Click For Hope

loss

I had decided, maybe that was not for me.

Jasmine Lopez1 Comment
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The majority of people seem to believe that pregnancy is a state of bliss where you're on cloud 9. Most people feel pregnant women are simply patiently awaiting their little bundle of joy... this is especially true if you "planned" the pregnancy or have talked about wanting babies to anyone before. In an ideal world, that would be the case... but for some of us... well, it doesn't pan out quite as dreamy...

For as long as I can remember I have wanted kids-at least one. After an infertility diagnosis, 2 rounds of IVF, 2 miscarriages and a failed marriage, I had decided, maybe that was not for me. Instead I focused my energy in working with or volunteering abroad with high-risk children. 

However, one seemingly normal day I met a guy that made me feel I could aspire to a family life. After almost 11 years without a real relationship, I decided to try it out. Still, knowing my reproductive history, I explained to him that I couldn't have children. He didn't mind, so knowing my past, I forewent all forms of birth control.

A year into the relationship, I became pregnant. Imagine my excitement!!! But life is full of twists and turns, like 50 cents says...At around 21 weeks into my pregnancy, I learned that my cervix was opening... and exactly 2 weeks after that I gave birth to a baby whom I wasn't able to bring home with me... her name was Alahna Maia King. The gut wrenching pain of carrying and giving birth to a child you will not bring home is subject to another writing

... for now it should suffice to say that holding the lifeless body of your newborn child is a pain I wish no one had to experience. 

Yet, wanting to feel normal, and not like a complete wreck of a woman I decided to enjoy my relationship. And guess what? I became pregnant once again. The initial excitement was met by fear and doubt. I didn't want to allow myself to feel joy, or attachment; after all, I was well over the 12 weeks mark when I lost my Alahna. 

Still I went to the doctor and the pregnancy plan was filled with weekly appointments, pills, weekly shots, a surgery, strict bed rest, pelvic rest, no work and pretty much nothing but laying around. After going through such traumatic events (at least they are for me) I would feel is expected to have others understand that every ache and every sensation is going to trigger a whole set of "abnormal" responses from the expectant mother.... but no...this is not the case... somehow, because I know my history and I still wanted to have a child, I lost every right to my emotions... 

During this pregnancy I have heard some pretty hurtful things from many- doctors, friends,  and yes, even the baby's father... " pregnant women feel sick... it's part of the package"

"You knew this could happen..."

"You're gonna feel all sorts of things. It's part of being pregnant...you have a high risk pregnancy, so it will be normal for you to feel things that you didn't want" And my very favorite, "this is what you wanted.... isn't it?"

Well no... actually, HELL NO! 

What I wanted was to have a pregnancy that I could enjoy. I wanted to go to work wearing cute maternity outfits and still give 110% at my job. I wanted to be able to let my closest friends feel the baby kicks and laugh as I peed in my pants. Yes, I expected the pains and aches, the swelling and the ranging emotions, the sleepiness and the restless nights. I expected the backaches, the no-shoe finding days, the throwing up and the growing pains as your organs shift place... 

What I didn't expect was to have to stop working, stop having sex for the entirety of my pregnancy, having to go to surgery, get a pay cut, or living in constant fear. I didn't expect to have to be inside my house all the time and basically live my pregnancy alone. I didn't expect, after doing everything I could possibly do, to still have my body work against me. I didn't expect praying for one more week every single day... so here I lay, at 26 weeks pregnant feeling and seeing things indicative of all efforts failing... and you ask me if that's what I wanted...no, that is not what I wanted...not at all... so my heart aches as I don't know what to do, when to call the doctor and who to talk to about my pains and fears... if you were in my place, would that have been what you wanted....?

My marriage story...

Forgiveness, Marriage, Clickforhope, My StoryJasmine LopezComment

It's crazy to think it's been 10yrs of marriage, plus 5yrs of dating. I met Jeremy when I was 17 at his mom's wedding. How I got to his mom's backyard hawaiian themed wedding baffles me, but looking back it's so cool to see how God connects the dots. I had just come back from Israel, which was yet another life changing experience for me. I was staying with a friend for the weekend, and her dad was officiating the wedding. I was a new budding photographer so I carried my camera with me everywhere and before I knew it, I was being handed film and told to photograph the wedding. Talk about pressure!

I vowed to never photograph a wedding again haha! If you know anything about me, I've been a portrait and wedding photographer for the last 7yrs. So I guess it was meant to be.

Anyways back to my marriage story.

We had no positive example of marriage but knew deep down inside that marriage is a covenant never to be broken. What we weren't prepared for was the everyday life of marriage. The constant renewal of "today I chose to be committed and the best version of me." I mean we were in our twenties and barely knew who we were.

For the first 7yrs of marriage I tried everything I could to change him. I thought I could make him better, but when I didn't see results I started blaming and holding resentment towards him. On top of that, all the loss we had experienced: a baby, a house, all of our possessions due to a flood and mold, a failed attempt being self employed, hopeless dreams, our community, our friends it grew weary on us, and I only allowed it to fester and grow us further apart.

Then there was a day, that day we both said we were done. We were tired of the married life, constantly fighting, and unforgiveness was the driving force. Prayer meeting after prayer meeting, I kept hearing that I had to forgive. In order to see change, I had to first be the change. It didn't sound fair, "Why me?" as I had a tantrum with God. It wasn't right. So slowly I began to allow God to soften my heart. Baby step after baby step, I asked God to change my heart. To help me to fall in love with my hubby all over again. For the new person he was. Not for who he was then, or for all the things I charged him with. As I changed, he changed. As I loved more, he loved me more. As I humbled myself, he humbled himself.

We've learned how to fight well, we've set healthy boundaries. We've learned to forgive quickly. To approach each other with curiosity verses assumption. We've learned to reset when old patterns seek to come back.

It hasn't been easy by any means, but I'm now in a season where I'm passionate about wifehood. I don't want to be soley focused on motherhood that I lose my identity as a wife. I desire to learn and seek what it means to be a wife who serves and loves her husband with her whole heart.

When Cancer Comes Back

Cancer, Clickforhope, Depression, LossJasmine LopezComment
“I thought that the fight with cancer had ended, but now I have it again. This time it is in my stomach.”
— Ruth

I thought my life was going to be simple: get married, have kids, and live a happy life. Little did I know, life would be scary and complicated. In 2014, I would receive an unexpected cancer diagnosis.       

In 2010 when I first began having abdominal pain, I visited the doctor's office. I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, Leilanie and that I had stones in my gallbladder. Doctors couldn't operate on me until my daughter was delivered. Due to complications with my gallbladder and the baby, my daughter had to be delivered prematurely.

In March 11, 2011, my daughter was delivered via C-section. Soon after Leilanie was born, I had a pregnancy complication known as “Preeclampsia.” I almost died, but (thank God) survived and was blessed with my beautiful and healthy little baby weighing three pounds and three ounces.

After having my daughter, my abdominal pain worsened. One month following this pain, doctors were finally able to operate on me for the gallbladder. After the surgery, my life was back to normal.  I would feel the pain here and there, but it was tolerable.  

In December of that year, the pain worsened, and by the time New Years came, I made my appointment to see the doctor again.  They weren't able to figure out the root of the problem even after numerous examinations and tests.  This time seeing the doctor was less stressful though because my boyfriend, Joe (now husband) was there by my side.

In February of 2014, I found out that I was pregnant again. I was so excited knowing that my daughter might have a baby brother or sister, but I was also scared since I was still dealing with the abdominal pain. I prayed for God to help me, to heal my pain, and for things to be okay with the baby. At the end of March, I started spotting.  There was nothing scarier in this world than knowing I could lose my baby. I prayed to God to let everything be okay. April came and sadness came right behind it, I lost the baby due to a miscarriage.

If that wasn't enough, I still felt abdominal pain. In May, I decided to go to Rush Hospital to see if they might be able to understand the problem. It started with going to the emergency room.  After several examinations and tests, doctors came to give the worst news of my life: the pain was due to cancer.

I couldn't believe it. I didn't know how to process it. I was in denial. I could remember desperately crying and asking God if this could be true. I don't remember how many times I asked Joe and my mother why all these things were happening to me. This became the beginning of a long process, where I needed to gather all the strength in the world.

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I decided to go to Northwestern Hospital to get a second opinion on my diagnosis. The doctor at Northwestern confirmed that it was cancer, but they couldn't figure out what type it was. From May to November, my life was exams and needles. Finally, a doctor called and asked me to come in. It was three days before Thanksgiving and I found out I had stage three colon cancer. My heart dropped.

I was given chemo pills for about six weeks. Then they changed my chemo pill to a stronger one named Capecitabinr (Xeloda,) my mind was out of it. The doctor kept talking and I didn't even hear one word. Tears began streaming down my face. I could not believe I had cancer. The doctor called my name to get my attention. I replied back with,  “Am I going to be okay? I have a daughter and family.”

He replied, “You know we will do everything that we can. Colon cancer is the second highest form of cancer that kills people.” My heart was numb. 

I felt numb.

Treatment began soon after with IV infusion chemotherapy. I got really sick from time to time.  I had multiple X-rays, cat scans and numerous colonoscopies throughout the treatment as well.  As time passed, I had family, friends and many churches pray for me.  I have to say this was the hardest time of my life. I felt lost and lonely at times, even if family was near me.

In 2015, I fought like never before. One year later, I became a colon cancer survivor. I was extremely excited, blessed and honored to know God healed me. I held a party to celebrate. After all, I didn't know that this road was going to be so long.

One month after my survival party, I had to return for a doctor's appointment. I will never forget this day. I walked into the office and my nurse gave me a hug.  She asked how I was feeling. I said, “Great! I'm extremely happy that I'm done and don't have to return back.”   She just smiled and said, “We love you Ruth. You are a true fighter.”

I was placed in my room to wait for my doctor after that. I heard a knock and told the doctor to come in. My doctor entered followed by another doctor behind him and my nurse. I had a smile on my face that didn't last long.  “Well, Ruth we have an issue.  We found cancer in your stomach and must start you on chemotherapy once again. The X-rays we took show that it's next to your liver.” my doctor told me.

I felt stuck. I was pale as a ghost and started to sweat from all the nerves and anger building inside me.  I couldn't understand why this was happening to me.

I thought that the fight with cancer had ended, but now I have it again. This time it is in my stomach.

I couldn't understand. I stumbled on words as my brain just sort of shut down on me. All I could think of was my daughter and family. I didn't know what to say or think, so I lifted my head up and said, “Lord you got me right?!? Please don't abandon me; please heal me.”

I have to say that winning one cancer battle was such a joy; finding out I have it again has been a struggle.  Yet, I know that God healed me the first time and He will do it again. I have faith and I believe.

 "Never, never, never give up." This quote has been my encouragement. Waking up everyday and fighting cancer to become a survivor. I repeat these words and gather strength. with the help of God...I will succeed!    

I want to encourage others who are struggling with a sickness to keep fighting even if seems too hard. Know God is in control. You got this! Always have faith and pray at all times.  Always keep a positive attitude and know to never, never, never give up. 

He gives Beauty for Ashes

Loss, Widow, Single Parents, Single Mom, Clickforhope, Placental AbruptionJasmine Lopez3 Comments
"I have absolute trust in His sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. I've learned that the most epic adventures await where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the ocean floor." -Brandy

Please share your story:

I was raised in a Christian home, and have been around/involved in ministry my whole life. I thought I had things pretty well figured out as far as God and life were concerned, and felt like all of my service had somehow earned me a "Hardship Pass". Not that my earlier days were easy breezy (they involved family issues and divorce, lots of moving around, difficulty making friends, etc.), but I knew a lot of people that had it way worse than me.

In 2006, after 4 years of dating, I married my college sweetheart, Jonathan, or "JoNate". I was a new Labor & Delivery Nurse and he was in full-time ministry at a fairly large church. Within 3 months of being married, he was diagnosed (not to my full knowledge) with some pretty significant health issues. 2 years later, we moved away from family, friends, and secure jobs in TN, to follow the Lord's lead to Gainesville, FL. We were getting a fresh start, and it did wonders for our marriage! 6 weeks after we moved, I got pregnant with our first child (after trying for over a year!). At 20 wks I had a placental abruption and we lost our sweet baby girl.

To give a very brief overview of that year, in Feb 2009 we lost our baby, March had a lease purchase agreement fall through on one of our houses in TN and we had to deed back a lot we had purchased to build on in TN as well, April my husband was "demoted" due to changes in his new employer's plans...and totaled our second vehicle (which we’d had for 6 months:-I), July a week after paying off the last of $1000's in medical bills from my pregnancy complications, I got a kidney stone...incurring more medical bills. Then, in October, my husband's little sister, Jessica, was killed in a car accident-leaving behind her 21 y/o husband of six months, 2 y/o daughter and 3 wk old son.

During this "eventful" year, our marriage and ministry were thriving. We were leading a church "small group" with 25-35 people in our (apartment!) home each week...it was incredible! Each trial served to drive us closer to each other and to God. We were fasting together, praying together more frequently, seeking after the Lord...we were desperate! Shortly after Jessica died, I got pregnant again. This pregnancy was completely different and I delivered our healthy, beautiful baby girl, Madison, at 39 weeks! We were so in love! On Sunday, Aug 29th I posted on fb about how happy I was to finally be able to take Madison to church, and how good it was to hear my husband leading worship again..."I couldn't imagine life getting any better than this."

Six days later, Labor Day weekend, I woke up to find my husband unresponsive. He had passed away sometime early in the morning from what we later found out was a genetic heart condition. I was scheduled to return to work from maternity leave in another week, and instead found myself in a whirlwind of funeral arrangements and flooded with friends, family and phone calls.

The phone calls included one to the HR Dept at my job to find out how to activate the new life insurance policy that we had just placed 3 wks prior, after our daughter was born. I was so relieved that we had acted quickly on that. However, my relief very quickly turned into shock and panic when I found out that the insurance company's system had a glitch, and our policy increase was never fully processed...which left it at $5k...and covered 1/3 of the funeral costs. And here I was left with student loans, 2 mortgages on our rental properties in TN (which weren't bringing any profit), a hefty car payment on our 4 yr old car, rent, ridiculous Florida utilities and other monthly bills...with a newborn! My husband had handled 100% of our finances from day one, and I didn't know usernames and passwords for a single account. It took three months of sifting through statements and making phone calls to figure it all out.

I have so many stories of things that happened with the houses...from sitting empty for up to 9 months at a time, to trees falling on the roof, getting destroyed by tenants and having to be renovated-despite having a property manager that was supposed to be helping take care of them, the legal processes necessary because we didn't have a will, getting dropped from 2 insurance companies in 3 months while waiting on the legal process to be finalized, facing foreclosure a couple times for different reasons and the possibility of bankruptcy...so many crazy stories to tell! But each one is a crazy testament of God's faithfulness and provision!

Today, outside of the one remaining rental property, I stand debt-free, with great credit and I am scheduled to close on our beautiful new (to us:) home in Franklin, TN in August. This process started out of the blue and a full year sooner than I had hoped and planned...this is nothing short of miraculous!

It’s invigorating to accomplish feats with hard work and putting in all of your effort. But it’s all the more exciting, and humbling, to know that you had little to do with getting where you are! For every battle or trial I've faced, (and there have been many) I have been incredibly delivered and I am living proof that, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 

How has your story help shape you into who you are today?:

I've realized just how powerful God's strength and joy are in my utter lack of qualification and in my greatest weakness. I've discovered the safety that accompanies submission to God's plans for my life, even when I am so far beyond understanding. I have absolute trust in His sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. I've learned that the most epic adventures await where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the ocean floor.

What compelled you to share your story on our blog:

I have such a heart to encourage people facing loss, or going through seemingly impossible situations. I've watched the Lord do absolutely unbelievable things in my life, and I know that He's able to do it for others too! I just want to spread hope!!

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

Never give up...no matter how hopeless your situation seems. As long as there is breath in your lungs, God is willing and able to heal, redeem and restore. He delights in those who place their trust in Him. He gives beauty for ashes....

Photos by: Jazi Photo

Makeup by: Jacqueline Gamache

Emery Hope's Legacy

Clickforhope, Family, LossJasmine Lopez1 Comment
"They say losing a child changes you and I would say that's definitely true. I am not the same Skye I was and I don't think I ever will be. And I don't necessarily feel that the new me is a bad thing."-Skye

Please share your story: 

Where do I even begin?

My husband and I have three precious little girls - one is in heaven. We were pregnant with our second and I knew then I wanted another one, he wasn't convinced. It took 3 years to convince him to have our third.

I got pregnant with Emery fairly easily, just like I had both Makenzi and Addison. But somehow early in the pregnancy I knew something was not right. I immediately started having problems very early on. I made it to almost the halfway mark and was in and out of the hospital. There was always something wrong and they couldn't figure out what was going on. The doctors always diagnosed me with a threatened miscarriage and would send me home after a couple of nights in the hospital to just be on bed rest.

Finally around 23 weeks I started seeing a high risk specialist and he couldn't figure out what was wrong either, but could tell something was wrong by the look of the amniotic fluid. He wanted to just keep a close watch on me. I saw him on a Tuesday (after being released from another hospital) and by Friday I was in the hospital very sick. That weekend my water broke and he was going to do his best to keep me pregnant as long as he could. By Monday, we welcomed our sweet Emery Hope into this world at 24 weeks.

She was 1lb13oz and beautiful in our eyes. She was extremely premature. We were told we were in for a long ride in the NICU to be prepared.

Our long ride lasted 23 days. She fought so hard in my pregnancy that in her short time on this earth it was difficult. She had a major surgery because her intestines perforated and she just kept getting infections because of the intestinal perforation. It was all in her body and bless her sweet soul, she just couldn't recover from it.

They tried everything they could. We prayed so many times during my pregnancy we just felt certain God was going to pull her through this. He did but not on this side of glory.

On a Wednesday morning, they told us the words you never want to hear as a parent "it's time to hold her and unplug her." We had to make the decision to hold her while she was still alive (only by machines) or unplug her and then hold her. I had only been able to kind of hold her the night she was born, so I asked to please hold her while she was still alive so I could feel her heartbeat and feel her breaths (even if it was machines). My husband and I both held her. I held her all morning. When they first placed her in my arms, her stats went up higher than they had been in days. She knew she was in her Mama's arms. I was able to hold her until her last breath. The machines still weren't helping her and she was fading fast. I told my husband "please go tell them it's time. She needs to just go to heaven, so she can be at peace." He did and they unplugged my sweet girl. I had them remove her tape so I could see her beautiful face as she took her last breaths. She breathed two short breaths and smiled the sweetest smile. I know in that moment when she smiled at me she met Jesus. She was finally at peace and in no pain.

My pain had just begun. I had lost my baby. My baby girl. The baby I prayed for and prayed more for than I have ever prayed for in my life. I just wanted her to survive. I don't understand why God took her from me. I never will. I just know I never got mad at Him. I trusted His decision even if I didn't understand it. I wanted her here and I still want her here with me. I found Hope in the Lord through my Emery Hope. I know one day I will see her again and what a sweet, sweet day that will be.

It is still raw for me. Emery has only been with Jesus for 3.5 months. I long for the day I can see her again. My arms ache and my heart breaks in a way I've never felt before. But God has gotten me through my toughest days. I have never felt His presence in my life more than I do now. He comforts me just as He said He would.

I miss her so much I can't even put it into words! But I am so thankful for the promise the Lord gives us. I want to continue to share my Emery with the world, and bring people to Jesus.

How has your story help shape you into who you are today?:

Losing Emery Hope has brought us much closer as a family and brought us closer to the Lord. It makes us stronger and even when days are tough we have each other.

They say losing a child changes you and I would say that's definitely true. I am not the same Skye I was and I don't think I ever will be. And I don't necessarily feel that the new me is a bad thing. I realize how short life is, I love harder, I cling tighter to my husband and my girls, and I realize these precious girls God loaned me He can take back in the blink of an eye. It will forever be in me and I will forever miss Emery.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us today?:

I want to share my story to bring Hope to others that have lost children. I want them to find Hope in the Lord's promise. I want to share her story. I am proud of my sweet Emery Hope, even if I don't have her here to show I want to share her story and how she brought so many to their knees praying and that she continues to work miracles by me sharing her story. I want people to come to know Jesus.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

I won't say it gets easier. In all honesty, it does not. I miss Emery more today than I did the day she went to be with the Lord. I find my strength in Him. I hope and pray that those who face losing a child like I did find Hope in HIM. I pray they go to Him for comfort and for strength. I know without Him I would be lost more so than I am now without Emery.

I would hope people that are facing a NICU roller coaster wouldn't look at our story as the final outcome. In some cases, babies pull through what Emery did fine. The NICU is an amazing place. It's not a place I loved being but I've never been around more caring and thoughtful people.

I pray that people don't feel their life is over when they lose a precious baby. It's hard and it's difficult. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her. But I have Hope in my Lord and I know that one day I will see her again! We will be reunited and I pray that if anyone does go through losing a child they find comfort in knowing that truth.

I continue to share my story and my journey on my personal blog - http://www.butterfliesandpinksunsets.com . I want our journey to be shared so people can get help and comfort through our journey.