Monday, December 29, 2008

After Christmas Rambling




Christmas has come and gone. My parents and aunt came up to our house for a few days and my brother and his wife came over for Christmas eve. Overall it was a good time. The anticipation of Christmas without Felicity was much harder than the actual day, especially because so much of the activity is spread out over a few days.


We opened most of our gifts on Christmas eve, and with the boys there was a lot going on. I didn't really think much about Felicity because I was trying so hard to enjoy the boys enjoy their gifts. That night after they had gone to bed, we set up a treasure hunt for them to find their last gifts. Ethan hunted for a toy laptop computer and Elijah for a farm set. Along the way they also "found" a big blow up castle jumper from Paul's mom. It was a BIG Christmas in terms of presents, something we usually don't go all out on.




It was after all the presents were done that I really let myself feel Felicity's absence. It only took me a moment or two of thinking about her before I just fell on the floor and lost it. Paul, my mom, and Cathy held me while I just sobbed and sobbed. I think Paul had been thinking about her a lot also because when I cried, he started to let his emotions show too. Just like he may have a hard time understanding my grief, I have a hard time knowing when he's hurting unless he just starts talking about it. Despite our miscommunication at times, it helps so much to have each other. I recently "met" another blogger who is one year past the stillbirth of her son who is separated from her husband and trying to get through this alone. Praise God that she is a believer who has found comfort in Him. Please pray for her though that all her physical and emotional needs would be met by the body of believers near her.


So after crying A LOT, I was tired and red, but I felt so much better emotionally. It helps me to let my emotions out, though I often find myself holding them in because I may not be in a location where I want a lot of attention because I'm crying (or be ignored b/c I'm crying). We live in a culture that does not welcome sadness or tears. It makes people uncomfortable to be around someone who's sad. Before Felicity died, I was uncomfortable being around people who were sad. I had a hard time knowing what to say to them or do for them. I'm resolving to not be that way anymore, especially with other believers. We should be able to share all our burdens with our christian family - especially sin and sadness - and yet we don't. This world is SAD. But Heaven won't be!!! I'm reading the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn and I'm so excited about it. If you have a loved one who's already left this earth for a better place, I encourage you to read this book!


Back to Christmas day. . . In the afternoon after our big meal, we all went to Felicity's grave to light another ice candle. We all yelled in unison, "We Love You Felicity!" as we looked up into the evening sky. On the short drive home their was a beautiful pink sunset in the sky which was a lovely reminder of our beautiful daughter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Empty Spot


Felicity died 11 weeks ago, for those of you not counting, which is probably everyone but me. I've already written on our 2009 calender, on Jan. 6 "missing Felicity for three months." In the grieving mom circle, I know I'm not weird.

The days are getting easier I admit, I cry less often and don't feel so much like there's a dark cloud over me. By writing on my calendar it makes me feel like I'm doing something FOR Felicity. Since I won't ever change her diaper, get her dressed, nurse her, or anything else, at least I can write on my calendar that we'll be missing her.

Lately I've been reflecting on what the holidays were like last year. I wasn't pregnant yet, though I most likely conceived Felicity near the first of the year. I had no idea then that 2008 would bring a both a new life and death to our home. I NEVER imagined how drastically different our lives would become.

A lot of good has happened since Felicity died. Paul and I have a better relationship. While I feel our marriage has always been pretty good, we struggled like any married couple. Since Felicity died, we've been more loving and caring towards each other. I feel like I nag less (hopefully Paul would agree) and he treats me more tenderly, which I definitely need. It's just sad that these improvements in our relationship happened only because our baby died.
I also feel like I've been able to improve on how I spend my time. I'm trying to spend more time just doing stuff with the boys, whether it be playing, reading books, or doing a special project. In addition, I'm even more aware now how I can't control things so much. I can only control myself and that other people, circumstances, and situations are usually out of my control. I'm learning to just let go in these instances. I've also been reading my Bible more. Again, this is something I should have been doing before.

A friend asked me recently if I was starting to heal emotionally. I didn't quite know how to answer it at the time, but I've been pondering it for awhile now. After 11 weeks, I've really only just begun this journey of grief. I'm not quite sure what the next week, month, or year hold. I AM healing emotionally, but I'm beginning to realize I'll never be HEALED. The pain of missing Felicity will never go away. It may lessen and change in intensity over time, but she will ALWAYS be missed. I watched "Because of Winn-Dixie" last week and was struck by what Opal, the main character, said about missing her mom:

"Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept on goin’ to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be."
So many things make me think of Felicity and miss her: seeing other babies and pregnant women, seeing little girls especially those in the toddler age range, the color pink, cemeteries, driving by the hospital, the baby bath seat still hanging in the bathtub, and so much more. But while I miss her, I'm drawing on God's promise in Lamentations 3:22 "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Great Knob War Ends

Wow! Three posts in one day, and none of them having to do with grief. That's a record and a relief. We actually had lots of fun while installing the knobs and pulls, not that the actual installation was any fun, but it created a lot of good banter between Paul and I and he got to use power tools.

Well the great knob war is over and Paul won. Actually I won with the number of votes being 5 to 4 - I wanted the knobs at hand level. The only reason we reach up to open the pantry is because the only other option is to bend down and open it from the bottom.

But as the war ensued, I began to rethink my stance. Elijah would have easier access to the pantry with the knobs lower and it would probably take me some time to recondition myself not to reach up to open that cupboard. Also, Paul wouldn't be able to use the handy jig my dad bought him to install them in the middle. It would require more of his excellent engineering skills to get them even and he'd already been working so hard. So I waved my white flag in surrender (figuratively, of course) I couldn't deny him this, he's just so darn cute!

Thanks for your input - now I know how to get comments on my blog and don't worry, I won't ban anyone, at least not today.

We Need Input!!! Please Help!!!

This is ridiculous, I know, but we need your input. My Christmas present this year was knobs and pulls for all of our cabinets and drawers in our kitchen, upstairs bathrooms, and the wet bar downstairs. Paul and I can't agree on where the knobs should go on the above pantry door. I won't tell you our individual preferences as I'm sure that would sway the vote (since this is MY blog and my friends most likely all have the same preference as me.)



Above is one position in which the knobs could be placed, making them about hand-level.



Here is the other option, up at the top of the cupboard door at about chest level, which is where we've been reaching for the past almost two years to open this door.
Please leave a comment below telling us your preference for our knobs' future home. And gals, if you're husband is around, get his vote too, as Paul thinks I'll win if it's all women voting.
If you've never left a blog comment, just type it and then scroll down and click anonymous (you may also have to type a security word). Please leave your name so that I can bar you from reading my blog if you didn't agree with my preference. For fun if you want to, tell me what you think my preference is and what Paul's preference is and why.

It's a Contest - but not mine!

Check out the blog Keeper of the Home for a contest to win a stainless steel storage item of your choice courtesy of The Tickle Trunk. Good way to start replacing some of the plastic in your kitchen that may be potential harmful.

Check out the rest of the blog too as she's got some great information to give!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is that an echo?

I'm finding my digital photo camera is a whole lot easier to grab than our actual video camera when I want to catch the boys on video. They are so much fun! I wish I could catch more of their personalities on film, but the cutest stuff happens when I'm not expecting it in the least. Just today I caught Elijah singing "How Great Thou Art" in his highchair while eating lunch. But I was busy making Rice Krispy bars and couldn't leave marshmallows melting on the stove without stirring them in order to grab my camera. Anyway, Elijah is learning to sing, but has trouble singing along with anyone. He has his own method. I guess I should try teaching them a round to sing. The shaking in the video is b/c I'm laughing and couldn't hold the camera still!


video

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grief with HOPE

This month and last month I have attended a support group for bereaved parents. It is not a faith based support group, but I have found it interesting and helpful so far. I am the only person who has lost a baby; everyone else I have met there, had their child for 10, 15, even 30+ years. While these people have been generous with hugs, understanding of my tears, and compassionate to my feelings, I feel like they are walking down a completely different path than me.

When you have 10 years or more with your child, you are missing a personality, a smile, a laugh, and a voice. I am missing Felicity, but I knew none of these things about her. I feel strange sometimes when the physical ache of missing her comes over my body and I have to have a good cry. I feel like I shouldn't be crying, because I don't know what I'm missing. Is my grief journey easier b/c I didn't know Felicity outside my womb? In many ways I think so. I don't want to discount Felicity's life or my grief, but I can only imagine how much sadder I'd be if I had lost her after knowing her for a longer period. How do I do this? How do I grieve a person I never really knew? I'm learning how as I go.

I'm learning that grief is SO different for every person. It depends on a lot of different factors. Grief for me is FULL of hope. When I say that, it doesn't mean I don't cry, don't get angry, or don't get overwhelmed at times with emotions and wonder why this had to happen to Felicity and our family. What it does mean is that I don't have to wonder where Felicity is. I don't have to wonder IF I'll see her again. Grief with HOPE means I can know that Felicity's in heaven and that we'll be reunited someday when the trump sounds and the dead in Christ shall rise. Grief with HOPE means I can cry some days and not on others. It means I can laugh and love and still remember my daughter. It means I can be enveloped by the Holy Spirit and feel comfort from God. And most importantly, grief with HOPE means that I can give others hope by sharing my REASON for hope - Jesus Christ.

Please pray for us that we would be joyful and bold in our faith. We want God to be glorified as Felicity's legacy. Please pray for comfort when we don't feel joyful. Thank you for all your kindness during this time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ribbons and Bows

Last week when I was at Walmart and walked through the kids section (I was looking for a new winter coat for Ethan), I saw the little baby Christmas dresses, I almost lost it. I rushed out of the kids area breathing hard and forcing the tears not to fall.

Today while at Walmart, we again passed the baby girl dresses. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me, but I stopped the cart and looked at them. I touched a couple of them and tried not to cry. I didn't allow myself to mentally pick out the one that would've looked best on Felicity. Maybe next time.

I miss my daughter and what could have been!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two Months

Yesterday we went to visit Felicity's grave to remember her on her two month angelversary. (I haven't quite figured out a way to describe her birth/death date. I don't quite care for the term "angelversary" as I don't believe Felicity is an angel, but I like that it's one word and I think most people would understand what you mean if you use it. Unfortunately, it also seems misleading.)

We had made an ice candle in anticipation of putting it on Felicity's grave on this day. I think it turned out very nice. Since we don't have a headstone and won't until spring, we put some fake flowers in the ground awhile back and some stones in the shape of a cross.



The cemetery is quite beautiful and is adjacent to our church. It's out in the country, so just picture a beautiful country cemetery and that's where Felicity's body is buried. It was incredibly cold and had just snowed a bit the night before, so everything had a thin blanket of white, which was pretty.

While we were there, it got quite dark. The stars were coming out. We all looked up into the sky and yelled in unison, "WE LOVE YOU FELICITY!" And then I cried. . .a lot! The kind of crying I do now is so different from any other crying I've done in my life and it's pretty impossible to describe, but if you're a grieving mom, you know what I'm talking about. It takes a lot out of me, but after I've cried like that, I feel better, as if my tears help me feel healed. I hope Felicity feels my tears as hugs in heaven.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mommy Please Don't Cry

The following is from the book, Mommy Please Don't Cry. . .There Are No Tears in Heaven by Linda Dey Maz with the most beautiful artwork by Laurie Snow Hein. Thank you Mom for giving me this book to remember Felicity in heaven.



"Mommy, please don't cry. . . a beautiful angel carried me here!

I met Jesus today, Mommy! He cradled me in his big, strong arms. He made me feel so happy inside.


Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14

Mommy, please don't cry. . . Heaven is wonderful! Did you know the streets are made of gold? Real gold!

I have lots of friends, Mommy. We run and play. We giggle and laugh. I can't wait to show you my secret hideouts!

Mommy, please don't cry. . .When I fall down, it doesn't hurt! There are no tears in heaven.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying
or pain for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4


I've met a man named Noah. He told me about his big boat, all the animals, and the very first rainbow. Have you heard of Noah, Mommy?

Mommy, please don't cry. . .We have lots of parties here; with streamers and hats, and the best chocolate cake ever!


When it's time to rest angels tuck us in. I never get scared Mommy. There is no darkness here! Jesus is the light of heaven.

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10


Mommy, please don't cry. . .The angels are always singing. I love to sing with the angels! You'd be proud of me, I have a pretty good voice. I must have gotten it from you.

There is a river, Mommy, in the most beautiful garden you could ever imagine. . . and a huge tree with yummy fruit. The angels call it the tree of life. Mommy, it's so wonderful to be alive in heaven!

Mommy, please don't cry. . .sometimes I just like to be by myself. That's when I think of you.

Someday, Mommy, we will hold each other tight! Then you will cradle me in your arms, and stroke my hair. . .and once again, our hearts will beat together.

Mommy, please don't cry. . .I'll wait right here for you.





(While I don't believe Felicity is an angel in heaven, the Bible does say that in heaven we will be "as are the angels" Matthew 22:30, so I don't know if that includes wings. The paintings in the book do NOT show the children as angels, but the ones on the artist's website all have angel wings.)


Today marks 2 months of missing Felicity! Two months ago she was born into this world, but not of this world. Her sweet spirit had already gone to be with Jesus. While these two months have been the hardest of my life, I would never take them back if it meant not ever knowing Felicity. I am thankful God gave her to me! I love you Felicity!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Helping Me Remember My Daughter

Thank you Paul!
(We added Felicity's birthstone to my mother's necklace, which needed to be repaired. I thought the jeweler was going to have to put her stone on the outside of the necklace as there wasn't room for another on the inside. He didn't know Felicity died. When I picked it up, I was thrilled to see she had been added to the inside and at the top!)

"Morning Stroll" painting by June Dudley
Thank you Sharon, Tom, Kathy, and Jim for contributing to the purchase of this painting that hung in my hospital room.

Thank you Amanda and the Schradle Family!


Thank you Bill and Lori!



Thank you Maureen!




Thank you Julie E.!


Thank you Heidi!


Thank you Norm, Marlys, and Nate!
(They didn't even know that we had all our name plaques except Felicity!)


Thank you Mary!



Thank you Deanna!
(Deanna also made a beautiful baby blanket for Felicity that was buried with her.)



Thank you Joolee!

A lovely group of women at my aunt's church in Michigan made me a prayer shawl as well. After it was made, it was prayed over by the entire congregation. It was passed from person to person so that everyone could pray specifically for us. Everytime I use it, which is daily, I'm reminded of those prayers and how they have beckoned Jesus who has sent His angels to watch over us. That thought moves me to tears!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Dear Felicity


Dear Felicity,


Oh, how I miss you! I'm crying right now, barely able to see the computer through my tears. My whole body aches because I want to hold you so badly and I can't. I can't believe you'd be 8 weeks old today. I'm feeling your absence more and more every day. You used to seem like a dream, but as each day goes by, that dream-like feeling fades.


I imagine you in heaven all the time. What do you look like? Are you still a baby or a toddler already? I won't know until we're together, but I imagine you there as a little girl with dark brown hair and big brown eyes walking through a beautiful garden, like a painting we have on our wall. Jesus said not to hinder the little children for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. So I picture you as a child, innocent and trusting, basking in the love of Jesus, who can love you far better than I can, though I would've given it everything I had.


Can you hear me from heaven? Can you hear me telling you how much I miss you as I try to fall asleep each night? Do you hear me crying? Consider each tear a hug from your Mama. I am so glad that you're happy in heaven! Ethan talks about you more now. He was so sad you had to leave us. Every time I cry, Elijah comes to hug me and says, "Are you beddar now, Mama?" We talk about you all the time. We wonder what kinds of sounds you would've made. We wonder if you would've grown up to be a tomboy (Daddy thinks so) or a girly-girl. We have your pictures everywhere in our house because we love you so much! It gives us so much happiness to look at you.


I'm so anxious to be with you, dear girl. I'm trying to wait patiently, but it's hard. I just know that whatever suffering and sadness I experience here on earth, will be nothing compared to the absolute JOY we'll experience with you in heaven.


I have something big to ask you Felicity. I don't know if you can ask Jesus this or not, but if it's okay with you, could you ask him to send us another baby. Our arms are so empty and you're not here to fill them. We could never replace you, but we'd love to have your baby brother or sister to hold. We miss you and love you so much. You'll always be our first baby girl. I'm so thankful for you!


Hugs and kisses,

Mommy


Saturday, November 29, 2008

The One Where Rachel Rambles On About Death

We returned yesterday from spending a couple of days with Paul's family in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. It was great to see Paul's family. They are a lot of fun (and I would say that even if none of them read my blog :) Despite it all, I frequently thought of Felicity's absence and how different the festivities would have been if she'd been with us. Everyone would've doted on her and we would've been so happy!

In speaking with my mom-in-law and my sisters-in-law while we were there, I found out more about my mom-in-law. She's in her seventies now and hasn't had an easy life. She lost four babies of her own and had two miscarriages, I think. All of her babies were born around the eighth month and many of them had kidney problems. She had a daughter in 1958 named Mary Elizabeth who lived 11 days, then a son, Joseph in 1959, another son, Gerard in 1960, and a daughter, Geralyn in 1963, all who died soon after birth. I can't even begin to imagine my mother-in-law's grief during those years and beyond. To lose three babies in three years is a horrific thought. Back then she was pretty much alone in her grief. They had a service for Mary Elizabeth, but not the other babies. People didn't talk about death and believed that if you didn't talk about it, you'd get over it sooner! Can you believe that line of thinking? My mom even remembers around that time being told that her grandfather had "gone to sleep" when he died. Not that 50 years later we've gotten much better talking about death, but at least there's been some improvement.

I look at myself and my response to death. I haven't had a whole lot of people die in my family and those who have died, despite illness, were old and had lived out their lives. So to have a child die is a whole different experience. I found that it took me a couple of weeks to say Felicity "died," rather I'd refer to "after Felicity" or something similar. Now that I'm comfortable with saying "Felicity died," I'm actually finding healing in talking about her death. I cry when I talk about it but I also gain strength from talking about what happened. My poor mother-in-law probably suffered in silence, thus she never really healed from losing her babies. While we were there in Paul's hometown, we went to the cemetery and I saw the place where my mother-in-law will be buried. Her living children bought her a headstone with the names of her dead babies and the years they were born on it. I cried for her because I know she is still grieving those babies.

I've had thoughts of wanting to scream from the highest hilltop that I had a daughter and she died. I play out how I might add the topic of Felicity to conversations I have, even conversations with strangers. I want people to know about her. I want to wear a sign that says, "I have a daughter, but she died." Maybe that's one reason why blogging is so helpful right now. I can write about Felicity and people who don't even know me will read about her if they come across my blog. I feel that if more people know about her, her existence will have more meaning. I want so badly for her life to have some lasting impact on others!

Pray for us during the next five weeks or so. I keep hearing how hard the holidays are after the death of a child and I'm sure they will be. We're missing her already and I know we will miss her even more as we try to celebrate Christ's birth and carry on with traditions for the boys. I'm looking forward to the busyness I guess, though I don't want to get too carried away with things to do that I forget to grieve for Felicity. Even though I can't imagine forgetting, sometimes I'm afraid I might. Even though it's only been almost 8 weeks since her death, as each day passes I feel like she moves farther and farther away from me. And since I can't hold her close, I have to hold my memories as close as I can.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obsession

Okay, I have to admit, I'm getting a bit obsessed. The other day, I "caught" Paul recycling a piece of paper from the granite company with a draft of Felicity's headstone on it. I scolded him for wanting to recycle it and rescued it. I'm obsessed with saving anything that has her name on it, to put in her baby book. I also saved the insurance cards we will never use, because her name was on them as well as the letter from the county medical examiner confirming cause of death.

I've saved all the cards we've received (we both agreed on that). And everything from the hospital that touched her body. I am in the process of framing pictures, so that just about every room in the house has a picture of her in it. Minus the bathrooms of course, I'm not that weird.

I also have a new obsession for the color pink. I never much liked the color pink after about two years of having my bedroom painted pink as a child. My birthstone is pink, which I disliked too. But when I got pregnant, I started to get my pink groove on, thinking about the 50/50 chance of having a girl. I bought a few pink things so that if we did have a girl, she could wear pink from the get-go, not yellow and green, which is what Elijah wore as a newborn. (I jokingly referred to these items of clothing as "my stash.") Now I find myself, searching out the color pink. I've even purchased two pink post-pregnancy shirts, adding that color to my wardrobe for the first time in a long time. I'm so sad my little girl is not here to dress in pink. So like Julia Roberts said (with a southern accent) in Steel Magnolias, "Pink is my signature color." It's just another way I can remember Felicity and feel close to her.

I can't believe tomorrow will be seven weeks since she died and was born. I want her here so badly! Everything we do as a family seems lacking since she's not here. I should be struggling to get everything done because I have to nurse her or change her or hold her because she's fussy. She should be sleeping in our bed every night. Ethan and Elijah should be asking to hold her every morning. We should be in awe over our first little girl. Instead we're looking at the only pictures we'll ever have and missing her so much it hurts.

I wish I knew God's plan in this pain. I am comforted by how he worked in my life after my divorce. I thought my life was over then and yet in time, God restored what had been taken away. He gave me Paul, the greatest husband, and more children. So even though I hurt now, I will continue to praise Him through this storm!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Homesick

I'm sitting here on the couch, catching up on the blogs I read, watching the snow swirling outside my window, drinking coffee, and listening to TobyMac's new song, "Gain the Whole World"on KTIS. And I'm having a flashback to the many Saturday nights I spent with my BFFs Joolee and Billi Jo rollerskating. Saturday was Christian music night and we anticipated it all week. (Yes, we were geeks though I like to think we've all risen above geekdom in our adulthood.)

TobyMac's song makes me wish for a carefree Saturday night, being chauffeured by my dad, to the roller rink. (He still chuckles, remembering our goofy antics in the car on the way there.) Life was easy back then, even in my teenage angst. My only worries were what I would wear and whether one of the cute guys would look at me while I nonchalantly circled the rink.

Oh, the things we take for granted in life. Until something devastating happens, we have a feeling of invincibility, relying on ourselves only. I think even as Christians we exert our independence subconsciously. Do bad things happen so we can learn to completely lean on God? There are countless schools of thought on why bad things happen to "good" people.

What I do know is that during this time of missing Felicity and wondering why she had to leave us before we ever got a chance to know her and love her, the Holy Spirit seems so close. I feel His presence while reading the Bible and praying and feel His comfort through my family and friends. I feel His strength in the words I read of other moms who've lost a baby and continue to grow in their love of the Lord. He STILL moves mightily in spite of our earthly sorrows! He never leaves us nor forsakes us! He is all we ever need! Blessed be the name of the Lord! I can wake up everyday feeling sad, but with a perspective that reaches beyond this day, this month, even this year.

For I know that this world is not my home.


"This world is not my home,
I'm just a passing through.
My treasures are layed out
somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me
from heaven's open door,
and I can't feel at home
in this world anymore."

© 1965 - Albert E. Brumley & Sons

Monday, November 17, 2008


Remembering

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
the tears that I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.
You asked me how I am doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine".
But healing is something ongoing,
I feel it will take a lifetime.
~ Elizabeth Dent ~

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thankful

Paul is reading to the boys right now, so I thought I write this post now rather than waiting for tomorrow as I may find myself unable to do so then. Tomorrow marks 6 weeks since Felicity's birth/death. *sad sigh* Every week it seems my body and mind gear up for Monday mornings, replaying in my mind what happened that morning.

I've found myself so interested in all matters relating to stillbirths and especially to cord accidents. I read today that death from a cord accident usually occurs while mom is sleeping as sleep also affects baby's oxygen intake level. In my ignorance, I thought stillbirths no longer happened, when in reality there are approximately 26,000 stillbirths a year in the United States. A stillbirth according to Wikipedia is, "the birth of a fetus which has died in the uterus or during labor or delivery any time after the 24th week of pregnancy." Other definitions use the term stillbirth for any baby 20 weeks or more gestation. My heart aches for all the women I have "met" in the past 6 weeks who have also experienced a stillbirth. Their pain is like mine and so we have become kindred spirits in our grief.

My mom, in her wisdom, told me I should make a list of all the things I am thankful for having to do with Felicity's life, so that when I'm feeling down I can think of those things. So here goes:

I'm thankful for. . .
  • beautiful, professional photographs of my daughter and a video of those photographs put to music.
  • so many remembrances of Felicity throughout our home.
  • the people at the hospital who treated her so lovingly despite her spirit being gone from her body.
  • family and friends who have surrounded us with love, prayers, meals, and gifts.
  • my own physical health after having a baby.
  • a loving husband, who while grieving himself, comforts me with his presence and loving touch.
  • Ethan and Elijah, who remind me every moment that life must go on.
  • the impact Felicity has had on many people already.
  • Jesus Christ, whose shed blood on the cross, ensures our happy reunion with Felicity someday because we believe in Him.
  • hope for the future!

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of JOY for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Facebook?

Last night as I was staying up WAAAY too late, I finally spent some time on Facebook and found it to be less intimidating than I thought. I signed up for Facebook in Aug. (Before Felicity), but never did anything with it. What a great way to stay connected with friends and find old friends! (That is if I can keep up with email, blogging, and Facebook.)

As I was adding some old friends to my wall/profile/whatever (I haven't yet learned the facebook lingo.) I realized that if they contact me then I'll have to tell them about Felicity. One of those first questions is always "How many kids do you have?" Sure it's a whole lot easier to tell people via facebook rather than face to face, but still I wondered if I wanted to have to tell more people right now. I'm still wondering. I thought I'd jumped over these hurdles already, but I'm finding that more hurdles await me and my body is already aching from this race my life is now on. (Pretty pathetic of me to use a running analogy when I don't run!)

Maybe a better analogy for my life is Before and After. Normally, the After is a better picture; a new makeover, a room redecorated, etc. In my case, give me back my Before. The After Rachel isn't pretty. She's a different person; she's a different wife, a different mother, and a different friend. She wonders sometimes if she's going to make it. These negative feelings don't last because of the hope I have in Christ, but they are part of my life now. Pray for me as I learn to fulfill my roles now that I'm a different person. This goes for all of us - Paul, Ethan, and Elijah as well. We're all different, grief has/is changing us. I pray that when the hurting lessens, these new people we're becoming are an improvement on the Before. But right now, Before looks pretty good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trying

It's only been five weeks and I'm already having trouble remembering. . .

remembering the weight of Felicity's almost ten pound body cradled in my arms. . .
remembering the smell of her hair and skin through my stuffed up nose. . .
remembering the feeling of her soft, smooth skin and how chubby her cheeks were. . .
remembering the feel of her hair and her fingers wrapped around mine. . .

I'm trying so hard to remember and yet, I wish I could just forget. . .

forget that this is my life. . .
forget this empty feeling in my body because she's not with me. . .
forget this intense sadness in every moment. . .

But I'd much rather have sadness and pain in my memories than no memories at all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why did I. . .

waste so many tears in my life on things that didn't really matter?

I will get through this, Lord willing, but I'll never get over it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Gimme

Dear God,

Give me nausea and vomiting,
Give me swollen ankles and an aching back,
Give me mood swings,
Give me fatigue,
Give me weight gain,
Give me sleeplessness,

Just give me my baby back!

Please?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Felicity's Story

Labor began fast and furious at 41 weeks and 1 day gestation. We had our 2nd homebirth/water birth planned, to be attended by a licensed midwife. I woke up feeling crampy at about 4:40 am on October 6th, 2008 and went to the bathroom. I went back to bed where contractions immediately started and I quickly woke up Paul with my moaning. He began timing contractions and at my urging called our midwife at about 5:10 am and she left.


We moved downstairs where the birth tub, a bed, and our supplies were set up for the big event. The contractions were really hard and close together. By 5:45 I was feeling the urge to push. Paul was on the phone with our midwife and she instructed me to get down on the mattress in a head down butt up position to counteract gravity. I was also puffing out my breaths to keep from pushing, but it was really difficult. I wanted so badly to get into the tub, but couldn’t because our midwife wasn’t there yet. (She had been on the phone with Paul while she was in the car driving to our house.)


She arrived at about 6:25 and rushed to get all her stuff in. I got into the tub as soon as she said I could and she tried to get the baby’s heart rate with the Doppler. I felt my water break then and needed to push, so when she couldn’t find the heart rate, I was only briefly concerned. Due to a shoulder issue with my last baby, she wanted me in a running start position for pushing, so I didn’t really see what was going on as the baby crowned and came out at about 6:40 a.m.


After she (we didn’t know what we were having) came out, I turned around and the umbilical cord tore in half. I saw my baby in the midwife’s arms, all purple and with the cord around her neck. I was so weak and numb from the pain being over. I heard the midwife say, “Oh, God!” and immediately she started doing mouth to mouth. Paul was stunned at what was happening and she yelled to him to call 911. They took the baby over to the bed and our midwife continued infant CPR with Paul right there. He was crying out to God to help his daughter and that’s when I realized we had a baby girl! I hadn’t even touched her! I was still in the tub, numb from shock. I continued to sit in the birth tub sobbing and crying out to God to help my daughter.


Then the paramedics and police arrived. There were multiple people helping with Felicity (we had names already picked out) and others talking and attending to me. We were in such shock, we didn’t know whether anything they were doing was helping or not. They left with Felicity at about 7:10 to transport her to the hospital. I still hadn’t even touched her!


Paul stayed with me and once I had delivered the placenta, they transported me by ambulance to the hospital as well. The hospital is about 8 miles away and the whole ride there, Paul and I alternated between praying, singing, crying, and quoting scripture. The scripture that came to mind which I kept repeating was “and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The paramedics kept saying they didn’t know anything about Felicity and that we would find out when we got to the hospital. We arrived about about 8:30 a.m.


They took me up to the OB floor. A nurse came in and asked some questions and took my blood pressure. It was all a blur; I just wanted to see my baby. We were told my doctor was on the way and then they left us alone in the room. We had to wait about half an hour before my doctor came in to the room. (I had seen her twice during my pregnancy and she had given me the referral for the homebirth.)


It was after 9 at this point and I think I remember her introducing herself to Paul and greeting me. She made a couple of comments about what had happened during my labor and then she started to say, 'Rachel, I am so sorry to have to tell you this. . .' She didn't get any farther and I just felt my body erupt in pain and anguish. I started crying out, 'No, no, no!' and Paul was sobbing too! It is such an empty hollow feeling and I just can't even begin to describe what we were feeling.


The ER crew had worked on Felicity until about 7:50 a.m., but was never able to get her breathing. It was noted that she had a tight knot in her umbilical cord and the cord was stretched very thin on either side of the knot. When they tried to intubate her, they noted meconium in her system. The ER doctor in charge called her death at 7:50 a.m. Officially, it was recorded that she never breathed and died sometime before she was born. (In the case of a stillbirth, parents never receive a birth certificate, only a death certificate.)


They brought Felicity up to our room in a nursery bassinet, wrapped in hospital blankets and with a newborn hat on. She was very dark purple due to her heart having stopped before birth, but so beautiful, none the less. They picked her up with such care and put her in my arms and left us alone with her. We cried and cried. We were told we could spend as much time with her as we wanted and everyone in the hospital was so kind. We hadn't called home to let anyone know what had happened to Felicity and then my mom arrived. Paul was holding Felicity and had his back to the door when she came in and at first her mouth dropped open in shock and a light came into her eyes, but I started crying and had to say, 'Mom, she's gone!'



The grief we feel is like nothing I can describe. We spent most of the day with Felicity, holding her, kissing her, crying over her, and examining all her features in detail. She had a head full of dark, dark hair, basically black and little ears. Her fingernails and toenails were so long! She had my long skinny toes and chubby thighs. She looked so much like Elijah did with a perfect little rosebud mouth and chubby cheeks. She had light colored eyebrows and despite her coloring, she was absolutely perfect in every way! I could tell she was heavy. They weighed her and measured her and took her back to the nursery to do her footprints and take more photographs. They dressed her in the sweetest pink sleeper with a hand-knit sweater and hat.


We debated a little bit about whether the boys should see her. I am so glad that Paul thought it was important for them, as I was unsure. He went home to tell the boys and bring them and my Dad and Aunt Cathy back to the hospital. My mom called home and told Dad and Cathy that Felicity went to be with Jesus, but to wait to tell the boys. When Paul got home, Ethan greeted him at the door and said, 'Daddy, can we go and see my sister?' Then he saw Paul's sad expression and he started to cry. Paul sat down with the boys and told them what happened. He and Ethan cried together.


I was holding Felicity when they came into the room. Ethan had a very sad, closed off look when he came in, but Elijah in all his 2 year old enthusiasm came right over to the bed, said, 'Hi Mama.' and asked to get on the bed. He said hi to Felicity and immediately started touching her and kissing her. He had no reservations about the dark color of her skin or how still she was. Ethan had to be encouraged to come and look at her and touch her. He finally climbed up on the end of the bed with me and looked more closely. He touched her and I commented to him about how soft her skin was. He agreed. The nurses took more pictures of her with the boys. They both held her.


My parents and Cathy took the boys home around 1 or 1:30. Time is fuzzy and I can't quite keep it all straight. So much time was spent in tears and prayer. We had to meet with the coroner and talk about what happened and why. He determined by looking and examining her that the result of death was the 'true' knot in her cord. In doing some research online I found that only 5% of pregnancies have a knot form in the cord, usually in the first trimester and they are not detectable by ultrasound. But of that 5% only 1% end in death/stillbirth. Felicity died while still inside me, sometime in the night or during labor.



My doctor wanted me to stay the standard 24 hours, but of course I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with the boys, to be surrounded by my family, and feel their love. We spent the rest of the afternoon, holding and loving our daughter, while trying to make some plans - whether anything in her body could be donated (it couldn't due to an unknown time of death.) We also had to decide on whether we wanted an autopsy or testing done to determine any genetic problems which might have led to her death. We decided against both. An autopsy wouldn't be able to tell us when she died and based on how she looked and that she was full term, it was fairly certain that there was nothing wrong with her internally. The genetic testing didn’t make sense considering the knot in her cord.



A professional photographer from a ministry called 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep' and took photographs. It was amazing how many things they do for families who lose a baby. The hospital sent us home with the outfit she wore, mementos, a lock of hair, and her footprints.



We had to start the process of planning a service and contacting a funeral home before we could go home. A man from the funeral home came and picked up her body around 4 p.m. He came with what looked like a large black tool box case. I couldn't watch him put her body into it, so Paul held me while he did it. And then . . . she was gone!



I often find myself reliving that day in bits and pieces in my mind. I wonder when a day will go by that I won't think about her and the place she would have had in our family. I will always wonder how different our lives would be if she were here with us. We will always feel an emptiness in our lives because she is not with us. We are so thankful though that she is in Jesus' arms, perfectly complete and content. Felicity Faith means "joyful faith." Her life was short, but we pray we can live out her legacy by having a joyful faith.





After doing more research on true knots, I came across information saying that knots ARE detectable in an ultrasound. There are still many factors that contribute to whether or not a knot can be seen, but they can be detected. There are no guarantees that a C-section will produce a live baby if a knot is detected. I had an ultrasound at 38 weeks 5 days to confirm Felicity was not breech. I am assuming that the technician checked other things during the scan as it lasted for about 10 minutes or so. No concerns were noted at that time. I believe God is sovereign and that we live in a fallen world because of sin. I blame no one for my daughter's death.
























I can tell . . .

it's going to be a rough day all around!

I was rudely awakened this morning at 5:45 and eventually got out of bed to turn on the computer for election results (we don't get any t.v. stations) rather than to check my blog's live traffic feed (so cool for those of you who don't have one!)

Then I saw the results and started to feel sick to my stomach. Many of you may not agree with me on politics, but the morality change our nation is facing with this new president is scary, as in end times scary!

Then I noticed the weather. Ugh! It's raining and stormy. I definitely notice that my sadness is stronger on days when the sun's not shining. Like the sky, my eyes want to rain at every thought of Felicity and I feel spent having already cried myself to sleep last night.

So I think today calls for drastic measures - okay, so I'm just going to get out of the house and head down to my mom's. Hopefully she's up to company after working 15+ hours yesterday as an election judge.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Amazing Adventures of Goggle Boy

It's a bird. . . it's a plane. . . no . . . it's Goggle Boy!

Never underestimate the power of a two year old's imagination! A month or more ago, Elijah put on a toy pair of safety goggles and proudly announced "I'm Goggle Boy, yes I am!" And so the adventures of Goggle Boy began.




He was soon joined by his sidekick, "Advisory Man" so named by Paul and I as Ethan is always "advising" Elijah about what he should be doing.



Since all superheroes have a weakness and an arch-enemy, I'm sure you're wondering what Goggle Boy's are. Well, his weakness is doorstops. Yes folks, any wiggly metal doorstop that makes the sound "boing" when moved makes Goggle Boy lose all superhuman strength and sends him running for cover.
And as for the arch-enemy, there's actually two. (Paul and I couldn't agree.) One is a physical arch-enemy and that's "Da Da" The other is a mental arch-enemy and that is "naptime."
So if you ever find yourself in need of help, don't hesitate to call on Goggle Boy. He may, or may not come when called (we're working on that one), and of course he's busy between the hours of 1pm-3pm. He does not require payment for services rendered, but will gladly accept cookies, frozen peas, or anything else a two year old doesn't normally get to have.
"


To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to LAUGH; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Sunday, November 2, 2008

4 Weeks

Tomorrow will mark four weeks since Felicity's death. Thursday will mark one month since her death. Paul goes back to work full-time tomorrow, as in he'll be gone from 5:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day. A new president will be elected this week. We plan on going to our first homeschool co-op meeting since Felicity's death. It's going to be quite a week. We're all still struggling with getting enough sleep too. Pray for better sleep and for a smooth transition back into this "new" life.

Yesterday we went to my aunt's wedding. I was thrilled to see her happily wed to a wonderful guy. When I opened the wedding program and saw at the end that she had special flowers in memory of my grandparents, my great aunt, and Felicity, I cried. It meant so much to me that she would think to do that.

On the way to the wedding, we stopped at Michael's to pick up a collage frame we had made. It has three sepia photos of Felicity along with a handmade card a friend from church made with her name on it. It turned out beautifully. I can't wait to hang it in the living room where I can see her everyday.

Ethan's grieving more. He's talking about Felicity a little more and on Friday night he woke up crying. When I went into his room, he was half asleep still and when I asked him what was wrong, he simply said, "I'm sad about Felicity." I laid between he and Elijah for a few minutes and just held him. I hate (a word I hardly ever use) that he is hurting and I can't do anything to take it away. My mom said a couple weeks ago that she feels the same way about me hurting. As moms we hate to see our kids sad or hurt, we want to kiss the pain away. He hasn't really taken me up on my offers to discuss Felicity at any length. I hope the day soon comes when he will feel comfortable enough to ask questions and tell me more about how he's feeling, but for now I don't push the issue.

Today after church we went to Felicity's grave and put some fake flowers in the ground, all pink, of course. I wanted to have something marking it during the winter since we won't get her headstone in place until next spring. While we were there, I saw another grave had been dug. It was a small one and no one at church has lost a baby or child, so I wonder who will be buried there. Death is very real to me now. I NEVER thought that I would bury my child. I've anticipated with great anxiety the death of my maternal grandparents and my parents, but I never thought I'd lose a child! I believe wholeheartedly that God is sovereign, but it will ease this great pain in my heart to be able to ask Him "Why?" someday.

I am working on "Felicity's Story" and hope to post it on Thursday. I hope it will help other moms who find themselves reading it. I'm also working on a section on how to help someone who's grieving. For those of you who've never experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth or loss of a child, I hope you find information with which you can help those you know or will meet who experience such pain.

Thank you for your continued prayers! Your prayers have helped us so much in these past 4 weeks.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Writing in Sand


I asked my friend Emily, who recently moved to CA to do me a favor. While reading blogs of other moms who've lost babies, I noticed a trend of people who have written the names of their babes in the sand and taken pictures. This may seem like a weird or pointless thing to some, but for those of us grieving, seeing the name of our child anywhere means SO MUCH.

So on my birthday, I received a wonderful gift from Emily - these pictures. The note she wrote also touched me, as I'm looking for people to be impacted by Felicity, and here is yet another way her short life has had meaning to someone else. Here's what she wrote:

Hi Rachel,
I want to wish you a Happy 32nd Birthday! I hope your day is filled with love and some happiness.

I hope it is okay that I attached this message with your birthday greetings.

I went to Redondo Beach yesterday. It was a beautiful day. The tide was starting to come in and the sun was beginning to set. I took some pictures of Felicity's name in the sand. I think they turned out really nice. If you want me to take more pictures or change anything just let me know. I am very honored to have had the privilege to do this for you. Some days I ask myself "What was I thinking when I decided to move here?" This was another moment that allowed me to remember that God has a plan for all of us and that he is all knowing and loving even if we don't understand the path he has chosen for us. I just wanted to let you know that this experience has allowed me to become closer with God.
With Love,
Emily









THANKS EM!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Free Highspeed Internet Access y'all!

(Read the following post with a southern accent)

We're still "on vacation" and so far it's been a good trip. The kids handled the two day van ride well, thanks to the DVD player we bought at Circuit City on our way. So what if they watched more videos in those two days than they normally watch in three or four weeks at home. In fact, they watched pretty much everything we brought, which means they'll be watching the same videos on the way home.

We arrived in KY on Saturday evening and stayed at the Marriott, thanks to my dad's points he earns while traveling. So we had a $200/night room and it was nice. We spent a lot of the time there telling the boys not to touch this and that. We spent Sunday and today at the Creation Museum, which has been fun. If you haven't checked it out and live nearby (Petersburg, KY right near Cincinnati), I strongly recommend it! It's great for all ages. We're not sure what we'll do tomorrow, but the plan is to stay here tomorrow night before beginning the two day journey home.

Despite the distractions, I can't seem to let go and totally enjoy myself. Everything is a reminder of Felicity's death. We wouldn't be taking this trip if she hadn't died. Yesterday my body started to gear up to the fact that today was Monday, the three week anniversary of her birth/death. Then I start replaying the events of that horrible day and I just can't believe this is my life. I plan on posting Felicity's story in the near future. In my search for other moms who have lost a baby, I need to read their stories of loss in order to connect to them and so I want that to be available to others who find themselves in this horrible life journey.

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday and I'm not posting this info. to get a bunch of bday well wishes (thanks Billi Jo for being the first!). I just can't believe another bday is here and that life is continuing to go on without me. That's the way I feel. I feel so stuck in my pain! Everyday we've been gone, I've had to pull out a couple of pictures of Felicity that I brought and stare at them. I miss her so much! My milk is letting down right now, just thinking about her. (Elijah is still nursing, which has been mostly a blessing.)

On a funnier note, doing the hotel thing with a very active two year old, is quite the adventure. We're in a Holiday Inn right now and Elijah seems to think the bathroom is his personal office. He keeps going in the bathroom and sitting on the floor with his magna doodle. At least until I realized that he could lock himself in. He seems fairly satisfied with my Caboodles (yes, I grew up during the 80s) propping open the door. He mocks me by saying "careful, careful, careful!" as he climbs over it to get inside the bathroom.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Raining Tears

I miss my baby! I feel so incomplete without her! Pray for me! I didn't sleep well last night for the first night since Felicity's death. I had dreams of other moms losing their babies.

I had to go to the dentist yesterday and have a cavity filled. Driving the 30+ miles to get there was my first time driving and my first time alone since Felicity died. I blasted the Christian radio station to fill the silence, but of course many of the songs had a line or more that made me cry. The scripture about "praying without ceasing" has taken on a whole new meaning for me. My thoughts are a constant conversation with God and despite the sadness I feel, I can hear God talking to me like never before.

The dentist read my chart and congratulated me on my new baby. I have played in out in my mind different ways to deal with situations like these. Do I say that I had a little girl and not tell about what happened or do I risk being vulnerable in front of people and say what actually happened. I want to acknowledge Felicity in every way possible, and so far, I've yet to just say that I had a little girl. I told the dentist she was stillborn and would you believe, the dentist shed a few tears with me! I may have even gotten a little extra Novocaine out of the whole deal as having my tooth drilled was so easy!

After the dentist, I picked up my mom and we went to the thrift store to find me a few skirts or pants so I'd have enough clothes that fit for our trip. (We're heading down to KY to the Creation Museum) Shopping for clothes has never seemed so pointless. It's usually a fun activity, especially when the boys aren't with (they don't appreciate shopping), but it was just a chore this time. We went out for a late lunch (eating has become a chore too for the most part) and had a good chance to talk about what happened and how we were each feeling. It's been hard to talk details of what happened with the boys around when we're together. I cried at the restaurant too, but I don't really care anymore. My only concern about crying is whether or not I have kleenex nearby.

Well, I could ramble a whole lot more if I wanted to, but I've got a ton of packing and laundry to do, so I'd better get off the couch. Pray for safety for our trip and for sanity in being in the car for so long. Pray Elijah sleeps in the car a lot!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weakness or Sorrow?

I have to admit, the last three nights in a row, I've prayed that God would take the last 15 days (or however many he wanted to take) and make them just a dream. I prayed I would wake up and be pregnant again; my baby warm, safe, and ALIVE inside me. I promised God I'd do things differently. I wouldn't complain about the aches and pains of pregnancy, I'd revel in them! Of course, I believe God is sovereign, but I also believe He could do this. He could give me my baby back.

Some moments in the day, when I'm busy wiping noses, preparing food, doing school with Ethan, I forget for a moment what happened. Then suddenly I feel like I've been kicked in the gut and there's this deep hollow ache inside my body. It hurts so bad! Will I always feel this way, whenever I remember Felicity? I've done a ton of reading on the subject already, and everyone says that the intense feelings will fade.

We've gotten some pictures of Felicity developed and we're working on a collage frame. I want to see her face everywhere in our home. Some people might think that's weird, but I need to feel her close. That's all I have.

A friend gave us a special gift of money to be used toward something to remember Felicity by. We're going to put her birthstone (pink!) in my mothers necklace and we are going to order that painting from June Dudley that I posted about in an earlier entry. Paul actually talked to June yesterday and told her our story and she's going to personalize the painting with whatever we want!

Yesterday we went and ordered Felicity's headstone. Unfortunately, the granite company that makes them, shuts down around the 1st of Nov. due to the cold weather. So they probably won't even start working on her headstone until March and it won't get placed until May. We went to the cemetery on Saturday and saw her grave again. I know she's not there, just her body, but it still feels good to be "close" to her. Someone has been keeping the flowers alive on her grave. This morning it's incredibly cold, so they've probably died. I hate the idea of snow covering her grave in another month or two without a way to identify it.

We're planning on taking off later this week for a family vacation. Right now Paul's working half days from home and then next week he'll take the whole week for bereavement leave. We need to get away and make some memories with the boys. Pray for safe travel and family closeness.
We are so thankful for all your prayers. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are making it through each day. I'm sleeping well, no nightmares. Pray for better sleep for Paul and Elijah. Elijah has gone back to waking multiple times during the night and usually ends up in our bed by about 4 am. That's been interesting. Thankfully he's been sleeping until 7 or 7:30. Please pray that the boys transition well with daylight savings, and don't start getting up an hour earlier.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Weaving

My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me,
I may not see the pattern, but He knows what it should be;
Most times I do not understand and in my foolish pride,
Forget God sees the upper, while I the underside.
Sometimes He weaveth sorrows which seemeth strange to me,
But I'll just trust His judgment and work on faithfully;
'Tis He who fills the shuttle, He knows just what is best,
So I'll just weave in earnest and leave Him with the rest.
At last when life is ended and I with Him abide,
Then I shall see the pattern upon the upper side;
And I shall know the reason why joy with pain entwined,
Was woven in the fabric of life that God designed.
The dark threads are as needful in the Creator's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
But not 'til the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the fabric and show the reason why;
--Author unknown

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Doing the Firsts

I've been dreading all the firsts that have yet to come since Felicity's birth/death: first trip to the grocery store, first trip to the library, first haircut, etc. Going all those places where I'm going to encounter acquaintances who are going to ask about my baby but don't know what happened.

Thankfully I've gotten two of these firsts done. We all went and got our hair cut (except Elijah) together on Tuesday. Okay, so we didn't go to the regular place and therefore I still have yet to talk with the gal who usually does my hair. It was still hard to sit in the chair while the new gal was putting the big bib thingee on and have her ask, "How are you?" How do I answer that question? It used to be so simple to say, "okay" or "fine" or "pretty good." But I'm not any of those things. Do I burden this stranger with my life and probably a bucket of tears? Maybe someday, I'll be able to answer truthfully and use it as an opportunity to share Christ, but right now I'm too caught up in grief.

Today we went to the grocery store. I shop at a little grocery store and have come to know the people who work there, not all by name, but certainly by face and I know they noticed my huge belly the last few months. My mom knew I was dreading this first trip, so she even called the grocery store and asked if they have a protocol for situations like this. Of course, they didn't, but the owner said that it made sense to him to have such a protocol and said that he would talk with his employees about how to address formerly pregnant women who come in without their babies. (They shouldn't ask about the baby!) Well, while checking out today, with a cashier I have talked with before, (in fact I know she's a single mom and I've told her I've been there too), she asked, "So how many kids do you have now?" (The boys were both with as was Paul.) I got choked up and said, "Two on earth and one in heaven. We just lost our baby girl." She obviously felt bad and punched my frequent buyer card twice as many as I deserved. She said she was sorry and God bless.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Sure I cried in front of people and while walking out to our van, but so what? It would be weird if I said that to her and didn't cry, wouldn't it?

We continue to hear of people we don't know that are praying for us and that's so helpful. Pray for Paul as his grief is different from mine, being the father. He feels the need to protect me and the boys and yet he is so sad too. Felicity was his little girl and that is such a special relationship. Pray for Ethan, to talk about how he is feeling and to be able to sleep more. We are all starting to feel a bit sleep deprived.

We did go to church last night which was a HUGE blessing! I was able to talk with my moms group and one of them has lost 5 children/babies! She was able to talk openly with both Paul and I and she just knew how to ask the right questions. She said Felicity's name, not just "your baby" or "your loss." We've gotten a few cards now where people have written "I'm sorry for your loss." It sounds like we lost something inconsequential. We lost our daughter!!! We also felt the love of our church in that people are bringing meals for us and leaving them in the church frig/freezer.

All in all, we're doing as well as expected. We still laugh and smile, though not as often. I notice that being in the car is weird, especially when the main topic of discussion is headstones and which way is the fastest to get where we're going. We let my mom go home yesterday so that I can try and do more. She is going to come back the minute I ask her to, but for now she needed to do stuff at home and I need to reclaim my role a little more. I'm feeling pretty good health wise so thanks for praying for that need.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not for this World Alone



Felicity Faith was made not for this world alone, or even for this world mainly. She, like all people, was created in God's image to glorify our Father in heaven. She was conceived with an eternal destiny that God established from the foundation of the world. It doesn't matter that her soul went to be with Jesus prior to her birth; her significance is not diminished. Felicity Faith - who was swallowed up by this life - is fulfilling her eternal purpose in heaven. She is all that God created her to be - perfect, complete, unique - glorifying God in a role only she can fill. What a joy it will be to meet our glorified daughter in the presence of Jesus after we leave this earthly life!


Based on the writing of Laura Johnson


Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Please pray for all those who have lost a child.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Need A Time Machine. . .

Yes, a time machine, something even my engineer husband can't build for me. You see, I want to jump a year into the future and see what our lives are like. I feel so stuck right now it seems and I just can't imagine how life is going to be.

Thankfully I read an encouraging post this a.m. from http://joyelizabethjones.blogspot.com/ and realize that it doesn't matter. I need to live for NOW, enjoy my boys TODAY, love my husband in THIS MOMENT. We are always going to be changed because of Felicity not being with us, but that's okay. Much like I'm not the same person since my first husband divorced me, I'm not the same person I was when Felicity was alive and well in my womb. And you know what, I don't want to be that person any more! I want to feel this sadness as hard as it is. And I want to eventually be stronger and more compassionate because of it. God will restore us, not to what we were, but to something even better, if we let Him have His way in our lives. Keep praying!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Letter to Felicity


Our Dearest Felicity,


We never thought we'd be writing a letter telling you good-bye before we ever really got to say hello. We wish you were in our arms right now, but instead you're being cradled in Jesus' arms. We love you, our precious baby girl and we waited so long to meet you! We now wish we would have treasured those moments while you were in Mommy even more!


You are so beautiful! We are going to miss you every day! We are going to miss all your firsts: firsts smile, first steps, first words, and especially the moment when you would have trusted in Jesus as your Savior. Ethan and Elijah are going to miss you too and we know they would have protected and loved you like only big brothers could.


We are so thankful that you are with Jesus. We long for the day when we will be able to see you again; to see you smiling and laughing and welcoming us home. Our hearts will never be fully complete until we are all together, but for now, we pray that God will give us "joyful faith" for the rest of our days on earth.


Until we are all together with Jesus, we love you!


Daddy, Mommy, Ethan, and Elijah
This marks the one week anniversary of Felicity's arrival and departure from this world! Help us Lord!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No Words


Can hardly believe yesterday (the memorial service and burial) is over. Feels so surreal today; going through sympathy cards and gifts and trying to reestablish some order to our messy, chaotic household. Did this past week really happen? Did I just give birth 6 days ago? Did we really bury our daughter yesterday?


As the days progress, I'm sure most of my posts will be about Felicity and our grief. I find that blogging has indeed taken place of writing in my journal. It helps so much to write out what I'm feeling and even Paul can go back and read my thoughts.


We're trying to take time each day to "debrief" each other on how we're both feeling. It's been hard to even get that done lately, with all the planning we had to do. And yet, so much was taken care of for us. Our church family did so much! They had a meal for everyone after the service and played the music during the service. A friend even videoed and made us audio tapes of the service and we didn't even know he was going to do it. We are so blessed.


Two things that Paul and I will really need to work on as the days, weeks, and months pass are:

1) Understanding that each of us will grieve differently.

2) Don't contemplate "what if..." thoughts b/c they inhibit healing.


Thankfully, Ethan is starting to grieve a little. On Friday, we picked up the CD of pictures from the photographer who came to the hospital. She also gave us a DVD of the pictures. They are amazing and I hope to post the video on here soon. While watching it, Ethan wouldn't come into the room, but I noticed him watching from the dining room. Soon he was on the floor and his face said it all as to how he was feeling. I went over and sat on the floor and pulled him into my arms. Immediately he started sobbing. I'm crying now just thinking about it. I told him again that Felicity is in heaven and it's okay to cry and miss her. It's okay to feel happy one minute and sad the next, but if he's feeling sad, he needs to let it out. I also explained to him that what happened to Felicity is very rare (tightly knotted umbilical cord) and it wouldn't happen to the next baby we have. Maybe it's wrong for me to make assurances to him like this, but he needs to have that. I fear it's going to be very hard for him to get excited the next time if he doesn't feel secure.
Please continue your prayers! It's been such a balm to us knowing all the people who are praying, some of them we've never even met. Praise God for the body of believers!
The picture at the top of this post is the painting that was hanging in my hospital room. It makes me think of Felicity in heaven. The artist is June Dudley.