199 pounds

After I delivered Christian, I weighed 199 pounds.

I'd rather weigh 299 pounds and have a son, than weigh 118 without one, but that wasn't a decision I was given. So here I am. Overweight and childless, a hard combination. This isn't a pity post. I don't have to tell you how much I weigh, but I want to.

I did it once, back in 2012, and it helped to have y'all following along for accountability. 128 is what I weigh when I'm skinny, so that'll be the goal. That's 71 pounds to lose this year. I didn't gain it all from pregnancy, but I'd like to lose as much as I can before God gives us another baby. On Wednesday I have my first doctor's appointment since our son's heart stopped beating. Hopefully they'll clear me to exercise then. I've been walking and eating well this month. Better than I have in my entire life, in fact. I'm looking forward to the February weigh in.

Here's a recipe for my favorite green smoothie:

Unsweetened Almond Milk: 1 Cup
Kale: 4 Stalks
Mango: 1
Apple: 1
Banana: 1
Lemon Juice: 2 Capfuls

I normally chop up the kale before I put it in the blender. Compost (trash) the mango skin and pit, the apple core, and the banana peel, just so we're clear. It makes a good breakfast, but try your hardest not to drink the Almond Milk without the other ingredients. It might look like creamy goodness, but it takes like paint.

I hope your 2015 is healthy! If you wanna join me in weight loss, let me know! We ladies especially could use some more camaraderie!


let me not be ashamed

Psalm 25 says, "Oh my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed..."

Even in Christian's death, I trust in Him.

Even in this overwhelming peace that God has given us, several times, I have been too ashamed to say outloud, "He's my God. I trust Him." I do trust Him, but I am too often ashamed. Even to raise my hand in the midst of my church family and say that God has been good to us, I am ashamed. Worried, even, that someone will see my faith in God and think that I don't love Christian like they love their children. I love him with a love that makes me ache, but I can still trust God with him. God is trustworthy.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. So we trust God to give us other babies to raise. Babies we get to take home from the hospital and watch grow. Babies other mommies don't want. However it works out that God gives us a family, we can trust in Him. I need to say these things out loud so you hear them. I have witnessed the grace that God gives.

In the car between my obgyn appointment, where they couldn't find his heartbeat, and the hospital, after I cried on the phone with my husband and told him to meet me three months early in labor and delivery, after I got off the phone with my dad who prayed with me, I turned on the radio so I wouldn't have to sit in silence and sob.

These words filled my car, "You are the everlasting God. Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord." The lyrics ended but the music continued and then, a little boy's voice came onto the radio. A little boy said, "The Lord is the everlasting God. The creator of all the Earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youth will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion, but those that trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

I've never needed strength like I did in that car that morning, and God reminded me that He is strength. He is everlasting. He created Christian. He understands. He gives new strength. All of that in the Bible passage the little, blonde boy quoted (Isaiah 40:28-31). What, Amanda? You couldn't tell he was blonde just by listening to him quote the Bible on the radio. Yes. Yes, I could. God did that for me. Gave me the exact words from His Word that I needed to hear from the mouth of a little, blonde boy. I looked him up. He is blonde, just like my Christian. I already knew he was.

God is good. I trust in Him.


blessed be the name of the Lord

Most of these pictures were taken on January 2nd, 2015, the day they told me his heart had stopped beating. When I look at how full my belly looks, I have trouble swallowing and my eyes burn. He was already in heaven when I took these pictures. I was gearing up for a "twenty-five week" post that I assumed I'd be writing after my doctor's visit. I thought I'd tell you how big he was getting, and in the end I did. 12 inches big. 1 pound, 4 ounces big. I left my camera on my bed to remind myself to write the post that afternoon. I spent that night in a hospital bed with a fever and contractions.

I ended up writing the post to tell you the next day, January 3rd, 2015; The day he was born, or died, though we received neither a birth nor death certificate. I wrote the post on the two-hour drive out of town, in the foggy rain, the windshield matching my own blurry vision. I still have words I need to say about him, though I can't find a way to frame them into thoughts. My handsome son. I wish I could tell you he was kind, athletic, hard-working, creative, fun, curious, and smart. He would have been. All I can tell you is that he was beautiful. Such a handsome face.

Please, don't ever think that you could bring him up and accidentally remind me of him. I'm thinking of him, already.

Please, don't pretend that he didn't exist. That I didn't carry him. That we don't love him. Don't pretend that he wasn't a person. A baby. My son.

I know it's hard when someone goes through something that you've never gone through, and you don't know what they need, so I'm telling you. I need you to pray for us and tell us that you're praying. I need you to hug me, and not say anything if you don't know what you should say. I need you to talk about him. Tell us what you know he would have been. Loved. He would have been loved.

Job lost much more than we have, and yet he spoke words that ring in my mind as absolute truth, "... The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord."


Let's rewind time, shall we? Back to when hope was high. After Christmas a group of friends gathered in a familiar living room to play a game for nostalgia's sake. We put on a record, placed our roads and settlements, and got down to trading "huh-wheat."

Six years ago, we did this often. Multiple nights a week. This is the Matt and Amanda who played footsies under the table, one of my favorite stages of early relationship. If you don't know us personally, you might have trouble matching the faces of the younger versions of ourselves with the older ones, and, sadly, not everyone is pictured at both ages. Good luck, anyways!

This is a diary post of sorts, as most of my posts are, so that when, in six more years, we meet again to play, we'll have proper documentation to compare our future selves against.


peace in the midst of a stillbirth

Thousands of people have seen our son's picture and read the story of the day I found out we had lost him. I hope they saw in that post that God was faithful to us, even in the midst of pain and death.

But I wish in that post, I had referenced a previous post, because God wasn't just faithful to us that day when the nurse cried before Matt arrived at the hospital. He didn't just remind us of His love for Christian on the way home from the hospital without our baby. God gave us peace that He had a perfect plan and a heart full of love for Matt, me, and our son Christian, before we knew we would lose him.

Over two weeks ago, Christian took a break from moving. Whether it was because of the cord defect that eventually took his life, or not, at that point, I was scared for our baby's life, and my heavenly Father gave me peace. Peace, not that he would live, but that even if he didn't, it would only be because that was what was best for our family.

The Bible says that God knows the plans He has for us. Plans of peace and not of evil. This is an excerpt from the post I wrote weeks before we lost our son: I want you to know that even if this becomes the greatest trial Matt and I have been through, God has already proved Himself to be more than enough for us.

Today we took back the carseat that our son didn't get to leave the hospital in, so that some other baby can ride in it. Today I found one of Christian's shirts in the dryer, and it hurt my heart. It isn't easy. In fact, it's horribly hard, but even in this our God is faithful to give peace and comfort. I want to shout it loudly to anyone who is listening: Our son, who we have hoped and prayed our whole lives for, died last week, and God is nothing but love.


heartbroken and thankful

There are things you need to know; namely, Matt and I appreciate the outpouring of love we've received this weekend like we can't explain. People from all areas of our lives, from states and countries we haven't been to in years, reached out to say they were praying, and that's the only thing we need more desperately than dry eyes.

Also, I want you to know why (medically) Christian died. It wasn't something they picked up on ultrasound, but as soon as he was out (and he came out in a hurry once it began) the doctors saw it. They called it hyper-coiled umbilical cord. Some babies (I was one of them) are born with their cord around their neck, and it could kill them, but hyper-coiled cord means that his cord was twisted so tightly at his belly button that the oxygen and food weren't able to pass through. They called it a defect, like the cord hadn't developed properly. All I know is that it allowed him to grow to the right size and weight of a twenty-five week baby, and then he couldn't get what his little body needed. The condition shouldn't affect future children, which was (of course) our main concern in his cause of death.

Labor was soul-tearing painful. How do you lay there contraction after contraction knowing that when the pain climaxes you'll be delivering the child you've always wanted without a heartbeat? There was no end goal to strive for. There was only pain and death.

My mind understands that he's gone, and my heart accepts that it's true, but my body doesn't know. My body thinks I'm a new mommy. In a weekend full of heartache, one of the hardest parts has been my body's gift of milk. It's something that should be treasure. I've dreamt of interrupted sleep, breaks for time spent in darkness, cuddling quietly with my son. My body works beautifully so that my babies will never be hungry, but I don't need it. I don't have a baby to feed. The smell of cabbage follows me from room to room, reminding me of my body's confusion. My hand absentmindedly finds my stomach, where it recently rested in anticipation, reminding me of the new emptiness. A blonde boy at Wal*Mart brought me tears instead of the normal excitement over my own future beautiful, blonde children. Matt and I take breaks from family to be alone, laying together, choking on words. It's the hardest thing I've been through. It's the hardest thing he's been through. It's the hardest thing we've been through. I couldn't make a list of every dream we had dreamed for him, every sitiation we had pictured him in, and every future moment of pain because he's missing from our family, but it isn't only pain. There are many things to be thankful for.

Most of all, I'm thankful that we were far enough along that the hospital treated him like a dead baby, instead of something else. I needed the nurse to look at his body and call him perfect. Matt and I both needed it. We weren't sure if we even wanted to see him at first. Now, I can't imagine having not held him close, but when we received the news that he was dead, we weren't sure we could look at him. We'd always pictured him a certain way: Smiling, wiggling, bright-eyed, alive, and knowing that he'd come to us still and discolored scared us both. But after I'd delivered him, and we cried together for his lost life, I couldn't let his body lie there unheld. Oh, his beautiful little face. I'm so glad we saw him. All four grandparents and some of his aunts and uncles held him too. Even though we all knew he was already a world away, they loved him, and their love encouraged us.

Eve and her selfish disobedience, multiplied my sorrow. I can't blame her. Had I been there I would have made the same decision, but death, the end result, hurts my heart. Still, there is a continued list of things to thank God for.

I'm thankful that the day I delivered our son was already planned as the first day of vacation with my family. We both already had work off for half of this week.
I'm thankful that the little girl I watch was already spending the day with her grandmother the day I had my doctor's appointment. We didn't plan that, God did.

I'm thankful I had a doctor's appointment before our trip. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known that he was gone. I would've gone out of town with Matt and my family, and at some point this week, two hours from my doctor, I would have gone into early labor with our dead baby boy. God had worked that out.

I'm thankful we knew he was a boy. I'm thankful that he already had a name. I'm thankful that people loved him already enough to love him still.

I'm thankful for the husband God gave me. I'm thankful for his hot tears of grief. I'm thankful for the way he speaks of our son. I'm thankful for the way he's held me. I'm thankful for his selflessness in helping me. I'm thankful that we don't have to sorrow as ones who have no hope.

I'm thankful for God's Word. "I know the plans I have for you..." "He cannot come back to me, but I can go to him (in heaven)..." "Be still and know that I am God..." "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven..." "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..." "To be with Christ, which is far better..." "To die is gain..."

Even in the midst of heartbreaking tragedy, there is ever much to be thankful for.


twenty-five weeks: stillborn

I felt the darkness when I knew I'd never hold you again.

We weren't ready. I could have been your mother for sixty years and not been ready to say goodbye.

Like I have every month, I had a routine maternity appointment. This appointment included a glucouse test. Needles and blood. Not a fan. I hashtagged #onlyworthitcauseillholdyousoon on a baby bump photo on Instagram. I meant fifteen weeks soon, not less than twenty-four hours soon. I wasn't ready to hold you yet. At the end of the visit, the doctor checked for your heartbeat. I could hear it playing in my mind, a quick and steady rhythm, but only static filled the room.

The doctor made a lighthearted comment about how good you were at hide and seek when she gave up searching for your heartbeat and went to roll in a rather primitive ultrasound cart. The machine took too long to boot up, and then I was laying staring at a white doctor's coat while she moved a new tool across my skin. I couldn't see the screen with your body on it, but I coud feel it in her search that she hadn't found what she was searching for.

She closed down the machine with some comment about lack of heart activity. I had felt you move just the night before. Just the night before you were alive. Then she was giving me pointed instructions about calling my husband and driving to labor and delivery at a hospital I'd never been inside. On our hurried way back up to the front, a nurse called to me, and the doctor silenced her. The last thing she said to me was, "Labor and delivery. They'll be expecting you."

I had been calm and quiet in the doctor's office, but calling Matt brought tears. He would meet me at the hospital, though I still thought there was a chance he'd be leaving work for nothing. After I got off the phone with Matt, I called my dad. He cried with me in prayer. He already knew what I hadn't accepted. He thanked God for the peace He had previously given Matt and I about His plan for you.

When Matt arrived at the hospital, I laid down on that hospital bed for the first time while a nurse and doctor set up the ultrasound machine. We'd only seen you twice on ultrasound, but both times, even when you were only twelve weeks old, you were moving like crazy. This time it was too obvious too quickly. You were too still. Your heart wasn't beating on the screen. She kept looking, moving, stopping, checking, and though I wanted your heart to begin again, I knew then that I was going to have to give birth to you dead. I wasn't ready.

I won't bore you with the details of the afternoon, evening, and night. Your daddy and I cried together harder than we ever have, because we love you. Neither of us had ever lost anyone, and we weren't ready. This morning, January 3rd, 2015, at 8:23 a.m., I gave birth to you with one push. You were 1 pound 4 ounces and 12 inches long. You had my lips and your daddy's blonde eyebrows. I spent hours today touching your little parts, staring at your tongue, fingers, and nose. I could name every part of your body with such affection that you might believe you were the only baby I've ever held.

But holding your beautiful, lifeless body made it painfully obvious that you weren't there. You were never in that room with us. All the soft kisses and whispered words were lost on your empty shell, because you, my beautiful son, were in heaven before I even knew you were missing. When I thought I was holding you, you were in the arms of God, which is far better. I can't wait to meet you someday. I can't wait to thank our gracious God for allowing us to love you. I can't wait to thank Him for loving us enough to allow His only Son to leave Him.

Hundreds of people here on earth love you. They're weeping with your daddy and I as we say goodbye before we got to say hello. I've dreamed of you my whole life. You made me a mommy.

We love, love, love you.