Thursday, May 31, 2012

Isaiah's Story - Part Three

I know the process of telling Isaiah's story has been a slow one, but I'm just posting as I have the energy to write.  Thanks for reading, friends - and for caring about his story and our journey.

If you are just joining us, here are the links to parts one and two of Isaiah's story...

Part One

Part Two

We decided to call my parents first.  I knew they were not at home as they had just finished a very busy campaign and convention in another city in ND.  I decided to call my Dad's cell phone, knowing that my Mom was utterly exhausted from the aforementioned events, and I knew this news would be hard for her.

We called via speakerphone around 5:45am, and Dad answered in a groggy voice.  I mustered the courage to talk through my tears, and told him that we had some bad news...we'd just found out that we'd lost the baby.  I don't remember much from the call except hearing him say he was so very sorry, asking if we knew what happened, and praying for us.  With modern medical advancements, hearing the news that a baby has died is just not news that people in our culture are used to brings such a shock.

I was so thankful that I didn't call Mom's phone because I discovered that she had returned home the night before, and my Dad stayed one more night for a meeting the next day.  If I would have called her phone first, she would have been alone when she heard.  I thank God that he led the order of those events.

Dad decided to pack up right away and drive the three hours home to tell Mom in person since we knew this wouldn't be good news to hear alone.  This meant that we didn't want the news to get out too far until Dad would have time to get home to tell Mom later that morning.  My heart sank knowing how this news would devastate her and the rest of the family we had yet to tell.

Next we called Matt's home and his Mom answered. She also answered in a groggy voice and we asked if Dad was there - but he was already at work.  We told her the news and the call went in a similar way.  She said she would call Dad to let him know and she graciously offered to notify the grandparents and siblings.  We asked her not to tell anyone except Dad until we were sure that my Mom knew...most of our worry was that somehow the word would get out past the immediate family and someone would write something on Facebook before my Mom knew.

We didn't know what to do regarding asking our parents to come to the cities or not.  We had no idea how long we'd be at the hospital (my mind was focused on getting out of there as quickly as possible).  We realized that we'd probably want to have some sort of service, so we weren't sure that we wanted to force them to come and miss work if they'd have to come later that week for a service.  We hadn't thought about what we wanted our time with the baby to look like or if we wanted our parents/siblings/friends or even our children to meet the baby.  We weren't able to think very clearly.

We soon realized that both sets of parents planned to come to the cities that day.  We had no idea if they'd make it in time to see the baby (we didn't yet know that you didn't have to give up the baby right away after delivery).  Once we realized that we could spend a little time with the baby after birth, we were relieved that they would be there for that.  We wanted and needed them there. 

Looking back I do wish that I would've at least offered to our siblings the opportunity to come.  Since I had no idea what the time after delivery would look like or how much time we'd have - I didn't think to ask them and figured it probably would've been impossible with work.  Yet, I really do wish they could've held Isaiah that day.  I wish everyone I know and love could've spent at least a few special moments with him.

I do want to mention that the nurses didn't ever give us options to go home or wait for our family to arrive before starting the induction.  Not that I would've agreed to any of those options since I was pretty much obsessed with getting this over with as soon as possible, but I do wish that we would have been told that things didn't have to move quite as quickly.  Since our experience, I have heard about others where a person from the hospital comes to offer suggestions and options in dealing with a stillbirth.  I do think that would've been helpful, though I am not unhappy with the care we received.  Our nurses and doctors were excellent.

After our calls, the nurse came in and explained our options for delivery.  They hoped for a vaginal delivery - though they thought it could possibly be breech (feet or butt first instead of head first).  Since my first child was quite large (9 lbs 1 oz), they were fairly certain that my body would be able to handle a successful breech delivery - though there were still risks if the baby's head got stuck.  But since the baby was transverse (sideways), a natural or even breech delivery would be impossible without a version.

A version is when the doctor tries to manually rotate the baby from the outside of the belly.  It is sometimes attempted around or before 36 weeks with a breech baby to avoid a mandatory C-section.  Since I was past 36 weeks, they weren't sure there was room for the baby to turn, but I really wanted them to try.  I was terrified of the only other option -- the C-section -- not because of the surgery, but because of the days of recovery that I would have to spend trapped in the hospital.  I wanted to escape that place as soon as possible.

It was almost time for a shift change for the doctor, and since the current doctor didn't do versions, they called the incoming doctor to ask if she'd be willing to try.  I was happy to discover it was Dr. M who would be coming in.  Though she wasn't my main OB, she had been the doctor that delivered Lydia, and I loved my experience with her.  She honestly said that she hadn't had much success doing versions, but she would try...and if she couldn't do it, she'd try to find someone who could.  I was relieved.

When she arrived, she and the nurse attempted a version.  They put the ultrasound goop on and tried to get a hold of each side of the baby from the outside and force a turn.  They asked if I wanted an epidural right then - as we all knew it would be painful - but I told them to just go ahead and do it.  I didn't want to prolong this process and wait for the epidural, etc.

They were unsuccessful, and the doctor went to look for someone else to help.  Soon another doctor from the hospital came in and on the first try they got a good hold on the baby.  They simultaneously pushed on one side of the baby while pulling the other until finally that little, but seemingly big, body was forced to turn.  Praise God that the version worked and we were able to avoid the C-section.  This was just one of many glimmers of grace we experienced during this unimaginable day.

We also got a new nurse, B, during the shift change, and she was so compassionate and caring.  We discovered that she was an OB nurse at the hospital I was born at in Fargo...around the time I was born.  How funny that she could have been the nurse that delivered me.  B took many blood samples that they said may be used to test to figure out what happened to the baby.  Then as we started the very slow and long process of induction, she sat with us, asked questions, answered questions, gave us time to ourselves, made sure Matt was eating, cared for me, etc.  Thankfully my water broke on its own, and things seemed to be going as planned.

During this early stage of labor we started talking about the many terrible decisions we would be forced to make.  They gave us a packet of grief materials and a book of funeral homes to look through - as we would have to decide on one before we went home.  Not being from the area, we had no idea where to start.  B explained our options related to burial and cremation.  We quickly decided on burial, but where would be bury our child?  How was it possible that we were having to consider these things?  This was our child.

Around 10 or 11am we discovered that my Dad had made it to Fargo and had told my Mom the news.  She called and we cried.  They made plans to stop and tell each of my brothers and my Grandma about the baby in person, and then they would head to the cities.  Matt's parents were also on their way and had notified our immediate family on his side.  We figured they would both arrive around 5:00 or 5:30pm.

We also told a few of our closest friends, our pastor, and Matt's employer.  We decided to wait and tell others the news until after our child was born and had a name, etc.  Some asked why we didn't notify others sooner to ask for prayer during the delivery, etc., but the news was so raw and painful - it was hard to know the right timing to share.

The doctor and nurses encouraged me to consider all pain options available as they are usually dismissed by moms in order to protect the baby.  Since we sadly would not need to monitor the baby, they wanted me to go through as little pain possible during this horrific experience.  After two other interesting births that would have been HORRIBLE without epidurals, I was all about getting an epidural anyway.  So sometime in the middle of the morning - after a few hours on Pitocin - the nurse called for the anesthesiologist to come put in my epidural.

The weird labor complications started with the epidural and didn't seem to end until Isaiah was in our arms...

Why is it that when one is suffering or going through a traumatic experience, other things that may seem small often compound in their effect on us - making the experience even harder?  That was Isaiah's delivery.

To be continued...

Link to Isaiah's Story - Part Four

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


My first trip to a wave pool happened sometime in my early college years.  A friend invited me to enjoy a summer day at a local mini waterpark with her and her sister.  The park included her favorite childhood pastime that I had yet to experience...a wave pool. 

We waded into the water, allowing the waves to lap at our legs and I thought it was wonderful...just like the ocean, right?  Soon we got further out and started feeling the force of the waves at waist level.  I saw some people on inner-tubes and thought about going back to get one, but just decided to follow my friend who had lots of experience.  The waves stopped for a bit, and we started dog paddling while we chatted because the depth had dropped and we could no longer touch the bottom of the pool, but everything seemed OK.  I scanned for the side of the pool and noticed we were only six or eight feet away - an easy distance to swim if this experience wasn't quite for me.

All of a sudden, the waves turned back on - and I watched my friend lurch forward in order to stay between the waves and float on top as they went by.  Unfortunately I had no clue what was going on and I was thrust under water.  Trying to stay calm - I kicked and swam upward to get to the top of the wave, but what I didn't know was that I was floating up and down with the wave instead of between them (I think that is how it is supposed to work, anyway)...and my body never found the air.  As the wave went up, so did I in the center of it, and as it went down, I did, too. Even though I was trying to swim upward to get out of it, I was trapped. 

I tried to swim for the wall, but the waves were overpowering and I couldn't get out of the cycle.  I started to panic and finally just threw my hand up hoping to signal the lifeguard.  I felt air on my fingers and a moment later my friend's sister grabbed my hand, pulling me out of the wave and dragged me to the wall.  I came out sputtering and never entered the wave pool again (except on an inner-tube later that day, going no deeper than 4 feet).  I guess swimming the waves was not for me (though I have casually enjoyed the ocean a couple of times since).

example of a wave pool

A few nights ago, without warning, I was again thrust under a wave...this time a wave of grief.  Right when things seemed to be going better - when entire days actually went well - I was sucked under without warning. 

It was as if all of the mental and spiritual things I have thought about and worked through over the past weeks just disappeared, and once again I just couldn't believe that my baby boy wasn't here with me.  All of the feelings of desperate loss, anger, and searing sadness pulled me under - and I couldn't get out of the wave. 

Thankfully, it did pass - and I did get out.  I'm sure the Lord grabbed my hand and protected me, though I didn't have any audible, physical, or spiritual indications of that in those exact moments.  But I know the Bible says he is near to the brokenhearted and that he will never leave us - and I trust His promises.  My man was there, and though he really couldn't do anything, he was there - and that in itself helped a lot.  Thankfully the tide turned a couple of hours later, and the wave left as quickly as it came.  I was finally able to sleep.

I have described grief like waves before, but there must be several sizes  - the kind that lap at your ankles, the kind that crash against your waist, and the kind the seek to drown.  Thank the Lord that my mind knows the truth - that he will be with us and eventually bring joy - because as I came sputtering out that wave cycle, I did feel some peace return.  But while I was drowning, I couldn't believe how terrifying it was and I couldn't be comforted.  Like the graphs in my friend's post showed, it was just as intense as being at square one again.

The process of grief has been described to me as three steps forward, two steps back; four steps forward, two steps back, etc.  I've also heard that those with living children often experience delayed grief cycles because we have to expend the little energy we do have on our kiddos instead of on grieving (though I am so very thankful for my littles...they have truly kept me going, even though caring for them during exhausting grief is hard). 

I would love to just say that I will stay out of the "grief wave pool" for good from now on - but I know these waves are impossible to escape.  I am praying for strength - to brace myself when the next wave comes - and to continue to feel His peace when it passes. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How We're REALLY Doing...

Because I love blog posts with pictures, I will start with one that I want to be preserved on my blog (though many of you may have already seen it when I posted it on Facebook).  It captures so many sentiments with no words...a true piece of art.

Slovakian Memorial to Unborn Children

And now for the writing part...

It breaks my heart to have met yet another wonderful mama who has experienced loss.  Erin said hello and goodbye to her sweet baby girl in can read more of her story here.  Together we mothers are like a sad club...a club none of us wants to be a part of, yet - nonetheless - we are grateful to have found each other. 

Erin recently wrote a blog post that really resonated with me.  It shows two graphs about grief.  One graph shows how most people think the pattern of grief occurs and the other shows how most grievers would actually graph the frequency and intensity of their feelings.  Briefly click on this link to take a look at her post... 

Grief Graphs

I don't necessarily feel the pressure to be "over" Isaiah's death or to "move on" yet, but I almost feel the pressure to be sad around people.  It seems that in the fraction of time a person sees or talks to me, they might think they know how I'm doing based on that one interaction.  Some may think "she is doing so well."  Others may think we are grieving most moments of the day.  Others may think "she is doing too well" (and rightly guess that this is not how things are all of the time). 

The truth is that I love people!  (Bet you couldn't have guessed that, huh.) :)  Usually seeing or talking to you brings me JOY, not sadness (hence why I always seem to be doing well when I see or talk to you).  Some may isolate themselves to feel better -- I tend to want to see others.  I am most sad when I am alone - and have time to think about the boy that I love and miss so much.  I also don't grieve a lot with others...but mostly by myself or with Matt.  So I am learning that some things about grief are common to all who experience it, but personality sometimes makes a big difference in how one grieves.

I appreciate everyone's encouragements - that we are choosing to focus on our faith through this tragedy - that we are possibly grieving differently than others who have traveled this road...but know that we are still most definitely grieving (and I know most of you assume that to be true).  What you might not guess (and the graph shows) is that we will probably always be grieving.  When the waves hit - they are just as intense.  It is just that now the number of days between the waves are increasing, and the number of days of constant grieving are shrinking (praise be to God!).

If you want to know how we are really doing, feel free to ask.  Speaking for myself, I don't mind talking about it...I process a lot through people.  (Bet you couldn't have guessed that, either.) :)  I am honest with those who ask and will try to put into words how things are going...but interacting for a fraction of time probably won't give you an accurate understanding of where we are at. 

Thanks for posting these graphs, Erin...they really helped me clarify the feelings I've been having about this.  I hope they have helped others see that grief doesn't usually progress as most think it does.   Life will continue to move forward, and our grief will continue to change - but it may always be just as intense when it presents itself.

Also - thank YOU - to everyone who continues to pray for us.  It is because of your prayers that we are doing as well as we are.  Again - PRAISE BE TO GOD -- for your faithful prayers and for His constant faithfulness.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Six Weeks

It has been six weeks since we said goodbye to Isaiah before we even got to say hello.  In some ways it seems like it has gone so quickly, but in so many ways I feel like we've aged a lifetime in these weeks.

Even amidst the clouds and darkness, we are praising God.  He is faithful.  We are starting to have portions of days where the fog is lifted...moments of joy...glimpses of laughter.  The mixture of feelings I have about this is odd.  This is the direction we want to be going, right?  But for some reason allowing myself to experience these feelings brings guilt and more grief.   In some ways I don't want to recover.  It is a terrible confession, but sometimes it seems like the pain is the only connection I still have left with Isaiah.

Yet - I will trust the Lord.  I know these beautiful moments are a foreshadowing of the promise that our mourning WILL eventually turn to joy (Isaiah 61:3).  Though there is much healing yet to take place, the seeds are there.  Thank you, Lord.

Still missing you, sweet boy, but know that we are still LIVING - or trying to - with hope.  God had a better plan - and we will struggle to understand it for the rest of our days. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Isaiah's Story - Part Two

If you are just joining - here is the link to Part One of Isaiah's story...

When I arrived at the Labor and Delivery desk, they were expecting me.  The on-call doctor had let them know I was coming in.  The nurses didn't move very quickly when I gave them my name, etc., but when I started crying as I explained that I hadn't been feeling movement from the baby, they responded quickly to help comfort me.  

They brought me to a room, hooked up the Doppler monitor, and started checking for a heartbeat.  After minutes of navigating the disc over every side of my abdomen many times...pressing in...pushing - they couldn't find anything conclusive.  It was like they would hear a shadow of a heartbeat for a second and lose it.  Looking back, I'm sure they knew or suspected the truth - but wanted to hope for the best.  They were probably hearing shadows of my heartbeat.  Matt kept calling my phone - he couldn't handle just waiting - so we decided to stay on the phone together.  I was still pretty calm at this point.

The nurses called the doctor in to do an ultrasound.  My sweet nurse, T, held my hand, remaining patient and peaceful.  The doctor hooked up the machine and poured on the goop.  As she got the machine started, I gazed up at the ceiling and explained to Matt that they were starting the ultrasound...all along trying to keep the "everything will probably be okay" attitude that I explained previously.  

It was as I slowly dropped my head that I saw a portion of the screen and the doctor shaking her head.  In a disappointed voice she said "I'm so sorry - I don't see any movement - I don't see a heartbeat."  I wasn't prepared for this sudden conclusion, and with no warning, a loud, anguished cry burst forth from my chest.  Matt caught his breath and disbelievingly asked "No?  No?" - wondering for sure whether our baby was alive or not.  I forced myself to echo the words the doctor had just uttered for him to hear - breaking the heart of the man I love. 

My mind whirled in disbelief and blurs over what was said next.  We knew the next step was for Matt to come to the hospital, so we considered our options to get him there the soonest.  We decided to call our sweet friend, S, who had been on call to come at night if we went into labor - knowing she would probably be available and willing to care for and love our children in our absence until we knew how long we would be or if our parents could come.  

The nurses begged us not to let Matt drive after hearing this news, but it was only 2 miles away - and he firmly said he was coming.  We asked the nurses what we needed to have there with us, and not knowing if we would stay overnight or not, Matt said he would grab the bag we had packed to accompany us to the hospital...the bag filled with items to use as we welcomed our child, not said goodbye.  I flatly reminded him to grab the camera, too.  

I called S, and through a crying, panicked voice, I told her that we'd just found out that we lost the baby and asked if she could get to our house as soon as possible so that Matt could get to the hospital.  I felt guilt for having to "hurt" another with our news.  This was the first of many times I would have this feeling over the next few days.

As I waited for Matt to arrive, I contemplated calling my parents - knowing my mom would kill me if she knew that I hadn't even called to tell her I was going in to the hospital to be checked, much less this...but I knew that Matt and I needed to call our parents together.  

Yet - I couldn't bear to be there alone - so I called the next person that came to my mind - my best friend, K.  When she answered the phone in a groggy voice, I knew she was expecting me to tell her some joyful news - that we were in labor or had already had the baby.  Instead, all I could do was cry out the only phrase I'd come to grips with saying - we'd lost the baby.  I don't remember the call very well, but I know she comforted and cried with me until I knew Matt was near.  Thank you for your love, dear friend...I am so thankful for you.

Matt arrived at the hospital around 4:45am - exactly an hour after I had.  When he got to my room, we embraced and cried...numb and in shock.  He hugged me and then he prayed.  He asked that amidst this unthinkable tragedy, that God would have his hand on us and somehow get us through the events to come.  I am so very thankful for my sweet man - and for that prayer.  I know that God gave him the strength and words - and it was exactly what I needed.  I will never forget that moment.

Soon our nurse, T, came in and took a couple of photos of my pregnant belly for us - the last pregnant photos we would have taken.  

As we cradled that baby bump - the love for our baby was palpable.  It is amazing how much love we could have for our child - even before we'd met.

 T then explained that I would have to go to another part of the hospital to have an official ultrasound done.  They would take measurements of the baby, etc. - the first of several attempts to figure out what had happened - and it would act as a second confirmation of death.   

She led us through an employee elevator to basement for the ultrasound.  The hallways felt as hollow as my heart.  The technician was so nonchalant - like this scan was just like any other on her shift.  I couldn't imagine how her world could still be moving - while ours had come to a screeching halt and crumbled in mere minutes.  Again, this was the first of MANY feelings I would have like this over the next few weeks.

I layed on the ultrasound table feeling heavy and lifeless, much like my sweet baby.  T held my hand and Matt stroked my shoulder.  At this point we still didn't know the gender of the baby and we asked the technician not to tell us...we still wanted that surprise at delivery.  

Right away as the scan began, T noticed that the baby wasn't head down, but was transverse, or sideways (in my case, the head was on the left side of my abdomen, and the feet on the right).  She wondered aloud if the doctor had noticed that in my ultrasound upstairs, but neither of us could recall.  The baby had been head down at my appointment just a few days before.  I didn't realize at this point that this would be a hindrance to a natural delivery.

I chose to look away for most of the ultrasound, not able to watch the motionless screen of my child - who had been so vibrant and active just a day ago.  The technician took measurements of the baby and took pictures of the beautiful, but very still, heart. She said the body measured 36.5 weeks and the head 39 weeks (large heads run on my side).  This reminded us of what the OB's had questioned throughout my pregnancy - my due date.  From the measurements of the five previous ultrasounds we had done, they thought the baby may have been due closer to April 15.  This would make the baby more like 38 weeks instead of 36.5 weeks gestation.  We will never know for sure, but due to the height and weight at birth (6lb. 12 oz and 20 in), we do wonder if this was the case.

After the ultrasound ended around 5:30 am, and we headed back upstairs to discuss and start the induction, but decided to call our families first.  How could we say this out loud?  How could we find the strength to utter the words that we'd lost our sweet baby...that we had no idea how or why?  How could we ever break this news to those we loved those who already loved our baby, too?

These questions were just a symptom of the hurt overtaking our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.  All I could think was "Lord - what do we say?  Lord - how can we deal with this?  Lord - we can't do this."

To be continued...

Friday, May 11, 2012

In the Sand

A new blogging friend, Tesha, who has also recently lost her sweet boy, Jonathan, has turned her misery into a ministry.  She faithfully reads blog posts of fellow mothers who have lost their babies and consistently comments in love - identifying with them and encouraging them.  How is it that someone I don't even know can give of her time to care for me?  Thank you, Tesha.

Tesha also lives near an ocean, and in honor of International Bereaved Mother's Day on May 6th, she gave each of us a beautiful gift.  She wished each of the grieving mommies a Happy Mother's Day - and then posted a picture of each of our children's names - written with shells in the sand.

When I saw her post and read the words, "Happy Mother's Day, Becky" and saw a beautiful picture of Isaiah's name scripted in shells on the sand, I drew my breath sharply and all I had were tears.  Thank you so much, Tesha.  Thank you for extending the love of God through this beautiful act of kindness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Will Carry You

I have been working on getting another post up, but just haven't gotten there yet.  In the meantime, I wanted to share a song with you.

As I encounter songs, poems, and excerpts of books, I keep thinking that I wish I would've known about this before Isaiah's service so we could've shared it there.  But I realize that the service isn't the only way to share with thank you for reading here, my friends - and allowing me to share my heart with you.

This song - I will Carry You - has been so meaningful to me the last few weeks.  The words keep reminding me of the blessing it was to carry Isaiah for 9 months...the blessing it was that God formed him...the blessing that Matt and I were chosen for that purpose - so that Isaiah could be used for His purposes.

My favorite words are these - which come at the end of the song- spoken from God to us:

"I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?"

I keep asking myself - who could love him more than we could?  The only answer is the one who knit him together - our Lord.  There is such a peace knowing that Isaiah is being loved - more deeply than we can understand - because I just can't imagine anyone loving him more than we do.

Though it is so hard to utter the words that I will have to live the rest of my life here without my sweet boy, I WILL carry the weight of who Isaiah is for the rest of my some ways his heart still beats here.

Maybe many of you have already heard this song, but if you haven't, I wanted to share it with you today.  Just click on the link.   (The lyrics and link to the story behind the song are also listed below.)

 I Will Carry You - Youtube Link

I Will Carry You
by Selah

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says ...

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One who's chosen me
To carry you

Want to learn more about the story behind this song?
 Audrey's Story

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sooo Big!

I'm sure you know the game - you ask your baby how big they are, and they raise their arms and everyone says "sooo big!" 

Well - my oldest really DOES seem "sooo big" today, and I'm sure I'll say that every year on this special day from here on out. :)

Today commemorates the day my sweet boy, Caleb, was born.  He is the one who made me a mom for the first time...the one who cried for four months straight...the one who now has a negotiation for every direction given....and the one who tries to be sooo big, but really just loves to cuddle with his mom and dad.

To my big boy Caleb,

You are four years old today!  Oh how those years have flown by.  I love you so very much - let me count some of the ways...

1 - I love your curiosity, your love of books, and how you are fascinated by ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.
(currently anything related to fires/flames/burning, pipes, steam, clouds, storms, bugs, highways - and the list goes on and on...)

2 -  I love it when you sing. 
(you were humming in tune by 12 months.  Today we realized you picked up a new praise song in church as you sang it on our way home.  You know many, many songs - but I love it most when you sing hymns...Holy, Holy, Holy, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and To God Be the Glory are some of my favorites - sung so beautifully in your sweet voice)

3 - I love it when we snuggle.
(and how you love Eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, and nuzzles - and love to be tucked in as "snug as a bug in a rug")

4 - I love it when you pray.
(how you thank God for everything, how you are so sensitive to the need to know Jesus, how you recite the Lord's prayer, how you even thank God that Isaiah is in heaven...)

Thank you, Lord - for the wonderful miracle of our son, Caleb.  Draw him close to you, and help him to come to know you in your perfect timing.  Give us wisdom in nurturing, disciplining, guiding, teaching, and protecting this gift you've given us for this time.  Help him to know how much you love him and how much we love him...for he has been entrusted to us, but created by you...he is yours.  Please prepare Caleb for the plans you have for his life and protect and guide him to wholeheartedly follow you all of the days of his life.   Thank you, Lord, for this precious blessing.  And God --- please give us an extra measure of patience for dealing with the thousand "why" questions per day that we have already started encountering...thanks, Lord.  In Jesus name - AMEN!


Here is are some snapshots of our boy...

 one day
 five months

eight months


almost two



Happy Birthday, sweet boy ~ we love you!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Shell

Since this blog is entitled Just As We Are, I figure it is OK to lay that out there right now. 

Today I feel like a shell.   

A great friend invited us to her child's Kindermusik class (which for those of you that know me well...I love this sort of thing).  But as I sat in the class with my two beautiful children, I had a terrible realization...I am just a shell of who their mom was a few weeks ago - and they are really getting the short of the stick.  Each day I wake up and "care" for them, but am I really engaging with them?  I still feed, bathe, clothe, talk, read, sing, and play with them, but am I there with them? 

I thought so.  I thought we were doing okay and of course only doing the best we could, but today when I allowed myself to gaze at them playing in the music class and just took them I sat and held them and offered myself emotionally to them for a moment...I realized that I have been just a shell - going through the motions on the outside, but cutting off the feelings on the inside - probably out of pure survival. 

At that moment in music class - when my love welled up for them - vivid flashes of Isaiah entered my mind, and once again I remembered that I will never get to know Isaiah like this.  Instantly my brain shifted into survival mode, suffocating those emotions of love to save myself from the hurt...and that was the moment that I realized I am merely a shell.  An empty shell.  They see their mom on the outside, and the inside is hollow and empty. 

As I thought about it, I couldn't remember how long it had been since I stopped and was really emotionally available to my sweet children.  I always make sure to talk with them about Isaiah and about their feelings (and talk in a simple way about my feelings), but in a sense I discovered that I had been hiding.  

I don't think they know.  Of course they know I have sad moments throughout the day, but thankfully, I don't think they know that I am missing.  I now realize that it is these feelings of love and amazement for my children that I have been hiding from - so that I don't have to mourn Isaiah as I love them.  I'm also hiding this fact from them (as I probably should) - but until today, I hadn't realized that I have been hiding it from myself. 

After this realization, horrible waves of guilt crashed against me once again - saying that I wasn't "choosing" to know and love my children right now like I should...taunting me that I don't have the energy to get them outside on a beautiful day or let them do a fun art project...reminding me that I often distract them or myself with a screen instead of interacting with them.  Oh how long will my children suffer because I cannot get through these stages of grief fast enough?

This may just be the feeling of the moment today, so logically I know that the kids are going to be okay...that I am loving them the best that I can right now...that I need to offer grace and kindness to myself.  But it is very hard for me to allow myself to be weak so that I can acknowledge each feeling of I'm trying to pause and do that today.

Yet another thing to grieve...the loss of being able to be emotionally available to my family.  A friend told me that every small thing has to be grieved on its own.  This is what I am learning as I come to a full realization of each small thing that is now missing from our lives...each thing that has changed because of our deep loss.

Today I grieve the loss of myself for my other babies who need me so much. 

Today I hate what loss is doing to our lives. 

Today I am tempted to remain in my shell - fearing I don't have the energy to face the hurt that emerging brings.

Today...I still miss him.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One Month

Today marks one month since our little Isaiah came and left in an instant.  We miss everything about him right now - especially knowing his personality and enjoying his developments - and seeing his big brother and sister love on him.

Some that weren't able to attend his service have asked about the slideshow that was shown - so I thought I would share it today.

You'll just have heaven before we do, little man.  We love you - and we miss you.

Isaiah's Slideshow

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Sting of Death

Tonight was hard.  I received a phone message from my sweet OB who somehow just heard the news about Isaiah (she obviously didn't deliver him - another OB from our fairly large group was working that day).  I didn't get to see her as often this pregnancy with our busy schedules, but I saw her as much as I could and she usually always calls her patients after every birth - no matter who delivered.  Since I hadn't heard from her, I wondered if she knew.

On the message, she sent her sympathies and apologized for the time lapse.  She talked clinically about what happened to Isaiah, and as she spoke, the images of his still body scalded my vision.  My mind imagined that cord wrapped tightly around his abdomen several times and that tight, true knot in his cord - the knot that cut off his life giving blood and oxygen.  It was too much.

It's not that I haven't thought about this before...obviously I have - a lot.  But for some reason, a tidal wave of emotions that hadn't yet shown their presence overcame me as I imagined life leaving my little boy.  A mixture of anger and anxiety paralyzed me because this can never be fixed...this will never be made right in this lifetime...this is never going to get better...this never should have happened.  This NEVER should have happened!

But it did.

Death should not happen!

But it does. 

During the message at Isaiah's memorial service in the cities, some were confused when our pastor explained that Isaiah's death was never part of God's intentional will.  To be fair, this past winter we had a four week sermon series about the three types of wills of God that really stuck with me - so it isn't surprising that it would be hard to grasp all of that information in a few sentences of that portion of the message - but I am SO excited that those words really made people think hard about the will of God. (And thank you pastor D and pastor E - for your wonderful messages at both services!)

I'd like to share a bit more about this - even if it gets a little bit long winded.  Thanks for reading - as this is where I'm at today.  (and credit needs to be given to our pastor and the Bible here...I am using many direct words from the sermon notes...)

God never originally intended for death to be part of life.  That sounds a bit strange since Christians often justify tragedy by saying "it must be God's will," and in a sense they are right that God allows pain, suffering, and tragedy to occur, but originally these things were never part of God's intention for our lives.

God's intentional will could be described as his ideal intentions for us and his creation.  Unfortunately, Adam and Eve's misuse of free will disrupted God's intentional will, so sin, death, and pain entered the scene and separated us from the life God intended for us.  This is why Jesus had to come - to save us from sin and death through his sacrifice on the cross so that we had a way to get right with God again.  God's rules were that this could not be achieved without a perfect he provided that, too - His son.  [which is obviously hard for me to imagine doing]

Way back then and even now, the proper way to use our free will is to surrender to God's will.  So if Adam and Eve would have obeyed and followed what God had intended for them, death never would have become part of the equation. 

The circumstantial will of God is God's plan to redeem what humans messed up - but within the circumstances that affect our lives (aka - hardship, suffering, or even death - like that of little Isaiah).  This is the "God's will" that we talk about a God is working within life as we know it...leading us, but also allowing sin and death and pain to affect us.  The goal of God's circumstantial will is to display his glory in our lives and form his character in us.  No matter what the circumstance, we must continue to believe in God, worship him, and try to become more like Christ.  It may not seem fair that we have to go through these is definitely not what God wanted for us...but we must remember is that it is absolutely not fair that we have the chance to be forgiven so that we CAN experience God's intentional will for our lives.  Though it may not seem like it, the circumstances we endure now are temporary -- what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Although Jesus has conquered death through the cross (in that we have access to the life God intended for us if we trust and follow Him), death won't completely be overcome until Christ returns again and defeats Satan, evil, and death - once and for all.  This brings us to the ultimate will of God.  God's ultimate will is not just for everything in our lives to turn out good.  Yes, God cares about us and will always be with us, but life is not just about US.  God's ultimate will is for us to worship and serve him forever with our resurrected body.  In order for that to be possible (because we are sinners), we not only have to accept Christ, but we also have to persevere in life until Christ returns and takes care of this mess once and for all.

Praise God that his plan is to come full circle - to make the life he intended for us become a reality again.  Like pastor said - Isaiah's death was never part of God's intentional will (if life were still like it was in the Garden of Eden - perfect and eternal).  But since death is a part of life right now, we have to assume that Isaiah's death WAS part of God's circumstantial will (because he allowed it to happen).  Now those of us left here must consider how we will respond to these circumstances.  Ultimately, if we know Christ we will get to enjoy the life God originally intended...and I will get to embrace my Isaiah - who will be full of life - not still and breathless.  Until then - RIGHT NOW - we have to feel death's sting.  Oh how I wish it weren't so.  But I will still choose to praise God - knowing that ultimately, death has already been overcome.  Even if that praise comes through tears - or anger - or anxiety...I will choose to praise him.

Even though this suffering is so hard to swallow - so hard to endure - so hard to process, This knowledge that Christ has overcome death is the source of our hope.  THIS is why we cannot grieve like those who have no hope...because those who trust in Christ will get to see Isaiah again one day and enjoy the life that God initially intended for mankind.  The reality is, if you haven't made the choice to accept Christ and live for him now - during this life - you are living without that hope.

Do you know Christ?  Do you have peace about what will ultimately happen to you?  I pray that you do - and I would love to talk more with you if you aren't sure, because I want to spend eternity with you...

...and I want you to be able to meet my little boy. 

Wow - I wasn't planning on sharing THAT tonight...thanks for reading this insanely long post, friends.  I cherish each one of you.