The story of Olivia Hope

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dear Lewis

I have a tradition that each year I write my kids a letter on their birthday.  It's usually not something I share publicly and I mainly do it as a way to archive special milestones, achievements, physical developments, etc. I put the letters in envelopes and put them in their baby books.
My son turned 2 today and I'm feeling very sentimental thinking about what his little life means to us.
Here is my letter to him for his second birthday:

Dear Lewis,
Today you turned 2 years old!  TWO years, already!  I've been thinking over the past couple of days about how I felt two years ago when I was preparing for your birth!  I'm going to be completely honest with you, my precious son, and say that before I held you in my arms I didn't really want you to be a boy.  I hope you know, in your young age, that I love you with all of my heart and I wouldn't change your gender for ANYTHING!  You are the most amazing little boy and I can't believe how much I love you!  At times I honestly feel like my heart could explode!

The Lord gave you to us shortly after bringing us through our darkest time.  I had just given birth to your sister, Olivia, about 8 months before I became pregnant with you. ( I will continue to talk about her as you grow up and tell you all about your  big sister who lives in heaven.)  Olivia only lived for 6 days and, although we knew she would not live long, nothing could have prepared us to say goodbye to her.  I still feel great pain thinking about that moment.  I desperately wanted to become pregnant again and I even more desperately wanted my next baby to be a little girl.  I knew that no other child could replace Olivia but, in a way, I wanted to gain back what I had lost.  When I learned that I was going to have another baby I just knew that God would be gracious and give me the girl I longed for.  That would be a big step in easing some of the pain.

I had a normal 20 week ultrasound and I could not wait to find out (or, in my mind, CONFIRM) the sex of our baby.  Our ultrasound technician casually said "well, you switched up the recipe this time."  huh?...  "You switched the recipe, it's a boy!"  I acted happy.  I choked back emotion. I verbally convinced everyone that I was ok with this but the truth is that up until your birth I had no idea how I truly felt about it.  I knew that this was the best plan that the Lord had for us and that YOU would be His creation given specifically to us!  But I had no idea how I would begin to bond with you!  All of my visions of having a sweet little girl in my arms again vanished.  I tried to imagine a bouncing baby boy filling my void but it just wasn't the same.  I continued to trust that God knew what he was doing!

The night you were born the nurses were amazed at your size and all of your black hair!   After your first bath the nurse put your hair in a mo-hawk (it was super cute) and that, combined with your hefty size of 9 lbs. 15 oz. (yeah, lets just say 10 pounds!) outfitted you to be our "little bruiser"!  However, the moment they handed you to me all fear of how I would truly feel about you and bond with you went out the window!  You were the sweetest bundle of real JOY that I my grieving heart so desperately needed.  Obviously God knew more about His grace and what I needed then I did.

I heard many times before you were born that there is a special bond between a mother and her son, and boy were they right!  It's hard to put in to words what exactly that means but I'll do my best:  From August 31 2011 to this very day (August 31 2013) I have grown to love you more and more each day!  You are the sweetest little boy and you are genuinely happy almost all of the time!  You love your sister Gwen, and you imitate almost every move she makes.  You love your daddy and how he plays and rolls around on the floor with you.  You love me and I melt every time you cry for me, smile at me, run up and hug me, play peek-a-boo (or, in you words, "poop-a-boo"!) with me, snuggle with me on the couch during one of our lazy mornings, and "wink" at me to make me laugh (your "silly" eyes).  My heart bursts when you close your eyes and fold your hands for prayer at meal times and how you say "yes" "please" and "thank you".  When I look in to your precious face that I love to smother with kisses I see God's love for our family wrapped up in a kind and gentle, sweet and funny, kissable, squeezable little guy!

God knew what He was doing when He gave you to us.  I love you, son, with all of my heart.  I'm excited to watch you grow up but, at the same time, a little sad to know that you won't always be my baby that I can hold and rock at bedtime like we did tonight.  I try to imagine you as a grown man and I can't.  Or maybe it's that I really don't want to.  I get scared thinking of you and your sister Gwen and what you two might have to deal with when you are adults.  There are a lot of crazy things out there in the world and new challenges that your daddy and I are constantly  having to go through.  I can only imagine what it might be like by the time you are our age, but for now I'll stick to thoughts of holding you in my arms.

My prayer for you is that you continue to be happy, healthy, and keep shedding a little light everywhere you go.  I pray that your daddy and I will raise you to know about God's love, your sister Olivia, and the HOPE that we have of seeing her again.  I pray that you will grow up wanting to share this with everyone around you.  I pray that you will make a difference every where you go and that people will see Christ through you.
I love you my son.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

One of my New Year resolutions is to start blogging more/again! I can't tell you yet what the other resolutions were because I'll have explaining to do if I don't keep them! I learned today that the average New Year resolution lasts less than a week! Hopefully this one will last longer!

 To start the year off in picking up my pencil again here is an article I recently submitted for the WGUSA newsletter:

 Happy New Year!

 The tree is put away, ornaments carefully wrapped, new toys are scattered all over the place and we, in the blink of an eye, rang in the new year only to wake up the next day, go back to work and carry on as if nothing was different. And for a lot of us nothing is that different. However, for some of us things are quite different and "happy" New Year just doesn't do it.

 Like you, I'm sure, I spent the last few days of 2012 pondering over what the year held. I watched many friends say goodbye to loved ones, some of them their own children. As I know that pain myself I know the emptiness they felt when there was one less stocking to stuff on what would have been that child's first and second Christmas. I also said goodbye to a family member at the beginning of last January and remember thinking then that this was not a great start to THAT new year. I watched friends struggle through marriage and health issues and have been continually on the edge of my seat watching events around our country unfold. On this side of the country we had the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and are still picking up the pieces, LITERALLY, of that. We also had a new election which was pretty monumental for our country and will bring some changes that many are not happy about and, to cap off the year, I sat stunned, numb, in disbelief when I learned about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. How could something so heinous happen? Like many of you I walked around choked up for days thinking about those precious little lives that where snuffed out with no warning. My oldest is about the same age as the children that were killed and the pain I felt just thinking about how those families now have to deal with the loss of their sons and daughters...well I just don't have words. To think that the unopened gifts and the Christmas outfits that may have never been worn are constant reminders that Christmas and New Year were missing one less Grandchild, son, daughter, brother, sister....brings tears to my eyes even now.

 So how DO we celebrate the coming of the New Year? How do we rise up out of all this trauma? How do we put one foot in front of the other and walk in to such unknown territory? I'm left baffled most days after watching the news and wondering how things have gotten so bad? How do we find the good? Is it still here?

I was reminded recently of Isaiah 45:2- “I [God] will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” A promise that no matter where life takes us, as a person, family, country that our God has gone before us and made our path. He knows what's up there good or bad. And while we are guaranteed to have bad, we are also GUARANTEED to have good because that is the God we serve and He is good!

 "Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome and power our God, our God." You know the song, SING IT OUT!!!

 So how do we do 2013? We walk that path! It's that simple! Because the good IS still here. It comes from all situations and all things and it lines the sides of that path cheering us on. (Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.) The speed bumps are there too but remember He has gone before you and leveled the mountains, broken down gates of bronze and cut the iron bars. So get your sneakers on start walking!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What a day!

At our MOPS Easter Egg hunt! Just us girls!!

She was chompin' at the bit to start tearing into her eggs!

My lovies!

Love this face!

At mum-mum's and pop-pop's for Easter fun!

Sneaking a jelly bean after who knows how many grams of sugar she has consumed today!!

Looking forward to church tomorrow and remembering the empty tomb!
Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


March is gone and I can't believe it! We've celebrated Gwen's fourth birthday, Olivia's second birthday, Lewis starting on solid food and ALMOST crawling and spring cleaning! Well, we didn't really celebrate the cleaning, just started it! Lots and lots of cleaning! I've been cleaning out every cupboard, bin, drawer, cubby, wiped down woodwork, washed windows and blinds and LOTS of de-dog-hairing the place! I love standing in a newly reorganized and freshly washed room and just soaking it all in! AH!

Gwen celebrated her birthday this year by having a birthday party with all of her little friends! We have never had a party other than family so I was excited to put her little "princess" celebration together! We had all her little friends dress up in princess (and two little princes) dresses and did the typical birthday activities! It was so much fun!

We didn't do too much for Olivia's birthday this year. I'm still trying to figure out what our tradition for her will be. We had our first year celebration for her last year when she turned one but of course I won't be doing all that every year. This year her birthday fell right on a trip to Lancaster so we didn't have too much time to do anything formal. We did go to the Angel Garden to light our birthday candle and sing "Happy Birthday" to her. I always enjoy talking to Gwen about her sister in heaven and welcome the questions she asks. She doesn't remember anything so I feel like we have to reexplain everything to her and how do you tell a four year old that Olivia's BODY is here and in the ground but she is actually alive in heaven! Lewis slept the whole time in his car seat but we made the most out of the time we had hanging out, saying "hi" to our other little baby friends there (our friend's children who are also there) and being all together. I didn't bake a cake because we had so much left over from Gwen's birthday just a week earlier so we went to Dunkin Donuts after ward to get a birthday donut!

Lewis IS in there!

Happy birthday, little girl!

Hanging out!

Lewis turned 7 months old yesterday! He's starting to do so many things that seem so grown up! I guess it's just his personality starting to show! He is scooting all around and getting up on all fours! He moves around but hasn't quite figured out the one foot (or knee) in front of the other method! We also started him on solid food last month! He does ok with it. I honestly thought he would suck it down but he, so far, has been kinda choosy about when he eats and when he doesn't. Oh he also got his first hair cut last month! As sad as Gwen was about it the "rat tail" is gone!!

bye bye rat tail!

It was a pretty good month!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lewis-five days old

Some of you may have seen this photo already but I just love it so much I wanted to share it with you! This is L when he was just five days old! If you notice the scale shows his actual birth weight-9 pounds 15 oz! Our good friends, Kevin and Kerry High (and Zach!)of Kevin High photography have definitely spoiled us with super awesome pictures of our family! We met Kevin and Kerry when I was still pregnant with Olivia. We share a special bond with them in the fact that they too have lost a child, their son Ryan. The Highs have been great friends and very encouraging as we walk through our Olivia journey and it's been great being friends past our similar experiences too! You can find them at and if you want to see more of our family there you can choose the gallery "Baby L Fretz" and the password is "Winnie". I think you'll agree that Kevin does great work and it might just put you in the mood for a family session!
Thanks High family for being our friends!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ginger Kids!

Our holidays were good. We did the usual family stuff and had a great time being together. It was fun watching Gwen enjoy Christmas this year. I would say, being three years old, that this was really the first Christmas she understood. We also experienced a lot of sorrow this holiday season watching friends and family go through some devastating losses. It's so heartbreaking watching those you love go through so much grief and it also conjured up so much emotion for me by remembering everything with Olivia. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.

Lewis is now four months old. He is so fun and really starting to express opinions and personality. He LOVES Gwen and loves to watch her do just about anything. His eyes rarely leave her! He is:

20 pounds 28 inches
rolling over
starting to get into a sleep schedule
tolerating the car more
playing with toys
a total momma's boy
my favorite little dude ever!