Told by: Nicki
*****Our story is long…blame God…*****
There is a scar now on my lower abdomen. A scar that hasn’t always been there. A scar that still pangs with a sharp stinging pain when I sneeze or bump it against something. It goes across my belly in a straight red line, an ever-present reminder of where love used to be. You see, before this scar there was a swollen belly, full of all the love and joy one could possess. A belly full of promise, a belly full of dreams, a belly full of life. Her name is Ellersley Grace and she lived there, before the scar, for 7 months, 1 week and 1 day. She filled that belly with hope, with joy, with thankfulness and with more LOVE than we ever thought possible. She filled us with dreams of her future and dreams of our future together. But, then that scar came. The scar brought something other than hope and joy and love. Oh, it brought those things but it also brought sorrow and groaning and an ache so deep that it feels like it will never end. It brought fear, uncertainty and anger. It destroyed our dreams and tried to destroy our future. I read this statement in a book, love always leaves a significant mark. See, our love was there filling my belly and when she came out she left a very significant mark. Now, not only is there a mark on my belly but one on my heart. A scar that will forever remain. A scar that hasn’t always been there. A scar that still hurts when I see her beautiful face or catch a glimpse of a mommy snuggling with her baby. A scar that makes my heart bleed. Your love left a very significant mark Miss Elle.
Thank you Jesus for scars. Thank you for having scars before mine. Scars that saved me, healed me and promised to make all things new. Scars that left a mark on you, a mark on history and a mark on me. Keep healing Jesus, I am waiting…
Ellersley’s story is quite long and complicated but that’s what a blog is for right? To write as long as you need to and who cares if not one single soul ever reads it. It’s for me anyway.. : ) So, if anyone is reading this…grab your favorite drink and a warm blanket. You may be here for a while…
I grew up in a house full of babies. My mom ran a baby-sitting service out of her home and still does today. From 5 years old until the day I moved out kids ruled our home. Changing dirty diapers, wiping noses and brushing hair were daily occurrences. High fives, big hugs and sloppy kisses were rampant in our home…no one was safe : ) We LOVE kids…always have, always will. So, my desire for babies began at a very young age, I love them…it was kind of bred in me. I wanted…needed to be a mama. Before I was married I would pray that my boyfriend’s brother and his wife would have a baby that I could love and spoil rotten someday. They eventually did and I do and it was the most wonderful day when he came into our family. He filled me with a joy and a love that is hard to explain…a baby that I could love and direct and when he got too hard I could send him home to his mama! : ) I was in heaven! And then a year later another one came along…can you imagine my joy? Again, I was in heaven! I could not help but love them to the ends of this earth. They both brought the purest form of joy to my life and still do today. They are a part of my most treasured possessions on this earth. JOY in human form. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…” They show me more about Jesus on a daily basis than I could ever learn apart from them. I am obviously a very proud aunt. Well, I’m getting off topic here, back to Elle…
My husband and I got married on July 30th, 2005. We, as all engaged couples do, thought we were the most perfect in-love couple to ever happen to Earth. Well, come to find out, we were young and stupid…what a surprise! : ) We had no idea of the life that God could see in front of us.
We started our marriage with some intense baggage that lead us straight to our knees before a God that promised to restore. The first 2.5 years consisted of a controlling wife full of distrust and a dishonest husband with secrets no one could imagine. March of 2008 brought the Black Abyss, as we affectionately call it. The Black Abyss brought secrets to light…a secret life of sin, lust and eventually adultery. My husband was a broken man wanting help and I was an angry wife embarrassed beyond belief. In the middle of this God was watching and orchestrating the details of our life. He knew what we both needed and knew that we would need it in order to get through the rest of our lives together. God brought us Pure Life Ministries, look them up. My husband, my love, left in May of 2008 for the rolling hills of Kentucky. Kentucky? yes Kentucky…it has become our second home. A place of refuge and somewhere that we feel God near to us each time we cross over that state line. God is in Kentucky…you should go sometime.
Well, my husband began a 6 month journey in May of 2008, a journey that took him past himself and straight to the cross. The cross that our Jesus bled on, so we could be free. He found Jesus and found teaching that taught him how to live a life full of Jesus. He was taught how to be an honest, loving and unselfish husband. He was taught how to be a seeker of Jesus, a lover of Jesus, a child of the King. He was taught how to be a servant to all and a protector of his family. He was taught how to live a life free from sin and bondage. Freedom is life.
I, at the same time, went through intense counseling as well. I realized I had a role in ruining this marriage we had tried to create. I tried to control my husband and make him into the man I wanted him to be instead of allowing God to mold him into the man God wanted him to be. I allowed Satan to rule my mind instead of taking captive every single thought. I was told what a Godly wife looks like, one who is meek and sweet-spirited. I’m still working on it, don’t judge : ) I was taught to serve my husband like Jesus served those around him and to love him UNCONDITIONALLY. Love him through the good and the bad and trust that he is in Jesus’s hands, not mine. I had no control over him and God taught me that lesson the hard way. To this day, 3.5 years later, control is still a battle in my mind. I give it to Jesus every single day…
Soooo, moving right along. My husband came home in November of 2008 and so began the rebuilding of a marriage, a marriage full of Jesus and many trips back to Kentucky, of course (just to visit, not to stay again..). We moved on and let Jesus rebuild the blocks of our life one at a time. Were there days full of control? Oh my yes there were of course. My husband was more than sweet during those days, loving me into a full trust in him again. I’m listening to that song by Newsong and Natalie Grant right now…”When God made You”. It does make me wonder what God was thinking when he made us. He knew just what my husband would need and just what I would need. He knew the trials and disasters that would try to destroy our life together. He knew and knows and will forever know everything that we needed, need and will need. When God made you baby he must’ve been thinking about me…
Ok ok …I love him a lot ok. So moving into the rest of our lives obviously we thought we were invincible, never to be touched again by any miniscule thing this life could throw our way. We could handle it all, with Jesus. We had been through the FIRE of this ugly world and come out shining, so we thought, in our great pride. We had been given great love and we began to dream about sharing that love with a little one.
Jesus had given my husband a great desire to become a daddy and well, my desire to be a mommy was bred into me, remember? November of 2008 our desire turned into action and we started actively trying to ‘be fruitful and multiply’. About a year into our ‘adventures’ (that’s what we’ll call it) we realized we were not getting anywhere. Babies were not forming, something was not right. We went through some standard testing which proved that nothing was wrong but that ugly word, infertility, was being thrown around. At this point we were telling God that whatever He wanted we were ready. P.S. DON’T EVER SAY THAT…unless you mean it and then you better GET READY! : )
We knew that we had the love of Jesus and we just wanted to share that with a child. It didn’t matter to us who that baby was, a biological child or an adopted child. We just wanted to shine Jesus’s love into another life. We explored adoption and still feel God’s pull toward a baby boy in Africa but the timing was just not right. Someday, little man, someday…
We decided to start infertility treatments in November of 2010, pills to be exact. The pills made my body work the way it was originally intended to work. I guess that meant hot flashes? God works in mysterious ways, what can I say? So we or I took the pills and counted the days and did all the steps I was told to do. And then we waited, 1 month down and no baby…2 months down and no baby. Christmas Eve came and I remember being sooooo sad on that day. At church on Christmas Eve I was watching a little girl that is so very close to our family. I was keeping her during the service for her mommy, she was almost 2 years old and I just remember sobbing because we did not have a child to hold for another Christmas. God was in my midst, holding me ever so close to his side. Preparing my heart all the way…
January came and again the pills but this time a shot was introduced also. I hate shots, not really a big fan of the needle but for a baby, sure I’ll do it. It didn’t hurt, by the way, easy as pie. I took the pills and got the shot on Saturday, February 5th. Little did we know, God created our Ellersley that day with a little help from my husband and a little from me. Or should I say we created Ellersley with a little help from Him? Hmm…well either way that day will go down as a day we will always remember. The day my body worked in the magnificent way the Master created it to, forming a miracle that would come to mean more to us than we ever dreamed or imagined.
Before Ellersley was ever created we were thinking of names for the baby God would one day give us. My husband just happened to be reading Scottish Chiefs, a book about the hero William Wallace. He came across the name of his estate, Ellerslie. If I am remembering correctly he was reading a specific part of the book to me and the name of this estate came up. He looked at me and said, “That would be a cute little girl’s name, Ellerslie.” I said “yeah, yeah i kinda like it.” I love that her name was loved by daddy first, a name that Jesus picked out just for her and made sure that her daddy saw it. A name that is unique and special to her, a name that no one else has. She is one special little lady.
So after February 5th we were all just waiting and waiting and wondering and pondering what it would be like if I were really pregnant. It was a long anticipated dream for our entire family and we were just dying for it to be true. I remember pee, lots and lots and lots of pee. I was starting to get up in the middle of the night to go pee and at first I didn’t think much of it but then it became a nightly ritual. I was getting excited and so was Wesley. So, on the morning of February 16th (a Wednesday) I got up to pee. It was probably about 3 am. I rolled over my husband and went into our bathroom. I got out the pregnancy test and did, well, what you do on pregnancy tests. Then I sat and waited as he stared at me. I picked the stick back up and looked and then I looked again. “Are there 2 lines on that?” and I handed it to him. “No Nick…well, are there 2 lines on it?” We went back and forth like this several times. It was a cheapo test from Dollar General that everyone says to get because why spend the money on the expensive ones. I’l tell you why…THIS IS WHY!!! The lines are so faint you have no idea if you are or if you aren’t and it’s just cruel and unusual punishment to those who have been anticipating for soooo long.
So, we were just in awe at the thought that there could be a peanut growing, I think we were in shock. He was trying not to get too excited because we weren’t sure yet if it was really true. We had a million other things going on that day but we decided that we would get the test that actually says not pregnant or pregnant, the digital ones that cost like $30 bucks for 1 test. We were not going to be the judge of the pink lines again.
February 17th, 2011 I rolled over him at 3 am and made my way to the bathroom. We were both as excited as a 7 year old on Christmas morning. We could not believe that there was a possiblity that I was full of life. I was so anxious… I peed on the stick and handed it directly to him. There was no way I could look, I was so nervous. He stood over it watching intently and hoping for a miracle. He finally, after what seemed like an eternity, looked up and I said, “What does it say?” and he handed me the stick and then he smiled the most wonderful smile. I looked at it and said “Are you serious???”. There it was, the word we had been waiting for, Pregnant. I ran to him and jumped into his arms. He had some tears and I was just in complete shock. I’m pretty sure I screamed with excitement and we hugged and kissed over and over. A few hundred “Thank you Jesus’s” were said also that February morning. We got back into bed full of joy, thankfulness and a love for each other and a God that had heard our cries and fulfilled the deepest desires of our hearts. We could not believe it…we were pregnant!
Much to my dismay, we decided to wait to tell our families. The reason we decided to do this was that we were a month away from a trip to Hawaii to visit my brother and sister-in-law. We knew that would be the BEST way to tell my family…what’s better than Hawaii and a baby? I mean really? We decided we would tell Wes’s brother and our sister-in-law the Friday before we left for Hawaii, we would tell my family in Hawaii and we would tell his parents and his other brother when we got back from Hawaii. So we waited and waited and waited…if you know me at all, something like this is nearly IMPOSSIBLE for me to do. It was like Chinese torture or something, a slow painful process. You all should be very proud that I made it! Friday, March 11th we were 7 weeks and we had our first doctor appt. We were so happy, we could not stop smiling…we were about to be told we were officially pregnant, we were going to hear the heartbeat, we were about to have an ultrasound, we were going to be telling SOMEONE (anyone would’ve been great at this point) that night that we were pregnant and we were leaving for HAWAII the very next morning…I had more butterflies in my belly than I could count. We had the ultrasound and saw the little tiny peanut and saw that tiny peanut’s little tiny heart beating so very fast. We heard the heartbeat, 130 beats that first time. I’m pretty sure I had tears and so did Daddy. We just kept telling God how much we were in awe of his miracles. There was a life growing inside of me right alongside all of those butterflies.
If you follow natural disasters and are OCD enough to remember the dates of said natural disasters, you remember that there was a huge Earthquake in Japan on March 10th. This earthquake in Japan created a huge Tsunami scare in Hawaii. This tsunami scare in Hawaii induced multiple calls to us by friends and family making sure we were going to be ok and making sure Dan(my brother) and Sara ( my sister-in-law) were ok. These multiple calls and texts came at the same time we were at a doctor’s appt looking at our first born child unbeknowst to anyone else on this Earth, besides our doctor of course. It was comical how my husband tried to appease the callers and texters. He can’t lie ya know? He kind of left that lifestyle behind. 🙂 It was so fun and such an exciting time. We both look back on it fondly, we know God gave us all that joy and we are so thankful for it.
Well, that night we walked into Aaron (his brother) and Heather’s (our sister-in-law) house. We were there to say goodbye to the boys before leaving for Hawaii and we were dropping our Sophie (dog) off so they could watch her for us while we were gone. They had no idea of the secret that we held. We walked in with a gift bag which contained some chocolates from Sophie (a thank you for watching her) and the ultrasound photos of our sweet baby. I handed it to Heather and said “Sophie has a present for you, just a thank you for watching her.” She opened the bag and screamed, “NO, no no no!!!” and she shut the bag and got up, without even getting the pictures out, and hugged me so tight. Aaron was yelling, “what? what? what’s in the bag?” She could not stop screaming and we could not stop laughing, crying, all of the above. She finally said “She’s pregnant, she’s pregnant!” and he smiled and laughed. JOY, we will never forget the joy Ellersley brought to our entire family. We left there feeling so overjoyed and so loved and so excited to tell everyone else. One butterfly down…
So the next day we were up before any other humans are awake and we were off to Maui with my family. Seriously, Maui…God’s blessings in our life are just plain stinking ridiculous. We were going to be flying all day and I was a little concerned about nausea. I had not been sick at all, another amazing blessing from God. I would get pretty nauseous at times, like when I hadn’t eaten for 2 hours or something, but other than that, no puke. My mom always packs snacks for all of us to have while on the planes so I just munched pretty much all day. They had no idea, we played the game pretty well. The closer we got to Maui the faster the butterflies fluttered. Also, I hate flying so I’m pretty sure that was probably another reason they were fluttering so fast. I have vowed to myself I will never go again, the flight is too long. Oh, but the whales and the sun and the turtles and the mountains and the ocean and the beach and the whales. Did I mention the whales? It’s the closest thing we have to heaven…I’m sure of it.
We finally made it to Maui and to Dan and Sara’s house. Once there, we took all of our stuff in the house and started unpacking. My husband kept looking at me and I kept looking at him, we were waiting for the perfect time. We brought gift bags, one for Mom and Dad, one for Rachel (my sister) and one for Dan and Sara and in each would be one ultrasound picture. We got three that day at the doctor, how perfect is that? Did I mention yet that God is amazing? He knows every single detail of our lives, every single one. So everyone was gathered in Dan and Sara’s room, they were talking about something. I have NO IDEA what, I was preoccupied with my butterflies. My husband grabbed me and we went into our room and grabbed the bags and smiled the biggest smiles we’ve ever had. I probably squealed, I’m pretty sure I did. We walked into the bedroom with the bags and I said “We have presents! We just wanted to get you all something because we are here and it’s Hawaii and who doesn’t like presents?” We handed them out and my husband said “DON’T look inside, you have to open them at the same time”. We both said, “OK, open them!”
Rachel was the first one with a reaction. She screamed and instantly cried and then ran to me and jumped on me. It was wonderful, again that overwhelming joy. My mom was crying and screaming. Dan and Sara were elated and my Daddy, he is so sweet. He just stood and cried. He is such a soft, sweet grandpa. Both my parents were just so happy, they had waited so long for this blessed day. They, too, were full of that joy. Many hugs and kisses followed and of course, “You knew for HOW LONG???”. They couldn’t believe we had kept it a secret for a whole month, they were proud of me like you should be. We went on with our vacation, loving a new member of our family.
We needed a nickname for our new family member. We are the kings and queens of nicknames and this new baby was to be no exception. We tried out the normal stuff, baby and peanut and champ but none of those really fit. Well, since we were in Hawaii and we had been fascinated with turtles in the past, we decided on Honu. Honu means sea turtle in the Hawaiian language. It fit perfectly since we didn’t yet know that she was a girl. She was baby Honu then and still is today. Our sweet baby Honu.
Well, we rested and relaxed our way through a week and then we found our way back home. We were ready to tell the rest of his family, our extended family, our church family and our friends. We got home on a Tuesday, I think, and we went straight to his parents house. We could not wait another second. We went over under the premise that we were showing them pictures from vacation. Of course, we did that but we also brought a gift bag! 🙂 We did the same thing for them that we did with the others. Dan opened the bag and took the pictures out and he started laughing. “What, what is it?” Marcia said. Dan, through his joy, said “It’s their baby!” She got up and hugged us and Dan just smiled and said “Are you kidding?” And then that joy came again, they were so happy. They had been praying so very hard, just like the rest of us. God had answered all of our cries and that is always a happy day.
We were 9 weeks and we decided it was time to tell our church family. We were so excited to let them in on our secret because they had been joining with us in asking God for a miracle. We knew they were going to be so elated. We decided to put the ultrasound picture up on the screen for the whole church to see. My husband was going to give a testimony about an amazing healing God had performed in Hawaii. That is a completely different story but long story short God healed him from Celiac’s disease, woohooo! So after talking about the healing he said “OH and we have a picture from vacation to show everyone.” Up came the ultrasound photo and there were some audible gasps. “That’s their baby!” someone said. He said “This is our baby…we are 9 weeks pregnant!” They were so happy, we were crying, they were laughing and crying. JOY…always that JOY! : ) Baby Honu was just spreading the love and the joy everywhere she went.
So the pregnancy moved along and with each week we grew more and more in love with our baby Honu. We moved through the first trimester with no issues at all, no bleeding, no morning sickness, no pain. There was nausea, of course, but that was cleared up quickly with some Jimmy John’s pickles or Doritos or milk. The belly started to pop rather early, much to my dismay. It was weird, I always thought I would love it right away but I was not very fond of it for a while. It was popping so early, it seemed like to me. Looking back at the weekly belly photos, I popped, for real, at about 10 weeks…that’s insanity! 🙂 Eventually, I LOVED it. The belly has been another thing that I miss the MOST. I loved being pregnant, I loved knowing that she was in there and that I was taking care of her, I loved talking to her and reading to her, I loved it when her daddy talked to her and kissed her. I just loved it, loved it, loved it. Our families did too. My sister had a special song for her every time she saw her and I. “I love you little baby…” I can’t remember all the words but I loved it and baby Honu loved it, of course. She got down right to my belly and sang it to her, someone told her once that the baby was still too little to hear anything. Rachel was in disbelief…”YES SHE CAN HEAR ME…” Of course she could. My nephews, Carter and Kyle, loved her more than anything. Every time they saw me they screamed, “Baby Honu…oh she’s getting big!” Carter, the now 5 year old, would pull up my shirt and kiss my belly and hug it. Kyle, the 3 year old, loved to talk about her and if she was a boy or a girl. He always knew she was a girl. Baby Honu was very loved!
We made it into the 2nd trimester, no problems at all. Perfect weight, perfect measuring, perfect blood pressure. I was perfect and baby Honu was perfect, just what we wanted to hear. During the entire pregnancy my husband was completely perfect also. He packed my lunch every morning before work and he gave kisses to baby Honu and I every morning before we left. He sang to her and played guitar for her and read a lot of books to her. He always asked how I was doing and how she was doing and if we needed anything. He was always willing to do whatever I needed, I couldn’t have asked for a better man. He did have some trouble with pickles in the beginning but Aunt Rachel came to the rescue with the Jimmy John’s perfect pickles. : ) He was a great Daddy from before she was ever even conceived and I know he will raise a baby wonderfully on this Earth, with Jesus’s help, someday.
When I started to feel her move around in there, I was just more in love than I ever thought possible. It was amazing…and totally WEIRD! It was May 28th and I was at home laying in bed. It felt like a caterpillar was crawling or moving around in my belly. That is the only way to describe it, which is totally not a good way to describe it but it’s all I’ve got. I remember feeling it and immediately texting my family and calling my husband at work. 🙂 I was so excited and full of that JOY, it could not be contained. I started to feel her almost every morning and then always after lunch. She loved to eat, just like her Daddy. : ) The moving turned from a caterpillar movement to a butterfly and then to the rolling. I was not a huge fan of the rolling. I loved it, of course because it was her, but it felt like she was doing somersaults in there. I hate roller coasters and that is what it felt like, like when your stomach drops out on a roller coaster. Yes, that’s what it was like. The greatest feeling I’ve had on this side of heaven.
June came and with it came some serious excitement. We were having our 20 week ultrasound on June 15th and that meant we were going to know whether her room would be covered in pink or covered in blue. Oh, were we pumped! We had decided a while before this day came that we were going to do the gender cake and have a gender reveal party. We sent invites to our families and closest friends: Baby Honu’s Big Reveal, Father’s Day Sunday at 5pm. : ) We planned to go to the ultrasound and not find out the sex of the baby. The technician would put the gender in an envelope and we would cautiously and carefully take the envelope to a dear friend of mine who would make the cake for us. She, needless to say, was in awe that she would be the first to know even before us. My husband had June 15th off and I had taken a vacation day, I would’ve been way too excited to work. We decided to make a day of it; we went to the park with my mom, sister, her boyfriend (Rob), my sister-in-law Heather and our nephews. We walked and talked and the boys ran and laughed. We had a blast and then we went to lunch together. The ultrasound was at 2:30 and I had to drink loads of water at lunch and try not to pee. Peeing, by this point, was about an hourly occurrence so this was a huge deal. I had to go during lunch and after and all the way to the doctor’s but needless to say I survived. We walked around downtown after lunch, it was a beautiful day. We were just basking in the glory of our Jesus and all his blessings on our life. We could not believe what we were about to do, the whole pregnancy was one surreal moment after another. Wesley and I will always remember this day, it was and still is so special to us. We remember walking thru downtown and Heather and Kyle were walking hand in hand behind us. We were talking to each other and I heard our precious little Kyle start to chant…Honu Honu Honu…he and his mama were having a blast talking about Honu and reveling in the Joy of her. That memory will be etched on our hearts and minds forever….Honu Honu Honu… : )
We got to the doctor’s office and we had a posse for sure, my parents, my husband’s dad (his mom was on vacation), Rob and Rachel, Heather and the boys and my husband and I, of course. We were all smiling from ear to ear, what a fun day! The technician started and we saw our little Honu’s face. She had her hand right up by her ear…oh so sweet. I was crying and just smiling away. She showed us her head and her arms and her heart and her belly. She had her hands in a fist the whole time, right up close to her face. She looked like the sweetest, most precious baby we had ever seen. She was our miracle. We told the technician before she began what our plan was. She said she would try her hardest to make sure none of us would see what we weren’t supposed to see. After showing us the belly she said, “OK now everyone turn around or close your eyes because we are getting close to that area”. We all giggled and closed our eyes. Once away from ‘the area’ she showed us her legs and her cute little feet. We loved every second of it. She asked us to close our eyes again and we all obliged as she tried to make sure she was positive about baby Honu’s gender. She said that baby Honu was turned with her back to us and she wasn’t 100% sure, so she told me to get up and go pee and see if she would move. I was elated because the shoving and pushing on my belly was getting to my bladder. When I came back she had turned around and the technician said she was 100% sure of what our baby was. She left and then returned with the envelope revealing what God already knew.
We decided to give my friend the cake baker, Erica, the envelope on Friday afternoon. We worked together Monday-Friday and I knew if we gave it to her any earlier and she saw me, her face would reveal the answer. She had been soooo hoping for a baby girl and I just knew if she had even a hint of excitement in her voice or on her face, I would know. She was sworn to secrecy also…Wes would have killed her if she told anyone else. Wes came to work with the envelope on Friday afternoon, before he went to work, and we both gave Erica the envelope together. She was required, by Wes, to put the envelope in her car and at the end of the work day she could open it. Wes, he had a lot of rules. She told me after all was revealed that she was screaming and laughing by herself in her car, she said if anyone saw her they probably thought she was insane. JOY…always JOY.
So from Wednesday to Sunday we were all just one anxious ball of excitement. Is it a girl? Is it a boy? Am I huge? Am I shaped like a basketball? Am I carrying low? Am I carrying high? The heartbeat was in the 150’s so, girl? We had no idea…no idea. God knew, before we ever conceived, the desire of our heart. We knew not to get our hopes up because whatever God wanted to give we wanted to love. It wouldn’t have mattered at all. A little girl though was just what our hearts had been yearning for. My husband wanted to know what the Daddy/daughter love was all about. He grew up in a house with 2 other brothers, no sisters. He had no idea what it was all about. He had been watching Father of the Bride and would cry every time by the end. God was growing a deep love for a special little lady in his heart. I am so thankful for that. Did I mention I have the sweetest husband ever? Don’t tell him I told you that Father of the Bride thing… he’s got to keep his macho exterior. I was in LOVE with the idea of a little girl. I am a pink-loving girl at heart. I love headbands, I love bows, I love dresses, I love flowers, I love pink walls (hot pink to be exact), I love tutus, LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. I am that mom…I had a dream while pregnant with Elle that we forgot to put a headband on her and I was MORTIFIED. It was the first time we were bringing her to church and my husband’s dad had her up in front of the entire congregation. His dad is the pastor of our church, by the way. Anyway, he had her up front and I was sitting in the congregation with my family. I am seeing this in front of me and I realize in that moment that she is wearing a sweat suit and does not have anything in her hair. I was horrified…oh I would have loved to have been that mommy. Needless to say, we wanted a girl with all of our heart and our Jesus blessed us, again, with the very desire of our heart.
Father’s day came and we went to church and went to lunch, squealing all the way! We were completely in love with our baby Honu and we were so ready to slice that cake. We had the party at Aaron and Heather’s house complete with pool and hot tub. Add the cake that held our future and well, it was perfect. Our entire family was there and Heather’s family also, they are like family to us. Everyone could not stop talking about baby Honu and what we all thought she was. My friend, Erica, dropped the cake off earlier that day along with cupcakes that were decorated with the correct color. She had the cupcakes in a box that said “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL THE CAKE IS CUT”. We were finally ready, everyone had arrived and the cake was waiting…
So, it was a GIRL!!! There are no words to describe the JOY that cake brought us. The video barely does justice the emotions we were feeling in that moment. We could not BELIEVE God had given us what we had always desired. We did not deserve this love, we did not deserve this JOY, we did not deserve this blessing. We were in awe of his love for us. We were feeling very, very blessed.
So began the shopping and the planning… : ) We went out immediately and bought her first outfits from Mommy and Daddy. Pink jammies from Daddy that said Daddy’s princess and a pink hoodie sweat suit from Mommy. Work consisted of searching for as many headbands, bows and tutus we could find. We bought her a hot pink tutu for newborn pictures, it is gorgeous. People bought her headbands and bows and blankets and socks and clothes and turtles, of course. Friends started making headbands and bows for her and other things to decorate her room. She was anticipated greatly and loved even more. She has a closet full of clothes still waiting for her to fill them… We decided on what we wanted for her room. Hot Pink, light green and brown and we had the bedding set picked out. It had those colors with flowers and a gorgeous honu as a part of the decorations. Perfect! It fit her perfectly and she told me she loved it 😉 The painting began and we were just in love with the colors. My father-in-law thought I was going to hate the pink, he thought I would think it was too bright. It was the most perfect color…perfect for our baby Honu.
We moved through July with flying colors. No problems at all, well, sweating non-stop and swollen feet after standing for more than 5 minutes but I was told that was normal for a summer pregnancy. So, I embraced it and loved it all at the same time. July brought lots and lots of moving on her end. She started kicking and it was, again, the most amazing feeling this side of heaven. She decided that she wanted to kick Aunt Rachel first, much to Daddy’s dismay. I was laying on the couch at my parent’s house and it was around 9 or 9:30 at night. She started kicking and I said , ” Oh, oh there she is!” Rachel ran over and shoved her hand down on my expanding belly. We waited…”OH OH she’s right there!” haha…I can’t help but smile thinking about it. Rachel loved it. Ellersley loved her Aunt Rachel and she wanted to make sure that she always would remember that.
The kicking got stronger and more often. It was the most wonderful time of our lives. I’m pretty sure that every single time she moved my husband got a text or call from me. Her moving was so special to me and I could not help sharing it with him. She was always awake in the morning right after my shower, rolling around mostly…morning acrobatics. She was always awake after I ate, always. I told you she loved to eat, remember? And at night? She was insane at night. Every single night from about 8 until 10 she was wide awake. She and Daddy talked then. He read to her and sang to her and played his guitar for her. He always felt her kick, he said she was trying to hold his hand. A few times he had his face on my belly and she kicked him or punched him right in the face. He said she was kissing him, of course she was. He loved her so much before she ever even got here. She was a Daddy’s girl before she ever even entered this world.
A few weeks after we found out she was a girl, we decided on her name. We had always liked Ellersley but Daddy was holding out on me. It was the name he had liked to begin with, if you remember, but he was for some reason not wanting to commit. After some persuading and telling him that I loved the name so much because he had liked it first, he decided that would be her name. We knew that we wanted to spell it Ellersley instead of the way it was in the book, Ellerslie, because ‘s-l-e-y’ was like Daddy’s name. So Ellersley it was, Ellersley Grace, the most heavenly name. Grace was actually a Grandma K, my mom, pick. She has always loved Grace but my husband has never been a fan. Well, she said that way back in February when we conceived she felt like she heard from the Lord. We were sitting in church on a Sunday in February, now that I’ve had some time to think about it I’m pretty sure it was the week Wesley and I found out we were pregnant but hadn’t yet shared it, and she felt God telling her that I was pregnant. That Sunday we started worshipping God and the song “My Grace is Enough” was what we were singing. Mom says that she felt that day that God told her we were pregnant and it would be a little girl and her name should be Grace. So…there wasn’t much arguing with that, Grace it is Grandma…we love it and now it means much more than what Grandma originally thought it might mean. God knew that his grace would be enough to pull our broken hearts through the darkest hour.
We moved on to August and the excitement was growing as was the belly! We registered for our baby shower, we ordered the carpet for her room, and we were getting close to having the painting in her room finished. We set up our labor classes, our tour of the hospital and our baby basics class. Oh, we were pumped! Little Miss Elle’s Party invites were sent out and we were discussing what her party would look like. The days were hot, the belly was huge and the feet were swelling but oh the JOY was overwhelming. Even as I write I cannot help but smile at the JOY that she brought every single day. We received a big package in the mail from Uncle Dan and Aunt Sara with more clothes than we could ever have imagined. I was in love with every single thing they had picked out just for Elle. Everything was so cute and we dreamt all week about what she would look like in all those new clothes.
Saturday August 13th was a day we had filled to the brim with all kinds of fun. The morning was full of baby shower shopping. We picked out table cloths and leis with hot pink flowers, we picked out center pieces and princess decorations. We had all kinds of gorgeous decorations, her party would have been the most beautiful party ever! I remember being pretty wiped out after that shopping trip, I came home and my husband and I took a nap because later in the day held more fun. At about 4 pm we left with my family (Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Rob and Aunt Rachel) for a Carter’s outlet store. We were shopping for Miss Honu! We had the best time picking out TONS of clothes for her, Grandpa has said that we were buying her birthday gifts and we didn’t even know it. We picked out jammies and little teeny tiny outfits. She got outfits that talked about loving her aunt to bibs that said she was grandpa’s little sidekick. She got a big winter vest and all kinds of colorful, beautiful outfits. They also hang in her closet…just waiting… We ended the night with dinner and that JOY in our hearts that we knew would never be squelched. Little did we know, our JOY would be coming soon…
So what happened next is something out of nightmares. Actually, I can tell you that it wasn’t even a nightmare of mine. I NEVER thought or dreamed or night-mared or even remotely imagined that this could happen to us. It has taken me about a week and a half to get up the umph to even write about that night…here we go…oh tissues may be needed, just a suggestion.
So we were in bed after a long but fun day. We were so exhausted but the kissing began and well it couldn’t be stopped, what can I say? During the fun I felt like I had started peeing. Now, keep in mind that I was 7 months pregnant, 7 months 1 week and 1 day to be exact. The actual act of peeing happened almost every hour but I felt like I had to pee about every 5 minutes. Also, secretly I may have peed a tiny bit at one point in my pregnancy while in bed. My husband may have made me laugh and it may have only been a little bit…that may have happened. If you see me on a regular basis I am holding you to an oath right now…DO NOT EVER ASK ME ABOUT THAT…I would be so embarrassed : ) So, anyway I sit up right away and I am immediately laughing, “OH, oh I think I’m peeing…”. I sit there for a minute and my husband is on the other side of the bed at this point, “Well get up!” he said laughing. I stand up and I’m giggling and running to the bathroom but by the time I reach the bathroom I realize it is not pee. It was blood and it was running down my leg.
Now, as a pregnant woman I instantly knew something was wrong and I instantly started saying “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, ok ok thank you Jesus”. I was sitting on the toilet and the blood was just flowing out of me, it would gush and stop and gush and stop. My husband was walking around the room and asking me what to do. He said, “Well I should call 911, right?”. I said “Yeah, I guess. I’m fine I don’t feel any pain but yeah I shouldn’t be bleeding…”. He called 911 and the ambulance was on their way. He came over to me nervously smiling and he kissed my head and my hands and then I asked him to pray…”Jesus keep our baby Honu safe, thank you for being with us and watching over us…give us peace Jesus peace” I stayed on the toilet until the paramedics came and I just kept thanking Jesus. My husband and I knew that Elle was coming but we knew that she would be fine. All the books we’d been reading said that a baby at even 25 weeks had an almost 90% chance of living so we knew our Miss Elle would be fine. We knew she’d be early, waaaaay earlier than we ever thought but she would be fine. I cannot explain to you, even now, the peace that I felt. It makes me laugh, strange I know. God was filling me with peace. I had never been to the hospital ever in my entire life. The extent of my doctor visits have been for the common cold, which if you know me is like pneumonia to me. I am the biggest baby on this planet but I was so calm. I knew I would be getting an IV, I knew I would probably be having a c section that night, I knew all of it but I was ok. I was brave, because of Jesus and because of her. I just wanted her to be safe and I knew she would be.
The ambulance came and the paramedics got me all set up. I was not in any pain at all. I was bleeding and I could still feel it gushing out of me every minute or so but I had no pain. I remember trying to be very conscience of what was going on around me. I did not want to pass out and I knew since I was losing blood there was a chance that could happen. I remember being very alert and very awake and just wanting them to hurry up. Once in the ambulance I was getting nervous and starting to shake and I just kept praying. “Thank you Jesus, thank you…be with us, be near, protect our baby girl…” The paramedic asked me if I was feeling Elle move and if I had felt her move that day. “I’m not feeling her move right now but it’s kind of late and she usually doesn’t move around this time, I felt her all day today though.” I really can honestly say that the thought of her not being alive never even entered my mind. I truly feel that Jesus was protecting me from the evil that could have overtaken me in that moment. The paramedic was calm and kept me calm and Jesus was just permeating my being, I truly believe that.
We sped off to the hospital with my husband riding in the front of the ambulance and my parents driving in their car right behind us. I remember watching their lights almost all the way to the hospital. Once we arrived at the hospital they opened the doors of the ambulance and I saw Gib, my sister (Rachel). She was standing there with Rob and Wesley. I looked at her and she was crying and she said “I love you” and she blew me a kiss. She was so worried about Elle and I. I will never forget the look she had on her face, one of panic and deep concern for us.
The paramedics took us straight up to the Labor and Delivery triage unit. We were wheeled into a tiny room and the nurse came in and immediately wanted to listen for Elle’s heartbeat. There were a few other people in the room giving me a new IV and pulling up my shirt and pulling down my pants. People everywhere. The nurse put the wand on my belly and I remember praying that she would find her heartbeat quickly. We had just gone to a doctor appt the Wednesday before and I specifically remember the doctor saying, “Oh she has a very strong heart, very strong heartbeat.” The nurse wasn’t finding it. At this point, I started to worry. I looked at my husband, my rock…holding my hand and he looked at me, ” It’s ok baby, it’s ok…it’s fine.” I kept praying and Jesus’s peace was filling the room. The nurse started to look pretty nervous and she opened the door to the room, “I need the chief of staff in here immediately…” My mom and dad were standing there when she opened the door, they were praying to hear the heartbeat too. The minute that nurse yelled for the chief, a million people flooded the room. I could not even begin to tell you what they all were doing but they brought a big ultrasound machine with them. The Dr. was a big, kind woman who pressed down very hard on my belly. She was bound and determined to find Miss Elle and to make sure she was ok. She finally found Elle and we heard the heartbeat. I sighed a big sigh of relief and smiled at my husband, “There she is…” The doctor said, “OK Honey we have to do emergency surgery right now and get your baby out ok…and I’m sorry but he can’t come…” I can tell you that in any other situation, had I been given any time to think I would have been terrified. I was about to be sliced open and the love of my life couldn’t be there. We were about to meet our daughter and he couldn’t be there?! They wheeled me out of the room as fast as they could and he walked beside me and said, “I love you, it’s ok, I love you!” I yelled I love you as they wheeled me into the room that would hold the birth of our first born baby.
Once in the room I was flat on my back with tons of people running around like crazy. Again, that peace. I had butterflies but I had peace. I would feel myself start to shake and get nervous and then I would just say the name of Jesus and all of that would leave. Demons must flee at the sound of His great name. The lights were bright and I remember seeing all kinds of utensils everywhere. I tried to close my eyes and just breathe and relax. I thought of her and how we would get to meet her soon and kiss her little nose and her little feet. I was so excited and I think most of my nervousness was actually anxiousness to meet her. The people started grabbing every limb I have and poking needles into me. The nurse that was with us in the triage room was still with us and she was leaning over me. I remember looking at her and she had a very anxiety ridden face and tears welling in her eyes. I did not like that. She said, “Honey, I have to put a catheder in you now and I’m sorry but it’s probably going to hurt…” Well, great I thought. “Ok”, I said and she started. I don’t even think I felt it…so crazy. God, He really is in the little things. He knows how much of a baby I am, he calmed me for the IVs, he calmed me for the catheder, he calmed me the entire way. It was all as easy as pie. The man behind my head started talking and I asked him if I was having an epidural. He said “Oh no we are putting you under maam”. Oh, gooood was exactly what I thought. If there was one thing I was worried about it was a shot in my spine. I did not want to do that but I knew if I had to that Jesus would be with me. I was elated to hear that He had already taken care of that part. That man said, “Ok, we are going to put a tube down your throat. You may feel some pressure on your neck.” He put his hand on my neck and that is the last thing I remember before going under…
You were born into this world at 11:31pm on August 13th, 2011. You were born with no heartbeat and the wonderful doctors did CPR on you for 22 minutes. They got your heart to beat but it was not enough to keep you here on this planet. Your little soul met Jesus at 11:53 pm. You weighed 2lbs 9 oz and you were 15 inches long. You had weight in this life, Miss Elle. Your eyes were closed, your skin was flawless, your fingers were long, your hair looked strawberry blonde. You have Mommy’s nose and Daddy’s ears and toes. You are our perfect little girl.
I woke up in the recovery room to my husband’s tear-stained face. He was holding our baby and he tells me now that I had such a wonderful look on my face. A look of excitement and JOY to finally meet our sweet baby girl. I was so excited to see our beautiful baby. He tells me that was the worst moment of his life. He looked at me and said, “She didn’t make it baby, I’m so sorry but she didn’t make it.” I was heavily drugged but I remember fully understanding what he was saying. I don’t remember this but he tells me that I said “Oh God, why, God why?” Even through a foggy brain the heart can speak. I remember him handing her to me and I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Seriously, she was perfect. She looked so much like her Daddy, it was almost funny to see. She was a little person, one that we had created together with Jesus. Those moments with her will forever be etched on my brain and my heart and they are far from something I can even articulate in writing. We have a book, The Belly Book, that describes our entire 7 month journey. In the belly book one of the questions is this, ‘How I felt when I first saw you’…this is my answer…
I was full of JOY and sorrow. JOY that you were here and you were so beautiful and that you were mine and Daddy’s. JOY that you looked so much like Daddy and JOY because I loved you so much before I ever even met you. Sorrow because I knew you would not be staying and we would never do the things that I do with my Mommy. Sorrow because I was afraid it hurt you and I didn’t want you to be in any pain. Sorrow because I missed you kicking and moving in my belly. Sorrow so very deep it only came out in a very loud groaning. The ache of a Mommy’s broken heart…
‘How it felt to hold you for the first time’…this is Daddy’s answer…
I don’t know if I will ever be able to describe what I felt holding your little body in my arms for the first time. The deepest feelings, stronger and harder than any I’ve ever had before came rushing over me. I felt love, overwhelming love for the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. You made me feel strong and brave and you made me want to protect you even though you were already gone. I also felt awe just to see what you finally looked like after all the anticipation and waiting through the months. But mixed in with these feelings was the worst ache and pain and sorrow I’ve ever known. I hurt because you weren’t there with us. I hurt because you weren’t moving or breathing. I wasn’t ready for that and I’m still not ready. I groaned for the fact that Mommy was going to be hurting so greatly; that we, together, would never get to see you grow or hear you cry or see your blue eyes. I still wish it wasn’t true. I wish I could feel how it is to hold you again, right now. Sorrow came when you were born but so did love unspeakable. That’s what I will remember forever after the sorrow leaves — love unspeakable. We held, hugged, kissed, smelled and snuggled our beautiful baby for 12 hours. Our family was all around and they all got to meet their sweet Ellersley and do the same to her. She spent time with grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and sweet friends. Our nurse came and took pictures of us with her and she took her and dressed her in a cute outfit and took pictures of her. They are the most cherished possessions we own at this point in our lives. The outfit and hat she wore hang in a shadow box now in her room. We snuggled and slept with her all night, we cried over her and told her how much we loved her and how much we would miss her. We told her about all the dreams we had for her and how she was so anticipated. And of course we told her about that JOY, the JOY of that first test, the JOY of telling our family, the JOY of telling our church, the JOY of listening to her heartbeat, the JOY of seeing her move around inside me, the JOY of finding out she was a girl, the JOY of feeling her kick for the first time, the JOY of reading to her, the JOY of knowing she was coming and the JOY of loving her.
The first day and a half in the hospital seems a blur to me except every part with her. I remember it all so clearly. I remember how she looked and how she felt and exactly what she smelled like. I remember what she felt like laying in the crook of my neck, she loved to snuggle. I remember taking pictures with her and I remember sleeping with her. I remember her, I don’t think I could ever forget. I know that so many friends and family came to visit us that first day but I really could not tell you who it was. The morphine was so strong, I hated it. I was so sleepy and I would be in the middle of a conversation and fall asleep. Remember that I had never been in the hospital ever before so any kind of major pain med was totally foreign to me. I hated being out of control, imagine that. : ) I remember coming off of the morphine…that was not a fun time.
They took me off of the morphine at 10pm Sunday night, almost 24 hours after the c-section. I, up to this point, had not really cried. Oh, I was sad…darkness was surrounding me, but my body would not allow tears to form. Monday morning at about 6am it all came spilling out of me. I had just woken up and gotten up to use the restroom, I got back into bed and my little body could not hold that hurt any longer. The tears started streaming down my face and the wailing began. Wesley ran to my side and my mom to the other side. My husband held me and cried with me and my mom prayed that Jesus would be near. It was the strangest feeling I have had up to this point in my life and I pray every day that it NEVER happens to me again. I always had read in the Bible those stories about the mourners and how they had groaned in pain for those that had passed away. I never understood that and I actually thought it was a bit dramatic. Well, I can truly tell you that it is not drama of any kind. It is real, raw brokenness. The cry and the ache of a very broken heart. This wailing happened a few times a day for the first several days. It happened once when our entire family was in the room. We were about to eat and everyone was grabbing their pizza and I just couldn’t stop it from coming out. Our nephews were there and afterwards Kyle came over to me and said, “Nicki, it makes me sad when you cry…”. It made me sad too Little dude, it made me sad too.