Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Tis the Season

First, an update on our Rainbow. I've had cervical length checks every two weeks for the last couple of months, and there have been no changes. This is great news. The docs say that this means we have less than a 1% chance of delivering preterm. I've also been getting progresterone shots religiously every week (thanks Megan for the help on weeks when I don't see the doctor!) and that will help prevent any preterm labor. So I'm feeling confident that we're on a good path here. Our angels are watching over this little girl, who we have decided to name Lexie Jean!

I try to keep all these positives in mind as we approach a very difficult time...Christmas, and the dreaded 24-week mark. I delivered Tyler & Ethan at 24 weeks, 5 days and I know I'm going to be very nervous as that gestational age approaches for Lexie. We'll hit that milestone on December 27, right after Christmas. Luckily they scheduled one more ultrasound for December 28 just to be safe! Not that the worry will completely stop there though - after that, I'll be waiting for 28 weeks, then 32, then 36 since now I know how "good" a baby's chances are at each of these gestational ages...and they improve significantly as time goes on of course. But for now, I'm just praying to get through 24 weeks, 5 days from a physical and emotional standpoint.

Then there's Christmas, stuck right in the middle of all this. This will be our second Christmas without the boys. We have our "Tyler & Ethan Tree" decorated, I made a wreath for the cemetery and placed it a couple weeks ago and we've made our Toys for Tots donation of items the boys would have been playing with right now. Doing these things in their memory is a big help to my soul, at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year. I feel close to them when I do these things; like they're walking right beside me. And that feels amazing.

And speaking of angels walking beside us, I also saw a medium last month. It was a public show, but I was picked for a mini reading. She was kind of off on a few things, but one thing she told me that was right on was this: She said I feel the closest to the boys when I'm in the car, by myself. And that I sing to them when I'm driving too (which is correct!)...and that they want me to know that they like it when I sing to them. This is cool because just that morning I was singing a song that reminded me of Tyler & Ethan, and I thought to myself "I wonder if the boys like it when I sing to them, because their sister sure doesn't! Hopefully at least one of my kids doesn't mind my singing..." and then I didn't think about it the rest of the day until the medium brought it up. A-MAZ-ING. I've always believed that my boys were right beside me, but this was just the confirmation that I needed.

So to those of you who are missing someone in Heaven this Christmas season, take comfort in the fact that they're not really that far away. I am more confident than ever that our loved ones walk beside us, hear us, and in their own way sometimes even speak to us through signs, etc. So when you've got a quiet moment (in the car alone, if you're anything like me!), think of them and all you're feeling for them...they can hear you. And know that they're listening and loving you every minute.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sunshine, Angels & Rainbows

Well, I'm back after a long summer hiatus from blogging, and I have big news.The title of this post is Sunshine, Angels & Rainbows, and I'll tell you why. In the loss community, we call our babies that were born before a loss "sunshine babies." That would be Addison...she has been the sunshine on my darkest days and has reminded me of all the things that are good in life. Tyler & Ethan are obviously my angels...they shine down on us every day and have taught me so much about what's really important. Rainbow babies are babies born after a loss; we call them rainbows because they come in the wake of a terrible storm that our souls have weathered and bring us something beautiful. We are excited to announce that we are expecting our rainbow baby in April.

We feel incredibly blessed to be expecting again. I honestly didn't know if it would happen for us, given our history of miscarriages and loss. Someone is watching over us. ;-) At the same time, I'm also incredibly nervous though. We're seeing the high risk specialists, and they're setting me up with weekly progesterone shots and frequent cervical monitoring. If they detect any changes, then I will become a candidate for a rescue cerclage (sewing shut of the cervix). My doctors are very optimistic that I'll have no problems with this pregnancy, since it is a singleton.

Having a game plan and the doctor's confidence makes me feel good about things...cautiously optimistic, we'll say. But there's something else that I fall back on to settle my nerves...I don't have that feeling of foreboding that I had with the boys. When I was pregnant with Tyler & Ethan, I always had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong. All my fears were always quashed by the doc and her staff, but I was still hesitant. Hesitant to buy any clothes. Hesitant to order wallpaper border. Hesitant to even clean out the nursery, even though all the books said to do so early on in case you got put on bedrest. I don't have that bad feeling this time around. I'm not afraid to tell people about this baby, and I actually bought two neutral colored sleepers already! Plus, I know I have a team of angels watching over this baby. Tyler and Ethan for sure, and a very special friend as well. My friend & neighbor Monica passed away on August 6, 2011 from cancer. On August 6, 2012 I found out I am pregnant. The baby's due date is April 13, which is Monica's birthday. I'm taking this as a sign that she's watching over this baby and that everything is going to be ok. So very thankful for all the angels that walk with us every day!

In closing, even though we are standing in the aftermath of the storm, anticipating a beautiful rainbow, it doesn't mean that the storm never happened. This baby will bring us so much joy, but we will still carry the boys in our hearts and miss them every day. We will continue to honor and remember Tyler and Ethan forever and look forward to sharing them with their little brother or sister.

Please say a prayer that we are able to take home a healthy rainbow baby in April!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Report: The Shack

One of the things I've struggled with since Tyler & Ethan's deaths is how God could have let this happen. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers we received while I was on bedrest; why didn't God answer all those prayers? It baffled me why someone who loves me and my family so much would subject us to such hurt. So I couldn't help but wonder...does he love me? Or was I in need of being taught a lesson? And if so, how awful that my children were lost because I messed up with God. Then, I read The Shack by William P. Young.

My friend Missy told me that her dad read this book in like two days becaues he was so into it. All either one of us knew about it was what we read in the book reviews online. So of course, the fact that the book dealt with a parent losing a child and talking to God about it intrigued me. I'll give you a summary of what I took away from the book and I'll try REALLY HARD not to spoil it for those of you who want to read it yourself! :)

First, you must know that the book is based on a true story. A man takes his children camping while his wife is out of town, and his 5 year old daughter gets kidnapped and eventually murdered. Her body is never found. I have to say, I almost didn't read more than the first two chapters because I have a 4 year old daughter and we camp...I spent the first couple nights bawling at the thought, but I pressed on. Anyway... the man lives with what he calls "The Great Sadness", and his wife and remaining children are also grieving. The man cannot fathom why God wouldn't have saved his daughter (whose name is also Missy). Then one day he gets a note in the mailbox that says something to the effect of "I'll be at the shack this weekend and I hope you'll join me. Love, Papa." Papa is how the man's wife refers to God. The man is intrigued and goes to the shack, which is where authorities had determined was Missy's murder scene. He ends up spending the weekend with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and learns a lot. Here are some of my big take-aways from the story of that weekend trip:

- God loves us like we love our own children. Mac (Missy's father) is told that two of his remaining kids will go to Heaven and the other two will go to Hell and that he must choose who goes where. Mac is frantic; he loves his children and doesn't want to see any of them in Hell. He is asked "well one of them must disappoint you or make you angry. Send that one." Mac says that even when his children are in trouble, he loves them and would never want to see them hurt. Once he gets that through his head, he realizes that he's being taught a lesson (and doesn't actualy have to send his kids to hell, in case you were wondering!). We don't want to see our children suffer, and neither does God. It broke his heart just as much to see Missy die as it did her father's, and I can now see that it must have hurt him to see Tyler & Ethan pass as well.

- God loves us so much that he gave us our independence, like a parent sending his child off to college. However, by giving us our independence, part of the deal is that he cannot intervene. There are bad things in this world, and  in the book, God comes out and says that he/she cannot intervene. But what he/she can do is to be there for us in our time of need. I'm still conceptualizing this one, but it has given me some comfort. I know now that I'm not being punished and that Tyler & Ethan's death was not brought on by my own character or lessons I needed to learn. It was a bad thing that happened, and God didn't want to see it happen any more than I did.

- Forgiveness doesn't mean that you are saying what was done is ok; it means that you are freeing yourself frm the burden of dwelling on the wrong-doing. Revenge, resentment and hatred do not hurt the person who offended you; they only hurt YOU. Mac is asked to forgive his daughter's killer, and he doesn't think he can do it because he is so angry and what that person did was so wrong. God explains that forgiveness doesn't mean you condone the actions; just that you can live your life without that hatred in your heart.

It ends REALLY good too, but I won't spoil it. I'll just say that by the end of the book, you'll be pretty convinced that this guy wasn't a whack job or having delusions and that it really is a true story.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are dealing with the death of a child or someone close to you and are harboring some resentment towards God. I got a lot of perspective from reading this book, and I feel like I've taken another step forward in this journey.

So what's up with me this month? Well, let's see...the flood of pregnant friends and new babies is still continuing all around me. Feeling pretty overwhelmed lately. I'm happy for each and every one of them, but every time I hear someone announce their pregnancy, my heart aches for what I've lost and my chest tightens at the though of what's still to be (or not to be) for us. The future upsets me as much as the past, because we've been given the medical ok to try again. I worry that I'll have another miscarriage or another complicated pregnancy and I get mad that I can't just pop out healthy babies like most of my friends do. I seriously might tackle someone one of these days (not a pregnant woman though of course)! So I do my best to stay positive and take it one day at a time. What's meant to be will always find a way, right?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big Girl Pants

So first and foremost, I will admit that I am a total bonehead. Flying was totally fine and I lived to tell about it. I totally over-reacted. Did I like flying? Absolutely not. Would I do it again? Yes, but only with the proper medication/intoxication. : )

Anyway...big girl pants. There is a saying I was introduced to several years ago by a friend & former co-worker (miss you, Jenn R - it's been too long!). She used to tell me to "put your big girl pants on and deal with it." This became a favorite joke between several of us at work, and we even bought matching t-shirts that sported the phrase. Those of you who go to my exercise class have probably seen mine! She would use this phrase whenever something came up that I thought I was too young, inexperienced or not strong enough to handle on my own. Truth of the matter is, it wasn't that I couldn't handle it; it was that I thought I couldn't. I didn't have confidence in myself or my abilities. When I stepped up to the plate and "put my big girl pants on", I generally dealt with whatever it was and came out fine. I just needed a little push and the strength to believe in myself. Whenever I put that shirt on, I remember that I'm only as strong and as confident as I push myself to be.

I still can't believe the events of my life the past two years. I've done so many things that I would have said ten years ago "I can't do it", "I couldn't survive it" or "I would lay down and die first." But I put my big girl pants on and dealt with it. And lived to tell about it.

Tonight I registered Addison for 4K. She was so excited to meet her teacher and play with the other kids while I filled out some forms. There was a spot on one form to list "other siblings" and another that asked "Is there anything else I should know about your child?" I stared at that page for a long time, wondering if I should tell the teacher about Tyler & Ethan, since Addison talks about them a lot. A year ago, I would have left them blank, too afraid to talk about the brothers I never brought home to her and too afraid of the questions that would undoubtedly follow. But today, I put those BGP's on again, and wrote "none living*" in the "other sibilings" blank, and the following asterisked comment in the "anything else we should know?" blank:
"We lost our twin sons in April 2011 due to pregnancy complications. Addison talks about her brothers, Tyler and Ethan, often and we encourage her to be open about this."

This was a big step for me today. I've been fighting this fear of sharing Tyler & Ethan's existance with people I don't know well, and today, I felt like I finally made progress. I feel like I can handle the questions, educate people further, and continue to break the silence around infant loss. Tyler & Ethan are not my "dead babies" that no one should talk about. They are my sons and my angels, and I will not pretend they didn't exist, even if I don't know you well. Go, BGP's, Go!!!

Thanks for reading!
Jen "Feelin' Sassy" Walker

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Time for Me to Fly

If you know me well, you know I'm terrified of airplanes. I've avoided flying at all costs my entire life (thank you to my bosses over the years for understanding!). But this week, I'm boarding my very first airplane for a trip to Vegas. My husband booked the tickets as a surprise with 7 of our good friends, and so I am committed. But I am terrified.

If you're not afraid of flying, you're probably saying "what's the big deal?" Well, it's time to step into the head of a crazy person because I'm going to rationalize it for you. For me, I think it's a trust issue. How can I trust the pilot, a total stranger, to take me tens of thousands of feet in the air and land me safely across the country? How can I trust all the people checking the plane over to not miss a fatal flaw? I can't, even though most rational people have no problem with this. Next some people will say "God has a plan; when your time's up, your time's up, no matter where you are." But the problem is, it's not dying itself that has me so terrified anymore. I have two beautiful little boys waiting for me in Heaven, and that has changed my outlook on death significantly over the last year. However, I have one beautiful little girl here on earth who needs me, and I can't bear the thought of her having to go through life without her parents. It brings tears to my eyes just to type the words. I know grief all too well, and I don't want her to experience any more grief than she has to.

When I say this, I also feel guilty though. I feel like I'm favoring Addison over Tyler & Ethan because I want to stay with her more than I'm willing to be with the boys. It sounds terrible, but I just feel like she needs me more. This life is hard; she has so much to learn. And I truly believe that the "better place" Tyler & Ethan are in contains nothing I need to protect them from or teach them.

But back to this trip...I'm committed. There's no backing out. I have to learn to trust; trust the airline system, trust our family to take care of Addison, and trust God to make it all work out in the end. I pray that everything goes as smoothly as people keep telling me it will, but I still feel like in order to come to grips with getting on that plane, I need to be ok with the possibility that I could leave this world permanently. Morbid, I know, but that's where I'm at with this fear. To get myself into that state of mind, I've turned to God. I'm going to trust Him to make everything right, whether that means I make it back safely or not. I will trust Him to take care of Addison, Tyler & Ethan always. And I will trust Him to give me the courage I need to do this.

With that being said, it's time for me to fly. Pray for me. Seriously. :-)


Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Year's Worth of Angel Love

If you had told me a year ago that there would again come a time when the happiness outweighs the sadness and the smiles outnumber the tears, I'm not sure I would have believed you. Even though meeting my boys one year ago today brought me such happiness, it was bittersweet and brief, because we said goodbye much too soon. It's been a long year filled with many emotions, but last night, I had a revelation.

I seriously think I know two dozen or more pregnant women right now. I'm incredibly happy for each and every one of them, but jealous at the same time. When I think about pregnancy and people having babies, I can't help but feel sorry for my family and wonder why we were robbed of Tyler & Ethan's love. So many things were taken from us; we'll never hear them coo, they will never give us a hug, and there will never be that first time they say I love you that completely melts your heart (at least not here on this earth). But last night, surrounded by so many wonderful people at our March for Babies pizza fundraiser, I realized that I haven't been robbed of these things. I've just had to learn to accept love in a different form; angel love.

Instead of the physical ways a baby on earth shows their love, we receive our angel babies' love in a different way. We see it in the signs they send us like a breezy day at the cemetery when our tears need drying. We hear it when the wind chimes blow at just the right time on a day that seems to have no wind to blow them. And we feel it in the kindness shown to us by friends, family and sometimes total strangers, just like we did last night. I was overwhelmed by the number of people that donated to and came to our pizza fundraiser last night. It was absolutely amazing to see people so willing to help a good cause and to remember our babies. I know Tyler & Ethan were smiling down on us last night and sending us their love through all of our friends and family. Thank you to all involved for your help and support!

Tyler & Ethan even sent us some angel birthday love today. We released six balloons in the backyard after lunch today. The strings were all tangled together from the wind and from being in the car. But soon after they took off, the strings separated, the balloons paired off, and they floated off to Heaven two by two. Just like the boys did. The two big mylar balloons (a sports balloon and a Spongebob balloon) hung around in the field behind our house for a bit as if they were telling us that they didn't really want to leave. They slowly made their way off though and we watched them until we couldn't see them anymore.

Happy 1st Birthday, Tyler & Ethan. I'm still adjusting to the long distance relationship we're going to have, but if you keep sending me those signs and your angel love, I know I'll get used to it. We will love you forever and miss you always. Someday we will all meet again. Until then, let's work on angel hugs, huh? There are still days when I could really use one. Love you both.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On"

It's funny how the little things, the ordinary things in life, creep up on you and knock the wind out of you sometimes. Addison and I were playing at the park today. I was pushing her on the swing when she said "Mommy, want me to push you?" And I said sure. So she proceeds to push me and twist my swing up so that I spin around. When I squeal she says "Mommy, it's ok. Don't be scared." And I think to myself what a great big sister she would be. Then my turn on the swing is done. I get off and notice the two baby swings next to the "big kid swings" we were playing on. They've always been there. Nothing new. Addison used to swing in them herself up until recently. But today I looked at those swings and realized that on this beautiful, abnormally warm March day, I should be here pushing three kids in swings, two of whom should be in those empty baby swings. I wanted to cry but didn't. I didn't dwell on it; I can't lose it at the park. I jumped right back into reality and chased her around and played Stinky Sock Monster (yeah, we're weird like that).

But now that she's in bed, I go back to that thought. It makes me so sad, especially this week knowing that one year ago was when it all fell apart. I want to scream and yell and throw my hands up sometimes because it's so unfair. It's unfair to us, and especially to my boys who will never get to experience all the things that their sister does. They are the ones I feel the saddest for. I know they're in a better place, but it's hard to accept that there is a better place than with their family. Someday I'll understand, but it won't be while I'm on this earth. I know I need to accept that.

So I go back to my mantra...try to celebrate their lives more than you mourn their loss. And I think about what they've taught us, once again. Today I thought about what Tyler & Ethan have taught Addison about life & death. She still struggles a little with the concept. She's been talking about death and dying a lot more lately, probably because we're talking about Tyler & Ethan in general a little more with their birthday and the pizza fundraiser coming up. She was still under the impression that all babies die. She even said to me one day that she had died when she was a baby. Talk about almost losing it. I had to very calmly explain to her again that no, not all babies die and that she had never died because she was still here. But she's her mother's daugher and likes to argue her point. So Saturday she hears me mention my uncle Gary who passed away years ago, before I was born. She asks me who Gary is and I tell her. She has a revelation at this point and says "So it's not just babies that die?!" And I say Yes! It seems to make sense to her now, but who knows...we'll take it one question at a time and try to help her understand this whole death thing. Just when you think you've explained it all, she'll always throw you a curve ball. Overall though, she has a very healthy outlook on death and realizes that even though it's a sad part of life, our lost loved ones are always with us. I think having this outlook will help her as she grows up.

So I'll leave you today with a great poem that my friend Melissa from Mikayla's Grace shared. I love this poem to pieces:

“You can shed tears that they are gone,
or you can smile because they lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that they'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all they've left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see them,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember only that they are gone,
or you can cherish their memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what they'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

As we get ready to celebrate Tyler & Ethan's first birthday (and golden birthday), I will keep these words close to my heart in the hopes that there can be as many smiles as there are tears on April 1.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ignorance is Bliss

A year ago this week, I was enjoying the last week of my blissfully ignorant life. I had just found out a week or two before that the twins were two boys. We had their names picked out. I even bought two little outfits for them. I was worried about what seems like trivial things now; mixing them up and discovering in 18 years that Ethan was Tyler and  Tyler was actually Ethan, and how on earth I was going to feed two babies at once. I lived in a world where nothing monumentally bad would ever happen to you if you were a good person. Sure, you'd have your struggles. I had had two miscarriages previously, so I knew life wasn't a bowl of cherries. But I got through them and I felt like these two boys were my "bonus" for the struggles I had with childrearing.

And then the world came crashing down. March 18, 2011 was the worst day of my life. I went in for a routine cervical check and was told that my babies were probably going to be born soon and that they would probably die. Immediately I knew that instead of planning a summer baptism, I would be planning a spring funeral. But I'm a good person! God wouldn't let me lose them! Sure, I miss church sometimes and I've committed my share of sins, but I don't deserve to lose my children, right? I tried to be hopeful and to get whatever medical help I could to save them. But when God's will was carried out, I didn't get the answer I had hoped for. I felt like I had been totally ripped off, but that I must have deserved it. Maybe God saw that I was too selfish to care for these beautiful boys and that's why he took them from me; maybe he did this so that I could learn a lesson. If only I had been a better person, He wouldn't have had to take them from me! At least that's what I felt at the time...

Fast forward to today. Sometimes I hear the quote "losing a child is a life sentence." I hate that quote. Even though it's not intended to, that phrase makes me feel like the loss of your child is a punishment for something you did wrong. That is the furthest thing from the truth. I am not to blame. I am still a good person. And all of the amazing women and men I've met in this journey through bereavement are good people too. They have taught me that bad things happen to good people, even the best of people. And that has been a key to helping me get through this.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned in the last year from Tyler & Ethan is just that; bad things are going to happen. Monumentally bad things sometimes. And you have to learn from them, pick yourself up when you're ready, and spread the gift of your lessons learned. The alternative is to lay down and let the sadness permanently kill your spirit. My kids would not want me to live like that. They would want me to get up, dust myself off and go on, even if it means I go on with a broken heart. Life isn't going to be fair. It's not going to be perfect or the way you imagine it. But it is going to be worth it. (borrowed from a quote I saw online recently!)

I think the best way to honor Tyler & Ethan's memory is to live in a way that would make them proud. That's why I blog; to tell their story and raise awareness of what it's like to be a bereaved family. That's also why I participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies. Last year we raised over $3,000 in Tyler & Ethan's names and this year, our goal is $5,000. I want to make sure more families get to bring their babies home, and I do it in memory of my boys, who never got to come home. And here comes the plug...we are having a Pizza & Salad Buffet Fundraiser at Lucky's in Barneveld on Saturday, March 31 from 4pm-8pm. This is the night before Tyler & Ethan's birthday and it is also Brad's birthday. Think of it as a little birthday party for my three guys! 15% of all proceeds go to our March for Babies team. For more info, check out our Facebook page:

Do I miss the life I had a year ago? Definitely. Would I go back and change anything? Oddly enough, no; there was nothing I could have done. So even though ignorance was bliss, the lessons I've learned this past year will make me a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend (no, Brad - being a better wife does not involve me doing the dishes more often). And I will thank my boys every day for that.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's all Relative...Siblings, that is

Today we celebrated my little brother's 27th birthday. He's my only sibling, so we're pretty close. I remember growing up how we'd fight like cats and dogs and refuse to apologize to each other when our parents broke it up, but how we always had each other's backs through it all. I still joke that he's more protective of me than my husband is! He was the first person I thought of when I needed a godfather for my firstborn and the first person I thought of when I needed a pallbearer for my 2nd & 3rd. He's been my protector and one of the most important people in my life for the last 27 years.

Sadly, I realized this weekend that my kids will never have the same relationship that my brother and I have shared. I feel like Addison already misses out on so much because she's our only child at home. She'll never have the chance to get hurt doing something stupid and to look up at one of her brothers and utter "get mom"...then look on thankfully to see him running full speed to get her help (i.e., riding a calf and of course falling off or perhaps trying to pry hamburger patties apart with a paring knife and ending up stabbing yourself in the meat of your thumb...yes, sadly that was me, and my brother always ran to get me help!).  Tyler & Ethan won't have a chance to struggle with Shakespeare and have their sister try to help them study by reciting a few sentences at a time and translating (true story!). They will never experience having a sibling the same way that I did.

But after I thought about it a while, I realized that I need to take my own advice. When Addison asks about the boys, I always tell her that even though their bodies are not with us at home, their spirits are with God and since God is everywhere, Tyler & Ethan are with us wherever we go. They can see us and hear us and will watch over us always. When I reminded myself of that, I realized that my kids will have a good relationship, just a different one than my brother and I have. Tyler & Ethan will protect Addison every day; maybe not by intimidating bullies or gross guys when she gets to be dating age, but they will protect her from the big stuff. And even though they won't have a dance at each other's weddings or text message each other on their birthdays, the boys will send her signs to let her know that they are walking with her every day of her life. They will love each other the same way they would if we were all together here on earth, and that is comforting.

Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dear 2011: You Suck. Sincerely, Jen.

I put up a new calendar at work today, one that I received from a vendor with pretty landscape scenes and inspirational quotes. The January 2012 quote is "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries." That said to me that anyone can try a couple of times, but your true character comes out on those third and fourth tries. It made me realize that I learned a lot about my character in 2011, even though to put it bluntly, 2011 sucked eggs.
Tyler & Ethan were our "fourth try". I guess the fact that we even had a "fourth try" says a lot right there - I am obviously not a quitter. But looking back in my life file, I have been a bit of a quitter in the past. I've always been one to give up on something and move on if I'm not good at it. I participated in one season of basketball and one season of volleyball when I was a kid...I wasn't a starter or even second string, so I moved on to cheerleading and forensics, which I acceled at, loved and stuck with for the long haul. But did I love them genuinely or did I love them because these things came easily and more naturally to me? I really can't answer that.

I'm obviously not very good at making babies...1 success out of 5 children is not a good statistic. So I think the reason I'm still hesitant to give it another try is that trying again and again and again is very contrary to my nature. Ordinarily, my intuition tells me that if I'm not good at something, I should move on and try something else. But maybe this is yet another life lesson that I'm supposed to learn. Maybe I've been a quitter for too long and this is another gift from Tyler & Ethan - teaching me not to give up, even when things are not easy or natural.

Needless to say, I've been thinking a lot about trying again as our one year waiting period will be up in April. For the longest time I couldn't imagine myself pregnant again, even though I've said on here in the past that I know I'll regret it if I don't try. Being pregnant again just didn't seem fathomable when I thought about it. It was like trying to imagine myself as a child again; something that I had lived through in the past, but that I would only be able to go back to in my dreams. So I asked God and Tyler & Ethan for some sort of sign to tell me what to do - should we really try again? Shortly after that, I started having dreams about being pregnant. Ok, very likely to be coincidental, given that my mind was already on the baby train...but now the last three days when I've gotten into the van to go somewhere, the song Stronger by Sara Evans is playing. It's a song about a break-up and the woman getting stronger every day, but it totally applies here as well. I think it's a reminder from the boys that I'm stronger than I ever was before and am getting better every day. If you have survived the death of a child, you can survive damn near anything.

So yes, 2011 sucked. I endured more pain and heartache than I ever imagined I could. But I survived. I didn't lay down and die; I lived to tell about it. And I'm learning from all that heartache every day. That is the important thing. Plus, being a mom to angels is a pretty big deal too.

Here's to a better 2012 for us all. I know there will be stumbling blocks, challenges and maybe more heartache, but I also know that I will survive it. And my heart will tell me when it's time to stop trying.

Thanks for reading,