Learning To Be Kind

When we found out we were pregnant with Noah, I was instantly sad for him.  Sad that he would never grow up with his sister, play with her, take pictures with her, drive her crazy, etc.  Sad for all those memories he would never have the chance to make.  But now that he’s here and starting to interact more with other kids, I’m sad for him in a whole different way.

Noah is only around other kids at school, at church, and when he plays with his cousins.  Maybe 10ish hours a week.  And, I think he has a hard time around other kids.  Honestly, probably no harder than most kids who are learning to share and be nice to others, but it hurts my heart to watch him struggle with his sinful nature.  It’s hard because his limited interactions with other kids shouldn’t be the only time he’s around kids his age.  He should have a sister at home to learn these skills with.  He should be learning to share and play nicely with her.  But he can’t, because his sister isn’t here.  He’s the little brother who lives the life of an only child.

I know that even if Hannah was here, he wouldn’t be a perfect child.  She wouldn’t be a perfect child.  They would both struggle with sin, and I’m sure it would be more difficult for me.  But maybe it would make things easier for him.  He’d still have to learn not to hit and bite when he doesn’t get his way, how to let others take a turn, how to share mommy’s attention, but the majority of that would be done at home.  Maybe he would be more comfortable around other kids…and maybe I would feel more comfortable when he plays with others.

I hate knowing that I can’t just fix this for him.  I don’t think there is an easy way to get through this age.  This toddler stage is so much fun and incredibly frustrating at the same time.  You just have to be consistent and patient and pray…a lot.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.

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But His Mother Treasured All These Things In Her Heart

I’ve always loved this part of Scripture.  There are two places in Luke where the Bible talks about Mary treasuring things and pondering them in her heart.  The first time is in Luke 2:19 after Jesus is born and is visited by the shepherds.  Here’s Mary, this very young women who just had a child.  And not just any child but God’s Son.  I can’t imagine how overwhelmed she must have been.  I love that her reaction was to treasure up these feelings and memories and hold them in her heart.

Even though I’ve always related to Mary’s action, I don’t think I really got it until I became a mom.  Of course I have a lot of memories from before I became a mother that will always be special and important to me…family vacations, getting baptized, graduating from college, getting married, finding out we were going to be parents, etc. but, there are so many little moments that I have stored up since becoming a mom.  Time just goes by so fast, and babies change and grow every day.  I try to take a lot of pictures and really need to be better about taking videos, but let’s be honest, there’s no way I could ever document every moment and memory.  But I have so many of these little day-to-day things treasured up in my heart.  Even if the fine details fade, I will always have these impressions on my heart…the way Hannah felt in my arms, how Noah looks when he sleeps, his sweet little laugh and mischievous grin, the way he gives hugs and kisses, hearing him say “mama”, the way he cries when he’s tired, and on, and on, and on.

Last Thursday, Zach and I took Noah out to visit Hannah after dinner.  It was the first time we’ve taken him since he really started walking.  When we put him down in front of Hannah’s marker, he immediately grabbed the butterfly pick out of her flowers, then stuck his face in the bouquet and tried to smell them.  I’m pretty sure he inhaled a lot of dirt.  Zach and I were laughing and trying to explain that they don’t smell, but he didn’t care.  He saw flowers, and he wanted to smell them.  Over and over again :)  We practiced saying Hannah’s name, and he blew kisses to her.  When it was time to leave, he waved “bye bye” as we were carrying him to the car.  As we were pulling away, I told Zach that I wished I would have taken my phone with me to take pictures.  The more I thought about it though, as sweet as that picture would have been, that moment is something that is forever engraved on my heart.  I will never forget that.

I pray tonight that as life gets busier, I always remember to be present and allow myself to soak in the moment.  Thank you Jesus for all these things I have stored up.

 

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Filed under Faith, Hannah, Noah, Parenting

Will You Be Watching?

This Saturday on Lifetime a new movie is premiering.  Now, I love Lifetime movies despite the predictable story lines and bad acting.  I can’t help it.

But I’m hoping this movie is different.  I’m hoping its relatable and authentic.  The movie is Return To Zero, and it’s about a couple whose son is stillborn at 35 weeks.  I’m hoping they get it right.  This is personal and I don’t want them to mess it up.  It is still a movie, so I’m sure there will be added drama, but losing a child and trying to survive life after is dramatic enough.

The couple in the story end up separating for a while after their son dies.  I’ve seen some reports online that the divorce rates for couples who lose a child is higher than those who do not.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I can see how it’s possible.  Moms and Dads process grief so differently.  Even though your spouse is experiencing the same loss, grief can be so isolating.  And heartbreaking.  It puts a serious strain on even the strongest marriage.

I’m not expecting it to be like looking into a mirror of my own experience because this movie is not my story, but I feel like there are common elements that can be found in all of our stories.  I have related on a deep level with several women who I have never met in real life through our shared loss.  I want this movie to honor our journeys.

I want it to show the gut-wrenching pain, anger, and denial.  But more than anything I want this movie to show hope, healing, and restoration.  I don’t know if it will reflect a Christian worldview, but if it doesn’t, please let me share this with you: Christ alone heals.  Yes, time may make the sharpness of the pain dull. Yes, a new child may bring laughter and a welcome distraction.  But, Christ alone brings true healing.  It’s that simple.  There is no other explanation.

I read this on a blog today and wanted to share because I love the wording.  It’s a beautiful image.  “God has her.  God has us.  He’s just holding us on different ends of eternity.”  I claim that promise because I know Jesus.  If you aren’t sure that you can claim that promise, please talk to me.  I’d love to tell you about my Jesus.

 

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Just Let It Go

I haven’t posted in months, but I’ve written a lot.  I write mostly for me because it helps me process and work through things, but I post mostly for you.  This blog is all about sharing my experience with others and hoping that someone connects to it in a small way.

I’ve ‘met’ several women through this blog who are also working their way through loss.  This post is especially for you.

I’m tired.  I have spent a lot of time analyzing how I feel.  Wondering if this emotion or that action is healthy.  Like there is a correct way to do this.  And, I’m so tired of analyzing this.  I NEED to just let it go.

So what if I want to walk around in the girls’ clothing section and pick out outfits for Hannah?

So what if I go weeks without visiting her grave?

So what if I cry almost all day and then don’t shed a tear for a week?

So what?

Why am I looking for meaning in those actions?  It’s almost like I want to make sure I’m grieving her enough but in a way that shows healing.  I want these last two years to have gotten me somewhere.  And, I want them to reflect Christ.  Does that make sense?

I am the first person to tell someone to be patient with themselves, but I have a hard time putting it into practice.  I know that I have begun to heal over the last 2 years.  And, I’m doing more than just surviving – I’m living.

I’m laughing.  I’m crying.  I’m still shopping for Hannah.  I visit her.  I avoid her grave.  I struggle with anxiety.  I’m raising a little boy who takes every bit of energy I have.  I’m always missing his big sister.  I get angry with God.  I’m thankful for His abundant grace.  I cry on my way to work, then wipe away the tears and spend the next three hours loving and teaching the babies in my class.  It’s all okay.

Grief is a heavy thing to carry around, and I’m thankful I don’t have to do it alone.  I’m grateful for a God who understands and knows my heart.

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Filed under Grief

In Between

I never thought I’d be one of those moms who only visits the cemetery every once in a while, but that’s who I am now. And I never judged those moms before, I just thought I would be different. Going to her grave was comforting. Visiting made me feel close to her. I didn’t think that would ever change.

But grief has different seasons.

Before Noah was born, I stressed about how I was going to fit those two parts of my life together – living life without my firstborn and mommy to a newborn. How am I supposed to have a place in my heart for unimaginable pain and absolute joy? How am I supposed to balance exhausting grief that seems to take all of my energy and loving and taking care of this sweet new life who needs the best of me? I never doubted that there wouldn’t be enough love to share between the two, just whether I would have the energy to give each of them what they deserve.

And then Noah was born early.

I spent the next few days after his birth thinking more and more about him and less and less about her. Even though it was the anniversary of her death and her first birthday. I didn’t have the energy to process everything and worry about Noah and think about her. My mind just focused on Noah and getting him healthy and home. I didn’t even make a conscious choice…it just happened. Having a baby in the NICU is exhausting. I felt like already I was choosing Noah over Hannah, and I felt like a horrible mom.

And the days have turned into weeks and months.

All this time I’ve been afraid that I’m not grieving her anymore. Not true. Not even possible. My grief has just changed. The all day, every day crying is gone for now. There are some days I don’t cry at all. But it doesn’t mean that I’m done grieving her or that I’ve squared all this in my soul and I’m ready to ‘move on’. I hate that phrase. If I live to be 100, I still won’t have moved on.

So that’s where I am now.

Noah is 6 months old and Hannah would have been 18 months on Tuesday. As I watch his personality develop, I find myself more than ever imagining what she would be like and look like. I try to find similarities between them, but I’ll never really know for sure. I don’t even know what color her eyes are, but I will soon.

I’m in between.

In between savoring every single second I get to spend on this earth with my precious family and longing for when I get to Heaven and am able to spend an eternity getting to know her.

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Filed under Grief, Hannah, Noah