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Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 Things You May Not Know About Me

 NOTE... These are in no specific order. Just my random thoughts.

1.  I don't like Chocolate.
I know...I know, I am not a normal female. I get told this often when I  inform others that I say NO to Chocolate.

2. I am horribly, and I mean horribly, scared of rats!!!
 Eeek!!! I have actually busted my nose after running into a glass door while trying to flee from an itty bitty mouse before. That little mouse caused some major damage!!

3. I used to be a truck driver.
I drove a truck for my family's produce market for years until I finally quit my job to be a new mommy to Ellie. Now I love my jobs of  being a stay at home mommy & wife!

4. I am a milk sharer.
 I  donated my breast milk after having Ellie & Zion and I hope to be able to share with those in need after having this baby.

5. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone smacks, crunches, or slurps when they eat.
Worst of all , my little Ellie does it just to see me cringe!

6. I always over punctuate!!!

7. I used to loooooove rap music and I had some sweet moves on the dance floor!
Yes, it is quite embarrassing to think about that now that I'm a mommy to a little girl!

8. I wanted nothing to do with my husband when we first met.
At the time, I had just gotten out of a relationship. I wouldn't even  give him my number. However, behind my back , my mother secretly did. She told Jeremy "Don't give up on her!" Praise God that he didn't give up on me, and here we are, still madly in love after all these years! I am one blessed wife!

9. I love Thai food!!!!!!!

10. I never wash my makeup off at night.
My face breaks out easily if  I wash it too much.  I usually just wash it off  in the shower the next day and it seems to work best  for me.

11. I am passionate about birth rights!
I feel that a woman should  have the right to give birth where ever she feels is best for her and her family without condemnation, judgement, or force. She should also be able to chose the care giver that see feels most confident and comfortable with.

12. I'm a pill popper!
No really, I am currently taking 25 pills to try and have the healthiest pregnancy possible.  Some days it gets really old!  I have always had a phobia of medicines, so I'm thankful that all of them are nutrients and herbs with the exception of one. Hopefully I'll be able to cut back very soon!

13. I have severe white coat syndrome.
Every time I go to the doctor it really tears my nerves up! I sweat heavily , my heart rate and blood pressure rises and I get a horrible lump in my throat.

14. My favorite years were the 80"s.
I still love the crazy neon colors and the ridiculous fashions from that era.

15. I love to cook.
I was taught to cook at an early age and I guess it has just stuck with me. I celebrate and medicate everything with food!

16. I'm a baby wearing, breast feeding, and attachment parenting momma!
I feel that these things create strong and healthy  bonds between mommy and baby!

17. I get nervous standing in front of crowds!

18. I deal with anxiety often.
After losing Zion & Selah I have suffered with crippling anxiety at times.
 It is a daily process in my life. Although,  it has gotten sooooo much better and a lot more manageable.  I'm so thankful for a Savior that understands my frailties!

19. I have a thyroid disease.
I have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. It is an auto immune thyroid disorder causing me to have hypothyroidism. It is hereditary and most of the women in my family have the same disease.

20. My nick name is Criddle.
I  was given  this nickname around the age of  12. It actually started as a mispronunciation of my actual name.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Testing My Luck

Throughout my Christian life I have struggled  like so many others  with the sovereignty of God.  Are things by chance or by design...... by luck or by the sovereign plan and will of God. Is He really in total control?  That question has been tested often throughout my life, but surely tested the most in these last couple years. Each time the question being answered with  a steadfast YES! Yes, He is in total and complete control of everything. Although my life seemed to be out of  control at times,  its reigns were surely in the hands of an all powerful God.

After losing Zion,  months went by with me experiencing horrible anxieties and fears. What was wrong with me? What horrible disease was I dying from? Why couldn't I have a live baby?  Would I ever be a mother to a live baby again? I would look around at other women who seemed so unhealthy to me, yet, they were  mothers to many children. I had tried to have the healthiest pregnancy possible, and still, my baby died. In my heart I knew that God was truly sovereign and that what I  was going through was beyond anything that I could control.

A time that I really felt out of control was the day that  I found out I was expecting another baby just shortly after losing Zion.  I had been exclusively pumping and donating my breast milk and my cycle had never returned. We were taking other precautionary measures as well, and  I still somehow managed to become pregnant with Selah.  I remember taking that test and thinking "There's NO way I could be pregnant", but God was totally sovereign and saw fit to bless us with another baby.

All my hopes of having a live baby were crushed when I went into the doctor' s office at 20 wks 4days only to find that my little ray of hope was gone. I had been having contractions all night and  I was in labor.

I must say, there is nothing like hearing those gut wrenching words " I can't find a heartbeat." With anguish my response was "NO!!!  Not again!!"  I kept thinking of what went wrong. Why was my body failing me again??  I felt so out of control and helpless.

 I went home to labor because I knew that soon enough  we would be facing the four walls of that place I so dreaded to go again. Seeing that I was in labor, I knew that the baby more than likely had passed some days sooner and that my body was just naturally reacting. I was in fear that after arriving at the hospital that they would try to take my baby from me if the baby was not considered 20 weeks. I wanted to see my baby whole and as they were in my womb, not ripped from my body and broken into pieces.

After laboring at home all day we went to the hospital to deliver my sleeping baby. She was born very shortly after our arrival. So soon that Jeremy had to deliver her himself.  Then, we finally met her! The first thing we noticed was that the cord was wrapped very tightly, more than once , around her neck. So tightly that that they didn't even bother to unwrap it from her tiny little neck. They just clipped the cord into two different sections so that she could be free. I won't lie, it was very disturbing to see my little Selah like that, knowing that I couldn't help her.

When the doctor finally arrived he examined her and he felt as if she had died from a cord accident. Then words so unforgettable to me rolled off his tongue. " You are as healthy as a horse and I can't find anything wrong. You just have "bad luck"! You're like one of those people whose house burns down and in the same day their dog gets run over." Really?? I couldn't believe what I was hearing!  I couldn't believe that he was considering the loss of my children just an issue of "luck". I was puzzled and once again I was left to wonder was there truth in the doctor's words or was there something more. Was this "luck" or the sovereign will of God?

My midwife wasn't going to chalk it up to just my "bad luck".  In her heart she felt there was more to my story. She mentioned to the doctor about having me tested for numerous genetic disorders including blood clotting and  lupus.  He was only considering the fact that he had done several panels of protocol blood testing that concluded that I was a seemingly very healthy young female. He felt  that there was no way I could have a genetic disorder, because I have a live and healthy daughter. His ruling.........just "bad luck"!

8 more months went by after the loss of Selah and  I wrestled with  the thoughts of did I just have "bad luck", or was it my gut instinct that something was really wrong. At that point, I had been told by satan for over a year that I was dying of some horrible disease that was taking the lives of my children and that it would one day take my  life as well.  I had listened to it all long enough! Only being moved by the Lord, I finally put my so called "luck" to the test.

I faced my fear of  what could be wrong and I went to my new doctor and told her I wanted to be tested for anything that could cause me to lose my children. After a thorough examination and several vials of blood later, she came back in to tell me her major concerns and ideas on what could possibly be wrong. She said that she felt  just as my midwife did. I either had lupus, a blood clotting disorder, or a folic acid deficiency. I asked which  was the best and worst to have out of all 3. She felt that the blood clotting disorder would be the most complicated to treat and the folic acid deficiency would be the easiest to treat. She had found that a large number of women that were otherwise healthy ,but continue to lose children, have the genetic folic acid disorder.

She told me that the office would give me a call back in about a week with my results. However, 6 days had passed and I was too antsy. I had to make a call to the doctor's office.  I couldn't wait to know.   I ask the nurse if she could give me my results over the phone and she did. She  informed me that I had a thyroid disorder and that I needed to be evaluated more extensively by an endocrinologist. I was flabbergasted! I had no obvious symptoms of a thyroid disorder other than being unable to lose the baby weight. I just thought that the weight was from having 2 babies very close together. She then said stated that I needed to come back in and see the doctor for my other results. That way she could answer any of my questions that I might have. I scheduled an appointment right away and  I don't think I slept a wink in  those few days before that appointment. I knew in my heart that she had found something and  I was very anxious and scared of what it could be!

When I arrived at the office I knew that my blood pressure was about to exceed my expectations!! Then they called my name I could feel the sweat rolling into my palms. The nurse escorted me into the exam room and I was told that the doctor would be in shortly. That was the longest 10 mins.ever!! When she entered the room she came in with the biggest smile on her face and said " Crystal.......I have good news for you!" She proceeded to give me her finding, that I in fact did have the genetic folic acid deficiency.  She was overjoyed that it was the simplest to treat out of all the issues that I could've had. She said that it was known as the MTHFR genetic mutation which is a disorder that causes a major problem with my body's metabolism of folic acid. A low level of  folic acid can cause so many problems with how our body functions and especially during pregnancy.  With the MTHFR mutation your body processes less folate. Less folate leads to a buildup of homocysteine. Too much homocysteine has been linked to health problems like abnormal clotting, heart disease, strokes and  pregnancy complications.

Another sad reality is that over 40% of Americans are walking around with this disorder and they don't even know it. It is not a test that is routine. It is a genetic test. She said I would've never  known of it had my children  not died, sending a reg flag that there was some sort of problem.  It is not a normal protocol to test pregnant mothers until  they have experienced  3 or more losses. However, I am so glad that someone was willing to help me to find some answers. It's just so sad that women have to endure such losses before some doctors will step in to check for issues they might have.

I cried when she  proceeded to tell me that all that was needed was a  high dosage of  folic acid.  I asked in amazement "So it's the lack of something so simple? Something that I could get off the shelf at Wal-mart is what caused me to lose my children?" She said she wasn't for sure with Selah because of the assumed cord accident, however, she felt that if she didn't die from that she surely did from the genetic disorder. She wanted me to understand that it wasn't just that simple. Folic acid plays a huge part in a healthy pregnancy and  in any healthy adult. When we don't have a sufficient supply in our bodies it can cause major problems. She was so consoling when  I was confronted with the fact that I had a problem and now I knew what it was. No more walking around wondering what it could be or even believing  the excuse of it just being  a case of "bad luck".

The doctor also informed me that I had a thyroid disorder called hypothyroidism. I have an underactive thyroid. I was somewhat familiar with this disorder considering that most of the females in my family have this same problem.. She assured me that the thyroid disorder  was not the cause of the loss of my children, but that I needed to see an endocrinologist for my thyroid treatment.

I walked out of  the office that day and sat in my car only to weep uncontrollably.  I felt like I had just lost my babies all over again. I wept over all that I had just learned and I was trying to let it all sink in. I wept over the fact that it wasn't by chance or coincidence. That's  hogwash! Through God's sovereignty I was shown that I had a problem that was beyond my control. It wasn't in something that I had or had not eaten  or that I had a midwife for a care provider and was planning a home birth.  It wasn't in some horrible sin that I had committed or that I didn't try to live the healthiest that I could and make the best choices for my baby. It wasn't even in my so called  "bad luck".

Zion's name now had shown me it's true meaning. His name means sign or way marker. Through God ,that's surely what Zion has done in all of this. His death has become the way marker to reveal my problem so that I  may warn my family and others about it. The knowledge of my disorder will now assist me in being a healthier wife and mother for my family. I know that just because I'm aware of a possible cause for the loss of my children that it doesn't guarantee that my unborn baby will live. Life is not measured by some  diagnosis that we might receive, but only by the sovereign and master plan of God.

Please continue to pray that if it be God's will that I will hold my precious baby alive very soon.  I feel so blessed that I can rest in a God that is in full and total control of my life's outcomes and that I will never have to depend on so called "luck" to steer which way life's journey will go.  To God alone be the glory!

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me."

"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Isaiah 46:9-10

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Perfection of Beauty: The Day We Met Zion

March 28th, 2011 was definitely the saddest day of my life thus far. It was another sleepless night full of dark thoughts and the aggravating inconveniences of hospital stay. My nurse had changed by this point, (Halllelujah!!)  and in my eyes, the new one seemed like an angel. She came in and cried with me as she assured me that she would do all she could to help me in any way. Throughout the night I was prodded with tons of blood drawing and testing as my induction continued, and so of course, good sleep was not an option.

My midwife and husband remained by my side and just looked at me with eyes of understanding when I continued to repeat those words over and over, "Please.... just let me die!" There really wasn't  much more vocabulary that was present in my mind at the time. I was so broken inside and I felt so guilty. Guilty for ever thinking one bad thought about someone. I even felt guilty for ever eating any food that wasn't organic or not having every ultrasound that could possibly be administered. Satan was also there to remind me of all my sins and extend condemnation.  He reminded me of all the despair that I would feel and what a horrible wife and mother I would be because of my paralyzing grief . He desired for me think the unimaginable. He is often good at convincing us that nothing will ever be able to cure our brokenness and despair.

As the  morning daylight was approaching,  Jeremy and I took a moment by ourselves to watch the sun rise. We peeled back the shades of that gloomy labor room to watch light and life come in. We held hands and prayed together because we knew this was the day that we would finally meet our precious baby.  Not the way we had desired, but the way God had designed, and so we worshipped. God gave me strength at that time to think of  His Glory and not just my sadness, His Peace and not just my sorrow. We cried together and it was in that moment that we knew we were not alone, but truly surrounded by the presence of the Lord.

It wasn't long until visitors began to come. The waiting room was soon filled with tons of our family members and friends. We were so thankful for the outpouring of love from each and every one that was present and also with us in spirit. My labor room was filled as well and I remember each person that came and sat by my bed side that day. They got to see me at my lowest and worst. My eyes were swollen very badly, my lips cracked and dry, my hair a hot mess, and not a dab of makeup left. I couldn't muster up the strength to even try to fix myself up when that wasn't at all what was going on inside of me.

 Some of my family members were outraged at what had happened and they were blaming it on my choice to plan a home birth. They felt if I had just had a "normal hospital birth" with a "regular doctor" my baby would've lived. They were also saying things like " If  she had just come in with the first pain the baby would've lived", and so many more "if onlys".  I know that they were just looking for any  reason for my baby's death and that's "somewhat" understandable. However, my choices and plans had nothing to do with the passing of my baby. I Thank God for the doctor coming in to explain that to those who were present in the room with us. He explained what would happen and he said  "There is nothing that you could've done to prevent this from happening. It's not your fault or any fault of the midwife's. Nothing would've changed the outcome here." What he said did give me some relief because not only did I feel an enormous amount of guilt , but I had others shoveling more on top of it, and it hurt!

22 hours of grief and labor had passed and we were getting closer to having our baby. I was getting so anxious because I could feel that the journey with my baby was coming to an end. My friend Jennifer played one of my favorite songs for me by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes I can put myself back in that room and hear it just as it was that day, clear and reverent. I couldn't help but cry and raise my hands to my God that had blessed me so much. He was there and that was all that was needed. I felt Him just like He had scooped me up in His big arms to hold me so tightly, and He gave me strength.

"Thou Oh Lord"- Please listen!!

I started to feel lots of pressure and I knew it was time to push. All my room guests were asked to leave except my midwife, my best friend , my mom, my  mother in law, and of course, Jeremy. I began to push, but with every push, there came reservation. The doctor and nurse had warned me because they felt like the baby  had  probably suffered a cord accident, after they couldn't find any other cause. I just couldn't imagine looking at my baby in such distress, knowing that I couldn't help them, and I was afraid. With every contraction I couldn't help but push and it was inevitable that I would meet my baby in a matter of minutes.

When the doctor came back in he looked so disturbed, as I'm sure he does when he has to deliver any baby  sleeping. When it came to the last few pushes, I wanted to hold back and I kept crying" I can't do it, I'm scared!" I was so scared of it being over. I was scared of our journey together being over and me viewing some horrible sight when I saw what my baby had suffered while in my womb. I also dreaded the confirmation  that my baby's life was gone for sure and  that God didn't miraculously breathe life back into my baby as I had hoped.

I had the best cheer leaders that day. It was as if for a moment they were blinded to the fact that our baby was dead. They were excited through every successful push and hoorayed every time a contraction was finished. Then, the most feared time was imminent when the last few pushes were over and  it was time to meet my baby. My final thoughts  before the baby arrived  were "God please help me! Is it a boy or a girl? What will I see?"

Then I felt the last part of my baby's body arrive into this world. The time was 6:43 pm. Everyone was silent as the doctor took time to look and examine the baby extensively. I couldn't see much because I was on my side as I delivered, however, I could hear. I heard the umbilical cord as it was moved across the plastic on the bed. I could tell it was heavy. I remember glancing over my shoulder to see the doctor opening the baby's mouth and looking at their ears in deep concentration. Then I heard it! Out of the silence and stillness came a voice saying " Crystal.... It's a BOY, You have a boy!!"  My heart sank and I wept. It was this little boy that I had imagined the whole time. He was here.... but he was gone. I couldn't help but mumble his name over and over "Zion.... Zion....Zion!"

I was all ready missing this little person that I had just met. I wept uncontrollably for a couple of minutes, that seemed like an eternity. Then, the doctor made his first statement after Zion arriving " Crystal, I'm so sorry.......but your baby is.....your baby is just perfect." My heart sank another 1,000 feet. Perfect?? How could my baby be so perfect and be dead? What went wrong?? I was so confused and crushed! Then, those same feelings of guilt crept back into my mind.

A few moments passed and  the nurse asked " Would you like to hold your baby?" I quickly rolled over and sat up in my bed with anticipation to see this perfect baby. When his body was placed in my arms I was amazed at how warm and cozy he felt. He had lots of dark black hair that I had prayed for and we were all in amazement at his beautiful bright red lips. He was meaty and muscular like a boy should be. He was another combo kid like Ellie, having distinct features of both Jeremy and I.  I kept waiting for him to miraculously breathe ,but he never did. He just appeared as if he was sleeping so peacefully, because in reality he truly was.

The nurse asked did we have a name for him. It  killed me to say it as I wept "Yes,  Zion .......Zion Jeremiah" and then I pulled him into my chest and buried my face close to his. My tears covered him as I thought about his name. I knew I would never get to call out that name to this sweet little boy and see him come running. I would never go to the doctor and hear them say " Zion Sams ". I would never get to see his graduation or wedding invitation embossed with  his beautiful name. I knew that only a tombstone would be marked publicly with his beautiful name, and I was devastated.

I shared my baby with the people in the birth room that day and they were forever changed. I gazed at their faces as they held him, and they did just as I had. They were screaming inside for this beautiful baby boy to just wake up. They were all broken ,but yet, they rejoiced at how fearfully and wonderfully made he was. He was perfect!

It wasn't long until I delivered my placenta and the birth was finally over. The doctor examined the umbilical cord and placenta and said they were both healthy and beautiful. He found no cause for the baby's death and said that having an autopsy performed was not recommended because it wouldn't reveal anything new. He also said that in most cases of stillbirth the cause is unknown. We agreed about not performing an autopsy, knowing that we wanted to have a funeral for our baby soon and that either way we could not have our son back.

After everyone in the room had held the baby, the nurse asked if  she could take him and give him a bath. Following his bath,  all of my family in the waiting room had a chance to see him and hold him if they desired. They were in amazement at this beautiful little boy with the crimson red lips. One even asked the nurse if we put lipstick on him because they were so beautiful and red. They saw our perfect little Zion just as we had, and they were changed forever.

Later the nurse arrived back with  Zion all dressed in his hospital best. He smelt so good with his new baby smell. The nurse gave me a memory box with all of his hospital momentos. There was a card placed in the box that read  that he was a perfect 7lbs. 9oz and was 20 inches long. There was also a petite little envelope that I opened to find a locket of his beautiful, black curly hair. I was so broken as I was reminded again that this baby would not go home with us, but only a little blue satin box full of hospital memories.

I sat in such amazement at this perfect baby that had grown inside of me and I praised God that He chose me to carry him.We had a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep come in to take pictures of  Zion and she arrived about 4 hrs after his birth. I was so worried because I wasn't sure  what he would look like when she came, but he was beautiful. She couldn't help but cry as she snapped each photograph that night. I'm sure her job is very difficult, however, I'm so thankful for her sacrificing a big part of herself  and emotions to minister to hurting families just like us. On March 29, 2011 I was blessed with beautiful memories of  Zion that I will forever cherish and I would like to share them with you today.
Zion Jeremiah Sams

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, 
God hath shined." Psalms 50:2

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