Thursday, December 3, 2015

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I am sorry for the long silence.  In the latter part of my pregnancy I didn't know what to write except that I was fighting the fear, frequently praying for the baby to kick so I would know she was okay.

And then finally, on July 31, our little rainbow Chickadee decided the time was right to hatch.  My water broke at 10am as I was on the way out the door for my 40 week appointment,  and Chickadee let out her first scream at 7:55pm and it was just about the most beautiful sound this Mama has ever heard.

My Chickadee is 4 months old now,  rolling over,  grabbing at her toes, and smiling and laughing at everyone she sees.  We had a rough start to breastfeeding,  battling thrush, overactive letdown,  reflux,  and milk protein sensitivity,  but I am pleased to say we're still going strong even though she's had to have a few bottles of formula when I started back to work until I figured out the whole pumping thing.

I wish I could say that my heart is healed and no longer has a gaping hole, but I cannot.  What I can say is that the rest of my heart has grown and stretched and been filled up with joy once again. There is still a hint of bitterness in all the sweets (like washing the "baby's first Christmas" outfit that should have been worn last December, or having a photo shoot of my daughters with only a bear where Mikayla and Selah should have been), but I am also seeing new sweetness in the bitter. And through it all, I find myself clinging to and calling on my savior all the more.  I am so grateful that He has allowed us to find joy and light once again.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

FMF: Dream


Dreams can mean things we see while we are sleeping. I have strange dreams while pregnant, like the one where my husband turned into a giraffe...

Dreams can mean things we wish for or hope for. Right now my dream is to hold a living, breathing, squirming, screaming baby in my arms and actually get to bring her home.

Dreams can turn into nightmares. I've lived through two of that kind. Twice I have dreamed of bringing home a new baby and ended up with empty arms and two holes in my heart.

I find in these last few weeks of pregnancy that the fear is beginning to creep up again. I do not want this beautiful dream to change into a fearsome nightmare yet again. I find myself over-analyzing every tiny symptom, questioning whether or not I should go in to Labor and Delivery for each little thing.

I am having to remind myself several times daily that I need to choose FAITH over FEAR. I need to hold on to the beautiful dream, and take the nightmare I fear to the Lord in prayer and leave it at His feet. I need to repeat Philippians 4:6 to myself again and again: Do NOT be anxious about ANYthing, but in EVERYthing by prayer and petition, with THANKSgiving, present your requests to God.

Friday, June 5, 2015

FMF: The Gift of Discomfort

Joining Kate for a 5-minute free write called Five Minute Friday. This week's prompt: Gift.


Life truly is a gift. And after experiencing loss, the preciousness of the gift shines through even brighter.

I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with my rainbow baby, whom I have nicknamed Chickadee.

32 weeks pregnant is not all pleasant.

I am getting more and more tired, yet finding it hard to get comfortable enough to sleep.

My emotions are all over the place.

Everything I eat gives me heartburn.

I wake up a million times a night to pee.

My hips are starting to ache, and by the end of the day my feet and ankles are swollen and sore.

And all of this is a beautiful gift!

I love the blessing of each and every discomfort and pain and difficulty because each one is due to the precious little gift that is growing in my womb. I will gladly take every one of these and more knowing that each day Chickadee is making Mommy uncomfortable is another day she is here on earth with me, growing and getting bigger and stronger and closer to being a squirmy little screaming bundle of joy in my arms.

I thank and praise my gracious loving Father for the beautiful gift of third trimester discomforts!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

FMF: Following Jesus

Joining Kate  for another Five Minute Friday


As a child, I used to read the verse, "take up your cross and follow me," and I never really understood what it meant. I used to think it was very strange. As I grew I started to understand it a bit better, as I had to bear things like ridicule from non-Christian friends, and being left out of things that happened on Sunday mornings because my family went to church every Sunday without fail unless you were home sick in bed.

Now in my adult life, I am learning a whole new meaning to the phrase, "take up your cross and follow me."

I am learning that every single one of us has a cross to bear. We were given it at conception in our mothers' wombs along with the sin-nature that was handed down from Adam. We all have to bear that symbol of death and destruction due to sin.

We don't have a choice what our particular cross looks like. For me, it partly looks like saying good-bye to my precious babies. For my cousin it partly looks like raising four preschoolers one of which has special needs including a feeding tube. For my college roommate and dear friend it partly looks like losing her father as a teenager.  For a dear friend and colleague this week it partly looks like holding her mother's hand in the hospital not knowing if she will ever come home on earth or if it is her time to go home to heaven.

We do not have a choice whether or not we will bear a cross, and we do not have a choice what our particular cross might look like each day, but we do have a choice of what to do with our cross. Some choose to buckle under the weight of carrying our crosses ourselves, barely inching along life's road weighed down, tired, and discouraged. Others choose to try to ignore their crosses, paint them up fancy and disguise them to look like something else. Some might just plunk their cross down in the dirt and refuse to go on.

Me, I have chosen to daily pick up my ugly, heavy, pock-marked cross, and follow Jesus. I follow Him because He bears my cross alongside me, shouldering the heavy load. I follow Him because He doesn't disguise it or ignore it, but rather promises to one day exchange it for a crown of glory. I follow Him because He gives me strength to put one foot in front of the other, even when I cannot see where the road I am walking goes up ahead, and I am surrounded by darkness.

And one day when I get that crown of glory, I will lay it down again at His feet and I will be able to say with that great hymn, "All the way, my savior led me!"

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Happy Bereaved Mothers Day!

A day that I never knew existed until last year is here - Bereaved Mothers Day. You learn a lot when you lose a child. 

And I know some people would question my blog post title, because how can anyone ever put the words happy and bereaved in the same sentence? And yet, even as a bereaved mother, I have a lot to be happy about.

I am happy that I had the opportunity to carry my babies in my womb even if only for a short time.

I am happy that I have a sweet sunshine daughter June Bug who loves and remembers her baby sisters Mikayla and Selah.

I am happy each time I remember Mikayla's kicks, that hot chocolate always made her dance, and I am happy I got to see her face even though it was only a brief moment. Though all these memories are mingled with sadness, there is happiness there, too. 

I am happy that Selah passed peacefully and at home instead of in a cold hospital bed with drama and needles and doctors and nurses. I am happy I had the time to truly say good-bye. Again, I wish the ending could have been different, but if she had to go away so soon, I am glad it happened the way it did.

I am happy that I have a rainbow on the way who will not in any way replace Mikayla or Selah, or make me love or miss them any less, but who will enrich our lives and bring joy to our family.

I am happy that I have a loving heavenly father who knows and understands the pain in my heart and offers His comfort and peace.

I am happy that the same heavenly father is holding and loving my precious babies for me until the day I get to see them again. 

I am happy that through the wonders of the internet I have learned and found other beautiful and courageous mothers who are walking this most difficult of roads alongside me. I am happy we have each other for support and encouragement, and the healing power of a simple, "Me, too!"

So yes, I wish each and every mother who has ever had to say good-bye too soon to her precious child a very Happy (though probably bitter-sweet like so much of life) Bereaved Mother's Day. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

One year old today

365 days of this earth traveling around the sun,
And now you're one!
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

I imagine how chubby your thighs would have been, 
As you toddled around with frosting coating your chin,
From your beautiful birthday cake.

I imagine the curls of your hair,
and the sticky crumbs you would share 
With your loving big sister June Bug.

I imagine the gifts and ribbons and bows,
And dressing you up in the cutest new clothes,
And watching you play in the paper.

I imagine the giggles and smiles and babbles,
And the wonderful sound of your voice speaking 
Straight to my heart, "Mama!" 

I have to just imagine, you see,
Because you are no longer here with me.
365 days since my heart shattered. 

You are one year old today.
I wish that you could have stayed,
To celebrate with us. 

But even as we are down here,
We smile through our tears, 
To think of Jesus holding you in heaven.

I never got to bring you home,
But one day He will bring me home to be with Him,
And you,

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sibling Day

In case you didn't know, today is sibling day.

My Facebook news-feed is filled with photos of people with their siblings. Some when they were children, some as adults, some even have both.

As much as I love my siblings, and enjoyed seeing the photo my own sister posted, it does hurt a bit. You see, I will never be able to have a photo with all my siblings, and neither will June Bug. I can't help but wonder how many of those other photos have missing siblings as well.

Though it was never talked about a lot in my house growing up, I lost a sibling to miscarriage when I was 4 years old. We never got to meet this sweet baby, and I don't even think we knew about the existence of this baby until we were much older. I never really gave it much thought until I experienced losing a baby of my own.

And now June Bug has two siblings she'll never get to see this side of heaven. I could try to get a photo, using the teddy bear we have for Mikayla and the little owl knitted by a fellow loss-Mama for Selah, but it's just not the same. Our family photos will be forever incomplete just like my heart will forever be missing pieces.

Until we are made complete. One day when I stand before my savior and he fills in the holes in my heart with His healing love, and fills my aching arms with my babies I miss so much, I will be complete. Until then, I will be glad that June Bug has a sibling she will hopefully get to see and touch and play with come July. I will be thankful for the siblings God blessed me with on earth and the laughter and tears we have been through together. And I will mourn for the missing siblings in far too many homes.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

FMF: Good

I know it's not Friday, and it will take a bit more than 5 minutes, but I felt this message on my heart this afternoon and just had to share, and since it fit with this week's theme I decided to link up anyway :).



We say that God is good. We say taste and see that the Lord is good. This time last year I had a hard time seeing or tasting the goodness of God as I was seeing nothing but darkness and tasting nothing but bitter tears.

I was questioning why a good God who had conquered death would still allow my beautiful beloved daughter to die before she even got the chance to be born.

This afternoon I was looking through a photo album and found a snapshot of June Bug. She was only about 18 months old, and was sitting in a kitchen cabinet (she had emptied the contents onto the floor), arms crossed, pacifier in her mouth, and such a look of anger and hurt on her face. You see, she had been betrayed.

Earlier that day I had taken my little girl to the doctor to get her vaccinations. I remember holding her on my lap while the nurse jabbed a needle into one chunky little thigh, and then having to hold her even tighter against her struggles and wails as the process was repeated on the other side. She continues to cry as we left the doctor and drove home, and the first thing she did when we got home was to empty out that cabinet and close herself inside, sobbing to herself.

In the toddler mind of June Bug, she had been betrayed. The Mommy who said she loved her little girl, who said she would kiss boo-boos away, who sang lullabies and read bedtime stories, had just held her down and allowed some mean woman to jab needles into both her legs. She was mad. She was hurt. She did NOT want to see Mommy, or talk to Mommy, or have anything to do with Mommy.

In her mind, Mommy was no longer good.

In my mind, God was no longer good.

But June Bug grew. She grew and learned and developed, and when she was four years old it was time for more vaccinations. This time around I was able to explain to her that it was for her own good. That even though the shots would hurt, they would protect her from getting sicknesses that could hurt her much more. I explained that Mommy didn't want to let her hurt, but this hurt would only be small and for a short time, where the sicknesses could cause big hurts for a long time. This time she sat calmly on my lap, and only winced a bit when the needles went in, and then smiled at the Dora band-aids and stickers she was given, the pain of the shots melted away.

I also grew. I grew and learned and developed spiritually. Though I still don't understand the whole plan of why God allowed the pain of losing first Mikayla and then Selah, I do know that my pain does not remove His goodness or love. I know that it hurts Him to see me suffer just as it hurt me to hear June Bug's wails. I know that He want nothing more than to have me run to Him so He can scoop me up in His arms and comfort me, just as I wanted to do with June Bug. Yet so often I go and hide in my cabinet, pouting and sobbing about how unfair it all is while He waits outside ready to shower me with love.

I have opened the cabinet. I have run into those everlasting arms. I trust that one day He will wipe away every tear from my face. I can once again taste and see that the Lord is good. My trials and pain are not bigger than His love. My limited understanding of the reasons does not mean the reasons are bad or wrong.

God IS good.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Mingling of Hope and Grief

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.

Last year on Palm Sunday I was in the hospital recovering from labor. I spent most of the day either in numb shock, or curled in a ball bawling my eyes out wishing I had died too.

This year I was at church, and only cried twice; when we sang songs about Jesus overcoming death.

Jesus overcame death. Mikayla's death has been conquered, destroyed, overthrown. She is alive and well. Selah, too. Not alive in my arms, but alive nonetheless.

Right now I am 22 weeks pregnant. I am a handful of days past the point where Mikayla left my womb for heaven. Mikayla's 1st heaven day is coming soon, and this Easter season will probably forever bring with it reminders of my sweet girl gone too soon. It's been an emotional week, and will probably continue to be an emotional time until I make it past April 13th.

And yet, the emotions are not all bad. The cup is not only full of grief. There is a sweetness to it as well. A sweetness that my babies are enjoying the wonder of heaven. A sweetness that this new little girl is wriggling around inside of me healthy and strong. A sweetness in knowing that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. A sweet hope that all things are indeed working together for good.

So despite the triggers of grief that rip the scabs off my healing heart and cause the sorrow to flow once more, I grasp hold of the glorious promise that God is the healer, the giver and keeper of life, and I cry "Hosannah! Hosannah! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" and the prayers flow out of my lips as the tears flow down my cheeks and the hands are lifted high in praise to the God who knows the pain of watching your child die, and the God who brings life out of death.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Making Room for Joy

Since Mikayla died and was born, I can count on one hand the moments I have felt truly happy without a cloud of fear or anxiety or sadness clouding the moment.

Today, I was given one of those moments.

I was putting June Bug to bed with our nightly routine: shower, pjs, brush teeth, drink of water, bedtime story, prayers, hugs and kisses, and lights out. We were snuggled on the bed together and I was reading a chapter of Betsy-Tacy  - a book I enjoyed as a child - on our tablet. I was holding the tablet resting its end on my lower belly, when I felt it. Baby was kicking! Baby was kicking at the tablet!

Now I have felt things that I thought might have been baby earlier on, and the other day I felt a few distinct flutters that I knew had to be baby, but this was different - vibrant, strong movements without a shadow of a doubt caused by little arms and legs exploring this thing that was pressed up against their home. I told June Bug about it, and we both enjoyed some giggles at the thought.

It was only later, when I had finished the chapter, said our prayers, and turned off the light that I realized how pure a moment of joy it had been. I was also able to remember feeling Mikayla kick at June Bug's musical teddy bear without the overwhelming feeling of acute grief, but rather a fond memory with just a hint of sadness.

I know there will still be days of weeping and pain. I know it will still be a long journey, but I do feel like I have turned a corner somehow. Like I have crawled far enough down the tunnel that I can actually see a glimpse of the brilliant light waiting for me up ahead.  

I am learning to make room for joy again. And it feels good.

Friday, February 6, 2015

FMF: Keep


More than anything right now, I want to keep this baby. I want to hold this baby and never let go.

I wanted to keep Mikayla, too. And Selah.

I know that nothing on earth is truly mine to keep. It all belongs to God, and He keeps it all in His hands, like the song I sing with June Bug about the whole world, and the Mommies and Daddies, and when I sing the little bitty babies the tears well up because I know He's holding two of mine.

Make that four of His.

He's got June bug and Mikayla in His hands, He's got Selah and little rainbow in His hands, He's got the whole world in His hands.

And I know that none of them are really mine because all of them are His and He has blessed me to loan them to me for a time. For Selah it was very short. Mikayla a little longer. Hopefully June Bug and Rainbow will be here in my hands a good long while, but even so they are not really mine, and I can't hold too tightly.

But I know He holds tightly to us all, and no one can snatch us out of His hands. So may the Lord bless us and Keep us; may His face shine upon us and bring us His peace.


Joining up with Five Minute Friday for 5 minutes of writing free of editing and second-guessing and agonizing.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

FMF: Waiting in Faith

Joining in for a 5 minute Friday free-write with Kate and the gang

Prompt of the week: WAIT


I can't wait!

I can't wait until I can feel this tiny baby moving and kicking and reassuring Mama that all is well.

I can't wait until this awkward little bump grows big enough that I look pregnant and not just bloated or fat.

I can't wait to find out if June Bug, Mikayla, and Selah are getting a baby brother, or another sister.

I can't wait to be waddling around big and pregnant, complaining about back aches and cankles.

I can't wait to have a baby shower and wash all the tiny precious onesies and sleepers and itty-bitty mittens and socks.

Most of all I can't wait until a doctor places a screaming bundle of life into my arms and gives congratulations instead of condolences.

In the meantime: faith, not fear. FAITH, not fear. That is my mantra for 2015, and I repeat it to myself every time the enemy creeps in and whispers that maybe I can't trust God because after all, didn't He let me down before?

In the waiting place, FAITH, not fear.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Letter to Grief

I got the idea for writing a letter to grief from Kate Motaung, who encouraged readers to write their own letters. I began this letter several weeks ago, but it got to be too raw, and I had to back away for a bit, but I came back today feeling ready to tackle it. So here goes.

Dear Grief,

Over the past nine months I have tried holding you at arms length. I have tried bringing you in for a snuggle session. I have tried ignoring you and trying to pretend you were never there. I have gotten angry at you. I have coddled you like a newborn kitten and fed you until you became a tiger who nearly turned to devour me. I have researched you. I have tried to plumb your depths. I have ridden out your waves, even when I nearly drowned. You could not take me under.

Grief, you came into my life that early morning in the Emergency Room of the local hospital when I stared at the screen of the ultrasound machine, eyes searching for my wiggly baby and only finding a still stone instead. Strange that there should be a stone there. Where was my baby? Was she hiding? There must be some mistake. And then when I should have been hearing the delightful wild-stallion cantering clip-clop of her precious heartbeat, there was only silence. And I knew. I knew she was gone, and you crept in and made yourself known. An unwelcome guest in a place that should have been filled with hope and reassurance. You showed your ugly head that morning.

 You weren't through with me yet. In fact, you were only getting started. You embraced me as I was caught in the throes of contractions which should usher forth life, but instead were only bringing forth death. You held me as my precious daughter slipped into this world silent and still, when the only cries were that of a mother whose heart was ripped in two.

You were gracious to me those first few weeks. You let me ignore you for a bit; hold you away from me. But slowly, slowly, bit by bit you wormed your way in. You twisted into my heart and left it open and raw and bleeding. Scabs have formed now, but every so often you like to come and rip the scabs off as well, bringing up all the pain all over again.

You've been a constant shadow to me these nine months, sometimes almost disappearing for brief times when the joyful sun shines so brightly straight ahead that I can ignore you for a while. At other times you stretch large and spooky and make me want to hide under the covers like a frightened child. Especially now, that new life is growing in my womb. Now I am scared of you more than ever. I know your full power, and I don't want you coming close again. And yet I am powerless to stop you.

But I don't have to. I can live with you. I can let you come and go, ebb and flow, because I know that there is one in me who is greater than you or anything else in the world. He beat death. And because He beat death, He will one day banish you, grief, forevermore.

So I can close my eyes tonight, snuggle with my pillow, and sleep in peace knowing that though you can be so all-encompassing some days, you are merely a constant companion until the day I see Jesus and He strips you off of me and clothes me instead in pure joy.

Until then,

A Grieving Mama choosing to live by FAITH, not fear