Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I Thought He Was My Isaac | Jennie Goutet

This I didn't expect. I didn't expect a miscarriage. If I were to worry about that, it would have been for the first pregnancy, or at the very least, for the first trimester. But a second trimester miscarriage never crossed my mind.

The morning after Christmas, I thought about going for a walk since the nausea was completely gone. But when I went to the bathroom, I was surprised, and a little afraid, to see blood. I came out of the bathroom and calmly told Matthieu we needed to go to the emergency room. Even though it was probably nothing that a little bed rest wouldn’t cure, we would have to make sure the baby was okay.

We dropped the kids off at my brother-in law’s apartment and waited in the Maternity ER before being called in. After having all the questions asked, the routine exams performed, and the reassurance that the cervix was nice and tight, we went for the sonogram. The baby in my womb was still.

Come on little guy, I prodded internally. We’re here to see you. Wake up! I thought if I nudged the belly with my hand and urged him with my heart, he would wake up.

Matthieu looked worried, but I was sure it was nothing. I looked from him to the intern, who was examining the screen intently without saying anything. But that barely registered with me. It’s fine! Everything’s fine! I thought as I rubbed my belly.

“I can’t see any cardiac activity,” the intern finally said.

I didn’t understand the implications of what she was saying. “Can you check the heartbeat with the sound system?” When she turned the machine on there was just a roar—nothing.

Matthieu was shaking his head sadly, rubbing my arm. The intern spoke. “I’m afraid you’ve lost the baby.”

But I didn’t believe it. “Can the heartbeat be hidden? I’ve heard of that happening.”

“Not at fifteen weeks,” she answered firmly. “The baby’s too big for that to be the case.”

I started to feel cold and nauseous as she called in another doctor who confirmed her diagnosis. The pregnancy had ended. “Alright,” she said briskly. “We’re going to schedule you for a D&C under general anesthesia because the pregnancy is too advanced for your body to do it on its own.” She went on to explain the procedure, but I tuned her out as I lay exposed on the table.

We trudged up the five flights of stairs to my brother-in-law’s apartment where he and his wife hugged us. Then we turned to face the children, who were watching us with worried expressions. Gabriel was panicked to see me crying and immediately started to cry himself before Matthieu could give the news. Juliet chattered on and on, rapidly trying to process her feelings through words. “So did you really cry? With tears?” William chased the cat.

We went home after that, and I sat on the couch, my chest buckling under the oppression. I tried to process the emptiness that wouldn’t be filled with a soft downy head, a tiny baby in my arms, a fourth child to complete this family of ours. I had no idea how to fill the emptiness. I kept waiting to get a phone call from the hospital saying that the equipment was, in fact, not functioning properly and that I should come back in to double check.

That night, I woke up at nearly one o’clock in the morning with cramps that kept me awake for two hours. I began to think I might have to call the hospital in the morning to tell them I wouldn’t be able to wait to have the operation. I put on protection despite the fact there wasn’t much bleeding and went back to bed.

Then at three o’clock I felt it, the first warm rush of blood. “Honey, I’m bleeding!” I said urgently, waking Matthieu up. “We need to go to the hospital!”

I got up, leaving a trail on the floor all the way to the bathroom. After standing indecisively for a moment, Matthieu directed me into the shower. I pulled my pajama pants off, and that’s when I felt the first mass being expelled.

I had no choice but to pull on it, and when it fell to the shower floor, I saw it was my baby surrounded by a bloody mass. I saw the small head, the little gray back and tiny butt, and the impossibly tiny foot sticking out from the rest of the matter. “Get me a bag,” I ordered numbly. “I have to bring this to the hospital.”

Then I felt another mass start to exit, accompanied by a stream of blood. When the room went white, I got down on my hands and knees and put my head against the cool floor outside the shower. I added this to the bag.

I got back up, put heavy protection and sweat pants on, and had Matthieu wake the children while I lay down. We had no choice but to take them with us; surprisingly they were full of courage and in a good mood. Matthieu dressed them and brought them out in the frigid night air to put them in the car.

Meanwhile, I got up from where I had been lying on the bed and felt more matter leaving me, so I went back into the bathroom shower, which is where Matthieu found me. “How am I going to make it out to the car bleeding this much?” I wondered out loud.

But then I thought, I can’t leave my kids sitting out there in the cold and dark all by themselves. I have to get up and go. So I cleaned up what I could and changed my clothes again.

I was a little faint, so I stretched the seat in the car to lean back, and felt more material coming out of me as we started on our way. There was nothing I could do about it, and the ambiance was strangely festive as the children chattered excitedly.

When we finally arrived at the hospital, they brought a wheelchair and accompanied us down to the Maternity ER. For once, the waiting room was empty, and they were able to see me right away.

Matthieu and the kids stayed in the waiting room while I stripped and climbed up on the same uncomfortable half-table I had been on earlier that day. As soon as I removed my pants, there was another gush of blood and matter. The midwife hurried me on to the table and pushed my legs outward. As she unsuccessfully tried to staunch the flow, she said, “Relax! Relax! If you keep closing up, I’m not going to be able to stop the bleeding.”

I yelled back at her, “If you want me to relax, stop yelling at me!” I didn’t understand why she couldn’t go more slowly and stop jabbing things into me.

She finally saw that the placenta was still partially attached, thus the continual flow of blood. She was ordering the somewhat harried nurse to give her better light, get her pinchers with some grip and hold the basin.

I had to cough while she pulled at the placenta. This was uncomfortable, and I began to miss the general anesthesia I was supposed to have had with the D&C. It went on for a session of about ten minutes of coughing and resting before the speculum came out and she stated she believed she had gotten it all. The ultrasound showed there were still clots in the womb, but she thought the body would take care of that by itself.

They got me cleaned up and on a stretcher out in the hallway. They weren’t going to bring me to a room since I wasn’t giving birth; they couldn’t leave me in the admissions area, yet I still needed to be under surveillance.

My cheeks felt bloodless, and I was nauseous and hot. Everything looked white in the dark corridor. As the nurse was putting the IV in, I closed my eyes gratefully until she slapped my arm to wake me. “Stay with me here!”

After fifteen minutes of receiving a glucose solution, plus another medication, I started to feel alive again. I was freezing, and the corridor was drafty, so I asked her to bring me something warmer than a sheet. The nurse was huffing and puffing as she cleaned the room and bagged my things, which she brought to me in a garbage bag. They would all need to be thrown away. I overheard her describing to another nurse how the blood was everywhere—on the floor, the curtains, the walls. The midwife who had treated me came to check up on me. She explained gently that I had hemorrhaged.

I dozed in the corridor, grateful for my warm blankets, grateful the worst was over, grateful my baby had come out on its own and that I wouldn’t need an operation. It was about five a.m. and I needed to stay until nine so they could survey the bleeding and decide whether or not I would still need surgery. Matthieu would bring the kids home to sleep and then take them to the play center for the day. The kids were troopers, even on little sleep.

At seven, the moms started coming in—the ones in labor, the ones who thought they were in labor, the ones who were scheduled to be induced or have C-sections that day. I remembered. That was me at one time.

I heard the panting and labored breathing, the excited fathers, the galloping heart rates as they monitored the babies, even an infant’s loud, angry cry just before nine.

I lay there as they walked by and ignored me.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t as upset as I would have expected to be. Part of what had oppressed me the day before was the idea of an invasion, the thought of going in after my baby and vacuuming him out limb by limb. They wouldn’t even be able to tell me if it was a boy or girl, so how could I find a name? I wanted to ask them to check for the heart rate one last time before they operated, but I wasn’t sure they would do it. I wasn’t sure I would have the courage to ask either.

This way, I felt like my baby made his own choice. We didn’t violate the place where he was supposed to be safe. I felt like he was telling me, “I’m done mom. I’m going. You can let go too.”

I tried to gather all the positive thoughts, like how I still had my three children, which was no small gift. I tried to think about how we could all go back to the plans we had before—to start doing activities that were only possible with children who were getting older. I could think about what I wanted for my own life. But truthfully, everything paled next to a downy head, tiny fingers, sweet soft breath, a new life in the family. The emptiness was oppressive.

Matthieu handled everything bravely that night—the blood, and caring for the children in the middle of the night. His only concern was that I would be okay. As he pulled out of the emergency drop-off area with the kids, in pitch black at four in the morning, he took the bumpy ramp towards the gate to exit the hospital.

“Man!” he said quietly. “These speed bumps are a bit excessive!” as the car went bumpity-bump, clatter-bang over them.

Then he realized he was driving his minivan down the stairs instead of the ramp.

He wasn’t able to back up either. He finally gunned it, and the car went bumpity-bump-clatter-bang all the way back to the top. He sat there breathing hard for a minute, then turned back to the kids and shook his head, exclaiming, “Quel idiot! Mais, quel idiot!” What an idiot I am!

This made all the kids laugh and cry out, “Quel idiot, Papa! Quel idiot!”

The next day as I was about to leave the hospital, I passed what I thought was the last of the scary blood clots as soon as I stood up. The doctors warned me to watch for dizziness and to take all the medicine and iron they gave me. Then I went home and lay on the couch, noticing with surprise that I felt relatively well. I knew that as long as I could stay on my couch under the blankets I was safe from the worst of the pain.

But grief was crouching in the shadows, waiting for its chance. Earlier that night when the procedure was nearly complete, I asked the midwife to do what I had lacked the courage to do—look at the baby and tell me whether it was the boy that had been predicted, or whether it was a girl. She opened the fold of the towel to examine him and told me it was a boy. Then she dumped his body in the garbage.

My baby was a boy. His name is Alistair.

Bio: Jennie Goutet is the author of romance novel, The Viscount of Maisons-Laffitte, as well as the award-winning memoir, Stars Upside Down, and the children’s book Happy People Everywhere. She is a contributing author to Sunshine After the Storm, and That's Paris - an Anthology of Love, Life and Sarcasm in Paris. She was a BlogHer Voice of the Year pick three times, and her writing has appeared on Huffington Post, Queen Latifah’s website, Mamalode, BonBonBreak, and BlogHer. You can find her on her author website, jenniegoutet.com, or her blog, aladyinfrance.com, where she writes occasionally about faith, food, and life in Paris with her husband and three children.

Check out her book Stars Upside Down and her brand new book The Viscount of Maisons-Laffitte! Check out her blog and enter to win free copy of The Viscount of Maisons-Laffitte!


Monday, May 2, 2016

I Thought He Was My Isaac

Isaac; Biblical meaning Laughter - The promised child of Abraham and Sarah in the bible. See Genesis Chapter 15

I Thought He Was My Isaac...

I hover breathless over the new life that lay sleeping in his bed. The sterile smell of the hospital assaults my nose. But my breath has hitched at the tiny fingers curled around my index finger. This is finally it. Right? This is my Isaac, my laughter.

Eleven babies - gone to heaven where my womb betrayed them and took their lives away from them too soon. Eleven children that never had a chance to laugh and pray. To receive a hug and kiss from their parents and play their siblings. All of the prayers over us, all of the tears shed. The word that a baby would come.

The word that the Lord was in this. This is for you.  God told me that I was supposed to tell you to follow this path. This is His plan...

I did, here I am, here we are - Isaac.

It was almost too good to be true- the first red flag that it seems I have ignored.

But sweet baby Isaac, he loves me and his face lights up when he sees me.

The days and nights melt into one another.  He sleeps through the night and is seemingly perfect.

But it was not meant to be.

The laughter fades...

The room once again sits empty.

Now we struggle with the silence

We struggle with the why.

Struggle with the pain, an empty cradle stands alone in a room untouched- as if a snapshot has been taken, unmarred by time. A monument to what was; what could have been...

I will still love you Lord... a plea through tears, a silent plea, and a broken heart. I trust you... when the water rises and the flames burn high. You are on the throne. A silent night and whispered prayer "keep him safe- draw his heart to you" as I kneel beside his empty crib and tears stream down my cheeks. Pain wells up almost tangible- touchable. My eyes play tricks on me and I see a downy covered head- tiny fingers. I suck in a breath - and illusions fade as if a spell was broken. I trust you. Half spoken to Him half reminding myself.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5

I trust you...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

When God Gives You A New Dream | Brenna

I think we can all agree that when we are young we have a certain idea about what our life is going to look like – or at least what it is supposed to look like, right? Whether it be certain relationships we imagine having down the line, or certain events we plan for our future, we have an idea about how we want it to look like.

Well in January of 2015 my life was hitting a pretty pivotal stage. I was about to graduate from college that coming May with a BA in communications, but had no clue what I actually wanted to do or where I wanted to live. Not to mention, while trying to make those decisions, I was working 4 jobs. I had always imagined my life at 22 making so much more sense than it did right then and there. I imagined having so much more direction of what I wanted and where I was supposed to be.

January 29, 2015 was the end to my first week of my last semester and I had called my mom early that day. While managing to hold as much as I could together to avoid mascara running down my face, my conversation with my mom quickly became emotional when I broke down and admitted I felt so purposeless. I was so busy all the time, working so much and loving the jobs I worked, about to graduate, but had no clue where or what to do and genuinely felt like I had no purpose. Why was I doing all of this? Am I just going through the motions of what I thought my life was supposed to be? What am I actually supposed to be doing? After she calmed me down she assured me we would talk later that evening when me and my cat would be staying at her house due to bug spraying at my apartment.

However, it didn’t exactly work out like that. That same day, January 29, I went through all of my classes and even went to the basketball game one of my professors was counting attendance at (literally the last place I wanted to be). But walking out of the gym is actually the last thing I remember from that night. About 2 minutes after getting on the freeway headed to my mom’s house I was in a car accident where my car flipped 5 times and my airbags didn’t go off. I was ejected from the car and went through the front window and basically “slid into home” on my left front side. While my injuries were extensive – shattered shoulder bone, ripped tendons, broken ribs, injured knee, internal bleeding from my spleen, and being technically labeled a brain injury due to being knocked unconscious – the biggest injury was my crushed spinal cord. I could no longer feel or move anything below my waist.

I don’t really remember anything my first couple days in the hospital. But the first real memory I have is when the doctors came in and told me I was paralyzed. Even typing that word now seems surreal. I had a breathing tube in at the time, so I couldn’t speak. The most interesting thing to me was how I felt when they told me of my condition. Here they are telling me some of the craziest news of my life and I can’t even speak to really have a conversation with them, but I have the most peace I have ever felt in my life. The only thing I remember going through my mind was the fact that I was just stressing about my purpose and feeling as if I have none, and then God saves me from something that every doctor and paramedic that has seen me in relation to that day says should have killed me. HE saved ME. He isn’t done with me. He has a plan for me.

I saw my life going a certain way. I was going to graduate, move to Hawaii, and of course get married and be happy with little kids running around and surfing all day (haha to be clear I’ve never surfed a day in my life). But God has another plan for me.

Learning this lesson of God’s plan, has been necessary but not easy. When you live your life for 22 years a certain way, doing certain things, with certain routines, and then it all changes, it can get frustrating at times. The past year and a half have been filled with health complications and relearning how to make everyday activities easier and accessible. I cannot walk as of right now but have gained back so much sensation I didn’t have originally in the hospital as well as gained back some motion. It is crazy just to look back a year ago and see how far this journey has come. God has been by my side the whole way. And although it hasn’t been easy, knowing God has a plan for you is the most comforting thing in the world.

I heard a message by a pastor named John Gray a few weeks back and I think it may be the most applicable message for anyone going through anything (which we all are). He spoke about how God is the author of our lives. Your beginning part of your story is where you have this life plan or dreams you are excited to live out, everything is going great, and your faith in God is great. Then he spoke about the second part of your story, where things change and don’t go your imagined way and things can get tough. We all go through times like this or where our dreams don’t work out as planned, but it is what we do during those times. He challenged us to have faith through those times. It’s easy to have faith when things are going the way we want, but how easy is it to have faith and worship God when they aren’t? What he reminded us is that God is the author. He has an end to our story and he knows how it is going to turn out. We have to be the ones that remember to have full confidence in Him and His dreams for us even if they aren’t the ones we planned for ourselves originally. I think that is so applicable for my situation, but also really anyone’s situation. We all have our life envisioned a certain way, and for most of us, it is not going to turn out the way we planned. Remembering God is our author is remembering that He has a plan and a dream for us as well, and His is going to be much more fulfilling and bring us more joy than we could have ever imagined.

I know this section is called “When God Gives You a New Dream.” However, I don’t necessarily know that I have recognized what that new dream is just yet. The message I spoke of above is really helping me through where I currently am. I am 100% sure that God has a dream for me and what He wants my life to look like, and for now I am just having faith in that fact. I am in therapy 4 times a day, and at the beginning of this journey my new dream for myself was to walk again. That is still a nice goal for myself to work towards, but to make that my end all and be all of my story is silly. I recognize God as my author, and am fully aware that he can bring me more joy with His dreams for me, than I could ever have by walking.  

Hi! My name is Brenna Holloway and I’ve spent all of my 24 years in northern California. My hobbies consist of working out, painting, playing music, and loving the best little kitty in the world Nala Jah the Monster Slayer. My passion is working with children and am currently exploring the idea of a masters in education. I love Jesus and am so so lucky that He loves me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bonfire Party

 Spring is here! Flowers, warm weather and the promise of many memories to be made in the sun. The season of entertaining, BBQ's and pool parties, and picnics at the lake. Last week we had a bonfire, so we thought we would share it with you.

We try to make everything as healthy as possible here at the Cottage even when it comes to Smores. So we served organic marshmallows, Organic graham crackers, dark chocolate, sweet tea (hey you can't live without it in the south!), water and nitrate free beef hotdogs.

We served the tea in this adorable drink server. We bought it a few years ago at Sam's Club.

Tasty bits of organic chocolate waiting to melt in your smore.
Crisp sweet organic graham crackers await your creation.

We used this little bucket filled with ice for a cooler for guest who would rather have water.

We got the Smore station  a couple weeks ago at Sam's Club also- I really love it! It's perfect for so many things, like sandwiches and other finger foods. Oh and- oh well another post! I'm sure you will see it quite a bit this summer.

Don't forget the skewers for roasting! We used our shish kabobs sticks. We picked up those cute little glasses from Target. Aren't they perfect for this?

This post contains affiliate links

#Bonfire #FamilyFun #Party #PartyPlanning #Events #SmoreStation

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Old Hickory Lake

Last weekend we spent a day at Old Hickory lake, we had such a great time! It's so beautiful. We took a picnic and sat in the sunshine watching the boaters and kayakers.

One of my favorite things about Tennessee is the many parks and lakes within just a few minutes drive. Whether you want to go hiking or hang out on the water there is something for everyone.

Isn't it beautiful? This lake is made from the waters of the Cumberland that meanders across Tennessee.  There are wonderful parks sprinkled along its shores.

People come from near and far to enjoy the water to jet ski,
fish, ski, boat and just hang out with their family and friends. Many parks include Bbq areas and picnic tables that make it even easier to  enjoy the day.
We just packed a picnic and blanket but there were places to cook and tables available.
The water is still cool, but there were lots of families out biking and enjoying the day.
It is a perfect way to enjoy the day with those you love.


Check out our visit to Wynnewood State Historic Site!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When God Gives Us A New Dream | Leelee

Up until I reached college, everything went exactly according to my plans. I got the toys that I wanted.  I received all sorts of accolades and was admitted into all sorts of special programs.  I was fortunate enough to be accepted into my first and only choice of college.

My plans were to study education and Spanish.  When I finished college, I would have several job offers.  Obviously, I would graciously accept the teaching job where I would utilize both of my majors and would be able to live in a cute little place overlooking the ocean.  As an eighteen year old, I could not imagine spending my career with the littlest learners.  I was adamant about wanting only upper elementary job offers.  Since I was dreaming about my ideal future, I would have fallen in love and married my college sweetheart.

Little did I know then, but a series of re-directions would prove over and again that I needed to trust God with my plans instead of going off on my own.

After college was over, I moved back to my hometown and into my childhood room.  I never found my cute beach cottage.  Nor do I want to live that close to the beach anymore.  

In 2012, the NJ coast was battered by Hurricane Sandy.  Many of the cute beach cottage homes that I once coveted have sustained significant damage. Had I moved where I desired, I could have lost everything.  

It took me a long time to realize it, but there are many blessings to my current living situation.  I was being protected.

Trust me.

Things didn’t end well with my college relationship.  We were just too different. Those first few weeks when I was single again were rough, but God reminded me of how His love will never go away.  There was a lot of change going on inside my heart, which led me to start writing.

Trust me.

It took the heartbreak and struggles of that year for me to realize just how love actually works. Now, I have found myself in an amazing, loving, fun relationship.  I am continually thanking God for providing this connection that was better than I could have imagined.  If I had insisted on continuing with one of my pigheaded attempts to find love, I never would have found the love of my life.

Trust me.

I ended up dropping my Spanish major.  I can barely remember the language that I once was so passionate about.  Because this language study had been a part of my identity for so long, it was rough figuring out where to go from there.  There were many tears and painful meetings with advisors.  I wasn’t completely sold on my new course of study, but I was still able to graduate on time.

Trust me.

One of the biggest surprises that God had in store for me involved my work. My dream was to work with the older kids and do all sorts of deep, intense research.  Over and over, God reminded me to trust him.  I relinquished control and pursued any kind of job that I could.

This is my fifth year working in preschool.  It was the last place that I ever thought I would be.  It has turned out to be the best job.  I am thriving in an environment where a younger me thought she was not meant to be.  Boy was I wrong.

Right now, I am wondering where are the next things God has in store for me.  I may not have all the answers, but I know I can trust Him with my dreams and plans.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

Leelee is blessed to find that the life she is living is far better than she could have imagined. She is a 30 year old life-long Jersey girl who loves Jesus, her family, and the ocean.  Her other favorites include Harry Potter, polar bears, pink polka dots, sparkles, and her boyfriend.

Connect with her on her blog BlogInstagram & Twitter 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Beefy Nachos

Mexican Cheese Mix
Favorite Salsa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Coconut Oil or your favorite healthy oil
Ground beef
Refried beens


1. Warm up the ground meat of your choice and the refride beens in two separate pan with a little water.

2. Slice Tortillas into strips or triangles, fry in skillet with oil.

3. When crisp remove to a platter with a paper towel on top leaving behind as much of the oil as possible in the pan and lightly salt with some finely ground Himalayan pink salt.

4. Add cheese in layers between chips.

5. When all of your chips are done, layered and salted, top with cheese, meat and beens and serve with a bowl of salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.

Nacho Sauce: 
2 tablespoons salted grass fed butter
2 tablespoons organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapenos
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded colby cheese


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in half and half, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

2. Stir in jalapeƱos and cheeses until melted, about another minute or 2. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3.Serve immediately poured on top or on the side.