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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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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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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Noah’s Birth Story

This story is very different from Hannah’s, but God has weaved their births together like only He can.

My pregnancy with Noah was not easy….emotionally or physically. Because of losing Hannah, I was considered high-risk from the very beginning of my pregnancy. I had 2 unplanned visits to the hospital due to complications from a complete placenta previa, almost 20 ultrasounds, 5 or 6 non-stress tests, and countless appointments in the 34 weeks that I carried Noah. I felt like I lived at my OB’s office, but every second was worth it just to have my son here safely.

On Thursday, March 14, I had my 34 week appointment. It was a difficult day for me because it was a year (minus a day) since the last time I had felt/seen Hannah alive. My last appointment with her had been on a Thursday (March 15th) and it felt so strange to be sitting in an office one year later having the same kind of appointment at the same exact time of day. With Hannah, I was convinced that they were going to tell me it was time to go to the hospital to meet my sweet baby, but with Noah, I just wanted to get through the appointment, go home and go to bed, and wake up with a baby still moving in my belly. This was the first big milestone that I needed to get through. I was shocked when the doctor told me that she wanted me to head next door to the hospital.

I was having some bleeding (because of the previa), the non-stress test showed that I was having contractions, my fluid levels were off on the ultrasound, and I was already starting to dilate. She told me not to eat dinner (I was starving) incase they needed to do an unplanned c-section. When she said that, for the first time I thought that we might actually have a living baby!

When we got to the hospital, the nurses at the front desk were waiting for me and had all of my information. They took me back to a room, hooked me up, and started to monitor my contractions. Lea, the nurse who took care of me was the same nurse who took care of me when I was in the hospital delivering Hannah. I know that God put her there for a reason. After 5 hours and lots and lots of IV fluids, they let me go and told me to take it very easy, stay super hydrated, and keep that baby in :)

The next morning, Friday the 15th, I woke up around 5:30. As soon as I sat up and got adjusted in the bed, I realized the sheets underneath me were soaked. Instantly, I thought I was having a severe bleed. When I stood up, I felt a gush and waddled/ran as quickly as I could to the bathroom. I was pretty sure my water had broken, and the bleeding was starting to get a lot heavier. I woke Zach up, and we were off to the hospital about 5 minutes later. I had no makeup on, my hair was a mess, and I didn’t even have a hospital bag packed. Thankfully he remembered to grab the camera (just in case) – I was trying to convince myself that I had just wet the bed and that we would be back home in a few hours because I wasn’t ready to deal with everything that was about to happen.

I checked into the hospital at 6:15 and was instantly put into a room. The very same nurse from the night before hooked me up to the monitors and started my IV. My contractions were light but about 15 minutes apart. My OB came to check me and then told me she was calling a high-risk OB, the anesthesiologist, and the NICU pediatrician in to consult. By that time, our parents knew that we were back in the hospital and were on their way up. A few minutes later, I had almost 10 people in my room discussing what we should do next.

The doctor who was coming on call for the day was one of my favorite doctors in the practice, and I trusted her opinion the most. She told me that I had two options: go ahead and deliver Noah or go on hospital bed rest. The risk of me hemorrhaging and having to have an emergency c-section was too great for me to be able to leave. She said that if it happened and I wasn’t at a hospital, there was a significant chance that neither one of us would make it. The thought of losing another baby was too much and I knew that despite the risks, it was time for Noah to arrive.

By 9:00, the consent forms had been signed, and the OR was being prepped. I was heartbroken my sister was in Georgia, but we were able to talk on the phone before, during, and right after my surgery! I was wheeled into the operating room at 10:00. After they did my spinal and got my blood pressure back under control, they let Zach come in.

My OB and the anesthesiologist were amazing about keeping me informed about what was happening since I couldn’t see or feel anything. There were a few scary moments once things got started, and I had a few complications, but Noah was delivered at 10:33. The sweetest words I’ve ever heard were, “He’s breathing.”

Before they opened me up, the anesthesiologist warned me that Noah wouldn’t cry but that it didn’t mean that something was wrong. When they held him up for me to see for the first time, it was super super quick. I just remember thinking, he’s perfect…and alive!

Later, like as he was being discharged from the NICU later, I found out that it took the doctors and nurses about 30 seconds to resuscitate him after they carried him away. I’m glad I didn’t know that then. I’m pretty sure I would have fought like crazy to get off that table and into that little room where he was at. His initial APGAR score was a 2, but his second score was an 8. From the very beginning he’s been such a strong boy!

It took my doctor almost an hour and a half to get the bleeding under control and close me up. I even had time to take a little nap while I was on the operating table. Zach was worried that something had happened to me because everything took so much longer than it should have. The pediatrician was great about coming to give me updates after Noah was stable, but I was so out of it that I really couldn’t understand what he was saying.

I was finally wheeled to recovery at 11:58. Zach was allowed to come back and see me and brought me pictures of Noah. Lea, my nurse, stayed with me during the 2 hours I was in recovery and finally wheeled me into the NICU to meet Noah for the first time. I got to spend almost an hour snuggling, kissing, staring at him, and telling him how much I loved him before they took me to my hospital room. Sweet Lea stayed with me through the whole thing even though I’m pretty sure her shift had ended at 7 o’clock that morning.

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I spent the next few days in the hospital and was discharged Monday afternoon. Noah’s NICU stay lasted almost 2.5 weeks, and he was finally able to come home with us on April 1st!

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The last 5 months have been amazing, terrifying, stressful, peaceful, happy, blessed, etc.!!!! I thank God everyday that Noah is here with us. I know that he is on loan to us and that God picked us to be his earthly parents. I also know that God can call him home at anytime, but I pray that he is old and grey and surrounded by his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids when that happens. My job is to love him, nurture him, and be a Godly example of a Christian wife and mother that helps lead him to Christ as his Savior. It’s a huge job and the biggest responsibility I’ve ever had. Good thing I serve a great God!

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