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!

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,