A Rainbow Reality

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It’s really happening. I know it in my heart. I really am going to give birth to a healthy baby girl. She will come into this world, she will cry, and we will connect. It’s really happening — And soon.

The 9th month of pregnancy is an emotional roller coaster. Hormones are high, feelings of impending transitions are high, and it is a beautiful time. I can pretty much pinpoint how my next day will be based on either A. How much sleep I got the night before, B. If I had a weepy day today or not, or C. Both of those things. – For the last 2 weeks, it has been every other day. One day I wake up and I’m weepy all day – about all things. I cry over my oldest becoming a true big sister, seeing a dear friend, hearing my Mom’s voice on the phone, what to cook for dinner, my sweet stillborn son, or the most reoccurring – feeling like I will be pregnant forever. If I have a day like that, chances are the next day, I am content in my pregnancy, proactively spending positive time with our first, and peacefully make it through the day. Today was actually half happy/half weepy.

As I sit here tonight, I feel the reality. I feel the contentment. Even though it may not feel like it to my 39 week, 3 day pregnant self, my third really is going to make her appearance soon…and what an appearance it will be! Our rainbow of hope will no longer be a kick or jab felt, but a baby to hold and cuddle. She is coming. My body is telling me it’s working, baby girl is head down just waiting for her time, and I am learning to enjoy these last few days before the transition into life with a newborn.

It’s really happening. I know it in my heart. I really am going to give birth to a healthy baby girl.

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Planting Seeds, Part 2

Speaking of planting seeds….I found out yesterday, that I am growing a baby again!

My sister-in-law referred to the baby as a “little rainbow squish”. And that is what this baby will be from now until forever.

You see, this pregnancy for us, is a pregnancy after loss…And what a loss it was. In losing James and starting the journey of trying for another baby, there were so many doubts. Satan tried to creep in at every turn and convince me that this wouldn’t happen for us, and our future for wanting more kids in our home was dark and empty. Every time I was worn down…almost to the point of believing such junk and lies…and then I would get a refreshing wave over me saying “I do want to give you good things. Trust me. I want you to have peace and joy.” It was a struggle. I fought. It is easy to believe bad things will happen to you after you’ve lost a child. But even through James’ death, there was so much growth and good that came as a result of it. And now, we cling to trust. We cling to hope. We cling to God, who holds our son and our Rainbow Baby. He is good and He loves us and wants to give us good things. WANTS to. Not required to. Doesn’t feel obligated. WANTS to. And because we’re His children, we can accept His gifts freely without guilt or question.

 

Here’s to deep seated hope.

Here’s to strength.

Here’s to healthy kids.

Here’s to joy.

Here’s to a new phase. A new adventure.

Here’s to all my kids.

 

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Planting Seeds

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We spent the first two weeks after school got out as staff at HUT. Harding University at Tahkodah. For those of you unaware, HUT is a very special place to us. It is a place where you can simulate living situations from all over the world, and experience life from a different perspective. I took this 2 week course in 2008 before I spent a semester in Zambia, and Tim took this course last year before we lived in Guatemala for 6 weeks. It prepares you. It stretches you. It grows you.

Taking Abigail out there this year was really something great. While the 3 of us were able to stay in an air conditioned building, we still got to expose her to all the different villages, their lifestyles, and beliefs. Some things she caught on to quite well, and others, like the beliefs, blew right over her head. But to see her taking in everything so well and being so open to new experiences touched me. I saw the same thing last summer as we traveled to Guatemala with our 3 year old, not really knowing what to expect. We learned she is flexible, she /really/ has a heart for people everywhere, and she loves trying new things!

When we would tell people about our plans for Guatemala and HUT, one of the most popular questions was “Now, will you all go, or will /she/ be somewhere else?”. We say “No, she’ll be there. We like to keep her with us and have her experience it. Besides, she loves it.” — It’s like people don’t understand that there are kids living that way every day, and the fact that we want our young daughter to do the same for a very small amount of time is a huge risk. The truth is, it plants seeds in her heart and life. It widens her perspective, even at 4. She understands the world better, and she doesn’t live in America’s box. I love seeing her become more well-rounded by the month. She’s really a special little girl and we will always do what we can to give her new experiences so she can grow, change, and understand better what the world she lives in is really like.

Empty

One year ago today, I watched the sunrise from the hospital room where my world stopped. I’m sore both from from the epidural and birth process. I’m broken. Angry. Eager to see my daughter, squeeze her tight, and hear her sweet laughter in the midst of all this pain. 

My nurse comes in mid morning with discharge papers and our doctor comes soon after prepping us for what we will probably be feeling…We set up an appointment for follow up with him. We continue to pack up. There’s enough to fill a push cart down to the car. Flowers, gifts, duffle bag, etc. We walk by all the other rooms on our hall in the maternity ward. That wasn’t easy. We see the funeral directors walking through the doors and Tim leans over and says “They’re coming to get him..”. I nod…understanding what’s happening but not believing it. We drive the 2 minutes to our home and it feels like 2 days. Our parents are there. Maybe others. We walk in. I’m in a haze. I don’t want to be here. If we went somewhere else instead would it still be true? They’re happy to see us…Happy in the sense that now they can take care of us and see that we are able to use our legs. Not happy in the sense that we brought home their first grandson. Dad hugs and says “Welcome back.” Back? We’re not back. We’re not us anymore. But what do you say to a person coming home to a house with no new baby? Just hug us and take our hands and lead us to our bed. Thanks.

As I sit here today in my home, I remember. I am still nursing a broken heart. I am still sad that James isn’t here. I remember the devastating conversations. The food that had no taste. Today is that way a little bit. The feelings aren’t as extreme as they were that first day living here without him, but they are still present. I will always wish he was here. I will always imagine what life with him would’ve been like experiencing him past 9 months in my womb. 

I will always feel a little bit empty.

Birth Story

I debated about whether or not to write this tonight. The girl is in bed, the husband at school, and I am left in then quiet to remember. I am tired enough to fall on my pillow and cry myself to sleep, but it’s so early in the night. I need at least an hour before I can feel good about going to bed and not think I’ll wake up at an unmentionable hour in the night. So do I just watch TV until I fall asleep? Do I just ignore the feelings welling up in my throat, threatening to make an appearance? Or do I just sit, remember my baby, and share him with the world. Sure, it will hurt to write about it on his birthday, but it will help to heal also. And so here you have it – the day I spent at the hospital having my precious stillborn son one year ago tonight.

The day started early…in the 6:00 hour. We were told to show up at the hospital here in town at 7am. We start the day exhausted yet feeling peace with facing the day. We hug my parents goodbye, tell them we’ll see them soon for a visit, and head to Chick-fil-A for a comfort breakfast. We decide to be on our own time table. I mean, really, what would they do if we showed up after 7? Are they really going to lecture the couple having a baby they don’t get to take home? So we show up on our own time and terms.

I’ll run through the majority of the day quickly. We had many people come visit throughout the morning bringing “happies” for the room. We got flowers, a bag of comfort foods, Firehouse Subs, Chick-fil-A, and lots and lots of love and hugs. We remember the hospital chaplain coming by and totally sticking his foot in his mouth and making us extra thankful for people that /do/ say the right things. I even remember laughing a good bit that day. My nurses were amazing…Angels, really. 

Right, the labor. So shortly after we were admitted to the hospital and they got the IV set up and whatever else things they had to connect me to, they started me on a pill that was supposed to dilate my cervix and get my body ready to give birth. The thing about this pill, though, was that you really can’t know how fast it will work. Sometimes you start on it, and you have your baby within hours….sometimes is over 24 hours…so when it got to be mid afternoon and I hadn’t had much change in my body, I started to lose a little hope. My nurse or maybe the doctor…? I can’t remember…But one of them checked me and didn’t seem hopeful that I would be having our baby that day. I can’t remember right now how often I took the pills…or if they also had me in pitocin at the time…others of you out there might remember from me telling you last year. But the point is, I was both trying to mentally prepare for a stillbirth while sitting in the hospital but not actually having any type of time frame for when I would really get into active labor. Not fun. 

So some more hours pass…friends bring dinner…and I remember feeling contractions while I was eating. They weren’t strong enough that I couldn’t eat or have conversations, but I definitely noticed them. They check me again after dinner and I can’t remember anything about numbers of centimeters, but there was hope at this point. The contractions kept getting stronger and closer together…the pills were working! I finally felt like I was going to have a baby that night…And I don’t remember feeling any particular way about it. I think the Lord was just totally covering us with His peace and understanding that I couldn’t even think long enough to have anxieties about the labor.

So, I am laboring. Breathing through contractions. No big deal. Tim’s parents get into town from Iowa and stop to give us hugs before they head to a friend’s house to rest until they get the word that James is here. By this point, I think it’s about 8:00 at night. 

*Disclaimer* From this point on, things get messy and gross and I’m not planning on skipping any details that I can remember, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read on. 🙂 We all know how this story ends anyway.

 

Alright, for those of you that enjoy the details, here they are. The Baileys leave, and I immediately feel the need to go pee so I go to the bathroom as fast as I can…only to find out that I not only needed to pee, but  I am losing blood in pretty significant amounts. Every time I contracted, there was a gush. And let me tell you – the contractions were close…and this was no small gush. So I tell Tim, worried, and he calls in our nurse. She comes quickly, we tell her what’s going on, and she chats with us a bit, mostly positively, and reassures me that “This probably just means you’re going to go really fast.” She called the head nurse just in case. Keep in mind, all the while..every couple of minutes…I am contracting and gushing. At this point, I’m uncomfortable with how much blood I am losing. I get pale and shaky and feel nauseated. The nurses get me cleaned up, change my sheets, while Tim stays right by my side, reassuring me that everything is going to be okay. I get warm blankets, fluids, and still think “Am I going to die too? Right here? Tonight?” I look up at Tim, clearly frightened by what’s happening to me..around me…and all I need are his sweet, deep eyes to know I’ll be okay. 

I can’t remember exactly when in all of this that I get my epidural, but it’s definitely after the blood starts and definitely before James comes into the world at 11:36 so I figure it must’ve been around 9:30 and that I was probably sitting on a towel while they did it to catch the blood. That’s the most sense I can make of the memories anyway. So excitement happens and then I’m numb to the contractions, which is what I wanted. I wanted a natural birth with our James until we found out he was gone, and then  I didn’t want to have the physical pain to remember along with the emotional pain.

 

They check me again around 11:00pm and tell me that it looks like I can push pretty soon, so my nurse leaves and call my doctor to come. No one there but Tim, our midwife Deb, and I…It’s quiet…it’s peaceful yet disconcerting. It was like I still felt like something could go wrong and at the same time /still/ thought he’d come out screaming. 

The doctor and nurses come. It’s 11:30. I push. I breathe. I push. Breathe. Push. Whoosh. 11:36pm. Silent baby boy. I smile. I exhale. They take him to clean him and I look at Tim will all the love in the world and genlty say “I wanna see him.” He tells me they’re just cleaning him and wrapping him and I will see him soon. And then I saw the most perfect child. My baby boy. No squirms. No cries. No life. Yet, I’m happy. I am holding my son! I study him. Every inch. Every crease, joint, and fingernail. I don’t want to forget this. Lord, please stamp these images in my brain forever. We do prints and imprints. We do sweet laughter about how I can tell he has Tim’s hands and my nose and chin. I revel. He’s perfect in every way. 

We wail. We sob. We love. We cherish. We enjoy. We take in every second. We share him with grandparents. We snuggle him and wrap him. 

It’s getting close to 3am now and we do the hardest thing we’ve ever done. We say goodbye. One last kiss. One last smell. We hand him over….she walks out the door…And I have half a mind to scream at her and sprint down the hall “No! Wait! I need another minute…another hour…” But the truth is we knew we’d have to give him up sometime…so there he went…he took my heart with him. Tim and our nurse help me to the bathtub. I sit there, numb. I don’t care about being clean. I don’t care about warm water to relax me. I just want to take my baby home. Tim curls up in the hospital bed. I join him. I cry while he sleeps as the sun comes up. I can’t sleep. I kiss him, cover him, and make my way to the couch where I start to share my baby with the world. 

I loved you then. I loved you still. Always have. Always will.

A Year Goes By

February 18th, 2013. 11:36pm. 6lbs 15oz. 21 inches long. He had his sister’s nose, Mommy’s dimpled chin and Daddy’s hands. He was more perfect than I could’ve ever imagined and I will always, always love him.

February 18th, 2014. 

You wake up , a year has gone by, and you still remember. You still long to hold him in your arms.  You still have dreams of him as a little boy….a blue-eyed, brown-headed, fearless little boy following his sister around the house. And you’re still okay. Somehow, 365 days of happened…you have felt every emotion as deeply as you can possibly feel them…365 days. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. 

Losing James was easily the hardest and most fiery trial I have ever been through. There are still times I look back and wonder how I survived the deep depression that so quickly engulfed my life last spring, and I know that God gave us the community we’re in for exactly when we needed a strong community to grieve with. One that wouldn’t shy away from the very raw feelings and emotions we experienced. One that would pick us up and carry us through mourning out precious son. For that, we are ever grateful.

There are countless things I learned through my mourning process of James that I am confident I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Here are a few of those things:

-I learned how real, steadfast, true and reliable God is and that he is truly the Rock we stand on when we literally, yes LITERALLY cannot stand up.

-I learned the value of life itself. Every breath and moment.

-I realized, so abruptly, how horrible this world has become and how Heave is really the home I long for and now am so motivated for.

-I learned how a little girl of not even 3 years can change my life to make it worth living for.

-I realized the sanctity of marrage and the benefits of leaning on each other when the “for worse” part of your vows comes true.

-I learned that there can be joy – great joy – if you let yourself feel and heal.

-I learned God never leaves us. Ever. And that He is often closest when we hurt the most.

-I learn to have faith in not knowing and to see it through because sometimes you just.don’t.know.why. And it’s usually because God is using your situation and preparing you for things you never even dreamed about…like being a support for other Mommas who didn’t get to keep their babies (shout out to my new friend Alex)…or doing a news story about James’ life and Molly Bears.

-I learned how very cathartic it is to write, so I will end this with a note to my baby. Blessings, all.

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Dear James, I want you to know that you hold my heart. I give a lot of love out on this earth, but you’re the one that holds my heart. It was your sweet little infant life that changed mine. I couldn’t be happier knowing you will only ever feel happiness, and yet sometimes the pain of missing you is so great that I can’t breathe.  I can feel you in our home and in our lives, and I always will make a point to. I love you so much baby boy, and I look forward to the day you run to me, arms open wide. Love, Momma

Stillborn and Still…?

If you’re not ready to hear about some raw emotions…depressing ones…don’t read this. I need to write about how I’m feeling so that I can feel some relief from the crushing blows. If you can’t handle that sort of thing today, please wait and read this later. 

 

Stillborn and still breathing…through gasps of air. Stillborn and still standing…but not today. Today, I woke up rested and happy. My daughter was looking forward to a field trip with her preschool, the sun is shining, and there was hope in the air. I was preparing for a day of self pampering. Shower and shave those winter legs. Let your hair down. Put on that new shirt. Look up what getting a facial is like so you know what you’re cashing in your gift certificate for later this afternoon. Cook for the lovely ladies of Bunco and have some fun fellowship later tonight. 

But wait. In that relaxing shower, it hit me. Today is the 11th. I gasp for air. A year ago today, I was big bellied and all smiles, counting down the days until we would bring our baby home. Today? The fog breaks. The days ahead are torture. Agony awaits. When will it hit? Now. No special triggers happened and still I find myself curled up on the couch, sobbing, wailing, moaning. I flick off my glasses which are hindering my eyesight from the cloud of tears and grab the nearest towel. I cry out to Jesus. I sit alone in a big, empty house telling Him of all the pain. “I can’t do this without you. It hurts so much.” I look up and imagine the 1 year old that should be scooting across the floor, along the coffee table. All I have to cling to is a necklace with his feet imprinted. The pictures of his lifeless body. It’s not fair. Today, it’s not fair. I SHOULD have a one year old to snuggle with, chase around the house, and feed new foods to. I should NOT walk by his sister’s room and sob knowing they were supposed to share that room. How there should be blue burp cloths and blankets strewn around the house. The memories of those first moments knowing He was gone. The entire day spent at the hospital….the labor, the tiny, non responsive fingers. No resistance. No cries. No new baby for Mommy. 

A year later, it stings. The hurt bubbles up unannounced and steals the joy of the day. “Oh, James….Oh, I miss you…” 

So much I miss him. My heart feels like it has been torn in two. No doubt if you ripped me open and saw it, you’d only see part of it. Part of it is in Heaven with my baby. That’s the only place I can go to feel whole again. I won’t be whole until my family is together again. I can survive, yes. But I won’t be whole.

 

Stillborn and still hurting.

Stillborn and still wailing.

Stillborn and still lost.

Stillborn and still broken.