Friday, October 26, 2012

Gideon's gonna be a big brother!

What a wide range of emotions such an announcement has the potential to produce. I know for the first 10 days of knowing, I was overjoyed. I was an absolute ball of happiness!

A new baby!!! Finally!

From the MOMENT I took that positive test, even since before then, really since I had Gideon, I was praying for our next one. I was praying that our new baby's cells would divide and wrap and form and do everything they needed to do just right. Then when I finally confirmed that there WAS a baby in there forming, my prayers went into overdrive.

I so so badly want this baby to be happy and healthy and whole and be able to come home to us. (I think we have a pretty awesome little family that would LOVE a little person)

But at the same time as all of that, the statistics remain. If you have no history of anencephaly, your chances of a baby like Gideon are 1 in 1,000... If you already have a 'Gideon' of your own, your chances go to 3 in 100.... Pretty lousy...


I keep reminding myself that it's a lot easier to choose one of the 97 happy balls out of the bag versus one of the 3 sad ones. It's like my mantra these days. I just keep reminding myself of that. And not only that, but God is still good people. He still loves me, even though he saw it fit to give me an anencephalic baby. That was obviously the best thing for me at that time, for whatever reason.

And I truly think it was...

Not that I wouldn't have enjoyed my time with Gideon in our home, but Gideon made me appreciate Colt SOOO much more. I love my Coltboy so much. He is the cutest thing ever. He says the funniest things. And that laugh. I could live for days, just listening to him giggle. He's just awesome! :-) And I don't know if I would've thought that before Gideon, but I know that Gideon made me appreciate life SOO much more!

So.... After all that happiness, came yesterday. The day that I knew would come, I just didn't know when....

I went to Gideon's spot for the first time since I took that positive test.... and I cried and cried. I sobbed and begged and pleaded with God to allow me to bring home a happy, healthy, whole baby this time.

I trust God will give me what is right. :-)

And what if anencephaly is on my plate again? Well... As much as I'll hate that.....  I'll pray again, just as Jesus did in the garden: Matthew 26:39 "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

There's nothing I can do about it. I can't change it. If this baby is gonna be anencephalic, he's anencephalic right now. I can't do anything otherwise. I just have to have faith that God knows what I need and He knows what is going to glorify His name to the utmost....

That. And that alone, brings me comfort.

Knowing that He's in control. Knowing that I've done absolutely all I can do. Knowing we are going to love Him regardless....

That's the most amazing comfort there ever was. :-)

Praise Jesus' name for Gideon & Colt & Baby McGinnis #3 :')

And then there were five...

Well.... As we all know, my consistency in my blog is less than stellar.

But.....the McGinnis family does have good news....

We are going from 4 to 5!! :-) And we... Are... STOKED!!!!! :-)

I was the happiest person on the planet at 5am on that Monday morning, Oct 15th. I had had a hunch for a couple days that maybe... Just maybe... There was some major cellular division going on in my lower abdomen. :-)

That Sunday night, I decided that I was going to take a test in the morning. I had taken one the previous Tuesday, Oct 9th and it had been negative. Granted I was 5 days early (and that was even one of those 'early testing thingys').... But I just had zero patience!

The month prior, whilst in the midst of my cycle, I had had a sorta major breakdown. I was sad about Gideon, and sad that everytime I went to the bathroom, it was a constant reminder that I was NOT pregnant... And that was really hard. I knew THE DAY I had Gideon that I wanted to be pregnant again, like, NOW! So, to not be was really hard for me. God was teaching me patience, reliance, and faith. Patience to give my body time to recoup, reliance on Him to do what was right for my family, & faith that He would provide whatever was right.

..... Then came Oct 15...... 

As I said, I had had a hunch that perhaps there was a chance.... I didn't have the 'normal' symptoms, other than just being really tired. But I did notice on September 28th, some weird discoloration on my toilet paper... I thought to myself that Friday, 'I don't ever remember having 'implantation bleeding' with Colt or Gideon, but I am on SERIOUS amounts of folic acid... that makes for a very fertile home for a baby to grow... So it would make sense that some of it may fluff off when implanting.... Hmmm....' *shrug*

And so my suspicion started...

THHEEEEN came Oct 15! LOL

That morning I couldn't sleep. Because remember, I knew on Sunday night that I was going to test in the morning. So it was 5am... WAAAYY before I would've gotten up. WAAAYY before Jarrod got up even. And I'm laying there. Awake. Squirming because I have to pee... I say to myself, 'Just do it Jenny! What's the worst that can happen? It come back negative? Well then, you're in the same place you are now, just go take it. Who cares.' So, I succumbed to the pressure of..... Myself. & got up.

I got the test out, took it, then immediately looked away. I didn't want to get my hopes up too too high. (Pssshhh yeah right! LOL)

Much to my surprise, after a couple minutes (that felt like years) passed, the two faintest lines came on the screen forming that all-too-coveted plus sign.

And there we were.... No longer 4, but now & forever a family of 5.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Being happy

I'm beginning to notice that I only blog when I'm sad. I don't know if I think people only need to hear from me when I need their prayers, or I just get so caught up in my life that I don't blog, or what... But I just feel like I want people to know that I am so happy. I am so blessed. And God is so good!

I have an amazing husband that is better and better to me every day.... A beautiful son who is so sweet and goofy and wonderful.... A family that I love, that loves me, and supports us.... Amazing friends that I can always rely on.... Acquaintances that have become more like friends.... And a beautiful baby boy in Heaven that I am more & more thankful for everyday.

This is just a short list of my blessings. I could go on and on.

Isn't it amazing how good God really is? Yes, I have a baby in Heaven & yes, it was hard. But SOOO much good came from it. I have been so blessed, at least one person (that I know of personally) has gotten saved after hearing Gideon's story, people have been able to see God's love, peace & comfort. And I'm just so thankful for all of that.

I hope that God will look down upon me & know that, although I haven't always succeeded, I've done my very best in caring for Gideon through my pregnancy & caring for his story afterwards. I thank the Lord for giving me such a blessing & praise His name for the work He's done with it.

Long story short.... I'm super happy today. I'm super happy most days. I am so blessed to even be able to feel this way. I know it is not something to take lightly, nor is it something to take for granted.

God is so good!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Numb or Normal?

Shortly after Gideon was born, maybe 2 weeks or so, I found myself feeling "numb."

A wise man told me, "Jenny, it's not 'numb,' it's normal. You have been in the midst of hyper emotions the last four months. Now that it's over, you're just going back to normal. It's not numb, it's normal."

He was right.

But is that always the case?

I have noticed what he said to be true. I don't find myself having 'moments' nearly as often. They're very rare actually.

That's what scares me.

Things have happened.... I visit "Gideon's Spot" at the cemetery... Nothing. No emotion..... I get a surprise gift in the mail (that is beautiful and I love and I wear every waking moment of every day)... but no tears then either. No tears, happy or sad.

Then I read a blog.

A blog about a sweet baby that grows closer and closer to my heart every day and I cry.

I wish I had the emotion of his mommy. I want to feel something for Gideon again. I don't want to be numb anymore.

I've been saying for at least a week, that I need to "have a moment." I've been irritable, I've been non-emotional (which is rare for me). I've been ... just... weird. I need to have a "moment." These "moments" are almost comforting to me. They are home. My emotional home. I know how to feel loved in the midst of the sad moments.

How do I feel loved in the normal moments?

How do I not feel like I'm betraying my beautiful son by not grieving for him?

I don't know.

There's so much about this process that I don't know. Everyone thinks I'm some great pro. NOT! I'm just as dumb as the next guy. It's such a crazy journey to walk. To know when you're doing it right and when you're pushing it aside. I still can't figure that part out.

I hope that I'm not stifling my emotions. I'm trying so hard.

But maybe it's time. Maybe it's time to be happy more than sad. I've really been that from Gideon's birthday. Only this past week has it started scaring me....

How can being happy be scary? I don't know, but it is.

Is this numb or normal?

I don't know...  Maybe a little of both.... But maybe... Just maybe... That's normal too.

Heavenly Father, please let that be normal too.

Heavenly Father, please give Gideon a kiss from me. Please tell Gideon that I loved him. There are times that I just want to talk to him, but I feel like that would dishonor you Lord. You are the only One worthy to be prayed to. But, will you please hug my boy for me. You know my heart Father. You know how much I love You. I thank You so much for the opportunity to carry Your precious baby, Gideon. Thank you for leading me to his beautiful name, Gideon Wayne. I just pray, Lord, that You would love on him for me. I just wanted him so bad. Really bad. I love You so much and I know that You have a plan for all this, and that I had to give my Gideon to You for a reason... Wait... My Gideon... No... Your Gideon... I know the plan for him was to be in Heaven with you all along, I just wanted him too. Please let him know that. And he probably already does, but my human little brain just needs to tell him. I don't know how to think like you God. You are so big. You are so awesome. You are so much more than I will ever be. I just don't know how to think like You..... Please forgive me for where I've fallen short of your plan for Gideon. Please forgive me for not talking about him more. I just feel like some people get uncomfortable hearing about "my dead baby." Help me not to allow this, your master plan, to fall through the cracks. Please allow Gideon's story to shine the way to You, Jesus. To Your saving grace. I love You and I love that You allowed me to carry the most beautiful baby ever to come to Your Heaven. Lead me down the path You had planned for Gideon's story and help me to follow it better.
In Jesus name, the One who died for my sins and for the sins of every person that has ever lived, whether it be for 45 minutes or 145 years, Lord. It is in the name of Jesus that I pray.

Numb or Normal?

I'm gonna go with a little of both for right now. And be thankful in the midst of it all.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Little Self Reflection... and a lot of tears

I did not handle Gideon's situation perfectly. Who could? I have been thinking a lot about people saying things like, "You're so amazing." "You're such an inspiration." etc... And I just want to say... I'm no inspiration. Seriously. It is only God working through me that I am able to make an imprint on anyone's life. I have tried so hard to handle this situation just right, and I did my very best. But I didn't succeed as well as I would've hoped. I hurt people.... I did. And I remember Shiloh and Preacher (like 2 or 3 weeks in a row) saying... "Hurt People, Hurt People" and in those moments, that made me so mad. I was mad because I thought to myself, "I'm a hurt person and I'm not out hurting anyone. I'm not going around throwing my emotional weight around with no thought to anyone else." Boy was I wrong. (Isn't it funny how hindsight is SOOO 20/20??) It is true, I wasn't just throwing my emotional weight around with no thought to anyone else, but I was hurting people. (It can happen you know, you can hurt people even when you are trying so hard not to) ... I thought of an analogy a while ago... Even before Gideon was born...

I am surrounded by a Ring of Fire. This situation is like someone walked around me in a circle, poured gasoline on dry grass, then on January 31 around 3:00pm, threw a match in the path. And WHOOOOSH! Up went the flames. Then as the days and weeks passed, I'm in there being a newbie fire fighter. I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I would actively fight, other times I would just sit down and cry and ask God to take it away, other times I would ask people to be there for me. But they weren't allowed to act like there were huge FLAMES in their face. They had to act all normal-like. And everyone tried. Everyone tried so hard to be there for me. They tried so hard to see through the smoke and the flames. They even reached through them sometimes. Everyone tried so hard to help me. So many people cried so many tears for me. So many MORE people prayed so hard for me to be safe inside the fire, to not be just burnt alive. Everyone was doing everything they knew how to do to help me to the best of their own ability.

Some of that, I received well. Some of it, I noticed. But so much more of that I didn't. I couldn't see through the fire and the smoke to see that some of my dearest friends were doing everything they knew how to do to be there for me, just like I asked.

The people that I received well will read this and probably scratch their heads thinking, "Jenny, you did no such thing." But I also think there will be people out there nodding their heads saying, "Yep, that was me. I tried so hard to be there for you, Jenny. I tried so hard to give you everything you needed. I did everything in my power to feel your pain and to comfort you. And what did you do? Reject me. You totally threw my efforts in the trash can. You're exactly right. I reached for you through that hot, burning fire, and you just swatted my hand away. What more could I do?"

And for that, I am truly sorry. I understand that my 'fire' was (and still is sometimes, especially today) very hot. It was (is) a tough situation, and we all did our best. I know that. I'm just sorry that I misinterpreted some of your efforts so badly. Please accept my apology.

In church this morning, Preacher preached on unconditional love. The love that God gives to every single person. The reason he died on the cross for us. And in the Bible, in I Corinthians 13 it says

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemingly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth;
7 Beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth;

That is how God calls me to love. He wants my love toward other people to suffer long, to be kind, not to envy, not to be puffed up & 'all that,' not to behave ugly-like, not to seek my own, not to be easily provoked, to think no evil, to not rejoice in sin, but to rejoice in truth, to bear all things, to hope in all things, to endure all things, to never fail.

I'm sorry I failed some of you. I'm sorry I swatted at your hand when you reached into my fire out of the kindness of your heart. I'm sorry I didn't recognize your charity when I should've. Please forgive me.

Just a little self-relfection..... and a lot of tears.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our Beautiful Gideon

I know I've said it before, but I can not stress enough how grateful I am to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization and to Lisa Hezlep of Hezlep Photography.She came to the hospital in a moments notice (literally) and took the most beautiful pictures of my sweet Gideon that I could ever have imagined. I just wanted to share with you the pictures that she took, they are wonderful and so is she. We are so blessed to have this gift, to have these memories. Although, we will never have any more pictures of our precious son, we will always have these. We couldn't have done it without you Lisa, truly. I know I've thanked you before (and am probably driving you nuts, lol), but I just can't say enough how fantastic you are.

Enjoy our son & be blessed by his beauty. :-)  

Create a gorgeous, high quality wedding photo album at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Women of Faith

This weekend was Women of Faith and I got to go and the last second.

Ever since Gideon was diagnosed, I have thought about what this was all about. I think a big part of it is sharing the story. Sharing what God did for me through this journey. Sharing how He showed Himself faithful to me in my intense time of need. Sharing how if He can do it for me, He can certainly do it for you.

The next question is: How do I do that? How do I get Gideon's story out and glorify my Lord for it? Is it even possible? Many of you know that I'm in the (extreme) early stages of pursuing some sort of book (it's actuallly much harder than I anticipated). But, I've always thought that I would like to be a speaker at something like this. Maybe get the chance to be one of those ladies that gets to glorify God through the story He blessed me with. So I was excited to be there and get a taste of what it was like. But, I had to work, so I had to drive up late & separate (a huge drag).

So I got there and started looking through my program. I was reading the little 'blurb' they have on each one of the speakers and I thought, "I'm not like these women. These women actually live for the Lord all the time. They have other things to offer, other than their 'sob story,' that makes them good Christians. I'm not like that. I'd never be good enough to be here. What was I thinking?" But as I sit here and write that (and, honestly still believe some of it) I think to myself. "But wait... What did Mark Lowry say that night? Didn't God use a bunch of losers? Didn't he most often use the freaks? (Mark Lowry's words, not mine, lol)

Yes. Yes, he did... I know I'm not worthy (and never will be), but I do have a willing heart. I want to share God's love for us through Gideon's story. I want people to know that God can work like this in their hearts too. I want to do that on the largest stage possible! I want to tell as many people as will listen! And an arena of 5,000 (?) ladies sounds like a pretty large number and add that with all the cities they go to... Hey! This sounds like a great idea, I thought... BUT....I'm sure that a lot of people probably want the bright lights and prestige - so He probably wouldn't use me for that. I don't know... All I know is that I want to proclaim God's unconditional love. I want  to proclaim the truths of the Bible (Romans 8:28 is true, ya know... look it up). I want to proclaim His peace and comfort that He gave us so graciously.... These are the things I was thinking as I was looking through that program....

That whole night I was in a stupid 'funk'.... I was irritated, for no real reason... Just irritated (back me ladies, you know what that's like)... I went through the motions of the evening and finally, after talking to the girls in my room, realized what was going on...

I had been 'feeling a sad moment coming on' for a couple days (that's happening more and more all the time)... I don't get sad all at once anymore, it's like I can feel it 'coming on'... Kinda like a sneeze, only it takes longer. It's weird. But... Gideon's 2 month was tough for me this time. His birthday, as you all know, was peaceful, wonderful, just surprising.... Then his 1 month was still pretty celebratory. I remembered how awesome he was, and how many lives he had touched. Then came his due date, which was tough, once I realized what day it actually was (I'll probably "back-blog" about that someday. "Back-blog" is my own made up word, meaning things I wanted to blog about, but couldn't, since I didn't have home internet, until now). Then came August 2nd, the day before Women of Faith, his two month.... and it was different. I though about wanting him. Wanting to be his mommy. I was sad, but I had to work, so I had to put it off (which I HATE doing). So... I had been feeling this moment coming on since then. I just didn't want it to happen at WoF. I don't know why, I just didn't want to do it there. I like to cry alone, in the shower (one of the VERY few things I like to do alone)... But that wasn't the way it was going to happen this time.

One of the things that I want SO badly, is to 'be Gideon's mommy,' but I can't (in the way that I want to, I mean). I can't hold hime, I can't burp him, I can't kiss his sweet little head, I can't do all the things that "regular" mom's get to do with their newborns. Gideon doesn't need me. He doesn't need me at all. He has Jesus. Jesus Himself is taking care of my boy.

But as much as I love Jesus, myself (and I truly do). I still can't fathom how wonderful He is. I can't imagine that Gideon would want to be held by someone other than me. I mean. COME ON!! I'm his mommy! Who could take better care of him than me?! God? Even God Himself could do a more comforting job than me? Really?! Yes! It's true, but being so fleshly, I still don't know... All I know is I want my baby. I want to hold him, I want to kiss him, I want to make him feel better when he cries and burp him and change his little dirty butt and wash his black baby hair.  Those are the things I want. I want to watch him grow up and fall down and start talking. I just really want Gideon...

But..... aside from all of that, I have to realize.... I have to remember that song: God is so good. God is so good! God is so good! He's so good to me!!! He has Gideon and He is doing all those things for me. I'm trying to realize that my son is in Heaven. Truly in Heaven with Jesus. Jesus Christ Himself.... I'm trying to realize how perfect Heaven is, and how amazing God is. God is so much bigger and better than me (DUH!). He's so much more capable to take care of Gideon (I think to myself again, DUH! You big idiot!!!) But, he's still my boy and I still want him, and I want him to want me, his mommy.

All these things hit me so hard at Women of Faith and I was reminded (by someone that always helps me see things clearly when Jarrod's not around, or unavailable), "Gideon got to miss this horrible world. He got to go straight to be with Jesus!" Then, during Women of Faith (this post really is titled properly, even though I've been distracted horribly), the songs started hitting me. I mean, like a ton. of. bricks. The lyrics were just so beautiful (I should've gotten the CD). The praise and worship team was singing about God having the victory and running to His embrace, things like that. And it just overtook me. I realized that I had been thinking all along that I was the one for the job. But, clearly, this is untrue, or Gideon would be here. God wanted him for Himself. He wanted Gideon with Him. He wanted to do it. He wanted to relieve me of the job this time. For whatever reason. He brought me to that realization through song at Women of Faith. It was so great because it made me think of those things. I just felt God (almost literally) hugging me. I just felt like singing and praising His holy name. I just wanted to sing out about how awesome He is. And I did. :-) I stood up like a big goober-head, when everyone around me (or so I thought) was sitting. But I didn't care. I didn't care at all. I had to stand and praise Him while I cried and cried and cried.

So... Long story short... Women of Faith was good for me. Next year will be better because I will prepare myself more. But it was really really good. God is good and He loves me, despite how sad I am. He loves me despite my sin of thinking I was better. He still loves me. Romans 8:28 is still true somehow. And God (as always) is still good. He's watching out for us through our trials, whatever they may be, and is taking care of us.

I hope that God will bless your heart through Gideon's story. And Gideon's story will encourage you to love God more. I know that I never felt as close to God, EVER, as I did because of Gideon. Amazing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

June 2, 2012 - A Day I Will Never Forget

I feel like I should apologize to everyone for not blogging sooner. I don't have an internet connection at home, so it's hard. But now, we're at the beach, Colt is on a walk with Uncle Nate & Aunt Kelly, and I have the ocean to look at & listen to. I have been journaling this whole time, just not on the computer. So I'm going to write straight from there because those details and emotions are raw & true from those exact moments. So here we go.... :-D

It's Friday June 1st. Colt and I are home along and I'm tired. I've been having contractions for the last week or more & I'm just worn out. But... nonetheless... laundry is out of control, my house is a wreck, & Colt needs a playmate. So I've got work to do. My thought process is, "Spread it out... Do chores. Rest. Play with Colt. Rest. Drink Water. Rest. Do more chores. Rest. Rest..... Rest..... Then rest again." I fold some clothes, then lay down on the couch with Colt at around 11:30 or so. To my surprise, Colt falls asleep (that never happens). So... I'm taking off with this opportunity & putting him to bed so I can take a nap myself. To my surprise again, we both sleep until 1:30 or later. Now, since it's well after lunchtime, I put Colt in his highchair for some old-fashioned PB&J (YUM!). While Colt is eating, I go to the bathroom.... (I'll skip some of these next details for our readers of the male variety).... I decide, "Hey. It's Friday at 2pm, the weekend is looming, and I've got more than enough evidence of potential labor. I'm gonna call and check in just in case." I call and ask for Dr. VonHoene, she's gone for the day. But I get my favorite receptionist... She patches me back to the attending doctor. After hearing my symptoms, he says I should come down and get checked out. OIY!! That's not exactly what I had in mind. I mean come on! I live at the Lake for crying out loud & I'm going to the hospital in Montgomery... But okay, I'll come. So, I call Jarrod & fill him in. He's indifferent, as usual. :-) I decide that I should get a shower, get a quick bag packed for me & Colt & take him to mom's before I head down. So, I deliver Colt to mom's, and go to retrieve Jarrod & we head down to the hospital. I'm having some belly pain still, like I've been having for the last few weeks, but I'm starting to notice that the pain is migrating to my back (same as my labor with Colt). I get to the hospital, get registered, (yadda, yadda, yadda) they get me into bed in triage. Ann Marie is my nurse's name & she seems to be older with a long, grey, braided ponytail. ( I want to remember & share every single little detail) She hooks me up to the contraction monitor, then tries for Gideon's heartbeat. Well... He's a turkey & was having way too much fun with all this contraction business to lay still for her. He wanted to play! :-) So... we knew he was still with us & doing fine with all the kicking, so we just skipped monitoring him, which was fine with me. Then came in a doctor ("Dr. PinkHeadband she will always be to me because she had on the same pink headband on that she did when we were there for Katie's labor just a little over a week earlier.) She checked me and said I was 1cm dilated, 60% effaced, & -2 station. I'm not too surprised. She says they could see the contractions on the monitor at about 3 minutes apart (even though I'm not feeling them too much). She says she thinks my cervix is 'on the move' but she wants me to hang around and get checked again to see what's going on. The only problem is she's going home and Dr. Phillips is coming on. Dr. Phillips has a blond ponytail & a necklace with a pretty crooked heart on it and her wedding rings. She is SO SO sweet! She checks me after the hour is up... no change... Time to go home. Well, we swing by Ruby Tuesday's in Milford for dinner & I get my usual - steak, medium, and mashed potatoes (not the best I've ever had, but that's okay). So, we head home. I drop Jarrod off at his car and go to mom's to get Colt. I'm tired, and huge, and I just want to sleep. So I get home, get Colt in bed, and get myself in bed around 10:00-ish. AAHHHH... My nice, comfy bed! I doze off right away, TV & all. I tell Jarrod I love him, he says he loves me too. And I. am. out... Little did I know, in less than 12 hours I'd be holding my precious boy.

I sleep between 10:00 and 2:00, waking a few times (just like the nights prior: need to visit the restroom, can't get comfortable... you know ladies, the late pregnancy norm). Then, after 2:00am, I can't sleep anymore. No way. I'm having continuing labor symptoms & my contractions are starting to move into my back. After a couple hours of this sort of thing and having my contractions exclusively in my back, I decide it's time to call the doctor and see what they think. So, I call at about 3:30am and the operator can't get in touch with the doctor on call. So, I hang up and tell him that I'll call back later, I wasn't going to get Jarrod and Colt out of bed at this hour anyway. So, I try to lay down. My lower back is screaming for mercy every two and a half minutes, so there is no way that I was going to be able to go back to sleep, as hard as I'm trying. I look at the clock and it's 5:00am. I decide I'm in enough pain that I'm going to try and call again. I don't know how much more of this I can handle, and I know that I have a 50+ minute car ride ahead of me. I get the operator again and he recognizes my voice. He tries for her again with no luck. He tells me to call back in 15 minutes or so, because she most likely is in a procedure of some kind and can be reached afterwards. Okay. During those 15 minutes I decide to time my contraction s on the stopwatch on my phone (brilliant by the way). The were,on average, about 45-50 seconds and about 2-2 1/2 minutes apart. And boy were they painful! So I call back and FINALLY get to talk to Dr. Phillips at about 5:20-ish. She said she felt fine about me coming to get checked out again. I was adamant about her checking me, since she was there the night before. I asked her what time her shift was over and she said 8:00am. I told her we would be there before she left at 8:00.

So I start getting ready things ready to go. I called mom around 6:00 to let her know what had been going on and what the plan was going to be. I wanted her to be there with me, so I wanted her to start getting ready too. She, of course, agreed. We loaded Colt up and got in the car to head out at about 6:37 :-) (I know this specific time because I sent mom a text message as we were pulling out to of the driveway, to which she responded, "My Mt. Dew isn't ready yet... ACK! ... My mom and her 'coffee' LOL) So we start on the road, and I am having some SERIOUS contractions!!! We get to mom's, drop off Colt in his carseat (as in, we didn't even get him out. We unhooked the seat and carried him into the house still in the thing... I didn't care... I had to get to Dr. Phillips!) Dad came out, gave my hand a squeeze, and told me that he loved me and would see me soon. Then, finally, we were off again. Mom was behind me helping me through my contractions, reminding me to breathe, rubbing my shoulders, doing anything she could think of to comfort me. As we were riding, Jarrod was teasing me (yep, still happens even when I'm in the dark throws of labor, lol) and Mom kept saying,
"SMACK HIM!! This is your opportunity to smack him!" Looking back, it was funny. Looking back!

We get to the hospital... FINALLY! Jarrod drops Mom and I at the front door and I tell her there is no way that I am walking all the way to that elevator, she's going to have to wheel me up. So she does. And, of course, I'm having contractions the whole way. A guy named Muhammed (I remember every detail, even the guy's name that registered me) was at the registration desk. He gets me all situated and as he's working I ask him, "Do you know what time it is?"
"7:49" he says.
"Good! I need to see Dr. Phillips before her shift is over at 8:00!" I reply.
After he's finished, Mom wheels me back to triage. The nurse there is Jo (She was kind of short-ish, dark complexion, dark hair in a ponytail). She was very direct and business like, but nice at the same time. It was pretty obvious, I think, that I was in active labor. She had to help me out of my clothes, into the hospital gown (there was no way I was bending down for any reason whatsoever) and got me all hooked up to all the monitors and everything.  She tried, just like Ann Marie, to find Gideon's heartbeat, with no luck. I promptly told her not to worry too much about it, the same thing happened last night. Dr. Phillips came in right after I was in bed to check me and another nurse came in to look at Gideon's heartbeat on the ultrasound since we couldn't find it with the monitor again. Initially, while Dr. Phillips was looking at the ultrasound machine, I thought his pulse wasn't there. I even asked her, "Is he already gone?" But he wasn't. He was still with us. She showed me the beating on the monitor: 143 beats per minute. That strong little heart of his was still pumping. Then Dr. Phillips checked me and I was praying for at least 1cm, at least 1 just so I know I haven't been doing all this work for nothing... Well... Prayers answered... I was 6CM!! (gained 5 whole cm overnight!! WOOP WOOP!!) 90% effaced! and +2 station!!! Praise the Lord! I get to stay!!!

The rest is quite a blur. My contractions were just so so bad that did not care what they did to me. I didn't care what they stuck me with or who did it or what the outcome would've been, I just wanted Gideon out of me. Jo go my IV going, while I was having, yet another, massive contraction, and Jarrod was telling them about me being gluten free and having low blood sugar sometimes. At this point, I'm just laying there trying to get through the pain.

Next thing I know, I'm like a car in a nascar pit crew or something. They hook me all up and get me into the hall, out of triage and into a "real room." It really was like in the TV shows or something, LOL). We're in the hall and right after another really bad contraction, I tell Jo, "The anesthesiologist can come anytime!" To that they reply, "He's on his way honey." :-) I get in my room and they all lift me and put me over to the other bed.

 My wonderful nurse, Kate.
I don't actually remember "meeting" her "formally", but this is where I know my relationship with Kate, my nurse, started and I remember loving her right away. Just about as soon as I got in the room, Scott came in. Scott was the anesthesiologist that did my epidural with Colt and Jarrod really liked him a lot. Man! Was I glad to see him!! He was super friendly and did a SUPER good job with both boys!
 Before he starts, though, my contractions are out. of. control!!! I ask Kate, "Can I 'criss-cross' my legs?"
"That would be perfect." She says.
"Can I hug you?" I ask. (There was a CNM in my room when I got my epi with Colt and she hugged me and I remembered how much that helped.)
"Sure." :-)
She hugs me for a long time, through a couple more contractions, while Scott's back there doing his thing, telling me everything he's doing, "Cold spray." "Little sting" "Little squeeze"
"SHUT UP!!! I don't care what you're doing! I just want the pain to stop!!!" LOL!!
(That last part was just all going on in my mind, not out loud, lol)
Back to reality: The whole time I'm in pain, Kate is talking me through each contraction, telling me to breathe, and man was I trying! It's just so hard to breathe through those stupid things!

After I get my epidural in, I have 2 or 3 more contractions, but they lessen in intensity with each one, until they're gone. Then Dr. Phillips comes back with a slew of people (extra nurses, extra residents, a first year medical student, and more). She comes to check me and she's sort of getting the room ready, people are buzzing all around and I'm telling Kate that I really have to use the restroom (and I really did). I don't remember if she didn't answer me, or if she said, "Not right now." or what, all I know is nothing happened. Well, while they're buzzing around, doing their thing, I feel this HUGE gush and I can remember sort of seeing it spray like upwards almost. I realized my water was breaking. And breaking. And breaking. And breaking... I'm telling you, it gushed forever! There was like a 5 gallon bucket's worth (an over exaggeration of course, but it really was a lot). And so they had to change the bedding. But before they could get to that, I just.... well... pee'd. I couldn't help it. I told them I really had to go! (And I had to go a lot too! lol) (Sorry if that's TMI for you... I was just sitting here thinking that might be kinda gross, but oh well... That's what happened, lol).

Now... Dr. Phillips comes over to check me. Much to my surprise (because it's only 8:30-8:45 or so) I'm 10cm and 100% effaced... Ready to go! We decide to sort of let Gideon progress on his own and come down, so we wait 15 minutes or so (or that's what it seemed like to me anyway). This is when I notice all the people. There's Dr. Phillips... 2 other residents: Dr. Steiner & another Dr. ...A first year resident: tall, goofy looking, student guy... 4 nurses: Kate, Jo, from triage, Kori (Katie's nurse, which was so cool by the way), and another short wavy haired lady (I wish I knew her name)... The "attending" doctor: he was short-ish with a brown zip-up hoodie and scrubs. He was really quiet and just stood in the back by the sink.... That is a total of 9 medical people (that I can remember). Plus my mom, Jarrod & I. That's 12. Twelve people in my room to welcome my precious Gideon! How cool!!

The next 3+ hours are also a blur. It went so fast, but was so perfect, all at the same time. I hope I can recall it all properly.

At some point before I actually gave birth, I told Kate that I was feeling some sharp pain-like stuff, that I couldn't really describe "down there" ... She asked me, "Is it in your butt?"
"No, not really." I say.
"Is it in your 'hoo-ha'?" She asks.
"Yes!! Yes, it is in my 'hoo-ha'! I reply. :-)
"Is it stabby?"
"Hahaha! Yes, yes it is sort of stabby."
(I love Kate, she is so wonderful. The perfect personality to match mine for this whole ordeal!)

Once it was actually time for Gideon to come, I gave like three little grunt-like pushes for Gideon and he pretty much came out on his own. Right away, they put the clip on his cord and someone (I don't remember who) cut his cord, and they handed him right to me, all grimy and all. I asked if he would ever take a breath, and they said no. I didn't let this deflate me. I just decided to enjoy what I had. Kori listened for his heart beat right away. HE WAS ALIVE!!! :-) Then they got a clean towel for him to lay on and a hat (which was WAAYY too big for him). We wiped him off a little and I remember telling him he was a stinky boy. :-) Then Kate came back after a few minutes to listen to his heart beat again and that tough little guy was still fighting. Not breathing, but that little heart was beating away! I asked her if I could listen and she said yes with that quirky little grin of hers that I love. :-) And I heard it. I heard the heart of God's precious Gideon beating here on this earth. That is one of my most fond memories of that day and a sound that I will NEVER forget. The sound of life from my son, who had such a short one. Wow! Praise the Lord for a memory as cool as that!

All photos provided by Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Hezlep Photography.
While all that was going on, Dr. Phillips was working on me, finishing the birthing process (totally oblivious to me). Shortly after that, I believe, (this part where Gideon is in my arms is all so blurry, I'm afraid I won't remember it all) I asked Kate to go ahead and weigh him. He weighed 2lb 2.6oz. My small little guy. He really was tiny and I'm so happy that I have so many pictures of him. My Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) photographer - Lisa Hezlep - was simply amazing! She took all sorts of candid shots while my family and I were holding and admiring him. And she interfered and took him for posed shots too.

Gideon Wayne McGinnis

She was the perfect cross between 'out of your face, let me interact with my family and son' and 'here, let's put him this way to get this awesome shot' ... It was amazing to watch her work in the midst of, what would have been to the outside world, a sad situation. She was amazing and I can't thank her enough for all her hard work. Not only did she work hard for us that day and capture our day perfectly. But she worked hard editing all these pictures for us to have for a lifetime.

Thank you Lisa. Truly. You are an amazing woman and I am indebted to you.

At some point, my family starts to arrive. Dad comes with Colt. Katie arrived at that same time. Grandma Vieson and Aunt Amy come sometime in there too. Then, later after that Kelly came with Andrea and Taylor. And Kathy came too. Everyone is sad. Everyone except me. I don't know, I just couldn't find sadness in that day. Not even after we went home. I was so happy to just have him and hold him and look at him and kiss him. I, of course, was sad at some times, but I would say 95% of my day was spent in happiness and I think my family would testify to that. 

When Dad came in, he was very sad. We kept saying to each other how perfect Gideon was.Then, Mom and Dad take a turn holding him for a few minutes, and then Katie takes a turn. Then Kathy gets there and the front of her pants are all wet. I remember asking her, "What happened?!" Turns out, she had brought a big bag of things for Colt and had spilled the apple juice on her leg somehow. It was so smart that she had that because I hadn't been smart enough to remember that.

At this time, I'm calm. I'm collected. I'm very peaceful. I don't know how that happened, but so many people and preachers talk about God's amazing grace, unspeakable joy, and indescribable peace. Yeah, yeah, yeah... I believe all that, I always have. But there is no way you can truly know what that really is until you go through something like this and you feel God wrap his arms of grace around you. The peace is... intense. That's the only word I can think to describe it sufficiently. I don't know how I got it and I certainly don't know why, but I'm so thankful for it because now I'm able to look back on that day with true happiness. True, true joy. My Gideon was perfect, the time is heart was beating on this earth was perfect and God's grace and peace on my heart was BEYOND perfect! (If that's even possible).

Sorry... got a little bit off track there... Back to my story:

Later in the morning Kate and I gave Gideon his bath. He was very very stinky. Kate brought two little tubs, one for soapy water, and one for rinsing. I remember talking to him like I always would any of my babies and telling him we had to get clean and how stinky he was and things like that. Just interacting with him like I normally would.

Kate and I cleaning him from head to toe :-)

 I was so touched that Kate took such extra care to get his hair all clean.

Speaking of hair... LOOK AT ALL OF THAT!!
He got his footprints beforehand, and they left a little mark on the little tub. :-)

Gideon getting his footprint tak

After his bath, he smelled SO much better and his little head full of hair was so clean. MAN! He had so much hair. I'm so glad we got so many pictures with him without his hat. His hair was definitely one of my favorite parts. It was so dark and so full! I just always wanted to look at it. :-) I'm so thankful that I went through all that heartburn now :-) just like I was with Colt. :-)

We visited with him a little longer, then Kate and Kori took him to get dressed in his "Little Brother" outfit. He was swimming in that thing just as much as he was swimming inside of me (talking about having all that amniotic fluid, then such a tiny baby). 

He sat in the bassinet for a while under the warmer while I filled out his birth certificate paperwork, which in hindsight was such an awesome blessing to be able to do. I had been told around 11:00 that I could go home whenever I was ready. By this time it was probably 12:00 or 12:30 and I was getting close to being ready. 

To any anencephalic moms out there: It's okay to spend however much time with your baby that you want. There is no such thing as too much or too little. It's whatever is right for you. For me, I didn't need that much. Some moms spend the night with their babies and that's all okay. Whatever feels right for you IS RIGHT!!! Don't let people try to sway you. Do what feels good in your heart. You're the one that's going to have to live with your decision for the rest of your life.... Follow your heart.

We were waiting because I wanted to talk to a lactation consultant and ask about pumping and donating. She took a long, long time to come up and then once she did, she didn't seem to have any idea what she was talking about. So... it was a total waste of time, but not totally, because I got to spend more time in the presence of my Gideon. I didn't hold him the whole time (again moms out there... To each her own... do what is right for you), but I didn't feel like I needed to. I was totally content with how much I held him. 

Kisses for my Gideon

I have NO regrets from that day and I don't EVER want the devil to creep in and try to change my mind about that. The whole day was perfect, I did everything with Gideon that I wanted to do, I told him everything I wanted him to hear, and I loved him as much as I possibly could. I have no What if's, I have no regrets.

With that being said.... then came the hard part. Saying goodbye. I had all my papers filled out. It was time. It was about 1:00-1:30-ish and we were ready. We were all sitting/standing around talking and visiting and Jarrod signaled to me that it was 'time.' He knew how long was just enough, and he was right. It was time. Time to say goodbye. (One of, and maybe my only, unpleasant memories) 

So, mom and dad were already over at the bassinet and I went over with them. I felt his skin again, it was so soft and still 'squishy' -- we weren't sure how fast death would come over him. I touched his little button nose. I looked at his tiny feet & his sweet little hands & that middle finger that just wouldn't lay straight.  I remember so many people talking about trying to memorize every detail. And that's what I was trying to do. Through all of this, mom and dad are standing with me and then I feel a hand in mine. Jarrod had walked up behind me and put his other hand on my shoulder. He has no idea what this meant to me. No idea. 

Then, I bent down and talked to him, through my tears, one last time. I wanted him to know how much I loved him. How much I would have loved him had he been able to stay. How much I will always love him even though he can't stay. How much his daddy and big brother will always love him. How much his big brother would've had so much fun with him. How we would be the best parents to him that we could. And how I would think about him everyday (but I still wanted to be honest), then I quickly corrected myself and told him I'd try to think of him everyday and if I didn't, I still loved him very much. I don't think I'll have trouble with that though. I told him to tell Grandpa Barthel I said hi, but to not let him work him too hard. :-) Then I kissed him, I looked at his hair again, touched his nose, kissed him again, and turned away.I was done. I didn't have anything else to say, and I could've stood there kissing his head and nose for the rest of my life. But I knew it was time to go. I knew if I didn't do it then, that I never would, because in all seriousness, who ever wants to do that? Walk away from your son, never to see him on this Earth again? No one, no one wants to do that. It is totally unnatural. As I turned away, I hugged everyone. Each for a very long time. Kelly, Katie, the little girls, mom, dad, Kathy, then finally... Jarrod. Jarrod held me for what seemed like hours. He just hugged me and let me sob. (I love this man)

They loaded up my wheelchair as I tried to begin to contain myself, and Kate called another doctor in to stay with Gideon while we left (which, in hindsight, that was so thoughtful and sweet of her, to get someone to come in and stay with Gideon's body... just another reason why I love her so much).  She loaded up the memory box she had made for me that had all of Gideon's stuff: footprints, lock of hair, hats, extra ankle bracelets (again, super thoughtful), any paperwork we needed, and I'm sure there were other things that I'm forgetting about right now. This is when I got a little twinge of pain, I remember thinking to myself: "Man, this really stinks, leaving here with a box of mementos instead of a baby." I didn't like that. I didn't like that one bit. But, it had to be done. I had to leave. And I had to leave Gideon behind. 

So, they wheel me out of the room, into the hallway and we're waiting for Kate and looking for my phone (only to realize that it was in my pocket all along). Then we realize that under our feet was really sticky.... Remember the apple juice on Kathy's pants? Yeah... She must've spilled it here.  So, Kate comes, the doctors tell us goodbye and we head out. I originally thought that was going to be really hard, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. You see, I've been working on this process and preparing for this day since we found out about anencephaly on January 31st. I didn't have an empty carseat to look at, or an empty nursery to go home to, nothing like that. I wasn't in pain anymore, and Gideon is with Jesus. What more do I need? (I want to always remember the peace I felt that day. The intense peace that only the Holy Spirit can give. Amazing.)

We go down the elevator and as we were walking out, I gave Kate the address for my blog and she helped me into the car with my ice pack (which was for my epidural entrance sight, and felt AWESOME!!). She leaned down and gave me a big hug and I remember telling her, "I really want to tell you that I love you because I really feel like I do." And I do, really. I mean... How could I not? She helped me and spent time with me on one of the most important and most memorable days of my life. She was God's special, brilliant give to me that day and A. I will always be thankful that she did everything she did for me. B. She will always hold a very special place in my heart! So everyone else loaded up and we took off. 

This day was so amazing in so many ways that I cannot begin to go into all the details of all the blessings (and I've been writing for so long, I feel like you're probably holding your eyes open trying to finish this story). I just want to take a few minutes to glorify our Almighty God for being with me and being merciful to me on that day. He was in total control and did everything in His way and in His time. I cannot stress enough how true that was. Everything from my water breaking on its own, to Gideon's heart beating, to him being born at 33 weeks so that I wasn't able to donate anything... All that was so comforting to me.

Colt giving Daddy hugs

   Our family of four

Kate holding Gideon

Hands on our Gideon

Gideon's precious, tiny little feet

Thank you so much for joining me in the story of my sweet Gideon's life. He was surely a blessing to me. I hope he was a blessing to you as well..... I intend to continue blogging about the following days and recounting what I can. I just want so desperately to help any anencephalic moms out there that are nervous or scared. I would LOVE to talk to you and be your sounding board, be someone you can talk to who has actually been there. Please email me... I WILL email you back and answer any and all questions you may have. (

Thank you again & God bless you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

3D/4D Ultrasound & the beginning of a new series of "Happy Days"

So Thursday was my 3D/4D ultrasound that people (who are continuing to remain anonymous) bought for me as a gift.... I will admit, I was nervous at first. I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect. I have seen many pictures of anencephalic babies, and I have this perfect picture of what Gideon looks like and I didn't want that to be marred in any way. I wanted my imagination to still see him as perfect and normal and whole. So, to have a window inside myself and see him for what he is made me incredibly nervous.

I asked Kathy Rankin to go with me. She has really been a great filter for me for things like this. She has found pictures that she thought I would want to see, but has screened them for me prior to make sure that I wanted to (and could) deal with them. So I decided to take her with me in case it was going to be too much for me, because again, I didn't have a CLUE as to what to expect. It turned out being the most awesome girls day! I have had so many of those with my little sisters & love every second of them. But, this time was a little different... for me. You see, I see Kathy as the big sister I never had... & sitting there with her at lunch that day, talking about all the normal things that we always talk about, then talking about Gideon, too (of course) :-) was just wonderful. There was a time during lunch (at Chili's which was AMAZING!!) when I told her, "You know, I don't know what it's like to go to lunch with a big sister, but I'm pretty sure if I had to guess, this would be it!" :-) It was so fun! And she is just such a great friend! She's happy with me when I am happy, she's angry with me when I am angry, she cries with me when I am on the edge, she is just wonderful! She is seriously everything to me that I try to be to my little sisters! (Love you Kathy!!) :-)

So.... After lunch, we were driving the short distance to the office (with the help of Debbie, her handy dandy GPS thingy. LOL!!) and we both knew that the other one was a little bit nervous. So we get called back and I ask the lady (Missy, who turned out to be SOO sweet!) if she knew my story, and she said she knew about the anencephaly. (I was glad of that, I didn't want to have to explain it to her.) And Kathy and I started talking a little about our plan. You see, our original plan was for her to look at the screen and decide if she thought I would want to see... But once we got in the room, I knew that I was going to be looking at my boy no matter what. It wouldn't matter how good or bad it was, I was seeing my boy. He's precious and perfect and wonderfully made in God's eyes, and by-golly, he was gonna be perfect and wonderfully made in my eyes too! And Kathy agreed, there was no way, I was going to not look.

The scan starts.

She starts by looking at his heartbeat. She measures it and we listen to it (Strong, as usual.... Man I REALLY hope they will give that strong healthy heart to a baby that needs one!!). Then we see his legs and BOY are they long!!! Just like his big brother's! :-) And I ask her... Wouldn't it be neat if we could get a shot of his cute little butt cheeks? How cool that would be! :-) She tries hard, but Gideon is just NOT cooperating. He was moving and stretching and moving and dancing and just being crazy the whole time! Poor Missy had the hardest time, but I'll admit, it was fun to watch him squirm... It always is :-) So she kept looking at arms and legs and things and I told her... "I'm not afraid to see his head, I want to see him." Because I thought she was nervous about me seeing it too. But she just said she was getting some other things like she normally does... which ended up being fine. :-)

Then she found his precious, precious face. And man oh man does he ever look like Colt! I mean, it's like having a little miniature Colt inside there! It was amazing! He is the most beautiful baby I think there ever was (sorry Colt, lol). His little button nose and his little Colt mouth. All of it was just so precious... (keep it together Jenny, don't cry now, you're doing good! lol) ... She scanned and scanned and scanned for like 20+ minutes. I don't know how long my thing was supposed to go, but I probably could've just stayed on that table all day if she would've let me. :') It was the most amazing, precious, and wonderful blessing that I've had throughout this thing. To see my boy, to look at his face, his real face, what he really looks like, just warms my heart. And to have those pictures that I can look at any time I want, again... Priceless...

So... To those of you anonymous people out there that bought this for me. (I heard it was a group, but have no clue WHATSOEVER as to who the members are)..... Thank you. Thank you for giving me the gift of seeing my sweet, precious, amazingly adorable boy. And the ability to pop that DVD in whenever I want and watch him dance. And to look at his pictures whenever I want. You have no idea what that means to me. Yes, I was nervous at first. Very nervous... But I had no clue the blessing it would be to my heart. I had no idea the "warm-fuzzies" I would have for days and days after that. I hope you can hear the sincerity that I'm trying to pour out of my heart when I say, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!" There are not words to express how much that ended up meaning to me! And I didn't even expect it, which makes it so much better! I don't know who you are (although I would like to)... but I love you! I love you for thinking of me so much and for donating whatever amount it was to give me such an incredibly amazing gift. You are amazing people and I pray that God would bless you a 1,000,000,000+ fold for what you did for me. Thank you.

And so began my current "Happy Day Streak." Praise the Lord I am on Happy Day #5 and am just incredibly peaceful, blessed, happy, and feeling so loved. I hope that everyone out there can feel as loved and happy as God has allowed me to feel right now.

God Bless You All!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Discoveries & Happy Days

Ok, so I'm terrible at this whole blogging thing, I'll admit. I don't have internet at home, so I can only post when I mooch off of someone who does. So.... Sorry.

A lot has happened in the time that I've been 'away' from my blog. There have been many 'moments,' many happy times, and many discoveries. I want to share some of that.

I'd like to share some of my discoveries; because, if you remember, one of the prime reasons for me to have this blog in the first place is not really to keep family/friends informed (that's what Facebook's for, lol), it is to help other people who have to travel down this same road, or a road similar to this. I want to be a resource for them to maybe help them with something that 'hit me' before it 'hits them.' Because, I have found, that it's those 'unexpected' triggers that hit me the hardest. So... Here are a few of my discoveries:

Discovery #1: "I am never going to get 'better,' I'm only ever going to be different."
        This was hard. It was hard because I began to think about the person I was on January 31st at 2:00pm. I didn't know anencephaly was even an english word, let alone what it meant, and I had no idea that it was going to be a new part of my identity for the rest of eternity. I was just a happy wife and mom of a 13 month old, pregnant with a new little bundle of joy! I was as happy as I could possibly be. My life was seemingly 'perfect.' Then, about two hours later, my world came crashing down. I learned what anencephaly was and I learned that my beautiful, precious child was going to live inside of me, but couldn't live without me. What. a. day... Shoot... What. a. week...
       Then, 2 months later, I realized that I had been going through my "process" trying to tell myself that I would get "better" (You know, like when you scrape your knee, it hurts for a while, then it heals, but it really doesn't alter your whole universe... you get 'better')... Nope. Not this time. This time was going to be different. This is never going to "go away" ... this is never going to get better ... it's only ever going to be different.
        I am a totally different person today than I was on January 30, 2012. I'm not sure that person even knew what true sorrow was. She knew what sad was, but not sorrow. Not unspeakable, indescribable sorrow... She knows now. But thankfully, in the midst of all that, she has a God that has carried her when she couldn't carry herself, and has comforted her in ways she didn't know were possible. Glory to God!
        This 'discovery' has manifested itself in other ways too. I have learned that not only am I different, but it's making other people different. Some in good ways, some in not so good ways. But that's life... People grow and change. And sometimes you outgrow people, and sometimes people outgrow you. So goes life.

Discovery #2: "My Ring of Fire"
        I have always liked to come up with analogies to help me describe things. So, I've been thinking, these past 3+ months, about what this circumstance is like for us. This situation is like a little fire pit that Jarrod and I have to stand in, and the flames are sometimes blazin'. You see... It's like a circle, a ring if you will, of fire. We're in it, but the people that we love are still all around us (as they always are). The thing is, I know that this situation is practically "burning me alive" (at least it feels like that sometimes) but I also realize that it still makes my family and friends "hot" too (You know when you stand too close to a bonfire and it's really hot in your face, then you try to move and it's not as hot, but there's smoke in your face, what do you do? You are just uncomfortable. There are sometimes a few places where the fire feels good, but it's always shifting, always moving, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking... kinda like that). This analogy has helped me deal with people. Because although I feel charbroiled, I know that 'my people' are hot and uncomfortable too, at times, and don't always know how to help me (because what do you do for someone who is burnt to a crisp? Give them some Vaseline? Dowse them in water? No... There's nothing you can do. You take them to the hospital).
        Thankfully, I have a hospital, and you all have a 911. If you don't know what to do... the best thing is to do nothing (You wouldn't touch a person that was on fire, would you? No, you'd call 911) Prayer is my 911. So pray for me when you don't know what to say. Pray for me when you don't know what to do. Ask God to comfort me in a way that only He can. Because really, only He can.  And my hospital is Jesus Himself. It's amazing how often I have felt 'held' by our Saviour. He truly is there for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah... It sounds great in the stories, I know. But it's even better when you get to experience it for yourself. Trust me on this. Thank you Lord for holding me when I needed you most.
        So there... My Ring of Fire. I'm sorry that everyone is hot, I really am, but the fire will go down eventually and just be embers. I'm sure it'll never go out completely, but I'm confident that it will subside.

Discovery #3: "Hurt people Hurt people"
        Eww... I hate this one. I hate it for what it is. I hate it because it's true. I hate it because I've done it.... I just hate it.
        I heard this in two separate preaching messages... by two separate people... in two consecutive weeks, and each time I heard it, I cringed. I cringed because I am a "hurt people" ... and the last thing I want to do is "hurt people." But... Unfortunately I am not like the Job of the Bible (who was without sin through his troubles), and I have not been successful in my mission to not hurt people. This stinks. I am so sorry if you have been on the receiving end of my hurt. In my heart of hearts I thought at the time that what I was doing or saying was right and biblical, only to find out later that I was so wrong. I know there people out there that I have hurt and I hope they know that I am truly, truly sorry. I know I've said wrong things and done wrong things and acted wrong ways in the midst of my pain and 'charbroiled-ness' and I promise to try really hard to keep those things in check. And don't say that "Oh Jenny, you couldn't hurt a fly." Or whatever... Because I could, and I know for a fact that I did.

Discovery #4: I have a responsibility in the midst of all this.
        One thing that I have learned through all this is (sorta like my ring of fire, but different) ... I have learned that people have no idea how to treat me, how to act around me, what's okay to say, what's not okay to say, what will make me sad, etc... etc... etc... I have learned that it is truly my responsibility to inform people of that. How on Earth can I expect people to know how to treat me if I don't tell them?! That's lunacy, and totally unfair to everyone.
        So... It is OKAY, seriously it's fine, to ask me how I'm doing, or how's it going, or what's going on... Those things are normal, and honestly, that's what I really want. To be normal. I want people to be normal around me. Because ... I am in the process of finding a 'new normal' (hence the discovery that 'I'm only ever going to be different')... How am I supposed to know what that new normal is if no one treats me normally and only treats me sorrowfully? Now... I understand that there is a time and a place for sadness and all that, but it doesn't have to be every second of every day, right? If I look happy, I probably am. If I look sad, I probably am. Just treat me normally, regardless. And if you still don't know what to say... I'm a hugger. Give me a hug... If I start to cry harder, just hug me longer. It's okay. It's not YOU that made me cry. It's really okay. Also... If I'm happy... Be happy with me! I like to be happy! Being happy is good! I want to encourage more happiness. :)
        But in all seriousness... Just be normal. Treat me like you always have. Talk to me about the things you always have (yes, even your pregnancies and new coming babies my fellow-pregnant friends out there). And there's something I want to say about that.... I want you pregnant girls out there to realize something... I have so much joy for you in your pregnancy and your baby. Yes, I am inevitably going to have some sorrow for the loss of my own, but the joy for you is going to undoubtedly outweigh the selfish sadness. Please don't be afraid of me. Even if I tear up a bit when I hold your newborn. Please don't be scared. I WANT to do those things!!! I don't want to be afraid of babies and I can't help but to be afraid if everyone shields me away from what they think will be too painful for me to bear. I can bear it. Well... Wait... I can't bear it... but Christ can bear it for me and can carry me through it, and I need to let Him. I know it will be hard, and I know that that part of the fire for you will be very hot... But please be brave. I need you. I really do.
       So.... ANYWAYS.... As I was saying... It's my responsibility to tell you how to treat me. And if after this post, you are still unsure... CALL ME! ASK!!! I will be honest with you... I promise you that.

Discovery #5: Do not resist pain!
        I think that to resist something that may be painful is to put off the inevitable. I feel like I would rather try to go through it now, then have to deal with it later. So... things like baby showers, friends that are pregnant, other things that seem scary... I try hard not to back away from them. I'm going to have to do it sooner or later, might as well face it head on. Although this has been a painful process for me (not resisting pain will be painful, ya know.) I feel as if it will help me more in the long run... I sure hope I'm right!

Well... I can't think of any more discoveries right now.... I'm sure there are more, I'm just not able to dig them up, lol. I hope they have been helpful to you if you're going through this, or something like it. And if you're not, I hope it has been helpful to have a little peek into my heart.


But now... Onto "Happy Days"

I have decided this week, to begin having "Consecutive Happy Days" I am currently on "Happy Day #4" (Praise the Lord) and I am loving it. I love feeling happy, I love being peaceful, I just love, Love, LOOOOOVE it!!!!! :) lol  But, to be on a mountain, you have to climb it... Here's what brought forth this "Happy Streak" ......

This past Sunday was a rough day for me (church days often spark something that makes me think, and that often makes me cry, so people that go to my church are probably becoming used to seeing a Red-Faced Jenny... *sorry about that*). The message was about sorrows. My thoughts were: "Yay. Just what I want to think about, my sorrow." (note the sarcasm) ... My response then was probably not what it should've been because I was sort of annoyed. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to ponder it, but... It was God's plan for me that morning. (I'm coming to realize that God and I don't always agree. He often wants me to do things that I don't want to do. Clearly.)
        Jarrod says I should've taken the message positively- That God will bring me through to the other side (and I know that He will), but Preacher also mentioned that sometimes God puts us through things to teach us a lesson if we're not serving Him right, or whatever the reason. I don't know, I guess a part of me wondered what I had done wrong. And I think a part of me still wonders that... Even though (again) I know there are sweet people out there that would say that's not true... But, why? Why is that not true? I'm not some perfect person. I don't serve Christ the way I should. I don't say, or do all the right things, or act all the right ways. Why should this not be a lesson? The hard truth is that... it could. It could very well be a lesson that I need to learn.
        But what's the lesson? To depend on God more? To prepare me for something even harder coming down the pike? To have more compassion on hurting people? To handle myself properly, even when I don't want to? To respect people and their opinions more? To be more thankful? To cherish my husband, son, family & friends more? To glorify Him more???????? I'm sure it's all of those things and MANY more. I'll never know until I get on God's side of Heaven. I also wonder to myself... Jenny. You dumby! Why couldn't you have learned these lessons on your own?! And even as I write those words 'on your own' I feel like part of the lesson hits me. "Duh... You dumby... Because you shouldn't go through life 'on your own' ... THAT'S THE PROBLEM!!! You need Me. You cannot do it without Me... Get it?!" (Wow... I literally just had a little revelation here with you. I just realized something as I was writing those words... I realized God saying to me: "Don't Do It On Your Own!!!" I've always known that, but just didn't think of it that way for some reason... Wow!!!)
        But I do rejoice in the fact that even though I may need to learn all these lessons (and more), He will never leave me. He gives me a crazy, miraculous, totally incomprehensible and undeniable peace sometimes. Most times actually. I'm often able to think clearly and to thank Him for what He has done and what He will do with Gideon and his life.
        All of these things came about at church on Sunday, in some form or another.

Then came Monday....

Monday ended up being another rough day, mainly because of Sunday. Sunday Jarrod and I had (yet another) difficult conversation about our different processes (and those are always hard). We have very different ways of handling this whole thing, and we are trying very hard to respect each other in those different ways. It's just hard. So I just woke up sad (which is the first time I can recall that happening... Just waking up sad). I was still pondering that conversation and all the things I had thought about on Sunday and I was just very "blah." I took Colt over to Kathy's and when I went in, Matt asked me how I was.... I said, "Alright." He said, "Just alright?" I said, "Probably a little less than alright, actually." And that's when my little mini-meltdown started. So I had a little meltdown there with Kathy (which, she and Kelly are often the bearers of my meltdowns... I'm sorry girls, but I thank God that you're there for me the way you are! I love you both!) and then I headed home.
        Once I got home I decided I was just going to hang out in my sadness for a little while and make some tough phone calls. I decided to call the funeral home & cemetery & the monument place and ask about prices. We're still hoping we won't need these things right away, because we want to do a whole body donation to some sort of research, or learning of some kind, but we're waiting to find the right avenue for that, if there is one. So, I thought it wise to have these decisions made beforehand so I wouldn't have to deal with them later if I didn't want to, so I made the calls. What a hard thing. Everything just costs so much. But, I have thought to myself... Think of it as decorating his room (in a weird way). This is the only money you're ever going to spend on Gideon. Might as well do it right and don't complain. But, unfortunately, that doesn't really make it hurt any less.
        So... that was the main part of my Monday. But... By God's grace, somehow he turned my whole evening around. Once I went and got Colt, and Jarrod came home, I was a new person. How that happened, I still have no idea. We had a really wonderful evening together as a family. Then after Colt went to bed, Jarrod and I watched some TV together and were joking around and goofing off like we used to when we were dating. It was fun. :-) It was quality time, but not the normal quality time that we always have, it was the best kind of time spent together... Just happy again. I'm so thankful that God turned my heart around because it would have been very easy to sit and wallow in my self pity all night and bring Jarrod down with me. But for whatever reason, I didn't, and boy am I glad!

And so began my "Consecutive Happy Day Streak!"

So... Today is Friday and I'm feeling happy, thankful, and blessed to be able to say that I'm having my 4th TRULY happy day in a row! These past 3 days have been peaceful, truly happy, smiley, and just wonderful. Man! Have I needed it! And how, do you ask, can a person in the midst of anencephaly be this happy? I don't know. All I know is that I have a Heavenly Father that provides for me the most in my time of need.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

WOW!!! What a great God we serve! That His strength is made perfect in weakness. This makes me feel as if I'm ALLOWED to be weak and the Lord will use that to His glory and for His honor. Man! That. Is. Cool! :)

I hope that you are blessed today and that God is glorified in this blog and in the things that I say... That is my ultimate goal.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Like a ton of bricks...

I haven't often been bombarded with unexpected emotion through this whole thing... I mean, I've been bombarded with emotion, but not with something that I hadn't either been told to expect or had thought of before hand. Wednesday night at church was my first experience with said bombardment.

The preaching part of the service was over and our prayer sheets were being passed out. I had been fine throughout the whole service but towards the end, I had begun to notice some serious heartburn. I had had a lot of terrible heartburn with Colt, so this should have come at no surprise. But, for whatever reason, this heartburn with Gideon just brought my whole world to a halt.

In that moment, I realized something... Normally, when you have a negative pregnancy symptom, a part of you tries to explain it away because you get the prize at the end: a beautiful, precious, baby.  Then I realized... I don't have that... This was the first time I noticed that I didn't have anything to help talk myself out of those hard pregnancy symptoms.

As we were sitting waiting for our prayer sheet, Preacher began asking for requests. Someone spoke up and asked for an unspoken requests and I thought to myself, "Man! I have an unspoken request! To be rid of this stinkin' heartburn!" So I raised my hand and said, "Unspoken, also." Once I said those words, I just couldn't hold myself together.

I was so sad. I was sad about Gideon (of course). I was sad that I had to go through all this. I was sad about everything. I was almost just plain mad. I hate it. I don't want to do it. I don't want to go through this. I pray (nearly everyday) what Jesus prayed in the garden, "...O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matthew 26:39. That verse says everything that I want to say: "God: I don't want to do this. But at the same time, I know that you have a plan, and I want to be a part of Your plan, and I will do it if it will accomplish something that will glorify You." I am so thankful that Jesus saw it fit to pray that way, because it's perfect for me and Gideon.

I was thinking about all those things in the midst of my saddness and my saddness didn't end just because the service did. I knew most everyone was done (you know that awkward moment when you know everyone's done praying, but you're not and you don't want to be done yet, but you also don't want to be the only one still not done? Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about, come on! lol). But I wasn't done yet and in that moment, I didn't care. I was a crying mess and I just wanted to pray. I wanted help, comfort and peace, and I knew there was only one place I could get it, so I didn't care. I kept praying. In that moment, one of the sweetest, most wonderful ladies in our church came and sat with me. She didn't say a word. Actually, I think she may have said something like, "There are no words, other than, I love you and I'm praying for you." She just sat with me. She hugged me when I needed a hug, she was just with me. And I am eternally grateful for her wisdom in this whole thing. She has been wonderful!

That night hit me like a ton of bricks. I had no idea how hard I would get hit by a negative pregnancy symptom. I have had tons of heartburn since then and got some great advice from the great preacher, Jeremy Stout. He said, "Jenny, just talk to Gideon in those moments.... Tell him, 'Gideon, when I get to Heaven, you are going to answer for all this heartburn you've been putting me through!' Just tell him everything you would tell Colt if he got in trouble." What great advice! :) So....

Since Wednesday I have had terrible heartburn almost every night. I have had to build myself a little pillow mountain to sleep on, and Tums are my new candy of choice. I will be having a stern talk with you when I see you in Heaven pal! But... even though you are making me somewhat miserable in the night, I can't help but love you to pieces! You are wonderful and I love you with all my heart little guy! You will always be Colt's best little brother, because you'll be the only one that's perfect, being in Heaven and all. :-) I love you!
Love, Mommy

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's been a while

Well... I haven't written in quite a while, obviously. I've been so busy with work, that I haven't had the opportunity to be on the computer. I have been (trying) to keep up in my journal though, so I'll be updating some from it.

A lot has happened since my last post. We had an ultrasound, found out the gender, picked a name, all that fun stuff. :) I'm going to try and recall all these things the best I can.

On March 7th was my 20 week ultrasound. I was excited and nervous, all at the same time. I was excited to see 'him' (we still weren't 100% sure if it was a boy or girl, yet) dancing and excited to find out if all this 'him' talk was appropriate. :) But... I was also nervous at the same time. I know 'my God is greater, my God is stronger, God you are higher than ANY other!' (I really love that song), And I knew that it was possible (although not humanly probable) for the technician to say, "Why! Mrs. McGinnis! It seems as though he has a fully developed skull and brain! This is amazing! It can be nothing short of a miracle!" .... I knew this was completely possible and a small, seemingly faithful part of me was secretly clinging to that. I wasn't prepared to let go of that hope (and still am not, by the way). So, we go in and tell the girl that we know all about the anencephaly ( I want her to know that so that she won't hold back information). We begin the ultrasound around 2:50 or so. She measures what she has to measure and shows us the anencephaly again. It's still there. I'm saddened a little, but I'm really just trying to concentrate on enjoying "the show." Later in the scan, our suspicions were confirmed.... IT'S A BOY! :) We are super stoked! We wanted a little brother for Colt all along. Then, just as his big brother, he wouldn't put 'it' away. :) (It's funny how they are already so much alike)

This story is proving to be longer than I expected..... Sorry... But it means a lot to me, so I'm going to continue.

She continues scanning and I remember something Dr. VonHoene told me. Sometimes, she thinks, these babies are hard to intubate because of their air way being different. So, I ask the technician if she can see that, she says it's still early, but she can see that the bladder is bigger now than when we started. This leads her to believe that he is, in fact, swallowing. For some small reason, this encourages me. After we get through all the formalities of measuring and what-not, she tells us that there's not another appointment until 4:00, so we can hang around and watch him dance a little if we want to. That was so sweet of her! We ended up staying there until 3:17 (the last time of our last picture). It was so wonderful to just lay there and watch him on the monitor for almost 30 whole minutes! At one point, it looked like he was "puttin' up his dukes" and I loved that because he is going to have to be a fighter. For two reasons (probably more, but at least two) A. to be born alive and B. to be big and strong enough for a live birth. To me, he already is a great fighter, because he has survived this long. I'm so proud of him!! (I've never said that.... but I just realized that I really am...) We got over 20 pictures that day. We got lots and lots of arms & legs, fists & toes, & a couple head shots.

So... after the ultrasound I wanted to get him a name... like... now! LOL But, Jarrod is way more relaxed about these things than I am. I begged him for days if he had thought of one yet, he always said, "It'll come to me." :) Well, it wasn't coming to him fast enough for my taste! That's for sure!! ;) So then, one Friday evening, March 16, we had mom & dad over for dinner. I was just scrolling through the list and had gotten all the way to the "g's" with no luck. Finally, I came to one I thought Jarrod might like (he and I like sort of unique names, but not TOO unique) :) I came across the name Gideon. And for the first time, out of all the 100's of names I'd asked about, he said that he liked it! :) I was so excited!! When mom & dad left, I felt like I knew it had pretty much been decided. I thought it best to leave Jarrod alone, and let him "sleep on it." That next day, I asked Jarrod if that was the name he liked and he said, 'sure' :) I dropped it at that. So our precious, miracle boy finally had a name!

Mr. Gideon Wayne McGinnis :)

Again..... The long story continues... Feel free to read at your leisure & take a break if you need to! :) lol

As I continue, I'm just recounting some things that have been happening to me as I travel this journey. I wanted to (carefully) share some of my "meltdown moments" (as I've been calling them). I want to share them, not because I want people to think of me as some strong, wonderful person (because I'm not), but because it could possibly be helpful to someone else who may have to go through something like this. I hope that I don't come across as 'holier than thou' because that is not my intent. My intent is to share my experience as fully and honestly from my heart as possible. I want to talk about my 'meltdowns' for a minute.

By God's grace, I don't have very many meltdowns, but when I do, they seem to be rather monumental.I don't cry everyday. I'm not even sad everyday. But I have found that I'm stronger than I ever thought I would be. I believe this is all a gift from the Lord. There is no way I could go through this without His strength.

Phillipians 4:13      I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I've put on my Facebook status and told many people, "I wish I was as strong as everyone thinks I am." and I do. But, I also know that I am probably a little stronger than I give myself credit for sometimes (as much as I cringe even saying that.)

ANYWAY........ I was working on a Thursday and I was having a very hard time. I couldn't shake my saddness for some reason. I was actively fighting off tears the whole day. I would see things that normally wouldn't bother me, but was setting my saddness off that day. I felt horrible. I was upset that I couldn't keep it together for my students and for the prinicpal that hired me that day. Later in the afternoon, a teacher came across the hall and said, "Sometimes you just need a hug." Which I did, but it opened the flood gates. I just started sobbing on her shoulder. She was gracious enough to let me go in the hallway and cry it out for a second, then collect myself. I was so thankful for her and for those students that day. All of them. They were so good and I'm sure they knew I was a wreck, but they were so respectful to me and my tears. It really was great.

After that day, I went a long time without a 'major meltdown.' Almost 3 whole weeks. I thought that was something to be proud of, now I'm not so sure.

Then on Sunday, March 25th, I noticed that I was in a 'blah' sort of mood. I didn't really think much of it at the time, but knowing what happened on Monday, it all makes sense.

Monday was a grouchy sort of day. I really wasn't in the mood for much of anything. When I got home from work, I read some more of the book I had been reading. It's a book titled, "I Will Carry You" by Angie Smith. It is the story of a mother that carried what she knew was a terminal baby, a girl named Audrey. I knew that reading this book at all had the very high potential to drum up emotions, but I decided to be brave and do it anyway. As I was reading, I was doing pretty good. I was actually enjoying the story and how she related things to the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. (Which I hadn't thought of).

As I was reading, I came to page 70 (for those of you who may have the book). She was talking about going to the cemetery and booking (notice not 'buying') a plot. She wrote about how she wanted God to tell Audrey that she was funny, and other things about her, and how she would've been..... And I thought about Gideon. I knew that I either had to put the book down and get busy doing something, or have a meltdown in the middle of my evening. I decided to put the book down and get busy. I cleaned the whole house it seemed like, did a great multitude of dishes and laundry, cooked dinner, bathed Colt, everything. Once Colt was finally in bed, I knew I had to succumb to the tears. They were coming whether I liked it or not. I decided to have my meltdown in the shower and wash my sorrows down the drain (better down the drain than to snot all over my clothes). I got in the shower and prayed and prayed. I prayed what Jesus prayed in Matthew 26:39 ... O my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Man! I have thought of that so many times! And to think our SAVIOUR said that. I have thought of that SO SO many times!!) I prayed that Gideon would know how much I loved him. I prayed that he would know how much fun him and Colt would have had. I prayed that Gideon would know how much Jarrod and I would try to give him the best life we most possibly could. I prayed that He would keep me strong enough to be the light that was most beneficial for Him and His purpose. I prayed everything I could think of while I was in there; while I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. It was such a hard thing, but after that I was so thankful that I went through with it. I remember the next morning, I felt so much better. I felt refreshed. I felt peaceful. I felt comforted. It was an amazing gift! I was so thankful that I had had the courage to go through with that.

I tell you all that to say.... I think that I had the wrong impression of what 'strong' was. I'm still not sure that I completely understand it, but I think I might a little more. Strong does not necessarily mean, not crying, or not being sad. Strong means different things for different people. To me, strong means, going through the emotions as they come to me. I am happy if I'm happy and I try not to feel guilty for being happy. I am sad if I'm sad, and I let the tears come if they're there. That's what strong is to me. I'm not saying it's right for everyone, but you have to do what's right for you. And that's what's right for me.

Thank you for joining me on this journey and for being with me throughout this ridiculously long post! :) lol
Thank you also for praying for Gideon so often. I go to the doctor on Friday and may find more information on what Gideon's future holds. Your prayers are appreciated way  more than you know!!

Love you all!!