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