Losing Our Rainbow Baby

We found out on Lucy’s due date that we were pregnant with baby number four and we were so thrilled. I actually had an appetite for the first time since losing Lucy and it was glorious. I ate everything I wanted and the food actually tasted GOOD. I forgot that food can taste good. I also felt my “pregnancy heartbeat”. Every time I’m pregnant one of the first symptoms I notice is my heartbeat getting weirdly loud and strong, like my heart is working really hard (which it is.) Actually, I knew I was pregnant with Asher long before I took the test because my heart was pounding so hard I could feel it in my ears. I felt my heartbeat change to that weird pregnancy boom boom boom in my chest and I knew I was pregnant. Anyway, the pregnancy test showed a faint positive so I took another test the next day and it was a darker positive and the next day the line was even darker. I was so excited to finally get my rainbow baby (a baby that comes after a pregnancy loss, the hope after the storm.) On Lucy’s due date I put this “Big Brother in Charge” shirt on Asher to celebrate Lucy, because she made Asher a big brother, even if no one recognizes it. It was also to celebrate our new baby who would be Asher’s baby sister or brother here on earth.

(Yes, that's a giant shoe behind him)

(Yes, that’s a giant shoe behind him)

Four or five days after our first positive pregnancy test I took another test and realized the test result line wasn’t any darker than the last one. I knew this was a bad sign because with all three of my previous pregnancies the test line got darker and darker every day, never lighter. The next day I noticed my appetite was completely gone so I took another test and it was a VERY faint pink line. That day I realized that my heartbeat felt normal. Later, my OB confirmed with a blood test that I was having an early miscarriage. Josh and I are so sad. We loved this baby so much already. Now it seems extra cruel that we found out we were pregnant on Lucy’s due date.

Proverbs 13:12  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Our hearts are sick because our hopes for another baby have been deferred yet again. My OB reminded me that this miscarriage has nothing to do with the anti-kell antibodies that killed Lucy. Anti-kell antibodies can only affect the baby in the second or third trimester, never the first. This is a very common thing that happens, some doctors say over 50% of all pregnancies end in an early miscarriage. I knew that the second and third trimester would be very risky, but for some reason I thought I could relax for the first trimester. Sadly, no one is exempt from the normal first trimester risks that come with every pregnancy.

When I found out I was pregnant I immediately started to worry that I would lose the baby, like Lucy. I repeatedly envisioned myself holding this tiny baby in the palm of my hand. I held my baby up to God and unclenched my fist and told Him that the baby was His and I trusted Him with my baby. I also asked God to protect our hearts from being wounded again so deeply like we have been through the loss of our Lucy. I told God that if this baby was going to die in the second or third trimester, then I just wanted Him to take the baby now. He did, and I trust Him and I’m thankful that He did protect our hearts. We are hurting, but for us, it’s nothing like going through a stillbirth. We also know that our baby is safe and happy in paradise with God and with his or her big sister, Lucy. I now have two in heaven and two on earth and I’m glad that all of my children have a sibling with them. Yesterday as I watched Liam and Asher wrestle and play with each other I imagined Lucy and her new brother or sister doing the same thing in heaven and it made me happy.

This baby is no less important and special than Liam, Asher or Lucy. We have named the baby Jude because we think every baby deserves a name, no matter how long he or she was with us. I always liked Jude for a boy or a girl and it means “praise.” It’s a reminder of our commitment to praise God, even in our darkest moments. I know I’ve shared it before, but one of my favorite verses is:

Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.

And not only will we trust Him, but we will praise Him too. We praise Him for this beautiful new life that He created in me and we praise Him for who He is. God doesn’t change with our circumstances. He is good and He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He had all of baby Jude’s days written down in His book, even if his or her life was only a few short days or weeks in my womb. We praise Him for giving up His own son so that we can meet our baby Jude in heaven one day. Please pray for us as we mourn the loss of baby Jude even as we continue to mourn Lucy. Also pray that we will get to keep the next baby with us here on earth, healthy and safe in our arms.

Psalm 42:5  Why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Remembering Our Babies- Sean Justin Jr.

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.

SEAN JUSTIN JR.

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Many girls find out they’re pregnant at nineteen and look for every opportunity they can to run the other way. That wasn’t me. As I sat alone in the bathroom staring at the pregnancy test, I found a sense of pride and excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared. But there was something inside of me that gave me the courage to be a mother, and I’ll always be grateful for that. My boyfriend at the time was freaked out. He didn’t know that he was ready to be a dad, not emotionally, not financially, not spiritually. He felt as though he hadn’t grown up himself, and wasn’t ready to raise a baby. We put our heads and hearts together, and at twelve weeks we sat in the dark room tapping our feet waiting for our first glimpse of the baby. He danced around and moved like he was destined to be some professional athlete. The doctor turned up the volume and we heard the fastest “boom boom boom.” As we drove away from the doctor’s office, my boyfriend grabbed my hand and told me how excited he was. He took all the pictures with him to work, and within hours I was getting “congratulations” text messages, calls, and Facebook posts. I felt on top of the world.

Morning sickness was typical, but I had a special condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Basically, I would vomit uncontrollably at all hours of the day. I lost my job because of my inability to function or even show up some days. I spent a great deal of time laying in bed, and sleeping to avoid the feeling of nausea. I lost ten pounds by the fifteen week mark. My dehydration had caused a kidney infection, so I was in the ER at 16 weeks, 1 day, receiving fluids. The on call doctor did an ultrasound just to “check” on our little one. She accidentally slipped and told us the sex, it was a boy. I had known all along, it was just a feeling I had. But my boyfriend cried on the way home when he found out he would have the opportunity to be the father he never had. I’ll never forget moments like that.

Week 23 is when things started to look down. I had an overwhelming feeling of heartburn, like I had swallowed something too big and it wouldn’t go away. I saw my doctor, and then a doctor in L&D, both of which told me it was typical for late second trimester. Finally, on February 21st, I went in to a different L&D after dropping off my boyfriend at work. We had planned to take a trip to Seattle as a weekend getaway, and I wanted to get one last opinion before I left. That trip to the hospital saved my life. My blood pressure was a “bit” high, so they kept me for monitoring for a few hours. Finally, my doctor stepped in and explained to me what pre-eclampsia was and feared that I may have it. She told me not to be alarmed, that it was fairly common and that I would likely hold out pregnancy until thirty seven weeks. She told the nurse to keep taking my blood pressure, and let her know if anything changed. Minutes later, the “heartburn” feeling in my chest turned to a stabbing pain and I was laying in the floor screaming in pain. The nurse rushed in and gave me a shot of morphine, but the pain wasn’t even dulled in the slightest. The doctor came in and told me I would be transported to a bigger hospital with a high-risk OB, and so my boyfriend left work and met me there.

I received magnesium treatments in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. My entire body became warm, and I had no idea what was going on. When I finally reached the hospital, I was vomiting uncontrollably. The nurse on call wouldn’t allow me to have water and I remember being so angry with her. I was pregnant! How was she going to deny me hydration?! A few minutes later an ultrasound was performed and I had several people crowded around me. Then, the room emptied and it was just my boyfriend and I. I told him how scared I was. He told me how scared he was. We joked about the kicks our little one was throwing. Then, the doctors reentered the room. They brought in several chairs and the high risk doctor (who was foreign and didn’t speak great English) said to me, “we have some not great news. you have severe onset HELLP syndrome and you will die if you don’t deliver in the next forty eight hours. our ultrasound shows that the baby is four weeks behind in gestational growth, so there is likely not much that we can do.” I immediately started crying. My boyfriend sat there awaiting the “but” or the alternative to his explanation, and then looked at me. I called my mom and she hopped on a plane to meet me the next day. I was induced that night, and about twenty four hours later, at 7:37 PM, I gave birth to our beautiful son, weighing only 14 oz. My labor was all natural, and the most painful experience of my life.

By suggestion of the priest, we named our son Sean Justin Jr, after his father. He was baptised and I held him for the final time before the nurses took him. His body was absolutely perfect. He had my nose, and my boyfriend’s eyes. He was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I still cannot believe that my body created something so flawless.

The nurse for my arrival was truly a gift from God. I’ll never forget her. Catherine. She gave me the most love, sympathy, and care that I have ever received. I’m crying now just thinking about her. She made the whole process much easier. The decisions on what to do with his body, the papers for his death certificate, the pictures of him, the molds of his hands and feet, and most importantly just coming to check on me while I cried during the night. I was on magnesium, I had a catheter, I was bleeding copious amounts, and I vomited continuously. But she never acted as though I was a burden to her. I was never scared or in pain, and she made sure of that. On the day that I was discharged from the hospital, she made a special trip in on her day off to say goodbye to me. That’s when she told me that she had lost a child as well. I will forever be grateful to have been graced by such a delightful person.

I was in the hospital for four weeks. I was very, very, ill. There were times when my doctor would take my mother and boyfriend to the side and let them know that I was possibly too sick to survive. But I pushed through and eventually made a recovery. My health has improved tremendously.

Emotionally, I have been through many stages of grief. Sadness, following the cards of grief and leaving the hospital empty handed. Helplessness, contemplating taking my own life because living despite my son’s death was unfair to him. Anger, taken out on all of the people closest to me, and on myself; who should I be mad at? Isolation; who, at 20 years old, wants to hear some girl vent about losing her baby…. nobody. And finally, wisdom. I believe that my grief cycle will only prosper from here. I have found a considerable appreciation for life and the fragile nature of it. I have witnessed first hand how quickly it can be taken away. I am so lucky to wake up everyday, and that’s how I treat life. I am so much more considerate of everyone, including strangers, because I am unaware of the battle they are facing themselves. I have changed into a completely different person, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. My son has taught me the true value of loving someone more than I love myself.

Since my loss, I have gotten engaged to my fiance’, I have moved into a new home, adopted a puppy, and worked on bettering myself. My guardian angel is looking over me in everything I do. I can feel him in the most beautiful of moments, through the rain and sunshine, the way the waves hit the shore, and in the way a song just sounds so much more beautiful. I live everyday to make him proud, and my fiance and I want nothing more than to create a life that commemorates him. We are young, but God has made us the best that we can be. My name is Taelor, I’m twenty years old, and I lost my son, Sean, to severe onset HELLP syndrome at 24 weeks.

Thank you, Taelor, for sharing your baby Sean with us. You are such a brave woman and I’m so sorry you lost him after such a hard pregnancy. He sounds so cute and perfect. I love his sweet little feet. I truly think that you will be able to help women in the future who are suffering, just like Catherine helped you.

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.

People I’ve Cried In Front Of

Besides the obvious ones (friends and family) here is a list of the many different people I have cried in front of:

  • Hobby Lobby cashier
  • CVS cashier
  • Random CVS customers
  • Random Publix customers
  • K-mart cashier who asked me to donate to March of Dimes
  • My entire church
  • Many Hobby Lobby customers
  • Random ER doctor who happened to be pregnant (Her response: You REALLY need to talk to someone. In my defense, it was only a week after Lucy died)
  • Pretty much anyone that I pull up next to at a red light
  • Guy with his son at the train table at Barnes and Noble
  • Anyone who asks me how many kids I have
  • Woman next to me on the plane (She ended up telling me about her four miscarriages and the miscarriage ministry that she started at her church. She then held my hand and prayed for me as the plane was landing)
  • Barnes and Noble employee helping me look for a kid’s book on heaven to show the boys where their sister was
  • Our pediatrician (I loved his response: Well, you cannot question God. It is His decision and you have two healthy boys to be thankful for. You cannot question God)
  • Lots of moms at lots of different playgrounds
  • Liam’s teenage swimming teacher
  • Random lady in the bathroom
  • My OBGYN, MFM and countless other doctors and nurses
  • Everyone in the waiting room at the OBGYN
  • My German students
  • Lots of happy families at the Tennessee Aquarium on the 4th of July (I passed the “Nursing Mothers Room” and lost it)

These are just some of the times I’ve cried in front of people. How many times have I glared at people with a “I want to kill you” look on my face? But in reality, I don’t even see the person I’m glaring at. I’m looking right through them as I wonder how I’m going to get through the rest of my life without my daughter. I’m looking at the “Happy Father’s Day Daddy, from your daughter” cards and dying inside. Before losing Lucy, if I had run into my future self in the store I would have thought, “What is her problem?” Now I know. Maybe her problem is that her baby girl died. Or maybe her husband left her or her Dad just got diagnosed with cancer, or she got diagnosed with cancer or she just got her 20th negative pregnancy test. I know now not to judge someone by what I see. I have no idea what they are going through. The best solution? Treat everyone with love, treat everyone as if their daughter just died and you can’t go wrong.

Remembering Our Babies- Cary Lewis, McKayla Grace, Elijah Evan, Kelsey Braeden, Jorryn Connor

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.

CARY LEWIS FONDREN

MCKAYLA GRACE FONDREN

ELIJAH EVAN FONDREN

KELSEY BRAEDEN FONDREN

JORRYN CONNOR FONDREN

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for about a year and a half.  I was shocked when I found out we were going to have problems getting pregnant.  We had planned out our life and this was when we were to begin our family.  I guess I thought it would just happen.  We planned to have children one month and I thought the next month we would.  I was so surprised. I’ve always had irregular periods but I never dreamed this would affect me getting pregnant.  I went to two different doctors.  I went through taking Clomid (a fertility drug) and progesterone.

About 1 ½ more years passed and we finally got pregnant.  We found out on a Monday that we were finally pregnant.  How wonderful it was to hear those words.  To know that all the plumbing did work – with help!  But even from the start there was a damper.  My doctor told me in the very next sentence that my HCG level was really low and that they either detected the pregnancy very early (which by my calculations was impossible) or that there were problems and I would miscarry.  He said to come back on Thursday and they would check my level again.  Three days seemed like an eternity; wondering if the baby was still there; wondering if every thing was going to be O.K.  Thursday rolled around and I went in at 8:15 for them to take blood.  At 2:30 my doctor called me at work and told me that I had lost the baby.  I started my period that very night.  I know it sounds strange to say that I loved this baby that I only knew about for 4 days.  But I did.  I loved this child from the first moment that I found out he/she was inside of me.  We named the baby Cary Lewis Fondren. Cary means “love” and Lewis was my maiden name.

Four months of more fertility drugs passed and we got pregnant again.  As far as we knew everything was going O.K. up till my first doctor’s appointment.  We were so excited to be pregnant with no “buts”.  On my first doctor’s appointment they did an ultrasound.  Since I was 7 weeks we were going to see the heart beat.  But as it turned out the baby was very small for a 7 week old.  It was the size of a 5 week old.  We saw no heart beat.  My doctor told me that either I was not as far along as I originally thought or something was wrong.  I went back in on a Thursday to have my level checked again.  I found out at 4:00 that day that I would probably lose this baby, too.  Three weeks of more ultrasounds passed until we finally decided to have a D&C, since the baby had quit growing and my body didn’t realize that it had died.  Genetic testing showed that the baby was a girl and she died of Trisomy 16.  We named her McKayla Grace Fondren. McKayla means “Who is like God” and Grace means “grace of God”.

We tried for about 7 more months with no visible progress.  We then decided to take a break for a few months. We rested for about 3 months.  Then all the treatments resumed.  We continued on the medication for 2 months and then found out we were pregnant. We received excellent reports all the way up to our 16th week.  That’s the day the nurses and doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat and saw on the ultrasound that the baby had no blood flow.  It appears that the baby died around week 14.  We had to have another D&C.  Genetic testing showed that he was a boy and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.  We named him Elijah Evan Fondren. Elijah means “The Lord is my God” and Evan means “God is gracious”.

Six months after our third miscarriage we found out that we were once again pregnant.  This time was different however – we hadn’t taken any medication at all!!!!!!!!! It was a total surprise.  8 ½ months later God gave us our miracle baby girl, Lyndal! Her birth was very eventful and I almost died, but God spared me.

21 months after Lyndal was born we found out we were pregnant again!  To our surprise – no medication this time either!!!!!!  Things were going well up to 7 weeks.  That’s when the heartbeat stopped.  It appears that the baby died about 6 weeks.  We had to have another D&C.  They were unable to analyze the baby for genetic testing.  We named the baby Kelsey Braeden Fondren. Kelsey means “helper” and Braeden means “from the dark valley”.

Just under two months after the last D&C we found out we were once again pregnant.  We had just started seeing a reproductive specialist.  They were the ones who told us we were pregnant – we had no idea.  So once again no medication.  We did find out that I have a syndrome called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. In a nut shell, my body sees my babies as something that it needs to terminate. It mainly does this by producing blood clots that clots off the blood flow to the baby. To help combat this, I started taking Heparin injections twice a day in my stomach.  I was at 5 ½ weeks along when we learned that the pregnancy was not viable and that it was probably a tubal pregnancy.  I took low doses of a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate to help my body realize that the pregnancy was not working.  Two weeks later I had to have major emergency surgery to remove the growing baby from my tube and to stop my internal hemorrhaging. We named the baby Jorryn Connor Fondren. Jorryn means “the one God loves” and Connor means “much wanted”.

Four months after the surgery we learned that my right tube is indeed blocked off from scar tissue and that there was a possibility that I would not be able to bear any more children.

9 months later we found out that we were pregnant.  And boy were we excited – apprehensive – but excited.  We were in unbelief that God would get us pregnant with only one tube and my history of not ovulating.  I started all my daily medications, including twice a day Heparin injections into my stomach.  This pregnancy also brought about some cardiac problems that kept us on our toes and caused much tiredness, trips to the ER, palpitations, etc…  Later in the pregnancy I learned that I had gestational diabetes which meant a drastic change in my diet. At 27 weeks I learned that I had low amniotic fluid, probably due to my syndrome still trying to kill the baby.  So weekly ultrasounds, doctor visits and baby monitoring were set up.  I was also placed on a modified bed rest and took steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs form quicker just in case they had to take her early.  At 30 weeks they had to go ahead and deliver Alina Grace because my fluid was so low.  She stayed in the NICU for 34 days. She is another example of God’s grace.

When Alina was 11 months old we found out we were once again pregnant – no medication. We were totally elated! As before, we started all the daily medications and twice a day Heparin injections. I also had cardiac problems and gestational diabetes again. With this pregnancy, I found out that I had Issoimmunization (I’m RH Negative and my blood came into some contact with RH Positive blood and was producing antibodies to fight against it) which can cause anemia in an unborn child which can be fatal. I had to go to UAB monthly for ultrasounds. Praise the Lord, precious Cohen Wesley was born at 37 weeks with no major complications. I had to have extra surgery after his delivery because my intestines had grown to my uterus. But he, thankfully, was totally healthy and had no complications from the Issoimmunization other than a little jaundice.

When Cohen was about 2 1/2 years old, we found out we were pregnant again – no medication. Again, we were elated! As before, we started all the daily medication and twice a day Heparin injections into my stomach. I once again had cardiac problems and the issues with Issoimmunization. I again went to UAB for monthly ultrasounds. Praise the Lord, precious Elias Arthur Fondren was born at 37 weeks. He, too, was jaundice, but unlike our other children his jaundice was Coombs Positive. It was caused from my Issoimmunization and is quiet dangerous. His billirubin levels would go down but unlike regular jaundice they would shoot back up to dangerous levels. He had to stay in the hospital a couple of extra days. Again, I had to have extra surgery because my uterus had this time grown to my stomach. Thankfully, at the time of this writing Eli is totally healthy and has no complications.

So, we now have four healthy, happy children here on earth and five precious children waiting on us in heaven. Even after everything I’ve been through, I can still honestly say that God is good!

This woman is my hero. She reached out to me when my Lucy died and through her sorrow I have been comforted. Her story encourages me so much. She is one of the main reasons why I am trying again for another baby. Through her story I have been reassured that it’s not wrong to want another baby after losing one. It’s not wrong to keep trying, even when the odds don’t seem good. Tina’s courage and perseverance are amazing, and I know her strength comes from God. What if she had given up after she lost her first baby? Or her second baby? Or her third baby? Or what if she stopped after having Lyndal, the first baby she brought home from the hospital? She very easily could have decided that she had one healthy one and the risks were too high and the heartache too deep to try again. She would have missed out on her four sweet children growing and loving and playing all around her now. And one day, when she gets to heaven and five new and wonderful children run into her arms she will think how thankful she is that she kept on trying. I have to include this quote from Elisabeth Elliot because it reminds me so much of Tina, who trusted God enough to accept whatever He gave her.

“Receive all from His hand, accept with gratitude just the portion and the cup He offers. Shall I charge Him with a mistake in His measurements or with misjudging the sphere in which I can best learn to trust Him?…The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

Thank you, Tina, for sharing your precious babies with us today. They are all so special and I love that you gave each baby such a meaningful name. I am excited about meeting Cary, McKayla, Elijah, Kelsey and Jorryn in heaven and telling them how their story and their Mama helped me so much while I was on earth.

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.

Lucy’s Due Date

This is the saddest picture for me.

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I was trying to do something cute that I saw on Pinterest:

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But it never happened. I hardly took any pregnancy photos after I found out Lucy was at risk because I was scared I might lose her and the pictures would make me sad. If only I had known that I would lose her and I would wish I had more pictures of her in my belly. I didn’t know those were some of the only photos of her I would have. cropped-cropped-img_1179.jpg

Today I should be welcoming my first baby girl into the world and taking that third photo of me holding my new little girl. Instead, I am full of emptiness. It feels all wrong. Lucy had two different due dates. First, the doctors told us she was due July 7th and then as she started growing more and more and they started measuring, they realized she was very big, so they moved her due date up to July 2nd. I wish I could just pick one and decide to mourn her on that day, but I have no control over my sadness. Both July 7th and 2nd remind me of what and of who I’ve lost. I know I will cry for her on these dates for a long, long time, probably for the rest of my life. I also thought (and many people guessed) that maybe she would be a 4th of July baby. Now, that holiday will always be painful for me. As soon as the 4th of July stuff was put out in the stores I started asking Josh to go shopping for me more and more. The red, white and blue and the stars and stripes make me nauseated (not saying I don’t love America.) I do think I’m lucky that it’s not Christmas or a holiday that I really like that’s been ruined for me. I have been dreading July since the day I lost Lucy. It highlights my empty arms and my aching heart. All the women who were pregnant with me are having their babies. This week no one will be cooing over Lucy and holding her and passing her around. I won’t be healing from the wounds of childbirth. My wounds are much, much deeper and I know some of them will not be healed until I get to heaven.

After I gave birth to my two sons, one of my favorite parts was being wheeled out of the hospital in the wheelchair with my baby boy in my arms. It was so exciting to take him outside for the first time and tell him, “Look! This is the world.” All the people we passed on our way out to the car had nothing but delighted smiles and encouraging eyes. After I gave birth to Lucy, I was wheeled out of the hospital on a dark, rainy, cold day with nothing in my arms and a forever wound in my heart. People looked right past me, not knowing that I had just given birth to a new baby, my first daughter. The scars on my belly from the two times they went in for her blood transfusion healed, but the scar from the amniocentesis remains, even after all these months, and I treasure it. It’s a tiny physical scar that’s left on my body that reminds me of her. It is a small physical representation of the bleeding, gaping wound that was left on my heart when she died. I love seeing my tiny scar on my stomach. How sad it is that I sit here on her due date, treasuring a tiny scar on my stomach instead of my first baby girl, wrapped in a soft blanket in my arms.

These dates in July remind me of everything I’ve lost, my innocent belief that pregnancy ends with a baby in my arms, my love of babies, my love of pregnancy, my dream of a large family, my precious, beautiful daughter, my heart. But, if I spend so much time mourning what I have lost, shouldn’t I at least acknowledge the things I have gained? Lucy’s loss has been so terrible, but her leaving has also brought me many wonderful things. I know that Lucy’s death wasn’t God’s plan. He hates death and pain and sorrow. I know that Lucy died because we live in a fallen world, poisoned by our own sin. But, God knew Lucy would die and He is using it for good in my life and hopefully, in the lives of others. In some way, I think I dishonor Lucy and her God when I only acknowledge the wounds I have suffered and ignore the beautiful things I have gained.

I have gained a sympathy for people who are suffering that I never had before. I can empathize with people in pain, when before, I would have probably thought, “That’s sad” and just moved on. I know to ask people about their pain, even if it’s awkward, because they probably want to talk about it, and they want to know that people acknowledge their suffering.

I now see my two living children as miracles. Before, they were my sons, my loved ones, but I didn’t see what miracles they were. Before Lucy, I thought of my two boys as the first of many children to come. I now see them as my beautiful miracles; my treasured gifts from God. How blessed I am to have two sons here on earth with me. I think I am a better Mom now. I treasure every moment I have with my two boys and I am even able to brush off the hard times (and there are lots of hard times with a two year old and four year old) and I find myself thanking God in those moments. I never got to ween Lucy from her pacifier or teach her to share or potty train her or discipline her. Before Lucy, I dreaded doing these things, now I treasure them.

I have gained a longing for heaven that I never had before Lucy. Actually, before Lucy, I was scared of death and I dreaded it. Now, I see death as a beautiful relief of the pain of this world. I truly can’t wait. Heaven becomes so much more REAL when your daughter lives there. You know the excitement you feel when your baby is about to be born? It’s the day you’ve waited months for (possibly even years.) You finally get to meet that sweet little baby that will change your life forever; that person you would give your life for. That’s how I feel about going to heaven, but more. Not only do I get to meet my sweet daughter, I also get to meet our Creator, and I get to live without my pain. I never realized how much I feared death until after losing Lucy, and the burden was completely lifted. Lucy has given me a beautiful feeling of freedom from the death-chains of this world.

Before Lucy, I used to feel frustrated because I am not an evangelist. I don’t have a heart for evangelism like my parents do. They are so good at talking to people about God, sharing the gospel and caring for the lost people around them. They don’t care if it’s awkward or difficult. They invest their lives in other people. I prayed so many times for God to help me glorify Him with my life, to impact people for eternity. I felt inadequate and useless. Now, Lucy has given me a platform. My pastor once preached a sermon titled, “Your Misery is your Ministry” and I have found that to be true. God answered my prayers and has given me a chance to glorify Him with my life, to be a sweet aroma to Him. It’s weird, but right after Lucy died I had a lot of moments where I felt honored that God would trust me with this; that He found me worthy to suffer for Him, to make my life count and my Lucy’s life count.

Lucy has given me so much perspective on life. I can’t believe the ridiculous things I used to worry about before Lucy. I know now what is truly important. I know that this life is fleeting and will be gone in the blink of an eye. I know my days are numbered and I want to make them count. I know that my children are not really MINE. They are God’s and He is in control of what happens to them. He has loaned them to me for a while and has trusted me to raise them for Him. I know I cannot base my happiness in life on my children. I have learned who my true source of joy is.

Lucy,

My baby girl, how I wish I was welcoming you into the world today; showing you off to everyone and just now revealing your name; honoring my Mom with her Grandmother’s name, surprising her. How I wish I was breastfeeding you, nourishing you with life, with love; smothering you with kisses. I wish we were starting a lifetime together, but instead I am ticking away my lifetime, day by day, until I can meet you in heaven. I wish I was introducing you to your big brothers, telling them to be gentle with you, not to touch your face. I wish I was seeing your Daddy’s proud eyes as he held you for the first time. He wanted you so very much. I wish I could go on with my naive idea that this world is a comfortable place that has been kind to me and my family. But, I am also glad that I have seen the world for what it is, harsh, broken, in need of a Savior. I see now how urgent it was that He sacrificed His Son to save the world. What beautiful things you have taught me, my Lucy. You have allowed others to be comforted through your little life. You have given your big brothers and future siblings a better Mommy. You have saved your Mommy from a complacent life and a watered down relationship with God. I can’t wait to know you in heaven and be with you for eternity. Thank you for the things you have given me. I am so proud of you.

Love, Mommy