Year 1

In preparing for Christian’s birthday, I’ve tried hard to make it a positive experience. I want his birthday to be something that makes the world a better place, even if only briefly – because a year ago today, my world was destroyed. Something good should come out of that.

Last night I went to bed around 6pm. Yes, I was tired, but also I wanted to avoid thinking about today. In a lot of ways I still want to avoid it. While I planned Doubleplusgood Day I was excited – it’s a great way to commemorate Christian and to help me focus outward instead of just pitying myself. But today . . . today I want to curl up in a hole and be left alone. I want to shout that there’s nothing to celebrate because my son died, he’s gone, I haven’t gotten to see him learn to crawl or to wash him down after feeding him pureed carrots or to even hold him more than that one time. These are things I hoped Doubleplusgood Day would overcome, and I would feel so compassionate and charitable toward others that today didn’t hurt.

Taking a step back from my immediate emotions, though, I can see how much my grief has changed over the past year. I feel so much more normal than I could have dared hope! To a large extent, Christian’s death is a part of my life I’ve become accustomed to, and I go about my days in the regular sort of happy-frustrated-lonely-overwhelmed mix of a stay-at-home mom. I no longer experience the agonizing despair of postpartum + grief, my moments of sadness are fewer and further between, and those moments don’t last long. So I cross my fingers that although today might be filled with sad moments or loss and painful memories of last year, there will also be some service, some kind words from friends and family, some happiness. And cookies.

Baby Christian-99


Remembering the past year

Will you do me a favor?

Let me know what you remember about how you’ve experienced Christian’s short life and his death. How has it affected you? What did you think or feel when you first read about the diagnosis or when you heard about his birthday?

I really want to feel like this is bigger than me.


Coming soon: Doubleplusgood Day

Christian’s birthday is a week from today.

I thought for a long time about how to make it a special day, something that would reach a lot of people and be meaningful. I got a lot of suggestions and decided on initiating Doubleplusgood Day.

doubleplusgood

Here’s how it works: you do a good deed on April 24. It can be big or small, for a friend or stranger, part of your daily routine or out of the ordinary. Then you tell me about it by commenting on a post (there will be another on April 24 for you to comment on), emailing me, sending a text or Facebook message, or visiting me in person. If you come to my house, you’ll get a doubleplusgood cookie and a temporary shark tattoo (like Jarom and I wore to the hospital when Christian was born) as a reward.

And I’ll write all of the good deeds down in a Doubleplusgood Day book, to which I can add every year.

If you want to do something else to celebrate Christian’s short life, or if you want to count this as your good deed, please consider donating to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I’ve mentioned them before – it’s an organization that provides free professional photography to families who lose a baby to stillbirth or neonatal death. Our photographer, Heather Ellis, took some beautiful pictures of Christian. She and the other photographers volunteer their time, so your donation helps run the organization and provide training to the volunteers.

So please, spread the word! I’d love for this to reach as many people as possible. Let’s make Christian’s birthday a great day that brings a little more kindness and happiness to the world.

xo Mika


Not what you were looking for

Dear 100 Hour Board readers,

I didn’t even know the 100 Hour Board was still running. Cool!

I doubt that my blog was what the reader was looking for (more likely it was baby Amelia’s story), but my husband and I did have a baby last year who died at birth. He lived for an hour and a half. You can read from the beginning of our experience here or read about his birth here.

As a side note, the pictures of Christian were taken when he was alive, with the exception of the final image where he is not being held.

Happy reading!

Mika


General Conference: Sunday afternoon

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducting

Choir: Sweet is the Work

[ prayer ]

Choir: I Stand All Amazed
[ watching closely to see our friend Christian! Superb job singing! ]

President Boyd K. Packer
Times of uncertainty focus our attention on things that matter
At last, I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty.
If such a thing came to me, it could come to anyone
Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering
God lives, He is our father, we are His children
Of all other titles God could have used, He chose to be called Father
Parenthood is a sacred privilege, and, depending on faithfulness, can be an eternal blessing
A family can be happy at home
The promise is eternal increase, and it will not be denied.
All things essential to our salvation will eventually be given
The Holy Ghost is real
Each son or daughter of our Heavenly Father can come to know the reality of Moroni’s promise by the power of the Holy Ghost
Underpinning all that we do is the Lord’s name, which is the authority by which we act in the church
Every prayer ends in His name, every ordinance, every ordination, every blessing done in the name of Jesus Christ
[ still waking up from a nap with a bad headache ]
Jesus Christ is the Son of God; He is our advocate with the Father
Share our testimony with our family and others
Remember, there is an adversary who personally seeks to disrupt the work of the Lord
We must choose who to follow
Decide individually to follow the Savior, so we faithfully remain on His side
The Savior lives. I know the Lord; I am His witness.

Elder William R. Walker
Live true to the faith. Commit now!
Learn the conversion stories of your forefathers
The Mormon pioneer heritage of faith and sacrifice is your heritage
ex: Wilford Woodruff, the United Brethren
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
Early saints stayed true to the faith even after Joseph Smith’s martyrdom
ex: Mormon Battalion – “My faith is so strong as ever, and when I think of the things Brigham Young told us, I believe it about the same as if the Lord God told me.”
They knew they were led by a prophet of God
[ headache caused by lack of food. Time to eat ]

Elder L. Tom Perry
Eternal nature of the family unit
The driver knows best; horses must be obedient
Follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost
Out of respect for our agency, it is never a strong, forceful tug
If you veer off course, allow the Spirit to guide you back
Even with the slightest tug from the Master, we must be willing to completely alter our course
Today’s complexity demands greater simplicity
At its best, obedience is an emblem of our faith in the wisdom and power of the highest authority, even Almighty God
Our faithfulness, through obedience, will ultimately rescue us
Obedience is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power, and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence
It is a choice to sense the spiritual bit in our mouths and follow the driver’s lead

Choir & congregation: Hark All Ye Nations

Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally”
Must ask God or ever remain in darkness and conversion
Joseph Smith, in his haste to know, is not hasty. This is a special prayer. He prepares
The church has spread throughout the world; opposition, criticism, and antagonism are companions to the truth
There will always be a force to oppose good
The Son of God, the Savior of all mankind – why did they not leave Him alone? Because He is the truth, and the truth will always be opposed
1. God is a personal, exalted being, an eternal father
2. God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings
3. You may become like God if you have faith, repent, receive ordinances, endure to the end
4. The Church of Jesus Christ today is fundamentally the same church he organized during his mortal ministry
5. Revelation has not ceased, the heavens have not closed, God speaks to prophets and He will speak to you
6. Those who live and die without the gospel are not lost. All mankind may be saved
7. You lived before earthly birth in the presence of God
8. Marriage and family are not conventions of men; they are intended to be eternal
9. The family is the pattern of heaven
These revelations are not the inventions of Joseph Smith
There is no dispute about what Joseph Smith accomplished, only how he did what he did and why
He was either pretender or prophet. He did it alone, or he had help from heaven
Do ask young Joseph and ask God – the pattern to know the truth of all things

Elder Michael John U. Teh
ex: natural disasters in Philippines
“We’re ok!” Their faith in Christ gave them hope that everything would work out eventually
Material things don’t matter in times of disaster and calamity
How much can we live without?
Most of us are involved in earning money and acquiring some of the world’s goods; it requires much of our time and attention
It is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough
There is a strong inclination to obtain more and more
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
Pres. Uchtdorf: “Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential . . . why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so trivial?”
I will focus on things that will constitute our treasures in heaven
1. Acquire the Christlike attributes of faith, hope, humility, and charity
Put off the natural man and become as a child
Strive to be perfect like Him
2. Put more quality time and effort in strengthening family relationships
It is the most important unit in time and eternity
3. Serving others is a hallmark of a true follower of Christ
4. Understanding the doctrine of Christ and building our testimony
Consistently study the words of Christ and of living prophets
“I treasure my temple recommend and keep it under my pillow. I pay a full tithe on my meager income. No matter what happens, I will always pay tithing.”
Our priorities will have a direct bearing on our next estate

Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis
How can we recognize truth in a world that is increasingly blunt in its attack on the things of God?
1. Know the truth by recognizing its fruits
Improvement in the lives of those who follow the teachings of Christ
2. Experiment on the word ourselves
We are invited to test the word, given parameters, and told the outcome if we follow the instructions
Giving place for the word in our hearts and cultivating it like a seed
3. Personal revelation
Revelation is knowledge of whatsoever things we ask in faith
“I will tell it in your mind and in your heart by the Holy Ghost”
Can be obtained by asking in faith with an honest heart
“Without faith you can do nothing; therefore, ask in faith”
Requires work studying it out, then asking in prayer if it is right
“He that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word””
Believe that we will receive revelation and have hope in God’s promises
It requires more effort than just searching the internet, but it is worth it

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
The declaration that Christ had risen from the dead was at first incomprehensible
The tomb was empty – John writes that he saw and believed
Angels tenderly asked Mary, “Why weepest thou?”
“Whom seekest thou?” Mary assumes he is the gardener
The voice, the tone, the tender accent she had heard and loved in the earlier days lifted her from the despairing depths to which she had sunk
“Ye shall be witnesses unto me”
Christ’s resurrection shows that His existence is independent and everlasting
Both as Jehovah and Messiah, He is the great I Am. He simply is, and ever will be.
We can have ultimate confidence and trust in His power to overcome all else and grant us everlasting life
“Even so in Christ shall all be made alive”
“Christ’s victory in death ended the human predicament. Now there are only personal predicaments.”
He is a perfect merciful God, thus He makes all things right. No injustice in life is permanent, not even death
Having redeemed us from the Fall, our lives are, in reality, His
Resurrection resolves the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth
If He was in fact literally resurrected, it follows that He is a divine being
Because He was resurrected, He cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. He had to have been a God
Therefore, what he taught is true – God does not lie
He will come again and reign personally upon the earth
There is a final judgment and a resurrection for all
Doubts about the meaning and purpose of life are unfounded
The grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner
Repentance of any violation of the commandments is both possible and urgent
Given the reality of the resurrection of Christ, death is not our end
The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ

President Thomas S. Monson
We’ve been fed spiritually, the music has been superb, the messages have been prepared and delivered under the promptings of the Holy Spirit
Take time to read the conference messages
Be kind and loving to those who do not share our beliefs and standards
We face many serious challenges, but our Heavenly Father is mindful of us. He will guide and bless us as we put our faith and trust in Him
Constantly nourish our testimonies of the gospel
May we ever be found doing the work of the Lord
Realize how much our Father in Heaven loves us

Choir: Come, Let Us Anew

[ prayer ]


General Conference: Sunday morning

President Henry B. Eyring conducting

Choir: On This Day of Joy and Gladness

[ prayer ]

Choir: Let Us All Press On

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
All of us experience times when the very fabric of our world tears at the seams, leaving us feeling alone, frustrated, and adrift
To make life sweeter and joyful and glorious, be grateful
Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift the goblet of gratitude can find healing, peace, and understanding
We’re commanded to “thank the Lord our God in all things”
Let our heart be full of thanks to God
Why does God command us to be grateful?
Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings
What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?
Count our blessings, there are many; but the Lord doesn’t expect us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance
Overall spirit or attitude of gratitude
It’s easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way
See gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation
Instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances, whatever they may be
Be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered
We can choose to be like Job, who seemed to have everything but then lost it all
Pioneers maintained a spirit of gratitude on their long trek
Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power
We can be grateful no matter what
When we’re grateful in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation
In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise
How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we’re pleased with our circumstances
Through the eyes of faith, we look beyond our present-day challenges
Act of faith in God; requires that we trust Him and thank Him for things that we may not see
“Not my will, but thine be done”
We do not always understand the trials of life, but trust that one day we will
Nourished by the many and sacred truths we do know
Through the Atonement, we can live forever with our loved ones
Our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy
“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.” – apostles accepted with courage the trials they faced
You don’t need to see the Savior as the apostles did to experience the same transformation they did
Is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life they seem unacceptable to us?
We resist endings – because we’re made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings
In this plan, there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings
Have we not reason to be filled with gratitude regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves?
Gratitude broadens our perception and clears our vision, fosters empathy toward our fellow men
Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attitudes
A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues
Allow our souls to expand in thankfulness to our Heavenly Father

Elder M. Russell Ballard
No matter how good your message is, you may not get a chance to deliver it without consistent persistent followup
1. Name of the church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) is not only a formal title
We should not refer to the church by any other name, including Mormon or LDS Church
May fittingly refer to ourselves as Mormon, if coupled with full name of the church
We are Christians! Members of the Savior’s church
Develop the habit of always making it clear that we belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
2. Pray to be led to at least one person to extend an invitation to learn (before Christmas)
Preach My Gospel: extending an invitation without following it up is like buying a ticket without going
Commitment is hollow without completion
Missionary work: inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the gospel
“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Replace our fear with real faith
Followup our invitations, take others by the hand, lift them up, walk with them in their spiritual journey
Obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel, a guidebook for missionary work (for all of us!)
Read it, study it, apply what you learn
Blessings will come to families when they know and understand better what the missionaries are teaching
If we follow up, the Lord will not let us down

Sister Jean A. Stevens
[ talking about a preemie baby...who lived. I tuned out ]
Our Father in Heaven reaches out for each of us with His infinite love
As we develop greater trust and faith, we can access His power to bless us
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a checklist; it lives in our hearts

Choir & congregation: Teach Me to Walk in the Light

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Your pathway to eternal life depends on our brief performance in this life
ex: Olympic athletes judged on very short competition
Your “four minutes” have already begun
Certain things are absolutely essential
Checkpoints which move us through our spiritual performance on earth
Baptism, Holy Ghost, priesthood ordination, temple ordinances, sacrament
In the ordinances, the power of godliness is manifest
Keeping the commandments will qualify you to perform these saving ordinances
In your performance, ponder: what do I need to do next to ensure my medal?
Don’t wait! Your 4 minutes will pass quickly, and you’ll have eternity to think about your actions
It’s not yet too late to repent, but it soon may be
The miracle of the Atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance
“It is never too late, so long as the Master says there is still time”
Is there someone who needs your encouragement? How can you help them with their 4 minutes?
You’ve prepared for this! This is your moment to perform. The time is now

Elder David A. Bednar
ex: new truck, stuck in snow; loaded with wood
Each of us carries a load of demands, opportunities, obligations, constraints
1. Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction to let me press forward?
2. Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home?
Sometimes we mistakenly believe happiness means not carrying a load
Don’t haul around so many nice but unnecessary things that we’re distracted and diverted from what really matters
“Be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me”
Many of assume a burden will be suddenly and permanently taken away – but “the burdens . . . were made light, yea the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease.”
Increased capacity will make burdens lighter
The Atonement enables us to do good and become better
The Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient and conscientious and who are striving to be come better and serve more faithfully
The Lord desires to enliven us, not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us
Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities but also our physical pains and anguish, shortcomings, fears, frustrations, regrets, remorse, despair, desperation
There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness we encounter in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. He has perfect empathy
His yoke is easy, and His burden is light
Strive to learn more about the Atonement as we assess our individual loads
Many aspects of the Atonement we can and need to understand

Choir: A Child’s Prayer

President Thomas S. Monson
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this journey
We’re all spirit children of our Heavenly Father, and as such are brothers and sisters
Loving all of God’s children will become easier
Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our exemplar
Manifestations of love: patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc.
Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day interactions with one another
Recognize someone’s need and then respond
“I’ve never yet felt a tinge of regret for being a little too kind.”
Every day of our lives, we are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us
“It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters.”
“Charity is the pure love of Christ, and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”
Some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes
Too much impatience, arguing, fighting, tears in the family
The ones we love most become the targets of our harsh words
If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect
Don’t demean or belittle; be compassionate and encouraging
Forgiveness should go hand-in-hand with love
Blame keeps wounds open; only forgiveness heals
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.”
Each person has within him- or herself the power to increase the sum total of the world’s happiness
“Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them for a lifetime”
Begin now, today, to express love to all of God’s children
Respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way
Because of God’s love for us, He sent His son, who loves us enough to give His life for us so that we might have eternal life
Our hearts will be filled with love for our Heavenly Father, for our Savior, and for all mankind

Choir: Guide Us, O Though Great Jehovah

[ prayer ]


General Conference: Saturday afternoon

President Henry B. Eyring conducting

Choir: Glory to God On High

[ prayer ]

[ for the past month I've been taking a half dose of Zoloft every day because I was going to run out of refills while our insurance was being processed/cancelled - and a half dose isn't quite enough, so I had a MAJOR ANXIETY MELTDOWN for a bit ]

Elder Richard G. Scott
The children of Father in Heaven can do amazing things when they feel trusted.
No doctrine more fundamental to our work than the Atonement
At every appropriate opportunity, testify of the Savior and the power of His atoning sacrifice
He is the perfect pattern for everyone in life
Don’t become absorbed by trivial things
We best serve our Father in Heaven by righteously influencing others
His gospel is the path to peace and happiness in this life
Share our love, trust, and knowledge of truth with others

Choir & congregation: We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet

Elder Robert D. Hales
Of all the lessons we learn from the life of the Savior, none is more clear and powerful than the lesson of obedience
In the premortal life, those who followed Lucifer ended their eternal progression
Jesus expressed His commitment to obey: “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thing forever”
He learned obedience by the things which He suffered
He prepared the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father, who knew we would make mistakes as we learned obedience in mortality
When we obey, we accept His sacrifice, for we believe that through Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws, ordinances, and commandments of the gospel
At baptism we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ
Covenant with God that we will be obedient until the end of our lives
As we repent by turning away from disobedience and by beginning to obey again we show our love for Christ
We progress in our understanding of obedience as we live the gospel
Natural man’s obedience: we reject God’s law in favor of our wisdom or desires or popularity
[ internet stopped working ]
We will recognize the central role of agency
In the Garden of Gethsemane: “Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
Savior obediently endured to the end even though it meant great suffering and death
Obedience is motivated by true love for Heavenly Father
[ crockpot made a noise and Ender thought it was someone knocking at the door ]
Using our agency to obey means choosing to do what is right and letting the consequence follow
It requires mastery and brings confident eternal happiness
It is impossible for others to modify God’s commandments, which were given for our good
To rationalize disobedience does not change spiritual law or its consequences
We have a sacred obligation to uphold the laws and commandments of the Savior
ex: Joseph Smith, Martin Harris – manuscript
“Learn in thy youth to keep
Obedience makes us progressively stronger, capable of enduring tests and trials in the future
“Be humble, be submissive, be gentle”

Elder Claudio D. Zivic
ex: child told to practice piano; gradually love music and practice without prompting
It would be wonderful to have a desire deep in our hearts to keep the commandments without anyone constantly reminding us
How often do we make a mistake about the right way, letting ourselves be led along by the trends of the world?
Are we being doers of the words of Jesus Christ?
Through repentance, we can humble ourselves, change our actions, and draw closer to our Heavenly Father
[ had to look up where Elder Zivic is from...born in Buenos Aires ]
Do not lose sight of the way
Currents of the world will not sweep us away
Jesus Christ lives. He exhorts us, “Hearken all ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who created you.”

Elder W. Craig Zwick
ex: big rig cab filled with smoke, wife jumped out
“I was just trying to save our son.”
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good and edifying that it may administer grace unto the hearers.”
Anger is an emotional electrical short
We have all had the opportunity to learn how destructive words can take a situation from hazardous to fatal
Treat all people with civility, even when we disagree
“Grievous words stirreth up anger”
Doesn’t mean we never speak directly or that we compromise doctrinal truth
The entire human race seems to be surprisingly proficient in the language of doubt, blame, and fear
Cultivate respect across wide distances of belief and behavior and across deep canyons of conflicting opinions
It doesn’t matter who is “more right,” what matters is listening to each other and understanding the other’s perception
Ministering grace can change us
Through compassionate language, we can have empathy for the feelings and context of others

Elder Quentin L. Cook
In this life we laugh, we cry, we work, we play…and then we die
Yes, we will live again because of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior
[ kids are CRAZY ]
[ I am CRAZY ]
We act as agents for those who have died without baptism and give them the privilege of coming forth in the first resurrection
[ snack ]
[ various distractions ]

Choir: High On the Mountain Top

[ prayer ]