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.