Even If

Even If

37 weeks. That’s what I had originally titled and drafted for this post. I knew that the weeks in my pregnancy were dwindling and I wanted to summarize all I had learned in weeks 8-36. But now? Now it’s ALL about week 37 and what it taught me.

I actually had a scheduled c-section for week 38, on July 31st. So I was ready to savor week 37 and all it had to offer. The last 7 days with my son on the inside. I will 100% tell anyone that I am one of those women who LOVED pregnancy. Did I throw up a lot? Oh Yes. Was it challenging juggling all of the appointments and numbers? Sure. But it amazed me everyday that I was growing a little human. Not just growing him, but doing it better than even I thought I could. Every week we got another thumbs up because of the effort I was putting in. I felt like superwoman and I knew I had 7 more days of those kicks, the belly movements, elevating the feet and finishing the nursery. But there was another plan at hand.

On Wednesday, July 24th, I had a routine check-up. I was tired, so I let myself sleep in. I threw on some comfy clothes, no makeup, no washing of my hair, and went on my way. During my drive, I decided to skip around some radio stations and landed on our local Christian channel. I was so happy to hear the beginning of “Even If” by MercyMe. That song got me through a lot of bad days after losing my dad and it felt like a bit of a hug from him. That song always reminded me that even if my best scenario isn’t God’s plan, it’s still going to be ok and I still have faith and trust. I remember listening to the whole song and really enjoying it since it had been a year or so since I’d heard it on the radio.

I arrived to my appointment and we did our usual ultrasound. The nurse and I laughed at the amount of hair my baby had. She took a picture for me to show the family. Fluids looked great and my little guy was moving and grooving. But then she took my blood pressure and said we’d have the doctor check it out because it was quite elevated. I was shocked, I had never had BP numbers that high. Without another check, doc decided to call my OB to discuss and let me know that he thinks week 37 would be it for me. Naively, I thought they’d just reschedule my c-section for the end of the week instead. He came back and said “well, she agrees… you’re going to head to labor and delivery.”

WHAT.

I said something along the lines of “oh wait… like today?” He found that pretty funny and responded:

Oh, you’re 100% having a baby TODAY.

I was stunned. I didn’t have my hospital bag, my husband was 90 minutes away, and I’m alone. My heart started racing. He reminded me that it was going to be ok. This healthy baby is what I worked so hard for and we were going to keep him that way. We hugged and I left the office in a fog of disbelief.

I started to make calls to Adam and my mom, but looked down and realized my phone was calling my Dad’s cell. I paused, quickly hung up, and I walked the 100 yards to L&D to check myself in while trying to remember to breathe. This was not exactly how I pictured myself starting the whole process of meeting my baby. I waited for a nurse to come and get me, was taken to my room, and from there I changed into the very fashionable hospital gown and socks. I had a few moments to myself, realizing that all of the plans I had for this week were quickly being thrown out the window as each wire was connected and IV was being set up. I mentally said goodbye to the thought of the 31st as my son’s birthday. To me, it was perfect because It was 13 backwards, dad’s favorite number. I said goodbye to the idea of driving to the hospital with my husband and holding hands for the last time as a family of two. The only certainty I had was that I was about to meet my son… today. And that was scary.

That’s when it hit me… the song from that morning:

But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

Sure, I could believe my own plan was ideal for when this baby should come, but it wasn’t. My obsession with what I thought should happen was replaced with faith and excitement for what WAS happening.

Family members arrived, Adam just barely made it (phew!), changed into scrubs and I walked into the OR. We met our sweetest gift, our baby boy, at 2:05PM on July 24th, 2019. After time in recovery, they wheeled us up to our room… P413. There was my 13! ♥️

I knew in that moment that my dad was with us and he knew all along that this would be happening. From making sure I heard the song that morning, calling his phone, and to our room we’d call home for 4 days. He was there and wanted me to know it was all ok, even if it didn’t go according to my plan. And he was happy his grandson was now in my arms!

4 weeks later, I still look at this sweet face we created and can’t believe he’s here and he’s mine. His smirk reminds me of Dad’s at least 50 times a day and I can’t imagine him coming a day later than July 24th.

This new chapter is so great and is teaching me so much daily. The biggest lesson? That Even If it’s taken me at least 2.5 weeks to write this post (#MomLife), Even If some days feel long and I’m frustrated that I felt clueless, I’m so grateful for them. I prayed for them, that prayer is here and answered, and I will cherish every second and give thanks for them…

Starting with this next nap (I hope). 🙂

The Gift

The Gift

Well…it’s certainly been a few months since I’ve written. I just re-read my last post and am still in awe of how good God is. The last few months have held some of the highest highs of my life, but not without doubt or some hardships. Writing my last post on choosing Faith over Fear was all I needed to jumpstart the journey we’re currently on. It was the last piece of the puzzle God was putting together. I just didn’t know it then…

If you recall, my last post discussed a dr’s appointment. On November 12th, Adam and I visited a fertility practice to look into our future of having kids. Things hadn’t been happening on our own and we just wanted to make sure all was good. I was nervous, but the doctor was very sweet and said, with his help, we should have no issue getting pregnant in 2019. we made a game plan for testing, but that wasn’t God’s game plan…

Let’s rewind just a minute and visit an important piece to this story that I’ve yet to write about. Since losing my dad, my family and I have met with a medium a couple of times. Whether you believe or not, it does bring a sense of comfort that none of us can explain. It just helps bring Heaven a little closer. And, in our experience, there’s so much accuracy that it can be a little eery. Throughout 2018, Adam and I were flustered with ovulation tests and charting and it seemed that kids weren’t going to happen for us easily. I had thought about other possibilities and giving up. In our June session, my dad could tell it was bothering me. He communicated to me to calm down, take it easy, eat more vegetables, and gather information. He always believed in having all the details to make a good plan. He reminded not to put the cart before the horse, that there was no reason to give up yet. But, he said, it’ll happen for you and perhaps in the next 6 months. And when it does happen, I was to know that he and God had a hand in picking the perfect baby. Looking back, Dad knew in that moment that I had more grief work to do. My body wasn’t at all relaxed, I was angry and heartbroken. Not a healthy habitat for a little one. Fast forward 5 months to that last November blog post… I was finishing grief share, we found a church, and I had really done the emotional work. I was on the way to healing. I knew I was ready to gather more information. Horse, then cart. Faith over Fear.

So we had our appointment and I felt good, at ease. What will be, will simply be. I’m not in control. So, Thanksgiving came and went, Christmas shopping began, and the company Christmas party had arrived. But something else hadn’t come yet (are you with me? 😉). I was looking forward to a fun night with coworkers and margaritas, but something in me said “let’s double check that this isn’t a fluke.”

And on December 8th, 2018…

Our lives changed! I was shocked, elated, in disbelief, crying. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day this could really happen for me. I immediately thought of Dad. I took this test 3 days shy of the 6 month period he had hinted at. There is no doubt in my mind that this is my gift. My Christmas gift, my gift for doing the hard work, a gift to lift some sadness. A piece of him handpicked for me, a recipe of putting Faith over Fear.

After a blood test confirmation, we got to surprise our families for Christmas. Neither of them were expecting this little miracle, knowing the journey we had been on. It was emotional, but so exciting!

On January 3rd, we saw our baby for the first time…

And ever since then, we just keep reminding ourselves of Faith over Fear. We saw baby C again on Adam’s birthday, growing so much already. (Have you ever seen a cuter nose??)

And just this past weekend, we found out our little bambino is a BOY! 💙 We are thrilled and can’t wait to meet him in August.

Please know I don’t tell this story to gloat. I know all too well the pain of watching friends start families so easily. Wondering when will it be my turn. Will it ever be my turn? I needed to write this because I never want to forget. I want to always remain grateful. So, so grateful. With every bout of morning sickness, I give thanks. No matter what hurdle comes, I put my hand on my stomach and thank God. And if any reader of this is looking for a glimmer of hope, I hope that this is your sign. Horse, then cart. Faith over Fear. God’s got this. God’s got YOU and your puzzle is coming together.

Thank you for the reminder, Dad ♥️

I Saw the Sign

I Saw the Sign

Sometimes all you need is a sign.

I’m so happy to say that recently Adam and I have found a church we are enjoying. So much so that we haven’t been able to try any others because we are so ready for the next week’s message. And we find ourselves excited about our new Sunday schedule:

Leave by 8:30 am, get in the coffee line (two hot brews, one of them with three pumps of sugar-free vanilla), 9 am service, and then a nice Sunday breakfast together.

However yesterday, I found myself inundated with thinking about what this week holds. As the congregation sang, my mind would drift into thoughts about Dr appointments, my grief group’s candlelight ceremony, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season already beginning, and Dad. I always think about Dad in church.

The service continued and while holding my coffee in one hand, I attempted flipping to the precise chapter that our Pastor was teaching with the other. It wasn’t going well… But what I landed on was no mistake. It couldn’t be.

The Bible I’m currently using belonged to my Mema Frost, my dad’s mom. When she passed in 2011, I knew how much her church family and Bible meant to her and was grateful to inherit it. I’m so happy to be putting it to good use now and I can feel her every Sunday, always tucking it in close to my heart as I walk in.

And yesterday, while thinking of the unknowns of the week and attempting not to spill my coffee, I landed on a section highlighted in blue. Ephesians 3:16-21. My eyes big, my mouth open, my brain hungry to take in the words. My Mema knew where my mind was wandering and at some point in her time with this Bible, her mind had wandered there, too. But she found comfort in this chapter, marked it, and now she was passing it on to me. Right when I least expected it, but exactly when it was needed.

In that moment, my faith became greater than my fears and my eyes filled with tears. Mema heard me. God hears me. And while tomorrow is a mystery, He’ll get us through it. Just as he always has. I’m on the right path, things will fall into place the way they should. I just need to rely on my strength, my patience, and my faith.

Sometimes all you need is a sign. ♥️

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Do you think my dad intended the anniversary of his passing to also coincide with the ever-popular, yet unofficial “Mean Girls Day”? It was sure hard to miss when October 3rd would be and yes…it was a Wednesday, so everyone wore pink! So yeah, Dad probably hated it. 😜

Leading up to the day, Mean Girls was a fun, welcomed distraction…but by the time October 3rd rolled around? I was over it. You didn’t need to tell me what day it was via 40 or so Facebook statuses. And on October 2nd I decided what I would do to make sure the negativity stayed at bay. What could I do to keep us all from crying in bed all day? That’s when it came to me…

3 acts of kindness aka Good Deeds for Dad! I had taken the day off of work, so I was ready to spread some love. My mom and I met at a local cookie bakery and bought roughly 5 dozen cookies. The first stop? Our hospice facility. I know how those families feel and sometimes you just want a yummy treat to go with that 4th cup of coffee. A side dish of warmth to wash down the hardest time you’re living in. So we left two dozen cookies for the families and staff and spent a little time in the space that we called home for 4 days.

Next, we headed to the hospital. The renal floor is where we spent the majority of our stay because they knew Dad’s dialysis schedule and orders. And we were just fine with that because they were the best in the hospital. The kindest, funniest, thorough, and knowledgeable. I wanted them to know just how much they meant to us last summer and it worked out perfectly that our favorites were there. It was bittersweet hearing their words about Dad and how they think of him when other patients come in. They reassured us that he touched so many lives and that visit was so good for my heart. I’m thankful for all they do every day, giving so much of themselves to patients and families. In doing so, they’re forever a part of our family.

On the way home, I had one more act of kindness I wanted to fulfill. Something I had never done…I started a pay it forward at Chick-Fil-A! It felt great, I’ll never know if or how long it kept going, but I got to start it.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out, trying to not be as sad and talking about our Good Deeds and how it’s a new tradition. I went to bed grateful for the day spent with my mom and sister, just as Dad would want.

I wish that was the end of the anniversary recap. But alas, my friends, no Good Deed goes unpunished. With all the running around on Wednesday, somewhere along the way, I had put my sunglasses down. And by Thursday night, I couldn’t remember where to pick them up.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that my memory is usually batting at .400. I remember EVERYTHING and it is so rare for me to lose things. But grief has really enjoyed taking bits and pieces from me, including my memory. And he took Wednesday and my sunglasses’ exact location. By Friday at 9 am, not being able to find them was all I could think about. I found myself crying for long periods of time. I went to my car three times, slamming my leg in the door and bruising it. I called all of the restaurants we visited with no sign of them. I cursed, I cried more. And it hit me…I knew what this was about, it wasn’t the glasses. It was the reason WHY I couldn’t find them.

Wednesday I focused so much on keeping sadness at bay that I hid my grief. I didn’t give myself ample time to acknowledge the anniversary of our loss, so grief came in the back door and scrubbed away the five seconds it took for me to put them down and left everything else.

Grief is a journey. While I loved my day of giving, I needed to give some of it to myself. The one year anniversary hit and I sought a day of only happiness instead of following the path that was made for me. I needed the balance of doing good, but remembering why this day of good now exists for my family.

And for those of you wondering… Yes, the glasses were found. And the lesson is now learned. So here’s to the journey to year 2, may the times of sorrow come, but also go quickly. And may my sunglasses always be where I put them down. 🙂

The Goodbye: The Final Chapter

The Goodbye: The Final Chapter

I awoke in the recliner next to dad’s bed. My pillow was on the floor and my neck was stiff from attempting to find a comfortable position. I looked at Dad, still sleeping peacefully. I watched his breaths, in and out, in and out. I checked my phone, as word had spread about our current living situation, I had received multiple texts and messages. I tried to make as little noise as possible, but it wasn’t long before Kelsey and Mom were awake, too. There was no such thing as a good sleep in hospice. We were lucky to get a couple of hours between nurses coming in, noises, and that furniture material that you stick to, no matter how you lay on it.

We hung out for awhile and mom decided she’d go take a shower. We had another day of meal’s and visitors lined up. I opened one of the doors to the porch. It was a gorgeous morning with a nice breeze and 60*. A perfect morning for coffee in that rocking chair later on, I thought to myself. I took mom’s spot on the couch and Kelsey and I continued scrolling through our phones listening to music. I kept the lights off in the room. It felt so peaceful. Our good friend Melinda popped her head in to let us know breakfast was ready in the family area. Something told me to just hang a little while longer.

I can’t tell you what it was, but something inside of me said go check on him. I walked to Dad’s bedside, I knew. I watched his chest, waiting for the inhale. It never came. He was gone. Kelsey knew instantly by my stillness.

I covered my mouth with my hand as tears fell instantly. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. Nor the myriad of emotions that flooded my brain. First, relief. I was so relieved he was no longer in pain, no longer waiting for it to be over. Second, guilt. How could I be relieved that my Dad, one of my best friends, is forever gone from me? Third, Agony. Oh my gosh, my Dad is really gone. How do I do this? And fourth, panic. My Mom still had no clue. Do I go get her? Do I let her have a last moment of peace before her life turns upside down?

Oh Dad…I’m so sorry,” the only words I could get out through tears. At that moment, Mom came in and watched as Kelsey and I stood waiting for the doctor to call the official time of death. All I could mouth to her was that he was gone. Why Dad waited until Mom left the room, I don’t know. Maybe that’s how he wanted it? Maybe he thought that was best? But it took him no time at all to send us a sign as we came to the realization of what had just happened

My whole life I chose to be #13 on my sports teams because that’s always been my Dad’s favorite number. Lucky #13. My dad passed on 10/3 at 10:03am…13 and 13.

The rest of the day was a blur. We stayed with Dad until we were ready. We walked out with him, all of the hospice staff standing and paying their respects. He went out through the same doors he had been brought in. We packed up in disbelief and went home. How did I even drive my own vehicle? We watched the world continue the hustle and bustle around us while we moved in slow motion. Our hearts aching, our eyes raw, our bodies exhausted. Grief got his first grip and held on tight.

The rest of the week we did the funeral home visit, church visit, cleaned out his office at work. We stayed awake talking/reminiscing/crying until 4am and then would sleep til 1pm. It was the most backwards my day had been since freshman year of college.

And now here we are, 365 days later. I wish I could say my days have gone back to normal. I don’t think they ever will. Even if they could, I wouldn’t want them to. October 3, 2017 – It’s The Goodbye that changed my life.

The Goodbye: Part 3

The Goodbye: Part 3

On Saturday morning, I got the call that we were moving to the hospice facility. I immediately began packing a duffle because we were all in. My mom, sister, and I would be sleeping in my dad’s room and living there till the end. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, you do NOT leave one of your own in their time of need. We’d been there with dogs and cats as they crossed the rainbow bridge, my mom and I stayed in hospice with my Mema just 2 years prior. It’s just what we did and it’s what I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life.

The hospice facility had two sides of rooms. While all were beautiful, only one side backs up to Kennesaw Mountain, one of Dad’s favorite spots in our town. We were told all mountain side rooms were taken, so the parking lot side was our option. However, I believe God gives you what you need. And He did that day. Sadly, in this place, you know why a room becomes available. But we were thankful that Room 10, overlooking the mountain, became our home. It had a porch, French doors, two beautiful rocking chairs, and was next door to the patio area where we welcomed visitors. It was the perfect set up for the worst situation.

When we arrived, Dad was in an enormous amount of pain from his transfer. He was behind in medication and it was going to take a few doses to get him comfortable. One thing I have always loved about my Dad was his kindness and respect for everyone. Once his pain subsided, he asked for his nurse again. When she came in, he extended his hand…

Hi, I’m sorry. I think we got off to a rocky start. I’m Scott, what was your name?

I could tell that she had never heard such an apology. Especially coming from someone who was also coming to terms with their final days on Earth.

Susan,” she said with a smile. “It’s so nice to meet you.

The next two days were spent getting acquainted with the facility. Our friends and family visited and participated in a meal train so that we never had to leave for food. It was the sweetest gesture and the company gave us the laughs we needed to get through the next hour. On Sunday night, I was asleep in the recliner next to Dad’s bed and the nurses came in to clean him up. I wish this was a happy moment, but I woke to the sounds of his discomfort, wishing it would stop. I held his hand and we both cried because of his pain. I wanted to take it away for him, but I couldn’t. As the nurses left, I got an alert on my phone. A shooter in Las Vegas took the lives and injured many at a country music festival. We turned the tv on and Dad whispered “can you believe it?

I replied no, shaking my head. It was awful.

Then I heard Dad sing softly “Do you believe in magic?

Again, here he was lifting the mood. Trying to cheer others up when he was the one going through the worst. He’d been in so much pain again, but put it aside to bring comfort to us as we all sat watching the breaking news unfold. My hero.

Monday brought more guests sporadically, so it was nice to have quiet moments of reflection on the porch. Dad used the last bits of strength he had for first pumps anytime someone asked about our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes. The weather was amazing, it was the first weekend that the temperatures dipped to a beautiful 60* and the breeze was perfect. With the French doors open, I would watch Dad sleep and study his methodical moves of his hands. Always placing one gently on his chest, the other on his lap. Every so often they would trade places and he’d be asleep again. I knew we were getting close by the increase in long naps. I hated we were there, I wished it all away, but then I’d look at him and pray it wouldn’t last long. That was his only request to the palliative care doctor at the hospital. He just didn’t want it drawn out.

That night was quiet, not a lot of nurse interruptions. No nighttime visitors. Mom, Kelsey and I talked about everything we could think of. We cried about our future and the unknown, laughed discussing our favorite stories, and even ignored our situation altogether with gossip sessions from social media. It was all we could do to get ourselves to sleep.

If only we had known that it was our last night with Dad.

The Goodbye: Part 2

The Goodbye: Part 2

The next day, my alarm rang out and my eyes tried to convince my brain to keep them closed. I could feel the pure exhaustion and heaviness in my eyelids. I instantly hoped it was all just a nightmare as I scrolled through my phone through a swollen filter. A “Happy Anniversary” text was a welcome distraction from my husband, but just one scroll confirmed the reality of the situation. This September 28th was already proving to be very different than our wedding just 4 years prior.

Attempting to work from home, I logged on with some coffee. I’d work as long as I could, then head to the hospital. But with one text from my mom, that coffee became a second thought.

Your dad has made a decision, I think you should come now. He’s stopping everything…

I tried catching my breath, I knew what that meant. Dad elected no surgery, he’d given everything his best shot. Dialysis didn’t make him feel great, so he was stopping instantly. Why prolong the infection and waste the time in isolation that could be spent with others? It took no time to get out the door, going on autopilot as I drove the 30 minutes to the hospital and joined my family. We agreed with his decision, but that didn’t make supporting it any easier.

Dad was his usual self, not letting on that he’d just made the first step towards our worst fear. He had seen my earlier post on Facebook, the video of his speech at my wedding, dedicating my anniversary to him. Outside of family, no one, let alone social media, was even aware of the happenings in the last 24 hours. So when he requested to hear the comments, he knew they were genuine and enjoyed hearing the high accolades that were written. Most included the word EPIC and they were so right.

At that time, a coworker of Mom and Dad’s, Mike, walked into the room. We were all taken by surprise. Their employer knew Dad was in the hospital, but not the seriousness and the decisions that were just made. Mike said he didn’t know why, but felt he was needed this morning and what a blessing it was that he listened to God’s direction. We broke the news to him, we prayed together, and he helped Mom with telling the office the news so the stress was removed from her. Dad requested lunchtime visitors and to spread the word. And that began the steady stream of love that came through the step-down unit doors for the next couple of days.

I watched as groups of coworkers and friends took turns to laugh with Dad and listen to his words of advice. I snapped a picture of his smile as he told the young guys from his office to not take life so seriously and enjoy the days in the office, someday they’ll miss it. Just as he had since he’d been out sick for mainly all of 2017. We let anyone who wanted a chance to come in and visit. While it was easy to give everyone their time, in reflection that was a much harder decision than we thought. While Dad was in his prime with others, we were losing our own precious moments. Ours were shared with doctors and nurses and often with his energy tank running on fumes.

My alone time came on Friday morning. Until this moment, I had only truly cried in the waiting room, trying to be strong for Dad. We had been waiting for a nurse to come in for a bath and shave and I broke down sitting beside him.

I hope you know how much I love you,” I sobbed.

Dad, reaching to hold my hand, “Of course I do. Do you know how much I love you?

I nodded yes.

But you don’t, Kara. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. You make me so proud. The way you treat your family and your friends. One of the greatest prides of my life.

With a lump building in my throat, I squeaked out, “I learned it all from you.”

Well, we could compliment each other all day, but we’ve got things to do, don’t we?

I wasn’t surprised with Dad’s response directing away from the sensitive conversation. He assumed we’d have more opportunities to talk, and so did I. He knew more visitors would be coming and he wanted to feel clean and as put together as possible. And just like that, our moment was over. That was the last full conversation I had with him.

That’s a hard thing to realize now, that someone else got the sharp and witty that should’ve belonged to my mom, my sister, and me. But the smile on his face when another person walked in was worth it. I’m not sure if I had to do it all over that I’d do it the same, but for Dad in that moment, we did the right thing. And I hope in reading this, maybe a few of those people will share their private words with us someday. Just so I can have another piece of him. I’ll always wish for more words.

That same night, while touring our chosen hospice facility, Dad was given a pain medication that didn’t sit well with him. It should not have been administered and unfortunately, it stole his clear state of mind and replaced it with confusion or pain and very few words, there was no alternative for the rest of his palliative care. We got word that we’d be moving the next day. Mom, Kelsey, and I buckled down and tried to prepare ourselves for what was certain to be the worst time of our lives.