A Baby for Liam and Asher

One of the hardest things about losing Lucy was having to tell Liam and Asher that their baby sister was dead. She wasn’t coming home. We were very open and honest with them from the beginning. We told them that our baby might get sick. We prayed every night that God would protect their baby sister as she grew in Mommy’s belly. I should have taken more pictures with them and my belly, since that was their only time with Lucy. We honestly never even imagined that she would die. Here’s the only picture I have of Liam with Lucy. It’s blurry. He’s kissing his little sister (and we were in the middle of moving so my room’s a disaster.)

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They were so excited about getting their own baby girl. Looking back, I see God’s provision for us. Two days before Lucy died, my parents’ sweet dog, Tanala died. She was the best dog our family ever had. We loved her, the kids loved her, and we always trusted her around them. She was healthy (as far as we could tell) and was running in the back yard. Apparently, she collapsed and died suddenly. We still don’t know why. We were so sad to lose our best dog ever. We told the kids how Tanala went to heaven and wasn’t coming back. This opened up a lot of questions from Liam about heaven. Because Tanala was in heaven, it was more meaningful to him and it became a real place in his mind.

Two days later his baby sister died and went to heaven too. When we told them, they already had “the facts” about heaven all fresh in their minds. It made it a lot easier to explain to them where Lucy was. She was with God and Tanala. We told them that Lucy got sick and went to heaven instead of our house. We told them Lucy wasn’t sick anymore. They were warned that Mommy and Daddy would cry a lot in the coming days and that is fine. We were ok, just sad about losing Lucy. It’s amazing how children can so easily accept what we adults struggle to wrap our minds around. Asher understood the basics, but Liam knew something very bad had happened. He cried himself to sleep a few nights. He said (and still does occasionally) he wanted Lucy to come home and that he missed his baby sister. He asked me why Lucy couldn’t come down from heaven. I told him it’s so wonderful in heaven and Lucy is so happy there, that she probably doesn’t want to come back down. I told him people in heaven don’t come back, BUT he can go to her one day when he dies, if he decides to love God. A few days later I was crying for Lucy and Liam tried to comfort me, “Mommy, it’s ok. We will get to meet our baby sister when the summer comes. She’s coming down from heaven in the summer.” He remembered that he was supposed to get a baby sister in the summer. I had to tell him, “No, she isn’t ever coming back down from heaven.” I think it eventually sunk in. Now, when I cry for Lucy, he comforts me by saying, “Don’t worry Mommy. God is going to give us another baby sister who will sleep in her bed and not in heaven.” How sweet and wonderful that would be.

Just yesterday my brother Luke had his very first son and my very first nephew, Jack. I was so happy and so sad at the same time. It was a very strange feeling to be so full of joy and sorrow at once. I was seriously so happy for them and for baby Jack and so sad that Lucy wasn’t born all healthy and pink and ALIVE too. It brought back so many terrible memories of my childbirth experience with Lucy. I was showing Liam a picture of Jack and was weeping uncontrollably. I had always pictured Jack and Lucy growing up together, the closest of cousins (only two months apart.) Now it’s strange to think of Jack without Lucy. Liam asked me why there were so many tears on my face (he also asked why my tears were turning gray and my makeup was melting) and I told him that Jack made me miss Lucy. He cried too and said, “But don’t worry Mommy. God will give us another baby we can keep. He just has to make it first.” Such sweet faith he has.

My boys are the main reason I get out of bed every day. They force me to focus on something other than my tragedy. I am so blessed to be their Mommy. Because Josh works full time and is a full time grad school student I am with them most of the time. They are used to my tears. I still cry for Lucy every single day, usually in the middle of some daily task like doing the dishes or cooking dinner. You wouldn’t believe how many monster truck conversations I’ve had with tears streaming down my face. I think the boys don’t even notice that much anymore. Asher just says, “Mommy sad” and goes about his day. Both boys love babies so much, it breaks my heart. They are drawn to them. They can’t pass up a baby without patting him on the head and oohing and aahing over him. I wonder if they feel the baby void, if they know deep down that they should have their own sweet baby girl to pat on the head and kiss and love.

Asher just recently decided he wanted to pray EVERY night before dinner. If I try to pray, he stops me immediately with, “No! Asher pray.” This is his prayer (that he thought up on his own) that he prays every night, “Jesus, thank you food. Please baby. Amen.” I would love to be able to give my boys a baby brother or sister. I have a big favor to ask. Would you all please pray that Liam and Asher will get a baby brother or sister who will sleep in her bed and not in heaven? Thank you so much!

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Asher and Liam

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My loves

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Days Like Today

On days like today I usually decide not to post anything on the blog because it’s depressing, but today I am because it is real. On days like today everything reminds me of her. I still cannot believe she is gone. I’m shocked when I find myself buying tampons. I shouldn’t be buying tampons. The back bedroom that was supposed to be hers is still and bare and stifling. It’s not full of pink baby things and tiny newborn size diapers. Every beautiful flower that I see blooming reminds me that she’s not blooming inside me like she should be. I was so excited to have a summer baby. I thought that as the world grew and bloomed she would be doing the same inside me. Now the beauty of spring cuts me so deeply. The flowers remind me that she’s dead. I wonder if spring will always be a bitter time for me. I hear of yet another friend with two boys who will be having a baby girl in a few months. As I dig through a drawer in the bathroom I see it there, the two pink lines on the pregnancy test that told me I would have a third precious baby. I remember the pure joy and excitement that came with those two pink lines. I had no idea what was coming. The boys are watching something on TV that’s teaching them about heartbeats. The kids on TV listen to their own heartbeats and the sound nearly brings me to my knees. I can hear her heartbeat on all those ultrasounds and then there was the last ultrasound that was so silent. I can hear the doctor telling all the other doctors in the room, “We have a fetal death.”

Grief to me feels like panic. You know the feeling right before you have to make a public speech? Or (if you’re scared of flying) the feeling when you’re in an airplane right as it’s taking off. Sweaty palms, racing heart, sinking stomach. It’s the feeling of panic and intense sadness. My chest is heavy and it’s hard to breathe. The nausea in my stomach stays with me throughout the day. No food is appetizing. How can I eat with this lump in my throat? The tears are ready to fall at all times, and they do. I can barely meet the needs of my children. The persistence of grief is amazing. If it lets up for a few days it is sure to remember to descend soon after. It has been two and a half months since I lost her and it is still so painful, every day. At least once a day I think, “I can’t do this.” I tell God everything. I tell him that today I don’t feel him near, that all I feel is grief and emptiness and loss. I tell him that I need him to help me get through every minute.

On days like today I am so distracted by the things around me and the things in my mind. I think of the pain in my past and I relive all the horrible moments. I think of my future and the very real chance of going through this all over again with another precious baby. I try to focus on God, but it is hard. I’m still learning. I feel the aching space where she should be and it feels like it is killing me. I don’t understand God today. I don’t understand why so many get to have their two boys and their girl and my girl is dead. I tell God that I don’t understand, but I decide to trust him. On days like today my hand always looks like this:

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On days like today I think about Job and this verse always comes to mind:

Job 13:15  Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…

I think it’s one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. Even if he decides to kill me, I will trust him. I know that God doesn’t hurt us himself, but on days like today it feels that way. I decide to trust him and not my feelings. I trust him and wait, and he always comes through.

Lucy’s Present

When I lost Lucy I knew the grief would overtake my world and would feel unbearable. It did. One surprising aspect of the grief has been the intense pain caused by pregnant bellies and baby girls. They remind me of what I don’t have. Even pictures of my OWN pregnant belly are impossible to look at. It bothers me that they bother me so much. I realized one day that it wasn’t so much about what I don’t have, but what Lucy doesn’t have. It’s a jealousy for her life. Those other babies get to have life, but Lucy’s was snatched away.

Imagine you take your child to a birthday party. At the birthday party they announce that all the kids will be getting presents, not just the birthday boy. They start handing out presents and everyone gets one except your child. How would you feel? You wouldn’t be mad that kids got presents, just mad that everyone got one except your child. You would probably want that present for your child more than he or she even wanted the present. Now, imagine that the present was life. If every child got to live and yours didn’t. This is how I feel around pregnant people and baby girls.

Of course, it is a good thing to be jealous for your child’s life, to want to protect him and do what’s best for him. That’s how God made us. My mother-bear feelings are real and strong, but my thinking is flawed. When I really stop to think about it, I see that Lucy did get life. She got eternal life in the sweetest home ever and she will know her family one day when we arrive in heaven, one by one. She never has to taste fear, or shame or death. She never has to feel lonely or embarrassed or not good enough. She won’t even experience simple things that make us uncomfortable, like being cold or hungry or irritable. She gets an even BETTER present than all the other kids at the birthday party. I know deep down that Lucy got a better deal than Liam and Asher and all of the babies who lived. When we first found out that Lucy might be in danger we went to the elders at our church and had them pray over me and Lucy. They prayed that she would be kept safe and would live. One of the elders said, “I feel like I should share this with you. I think God is saying that everything will be alright with the baby.” He was right. Everything is alright with the baby. She did get life and she is safe and content in heaven.

This past Easter was so hard for me. I had heard before that people who have lost loved ones feel the most sorrow around holidays. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way on Easter, but I did. I made Easter baskets the night before and afterwards I wept and wept because I realized I would never make an Easter basket for Lucy.

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When we dyed Easter eggs it felt strange to have Liam eggs and Asher eggs and no Lucy eggs. I felt kind of guilty, like we were leaving her out. I made some Lucy eggs and put them next to her big brothers’ eggs.

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Is Lucy really missing out on Easter? What about all the sweet babies that have been lost. Do they miss out on all the holidays we celebrate here on Earth? I think it’s the exact opposite. Imagine what the Easter celebration in heaven looks like! Oh, how exciting it must be to actually celebrate the resurrection WITH Jesus. I’m sure the party our babies have in heaven doesn’t even compare to plastic eggs and Easter bunnies. And imagine the birthday party they have for Jesus every Christmas! I think even a “normal” day in heaven is far more bright and exciting than any earthly holiday we celebrate.

If only we could change our earthly perspective and see the whole truth. I wish we could see our babies that we have lost because if we could see how they are living we would never weep for them again. It’s not the ones in heaven who are suffering, it’s the ones on earth that have a hard path of suffering ahead of them. I think when we cry for our lost babies, God is looking at us, shaking his head with love on his face and he is saying, “Oh sweet children of mine, you are weeping for the wrong ones.”

Luke 18:15-16  Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

Revelation 21:4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

The Worst Thing to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

I remember being on the other side of grief, looking in from the outside and secretly thanking God it wasn’t me. I remember not knowing what to say, feeling awkward, not wanting to cause more hurt. I always wondered what the best thing to say was. Now I’m here, on the other side of grief. Grief has joined me in my life and will walk with me, hand in hand, from this point on until the day I die. I know I will feel joy again one day, but I will always grieve the loss of my daughter. It’s strange now to be the person everyone is glad they are not. I hate it more than anything, but I am thankful for the things I have learned, the compassion that is now so ready for the person who is hurting.

I also now know what I would like people to say to me in my darkest time of pain. I just want them to say something. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. (Ok, to the person who said, “At least you won’t have to be pregnant during the summer!” Maybe I would have preferred if you had said nothing.) But it means a lot when they at least try. The worst thing to say to someone who is grieving is nothing. To say nothing is to pretend like it didn’t happen, this thing that stopped my world and changed it forever. This thing that has broken me, the hardest thing I have ever had to walk through. I want people to acknowledge my pain. I want people to acknowledge my sweet daughter. To not say anything is to act like Lucy never was, but she WAS. She was growing so wonderfully in me. She was kicking me everyday. She was going to be chubby with fat baby legs and jowly cheeks. She was going to be Liam and Asher’s baby sister to protect for a lifetime. She was going to have a first kiss, to be her Daddy’s girl, to go to college, to pick out a wedding dress, to name a baby of her own. But everything is lost and I want people to acknowledge that. I always wonder, if it had been my husband that died, would people acknowledge it more? Would they say, “I’m so sorry. How are you doing?” What if it had been Liam or Asher? Would they acknowledge it then? Is it because it’s was a “miscarriage” or “stillbirth” that it seems so hush hush? Sometimes I am baffled when I see a person for the first time since I lost her and they say nothing. Do they not remember that I was round and pregnant the last time they saw me? Did they forget that my daughter died?

And then I remember how I felt on the other side of grief. I didn’t know what to say, even when my heart ached for that person. I looked in their eyes and I said nothing because words couldn’t capture the grief or the healing that I wanted to give them. I remember that time and my racing heart slows and I understand how that feels. I know this is a personal opinion, and maybe there are a lot of people out there who would prefer that others say nothing. For me, a good thing to say to anyone who has suffered a huge loss is, “I’m so sorry about _____________ or about your loss. How are you doing?” I think a surprising amount of people actually want to talk about their suffering, they just want you to ask. I am so thankful for my many amazing friends and family, the ones who have cried with me, sent me cards, brought me food, given gifts, prayed for me again and again and even the ones who have said nothing. You have truly kept me afloat during this time of grief and you have taught me so much. I know your hearts, and I love them deeply, whether you have said the perfect thing or nothing.

Job 4:4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Missing One

Imagine going to Target with your three kids (or however many you have.) You’re shopping and everything is going well, then suddenly one of your children disappears. You feel frantic, you look everywhere for her, but you can’t find her. You wonder what happened to her. Now someone says you have to leave with just your other two. “But you have your two,” they say, “just concentrate on them.” Of course that’s impossible! Where is she? You can’t leave without her. Now imagine leaving the store and leaving your one. Imagine going home and doing the dishes and cooking dinner and having a conversation with someone. It’s almost impossible because all you can think about is the missing one. That’s how I feel every day. A part of me is missing and it feels impossible to function without it. It goes against every fiber of my being to live each day without my child. Every now and then I have a moment where I feel normal again and forget about the missing one. Then it hits me, she’s not here, and the feeling of sheer panic comes and stays. It reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the shepherd who had 100 sheep. One of them went missing. The shepherd left the 99 to go look for the one who was missing.

Matthew 18:12,13  What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

God is the shepherd, we are the sheep. He wants you with him like I want Lucy with me. If you don’t know him he will long for you until the day that you die. He loves you more than I love Lucy and Liam and Asher and more than you love your own children. He’s waiting for you and longing for you.

Letting Lucy Go

I remember the day I gave my daughter back to God. It wasn’t the day she died. It was February 2nd, the day we learned that she was anemic and needed a blood transfusion. I knew how sick she was, she didn’t kick anymore. I had a dark, nagging feeling that Lucy would die. I wanted to hold on to her for dear life. I wanted to protect her and I so desperately wanted to keep her. I think the natural instinct a mother has to protect her child is the strongest in human nature. I couldn’t imagine my baby dying inside of me, my womb becoming a coffin. I begged God to let me keep her. I screamed, “I want her. I want her. I want her.” Over and over again I asked God to save her, to let me be her Mommy here on earth. I threw a tantrum, down on my knees crying out to God to save her. It would be so easy for him to save her. He listened until I exhausted myself and then he said, “Let me have her. I will take care of her.” Could I give her up to him if that was what he wanted? Why would he let her die? I didn’t understand, but I trusted him. I thought of God letting go of his only son to die a violent death. I thought of Abraham with his miracle baby that he waited 100 years for. He was willing to give him back to God, even willing to slaughter him himself. If they could do it, I could do it. What was the purpose of my life, after all? It is to glorify God and enjoy him. The purpose of my life  is not to keep my daughter or to get what I want. I released my death grip that I (thought I) had on my daughter. I told him “Ok, you can have her. If it means that you will be glorified through her death, then you can have her.” I felt peace because it wasn’t in my hands, it was in his. I knew he would take her, and he did a week later.

Even though I am a blubbering mess here on Earth, I know Lucy is ok in heaven. She is well cared for, she is loved by her creator. I don’t worry about her. Soon after I returned home from the hospital I was so heartbroken for my girl, missing her and worrying about her. I was sobbing for my baby, praying for God to help me. I felt like God said, “I have her with me now. She’s right here. She’s fine. I’ve got her.” It was so good to realize that I can mourn my loss and feel empty for myself, but not for Lucy. She is happy and safe and my protective mother-heart can rest easy.

When my Mom was in the waiting room and I was in labor, waiting for Lucy to come, she asked God to show her a verse for Lucy. He showed her this:

Isaiah 66:12,13     And you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and bounced on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.