Gregory – A Year Now Has Passed

A year ago today I found out Gregory had died and went into the hospital that evening. I delivered Gregory into the arms of Jesus on March 1, 2013. Of course, his soul was already there from about 10 days before that, but the physical delivery is what happened a year ago.

A day never passes that I don’t think about him and miss him. At least once an hour, I would imagine, I think of him. Losing him has shown me just how much I think about all of my children…it’s a constant…and he’s no different.

In the days following Gregory’s funeral, Rebecca, my dear friend over at The Road Home and Gregory’s godmother , sent me the following video from Mercy Me. I actually waited almost a week to watch it, but I was glad I did. It did make me cry then and it does now, too, but in a good way.


I stumbled upon this song by Daughtry a little later. It was so perfect and even now, feels that way still. I always imagine a little mini-Craig running around — because most of my kids look like their dad as babies. But the words of this song are so true, “Not a day goes by, that I don’t think of you, (Gregory).”



And this song, is for my “Precious Child.”



It is now 5:00 and last year I was finalizing arrangements for the kids and making our way to the hospital. I had spent 5 hours coming to grips with the fact that I had carried my son 10 days further than his life had extended. And the sadness; it was overwhelming. And that heavy heart hung around for another 5-6 months.

But then, I finally felt able to breathe again. I remember it distinctly…about a week into August, I could finally breathe a full, deep breath and not feel like it might be my last. My youngest sister announced her pregnancy with her first child in October and I was shocked to realize it was the first time I was truly happy at the news of someone else having a baby. I was so grateful that God filled my heart again for someone else.

This afternoon, a package came in the mail. Of course, Rebecca and her husband were so very thoughtful and sent us a beautiful creation that could be hung from the chandelier in our dining room. Here are two pictures:

Aquamarine is the March birth stone
I’m glad there is a chandelier in this house ūüôā


Craig and I spent some time at the cemetery today. You know, it would have been easy to pass on the Memorial marker. It was an added cost, and how often will we have time to go up there? But…I’m really glad we got it and that it was placed before the anniversary of his birth/death. We need it there. We need to have that place to go. It was good to visit there today and I know it won’t be the last time we go there.

The Memorial Marker where Gregory was laid


I have received such an out-pouring of love and support from blog-readers, friends and family over the past year. I appreciate more than anyone can know that I was allowed to grieve openly. It’s such a hard thing, I think, to grieve a child who never was able to be born, but it’s important to acknowledge that person and everything he was and is to the parents and family. At this time, I am filled with gratitude at the empathy and understanding I have experienced from so many in the last 12 months: our priest, our parish and school community, our family and friends. Even our children here on Earth with us — who had to watch their mother cry for much of the last year, were such a great support for me. And the counseling I received through my therapist was helpful and how could I forget my awesome doctor and his staff? They hadn’t seen me since March 8 when I walked in there in November and they were so tender and caring with me and asked how I was doing.

2013 was a rough year and I experienced loss on a whole new level. But I was able to process it and get through it all (with amazing support) in a healthy way. I feel ready to tackle the future and know that I will never forget my baby.




Son of God GiveAway Results!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this Son of God Giveaway, sponsored by Grace Hill Media. I hope it was fun and I appreciate those of you who tweeted the blog or pinned it. And of course, I always love to get comments, so thank you also for commenting.

The movie comes out today, so go see it. ūüôā

I’m not real high-tech over here, so I wrote each of the commenter’s names from the post on slips of paper and put them in a container and had my wonderful husband pull a name out.

The winner is Maryann! Congratulations!

Here is a picture of what you’ll be getting:

CD and Novel plus a 1000 piece puzzle

Maryann, I will be contacting you via e-mail to obtain an address where Grace Hill Media can send the this.

Thanks again to everyone for participating!
 


Weight Watchers Wednesday (15)

Happy Wednesday!

I was a bit nervous about attending my meeting and weighing in last week, but it turns out I had no need. I was down 2.8 pounds! That is just crazy talk! I have never been rewarded on the scale with a loss on a week where I stopped tracking. The receptionist asked if I was sticking to the Power Foods, and I thought that maybe I was…but since i hadn’t tracked, i couldn’t say for sure. Either way, I was very happy!!

I was worried that it would cause me to slack again on the tracking and I have to say…I had good reason to worry. I didn’t track real-time this weekend…went back on Monday and tracked though. For some reason, on Saturday night I really wanted Guacamole from this restaurant that makes really good guacamole, so I had that for dinner. Plus some other things I probably shouldn’t have had.

The only major change I have made has been to stop drinking Diet Coke. I asked Craig if he thought it would make that much of a difference and he said, “Yes.” Man of many words, that Craig. So, I thought about it some more and then I thought about it again when I was tempted to get diet coke and I put it off. Who am I to argue with continued weight loss after a change like that?

My workouts have been good this week. I made it to the Y to workout while Dani swam Thursday, then Friday I went to Crossfit. Saturday I rested and Sunday I did an Indoor Triathlon. That was fun, but challenging, too. Monday I was back to Crossfit and Tuesday I ran on the treadmill at the Y. I’ll make it to Crossfit tonight, too.

I feel like tempering my expectations this week since I had such a great week last week. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if I am up slightly because that usually happens after I have a week where I lost 2.8 pounds or something like that.

I guess we’ll see! Until next week…

Photo Here

 

Keep the Joy Amidst the Grief

This week started kind of slow. And it doesn’t appear to be speeding up much. Oh sure, we’re just as busy as we always are. Work, School, workouts, activities for the kids, homework and we threw in beginning to potty-train Vincent¬†into the mix, too.

I can’t deny that Friday’s date looms heavy on my my heart. I know we delivered Gregory on March 1, but February 28 was the day that I went in for the ultrasound and found out that Gregory had already died.

It’s funny being a year removed. So much has changed…but so many emotions are still there, just buried and faded.

A year later, here I am, active, healthy, living my life with my family as full as I can with our busy schedules. I’ve lost about 43 pounds since last year, I’ve gotten heavily involved in Crossfit and am taking new challenges by the horns every day.

And I think…where would I be had Gregory not died? What if he were here with us? He would be about 7 months old, most likely starting some table foods, probably trying to crawl to keep up with Vincent. Financially, our family would be in a very different place as we would be juggling daycare for two small children (again) plus providing formula and diapers. Since Vincent is just now potty-training, we’d have two kids in diapers for quite a span of time which would also impact the financial situation. Emotionally, we’d be in a different place, too. We might not have the grasp on this Gift of Life that we do as a result of our suffering.

God has always provided the Grace to get through whatever came our way, whether it was another child, or a financial struggle, or¬†emotional turmoil. I feel blessed that¬†growing through suffering the loss of my child is possible. Of course, Gregory is not with us. And so, Vincent acts like “the baby” as he is. My other children do not think of Gregory often, or at least I don’t know it if they do. And somehow, I find that¬†I feel content with my status as a mother of five + 1 (in Heaven).

 



I remember the days and weeks following February 28 last year and sometimes the tears well up in my eyes as I remember how long I cried. For some reason, the other day, I thought of our first night at home after delivering Gregory and the loud sobs and the punches in the gut I felt all night and the ache in my heart that didn’t go away. Even now, I can still remember quite vividly the feeling in my chest — it was like a “silent scream” you might do when you are dreaming a bad dream that makes you scream/cry.

These days,¬†I don’t cry all the time. However, I think of Gregory every single day — many times every single day —¬†but I don’t cry every day for him. I have one of the plants we received from family in my office and one, received from Gregory’s godparents,¬†at home. Both plants, when I see them, remind me of my baby. It’s a small miracle both plants are¬†still alive since Craig and I have never been able to keep anything but our babies alive once they come home with us. I have Gregory’s birth stone (March) on my Mother’s Ring, so many times a day, I see it and I always think of him. I have the items the hospital sent home with us along with my letter to Gregory from the day after printed out. I have the pictures they took. I don’t always pull them out, but every so often I will…just so that I can¬†look at him.

As Friday draws closer, it seems I lack focus, but I suppose that is to be expected. I would imagine in the years to come, it will get a little better. Will I always want to take that day off work? Or will I be okay, over time, with keeping a normal schedule? I don’t know. I plan to head up to the cemetery on Friday to see the Memorial that has been placed for Gregory there. Our visit is long overdue, but I’m grateful we’ll actually know where he is now that the Memorial has been placed. Craig and I will spend the day together. The¬†girls have school and I’ve arranged for the boys to go to daycare that day. We’ll get a Crossfit workout in, go to the cemetery and maybe go to a movie or just hang out and do nothing.


I do miss Gregory, but at the same time, I find that I am grateful for the short time I did have with him. I remember those sweet, short months of thinking about whether he would be a boy or a girl. I still chuckle at the fact that¬†I figured it had to be a boy because God knows how¬†much symmetry¬†mean to me and having three girls and then three boys would just be perfect for me.¬†I had fun coming up with potential¬†names (Victoria for a girl; I thought of Victor for a boy along with Gregory). I wondered what we’d do about our vehicle situation (Get a huge 12-passenger van? Or stick it out with the two vehicles we had?) and¬†I thought about¬†how we’d fit all three boys in one bedroom.¬†

Yes, we really did have some good times there, thinking of the future and planning for a new baby. I don’t want to lose sight of the joy Gregory’s pregnancy brought me. I may have been tired, but I was happy. We may have been (a little) surprised, but we spent 4 months in joyful expectation. God blessed us a sixth time. And like every other time, it was so much more than we could have ever have anticipated or felt that we¬†deserved.

Son of God — GiveAway!!

I’m hosting a “Son of God” GiveAway for Grace Hill Media. I know, not quite what you’re expecting here on the ol’ Endless Strength Blog.

The movie, “Son of God,” hits theaters Friday and to accompany it and to support it, I am having a giveaway. Some of you may have watched the award-winning miniseries, “The Bible.” The producers of that miniseries, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, have produced this film to be released February 28.

I’m a “Jesus Movie Junkie” (my own term…at least I don’t know of anyone else who might have used it). When I was a kid, after the first time I saw the movie, “Jesus of Nazereth” I watched it over and over every chance I could get. I did the same with “The Ten Commandments.” I just love the movies. When “the Passion of The Christ” came out in 2003, Craig and I got a babysitter to go see it. I was pregnant with Dani at the time and we didn’t get a sitter all that often. As a matter of fact, that is the only movie I saw in the theater for the span of most of that decade! I also got it on DVD and I usually watch it during Lent each year. I think last year I did not watch it, but was going through my own turmoil while grieving our baby, Gregory.

So, being a “Jesus Movie Junkie,” when I first saw the trailer this past holiday season when I took my oldest two to see “Saving Mr. Banks” I knew I’d have to try and see the movie in the theater when it came out. Then, when Grace Hill Media approached me about doing a Giveaway, I knew I’d do it because…right that whole Junkie bit. ūüôā The trailer makes the movie look well done and the miniseries received rave reviews. I look forward to seeing the movie!

On to the details of the Giveaway…

In honor of the film’s release, Grace Hill Media will provide a winner from my blog a Giveaway package that will include:¬†

  • A copy of the Son of God soundtrack
  • The “Son of God” companion novel
  • A 1000 piece puzzle — fun for the whole family!

I am attaching a trailer for the movie for your viewing pleasure.

  

 To enter for your chance to win:

  • Comment below
  • Tweet out this post (comment that you’ve tweeted)
  • Share my blog on your Facebook page (comment that you’ve posted to Facebook)
  • Pin my blog on Pinterest (comment that you’ve pinned this post)

I will close entries Thursday at midnight and will post the winner on Friday, the day the movie is released in theaters.

 

7 Quick Takes – 76 — A Very Special Birthday Girl Edition


Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting! 


— 1 —


Sunday is my sweet baby girl, Helen’s birthday! She will be 8¬† years old. Oh my. Let me say type that again: She will be 8 years old.

Do you see this precious 4-year-old here? The bottom pic was Helen’s pre-K pic. She has such a sweet smile.




— 2 —

I’ve written before about the fact that I claimed Helen as “my baby” from the earliest onset of pregnancy. I prayed for her to be a “momma’s girl.” I loved the independence of my oldest and cherished the relationship my second-born had with her dad, but I wanted a child who had eyes only for me.

And…well, God answered that prayer 100 times over I think. ūüôā


First day of pre-K four years ago


Playing with her little brother…


Sitting by a fountain


Such a good big sister — reading to her brother
—¬†3 —

She has grown so much since then. Here is her Kindergarten pic:

—¬†4 —


Helen is in 2nd grade and therefore is in the midst of preparing for First Communion after having participated in First Reconciliation a month ago. Helen takes her preparation very seriously: she studies her questions and she successfully badgers her over-committed mom to work with her once a week. I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that her teacher told us at Parent-Teacher conferences this year that she is a “hard worker.”¬†


It made me proud because I was always described as a “hard worker” too and I love it that Helen has taken that trait and made it her own.

—¬†5 —
 Here are some recent pics from basketball season:





—¬†6 —
Being in 2nd grade also means the first year of eligibility to play basketball for St. Andrew’s. Helen had so much fun playing with her friends and I think she grew to like the game of basketball. Like many kids her age, she could probably do without the running, but I also think she realized how critical that particular movement is to playing basketball well.

2nd grade basketball pic
—¬†7 —

So, Happy birthday baby girl! You are a sweet, sensitive, smart girl. Your face lights up my world. You are Amazing! And…I love you.


Be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!

 

Weight Watchers Wednesday (14)

I know I’m late — its not up first thing in the morning. My schedule has gotten so full. I hardly have time to blog anymore. ūüė¶ Much of that is due to my workout schedule. But some is due to kid activities and just plain old writer’s block, too. But, here is my Wednesday check-in post.

I went to my at-work meeting last Thursday and I was down 1.2 pounds. That made me happy. I had been focused, I had tracked the week, I had worked out. I was feeling so awesome about it that I officially set my goal weight with my leader and she signed and everything!

I had been avoiding that because I guess I was just afraid of committing to an impossible number. but all in all, I don’t think it’s impossible. It might take me a while to get there, but I think i can live at that weight long-term.

As of Thursday, I would have 13 more pounds to lose.

Then this weekend happened. Oh man, I was focused thursday and Friday. But then Saturday came along with the munchie-munchie feelings and I stopped tracking. I didn’t track starting Saturday. So…at least I know what that means: most likely an increase on the scale. We’ll see.¬†The good news is that I worked out all week. I took Saturday as a rest day because we were running crazy all day, but did Crossfit Thurs-Fri-Sun-Mon-Tue, and will do it again tonight. I am even planning to run there and back tonight for some extra cardio. (It is 3.2 miles between my house and the Crossfit box.)

Something I haven’t talked much about is the Simple Start plan that Weight Watchers came out with this year. It’s based on the Power Foods and you don’t have to track anything unless it’s not a Power Food. Our leader raves about it and some other members of our group are doing it and seem to like it. I’ve been reluctant because I have the mindset of the PointsPlus “budget” and values for everything I eat. But, having had a week where tracking wasn’t my strong suit, I wonder if I could just stick to the Power Foods and see if it won’t matter if I track or not (unless it’s an “indulgence,” i.e., non-Power Food).

I don’t know…since I need to be super-focused next week, I’ll probably stick with the PointsPlus system, but it is kind of wearing on me that I should try the Power Foods thing. We’ll see.

So, there is it. I was down last week and happy about it, but don’t expect to be down this week. However, I will be re-focused and look forward to a good result next week.

A search for some Crossfit Motivational Images brought me here…

Photo Here


Then, I found this. Sarah has asked me why I crossfit. Funny thing, I signed her up for Foundations and then I saw she was trying to convince one of her friends to do it with her…so I think she’s figuring out her own “why.” But this sums it up beautifully:

Photo Here

The “I CAN’T” is much more fleeting now than it used to be and the “I CAN” comes on much stronger than it used to.

Okay, have a good week!