When I felt Heaven on Earth

As I laid in the special care unit of the OB ward last April, the amount of pain I felt was unbearable: the deep, gut-wrenching pain of helplessness and frustration, cloaked heavily in disgust for my body’s failure to keep our daughter alive, and the overwhelming grief coupled with the realization of the emotional pain that was to come in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years ahead of us. To say I was in my own little world would be an understatement. To make matters worse, I hadn’t slept in several days. I was the epitome of misery.

Two women came to the hospital. They wanted to talk to us. They were from some organization that I didn’t care to be bothered with at that moment. At the prodding of my nurse and my momma, we agreed to speak with the women. Something about bereavement, mementos, and stuff like that. They left, telling us they would return at any time, day or night, to speak with us again when Eliza was born.

On April 6, 2013 in the wee hours of the morning I finally delivered our girl. She was broken but perfect and incredibly loved. The nurses notified the women to return, and at 2:30 in the morning they were there. They were there with comforting words, prayers, hugs, and patience. These two sweet, selfless women came into our room and experienced what was, for me, the most profound spiritual experience of my life. You see, in those moments after our baby was born, the most overwhelming peace and calm swept through the room. This was a feeling that was so incredible and so strong that I believe I could actually feel the Lord in the room. I felt the calming embrace that only the He can offer. In those days before, I had felt abandoned by God and conflicted with my faith. I know these precious moments were to reassure me when I needed it most. These moments of boundless peace and calm that my husband and I felt were shared with the special women of Sufficient Grace Ministries.

The sweet women asked us if we would like them to take photos of Eliza. I was uncertain in those emotional moments, but we agreed to let them do it.

Weeks passed. Months passed. An entire pregnancy passed. One week before the one-year mark of our brief hello and goodbye to our little one, I felt compelled to have something. Anything. I needed proof she existed. Proof this hurt wasn’t for nothing. Proof that my feelings were valid and this hurt was justified. I sent an email to the woman who came to the hospital that night. I learned her name when she touched my heart with kindness that sad night. Her name is Kelly Gerken and she coordinates an organization called Sufficient Grace Ministries. I asked her if she had any photos of our little lady because I did not even remember if we had them taken. Thankfully, she had photos for us. And so this week, my husband and I went to see Kelly and retrieve the only pictures we will ever have of Eliza. It was an emotional reunion with Kelly, and an even more emotional moment seeing those pictures. We are so grateful we have them. It took me a year to feel ready, but I made it.

So on this day, one year later, we remember our baby girl, Eliza Marie. We remember our dreams for her. We remember the joy she brought us. We remember the love with which she was born. We remember her perfect fingers and toes. We remember that she will always be a part of us.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

Please consider supporting Sufficient Grace Ministries. This organization does amazing things for families and their sweet babies.

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It’s almost time for my Rainbow to SHINE!

Just a quick update, as I have been MIA from blogging for quite some time! Tomorrow is D-day! We are heading in for a medical induction tomorrow morning, and our little man should be here by dinner time. Please keep us in your thoughts as we prepare ourselves for what is sure to be an exciting, emotion-filled day. I, the certifiable non-crier, have been crying like crazy the past two days! As all expectant moms know, there are so many emotions attached to a pregnancy and delivery of a baby (oh, and don’t forget hormones), and this Rainbow pregnancy has even MORE emotions attached to it than the average. This tiny bundle is already so loved and adored! I can’t wait to smooch his tiny cheeks and snuggle him on my chest. My heart is so full of love for my three Valentines!

God bless rainbow babies!

God bless rainbow babies!

That Prozac in the Turkey Thing and Mixed Nuts

Oh, how we wish...

Oh, how we wish…

Most of us have considered this at one point or another.  I think I’ve even begged my mother to DO THIS. LAST WEEK. And if not Prozac, can we at least have wine? Copious amounts of wine? Wait, I’m pregnant and can’t have either. Oh, hell…

You see, the holidays are approaching. And while I certainly love the season, and particularly the food, let’s not kid ourselves: the holidays exacerbate the crazy. The bat-shit kind comes out in full-force, rearing its ugly head in between slices of homemade bread and turkey dressing. People get weirder than usual. Eye-rolls abound, sighs of disgust eek out like little yelps for help, the family‘s resident a-hole starts taking his or her job REALLY seriously. This is what happens. I know this. I’m expecting it. Mentally steeling myself for the snide and bitchy remarks that, as a member of ANY family, I’m going to have to ignore. Why? Well, because it’s part of the job.

Now before you go on thinking I’m trashing MY family, please take a moment to understand this: it’s not MY family. It’s EVERY family. I’ve done research, asked around, heard years worth of horror stories interspersed with hilarity. And while my family’s dynamic may be different from yours, you ALL know what I’m talking about. This isn’t exclusive to certain families, it’s just happening in varying degrees with a varied cast of characters unique to each family’s dynamic/circumstance/etc. For example, you might relate to one of the following:

  • Everyone knows Aunt Susie takes a passive-aggressive tone with Grandma.
  • Uncle Ricky gets drunk and makes an ass of himself every year. He likes his booze. Big deal.
  • Cousin Amy’s kids are all rude little demons.
  • And you get the idea.

You’ve got one (or more) in your family. Don’t kid yourself. Seriously. We all know. The jig is up. Ya’ll ain’t perfect, even if somewhere along the years you’ve deluded yourself into thinking that you are. Your Thanksgiving dinner does not look like a Thomas Kinkaide painting. Accept it.

Now, as I was saying, it’s part of the job. Being a part of a family is work. It is a blessing, but it is definitely hard work some days. As a child, it was easy. So easy. Little brother being a jerk? Punch him and run. Tell Mom you don’t know why he’s crying like a blubbering baby. Cousin getting on your nerves? Run and hide. Tell mom you don’t know why she’s crying like a blubbering baby. Easy as the pumpkin pie perched on your plate!

As an adult though, it’s not as easy. The scenario tends to run a little more like this… Pissed off at your sister/brother/father/mother-in-law? Play nice when you see him or her. Tell Mom you don’t know why (s)he’s so difficult. Blubber like a baby yourself because you’re frustrated. Aunt’s snide comment about your spouse/parenting/job/lifestyle really irk you? Play nice anyways (she’s an elder). Tell Mom you don’t know why she’s so difficult. Blubber like a baby yourself because you’re frustrated. Vow to ignore her on all forms of social media. Passive-aggressiveness is the answer to your unspoken, family induced prayers.

Laugh at yourself for behaving like a child, but then remember that the child in you would have just thrown a punch and had it over with. Instead, as an adult it’s far more likely that you’ll sit around, harboring resentment, until the next holiday soiree takes place: Christmas. Better spike the eggnog!

So as we begin to mentally prepare ourselves for the relative(s) who will certainly get on our proverbial “last nerve,” remember that despite the crazy that you’ll surely encounter, it’s part of the job. Being a part of a family takes work, and it’s your job to try to appreciate all the nuts in the mixed nuts canister, not just the cashews and almonds. This is real life, and we can’t just throw out the weird nuts we don’t particularly enjoy. Don’t be a nut snob! Embrace them all.

It still hurts…

We took our three-year-old trick or treating tonight. As I sit here now thinking about what fun we had, I’m sad at the same time.

It still hurts.

It hurt last week, as a dear friend and her beautiful daughters came to our house. Her youngest, an itty-bitty one-year-old, took a keen interest in my sweet husband. She demanded he hold her and get his worn flannel shirt covered in a sprinkling of Halloween costume glitter. Shortly after they left, I went into the nursery we’re working on for our rainbow boy, and sat in my rocking chair and cried. I cried and cried knowing my sweet husband doesn’t have his precious little girl to scoop up, only to cover him in glitter. I opened the box of mementos that we were given when little Eliza was born, and I cracked open the memory book, Dreams of You, given to us by Sufficient Grace Ministries. I flipped through to the page that holds Eliza’s tiny foot and hand prints. I stared at the magnitude of their size. So tiny and yet so large on my heart. I cried. I cried long and hard, as I have done so many times since then. The pain felt fresh again for a moment. Heavy and wet.

Then I panicked. I hadn’t even written anything in the memory book. I don’t want to forget her, but putting that pen to that memory book’s page was like putting a hot knife to my heart. Writing her name and some details of her short but profound existence hurt so deeply. I did as much as I could, which wasn’t much, and then carefully put the memory book back into it’s box and compartmentalized that pain again so that I could go about my day.

It hurt today, too. My husband has been dragging his feet on helping me organize and relocate some boxes in our Rainbow’s nursery. With the holidays quickly approaching and our due date shortly thereafter, I am feeling the need to get this room organized and functional, but I need his help. I keep asking, and it finally dawned on me that aside from working many hours and keeping up with other household tasks, something else is holding him back.  I know in his heart that he’s scared. He’s scared of the implications, the possibilities, the potential. I know these feelings all too well. I finally got upset with him, and told him that these things must get done. Our Rainbow will be here before we know it. But it hurts him. And it hurts me, too. The comfort bear, given to us when Eliza went home, sits in our Rainbow’s swing in the nursery. It makes him sad. And so does the newly framed star registry certificate given to us in Eliza’s name.

There is no way to remove the pain he feels, or I would have already done it, as I’m sure he’d have done for me. So we carry it, together. It’s a heavy piece of baggage, cumbersome and clunky, unpredictable and uncomfortable. We have family members who won’t even look at this piece of baggage. Won’t acknowledge its weight. Can’t handle our grief. Their silence burdens us, too.

So now, as I cry this time, I am sad about the Halloween I thought we’d have. The one where we were pushing our new little girl in her stroller, bedecked in something girly and sweet as we walked our three-year-old about for trick or treat. And of course, these feelings aren’t just about Halloween. They’re about every day. Every. Day. And so as we prepare for our Rainbow, we are surely excited, and our hearts are full of love for the little boy who God has chosen to be ours. In my heart, I know that if Eliza had lived, we wouldn’t have this little bundle on the way, and our lives wouldn’t be as God has planned. But boy, oh boy, it sure is tough to accept some days, and it still hurts.

Twenty-two weeks update!

Twenty-two weeks with our little rainbow!

Twenty-two weeks with our little rainbow!

I am now 22+3, and we are doing just fine! Aside from the aches and pains of growing a little person inside my body, I’m feeling alright. I saw my sweet doctor last week, and she says baby is growing right on target! AND, I don’t have to see her for FOUR weeks! This is huge, as I have seen her every two weeks up until now! Of course, this is a one-month reprieve, as the twice monthly visits return at 28 weeks. The little man is very active, and he wakes me up with his fierce kicks and jabs :)

We follow up with MFM the first week of November with another ultrasound to check Baby Optimus Prime‘s growth and to get better pictures of his little heart. It was a little too early to see everything the doctor wanted to look at the last time we were there.

baby quilt

My sewing creation :)

In other baby news, I’ve been busy sewing for little man! I have made his quilt and crib skirt, and I am about to get started on his diaper stacker and laundry hamper. It is quite a little project, but I am learning a great deal as I go. I sure wish I’d have learned how to sew when I was younger! I’d be an old pro by now. At any rate, it’s coming along :)

Our baby is a…

Rainbow! I mentioned this in a prior post. Yesterday we traveled to  maternal-fetal medicine at our local hospital to have a level two ultrasound and meet with the doctor. It was a very stressful event! The last time we were at MFM we were praying that our sweet Eliza did not have Down Syndrome and would be born a healthy baby. Just going back to the same place stirred up a multitude of emotions for both of us, and knowing we would see that same doctor this time was anxiety inducing as well. Of course, my husband and I were a pair of nervous Nellies! Fortunately, everything looks great! Our sweet Rainbow baby is growing, squirming, and rolling! We were so relieved to hear that this little ray of sunshine is thriving! We’ll be heading back in six weeks for a re-check (they like to monitor growth and progress).

The best part of our appointment was the healthy report for momma and baby! Now for the fun news! Thanks for all the support and prayers! God is good!

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