Sunday, December 21, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

I had the opportunity to help a very talented and loving photographer last week.
I've been trying to write this post for a few days. For a loquacious girl...I am at a loss for words.


NILMDTS is a wonderful non-profit organization offering professional, beautiful photographs for parents of babies that have passed away during pregnancy (like my Owen) or babies that are very sick and not expected to live. I can't say it any better than the NILMDTS website:
"Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives."

Below is a segment from 'The Today Show' about a NILMDTS photographer, and the family she lovingly photographed.


I contacted our area coordinator for NILMDTS a few weeks ago to inquire about assisting her in any way she might need help. We emailed back and forth a few times and we agreed that I could assist her during her photography sessions when she got a call from the hospital...when a baby died. She warned me that call would come one day...
and last week, it did.

I was honored to help. To be a part of this mother's horrible journey. To sit by her side and hold her hand. To clumsily tell her how sorry I was. To cry with her. To fill the space that went unfilled in my life when Owen died. I didn't want her to feel alone, to feel like the only woman who left the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart. There weren't any magic words spoken between us, no words can ease the pain.

The photographer (I'll call her T.) is a woman with a huge heart. It was an honor to help her.
T. worked professionally, gently photographing a tiny baby boy whose mother's life had just changed irrevocably. Her compassion was deeply moving.
Her photographs were beautiful; touching images of a precious little baby boy...gone too soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Do...

all over again.
Happy Anniversary Papa. Four years ago, at this very moment, we were standing at the altar, gazing lovingly at our futures. For better or for worse, baby. I do.


And we ran down the aisle....oh, the bliss.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some Kind of Record

How many posts can a girl write in one day?

I just wanted to share this song I heard for the first time the other day. The writer, Craig Cardiff, is a 'normal' and doesn't get it...but he does give a shout out to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep during his live shows...I guess he wrote this song after being inspired by a friend (she's a photographer for NILMDTS).

Smallest Wingless

Dear one, we've been waiting for you
Thrilled beside ourselves that you've arrived
White coats came in, heads held low
Talked for a bit, shuffled outside
We closed the curtains,
Held each other,
And cried
We said hello at the same time that we said goodbye.
And smallest and wingless
Leaving as soon as you'd arrived
But sadness is just love wasted
With no little heart to place it inside
We closed the curtains,
And held each other,
And cried
We said hello at the same time that we said goodbye.
We closed the curtains,
Held each other,
And cried
We said hello at the same time, that we said goodbye.

Click here for the song.

I don't like the middle part about sadness being love wasted. I guess I get what he is saying, but I don't really agree. It's a beautiful song otherwise.

It's not very uplifting...but sometimes I think we just need to cry. It's part of our love for our children. The sadness.

Like a Blanket

You may not know it from my earlier post today, but I am feeling pretty sad these days. Sad, downcast, glum, forlorn, melancholy, desolate, crestfallen, gloomy, blue…whichever word you want to use, I am feeling pretty down.
I don’t think there’s anything necessarily bad about being sad. Sadness is a part of life. It is a part of my son’s death. He is not sad; I am not sad for him at all, but the sadness is still consuming at times. I am sad for myself…and for my hubs. We miss Owen so much.
Over the past year, I have learned to embrace the sadness. I go to a place where I can peacefully and quietly sit in the sadness. I wrap my grief around me like a blanket and I wallow. It is a sadness I can’t ignore. I don’t think I should ignore it.
I believe that this is a huge part of the grief process…or is it a journey? An ever-changing landscape…I pass landmarks and places that look familiar but I am ever moving forward, albeit slowly sometimes, but I am moving, walking onward in my grief. I move forward because I do have somewhere to go. I am going home.


My heart is heavy; yet it still beats.

Isn't It Ironic?

I usually have a hard time being vulnerable with people. I don't like to tell everyone what's going on inside or open up to people. Why have a blog, you ask?
Well, it is ironic I suppose.

One on one, if I feel comfortable with someone, I will pour my heart out; I do wear my emotions on my sleeve so it is not hard to get the feelings out...it's just...do I want to pour my heart out to people who don't really care? Will they shrug me off, tell me I'm too sensitive, tell me I am wallowing? Tell me to get over it?

I'm feeling pretty vulnerable right now. And the urge to share that feeling was too much. ba-haha.

On a serious note, I am sharing (rather compulsively might I add) because I feel like I HAVE to share what's on my heart and what God is doing in my heart. Thanks for listening.

And for a little levity (the compulsion to share is back)...some cute pictures...

This is what happens when you forget to make the bed at our house.

Maggie and me...she doesn't look happy, oh but she is.


Don't say it. I know. Maggie likes hubs better (it's his man-smell).

I couldn't resist. This is hubs in his church's high school band (he's the one at the far left end).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sad


I am aching for Owen tonight. My heart, my head hurts. I miss him so much.

Oh, how I miss those precious little feet, although they didn't feel so little kicking my rib cage; he came close to breaking a few and the bruising, oh the bruising...
I would do it all over again to hold him for a minute longer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hope

Hope. I love the way the word feels on my lips. HOPE.

Hope is an intriguing word. It brings up so many emotions, ideas, and different images to us all.
We all hope for something.

To some, it's the day when health, strength will return to their bodies; or the perfect man/woman comes riding into their lives on a white horse; or the job that will bring security, fulfillment and happiness.
And to others, it's the image of little feet running through the house. I can relate.
I long for the day when our house will be filled with dozens of children, the noisy lullaby of a happy home.

The dictionary defines hope as a 'desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment'.


I admit it, my hope has been in having living children. I admit that I have bargained with God, made deals with Him, begged and pleaded with Him to allow my future children to live to an old age, to see them grow up...to raise them, NOT bury them!!

Recently, I've been thinking how unfair it would be to put all those hopes and expectations on a tiny baby. Can a baby fulfill my every hope and desire? Can a baby make me whole? Can having a living baby or ten babies be my hope of happiness, fulfillment, peace and joy?

.sigh. I don't think so. Okay, okay, I know it's not possible. I need my hope to be in something that is guaranteed...I have to face the facts that what God promises us is His Spirit, redemption through Jesus Christ and the HOPE of Heaven.

I want my hope to be secure. I want my hope to come into fruition. I want my hope to be guaranteed.
I want my hope to be Heaven.

Heavenly Father, I am struggling to keep my head above water. I long for the joy of having living children. I ache for Owen and my tiny little ones.
Holy Spirit, please pray for me with groans that words cannot express.

Romans 8:20-26
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Of All The Charlie Browns In The World

I'm the Charlie Browniest.

We decorated our tree tonight. I'm trying. I really am. Last year, hubs wanted to put up a tree and decorate for Christmas. I told him that if he wanted to then he could, but I really didn't want to do anything. So I sat on the couch and watched him work. I just wanted to let the holidays pass me by last year. Ba humbug.

This year, we decided (after some great tips from one of my MISS friends) to start new traditions and only keep traditions that bring joy and hope into our home, not added stress and worry.
One of our new traditions was to get a live tree (we usually have an artificial tree). Well, you read how that went yesterday. It was a little stressful, but mostly fun. We're also going to make cute little homemade gingerbread cookies and do a new craft project every year. This year we're making a wreath out of cookie cutters. I got the idea out of Good Housekeeping. Click here for the article. It's so cute. There are a lot of other neat ideas for homemade wreaths.

I do feel a little...I don't what the right word is...okay (I guess) this year after decorating. We remembered Owen while decorating the tree, lovingly thought of him. Remembering his life, feeling his absence...the hole where he should be. We waited and put his ornaments on the tree last. He has three. One little snow baby popping out of a stocking that has his name on it. The other two were gifts for his birthday. A family member named a star after Owen and we received a star ornament in the mail. It's really touching. It is engraved with his name and the location of his star. The last ornament is a dove that also has his name engraved on it. It's the little things after all.

.sigh. I'm exhausted tonight. Where is rest when you need it?

Good grief.

At least our tree is pretty...

So Many Babies

Oh, the babies...does everyone in the world have a baby???
I'm so jealous. I openly admit it. I am jealous. Bitter. Resentful. Angry. Sad. Confused.
I have a baby too. Mine is in Heaven. sigh.

Tonight was our church's Christmas program.
We arrived a little late because we had just been to the Christmas tree farm to pick out our very first live tree. It was definitely a memory in the making. Hubs cut the tree down, after about 10 minutes of struggling to get started. In retrospect, it was pretty funny. There we were, lying on the ground trying to get the dang saw to cut in a straight line while continually unsticking it from the trunk. Bah humbug. Collectively, we were in a bad mood for all of 5 minutes.
All that to say, we were a tad late. The choir is singing 'What Child is This' when we sit down. Oh, it is such a beautiful song about the Son of God dwelling in a tiny newborn baby. All the fullness of God in a helpless baby...tonight, however, all I could think of was Owen.

What Child is this, who laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?...The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Then a baby starts crying behind us and a little boy two rows in front of me who is sitting in his daddy's lap turns around and looks me straight in the eye. Ba humbug.

I know God is an understanding and gentle God, He knows my heart and feels my pain and sorrow. An image of newborn baby sleeping in his mother's lap was too much for my broken heart tonight...not to mention the babies, babies EVERYWHERE!

I escaped to the bathroom. More babies in the back. Babies in the bathroom. Babies. Babies. Babies. My hubs follows me where we spent the rest of the service crying and huddling together in a safe corner at the back of the church. After the service is over, he runs to our seats and grabs our coats, and we are out of there. I have never wanted to run away more than I did tonight.

Heavenly Father, please hold me.

Colossians 1: 15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Yesterday

Yesterday, one year ago, was Owen's due date. The day we looked forward to ever since we saw the positive sign creeping up on the very first pregnancy test I had ever taken.

Yesterday was also our second baby's (precious little baby chipmunk) due date.

The day has passed...no baby came.

Amazingly, our first two children shared due dates. Coincidence? I don't think so. Besides a day of the year, they now share something so special. They share pure joy and peace with their Heavenly Father.

Oh, how I miss them. My heart is so sad tonight.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back When I Thought

sewage water (a.k.a. poop) bubbling up my tub drain was the worst thing that could happen...oh, I long for those days.

I wish I was joking. When I was seven months pregnant with Owen, we were living in an old apartment building with really old crappy pipes (no pun intended). One morning, we awoke to some rather strange gurgling noises. Hm...that's odd. Gurgling noises coming from the pipes was somewhat normal, but the noises this particular morning were coupled with a loud banging. I jump out of bed, as fast as a pregnant woman with a basketball in her tummy can jump, and we head to the bathroom, where there is a smell...yes, a smell of sewage drifting down the hall.

Oh.my.No.way.

Our tub was full, I mean almost overflowing with sewage water. Whatever you want to imagine it looked like is probably not as bad as it really was...and yes, there were dead roaches in the 'water' as well.

Oh, the horror. If you've read my profile, I am a documented NEAT FREAK and this was no way to start a morning.

Long story short, plumbers come, snakes are used, professional cleaners called....and not four days later we are awakened to a familiar gurgling alarm clock. Again, I wish I was joking.

Ok, so it all eventually got sorted out and no, we're not living there anymore.

Back to my point. I wish my worst nightmare was waking up to poop in my tub. Unfortunately, that's just not the case. Losing a child puts everything into perspective. What is the worst that could happen? sigh.


I am grieving for what I don't have...my little boy in my arms, but I am praising God for what Owen has.
My heart is literally torn in two.

Life is beautiful, God; but so difficult. Comfort us in our suffering.
Psalm 51: 15-17

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Owen's Name In The Sand



Thank you so much Carly. It is absolutely beautiful...

Oh....Owen. Your mommy misses you so much. My arms ache for you. Rest with Jesus, precious little boy. I shared your beautiful pictures with some friends last night for the first time, and their breaths were taken away with how gorgeous you were...and how you looked so much like your mommy. Shhh...don't tell daddy.

Faith Intersects

It's honestly hard for me to get out of bed most days. Some days I just lie in bed until the late afternoon, trying to will myself up out of bed, just to take a shower and eat- let alone interact with other people.

It feels safer to stay inside myself and grieve in my little cocoon. Grief is so unpredictable and complex. It's hard to explain how it feels. It just overwhelms me. And it looks different depending upon the moment, the day. I am beginning to understand the complexity of grief and of suffering. And by that, I mean understanding that I will never understand it. I expect so much from myself. I have always been able to articulate what I feel and write about it, even if I don't ever explain it to others. But not this. Owen's death has taken everything from me. I am at ground zero. I question everything and doubt everything and everyone. When I was 21 and a new Christian, I talked about all these things with authority. Struggling and suffering, God's grace and His sovereignty, and I believed because it's what I read in my Bible. Now, I am living it. And it is hard. It is so different than I had previously thought. Just when I think I understand myself and my grief, it changes. And I am thrown into the pit.
I expect myself to understand this (Owen's short life and his death) and put it into a box and make it fit into my world. It doesn't fit. It just won't ever fit. Grief is an ever changing landscape and never makes sense. It just is.

I'd rather stay inside my little cocoon and grieve like a wounded animal. But...I need to be around other believers, because I need encouragement and hope. But, you know, some people don't understand our pain, they trivialize it and say things like, oh they're in a better place, everything happens for a reason, you can have more babies, etc. BUT regardless, people need to see us. They need to talk with us and see what grieving looks like. This is a big struggle for me. I hate being around other people when I feel awful and can't hide it (I feel awful a lot, but sometimes I can hide it). But I need to be out and around my friends, at church and small group and other functions. It's scary and uncomfortable.

It's like being hit by a huge wave and knocked under water. I am struggling under water, I can't breathe, but when I come up for air I am immediately knocked down. I couldn't catch my breath before I was knocked down again. I'm underwater. I can't breathe, I'm drowning; but I am scared to come up to the surface. I'm afraid of being hit again. It FEELS safer under the water, but it's not. I'm drowning.
This is how I struggle. Well, one of the ways I struggle. I need companionship, friendship, fellowship, but I am scared of being hit by waves of misunderstanding and hurtful comments and the crap that comes with being in a relationship because none of us is perfect and we mess up.

I also view God this way. I feel like just when I was ready to have another baby, to risk my heart...and I was making great strides in the way I thought about God and His love; another dead baby...I thought I might die of a broken heart.

Amazingly after the death of my third precious baby, I feel God's love in ways I cannot describe and never thought I'd feel. I cannot explain it. Words fail me, but I am comforted by His grace and love, and it is enough. Even when I don't feel like it is...
it is enough
.


I want everyone to know that it is okay to struggle. We don't have to have it all together...we can be who we are...and we can even struggle with not wanting to struggle.

As a Christian, in a lot of churches, and sometimes in the world's eyes, it is not okay to struggle. We are supposed to have it all together. Prayer is supposed to make us healthy, wealthy and happy. I don't believe this. Prayer makes us closer to God. Prayer does not solve our problems or make things magically disappear. I know at first, I treated God like Santa Claus. I want this, and that, and all of these things...so make it happen God. As you can imagine, it didn't work.

I know I am not the only Christian that struggles, and who feels like the only one who became a Christian and things got worse, not better; but Christ is our only hope. Our only guarantee.

My heart still aches with questions.


But...one day all things will be made right.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Part In All of This...

I'm not sure if I can articulate what is swirling around in my head. I am bursting at the seams to get this out!

I've been thinking all day about Psalm 131..."
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me."

It struck me this afternoon...that this is exactly what God has been trying to teach me as I've trudged in the darkness and through despair in the months after Owen's death. I don't mean to say that God caused Owen's death to teach me a lesson...that would incredibly small minded to box God up like that.

I've been so focused on all the questions raging around my head: what I did I do to cause Owen's death, why did God allow this to happen, why Owen, why me, what is the purpose of his short life and death, will I ever be able to carry and deliver a healthy living BREATHING child, why allow me to get pregnant with two precious babies and take them so soon...oh, the questions I ache with...

Last night...God quieted my soul...He calmed and quieted my soul to allow me to hope in Him now and forevermore. The questions burning inside me have answers that are too great and too marvelous for me to understand. I shouldn't occupy myself with them; they are too great for my small mind to comprehend. I will NEVER understand, but that is okay. God has a plan, ordained before the beginning of the world and I fit into it, Owen fits into it...He is a good and gracious God who loves me, who loves Owen more than I could ever love him.

I can't believe I had been hardening my heart to such an amazing, calming proposition.
My part in all of this is to calm and quiet my soul, to hope in God. By His grace, I can do this.
I know some days, I will not feel this way. I will struggle to get out of bed and I will doubt God's love but...

RIGHT NOW, I am not overwhelmed by grief or the questions. I am overwhelmed by God's love, His mercy. His is the Great Comforter.

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lonely Night Owl


It's so quiet tonight. Listening to my husband sleeping peacefully next to me, my wandering thoughts turn to Owen...his absence is so palpable. When I was pregnant with him, I would lay in bed and day dream about how we'd spend our nights together...I imagined holding him close to my chest, nursing him, gazing into his big eyes, watching over him as he fell asleep. I hoped he would be a night owl like his mommy. Night time was going to be our special time together.
After he died, nights were excruciating. I couldn't sleep (which wasn't abnormal), except now I hated being awake during the lonely hours of the night. My arms cradling my empty womb I cried out for Owen, screaming his name over and over into the dark. Rocking myself back and forth, rocking myself into a trance, the quiet of the night mocked my sorrow. No baby to nurse, no baby to cradle...my baby was gone.


I can feel God's presence tonight, holding me up, comforting my aching heart. He has not forsaken me.

Tonight the quiet of the night reflects the quiet of my soul.

Psalm 131
O
Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.