Persistence

Ever since losing Jude, right after Lucy’s due date, I have felt spiritually tired. It is so true that hope deferred makes the heart sick. I realized the other night that I have almost completely stopped asking God for another baby. I feel hope waning. I used to think, “I wonder when God is going to give me my next baby?” Now I catch myself thinking, “I wonder when God is going to take my next baby?” The shift happened subconsciously, and it kind of took me by surprise.

Liam, of all people, helped me see my current spiritual apathy. I try to pray with him before bed and I always ask him what he wants to pray about. Every night he says he wants to pray that God would give him a real race car that he can drive when he turns five. Poor thing, he thinks everything he’s ever wanted to do is going to magically happen when he turns five. Anyway, this past week Liam has suddenly changed his nightly prayer. Now, every night when I ask what he wants to pray about he says, “I want to ask God for two lines.” He wants God to give his Mommy two lines on her pregnancy test.

I PROMISE I don’t always go around talking about trying to get pregnant or moping constantly about getting another baby. If anything, I avoid the topic around my boys whenever possible. Even right after I found out I was pregnant with Jude, Liam asked randomly if I had a baby in my belly and luckily, I was able to distract him and change the subject. My boys never knew about Jude (they will when they’re older.) A few months ago Liam found one of my pregnancy tests on the counter and asked what it was. I tried my best to change the subject, but he persisted, so I explained what it was. I haven’t mentioned it again, so it’s weird that he is suddenly bringing it up now. But wow, is he persistent! Every night we now pray for two lines. A couple nights ago I even asked, “What about that race car that you wanted?” And he said, “No. I want two lines.” Sometimes he interrupts me in the middle of the day to ask if we can pray for two lines. Liam has faith that God will do what we ask and his pure, unconditional faith in God has shamed me. I wish I had the faith of a child.

Sometimes I see people who only want two kids and I’m jealous because I wish I could feel that closure, that completeness in my family. I wish I only wanted two kids. But I think God has more for me. I think He doesn’t just want the safe way for me right now. I have asked if He wants me to just rest with my two. He could satisfy me with two kids or five kids or no kids. But He has whispered, “Let me redeem it.” He’s holding out His hand, just like He did when Lucy was dying inside of me. He’s asking me to come with Him on this journey and to trust Him with whatever He wants to give me. I am going to follow Him and pray boldly for two lines, just like He wants me to, just like my little Liam.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Luke 18:1-8

 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Advertisements

BOOKS

 This week I got these books in the mail, and I’m so excited.

photo-1

I read An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination in two sittings. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it. I think I might just read it again. Books have been such a lifeline for me since losing Lucy. There is a drastic difference in my emotional wellbeing when I am not reading a good book. My Mom once heard someone say, “Ten years from now you will be exactly the same person except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Of course, that’s assuming your baby doesn’t die, which changes you into a completely different person. But there’s truth in that thought. Reading can truly alter your way of thinking and change who you are.

When you go through something traumatic your world is turned upside-down and it can be easy to lose sight of the truth. These books have anchored me while I grieve. They have reminded me that I’m not alone. Other people have also suffered huge losses, and they have survived. Here are the books that have helped me the most since losing my daughter:

The Bible

A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser

I Will Carry You by Angie Smith

An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

       Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D. (This one was a little weird, but it was interesting to hear his account of heaven.)

The God of All Comfort by Dee Brestin

I’ll Hold You in Heaven Remembrance Book by Debbie Heydrick

Also, for those of you who have living children, I think it’s good to read encouraging books on parenting. Many days it’s all I can do to meet my children’s physical needs, but they have so many other important needs that must be met. I feel energized to focus on loving my children better when I’m reading helpful books. Here are the two I’m reading now:

How to Really Love Your Child by D. Ross Campbell, M.D.

You Can’t Make Me- But I Can Be Persuaded by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias                       (Such a great book for anyone with a strong-willed child)

For those of you who have lost a baby or suffered any huge loss, which books have been helpful for you?

Remembering Our Babies- Brianna Marie

For those of us who lose our babies too soon, we don’t ever get to show them off and we rarely get to say their names or tell people about them. In our country, thousands of babies are stillborn every year, roughly one every twenty minutes. There are even more miscarriages. Here on my blog, I want to remember all of the lost babies and give their parents an opportunity to show them off. These Mamas are so proud of their babies and are going to share them with us here. Since Lucy died on a Friday, I will share a new baby’s story every Friday. We honor these little lives by acknowledging their presence with us, even if it was a very short time. Do you know how these babies are loved? Do you know that each baby was cherished by their families, even if they left only after a few weeks? Do you know how these babies are missed every single day? Please pray for these families, who have to live every day without their precious children.

BRIANNA MARIE

In August 2011, my husband and I were thrilled to find out I was pregnant with our third child. We already had two boys (2 and 5 years old) and while I was praying for a healthy baby, deep down I was also hoping for a girl.

In November, at 18 weeks pregnant, my husband and I were given the devastating news that our unborn daughter had a fatal illness known as non-immune fetal hydrops. This fetal condition is caused when abnormal amounts of fluid build in two or more body areas of a fetus or newborn. In our daughter’s case, it was in her lungs and stomach and the fluid prevented her lungs from developing.

After meeting with dozens of doctors and praying for a medical miracle, we were given hope by a team of specialized surgeons, nurses, and healthcare professionals to continue the journey with our daughter, Brianna. We knew the odds of survival were slim, but all of Brianna’s genetic tests came back normal and her other organs were growing and functioning as they should. We knew we had to continue to fight for her.

I had three serious fetal surgeries, one of which had never been done on a baby with fetal hydrops before. A total of four shunts were inserted into Brianna’s chest cavity and a device known as an intraluminal tracheal occlusion was placed through Brianna’s mouth to promote her lung growth. These operations were performed at the University of Miami by Dr. Ruben Quintero, a fetal surgeon and the inventor of the device used on our child.

Our daughter Brianna was born on March 16, 2012. She was with us for 15 of the most memorable hours before God took her back as his angel. Brianna ultimately died of cardiac and pulmonary failure. We, along with our team of doctors, learned a great deal about fetal lung development and growth while on our journey with Brianna. It is our hope that more research can be done to teach medical professionals about fetal lungs as well as invent new techniques and devices that can save babies with conditions like that of my daughter.

A parent can never fully prepare for the loss of their child. There will forever be a hole in my heart left by her absence, but I would not change a thing that was done during my time with Brianna. I got to know her on an intimate level as mothers do with their babies. I just pray that research prevents other families from having to go through the heartache that we have endured.

This is the reason my husband and I have created a foundation in Brianna’s honor.  I documented the entire journey in a book titled:  My Journey with an Angel— 100% of proceeds go directly into the foundation.

-Aran

What an incredible journey Aran went through to try to save her daughter’s life. I can’t believe they were able to do three fetal surgeries to give Brianna a chance. Aran is a brave woman to go through all of that and her love for Brianna is evident. I look forward to reading her book about her experience. It breaks my heart to learn about another Mama who had two boys and then lost her girl. And what a strong baby Brianna was. It sounds like she fought so hard. To learn more about baby Brianna you can check out her website here www.briannamariefoundation.com

If you would like to share your baby’s story, just e-mail me at bethanysk55@yahoo.com  You can share whatever you want about your baby, and you don’t have to include your name if you don’t want to. Also, I think your baby is just as important if you lost him/her at 6 weeks or at 40 weeks. Even if you never knew the sex of your baby, you might have had names picked out, a due date and lots of hopes and dreams for that child. All of that is important and is welcome here.

The House is on Fire

Grieving the loss of my child has been the hardest and strangest experience of my life. I read on another blog that the woman felt like she lost the whole year after her son died. She said it was a year lost to grief. That is how I feel most of the time, like I’m walking around in a fog. I don’t feel the passing of the seasons or the weather. I don’t feel the excitement of the next holiday coming up. When I think about 2013 all I think about is losing Lucy and Jude and the overwhelming grief. It is very hard to care about or even notice things around me, even important things around me.

I feel like I’m standing in my yard and my house is on fire and there might be someone inside. Truly imagine how you would feel if you were in your front yard watching the flames devour your house and you thought someone was still trapped inside. It’s a frantic, urgent moment and the emergency that’s happening takes all of your concentration. All of your emotions and your adrenaline and your thoughts are on the person inside and how to get them out and the house is on fire!!!! Now, imagine someone coming up to you and asking if you paid the power bill yesterday. Who cares? The house is on fire! You forgot to schedule Liam’s check up at the dentist. What? Who cares? The house is on fire! They keep tapping you on the shoulder, “That was quite a storm last night, wasn’t it?” Are you kidding me? The house is on fire!

That’s how I feel most of the time. I feel like mourning and dealing with my losses takes all of my energy, my emotions, my focus. It truly takes a huge amount of focus and mental power to not just break down every hour in a mess of howling tears. Tuning out my grief and my loss to deal with everyday life is like trying to tune out that burning house and that trapped person yelling for help. It is so hard to care about the laundry or the weather or Liam’s dentist appointment, because honestly, none of it matters when you compare it to the fact that your baby girl is dead. The baffling thing is that even the very important things are hard to care about; things like relationships and feeding my kids and having enough income and eating food every day. Some days I realize I have gone the whole day without looking my children in the eyes. How pathetic is that?

This is how grieving feels for me now. I desperately hope that one day the fire will be put out and I can turn my attention away from the disaster and I can live life again.

WHY WE’RE NOT STOPPING AT TWO

Josh and I have decided that we will keep trying for more children. We don’t want to stop at two (on earth.) As most of you know, my first two pregnancies were perfect, normal pregnancies (besides the constant nausea for four months, but that’s still “normal.”) Each pregnancy went to 41 weeks and ended with a beautiful birth and a healthy, screaming baby boy. Now that I have developed anti-kell antibodies, I will never have a normal pregnancy again. We know that any baby we conceive will have a little over a 50% chance at life. We also know that we won’t find out if the baby will live until 17 or 18 weeks gestation. If the baby died from the anti kell antibodies it wouldn’t be an early miscarriage. It would be a second or third trimester loss. Also, we just had an early miscarriage and lost our baby Jude right after Lucy’s due date in July. Obviously, the safest thing for us to do now would be to get my tubes tied and to make sure I never get pregnant again; to make sure we don’t have to live through the hell of losing another baby. But is being safe the main goal of my life? Should my top priority be protecting myself from pain and heartache? And where did I ever get the idea that I could protect myself from pain if I wanted? Even normal pregnancies in healthy women are full of risks and often end in miscarriage or stillbirth. What would my life be like if I chose the “safe” option every time?

When I was five, my parents moved our family to Bindura, Zimbabwe to be missionaries. Several times my Mom was asked how she could take her children “over there.” What if it was dangerous? What if something happened to one of us? How could she take those risks with her family?  Her answer, “The safest place to be is in God’s will, wherever that is.” I know that the safest place for me to be is wherever God wants me. We feel like He wants us to try again for a baby naturally, to not give up hope for more children, and that’s what we are going to do.

Most people are happy to have two children and be done. I always wanted 5, but after Lucy died I thought I could never have any more. I mourned the loss of my future children as much as I mourned Lucy. I was heartbroken about not having anymore children. I tried to get used to the idea. One day I was lying in bed sobbing. I still couldn’t believe my belly was empty and my baby was dead. I thought of myself as a little girl. I always wanted babies. When I was little I would take care of my baby dolls and close my eyes and try to fast forward time to when I could have my real babies. Being a mother was the thing I looked forward to the most in my life. Anyway, that day I was crying and imagining that little girl, I felt so sorry for her because she had no idea what was coming. She had no idea that the worst thing she could imagine would happen to her. Her baby would die and she might not be able to have more. I told God that I wouldn’t try to have more kids if He told me to stop. I felt like He said, “Don’t you think I know you? I made you who you are. I put that desire for children in you and it is a good thing.” A couple days later I read this verse-

Psalm 33:14,15

from where He sits enthroned He looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
He who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.

He fashioned my heart like this and He has a purpose for it. He also knew what it would do to me to not only lose my one daughter, but to lose the possibility of having more children. It’s very ironic that this very rare problem would happen to me, of all people, who so desperately has waited and hoped for a houseful of children my whole life. It’s almost hilarious in a way. God also knew how much I wanted my rainbow baby, Jude. I have never had dreams of being rich or having a successful career or buying a big house; my one big dream was to have a big family. Maybe through this loss God was showing me how I idolized my children and my dream of a big family. Maybe He was teaching me to let go of control and realize that He is in charge of my life, and I am learning to do these things. But maybe He also wanted me to fight harder for my children. Maybe He put that deep desire in me as a little girl so I wouldn’t give up trying for my babies.

You know how you feel about your own children? How you would do anything for them? That’s how I feel about my future babies. I will do whatever it takes to get them here. It is terrifying to think about the risks, about the possibility of going through this again. But I know that if I don’t try I will get to the end of my life and look back with deep regret. I know I will wish I had taken the chance to have more children. My future children are no less real and important than the children I have with me now or my children waiting for me in heaven. They all have an equal portion of my love and own an equal part of my heart. My Mom once asked one of her friends who had 6 kids if she regretted anything about having 6 children. She said, “Yes. I regret that I never had 7.” I can understand that. I was talking to someone the other day about trying again for a baby. She asked me if I thought I could handle another late loss like Lucy. I thought about it and realized it would be easier to go through another loss trying than to not try and stop at two.

Right after we lost our rainbow baby, Jude, Josh and I were heartbroken, but we both agreed that it was worth the risk. It’s worth the risk to try again. I have always had a hard time understanding the families that don’t use any birth control and have baby after baby after baby. They don’t really get to choose how many babies they get or when they are ready for the next baby. I just didn’t get it before losing Lucy. Now I do. I have noticed that most of these families suffered a pregnancy loss early on, usually with their first child. Even the Duggars (19 kids) had a miscarriage with their first baby. I get it now. I’m not saying that I will never use birth control or that I want 19 kids, but when you lose a baby it changes your perspective on life and I think it makes life so much more precious. I can’t believe that Liam and Asher made it all the way to life on earth; it’s amazing. Right now it seems like every baby that survives pregnancy is an absolute miracle. I feel like I want to be open to whatever life God decides to give me, whenever He wants to give it to me. Despite all of this, the main reason why I am not stopping at two children is because God hasn’t told me to.

By the way, I just want to say how thankful I am for my two boys. I love them so much and I appreciate them more now than I ever have. I appreciate the cars, monster trucks and trains that fill every crevice of the house. I appreciate their dirty little faces and weird eating habits and the way they smell like sunshine and dirt. Yesterday I was running errands and when I saw their carseats in my rearview mirror my eyes filled with tears because I am so happy to have two children. They are the lights of my life. They are my answers to a lifetime of prayers and I recognize how blessed I am to have two here on earth and two in heaven. Many women never get one. I still can’t believe that I get to be their mother.

IMG_4947bw

Remembering Our Babies- Jude Weathersby

Every baby is special, every life is important, and every Mom wants to show off her baby. For those of us who lose our babies too soon, we don’t ever get to show them off and we rarely get to say their names or tell people about them. In our country, thousands of babies are stillborn every year, roughly one every twenty minutes. There are even more miscarriages. Here on my blog, I want to remember all of the lost babies and give their parents an opportunity to show them off. These Mamas are so proud of their babies and are going to share them with us here. Since Lucy died on a Friday, I will share a new baby’s story every Friday. We honor these little lives by acknowledging their presence with us, even if it was a very short time. Do you know how these babies are loved? Do you know that each baby was cherished by their families, even if they left only after a few weeks? Do you know how these babies are missed every single day? Please pray for these families, who have to live every day without their precious children.

JUDE WEATHERSBY

I know it might seem silly to write about a baby that I know absolutely nothing about and only developed for a few weeks, but Jude is my baby and I want to honor his or her life. Jude is my fourth child, my second child to skip earth and go straight from my womb to heaven. Jude is Liam, Asher and Lucy’s baby brother or sister. Jude was due on March 19th, 2014 and was lost in an early miscarriage.

Our baby Jude was such a miracle and answer to prayer, even though we never got to meet him/her. After losing Lucy we were told we shouldn’t ever try again naturally for a baby. We never thought we would be able to try again. I never thought I would be able to watch that second line slowly appear and feel my heart drop right out of my chest. What a blessing that we got to do that again and that we now have another sweet baby to look forward to meeting in heaven.

I found out I was pregnant on Lucy’s due date and I wept because I loved my new baby so much already. I thought that maybe I could just hold back the love for my next baby until I knew if I would get to meet him or her, but when I saw those two pink lines I knew it would be impossible. It felt great to let go and just love my new baby with all my heart. Josh warned me to be careful because we might not get to keep the baby. We both agreed that we were terrified, but then decided to just soak in the moment. At that moment I was pregnant and there was a brand new life growing and that’s what we could celebrate, and we did. I’m glad I did now, and I’m glad I loved my new baby with all my heart because I had Jude with me for such a short time. I don’t regret anything. Baby Jude was our rainbow baby, the joy after the storm. For the short time I knew I was pregnant I felt hope and joy and I laughed and food tasted good again. It was beautiful, just like a rainbow; gorgeous and mesmerizing and fleeting.

I have no pictures of Jude, not even an ultrasound picture, but I have pictures of me while I was pregnant so here are a couple (aren’t my boys SO good at taking pictures?)

IMG_7192securedownload

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” -Dr. Seuss

If you would like to share your baby’s story, just e-mail me at bethanysk55@yahoo.com  You can share whatever you want about your baby, and you don’t have to include your name if you don’t want to. Also, I think your baby is just as important if you lost him/her at 6 weeks or at 40 weeks. Even if you never knew the sex of your baby, you might have had names picked out, a due date and lots of hopes and dreams for that child. All of that is important and is welcome here.

Lean Hard

 

Psalm 55:22  Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.

“Child of My love, lean hard,

And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;

I know thy burden, child, I shaped it;

Poised it in My own hand, made no proportion

in its weight to thine unaided strength;

For even as I laid it on, I said

I shall be near, and while he leans on Me,

This burden shall be Mine, not his;

So shall I keep My child within the circling

arms of My own love.

Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a

shoulder which upholds the government of

worlds.

Yet closer come; thou art not near enough;

I would embrace thy care so I might feel My

child reposing on My breast.

Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not then;

But, loving Me, Lean Hard.”

-May Prentiss Smith

1 Peter 5:7  casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.