Thursday, January 31, 2013

WWY week 4

WWY Week 4
One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.

Guilt. It's become a close friend after losing Caleb. Thanks to the grace of God I really do not struggle with this as much as I could. God gave me so many small mercies with Caleb's death. I think one of them was the doctors appointment we had the night before he died. Nothing wipes the guilt away from my heart as much as remembering that appointment and hearing the doctor say "everything looks great, see you next week or earlier if you go into labor!" I mean if they couldnt find anything wrong, and they are professionals, then how could I? Also, there were so few signs, if any. He had hiccups that night, but that was not uncommon. I think if I showed up in labor and delivery saying my baby had hiccups they would have laughed and sent me home. Really, it all appeared fine and then in a few short hours it wasn't. 

I did struggle with the guilt that my body didn't tell me at all, that my instincts did nothing. I wrestled for a long time with the thought "what kind of mother stands by and does nothing while her child dies?" I felt profound peace when I brought this question to Mary in prayer. She answered "I do. I am the kind of mother that stands by while my son dies because it was God's will." That gave me peace and took almost all the guilt away. I mean if God had wanted me to do something or Caleb to be saved, perhaps he would have given me more knowledge about the situation. But he didn't and that's the truth. I did the best with the knowledge I had and in the end it still wasn't enough to save him and Im ok with that. I truly feel like I gave Caleb the best shot at life and there is nothing more I could have done.

One area that pops in and out from time to time is the guilt over not dressing him for the casket. It was all such a blur at the time and the funeral home said they had something to put the babies in. It still makes me sick to my stomach that I have no idea what he is buried in. I mean we have a whole attic with tubs and tubs of boy clothes for him and we didnt think to give him one outfit to be buried in? It seems strange to me that we could have overlooked that one huge detail. But we did. I have guilt that I didn't dress him and can never get that back.

As the months turn into years since he has been gone I struggle with the guilt of moving on. Of forgetting him, not memorializing him properly. Guilt that somehow this tragic story is part of Abigail's now. That she will have to go to school one day and when asked if she has siblings she will say "one in Heaven," and get those weird looks. Guilt. It will always be lurking.  I will always feel guilty that I could not bring my baby boy into this world alive. But then I remember that I am not the Lord of life and death-that God is, and that puts the guilt right back where it should be-not on my shoulders.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Last week Brandy posted this about the struggles of meeting new friends after your loss. I could relate and agreed that meeting new moms with my rainbow baby is sometimes awkward and hard.

When Caleb died I had a hard time letting go of so many things. One of them being the dreams I had of him growing up with my friends' babies. I was pregnant with quite a few friends and all our babies were due within months of one another. I had envisioned play dates, visits to the park, and them all starting school together. After he died, so did those dreams. I was angry at God for this for a long time, but eventually just accepted it, gave Him those relationships and surrendered.

Fast forward to Abigail's pregnancy: I had a few well meaning people and spiritual leaders tell me when I was pregnant with her that I needed to "force myself to be around my old friends and see their babies." They said that if I didn't, who would I hang out with once Abigail was born? It felt wrong and I didn't agree, not because I didn't want the friendships back, but because my heart was still shattered and I couldn't just pretend it wasn't. In the end I knew that God was bigger. If He could walk with us through the hell of losing Caleb then He could certainly find me a few new friends if Abigail actually did make it out alive.

I don't remember how old Abigail was, but sometime last June (I think??) I got invited to be part of a moms group. I honestly don't know how I got invited into the group, but it didn't matter. I was desperate for some fellowship to help me through the sleepless nights. The group turned out to be great. We meet once or twice a week, let the kids play, catch up, and do moms nights out. In total there are 6 of us all with babies within 2-3 months of one another. God has given me a support group without even looking!

This weekend was our Christmas party. The kids had exchanged names and everyone had a  friend to buy for. All the unwrapping was fun and the babies liked their gifts. Imagine my surprise when the group announced they had a present for Caleb. I was speechless. I had shared my story with these women, and they had always been so kind with letting me mention his name. But again, they didn't know me when I was pregnant with him, they never met him or came to his funeral. I opened the gift to find a beautiful statue for Caleb's memory shelf. It was hand-crafted to represent our family. I could have cried! I am still so touched about the gift. I cannot believe the thoughtfulness and compassion these women have given me. They not only let me talk about Caleb but acknowledge him themselves.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! It may seem like a small thing but for Caleb to be remembered is so kind.  God is good, He showed himself to me this weekend for sure. Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness and your goodness!

Our Family:)

On Caleb's Memory Shelf

Friday, January 25, 2013

In honor of Roe vs. Wade

I loved this post by Ebe. Thought it was appropriate for the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade this week.

Ebe's Post

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WWY Week 3

Share about your first steps back into life. What helped you survive in the world outside as you took those first tender steps? Are there still tender areas for you today, living in a world that doesn’t embrace or understand the loss of a baby/child? How do you cope with those struggles? What advice would you offer those new to this walk to encourage and bring hope? How has this changed for you from the beginning? If you are in early grief, what do you fear/struggle with as you try to navigate a new normal….life without your baby?

I remember the very first time after Caleb died that I was able to wake up, get out of bed, and make myself scrambled eggs. It was probably 6 weeks after he died. I felt so proud of myself that I had actually had an appetite and that I had also made something. It took all of my energy and then I went back to bed. That was the first real step I can remember in starting to join the land of the living. 

I feel like the whole first year was a lot of trial and error. I would think I was alright to go somewhere and then we would get there and something would knock me down- a crying baby, mention of a pregnancy, seeing the same car seat as we being used by a random family at Church. It took almost a whole year for me to be able to recognize what was too much and what I could handle.  

I stayed away from a lot of things that first year and I think that was a good decision. I just couldn't go to parties and pretend I was fine. I couldn't pretend to care about what was happening in others lives. My grief was so much like a sickness and it was all consuming. So I stayed away.  I feel like that let others enjoy themselves more. I could always sense the awkwardness. No one knew what to say- the normal topics- kids, jobs,etc, were all out. So I just stopped going places and let others enjoy life while I tried to stay alive. My support groups and counseling sessions became my new social life. At first that made me angry but then I began to realize it was exactly what I needed. 

I learned a new hobby-sewing. Doing something with my hands and seeing a project have a beginning,middle, and end was awesome. It helped lower my anxiety about my subsequent pregnancy and also gave me something to talk with people about. It was so hard in those days to carry on conversations and sewing gave me a good topic I could talk about without spending much energy. When I sewed I could "turn my mind off," which was so nice. 

After Abigail was born we began slowly bringing back social things. A dinner here, a movie there. It feels good to be able to go out and not have to prep myself for my surroundings. I can usually handle most things and even if something hurtful or painful comes up I can now hide my emotions until I get home. One big step I have taken is wearing mascara again! I quit wearing mascara after Caleb died because I cried so much. Then when the tears were less often I thought about putting it back on but was still scared. It seemed too "normal" to wear mascara everyday. So I put it off until this Christmas when I felt like I really wanted to start wearing eye make up again. I bought some new things and so far so good. Just another example of re-entering the real world. 

The tender areas-there are still so many- always get me. Lately I have been struck by how isolating pregnancy loss is. So many people out there think it can never happen to them. When I hear others talk about it I often feel a social stigma like I'm the elephant in the room. At baby showers, I feel like the bad luck charm. When pregnant friends talk about their pregnancy I feel reluctant to chime in b/c my baby died and so really should I be giving anyone advice? It's all confusing in my head and the hard thing is that things hurt and will always hurt that people dont really mean for them to hurt. I have had to learn to give people a lot of grace for saying things that sting b/c they just didnt know how hurtful it was. 

Advice- go slow. Reentering the real world is so hard. Everything about you and your life has changed and others will not understand that. Some relationships will be gone forever and thats ok, trust that God will give you new relationships.  Try to ease back into life if you are able to. Don't put yourself on a timeline or push yourself too hard. Get rid of Facebook. Maybe that sounds extreme, but I deactivated my account for over a year and it was one of the most helpful things ever. Seeing new babies constantly was just too much, so I took it out and overall had fewer breakdowns.

Do not be afraid to say NO. There are still things I say no to now b/c they will be too hard for me to handle. It's ok and if people don't understand that then oh well. Lean on God. One of the most beautiful things I heard during a grief session video was a woman talking about her relationship with God. She said, " I used to need God for the big things in life, now I need him to help me set the table or go to the mailbox." Lean on the Lord for everything, even the small things that you think you should be able to do but just can't seem to.

Living again is hard, but it won't always be as hard. It is like rehab for a broken leg, it hurts real bad at the beginning but then slowly gets easier the more you work it. One day at a time or one hour or one minute. Just try to get to the next whatever and hopefully that will be better. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thought this was a great response the the supposed "expert" that was on the Ricki Lake show last week. I never watch her show but saw the clip she aired with newly bereaved parents (5 months out) who had lost their infant daughter. The grief "expert" told them they needed to "fake it til they make it." I and anyone who has been through the death of a child knows there is no faking anything. Loved the validation this article gave about what it is really like once you lose your baby.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Another friend

Yesterday we went to change out Caleb's Christmas decorations. I was really excited b/c we got him a new flag with his picture on it. We have been meaning to go out for the last two weeks but something always comes up and it gets pushed off. I hate that but that's the way it is. There is no real urgency with a dead child. So we bundled up and grabbed the baby and dog and headed to the cemetery. We were all in a good mood until we pulled up. Right in front of Caleb's grave was a brand new grave freshly dug for a new baby. Right when I saw it I wanted to throw up. I remember seeing the fresh dirt with Caleb's grave. It was so dirty and disheveled, not at all what you imagine a beautifully tended grave to look life. This grave looked the same way. It wasn't there a month ago when we went to visit, so the loss must be recent. The flowers from the funeral were still there, although they were long dead and turning brown.

This was such a shock for us and I don't know why. I mean, its a cemetery, people get buried there. But ours is a small one and this is the first time I have ever seen a new baby come in. Besides Caleb there are only 2 other babies there, one from the 70s I think and another from 2009. So someone "new" just seemed like something that would never happen. We spent the remainder of the time frantically taking down and putting things up in the freezing cold. To say we were on edge would be correct. Seeing how fresh that grave was just really derailed us. I came home, put the baby to bed and took a long bath and cried like I havent in a long time. I don't visit Caleb much in the winter b/c the thought of my baby out in the cold hurts too much. Last night seeing another baby now in the cold just sent me spiraling. We ended the night by praying for the parents of the baby. I hope I get to meet them someday. Until then I get a little peace knowing Caleb helped welcome a new friend into Heaven.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Clinging in the Pit-WWY week 2

Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?

I'll be honest,when I read this week's question I let out a heavy sigh. The Pit. I do not want to go back there and even thinking about it makes me feel all those early emotions. I am going to try my best to talk about what it was like, but as others out there know, there are few words to really describe the pain.

I think I will start with when I first clung to hope. The nurses (all 3 of them plus a midwife) had just left me alone in the room. They could not detect a heartbeat using the doppler, so they were going to send me to the ultra sound room, once it was available. So for what seemed like an hour (really 5 min.) I sat alone. I knew he was dead. I just knew it. But when your worst nightmare happens you have no reference point for it because it is supposed to be a nightmare, not real life. I remember looking to the crucifix that hung in the little room. I wanted to touch it, but it was too high on the wall for me to reach. I told God, "He is your child, if you want him back then you can have him." I guess I found hope in that moment knowing that God was in control. That Caleb was never mine to make life or death decisions with. 

All throughout the labor and delivery I clung to hope. The Holy Spirit was really moving as I look back now and see how much peace we had during those three days. After they took Caleb away I remember again looking at the crucifix in our hospital room (this is why I think having Christian and specifically Catholic hospitals is awesome) and thinking "they can take away everything, but not my love for God." I knew that they could take away my son, and who knows what else, but that I could still proclaim the Gospel, and that brought me peace and joy. Somehow in that moment, God was enough and I was grateful to have Him and His love, which no one could take away. 

Over the days and weeks and months I kept clinging to hope. I guess I clung to the hope that my situation could be redeemed. That it could have purpose. As a Catholic I believe in redemptive suffering. This means that I believe that I can offer up my sufferings as a prayer for others. This teaching is what got me through. The pain was so intense in those early days. I would say to God constantly, "don't waste this pain, Im giving it to you to use it." Looking back now I really believe that I did more for the Church by offering up my suffering than I did in all my time as a missionary. Suffering is awful, but it can be redeemed if given to God. My hope is still that one day in Heaven I can see the fruit of all my suffering, how it helped others. 

I carried my Bible around everywhere. It was like a blankey for me and if I didn't have it physically in my hands I would start to get anxious. I think I even slept with it a few times. I needed to be reminded of God's faithfulness in writing even when nothing felt like it in reality. I remember reasoning with myself on the darkest days, "No one would write a book full of lies, so God certainly wouldn't either. His promises are true...repeat over and over again." I poured over the psalms. I had no words of my own, but they gave me words and helped me work through that early healing. 

Being in the pit is so disorienting. Nothing is familiar. I was bombarded with sin. Anger, jealously,envy,hatred, bitterness, etc. I didn't know what to do with it all. I had always been a happy person and now  I hated everything. I wanted to break things.all.the.time. And I think that is where a lot of fear crept in. I thought I would stay that way for ever and then I felt like a horrible Christian. It wasn't until I began to really let myself be all those emotions and not try to fight them that they began to lessen. That would be my advice for someone in the pit- you will be angry, jealous,bitter,mad, and a whole lot of other things: it's ok. In time they will lessen if you continue to bring them to Jesus. I just went to confession this past Saturday and when I got done on my way out I turned to our priest and said, "Father, I think this is my first confession since Caleb died that I haven't had to confess anger." I truly am not struggling with that anymore(at least not right now)- Praise God!!!

When you are in the pit, you can't recognize yourself and that can be scary. I went from loving wife who can run a home to a scared little girl who sat in closets and cried, sometimes all day. That all felt very foreign  to me which scared me more. I felt so weak. I begged Nathan to leave me on a number of occasions. I just couldn't handle the fact that he would have to come home to a crying wife every night. Again, I thought it would never end. But it does. One way or another we all come out of the pit. And then return from time to time b/c that is how grief works. 

For others who are in the pit right now, know I am praying for you. My advice would be to invite Jesus into the pit and stop looking for a way out. Don't panic, just sit with Him and eventually He will lead you out.  Everything in your world right now is a mess, and thats ok. You can worry about how to pick up the pieces later. Read scripture, write it everywhere if needed. Do one thing at a time, remember your only goal while in the pit is just to stay alive, nothing else is relevant. One day at time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time....Find others who have been through what you have. One of the turning points for me was attending a griefshare group at a local Baptist Church. I was able to be anonymous b/c I didn't know anyone at that Church. Although no one in the group had lost a baby, they had all lost someone close to them and knowing others were experiencing the same emotions as me made me feel better, a little less crazy. Give yourself a lot of grace while in the pit. Its ok to stay in pajamas all day, it won't last forever, but for now its ok. You are not the same person you were, so don't try to be. Lean on others. Let them cook, clean, run errands for you. I had a hard time leaving the house b/c I was so scared to run into someone and have to actually talk. My friends were so nice to bring me things like milk and eggs and basic groceries. Let others take care of you, again it won't be for ever. Keep bringing your pain to Jesus. If you don't want to talk to him, then look for stories of others who have kept the faith. I know these women that I write about here helped me when I was too angry to talk to God.  Writing in a journal also helped me sort out my emotions. The thing that I did the most though was cry. I just offered that as my prayer to God. Tears were  our form of communication and that was just fine with me. 

Praying for all those in the pit right now. Keep clinging to the Hope that can only be found in Christ.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Love Seeing His Name

Thank you to Kyla at Tossie's Tree for painting Caleb's name. The symbol she painted is a little lamb. For some reason that seems to be how I always see Caleb: in Heaven with the lambs. I remember in prayer about 4 weeks after Caleb died asking Caleb "what are you doing up in Heaven right now?" I felt him respond "playing with the lambs and since I am so small they let me ride them." That gave me peace and made me smile. Then a week later I was at a retreat and I kept thinking about him with the lambs and riding them and wondering if I had just made that up or if it was a real prayer moment. I turned the corner in the chapel we were at and saw this picture.

I was so touched and of course started crying. Jesus, baby Jesus, riding on a lamb. Beautiful. I felt convicted that what I had received in prayer was real, not just my imagination.  Over the months since Caleb died the lamb image always comes back. I think the lamb and Caleb go together so much because the lamb was known for its innocence. Anyways, thats some of the story of the lamb and Caleb. Thank you again Kayla for this!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Walking With You-Week 1

Deciding to participate in Walking with you blog series for the next few weeks. I'm feeling the need to write, but can't come up with the words. Hoping this helps.

Week 1~ Introduction and Where are You Now?
Tell us a little about yourself, your baby, and how you’ve come to this walk. Also, where are you now in your grief and healing? Are you new to this, still in the depths of fresh grief? Have you been walking this path awhile?

My name is RyAnne. Daughter of a King, but lately have had a hard time feeling that. We lost our first baby, Caleb Benedict, at 38 weeks and 4 days. Perfectly normal pregnancy, no answers, just alive one day and dead the next. We conceived again just 10 weeks after delivering Caleb and brought home our first live baby last February. Abigail Therese has been a blessing to us all and helped heal my heart more than I ever thought possible.

I am now 21 months out from Caleb's death. I don't know that number like I used to. I have to count now and it seems more appropriate to say "almost 2 years," than the actual months. I feel guilty that I don't know the months like I used to, that I have to count.  

If I had to pick an emotion I am feeling right now it would be anxiety. The holidays are over (made it through-yes!) and now there is nothing to do but stare down the second birthday (or death day??) in April.    I can feel the heaviness start to creep in. And its the same feeling as last year. I just want to run away. But at the same time make everything stand still. I don't want it to be 2 years since I held him. I don't want time to move froward. Im also starting to get all worked up about our rainbow baby's first birthday. I just feel sad when I think about it b/c he never got one. Then I feel angry that every "good and happy" event since Caleb died is always mixed somehow with sorrow.

Overall, I am doing well. Just needing to balance out some of the "Christmas highs" with the sadness that is always in my heart. Lord, continue to guide me through this grief one day,one season at a time...
Hoping others participate in this:)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Finding a final resting place

Finding a final resting place for your child after they pass away can be difficult. Often times when a baby dies suddenly the family is faced with decisions they never wanted to make. I wanted to share the following blog post from Brandy on the reality of finding a final resting place for their son, Andrew. I came across Brandy's blog and was shocked at all the similarities we shared- our boys even weighed the same!  I wanted to share this post to help others who haven't found the right resting place for their child yet. Brandy has a few links in her post for places to get baby urns that are special and beautiful. Thank you Brandy for your honesty with this post!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Mother of God

I couldn't let today go by without writing something to honor Mary on this feast day. In the Catholic church today we honor Mary as the Mother of God. Here is a great little bit on what this feast day means (taken from the magnificat devotional)

"The Blessed Virgin Mary is born to be the Mother. The supreme consolation that our Lady receives at the cross of her Son is the assurance that her vocation as Mother does not end with Christ's death. The Lord commands the world ,"Behold your mother." The resurrection begins for Mary-and for us-with these words. The Blessed Virgin's womb remains for ever fruitful. Mary leads us to Christ, but Christ leads us back to his Mother, for without Mary's maternity, Jesus would become a mere abstraction to us. The Lord wills to "let his face shine on upon" us through the face of the Mother of God. We serve a Mother who seems to grow more beautiful as new generations rise up and call her blessed." -G.K. Chesterton

Thank you Mary for Mothering me through the death of my son, I am eternally grateful for your love.