Monday, December 24, 2012


Today is Christmas Eve, 2012.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

I haven't blogged in several months.  I suppose my silence is a reflection of my life experience and emotion in this time.  It hasn't been due to just lack of desire - but more due to the lack of ability to understand (much less describe) my experience or feelings in a way that would be productive to write or read about.  I decided long ago that I wouldn't write just to write...I would write for a reason...for myself/my family/others.  Honestly - if I'd written in my worst moments, it wouldn't be a good, overall picture of my life (and so pessimistic that no one would want to read) - and if I'd written in my best moments, again it wouldn't be a good overall picture (a positive, but incomplete portrayal).

When people ask how I (personally) am right now, I could answer that in a lot of ways (yet in all of them - praise be to God):
-Our Rainbow pregnancy is going well -- so that answer would be great.
-Fear with the pregnancy has overall been pretty good -- so that answer would be good.
-Processing and missing Isaiah - in accepting that it happened and seeing God work in our lives despite Isaiah's absence -- I'd say good.
-In the reality of missing him physically (as in imagining how old he'd be and thinking of the many things we are missing) -- I'd say so-so.
-In the emotional aspect of just being very sad that this happened and not having him here -- I'd say not great.

25 weeks

I still struggle with how to "portray" myself in relation to grief.  I've decided that honesty is good - but honestly -- it is really hard to be honest!  Transparency displays many fractures and imperfections -- and yet I'd rather express truth than only try to reflect who I wish I could be.  On the other hand - we experience much good and joy...and in everything we experience, God is there.  In my blogging and in all things, I want to publicly praise HIM for the sustaining grace and mercy he has given us.  But how do I honestly share how good and how hard things are?  Both are completely true, yet many times feel completely opposite.

Mostly I struggle with telling the truth when it isn't always uplifting -- because even in that honesty, God deserves praise and honor -- and it is hard to portray that when in the pit of grief.  I have been in that pit many times over the past few months.  It doesn't overtake all of my time or days -- mostly moments -- but the moments spent there are not pretty -- and I hate to only bring forth that part of my experience.

Being honest and balanced is hard -- and unfortunately I don't always know how to do it well.  I hope you understand that our lives aren't just sad - nor are they perfect.  Life is just kind of messy -- as I suspect it is for all.  I guess I'd just ask that people not to jump to conclusions when reading honest things that might only portray certain parts of might show hard feelings at that moment (that are important to acknowledge), but that doesn't mean I don't have faith that God has us right where he knew he would - and it is right...even good.

Wow - after that extremely long disclaimer, I feel so much more freedom to start blogging again -- whether in hard moments or good.  As I've also expressed before, I don't want this blog to only be about grief (as it mostly has been), but to be a reflection of our lives.  Grief will probably always be a part of them, but I don't want that to be the only thing documented here.  So - moving forward - I hope to have some varied posts.

But - here are some glimpses into my recent thoughts about grief...

In all honesty-
I have realized that I am disappointed in myself.  Even after all of my reading about grief -- I somehow thought it might go differently for me.  Why did I think it might get better or easier?   Although I have never ever thought that the child we are now expecting would replace Isaiah, why did I think this pregnancy would at least "help?"  I guess maybe the thing I've realized most is how disappointed I am that things will never fully feel "better" in this life.  I know I've said this before, but coming to grips with it is another story.  I will never be the same.  (Of course I don't want to be the same, because that would mean that I wouldn't have carried or known my sweet boy, but I do miss the naivety and joy that were shattered this year.)  Sometimes I wish grief could just be that when I get a handle on how to deal with it, it wouldn't morph into something different that suffocates once again.  The grief is not all consuming and I have learned to keep most of it at bay from others and sometimes from myself - but I am still stricken with grief almost daily when alone...with nothing to distract me from the parts that are still hollow.  I find myself needing and wanting time alone - which is sometimes needed, but not always good.

In all honesty -
I have felt guilty that through the joy of a live kicking baby within, I cannot overcome the sadness of empty arms.  Even when I know how blessed we are to even be carrying another precious child, Isaiah is still on my mind.

Can you see how sharing this could portray only the bad/sad moments of life these days?

On the other hand - in all honesty -
I am daily blessed by my wonderful husband and children.  I find joy and hope in Christ.  I am encouraged daily by the Bible, in prayer, and through friendship.  I find joy and hope as we wait for the arrival of our 4th child.  I see God's faithfulness in every area of our lives.

Can you see that only sharing this would be true, but also also leave out huge portions of life experience?

I'm not always sure how much I should share or that people really want to hear all sides.  Some want to hear the nitty gritty of grief and some only want to hear how "great" we're doing.  In all honesty - we are both.

As we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth tomorrow - I am SO thankful that Christ even chose to come in human form -- coming to live here, only to suffer and die.  It is a ridiculous and fallen comparison, but sometimes I think of Isaiah in this way -- why was it that he lived only to die?  I know there are reasons - but I don't always want to accept them.  For Christ - we can see what an amazing sacrifice and gift it was that He came -- but more importantly that he died to save us from the sin that separated us from our creator.  With Isaiah - it is just a mom really wishing that he wouldn't have died.  But as I think of him right now, I consider what an amazing thing it is that he gets to experience Christ today while we just try to grasp who He is.

So though I've had much on my mind and heart to share in these months - I think this is all that this post can contain.  Thanks for still caring to read and bearing with me as I try to hash through this messy life.

Merry Christmas, friends.  Whether yours is beautiful, good, sad, or bad - may we all continue to say - "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

And because I love pictures - here's one of our littles - enjoying the season....

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Rainbows are used to represent many things these days, but I have always associated rainbows with renewal and the promises of God.  Shortly after we lost Isiaiah, we were visiting at a friend's house and got to see this beautiful rainbow.  It felt like such a gift to see a wonderful reminder of God's promises amidst the storm that we were experiencing.  

As I met more people in the baby loss community, I often heard them speak of their rainbow babies and discovered that a rainbow baby referred to a baby that is born following the loss of an older child.  The sentiment brought tears to my eyes.

"The beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm.  When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath.  What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and cloud..." 

God has guided us each step of the way as we have navigated our loss of Isaiah.  Sometimes it is difficult to share about joy amidst sadness because it seems like both cannot coexist in the same breath...but we have realized that they can.  

We are excited to share with you that we are expecting our rainbow baby - a gift from the Lord - due on March 31, 2013...Easter Sunday.  

Though our feelings can be deep and complicated at times, we are overjoyed by this gift of life.  The timing of the due date is both beautiful and hard all at once (with Isaiah's birthdate just a few days later - April 2).  We are choosing to allow those feelings to intermingle as we continue to heal - but overall we are just so grateful.

Life is a gift - and we have Isaiah (and the Lord) to thank for helping us realize that we need to cherish it always.  Even though we still miss Isaiah...because we still miss Isaiah - we truly cherish this new life.  This baby is alive right now - and we celebrate that fact today.

Please pray with us for the health and protection of our baby - and with faith and hope we will trust the Lord and his plans.  Please pray that this pregnancy can be filled with peace -  and that God can simultaneously mold our grieving and joyfully anticipatory hearts into something that will honor Him, our new child, and our memory of Isaiah.   

Thank you for praying and celebrating with us!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Six Months - here we are...

Today marks six months since the day we lost our precious son, Isaiah.  Happy 6 months in heaven, sweet boy.  How is it that half of a year has passed?  In those first days I don't think I could've imagined living for six months without our child - in that pain for that long.  On the other hand, it may seem strange to say, but it kind of feels like years have passed since that day.  Sometimes there is no good way to explain grief.

I explained to the kids last night what they were like when they were six months old.  They were fascinated by it all - and wondered what Isaiah is doing right now in heaven (obviously probably not learning how to sit up or eat solid foods).  Caleb asked, "do you think Isaiah is a little boy?"  The things we'd all love to know.

Lydia - hugging Isaiah's bears

I'm not sure I can clearly say how we are doing, but I can say that things are different...different from even a couple of months ago - maybe even different from a few weeks ago.  I'm not sure how to explain grief to those who have not experienced it, but it really just keeps changing.  It keeps ebbing and flowing, it is always there, but it is strange how it changes and my approach to it also has to continue changing.

I recently heard something like this and it resonated with me regarding my recent feelings.  It is kind of like after a long winter, when one day you walk outside and you realize that there are leaves on the trees...spring had sprung and somehow you'd missed it.  The changes had to have been gradual - day by day - cold thawing - buds emerging - leaves slowly opening, but if you hadn't paid attention, one day the leaves just showed up.

As the months have passed and I've written updates, I've tried to recognize those small changes.  I knew that somewhere in all of the days of anguish, sorrow, disappointment that things were changing, but all of a sudden - sometime recently - there were buds on the trees and I could breathe differently.  Next there were leaves forming and I could smile about Isaiah...even if the next moment brought some level I could smile.  It is true that the trees are not the same.  The winter's cold was damaging...there are scars...some areas are not as healed as others...these trees will definitely never be the same again.  But signs of healing are there.  Life has returned - even on some of the most ragged of branches.

I hate phrases like "getting over it" or "moving on" - I don't think I will ever be able to describe it that way.  Allowing oneself to realize that healing is what God wants for us is so important - that by healing, we are not forgetting Isaiah or missing him any less - but we are LIVING the life that he would want us to and that God has for us.  By allowing ourselves to experience hope, change, and healing - we are allowing Isaiah to change us forever - to shape all of our days - instead of living in the past that will never be.  It is so painful to realize, but it is true - our life on earth with Isaiah will never be.  It may not seem like it, but God's plan is better - and though we suffer this loss - someday we will see what God sees and we will understand.  Until then we will still be sad about the loss, but we will not stop living.  We have so much to live for - including remembering Isaiah and recognizing how his life has forever changed us - but most importantly for the purposes God has for us.

Now I can say all of the above logically, but still sometimes feel sad emotionally that I have seen healing in my life these past few months.  I know that sounds bad, but it is true.  Even though I know this is the right direction to be heading, I can't help but feel like we are leaving Isaiah behind.  But I have to cling to truth.  When those emotions arise, I try to FEEL them and acknowledge them so that I can do what I need to in order to continue remembering Isaiah and yet still let that part of me heal.  Do I want to be healed?  Yes and sometimes no.  But I think realizing that I will NEVER be the same and will always remember and talk about Isaiah is enough for the part of me that doesn't want to be heart is catching up with my head on this one.

Flowers from my sweet husband today

I know I have said it so many times - but THANK YOU for loving us, praying for us, listening to rambling words about Isaiah, patiently waiting to see glimpses of who we were.  I know understanding the people we have become cannot be easy when you were used to the ones we were, but thank you for trying anyway.  God's grace and your love -- these are the reasons we have made it here.

Here we are.  Six Months.

We are grateful and hopeful...but we still really miss him.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Isaiah's Story - Part Seven

If you are just joining us, you might like to start at the beginning of the story - HERE.

Thanks for bearing with me as I slowly write out our experiences with Isaiah.  It means so much that you care to remember with us.

The final pictures that our nurse, T, took were of Matt and I with Isaiah and some of Isaiah himself.  Here are some of those pics.

After Matt took his parents and the kids home, my parents helped me pack my things so that I could head to a different room for the night.  The nurse explained that I would be put in a room on the Women's unit down the hall, not on the post-pardom unit with the new mothers and babies (thank goodness).  Matt and I had decided to keep Isaiah with us every moment until we left the hospital, so they arranged for a bassinet to also be in the room in case we wanted to use it.

After getting changed and packed up, I got ready to get into the wheel chair to be wheeled to the other room.  I realized that we would be going past the main desk for the mother/baby unit, and I realized that my good friend K might be working there that night.  Not wanting her to see me rolling by with no warning about what had happened, I asked the nurse if they could go look to see if she was working and tell her what had happened so she knew.  I invited her to come visit us if she was working.

After they returned they told me that she wasn't working at that desk but was working in the NICU.  She would come visit me in my other room.  I held Isaiah as we were wheeled through the delivery unit.  We heard a new baby and his/her family.  Every person that saw me - including the people at the desks or nurses just smiled wide when they saw us - thinking I was carrying a sleeping newborn.  Little did they know that my baby was stone cold and still in my arms.  I worked hard to focus on getting to my room to have some time alone.

Shortly after we got there, my friend K - who was working in the NICU that night - came to visit.  She came in the room and embraced me and cried with me.  She told me that she had been working much of the day and saw my name on the "board" with a stillbirth code next to it, but she couldn't come to see me because of HIPA laws.  She is my only friend who got to meet Isaiah.  It was special in several ways, not only that a friend got to meet him, but she is also my only friend that has also buried a child.  She knew what I was going through.  This made me sad at one level, but made me feel not quite so alone in another.  She was proof that one could live after loss and even find some type of peace and happiness.  That was very hard to fathom in those moments of numbing shock and sadness, but K would continue to be a source of encouragement and hope for me in the days to come.

My parents stayed and helped me get settled until Matt came back to the hospital for the night.  Once he got there we explained to my parents that they were welcome to come back in the morning if they wanted - to say their last goodbyes to Isaiah - but we wanted most of the rest of the time with him to be for us.  It was evident that they had just as hard of a time knowing how to say does a person do this with a child they haven't even really gotten to meet?

My parents headed to our house and we settled in for the night.  We were exhausted - having been up all night the night before and all day for the delivery.  Our night nurse was sweet, but didn't speak very much English and didn't say much about Isaiah.  She focused on caring for me and suggested we sleep.

Somehow we both slept for a couple of hours - and I had laid Isaiah in the basinet right next to me.  When I woke up a few hours later, it took me a moment to figure out where we were.  The room was silent and pretty dark.  After a moment, I knew.  This was the start of many days that as I woke up, the cement slab slammed against me once again - reminding me that my child had died.  I went to the restroom and as I saw Isaiah as I came out, I completely lost it.  I couldn't believe that the baby next to us was not alive -- how could this be true?

Matt woke up and consoled me.  We spent the rest of the night dozing while taking turns holding Isaiah.  We couldn't waste this time with him.

Later in the night my nurse came to give me pain medication, etc.  She asked if the crying she had heard was due to pain from the delivery.  With tears in my eyes I shook my head.  She grasped my hand and simply said, "It will be OK.  It will be OK."  I didn't believe her for one second - but nodded.  It was a simple act of kindness that I appreciated.

The morning came and Matt and I realized that since all of our family had been contacted, it was time to share with our friends and extended family what had happened.  The words for that message could only have come from God.

Dear Friends,

It is with a mixture of utter sadness and joy that we share with you about the arrival of our son.

Isaiah Christ Albert Kleinsasser arrived stillborn on April 2, 2012 at 5:45pm.  He was 6lbs 12oz and 20 inches long.  He is beautiful.

Becky came in to the hospital early Monday morning after feeling less movement - which is when we discovered that Isaiah was no longer with us.  Upon delivery, Isaiah had a knot in his umbilical cord, which was also wrapped tightly around his body. 

We rejoice knowing that Isaiah is with our Lord before we are, but are surely heartbroken to miss knowing him here.  Thank you for your love and prayers.  We love you all!

Matt and Becky

We posted the message on Facebook and e-mailed it to our address books and anyone we knew wouldn't be on Facebook.  We had no idea how to share this news with the world when we didn't even know how to respond to the news ourselves.

We had decided the night before that we would spend as long at the hospital as we wanted or needed, but we would probably go home mid-day.  Our morning nurse, K, was very kind and sincere from the get-go.  She cared for my needs, but seemed most focused on supporting us through what would be the hardest thing we would have to do - leave without our baby.  She gave us a book and several other things to look through and encouraged us several times to stay as long as we'd like - even another night.  Matt and I knew we didn't want to do that, but we appreciated the encouragement to savor our time with Isaiah.

One of the things running through my mind through all of this was the sermons we'd heard recently about the wills of God.  Although I knew the loss of Isaiah was overall part of God's will because it had happened - and God uses everything that happens for ultimate good, even when it seems impossible (Romans 8:28) - but I also remembered the sermon about God's intentional will (from before the fall) where death was not intended to be part of life.  I knew this loss, or death in general, was not part of God's intentional will...and for some reason that gave me realize that God was mourning with us over this loss -- for he never intended that death be part of life.  I wrote more about this early on in a post here.

Our pastor came to visit us mid-morning and we were thankful that he got to meet Isaiah.  One of the first things I said was that I knew that this was not part of God's intentional will.  It is an odd thing to know that losing Isaiah wasn't meant to be (in some senses), yet we were confident that it was entirely meant to be in others.  It is hard to wrap your mind around these two truths that seem to conflict, but can both coexist.

Pastor left and my parents came back one more time to hold Isaiah and say their last goodbyes.  Watching them gave us a view of what we were to go through - struggling with knowing how many more times to hug him and hold him and memorize him.  My parents then went back to our house to help with the kids and wait for us to come home.

Many, many hospital personnel were in and out of our rooms - my doctor, labor and delivery nurses, social workers, meal attendants, our regular nurse, etc.  By about 10am - we finally had some quiet time alone in our room.

After Matt had made the final plans with the funeral home to pick up Isaiah later that day at the hospital, we spent our last hours with him.  Isaiah's body was starting to break down, and we knew that the time was drawing near for us to leave.  His body was so lifeless - and we knew there was nothing to do to help this situation - yet at the same time being willing to leave our son in the hands of strangers seemed impossible.  It was one more thing that we just "had to get through," I suppose.  None of this seemed like something someone should have to go through.

I spent a lot of time just looking at and memorizing Isaiah's body.  One thing I regret is not taking off his clothes once more to see all of him...but I do remember just gazing at his face, his limbs, the cow lick in his hair, his features - trying to cement them in my memory.  We took several more pictures - of Isaiah alone and with his mommy and with his daddy.

Matt holding Isaiah here is the picture that is branded into my memory forever.  This is how Matt has always held our babies - and they all slept so soundly on his chest.

We knew that the time would come when we would feel as ready as we ever would be.  Matt took our belongings out to our vehicle so that we could say our last goodbyes and head out without so much to carry.  When he returned, we loved on Isaiah and prayed.  With our other babies, Matt was the master of the swaddle.  Before we called our loving nurse to take him, Matt wanted to do what he could for Isaiah...he slowly and lovingly wrapped him in a tight swaddle - to keep him safe and warm.  We laid him in the clear glass bassinet and stood with him as long as we could - not wanting the time with him to end, but knowing that it had to.

Our nurse, K, came when we called and asked if we were ready.  She gently grasped the bassinet and rolled Isaiah toward the door as we let go and embraced.  Tears rolled down her cheeks as we cried and watched them leave the room.  Our hearts broke for what felt like the thousandth time.  Letting him go was one of the hardest things we've ever had to do.

When she returned a bit later, our nurse gave us hugs and told us she'd be praying for us.  She said that she could see what a strong couple we were - and not to let this tear us apart, but bring us together.  An attendent came to wheel me down to the front entrance.  I refused and wanted to walk - not wanting to sit in a wheel chair with empty arms, but they insisted.  I finally agreed and we almost ended up in an elevator with a new mom and baby being discharged.  I felt relieved, but sure enough when we got to the main floor, she wheeled us right next to the new family and parked me next to them to wait at the entrance for Matt to drive up with the car.  I immediately got up and started walking toward the parking garage with Matt...there was no way I was going to sit there without my baby and next to another for 10 minutes.  We walked out silently - hand in hand.

As hard as all of this was to go through and as hard as it is to sort these memories and write it out, I want to make sure that people know that we could still feel God's love and goodness amidst it all.  This may sound strange to some, but we felt God's mercies, grace, and love - and we are thankful for that.  We don't want it to seem like we went through this without hope.  Yes it was raw and painful and I wrote this exactly as I felt it, but deep within our souls we had overarching peace through it all - even the saddest of moments.  We don't want to forget to praise God - even amidst the hardest moments of our lives - for he deserves our praise and loves and cares for us in unimaginable ways - to depths we cannot see.  That may be hard for some to believe - but that is the truth - and we trust in God.  Thank you, Lord.

When we got home we had many, many arrangements to make.  How does one go about planning a funeral for an infant - having never planned a funeral before and never having attended an infant funeral?  How does one try to focus on planning a funeral when all we could hear in the house was silence - the absence of an infant cry - even with family filling our home?  It is only by God's grace that any of this occurred.

To be continued...

Click HERE to go get to Part Eight.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Five Months

Today marks 5 months without our sweet boy, Isaiah.  We miss him - and wonder a lot about what he would be like right now if he were here - but we also wonder what it must be like to have spent five months in heaven...glorious!  As we continue to learn to navigate life without him, we thank you for your constant love and prayers through these months.  God continues to bind our wounds - just as he says he would (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 61).  Praise Him.

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."                         
Isaiah 61:1b-3

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Mother to Friend

It is easy to look back over our loss of Isaiah and tell you the helpful and hurtful things said to us.  I don't really remember who said each thing, and I have tried not to remain stuck on any certain thing a person said.  Instead I tried to look at the intention--and people always intended to be loving and supportive.  Surprisingly, the most hurtful thing said to us was saying nothing at all.  That spoke volumes.

Over the past few weeks I have navigated a new role in relation to grief...from mother to friend.  Sadly, some of our dear friends went through the loss of their sweet baby boy recently - and being the friend hasn't been at all like I would have imagined.  The truth is that I have no idea how to support my friend.  I stand beside her - grieving with her - and realize that there is not anything that I can do to help her avoid the hurt and loss.  I recognize that her journey is not just like mine, so I don't know if what I've gone through or what helped me will help her.  I don't want to compare or talk like I know exactly how she feels, because I KNOW that everyone grieves in such different ways.

After analyzing every option and realizing how hard it is to know what to say, I found myself questioning if I should just be silent -- maybe that would be the best choice?  Who am I to act like I have the right thing to say or have the right to help shoulder this grief with my friend?  But then I stopped and remembered that in our experience, saying nothing at all was the worst thing to do.  It made it seem like our loss wasn't important enough to warrant attention or care (and really - know that there were very few who fell into this category).  So now I find myself willing...but praying that the Lord will guide and use me - my words and actions - in His intended way...and soften whatever unhelpful things are said.

I realize that I am experiencing a glimpse of what so many of you must have encountered when trying to support me...and I just wanted to thank you for being brave and supporting me anyway.  You were putting yourself out there - to maybe be the one that would say the stupid thing.  But know that I was never thinking that.  All I saw were people upholding us when we couldn't stand.  If you would've been absent, God would have brought someone else - but he used you.  Thank you for being willing to navigate uncharted territory in supporting us.  You have been there in our darkest time of need - and are still supporting us through this journey that has definitely not ended.  Thank you for caring and trying.

And if you were silent or absent - understand that God still provided for us.  Sometimes there are reasons that one is not equipped to support another at a certain time for various reasons, but if you avoided because of discomfort, I do pray that you will find encouragement and courage to support others in the future.  If you care, be faithful and support - even if it is uncomfortable.  Know that we are not upset with anyone and if we haven't talked to you in a while, we aren't going to lump you in this category.  We still love and miss you.  :)  I realize now more than ever how some might have felt...I now know that it can be tempting to back away when we don't know what to do...but God can use us if we are willing.  I am praying to always be willing.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Four Months - and Hope and Hearts 5K

Today marks four months since we held our sweet Isaiah.  When I think about the fact that it has been 16 weeks, part of me thinks - "wow, 16 weeks?," and the other part of me thinks "only 16 weeks?"  I feel like I've aged a lifetime in these weeks, and any naivety we had about life turning out as we'd hoped will never return...yet we know God has a plan.

When people ask how we're doing, I usually tell them that I feel like we are turning small corners - and for the most part - that is good.  As hard as working through the grief has been, I recently realized that I can list on one hand how many bad days I had this past month.  That is a huge feat when not long ago it was every day.

I still have hard moments each day - and occasionally entire bad days - but sometimes I surprise myself when the tears that always come to my eyes whenever I think of Isaiah present themselves with a small smile - not just sadness.  When I wonder about Isaiah in his current state - what he is doing right now now in heaven...what he looks like...the thoughts of being present with the Lord - I actually feel pangs of joy and wonder.  Of course I have chosen to think on those things for some time, but feeling positive feelings related at all to our loss --- that is a big change -- I never would have thought that could be possible.  Maybe this is a glimpse of God transforming our mourning into joy...exchanging beauty for ashes...a very slow, but hopefully steady process.  I try to remind myself that feeling positive feelings is not betraying the fact that we are sad to lose Isaiah, but more of a reflection of what God is doing in our hearts.

I do still struggle with feeling that the further we get from the day Isaiah was born -- that we are moving "away" from him.  I know this is a feeling, and the truth is that Isaiah is, and will always be, as precious to me as he was the moment I became aware of his existence - the moment that I felt him move for the first time - the moment that I saw him with my eyes - the moment that I kissed him with my lips.  As days keep passing and we keep changing, HE won't ever change - He is as he will be when I meet him again - and I really can't explain how excited I am for that day.

So I guess if you're wondering how we are doing - it's a mixed bag.  We still constantly think of him...constantly miss him...constantly see him in babies' faces...constantly listen to our children's pleas to see him in heaven, talk about him, watch his video -- but somehow God is changing and reforming our hearts.  I'm not sure if our hearts are being softened or bolstered after this loss...but I think of it more as being rebuilt after a terrible, heart-breaking storm...helping us face life as the changed people that we are.  God is renewing us in sure, small ways, and we are so grateful for his mercy and love.

I have been wanting to get a post up about ways that we have been memorializing Isaiah's life through Compassion International, etc., but haven't gotten to it yet.  I do want to tell you about another way we have decided to remember him - coming up on September 8th.

We have recently decided to be part of the Hope and Hearts 5K run/walk in memory of Isaiah - as part of "Isaiah's Team."  This powerful event allows people to come together to honor the memory of babies who have been lost, raise awareness about pregnancy loss, and promote stillbirth prevention by raising funds for the Missing Grace Foundation.  At the end of the 5K there will be a commemoration time where each baby will be remembered through a balloon release.  We would love any family or friends that are available to come walk or run with us as part of "Isaiah's Team!"  If you aren't available, but would like to donate to this organization, we'd love for you to consider this as well.

For more information about the 5K run/Memorial Walk/ Kids' Fun Dash and why we chose to support this organization, please head to our fundraising page to learn more:

***If you plan to register as part of our team, please let us know! You'll eventually need some more information via email :) ***

Once again, we want to praise God for his faithfulness to us in this valley and thank you for surrounding us with your prayers.  I hope you can see what the Lord has done and is doing in our lives through your prayers.  Even though things are still hard, we have so much to praise him for -- he is faithful!

And just for fun, here's a random picture...      

The flower girl and her mom - at a recent wedding

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Isaiah's Story - Part Six

If you are just joining us, welcome.  You may want to click here on Isaiah's Story - Part One to start at the beginning.

To those of you who continue to tune in - even after I haven't posted for a while - thank you.  Your continued love and prayers mean so much to us.

I recently realized that in the last post I forgot to post pictures of me with Isaiah.  Oops!  I guess that is kind of how it goes.  While writing things from my perspective, I don't usually think of seeing myself with him, but instead relive what I saw through my own eyes.  So I guess I'll start with some pictures of Isaiah and his Mommy (which I am so thankful for), and then continue telling about the kids meeting Isaiah.


As the kids came through the door my heart melted.  Caleb (4) and Lydia (2) lit up when they saw me and ran to the bed crying out "Moommmyy" - just like they always do when I've been away.  They clutched their puppy and bunny lovies, proud that they had permission to bring them along.  Matt had definitely thought ahead and allowed them to have their lovies outside of bedtime - knowing that this would be a tough visit.

I was still sitting in the hospital bed holding Isaiah when they arrived.  I gave both kids huge hugs and marveled at how big they looked (any mom with a newborn can attest to being astonished at the size of their other kids after the birth of a new child).  Almost immediately their attention was turned to Isaiah.  Lydia jumped right up and wanted to caress his face, hands, and feet and kiss him.  Caleb was tentative and unsure.  The kids probably responded to Isaiah just like they would have if they were coming to visit their newborn baby brother who was alive...their reactions definitely rang true with their personalities.

Shortly after the kids arrived, a nurse came in and asked if she could have the privilege of giving Isaiah a bath.  I was unsure about it because his skin had already started peeling more, but she was fairly certain she could be gentle enough not cause any further peeling and Matt agreed that it would be nice if he had a bath.  My mom was also so glad that she got to help with the bath...she told me later that it was something she could "do" for him.  We all felt like we wanted to do something for this boy we loved.

During the bath Matt and I focused on Caleb and Lydia and their needs - trying to answer their questions, but mostly loving on them and letting them know that even in sadness, we loved them so much. 

Our wonderful nurse, T, arrived from her home to take photos for us and started taking pictures of our interactions over the next 90 minutes.  We were so blessed by her willingness to come on her own time to capture our family together.  We are eternally grateful for this gift.

After his bath, mom and the other nurse gently lay Isaiah on a blanket at the foot of the bed.  This was maybe the first time I had taken a good look at his naked body, as he had been wrapped in a blanket most of the time.  He was beautiful.  After being washed his hair was no longer quite as curly looking.  I did notice that his skin was peeling in several places like the mark on his nose.  I briefly thought to myself that his skin could heal quickly - that it was not a big deal - but it hit me again that he wasn't alive.  His skin would never heal.

As the kids took in the sight of their baby brother, Matt bent down next to them and echoed his earlier explanations of Isaiah's death.  He was born, but his body doesn't work.  We can see his body, but his soul is already with Jesus (Hallelujah!).  He isn't breathing - and he can't open his eyes or cry.  He looks as if he is sleeping...that at any moment he could wake up...but he won't.  It was so hard for all of us to understand and explain, but they seemed to just take it all accept it in plain terms...this is how it was...they took it so well.

It amazes me that the kids could deal with understanding the loss of their brother in such natural ways.  It seems like adults try to really figure things out as they encounter good or bad experiences in their lives...they try to compartmentalize their grief and attempt to make sense of things.  Kids just take it as it comes.  They ask plain questions, share when they are sad, and don't feel bad if they feel happy for a moment.  They probably grieve in a much more healthy way than adults - in a naive and natural way that we are incapable of.  

Since the evening had been such a blur, I hadn't even thought to change clothes.  I do wish someone would have suggested this for comfort and for pictures, etc., but alas, a hospital gown it was.

After a few photos of Isaiah, the nurses suggested we put a diaper and outfit on Isaiah.  We see this now as a way they were attempting to normalize go through the motions that parents would go through with their new baby as a way to have those experiences to remember with their child.   The hospital had a few donated outfits that we could've used, but since we had our overnight bags, we decided to use the newborn layette set we had purchased in case we had a boy.  It was a sweet elephant set that will always remind me of my mom because she loves elephants.  We decided to dress him in the onesie instead of the sleeper so that we could see more of his features in the pictures later.  T had brought a beautiful, soft blue blanket that she let us use for the pictures (and keep).  This meant so much to us.


The next hour we just tried to facilitate saying hello and goodbye to Isaiah with our children and our parents.  We tried to make the most of every moment, but it was such a surreal time.  We realized that subjecting our children to the hurt of this loss would be hard, but ultimately we thought it was the best choice.  By letting them go through this with us now, we hoped it would give them a solid groundwork to help them through their grieving - now and in the future.  We weren't sure how much they would understand or internalize (we are continually amazed at how much they DO understand and internalize), but we knew even if they didn't understand or remember, having pictures taken with Isaiah would solidify the fact that they got to meet him and that he was their little brother. 

 Our Three Kids!

It wasn't easy taking photos with a 2 and 4 year old - past their bedtimes - in a sensitive situation, but we are so thankful that we did.  It is hard to believe that these are the only pictures we will ever have of our family with all three of our children together - our family of five - yet I am so grateful to have even these. 

Our Family of Five!

As T finished taking photos with us (many more of just Isaiah and some of Matt and I with Isaiah), my heart was so heavy to have to see the kids go, especially since they wouldn't be back again to say goodbye to Isaiah...this was "it."  Obviously Isaiah was already gone and they would see his body at the funeral, but every moment with him just felt so final.  How do you tell a 2 and 4 your old to savor this moment or to memorize the face of their beautiful baby brother?  I was so thankful for their young ages (to buffer this sadness) but still anguished at the thought that they might not remember him.

We helped them say goodbye as best we could and Matt and his parents took the kids home to tuck them into bed before Matt would return to the hospital for the night.  While they were gone my parents helped me pack up our stuff to move to another room.  I didn't know how I would bear yet another hard moment...this time being wheeled through the delivery unit full of happy families while I held my beautiful, yet very still baby.  Thankfully God had shown us so much mercy and grace thus far, I knew that He would continue...but every corner we turned it seemed like we had to face another scary moment or decision.  I kept wondering when this would be "over" - not understanding that it would never really be over.  I don't know if we realized just how many hard decisions were still to come...yet praise be to our Lord who was with us every step of the way.  

To be continued...

Sweet Lydia with Isaiah