Engagement Anniversary

First, I want to thank everyone for your kind words, positive thoughts, and prayers since my previous post. Kyle and I have felt each and every one. It always blows my mind how many people actually take the time to read the nonsense I post here, and it is unbelievable to me the amount of support we have received from sharing our story with you. Every passing day we are getting better and moving on in our process of healing, and you my friends have played a large role in that. 

There are very few “anniversaries” that I keep up with. I mean, really, I can only keep track of so many things. But, I do remember the day that Kyle and I got engaged. I remember it like it was yesterday because well, it is one of my most favorite memories of all time. Kyle and I are not super romantic. Just for reference if you don’t know Kyle, he’s kind of  the Harry Potter loving mixture of Chandler Bing from Friends and Nick Miller from New Girl. Not sure what that says about me, but whatever, he’s my favorite. And, his proposal was one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me. 

Anyway, five years ago today, Kyle asked me to be his wife, so I feel like it’s time I share our little story.

We went to the same small college in the middle of Indiana, but we didn’t officially meet there. There were several occasions that we could have introduced ourselves to one another, but we never did, and thank goodness. We would not have dated if so. Seriously. We were definitely not in the same friend group at that time in our lives and I think it was a good thing, because it molded us into the people we were when our paths finally did cross.

We were just babies!

We were just babies!

So how did we meet if we never crossed paths when Kyle was the RA on my brother floor? How did we never meet up when our rooms were directly across the roof from one another? How did we never meet considering we went to the same little church, I went to see his band play a few times, and we had so many mutual friends? Definitely a God thing.

Truth be told, we met on Facebook. Yep, Facebook. Thanks Mark Zuckerberg! It’s a little embarrassing, but totally true. Yes, Kyle and I both knew who we were, our college was small and you pretty much had an idea of who everyone was. However, he had already graduated and I was just about to enter my senior year.  I checked my Facebook one night and saw that he had messaged me. I thought it was strange, but I replied anyway. Yet another God-thing. I would have never responded to some guy trying to flirt with me via Facebook message. But, for some reason I did.

Kyle was living in Colorado at the time and didn’t have any intention of coming back. Anyway, in my college-aged head I felt messaging was harmless because I knew that nothing other than a friendship (yeah right) would occur since I was headed back east after graduation with no desires of Colorado anywhere near.  We messaged, AIMed (yeah, it was still cool back then), and eventually shared our phone numbers with one another and talked personally. With each conversation, our relationship grew and our respect for each other increased. Kyle made me feel comfortable, perhaps because he was so far away, and he helped me through one of my most challenging phases of life.

Well, later on he told me he needed another knee surgery and because of that, he would be coming back to Indiana. I got super excited because this “boy out west” was definitely not just some anonymous friend any more. Silly me for thinking so in the first place. As we continued to talk our feelings for each other grew, and we knew we’d be dating as soon as he came home. And that we did. We dated for five months before Kyle put a ring on it.

Kyle was adamant about never proposing on Valentine’s day. We didn’t celebrate it, nor do we to this day, other than buying discounted chocolate and candy the day after, let’s face it, we do that after every holiday. But, Kyle told me he did have a little surprise planned and wanted me to come to his parent’s house a few days after Valentine’s day. So, I got ready and drove over, expecting we’d have dinner and watch a movie or something.

Kyle met me at the door and took me through his house where he had a very elaborate plan in place. We started downstairs in the basement. Strewn on the floor were photos of me from birth through high school, and a plastic slide, very crucial to my toddler years, that he had somehow tracked down. We looked through the photos together, laughing at my awkward braces-filled, middle-school years, thanking the Lord that I didn’t actually stay that way. Then, Kyle led me back upstairs to his parent’s office.

Once we got there, I was presented with a blanket fort Kyle had made. We had made a blanket fort during one of our first dates. Blanket forts are the bomb.com, seriously. Underneath it were more pictures. This time, the photos were from my college years. Also in that pile was a notebook full of all of the Facebook messages that we had sent back and forth to one another over the summer, and Kyle had bolded several of the messages that really stood out to him in defining our relationship. What a stud! We perused through the photos together and I read the sections that Kyle had highlighted in our book. And we had a blast laughing at ourselves looking back at our “first impressions” of one another. 

Next, Kyle took me back downstairs into the living room. Now, most of you are probably thinking, oh, you must have known it was coming! How did you keep it together so long? Well, fun fact about me, I’m totally oblivious to everything romantic/flirting/engagement. Seriously. Despite the fact that we had talked about getting married, and had previously gone ring shopping, the whole time this was happening the words “engaged,” “ring,” or “marriage,” never crossed my mind. I seriously thought that he was just going out of his way to give me a really thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift. Yeah, I know.

Anyway, back in the living room, Kyle took my hands and explained that the downstairs had represented my past, upstairs my present, and here, where there were no photos, just the two of us, was our future. (I know, I know, you’re all thinking, “Bethany…you’re killing me, you have to know now!!!” No. I didn’t. Seriously, I’m oblivious.) Kyle was nervous and his hands were shaking. In the middle of his speech, letting me know how much he wanted to be a part of my future, I stopped him and said, “Kyle, why are you so nervous? It’s just me!” Seriously girl, it’s so obvious! Anyway, he responded to me, “Just let me get through this.” So, I smiled awkwardly and he continued. After saying so many sweet things, he pulled out a Polly Pocket from a drawer on a side table. I used to collect Polly Pockets as a little girl, I had like 45 or something ridiculous. Those things were my WORLD. He opened it up, and inside it was a small plastic ring. He looked me in the eye, and said, “Will you be my wife?”

One, he did not get on his knee, and I appreciate that. Instead, he looked me right, square in the eye, as his equal, his partner. Two, he didn’t ask me to marry him, he asked me to be his wife. He asked me to be in it for the long haul, to be his wife, and everything that comes with that. Points my friend.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Photo courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Of course I said YES! And he put that little plastic ring on my finger as far as it would go. It was made for a 4 year old, so it didn’t quite fit.

A few minutes later, after our initial celebrations, he pulled out the real rock. And man, is it a rock! He did a great job. We called our families and closest friends and rejoiced together. It was one of the best moments of my life.

And, if you don’t think my husband is the sweetest after that story, here’s a bonus. My family lives in Western New York, and we were in Indiana at the time. Kyle drove all the way to my parent’s house to ask my dad’s permission in person. And, on the way there, he called my sister, who is also my bestie for life and asked her permission as well.

Yeah, I know, he’s pretty dreamy.

Five months later, we were married. And in August, we will celebrate five years of marriage.  Happy engagement anniversary to us!!

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Ray Photography

 

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Another Goodbye.

Early in the morning on January 6, Kyle and I rejoiced together–we were going to have another baby. We excitedly told our son, Judah that he was going to be a big brother. We had wanted our kids to be fairly close in age, and were elated to be expanding our family.

Being new to the area, I had no idea what doctors were the best, but some friends filled me in, and we were able to find a great one. We scheduled our first appointment to meet her and begin the journey to having another child.

Because this wasn’t my first pregnancy, I began to show pretty quickly. Here I am one evening before bed, approximately seven weeks along. It was exciting to me to be looking pregnant so soon, I always loved the “cute” pregnant time, when you have those small baby bumps, regular sized ankles, and a normal amount of energy.

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Kyle and I Skyped with our parents, who were all overjoyed with the news of adding another grandchild to the family. A bit later, we told our siblings and a select few friends. We began planning out how we’d configure our living space for another little one, and I dug out all my old maternity clothes, and began taking inventory of new purchases I’d need to make to keep myself comfortable in the upcoming summer months with a big belly in tow.

A few weeks passed, and we were scheduled for an ultrasound to pinpoint a more accurate due date. On February 4, one month after finding out our exciting news, we woke up early and excited. We never had an early ultrasound with Judah, so this was a new experience for both Kyle and I, and we were so excited to see our little babe. I remember going into the doctor’s office and seeing a fellow patient come out of the door to the waiting room looking at pictures of her ultrasound, a smile spread across her face. She was looking at some of her baby’s first precious photos. This made my excitement grow ten-fold.

Shortly after observing this woman, Kyle and I were called back to the ultrasound room. I got ready, and my doctor came in, time to see our baby! She spread that warm jelly around my belly, and immediately, we saw our little babe. There it was! So small, but so defined. We could see it’s little nose, and the beginnings of what would be hands and feet. As soon as I saw it, my heart was overflowing with love. It was real. We were a family of four now. Judah was a big brother, and we were parents of two. I couldn’t wait to meet my child.

The doctor adjusted the wand once, and asked me if I had been experiencing any abnormalities. When I said no, she smiled at me. Then she let me know she was going to refocus the picture and walk us through what was on the screen. First, she said, “Here is the pregnancy.”

I beamed. That was my baby! Here it is! But I should have known. It was foreshadowing. She didn’t call it a baby. She called it, “the pregnancy.”

The smile that was spread across my face was quickly swiped away with the next five words the doctor spoke. Five words that changed me. Five words that changed Kyle.

“Unfortunately, there is no heartbeat.”

Unfortunately. Unfortunately. That word echoes over and over in my head on a daily basis. Unfortunately.

Immediately I began to weep. I could see my baby, my precious baby, but it was gone. Taken from us in an instant. Gone before I could ever hold him or her. Gone before we could meet it. Gone before we even knew if it was a boy or girl. Gone before Judah was able to play with him or her. Gone before we could say happy birthday. Gone before we could whisper, “I love you.”

Gone.

The rest of the appointment was a blur. I remember asking her how far along the baby was and she told me 8 weeks. After that, all I kept hearing was, “unfortunately” over and over again. That, and feeling the strongest desire to run so fast to the car and just sob uncontrollably. Somehow, we made it through the rest of the appointment, and thankfully, no one was in the waiting room when we left. I don’t know if I could have bared to see a happily expecting mother in that moment.  (*Side note, I’m okay with seeing expecting mothers now. In fact, it still makes me smile just as much as it did before.*)

Kyle and I cried together in the car, and I wept for the rest of the way home. The worst part to me was that my baby was alone. I couldn’t hold my child during their final moments. I couldn’t kiss my baby and soothe any discomfort it might have felt. I was helpless. Sure, my baby was with me, but I couldn’t mother him or her the way I wanted to–the way I would have, had I been able. I felt so devastated that its life and final moments were spent alone.

Kyle was so strong, has been so strong for me. He’s let me cry, talked with me, weighed our next steps, and took care of Judah when I couldn’t.

In the midst of our heartache, we have been surrounded by so much support. From new friends who barely know us, to old ones who call or send texts from afar just to check in. We have felt so much prayer from both family and friends, and our healing has begun because of it.

During our days of hardest grief, we were battling with what steps to take next. Frankly, insurance blows. It’s terrible, and I was so angry that we had to navigate over-priced deductibles and fees when we should have solely been focusing on grieving and celebrating the life of this little child. Luckily, God answered our prayers and has provided for us in ways we never expected.

This weekend, Kyle and I will be saying good-bye to the earthly parts of our baby. We know our child’s soul is already dancing in Heaven, and we cannot wait to be reunited someday.

Sweet baby, it was such an honor, such a privilege to carry you for the time I was able. I hope with all my heart that you know how loved you are. That you know how highly anticipated your arrival was. That you understand the joy you brought to our lives. And, so you don’t go without hearing it, happy birthday. I love you.