Friday, October 30, 2009

Canada's Next Top Model

Don't you just love the pose? (snicker)
My Grandma made the sweater she's wearing - cute, huh?
I hope for her sake that she doesn't still have those sweet little cankles when she's 16...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Arm Hurts

Thank you H1N1 immunization!

I am gonna feel really bad for my little girlie when she gets it because I (as not only an "adult", but a "health-care provider") understand why I'm waking up when I roll over onto my left arm. I simply hiss, "Ouucchhhh!", readjust my position, and go back to sleep.

It's gonna be a long couple of days if my daughter has the same level of discomfort. Hello baby tylenol!

Speaking of the virus I cannot make myself call "Swine Flu" (p-touie!):
Need some accurate, credible, and non-media biased info on the virus?
Check out this link (even you, my American friends, 'cause I watch your media too and it's awful about this!):

Lots of good info: including the truth about the vaccine and the so-called "new" way of preparing it (which I recently learned has been used with success in Europe's regular flu-vaccine since 1997) and who it is and is not safe for. The Public Health Agency of Canada is about as unbiased as you can get... so I trust this info. It isn't the prettiest website (government), but you should be able to find the answers to your questions. Hope it helps!

Speaking of the dread virus: I've been "trained" to assist with the mass public immunizations starting the week of November 16th. They know there aren't enough Public Health Nurses - so they've recruited more of us to work with them. Good times! (tongue in cheek)

All joking aside - I really am admiring my health regions proactive approach to this pandemic. And they should be prepared, you know. We've been expecting one of these for over 10 years... it's nice to see it pay-off in an organized and methodical fashion. Well done, PAPHR! :)

Alrighty then: thanks for bringing the counter over 80,000. Amazing! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Still The One"

I become this man's wife 6 years ago.
I could be flippant and say, "best decision I ever made" - but I know it's a total God-thing. I couldn't have chosen so well for myself. :)
After the exhausting emotions of the week leading up to our anniversary, my husband did a wonderful, thoughtful and amazing thing: he took me away! :)
Peyton had her first overnight away from us (and did wonderfully, I might add) and Kurt and I made a getaway to Elk Ridge to stay in their (let us give a round of applause to my notoriously-frugal husband!) 4-star hotel. We went down the waterslide (the fastest one I've been on in my life), hot-tubed, ate well and (cough-cough) rekindled a little romance. It was - for lack of a better adjective - awesome.
Beautiful scenery notwithstanding, we both must have commented at least a dozen times how great it was to be with each other - and just each other. No appointments to keep, no rushing to work, no 1-year old needing attention, no meals to make... we loved every moment of it. :)

The last two anniversaries have kinda been write-offs. Obviously, two years ago we were burying Autumn, and last year we were in the middle of enjoying our newborn daughter.
Neither occasion left much time for us. And that's where it all started: becoming Mrs Manz is what put me on this life-path. There is no one else on earth so well-matched for me: no one who could have been such a comfort and joy to me over all the events of the past 6 years.

I love you, Kurt Manz. So very much. Thank you for choosing me, and living out the vows you said to me 6 years ago. Neither of us could have anticipated the valley we would walk through together - but even in the midst of turmoil (this past-week included) you are still the one who makes me smile, laugh and lift my heart heavenward. You cause me to reflect on Jesus and how good He is for giving us to each other. Happy 6th anniversary, Baby.
(Hmmm.... this reminds me I need to get these pants hemmed...)
Posted by Picasa

Me and My Girls

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two Years

I miss you, Autumn.

My arms still ache to hold you. I can't believe I was able to let you go and walk away... let alone watch your casket being lowered into the earth. While I type, "Praise You in This Storm" is playing. Fitting...

This morning your sister cried at twenty-after-seven, and I thought, "What I wouldn't have given to hear that sound two years ago."

I'm so thankful for your life. Short as it was, it was given to us to enjoy. And we have been changed for the better because of you.

Happy birthday, my beautiful firstborn baby-girl.

I love you always and forever,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Cake of Tears

There is a desert called a "Score" Cake that I really like.
Basically, it's chocolate with holes punched through and then those holes are filled with caramel sauce. The overall effect is eating chocolate cake with bursts of that buttery "other" flavor. I'm no baker, but that is the best way I could think of to describe the overall vibe of yesterday.

Depending on the time of day, grief and joy took alternate turns being the chocolate and caramel. One could not be completely separate from the other. I could say that they enriched each other - and maybe someday I'll come to that conclusion. But for the most part it felt like a battle that I didn't want to fight. I didn't have the energy - and it ended up being a really hard night.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. I do know that the day I've set apart in my mind to celebrate Autumn's life is tomorrow. But at the same time was the inescapable knowledge that the 19th was the day my life changed forever with the realization she had left us.

The day was mostly joyful: just me and Peyton playing and cuddling and walking. She "helped" with laundry (which means I had to do it twice) and it was relaxing and reflective. But the back of my mind was keeping an eye on the clock with the knowledge that at this time of day two years ago it wasn't known to me yet that Autumn had died.

As the day moved towards 5 pm, I found myself clinging not only to Peyton tighter, but crying out to the Lord in my heart-of-hearts... because I was remembering. The choking despair. The grief. The agony and disbelief. I told my mom it was like darkness at the edges of my sunshine. I knew it was there waiting to be acknowledged and dealt with.

After Kurt came home I let him take care of Peyton and then went to spend some time dealing with the memories that were pushed aside by the joyful circumstances of last year. It wasn't even a conscious thing. I was brushing my teeth remembering the nurses carefully schooled calm manner after the heartbeat wasn't found. The doctor's approaches - the one who told us there was no heartbeat and the one who came in and almost cheerfully told us what we would have to do the next day. Other than the perfunctory "I'm sorry for your loss", it seemed like it was a mere medical issue for him: get the "fetus" out. (We both dealt with a lot of bitterness towards him... whoever he was.)

I keep two prayer journals: one for myself and one for Peyton. (My goal is to have a gift for her someday that shows the ultimate love possible: carrying her to Jesus. I hope I can keep it up if the Lord gives us more kids...) and I crawled into bed and poured out my heart to the Lord in a way I haven't in a long, long time.

In some ways it feels unfair to Peyton that she should share her birthday with my loss. It obviously wasn't a big deal to her this time: she's only one and oblivious to anything but her own needs. But what about the future? How do I explain to a little girl that I am joyful for her if she sees tears on my face? I think, "This is why I didn't want this day!" and yet - as I've said numerous times before - God gave her to me on this day. It's as close to saying, "I told you so!" to the Lord as I can get.

... since I typed the above, my daughter has awakened and given me a smile that would light up the night-sky. :)
Weeping came last night - wrapped in Autumn's blanket and overcome with memories of loss. But God's mercies are new every morning. Today they took the shape of a gap-toothed one-year-old who giggled, "Ma-ma!" when I entered the room. She is here. And He did not leave me on October 19th, 2007.

October 19th, 2008 did happen.
And now - so has October 19th, 2009.
He is faithful.

And this morning, my heart can be peaceful because of that truth. I'm bruised - achy in spirit... but I'm alive and clinging to Him with the sure knowledge that He has held, is holding, and will continue to hold me for the rest of my tomorrows.

Thanks to everyone who continues to pray for me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One Full Year...

Enough said... :-D

October 19th

And then (some story left out... this is the edited version) there you were!

Beautiful. Warm. Squirmy. Crying.
Looking around like you were oh-so-puzzled at the scenery change.

Everything was so opposite the year before. It was stunning. Even a year later I can't quite wrap my mind around the significance of it all.
It was the 19th of October. One year (plus a half-hour) since the last time I felt your sister move.

Who am I to question the wisdom of a God who gave, then took and then gave again in an abundant and incomprehensible way?
I had to remind Daddy to get the camera. It was good it was ready to go - because all he wanted to do was stare at you. It is amazing he found it with his eyes trained on the warmer where our doctor was giving you your first check-up. :)
There were no tears for either of us, much to my surprise. I think I was just in shock that after everything - all the waiting, praying, fighting anxiety... you were here.
I called your Nana and Papa at 4 in the morning with the announcement that I was ready to tell them your name. :) They were the first of many who shed tears of joy one year ago with the words, "Praise God!".

And today, Peyton Grace Elaine, I shed tears of pure happiness for the gift of you.

Your preciousness is magnified one-million-fold because of the events that preceded your birth. I have been changed by God for you. You're sick and cranky with a runny nose... and I am still so humbled and awed by the opportunity to become your mother exactly one year after I had to say goodbye to Autumn.
Happy birthday, my little-love.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18th

Having to wait a full 24 hours after the first induction attempt was difficult. We managed to go uptown the night before and get your Daddy a haircut. I was so nauseous from contractions as I waiting in the parking lot that I literally threw up. (there you go folks! a little-known Mrs Manz labor-trivia factoid!) But those painful suckers faded out around 10 pm - and I was only 2 centimeters.


Day two started slowly. We waited - as patiently as possible. Your Daddy's expressions in the bottom right-hand of the collage tell the tale. :)
I had a feeling God was going to give you to us on the anniversary of your sister's death.
I didn't want that.

When my water finally broke with hours to spare until October 19th, I was ecstatic! Not only was I 6 centimeters, but I had a fair amount of confidence that - like it had been with Autumn - your labor would be swift.

They rushed us down to the delivery room and hooked us up to the monitor that had been so conspicuously absent the year before. It was almost enough to bring tears even through the distracting haze of pain I had until my epidural kicked in. There it was: your little heart beating fierce and strong even amidst the contractions.

In the picture above I'm holding up 8 fingers: that was 8 centimeters. But the nurse discouraged pushing because you were still so high. Daddy relaxed as best he could (tough job to hold down that leather recliner!), and we took a few more pictures: him with "you" in my belly and the monitor in the middle of a contraction. Good times... (rolling eyes)

Anxiously, we watched the clock creep closer to midnight...
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 17th

My dear daughter,
One year ago today the journey began. The journey that brought us to meet you: our child of joy restored and hope fulfilled.
We got the call and headed to the hospital - knowing (hoping and praying, actually) that the next time we walked through the door of our house we would have our little girl with us.
The first attempt at induction wasn't the most effective. Contractions - too weak to progress anything, but strong enough to make me very uncomfortable.
The waiting seemed endless. It was especially hard for your Daddy.
... as you can tell. (Sympathy pains, I think...) The nurses we so kind to let him stay with me in the hospital room overnight. I think they realized I was serious when I said (without malice), "If he goes, I go."
But feeling your strong and healthy movements inside me and hearing your heart on the monitor while seeing the nurse's positive and relaxed faces... it was all bearable for the hope of meeting you soon...
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Leavin' On a Jet-Plane

We did it!
Our tickets for Hawaii are booked! :-D

After the excitement faded a little, the reality of holding an 18-month old on my lap for 9 hours started to kick in.


The way down isn't too bad: first to Denver (3 hours) then to Los Angeles (1.5 hrs) and then a "short" jaunt to the island (6 (gulp!) hours). At least it's broken down a bit, right?


Coming home means leaving Honolulu at 11:45 pm and flying all night to Denver. We don't get off the plane until 9:30 the next morning. I'm kinda shuddering. What if she is restless and loud? Other people probably want to sleep during that flight...

The blessing of being with my family (mom, dad, 2 brothers and sis-in-law) is helping the anxiety a little bit - but I really am a little nervous. And it's over 6 months away!

We'll have a test-run at the end of the month when Kurt, Peyton and I fly to Vancouver. That's only a 3 hour trip. To quote Kurt: "We'll just have to have lots and LOTS of books."
... AND make sure she looks super-dooper cute, just in case she is cranky. :)
(Did I mention we're flying out of S'toon on October 31st? :-D)

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Did I GET Here???

So I'm 29...



But really?

The closeness of my birthday to the births of both my daughters really set the tone for each of the past two years. I just posted on facebook the reflection that my 27th year was the hardest of my life. By comparison, my 28th was so full of relief and restoration... it truly is like night and day for me. Look at the difference a year can make...I feel no less loved by God because of my 27th - in fact, the remembrance of my 27th is what gives me security and assurance for my 29th. I have no doubt He will hold me through whatever my future holds - because He already has proven Himself so strong.

"Because He lives -
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives...
- all fear is gone.
Because I know -
HE holds the future.
And life is worth the living -
just because He lives..."

But so crazy that I'm almost 30, though...