thank you

i just want to say thank you to everyone for their amazing outpouring of support on my last post.

grandma is doing better. we got her all settled into the rehab facility, and she is gaining strength. the physical therapist is saying she will be able to go home in a couple weeks.

 

i also want to let you know, that my family is reading all your comments…. both here and on facebook.

i appreciate how many of you actually took the time to read the post, and leave a comment. that makes me so happy.

 

i will have a new update on grandma with pictures soon. and i will be back again with more yummy babies for you all. <3

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grandma

i’ve been super quiet lately.

i feel like this post is rather dramatic, but we’ve so been used to living a lifestyle of scrolling, liking, and hearting… that nobody takes the time to read anymore, and nobody really sees true emotion any longer.

with that being said…

my grandma isn’t doing fabulous.

she is 93 years old.

so my grandmother, has always been my ONLY grandmother. my mother’s parents died before she was even married, so we’ve only had my dads parents. my grandfather died about 20 years ago, and left a giant gaping wound in our family.

i remember as a child hearing the emergency sirens at night, and praying to the Lord… please don’t let it be my grandmother, please save her. even though she lives a solid 2.5 hours away from my house. 😉

grandma still lives in the same house she has lived in forever and ever. but now she has a wonderful 24/7 caretaker…. even so she still has the attitude of a 2 year old…. i do it myself.

when i found out that grandma was in the hospital with a pretty bad infection, i offered to drive my dad up to south bend to see what was happening. i’ve never seen my grandmother look so fragile. she isn’t able to speak a lot, and that frustrates her to no end. she is as sharp as a tack, and still gets around with the help of a walker. seeing her in a hospital bed, completely crushed me.

she was so scared too. she would cry every time my dad left the room. it was awful.

we went back up on thursday to transfer her from the hospital and to a rehab facility, where she will do physical therapy to regain her strength enough to go home.

i love my grandmother. i cannot even express to you the depth of my love for her. even typing this out, i have tears.

this is the newest professional image i have of myself and grandma. my husband actually took this one. i took images of the rest of the family unit, and all the other girls got pictures of themselves and grandma.

except me. 

my grandmother HATES being in pictures. she used to tell me….. you’ll break your camera if you take a photo of me!

she is beautiful. 

soon i know the Lord will take her. she’s had a wonderfully full, and long life.

and all i will have are the images to remember her by. much like she only has images of her husband, her sister, her parents, and her best friends. she has an album that she looks at every single day. the two days we went up, i spent time going through each image, and she would point out each person she could.

gone are the christmas eves at grandmas house with all the cousins. gone are the yearly beach trips with grandma. gone are the christmas cookies she would make each year, and give each child a little bit extra of their favorites in each bucket. gone are all the stray animals she used to feed on her back porch… at one time she had 7 stray cats and a one eyed raccoon mama. 

but i have a million images that my dad made sure to take when we were little. and i have many images of grandma holding the babies, playing with the kids, and walking on the beach.

but i wish i had one of just her and me. 

 

 

 

 

** back row: my sister, me                             2015

**front row: marcie, grandma, britney (marcie and britney are sisters, we are missing the sisters sarah and brooke. i am the youngest of the 6 granddaughters)

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judah lion

 

hello friends!

today miss jody is back on the blog! she’s written about her experience with her brand new gorgeous rainbow baby.

if you don’t know the back story on jody, her micro preemies, and her loss you can read about it here, and here

please welcome jody back to the blog!

enjoy,

xoxo olive

 

My sweet little Judah Lion is here. Judah means praised, and we sure have praised God with the birth of this lovely little boy. Lion represents courage and overcoming difficulty. During my pregnancy with this little one I had to overcome difficulty and have courage so many times. Pregnancy after loss is hard, and beautiful, heart wrenching and healing. I had to face fears, look grief in the face, and learn that no amount of research could ease my suffering heart. No amount of reading could give me the answers I was looking for. In the end, I just had to trust. Carrying this little baby helped me to become stronger than I knew I was. But really, it was in times of weakness that I found the strength of Lord. Here are some scriptures that helped me along the way:

Philipians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who gives me strength

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight

Because of the type of cesarean I had with the twins (a classical incision), the rupture rate during a VBAC attempt was increased. So when I consulted with the doctor about letting me try for a VBAC, that ininital answer was probably not, but they would let me meet with a specialist. That specialist was particularily good at being frank and he communicated that although they couldn’t strap me down and cut the baby out of me without my consent, if I came to the hospital in labor, they would coherese me into having a c-section by telling me that my baby was dying. This led me to hours and hours of pouring over research and reading journal article after article that reinforced my belief that a VBAC really was the safest way to go. Especially because they wanted to take my baby by cesarean at 36 weeks, a full 4 weeks early. The thought of a repeat cesarean terrified me. And doing one that early felt CRAZY.

For me, as I dealt with anxiety, PTSD, facing another cesarean, reading scary statistics about rupture and catastrophic outcomes as I had to make choices about his upcoming birth, there were times that were overwhelming. It felt like no matter what I chose, there was no good options. I had to make the right choice so my baby would be okay.

In the end, it was prayer that really got me through. I prayed, journaled, went to counseling, prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Finally, I was given the gift of peace. I scheduled the cesarean for 37 and a half weeks, the latest the doctor would agree to let me go.

In the end, as I was walked into the operating room, I felt joy and excitement as I was getting ready to meet my son. The surgery was hard. I had complications. Judah struggled to breathe at birth and had to be on CPAP and have oxygen. My body reacted to the medication and I was very sick after delivery and for the next couple of weeks as well. I didn’t have the beautiful, healing repeat ceasarean that I had hoped for but I did have a peace that surpassed all understanding. That peace and my ability to trust in the LORD even when things were hard, even when things didn’t go as planned, even when my little guy couldn’t breathe on his own, even when they were worried about my heart function after delivery, even when…

That is when we really learn to trust in the LORD. It’s when we face the even whens in life. So no matter what you are going through right now, I pray that you would have peace.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power and love and sound judgement 2 Timothy 1:7

and remember

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philipians 4:6-8

This last one is my very favorite verse in the bible. For me it’s saying, “Jody, go to God with your troubles. He wants to hear. He wants to know. But remember, the most important thing is to come with a thankful heart. Spend your time thinking about what is actually true in your life. Not worrying about the future what ifs. What is true today?J

During pregnancy I would stop and touch my belly, I would feel Judah kicking, and I would tell myself, “Right now, in this moment, this baby is alive. He’s kicking. He’s healthy.

What is true for you today? What do you have to be thankful for?

Today I am thankful for little Judah Lion and I’m praising God that I get to keep this little one and love him everyday.

 

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joshua 1:9

Your love, in wave after wave
crashes over me, crashes over me
for You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

cause You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
no fear can hinder now the love that made a way

 

i am so proud of you, brave mama <3

 

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kate the great

hello my friends!

this is a blog post that is LONG overdue. there are two other blog posts that should have gone before this one… but sometimes it’s just tough to blog about the hard stuff.

meet kate the great.

kate is a surviving twin.

i won’t tell the story, as her mama has written a beautiful story about her journey with kate and jack.

this is a very long blog post, and there are images at the end. however the images won’t make sense if the post isn’t read.

xoxo,

olive and jody <3

 

Have you ever been in a season of crazy contrast? This last year and a half has been such a season for me. Life and loss, hope and despair, joy and sorrow all tangled together and mashed up, muddied and messy. People equate hard seasons to walking through a storm, and I get that. For me it was more like fighting to stay afloat when the storm was so rough, and the flood waters had risen so high that I couldn’t reach solid ground and I was struggling just to breathe. At the same time, it wasn’t like a storm so much as a rollercoaster. Those pits of deep despair were rough, they still are. But there was also so much joy! The valleys are ever higher, the sun shines brighter, and love permeates into the deepest recesses of my heart. I feel that love and experience it more fully because of the road I’ve walked.

I met Brienne when I was at my most vulnerable. How did I get here? Just yesterday I was planning a reveal party for my twins. Twins!!! Two sweet little babies were growing inside of me. This pregnancy had already been one of extremes. I remember driving to the first ultrasound with my six-year-old Annie proclaiming, “Momma, I just know there are two babies!” I smiled and reminded her how rare twins were. Then the wand was on my belly and two tiny babies were dancing on the screen. She jumped with joy and exclaimed, “ONE, TWO BABIES!” We delighted in handing my husband the ultrasound picture when we arrived home and hearing him say, “Oh look, at that. Oh look at that. OH! LOOK AT THAT!” We rejoiced, happily shared our news and joyously planned and prepared for these two little ones who we held in our hearts as the ultimate blessing. Our plans came to a screeching halt one Saturday morning when I found what a pregnant momma should never find while in the restroom, blood. The doctor’s words stung, “I can only check for fetal demise.” Fetuses? These were our babies! Our little twins! Our dream! Thankfully, strong heart beats rang out from the speakers and with relief I watched as those little babies squirmed and cuddled on the screen. They sent me home with the advice to take it easy. “There was nothing I could do to change the outcome.” So I took it easy; we still planned, still prepared, and I prayed and prayed that those babies would keep growing. And now here we were, planning a reveal party for our twins as I laid on this hospital bed. I had been in the hospital for 5 days. Still, the cake was ordered, the kids were excited and Sunday couldn’t come fast enough. Of course, it would have been better had I not been in the hospital yet there was so much to be thankful for and we were determined to make the best of it! Despite the 9cm abruption on baby b’s placenta and the ever present trickle of bright red blood, overall the babies looked great. Two strong heart beats every time! These babies were okay, I was okay. My 8 year old son and my two little girls 6 and 4 were okay. I had unwavering faith that we’d get through this tough patch and make it through to the other side. That was my husband Tim’s refrain, “It’s going to be okay baby. On Sunday we get to find out if we are having boys or girls.”

But we never made it to Sunday.

Jody, you are dilated to 4, we are going to take the babies now Okay?”

Okay”.

My husband held my hand as they cut into my belly. My best friend prayed for me over the speaker on my phone. She bought her plane ticket to come while I was still in surgery. “It’s December 11th today Jody. Today is going to be your babies’ birthday,” she shared. I asked her to play some worship music for me and a nurse overheard my request. “We have Pandora in the operating room Jody. Do you want me to play some worship music for you?” Soon those sweet songs filled the air and calmed my heart.

I don’t remember feeling scared. I remember wanting to see the babies. I remember asking them to tell me the gender. I was about to find out if these little ones were boys or girls or one of each. I made it to 25 weeks! They were going to be okay!

At 0552 I heard the doctor say, “It’s a girl!” But I heard no cry. At 0554 I heard the doctor say, “It’s a boy!” But I heard no cry. “Go with them honey. Go with our babies!”

I laid on the table getting stitched up. Waiting for an update and listening to worship music. I remember feeling at peace. Tim came in and smiled down on me. He showed me a blurry 10 second video on his phone of our tiny son crying!

My husband shared, “The little girl is intubated and stable. They are still working on the little boy.” I cried. They are alive!

What are we going to name them honey?” I asked.

I like Katherine for the little girl. Do you like it?” he questioned.

Yes. Can we call her Kate?”

Yes.”

What about the little boy?” I asked.

I know you and the kids love Jack. We can name him Jack.” And there it was. Our little Jack and Kate. Born at 25 weeks, a full 15 weeks early. But alive and okay.

And then a new doctor walked in. “We are still working on your son but we’ve done everything we can at this point. We don’t quite know what’s happening but his oxygen levels don’t look good. I’m so sorry.”

Can I go see him?” I questioned.

Of course.”

Is he going to make it,” I asked.

No.”

One word. One response. One syllable. And our whole world changed.

Can I hold him?”

Yes.”

They placed Jack on my chest. He was still on the ventilator. His tiny body moved up and down. The machine was breathing for him. Tim was sobbing. My cheeks were dry. My head was filled with one refrain, “His days were already numbered. His days were already numbered.” I whispered those words to Tim and he cried and cried. I asked him where the kids were and he called my Aunt. Almost here. Would they make it in time? I cradled Jack’s tiny body in my arms. I held him close.

The kids bounded into the room and excitedly peeked in at Kate. Oliver rushed over to me with hope in his eyes, “Are they going to be okay?”

And I was crushed.

Tim called all the kids over to him and held them close as I told them that Jack wasn’t going to be okay. “Your brother is going to heaven today. He’s going to be with Jesus today.” They crumbled in his arms. The tears came. Oliver looked up through red, puffy eyes and said that he didn’t feel well. He wanted to go home. Molly cried that she wanted to leave too. I told them that I would have Auntie take them downstairs to the cafeteria. I looked at Annie and asked, “Do you want to go to?”

No momma. I want to stay with my brother.”

And she stayed.

My six year old daughter never left my side. She gently touched her brother’s head. She admired his tiny toes. She smiled down at him. She was a gift. God’s love. Joy.

The first time I pumped milk for Kate, Jack was still in my arms. This life giving milk. Drop by drop. While holding my son. My son who had not one ounce of life left in him. How were these two things possible in the same moment?

My Aunt posted in a moms-of-multiples group asking if anyone knew a photographer. I wanted photos with my son before they took him away. Before too long, a woman showed up. This sweet stranger was so gentle as she took photos of my baby boy. My husband gathered Jack into his arms for the first time and wept. He handed Jack to my daughter Annie and she smiled. She kissed his tiny toes. She smelled his little head. She delighted in his little features. Again, she was a gift. Her love flowed so freely and washed over us all. We all held and loved and marveled at this tiny creation. The time with Jack was holy.

This moment in my memory is distinct and at once a blur. Some seconds I remember in vivid detail. Some memories are fleeting. People have asked if I was too busy to grieve. I was so busy. We had to juggle our big kids, my recovery, Tim’s work schedule and his traveling, flying people in and flying the kids out to make sure they were cared for, visiting Kate daily, talking with the doctors, making decisions, waking up, getting dressed, remembering to eat. Life was CRAZY! But grieve I did. My grief seemed to be ever present but worse at times. The slow times. Driving to the hospital. Every time I tried to lie down to sleep. Quietly holding Kate in the NICU as the alarms rang and my baby fought to breathe. The memories would come. The pain would come. The sorrow would prevail.

And the times that were the most joyous were simultaneously the hardest. Each milestone that Kate has reached is also a reminder of where Jack would have been. When they handed me her little black foam glasses because she no longer needed the billy lights, I sobbed. “There should have been two.” When she was a week old and I finally got to hold my sweet girl. “Hi baby. I’m your momma!” I should have been introducing myself to Jack as well. When another mom in our room got to hold her twins together for the first time, I turned away and silently sobbed. The moment we finally got to bring Kate home after 103 long days in the NICU was the most joyous moment and the most sorrowful. We only brought home Jack’s remains.

This extraordinary journey has changed me. Those deep pits. That deep despair. The unimaginable loss. It has changed me. It has changed my marriage. It has changed my children. This loss, this tragic understanding of how fragile life is has made me a better person. I love deeper now. I feel more. I relish the little moments. I hold my babies tighter, closer, longer and I thank God for each little moment I have with them. I am more understanding. I am more compassionate. I’m no longer afraid to pick up the phone and call when someone is in crisis. I know all too well what it feels like to be alone.

That deep, heart-wrenching grief makes it so I love bigger. I have more joy. The pain still comes. I still miss my son with all that I am yet I hold on to the faith that one day I will go to him.

We just celebrated Kate’s first adjusted birthday. March 25th, the day both my babies were due. Brienne set up a cake smash session for Kate and I was so excited. When I walked into the studio and saw all the purple butterflies I was overwhelmed. Each and every one was hand cut and placed with such delicate care and my heart just soared. Those little purple butterflies seemingly floating in the background held a special place in my heart. In NICUs across the globe, the purple butterfly is used to signify a surviving baby that is one of a multiple set where their sibling has died. My little Kate the Great, one of two. I imagined her working all week, praying over all those beautiful butterflies as she painted and prepared. So much time. So much thought. So much love. All for my little one. This woman who had been a stranger but came and met me at my most vulnerable. This woman who captured those moments with my son and made it so those foggy memories are forever crisp and clear. This woman who didn’t know me but came and was present and loved me so well. This same woman who let me cry and listened as I explained my grief during that gifted newborn session where tiny Kate the Great, still so fragile, still hooked up to oxygen, still fighting to breathe yet making so much progress that we were able to capture some photos without all the tubes. This woman who reached out, checked in, and kept loving me had become my friend.

Her photography is SO much more than just art; it is LOVE. And for me it’s been God’s love that I can hold on to and grasp in such a tangible way. I celebrated this huge accomplishment with her as I watched my little one smash that cake.

As we’ve watched our sweet girl grow, delighted as she said “mama, dada, bye-bye”, marveled as she stood for the first time and took her first bite of food, we have seen each of these milestones as a miracle. Our babies were only given a 30% chance of survival and we were told to prepare to care for children who wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or feed themselves. This has taken the ordinary milestones and transformed them to the miraculous! At the same time, each milestone is such a deep source of sorrow. So often my tears of joy as I watch my little fighter struggle to reach the next milestone meld into tears of grief as I imagine her brother doing the same. I cry, I watch, I wipe my tears, I pick her up, I hold her close and I love her more wholly than she knows. I slow down and enjoy every moment I can of this hard and beautiful life.

And I thank God for all the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the storms and the seasons of sweet calm.

And I pray that I can share this love with others.

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