our new rainbow


Around June of last year, I started to feel ready again.  Whenever the decision is made to open up your heart again to great love, and potentially great loss, it brings about the cautious optimism that often accompanies “We’re trying again.”  My heart was ready in June, and our newest rainbow baby was ready in November.

3 days after Thanksgiving, I got the “yes.”  After that, I got a case of “Now what?!”


We told our families early, but kept it a secret in general for as long as my body would cooperate.  Because it’s my third pregnancy, I started gently showing around 6 weeks.  By 10 weeks, I was running out of big sweaters.

By 14 weeks, I was ready to tell everyone.

During my pregnancy with Gracie, I wanted to wait until after we got the “all-clear from any signs of CDH/Fryns” at our anatomy scan.  This time, I just felt ready sooner.

I think I realized early on with this pregnancy that nothing in pregnancy is ever for sure…that I’m not in charge, so why not celebrate this life with everyone?  It’s still a life, no matter what happens.  At 18 weeks, we were blessed with an ultrasound free of any signs of CDH.  I’ve been so busy with Gracie, it hit me at once: this new one, she’s coming.


At 22 weeks, this little one is starting to dance.  I’m getting my typical cravings for cheese and meats and buffalo sauce, and all the sweets I see.  I’m remembering to work in carrots and avocados, and the occasional green juice.  I’m tapering my running, and I plan to stop completely at 24 weeks.  Walking fast and uphill feels so nice.  I am nesting like crazy, and I don’t mind at all.  I’m completely in awe of and thankful for this next new life that I am growing inside my belly.

This morning, I woke up earlier than normal and just felt her dance in my belly like a butterfly.  She’s already a happy one.  She’s so loved and so wanted.  No matter what, children are always a blessing.  She’s my next rainbow, our newest little girl, and August can’t come soon enough.

is she your first?

We all have our own personal stories.  When a question from a stranger, seemingly harmless, challenges our story, we are forced to question how much we actually want to reveal.  For are forced to instantly decide what’s appropriate to share, and what’s not.

In my case, now that my little baby is truly a toddler, she doesn’t just attract attention when we leave the house.  She commands it.  Pointing, laughing, yelling, and babbling in the language that she has created that sounds really similar to German.


When we are out at the grocery store, park, or another errand and she has managed to indirectly introduce us to a stranger, the first typical question is “How old is she?”  After answering, the next question is usually “Oh, and is she your first?”

This question always make me pause.  This well-meaning stranger, often a parent and just looking to swap stories, doesn’t know what they are asking.  How could they?  And yet, I still pause.  No, I think, but I can’t tell you that.  I can’t wreck your day.

I want to say: You see, kind stranger, I’ve been hurt.  This charming toddler, she has an older sister.  One that would likely have been equally as charming, and someone that she will never get to meet.  Someone that I was blessed to know for minutes, and somehow those minutes have shaped the rest of my life.  This little girl has a sister who is not here.  They will never get to run and play, tell secrets late into the night in the room they share, play dress up with all of my old clothes, fight over toys that they both don’t even like that much…because her sister couldn’t stay.  The doctors said that she wasn’t compatible with life; I say she was too beautiful for Earth.  And so, I’m not sure how to answer your question.  If I say yes, she is my first…am I dishonoring Darla?  If I say no, is that fair to Gracie?  Is that fair to you?  Is that fair to me?   

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I could tell you that no, she is not my first child.  There was one before her.  However, she is my first in so many other ways.  She is my first baby to cry.  She is my first baby to laugh, and she has the best laugh I’ve ever heard.  She is my first baby to smile, and sing, and ask for a hug, and give me a sloppy, open-mouthed baby kiss.  She’ll be my first to potty train, sleep in a big girl bed, start kindergarten…so many firsts.  But when she eventually hurts me, as all kids unfortunately do at one time or another, she won’t be the first to break my heart. 

And it’s because she isn’t my first baby that I am so abundantly thankful for every single first.

And yet, I can’t say all this.  Not to a stranger.  It’s too much to unload, especially to someone who is looking for a friendly exchange; I don’t know if they also have lost a child. And so, I smile and say “Yes, she is.”

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I pray she is the first of many more.  Now that I have experienced all these new firsts, I don’t want them to be the lasts.

three years ago: missing darla

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬


Three years ago today was both the best day and the worst day.  We said “hello” and “goodbye” to a beautiful little girl that wasn’t meant to stay here, on Earth, with us.

Some people only get minutes together, some get years, but we got hours.  Yet, I am so thankful for those hours. I’ve never felt so helplessly in love, elated and devasted all at once.

We spent our precious hours as a family of 3 holding and loving our sweet Darla Jane. I told her I love her constantly, because even though she couldn’t understand the words, I knew she’d feel them.  Even though we lost her, those precious hours live on in my heart.  A mama’s heart doesn’t forget.

People can be so amazing.  One friend told us that you don’t have to live very long to have an impact on the world. That quote never left me.  Other friends gifted us this beautiful oak tree, in her memory. It lives on the banks of the river in the arboretum in Ann Arbor, MI, where Jon and I met and went to school.



And so, even though Darla doesn’t live here on Earth, this beautiful tree lives and thrives because of her. Her daddy and I live and love and parent better because of her. And even though Darla doesn’t live here on Earth, she live enjoys perfect, whole, and peaceful eternal life in Heaven.
I couldn’t have her here, and to this day, that still stings. But as a parent, you always want what’s best for your kids. It’s hard when it’s not with you, but in the end, she got the best. She got what we all strive for. In the end, what else could any mama hope for?

I love you, DJ.  I always have, and I always will.

beautiful little smudges

I like a clean-ish house.  I was rushing around my kitchen this past week, trying to get a good cleaning in between work emails.  I had about 30 minutes before I needed to leave and get Gracie from daycare.  Counters: check, dishes: check, floor: check…and then I stopped.


I saw the smudges on the patio door, and I just couldn’t bring myself to wipe them.  Sure, they are messy…but in them, I saw tiny hands.  Tiny hands with little fingerprints unique to a toddler that was so excited to go outside, or straining to show me the birds just past the glass, she just couldn’t help but leave marks.  These little marks were left as an innocent byproduct of pure joy.

I started to take stock of the other marks in my life that didn’t use to be there.

  • The living room rug smells like clementines because unless you squeeze each piece and step on it, how will you know what happens?
  • The upstairs bathtub needs to be wiped more often, thanks to rowdy nightly splash sessions.
  • The Jeep kind of still smells like vinegar from the last bought with car sickness.
  • I learned very quickly that washable crayons actually work…even when you chew them up and spit them all over the rug.
  • I learned very quickly that washable crayons actually work…even when you color all over your comfiest chair.
  • I discovered that I CAN make finger paint from flour, water, and food coloring.  However, I CAN’T wash out said food coloring.
  • I almost always have another human’s snot on my sleeve.
  • My hairbrushes turn-up missing because they are actually meant to be shoved into the top of the hamper.  Duh.
  • We run out of apples really, really quickly.

Every extra mess that I have to clean, or thing of mine that is lost or changed, exists because the little person that lives with me is learning about the world through trial and error.  Perhaps each mess or mishap isn’t completely random, but instead, is carefully crafted by a brain that is hungry and excited to learn.


It’s hard for me to fully change who I am and how I like things.  I consider myself reasonably neat, and let’s face it, some messes are gross and can’t be ignored.  And yet, things like smudges on our patio doors can probably wait to be wiped…at least for a while.

Maybe next time I see her pressing her little nose and fingers against the glass, I should pause my super important adult stuff and go sit next to her.  Maybe I should let her show me what all the excitement is about.  I’m not sure who said it, but this quote is in the notes section of phone, meant as a warning.  I read it often.  It makes me feel appreciative and terrified all at once.


“Think of the mess as fairy dust.  One day it will go away, and take all the magic with it.”

the day I wanted to blog, but then I didn’t do it

I have had this window open on my phone since SATURDAY.  I haven’t blogged in far too long, and I really wanted to sit down to write.  It’s something I love to do.  So why did an entire Saturday go by without me taking 20 minutes to sit down and write?  I decided to take an inventory of my day.

6:45: Earlier than normal, Gracie wakes in a ferocious fit of tears; she is seriously regretting chucking her paci out of her crib.

6:46: Mommy rescues the paci.  Mommy tries to put Gracie back to bed.  Mommy is so silly to think that would work!

6:47 Mommy realizes that today is a Saturday free of plans.  Mommy realizes how long it has been since she’s blogged.  Mommy vows to make time to blog.

7:05 Persuaded by the all-too-familiar sounds of Disney Jr, ,Mommy decides that today will NOT be wasted in front of the TV.  It’s a gorgeous day, it is necessary to get outside.

8:30 Mommy texts friend to arrange a mommy-baby park date.

9:46 As usual, Mommy is late.

10:30-12:30 Mommy and Gracie meet our friends for some park playtime.  During this time, Mommy decided that TODAY is the perfect day to make Chex mix.  Mommy texts Daddy to ask him to pick up the ingredients.

12:30 Mommy and Gracie head home; Mommy is hoping for an excellent nap from Gracie, so that she can blog, edit photos, make Chex mix, and maybe even nap a little.  Mommy has jinxed the day with these naïve hopes.

1:30 Mommy puts Gracie down for a nap.  Mommy thinks about blogging, but decided to fit in an impromptu yoga session.  Why not?  Gracie will likely nap for hours and hours and hours!  Sweet freedom!

1:50 A huge, earth-shattering poo wakes Gracie far too early.  Mommy rescues Gracie from the poo monster.  Gracie is so happy to see Mommy, she won’t even consider letting Mommy put her down.  Mommy realizes she is pretty wonderful , but this turn of events does thwart her plans.

2:00-3:15 Mommy rocks Gracie, tries several times to put her down unsuccessfully, and Mommy ends up falling asleep in the rocking chair while Gracie watches her sleep.  Sweet irony.  At least one of us napped.

3:17  Mommy throws up the white flag and surrenders to nap-resistant toddler.  Time to make Chex mix.

3:30-7:00  Mommy spends the afternoon making Chex mix, cleaning, vacuuming, and getting ready for out night out with Daddy.  In the meantime, Daddy and Mommy try to occupy the increasingly cranky toddler.  Maybe she should have napped.

7:30 The babysitter arrives, and the most over-tired and goofy toddler on planet earth is persuaded to sleep.  Finally.

8:00-11:30 Mommy and Daddy leave for a much-needed night out in Boston.

12:00 Bedtime arrives, and suddenly, Mommy realizes she did not blog.  Shame on Mommy.

Chronologically outlining my Saturday isn’t depressing so much as it is eye opening.  I’m a list nerd; I find myself looking at how I spent my time and being proud of some moments, while questioning others.  The hour and a half I spent snuggling my cranky toddler was priceless.  The Chex mix could have waited.

I love to write, even if no one reads it.  Each day has a finite amount of hours.  If I spend just 15 minutes a day doing something totally out of the ordinary, totally independent of the daily demands of life, I’m pretty sure I’ll feel pretty awesome.

And if you must know…the Chex mix turned out awesome.

on your birthday eve

Gracie Kate, where has this year gone?  I still remember the feeling of your newborn body cozied into me, sleeping the day away.  They say “Don’t blink, you’ll miss it.” I tried to drink it all in, and yet, it passed just the same.
These days, I have to chase you down for a kiss!  I have to hide anything with buttons.  I cannot vacuum alone, and anything with a cord is the best toy you’ve ever seen.  You are in love with the world, and I have a front-row seat.

I don’t know how I am so lucky to be your Mommy.  I’m blessed that you grew inside of me for 9 months, and that now, you are experiencing the world with me.  Everything is new again!  I haven’t looked so closely at a leaf/my hands/the floor/door hinges in ages!  Sticks certainly are awesome, and daddy’s glasses ARE fun to throw down the stairs!

Thanks to Laura Wagner Photography

You are bringing out the best in me, the best in dad, and the best in everything you touch.  I may not get to snuggle you quite as much anymore, but I love watching you grow.  I love watching you take risks and try new things.  I’m here when you need someone to cushion your fall, or tell you why the cat is not a toy (“She has sharp fingers”), or rock you to sleep.  As long as you’ll have me, and even after you don’t need me, I’ll always be here.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss your tiny snuggles, but I love your sloppy big-kid kisses.  This past year has been different than I thought it would be: more challenging, more smelly, more confusing, and yet, more perfect than I think I deserve.

Keep shining, sweet one!  You have the brightest soul I know.

Thanks to Laura Wagner Photography

9 months in, 9 months out

This post has been brewing for a while now, effectively since you were born, and definitely since you crossed the 9-month threshold.  Suddenly, you have been alive in the world longer than you were alive inside of me.  Just as the first days of pregnancy looked nothing like the last moments, life now looks nothing like it did during your earliest days.

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Photo credit: Laura Wagner Photography

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Life has changed

Things take more planning these days.  We used to be able to drop everything and go on a weekend adventure.  Now, a quick trip to the supermarket takes a fair amount planning.  When did you last eat?  When were you last changed?  When was your last nap?  We can take you most anywhere, with the right gear, but we can’t always stay long.  You’re the boss, but you’re a fair boss…your employees like you a lot.

My daily schedule makes more sense.  I used to wake up on a Saturday after 10, hang out, start some random project around the house, and find myself still in my pajamas at 2.  These days, we wake up at 7.  There is a morning nap that signals the beginning of afternoon, and an afternoon nap the signals the beginning of evening.  You have a bedtime.  I eat lunch.  Although different and chaotic at times, our days have purpose.  I have to get up, I am needed.

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You have changed

You used to always want me to nurse you to sleep,  Lately, you don’t always need it.  Some nights, you point to your crib, I put you down, and you fall asleep alone.  While it makes me happy to see you becoming more independent, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t having a hard time letting go of your tiny days.

Still, it’s so exciting to get to know you.  Every day that passes is like unwrapping a little present.  We learn more about you.  You know what you like, and you know what you don’t like.  Things make you laugh, and the sound of your belly laugh makes my heart skip a beat.  You are careful, yet curious.  You love to explore, and yet, you usually check back in with me after a few minutes away.  You are sweet, kind, and you try so hard to be gentle with the cat.  We will continue to work on that.

You are exactly how I hoped you’d be, and yet, I couldn’t have imagined this.

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I have changed 

I’v heard it described before that babies are the “great levelers.”  They come into the world and completely level everything, leaving our Pinterest-perfect nurseries in shambles.  Once we are humbled, instead of including baby into our old lives, we build new lives.  These lives are simpler, and more joyful, as they include baby.  We dance delicately around the fact that nothing will ever be the same, and we feel guilty if we yearn for the life we once knew.  It’s normal to miss pre-baby freedom, yet still love your child to pieces.

As time passes and things fall into place.  I realize that I am strong, and as a couple, we are strong.  We can operate on 4 hours of sleep, we can meet your needs, and we can handle all the poop.  We can be a mommy and a daddy, and we can find joy in the simplest nuisances of every day.  Suddenly, our new life is brimming with new love, and I don’t really remember how we lived without you.

That’s where we are now.  I’ve never been loved like this before.

It’s amazing.

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Lately, I keep making the mistake of saying that “time is going by so fast.”  It’s not, that’s impossible.  Technically, time will always pass at the same speed.  Instead, I am just more aware of time as it passes, and I wish I could slow it down.  You will keep growing and keep changing into a little person, and eventually, a big person.

I couldn’t feel more privileged to have a front row seat.

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