Saturday, December 18, 2010


Life has slowed down to a brisk jog and I'm feeling like I've rejoined society for at least a brief 2 weeks.

Last Christmas (2009) was hardly jolly and really was just Jeremy and I trying to go through it in survival mode. Gratefully, this holiday has been better and we are both hearing the bells (watch "The Polar Express" if you don't get it).

We have had a busy holiday so far with lots of musical events for me and Jeremy has been in school mode more than usual this semester. In addition to being a professor that teaches 4 courses, he is also a student in the Community Counseling program. This masters will give him more opportunities to help companies in providing employee wellness. He has really enjoyed the courses and is looking forward to the next few semesters.

While going about your holiday season, remember the reason for this blessed time. For those who have asked for and received the precious baby born so long ago, this is truly a magical time of year. I have been forever changed by 2 precious babies... One perfect and holy. One imperfect now whole.

-Thank you sweet Jesus for giving me life eternal with you.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2011.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hard Work Pays Off

This year Jeremy and I were honored to serve as our area's March of Dimes Ambassador Family. We worked hard with our area director to not only raise funds for Team Lizzy Ann but to raise awareness about the walk and help other teams get going.

Got a call a few days ago and we are UNOFFICIALLY the highest raising family team in Alabama!! Team Lizzy Ann!! Of course this is unofficial and could change if another area has a ringer team in the curtains but even if we don't get this huge honor then we are so proud of our supporters!

I'm not sure what our final total came to but it was right around $8950 (maybe slightly more or less).

Each of you helped us honor the life of Elizabeth Ann Stafford and show your support for healthy babies everywhere. We are honored that you chose to give to us and our team this year.

I am still kind of struggling with where the blog is headed but please check back every so often and I'll try to be more timely in posting. :) Love you all.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lazy Summer Days

"Must be nice being a teacher. You get 3 months off every summer AND all holidays." I just love it when people say that. :) If you are a teacher, please laugh out loud as you read that statement and if you aren't a teacher ask someone who is why that is so funny to us. :)

Today is my first official "lazy" day and I am heading out the door in just a few to pick out tiles for a new backsplash and get things ready for new countertops & stove. Plus I have a little outside work to do today (roundup the encroaching woods, plant a few little things, weed beds, etc.) and have more laundry to wash that humanly possible. So I guess this could be considered a "lazy" day but just typical summer for most teachers. It's called playing CATCH-UP because the prior 40 weeks have been kinda busy! :)

I still have so much in my heart that I desire to share but just haven't found a way to do so yet. Please pray for me as I try to figure out how to best express our full story from beginning to now. So many days I feel like I am protecting Elizabeth Ann by keeping details and events to ourselves but I know that it could help so many families if we do decide to open up. Just keep us in your prayers friends.

I love this verse and it has given me peace over the past few weeks especially.

Psalm 91:4 - "He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."

Love you all,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Ann! Today you celebrated this special day by playing with angel baby friends, dancing with Angels and listening to Jesus sing "Happy Birthday" to you. What a glorious party you had in the most beautiful place anyone could ever be!

Daddy and I spent the day thinking of nothing but you and the way you changed our lives forever. We talked about you and your specialness all day long. Your thin fingers, your dark pretty hair, your sweet nose and lips, how small you seemed that day in our arms.... Every moment we had with you is burned into our memory and always with us.

We miss you so very much but wanted to share a few things we did down here for your special 1st birthday.

Love to you sweet angel,
-Mommy and Daddy

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank you

Thank you to each of you who have donated to our March of Dimes goal (Team Lizzy Ann)!! We are not quite half-way to our individual goal and only have 3 weeks left so please consider giving a small monetary gift.

Just imagine....

- No babies born with cleft palates
- No babies diagnosed with Trisomy abnormalities
- No babies born before 37 weeks
- No babies born with sickle-cell anemia
- No babies born with heart murmurs or degenerative heart conditions
- No babies born with markers for childhood cancers
- No families told that their precious baby has a "terminal abnormality"

The March of Dimes is currently doing research for all of the above and MORE!

Go Team Lizzy Ann!!

Love you all,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March of Dimes 2010


If every follower (75 total) would make a small donation to the March of Dimes (75 x $5) then our blog would have been responsible for raising 20% of our total goal!!

Jeremy and I are honored to serve as the Northwest Alabama March of Dimes Ambassador Family. We have spoken at several events and will lead the Walk for Babies in Florence on April 24th! Join our team (Team Lizzy Ann) or make a 1 time donation to our team and help us reach our goal!!

March of Dimes works to....

1. Prevent premature birth
2. Prevent birth defects
3. End infant mortality

We experienced....

1. Lizzy Ann's birth at 33 weeks and 5 days (6 weeks too early and would be dangerous even for a very healthy pregnancy)
2. a rare diagnosis of a major birth defect that was labeled a "terminal abnormality"
3. the stillbirth of our first born child

If these above reasons do not move you to support the March of Dimes, then I do not know what else I could say or do to convince you that the MOD is a worthwhile organization. Jeremy and I NEVER want another family to experience what we went through (even 1 of the 3 devastating effects listed above is too much to consider).

Please open your hearts (and your wallets) and give what you feel is appropriate but please give.

In honor of a child that was born too early but is now healthy......
In memory of a baby gone too soon.......
In hopes that no family experiences the crippling loss of a child.

Thank you all for loving us and supporting our efforts with the March of Dimes!!

-Jeremy & Johnna (& Lizzy Ann)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Just say no to cake....

It has been quite a few weeks since I last posted but we're still here just incredibly busy this semester. I've kind of overloaded my platter and struggling to keep everything in balance! Hopefully things will lighten up over the next few weeks and I can begin to feel in control again.

Of course, additional life stressors begets tossing and turning at night, bad dreams, stomach upsets, etc... Those symptoms have been a regular part of my life for the past year and I was just beginning to enjoy life without them. It is amazing how your mental state truly makes a difference on your physical health. Jeremy and I have been seriously dieting since mid-October and though it may be difficult to tell, we have both lost a fair amount of weight! Yea for us, right? Well, when I get stressed my body shuts down and weight loss becomes very difficult and that's exactly where I am right now.

Most of you that know me know that I've been overweight for most of my adult life. Even when I began high school, I thought that I was fat (145 lbs). What I wouldn't give to be 145 again!! I've carried a great deal of guilt about Elizabeth's condition and my weight being a factor. Unfortunately, we know very little about every problem she might have had because of inconclusive genetic testing but I have read about "caudal regression symdrome" which can been attributed to maternal diabetes/obesity. That being said, none of the doctors have felt that my weight had anything to do with her conditions BUT I will not let that be a factor the next time we choose to get pregnant.

I guess this ties in to the question we've been getting lately which is "So, are you going to try again?" Whenever someone asks this they always have a really sad little look on their face so it's hard for me to be really angry at them for being so nosey. But still, it's a very personal question and one that I would not want to ask anyone let alone a couple that has experienced a traumatic loss of their first child.

So if you've wanted to ask me but haven't then here is my answer.... We will when we are ready. I am not ready. I am not sure when I will be ready. I am not sure that I will ever be ready. But does that mean that I do not want us to try again? No, it just means that another pregnancy will probably bring more nervous anticipation than new baby excitment and that is not something that I necessarily look forward to.

I want to be more physically prepared for another pregnancy by passing a few more milestones but I also know that I would like to celebrate Lizzy Ann's birthday anniversary before trying again. That is a very important day in our memory and I want it to be celebrated without being overshadowed by another baby's pending arrival.

We appreciate all of the hugs and prayers that are still going out for us. Please don't stop reading or commenting. We do treasure your thoughts and words of support.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rough Couple of Days

Yesterday I learned that a dear friend of the family, Gary Stryker, passed away after a very unexpected battle with a rare lung disease. His daughters, Lindsey and Courtney, grew up with Jessica and I at First Baptist Pelham and we are just heartbroken for the loss of their precious dad. Mr. Stryker and family lived just up the street from us while we were kids and he was such a wonderful man and so loved by his friends and family. I know he will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Praying for our sweet friends during this difficult time.

Also, baby Jacob Salter was taken off of his ventilator yesterday (Monday) afternoon at 4pm but lived a little over 17 hours. Amy and Ken were able to hold him and be with him during the entire time. Pray for them as they grieve the loss of their precious baby. They are so lucky to have their families near them at this time.

It's strange that even though I have felt the loss of my own child, I still think in my mind "I cannot imagine how they feel." After losing Lizzy Ann, I realized how different each family's experience is and it is truly impossible to understand how someone feels after they have witnessed the death of their infant child.

Unfortunately, people think that I am now an expert on what to say to grieving parents but honestly there is nothing that eases the crippling heartache you feel when your mind wanders to that day when your world stopped. I have been told many many many many times that "the pain will get better over time." We are at almost 9 months since Lizzy
Ann's birth and I can tell you that the pain I experience when thinking of what we do not have has not subsided.

Then how do we move forward in our grief? How do we begin to think about having more children and potentially facing these nightmares again? Are we strong enough to manage this type of loss again?

How do we do it?........

God's perfect grace

Grace is His sweeping second-hand watch that allows the time between heartaches to grow longer and longer. Those moments of heartache are always as raw and tender as the day you first felt them but the spans inbetween those agonizing moments are mercifully extended. And in those moments of God's grace, you can live in the joyful moments that you had with your sweet baby.

-You see their face behind closed eyes and smile.

-You move a stack of papers and find yet another ultrasound picture of their precious hand.

-You have the strength to tell someone "Yes, we have a child. Her name is Lizzy Ann but she was born still on May 1st of this past year. We miss her very much."

-You find the courage to speak to a crowd of strangers and tell them that Lizzy Ann would want them to help make premature births and birth defects obsolete in the future.

-You think of the nights spent laying quietly in bed feeling her move inside of you and wishing that you could have captured that feeling in a bottle and carried it around forever.

-You think of the gifts of love that friends, family and strangers gave to you to honor her precious life.

-You think of the impact her life had on yours and know that God has forever transformed you.

Loving my friends today and praying for them.

Love to you all,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Salter Twins

Again, I am coming to you to ask for your prayers for a friend. My friend, Amy Salter (husband-Ken), delivered her twin boys, Joshua and Jacob, at approximately 31 weeks in early December. Both babies were in the NICU for a while but Joshua was able to go home before Christmas. Jacob has been in the NICU the entire time and now his prognosis is not what Amy and Ken have prayed it would be.

My heart is broken for this family and their pending loss. I know that our God can heal baby Jacob but it just does not appear as though this is God's will for his little life. Please keep Jacob, Amy & Ken, baby Joshua and their older son, Evan in your prayers this week.

If you would like to read Amy's Caring Bridge blog, please leave her a note of support and encouragement.

Working on another post and hope to have it up soon.

Love to you all,

Monday, January 4, 2010

Future of Blog

This blog began as a way for Jeremy and I to disseminate information about Lizzy Ann's progress/condition but it became much more than that for me. It became the place where I typed out my many emotions through a very difficult pregnancy and ultimately my saddest moments after we lost Lizzy Ann.

At this point, I am unsure as to the direction of the blog and have prayed about what it's purpose is now. Many many many people read our blog during my pregnancy for various reasons but mostly because they had hope that God would deliver us from the nightmare we were living. When a miracle didn't happen for us, I believe that many people quit reading simply because they felt it was over.... The End. Well, it was really just the beginning for us and now we (actually I) feel like I'm writing a blog that has no purpose now other than to vent my sadness at varying intervals.

I'm praying that God will tell me what I need to do from here but if you are still reading, please pray for us to find purpose in this confusing time.

I hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year. We wish we could say our's was great but we made it and are trying to continue moving forward.
Love to you all