Everley's First Time in Church

Yesterday we took Everley to church for the first time. She slept through the whole service and did so good! I got a little emotional when we stood up to show her to the congregation as I thought about how long we have been trying to bring a baby home and about how many times I imagined me and Aaron bringing our baby to church for the first time. So many Sundays I have sat in the pews of my church, shedding tears of sadness, overcome by the emptiness in my arms, overcome with longing for the two little boys that I had to give back. I can't put into words how deep the sting and how deep the hurt, the ache. And while the sadness is still here, because Jonah and Harper are not here, my tears yesterday were from my grief but more so from thankfulness. I was overcome with gratefulness that the God of the universe, Who is in the redeeming business, would bless us with this sweet little angel and allow us to raise her and to teach her about Him. My heart will ALWAYS ache for my boys and I will probably always post about that (sorry folks!). But to have been given three beautiful children and to have Everley in my arms right's more than my heart can bear sometimes.

And since Everley is a little angel-it was only fitting that she looked like a precious angel on her first trip to church. Oh I love her so very much! 

We are so very blessed to call Everley ours!

Sweet Everley

Everley is eight weeks old y'all. These past eight weeks have been exhausting, full of joy and full of learning. When we first brought Everley home, she slept, ate and used the bathroom. Now she is awake more in the day and she smiles and coos at us, on top of all those other things. I can't even believe how she has grown. I am breastfeeding and to begin with, we had a hard time getting Everley to gain weight, especially the weight she lost before we got home from the hospital. We met with a Lactation Consultant here in Moultrie (not sure how she feels about her name being used on my blog!) and she has been a lifesaver! I would have surely given up if it hadn't been for her help and encouragement. Don't let anyone fool you: breastfeeding is hard! It gets better, but it is hard there for awhile. Anyways, Everley was 6lbs. 11oz. when she was born, she got down to 6lbs. 1oz. and now, eight weeks later, she is 8lbs 15oz. Just look at the difference in these pictures. I am so proud of us (breastfeeding almost whooped us) but I am so sad to see her grow so quick. The first picture is when we were getting in the car to leave the hospital. The second picture is from a couple days ago. I mean, I can't even...

We have so much fun with Everley. Just being with her and watching her learn the world around her is exciting. I look in her face and it brings tears to my eyes how perfect she is, how much she looks like Jonah and how innocent and precious she is. She has brought joy to our little family and she has made me miss Jonah and Harper even more. I am sad that I have missed (and will continue to miss) so many things with my boys, but I am so grateful that I do get to experience so many things with Everley.
Several people have been asking Aaron when they see him when I'm going to be getting Everley out and about. I promise the day is coming! We do get out some, but we usually go out of town and keep to ourselves. I have been waiting on Everley to get her first round of shots, which is in a couple of weeks. People think I'm crazy, but her pediatrician has even recommended we keep her away from large crowds until she has had her first set of shots. Crazy or not, I would rather be safe than sorry. Afterall, she is a precious gift that didn't come easy! We will be out and about soon enough.
For those of you still praying for us - we appreciate the prayers much more than you know.

Everley Carolina Willis

Last Tuesday, April 21, Everley Carolina Willis made her debut. We are so head over heels in love with her! We cannot believe that she is a whole week old already! This is what we have learned about her so far:

- This girl is a little pistol! She lets you know real quick what she does and does not like. I'm certain she will go far in life because she knows exactly what she wants.

- She does not flinch at all when Ruby or Bingo barks, she is so used to hearing them from the inside, it doesn't even phase her on the outside.

- She is so sweet and precious and she tugs at our heart strings constantly. We just sit around staring at her and crying.

- We have already been telling her about her brothers, Jonah and Harper. 

- She has strengthened our marriage even more. It never ceases to amaze me how much thought and careful planning God put into placing me and Aaron together. I always thought I knew what I would want and need in a husband, but thank God that He knew far better than me. Aaron Willis is quite the catch y'all-I can't even begin to tell y'all all the reasons why I love him so!

So, this is all I have for now. Things are a little crazy around here as we adjust to life with a newborn, but how we have longed for this for so long! Thank you all for your prayers and please keep them coming! Our hearts are so full because of God's faithfulness...three precious babies...three very precious gifts.

Update: 33 Weeks

I know it has been a really long time since I have posted an update. I have just been so busy holding my breath and trying to get things ready for Everley. I guess I haven't wanted to jinx how well things have been going either.

So, as the title of this post says, I am 33 weeks pregnant. Around 20-24 weeks, Everley was measuring a little small and she had me pretty worried because that is simply what I do best ;) and that is just what you do when you have gone through all that we have. But, by our next growth scan at 27 weeks, Everley had caught up for the most part and the maternal fetal medicine specialist that we were seeing released us because Everley was doing so well. I am going weekly for appointments with my regular OB doctor and for non-stress tests to keep an eye on Everley's heart rate and my uterus. Everley does not always like to cooperate for her non-stress tests so that makes my visits longer some days, but she is doing great, just keeping us on our toes!

Dr. Duffy, the reproductive endocrinologist that did my uterine surgery last May, has been keeping a check on me through his nurse, which is so nice! I actually got to talk to him this past weekend and he really helped to ease my mind about some things. I can't say it enough - I love Dr. Duffy! He is just the best!

We are so thankful for everyone's continued love and support. We have been blessed and comforted by your prayers and thoughts - please keep those coming! There are always two missing pieces, Jonah and Harper...and that is something we are troubled by on a daily basis. These last several weeks are sure to be filled with anxiety for us, even as we trust God with our precious Everley...we just can't believe we have made it this far, as this is the farthest we have ever been. We cannot wait to hold Everley in our arms!

I will leave y'all with a picture of Everley Carolina Willis and her precious lips and nose!

Life Looks So Different

I have been so sad the past couple of days. I have cried harder than I have in awhile. I am trusting God with Everley, but then again, I trusted God with Jonah and Harper, too. Trusting God does not somehow make me exempt from losing Everley. That's what is so hard for people to understand. I truly am doing the best I can. My faith does not mean I won't suffer or that I won't be sad or that I won't have moments in which I struggle to breathe. 

I miss Jonah and Harper so terribly. No pregnancy or birth after them will ever close up this gaping hole in my heart. No baby in my arms will ever make the longing for Jonah and Harper in my arms go away. Life looks so different without them. Things that others would never dream could hurt me or stop me dead in my tracks do just that. Some words and actions leave me gasping for breath through the tears that are choking me out. People don't have to say it but they leave me with the impression that since I've had surgery, we've found the problem and I'm pregnant now, well that fixes everything. Oh God, how I wish it could! 

Things are awkward. People don't mention Jonah or Harper because they don't want to upset me. Do you know what upsets me? The fact that if I utter their names, people start squirming uncomfortably. I know people don't know what to say to me or to Aaron and they don't know what to do around us. But do they think about how it feels to be us? We stuggle to make it through the day a lot of times. We struggle to reconcile the little joys of life with the extreme ache we feel in every moment. Every moment is so bittersweet. We don't know what to do or say around people.

Christmas is here and so are the gatherings with family and friends. In every get-together I am reminded that Jonah and Harper are missing. And I feel that no one else notices besides Aaron. I see Aaron playing with kids because he can choke it back far better than I can, and I see those kids light up because Aaron is so fun. And then I always feel the heat flood my cheeks and the tears that start to fill my eyes as I think about how much fun Jonah and Harper would've had with Aaron. And I just can't shake the sadness. It will never be easy to live without them here. It will always be complicated. It will always hover over every part of our life. And I wish I could be sorry for other people that this upsets, but I'm not. I'm not sorry that we've changed. I'm not sorry that loving and missing them means I can't do other things. Great love changes you. Children change you and even the relationships you have, whether your children are playing in the next room or sitting at the feet of Jesus waiting to see you again. We are forever changed and forever...just not the same. 

We are hopeful that Everley will get to come home. We are trusting God. We know that Everley will bring us so much joy amidst the pain. But that is exactly what it will be: joy amidst pain. She will make us smile and laugh and wonder how we ever lived without her. She will bring light and laughter back into our home. But we will also always be sad that she won't have her big brothers here to love on her and play with her. We will always be sad that our three babies won't get to share the experience of growing up together in a home where they were each prayed for and loved so deeply. 

Living between Heaven and Earth is exhausting. Especially when we are the only ones that notice. 

You Don't Want To Skip This Post

When surgery on my uterus was first mentioned, Dr. Duffy told us that it could take up to six months until he would be ready to release us to try again. It all depended on how the surgery went and how quickly and how well I would heal. So, I had surgery in May and it was rough. But when I woke up from surgery, Dr. Duffy was so proud of how well the surgery went, even though it took much longer than he had anticipated. 

We went back about five weeks later for a saline sonogram to see how my uterus was healing. Dr. Duffy was still so proud of how everything had went and he was even more excited by how well my uterus was healing. We left that day having been told that after three more normal monthly cycles, we could start trying again. We were kind of shocked. We decided then that we would not breathe a word about this to anyone because we knew how hard the coming months would probably be. And we were right. They have been hard and they have been filled with anticipation, fear, sadness, longing and even doubt. But these weeks have not been without hope.

When we first found out we were pregnant, my progesterone levels were low so Dr. Duffy put me on progesterone twice a day to help with my levels, to help sustain the pregnancy. After my first pregnancy visit with Dr. Duffy, I began to bleed and I began to panic. I was then placed on Estradiol twice a day to help with that. It was a rollercoaster of emotions!

But here we are today and we are filled with so much joy to know that we are expecting a miracle, a blessing from God. Miss Everley Carolina Willis is expected to arrive in May 2015. We hope that people will understand why we have been cautious in telling of our news. We have learned that no pregnancy, no matter how far along, is a guarantee. We are excited but we are also nervous. We want to bring sweet Everley home so very badly. Please continue to pray for us. We are going to a maternal fetal medicine specialist next week and we would appreciate your prayers. Please pray that Everley is healthy and that my uterus is doing exactly what a normal uterus should. 

I cannot begin to tell you what it is like feeling some movements already, knowing that there was a time not so long ago when we were told I would never be able to be pregnant again. We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for leading us to Dr. Duffy and for blessing us with another child. Our hearts are full knowing that God saw fit to bless us with three precious babies, Jonah, Harper and now Everley. Oh, how He loves us!

Bittersweet Weekend

When I was pregnant with Harper, I was anxious all the time. I held my breath everyday and at night as I laid in bed, I would exhale just a little as I realized I had made it another day. Aaron, being the amazing man that he is, decided at some point that I needed encouragement to help me through the long, stressful days. So, each day he put a blue post-it note with a Bible verse on it inside the cabinet in our bathroom that holds all the things I need in the mornings when I am getting ready for work. I never have taken those post-it notes down.

This was the verse on the post-it note on October 18, 2012, the day I went into pre-term labor and delivered Harper at 21 weeks and 2 days:

Hard to rejoice on such a bittersweet day, or the day that follows. Sweet because Harper is my child and yesterday was his birthday and I held him on that day two years ago. Sweet because I know where he is and I know I will be with him again one day. Bitter because on October 19, 2012, a few short hours after his birth, Harper died. Bitter because I wish he was here and I wish I was recovering from his birthday party right now. Bitter because no one speaks Harper's name. No one speaks Jonah's either. It is bad enough that to hear their names, me or Aaron have to say them, otherwise they are never mentioned. That hurts. Combined with the fact that they are gone and we are here...that really hurts. 

Losing a child is not like any other loss, and I think I'm pretty qualified to say that. It turns your world upside down, but no one else's. You think about your child(ren) every second of the day for your whole life, but they never seem to cross anyone else's mind. Man that hurts.

Makes me hold them even closer to my heart.