Elsie Noelle

It seems the consensus amongst most of us is confusion, and I think that's absolutely fair. I wanted to just share a small bit of information--which is basically all I have.

The doctors with Ellie were sure this wouldn't happen again, and we don't blame them for believing so. There wouldn't have been any further testing they could have done unless we had brought in a geneticist to test Ellie further, but even then there wouldn't have been a guarantee that anything would have been found to let us know it could happen again. Plus, when this happens once, there is less reason to believe it could happen again.

The verdict so far is that this could be a lightning strikes twice sort of deal- a theory I am not comfortable with, and feel that it is much more likely that Chris and I are carriers for some sort of recessive trait that's causing this OR that it is solely something I am passing on.

If it's both of us, there should be a 25% chance with every pregnancy- a lottery I am not at all willing to play. If it's just me, it would be passed 100% of the time.

Elsie has almost all of the same traits that Ellie did minus the turned in/stiff hands and feet (so far as we can tell.) The main and lethal characteristic is her cerebellum which is much farther behind than her body (which is already far behind) and her recessed jaw.

Since Ellie's amniocentesis came back negative, we are opting out of doing another with Elsie..because they will be able to gather the same information after she is born and I don't have the energy to do that again and wait for results that do not change her outcome. We have decided that we want as little contact with the doctor's as possible-not because we don't respect them but rather that we cannot go in as frequently as we did with Ellie because it is far too exhausting and never made a difference. It feels as though we are hanging by a thread and I am not about pushing my limits. We will go in every 6 weeks or so, mainly to make sure everything is okay with my body.

Devastated isn't a strong enough word to describe how we feel--and I've never been more angry in my life. We will be praying for help, strength, and most of all mercy--but are comfortable with any prayers we can get. If you feel strong enough and able to pray for the miraculous, we surely will not stop you. At this point, I don't have it in me, but the important part is that I have faith that it's possible. I am okay with being selfish this time around and admitting I need help..and that I cannot intercede as often and as hardcore as I did with Ellie.

My personal prayers and thoughts seem to center around endurance more than anything. I find myself frequently thinking "I cannot be pregnant forever. I can only be pregnant about five more months at the most." I'm pretty sure I'm in survival mode. Ellie taught me that you cannot, in fact, die from a broken heart--so I have this weird and horrible confidence that I know I'm physically going to make it through this. (I wasn't always sure with Ellie because it was so new and fresh. I didn't actually think I was going to die, per say, but there wasn't much hope for life, if that makes sense.) But my confidence in the fact that I'm going to survive should not be mistaken for lack of pain or even strength for that matter.

You guys-we just don't know. And we're going to have to be okay with that for now.

I am deeply bonded to Elsie Noelle and I do not fear that I will unconsciously reject her for the sake of my sanity...but the relationship is quite complicated simply because I know what is to come.

The one thing I have held on to, and is still related to endurance, is the fact that relief did come upon Ellie's passing. Again, I am not hopeless and know that anything is possible, but the reality of the matter is I cannot afford to spend the next months investing in an outcome that I surely didn't experience last time. And again, this is where our community comes in--to pray for that if you feel able.

I may or may not write as much this time, I'm just not sure. We definitely won't have as many medical updates because we won't be going in as frequently.

Please, please, please--anybody you feel comfortable sharing us with..do. I've said this before and will probably say it a thousand more times, but we need as much support as possible.

My dearest Elsie,

You were loved before we even knew you existed, and the value of your life has never ever been lost on us. We prayed for you and waited for you and we are so thankful for your sweet life that surely is not over yet. You are a joy and a beauty and we are committed to being the best mom and dad we can be to you. We offer you everything we have to give. You are known and you are deeply deeply desired.

Baby Naming

It happened! I FINALLY found a prenatal vitamin that doesn't make me feel like death. The overwhelming majority of people told me to try out gummies. So i got the PreNatal kind with the backup plan of getting regular gummie vitamins and supplementing the other vitamins that I need. But, alas, they work and they taste better and Chris wants to eat them. Success! Thank you all for your suggestions.

Also-we have a name for our baby girl. Let me first remind you of how Ellie's name came about. We believe that naming children is a big deal. It's sort of a big deal in scripture annnddd how can you argue with that. This is the name that they will be called for the rest of their life and meaning is super important in that. I'm all about cute and trendy names, especially more peculiar ones, but we knew it was more important for God to help us find the right one, and when that becomes priority, it seems you just know when it's right.

Ellie came to us randomly before we knew the meaning. I had never met another Ellie before and we found out it meant bright shining one a few weeks BEFORE we found out about her condition. I've talked about her name before but it couldn't have been more perfect. Her middle name, Rae, came from Rachel which means "Lamb or Sheep," which is also perfect.

That being said, I had a few names written down that I really loved for this baby..but none had stuck even though Chris and I both liked them. Chris isn't as pressed as I am about actually solidifying the name because he's good at waiting for good things. I'm impatient and I like to know.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had had so so so many dreams that this baby was a boy. Until one night I had one single dream that it was a girl, and in the dream we named her. The name in the dream was very significant, which you will find out later why, and although we didn't feel like it was a good first name for her, we decided to keep it for her middle name IF the baby was a girl.. In ALL of my dreams about boys none included names, although we did have one picked out.

We found out she was a girl and were pretty positive we knew that her middle name would be the one I dreamt about. But still no luck on the first name.

We have worship and prayer time that we go to on Wednesdays at our church, and often great revelation comes during those nights, whether on a personal level or a broader level as a group, but we focus on interceding for others, the Church, our church body, and more. I was feeling a bit under the weather (due to the vitamin madness and general pregnancy fun) so I decided to hang back and enjoy some alone time while Chris went. After he walked out the door I thought to myself, "I wouldn't be surprised if Chris gets a name one night during worship some Wednesday."

When he got home, he had heard a name, and said that he heard it during the middle of a song and it "felt right." He told me the name and, just as it happened with Ellie's name, it hit a place in my heart that none of the other names had. My eyes started to water but I didn't want to get too excited as I didn't know the meaning yet...and if it had a negative or random meaning we would have been sure that maybe it just popped in his head for some other reason.

I typed the name into my search engine, slightly nervous, and when the meaning popped up I immediately cried and showed it to Chris. There are a few different meanings of the name, depending on which origin you choose to view it by, and every single one of them is absolutely so fitting for this little one.

I would tell you the meanings..........but then you sneaky people will reverse search it. ;)

For right now, we are planning to wait until delivery to announce, because we like that better, but I didn't want to forget how the story happened. (Although I DID remember to write the general details down in my baby journal--thanks, Caroline!)

The best things happen when you surrender. In all things. And especially baby naming. People won't understand. And they may not believe you. And they may think you're crazy. But when it fits, it fits. Just look at little Elliebelle.


TODAY IS THE DAY...that I had a crappy day.

Meh. I'm at Starbucks where I meant to actually order a fancy drink but in reality I got nervous at the counter and ordered a decaf Americano. Which is delish, but I just felt like I needed something to lift the spirits a bit. Just kidding, only Jesus can do that which is WHY I'm actually just here killing time till I go to a 6pm church service at a random church that we don't go to because why not?

My coffee heard me say that and decided to spill all over my white scarf. Whatevs, didn't need you anyway.

I keep waiting for someone to message me and tell me to not go to so many churches. No one has yet. I'm glad. If you do, my response will be that church is a building and we are actually the church so I can do what I want and I just so happen to want to not be so politically correct all the time (frequently, I write posts and then delete them for fear of not being PC. Today I'm feeling feisty because I had a bad day and NOFILTER.) We DO have a home church. We love that place.

Yesterday started the crap-train that has been my weekend in that I woke up SEVERELY missing Ellie. It just happens, ya know. I can go weeks thinking nothing but joy when I think of her and other times shoot me in the face it hurts so bad. I have dreams about her in which the hospital experience just replays...its not even a dream it's just a complete moment for moment documentary of what actually happened and chris was there and sarah was there and there we were bathing her and talking to her and hugging her and wishing she were earthly alive and not eternity alive (her end of the deal= still better.)

When Chris realized I was ellie-sad he held me and I cried and he told me that when he woke up he felt like he had been talking to her. So these things usually happen on the same nights for us.

I got over it and chose, once again, to actually get up from bed and to continue breathing and then this morning at church every baby cry/giggle/sound made me ache from the deepest pit in my stomach.

"Heavenly rewards?" is what I repeat to myself in these moments, emphasis on the question mark. Because sometimes it feels SO not worth it to continue this fight..it seems so much easier, in my head, to give up. To stay in bed. To lay with her box of things that smell like her instead of waiting at Starbucks to worship the God who knew this would happen all along.

I, very fortunately, know enough to know that waiting on God is actually the only solution. Waiting on more healing, more restoration, more promises, more faithfulness. He's a merciful one, that is for sure. And a way better choice than pounding on the floor and not showering for the rest of ever.

So excuse me while I go angry-pray only to be met by intense non-angry-love.

Missing the freaking HECK out of you, Elliebear.

Ellie's Birth Story

There are really no words to do any of this situation justice. No words to describe how much we miss Ellie. No words to describe the difficulty of holding our Ellie as her heart stopped beating. I didn't want to wait too long to post simply because I don't want to forget any details, and I also want to honor those of you that have spent the past months (almost a half a year, actually) praying for our sweet girl and family.

I know I've said this before, but it truly does feel like we've walked through this as a large family--we have cried with so many friends and at times it felt like we were burdening the lives of nearly everyone around us with constant crappy news........but man, what a picture of community the way God intended for it to be. I could (and I'm sure I will) talk more about that in the future...there's just so much.

I woke up on Tuesday, the 18th, feeling sorta weird. I'm sure a lot of it was normal 38 week pregnancy weird, because I don't think there's such a thing as feeling physically "normal" at 38 weeks pregnant. So that aside, I started to leak a bit of my water, but it wasn't gushing out or anything..and I was losing a bit of my plug (for you squeamish people, this is as bad as it gets for this post.)

We decided to call our doctor just to talk with him and let him know what my body was doing. He happened to be out of town in NC, but he talked with us for a while and Chris began asking him one more time about what we should do (regarding our birth plan) as we had previously been throwing around the idea of the c-section "just in case" Ellie would survive. We knew the prognosis was poor, but we began to weigh the pros and cons........and as a mother I began to question whether or not my strong opposition to c-section was due to fear and the desire to better "control" future pregnancies (i.e. how a c-section might affect future deliveries, scarring, etc.)

I don't think there was a strong right or wrong decision here. We just wanted to be at peace either way. We really wanted a natural delivery, but we also wanted to set ourselves up for the most guilt-free scenario. I began feeling that if we had a natural delivery and she didn't make it..that I would have wondered if a c-section could have made a difference. Some of this was spiritual attack, and some of it was just longing to make a decision that would be conducive to healing and peace of mind and heart. The doctor spoke gently and very personally with us, stating that if we were his children..he would encourage the c-section just due to the state of her body and the potential stress of labor (on her) if we waited. He told us that he wanted us to make the decision and to feel good about it, but that if we wanted to go the c-section route we would really need to go in that day (due to labor possibly coming soon and just to optimize her chance of survival.)

We got off the phone, talked about it, and felt very much at peace (yet terrified) with the decision to go ahead and go in. We called him back and told him and then he set everything up for us via telephone to the hospital. I had already eaten lunch, so we had to schedule for more than 6 hours from the time I had eaten, which put us at about 8:30 for scheduling purposes. We packed up a little bit and did random stuff till it was time to leave...and it was sort of surreal from that point on.

Our lovely (understatement) friend, Sarah, came with us..as she was originally going to be coming with us to the birthing center from way back before we knew that Ellie had some health issues. When all of that unfolded, we felt that we still really needed her.......maybe even now more than before--just to be a rock and a prayer warrior and a super peaceful presence (if you know her...you know what I mean.) She headed over and we headed to the hospital.

As we got closer, a brilliant rainbow appeared (no joke) and we literally drove into it for the last..maybe 20 minutes of the trip. My mom texted Chris a picture of it from where she was (also driving to the hospital) and then Sarah called to ask us if we saw it..........I'm kind of glad both of these things happened so that we have proof, because Chris and I were in awe of how bright it was. Chris and I didn't talk about it before hand because we were both pretty nervous and contemplative in the car......but we both felt like we just kind of knew what was about to happen. And we both felt like God was just telling us, "Hey. I'm here. We're here with you." My words aren't doing this justice, but it was awesome.

We got in to the hospital and the poking and prodding began (as to be expected) and this was all kind of a blur. The neonatalogist came in and we had to confirm what we wanted post birth, as the plan was originally less intervention oriented. We still didn't change our minds about life support or any of that jazz, but we did want her to be assessed for survival chances in case things looked different outside of the womb..but we knew were just going to have to wait and see. I don't know how many people were lifting us up in prayer at this point...but I know it had to have been a lot, because we felt so. much. peace. As they wheeled me out of the room into the O.R. (urg, without my husband), I literally just felt the presence of way more than just two people (who were pushing me) surrounding my bed. I felt just swarmed, literally swarmed, with heavenly presences.....I didn't have Chris with me yet, but I felt so calm that I even cracked a joke with the anesthesiologist and he was all like, "Oh, gracious," and shaking his head while laughing at me. At that point, I was pretty sure Ellie was not going to be making it. I just felt like God was there waiting (not grim reaper style......but beautiful Father style ready to wrap her up) and I was devastated but also peaceful.

They numbed me, Chris got back there, and I spent the next 25 minutes or so staring into Chris' eyes while they did the surgery....and literally his eyes kept me so grounded. I told him to "talk to me about good things," so he rambled on about Hawaii (which I later found out was all he could come up with at the time) and I didn't even hear anything he said but his voice and his eyes were just the most gorgeous and soothing things ever. I heard the doctor say, "She's out" but I couldn't see her yet, and I knew the NICU team was working on her. Chris stood up and looked to the corner of the room where she was while they stitched me up and I knew she was alive then but I knew she wouldn't be alive long...I just knew.

They told us that they were keeping her heart going by using epinephrine and trying to get some tubes down for breathing, but were having trouble due to her tiny body and some malformations. I definitely knew at that point.

After about 20 to 30 minutes of working on her, the doctor told us that it wasn't looking good, and so we told them we just wanted to hold her. So they brought her to us and I got to hold her skin to skin while she left to be with Jesus...I don't know how long it was that she was alive on me...she looked so peaceful the whole time--but the staff gave us some time before they came over to verify that her heart had stopped beating. She was just so beautiful and had the best little cheeks to kiss. We just wept and kissed her and told her how much fun she was already having in heaven...and Chris just told her a million times how sweet she was. There are no words.........

There are no words for how hard this was (and is), and I can't even go into more detail because the memory is too precious. Literally, I am alive right now because the Father is sustaining me......because if pure heartache could kill me--this would have. Our sweet, sweet baby. He is continuing to breathe breath into our lungs and hold our hearts.

They told us we could keep her for as long as we wanted, which I never thought I would have wanted to do before all of this happened..but after seeing her I knew we needed to hold her and love her for a while. So we kept her for a good five hours or so..just staring at her and kissing her and smelling her. Sarah helped Chris bathe her since I couldn't really move from bed--and I was so content just watching her over there...I was being so loved on by the Father and it was so surreal. Don't get me wrong, the whole thing was devastating and indescribably painful, but I think it was as peaceful as it could have been, considering the circumstances. We held her and had our families come in to see us and see her before we held her a little longer and then let the staff take her. We felt a lot of closure saying goodbye to her physically...we felt devastated and heartbroken, but it just felt like it was time to give her up.

There is more I could say about right now, but we're just still in this place of intense heartache and also peace, all mashed into one. There is incredible pain. Incredible. And there is a lot of weeping in bed with my sweet husband. But also overwhelming moments of comfort and beautiful impressions of heaven where she is MUCH better off than we are....laughing and joyful all of the time. Heaven is looking so much sweeter these days, even better than before.

I've talked about this before, but my own parents know exactly what it's like to lose a child--as they lost their first daughter. My dad told me a couple days after that there literally is nothing worse--and I really hope that that is true. It makes sense as God literally did this willingly for us which I can't even comprehend--but clearly God knows the weight of the pain and the heartache. I can honestly say already that I'm terrified to get pregnant again in the future--and I'm working on that fear with Him..but we know it's just going to take time.

We are fully prepared and waiting in expectation for full healing from the Father...we are also fully prepared and waiting in expectation for God to use this for good......because we are declaring that there will be no more joy or hope robbed from our family. We are anxiously anticipating full and complete healing for our hearts--but missing Ellie every single second. Our beautiful friend took the sweetest pictures of Ellie, but I'm not ready to post all of them yet..so I'll just do one for now. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we move forward--once again, I cannot express enough gratitude for all of the prayers and love.

Ellie 5/7/13

We have the most lovely midwife. We are just so sad that we probably won't be able to deliver with her anymore because we're high risk--but we're still meeting with her and I am so happy that we are. Seeing her was such a necessary break from the high-risk-hospital-pregnancy-world.

We got a little freaked out because we hadn't felt Ellie move in a while.........a good while. Don't worry or be offended if you normally get Ellie updates and didn't know about this, we didn't announce it because we didn't want to scare anybody and we were out of town celebrating our anniversary (of course.) So we called our midwife and ended up meeting her at the birthing center once we got back home and we heard the little nuggets heartbeat and all is well. The midwife said that sometimes babies can go into small little cycles of being not as active and it's perfectly normal....but understandably frightening--especially in our situation.

She talked with us until 9pm and offered to let me take a doppler home so I could listen to her whenever I got scared (I declined because that's all I'd do) but she just encouraged us so deeply. Ellie's heart rate was wonderful and my belly is actually measuring just slightly below normal, which is so encouraging. Anyways--apparently when we called Amy to tell her we hadn't felt Ellie, she stopped and prayed with the people she was with (on a precious Sunday night that we stole from her schedule and of course she didn't even care.)

Anyways, she listened for a good while to her heart, felt for her position, and kept her hand on my belly until she felt her kick the palm of her hand. It was so sweet. And today Ellie is just back to her normal wiggly self which I just love. Such wonderful and constant reminders of her existence and of how far she's already gone past the physicians' expectations. Keep on, Ellie!

In other news: we had a BLAST at the aquarium because lets just be real; few things are more awesome than staring at huge whale sharks and beluga whales and dolphins and bright jellyfish and pondering how creative God is...and there is something so peaceful about sea creatures. The way they move...water...the quiet...it's just amazing. We ate a fancy shmancy dinner at this amazing restaurant called Alma Cocina in Atlanta (and we got a free dessert of fancy gourmet style churros when they found out why we were in town.) Andddd we stayed at a super nice hotel (thanks Mom and Dad!) and it was just so relaxing.

Keeping up with Ellie

If you're visiting this site because you've heard about Ellie or heard that we need prayer, you can track what's going on with her by visiting the following post links (from oldest to newest..mostly.) Ellie is our first child who we are currently pregnant with. She is having some major complications and we have been told that she likely will not survive. We decided to keep people updated using our blog as we know and believe in the power of prayer and intercession. God is good. He is carrying us through this.

We absolutely are so grateful for all of the support and we DO desperately need your prayers.

A brief introduction and why we are posting about Ellie

Medical update from 4/7

Adventures in praying for Ellie

Medical update from 4/30

On endurance (in relation to Ellie)

Medical update from 5/21 *Latest update!

Next appointment: Tuesday, June 4th (36 weeks)
My official due date is on 7/1

If you don't have time to read all of the posts above, here is how you can be praying:
-That Ellie lives.
-That her health is restored and that she is healed
-That she will grow substantially in order to have a chance at survival outside the womb
-Peace over our family
-That God would be glorified.

“Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.