt like it was condemning my baby to death but as God worked on my heart, I began to see the verse as a praise to God for allowing us each moment, no matter how brief. God has made a place for me, Jeremy and now Elizabeth Ann in Heaven and we know that we will one day be a complete family. I have mourned for our earthly loss but have no doubt that Heaven will rejoice should Elizabeth join the ranks of Angels. God has ordained her life to be one of near perfection and I am thankful for the chance to hold a sweet angel while she is here on earth.

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.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Yet another non-posted post

This is a post I began on Monday but got so down in the process that I couldn't finish it. It gets harder and harder to write about what we are going through....

Jeremy and I have been talking to the baby and calling HER Elizabeth over the weekend. Well, she has her Aunt Jessica's disposition and does not like to be talked about unless she is included in the conversation. Sunday, we were laying in our bed and talking about Elizabeth (how happy we were that her weight was 2.32 and that we wondered about how long she was right now, etc...) and then BAM!! She kicked me hard, right in the bladder. :) We just laughed at her and her perfect comical timing (also an Aunt Jessica trait). It is been so wonderful getting to know Elizabeth but the happiness in those moments doesn't fade the sorrow of knowing that we will probably never see her many "firsts."

Someone told me this weekend that he and his wife found out that they were not able to have children. There was a time that I wondered if Jeremy and I would be able to have children so I can relate to some of what they are going through. But what got me was when he said, "I understand exactly what you are going through." No you don't. No offense meant but not being able to have a child doesn't leave you empty handed at the hospital, it doesn't require you to have a funeral for the child you've loved before they were ever conceived, it doesn't make you question every future pregnancy you may be allowed to experience. It isn't the same. Infertility is sad and it is the loss of the chance to have a biological child but infertility opens doors to other methods of parenthood. Those types of comments get harder and harder to hear as June 13 draws closer. I need to make myself a button that says "No, you don't" and point to it when someone says they understand. Even our close friends that have experienced a loss haven't been through exactly what we're in (and vice versa) and we all are aware of the differences in our situations.

Another person said something to me that didn't really settle in until this morning (Thursday) "I bet that you are ready to have this baby." Actually, no. I would rather go the rest of my life pregnant with Elizabeth then ever have to give her up. Swollen feet, achy back, fatter than ever.... All so insignificant when compared to being able to protect your child. Being pregnant with Elizabeth is the ONLY way I can "have" her and somehow I'm not ready to not be pregnant. I know that most women are ready to see their babies at this point and I am too but not at the expense of her life. It's a hard position to explain but again, it is one of those comments that is okay for a normal person to hear but for me it just seems wrong.

I feel that I'm at the point where I have most everything prepared for Elizabeth's arrival and departure but I want EVERYONE (including myself) to pray for a miracle. I believe in God's almighty power to heal my precious baby and bring her into this world a perfect and whole infant. I've spent the past 10 weeks avoiding thoughts of a miracle because I was too scared to hope for something that seemed so out of reach. I know, I know... Nothing is out of reach for God but somehow I've had a feeling that a miracle wasn't in His plans for us so I just stopped praying for one. I kept believing it was possible but not probable and now as I get closer to holding my precious daughter, I do not want to settle for probable. I want the possible. Please be even more diligent about praying for a miracle... I know so many of you already have been and I am truly grateful for your intercession when I was not capable.


This week has been difficult because I've become so aware of our baby's identity now. We knew that giving and using a name would make this more real and exponentially more difficult but the pain of knowing her better makes me love her more and what parent wouldn't want that. Pray for me as I enter the last few weeks of pregnancy and all that that entails. Pray for Elizabeth's growth and strength as she is preparing to be born in just 10 weeks (or less). Pray for Jeremy's tender heart. He is so kind hearted that this has absolutely broken him many times over and I always worry about him (and vice versa). I think I've prayed as much for Jeremy as I have for the baby during these past weeks.

Pray for traveling grace as we go to visit one my dearest friends this weekend, Ginger and her husband, Bruce. They are in Chattanooga while Bruce completes his MD residency at Erlanger and then they will be stationed in Anchorage, AK beginning sometime in late June/early July. I've known Ginger FOREVER and we've always lived within a few hours of each other so this will be hard having her so far away. Thank goodness for email and cellular nights-and-weekends.

Love,
Johnna

oops..

If you posted a comment to the post on March 26th, then I'm sorry but I accidently hit "reject" instead of publish. Eric & Amanda, Nurse Heidi & Mrs. Jackie. SORRY!! If you want to re-comment, please do so and I will make sure that I don't goof it up again.
-JJS

Thursday, March 26, 2009

quick

I'm heading out the door for good Mexican so this will be brief....

Good Dr. appt today. Still no fluid but the baby's growth is almost right on target.
2.32lbs and gestationally 28w1d whereas I'm 28w5d. Only a difference of 4 days which is normal to fluctuate up and down. Heart rate was 125 and that is okay but it's the lowest it's ever been at a check-up so a little worrysome. The baby kicked so hard once that even Melinda felt it through her US wand. Funny.

Again, they are saying GIRL so we cried a little in the waiting room and Jeremy is upset because he really did want a girl. Having one just makes this a little more painful right now. So happy-sad but I guess we are going to use the pronoun SHE and the name Elizabeth Ann for now. What's worse calling a He, She or vice versa???

Dr. Stutts is still great. He's just a sweet man with a kind demeanor. We love him for loving us and taking good care of us and Elizabeth (weird to type that). Pray for him as he continues to help us through this journey because I'm sure that this isn't the first time he's had a family in distress. It must be an emotional rollercoaster for a doctor when they know what the most likely outcome will be but try to remain positive and give the best treatment possible.

Cheese dip calls. Hey, I'm pregnant what do you expect.

Love,
Johnna

Followers

Prayer requests for this week(end):

1. That we have a great appointment today with Dr. Stutts and his staff. I am always nervous the day of an appointment and cannot seem to stop the crazy thoughts that run through my brain. I have to have the Rh+ shot today and normally I'm fine with shots, blood, mole removal, pain in general... BUT I had a really bad experience in week 5 at a local hospital and the memory of that LONG night in the ER has me a little anxious today. Long story short, I had some mild spotting one day (had been on my feet all day and overdone it a little) and we decided to go to the ER just in case. Everything looked fine on the ultrasound but they decided to give me the Rh+ shot just in case I did miscarry at somepoint. Well, they really messed up and forgot to put some bracelet on me after typing my blood and ended up having to do the whole process again (another 2 hours). I was exhausted, scared, mad as a wet hen and truly ticked that they had bruised the top of BOTH hands trying to put in an IV so now I looked like a junkie. See what I mean.... BAD EXPERIENCE. I know today will be better!!

2. That I not lose my mind and get "pregnant" lady on someone this weekend. :) This is honor band weekend and I'm the chair this year so I feel responsible for the ultimate success of the event, naturally. I'm not worried about the students (they are usually very well-behaved during these events) but I know that something will come up that usually wouldn't bother me but now does. I'm just not as relaxed as I once was and do not take surprises as well. Just ask Jeremy... We've always been big on trying to scare each other but lately it has made me MAD when he tries to sneak up on me. I punched him hard the other night when he did it and went to bed ready to smother him in his sleep. So, if you are a SABDA member, please do not be offended if I get unusually upset about something small or if I can't seem to make a decision about something.... It's just how it is for me right now.

If you've been "following" the blog, then you've probably noticed that the number of followers has steadily grown and that just amazes me. But what is even crazier is that there are probably 4 times as many people "following" that aren't registered as "followers." Everytime I turn around, someone says "Oh, I read about your parents coming to visit this weekend" or "I just loved the maternity clothes post" or "We've been reading the blog and are praying for you guys." In my mind, there are only 55 people reading the blog regularly (because that's what I see listed on the page) but in reality there may be hundreds of people actually reading. To you "Followers," THANK YOU for your quiet support and continued prayers.

My mom complained to me that she has wanted to post a comment but didn't know how yet (she's learned a lot about computers of the past few years and wants to learn more) and others have told me that they wanted to post a comment but do not have a Google account, etc... I had a choice when I created the blog to allow for anonymous posts but after reading "Bring the Rain Blog," I knew that that wasn't the best idea for me. Now, when you post a comment, I actually moderate that comment and choose whether or not to post it. Not all comments get posted.... Sorry but sometimes a comment just strikes me as odd or may even irritate me to the point that I do not want it on our blog. Yes, it's a little of my control freak coming out.

Anywho, thanks for reading today and if you live in Alabama, I hope that you have a canoe!! It is like Noah's Ark in North Alabama today!

Love,
Johnna

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Names

Our SS class has been doing a series of lessons on prayer... How perfect for us right now! And today Mrs. Sheila asked us if we have ever had a time in our lives where we either felt the prayers of others or felt that our prayers for others were being answered. HELLO?!? Yes, would be the answer to that question! I have felt lifted up on days where everything was dark and have been able to dress myself for work, not sit and cry in the shower, not throw-up in the shower because I've been crying so much, etc... I've felt YOUR prayers and that has meant more to me than I could ever adequately express but please know that I am truly thankful for you all.

I get these little postcards in the mail from my Aunt Carol's church every few weeks or so and they say "I prayed for you today at the altar." The ladies that have sent these are members of my Aunt Carol's SS class and they have been diligent in sending cards and prayers our way. It brightens my day when I get those little notes from these sweet Godly ladies and know that they have prayed for me and the baby hundreds of times for every one card or note that I get. They are truly prayer warriors that love not only my sweet Aunt Carol but our little family as well. FYI: Aunt Carol makes the best okra ever and I'm an okra connoisseur so I know good okra. Well, it's especially good when Uncle Donald grows it and Aunt Carol cooks it... It's just not the same otherwise. I want some right now... Dang it!!!

Well, we are week 28 and are beginning to prepare for the birth of our baby and I'm scared, excited, hopeful, nervous beyond all comprehension, prepared, unprepared, concerned about every choice we've made up until now, confident in the choices we've made.... you name it and I've felt it over the past few days. We have an appointment on Thursday (26th) and will have another ultrasound as well as Rh+ treatment since Jeremy and I have polarized blood types (he's + and I'm - ....and no that is not a reflection of our general personality differences). It's a very common practice and just one of those things we need to do to protect future children from having to undergo blood transfusions and other unnecessary procedures after birth.

Jeremy and I were both lucky enough to be given great names that have served us well in our lives. Jeremy Owen and Johnna Beth. They fit us perfectly but naming our own baby has had some bumps along the way. We started talking about baby names before we were even married and have not agreed on many names since! When we found out that we were pregnant, the name discussions began again but with a more serious undertone and we both clearly took sides. I am all for the continuance of the "J" first name and Jeremy believes and I quote that "The madness must stop." :) So I was holding firm and so was he when we found out the news in late December and then our attitudes changed. We realized that this name would not be one that we would get to yell from the back porch when someone was late for dinner, or one that we would say in it's entirety and with emphatic inflection when someone was about to be punished, or one that we would hear being said at those momentous times in life such as a graduation or a wedding. It was a name that needed to be given but not one that we would get to say as often as a parent should. With that in mind, we scrapped all of our previous names and started fresh. We also decided that we would not use the non-used name for another child should we have one of the opposite gender in the future. Both of these names are so inherently belong to our FIRST child that we could never name another THEIR name.

Boy- Robert Anderson Stafford - Jeremy's father was Robert Harris Stafford III and Jeremy's grandfather was obviously Robert Harris Stafford II. Oddly enough, his maternal grandfather, lovingly called Pop-Pop was Robert Eugene Lee. So, Robert just felt like a natural choice for this baby if it were a boy. Anderson is a family name on my mom's side that I have always liked.

Girl- Elizabeth Ann Stafford - Elizabeth is not only my Dad's mom's name (Elizabeth Burroughs Jones- she passed away just before my parents were married but I've always felt like I knew her because everyone says that my Aunt Carol is so much like her) but it is also Jeremy's mom's middle name (Barbara Elizabeth Lee Stafford) and my middle name is Beth so we have many special Elizabeth's in our families. Ann comes from my mom's side of the family- Rebecca Ann Hopkins Davis was my Grandmother (mom's mom) who I loved dearly. She passed away my freshman year of college and we miss her still. The other Ann is my aunt, Margaret Ann Davis Hayden- If you know Margaret, then you know why I love her....

So, just waiting for Thursday and hoping for a good ultrasound. Thank you for loving us and Robert Anderson.... Or Elizabeth Ann, whichever the case may be. :)

-Johnna

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Missing Dewey

I just felt the need to post some Dewey pics & videos. I miss him at work everyday!! People probably think I'm nuts but that pup has more personality in one toenail than most humans have in their whole bodies. He instinctively knows when I need him to be close and he knows when I'm okay enough for him to leave the room to snack or chase cats. The video below is from a few years ago when Dewey made his "stage debut" as the "$5 dog" in the school play, Cheaper by the Dozen. It was just funny that they actually listed him in the program as "Dewey Stafford."


video


I also had to post a photo of Mom and Dad's cat, Beau-Beau. Beau started off as my cat in college but has become a permanent fixture in my parents home and he now thinks of me as that girl that brings the nosey dog. Beau weighs approximately 32 lbs. Yes, you read that correctly. 32 POUNDS. And he's a beautiful color too...Peach and white. He has so much fur that he goes to the groomer's about 4 times a year for a bath and a shave. Beau feels like peach fuzz after his grooming and LOVES to be scratched and adored after his grand ordeal.





Video Woes

Yes, I know.... There is no video for you to see!! So SORRY!! I can only upload a certain size and I'm just new to the video thing so I haven't figured out how to edit yet. Working on it, I promise!

We went to Pelham this weekend to celebrate Jeremy's birthday and had fun with the fam. Did a little shopping on Saturday and then ate at Ali Baba's in Hoover (Jeremy's pick)... It was great, as usual! Jeremy has forced me to be an adventurous eater and I've gotten over many of my food phobias due to his "eat it or else" attitude! Next time, Taj India in the downtown area.... :)

This week, my parents are on their spring break and have graciously offered to help me with my pitiful front yard. I've not been in the mood to do much outside this fall/winter so it's well past time for a clean-up/sprucing up. We are looking forward to their visit and I'm sure the cats are excited about extra petters in the house. Mom says "A visit to Johnna's is never dull. Something is always moving!" So true. Dewey stayed in Pelham this week to enjoy a little Granpa and Jo-Jo time so I'm sure that he'll be depressed when he comes home to his gluten-free food and harem of cats.

We finally broke down a got internet at home.... In a way, I'm glad but otherwise I could have continued to go without it. Jeremy is being removed from his office for almost a whole year due to major renovations so he really needed to be able to work from home. Many of his classes each semester are online (3 out of 4) so having access is a necessity right now for him. BUT we did get a DVR and wow! In the words of Ginger... "It will change your life." :)

Please remember that the March of Dimes - Walk for Babies is coming up soon. Any contribution to the team would be greatly appreciated!! No gift is too small!!!

love,
johnna

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Girl??

Yesterday was a regular OB visit (26 weeks) and the ultrasound was the best we've had so far. As the baby grows, it is easier to see the body, legs, hands and especially face. Yesterday, there was a small amount of fluid (which is normal- I do have some fluid) near the baby's face which made for a better ultrasound quality!! We were able to watch and video portions of the ultrasound and got a great video of the baby moving his mouth and arms. I'm still saying "he" even though our ultrasound technician has said twice that she thinks it could be a girl. It's just not definite enough for me to call him "her" yet. We have another appointment in 2 weeks (3/24) and if it's still looking like it could be a girl then I'll start calling him "her."

Honestly, Jeremy and I DO NOT CARE about the sex of this precious baby but knowing boy or girl makes this harder in some respects. Yes, we could buy a few blue or pink items but putting a gender to the baby gives them their name (which we've already decided upon), which in turn makes this very real knowing that the chosen name will be the one on their birth and most likely death certificate. So as much as I thought I wanted to know.... I'm not sure that I really want a definite answer... Maybe just an inkling.

The appointment was good overall (other than me gaining a few lbs. - oy veh). Everything for me has been normal. My glucose test was good, my blood pressure has been normal, urine specimens have been normal, etc.. The only thing that I've had going on is puffy hands and feet. I've upped my water each day and tried to get off my feet as much as possible in the afternoons so it has improved. Sodium is playing a part in the swelling so I'm going to try to greatly cut down my sodium intake each day.

I will repost this tomorrow with a video of the ultrasound and a good picture of the baby. These may very well be the best pictures we get before baby's arrival so please enjoy them as much as we have. It is an amazing miracle to see a baby that has such a immense physical abnormality but is still very much alive. God's miracles aren't always the ones we pray for but often the ones we get each day that are easily overlooked. Our baby's life inside of me is truly a miracle from God and we are thankful for each day we have with him (or her).

Pray for our baby. Pray for us.

Love
Johnna

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March of Dimes

A band colleague of mine and his wife lost their triplet boys in 2005 due to complications from their premature birth. This year David and Christy have been asked to represent the March of Dimes in our area. They are wonderful people with an amazing story of loss, hope and miracles. They now have an ADORABLE little girl that is the prettiest child I think I have ever seen!!

The MOD supports research and prevention of premature birth, infant mortality and birth defects. These are all important issues to Jeremy and I right now and I hope that you will consider supporting the Waters' Angels Team this year. I have joined the Waters' Angels Team and my goal is $1000. It's a little lofty but I think it's possible!! Please support the MOD and my walk with the Waters' Family (it's April 25th so I may be waddling not walking).

The March of Dimes uses your money wisely: 77% of every dollar supports research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives. And your funds are used to bring comfort and information to families whose baby was born too soon, or sick. With your help we can do more.

The MOD is also involved in the following new research:
-Research into stress and other factors that may trigger preterm labor.
-Programs to educate pregnant women to recognize the warning signs of preterm labor.
-Tools to help health care providers find better ways to detect women who may be at risk for preterm labor.

Circus

Another Non-posted post.... This is the post I did after the Circus but haven't really felt up to posting it until today. I'm a proof-reader and usually take a day or so to re-read what I've written..... I learned from the master of proofing. Thanks Dad!

Jeremy loves Thai food (I'm learning) so I scouted a new Thai resturant in the 5points area of Huntsville called Thai Garden. I've heard that it was really the most authentic and non-yuppy version in the Huntsville area. IT WAS!! We had a combination appetizer of wonton, spring roll and shrimp which was great. I had my Thai favorite, Pad Thai with chicken and Jeremy had some curry dish that was rated with 3 stars (***) which translates to "We'll cleanse your colon from the inside out" in Thai. No, I did not try any of it.
After much ado with parking, we made it in to the circus and found our seats. I was already hungry again.... But waited until just before intermission for a pretzel and dippin-dots ice cream. During intermission, I ran into my buddy, Jill and her son Jeremiah. I met Jill in 1994 when I played on her sister's (Ginger) bassoon recital at the School of Fine Arts in Birmingham. Little did the three of us know that our paths would cross again (many times over actually) and that we would become lifelong friends. Their family is like my extra family in Mobile and I've probably spent a month or more in and out of their house over the years (heading to and from the beach, the Antique Roadshow, weddings, babies, etc...). Jill and her husband live about 30 minutes from Jeremy and I and we attempt to see each other when possible!! We are all just too busy sometimes!!
Jeremy got an early birthday present (new digital camera) and was excited to use it when taking these pictures! We've been without a digital camera for almost 8 months now because I had ours at school last year (May) and it was stolen by someone. I've begged and begged all year and refused to buy another one believing that someone would turn it in but no luck. It is very disappointing to have someone you probably know well steal something you would give them if they really needed it.....
Dr. appointment on Tuesday (10th). We're still hoping that we'll find out boy or girl. I've started a few projects that would be so much easier with blue or pink (instead of yellow and green) so keep your fingers crossed and PRAY for a great ultrasound!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Non-Posted Post

My sweet cousin, Karen, and I were talking yesterday afternoon and I just have to say that I love her so much! She's one of the ones that I can be honest with and she doesn't think I'm nuts (well, she may but she won't let on that she does). We were talking about the blog and she said "I'm glad that you had a good week last week." Well, I didn't have a good week entirely but there were good days and we talked about that for a while. It has been hard for me to be completely open about the bad days because they are bad and I want to forget them as quickly as possible. I find myself attempting to mask my sadness and depression because I know it makes other people uncomfortable which in turn makes me feel even worse. Catch 22, right. And the strange thing is this- There are 2 camps of people out there loving and supporting us.
Camp 1 - Thinks we are okay because we are not blubbering 24/7 and completely wrecked.
Camp 2- Thinks that we are NOT okay because we are not blubbering 24/7 and completely wrecked.
It's kinda funny if you think about it. :)

Just so both camps can see where they are right and wrong... Here it is. I have bad days, really bad days sometimes. Days where I get a pain in my back and shoulders that goes up my neck and covers my head. Bad days make my eyes hurt and I just want to shut them and never open them again. Bad days make me angry, tired, hungry (but nothing tastes right), achy, sleepless, short-tempered, etc... If you were an avid child reader, you may remember the book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day." That is how I feel on those days but even worse.


A few weeks ago, Jeremy and I began talking about the funeral plans that we made in January and how we unhappy with the limited choices in infant caskets. Although we're praying for healing and a miracle, we cannot avoid planning for what will happen if that miracle isn't performed. We also want to know that every choice we've made for our baby is one that pleases God and allows us no regrets and that takes a good deal of advanced planning. Jeremy decided that making the baby's casket would make us both feel better and was the right thing to do in this situation. I have not wanted to be involved in this project so Jeremy has completely taken it on himself. I'm not sure how many people have made a casket for their unborn first child, but you have to realize that it is truly the hardest thing that Jeremy has ever done. The pain I see in my precious husband's eyes each day makes me love him more and more because I know he is doing this out of unconditional love for our baby and for me. He is the strongest person I know but the most kind and gentle at the same time.

This is a prayer I wrote a week or so ago but never posted. This is how I feel on good days and I'm thankful that God gives me so many of them.

Thank you God for giving me the chance to be a mom. You answered my prayers with this pregnancy and I'm truly grateful for your grace and love. Our baby is perfect in your eyes and will always be perfect in our hearts. I know that you are with me every moment of the day. Thank you for letting our precious baby be a comfort to us during these hard times. His little movements and changes allow us to be joyful in his presence in our lives. Please give us the strength to be positive parents to our baby during the next few months. We want to live our lives as an example to those who are also suffering or those who may not know your love and peace. Please give us the chance to hold our precious baby and love on him as long as we can. Thank you for our great blessings and our health and security. I love you, I love you.

Continue to pray for our strength and peace.

Love,
-Johnna

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Good days

So much to blog about....

Friday night- We had a great time with our Pathfinders SS class at Julie & Scott's house. Great gumbo, delicious desserts and a hilarious Newlyweds game. Jeremy and I have a slight advantage over a few of the couples in our class. We've been together for 8 years and married for almost 6 and you get to know a person without realizing it over that many years!! We also realized that we have a very nontraditional marriage compared to most!! He's the one that cooks & usually cleans and I'm the one that rolls in at 6pm and asks "So, what's for dinner?"

Saturday- Jeremy and I just vegged at the house for most of the day. It was nice not having any plans and no where to be at a certain time.

Sunday- Jeremy got a call around 9am from our friends, the Cuttshaw's. Dianne had collapsed at home and Charlie was worried. Jeremy rushed over to help but they had already left for the hospital. Jeremy stayed with them until it was clear that the ER was not going to be of any help (they stayed for over an hour and NOBODY was called back to see a doctor during that time). Dianne was feeling better and felt like she would be better off at home. Meanwhile, I went on to church and then picked-up Jeremy at home for a lunch at La-Ha.

Monday- Weird day. I didn't have to be at work until 11am because it was Parent/Teacher Conferences from 11-6pm. Very odd to get up and then not have to go to work immediately.
I ended up eating dinner with Sara and Ashley after work and caught up on what's going on the main building. I'm always clueless because I'm out here by myself in the great band abyss.

Tuesday- Normal school day. After school, 18 of my students auditioned for a local honor band. Last year, I was thrilled to have 6 of my students accepted... This year we had 12 band students accepted to the honor band!!! WOW!!! They all worked hard (even those that didn't make it this year) and I know that each year our school will be well-represented by these talented students!!

Today- We have church dinner at 5:30pm and Ash Wednesday service at 6:30pm. Honestly, we do not regularly attend Wednesday night services. I know... very bad. But Jeremy has ALWAYS had a Wednesday night class until this semester and I've just always been in the habit of using Wednesdays as my errand/shopping day since we weren't home together. Maybe we can break our bad habit and be more involved in Wednesday night activities!!

FRIDAY!!- I love Friday's anyway but this week we are going to see the GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH in Huntsville (the circus for those of you who didn't get it). I love the circus and have been with Jeremy one other time back when we were dating. My sister, Jessica, has always been our personal family clown but when she was about 6 she called in to a radio show (we were buddies with the DJ) and won a ton of circus tickets and a chance to be in the circus! How cool!! She had a choice between riding the elephant or being a clown... Not a hard choice for "never-met-a-stranger" Jessica. She was wearing a little girl's sailor suit that night so they made her Popeye the Clown's baby!! It was so funny! Ever since that fun night, I've always had such great memories of our family fun together and the circus is definitely a big part of that! I'm also looking forward to a much anticipated dinner at Surin Madison (Thai)!!

On a baby note... THIS CHILD HAS A SCHEDULE AND STICKS TO IT!! I wish I were so dedicated! I feel small movements all day but if you want to see the big show you'll have to be up around 10:30-11pm. I'm convinced that on an ultrasound we'll find the boom-box and breakdancing cardboard box that the baby uses at night! :) Lots of fun getting to feel Baby movin' and groovin' each night.

Love you all,
Johnna

ps. Jeremy's birthday is Sunday, March 8th!! The big 3-6!! "And no grays" (that would be what Jeremy would add to that) :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

You've got to be kidding

Let's talk about maternity clothes for fat chicks. They bite. Really they do.

My major pet peeves with Plus-Size Maternity Clothing are as follows:

1. Ridiculous patterns akin to those regularly seen on re-runs of "Mama's Family"

2. Tent-like construction. I'm pregnant...Not growing an entire village.

3. The strange attempt to relocate your anatomical parts

4. Is black my only choice?? So now I look like the Fat-Catwoman

5. Assuming that because I am chubby and pregnant that I am also blind and oblivious. I want to wear FASHIONABLE clothing. Not necessarily trendy but not completely devoid of interesting detailing.

WARNING-

If you are co-worker (or someone not comfortable with my ranting about crotches and saggy butts), please stop reading this... stop now before you want to crawl in a hole and never lay eyes on me again.

Now I'm at the point where I believe that full-panel, granny-panty style, low-crotch, no pockets maternity pants are approaching. I'm dreading it because if you've ever been fat and then stuffed that fat into any sort of poorly fitting 3% spandex clothing items, you understand my fear. Looking like a dimpled oddly stuffed sausage is not my thing and hopefully will never be my thing.... Oh, I can hear you know. "Why don't you try looking online for plus-size maternity clothes?" I've done the online purchasing of clothes bit and had some success (not much but some) BUT maternity clothes do not fit like regular clothes. For example, because you are fat and pregnant, clothing designers assume that your anatomical crotch has been relocated.... Somewhere near your knees! WhAT??? Wait... I just checked. And mine is still where it's always been.... AT MY CROTCH. It's a cruel, cruel joke being played on us.

Enough about crotches... Let's talk about rear ends. Mine is big and wide, yes, but amazingly, pre-pregnancy I regularly found pants that fit and draped appropriately and looked decent. So WHY, do these maternity designers make their pants skin-tight in the thighs and loose in the butt??? What sicko would do that to an already lumpy woman???? Couldn't they reverse that fit.... Snug in the rear and straight through the thigh??? Now I hear you asking this "Maybe you've just gained weight in your thighs and that's why everything is fitting oddly." Nope. Only gained 4 pounds in 23.5 weeks and that's probably baby, uterus and blood volume. If anything, I'm smaller in my thighs (not much but a little) and I'm still wearing my PRE-maternity pants (unbuttoned and partially unzipped). Seriously, co-workers still reading this, please do not check to see if I'm really wearing my pants unbuttoned and unzipped... I am. Jeremy and my sister can attest to the scary sight.

How to solve these desperate fashion issues:

1. I purchased three Bella Bands in brown, white and black and could NOT have imagined how they would stretch my wardrobe! Because there is no fluid, I'm not "showing" as much as I would otherwise but my belly is definitely different. These amazing little stretchy tubes keep your pants up and support your growing belly. Pass this along other preggers friends that are desperate for something that will help them get through what has to be the worst shopping days of our lives.

2. Old Navy- Although they carry maternity clothes up to a misses 18/20 (xxl) that is not the size I wear. BUT they do carry cute plus-size clothes that can be used as maternity for a while. Their tank tops are generally longer than most and many banded-style tops look maternity. Some of their pants are low-rise and fit really well with the Bella Band but I have a pair of jeans (not sure what rise) from Old Navy that have that "mom jeans" look in the waist and crotch and are too lumpy to wear with the band.

3. Lane Bryant - Get it while it lasts!!! They have very few things left in their maternity section but I scored a few (albeit black) items just after Christmas for about 75% off their regular prices. They are discontinuing their line of maternity (probably because they weren't smart enough to have a small section of it in their stores) and everything is cheap!

4. I've also heard that JC Penney has plus-maternity but I have not purchased anything from them. Motherhood maternity is a popular place too but I HATED their selection. Cheap fabric, no details, boring, cookie-cutter, fat-girl clothes. Would not recommend if you are picky like me.

5. If all else fails, accessorize. Distract them with dazzling costume jewelry, or bright scarves or incredibly cute shoes. Or green eyeshadow (my newest thing). It probably doesn't really work all that well but I'm going to have to believe that it does or I will not be able to leave the house for months.

My Maternity Purchase thus far:

3 Bella Bands
5 Maternity Tops
1 Maternity pant (no panel just low rise but they are pretty ugly)
3 Maternity dresses (Must mention that I had a "Janet Jackson" moment in one of them at church. Note To Self: Buy more safety pins)

Thank you for reading this rant!! Baby has to use the restroom. My bladder has become his new trampoline.