Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Amazon Wish List

Please click here to find an Wish List of items we can always use in our comfort packages! The items can be shipped directly to us through Amazon, or dropped off at the church office at Palmcroft Baptist Church in Phoenix,


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Brody's Story

The following is a guest post from one of our newest volunteers, Maggy Brown.

Today is December 8th – my expected due date. I will not be rejoicing at the birth of my son however, because he was born asleep into Heaven on July 27th, when I was 23 weeks pregnant. I have 3 living daughters, and Brody is now my 4th angel baby. 

I’ve been blessed to carry 7 babies in my lifetime. I can’t tell you how excited we were to find out we had been blessed with a boy. That all changed when at 11 weeks of pregnancy, I had a major bleed and KNEW I had lost my baby. We called an ambulance, rushed to the hospital, and cried our eyes out as the ER doc explained we had experienced a miscarriage. They would do an ultrasound to determine if a d&c would be necessary, so we waited, prayed and cried. 

I was wheeled back into the u/s room, where the tech was very professional and said she would not be able to give me details or answer any questions, she was almost too sterile about it. I was dying on the inside, why didn’t she see that?! She flips on the machine, and places the wand on my belly, and what appeared on the screen was a miracle: it was my baby! There he was, his little heart beating away normally and it almost looked like he was waving at me! I held my breath, afraid to ask the tech, since she’d been so clear about not answering questions, but when she turned to look at me, all I saw was raw emotion, she had tears streaming down her face, and she told me my baby was alive and well. She took measurements and hugged me and we all rejoiced in God’s hand in saving our baby. 

This situation happened another 3 times over the course of the next 12 weeks; the last time it did, Brody didn’t make it. They were unable to stop me from dilating and he was delivered at 23 weeks. That night his early birth saved my own life. I coded several times, and the doctors were frantic to stop my bleeding. I begged God to save my baby, I made deals about how I would honor Him in any way that He called me to, as long as He saved my boy. But instead of God answering that plea, He saved my life instead. 

I felt as Brody was being born, and the nurses rushed out to get the doctor. I had to push several times, and then his little lifeless body entered the world for the first time. Jason was able to cut the cord and see his beautiful face as he was removed from the tight little sac he was held in. He was absolutely breathtaking! That moment was breathtaking, not just for my joy and unconditional love I felt for him, but also because it was the most Divine moment I have ever experienced. The presence of God's Angels and Holy Spirit was so strong, that no one spoke. No one wanted to break that Holy silence. I also realized in that moment, that the following hours would be the only moments I would ever have with Brody. But for that tiny millisecond I had forgotten the horrifying truth and lived in that moment of happiness of seeing my son for the first time. He was perfect. An angel in human form. He weighed less than one pound, but I loved him beyond measure.

The days that followed were a blur. People came and went. We had a memorial service to say goodbye and praise God for welcoming Brody into Heaven. It was all very raw and emotional. Once everything was done, family had gone home, I wasn’t sure what was next. I was supposed to be 6 months pregnant with my baby boy, but all I had was an empty belly and a broken heart. 

Over the last few months I have learned to put the pieces of my life back together. I have been blessed by the Forget Me Not Ministry ladies to be able to participate in something amazing, and honor my son. I start classes in January to become a Certified Birth & Bereavement Doula, my faith is stronger than ever, my relationship with my husband, my family, and my kids has never been better….. but today, on December 8th, I grieve for the baby I will never know in this life. I cry about all the what-if’s and what his human life would have looked like, I will praise God for sparing me, and make Him proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I will miss my baby Brody until the day when I can hold him in Heaven. I’ll love you forever, Brody William Brown.

“…..Weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning.” ~Psalm 30:5

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wanting to be a Dad: A Husband's Perspective on "The Wait"

The following is a guest entry from Brian Adams.  
When my sister asked me to write this I was really excited. I really enjoy writing and thought this would be something that would be fun and therapeutic as it would allow me to get thoughts down that I haven’t really talked about. However, it was not so easy. I started and stopped multiple times. I procrastinated and put it off because, in all honesty, I didn’t want to go through the emotional exercise I knew this would be. Talking about infertility and the lack of success my wife and I have had in getting pregnant is not something I looked forward to doing. It’s a difficult topic to talk about because I feel it makes other people uncomfortable whenever we bring it up. Anyways, I hope this can be an encouragement to a few people in knowing they are not alone and there are other people going through what they are going through. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

My wife LOVES kids, especially babies. Whenever she sees a baby she can’t help but swoon over the little one and ask the parents if she can hold him or her. When we were dating/engaged I knew she wanted kids and that all she wanted to do was be a mom. It was soon after we got married (the next day, actually) I realized that she wanted kids NOW. She didn’t want to wait a few months or years because, to her, she was ready to be a mom and wanted to start a family ASAP. I was a little more hesitant at first because our money and job situation weren’t concrete. After about a year of being married, we both decided we were ready. We were scared but so excited to have kids. We thought, like most people, it would happen soon. So we started to save money and plan out names for our kids. I can’t tell you how pumped we were to have start a family.

That was over 2 years ago and we still have not gotten pregnant.

The first few months when she would take a pregnancy test and it would be negative, I did my best to encourage her and try to comfort her as this was normal and it can take a while to get pregnant. As the months went on and on and we still weren’t pregnant, it got harder and harder to say, “Don’t worry, it will happen soon” because I felt like a liar. You can only say those words so often without feeling like a fraud. Besides, did I believe that it would happen? Was I saying those words because I was trying to convince myself?

I have experienced my share of heartache, but nothing compares to the pain of my wife in tears because she took another pregnancy test and it was negative. Because my wife wants to save me from the pain of that, sometimes she wouldn’t tell me she took a test and it was negative. Knowing she has had to go through that disappointment all by herself; that was a different sort of pain I wasn’t used to. I am supposed to protect her and be there for her and yet there was nothing I could do. I just had to watch her go through this every month.

The thing with infertility is that you become very aware of all the people who are pregnant. We love our friends and we love that God is blessing them with families of their own. But I could see the pain on my wife’s face, that little twinge of sadness, whenever she would find out a friend was pregnant. It’s not because she wasn’t happy for them or jealous, but it was a reminder that she wasn’t pregnant.

The first time I felt that pain was when I found out my sisters were pregnant. We had a big family photo-shoot and my sisters had a picture set up to announce to all of us that they were pregnant. Now, I LOVE being an uncle and I thank God for that every day. However, when we all found out they were pregnant, I felt my heart drop into my stomach.  For me, it was the first time it really hit me how much I wanted a family and how much I was hurting that we had not yet gotten pregnant.

Most guys don’t talk about their desire to be a dad, probably because they have really crappy dads. However, I really want to be a dad and a big part of that is because of how much I love and admire my father. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. So, in addition to his teaching job and getting his Doctorate, he would deliver pizzas to help make ends meet. He did whatever was necessary for our family. As I got older, I played sports pretty much year round and he never missed a single game (I’m pretty sure he didn’t miss any of my sisters’ games either). It didn’t matter if it was 3 hours away on a Tuesday night, he would make the drive to watch me. Some of my best memories are the drives home after basketball practice or a game where we would talk. I have always wanted to be a dad, which is what makes this whole thing incredibly difficult.

I can’t speak for my wife, but I know she hesitates to talk about this with people because she doesn’t want them to feel like she is jealous or somehow doesn’t want to be around their kids. This is a difficult topic because how do you tell someone that you tear up when you get a baby shower invitation because you hope, beyond all hope, that you were the one having the baby shower?

How do you tell someone that, while you will pray them as they struggle raising their kids and are completely exhausted, you wish you were getting 2 hours of sleep each night because of your baby?

How do you tell someone that it feels like God has left you completely alone to struggle and that it sometimes feels like He is rubbing it in your face that you can’t get pregnant?

We have only begun the process of getting tests done to figure out why we aren’t able to get pregnant. Part of that has to do with the utter terror of being told we can’t have children for one reason or another. In all honesty, I’m not sure how I would respond to that. I would hope I would respond well, but I don’t know. It’s a terrifying process.

However, there is some hope in all of this. We have prayed and cried together more than I thought a young married couple would. We have both had to be strong for the other at different times and that has been an incredible experience to see how it strengthens our marriage. We have faith God will work this out, we really do, but it’s the waiting that’s the hardest part.

We have also been incredibly blessed by our friends and family who we have been able to talk about this with. They don’t offer advice, they just listen. They don’t tell us to “be thankful you get to enjoy sleep for a little while longer”, they pray with us and ask us how we are doing the next time we see them. We are very thankful God has put people like that in our lives.

If you are having difficulty with getting pregnant or have experienced loss, please reach out to someone. You are not alone and there are good people who will be there to help you. Don’t give up.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I am Isobel's mom

I've shed more tears this week than I have in a while.  I should clarify: more sad tears.  The Lord knows that the tears of joy have been abundant these past few months.

(If you have been following my prior blogs and are confused, see here ;-) :

But let me back up.

Two years ago tomorrow, I sat in a bed in the ER for nearly ten hours, physically laboring through my second miscarriage.  I won't recount the exact chain of events or the countless moments of just deep deep sadness that defined that day and changed who I was.  But I will say that it was a formative day and time during my grief journey to motherhood, and I still think on it with great pain and sadness.  And though it wasn't the first baby that we'd lost, in many ways I feel that it triggered a turn of events that have defined me ever since.  All of the time spent writing, sobbing, crafting, reading, praying, fighting, hoping, and ministering.  The journey.  the grief.  Have been who I am for so long.

And so this week. The week that every newscast, every radio station, every commercial, every TV show, every store, and every greeting card company on the planet.  Get together and remind us that it's the week of motherhood.  It has knocked me down once again.

And I wasn't expecting that.

Even right now as I listen to the sound of the crashing ocean waves on the monitor next to my bed, confirming that Isobel is sound asleep in her crib.

I still wasn't expecting it.

This is my chance.  This is the time.  This is my turn.  The year.  When people will finally recognize me as a mother.  Will see me with an actual live, perfect child in my arms.  And know.  That I am a mother.  When I won't have to dread the clerk at the store who means well but doesn't know any better as she wishes me a Happy Mother's Day on my way out.  Because it will be true.  And I won't have to go to my car and cry and yell.  I won't have to be sad.

But.  I am.

And after talking it out some tonight, I think there are a few things going on here.  And this is me working those things out.

First.  I have a child in my arms.  A perfect beautiful, gorgeous child in my arms.  But my other children are still missing.  And as much as having a child in my arms affirms my status as a mother (or so they say), then not having my other children in my arms affirms my status as a bereaved mother.  I'm most comfortable as a bereaved mother.  I know how to do that.  How to be that.  See.  I miss them.  And I wish they were here.  And as I've already begun to prepare the family's clothes for this special Sunday, I wonder what clothes I would have been ironing for them.

Something is missing.

And then there is Isobel.  Our Isobel.  My Isobel.  Our rainbow after the storm.  Our miraculous gift from above.  God's promise.   Dropped into our laps in the most unimaginable way.  So unbelievably quickly.  Boy do I love her.  The highlight of my day is when I pick her up from grandma's after work and kiss her face until her cheeks are red.  It's "scolding" her to put her tongue back in her face and quit licking back when her puppy licks her.  It's seeing that tiny dimple on her left cheek when she smiles.  It's  hearing her giggle.  And shedding oh so many tears when I pray over her at bedtime.  And if all of this is true.  Which it is.  Then why do I keep referring to her as Izzie?  Or my kid?  Why don't I refer to her as my daughter?  But mostly.  Why don't I feel like her mother?  I have never for even a single second intentionally held anything back from her.  Even when it was terrifyingly possible that she could be taken from our home at any moment.  I have tried and tried and tried to feel like her mother.  To do and to be everything that a mother would.

But something is missing.

I have been so defined by my grieving mother heart for so long.  It's been a part of everything that I do to the point where it has become, I think, in many ways, who I am.  All of me.  All the time.  And it's compounded as the years have gone on.  And even now as I carry grief for Isobel's birth mom too.  Heavily.  And I will always grieve the loss of my children.  I will always wonder who they would have been.  I will always wonder what they would have looked like and what kind of personality or gifts they would have had.  I will always keep the mementos we have of them up in our home and include them in our special holiday and family traditions.  I will always talk about them and tell anyone and everyone what an important part of my life and my journey they have been.  And I will always tell their sister of her siblings.  Always.  Until the day I see them again.

And there it is.

It's time.

The truth is, my children that were born into heaven-- are in heaven.  They are perfect, complete, and in eternity with Christ.  They don't know sin, pain, or brokenness.  And they have full knowledge of what lies ahead. And in that, are they not looking down and wondering why their mother is still so defined by their deaths?   I think that given what they know, they would want me.  Would want us.  To embrace what's next.  A new season.  A new season of gladness and of joy.  And it doesn't mean I have to forget them.  Or minister less.

Go ahead, mom. Be Isobel's mother.  

Be Isobel's mother.

Being a mother to Isobel is not a betrayal to them.

I need to be Isobel's mother.

I can be Isobel's mother.

I am Isobel's mother.

And this reminds me.  Of every time that I'm sending pictures to Izzie's tummy mommy and I double check that it's okay before I send one that has Jesse or me in it.  And how every time.  Without fail.  She says to me-- "You know how I feel about that!  I love seeing her with you guys, you are her parents!"

Go ahead.  Be Isobel's mother.

And so tomorrow.  As we begin the start of a long weekend that will hold many bittersweet moments. Mothers.  Bereaved mothers.  Mother hearts.  Loss.  Sadness.  Life.  and Hope.  I'm making a new plan.  A plan to for once, be in the moment.   This moment.  Whether it's nursery painting.  Or a family walk. Or date night.  Or fussy time.  Or diaper time.   Or.  Just time.  Now.  Here.

As Isobel's mother.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why it Matters to Have a Day of Remembrance

Breast Cancer Awareness.
Down Syndrome Awareness.
Domestic Abuse Awareness.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.

The buttons and banners and articles pop up all over Facebook, all over everywhere really, and those are only for the month of October. We are almost bombarded with things to remember, things to be "aware" of, and it makes some people wonder, "Why is it so important to have a day, a week, or an entire month to raise awareness for a certain topic?" Or more specifically, why does it matter to have a month or even a day set aside for something like pregnancy loss? It won't change anything. Not one less baby will die because I changed my profile picture to a pink and blue ribbon or lit a candle in remembrance of the babies who have already died. So what's the point? Why all the fuss? Why is my Facebook being overrun with sad articles and tiny footprints?

This is why.

Go through your Facebook friends list. Run down in your head all the women you know and love. Now take one fourth of those women and say to yourself, "All of these women have lost babies, have had miscarriages, have had infants die early on, have delivered babies born still, have carried babies that died with either no explanation or one that just wasn't good enough."

This is not a statistic I pulled out of thin air, this is reality. One in four women have dealt with some kind of pregnancy loss or early infant death. I actually went through my friends list tonight just to see if the statistic held true for me personally. Guess what? Not only did it hold true, my statistic was closer to one in three. One in three women who have a reason to be remembered today, October 15th, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. And that's only counting the women I know for a fact to have had pregnancy losses, I am positive there are more who just aren't as open about their experiences and have kept quiet about their pain. And to add to that, more than half of the women I counted on my list have had more than one loss, some more than two, some as many as five. How many babies is that? I lost count.

So if that many women have dealt with this kind of pain, have experienced this kind of life altering occurrence, why, why, why is it not all over the place all the time? Why are there not talk shows interviewing Miscarriage Survivors every other day? Why are there not billboards declaring undying support for men and women who have lost children in this manner? Where are the walks and the marathons and the telethons raising support for burial costs for families of stillborn babies or counseling services for women experiencing post traumatic stress disorder or depression after their pregnancy loss? Why aren't ribbons in every grocery store checkout line and why aren't football players sporting a specific color with their cleats and their jerseys and their helmets showing their support for the women fighting to get up in the morning after losing a baby? One. In. Four. Women. Why?

Years ago, there was no such thing as Breast Cancer Awareness. Years ago, breast cancer was considered a "women's problem" that was not to be discussed in polite conversation. It was talked about in whispered voices, usually only by women, and was not something the general public thought about or talked about or felt affected by. Sound familiar? It does to me, because that's where Pregnancy Loss Awareness is right about now. So what changed? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it had something to do with the fact that at some point, somebody woke up and realized that this was not just a women's health issue, this was an epidemic. This was everywhere you turned. Her mother, his sister, my grandmother...all of these women affected by the same thing. People looked up and said, "Hey, wait a second, I currently know four or five women fighting this battle right now. Why is no one talking about this? Something needs to be done! We need to support these women and their loved ones!"

And so Breast Cancer Awareness was born. And at some point, it exploded. Save the Tatas. I Heart Boobies. Pink ribbons, pink shoelaces, pink cookie boxes, pink everything everywhere shouts "BREAST CANCER AWARENESS!!!" Turn on a football game this month. I dare you not to be bombarded with macho manly football players wearing pink something. And every time we see these pink reminders, we are reminded. There are women, everywhere, fighting like hell to stay alive after a shocking diagnosis they had no control over. Remember them. Support them. Don't make them fight their battles silently. Stand by them.

This. This is what I want for the women fighting a silent battle after losing a baby. I am so proud of our country for how it has risen up to support women fighting breast cancer. But sometimes I wonder, where's the support for the hundreds of thousands of women affected by pregnancy loss? Why is this something most women still feel they must endure alone, quietly? Why is this still a topic whispered about mainly by women because men won't touch the subject with a ten foot pole? Why has my husband had one, maybe two friends even acknowledge his losses? Why do I have women quietly message me and tell me that they, too, experienced pregnancy loss twenty, thirty, fifty years ago but have never talked about it with anyone? Why is this subject so hush hush? Why was breast cancer once so hush hush? Because it is sad? Because it is uncomfortable to talk about? Why?

I won't pretend to know the answer to that. I will only say that bringing awareness to these kinds of issues and topics takes time, and it takes voices. Lots of voices. Unfortunately, the voices of pregnancy loss are usually silenced in their grief. And if that doesn't do it, it usually only takes about one or two idiotic and insensitive remarks to make a woman vow to never talk openly about their experience again. And maybe two or three other women overheard or read those insensitive remarks and vowed to themselves to never talk openly about their experiences for fear of having someone say something like that to them. And then there is the common misconception that one shouldn't bring up such a painful topic for fear of reminding the person experiencing pregnancy loss of their pain. As if saying, "I was thinking of you and your sweet baby today, and I am so sad you are missing them," might somehow make that person go, "What!?! Thanks a lot! I had COMPLETELY forgotten about my baby until JUST NOW when you said that!"

Let's do a little comparison shall we? Let's say a friend is diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently being treated and starting on a hard road to recovery. What might one do? Well, one might change their profile picture to a pink ribbon. One might leave encouraging messages for the woman fighting this battle on her Facebook wall. One might offer their assistance in the form of meals, child care, or grocery shopping. One might send a card in the mail reiterating their love and support. One might offer to drive their friend to their doctor's appointments or even sit with them during chemo. One says, "I am praying for you! You will get through this, and I will be here by your side all the way!" One signs up to do a 5k in honor of their friend. One wears a pink ribbon on their work badge. One does anything and everything they can, because their friend is fighting a hard battle, and the least they can do is fight it with them.

One does not say to themselves, "Well, I don't want to rub in their faces that I myself do not have breast cancer, so I will just not speak to them until they are cured." One does not say, "I don't want to remind them that they have breast cancer, so I will just pretend that they don't have it at all." One does not tell their friend, "Friend, this was just God's will. It is something you must accept and move on from." One certainly would not say to their other friends behind said friend's back, "That friend of ours. When is she going to get over this breast cancer thing? I mean, sure, it's sad, but isn't it time she move on with her life?" Or maybe this friend lost a breast to her battle with cancer. Would a friend say, "Oh, well, at least you have another breast. Be thankful for the breast you have."?

Atrocious. Anyone with a friend such as this should immediately run in the other direction and never speak to that person again. Yet...things like this are said to grieving mothers every single day.

"I don't want to rub in their face that I have never had a miscarriage. I can't relate to them. I will just avoid them."

"I don't want to remind them of their loss, so I will just not mention the baby ever again as long as I live."

"I know it's hard, but it's God's will. You must accept it and move on."

"When is Suzy going to get over her miscarriage? It was months ago. I mean, sure, it's sad, but when will she move on?"

"At least you have other children, Suzy. Be thankful for the ones you have."

I myself have been the recipient of some of those gems, and know at least one woman who has been the recipient of all the others. It used to make me gawk in disbelief. I have come to accept it as ignorance. As not knowing any better. As the product of an environment where people don't discuss the issue, so no one knows what to do when their friend or loved one is faced with it.

This. This is why it is important to have these "Awareness" months, or weeks, or days. It gives mothers like me permission to shout from the rooftops, "MY BABY DIED, AND I STILL STRUGGLE WITH THEIR LOSS." It opens the door for others who might not otherwise have the courage to talk about their loss to do so. It starts conversations. Conversations about how to support women and men experiencing pregnancy or infant loss. Conversations about what is not appropriate to do or say. Conversations about why these losses occur, how they affect the parents and the siblings and the grandparents. It shows women that they are not alone in their grief. That so many others have been through it and can relate to their pain. That what they are experiencing is not only normal, it is okay.

It is okay that I still miss Lily, over a year after she was buried. It is okay that I feel random moments of grief for the three babies I will never hold again in this lifetime. It is okay that I cry sometimes. It is okay that I laugh sometimes. It is okay that I grieve however I choose to grieve. It is okay that she did a balloon release today in honor of her baby and she only lit a candle in honor of her many lost little ones and I did nothing but write this blog. It's okay. Because we're in it together, and the only reason we know we're in it together is because we're open about our losses, and we are open about our support.

Please, please understand my heart as you read this. I am not in any way saying, "Darn those breast cancer survivors, they get all the glory." As I said before, I am so, so proud of how our society has stepped up to support those women and love on them during their battle. I use them as a comparison because I think they were once in our shoes, fighting a battle silently, a battle no one felt comfortable talking about, a battle practically no one showed their support of. And look at them now. The entire world takes pride in standing up next to those women, in making sure they know they are not alone.

I don't wear a ribbon or have some badge of honor showing that I have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss, not one the general public recognizes, anyway. I wear a bracelet with Lily's name on it. I wear a necklace every minute of every day with three tokens for my three babies that are no longer here. But if there was some recognizable, universal badge showing support for the survivors of pregnancy and infant loss, you better believe I would proudly wear it every day.

And maybe, if we keep working at it, someday there will be.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Last Wednesday night, I cried myself to sleep.  

I don't know when I actually drifted off or when Jesse put the covers over me, or at what point the exhaustion finally took over and the tears subsided.  All I know is that as I woke up in the morning clutching the blanket I had made for my second child, it was still damp from the night before.  And as I stumbled around that morning, fumbling with my hair and clothes, squinting as I opened the blinds downstairs, I thought to myself---now where did that come from??  

There was a time where this sort of evening and subsequent morning weren't out of the ordinary.  But months have passed since our third loss of a child, and I hadn't been this out of it for a while.  And as my "self psycho-analyzing" continued as I drove in silence to work, it hit me.  

I was missing my babies.

Let me back up just a little.

September 26, 2013 was the last time that we found out we were pregnant.  I don't remember that morning or that day at all.  But I remember that it was the last time we learned we were expecting a baby.  I remember taking more tests as the days went on, watching the lines get darker and darker and I remember thinking : maybe this time.   I remember taking walks at work with my closest friend as we cautiously talked about the news and I made very clear my intentions to wait to call the doctor.  They could send me for every test under the sun, but it wouldn't change the outcome.  All it would do was raise my anxiety level as I waited every couple of days for the phone to ring to find out what my levels were.  No.  Not this time.  This time, we wait and see.  And I remember the following weekend, deciding with Jesse that we were done living this way.  That yes, we were terrified, but that we still had a reason to be joyful-- and we would be darned if we would let the enemy steal even just one more second of our joy.  And so.  We went out for a celebratory dinner.  We smiled and we breathed and we even let ourselves revel.  Just a little bit.  And we left and went to Hobby Lobby to that first aisle of Christmas ornaments, to the section closest to the front of the store where two feet of wall were always devoted to pastel colored baby ornaments.  And we chose a tiny elephant and we got back in the car and drove to my parents' house.  And we clumsily told them that there was another baby and that we were afraid but we got an ornament for that baby and we wanted them to have it.  And it may have been weird and early and kind of out of the blue, but we did it anyway.  We wanted to do it, and we did it.    

We were taking back the joy.

And I remember the afternoon of October 7th, 2013, when I jumped up and down and screamed with tears running down my face in the locker room after work as my friend told me over the phone that they'd heard a heartbeat today.  That after five of their babies being taken to heaven, that today, they heard a heartbeat.  And I made her swear to bring a picture to that night's ministry meeting, and I thought to myself, maybe it will all be okay after all.  

And finally, I remember that evening, 5 minutes before I was to be out the door to a very important ministry meeting-- I remember calling my husband from the bathroom, screaming at him that it was happening again-- I remember when I realized, we were losing this baby too.  And unfortunately I remember the ER doc who told me that up to five miscarriages was normal as he spoke to me as though I were a five year old.  And I remember leaving hours later, empty, hurting, and confused.  And I remember the few days after, waking up to the blinding anger that overtook me, as I lay in my dark bedroom, mindlessly watching Cake Boss reruns, not saying a word, but silently cursing this sentence that I couldn't seem to escape, and wondering why God hated me.  I remember the second or third night when my friend came in the room, carrying a teddy bear, and as she took her shoes off, and just lie down next to me, not saying a word.  And I remember when she left, some time later, kissing me on the forehead with tears in her eyes and telling me that she loved me.  

There are bits and pieces but I don't remember much else.  

And at some point, I stopped crying for my babies, and started crying because it seemed that I would never have a baby.  What became the journey not to lose our babies, became a journey to even try to have a baby at all.  And what I realized a few days ago as I was knocked down by a fresh wave of grief that seemed to pull me under the current out of nowhere was that in grieving the seeming loss of a dream to ever have children of my own had somehow pushed my grief of the loss of my children to the backseat.  And I had been neglecting them.  And as I lay in bed, last Wednesday night, and my thoughts drifted to my children who aren't here, I got sad.  And I realized how much I miss them.  And when I would normally be caught up in charting and calendars and medical treatments, instead, these past few days, I have been overcome with grief for my children.  And that hurts.  

And I realize that this will sound crazy to a lot of people.  But I just don't care.  I miss them and when they were first born, Gabriel, and then Nadia Larayne, and then Pearl-- I missed them then but I also mothered them.  I thought about them.  I planted flowers for them.  I made things for them to put up in my home or hang on my Christmas tree.  I held their stuffed animals and wondered what they would have been like.  To some that might sounds completely nuts.  But I just don't care.  Every baby is born.  And I don't need anyone else's understanding or permission to grieve them and to mother them for the children that they are.  And I deeply believe that whether a baby is born at 5 weeks gestation or 35 weeks gestation there is an inherent desire and need for that mom to mother her child.  Sometimes that means she needs to hold him and sing to him, dress him, read to him, and pray over him before she leaves him there at the hospital forever.  And sometimes that means that every once in a while, she needs to pull out her one ultrasound picture, or the many sympathy cards that she received, or cuddle the blankets and stuffed animals that she was given as tokens of memorial.  And sometimes that means that even years after they are gone, we need to stick up for them in conversation and to total strangers who devalue their lives and their brief existences with the words that they carelessly say.  And we become defensive and we become passionate.  Because those are our children you are talking about.  These scenarios all look completely different.  But I believe the deep down desire that a mother has to be a mother to her children even after they have died is God-given and never goes away.  And for me, it's a need that I often overlook or maybe even distract myself from recognizing because even though mothering a child who has passed away allows me to function in the role of mother that God gave to me, dang if it doesn't hurt like crazy.  

And I didn't have a point or a theme to writing any of this tonight.  I simply opened my laptop after an hour of going through my babies' things and started typing.  And really, I'm writing this because it's a way for me to mother my children.  To think about them, to remember what it was like when they were here and when they went to Heaven, and to let them and everyone else know that I have not forgotten about them. And this week or next I will probably take some time to do something for one or all of them.  Make something for them, write something to them, wear some of my mommy jewelry for them, talk about them-- or write about them.   

This is just me, mothering my children.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Something New

As I sit staring at the open Bible in front of me, focus blurring, mind wandering, I am suddenly aware of the remnants of hot glue stuck to the tips of my fingers.  I begin rubbing my fingers together until the glue forms little balls that fall from my fingers onto the couch.  And I think to myself-- when did my life get like this?  How did all of this happen?  And when?  Because all of a sudden, I cannot remember a time before this one.

The hot-glue-fingers were just the tip of the iceberg.  While it's not unusual for me to be covered in bits of glue, paint (that's still on my fingers from yesterday too actually...), glitter, bits of ribbon and paper, this time was a little different.  See, the hot glue wasn't from a just any old project.  It was from delicately and carefully trying to glue small sections of satin fabric into teeny tiny chipboard boxes.  It was from trying to get the corners right, the sides even, and to avoid getting glue on the visible fabric.  I'd never made a teeny tiny baby casket before.  This was my first time.

And as my thoughts are drawn back to those teeny tiny boxes sitting on my craft table upstairs, I can't help but continue to wonder how I got here.

Sometimes the things I find myself doing seem so surreal.

Like last night (after making the teeny baby caskets but before I washed the hard boiled egg [I'll get to that in a few minutes] as I sat in the guest room, furiously scribbling as fast as I could, quickly filling 4 sheets of paper, not wanting to miss any detail, as I sat and listened on the phone to a woman til nearly 1 am as she was trying to process the delivery of her 24 week gestation stillborn son that had just happened less than a week ago.  And as I listened to her talk about how perfect he was and about how she had just had to pick out his urn, I couldn't help but think over and over again how unqualified I am to be doing this.  At any moment, I could say or do the wrong thing and add insult to the already deeply injured soul on the other end of the line.

And so as my mind had wandered to the boxes and this grieving mother who had asked for someone from the ministry to call her yesterday, I figure now is as good of a time as any to get one part of this week's homework for Bereavement Doula training out of the way.  So I walk to the kitchen, retrieve the egg that my husband had hard boiled for me (I can cook but I can't boil eggs to save my life...), I ran my now glueless thumb over the smooth service, raised it 6 inches from the counter, and smashed it back down.  I repeated this motion a few times as I rotated the egg, ensuring that every surface now bore countless cracks.  And I looked at the now extremely fragile egg in my hand and considered that although it was meant to represent something entirely different, it sure looked like a pretty accurate representation for how my heart felt on this day.  But I've never been one to turn in homework incomplete, so I grabbed a clean towel, gently laid the egg down on it, and filled a shallow dish with warm sudsy water.  Ever so gently, I held the egg over the water and used a washcloth to squeeze the soapy water over it, careful to make sure that the excess ran through  my fingers rather than pooling in the palm of my hand.  That was how the instructions had said to do it.  Once the egg was thoroughly washed, I laid it back on the towel and carried the dish back to the sink.  I dumped out the suds and replaced it with clean water and went back over to where my little broken egg lay.  I gently picked it up, noticing that small fragments of the shell were threatening to dislodge and fall off, held it over the dish, and again squeezed clean water over it.  Once it was rinsed thoroughly, I laid it back down on the towel and left it there as I decided to leave the kitchen and go clean another room in the house.  I needed a second to breathe and be distracted.  This was my first time practicing the simulation of bathing an early gestation baby who was not alive.  I'd never done it before. And I needed a second.

And as I sit here now, recalling these events of the past 24 hours, I am again struck with the thought-- I can't believe the things I find myself doing these days.

But I have no choice.  Well, I do have a choice.  But the next time that we get a call from a mom who has lost her 6 week gestation baby and has no where to put him, or hear of a precious young woman who feels that her only option is to carry the ashes of her baby around in her purse, we will have something to offer her.  So that a woman who has given birth at 6 or 7 or 8 weeks doesn't have to feel that her only option is to flush the physical form of her baby down the toilet.  I've been there.  And so.  They aren't much.  But it's something.  And I would rather offer something than nothing to a woman who has already lost so much.

I am completely and totally unqualified for this.  For all of this.  I often find myself at a loss for words and just plain scared about these situations in which I find myself.  But something very interesting has happened in the midst of all of it.  I can't put my finger on a specific moment when it happened.  Or what the catalyst was.  But something changed.  I still find myself sad on some days and scared when faced with these stories of devastating and life-altering loss that find their way into my inbox.  And my deferred hope remains still and causes a deep ache in my heart.  But.  I have something for the first time in a very very very long time.  It's as though I have been furiously swimming, struggling to make it, and my head has finally broken the surface of this ocean of grief, and I can suddenly breathe.  And the air.  It feels.  So.  Good.  And I may still be paddling my way through the ocean, waiting to hit dry land, but I can breathe.  And.  I am okay.  And there is a part of me that has wondered in these past few weeks of new found peace what the next trigger would be that would plummet me straight back to the depths again.  But as I had sat with my hands on my chin, searching through my Bible this morning, searching for answers, for comfort-- slightly reeling in the events of the morning that confirmed that yet another month had gone by and my rainbow was still not coming--waiting to feel that anchor of despair that would take me back to the ocean floor, waiting for the air to disappear and the anger to take its place--and it never came.  And I sat.  and I breathed.  And I was okay.  And now I know.  this peace is not circumstantial.  It isn't because I've learned the right balance of sitting with my grief and welcoming distraction.  It isn't because the past few weeks have been a fluke.  "a good streak."  It's because in his great and infinite mercy, God has dumped a bucket load of peace on me.  And I am going to sit.  And breathe.  And let Him.

And there will still be hard days.  And there will still be those triggers, lurking in the most unsuspecting of places and conversations.  And I am still sad.  And I am still desperately waiting on my rainbow to come.  But.  I am okay.  And as I had run across this several months ago on Etsy:

and immediately thought that it means my rainbow will come, I wonder now if it means something entirely different.  I am still a mother without a child.  And I have trudged through the deep valleys of pain and despair that the Lord has allowed in my life.  And my rainbow has not come.  But.  now I wonder.  Maybe the something new to be born isn't a baby.  Isn't my rainbow baby.  Maybe the something new is me.  This new girl.  Who I barely recognize.  Who spends her free time on the weekends reading about the transitional stage during labor, milk banks, NICUs, and who bathes eggs, calls hospitals and funeral homes, and practices taking plaster molds of her friend's baby's feet.  Who  is knee deep in a ministry to grieving women when she herself is still grieving and barely has it together most days.  Who somehow manages to listen and counsel a woman about her stillborn son until 1 am.  Who very suddenly wants to spend all of her spare time making teeny tiny baby caskets and gluing burlap to box lids.  Who bares her soul and most intimate of moments on this grief journey with total strangers.  This woman.  This ministry.  They are so far beyond me.  Beyond my capabilities, beyond my strength, and beyond what I ever would have chosen for myself.  I didn't do any of this.  Which is how I know that something new is in the process of being born.  I am.  Totally inept.  Totally unworthy.  And totally undeserving of the blessing that comes from sharing in another's grief.  But God has given them to me anyway.  What a gift.  And a privilege.  And I can still breathe.  So I think I'll stay here.  Until such a time as the Lord leads me elsewhere.

Romans 12:15
"Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn."

Matthew 5:4
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Philippians 4:7 (NLT)
"And then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand."