Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I wrote this in the notes on my phone in the weeks after losing my father. From journals, poetry, songs... writing words has always been an outlet for me. On the outside, I may seem "normal" but my life will never be the same. I can't even look at something as simple as a box top without remembering how my dad would collect them for my sister and me, and sneak me my bag so Holly wouldn't get jealous. Memories make me smile and they make me hurt, too. I hope that by sharing this note with you, you will remember that life is fragile. People are fragile. You may never know the struggles the people around you are quietly facing. You have the power to fill other's days with joy and give them the love they need and you may never even know just how much it could mean to them.

I hope your heart has been touched by the wonderful man I was blessed to call my father.

February 22nd, 2016 at 1:56 in the morning, I answered a phone call that no one ever really expects. It was a 911 operator informing me that there had been an emergency at my mom's house and I was needed to help my mom. When I asked what had happened her simple explanation said nothing but said it all at the same time. The huge lack of information gave it all away. I knew in my heart that things were changing forever.

Hearing my mom cry through the words, "he's gone" while hugging and holding on to me in my family's home was the most surreal thing I've ever experienced. It felt like a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. I didn't want to believe that my father was gone. I still don't want to believe it. The quick transition of hearing his name combined with the past tense stings like hell. I don't think it's a thing I will ever be able to hear without feeling a twinge of pain deep inside. That entire week seems like a blur. I think life is still foggy and probably will be for a long time. 

Losing someone you love is not an easy thing to go through. I think everyone knows in our hearts that it's a reality that we all will at some time face but it's not something you truly stop and think is ever going to happen to you. And when you are trying to accept the reality that losing a loved one is a matter of when and not if, you try to rationalize that it will be the ones who have lived long lives and are ready to go home. 

Up until that day, I had been blessed to have had so many people still here with me. I remember losing two great grandparents, a handful of great aunts and uncles, an uncle, and pets. At almost 25 years old, I still have three sets of grandparents. In recent times, I've been working on accepting that my grandparents wouldn't be here forever and focusing on thanking God for giving them to me as long as he has. 

Never in my mind did I look at my completely full month of February in my calendar and think, "I could lose my daddy any of these days." Never did I even consider that a showing and funeral would be things I'd be planning for him in between maternity pictures and birthing classes. Never had I imagined that my baby, due in just over a month from that time, would only get to hear stories of Papa. Never had I thought that the last time I hugged and kissed my father would be the very last. 

The truth of it is that it was always a possibility. Life is precious and death doesn't ask for permission from us. I've realized that just because I've now lost my father, one of the most important people in my life, doesn't mean I'm "safe" when it comes to keeping others that I love close. It's not a fun realization but a real one nonetheless. 

The human in me cries over how unfair it is that he was taken so suddenly and too soon. I feel cheated in that it's very possible that more of my life will be lived without my father here with me than with. I feel an aching pain in my heart just to see other men -even strangers- my father's age and older. Being in public and seeing people just living is crushing. I feel heartbroken for my momma when I see elderly couples out shopping together and enjoying each other because that should've been my mom and dad. My heart breaks at the thought of celebrating first holidays with my baby as they will all be our first holidays without my father. I felt my first round of real anger about it all while looking through years and years of pictures from March birthday parties when I realized my father and me don't ever get to have a joint birthday celebration together again. I feel guilty and torn in telling myself it will get easier because I don't want to ever have a day where I realize he's not here and I'm okay. 

I would give just about anything to be able to call my dad. Just to hear the distinct way he said hello and "mm bye bye" every time. I'd love nothing more than to hear him say, "how you doing sweetie?" Like he always did. I look out my back door and just wish I could see his car parked in the back of my yard and have just one more of his unannounced visits. I wish more than anything that he could be here to meet his grandchild and the closer we get to that day the more and more it kills me. 

It's a strange thing to know that some people's lives have been turned upside down meanwhile life just keeps going. People keep going to work, getting their gasoline, paying their bills, going on dates, laughing, celebrating, living. Its been confusing to go about my work day like I always have only to get in my car and break down on my own because it just seems that it shouldn't be normal for life to be so the same when a huge part of mine is missing. 

You don't realize how many times you hear the name "dad" until you lose yours. You don't think about how much power words really hold until someone says the exact right or the exact wrong thing to you when you're hurting. You can't grasp how hard it is to want to be okay and keep pushing on when everything without your loved one feels foreign until you're there and feel trapped between trying to be positive and feeling terrible guilt for wanting to be strong. You don't understand how small you really are until the hearts of the people you love the most are broken before you and you have no words or no way to help. You don't know the meaning of faith and hope and trust until those things are the only things you have to hold on to. 

The moments when I get wrapped up and start to question and try to make sense of it all is when the loss becomes too much and I have to remind myself that I can and will get through all of these icky feelings. I know I will never get over the loss of my daddy but I will work through it and that's how he would want it to be. 

The only single solitary way I am able to feel any sort of peace, comfort, and hope is the faith that I have in Jesus. And while that might seem like a strange thing to some people in this world, it's the truest thing to me right now. 

I know with certainty that my earthly father is now walking with my Heavenly Father. My faith is the only thing that allows me to feel those icky feelings, remember the memories, picture the future without him, and still pull myself up off the floor and "keep moving forward" as he would say. It still doesn't make the hurt in my heart any less but it helps me to find a meaning. When I cry... I'm sad for my family and me, not him. He is now in the place where I also want to be one day.

I want to urge you to not live in fear of losing a loved one, but to hug your loved ones a little tighter. Cherish the time you have together. Treat other people a little better. Mend relationships that need mended. Let others know how much you appreciate them. Stop and actually think about how much those around you mean to you. Live a life that is worthy of feeling great loss by others once it's gone. And above all, please. If you do not already have the love of Jesus in your heart, I pray you reach out and grab it. And once you hold it in your heart, share Him with all of those that you love... Because in times like this I don't know what else could possibly get a person through. 

I am so thankful to my parents for raising me to believe in my God because without Him I would be totally lost right now. My daddy lived the kind of life that everyone should. He didn't just tell me the right way to live, he led by example. I knew that he was an incredible man to have lived and loved and raised me in faith but I never realized that it all would make for a final parting gift until I see him again some day. Him raising me to believe what I do allows me to rest assured that he's in a better place. It allows me to cherish the time I had with him here on Earth, though too short by my standards, and trust that it was all a part of something bigger than my family and me could ever understand. 

The hole in my heart will remain forever. I know that there will be many things both big and small that will undoubtedly make me smile when thinking of or remembering my sweet father. I know some of those same things will sometimes make me break down and cry, too. But by God's grace the hole will scar and I'll be able to honor my daddy by living my life for Christ and hopefully encouraging those around me to live the same so that we can all spend the real forever together. How lucky I am to have that sort of peace.

I love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living my daddy you'll be. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Letters to Luka | Two Months Update

My sweet Luka,

When you were one month old, I said I knew the time would fly. And here we are with two months come and gone. You've been the best little sidekick since you've come into my life and these four weeks and two days since my last letter to you have been just as wonderful as the first four. 

You and I have become the best of buds. We've conquered many shopping trips {the bumpier the grocery cart the better}, been to cedar point twice {you stay on the ground, just like me for now}, and have made it through to restaurant experiences. You slept through your first dinner date with daddy and me! You've watched mama cry through many books as I've read them to you and heard me sing many lullabies. I even adjusted the words to Anna Kendrick's "When I'm Gone" and sing it to you before I leave for work. 

"I gotta get up go to work today. My room's got the prettiest of views. It's got letters, it's got numbers, it's got bright and pretty colors, but it sure would be prettier with you. When I'm gone. When I'm gone. I'm gonna miss you when I'm gone. I'm gonna miss your button nose I'm gonna miss your little toes, oh. I'm gonna miss you when I'm gone. 

When I'm gone. When I'm gone. I won't be gone for much too long. I'll be back to give you lovies, I'll be back for kisses and huggies, oh, so don't forget me when I'm gone."

We keep going with your eyes, smile, tummy, and other things when we sing the song until I've covered all of the wonderful things that you are. Going back to work and leaving you has been one of the toughest things. I miss you a lot when I'm gone and cry on my way to school. I worry that you'll be mad at me or forget me or that I'll miss some awesome thing you'll do. But I know Mima is taking good care of you and the pictures and videos I get during the day make me even more excited to see you and love on you when I get home. I promise that we will make the best of our evenings and weekends during the school year and our summers together will make up for the time I'm not with you. 

You've truly made being a mama so easy and I love all of our little moments together. When it's time to let your perfect little body rest for the night, I love when you aren't quite sleepy yet and you stare up at me from your bassinet beside the bed. I think you like watching me fall asleep just as I do you. And when we wake up in the morning and you finally open your  eyes to face to day, I give you a smile and you smile right back, melting my whole heart into a pile of mush. No matter what is going on in our lives, I can't not be grateful for a day that gets to begin like that. I'll hold on to them forever. 

So here's the scoop on your second month, Luka Bear. 

My last post, you were still under ten pounds. Now, I can't believe how big you are! We will be going to your two month appointment soon, but the last you were weighed you were 10 pounds and thirteen ounces around six weeks!

You are still wearing 0-3 months but where your sleepers once were loose they now fit nice and snug. You've even grown into some 3-6 month pants! Your old navy ones are our favorite, by the way. We are still using size one diapers but I don't think we will for much longer! We're trying to use up this stash of 350 size ones but I'm not sure we're going to make it. You're getting pretty close though!

We've had to change the straps on all of your seats at least twice now. You should've seen mama and daddy trying to figure out how to loosen the straps on your car seat. Well, you were there and I'm pretty sure you thought we were crazy!

So far so good on this front! Again, your little belly gets rumbly from time to time and it hurts me to see you scrunching up from the bubbles, but we are learning how to help you. Other than that you've been healthy and we are so thankful! I'm currently hoping you don't catch the cold I've got or I will feel terrible for giving it to you!

You're favorite thing I think. When nursing during the day, you will start to get hungry every two hours if not a little earlier. You only nurse for 10-15 minutes at a time though. We started giving you pumped milk in a bottle just after one month to get you used to it for when I went back to work. You are such a laid back little boy and you will take a bottle of any kind that we've tried no problem. Depending on the time of day, you will take between 2-4 ounces. You're a little piggy though and you will gulp it down like you've never eaten in your life! Your chubby cheeks are a hit with everyone so you can keep on chugging away.

I know I said if last time but I can not thank you enough for how well you sleep at night, sweet boy. At around seven weeks you started sleep from 10-4:30 or 10:30-5. We put you in either the super swaddle or an arms out swaddle. My goal was to get you to bed for the night around 10-10:30 and sleep until 6 when I went back to work at 8 weeks. And you did it! This past week you have gone down at 10-10:30, let your mama get up at 5 to get ready for work, and I would wake you at six to get you ready for the day. I am one lucky mama to have a boy as good as you, though I'd love you either way. Keep it up for me!

You smile a lot now and it's one of the greatest things. We do the cheerio face back to you and you light up with the biggest smiles. You love being talked to and bounced around. You have such a sweet demeanor. When you cry or you're fussy, it's because you are hungry, tired, or just want to move around and check out the world around you. When you're awake you're always making noises, holding your head up so high. You don't just see things, you really watch and take in what's going on. Another thing that I love that you do is clench your right fist and pound it up and down. You never stop moving your hands and legs {your right sock is usually on the floor from all the kicking your heels so much}. 

Things you like
  • All of the things from last month
  • Smiling at and talking to people
  • Talking to your "sheep friends"
  • Looking at high contrast things
  • Staring at your black and white art cards
  • Being rocked
  • Daddy and mama's cheerio faces
  • Being propped up so you can see what's going on
  • Watching your doggies
  • The super swaddle
  • Looking at lights
  • Listening to music

Things you don't like
  • Hiccups
  • Being on your belly for too long
  • Waiting to nurse once you're ready
  • Mama wiping your face
  • Abrupt noises
  • When you are stopped during eating to burp
  • Gas bubbles
  • Spitting up

Life with you sure is fun. I'm so glad that I get to be your Mama and I can't wait to know you more, sweet Luka. 

Love Forever,
Your Mama

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Letters to Luka | One Month Update

My sweet Luka,

I can not believe that it has been one whole month since I got to lay eyes on you on the outside for the first time and hold your little warm body in my arms. 

Our first month together has been a whirlwind. In so many ways, it seems like I blinked and it was here... But at the same time I can not remember what life was before you. Even though we are all learning this new way of life together, every step of the way has felt natural. I believe it's because you are where you truly belong and I am living what I've always been meant to. 

These weeks haven't necessarily been easy but they have not been hard either. Even when I'm exhausted and we move to the couch so we can let daddy get some good sleep for work, or I have to hop out of the shower before I'm sure the conditioner has completely been washed out of my hair because I can hear you cry, or when it's one in the afternoon, I still have spit up and milk stained pajamas on, and I can't remember if I ate breakfast or brushed my teeth yet, I don't find myself complaining. My hope is to continue to enjoy all of these moments with you, for I know you will soon be two months, then three, and four, and five... And the months will all too quickly turn into years and I will yearn for these simple times when you just need me to be there. These days with you have been some of the best days of my life and I wouldn't trade a second of them for the world.

So here's the scoop on your first month, little prince.

You started your life on the outside at 7 pounds and 7 ounces. Thanks for that by the way. We were all a little scared that you were going to be a chunker since mama measured big the whole time you were on the inside! When we left the hospital, you were down to 6 pounds and 13 ounces. I didn't mind because it meant I got to keep you teeny a little while longer. Just five days later, you were already almost back up to your birth weight at 7 pounds and 4 ounces! Most recently, at your three week well baby, you had weighed in at a big 9 pounds and 3 ounces! This was so very bittersweet. Sweet because it was good to know that you are a growing, healthy baby boy, but bitter because it was a reminder of how quickly time passes by. 

You've outgrown some of your newborn outfits already and have started wearing 0-3 and 3 month sizes in clothing. A few days shy of four weeks, you switched to size one diapers. Perfect timing because we were all out of size newborns anyway! Speaking of diapers.. You went through more than 232 newborns in that amount of time. That's a whole lot of diaper changes! You keep me and daddy busy. We also have learned that we like pampers and that huggies are no good. At least not for you. I think you leaked through every single one!

At days old and on you were called a "c-section baby" so many times. Not because you were but because you looked perfect. Your little body was flawless. Maybe you got a special kiss from a special someone in heaven before making your big entrance into this world. Your apgar score was a 9. Made your mama and daddy proud! At your 3 week appointment, Dr. Karen said you were a perfect picture of health. I hope and pray we continue on this path! Your umbilical cord finally fell off one day shy of three weeks. I was beginning to think I would never get to give you a real bath! I think you have a little reflux. You get a little grumpy {and gassy} after nursing and spit up with your burps from time to time. Mama tries to follow the doctor's suggestions and we sometimes use gripe water. I think you like it mostly because it masks the taste of spit up for you! You also like the taste of your vitamin d drops. I was curious why you perk up when getting them so I gave it a little try. They are pretty good!

You love to eat and have been a breastfeeding champ. Our appointment with the lactation consultant on day five was perfect. You were latching with no problem and were gaining weight back. You made me so proud and so excited that I was doing a good job for you too. We make a great team. You like to eat just about every two hours during the day still and occasionally you like to power feed every hour for a few hours. Mama was a nut and tracked every nursing session and for how long, every wet and poopy diaper, and your sleeping hours for just over two weeks. I wanted to make sure you were getting and doing what you needed but I learned very quickly that you're smart and to trust you. You wake when you're hungry and you nurse just as long as you need. If something is off, you'll let me know!

Thank. You. In the past month, you have had four "tough" nights {two of them being the two in the hospital} and they truly weren't that tough. Since night one at home, you've been pretty great at your days and nights. We started out swaddling you "arms in" at bedtime, but you didn't like that too much at a week old. You are great at going right to sleep after your 11:30 pm nursing and you give me a big 4-4 1/2 hour stretch! After that, you sleep for two to three more hours before wanting to nurse again. We've had only two nights so far of moving to the couch after 3am because you wanted to wake up every hour. You sleep in your bassinet next to my side of the bed until daddy's alarm starts going off. Then daddy usually says, "give me that baby" and cuddles you until he gets up for work. You make the silliest noises while you sleep and I love falling asleep to the sound of you.  

You are a pro at funny faces. The "cheerio" is one of my favorites, where you push your tiny lips out into a circle like a cheerio! Another favorite is when you are sleepy and being lazy. You want to be involved in what's going on but don't want to really wake up so you just peek at the world with one eye like popeye. You also make a lot of judgmental looking faces. No intentional smiles yet but I can't wait for the day when you give me repeated smiles. A strong little boy you are, holding your head up and moving it from side to side. Your froggy legs give big kicks constantly... Just like in my belly. You've found your thumb and your voice. We've taken you out on the town quite a few times and you've been great. We always have your fooler and white noise app on stand by just in case!

Things you like
  • Being held and cuddled
  • Sleeping on mama and daddy's chests
  • Your rock and play sleeper
  • Mam pacifiers
  • Your owl vibrating soother
  • Making crazy dinosaur noises
  • Dancing with mama and listening to me sing to you
  • Bath time!
  • Looking at faces
  • The sounds on our sound sleeper app
  • Hanging out in the wrap
  • Going for walks in the stroller

I'm so glad that I get to be your Mama and I can't wait to know you more, sweet Luka. 

Love Forever,
Your Mama