Mothers Day: Pregnancy, Love and Loss

A few years ago I was in Georgia on a hot and humid spring day. I was single at the time and sitting in the back row at Cascade Hills Church on Mother’s Day. As the service opened the pastor began with the speech I had expected. He acknowledged the amazing women and mothers within the room. They all stood and received a flower. What I wasn’t prepared for was what he said next.

He continued “For all of the women in this room sitting down right now that have been hoping and praying for a baby or have lost a baby, God sees you too and is with you in this moment.” That’s when I saw multiple women start to cry. I’m not going to lie it even made me tear up hearing his words, despite that I was not one of those women.

Two years later.

My husband Dan and I were in North Carolina on leave when we unexpectedly found out we were pregnant. We were on leave because he was preparing to leave for deployment. We were ecstatic, surprised and I was slightly terrified too haha.

As the weeks went by, I became extremely sick with nausea and vomiting. One morning I couldn’t stop vomiting. I was on the bathroom floor on my knees crying as Dan held my hair and rubbed my back. He sat on the floor with me and held me as I swore I never wanted to do this again. He smiled and assured me we could talk about it later.

When I wasn’t sick, I was constantly sleeping. I would sit down on the couch to pet the dog and I would fall asleep for 2 hours. The combination of being sick and constantly sleeping was my reassurance our baby would be healthy, because I felt miserable.

On the day of our first ultrasound, I woke up and ran errands because I was starting to feel better. I was emotional to say the least. Dan was leaving in a week for deployment and this was the only appointment he could attend. He was almost late because he left work to make it to the appointment. I joked that because he was running late we would definitely have a girl. He made me laugh in the waiting room. He always makes me laugh. We were incredibly happy and excited to see our sweet baby for the first time.

The moment she put the ultrasound probe on my stomach I knew something was wrong. The baby was far too small to be at 10-14 weeks gestation. As we took a closer look, the baby had no heartbeat. My heart sank and silent tears began to fall down my face. Dan couldn’t tell right away but I saw the happy smile and color leave his face when he realized what was happening. Our favorite OB doc came in and confirmed our fears. He hugged us close and prepared the paperwork for a D+C.

As they prepped me for surgery, the tears continued to fall. When I woke up in PACU the first thing I said was “I feel like I’m waking up from a bad dream.” Dan was incredibly loving and supportive. He held me close and let me cry. He assured me that today, it wasn’t ok but eventually it would be. He reminded me that God’s timing is always perfect.

Loosing that baby was like loosing someone we never knew but already loved. 

The first week I felt like I was drowning in grief. I cried all of the time. I cried myself to sleep. I prayed and prayed, and prayed for peace and healing in my ever so shattered heart. No one really talks about this kind of pain. I needed to, so I did. Dan is not the best at keeping secrets. So a lot of our close friends and coworkers knew about the pregnancy. I’m not sad we told people, I’m just sad it didn’t end up the way we thought it would.

Dan deployed and I went back to work. The sadness and anger took a long time to fade. One day before work I was sitting in my car reading a blog post from a close friend. It was about her experience with loosing a baby. It made me ugly cry, rivers of tears poured down my face. I cried so many tears I needed a Kleenex but all I had was the dirty shirt I ran in that morning. I didn’t care, I used it anyway. After reading her post, it gave me hope that maybe someday we would have a sweet little miracle baby.

To the women that were sitting down in church that day and to the women that have experienced this kind of love and loss, You are not alone. Your pain is real. Your tears are real too. Let them both come, holding them in will only prolong the pain. We may never have the answers to why these things happen. However, even as I cried myself to sleep multiple nights in a row and even as I said goodbye to my husband I knew in my heart, God has a plan for us. In our vows, we promised that our faith would always be the steady ground we would stand on. So I decided I had to live up to that promise I made. I would stand on that steady ground and I would smile through the pain, tears and heartbreak.

To our friends, coworkers and family, thank you for your outpouring of love, support, prayers, kind words, warm hugs and beautiful flowers. 

Thank you Vera, for your silent sweet hug as you prepped me for surgery. Thank you Mindy, for sharing your heartbreak with me, so I didn’t feel so alone. Thank you Gina, for the beautiful flowers. Thank you Grace, for sending me Trauma Life oil, I diffused it when I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Thank you Marcie, for bringing me pink cupcakes with lemon frosting, you always know the way to my heart. Thank you Dan, for your kindness, friendship and love. Forever will never be long enough with you.

There are never really words to say in moments like this in life. However, the words of that pastor echoed through my mind that day and for weeks to come. “God sees you too in these moments and is with you.”

Love,
Jenny

 

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The picture above was the first morning I woke up and wanted to drink a cup of coffee. Most of my friends know how much I absolutely love coffee, espresso and cappuccino but while I was pregnant I had an aversion to coffee. As I sat outside with the dogs that day watching the sun come up, I knew there would be healing and so much grace to come.

 

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Merry Christmas: Frohe Weihnachten

Christmas holds such a sweet place in my heart. I love the lights. I love warm thick blankets and sipping espresso while reading a book. I love giving. I love that this season helps pour kindness out of people’s hearts. I love spending time with family and close friends. I love Gram’s peanut butter fudge. I love Christmas markets. I love skiing and snow covered mountains. There are so many things I love about this season but most of all I love Jesus.

2014 was the darkest and most lonely Christmas I had ever had. That Christmas I realized it’s not really about any of the wonderful things listed above. It’s about forgiveness, love and grace. A type of forgiveness I never thought I deserved but am so incredibly thankful for. I feel so blessed to experience all of the wonderful things in life I have thus far. So if you were hurting and lonely this holiday season, I was praying for you because I’ll never forget that feeling. We kept it very simple this Christmas. My sister surprised me with a last minute trip to Germany with her husband. Being able to hold the ones you love in a warm hug is such a wonderful feeling. It’s better than any gift I could receive.  We explored Christmas markets and watched football late into the night. (Yes, my sister is a big football fan too!)

On Christmas Eve Kenly helped me make apple pies. That night we got together with many of our close friends and coworkers. Then we came home to watch football in our pjs (Do you see the trend here…). On Christmas Day I worked at the hospital and came home to watch a movie with my husband and two puppies. From our family to yours we hope you had a wonderful Christmas this year.

Love,

Jenny




















Norway: Chasing Waterfalls Part 2

It was a sweet morning. We spent almost an hour sitting on the docks like this waiting for the express boat from Luftus to Eidfjord, Norway. Once again, I was cold. Dan held me as we watched the sunrise. The sun hit the water just perfectly as we talked about the snow covered caps of the mountains across from us. I wanted to press that moment in time into my memory forever. No matter how cold it was, I loved this place. I loved the freedom, the serenity, the quiet spaces I never allow into my everyday life. It reminded me that life shouldn’t always be fast and furious… that sometimes the best moments in life are the slow, lazy mornings like this one.

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We enjoyed the quick boat ride to our next destination: Eidfjord. Dan was nervous because our bus connection was 5 minutes after our arrival. We made it without any difficulties. The bus driver looked at us funny as we showed him our passes and boarded the bus. I didn’t really think much about it at the time, maybe because I’m used to people staring at us in Germany Haha (more on that later). We were headed to the most famous waterfall in Norway,Vøringfossen. We stopped at a museum halfway to the waterfall. Despite the wind when reached our destination the sun started to shine, You’ll see my crazy windblown hair below. To be honest the pictures of the Vøringfossen waterfall didn’t capture the magnitude of its beauty. The hundreds of gallons of water pouring down the mountains… you just have to see it for yourself.

As we boarded the bus and headed back down the mountain, Dan looked at our book of tickets and realized we were supposed to go on this tour the next day. OOPS! No wonder the bus driver looked at us so funny! We were still too early to check into our hotel room. So Dan sat on the dock and watched me work out while we passed the time until check in. (In all fairness his arm was still broken).

They let us check into the hotel around 3pm  and the receptionist said there were a lot of nice restaurants in the area but the Thai food street vendor was her favorite. SAY no More! We absolutely love Thai food. Lets just say we ate there more than once…. No shame in our food game.

I honestly can remember if we took a bus or boat but eventually we ended up at the train station in Voss that was supposed to take us back to Oslo for our flight home the next day. Let’s just cut this story short…. Basically, we misplaced the tickets 9 minutes prior to departure…. And Dan raced down the stairs/under the tracks and back to the train station store to purchase more tickets… only to realize they were sold out. It was a FIVE-hour train ride back to Oslo and if we didn’t make this train we were missing our flight the next morning FOR SURE.

Never in my life have I been stressed while traveling (just ask Dan… this personality flaw makes him crazy! Haha). However, I was stressed in these moments as I tore apart all of our bags and finally found the tickets. Dan had set them down across the aisle and two rows up from our seats as he loaded our backpacks in the overhead bins. I asked the people next to us to watch our stuff… as I raced off the train and after him. Dan didn’t have an international cell phone plan at that time… so I had the choice to run and find him or leave on the train to Oslo without him… and just have him figure out his own way back to Germany. I thought going after him was a good plan until I heard the 2-minute warning for the train leaving. Right about then I realized we had all of our important documents in my backpack because we just got married in Denmark prior to our Norway trip. Meaning…….I left all of our PASSPORTS, Birth certificates and SS cards on the train. —->NOT the brightest decision I’ve ever made. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I was panicking at the time.

By the grace of God, I made it back to the train. I stood at the door continuously opening the doors… Praying Dan made it back in time. He did. Thank God. 30 seconds before we took off (<—–I’m not exaggerating). Once my tachycardia subsided… we started playing blackjack and laughed about how we were just talking about how we flawlessly pulled off a complicated trip (3 flights, 5 water taxis, 4 bus rides, 1 ferry, 1 train ride and 5 different hotels). We had obviously spoken too soon. There is a picture below of Dan exhausted… and these sweet little girls across from us that were traveling alone on the train back to their home (it’s a much different world here), you’d never see that back in the states. They were much better behaved that Dan and I. We were laughing, playing cards, writing postcards and sealing them with a kiss. The last part was me… rather than Dan. 😉

I love places that leave me in awe of the beauty this world holds. I’m willing to travel as far as it takes to see places like this because they change you and your perspective of the world.

 

Love,

Jenny

 

Loftus, Norway

 

Our express boat

 

 

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Eidfjord, Norway

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Eidfjord, Norway

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Voss Train to Oslo

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When we finally arrived at the Oslo airport… we had delicious waffles and cappuccino.

Denmark, A Journey of Love: Marriage

Living in Europe has it’s perks and choosing the perfect spot to say our vows was difficult to say the least. We fell in love in Ibiza, Spain and decided that our little piece of paradise was perfect. It was only missing one thing, we had to be Roman Catholic to officially get married there.

After examining our options (including flying back to the states) we decided to sign our official marriage paperwork in Denmark. We had friends of ours that recently got married in Copenhagen, Denmark through the company Danish Island Weddings. They had such a positive experience, they referred us to them.

From the moment we contacted this company, they made it so outrageously easy. After one email containing a marriage application and a scanned copy of all our important documents….. we had a date to get married. I was shocked when I received the approval email so quickly. I was in Poland at the time for work and it brought tears to my eyes.

We opted to get married on ÆrøIsland in the Old Merchants Courtyard. From the pictures of the island it reminded me so much of my hometown. The people were friendly and very helpful. They spoke perfect English (the small joys in life) and went out of their way to ensure we had a wonderful experience on their island.

The day before we got married we woke up early and had breakfast with all of the couples that stayed at our accommodation the night before. It was around a large rustic dining table and we ate a typical European breakfast. Fresh rolls baked that morning by the owner with a variety of cheeses and meats. There were vegetables grown from the garden including cucumbers and green, red and yellow peppers. The jam selection was made by hand by the owners mother (absolutely the best). One of my favorite new combinations for breakfast is plain greek style yogurt, corn flakes and a drizzle of the local honey. It was sweet, crunchy and tangy #allofmyfavoritethings. In my experience you have to try new things to see if you like it or not. (Ask my friend Marcus… a few weeks ago I made him try everything in my lunch). Exploring your tastebuds is one of my favorite parts of traveling. If you don’t try it… you’ll never really know!

After our meeting with Ulrich we were reassured everything would be perfect the next day. She re-booked our return ferry for the next day ensuring we made our flight in Copenhagen (Just barely… see Dan’s post here–>Punctuality: Panic at the Terminal ). We barely made the connection, not because of the ferry/car rental but because I was buying postcards to send to our families back home. Next time I’ll hurry {maybe}.

The morning of our wedding Dan was both happy and anxious. If you’ve ever travelled with Dan you’ll realize he’s a “Nervous Nelly Traveler.” Or atleast thats what I call them. Every family has one. They’re the ones that show up 6 hours prior to their flight. Then they wait around because it’s far too early to consider going through security because even the flight crews haven’t decided what gate to put the flight at yet (they’re still in line for coffee so they can tolerate obnoxiously rude travelers–>don’t be that one!).

To his surprise I got up EARLY which is a huge struggle for me. (High five to all my fellow 5+ times alarm snoozers). However, the promise of french press coffee and the potential of leaving this gorgeous island married was a huge motivation. Since we were carrying all of our luggage throughout both Denmark and Norway we opted to just pack backpacks for the week. I packed a simple sundress for me and a polo for him. If Dan loves anything he loves the simple life. Opposites attract right?!?

After arriving to the building in Old Merchants Court, I gave Dan the option to run. He looked at me and laughed. He pulled me in close said “Come on you knucklehead, you’re gonna marry me.” So we went up the stairs to this vintage style decor room with beautiful paintings of the island and got married. Dan’s brother Eric joined us via Skype.

It was perfect. So simple. The judge said… “Before performing the ceremony the Council wishes to remind you of the meaning and importance of the promise you are going to give each other. Matrimony implies in general a pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.” {I’m pretty sure she emphasized the word tolerance but maybe I was just imagining that}.

We both repeated the same vows we had said to each other on an ancient tower over looking the Mediterranean Sea (PICTURES TO COME SOON!!). We kissed and it was official. We were MARRIED. We kissed again and signed the papers (that were in four different languages). Then we toasted with champagne and celebrated with a few pieces of delicious chocolate.

After getting engaged in Germany, married in Denmark and having our ceremony in Spain….

We know without a doubt, no matter where in the world this love story takes us… at least we have each other to laugh with, love and tolerate 🙂

Love,

Jenny

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I wanted to see how cold the water was… Not nearly as cold as I imagined it would be.

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I love these rocks.

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Beers in the Courtyard
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The view from the cliffs

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A beautiful Lighthouse near Soby

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The golf course surrounding the lighthouse in Soby
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Squinting hard against the wind
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Storm rolling in

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Danish Island Weddings:

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Eric on Skype
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“A pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.”

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Ulrich was the absolute best!

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Champagne and Chocolate
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Waiting for the ferry with our little white rental car
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Sunrise on the Baltic Sea

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All these hearts led to you

ps. Our Ibiza wedding ceremony coming to the blog soon!

Punctuality: Panic at the Terminal by Daniel

Before I begin my soliloquy, let’s set the mood with the following definitions of punctuality, as explained by myself and my lovely wife.
Definition per Jenny:

The act of being present directly prior to departure or an event starting. May or may not include airport shopping, applying mascara or grabbing a last minute coffee as long as you are there prior to departure you are punctual.
Definition per Daniel:

Proper planning to prevent frantic and chaotic events such as last minute application of make up, packing of suitcase, photography, etc. in order to prevent sprinting to every destination seconds before the deadline. This includes not having to be nagged relentlessly by significant other in order to make said deadline.

Fade in… I am sitting at the airport gate for departure from Copenhagen, Denmark to Bergen, Norway. Ten minutes before the plane is scheduled to start boarding, Jenny decided to use the bathroom and buy postcards. She claims she would be right back but in my experience, right back has a time frame from 1 to 180 minutes.

The moment she left I accepted the reality that there was an overwhelming probability that we would not be boarding this flight. Sure enough 10 minutes went by and no sign of Jenny. I hear over head the boarding call for our flight. Not many things stress me out or give me anxiety but traveling with this woman is about as stressful as unexplained chest pain radiating down my left arm.

Fast forward

Half the people have boarded the plane. No sign of Jenny. My initial thought was to go find her but carrying two fifty pound back packs (12 pounds of which is my stuff) aimlessly around this massive airport honestly would have made me look completely foolish. Picture me carrying two back packs with a cast on my broken hand, mindlessly shouting Jenny’s name. I can picture the looks from the passengers in the terminal now.

My next option which sounded pretty good at the time, was to board the plane without her. In my head it sounded like a great life lesson for Jenny. Until I woke up back to reality and realized the severe repercussions that would surely be heading my way. All I can say is that if I would’ve gone through with this plan, I thank the big man upstairs that I do not have an international data plan on my phone. Of course over the next five days of solitude I would have to completely change my identity and enroll in the witness protection program. That sounded like too much work though.

Two thirds of the plane has boarded. Any one within twenty feet of me can see the perspiration pouring down my face. I have no doubt that the utter panic on my face coupled with the sweat made everyone around me extremely uncomfortable. At this point I made my decision, if Jenny is not back in 5 minutes I am boarding the plane without her. As stated before, I was fully aware of the grave danger I was putting my life in with this decision. Now reading this you may have your doubts about the validity of this story, but anyone who knows either myself or Jenny knows that this is just another Tuesday afternoon for us.

Just like a Hollywood script, less than one minute remaining until I board the plane without her and effectively ending my life, guess who strolls up? Now you would think seeing me standing all alone with a panicked look on my face would provide some inkling of urgency. Well you obviously don’t know Jenny. The best part…we don’t even know our seat assignment on the flight because our electronic boarding pass says n/a. After all that stress and worry, we successfully boarded the plane. Sure enough we were just about the last two people to sit down. I love this woman with all my heart, but every travel adventure leaves me with a little less hair on my already balding dome.

Every day is a blessing but Lord baby Jesus grant me strength,

Daniel

(We spent a lot of time waiting for ferries, planes and buses. The picture above was one of our favorites of us waiting this trip.)