Friday, March 26, 2010
I was shocked and thrilled and so ready for the challenge, I mean blessing, two babies would be. I knew I could do it. And I knew that I would love every minute of it. Well maybe not EVERY minute, but you know what I mean. And I had naivety on my side. I had NO IDEA what I was in for...
I planned on blogging about the insanity of twins and of three kids under three! I planned on sleepless nights, endless nursing, and more diapers than I could count. I planned on cute matching (but not identical) outfits, oohs and awes from strangers admiring the cutest little twin girls they ever did see, and tons of special moments when the overwhelming task of parenting becomes more than worth it in a single smile or baby laugh.
But nothing went as planned.
I didn't get to keep my twins after all. Instead, my lifetime of plans fell through, and in a blink I was standing at the gravestone of my baby girls. One day they were with me and the next they were gone. And I have been whirling ever since.
I never imagined that two years later I would be sitting here blogging about my life AFTER LOSS instead of posting pictures of my girls' first steps. I wonder who would have walked first, Aubrey or Ellie?
Life has continued to move forward however. Often times against my will. And I cannot believe that somehow, with God's strength no doubt, I survived the last 20 months. There were most definitely dark times. I never felt true hopelessness until I lost my girls. But once I got my bearings again (grief is extremely disorienting) I emerged from my dark, sad place, with a new hope.
I wanted to live again. I wanted to be a willing participant in life once more. Living did not mean leaving my girls behind and I wanted back in the game. So off I went...
And somehow I became crazy brave along the way...
Because I wanted to have another baby.
Before I lost my girls I thought I was brave, but I wasn't. I was naive. There is a difference. I lived my life not fully aware of what it could really cost me. Everything seemed to work out. I even believed it was my boldness paying off. The bigger the risk the greater the reward right? Nothing ventured, nothing gained...or some stupid, naive rationale like that.
True bravery is not just facing the fire, it is facing the fire again after you have already been burned.
Having another baby was my fire. And for a long time I did not want to take the risk. The thought of losing another baby was more than I could bare. I already had a son and he was enough. I should just count my blessings, nurse my wounds, and spend the rest of my life minimizing the risk and therefore minimizing the pain.
But something about that just didn't feel like living. After all, I did lose my girls, I did have my heart and world shattered in the blink of an eye, but I also had seven and thirteen life changing days with my sweet daughters. And I wouldn't trade those days for anything.
I didn't want to minimize my risk, I wanted to live despite it all. And that is when I realized that somehow, someway, I became crazy brave. I was ready to face my fire...
...and have another baby.
I wanted to at least try. And no matter what happened I wanted to face it because, although my heart could be broken again and that scared me to death, it also could be filled with immeasurable joy with the gift of a new baby.
Pain hurts, but it also makes the joy so much sweeter.
Now I am expecting again, this time a little boy. A constantly moving little boy I cannot wait to meet, and name, when we figure out just the right one.
But I have not faced the fire yet. My son is yet to be born. We bravely anticipate his arrival in a few months and each day I battle the flames. Flames of fear, helplessness, and uncertainty. And as I battle those flames I find myself refined by their fire, depending entirely on God's will and ever increasing in faith.
Only God's grace can turn a fire meant for our destruction into the very flames that refine us.
I do not have any guarantees but One, my Jesus and the hope he provides.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7 (New International Version)
My Jesus will get me through. No matter what.
I know that many of my blog readers are facing an even hotter fire than my own. Some of you can't seem to get pregnant at all, others of you have tried again after loss only to experience another loss, maybe even many losses, and are growing hopeless and weary. And even others of you have had to face the unfair truth that your genetics make having a healthy baby statistically small or even impossible. All of these are heartbreaking situations. I want you to know that I am praying for you today. I am praying for hope, healing, miracles, and courage as you endure these hardships and persevere with faith. I also pray that your heart would be open to whatever God has for you as he gives you a NEW hope and future, for nothing is impossible with God.
Be crazy brave. Trust Him.
It isn't so crazy after all.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26 (New International Version)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
This is pretty par for the course for me. Around 20 weeks of pregnancy I start organizing, decorating, and sorting through everything. Every cupboard and drawer gets gone through. I part easily with things so I send a lot of stuff to our local Goodwill store. And I take inventory of what I need to get before the baby comes. All I want to do all day is make my house as homey and functional as possible. Its fun.
For my birthday my sister gave me a sewing machine! I have been wanting one so badly. My sister and I attempted to share my mother's old one, but we live pretty far from each other and it really wasn't working out. Now I have my very own. I spent the afternoon today setting up my sewing "nook" in my bedroom so that I can get started on all my "nesting projects."
One project I have been planning for a long time is making a baby blanket with the bedding I saved from when Aubrey and Ellie were in the hospital. I kept all the blankets that ever touched their bodies. My sister was going to do it for me to honor my girls, but before she could get started I called her in tears and asked to do it myself. I feel strongly that it is something I need to do for them. And I guess for me too.
The problem is I can't bring myself to do it.
I pulled out their bedding today and when I opened the tiny little blankets I saw the stains. Each one a vivid reminder of the little lives that made them.
Those blankets held my girls more than I did. They got to touch them when I was only allowed to stare through the incubator glass. They kept my girls warm as they took their last breaths and covered them with dignity as I walked them back to their beds for the very last time.
Now those stained blankets are all I have left. And I can't bare the thought of washing them. When I touch those blankets I touch my girls. I'm not ready to wash that away.
I may never be.
For the time being I decided just to keep them as they are, memories and stains intact. I put them back in their memory boxes and there they will stay until I decide I am ready.
In the meantime it comforts me to know that I can still touch the last thing that touched them. Just like those blankets are stained, so I am. Stained with love, loss, and all the memories that come with it.
Nothing can wash those stains away.
Monday, March 15, 2010
But this year takes the cake. And my husband gets the credit. He had help (thanks mom and dad) but it was his truly touching idea that sets this birthday apart.
What he doesn't know is that it couldn't have come at a more crucial time.
Since my girls died my self-esteem has been in the toilet. I have struggled for the last year and a half to feel okay with myself. Grief didn't exactly bring out the best in me and facing those weaknesses in my character on top of the guilt and shame I carried for so long left me increasingly insecure.
As I approached 30 my insecurities only intensified as I felt that I was not meeting my own expectations of where I wanted to be at this point in my life, and more importantly of WHO I wanted to be, or thought I should be, by now.
By my assessment I had fallen drastically short. And I worried that everyone else believed so as well.
When I woke up on the morning of my birthday I laid in bed for a bit and listened to the quite. Today's the day God. The big 3-0. Let the sun shine today. Please. I would love sun shine for my birthday. For some reason I just wanted a nice sunny day.
Little did I know how the SON would shine on me that day.
It turned out that my husband planned a surprise party for me! But that isn't even the best part. During the party my husband asked everyone to come into the living room. I thought maybe it was time to open presents or something, but he had something else in mind.
It turned out to be the best gift I ever received.
Instead of bringing birthday presents, my husband had asked everyone to tell me, in their own words, what having me in their life these last 30 years has meant to them. I had the surprise and privilege of sitting quietly as one by one each friend or family member took a turn sharing from their heart. I heard over and over again how much I was loved and valued and how I had made a difference in their lives in one way or another. By the end I was in tears.
Never in my life have I felt so special. Saying I was deeply touched is an understatement.
All those meaningful words of affirmation and encouragement were profoundly healing to my broken spirit. I was humbled and built up all at the same time. And for the first time in 20 months I felt good to be who God made me.
It felt like sunshine on my soul.
I knew immediately that God had given me the gift I had requested.
The Son himself was shinning on me, warming my heart and healing my hurts through the words of those who knew me best and loved me most.
I couldn't believe that my husband, family, and friends would do something like that for me. And more importantly I couldn't believe that God would.
We do serve an amazingly poignant God. His gifts are always perfect.
Jars of Clay has a song called the Eleventh Hour and there is a line in the song that has been a prayer of mine for many years. It says I won't give up on giving you a chance to blow my mind. After Aubrey and Ellie died I sort of gave up on giving God any further opportunity to blow my mind as I felt that moment should have been when he saved my girls.
Unmet expectations have a way of eroding away even the most solid faith.
But clearly God had not given up on me.
On my 30th birthday God blew my mind anyway.
Thank you friends and family for your amazing gift to me on my birthday. You know who you are and what you said. It meant more to me than you will ever know.
And thank you Kirk for loving me so boldly.
I will never forget this birthday as long as I live.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
It turns out that today is not the day to find out the baby's sex.
It remains a mystery for a few more weeks.
Although it was my understanding that we would be getting an ultrasound today, we did not. I also did not see my regular doctor so I am not sure exactly what happened. It is possible that the flow of information didn't trickle down or that I misunderstood. Who knows?
Regardless, no news.
I made sure to schedule a high resolution ultrasound before I left so on March 23 at 10:30AM we will find out for sure.
The doctor did do a less advanced ultrasound to try and see the sex of the baby but this little one did not want to cooperate. It refused to face forward and it kept its legs tightly crossed. It doesn't want us looking there I guess. I can't blame it.
I do have a great picture of the back of the babies head though! It was a very cute head.
But everything looks good. Mom and baby are healthy.
Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray as we wait another few weeks to find out for certain if it is a baby he or a baby she.
Monday, March 8, 2010
I am thrilled because I will get to find out this baby's sex. I will certainly keep you posted.
But I would like to request prayer. Ultrasounds are not just for discovering the sex, they are for making sure the baby is healthy and everything is fine.
I would like you to pray for a healthy baby.
Nothing matters more than my babies health and development.
Thank you friends!
God bless you.