About El Momma

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day 2019 - the real story

Dear Friends,
What a year it has been. I've been fairly quiet on my blog, as there has been so much to process this last year.
Now, here we are...another Mother's Day. The second one without our daughter, Mary-Linda and the first with our baby boy...who will be birthed in the next couple of weeks.

I love to share the realities in our lives. But, some things over the last year, I'm just not able to share. I will say that we have endured a lot of unexpected change. And, I found myself with more time for high risk doctors' appointments, kids' activities, building relationships, rest for me and baby and more time to volunteer. These were unexpected circumstances that I have looked at as blessings. But, I also found myself questioning who my friends and chosen family were. Things I thought I knew, left me spinning.

Two months ago, when I was 7 months pregnant, my dear daddy passed away, after a week in hospice care in the medical center of Houston. I spent every spare moment with him and my mom and I am very grateful God gave me the time to be able to do that. I quickly learned who my friends and chosen family are. We had a village of friends who stepped in, brought meals, prayed with us, picked up kids, kept kids, took kids to activities and even brought food to the hospital. So many loved ones came to my dad's service and continued to bring gifts, food and flowers. These acts of kindness are beautiful ways to express our sorrow when our loved ones experience great loss. And, the loss of our dad (and Grandfather) is great.

This Mother's Day wasn't exactly what I would have planned out for myself, if you were asking me a year ago. But, you know what?! I'm most thankful that I have four beautiful, living children and a fifth living child who is moving and kicking constantly and nearly ready for his debut. I couldn't be more in love with this little guy. The reality report: my older children are far from perfect. I started this day crying because 1. I'm hormonal and 2. my kids were not being kind to each other and they didn't stop and think how their fighting was impacting their pregnant momma. (Don't worry. I let them know and things did get better)

So, as I share these beautiful photos that my sweet little cousin took of us in between Houston rainstorms this week, I want you to know that we are not picture perfect. We are real. This momma-life is hard. Life is hard. But, we won't give up and we won't give in. I'm very thankful that the Lord gives us strength to get through the hard things and we come out the other side. I feel very close to the other side.

Happy Mother's Day, friends. I hope you had a peaceful day and were shown the love you deserve.

love,
El Momma















Saturday, April 27, 2019

Expecting our Rainbow baby

After over one year of trying and 12 cycles, we are pregnant! And, expecting our Rainbow Baby in May 2019! If you aren't familiar with that term, check out this article from Parenting.com that explains where the term comes from. Basically, a "rainbow baby" is a baby after a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss- the "rainbow" after the storm.
We found out that we were expecting on our oldest daughter's tenth birthday. We were "trying" so, that was a day I could test early and I did.


We had a number of ultrasounds...and I took a few #bellybump pics










We officially "announced" at Christmas when we knew the gender and were in the 2nd trimester. We told the older 4 Els the day before Thanksgiving when we took photos for our Christmas cards. 










This journey has not been easy. After losing our daughter, Mary-Linda at nearly 18 weeks gestation, my head and my heart wanted to be pregnant again...quickly. But, the Lord had different timing planned. My head and my heart actually needed something very different than what I "thought" I wanted. We needed to wait. To wait on the Lord. To listen. To trust. To hope in His promise that He would never leave us or forsake us. To know that He is good and wants good things for us. 

So, we waited. We kept trying and the longer we waited, I treated my body more like I was pregnant. Prenatal Vitamins, folate, baby aspirin, lots of water, and a healthy diet. We met with a new possible OB/Gyn, a high risk doctor and fertility specialists. Our biggest concern was something happened to my body when I delivered Mary-Linda and that was causing us difficulty conceiving. Looking at the medical records after losing Mary-Linda, I learned that I had an anti-body that was detected in my blood in early pregnancy. I was never notified of this, even though the blood results were marked in red as "trouble." We also learned that Mary-Linda had FMH (Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage). Apparently, this is common in Moms who experience a trauma or are in some type of accident. I did not experience any trauma. According to many articles I've read on FMH, it would not have been diagnosed, had we not known to request a KB blood test when I was in labor with Mary-Linda. The KB test (Kleihauer-Betke) looks for the amount of fetal hemoglobin in the mother's bloodstream. This tells if the baby is anemic and amount of baby's blood in the mom's system. We knew someone whose newborn baby had this, had to have several blood transfusions and was in the NICU for the first weeks of the baby's life. Thankfully, that baby recovered completely and is now a healthy teen. 
Many people don't know to request this test, and therefore this diagnosis often gets missed. 

We had a first positive pregnancy test near the end of August, only to find out that we miscarried early on- often called a chemical pregnancy. It was a devastating time for my husband and I, as we were already dealing with so much. But, again, God's timing was perfect. Part of me was just thankful I got pregnant again and I began to trust that we would soon have a healthy pregnancy. Just a couple of weeks later, we were pregnant. Praise God! 

Our doctors this time around, have been amazing. They know what to check. They work well together and their goal is the same as ours- for this sweet baby to be alive and in our arms in May. My high risk doc checks for the baby's blood flow at each appointment- I love when he tells me "baby has no anemia!" My heart overflows. To know what we know now, we are so grateful. 


About this pregnancy- I just want to add- I have truly felt at peace during the majority of this pregnancy. Feeling the hand of God on my heart and on this sweet little baby boy. We can not wait to meet him, hold him and kiss his sweet little face. He is our miracle, prayed for little child. 
Baby Shower, April 2019

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition"
1 Samuel 1:27





Monday, January 21, 2019

Why we continue to remember and talk about our daughter in heaven

It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try to explain it the same way I did to my children at dinner tonight.
We remember and celebrate Mary-Linda’s milestones, because she’s our daughter. We talk about her, because she is ours. She was our gift for a short time on this earth, but she is still ours. She existed. She was hoped for, prayed for, and very loved. We will not forget her. And, now that we have another baby arriving soon, we thank God even more for Mary-Linda's life and all that experience has taught us.

We celebrate so many of our living children’s milestones. We celebrate their birthdays, their half-birthdays, their hits on the baseball field, recital performances, cotillion dances, piano recitals, their lives here on earth. So, our Mary-Linda has two significant dates- her born-sleeping date and her due date.

We celebrate the first on August 16th- the day I delivered her and the day our family dream of holding her in our arms- came true. 


The latter we celebrate on January 21st- her due date. We know, if she had been born around the same gestation as her sister and brothers, she would be one year old now. 

So, to celebrate Mary-Linda, we made (and enjoyed!) our favorite family meal- lebanese grape leaves. Recipe here. 

 And, a gluten free brownie in honor of our little girl.
The butterfly plates remind me of my grandmother, Nannie Brock, who is also in heaven. I imagine that they are joyful to be together. 

This isn't an easy road, but we trust in the Lord. 

Proverbs 3:3-6 
Let love and faithfulness never leave you
bind them around your neck
write them on the tablet of your heart
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways submit to him
and he will make your paths straight

Happy birthday in heaven, dear baby girl, our Mary-Linda Elizabeth
We love you forever. 
love,
Momma, Daddy, Bakri, Maddux, Trinity and Leeland

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Remembering Our Baby Girl this Christmas

As I sit in my living room, under the beautiful glow of our Christmas tree, it hits me like a giant wave. An overwhelming sense of loss. Sadness. For a moment, I see her face. Tiny. 17 weeks and 3 days old. Beautiful. 
Suddenly my mind moves forward to the age she should be now. I would have been full term pregnant on NYE 2017. Our daughter would be nearly a year old now. I would be nursing her to sleep or watching her play under the Christmas tree before putting her down to bed. 
I miss the baby I never held alive. I miss her sweet face. I miss all the wonderful memories we didn’t get to have with her this last year. Life has continued to move forward. This year has not been easy. I am more thankful than ever for our friends and family who continue to love us unconditionally and never forget our daughter. 
I miss my Mary-Linda. Happy Christmas in heaven, baby girl. Momma loves you so. 










Sunday, July 29, 2018

Happy-ish Birthday to Me!


It’s my birthday week! Yay! 🎂 and boo 😒 !
I say that because...
1. I ❤️ birthdays so much. I love my family and their birthdays. And, I’ve always loved my birthday. Last year’s birthday was the best...multiple celebrations with forever friends and the most amazing family. My favorite part, sharing the news of expecting Mary-Linda and revealing her gender to our kids and the world on my birthday. It was THE BEST DAY ever...
2. I say “boo”😥 because less than three weeks later, my happy, perfect world would come crashing completely down when we discovered that Mary-Linda’s precious little heart had stopped beating in her tiny chest at just 4.5 months gestation. Some time in the weeks/days before that, she began to lose blood- for no reason. No explanation.We were told that it just happens sometimes. Sometimes there’s an accident or a blow to the mom that causes this. And sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. Which is what happened with us. It’s called Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage. She lost too much blood and her heart finally stopped.
Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to separate these times. But, this year, this time I’m thinking about how big we celebrated last year and how big we celebrated Mary-Linda’s life. I am beyond grateful for that. I would never change that.
So, for my birthday, I invite you to make difference in someone’s life. Be the joy. Be the light in their darkness. Be the hope of Jesus to a neighbor, to a friend, to a loved one.
I want to share with you a few organizations that serve families who are experiencing or have experienced the loss of an infant. These organizations have shown the love of God to our family during our grieving and journey of healing over this past year. If you feel led to give, please do and please let me know. I'd love to know how our daughter's life is bringing hope, joy and love to others.
Bridget's Cradles provided us with a beautiful hand crocheted cradle that was the perfect size for our little girl. Our older children were all able to hold their baby sister in her beautiful cradle. This fulfilled a promise we made to them when we told them we were expecting.
Molly Bears provided us with a "Mary-Linda" bear. Weighing the same as Mary-Linda did on her "born-sleeping" day, with her name and a cross stitched on the bear. We love holding her and thinking of our baby girl.
M.E.N.D. Greater Houston, TX (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) has given us support and care throughout this past year. We participated in the "Walk to Remember" in October, honoring many babies in the Houston area. And, the support group has been extremely helpful for me to think through tough situations before they happen.
We've also been loved on in the most amazing way by our church family, Apostles Houston. We are forever grateful for the way they stepped in to love us in the hospital and in the weeks and months after we lost Mary-Linda. 
It's hard to know how to properly show thanks for all the beautiful love we've received. So, we will just say, "we love you and are very grateful for the way you have loved us and walked through this valley with us."
thank you for your consideration and much love to you and yours
sincerely,
El Momma
A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.




Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mothering through the Unexpected and the Tragic

The most difficult year of mothering yet.






This time last year, Moustapha and I just found out we were expecting. It was too early to have an ultrasound and to know if everything was going okay. But we knew we were pregnant. We’d been trying for a few months and tbh we were praying for a little girl. At our 9 week appointment, we got to see our little gummy bear, a strong heartbeat and all signs that he or she was doing great and growing as expected. 




At 10 weeks, I could listen to the baby’s heartbeat at home. I did this most evenings. We had some blood work done around 10 weeks and got the results at our 13 week ultrasound. 




We were told that our baby was a girl and she was growing perfectly. I loved that ultrasound so much. Our baby girl was dancing! Putting her hands to her mouth and gave me all the feels of a happy little baby! 




We told the Els around this time but waited to tell them our baby’s sex until my 40th birthday. The kids were so excited to know either way and delighted to learn she was a she. 💗💗 




After this, we treated the next three weeks as normal. We enjoyed family time and my baby bump continued to grow. 











At just over 17 weeks, I couldn’t find her heartbeat at home. I was headed for my regular appointment the next morning and I didn’t let myself believe that she could be gone. But, the next day, my worst nightmare was confirmed. Our baby girl had passed, her heart had stopped beating. I now had to mother all of my children through a situation I never imagined for any of us. I had made promises to them- promises that they would hold their sister. Promises that we would be a family of seven. Promises of a life together. 


This was not what I promised. But, I leaned on God and kept going. Should we let the Els see Mary-Linda? Hold her? We decided to let them decide. We had photos and when the Els arrived to the hospital the day Mary-Linda was born sleeping, we let the Els look at the photos first. We gave them the option to look and then if they wanted to see her after that, they could. And, if they wanted to hold her after that, they could. One by one, they made the decision. And we kept the promise that they would all be able to hold their sister. 











It doesn’t stop there. I don’t get to mother Mary-Linda here on earth, the way I want to. But, losing her has changed the way I mother my other children. I don’t know if I’m doing it right. Is there even a right way to move through this? But, I haven’t stopped. I’m trying to love my children through it. I can’t say I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day this year. I can say I thank God for every single one of the precious souls who made me a mother. 


Please know that I’m thinking of and praying for all of the mothers out there who’ve lost, who’ve longed for a baby on earth, who have loved ones in heaven. I’m thinking of you. 


Much love,

El Momma