I am a wife and mother. I married Travis the summer of 2007 and life really took off. We welcomed our first born, Adrian Reese, June of 2009. We welcomed our second born, Ainslee Ryan, October of 2010 and had a short time with her. She was taken from us in February 2011, just 3 months and 10 days old, from the silent killer called SIDS. 6 months after she passed away, we found out we were expecting our 3rd, due in April of 2012. Our rainbow baby is a girl, sweet Hadlee Hope. We're slowly picking up the pieces and learning how to fit grief and happiness into this crazy thing called life.
The above title has so much meaning to me, in so many ways. Rewind 3 1/2 years ago. We were pregnant with our first born. A son. And he was born with jet black hair and the most beautifully perfect face I had ever seen. He made me a Mom and gave me new meaning in this life. I learned about loving so deeply and definitely had the "first time Mom" feel about me. I cleaned every inch of every paci any time it remotely touched the floor. I had a protective air about me which would go in over gear should I feel anyone was intruding my motherly instinct space. I did everything the best way I knew how and I did it out of love for my son. He definitely changed the dynamic of our family and I am so grateful for that. A baby changes everything.
When Adrian was 7 months old, we found out we were pregnant with another baby. It would be our little girl. I was scared at first, thinking Adrian would think I didn't love him enough and didn't make enough time for him with a new baby on the way. We found out we were having a baby girl and I was ecstatic to have a boy and a girl. What a true blessing. This little girl was captivating. She was unexpected, but beautiful nonetheless. Her brown eyes were like chocolate, the sweetest little voice. And she'd curl up in the nape of my neck which could soothe her on even the roughest of colicky days. Ainslee and I attended our first mother/daughter Christmas program and I remember that day vividly. We were in the 5-6th row and I had her in her carseat, all bundled up. She began to fuss and I took her out, held her close, in the nape of my neck. I cried. I felt a little overwhelmed in the moment. I knew this baby was everything to our family. I knew that she came to change us, just didn't know how. As I held her, I heard the most beautiful voice singing a song so dear to me now. "She has to leave, go far way. Heaven knows, she can't stay. A Baby changes Everything." And I cried. And I cried. I cried at the change this baby brought to our family. Feeling so blessed to have Adrian and Ainslee. Feeling sad and guilty that I wasn't able to give more of my undivided attention to Adrian individually, and the same to Ainslee.
I also cried at trying to imagine what it must be like to be told you are expecting God's son. Jesus. He would come and be the Messiah. What a scary thing to be told. So much uncertainty. To have Him in a stable, no room for them. The grace that Mary must have. The grace that Joseph must have. The change this baby would bring to you and to me.
Going through the loss of Ainslee was tragic beyond words. It continues to be a grief battle. But through that battle and loss of hope...a baby was born. Our sweet Hadlee Hope. I remember when they put Hadlee on my chest when she was born, she looked up all around to see what was going on. That is so Hadlee. She is still just as nosy as the day she was born. I am so grateful for her. I remember when I had her I was so confused by the whole process of everything we had been through. It can still seem surreal at times to think of all the events of having Ainslee, losing her, and having Hadlee...all so close together. It was definitely not my plan. Trusting in plans that are not of my own are difficult for me. I see myself falling into fear more often than not and quite frankly, get tired of it. I get tired of feeling paralyzed by fear, wondering what may possibly happen next. Will I be this poor woman who loses her husband, and all children? I sure hope not. But now that I am no stranger to grief and loss, I can't help but feel that I may lose everything. Natural? Sure. Exhausting? Absolutely.
I find myself lately being absolutely head over heels in love with these two living children of mine. I've never felt so in love with them. I am addicted to them to a fault. They consume my mind, my heart, every fiber I have. And tonight, I am truly grateful for all the babies who have changed my life. And everything that has come along with that. A Baby changes Everything. It truly does.
A few weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to blog for our church. I am so excited about this opportunity to share my faith with others. Here is my first post below...
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation, October 3, 1863)
Thanksgiving. A time for crisper weather, changing of leaves, a roasted Turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and football! I’m sure any human would automatically revert to this thinking when hearing the word “Thanksgiving.” That, and pilgrims. Abraham Lincoln wanted to ensure despite American’s differences, we were giving thanks to the source from whom all blessings flow.
Growing up, I have a ton of wonderful Thanksgiving memories of my grandmother and grandfather’s home, her cooking like a mad woman, hiding the rum in her coke somewhere in a corner, all of us grandkids with our fingers constantly in the relish tray, and all the men miserably full from the amazing food she would prepare. Sure, these are all fabulous memories to me. But one memory that has to be my most favorite Thanksgiving memory is my Thanksgiving with my 2nd born, Ainslee.
There was a turkey, there was gravy, there was a relish tray. There was my baby. She was perfect in every way at only a month old. She of course slept wonderfully up until it was time for me to enjoy my Thanksgiving meal. Then she wanted her Thanksgiving meal. I took her upstairs to nurse her and remember how incredibly blessed I felt to have this beautiful dark haired baby to spend Thanksgiving with. Another wonderful blessing to be truly thankful for.
That would be our only Thanksgiving together but it would lead me to a place I never thought possible to reach. Her love and short life lead me to Him, our Creator. Sure I always had a faith filled life and considered myself to be a Christian. But she would lead me to His love and ultimately experience the satisfaction of what Thanksgiving meant.
“Do this in memory of Me.”
Jesus Christ offers Himself under the form of bread and wine. He surrenders Himself unto us for our nourishment, for our salvation, for the cleansing of our humanly bodies, to save us. By receiving Him, we accept rejuvenation for ourselves and divine vitality which can only come from His Thanksgiving. So naturally the sacrificial banquet of remembrance is called the Eucharist, or “thanksgiving.” “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
Thanking Him during this time and for our salvation and giving all praise to Him is what has always been intended during this time of thanks. He gave His whole, entire self to us-body, blood, soul and divinity.
Thanksgiving isn’t separated from sacrifice and the Mass itself is a celebration of God’s undying love through His very own sacrifice. This is how we truly accept Christ and live a Christian life, by allowing Him to be our nourishment, our Thanksgiving. True thanksgiving means self-giving. This is the meaning of the Eucharist.
I can think of no American holiday that so closely resembles the symbolism and meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a sign of American unity and thanksgiving to God who has given us great gifts.
Today I am thankful for my family, my job and my home. I’m thankful for the salvation of Jesus Christ and the hope of Heaven. I am thankful for His sacrifice. I thank Him every day for that dark haired baby girl. That she lead me to where I need to be spiritually. I am so incredibly thankful to have spent a Thanksgiving with her and for the chance to be shown and taught about true Thanksgiving. I’m thankful God trusted me to be her mother, knowing what her 3 months on this earth would do for this broken Christian.
Today I am thankful for the Eucharist. I am thankful for Thanksgiving.