Sunday, February 17, 2013

30 years and 3 months

Yesterday I turned thirty! It was not how I had pictured my birthday. Months ago I had this "perfect" picture in my mind of holding both of my girls in my arms in front of my birthday cake ready to blow out my candles. I imagined myself getting up during the wee hours of the night to feed our sweet Sophia and spend that special time with our new baby. I pictured us a happy family of four. That was not my birthday, but despite my birthday not being what I had imagined I had a really great day! : )

Ethan worked so hard to make my birthday extra special this year and he accomplished his goal! We celebrated for an entire week! It started out a week ago last Saturday when E and I showed up to Johnny's in Cleveland for a dinner out just the two of us. It turned out to not just be the two of us as our very good friends here in Hudson were already at our table. We had an amazing time and laughed until we cried! The table was decorated for my birthday and the girls even had a thirty birthday sash for me to wear! Later in the evening we even ran into an old friend from Northville and her husband, Nicole and David, who we have not seen for a couple of years. It was so nice to catch up and see them too!

We went up to Northville mid week since Ethan had meetings at our corporate office. Isabel and I had such a nice time. We didn't do a whole lot, but it was just nice to be "home". Thursday night we did go to Ethan's parents house and they had a birthday celebration for me! They did a "thirteen going on thirty" theme for me. My sister in law, Amy made the cutest placemat for me. And they had Razzles for decor too. It was so nice and fun!

Friday night we celebrated my birthday with my family! We went to Table 5 in Northville for dinner. It was really good. Especially loved the dessert - the apple cobbler, best part of dinner....well, besides the red wine! We went back to my parents house and some of our closest friends and family were there to surprise me too! We had such a fun night, and again I laughed so hard I found myself literally crying. It is fun having such funny friends!

On my actual birthday, Saturday, we went to Starbucks, then to Pooles for lunch, went by Suz and Aaron's house to watch the IU/Purdue game and then headed back home to Hudson. Isabel went to bed pretty much right after we got home. E and I ordered Chinese and at dinner by the fire in our family room. It was so nice to be home!

The first thirty years of my life have been pretty amazing.  As I have sat back and reflected on my life I have realized a few things.
1. I  am grateful for bumps in the road.
2. I am grateful the ability and confidence to take risks.
3. I am grateful for blessings which flow, and the ability to see blessings even in the smallest and sometimes hardest things.
4. I am grateful for opportunity.
5. I am grateful for life, good and hard times and sometimes just plain out "easy" times.
6. I am grateful for God's everlasting love!
It seems to me that bumps in the road help define you, build character, and build strength. For without challenges how could you possibly grow? I have learned that life is what you make it. And thanks to a tiny 4 pound angel this has been reinforced. I will never give up, I will always try harder, I will be thankful, I will fight for what I believe in, I will fight for what I hope and desire, I will take risks, I will love with all my heart and will always be grateful for each day of my life!

Today is Sophia Ann's three month birthday! I can't believe it has been three months since she first entered this world. At times it seems like just yesterday and other times it seems like an eternity ago. I will never forget holding her for the first time. I had to wait 14 hours to have that chance since I was at Akron General and she was immediately taken to Akron Children's Hospital. But I did finally get to hold her, one of the best moments of my life. She was so tiny, so cute and I knew from the moment I saw her there was something very special about her.

Sweet Sophia, I miss you every single day my love. Happy 3 month birthday my precious one. I hope they are taking your picture in Heaven with a special " I am three months old today sign" for Mommy - that is what I would have done today! I am so thankful for three months ago today and our first Mommy/daughter moments together. I love you my sweet baby girl!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Missing My Girl

I have had so many good days in a row that it was bound to happen. A challenging day had to creep up on me. Today I woke up really tired and sad. Between Ethan and Isabel I literally slept two hours last night. It is a cloudy, sleepy, gloomy day to start with. The last two weeks have been  fun and busy. My friends have been trying to keep me busy and they are doing far beyond a good job! God knew what He was doing when he placed us here in Hudson. I noticed the crying is continuing to decrease. But today, is just hard. I miss my sweet, darling Sophia. I miss everything about her. My arms ache to hold her. I keep thinking I can't believe it has almost been two months since I last held my baby. This morning Isabel was downstairs playing and I ran up to my room to grab my tennis shoes. I sat down in my closet to put them on and started crying. Not just a few tears, but on the brink of sobbing. If I didn't have to get up and be a good mommy for sweet Bellie, I probably would have laid on my closet floor and just let myself cry and cry and cry. But I pulled it together so I could be the mommy Isabel needs.

This journey is not easy. It is hard. Harder than anything I have ever done. People often tell me how strong I am, what an encouragement I am, how they can't imagine what we are going through. And I have told people I wish I didn't have to be strong, I wish I was just the "old Sarah" and still had my baby girl, but here I am. I am this "new, strong Sarah". This is our life. We don't have any other choice than to be strong and carry on.  And besides the strength they see is not me anyway, it is purely God. Without God weaving the perfect scenarios in my life and holding me through this storm I would be far from strong. I keep finding myself so thankful. Thankful that God gave us his only son to save us from our sins so one day I can join my darling girl in Heaven. Whenever I think of that beautiful,wonderful gift I just bow down and worship. Wow, how great our God is! As God's promises wash over me, the tears begin slow and I am comforted. I am so glad that every time the sting of missing Sophia hits me I am reminded of the glorious promises of our Father.

Today I will let myself be sad and miss my sweet, baby girl. But I will also be happy and grateful for I know the missing of her is only temporary. I will see her and hold her again. I will also enjoy, love and be grateful for the many blessings I have on this earth.

This picture is of Sophia while she was still in the NICU. Isn't she completely and utterly the most precious and beautiful thing? I love how she is snuggling with her snoddle. Ugh, I wish were snuggling together in her rocker while her sister naps quietly in the next room. Oh, Sophia, you are a gift and I am so grateful I had you for the time I did, but Mommy misses you so much it hurts. You are beautiful, you are elegant, you are precious, you are wonderful and I know you are all those things in Heaven. You are the most perfect you ever. I love you my sweet gift from heaven. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Waterproof vs. Regular Mascara

Today I realized for a few days now I have opted for regular mascara as opposed to waterproof. I didn't even realize I had been making this choice until this morning when my friend Lori asked me how I was doing.  I thought for a moment and it hit me,  "Regular mascara, I am using regular mascara!" I haven't used regular mascara since I went to the hospital to have our little miss Sophia! I realized that I am crying less. I don't need the waterproof as much as I have in the past two months. Don't get me wrong, I still cry every single day, at least once, but not nearly as frequent or as much! This small choice I have made for the past week is a sign to me that I am slowly healing and slowly embracing our new life. 

Side note, I think the waterproof option might have been a good choice today though. This afternoon E and  I are going to pick out our little girl's gravestone. Unbelievable. We are 29 years old and picking out a gravestone for our 16 day old baby girl. Wow! Well, I am going to do this to honor my sweet girl. I have something in mind that I want for her. Something simple, beautiful and elegant just as she was. When I picture her dancing with the angels that is what I see. Without waterproof mascara, I'll just have to make sure I have lots of kleenex. Maybe I will surprise myself and not need them! : ) 

One more side and happy note, four years ago today I found out I was pregnant with our sweet, precious blessing from God, Isabel Suzanne! Four years later she sits next to me doing her stuffed animals make up to get them ready for a birthday party. It is so cute! They have make up all over them. Initially my mind thought what a mess! But then I thought,  they are stuffed animals and a quick bath in the washing machine will take care of the mess! : ) She is having fun and being so sweet, that is what is important! And then I noticed Grammy's carpet and thought, "Oh no! Time to stop blogging and start trying to cleaning up!" Yikes!!! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Husband

Eight years ago this past November Ethan and I met. We were at Ford Field for the Hillsdale / Wayne State football game, and happened to be at the same tailgate. I will never forget E winking to me from across the room. A little less than 10 months after we met Ethan proposed to me. When you know you know! We had a ten month engagement, and were married on July 15, 2006.

We have done a lot together. When you get married at 23 you can do that!  We began our careers together, have lived in five different homes throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, we have traveled the United States and Europe together, along with several vacations in the Caribbean and Mexico, E attended grad school full time, we had our precious Isabel at the beginning of his second year of MBA school, once he graduated we moved to Ohio so he could begin his career with Cummins Bridgeway. This list goes on, but needless to say we have been through a lot together!

This past November I remember sitting next to Sophia in the NICU just thinking about my life eight years ago and up until that present moment. If you would have told me that my life would be going down this very unexpected road I would never have believed it. But as I sat there, I thought about Ethan and me and how incredibly blessed I am to have such an amazing man by my side during the good and the hard times of my life. And I just thanked God for giving me this man to be my partner throughout this life. He protects me, supports me, takes care of our family and works extremely hard.

When Sophia was born she was taken directly to Akron Children's hospital. I was on Magnesium Sulfate due to the pre-eclampsia and had to remain on it for twelve hours after delivery. I sent Ethan to be with our daughter, and I would head over to Children's as soon as I could. While I sat in the hospital watching the clock Ethan was directly involved with the doctors and Sophia. During this time the doctors began to be concerned something was wrong with Sophia's heart so they called for further testing. Ethan decided not to tell me, and asked our family to do the same. He did not want me to just sit in the hospital room with even more worry. He took all the worry onto his own shoulders and held strong for our family.

There were so many occasions during the week of living in the NICU we would receive news regarding Sophia's health. I know that if I did not have this amazing godly man standing by my side and holding my hand I would have been a wreck.  After every new piece of information we would receive, Ethan just  continued to confirmed that we love our daughter and we will do whatever we need to in order to help her. He showed me in so many ways the true meaning of unconditional love. He is a true role model.

After we received Sophia's diagnosis she was released from the NICU and sent to the palliative care floor at Akron Children's. She stayed there one night. It was on Sunday, we were debating whether we should bring her home or not. I was scared we would not be able to take care of her, I was scared to have hospice at our home, I was scared about how Isabel would handle bringing her home and then having to explain why she had to leave so soon, I was scared about falling in love with her even more and having to see my daughter leave our house for the last time. I was just scared. Ethan was strong. He was strong for Sophia. He was strong for our family. He looked me in the eyes and said, " Sarah, we need to bring our daughter home." I knew he was right. At that moment my love for him grew even more. He is the most amazing leader in our family. He has courageous, and knows and does what is right. I am so proud that he is my husband and an amazing leader for our family.

Sophia passed away on December 3 just a little after 5 o'clock in the evening. Ethan was holding her when the Lord took her into His own arms. Ethan again lead our family in the most incredible way. He had Isabel come up from the basement to say good by to her sister and give her a kiss. (I wanted to skip that part entirely mainly because I did not want to face the heartbreak I knew Isabel would endure.) He knew what was right and we did it. I am so thankful Isabel had those few moments to say good bye to her sister.

It was about two hours later after Sophia's passing when Ethan then did another courageous thing. A thing no daddy should ever have to do, but he did it. The funeral director came to our house to pick up our little angel. Ethan walked her out to the hearse and placed her in it. No daddy should ever have to do that, but my husband did. He walked our daughter out of the house for the very last time. I remember like it was yesterday, we stood on our side porch in each others arms with tears streaming down our faces and we watch the hearse pull out of our driveway. I will never forget that moment. We then walked back into the house hand and hand. Our lives will always be changed.

Throughout the weeks since Sophia was born, Ethan has listened to me say the same things over and over and over again as I try to process what has gone in our life. He has been a shoulder for me to lean and cry on. He has made me laugh. He has just held me in silence when he knows I have just needed the comfort of him. He has been a godly leader in our home. And he and I together have leaned on God more than we probably ever have.

Ethan and my relationship will never be the same.  Living through this "storm" has developed such a deeper level of love and respect for my husband than I ever thought possible. I will never be able to express in words how much my incredible husband means to me, and what an amazing man I know he is. I am married to someone who is  extra special.  I am so blessed.

Ethan and me on our wedding day! 

The two of us with our precious Sophia!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

We are still here!

Hi All!

We are still here!

We have a new blog address for a few reasons....

E and I are headed to New Orleans for the weekend for the Dumke wedding. Can't wait!

When we are back, I will be back to blogging.  For now we are off to the airport for a cocktail or two before we hop the plane.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Running for Sophia

Let's talk about new shoes! How about going to Dicks and picking up a new pair of running shoes? Running shoes that will be your partner as you train for the Detroit Free Press Marathon?

The day after we found out about Sophia's diagnosis my cousin and his wife came to Hudson to meet our little angel. It was an emotional day. We were still in the hospital debating whether or not we should bring Sophia home. Hospice was calling my phone preparing to meet us at our home as we arrived with Sophia. My world was spinning and I could not wrap my head around what I had anticipated should be a joyful, happy time - brining our baby home. I broke down in tears, and cried hysterically. My family surrounded me, supported me and helped me through those moments. My cousin, Bill, was right next to me sitting on the hospital bed with his hand on my back. Once I had calmed down he told me something that meant so much to me, and made me so happy. He explained that the day before he and Kayla had gone shopping to buy something for our little girl, but nothing seemed right. So as they talked about what to buy her, they decided on something that is not a thing you buy. Kayla and Bill decided they would train and run the Detroit Marathon in October in memory of our sweet baby girl. They want to figure out a way to raise money as they put on their new running shoes, train and prepare for this event. (fundraising is still a work in progress, but I will keep you updated.) With the money they raise, they decided they would give Ethan and I the choice of what charity/organization we would like to donate in remembrance of our daughter. And on top of that Bill said that he knows as he trains he will be thinking a lot about our Sophia. And I know as he thinks of her, she will give him strength to keep going!

At Sophia's Memorial Service on December 6, 2012 I stood up and told everyone this story of what my dear cousin and wife plan on doing for our Sophia. I invited anyone who would be interested to join us  to run with them in memory of Sophia. I would like to extend the offer to anyone else out there who did not attend her service. If you are interested in running for Sophia, we would love for you to sign up for the Detroit Marathon as well. There are other options if a full marathon does not seem like your thing - half marathon, 5K, relay, and volunteer options. Whatever is up your alley, we would love for you to be with us!

Below is the link for more information and how to register for the marathon.

I have tossed running a marathon around before. I have never done it because I really hate running -- basically I hate it because I haven't had the strength or will power to do it! But as I think back on the days we spent in the NICU with Sophia. I think back on the strength she had. She was taken off the ventilator in less than 24 hours. She was poked, sedated,  put through numerous tests and had IVs put in and taken out of her. She lived 16 days of a life that is suppose to be "incompatible with life".  If my sweet little 4 pound baby could endure all of that and have the strength, fight and determination to live than I know I can do anything I put my mind to. (One of the many lessons she taught me while on earth.) So I challenge you. Have you ever considered training for a run of any kind? If not, are you considering it now? If so, think about the strength that 4 pound little girl had to live 16  days - gain strength and determination from her! You can do anything you put your mind and heart into. I would love to have anyone who would like to join Team Sophia to join us as we run to remember a little fighter - Our Precious Penguin Kitty Cat Sophia!

Bill and Kayla will be creating a Facebook page for Team Sophia. So be on the look out!

If you decide to participate please let me know you signed up. I would love to hear from you! It will be great to think about everyone who will be training in their new shoes this spring with my little girl in their minds.

And a special note to Bill and Kayla, thank you for the most amazing gift anyone could give a mommy.  The words, "I know I will be thinking a lot about Sophia this spring" are words that touch a mommy's heart in a way I cannot explain. Thank you for initiating this idea and helping do something great in remembrance of our daughter. We love you!

Bill and Kayla meeting little Sophia. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Month

It has been one month. One month since I kissed my baby girl's cheeks. One month since I snuggled her. One month since I held her hands. One month since I said good bye. I can't believe it has been one month already.

Many times people say, "life goes on". While this is true, and the days have gone by since our sweet Sophia's departure from this earth, I now have a different perspective of this phrase. While life does go on, life will never be the same. Life has been touched by our sweet baby girl. People who we do not even know us, but have only heard our story through friends of friends of friends have had their lives touch by Sophia.  Her 16 days on this Earth has forever changed so many people, so many hearts and so many lives forever. She has changed me. She has taught me compassion, unconditional love in a whole new way, courage, and the ability to be strong through tough situations. She has also reminded that no matter how dark and hard things may seem, the Lord is always with me. As I continue down this road and journey of life on earth, my life will always be better for I held and loved an angel. Not many are chosen to the Mommy to an angel.

While today could have been really hard on me, it actually turned out to be really nice. Now don't get me wrong, I did have some moments of tears and sadness, but for the most part it was a great day. Isabel and I played and played and played (as she puts it) this morning. I took her over to my friend Lori's house late morning so Isabel could stay with her sitter while Lori and I went out to do something fun. We ended up having lunch and just talking (for over 2 hours)! I could not believe it was almost three when we looked at the time. We laughed and cried and talked a lot about precious Sophia. She mentioned to me that she believes that although her brother and grandparents never knew our Sophia here on Earth, she was sure they greeted her and are with her in Heaven because of Sophia's connection to her. That gave me so much comfort.  (Then that made me think about all the connections Sophia has in Heaven, and what a welcome home party they must have had for her in Heaven when she arrived! Wow, it must have been something!)  Isabel and I came home late afternoon and went for a walk down our snowy neighborhood sidewalks. She was so excited to try out her new wagon! We had dinner with Ethan and then it was bedtime for Isabel. Every night she chooses one book for me to read to her.  The "Heaven is for Real - For Kids"  book was sitting on a table in our family room, and she went right over to it and said, "How about this one tonight, Mommy?" I could not believe it!  On her sister's one month anniversary of going to Heaven that is the book she chose to read. (We had not even mentioned the  date to her today.) The book is extra special as well because a friend of ours, Carrie Stanley, brought the book to us the day Sophia came home from the hospital. She put Sophia's hand and footprints on the inside of the book. Next to the prints she wrote,"To Isabel Love, Sophia".  So we touch Sophia's prints and talked about her some. Isabel loved reading the book, and got so excited during the part which says, "Jesus loves the little children". That melted my heart.

Ethan and I now sit here in our family room as I write and he watches TV. We made it through today with grace as we remembered our girl and the impact she left on this world. Tomorrow life will continue on. I will remind myself how extra special she was. How many people can say they made a huge impact to the story of this life in just 16 days? Sophia did! Sophia sure is extraordinary!

This photo was taken one month ago today.  It was our last photo taken with Ethan, Sophia and me before she went to Heaven. 

A sweet moment with my girls!