This past weekend was so special for us. Our God is so faithful.
Two weeks ago, the morning after Ron and I got home from the hospital, it was a gloomy one. We enjoyed fresh baked market muffins (delivered by a friend) and warm coffee on our bed with the twins. There was lots of snuggling and hugs and lots of sadness and tears too. But I also vividly remember feeling an unspeakable joy. A joy that comes only from Him. From the reassurance in knowing that my God is so good and so faithful and that He holds our family in His hands. And that we have that complete reassurance that we will one day be reunited with our baby girl and see her healthy and whole and hear her cries and giggles for the very first time. What a wonderful day that will be.
That morning two weeks back as we sat on the bed together, we decided with the twins that we would make pictures and notes for Paisley that we would send to her in balloons up to heaven. The boys both took this task very seriously as they drew her the most beautiful pictures and dictated to us what they wanted to tell her in notes on the back of their pictures. It brought so many laughs and smiles as they imagined her opening their pictures and suggested that God would probably pop the balloons for her because she might be too scared. We folded up the notes and told them that we would take them to a beach sometime soon when the weather was a bit nicer and send them to her then. The weather was not so great the few weeks following so we waited patiently for the right time to come.
About a week ago, I started chatting with a stranger on facebook who had come across Paisley’s story and reached out because she too experienced a still birth a year ago around the same time and our due dates were just days a part. I felt so connected by our stories and as we kept talking, we realized how much we truly had in common. Before I signed off that evening, she asked me if we would like to use her cottage on the lake that coming weekend just to get away as a family together. I was in tears reading her offer because I just couldn’t believe that a complete stranger would offer such a thing. It just felt like it was completely God using her because we were hoping to get to a beach that weekend as the weather forecast was looking so good and we wanted to send up our balloons. I should mention that the beach was where we wanted to let up the balloons because Paisley’s due date was during beach season and the boys would always talk about how excited they were to take her there and show her the water and help her splash around. So it was a special spot for us. My God cares about the little things. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
We were so blown away by this act of kindness but so incredibly grateful for this stranger who listened to His voice and reached out to us in our time of need.
It was such a special weekend for us and we felt God’s overwhelming presence so strongly from the start of the trip so I know without a doubt that it was so orchestrated by Him. As we started out on the two hour drive, I sat there in the car feeling so thankful for this time to get away as a family but so saddened at the same time because our next cottage trip was supposed to include our baby girl. A friend on ig had sent me a message prior with this verse “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief”. Proverbs 14:13. She went on to say that our God knows the struggle of feeling two very opposing emotions at the same time but that also there’s such reassurance that we’re not alone in feeling that confusion. He’s right along side us.
I started to get a bit teary. And then I saw the first road sign. Ron had mapped out the route ahead of time and chosen 1 of 3 possible routes. This particular route took us through a town called “Paisley” 5 km away. WHAT?!?!? I didn’t even know that town existed, let alone that we would go through it on this exact trip and at the exact moment that I was feeling so many mixed emotions. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably by this point because it was just so clearly evident to me that my Jesus cares. He looks down upon his children and He cares and He will show us He does so evidently if we just invite Him in and look for His faithfulness in the littlest everyday things. My sweet baby girl is so safe up there with Jesus and I smiled so big through my tears that evening as I was so reassured of this truth.
This weekend, we flew kites and threw stones in the lake. We cried but we laughed a whole lot more. We snuggled and we prayed. We listened to worship music and read His word together. It was such a special time. On the Sunday morning, we went into town and bought the white balloons. We put our pictures and notes inside them and later that evening before sunset, we held hands and prayed together on the beach and sent them up to heaven, to Paisley.
I wish I could say I came back from our weekend away feeling so much better and stronger and happier than before. But that would be lying. As much as it was a healing time for us and memories we’ll always cherish, the void still remains and I still miss her miserably each and every day. I can’t help but think about all the things we have to do without her as the weeks and months go on and it hurts so, so much.
But I do know, that He will give me the strength to keep going when I feel I can’t. And no matter what heartbreak and loneliness and tragedy I face, He says in His word, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Thank you Jesus, for your faithfulness. Even in the hardest of times, you are so so good.
On Wednesday morning, March 22nd, I sat at the breakfast table sharing breakfast with Ron before he headed out the door for work and I casually mentioned to him that I hadn’t felt the baby move much this morning. Her gentle kicks normally woke me around the same time the boys would come prancing into our bedroom asking for breakfast. We just decided she must be sleeping in today as she had had other quiet mornings in the past and I didn’t think much else about it as we said our good byes and off he went to work. I then began hustling to get myself and the twins dressed and ready for playgroup at our church and it wasn’t long before we were headed out the door. I remember how frigidly cold it was that morning because we dressed for the warmer spring weather we had had the past couple days and didn’t realize until we stepped out the door how cold it was.
We had such a great morning and I remember excitedly talking with friends about how my pregnancy was going and how the nursery plans were coming along. The boys and I went back for lunch and I put them down for their nap. The crazy thing is that I had an ultra sound scheduled for later that afternoon. They missed just a couple measurements at my last one because of the way she was situated so it was just supposed to be a quick one. I was so tired from our busy morning and decided I would lay down myself for a bit. I went to the bedroom, lay in bed, on my right side, one hand on my belly as I always did, feeling for her kicks. About 10 minutes went by and I felt nothing. I rolled back over to my back, both hands on belly now, waiting patiently for her to let me know she was ok. Just one little kick baby, thats all I needed. Still nothing. I started to worry a bit, changing positions every few minutes. I went to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of cold orange juice hopeful that it would wake her up. I went back and lay down again, now praying desperately for just some little sign that she was ok. I started to google as I lay there on my phone and the first things that came up were all positive. (baby might be facing towards my back and I wouldn’t be feeling any kicking or it’s not uncommon to not feel much movement some days) But I knew my baby girl. And in the past she would move when I asked her to. Something wasn’t right. I began to panic and called Ron at work. He tried to reassure me that everything was likely fine as there were no other signs that anything could be wrong and as I was getting an ultrasound within the hour anyway, she would be checked over thoroughly for a peace of mind. After I hung up, I put on the song “Good Good Father” on my phone. One of my favourite worship songs. I needed to hear it to calm my soul but I also held it up to my belly in hopes that the music would wake up my baby girl. Tears ran down my face as I prayed that all was fine but deep inside I felt something wasn’t. I keep imagining that maybe it was that moment, her heart actually stopped and she was ushered into heaven, wrapped in the arms of her good, good Father. I got up a few minutes later, woke up the boys and we headed downtown for my ultrasound.
As I waited in the waiting room with the twins for Ron to meet us, I had a mental battle with myself. Both hands still on my belly, I kept praying for just the tiniest little movement. I was dreading the ultrasound at this point but also kept trying to convince myself that I was over reacting and within a few minutes, I would be fully relieved. They called my name and in I went. I lay on the bed and as the tech immediately began to snap pictures of what she was looking for, I casually mentioned I was a bit worried because I hadn’t felt much movement today. She moved the probe to a different area on my belly and immediately turned the screen away from me. Thats when I knew something was very, very wrong. I started to cry and asked her if there was a heartbeat. She responded by asking me if I had had any cramping or bleeding. I was shaking and sobbing by this point and told her no. She moved the probe around a bit more, but I could see it all over her face. She told me she’d be back and went to get another tech. They both looked at the screen as she kept moving the probe around on my belly, obviously searching for something. The other tech shook his head and they exited the room again, saying they’d be right back. What was probably 5 minutes, felt like 3 hours. I wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to grab the probe myself and find my babies heartbeat. I tried my hardest to stay calm and begged God for there to be a mistake. I knew deep down what was true but I was in denial. I guess the techs aren’t allowed to release such information so they had to get my midwife on the phone. They came back in to get me and I remember seeing Ron down the hall in the waiting room and bawling on the spot, motioning to him that things were not ok. My legs felt like jello as I tried to make it to the room where the phone was. My midwife confirmed to me in the most sensitive way she could that they were unable to locate a heartbeat. I couldn’t process everything she was saying but all i knew was that my baby was not alive and I was broken. I was so so broken. They brought Ron into the room while the secretary kindly entertained the twins and I bawled on his shoulder while he spoke with my midwife. He tried to stay strong but it wasn’t long before he was crying too. We held each other and cried and cried but we had to compose ourselves to go out and get our boys who had no idea what was going on.
What happened next is still a blur to me. After trying to explain what had happened in the best way possible to our precious boys who were so excited to meet their baby sister, we drove straight to the hospital to triage where my midwives met us and they would do another ultrasound to confirm what we already knew. I texted Britt who so kindly came to get the twins immediately. I remember laying on the bed in that room just praying there was a mistake. Praying that my baby girls heart would beat again, praying that it was just all a bad dream. How could this be? I had felt her kicking me so strongly just the day before. I was healthy, she was healthy. There were no signs or any reason to be concerned that anything could possibly be wrong leading up to that day. They did the ultrasound not long after and it was confirmed. They was no sign of movement, no beating heart. My baby girl had gone to be with Jesus, and no part of me was ready for this. Ron and I wept and wept together, hugging and holding each other. They did a ton of bloodwork and the doctor on call came in to discuss what the next steps would be and give us some options. I could either go home and allow my body to naturally go through labour when it was ready, I could stay in the hospital and be induced or they could preform an alternate surgical procedure so I didn’t have to go through the painfully emotional process of birthing her which to me personally, was not an option. But no part of me wanted to go home. There was no way I could lay in my bed and get any sort of rest with my lifeless baby inside of me. Ron and I both decided without any question that induction was the route we wanted to go. There was quite a list of people ahead of me however, so they actually ended up sending us home anyway until a room became available. We made the long drive home across the city, completely broken, crying and asking God why. As soon as we got in the door however, we got a call that there was a room available and to come right back.
I was so flustered and an emotional mess while I tried to think of what I may need in my “hospital bag”. This is not how I imagined packing it. Packing your hospital bag was supposed to be a joyous activity with lots of happy anticipation. Not this. I couldn’t think clearly or see much through the tears and just grabbed whatever I could, while both Ron and my mom tried to help.
I remember going into the twins room where they were fast asleep and just weeping over them, kissing them and holding them. I was devastated beyond belief yet had never been more thankful for these two beautiful blessings in my life . We left the house and made the trek back to the hospital. My midwife met me at the desk and after registering, we followed her to a room at the very end of the hall. I got dressed in a hospital gown that was laid out for me, got as comfortable as I could in the bed and after speaking with the OB on call and hearing what the induction would entail, the process began. They started the oxytocin drip but I was also given an internal medication every four hours as they said I wasn’t far enough along to have enough receptors for the oxytocin. We were told it could take as long as 24-48 hours before I was fully dilated and ready to birth her. This was so hard to hear because I just wanted it all to be over. It was so painful lying in that hospital bed, waiting to give birth to my precious, lifeless baby. I never in a million years imagined I would have to do this. What mother ever does?
We tried to get some sleep that night. Ron had a cot beside me in the room. But we both couldn’t stop crying. We just hugged and cried and hugged and cried some more. We just didn’t understand how this could have happened. Not this far along. My last miscarriage had happened at 8 weeks along and once I passed that point, I remember taking a big breath of relief, resting assured that our baby was going to be just fine. And to think that that morning everything (as far as we knew) was perfect. Our entire world felt like it was flipped upside down in a matter of hours and we just didn’t know how to deal with it. We prayed together, and cried out to God asking for peace and clarity and comfort. We put on some worship music and that helped to calm our hearts a bit but I just couldn’t sleep a wink that night. I was shaking and feverish from the medication and my mind just wouldn’t shut off.
At 7 am the nurses and OB’s switched shifts. I wasn’t prepared for all the questions that lay ahead in the hours leading up to her birth. So many questions. Questions I never imagined I’d ever have to answer about my own child. Painful questions that brought me to hysterical tears. Did I want to see/hold my lifeless baby when she was born? Did we have a name picked out? Did we want to go forward with an autopsy if there wasn’t any obvious signs as to what happened? Did we have a funeral home in mind? These are questions no mother should ever have to answer. I was so thankful during this time for the support of my amazing midwife and the incredible nurses we had who made me feel as comfortable as possible and took the time to talk with me and just listen to me when I needed it most. I feel like God just placed all the right people in all the right places along the way.
I started to feel some bad cramping around 8 am and we decided to move forward with an epidural so I could try and get a bit of rest having not slept through the night. I was a lot more comfortable after that and was able to sleep little bits on and off between hourly blood pressure and temperature checks. We asked our Pastor and his wife to come by that afternoon and as hard as it was to be so vulnerable and allow them to see me in the worst emotional state I’ve ever been in, it was exactly what we needed during that time. They listened to us tell share our broken and heavy hearts, they prayed with us and spoke words of truth into our lives. Truths we hung on to with everything we had in the hours to come. We are so thankful for them.
Around 6 pm I started to feel very intense cramping on my left side. I had been laying on my right side for quite a while and I guess the epidural had worn off on the other. The cramping went from a pain level of 1 to a 10 in a matter of minutes and after checking me, the OB resident said she could feel the head. As they prepped for me to give birth and went to locate the OB on call, Ron held my hand and I remember weeping and telling him I couldn’t do this. He looked me in the eye and said “You Can, You are so strong, You can do this.” I asked him what we were going to name her. He said “what do you want to name her babe?” We had a running list of 4 names but hadn’t picked one yet. I asked him if we could call her Paisley. He cried and nodded. The reason I said Paisley is because out of the 4 top names, I had a favourite, he had a favourite, we had one new one that we had found and loved but Paisley was one we both absolutely loved from the start and the one we had most recently talked of.
They told me to push whenever I was ready and with one small push at 6:19 pm on March 23rd, Paisley Young was born. Our beautiful, baby girl with all her tiny fingers and all her tiny toes. She had the cutest little nose and perfect little lips. She was everything we dreamed of and more. Up until that very moment, I hadn’t known if I would be strong enough to hold her. Strong enough to even look at her. But the moment I laid eyes on her, I couldn’t take them off. She was perfect. So tiny yet so incredible perfect. Fearfully and wonderfully made by her heavenly Father. I wanted to hold her and hug her and kiss her and never stop. Ron and I were in awe of this beautiful babe that we would never get the chance to know, we would never get to look into her eyes or hear her little voice. But she was beautiful and the moment we met her, we were both forever changed..
They told us we could have her with us as long as we wanted. I expected to just see her and then say my goodbyes, but once we had her, we didn’t want to let her go. I was staying one more night in the hospital and we both decided we wanted our families to meet her. How could they not? We had to share this beautiful blessing with them. We had our wonderful friend Sophie offer to come and do some photos for us which we were so incredibly blessed by. It’s all we have left to remember little Paisley and we’ll cherish those photos forever. It was the next morning at around 9:30 am when we said our final goodbyes to our sweet angel. We sobbed over her and prayed together. We sang her the song that we sing our boys every night before they go to sleep. Walking away and leaving her in that hospital room was the hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life. Leaving the hospital without my baby girl was so completely and utterly heart wrenching. But yet we still had this incredible and overwhelming peace. A peace that we knew where she was. And a peace that even though we don’t understand why, His plans are perfect and good and she is where she is supposed to be.
It really is hard to understand why these sorts of things happen. Why did my babies heart just suddenly stop beating at 22 weeks along? She was perfect, I was healthy, there is no clear explanation and no reason as to why. It’s been over a week and as autopsy results have started to come back, we still have no answers at all. That is one of the hardest parts for me. That we may never know why.
But God does. He knew what her life would entail before the was placed in my womb. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
He knows how and why and for whatever reason, He allowed it to happen. And even though, that’s hard to accept. Even though it doesn’t make sense in the least bit right now and I’m an emotional, broken mess, I’m choosing to believe with everything in me that the way my baby girl’s life ended was not meaningless. While we may not be able to see what He’s doing right now, we will one day and until then, I will keep praising Him and blessing His name. God says in his word that He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). But His perfect timing isn’t necessarily my perfect timing. And while it’s so painful and hurts like hell not having my sweet baby girl with me to hug and to hold, to love and to raise, I will not lose heart. ( 2 Corinthians 4:16)
Our sweet daughter Paisley has taught us more about life and trusting in the Lord in the short time we knew her, then anything ever before. We have experienced the power of community and His faithfulness during this difficult time like never before. We found out after we named her, that “Paisley” is a Scottish derivation of the Greek word “Basilica” meaning “church”. Our church family and so many others have gathered around us, cried with us, loved on us and supported us in ways we never could have imagined. There are no words to express how grateful we are for this powerful community standing behind us and the way we’ve been lifted up in our time of need. We only pray that we can be the same hands that have reached out to us, to others in the future.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
A good friend of mine sent me this song the day after Paisley went to be with Jesus, and while I lay in my bed weeping over the loss of my sweet girl, it brought so much comfort to my hurting soul and I wanted to share it with you.
Today I thought I’d share some recent personal development books I’ve read and also what’s on my next-to-read list because I know I’m personally always looking for new reads myself! And before you completely write this post off, thinking to yourself, “how on earth does she find time to read?” let me tell you, I have the same struggles as any other mama out there. I do love to read but I often can not seem to find the time to. And it takes me 4 times as long to get through a book as it used to! However, over the past year, I’ve truly come to see the benefits of doing personal development on a regular basis and I also value the importance of modelling a love of literature to my kids so it’s become a priority. And I just make time for it. Even if it’s just 15-20 min. a handful of times a week.
The books I’m sharing below are quite the variety as they range in topics from Business, to Marriage, to Prayer, to Minimalism but they were all great reads so I wanted to share!
The Compound Effectby Darren Hardy – This was one of the first books I read last year and was a big reason for WHY I continued to make reading a regular habit. It’s based on the principle that our decisions and habits shape our destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either push you towards the life you desire or to disaster by default. It’s little changes over time that lead to great results.
Leaders Eat Lastby Simon Sinek – I read this one in the summer and basically its about how those of us who lead may not always understand the impact that our leadership roles have on those we lead. Essentially we need to focus on helping each other instead of “one-upping” each other.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo– This book really got me started on my journey towards minimalism. A must read if you want to de-clutter your home but have no idea where to start. So good!
The Go-Giver by Bob Burg– LOVED this one. Might be my favourite read of the year actually. It really changed so much for me in my entrepreneurial journey. It’s written like a novel and is the story of an young man who is searching for success. He learns from a successful business man who was willing to give him his time if he just followed the principles he gave, that changing his focus from getting to giving – putting others interests first and continually adding value to their lives, ultimately leads to unexpected returns.
You and Me Forever by Francis Chan – I actually haven’t finished this one yet but from what I have read, it’s amazing. It’s not like your typical marriage book…it talks about how marriage is not forever, it’s until death do us part. Then come eternal rewards and or regrets depending on how we spend our lives. It looks at marriage in light of eternity and it really shifts the way we see one of the most important relationships in our life. It’s a great book to read together with your spouse and I think that’s why I put it on pause. I wanted to make time to sit down and read it together with Ron.
People Over Profit by Dale Partridge – I started following Dale about 8 months ago and just love his startup camp podcast and his daily motivation on social media so I had to grab this book. It’s another great read for entrepreneurs as it really stresses how powerful and far love, care and respect can go when running a business. He shows strong evidence of how companies who value people over profit are actually more profitable.
Fervant by Priscilla Shirer – This past fall our woman’s bible study at my church did Priscilla’s Armour of God study and I heard that this one was great as well so I grabbed it and absolutely loved it. It really changed the way I look at prayer… not only my own prayer life but we also began to implement strong prayer habits within our family.
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – I’m currently reading this book! I’m 3 chapters in and feel like I could have written it myself. It’s so relevant to where I’m at right now…not only wanting to de-clutter and minimize the material things in my life but also my schedule, my calendar, and the day-to-day things I say yes to. I would highly recommend it to EVERYONE!
I mentioned in an earlier post, that we were planning to have a simplified holiday season. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to hold to our word and we would end up scheduling too many things like normal but looking back on the past weeks, I’m happy to report that we really did do things different this year. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant and literally have no energy to do literally anything (ha!) or maybe it’s because we intentionally planned it that way… but regardless, it worked out really well. We didn’t want every day on our calendar to be filled in with scheduled events and places we had to be. Instead we wanted to be able to wake up and plan fun spontaneous things to do with the boys, like tobogganing and baking and going on little day trips. Of course we wanted to spend lots of time with family and friends but we aimed to do that more spontaneously as well and it worked out great. We were able to say yes when friends invited us over for dinner the evening before, have a spontaneous games night with other friends and plan a last minute day trip to see family last weekend.
Ron went back to work after New Years but the boys and I still felt like we were on holidays last week because there was no pre-school or anything else going on really so long lazy days for us is how the week went. This past Saturday, our friends Kara and Pete asked us to join them on a trip to St. Jacobs. We love this little mennonite town and since we didn’t have anything planned, we were excited to go along. It was such a fun morning, checking out cute bakery’s, this amazing home decor shop where there’s tons of neat show rooms to look at, and of course the farmers market. It was the best way to end off the holidays and I went to remember this season and vow to every Christmas after just like it.
Bryson’s favourite color is green and Skyler’s is red. It makes things easy because everything normally comes in these two colors so when we buy them new things, there is no arguing or questioning as to who get’s what. It also makes things fun this time of year! Today I got them a vanilla dip donut to split while I did some errands and the sprinkles are currently, of course, red and green. So it’s the best thing ever to them, that the store would do up the donuts in their favourite colors.
These adorable tops with the cutest elbow patches are from Os and Oakes and such a fun colorful addition to the twins fairly neutral wardrobe. They wear them all the time! It’s the perfect Christmas gift for any kiddo’s in your life you still need to buy for! You can grab one here!
Fun fact: See that tiny little birth mark under Skyler’s right eye?! That’s the only way most people can tell them apart!