The Eve

On this night... the Eve of our child's last breath on this earth, I don't really know what to do with myself. Sleeping is hard enough while I'm pregnant and with this kind of anxiety, near impossible.

I have been reading some of the posts written in the last few days of Zoe's life and am struck with so much emotion. 

"We have been struggling with the decision of when to take our baby off of life support.  How do you make that decision?  How about never?  Although comfortable and not feeling pain, it is selfish to keep her hanging on any longer.  Her poor body has done all that it can.  We want to give her peace and rest.  I have been fighting with the question of when... when will I be ready?  But that is not my decision.  It is Zoe's.  

Andrew's mom composes a beautiful piano piece for each grandchild and last night we crawled into bed and listened to Zoe's song.  It starts out so sweet and fragile, just like Zoe.  It then works up to a deep and strong middle... which reminded me of the struggle and pain that Zoe has suffered.  The song then finishes with a beautiful and almost heavenly ending.  We both shed many tears from beginning to end, followed by peace in knowing that she is ready.  She is ready now."

I remember this feeling so vividly. I can see myself sitting in our PICU room typing late at night... sorting through the chaos of feelings leading up to the most important decision we will ever make as parents.  Quoted above was the most powerful experience I have ever been blessed with. The assurance of peace was heartbreaking and freeing at the same time. I felt so defeated with the great loss before us. But I knew Zoe was ready. It was her time. 

I was tearing up tonight with Andrew because he has to work tomorrow and I dread being alone on such a difficult day. I dread facing Londyn's meltdowns over missing her sister without my husband to soothe both of us. It's days like this that make the expression "I can do hard things" an understatement. But is there any other option? Of course. I could completely lose it and give up. But will that help me to grow closer to my Father in Heaven? Absolutely not. It is these challenges that we are faced with in order to stretch ourselves and reach our full potential as God's children. It isn't always pretty but its life. There is always a choice. 

Lately when Londyn is pouting over a typical 5 year old end-of-the-world issue, I ask the question, "Are you going to choose to be happy or sad?" The keyword to this question is "choose." There is always a choice. 

Easier said than done. 

Some days... I choose to stay in bed for a much needed "Mental Health Day" and others I make the choice to fight through the grief and move forward with Zoe in my head and heart. 

Tonight Andrew said, "maybe it will be easier by her 10 year." At first I thought, it has to be! But the reality is that it will probably never be easier... more predictable but not easier. And that's just going to have to be okay.


2 Year Angelversary

It's that time again... we wear red, release balloons, look at pictures, reminisce of bittersweet memories, visit the cemetery and try not to lose it completely. It's been 2 years since our family was complete... without a hole in our family photos and in our hearts. 

Two years ago, we were spending our last few precious days with Zoe in the hospital. We had made the dreadful decision to set her free from life support, tubes, pricks and pokes. We knew that the only way for her to find peace was to return to our Father in Heaven. 

August 24, 2012

August 25, 2012

August 26, 2012

August 27, 2012

August 28, 2012

2 Years Ago Today - August 29, 2012

Life over the past two years has been excruciating at times. At others, I feel more joy than I ever knew possible. The lessons that our daughter Zoe continues to teach not only us, but many... begin
with what's really important in this life and in the eyes of God. Family and Faith are continuously leading us back to her. 

July 4, 2012

A lifetime apart is a long time, but eternity together is worth the wait. 

I watched our Zoe video yesterday which opened the floodgates of grief. It's like turning back the clock and I'm right back in that raw, heavy hearted state. Andrew and Lulu joined me halfway through and we just held each other. Lulu started crying hysterically towards the end. She has been asking for Zoe more than usual lately. I don't know if she senses the anniversary approaching or if she's having Zoe Days but the poor thing was a mess. It is so unbelievably painful to watch your young one grieve her sibling and what could have, would have been. 

The Life of Zoe Grace

She says "I wish Zoe could have stayed with us. I think this baby will stay." Ever since last night, Lulu has been very sensitive. It breaks our hearts to see her sort through the pain.

It's intriguing to imagine what Zoe is doing in Heaven, preparing our little one to come to our family and sharing her wisdom with others. 

I know our daughter served her purpose here on earth. In this life, I don't know or understand why her time had to be so short. But I can foresee an eternal understanding once this life leads into the next. 

Today has been a family day. We went to the park where Lulu was running happily and accidentally sunk her foot in a a bunch of mud. Andrew found her shoe eventually. 

After getting cleaned up and a quick change, we went and sat in our Zoe booth at Red Robin, one of the few public places we shared with our angel. Booth #21 means a lot to us and has become a tradition for each anniversary and birthday. 

Following lunch we headed to the cemetery to clean Zoe's headstone, place new flowers and release balloons. We each wrote a message on the balloons to be sent to Zoe. 

2 Years

We love and miss you so much Zoe Grace.  Not a day goes by that you don't fill our thoughts and hearts.  Until we meet again...


Breaking the Silence

My blogging days have become a thing of the past because let's be honest, life has happened and that's more important right? Nevertheless, I could use a good therapy sesh with the great blogosphere... so here I am. 

So much has happened since my last update. My parents have been on their mission in Guatemala for 5 months now. They are busy serving The Lord one tooth extraction at a time. Andrew and I will be visiting them next month for 9 days! We will be touring the area, helping in the clinic and experiencing the life of our favorite missionaries. 

Follow their mission adventure at www.guatemolar.blogspot.com

I concluded my second year of business with the Amazing Grace Dancers with a fantastic recital. It was another year of learning and teaching, all with Zoe as my motivation.  

Lulu finished her last year of preschool with Miss Rebecca. She is so ready for kindergarten and I am so not! Where does the time go?!

Our biggest and most exciting news is that I am pregnant with baby #3. I can't believe that I have been pregnant for 24 months of my life so far! We will find out the gender next month, August 21st. Baby is due January 6th, 2015.

I have heard countless times "since Zoe's condition wasn't genetic, there's very little chance it will happen again. Everything is going to be okay." The reality is that I have been the 1 in 110 statistic of carrying a child with a severe heart defect. I know first hand that everything isn't "always going to be okay." 

Pregnancy after child loss adds a whole new level of crazy to the hormones that simultaneously make us glow and bite peoples heads off at the same time. I look back and think "how was I so naive the last two times?" Then there are moments where I wish I was still that naive and not up all night worrying before every appointment, fearing that I won't hear my baby's heartbeat.

About 20 minutes after putting Londyn to bed last night, I heard her crying. When I went to check on her she was looking at the "Dear Lulu" book that I made for her to remember her sister. Through her sobs, she said "I miss Zoe. Why couldn't she stay?" My heart sank. I wasn't prepared for this. It's been a while since Lulu has had a Zoe Day. We read "Dear Lulu," talked about our eternal family and then said a prayer for peace.

This 5 year old continues to long for her baby sister and it is so hard to watch her struggle with grief at such a young age. Does it ever get easier? 

Here is a great read about what it's like to be pregnant after losing a child. 


2 Years

Two years ago today, we welcomed a little piece of Heaven into our hearts and lives.  We are forever changed.  We are forever better because of Zoe.

I look at myself in these pictures and my heart hurts for the young mother that I see and the journey she is about to experience.  I see the hope and fear in her eyes and want to tell her that she is stronger than she knows.  That she is about to witness miracles, tender mercies and the greatest eternal lesson.  I want to shake her and warn her of the excruciating pain that she is about to feel.  But most of all, I want to tell her to never give up.  Always trust in Him and you will get through another day.

As a grieving parent, birthdays seem to be more difficult than the anniversary of death. The finality of her passing is easier to comprehend because we were there. We saw her slipping away and grow weaker until her body could handle no more. Birthdays are not that way. There is a layer of grief over what could have been and what will never be. It is for that reason that I think this 2nd birthday has been such a test of faith. 

I woke up today with more joy and enthusiasm than I have in the passed couple weeks. I immediately felt a near tangible break in the fog. My heart was full of gratitude and relief to celebrate with the ones I love most. 

Londyn was so excited to wear all things red, including the necklace her Auntie Steph made with Zoe's picture on it. She also decided to take her photo album and elephant Gracie (whom she has grown very attached to as of late) to show and tell at school.

When we picked her up from school, she showed us a chalk drawing of Zoe's headstone that she made. 

After school we went to Red Robin, one of the two restaurants that we went to with Zoe. We even sat at the same table.

Following lunch we released balloons and sang Happy Birthday at the cemetery. 

This day is so beautiful that I can practically feel her smile through the sunshine.  It has truly been a Zoe day.  Perfect in every way.

Happy Birthday sweet angel.


The Fog

Take a moment to recall the last time you drove on a thick and foggy morning.  For my fellow Oregonians, this is what most every morning looks like to us.  Driving in the fog can be undependable and weary at times.  There are breaks in the fog, when the road looks clear... and others where you're white knuckling the steering wheel and just doing your best to keep your eyes on the dotted line.  As I was driving Lulu to preschool this morning, I found myself in this very fog... physically, mentally and emotionally.  

This past week has been really tough... like can't get out of bed tough.  I am overwhelmed.  I am sad, frustrated and overwhelmed.  I am grieving.  

The days have become longer and more difficult as Zoe's 2nd birthday approaches this Friday, April 11th.  It just doesn't get easier, does it?  I can't help but think of what it would be like if she were still here.  My 2 and 5 year old daughters would be in matching Easter dresses and doing egg hunts together.  There would be two filled baskets on Easter morning, instead of just one.  My heart wouldn't know this continuous ache and I would feel "normal."  

Last Friday, I just couldn't do it anymore.  I couldn't pretend like everything was okay.  I didn't want to pretend like I could do it all any longer.  I stayed in bed catching up on my shows, crying and torturing myself with pictures of Zoe.  Andrew got Lulu to school and brought me treats.  He had a massage scheduled that day for himself and even called to have it transferred over to me.  At least that got me to take a shower.  After one of the best massages I've ever had, I couldn't help but crawl back into bed for more shows, crying and pictures.  This whole time, Andrew never once tried to fix me.  He just let me be me without feeling completely crazy and out of control.  

Later that evening, we visited Zoe and replaced the Valentine's Day decor with Easter decorations that my mom had left for Zoe before going on their mission to Guatemala.  It made me feel better to see all of the beautiful Spring colors and sun shining brightly.  It was there that I started to feel a break in the fog.  

Griefs journey never ends.  It continues to humble and teach me that I cannot do it alone and that I don't ever have to.  Listening to General Conference this past weekend could not have come at a more needed time.  The messages from our Prophet and Apostles fed my soul with the hope and encouragement that I needed.  

The fog is still grey but I'm taking it one morning at a time... 


The Bigger Picture

It's hard to believe that in a month and a half, Zoe would have turned two years old.  It can't be!  How has that much time really passed since we welcomed our little angel into this world?  Being a parent took on a whole new meaning.  It wasn't about getting the hang of breast feeding and worrying about my postpartum body... it was about spending each and every possible moment with our child because it could easily be the last.  

About four months after Zoe died, we started attending the Dougy Center, a place for families and especially children dealing with the death of a loved one.  More on that was explained in this post.  It was so difficult at first but it was a relief to be around other grieving adults.  Londyn enjoyed it at first, but after a few months she said she didn't want to go back anymore.  I was concerned but with her sensitive little heart I didn't want to push it.  After about six months, just out of the blue... she asked to go back again.  We were put on a waiting list for a new opening in her age group and were able to go back to our first meeting on Thursday, February 13th.  It was extra special because this time Andrew came too.  Without hesitation, Londyn followed the kids and adult volunteers to the Little's group and Andrew and I went upstairs to the adult group.  Parents sit and have an open discussion about their loss and coping with grief.  In past group sessions I've attended, the other parents were grieving the loss of a spouse and only once was their another parent having lost a child.  With that being said, I couldn't relate as well to the other adults as I hadn't, nor do I ever want to understand that kind of loss.

This time was much different than I've ever experienced before.  A new couple was attending for the first time after losing their adoptive son to multiple congenital heart defects.  My heart ached for them as I could see the raw pain that this mother was enduring.  At one point someone asked how Londyn was doing.  I explained that she has been struggling for a while as she is continuously worrying about her loved ones dying.  I shared that some friends of ours recently lost their baby girl to a terminal illness and then our dear sweet pediatrician suddenly passed away in December with an aggressive cancer, which I shared in this post.  Just then, a man sitting several seats away from us spoke up and said "I think that was my wife."  I looked at him blankly for moment in shock.  All I could think to say was "what?"  He said "I think you are talking about my wife.  She was a pediatrician.  What was her name?"  I drew a blank because I still couldn't believe that this could really be happening.  I finally said, "Mindy Green."  His eyes lit when he said "that's my wife."  Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat there and told him how much we cherished his wife and how amazing she was with Londyn and I after losing Zoe.  I told him that Mindy and I always talked about getting our girls together as they are the same age.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time to think that these girls were finally playing together downstairs in their group.  It was truly an act of God that our paths crossed and I know Mindy was smiling at the sight of our girls playing together at the Dougy Center.  After our group was over, he came up to me and said "I feel like I need to give you a hug."  Before we left he invited us to lunch at a nearby burger joint.  It was an amazing day.  

We visited Zoe's grave yesterday.  It had been a few weeks since we last visited.  I love seeing all of the red hearts and flowers that my mom and dad decorated before they left on their mission.  Londyn usually helps with the flowers and then runs off to explore the cemetery grounds.  This used to bother me because I unrealistically expected our young child to sit and talk about Zoe during our visit.  That's not what kids do.  Now when I see Lulu running and talking to herself, I like to think that she is playing with her sister.  This sweet thought always makes me smile.

Heavenly Father see's the bigger picture.  There are days when I wish I could just take a peek.  But how will I learn?  How will I grow?  In this life we are given opportunities to stretch ourselves and exercise our free agency to become the best version of ourselves.  These opportunities come when least expected and test us, pulling our faith in every direction.  Being Zoe's mother is the most painful blessing I will ever know.  The 9 months that I carried her and 4 1/2 months that we had her here on this earth presented so many miracles and tender mercies that give me the strength to endure.  I know that this sorrow is temporary and that one day the bigger picture will be revealed and all joy will be restored.  Families are forever.

THIS is my bigger picture.



Celebrating an early Gotcha Day the night before our favorite new missionaries left for Utah.  We've spent every Gotcha Day at this very Fuddruckers (except one year when I lived in Utah, my parents flew out and took my friends and I to Fuddruckers in Orem).

It only seems appropriate on the eve of my 28th Gotcha Day to blog about the amazing parents that my Heavenly Father chose for me on February 12th, 1987.

This would not have been the case several days ago as I was a blubbering idiot for the entire first week of their absence. It was pretty bad. I was falling apart over the littlest things. Being alone at night didn't help. I got teary over boiling zucchini in a specific pot, just because it reminded me of my dad.  I know. Seriously?!

I think they knew how bad I had it because they called every day last week. I couldn't even hear my dad's voice without turning into a puddle.  I have always joked about my separation anxiety since I couldn't even get through a sleepover as a youth without calling my dad in the middle of the night to come pick me up.  My parents have always pointed the finger at adoption and abandonment.  It doesn't help that these two have never given up on me. They have loved and cheered me on through the best and worst times. They adore Andrew and Londyn more than I could have ever imagined.  They just don't make it easy to let go.

Living in their house doesn't help the situation either. I grew up in this house from the age of 7 and it was just the three of us for most of those years. This week has been much easier thus far and I don't white knuckle my phone at the hint of a text from what could be my mom anymore. Although Skyping with them for the first time last night was pretty awesome!

Londyn has always been very close with my parents.  We have lived in the same house just 5 minutes away from them since the day she was born.  When Zoe was in the hospital, Londyn lived with them off and on for days.  There were times when I had no idea where, what or how she was doing but I always knew she was in good hands because I knew WHO she was with.  She was with the next best thing, my parents.  We rarely go more than two days without seeing Grandma and Grandpa, so this is a huge adjustment for her.  After losing Zoe, Londyn's greatest fears aren't monsters under her bed or being afraid of the dark like a typical 4 year old.  Her fears involve losing loved ones too soon.  As we've prepared her for months about Gma & Gpa's mission, she has repeatedly said "I am not going to miss them."  She frequently says this because saying "goodbye" or missing people makes her sad.  She has already asked me if Grandma and Grandpa are going to die and not come back.  It's so hard to know what to say when the shock of your child's curiosity takes your breath away.  I have learned to take a moment... breathe... say a small prayer and do the best I can in the moment.  The hardest part is that I can't give her any guarantees and our time with Zoe has taught us that very important life lesson.  My parents and especially my mom have always been so sensitive to Londyn's grief.  They were in the front lines with us before, during and after Zoe's journey and know what we went through.  Before she left my Mom hid little surprises around the house with poems to help Lulu find them.  She told Londyn that whenever she was missing her, she could open an envelope to find a special surprise and remember that Grandma loves her.  Needless to say all five surprises were found within the first week!  I couldn't believe that with all the madness and last minute preparation for their mission, my mom made the time to think about Lulu and how much she was going to miss her Grandma.

Family dinner after their mission farewell talks

The younger six grandkids went to John's Incredible Pizza and a sleepover with Gma & Gpa a week before they left for the MTC

My parents have always been a team of spiritual goodness but it's amazing to have a front row seat, watching them finally focus on themselves, simultaneously serving others. It's truly inspiring! 

You want to know what else is inspiring? If you know my mom and dad, the difficult part about serving this mission isn't treating patients in a foreign country and speaking a new language.  It's leaving their children and grandchildren for a year and a half. What a blessing it is to see my parents rely on their faith to go and do the Lord's work. There is nothing my parents could say that could prove their faith and love for our Savior Jesus Christ than this act alone.

My parents spent a few days with my awesome in-laws in Payson before heading into the MTC.  My mom and mom-in-law Brendi are trouble!

Provo Temple and checking in to the MTC

At Sam Hawk (my favorite Korean restaurant) in Provo after their first week in the MTC