Thursday, October 28, 2010

fall leaves are red

and I don't want to get out of our bed...
I feel that I don't know what to do,
please turn out the lights.

Chris will probably be mad when he sees that, but it's the beginning of a song he wrote 4 years ago before Owen and all of our losses, but it fits more now than it ever did before.
That song plays in my head a lot this time of year.

Things have been beautiful and sad and hard and complicated and weird and wonderful lately.
I hardly know what to say or where to start.

My parents came to visit at the beginning of October, shortly after my grandfather died. They stayed for a few days and we soaked up the love and fun of being together. My grandmom (my mom's mom) decided to come as well and I'm so glad. We all had a great time. We did a little site seeing and lots of eating while they were here. Though Hannah did go through grandparent detox after they left. It was so funny. After they were gone, she fussed the whole day. I guess she didn't know what to do with herself after all the attention she had been getting. :)

Four generations of women on my mom's side.

October has been marked by a lot of sadness this year, as it has been for the past few years. My mind always goes back to what I was doing with Owen this time 3 years ago.
On the way to the grocery store the other day, I passed by a beautiful old cemetery and had the urge to drive in and take a walk around the beautiful old headstones. It was strange because I don't usually find much comfort near Owen's grave, but that day I wanted nothing more than to sit with him at his graveside.
That day was also the day my family buried my grandmother. My dad's mom passed away last weekend, almost exactly a month after her husband. She wasn't doing well and I know she missed her husband and was ready to go. I'm so thankful she's no longer in any pain and that she's reunited with her husband and her daughter.
My dad, understandably so, is quite exhausted and emotionally drained. I know he'd appreciate your prayers. My dad has said since 2 weeks after Hannah's birth, when all of this started with my grandparents' health (my grandmom's stroke and my granddad's hospitalization), that whenever he wants to smile he thinks about Hannah Mae. I'm glad she brings them so much joy. She does me as well.

I broke down in the car the other day. My head and heart were bombarded with thoughts of Owen and the death and separation of loved ones. There is so much loss in this world. So much pain. So so so much disappointment, grief and sorrow. It's sometimes so hard to remember that everything will be made right. My heart breaks for all the pain being felt around the world. These next weeks are not only difficult for me, but for a few of my dear friends as well.

It seems so contradictory to say that I also feel so much joy and love and hope. But I do. In the midst of my breakdown, as the tears were streaming down my face, I could hear the small goos and gaas coming from the little person in the backseat. Hannah's coos and sweet smiles brighten my world. She's a precious girl with such a sunny disposition. Sure, she gets mad when she doesn't get what she wants when she wants it, she's still a sinner in this broken world; but her presence is one of pure joy.

Hannah was a tiny little baby in my womb on Owen's 2nd birthday, so to say that this is our first November with her wouldn't be true. But this year, we get to hold her in our arms while celebrating our firstborn's life. I don't know what to expect this year. I've already been surprised by grief these past few weeks, so really I guess I need to go with the flow and lean on Jesus.

And now, for some pictures...

Hannah's first time seeing the beautiful colors of fall. 

Chris asked me what it is about this outfit that is 'wrong'... I can't quite put my finger on it, but this is what happens when daddy dresses you.

This is my idea of a lazy Saturday! 

Seriously, my favorite picture of our little belly laugher.

Yesterday was Hannah's 6 month birthday. It is so hard to believe. She's really here- in our arms, growing and getting bigger each day. We are so thankful.

And thank you for your sweet and thoughtful words on my article. You guys are so wonderful.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why we remember

Remembering and cherishing all of our babies in Heaven.

I wrote this a year and a half ago. Sharing it again today... why we remember.

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 heonly 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.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October- Awareness and Remembrance

I wrote this as a submission to Newsweek for their 'My Turn' column. I'm not surprised I never heard anything back. Not only am I not a professional writer, but who would want to publish an article or read an article on stillbirth? 
I also published this as a note on my Facebook page. Again, I'm not surprised to have received no feedback. Who wants to read or think about stillbirth? 

But October is our month too. The month where we try to raise awareness of the tragedy of loss during and right after pregnancy. Our month of remembrance.

A Life Not Measured

My son, Owen Christopher, died on November 5, 2007. He was born three days later. My husband and I had been married a little over two years when we found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t exactly the timeline we had in mind, but we were thrilled. During our anatomy scan in July, we got our first look at our tiny miracle. It was easy to see we weren’t having a little girl. Owen was so proud, so excited to show his daddy that he was a boy. We were ecstatic. The months passed quickly and soon we were just weeks away from bringing home our little boy.

Late one Monday night, four weeks before Owen’s due date, I noticed a change in movement. I was working full-time and there were so many things left to do before our little bundle arrived, but I distinctly remembered feeling him move that afternoon while at work. When I got home that evening, my husband and I went shopping for last minute baby items. I was less concerned with his movement as we busied ourselves around the apartment, having just put sheets decked out with cars and trains on his crib and finishing his laundry; little clothes, tiny onesies, blankets and hats.
Tuesday morning, I woke up in a full-blown panic. I knew something was wrong. Owen was always a big mover. He loved to push his tiny baby butt out and dig his heels into my ribs while I slept. Of course, Owen had scared me before this particular morning. I was told it was normal for babies to sleep for a period of time in the womb and that sometimes movement slows before labor. I figured he was doing what little boys did best: worrying mommy. I decided to do what all the books tell you. I drank cold water, ate blueberry oatmeal chased with cranberry juice and as soon as my doctor’s office opened, I made an appointment for that morning. After showering and dressing, I had calmed down. Not much, just a tiny flutter, but Owen had moved enough to quiet my fears. My husband, Chris, and I made our way to the doctor’s office. We talked excitedly about Owen and speculated that his change in activity might mean oncoming labor.

Fifteen minutes…fifteen heartbreaking minutes later, we knew he was gone.
There was no movement on the screen, no flutter of his heart beating. Silence and stillness, this is how I remember my son’s birth.

Owen was born November 8, 2007 at 11:08 in the morning. When the doctor laid him on my chest, a fragile little doll with pink skin and delicate fingers, I couldn’t help but smile. He was beautiful, perfect. We had been waiting eight long months for this day. The day we would finally meet our son, our firstborn, face to face.
It was supposed to be the happiest day of my life.

We left the hospital alone, while mothers all around us were nursing their new arrivals. Walking back into our apartment, the reality of his death hit me all over again. All of Owen’s things were gone; the crib we had spent hours putting together, his tiny baby clothes, books, and stuffed animals. Everything was gone. It was as if he never existed. The first few weeks after his death I woke up every morning with the devastating reality pounding me over and over again: my son was dead. Every time I instinctively reached down to touch my stomach, expecting to feel my child moving and living inside me, I was inundated with fresh waves of his absence. I wondered how I could go on living after my heart had been shattered into a million pieces.

It will be three years soon. Three years since Owen’s death and birth, but I can still feel the weight of him in my arms and smell his new baby smell. I remember the feel of his tiny fingers and toes, the soft skin of a newborn. His face, adorned with a tiny button nose and a dimple in his chin, is a carbon copy of my own.

His life is not something I can measure by birthday parties or growth charts. I have only a few pictures of him on the day he was born. His life, a mere 36 weeks in the womb, may not seem like much of a life to some, but I could not have loved him more if he had lived sixty years. To those of us who knew and loved him, he is special; an irreplaceable little boy whose life impacted and changed us. 

Grief is complex, unpredictable and ever changing. It is a different creature for each of us who have experienced the loss of someone we love. I cannot pretend to be an expert, even of my own personal grief. I pass landmarks and places that look familiar but I am ever moving forward, albeit slowly sometimes. 
Moving forward does not mean that the grief has lessened or that I have moved on. His life has changed me irrevocably and I can never forget him. I wouldn’t want to.