Monday, December 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Smiles (My Story)

It's the way they look straight into your eyes and hold that gaze with a smirk, as if to say, "Come get me, I dare you". You crack first and you can’t help but laugh. Tickling them, they fall to the floor giggling, half-eaten peanut butter and honey sandwiches in hand. It is the way you kiss their sticky checks repeatedly making them laugh even harder. It is the way you take a break to breath and look over at them, while both laying on the floor, and they smile the most cheesy, gappy teeth, peanut-butter-smudged smile at you.
 That is the moment, one of the most tender a mother and child can have. It is then I know that no matter what, I am their mommy, one who loves them the most. The one that they adore, that brought them into this world and what a miracle that really is. How blessed am I for them to call me mom? Peanut butter smiles are the best. Hands down my favorite kind.
It was my recent peanut butter smile encounter that made me realize just how much they really mean to me. Many times I have seen them and taken them for granted, not appreciating them even more then they deserve. In one way, they actually saved me.

I was there for a monthly ultrasound since I have high-risk pregnancies. My husband had to send me there alone this time. He had taken all of his time off of work a couple weeks prior to stay home with me as I was having multiple anxiety attacks due to issues I was experiencing with my family. Jason was really concerned for my health since I have never had an anxiety attack before and I was experiencing 2-4 a day, if not more. I was 3 months pregnant with our 3rd and was looking forward to possibly finding out the gender the day of the ultrasound. I had a strong feeling it was a boy. I was sad that Jason was going to miss the possible gender reveal since he has never missed an ultrasound appointment for any of our babies. I told myself that if I found out the gender that day, then I would do one of those really cute gender reveals ideas. Like the balloons flying out of the box indicating the gender with either the pink or blue or something with a lot of splattered paint. Yeah, I could see all the fun possibilities and since I am a professional photographer I could capture his reaction and it will be a perfect memory to share with him and the boys! I wasn't too disappointed that he couldn't make it anymore, I was now really excited for his reaction!
        It was a new doctors office and I was a bit bummed that my favorite ultrasound technician didn't work there. I really wanted her to be the one, like before to tell me the gender of my baby since she has become a friend and would equally celebrate with me. I signed in and waited. There was a weird tension in the air but I am one who hates going into new places (especially without my husband) out of fear that everyone is staring at me since I'm a new face. I picked up a magazine and tried to distract myself from that feeling. A couple minutes later my name was called and my ears shot up, I knew that voice. I looked up and out of complete shock my favorite tech. was right there with my folder in hand! I could have cried, she was exactly who I wanted to see! How excited I was getting, thinking about a good laugh we will be doing soon, coming up with the clever ways to tell Jason the gender since she is a goofball and would come up with the craziest ideas! She looked at me with equal excitement since she hadn't seen me since my last pregnancy she helped out with of my youngest son Kaden. What a small little blessing I thought while giving thanks to Heavenly Father for sending her my way. Now I could have a familiar face delivering me the exciting news! What are the odds of her not only working at a completely new office with new doctors, but to be working that day and picking up my folder? Obvious divine intervention. We got talking about how Kaden is doing and how old he is. I apologized for not keeping my promise after he was born and bringing him in for her to meet personally. I showed a picture of both my boys and she melted. We got talking while she prepped me for the ultrasound about this pregnancy and how it has been going so far for me. I told her how I felt like it is a boy. We got laughing at old jokes we made about boys during my pregnancy with Kaden and how she and I think that I will have a few of them knowing my pattern already. She then started the ultrasound and there he was, my 3rd perfect little baby's profile. Sitting there sucking his thumb waiting to get measured. I saw him, he was right there, even bigger then before at my last ultrasound 3 weeks early. He was perfect, but I couldn't stop staring at him. Something was wrong. I let the tech keep talking to me about her current story, not letting her aware at all of my thoughts but my mind was fixed on nothing else but to figure out what was wrong. I could have melted the ultrasound screen with my stare; it felt like I had lasers darting from my eyes. He wasn't moving. In fact nothing was. The feeling I had sitting in the waiting room suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a looming gloom feeling, not an awkward everyone starting at me feeling. Fear started trickling up my spine. I tried to laugh it off once she finished her story. Laughing brought me back and I just hoped I was thinking too much. We continued to talk while she took more measurements and every once in awhile I would shoot a glance over at the picture of baby. Nothing looked out of place but my head wouldn't allow me to believe that. Suddenly the technician fell very silent as she tried to pull up his heartbeat. On the screen, were huge heartbeat waves illuminated in neon green, pattering with a constant rhythm should have been, in its place was a flat, white, silent line. Fear tore through my body as I realized what I was seeing. The tech moved the wand, which was crackling slightly all around my stomach desperately looking for the rhythm we all love to hear. It never came.
Though I tried so hard to deny it, my heart knew what was coming though my brain just could not compute it. "Melissa" came a shaking voice quietly out of the now bitter silence, her voice trembling. "I am horribly sorry" she paused to take a deep breath to settle her emotions "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you."
My world started crashing down on me in that moment and my head wouldn't stop spinning. It was like getting the wind completely knocked out of you. Struggling for air all I could do was nod my head and listen to the muted voice, seeing her still talking to me but not hearing a word because my thoughts were too loud, tearing me apart inside. "NO!?! She's lying. This has to be a nightmare. This can't be happening. What happened? How? Did the anxiety attacks play a factor? What am I going to do?"
I was sitting there with this fresh news, feeling my world going dark again, a place I never wanted to go back to. A place I was all too familiar with. I could see that the technician was crying now. I wanted to comfort her but how when I was dying inside. She left the room to give me a moment alone to go get the doctor to give me further information and instructions. She shut the door. I was alone. No more familiar faces. No husband to hold my now trembling body, equally sharing the loss in that moment telling me that it was going to be ok. I was just accompanied by my own thoughts and darkness that was fiercely closing in on me. I just wanted to pass quietly like my baby did so I didn't have to feel this level of anguish any longer. How easy it would have been to just slip into the darkness and feel numb and lose myself, how easy it would have been to welcome in that old friend who was closing in on me, threatening to kill me emotionally.
To fight off depression when it has a strong chock hold on you is no easy task. It is as if you are standing up to your own Goliath but blind folded and with no weapon, not even a stone. Defenseless, useless, and pathetic. I never realized just how strong 2 messy peanut butter smiles could have ever been in my life until those smiles, my favorite kind, flashed before my eyes in that devastating, desperate moment. They were the familiar faces I needed to see, and cling to. "Do not leave them again Melissa, don't you dare!!" I told myself over and over again. I have fought with depression multiple times in my life, the lasted episode lasting nearly 2 1/2 years. I needed someone, anyone, to help me fight it off so I could be with my boys after all this, instead of lost in darkness, but nobody was there. 
        It takes so much courage for me to pray earnestly. I feel that every time I pray, due to a lot of trauma I have around Heavenly Father, I am praying to a god who is always disappointed in me. I sin every single day, some big, some small but all are sins. How, with someone so perfect could he not be so disappointed in me when he knows I know better? So to ask for comfort is no easy task for me. I feel like a beggar who deserves to be on the streets for sins he committed, begging hopelessly for a penny, but the giver just says, "You deserve your trial" and walks on. I have always loved my Heavenly Father but being raised the way I was with the things I have experienced and witnessed in my life, I always felt like shame was coming from his end. 
        Desperation tears walls down, making you do things you wouldn't do on a normal basis. I was so desperate for accompaniment; I was being swallowed by fear, loneliness, despair, depression and darkness. I knew that the only way to save me from it all, was to turn to the Savior. I put all the faith I could muster up into my prayer. I prayed so earnestly and aloud begging, pleading with Heavenly Father to help me. My tough walls shattered and I poured my soul to him as tears soaked my face. "Heavenly Father, I know you can take this from me, please, I am begging you, please take this burden from me. I need your help right now, RIGHT NOW more then I have ever needed you before. Please, please be here with me as I am sinking and can't get back up. I do not want to hate you for this, I know I potentially could and the last thing I want to do is hate you. I’ve spent a life not fully understanding you, thinking you were always disappointed in me. Please save me from a tougher struggle with that. Jason and the boys need me mentally healthy for them and they can't lose me emotionally again, it's not fair for them. Please help me carry this, I just can't do it on my own. I need guidance for the short future ahead, what am I suppose to do? I have never lost a baby before. Please give me peace and comfort so I may function properly for the tough road ahead, as I see it being extremely difficult for me. Please be here with me, I really need you here, I have no one."
        I ended my prayer sobbing and broken, oh so broken. I had nowhere else to turn and I needed him to not walk on. Seconds later a whisper came into my ear that brought me a sudden rush of peace filling my entire soul. I stopped crying almost immediately. I felt an arm wrap around me though nobody was in the room and my shaking body was still. Warmth filled the room and the darkness was eliminated instantly. I could feel his presence in the room. He was there to comfort me. He was on my right side though I could not see him. I was calm and so thankful that I could breath and be at peace. My mind was clear from all the questions, fears and blame that were rising rapidly. I sat calmly through the rest of the appointment, understanding everything both the technician and doctor had to say to me, reassuring me that I did nothing wrong and that miscarriages happen naturally. They calmed my fears I had of the anxiety attacks affecting the baby. Heavenly Father also calmed those fears saying that I need not fear, nor question that any longer. I was at peace and knew that I was going to be ok. That one simple word meant nothing to me when I first received it. I never questioned it though since it was an answer to my prayer and brought with it the peace, comfort and love from my Savior that I was in desperate need of. Later that one word became the answer to so many prayers. Too many to write down. It became the guidance I had been searching for, as the short future became the present. The word was, Utah. 
As I made my way home to pay the babysitter, Heavenly Father made sure I made it home safely since I had to drive myself, and tears are extremely blinding. I switched on the radio though I was in no mode to sing. Heavenly Father has always talked to me through songs on the radio, since my communication with him though prayer has its difficulties. I started crying in gratitude when the first song came on. "Breath (2am)" by Anna Nalick, "Breath just breath" was the message I was given and it was what I needed since the reality of loosing the baby started pushing through even harder. Deep breathes help calm my anxiety down, as I felt it spiking. The next song came on right after that, "See you again" by Carrie underwood. I was immediately lifted knowing that I will see my baby again and that he is back home and safe with his Heavenly Father and that I will be ok. The true message I needed. The third song immediately switched on, the main song that Heavenly Father provides me every single time I am struggling but too afraid to pray. “Good life" by OneRepublic. This song has been played for me numerous of times, telling me that this life I have is good, and full of happiness and optimism and that my trials will pass. My acing heart softens every time this song is played. It was exactly the song I needed last. I drove home safely, knowing that I just needed to breath through it all, that I will see my baby again and to rejoice in that news. That Heavenly Father has and will always be there for me with open, loving, understanding arms, that I can always count on him and that my life is great. My heart still hurt by the time I got home, but it was no longer shattered. 
        I kept it together pretty good when the babysitter asked how everything went but when she left I sobbed some more realizing how many people will ask me how the baby is and the response I now have for them. My boys rushed to me not knowing a thing that happened since my husband and I still hadn't told them I was pregnant. We planned on telling them when we knew the gender so we could tell them if they were getting a brother or sister. I ached that we never told them and it was now too late. Their little concerned voices rang out saying "it's oh-tay mommy, don't cry" then hugging and kissing me. How lucky am I? I hugged them tight thanking Heavenly Father for them, and appreciating that I had them in my life. I was extremely grateful that I could come home to a baby since my youngest was still only one and crawling occasionally. That healed my heart even more.
Earlier that morning as I made my way to the appointment, I had a far different out look on how this day was going to go then how it ended up. I walked back into my living room, empty handed with the gender reveal ideas I thought I would have brought back home with me, as well as the excitement that came with them. I crashed to the floor realizing the news I had to break to Jason was not going to be accompanied with pink or blue balloons. His heart was going to shatter, and I have to be the one who shatters it. 
"The baby is gone" I stumbled out but He could barely understand me between my sobs. Jason rushed home after I made the phone call. Taking the chance to get fired, he ran out of the office to be with me.
He rushed in the house and held me tight. I was crying and explaining everything that happened and how I was extremely blessed and comforted. I told him that I really was ok I just needed to cry it all out. I am an incredibly lucky girl to have him in my life. I told him of the word I was given and how I was at peace after receiving it. He too had no idea what it meant since we lived in Arizona, but was extremely grateful for Heavenly Father being there with his wife in such a hard time when he couldn't make it. 
As time passed during and after the actual miscarriage nearly 2 weeks after receiving the news, I passed a baby boy naturally but had major complications and was taken by ambulance to the ER since I was bleeding out. The whispered word Utah became more of an idea then a word. An idea that kept my mind busy with thought about the happy memories I had there with my grandma before she passed away. Memories of the amazing times I had there when I attended BYU for a summer session, then of the tragedy that was happening all around me. The idea became a happy place to visit in my mind, saving me once again from falling into the trap of depression that was being laid out for me by the adversary. The happy thought then became a reality. Heavenly Father told me it was a destination, our future destination. I was beyond thrilled when I realized what my Heavenly Father was asking me to do. I was told that we were needed in Utah and we needed to get there "As soon as we could". I didn't know fully of the reasoning we were needed there, but again it brought me SO much happiness and peace how could I question it?
Doing projects around the house, photography or crafting has always kept my mind sharp and distracted from the snares of the adversary. Packing up the house was another thing I was extremely grateful for. It helped me cope with the loss and gave me something to work hard on and to look forward to. We left behind a well paying job, our first home that we just fixed all up and put on the market, my photography business and clients and many dear friends in Arizona. Leaving behind all we had ever known in our nearly 5 years of marriage was obviously sad and scary, but we were excited and very optimistic. Heavenly Father never asks you to do something only to have you fail miserably. We had something amazing to look forward to and looking forward instead of back was exactly what this momma needed to do.
As we packed up and headed out we left with only one 10ftx10ft U-Haul truck and our van. That was all we had left from selling everything we owned to be able to pay off all my medical bills. We left with so much gratitude in our hearts for all the many miracles that had already taken place from this hard trial. The biggest blessing through it all, was that my desperate moment caused me to tear down a wall that blinded me horribly from how my Heavenly Father really sees me. He is all understanding not shaming and willing to help you at any moment of your life, whether you think you deserve it or not. He will give you so much more then the penny you begged for on the streets. He will never leave you.
It has been 5 months since sitting alone in that room receiving the worst news of my life and instead of delivering a baby next month I sit here in Utah baby-less but extremely happy, blessed and full of rich faith, knowing that Heavenly Father loves me with the purest of love, willing to comfort me at any moment of my life, instead of lost, hurt, dark and spiritually broken. All this time has passed with a blink of an eye and not once has even a sliver of depression wiggled its way into my life. Miracles happen. I witnessed a miracle. “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” 3 Nephi 14:7.
My sons are the messiest peanut butter and honey eaters alive (Or anything eaters alive) and I love it. I would not be as healthy, happy, optimistic, healed and connected to my loving Heavenly Father if I had not envisioned those smiles, my favorite kind in my most desperate hour. I owe my new life to the most delicious of smiles, Peanut butter smiles.

I created this blog to keep all my friends and many others who may be inspired by our story, updated on how everything is going in our new lives in Utah and how my relationship with Heavenly Father grows stronger and stronger each day. I would love to hear from you and maybe tell me something that helped you by reading my story. It is a story that has become a very near and dear one to my heart since it's the story that changed my life for the better and helped me see my Heavenly Father in a much better light then the one I had been raised with. He blessed me and protected me when I needed him the most. He loves us with the purest of heart. Jason, Christian, Kaden and I are beyond blessed for our new lives. We are closer then we have ever been and this trial unlike the ones we have experienced before has made us a very close nit family that has a bond that can not be broken. We are more centered around Christ then (though I hate to admit it, due to my trauma around him) we ever were before and I extremely appreciate it since I can already see all the amazing blessings that come from doing so! I am not perfect at understanding everything the gospel offers and I do still struggle every once in a while (though not everyday) with fighting my trauma around feeling less than. Satan loves to make me think Heavenly Father is still disappointed in me, but over the period of my life I will seek for more understanding and wisdom and experience, more situations, maybe not so dyer of ones, to call upon the Lord for his help and guidance and again know that he is all understanding and does not pass judgment the way I think he does. What a fun journey that will be. Join me.

~Melissa Miller