Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I forget

Sometimes I forget that our first child was stillborn. I look at Abigail's room and think "this is the best color blue, but why didn't we paint it pink?" I forget it was already decorated for a boy before it was decorated for her. I forget that I am trying to lose weight from two pregnancies, not just one. I forget that the snow globe in Abigail's room that I wind up each day during her nap was actually a memorial for Caleb. Inside the globe is a staircase and a saying about climbing the staircase to Heaven. When people ask when Abigail was born and her weight, I answer them and forget that we had to induce 3 weeks early because her older brother died. I forget that the bottom drawer in the nursery still holds all the sympathy cards we received after Caleb died. When I am with new friends, I forget that the reason we are friends is because both of our children died. I forget that I even belong to this club sometimes. I forget just how messed up this whole thing is. I forget how hard grieving is. I don't want to forget my son, but somedays its just what I do to in order to keep living. Sometimes I just forget.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Top 10 things I am thankful for b/c of Grief

Grieving is so hard and can be so much work. Only a year into it, I have learned that it requires so much of you, often when you have nothing to give.  Even though its the hardest thing I have ever done, good has come out of it. I was reflecting this weekend on some of the blessings I have received since this grief came into my life. Here are the top ten in no particular order:

1. A better marriage- we are stronger b/c of our loss. We know each other at a whole different level. I honestly could never imagine going through this with anyone other than Nathan. He has been my rock and together we have gotten each other through the darkness.

2. I don't sweat the small stuff. I don't care as much about what people think of me. I see more of the "big picture" of life and can usually let the small things slide by a lot easier.

3. I'm not the planner I used to be. I'm more laid back and flexible. Plans are for people in control and I have learned that I really have no control over things.

4. I am comfortable with failure. I used to think that the effort you put into something would equal the outcome. Turns out that isn't always true. Sometimes things go terribly wrong even when you do everything right. Sometimes you fail for no good reason and I'm more comfortable with that than I used to be.

5. My friendships have grown, changed, and rearranged.  I am able to go deeper with people. I have met some incredible women in the baby loss world and I am thankful for their friendships. Overall, I'm less obsessive about my friendships. I've learned that there are seasons with friends. I try to take what I can get and savor each moment when those seasons come and go.

6. I let others take care of me more. This was something I struggled with before grief. I did not like to be the weak one. I didn't want to be the one who needed help, I wanted to be the one giving help. I have had to literally let people take care of our every need this past year (still are needing people-even after a year!). From meals, to money, to you name it- we have had to have help with it all. And it has been humbling to know that sometimes we cannot take care of ourselves. It has taught me to be a gracious recipient and that sometimes the most charitable thing you can do it to let someone help you.

7. I have more compassion than I ever thought possible. I am not a naturally compassionate person. I was always more of a "suck it up and get on with it," kind of person. At the beginning of my pregnancy with Caleb I asked God for compassion. And He answered me! Now I have compassion for people that makes me want to cry with them. I am much more understanding with others weaknesses. I just know that life is hard and you can't always "suck it up and get on with it." Thank you Jesus for compassion.

8.I am a better mom. I appreciate Abigail and am so thankful for her. Losing Caleb has also made me a better mom because I know Abigail isn't mine. She belongs to God and He can take her back whenever He chooses. I don't want that of course, but its the reality that I accept. Each night before I go to bed I ask God for just one more day with Abigail and that she would bury me. I'm able to understand better the whole "letting your child go," part of parenting. Since I have lived through it, I know what it feels like to give one of your children back to the Lord. I would never want to do that again, but the reality is there that it could happen and because of that I feel like I am a better mom.

9.I'm not scared of death. I want to go to Heaven more than ever before. Knowing that Caleb is in Heaven and waiting for me makes it seem not as scary. It makes death seem like the great moment when all things will be made right. I have seen how much suffering is in this world and truly I have no desire to be attached to this place. Heaven is my home and although I knew that before Caleb, I now feel that and long for that.

10. I'm closer to Jesus and His Mother. I have enough to talk to Jesus about for the rest of my life. He has taken me out to the deep waters and together we have come back in one piece. Mary has walked with me and held me so much of this journey. I was a praying person before this all happened, but after going through everything I really believe in the power of prayer. I know I would not have survived this past year without the prayers that were being said for us. Its very humbling to see how little you are when something like this happens. You begin to rely on the supernatural in a way you never could have imagined before. Jesus is real and He has used this grief to draw me deeper in a relationship with him. Thank you Jesus for being faithful.

So those are the top 10. Mostly I wanted to write them for myself to reflect back on during the hard days. But also, I wanted to show that good can come out of bad. That terrible things can happen and re-shape you for the better. And lastly to give hope to those battling the storm of grief, hang on, there is fruit that can come from the suffering.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why Mary doesn't look Happy

Growing up Catholic and then becoming a Catholic missionary, I saw lots of pictures and statues of Mary, the Mother of God. I always wondered silently to myself, "why doesn't she look happier?" I mean here is a woman who was chosen by God to be the mother of our Lord. What a privilege. She had the perfect son, the perfect child. And yet, in most of the images of our Lady she appears to be, well, just not happy. She usually has a peaceful look on her face. Her eyes, however, tell a different story. Her eyes always appear to be sad.

When Christ died for us on the cross He gave us His mother to watch over and guide us- to mother us. Now Mary's role included Queen of Heaven and Earth and Mother to all of God's children. I am convinced that this is the very reason Mary looks the way she does. She cannot turn away from the suffering, even in her happiness and joy.

I have been praying a lot on this in the days leading up to Mother's Day.  I want to be happy. I should be happy. And I guess there is a part of me that is happy. Abigail is alive and well and in my arms. And as one sweet lady put it at church today (I am sure she didn't mean it this way) "Oh, honey, this year you can stand up when they bless all the mothers." And all of these things should bring me joy and do bring me joy.

But underneath I still have so much sorrow. More so for others this Mother's Day. I know the depth of pain I feel at losing Caleb. But my heart aches today not only for his absence, but for all the mothers out there who are suffering. Knowing how much pain people are in really makes it hard to celebrate. And I think that is why Mary is portrayed the way she is. She has joy, she has peace, but the majority of her heart is filled with sadness. Sadness for those who choose to turn away from her Son. Sadness for those who have never heard of her Son. Sadness for those who are suffering. Sadness for all the mothers who have had to hold their dead child just like she held her dead son.

So this Mother's Day we will celebrate (still not sure what that looks like or how to do that). But I will struggle with happiness because my heart is like our sorrowful Mother's- its sad. And like Our Blessed Mother I will continue to trust the Lord with all the suffering I encounter. I will continue to ask Him for peace and the grace to follow His will, just like Mary did, no matter how much suffering it brought her.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows- Pray for us

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In Anticipation of Mothers Day

Its May, the flowers are in full bloom and  Mothers Day is just around the corner. Most people have pleasant thoughts when they think of this holiday. Fun times with moms and children, breakfast in bed, and recognition at Church as they pray for mothers.

For a whole other group of people this holiday is heart wrenching. Far too many mothers will be spending this mothers day without one or more of their children. The following post is one that I wanted to share that sums up some great thoughts on mothers day. The writer, Molly, lost her baby girl to stillbirth at 39 weeks. She had such a great post about getting through mothers day that I had to share it.

Molly's Mothers Day Post

The second post I would like to share sums up what I am feeling this Mothers Day. Having a live baby in my arms and another one up in Heaven, I am feeling divided between two worlds and trying to balance how to mother both of my children. I attend support groups for pregnancy loss where we talk about how to "survive" mothers day. Then in the same week I go to a live mommy and baby group and plan a pot luck lunch to "celebrate" mothers day. I just feel so tossed between two worlds lately and not sure where I fit in. The post  below was written by a mother who lost her first child to stillbirth. She describes so much of how life is like when parenting after a loss. Two lines from her post that I love :

"My life these days feels so defined by my motherhood. And my motherhood still feels utterly defined by my dead child."

" The death of my firstborn, on most days, just seems too huge for me. It has been almost two years and while her loss has been integrated in to our lives now, I still don't understand it. I will still never make sense of the senselessness of it all."

Post on "Invisible Motherhood"

So enjoy these two blog posts from other baby loss mom's around the world. Please pray for all those mothers out there who are going to be spending mothers day without their children. Pray for those who are trying to get pregnant and desperately want a child of their own. Pray for those waiting to adopt and finally get to meet their child. Pray for those who have lost their mother and feel the absence of her on Mothers Day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Doubt is common in grief. Doubt that God exists, doubt that He is good, doubt that He is in control when nothing in your life feels ordered. I think sometimes people assume since you are Christian it would be wrong to doubt. Like you wouldn't have faith if you doubted. From what I have gone through I don't think it would be human to not doubt. The doubt seems to come in waves. Lately I seem to be doubting God's plan or that He is in control of things. Early this week I learned of another blogger I follow who just lost her rainbow baby last week. The baby died of brain damage due to the mom's uterus rupturing just 6 days before her scheduled c-section. This is after she has already buried one of her children. And all I could think was "noooooooo." And the doubt came and washed over me in waves.

What kind of a God allows this to happen?

What kind of a God sits by and doesn't intervene?

Is there even a God?

If there is a God then where was He when this happened? (And looping right around in a nice, neat fashion) "Where was God the day Caleb died? Why didn't He stop that?

Ugh, the doubts. They don't stop. And so I spent a few days ignoring it all. I would look at my Bible and think "no." I just couldn't even go there right away. Part of me felt bad for even praying to a God who would allow this mother to suffer so much.

After cooling off a bit, I sat down to pray. To pour my heart out to our Lord and tell Him how angry I was. I went to confession and what I left with was exactly what I needed to hear. The priest told me "You are struggling with the fact that you aren't God."

That line has stuck with me now and I keep reflecting on it. I do struggle with not being God and being able to control things. I also struggle because when tragedies happen, I cannot fix things. And that is where the doubt comes in. If I am going to give control of my life over to someone I want need to know that He has things under control. But what about when they don't seem under control? What about when a mother losses two of her babies in just 15 months. What then?

You give the doubt back to God and submit that you in fact are not God. His ways are not our ways. That doesn't mean we have to like the plan or agree with it. I know God hates suffering, that is why He sent His only son to die a horrible, gruesome death. I also know suffering is a part of this fallen world. In the end I bring my doubts to God and realize that I do need a Savior in this fallen world. I may not like His way, but really what other way is there?

"Master, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?" John 6:68

Doubt. Its there, and I don't think its a bad thing. We have a God who passionately loves us and wants a relationship with us. He wants to know our doubts, our fears. I wouldn't be "real" if I didn't experience doubt when tragedy strikes. Death was never meant to be in the picture, its a result of original sin. So bring your doubts to God and let Him walk with you through those. It might takes weeks, months, years but He will stay with you.

Please say prayers for this family who has now had to burry both their son and their daughter in just 15 months.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Still Standing

Great new resource for mom's who are grieving. Still Standing is a new online magazine for mothers who are going through infertility struggles or the loss of their child.