When I found out I was pregnant with Ellison I cried. I cried hard. Then I went to finish the job of moving out of a house that we just put on the market. We even saw our friend who cleaned it and she saw that nothing was amiss. I guess I can put on a good show if I have to.
Eli had been born and passed away just four months prior. I was NOT ready to be pregnant. I was NOT ready to be in that “state”. It seemed to hard to even imagine, but it was happening. I knew that Jesus was in control, but I was not sure where my faith stood at the time.
We had spent the summer after Eli died fixing up our rental house and putting it on the market. At the time the market was hot, hot, hot in Seattle. When we put it on the market, that week, it took a major slump and really hasn’t recovered since.
That summer was TERRIBLE! Mike was working. Mike was fixing the house to sell. Being a husband to a grieving wife. Being a dad to his kids. Taking care of us…. and the list goes on. I was taking care of the kids. Going back and forth between two houses. Going to Home Depot….and the list goes on. The major thing though was grief. Grief and stress do not work well together. Their kinda like oil and water. They just don’t mix and inevitably when you have grief, you will have stress.
Anyway, we made it to the end! We put the house on the market on a Friday and the next day we found out I was pregnant. I called my doctor on Monday and went in for a blood test. They called later that day and scheduled and ultrasound the next day.
I was playing with Tullie on the floor after I got off the phone with my OB’s nurse on Monday, and Mike was working on the computer in the same room and he said, nonchalantly, “Do you want to leave on Wednesday?” I said, “Think we could go tomorrow?” He said, “Yeah. Let’s go.” I said, “Ok.” Mike’s work gave him three months paid medical leave to heal and for our family to try to heal from everything. So, we did what all normal people would do and bought a motorhome and took off. We ended up leaving on Wednesday and few people knew we left. We were gone for 6 weeks. It was the best thing that we could’ve done for our family, but mostly I think it was the best thing we did for our marriage. We needed to talk and we had a LOT of time to do it.
When we came back it was time to get to work. We had to keep this baby in. I was about 12 weeks pregnant and I went in for our first ultrasound at perinatology (high risk ob’s), and Mike came with me. They were taking FOREVER to do this ultrasound. Checking everything. At one point, the OB kept jiggling the wand thingy on my belly. Pressing. Pushing. Jiggling. Over and over. Finally, I was starting to get annoyed and Mike caught on to it. He said, “What are you looking for?” The technician says, “Oh, I’m trying to see the baby’s neck. I need to see it. The thickness of the neck is a indicator for Down Syndrome.” (she’s pushing, pressing and I gotta go to the bathroom!) “I gotta see it!” (press press) Mike says, “Who cares? We already have one!” The technician stops dead in her tracks. “Oh. I’m sorry. Uh. Uh.” Can someone say, awkward? I crack up! Oh I love my husband! So began a ton of ultrasounds and weird technicians.
I was at the doctor every two weeks. I had at least one ultrasound a month. Got shots every week and got a cerclage at 16 weeks(ish) (they sewed up the cervix. That caused an array of issues that really don’t need to be brought up). Oh, and had a list of rules for nine months that weren’t always easy to follow. Really it was a bunch of preventative maintenance. This baby had to stay in!
It was a hard nine months, and I feel that that is putting it mildly. It was hard on our marriage. It was hard on my body. It was hard on the kids, because I was gone so much at appointments. It was hard.
I was disconnected from the pregnancy. I knew she was there, but it was hard to connect when I had so much fear. It was a constant struggle. I had a bag packed at the foot of our bed at 21 weeks. Just in case. I never needed it. When I was 30 weeks, I told my OB that I had a packed bag for 9 weeks. She said, “What’s in it?” At that point there wasn’t much, because I was needing the stuff I had packed. I then realized how silly it had been. I had been living in fear.
Spiritually, I was in some wasteland desert. Some place where I was lost. I was sad. I was struggling. I missed my son. It had all been too much.
Ellison was born on April 10th. Just 15 days later would be Eli’s birthday. It was weird extreme happiness and extreme mourning in one month. Just weird.
When they pulled out a full term, screaming, typical baby girl it was pretty exciting. She was beautiful. She was perfect. She looked just like her brother. However, I still kept her at a distance. I was afraid. I didn’t know if she would “stick”. I was fearful that something would happen to her and I was afraid to let her in. She however, would have none of it. She screamed her way in for three months! The kid screamed for three months. She wasn’t colicky. She didn’t have reflux. She just wanted to be held. I was thinking about that the other day. How she yelled. Then it came to me. It was almost like she knew she had to fight a little bit. Maybe because there were two older kids to take care of. Maybe because she knew her mamma had been hurt in a really bad way. Don’t get me wrong. I loved her from the moment we knew we were pregnant. And I loved her when saw her on all of those ultrasound screens. And I loved her when I saw her for the first time. It’s hard to be pregnant after losing a baby. I put up walls to protect myself. I’m not saying I was right, but it’s what I did. She screamed for three months and I got attached through holding her to keep her silent.
Ellison is passionate. Full of passion. When she’s happy, she is fully elated. When she’s mad, she is fully pissed off. There isn’t much of a medium with her. She’s one extreme or the other. I love her. I love her curly hair. Her funny laugh. I love the way she, Josiah and Tullie play together. I love how she’s a take charge kinda gal. I also love her physical love. She is a physical touch girl. We get hugs and snuggles all day long from her. Her happy place is on Mom or Dad’s lap sucking her fingers with her blankey watching Cinderella.
Ellison Reese, my little girl that we named after a street sign in Albuquerque, is our pride and joy and Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He gave us her. He knew that we needed her. We needed her snuggles, her hugs, her screams demanding snuggling and her affection for her family members. Jesus has used her to help us heal. To help us see His goodness. To see His mercy. To see how “Unkindly He has Kindly Shown Me.” (John Piper)