A Pin and a Blanket

These last few weeks I have been getting through the days weighted down with stifling depression and grief. Sometimes it lets up, but since I lost Jude it has laid heavy on me. This last week I let myself be honest with God and I said, “You say you will be close to the broken hearted, you say you are the God of all comfort. You say you will heal me and let me feel your presence. Where are you? Come and be my comfort, my peace, my healing. Show me that you are telling the truth.”

Every time I have prayed this kind of prayer (which has been quite often since losing my Lucy) God answers me, and He almost always answers me through other people. This past week a woman from my church told me about her 14 week loss many years ago. She gave me this sweet little pin and said it was for me to remember baby Jude.

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She told me it was hers after she lost her son and she used to keep it in her pocket for comfort and now she was giving it to me. It was so sweet. I have several things to remember Lucy by, but very few things for Jude, so this was just perfect. I felt so comforted that she would share this with me and let me share in her loss too. I also felt God’s love through her.

The next day a little girl from my church emailed me and asked if it would be ok if she and her friend made Lucy a blanket. I cried when I read it because I have been thinking lately how sad it is that I didn’t even get Lucy a pretty, girly blanket. I could have wrapped her in it and it would have been so special. It also meant so much to me that these little girls even remembered Lucy. Most people have moved on and rarely think about her, and I think about her every minute and cry for her every day. What a sweet expression of love for these girls to remember Lucy and to remember me. I cried again when Savannah and Briley brought over the pretty blanket they made for Lucy. I loved it. It even had her name on it. These little girls probably just wanted to do something nice for someone, and they probably have no idea how God used their kindness to encourage me this week. After they brought me the blanket I felt like God was saying, “See? I love you and you are important to me.” This blanket is now one of my most prized possessions. I will love it until the day I die. I can picture myself as an old, wrinkled lady holding this Lucy blanket and still feeling the comfort from it, still feeling the love of the body of Christ that it represents, even decades from now.

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Sometimes the smallest act of kindness can mean the world to someone else. If you are a woman who has suffered a pregnancy loss and you know someone who has just lost a baby themselves, be brave and share your story with them. I have found the most comfort from women who have lost babies themselves and I always think, “What if she hadn’t said anything?” Thank you Savannah and Briley for listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and for making such a beautiful blanket for my Lucy. And thank you to every single woman who has ever been brave enough to tell me about the baby you have lost. You have comforted me and encouraged me so much and you inspire me to tell more people about my Lucy and Jude.

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LIFE

This was one of the first posts I ever wanted to make. I think I started writing this post in my head the moment I saw Lucy’s beautiful, lifeless body. It’s only taken me about 6 months to post it.

As I have said before, several days before Lucy died I knew she wasn’t doing well. She wasn’t kicking or moving at all. The days leading up to her death were almost as bad as the days following her death. The day before we went in for her second blood transfusion (that never happened) I finally allowed myself to face the possibility that I was about to experience a stillbirth. I wondered if I would get to look at my baby, if I was brave enough to look at my baby who was still developing. Was I brave enough to look at my dead baby? I imagined them just wrapping her little body in a towel or a generic hospital blanket at best and handing her to me. I was terrified. I had no idea what she would look like. The next day my baby girl died and the day after that she was born still. They asked if I wanted to see her and I said, “Yes, of course.” They took her away to clean her up. I was so shocked when they brought her back. She was lying in a little white bassinet. She had a sweet little yellow dress on and a tiny hat on her head. Under her head was a little heart shaped pillow. She also had a hand-made blanket wrapped around her. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. She was clothed with dignity. Someone (an amazing organization called Threads of Love) had recognized that this was a life, a person, someone’s first baby girl. She wasn’t just medical waste, she wasn’t just a fetus, she wasn’t just a part of my body. She was Lucy Dair Weathersby, my cherished, loved, dreamed of, prayed over little girl. As I said in Lucy’s Story, I couldn’t believe how perfect she was, only half way through the pregnancy. She looked just like her Daddy and resembled her big brother, Asher, after only being in the womb for a little over 19 weeks. She had perfect little hands with my long fingers and tiny, perfectly formed fingernails. I couldn’t believe that any woman would choose to end her own child’s life, that it was legal to kill a baby, like Lucy. So many doctors worked so hard to save Lucy. Thousands and thousands of dollars were spent trying to save her life, but if I had deemed her “unwanted” I could have had them end her life.

I have put this blog post off again and again because I don’t want it to seem political and I don’t want to offend anyone. I have very little interest in politics. I am proud to consider myself neither republican nor democrat. This post has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the beauty of life. The beauty of EVERY life. My Mom always reminds me to “Speak the truth in love.” I want to speak this truth in love. Before now, I had trouble loving and feeling compassion for women who have had abortions. I have never understood how the “right to choose” can be stronger than the instinct to love and protect your baby, your own flesh and blood. But now, I truly feel a love and compassion for those women that I never thought possible. I know they must be in a horrible situation to think of abortion as the solution. I feel so sad that they are tricked into thinking that ending their pregnancy is just ending their pregnancy, instead of ending the priceless life that’s blooming inside them. They are deceived into thinking that choosing abortion is the easier way out. I feel so deeply sorrowful for them as they have to recover from the loss of their baby with the knowledge that they stopped their baby’s heartbeat.

Coming from someone who has seen a developing baby in real life, can I just say, it is a life. No matter how far along you are, that baby is a miracle in the making. It was heartbreaking to see my daughter still in the process of being formed, but it was also beautiful. It was beautiful to see her Maker’s handiwork. Every part of her echoed His skill, His attention to detail, His love for her, His genius. Every baby is a gift. Every baby is made in His image. If you are considering an abortion, please, reconsider. You are setting yourself up for a life of heartache and guilt and you are ending your child’s life. If only you could peer inside your womb and see the intimate details of your baby that He is creating. If only you could see the plans that God has for your baby’s life. Also, on a selfish note, I know what it’s like to lose a baby and it is heart wrenching. Whether your baby’s life ends as a stillbirth, a miscarriage or an abortion, you are still a Mommy losing your baby. It will leave a life-long scar on your heart. A woman who loses her baby through abortion is not exempt from the pain of losing her child. I would do anything to be able to go back and save my Lucy and my baby Jude and save myself from this pain. I never could have even thought up this kind of pain before experiencing it. Save yourself from the worst pain imaginable. If you are trying to choose, choose life. You will not regret it.

Here is evidence of a Mommy who loved her baby enough to choose life.

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This is Lottie, the baby that has been prayed for by hundreds, who has been waited for for years. Her birth mother is my hero, who not only chose life for her baby, but chose the BEST life for her baby. Her Mom is my friend, who struggled with infertility for five years and now has her arms full of life.

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I’m Really Bad at Suffering

“All people suffer loss. Being alive means suffering loss. Living means changing, and change requires that we lose one thing before we gain something else.” -Jerry Sittser

I have come to realize that I am really bad at suffering. Losing Lucy was the first time I have ever suffered a tragic loss and it has been hard to learn how to live with suffering. I know it will get better, but this pain will never go away. It’s such a foreign concept to me. I think one reason I love Elisabeth Elliot is because she is so good at suffering. Her first husband was murdered and then her second husband died of cancer. She also had a granddaughter who was stillborn. She isn’t bitter or drowning in self pity (although I’m sure she’s had her moments.) She is strong and joyful. She writes amazing things like “Fear God and fear nothing else,” and “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” I want to bear my suffering like she does.

My childhood was wonderful. I wouldn’t change anything about it. My parents reminded me over and over again that I would always be number three in their lives, which was incredibly comforting, believe it or not. My Mom would tell me that God was number one in her life, my Dad was number two and I and my siblings were all number three. Honestly, what could be better?

When I think of my childhood I picture myself climbing one of the mango trees in our backyard while eating a mango at the same time, the juice running down through my fingers all the way to my elbow. I never wore shoes. I always felt loved, I was disciplined consistently and I knew about God from babyhood. I always had four playmates with me wherever we lived. I was happy and confident in who I was. I knew God’s love and I felt Him smiling down on me.

I got my college degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. I feel like I’m good at teaching and I absolutely love it. I never had to worry about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I knew when I was 5 years old. I married the perfect man for me. He is my best friend. He makes marriage easy. He is the best Daddy I could ever dream up for my children. We got pregnant the very first month we tried. We had a healthy, blonde baby boy 9 months later and we had his healthy, gigantic blonde brother two years later. I knew God’s love and I felt Him smiling down on me.

Then my baby girl died and so did my dreams for a large family like I had grown up in. The shock of the pain was incredible, like nothing I had ever felt before. Excruciating pain. I felt like I was writhing. I wished it was physical pain so at least it would be familiar. Then at least I could take some pain medicine, although it would probably have to be straight morphine to touch the pain. Then, right when our hopes for another baby were rising at the sight of that positive pregnancy test they were dashed so quickly by the loss of our Jude. I felt unprepared for suffering. The most suffering I had ever experienced was breaking up with boyfriends and my three ankle surgeries and one knee surgery (sports injuries, long story.) But that doesn’t come close to the pain of losing my baby and my ability to have safe pregnancies. It suddenly felt like a different world and it did NOT feel like God was smiling down on me.

Sometimes I wonder if I had suffered more in my earlier years would I have been more prepared for this most terrible suffering of my life? Then, I wonder if there is any way to prepare my boys for suffering that is sure to be a part of their future. I know that my job as a mother is to protect my children, but how do I do that while preparing them for suffering at the same time? I’m still not sure how to do that. I do think your childhood is the foundation for the rest of your life. My sons’ childhoods are something that demand protection and love and security. When they look back on their childhoods I want them to feel the magical purity of it, to remember fun and innocence and safety. But I also want them to be prepared for real life when it hits.

When Liam was a baby I was surprised by the intensity of pain involved with teething. He cried for hours, didn’t want to eat or sleep and was obviously in a lot of pain. It was pitiful, but when that tiny, blindingly white tooth finally broke through he felt so much better. It was a sad realization when I remembered that he had a mouthful of teeth to break through in the coming months and years. I wondered why God made teething so painful. He could have engineered it a different way so that it was pain-free like when our hair grows or our bones grow. Maybe He made teething so painful so that babies could prepare for a world that includes pain. Maybe it’s one of His built-in suffering training exercises.

As unprepared for suffering as I felt, what would it have been like if I hadn’t experienced the small sufferings that I did? I was always the foreign girl with a weird accent. In Africa I was the weird American and in America I was the weird African girl with a British accent. I had to start lots of school years at a new school (often in a new country) without any friends. Those surgeries I had in high school and college humbled me in lots of ways and taught me a lot about suffering. Being on crutches for weeks, being in intense pain and having to relearn how to use your foot through hours and hours of physical therapy are good ways to humble a person and acquaint them with suffering. I know that all of the small pains I went through did help with my suffering now, but I still felt very unprepared. I still don’t know how to live with this pain and be ok with it. It is so unnatural for me.

During the month we lost Lucy, my boys stayed with my parents many nights while we were in and out of the hospital. The week after Lucy died, Liam’s behavior was horrible, but we just assumed it was because he had been away from his parents and the fact that his baby sister just died. The morning of his birthday party, one week after Lucy died, he woke up with blood running out of his ear. A lot of blood. And his pajamas and his blankets were all stained with blood. We later found out he had had a terrible ear infection for a while and it got so bad that his eardrum burst! I felt SO bad, I couldn’t believe I let that happen. I felt like such a bad mother. My Mom felt bad too, but she reminded me that, “It’s just making him tough, and preparing him for life.”

A lot of times I feel so guilty that my sons have to go through this tragedy at such an early age. They will grow up knowing that their baby sister is dead. Sometimes, Liam says sad things like, “I love Daddy so much. Does that mean he has to go up to heaven now?” Or “When Lucy went up to heaven we still loved her so much.” And he looks so heartbreakingly confused. I know it’s hard to see your Mommy cry every day and struggle to do simple things like go grocery shopping or go to church. Asher often randomly comes up to me and asks, “Mama? You miss your Lucy?” This is how they are starting off their childhoods, but I can’t change it and I know God is in control. I find comfort knowing that when they are older and they lose someone else they love they will have some experience suffering such a loss. They won’t be floundering in disbelief like their Mommy is now. It will be a bit more familiar to them and they will be better sufferers. It is sad to see your children suffer, but if they are, remember that it is making them stronger and it is preparing them for a future in a fallen world.

Romans 5:3-5  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Job Wanted to be Stillborn

I have read Job several times and heard the story all my life. I am reading it again and I couldn’t believe it when I read that Job wished he had been stillborn. I have always skimmed right over that part, but obviously this time it caught my eye. Most of you probably know the story. Job’s name is synonymous with suffering in most of our minds. All of his wealth and possessions and his 10 children were destroyed in one day. His body was covered from head to toe with open, oozing wounds. He was in so much pain he wished he had never been born and he cursed the day he was conceived:

Job 3:10-19 “And why? Because it released me from my mother’s womb into a life with so much trouble. Why didn’t I die at birth, and my first breath out of the womb my last? Why were there arms to rock me, and breasts for me to drink from? I could be resting in peace right now, asleep forever, feeling no pain, in the company of kings and statesmen in their royal ruins, or with princes resplendent in their gold and silver tombs. Why wasn’t I stillborn and buried with all the babies who never saw light, where the wicked no longer trouble anyone and bone-weary people get a long-deserved rest? Prisoners sleep undisturbed, never again to wake to the bark of the guards. The small and the great are equals in that place, and slaves are free from their masters.”

I think this is heartbreaking and beautiful. I know I have written about this before (See Lucy’s Present) but I am so thankful that I don’t have to worry about my Lucy and my Jude. I never weep for them, I weep for myself, for the fact that I have to live without them. It is so comforting that they live in peace and that they feel no pain. About two minutes after Lucy died and two minutes into the worst pain of my life I thought, “Thank you, Jesus, that she never has to feel this pain. Ever.”

Job was in way more pain than I have ever been in. He mourned in silence for a week and then the first thing he said was how he wished he had never been conceived or that he had been stillborn. I think maybe he wanted to be stillborn because those babies are the only human beings who never have to feel pain or heartache or disappointment. They don’t even know what sin is. How blessed those babies are! This has reminded me today what a beautiful life Lucy and Jude and all the other lost babies have been given and from what pain and suffering they have been spared.

A Prayer Request

As most of you know, we are trying to conceive baby #5 (and hopefully earth-baby #3.)

I would love it if you all prayed for the next baby to be kell-negative.

I keep thinking that I will start sending out prayer requests for the baby after we get pregnant, but the baby’s blood type is decided at conception. It makes sense to pray now instead of after the baby is conceived. I’m not sure why this just dawned on me.

Anyway, if the baby inherits my blood type (kell-negative) I will have a normal pregnancy. If the baby gets Josh’s blood type (kell-positive) the baby will have a very low chance of surviving the pregnancy. For more info you can look at “Anti-kell Antibodies.” All of our babies have a 50/50 chance of having either of these blood types, but we know that God is the one who chooses our next baby’s blood type.

We would be so devastated to lose another precious child. Please come together with us and pray for a kell-negative baby. God tells us that He loves giving His children good things that they ask for. He wants us to ask. We believe in the power of prayer and we want all of you to come on this journey with us and see what amazing things God does. We are so thankful for you all!

Matthew 7:7-11  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Six Months

Those who suffer loss live suspended between a past for which they long and a future for which they hope. -Jerry Sittser

It has been six months since I lost my baby girl. It has been six months since I lost my hopes for a big family and normal pregnancies. Half a year. I miss Lucy so much. I miss my old self a lot too. This has been the hardest, strangest and by far, the worst six months of my life. I still cry for Lucy every day. Sometimes I cry for her every hour. I feel like the rest of my life and the world has been put on hold while I try to heal. I do feel suspended between the past that I long for and the future that I hope for. It is a weird and very unsettling place to be. But I know that God is here with me.

I feel like my faith in God has been challenged like never before and it remains strong, but I don’t see Him the same way I saw Him before this. He remains the same, but my views of Him have been changed forever. It is hard to be in so much pain and to know that God could remove it with a word, but He doesn’t. I know He doesn’t because it is best for me, but it’s hard. I feel like I have a deeper and much more authentic relationship with Him. I know now that He is not “safe” and He is not predictable and my thoughts are so very, very far from His thoughts. My plans are very different from His plans, and His plans will prevail. In the end, His plans are much, much better than mine. I am learning to trust Him when I don’t feel like it and I’m learning that my feelings are changing and fleeting. I’m learning that my love for Him is real and deep and forever.

God is healing me, but it is much, much slower than I thought. I know that my heart aches for Lucy and for Jude, so where I am now in my healing process is probably not the same place I would be if I had only lost one baby. I read about many women who still have such deep pain from their losses years afterwards and now I am seeing that it is true. I know I will only be completely healed in heaven. TIme makes it easier, but time does not heal all wounds. Maybe I need more time. I would love to be wrong about this.

Getting through these six months has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. I am now six months closer to a pain free heaven and to Lucy and Jude and to my God. I am six months closer to healing and to my future here on earth that I hope for. I am also very aware that I could be six months closer to my next loss and I am accepting that. God is with me wherever I am and He will be enough.

Not Getting What I Want

Ever since Lucy died I have been praying and asking God to let me see her in a dream. I kind of know what she looked like because I got to see her after she died, but I was only half way through the pregnancy. I always wonder what she was going to look like as a newborn baby or a 6 month old or a 3 year old…I just begged God to let me see her. It would be so easy for Him to show Lucy to me in a dream. The cynical, stubborn part of me said, “You are making me go my lifetime without knowing her, you could at least show me what she looks like in a dream.”

Well, a couple nights after I found out I was losing baby Jude, God gave me what I wanted. He showed me Lucy in a dream and it was one of the most painful things that I’ve ever experienced.

In my dream I realized that I needed to breastfeed Lucy. It was lunch time and I hadn’t fed her since the day before. I was full of milk and was horrified when I realized I hadn’t fed her that day. She was in the NICU, so I had to rush to the hospital to feed her. I thought that if I didn’t get there fast enough she would die. I ran as fast as I could, but the “Royal Wedding” was happening. I had to run through the Royal Wedding and everyone kept saying, “Hey, where are you going? You’re going to miss William and Kate’s wedding!” (I think this stems from my extreme anxiety over the birth of the royal baby. The baby is around Lucy’s age and will always be displayed to remind me of how old Lucy should be.) I finally got to the hospital and couldn’t find Lucy. People asked, “Which baby is she?” and I said, “She’s the sickest baby here. She’s probably the only baby here who’s going to die.”

Finally, I ran upstairs and a sweet nurse put her hand on my arm and guided me to the corner. And there she was. The sun was streaming in through a window onto my Lucy, lying in her bassinet. I asked, “Is that her?” And the nurse said yes. That part of my dream kills me and brings me to tears every time I think of it because I had to ASK if that was my daughter. I didn’t even know what my baby looked like. How heartbreaking to not know your own child. I cried out, “Lucy! Lucy!” and she turned her face towards me and laughed out loud. She smiled up at me, so happy to see me. She was so cute. Her cheeks were so chubby and she had a short, light brown fuzz of hair. She had scratched her face because her fingernails were too long. I realized later that she was about 5 months old, not a newborn. If she had been born alive in February she would have been 5 months old when I had the dream. Lucy was wearing a pink onesie with tiny flowers all over it. Her chubby belly filled out the onesie so perfectly. She wasn’t sick at all. She was healthy and happy and reaching for her Mama. I reached out both of my hands to pick her up and right when I touched her sweet little body, I woke up.

When I woke up I was kind of disoriented and thinking “Where’s Lucy?” and then it hit me, like a knife in my heart. She’s dead. She’s not filling out her pink flower onesie with her chubby belly. She’s dead. She doesn’t need me to breastfeed her. She’s dead for the rest of my life. I felt like I was reliving her death all over again. Have you ever had a horribly realistic nightmare where someone you love died? It’s terrifying and when you wake up you are so relieved to realize that it was just a dream. It was all just a dream. It was the opposite for me. I thought my daughter was alive and when I woke up I realized it was all a dream. My daughter is dead in reality. This horrible nightmare is my reality.

I immediately asked God, “Please, don’t ever do that to me again. I will wait to see her in heaven.” Oh, my heart, she was so cute. I cry every time I think about that dream. I’m weeping as I type this, and I weep every time I proofread this post. I try to push her sweet face out of my mind because it’s too painful to bear seeing her and to know I have to wait until I die to have her. I cried for days after that dream because it was like reliving her death. That dream has plunged me back into my grief like nothing else, even more than miscarrying Jude. Now before I go to sleep I ask God to please not let me dream about Lucy.

Now I know why God was reluctant to give me a dream about my Lucy. The whole time I begged Him to give me a dream about her, He knew what it would do to me. He knew it would do more damage than good. He knew it would be better for me to wait until I was in heaven to see her. This was a very important (and extremely painful) lesson for me. I ask Him for so many things- things that seem rational and good (like saving my daughter’s life or giving me another baby or even taking my pain away.) Perhaps God knows what the best thing for me is. Perhaps He knows more than me. Of course He knows more than me! Why do I forget that He knows EVERYTHING, including the future? Why do I think my plan is better than His?

Timothy Keller (one of my favorite preachers) imagines God saying:

My son, when a child of mine makes a request, I always give that person what he or she would have asked for if they knew everything I know.

Romans 8:32  He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

Coming Up For Air

Today God has given me a bit of a break from the stifling grief. It’s like coming up for air. I’ve noticed that this has been my pattern of grief. I am horribly depressed and I think about Lucy all day and cry every hour. That usually lasts several weeks, then I come up for air and the world almost looks normal again. Losing Jude plunged me so far down into the sorrow that today feels like such a relief. It’s the first time I’ve been able to come up for air since having the miscarriage in July.

We took the boys to play with the trains at Barnes and Noble. While we were there a pregnant lady came and sat right in front of me while her two little girls played trains. At the same time, a family arrived with a little boy and girl. Their names were Jack and Lucy. Josh immediately made eye contact with me and mouthed, “Do you want to go?” and I was able to say, “No.” We stayed and the boys played with the little girls and the pregnant lady stayed right in front of me. I didn’t even cry. It was a miracle. Even after we left and I had the opportunity to cry in private, I didn’t feel the need. Such a gift from God.

Later, the boys were running through the grass outside, tackling each other, and a three year old Chinese boy came and played with them. He is an only child. His Mom came up to me and said, “You have these TWO boys?” I said yes and almost told her about my girl in heaven, but then I remembered the last time I tried to explain that to a Chinese lady and decided against it. She said, “Wow! It is so wonderful. You are very lucky.” I thought, “Yes, I am so lucky to have my two boys.” And I basked in the moment. I felt peace and joy and it felt so good. As we were leaving, I gave the boys some pennies to throw into the fountain. I told them to make a wish and Liam shouted, “I wish for a baby sister named Barbara!” Um, not going to happen.

He Let Me Keep Liam

The past few nights Josh has had nightmares that the boys are in danger and he can’t save them. He can’t rescue them. This morning I took my boys swimming with some friends. On my way out the door Josh said, “Hey, don’t let my kids drown.” I laughed and said he was weird and he said, “But seriously, don’t let them drown.” Well, I almost did.

Liam and Asher don’t know how to swim so they wear the little arm floaties. They swam and swam and then we got out for lunch. We were eating at a table beside the pool and Liam asked if he could take his floaties off to eat. I took them off and stood directly over him, hovering while he and Asher ate.

I have a huge fear that one of my children will drown. When I was in the first grade in Zimbabwe, my whole class went swimming one day. All the kids were in the pool with the teachers all around. When it was time to go, the kids got out of the pool and there, at the bottom of the pool was one of my 6 year old classmates. His name was Darling. I will never forget his name. He drowned right in front of everyone’s eyes. Anyway, I know how easy it is for a child to drown. I feel like I’m overly cautious with my boys around water.

Well, we were eating lunch and I was talking to Liam. I looked up and started talking to my friend. Sometime during the conversation I happened to glance at the pool and there, under the water was Liam. His eyes were wide open, staring at me and he was struggling with all his might to get back to the steps. He looked so terrified. I ran and jumped in and scooped him up and thank goodness he was fine and hadn’t inhaled any water. I could not believe I let that happen. Stupid, stupid me. I took his floaties off for lunch and could have lost him just like that.

For all of you Moms with living children and future children- don’t let your kids (especially little ones) out of your sight around water. Liam slipped right out from under me and when he stepped into the water there wasn’t even a splash. Complete silence. When I looked up, the surface of the water was completely unbroken and totally calm. When somebody drowns it’s silent. A lot of times I can listen to my kids in the next room and tell if they’re ok or not. Don’t trust your ears when you’re around water. Use your eyes. Find your babies with your eyes again and again and again.

God allowed Lucy to slip away, but today He let me keep my Liam and I am so thankful. I’m so thankful He has given me more days with my biggest boy. I’m thankful He nudged me to look up and see my son under the water. Liam’s life is a beautiful gift God has given me today. I praise Him and thank Him for this sweet mercy.

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1,000 Deaths

Die before you die. There is no chance after. -C.S. Lewis

I wish Lucy’s death was the only one I had to mourn. I think if that were true it would be so much easier. I worked so hard in therapy to deal with PTSD and to handle my horrifying memories. I grieved so hard after she died and found a lot of healing in God. As I go on with my life, though, I realize that Lucy’s death on February 8th was just the first and most painful death that would lead to a thousand more deaths. That is why it’s so hard to heal when you lose your baby that you never knew.

I also think this is why it’s hard for a lot of people to understand this grief (I certainly didn’t before going through it.) One of my favorite quotes from a book I recently read (An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken) is, “Grief lasts much longer than sympathy.” It’s true, but why? I think people saw the obvious, sad death of my Lucy. They mourned the loss of her life and moved on (which they should.) But they don’t see the thousands of deaths I am dying day after day. Here I am, six months later and I’m still deep in the grief process. But I’m not just mourning Lucy’s death or Jude’s death, I am mourning all of the deaths that keep happening. Many of these deaths happen right in front of other people (even my husband, Josh) and they don’t know it.

When my grandmother died, we were all so sad, even though we knew it was coming. We found comfort in the fact that she had lived a full life. In the weeks following her death, a lot of things would remind me of her, a certain smell, an older lady in the grocery store, and bring me back to some happy memory of her. When a baby dies, it’s different. Things remind you of memories that never happened, that never had a chance to exist. There are very few (if any) memories to mourn and cherish. Instead of memories, we have all of our hopes and dreams for that baby. And aren’t a mother’s dreams for her child endless? Those dreams die every day. Those expectations of having my daughter for my lifetime are crushed every day. That is what is so painful. Things I don’t expect; they come out of nowhere. My friend who lost her baby says that each day when she goes out in public it’s like walking through a field of land mines.

The other day my sister asked about Christmas presents because she’s getting started early this year (July seems a little TOO early, but anyway.) Thinking of Christmas brought an unexpected shock of pain. I won’t be hanging my baby Lucy’s stocking next to her brothers’. I won’t be buying baby girl toys and watching her experience her first Christmas. That dream died, and it hurt. I wept for the loss of all of my Christmases with Lucy.

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Last Sunday I worked up the courage to go to church. I walked into my Sunday School class and there was a woman with her newborn baby. I felt the flush of sorrow run through me and just walked right out of the room. Another death. I will never bring my newborn Lucy to church, I’ll never show off my first daughter. I’ll never be able to sit in the back of the church with Lucy curled up on my chest. I’ll never feel her breath, feel her warmth, feel the weight of her body. I was also reminded of the death of my love for babies. The old me would have LOVED having a newborn baby in my Sunday School class. It probably would have made my day. Now I run from babies. For something I loved so deeply to cause me such anguish feels like a death. That is a death I encounter a lot in my every day life and I am working on getting over it. During the praise and worship time at church we sang a new song (that I really liked.) There was one line about God being there for us – from a newborn baby’s first cry to his last breath. It was like a knife in my heart. Honestly, my legs started shaking and I didn’t even know if I could keep standing. Tears poured down my face, I didn’t even wipe them away. I realized I had never heard Lucy’s  first cry. I don’t even know what her cry sounds like. How can a Mama not know what her baby’s cry sounds like? Another death. I walked right out of church and sobbed in the car all the way home.

You know, God doesn’t spare me from this pain, and He doesn’t take it away (not yet anyway.) He allows me to experience these deaths day after day, but He comes along side me in my pain. He knows just what it feels like. Jesus suffered so much while He was here on earth.

Isaiah 53:3  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Even on Sunday as I drove home, barely able to see the road through my tears, I felt His presence, His ability to feel my pain. I wish He would just take the pain away, but I know He will use it to produce something beautiful. He is leaving me in my pain for a reason. Instead of taking it away He just says, “I know.” And He sits with me.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

The good thing is that I’m getting more and more used to these deaths. At first they came as a shock. I really thought I would just have to mourn Lucy’s death and I was not expecting to encounter this heartache again and again in my everyday life. A few weeks after Lucy died we were having a family dinner at my Mom’s house and my brother and sister in law (who had a baby a couple months before Lucy was due) brought their ultrasound DVD to show us all. They told us while we were eating dinner that they brought it and the shock of pain that hit me was unbelievable. It felt like someone hitting me in the chest with a hammer. Their announcement was, honestly, almost as painful as when the doctor announced, “We have a fetal death.” I couldn’t eat another bite of food. All I could think of was the last time I saw Lucy on an ultrasound. She was dying while we watched. Her heart was struggling to beat. I would never see her kicking around on an ultrasound again. It took me several weeks to heal from that death. That was the first time I realized that the pain wasn’t just behind me. It was in front of me too. I had to come to terms with that. I cling to the fact that none of these deaths I’m suffering take God by surprise. He is powerful enough to help me through all of the pain, my past pain and my future pain. Now, when I encounter one of these surprise deaths and my new friend, Sorrow, comes and settles in I think, “Oh, it’s you again” instead of “Hey! What are you doing here?” I also have peace knowing that God understands, and He will get me through it. He sustains me.

Isaiah 43:2  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Most of you have heard of the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. It’s about seeing the beautiful gifts God has given you all around you in your everyday life. It’s about seeing God’s majesty in these beautiful gifts. But what about my one thousand deaths? Is He in those too? I think so. I feel Him just as much in these deaths as I do in the thousands of gifts He has lavished on me. His most beautiful gift to humanity was a death, after all- His death on the cross, so that we could have life forever. Every time one of my hopes for Lucy or Jude dies, it is a chance for me to release my expectations to Him, to die to myself and to die to my dreams I had for these children here on earth. I have to die to myself and accept this new, difficult path that God has allowed my life to turn down.

Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death

Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You guys, listen to this sermon about suffering and death by Timothy Keller. Despite the seemingly depressing subject matter, it’s so good. It has encouraged me so much. I promise it’s worth the 30 minutes it will take to listen to it. (It starts off seeming a little “philosophical” but it’s only for the first few minutes.)

[audio http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sites/sermons2.redeemer.com/files/sermons/RPC-Suffering-If_God_is_good_why_is_there_so_much_evil_in_the_world.mp3]