Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Dream In Color

As long as I can remember I've started each morning with vivid memories of things that never happened.

I dream in color. Dreams full of plot changes, themes, a cast of characters and emotion.

Some mornings, I wake up with tears in my eyes and I have to remind myself that I've been dreaming. When I was younger, I would awaken in the middle of the night screaming and crying.
One of my recurring dreams from my childhood had something to do with Rainbow Bright and my parents dying. I don't know what one had to do with the other, but it felt so real.


Since Owen died, I've had numerous dreams about being pregnant and losing the baby or a child dying.
The worst dream I had I've written about already. I won't go there again. It is so painful to remember...and it didn't even happen.


Last night, I had a dream that I was pregnant. I was 36 weeks. I am always 36 weeks pregnant in my dreams.
I was going into the hospital to be induced and there were women all around me doing the same, except their family members were laughing and rubbing their tummies. They were excited and full of joy.

I was alone.

I was telling the nurse about Owen and sharing my fears with her. All of a sudden, I couldn't remember the last time I had felt the baby move. I looked down and my stomach was flat.

I burst into tears and knew the baby was gone.



There have been many dreams that end this way. Always the same; I am always 36 weeks pregnant. I am alone. The baby is gone.


My dreams reflect the constant fear I feel about getting pregnant again. I've lost two babies since Owen, so the fear feels very justified and tangible.

I feel stuck.

I think my dreams reflect that too.

Always 36 weeks pregnant...
I can't see beyond that point. I can't visualize laboring for a baby who is alive or bringing a baby home from the hospital. I can't even dream about it.


I am unable to get the images out of my head today. I am stuck.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2 years ago

As usual, Chris had to wake me up for work...but this morning, two years ago, I snuck past him into the bathroom and shut the door (unheard of in our house).

The day before, I had gone to a hip little store downtown during my lunch break to buy something for Chris to tell him the news. I was so sure of myself that I as soon as I saw that little yellow onesie with 'Homemade' written across the front, I knew it was the perfect way to tell him that we were pregnant.
I hadn't even taken the test yet.

So, this morning, all I needed was the proof.

It was positive. right away.


And I was positive; sure that our baby would be coming home with us.


Today starts the countdown of remember whens and 'this day two years ago'...


I don't resent the memories and happy excitement of these 9 months two years ago. They are a connection to Owen; something of my little boy that I will always have.


Memories and hope...
I hold you close to my heart.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

the wait is over

A few friends (including my new friend Tonya, more on her later) urged me to call my doctor yesterday for a blood test, because of my new health concerns I will need to know I'm pregnant right away.

It was unnecessary.


I don't put a lot of stock into my emotions (mostly because they can and do lie, as well as the fact that my thyroid disease makes my emotions unreliable), but that said, I am feeling peaceful.

I've been praying for the trust and faith I need in this time of waiting. I am convinced that the Lord loves me and I am convinced that I can't rely on my circumstances to dictate His love for me.

Do you ever get that warm and fuzzy feeling after a long day of sunny spring weather lying in the grass or after an incredible time spent with family and friends? Do you ever think, 'Wow. I am really, really loved. Life is great!'

That's the feeling I have right now.

It's not my circumstances. It's not a baby growing in my womb. It's not the sunny weather (we're having torrential downpours today). It's not the love I feel from my husband, though I do feel his love.

It's the love of my Heavenly Father. I am covered. It is ENOUGH.

And it gives me a serious case of the warm and fuzzies.



p.s. Those feelings come and go, but the truth is the truth no matter how we feel.
Remind me of that next month...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I love you, Lord.

More importantly, you love me. Thank you.

I want to live the life you've given me with a grateful heart.

It's your love that leads me to repentance, not my guilty conscience.

I repent of taking your glory. I confess I have tried to steal control from your hands. I repent, Lord.

I confess that I have a hard time trusting your goodness and your ability to do what you say you will do. I repent of doubt.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for leading me beside still waters.
Help me look to you when I am afraid and anxious and to turn away from what the world (myself included) offers.

Thank you for your Son and it is in His name that I pray. Amen.

Anxious

I have an anxious mind today. Well, I've been anxious all weekend and it is intensifying as the hours pass.

Being anxious is something I'm really, really good at doing. I mean, I know how to worry and stress and pace and not sleep and think and rethink and analyze and...
try my best to take the control from my Heavenly Father and figure it out by myself. I love to put my hope in my ability to analyze situations. I relish the opportunity to trust in myself and my strength and intelligence.

I love being self-sufficient.


And I hate it too.

This morning when my alarm went off to take my thyroid medication, I didn't fall back to sleep like I usually do. I spent the next 3 hours wrestling with the Lord.


I'm late.


The two pregnancy tests I've taken were negative...


All I've been able to pray is 'Heavenly Father, I trust You. Help me trust You more.' Over and over again.


Prayer is something that I'm still grasping to understand, but if you will go over (which I'm sure you already have) to MckMama's blog and read her post on prayer...it is amazing and really offers great perspective on why we need to pray. The only thing I would add is that prayer is a way to deepen our relationship with our Father and to see His goodness and grace.

Her son, Stellan, is in the hospital. Please pray for him and his family.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Unexpected Gift


Today hubs and I (I guess I call him by his real name, since he is blogging now)...do over...

Today Chris and I were out and about in town when we decided to stop for a late lunch at his old workplace (he worked at Chick-fil-a for a few years before we got married). We were ordering when one of his former supervisors came up to say hi. She looked at Chris and asked, "You guys are supposed to have some kids running around by now, right?"

Without missing a beat, Chris replied, "We do, but they're all in Heaven now."

Her face went white and she stammered, "I am so sorry. I...I didn't mean to bring it up."

By now the tears in my eyes were blurring my vision, but I looked at her apologetic face and said, "You don't have to apologize. We love talking about our kids. Thank you for asking about them."

Chris was pulling out his wallet as I spoke and showed her a picture of Owen.
She held the picture as lovingly as she would have held our son.

"Oh, he's so tiny. Look at your thumb on his little face!"

I told her how much he weighed and how small he was when he was born.
I had to tell her again how thankful I was that she asked, because most people don't.

She remarked that her dad was probably in Heaven holding him right now because he passed away last year. We all looked at each other with tears in our eyes and she said, "We'll see them again soon. Hopefully."

Chris replied, "Yes, we will. Hopefully sooner rather than later."


I am quite sure that she still has no idea what an amazing gift she gave us today when she asked about our children...and then didn't turn away from us and our grief.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Healing, revisited

I first wrote about healing here a month ago, and I've been thinking about healing a lot since then. I guess because I've been writing the story that God has been weaving in my life the past 16 months and I can't help but think about how things have changed since the beginning.

So...what is healing?

I'm beginning to believe it's got nothing to do with 'moving on' or having another baby or any of the other things people want to throw at us to make us feel better and make everything okay again.

And I am realizing that it's got everything to do with finding my comfort in God.

It is not closure. Can I quote Elizabeth McCracken? "Closure is bullshit" (An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination c. 2008).


The subject of healing came up last weekend during a trip to Target. Okay, so we have learned since the beginning that the mall and Target and the grocery store are not the places to go if you want to avoid babies and pregnant women, but sometimes you just gotta go.

As we walked past the baby section, (the same baby section where we registered for all the cute little baby things we needed for Owen) we caught the not-so-inconspicuous smell of a dirty diaper and then the sound of a crying baby. Hubs wrapped his arm tightly around my shoulders and I leaned all my weight on him. It stung to be reminded of the things we'll never experience with Owen.
We looked at each other and he whispered, "I know."
I would have rejoiced over the smell of Owens' dirty diapers and oh, to hear him cry!
I miss him so much...

The ache for Owen is still a constant in my life, but I can see how things have changed since his death.

Is it healing? I think so. I think that the Lord is graciously showing Himself as a great Comforter and Healer.

There are days and weeks where I 'feel' no such comfort or healing, and I am angry at Him and feel dejected and alone in my pain. It usually stems from comparing my life to the lives of those around me. Seeing friends or even strangers get pregnant and deliver healthy babies makes me feel so alone in the life I've been given. I become bitter, jealous, angry, and I start to feel entitled to these feelings, because hey! I've lost three babies!

Then there are days when I start to fall into the trap of comparisons, but He in His mercy calls me to look to Him, and see all the things He has graciously given me:

Romans 5: 8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Romans 8: 1-2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8: 11
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8: 23-24
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits 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.

Romans 8: 38-39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 5: 1
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Galatians 3: 27-29
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Ephesians 1: 7-10
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1: 11-14
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.


Praise God!


I don't want to say the opposite of what I am meaning to say: this is not closure, because as I said earlier- closure is bullshit. But I believe it is healing; healing that will continue throughout my life and will not be completed until the day I reach Heaven.

I will always miss Owen and feel the ache from the hole in our lives where he should be. I will always struggle with this grief. At least, that's what I believe right now, 16 and a half months after his death.
No matter what though, there will always be suffering and struggles throughout this life, but one thing will remain constant: God's love for us and the hope we have in Jesus.

And in that, we find exceptional comfort.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring

Maybe it's the arrival of spring that's got me all teary eyed, but this afternoon as I reclined on my sofa to watch Dancing with the Stars (please don't judge, oh alright, judge me if you must), a single tear slipped from my eye as I watched Ty Murray perform the quick step.

It was beautiful...

I have no idea when I became such a Ty fan (I honestly didn't know who he was except that he's married to Jewel), but I couldn't help myself. I had to root for him. He did such a great job and was determined not to give up after his bad performance last week.

It was inspiring.


Alright. Moving on...I don't want to start blubbering again.


I don't know what the weather is like in your part of the world, but here...well, things have taken a dramatic turn.

This was 2 weeks ago, taken in our front yard.

And this was taken today...

Some may call it a weed, I call it spring.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lynn

I was 13 when she died. My beautiful, spunky, intelligent aunt. She was diagnosed in October 1995.
She died on March 17, 1996.


Cancer.


The word burns the back of my throat.


I remember my grandparents at her funeral. Their only daughter's funeral. My father held them up as he grieved alongside them. His sister was gone. 11 years her junior, he had been the worst little brother. An annoying, rambunctious pint-sized bully he was, but she loved him.


Ashamedly, I remember my 17 year old self, chattering to my parents about my grieving grandparents from the back seat after a trip to their home. 'They still have you, dad. They still have a son. They need to move on for you.'

I am choking on those words now...how could a self centered 17 year old know so much about the grief of losing a child? I didn't.

I thought I understood. I thought because I had grieved my aunt's passing and my grandfather's and a dear friend's at the age of 15...I thought I knew.

But I didn't.

And I wouldn't until the day my son went home to Heaven.

I am so thankful that I kept my big mouth shut when I was around my grandparents. They didn't need my egotistical nonsense.


I remember you, Lynn. I remember your hilarious, infectious laugh and the sparkle in your eyes when you smiled. I remember the perfection with which you braided my difficult hair. I remember the time I woke up to your loud raucous the morning you burnt breakfast. I can still picture you standing on the chair outside my door wafting the smoke away from the beeping fire alarm with a broom. We made eye contact and you burst out laughing.


I won't forget you, Lynn.



I will remember.

Another One

Here I go again. Falling, falling, falling into the trap. It was set up so perfectly, how could I not?

I am the last person to believe that a positive pregnancy test equals a living, breathing baby at the end of nine months. I am the most cynical of all when it comes to my pregnancies, but others?

I assume they all end with babies to bring home from the hospital. I assume they all get their happy endings. I assume that I will be left behind, again...

wondering when it will be our turn...wondering if our children will live to take their first breath...


...missing our babies with a sorrow that will always ache.

Monday, March 16, 2009

He Points To Jesus

About two weeks ago, on a sunny February day, I started writing.

It had been almost 16 months and I'd never written the story of his death and birth before.

I always thought I would. I wanted to remember, but the very thought of it made me shutter. I didn't want to go 'there'. I didn't know if I'd come back...I didn't know if I could come back or if I'd even want to.

Out of the blue, the words came and I obligingly wrote them.

And they were beautiful.

Before you think I'm some kind of prideful narcissist (which I am), I want to communicate that I can't take credit for the words, or the story.

He wrote them. And they were beautiful.

His is a story about a young woman and her little boy, a baby who would leave an incredible impact on her life when he was called home on a cold November day...
This is a grand story reaching back generations, into thousands of centuries, where the lead is also a little boy; but not an ordinary little boy at all.

Owen's life and death, the story that is weaving through my life and the lives of many others, is not an open and closed book. It does not end with his death.

Yes, my mother's heart cries out remember him...and I believe it for a purpose.

I am adamant that he is not forgotten. I can become incensed very quickly when I feel less value is placed on his life because he only lived in my womb.


Our Heavenly Father's purposes were not squelched when Owen died. Yes, I may have felt that I was cheated and my plans were dashed at a great price...but our Father's plans are never ruined. His perfect purpose was exacted in Owen's life just as He had planned from the very beginning...and those purposes are just as vital and important to His Plan and to His Glory as is a life lived 90 years.


And so I shout from the rooftops, remember him, value his life...and please remember Him, value His life for He lived and died at a great price and His story is beautiful.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hope, 7 years later

It started the day we found out Owen had died. It came from friends, a few family members and my doctor. 

It will be better in time. You'll have more babies. It gets easier. You're still young, you can have more. Time heals all wounds.

What those words offered me was hopeless. Time does not heal. Grief's burden does not get easier to carry. Having a child that lives will in no way replace Owen or take my grief away. Maybe I will never deliver a living child and being young certainly does not guarantee a body that is able to carry a child to term.

I found no hope in their words, all except one.

Jesus loves you. He loves you... my pastor boldly proclaimed to me at Owen's funeral.


16 months later by God's grace, I am able to say, boldly and without shame... 
Yes. Yes, He does. And in these three beautiful words we have great hope.

I cannot hope in time, for in time more suffering may come. I cannot place my hope in having living children. I cannot hope for a reprieve from suffering on this earth, because I will always be disappointed. If I place my hope in something that is passing, something easily shaken, then when it fails- where will I turn?

But if we place our hope in the Lord, we will never be disappointed because He is unchanging.

And we will have great hope.
Hope that we will never be abandoned. Hope that when everything else is gone, He will never forsake us. Hope that when I leave this earthly home, I have a Heavenly home waiting for me.

Hope that one day, all things will be made right. 



It has been 7 years since I wrote these painful, beautiful words. At this point in my life, I had no idea if I would ever know what it was like to hold my living children, to raise them and watch them grow up. I had no idea I would be given three babies to hold in my arms. I had no idea. 

But I knew hope. I knew hope, because I knew Jesus. I clung to him like he was a lifeline amidst waves that threatened to drown me. 

Do you want to know the truth? 

I have days that feel scary, and hopelessness presses in. Waves push against me, threatening to overwhelm me. I still struggle with questions of why, Lord? and prayers that sound more like bargaining... please Lord, no, please help...

But even in struggling.... my hope is still unchanging, unshakeable. My hope is Jesus, who is secure. 

In a world full of insecurity and brokenness, in a body that struggles and fights within itself, I cling to my Jesus, to be nearer and nearer to Him, to know Him better. 
He is still my hope. And oh, how beautiful, how precious it is. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hello

Hi everyone!

I just thought it would be a good idea (I always get my good ideas in the middle of the night) to take a minute and welcome all the new readers to my little corner of the bloggy world. Ever since Molly linked my blog on hers, I've received so many thoughtful and sweet comments and emails from new readers.

Hi! And welcome! I'm so glad you're here. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how it warms my mother's heart to have so many people wanting to know all about Owen and my two little ones.

You are so very welcome to comment, or not, and tell me all about your precious ones too. I love hearing the stories of other women who walk this road.

If you don't feel comfortable commenting, you're also welcome to email me at ebe.mnly@gmail.com.

Of course, you can always lurk here. That's okay too. I lurk all the time, promise.

Friday, March 13, 2009

He Is Enough

I didn't know there was worse to come this day a year ago.

Our pastor, H., told me during the month we waited to receive news of my condition that if I was his daughter, he would not allow such heartache on top of heartache. I understood exactly what he meant. It was a question I had been asking myself from the beginning.

How could my loving, great Heavenly Father allow this after losing Owen if He indeed was so loving and great?

April, May, June, July, August passed...when September came my hubs was asked to lead worship for the second service our church was instituting. H. asked him if I was at least going to come and hear him play.

I laughed...cynically, of course. What did I want with a God who would allow such tragedy when I was doing my best to serve Him?

During this time, we moved from our first real home to a house on the other side of town. Our beloved apartment had become a toxic wasteland of bitter memories. We both knew we couldn't stay there and survive.

It was September and my first Sunday back at church, I ran into a friend who was pregnant for the first time. I looked in the opposite direction and walked past her. It was too much. Tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I tried to run away.
I hurled myself into a good friend, who was fast becoming my best friend, and cried. She sat next to me and held my hand the entire service.
I felt abandoned by God, rejected and left on the side of the road...wasn't it enough that my babies were dead...but now I had to be constantly reminded that life was moving forward for everyone but me.

What a cruel joke my life was.

Life was happening all around us...but we were stuck. Exhausted by grief, torn with anguish and feeling incredibly hopeless, I stumbled through the days before me.


And then I got pregnant again.


This time, I had no optimistic hope holding me up. No naive expectations that once you lose one baby, you won't lose another. I knew what could happen. I had been down that road, in fact I was still wandering along its winding, bumpy terrain.

The week after we found out about sweet little sunshine was the one year anniversary of the week of Owen's death and his birth. My good friend, L., exclaimed how sweet it was for the Lord to give us such a blessing to help us through Owen's first birthday in Heaven.
Yes, how sweet indeed.

Owen's birthday was a precious time of remembering our little boy. With love in our hearts and hope beginning to take shape in the form of a baby growing in my womb, we rejoiced in Owen's time here with us. We rejoiced in his life...and we rejoiced that he was home now.


The days passed slowly, and very carefully I started feeling hopeful.

I turned my face to the Lord and I prayed. I began slowly, dipping my toes into the water, wondering if the temperature was just right. I was cautious at first, afraid of rejection and abandonment.
It was better than I could have ever imagined, but it was not what I expected.

My hard heart was beginning to soften...

And then our sunshine was gone. It was a year and one week exactly from the day Owen died.

I sobbed through the night, crying out to the Lord, 'Please, please don't forsake, please don't abandon me!' Over and over again, I cried out. The flood gates were open, and I couldn't go back. I couldn't turn my face away from Him. I needed Him.
Everything I had been feeling and believing came crashing down and all I had was Him.

And He was enough.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Under Water, again

In February, after my maternity leave was over, I went back to work. I worked exactly six days before I resigned. I had increasing bouts of anxiety sitting at the same desk where I felt Owen kick for the last time. My mind kept racing back to the day where I innocently worked while my son died.
If only I had known...could I have changed the outcome?

My theology dictates otherwise. I have to believe that no matter the circumstances, no matter what I did or did not do, God had ordained Owen's life to be 36 weeks in my womb. Before I was born, before my mother was born, I believe that Owen's life was written in His book exactly as it was.

But, you could not have told me this without an extreme reaction in the months following Owen's death. I did not care. If He's Sovereign, then why? It must have been a reaction to something I've done, I must be to blame...but God could have intervened and had mercy on us...

It was a confusing, seething revolution of thoughts and feelings that dominated my waking hours. I couldn't sleep, I didn't eat, I barely left our apartment...everything I'd ever read or heard was jumbled up in my head and I didn't know what to believe.

My confusion was heightened by the pain. The ache I had for Owen. My body wept for him.

The pain was so intense, so raw that it was all I could think about...everything else was blurry; a fuzzy gray color in the background of the only thing that mattered.


From November 2007 to September 2008 I attended church roughly ten times. I was angry. No, more than angry, I was irate. I couldn't believe that the God I loved and served had allowed Owen to die. It seemed like a cruel joke.


Then I got pregnant again.


It was March 12. I couldn't believe my eyes, but there it was...a positive sign staring back at me.


On April 15 2008, we took another long, tear stained drive to the hospital. The baby was growing in the wrong place and I was in a life threatening situation if my doctors didn't intervene.

We had been through a month of blood tests and ultrasounds starting on March 13. My doctors were following our tiny chipmunk very closely. They were concerned about a bought of bleeding I had early on and then they couldn't find the gestational sac or the baby in my uterus. There was a very small 'something' in the corner of my uterus, very close to my left tube. What followed was four weeks of intense worry, speculation and fear.

It took a full month to diagnose me. It was our high risk OB who gave us the news that the baby was no longer with us, but the sac was still growing and was embedded in the space between my tube and uterus. A very weak spot; supremely dangerous if it got too big. It could rupture my uterus and I could bleed to death very quickly.


A month and three days after chipmunk entered our lives, he was gone.


I was devastated. I felt betrayed, again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In The Beginning

I think about the past 16 months and I can't tell you how we survived them.

In the beginning of 'after', we slept in the living room. Well, hubs slept and I did everything but. I cried, I watched movies or tv shows we had on DVD (we don't have cable), and I spent hours on the MISS Foundation website during the long, lonely nights reading the stories of other mothers whose children died before them.

We lived in a one bedroom apartment we loved in the best part of town and hated to leave it; so we made the decision to stay and live on top of each other. It was a small price to pay.

But now...now I hated our bedroom. I hated our whole apartment.

I hated what it was because of what it was supposed to be.

We set up Owen's crib next our bed. He was going to stay with us in our room for as long as we lived in that apartment. His dresser was crammed in the dining room next to the table and our desk. His cute little bookshelf stood next to our larger bookshelf. We had made room for him. We had carefully and intentionally craved out a place for him in our lives and in our home.

There was a hole now. A gaping, bleeding hole that would never close.

We slept in the room with the least amount of change. Not much had moved around or was added for Owen's impending arrival, so not much was removed when he abrupted left us.


My doctor prescribed sleeping pills. I took them. I slept. And I dreamed. I dreamed of babies.
I dreamed of caring for a baby; he was tiny and helpless and I was taking him on a journey to a safe place. I was carrying him in a sling on my chest, and rejoiced when we made it to the border crossing into safety, but when I looked down to check on him, he had smothered. We were almost there...but it wasn't enough. He was gone.

I had nightmares most nights in the beginning.


I felt responsible. I felt like a failure. A freak. Most babies live, right? Why couldn't I keep him safe? What did I do wrong? No one told me that a baby could die so close to full term. No one warned me that I could be part of the 1% whose babies did not survive. I wanted someone to blame. I wanted a source to point my anger towards. My doctors, God, myself...all seemed plausible.

I felt a thousand different emotions at any given moment. I was unpredictable and unstable.
Grief had taken hold of my life and I was captive to it.

I kept asking my hubs and anyone who would listen (who didn't run away)...'how do I live now? how do I go on?' Everything was different, yet the world kept revolving and time was marching on as if my son hadn't died. I couldn't understand why the world didn't stop for everyone else the day he died.

It had certainly stopped for me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Service

The days were a blur; the hours passed by and then...then it was time to bury our son. I didn't want to go. I stood in front of the mirror at my grandmother's house and wept. I wept for the little boy I thought I had failed. I wept for my husband. I wept for my own pain...my loss. I wept for my grandmother, whose face was lined with grief when she stroked her first great-grandson's face. I heard her softly groan over and over again as she touched his soft skin.

It wasn't fair. She, who had lost her third baby the day he was born, now had to endure this loss. She never held him. Charles Cooper. There were no pictures. When she woke up from the anesthesia, he was gone. My grandfather took my mother and her brother to the cemetery for his burial while my grandmother was still in recovery at the hospital.

It wasn't fair.

Owen Christopher...we buried him next to his great uncle, Charles Cooper, and below his great-grandfather. The man who had buried his own son 47 years ago. They were together now. We are still here.

We rode to the cemetery on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. I didn't understand. I thought we were going to the funeral home. I thought I had one last goodbye. I wanted to see him again. I wanted more time.

I sobbed in the front seat. I just wanted my son. My parents and husband had made the decision to forgo the viewing at the funeral home. I didn't understand.


We were first at the grave site. I sat in the car and stared straight ahead as people started arriving. I couldn't face them. All those sad faces. All the pain and disappointment. Had I let them all down? Was it my fault? It was my body who had failed my son, after all.

I slumped out the car at the last minute. My husband supporting me, I leaned all my weight on his body. I kept my head down as we walked. I couldn't face them.

I don't remember the service. I poured myself into my husbands' arms and sobbed the whole way through.

But I remember the song. I remember the words. I still cannot sing the words they sang as they lowered his body into the ground.

With tears streaming down his face, holding onto me as tight as he could, my husband sang the words:

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.



Our pastor came to us afterward and held me close. 'Jesus loves you, He loves you' was all he said to me. He couldn't have said anything better or worse to me at that moment.


The anger was building inside my chest...I felt ready to explode.

The shock was subsiding and I was angry.

Friday, March 6, 2009

1 Second

My co-workers got together and threw me a beautiful shower about a month before Owen died and was born.

I had completely forgotten my camera that day, so a co-worker graciously used her camera and took pictures for me. I really don't remember her taking pictures or not taking pictures, so when I emailed her a few weeks ago about the pictures she had taken, I didn't expect much. I thought, well, even if she did take pictures by now she has deleted them. I mean, really, it has been 16 months. She emailed me right back and told me she would look through her folders at work.
This is what she emailed me.



I am blown away that a 1 second video could effect me as much as it has.

If I could jump into the video, I would...and I would never look back.

I want to shake the girl in the video and tell her to cherish the time her little boy is cuddled up in her belly. I want to tell her not to worry about the sciatic nerve pain or FMLA papers.
I want more time. 36 weeks of carrying him is not enough.

I know I would say the same thing if he had lived 50 years. We are mothers.
Our worst fear is to be separated from our children...and then figure out a way to survive without them.


I think it's fitting that I'm out of sight in the video. You can see my husband's shaved head through the pile of presents. I am seated next to him on the sofa behind the big blue bag, surrounded by excitement, the room filled with hope.

This 1 second window into a time when joy was innocent and dreams were real
draws a line in the sand between the old me
and the new me.

I can't go back.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The 'After' Life

I struggled out of the car, into the cool November sunshine of a life I didn't want.

Walking the path to our empty apartment, walking to the beat of a dirge, my feet stumbling along with the weight of the reality awaiting us inside. An empty bookshelf greeted us upon entry. Just three days prior, this tiny bookshelf had been overflowing with books and videos fit for a baby boy, our baby boy. It stood empty now.

My heart beat faster and I ran to our bedroom, tears spilling from my eyes. Where was my baby? Where was Owen? I stood at the door to our bedroom...shock rolling off me like waves...his crib..his crib was gone. I fell onto the bed and sobbed. My heart breaking all over again.

Our well intentioned friends and family had come the day before to take away my son's things, maybe to relieve the pain that would accompany seeing his belongings; there was no need for them now.

Owen's tiny clothes, taken from his beautiful dresser, were packed away the day he was born, my husband told me. He had given permission for them to come and take our son's things, all the things he had needed just days before, and store them at my parent's house, unused and discarded.

We spent the next few days at home. In a stupor, I thanked friends for the food they brought over, I answered questions my husband had about our son's funeral, and I cried. I cried until my eyes were swollen and I couldn't open them at all. I didn't want to open them.

Unbelievably, my milk came in two days after Owen was born. I was ashamed. The horror of it all...I couldn't believe my body. My body, who had failed my son, was acting as if nothing had happened. Didn't it know? Couldn't it tell? There was no baby to nourish.

My body...my body stripped of life and aching with grief...was a failure.

The hours passed by as torrents of pain and sorrow swept over me continually, relentlessly until the shock was worn away...

And I was angry.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ah, sweet levity

Guess what?

Oh, yeah. We had snow.
In.The.South.
And we ate it up.


Believe it or not, this is the road beside our house. We all stayed home. You don't drive when it snows in the south.
Well, at least you shouldn't.


We were all smiles until the tree limbs started falling all over the place and when we went back inside to warm up...no power. All night long. Ya'll. We only had one flashlight, two matches and no wood for the fireplace. We ended up in bed with hubs' ipod and peanut butter sandwiches at 7pm.

This is what happens when southerners get snow. They use unusual means to clear snow off their cars.
Believe me, we were not prepared for this.