Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Lost Our Little Boy...

Last Friday was not unlike the norm... except that Joe had been out of town again, and would be returning home to us that evening from a work trip.  It had been 2 weeks since we had found out we were having a little boy, and because I had been feeling so much better, I felt like I could finally post the exciting news!
I picked the kids up from school, dropped them off at home, and then turned around and rushed right back out to the car to go to my doctor's appointment for my 16 week check up.  He had been seeing me weekly, and then after we got back from Iguazu, he said things were looking perfect in regards to the baby, so he moved our visits to every two weeks.  I still had the lovely clot that he needed to keep an eye on, but it was out of harms way of the baby...I was really feeling pregnant with all of the glorious side effects that come with it.
We were talking about the holidays and trips we'd both be taking when the monitor came on and suddenly he got quiet.  I have seen plenty of ultrasounds.  It's easy for me to find the cute little profile, the tiny hands and feet, and the incredible spine that is always so vivid.  And then I heard those awful words, "I'm so sorry, something's wrong.  There's no heartbeat."
Shocked and speechless, I turned to the screen, and there in his chest, where the little heart should be working overtime to build my baby boy, was empty, white space...

*   *   *

Somehow I managed to find my car.  I had parked in one of the spots they hold for pregnant women, right up in front with the disability parking spaces.  This is one of the things I love about Chile and was so excited to always have a good place to park wherever I went.  I looked at the pregnant stick figure on the sign in front of me and started sobbing.  How could this have happened?  I was feeling so good!  I called Joe and he was in his car, driving home from the off-site, with a bunch of co-workers that he had to take home.  Not the best time to tell him, but I blubbered something through my tears and told him to just get home as quickly as he could.  Poor Joe couldn't escape the car, or his team.  He was stuck for another 2 hours.

I started the car and realized I couldn't go home to the kids like this.  I texted Sandra, who was supposed to be off in 15 minutes and asked her to stay for a little bit until I could gain control.  Sweet thing stayed all weekend.

I parked my car in our neighborhood far from homes and windows and stared at the flowers that surrounded me. It is spring in Santiago, after all.  My chest hurt and and my soul ached.  I went through what was left of the kleenex box I had in the glove compartment until I heard Joe finally pull up alongside of me.  He took me out of the drivers seat and we both climbed into the back seat; and as I destroyed his button up with snot and tears, I went through all of those emotions over again.  Someone once told me that tears help get rid of toxins in our bodies.  I think I was completely free and pure of all poisons that had ever resided in this 6 foot frame of mine.  Little did I know that my mass purification was just beginning.

When we finally went home, Kate came running to me, releasing her own toxins, as she jumped into my arms, asking me to tell her what happened.  Oh how she wanted her little brother, she cried over and over.  I stayed in bed as everyone had dinner, and Jake said the blessing.  "...and please bless Mom and the baby that they will be healthy..." as he has always done from the day we told him the good news.  More tears.  It was time to tell the boys.  "I'm going to be sad forever."  He cried.  Luke kept running into the room saying, "I give Mommy wuvs?" And he'd crawl into bed with me and shower me with kisses.  Especially my tummy.  Why stop now?  Just more cleansing, right?

*   *   *

The next morning, Joe and I walked through the hospital main doors and checked in.  I couldn't do anything.  I sat there with red swollen eyes and a crumpled kleenex in my hand.  I knew I wasn't the only one hurting, and yet he was my rock.  How grateful I am for my husband.  For being exactly what I needed when I needed it.  The lady behind the table gathered quickly that he would be doing all of the talking for me and directed all of her questions to him.

We were taken up the elevator and as soon as the doors opened, I realized we had come to the maternity ward.  I guess I hadn't exactly thought where I'd be going.  I looked up.  Beautiful black and white images of little babies faces, hands, feet, and elbows adorned the walls.  This should be a happy place.  It always had been for me in the past.  I grabbed onto his arm and released even more toxins.  How could I have any tears left?  I wondered.  We were directed into a room and the kind nurse came in and spoke in her slowest Spanish possible so I could understand.  She wanted me to cry as much as I needed.  And they would take good care of me.  We had to reconfirm that there was no heartbeat.  More tears.  And then I had to get ready for my mini delivery.

Because I was farther along, I would have to go through 3 hours of contractions and then they would take me into surgery.  Those three hours were filled with quiet moments, quiet talking, and quiet tears--together.  Family ached to be with us.  Mom was ready to hop on the next plane down here.  Jen texted, "I hate Chile."  When I was sitting in the car, alone, after I found out, I felt so very far away and alone.  I hated Chile too.

Ten minutes before they were going to take me into surgery, there was a knock on our door.  Sweet, sweet, Karen walked in and gave me one of her famous squeezes and we cried some more.  She sat next to my bed and we talked and laughed and cried until it was time to wheel me away.  Little did I know at that moment that she had already arranged time with my kids, brought chocolate chip cookies for everyone, left beautiful flowers in our bedroom for when we got home, guided Sandra when she needed help, set up a calendar for a weeks worth of dinners and pick ups at school, and let other friends know, so when I looked at my phone I was flooded with love and support from dear friends in Santiago.  My family away from family.  I felt so very blessed.  Let's just keep crying.

The operating room was cold.  Everyone was speaking in muffled Spanish as they hurried around the room getting everything ready.  I felt so alone.  I prayed for peace as I let the tears trickle down my cheeks.  I couldn't wipe them because I had a blood pressure cuff on one arm restricting my movements and all sorts of wires that kept me from moving my left arm.  I clutched my wadded up tissue anyway, ready to use it if the opportunity arose.  Too many memories flooded my mind of when I went into my emergency C-section with Luke.  But this time I already knew the end result.
The anesthesiologist put his warm, gentle, hand on my head and said, "Tranquilo, Senora."   It's what I needed at that very moment.  And then the doctor whom I'm so grateful for, told me what was going to happen and that he would take good care of me.  I could finally breathe and allowed myself to feel a little bit of that comfort I was praying to Heavenly Father for.

*   *   *

I remember waking up and feeling lighter... like there was an emptiness in my stomach.  Something was missing.  It was the first time in my life that I didn't long for taut, firm abs :)  And then it all came back to me.  Joe was right there by my side.  We spent the rest of our time in the hospital doing what we did best that weekend, as I went through the after effects of a delivery. Contractions were a constant reminder of what had just occurred.

We talked for hours about what we should do with our baby boy.  We both had and still have no doubt that he is back home with our loving Heavenly Father.  And some day, when we go home too, he will be ours to raise.  So whatever we chose to do here on earth wasn't for him, it was for us and for our healing.  We decided on a Christian foundation down here that has a beautiful park that isn't far from our home, dedicated to families who have all been through similar situations.  They take care of the details, so we can focus on the memories.  We can visit, plant flowers, have picnics, ride bikes nearby, and talk about how grateful we are for the knowledge we have that our family is eternal.  How blessed I feel for that knowledge.  It has carried me through so many difficult times.

It felt right for us.  This is a piece of our Chilean experience and it only seemed fitting to have a little memorial here.  Still, I told Joe, I felt like I needed a little something (and I didn't know what that was) to hold close to my heart, to remember our little Blue Berryhill.  I think I'm finally going to get to use that name.  Nothing official, but in my heart, that's what he'll be.  Our 3rd little baby boy.   Then he suggested something and it felt just right.

A picture of his perfect little hand.

That's what I'd get to keep with me.  
And it was perfect.

*   *   *

When it was time to leave, they brought a wheelchair for me.  It had been very quiet the entire time we had been at the hospital.  And as we left our room, for the first time, I remembered where we were as we passed the nursery and heard the newborn cries.  I went ahead and did what I did best.  I joined right in with those little bundles.  Life would continue.  I had three BEAUTIFUL children at home for whom I was so grateful.  I had the knowledge that so many of my loved ones and friends had been through similar and far more difficult times than we had just experienced.  And I also knew that my Savior knew EXACTLY what I was going through.  We would get through this and be a closer, better, family for it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Let's Build a House!

 The morning after we found out the good news, we headed into the Andes hills to go help the WONDERFUL Nunez family put in a few hours building their home.  They are the most incredibly happy, faithful, dedicated people!  They never tried to broadcast their situation, but we found out that they had been saving for years to build a home.  When the time came to finally start the project, they gave a contractor their money to get started and he took off with everything they had.
Husband and wife looked at each other and just cried.  "What will we do?"  They were already working 6 days a week and long hours to survive with 3 little ones at home.  One day, they squared their shoulders, looked at each other and said, "We will build it ourselves."  So, every Saturday when they have saved up a bit, they go down to the hardware store, get the supplies they can afford, and build a little here and there on their home.
Our families wanted to help!  Karen organized the day and the Hamilton's, Whitt's and our family headed to the site ready to get to work.  Laura and Karen immediately put up camping chairs and both said at practically the same time, "Julie, these are for you.  Sit down."  I was told I wouldn't be doing much more than moral support.  So sweet.  I didn't even think to bring my own chair.
Hermana Nunez, Laura, Jake and Easton, hard at work, putting in the insulation for the walls.  Before we left, Jake ran downstairs and got all of the necessary tools he'd need from his workbench, to complete his important projects for the day.
Putting in insulation turned out to be a lot of fun!!!
Violetta and Amanda Nunez doing what they do best!
Kate was amazing with the box cutter and getting the perfect shapes of Styrofoam to fit for the insulation in the walls.  She took total ownership of what she was doing... so neat to see her in action.
Salvador Nunez knew the grounds so well.  He showed all of the kids the cool hiding spots and the best mounds of dirt to play in.  He also loved Jake's tools that he brought with!
I made Luke stay pretty close to me the entire time.  Too many real tools that were "slightly" dangerous for little hands.  Even still, he was completely enjoying himself.

The guys?  Well, let's just say, this fulfilled some inner-manliness that has been looking for a way to escape with all of that overtime they put in at work...
The kids had their own ideas of how to help best :)
Love these girls.  We all showed up with our visors, food, and plenty of hands to help.  What a great experience this was for our families.  We will definitely be visiting the Nunez family again and again...

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Time to Place Your Bets...

We have had a tradition with every baby.  When the doctor can tell what it is, we have him write it down on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope.  Then, we put it on the fridge and plan an evening together with family. 
 Everyone places their "bets" and then it's time to reveal what's inside.

*   *   *
At my last check up, when I tried to change the subject about going to Iguazu Falls against his better judgement, it turned out that the clot hadn't gotten bigger!  But it hadn't gotten smaller either.  No bed rest, but no exercise and I had to take it easy.  Fair enough. 

"And is there any chance you can tell what the baby is?"   


 "Would you mind writing it down for me so our family can find out together what we are having?"

A smile formed on the corner of his mouth and he told me to turn away so I couldn't see the monitor.  He wrote something down and then apologized that he didn't have an envelope.  I came prepared and then left mine in the car.  "Oh don't worry.  I'll seal it up in the envelope as soon as I get into my car.  I promise I won't look at it."  His smile got bigger.  He folded that prescription piece of paper about 78 times and then took his stapler and punched a few good ones into it.  Apparently he didn't trust me. 

Joe wasn't home that night, so I dutifully tacked the envelope with the stapled secret up on the fridge.  The kids were going crazy.  How could we wait?!!!  The next night was looking like it wouldn't work out either, and I had 3 kids who were in complete hysterics.  We decided we'd meet Joe at La Creperia--He'd come straight from work, so we could be together for just a moment before I had to leave for the evening.  This was way more important anyway.  I could be a tad bit late!

We ordered our favorite meals and then the ultimate Nutella & Banana Crepes for dessert.  I really think I could easily eat one of those every other day.  I LOVE them.  

And then it was time.  We let Kate do the honors of trying to undo the prescription note.

Joe:    "Boy"
Kate:  "Girl" (she's been hoping for one since the day she could speak)
Jake:  "Girl--because we already have plenty of boys."  Stated matter-of-factly.
Luke:  "Boy" With the cutest smile ever.
Me:    "Girl"  (We girls have to stick together, but for the first time, earlier that day, I had a feeling...I didn't want to make Kate cry just yet)

And here's the revealing captured on video:

Yeah!!!  Looks like Kate and I will be sticking together for life :)  We're excited for another little CUTE Berryhill boy to give us sticky kisses, muddy footprints, lots of noise, and plenty of projects (aka: messes).  Everyone was so happy after the initial shock!  It took one of us a little longer than the others, but she came around and mentioned, "Mom, can we start doing special girl things like getting our nails done together?" Yes... my visits to the salon for pedicures are few and FAR between...but maybe it's time to start a new tradition.  
WELCOME BABY BERRYHILL BOY!!! We already love you so much.  Your brothers and sister pray for you every day and can't wait for you to join us.   

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Iguazu Falls-Part 9: Brazil Side!

At last we made it to the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls.  It was the hottest day yet and we were feeling it.  But as soon as we came to the first viewpoint, we were in awe.

 And this isn't even all of the falls!  We walked along side of them for a good hour, ending at the Garganta del Diablo from the Brazilian point of view.  
 Look at those cute cheeks!  Can you tell we needed to find some falls to get under?!!
 We finally found a spot to cool off, and it even graced us with a rainbow!  Can you believe that?! We got drenched and it felt fabulous.  This was the only point on the Brazil side where you felt like you were up close and personal with the falls.  This side was more of the breathtaking panoramic view.

Kate had a little butterfly friend that landed on her head, and stuck with her through all of the spray when we went into the falls!  When she came out of it, he was still there, and then another one landed on her finger. She's a modern day Cinderella. 

What a day!  What a trip!  We had an incredible time and saw so many new things!  Thank you Joe for caring all of the stress of the trip, so I could relax.  I did my best.  When I went back to the doctor right after we returned, the first thing he said was, "So did you cancel your trip?"  I couldn't lie.  Would never have been able to after witnessing such beauty.  "No...but I tried to rest whenever possible..." (every night when we got back to the hotel!!!)  "Achem...So, how's the baby looking?!"  

Iguazu Falls-Part 8: Brazilian Bird Sanctuary

From the Dam we headed straight to the Bird Sanctuary that was right outside of the park on the Brazil side.  We had heard some incredible things, so we didn't want to miss it!

 I think our all time favorites were the Toucans.  They are hysterical birds and simply do not look real with those plastic beaks!  One stayed with us the entire time we were walking through the atrium.

 No telephoto lenses on these.  They let me get right up close to them!

 What I captured next was classic.  Luke had been asleep the entire time.  He woke up to this toucan looking straight at him.  Remember I had to coach Luke to say that butterflies were nice?  So you can imagine what he thought of these strange looking birds.  

He had been snacking on an apple when he fell asleep, so it was in his hands.  Maybe now we know why the toucan was following us!  The next thing I saw was this:

and then this:

And the rest of the trip, (and even still when we talk about the trip) all we heard over and over again was, "The toucan took my apple!"  With this dejected tone.  Poor Luke.  
 What a surprise when we went to see the emu's and about 20 wild monkeys came in, swinging on the trees, eating the berries right above them!  Notice there are no pictures of the emus :)  We were more interested in the trees!

 The boys were stoked to touch teh python.  Kate didn't want to.  I made her get in there for one picture.  Is this not a classic shot?!

 I'd say the sanctuary was a complete success and added so much to our trip!  
So happy we took the time to check it out!

Iguazu Falls-Part 7: Brazil and the Dam

We had one full day in Brazil.  We started it off at the Itaipu Dam, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.  It's a hydroelectric megadam on the Parana River that produces 35% energy for Brazil and 90% for Paraguay.

 It was HUGE and I learned that the Parana River is one of the biggest in the world!
 As we were driving along, we saw a city on the horizon and found out that it was Ciudad del Este-- one of the areas Joe served on his mission.  It was this particular area where he was held up at gun point and shot at.  I laughed and told him I'd take a picture from here because it was the closest we'd get with our family to that city :)  There it is below: 

 Very cool to see.  Apparently only 2% of Americans come to visit this place.  We can stand a little taller now, knowing that we can claim a bit of that :)