Speak Up

Since losing my babies I have encountered the same scenario that many other baby loss moms also encounter on a regular basis. That awkward moment when someone says something like, “How many kids do you have?” or “Is this your first baby?” or “When are you going to start trying for that girl?” I had someone give me a very sweet compliment that actually broke my heart, “You look GREAT after having two kids!” I wanted to correct her and say, “I’ve had three kids,” but I just smiled and said thanks. I still regret not speaking up. I also had a really awkward experience when I was running late to one of my sons’ doctor’s appointments. We rushed into the waiting room and my boys were loud and full of energy and I’m pretty sure one of them was missing a shoe. When I finally sat down after signing in, an older lady leaned over, and with a knowing look she said, “Aren’t you glad you stopped when you did?” I was so taken aback I just didn’t have a ready response for that one. I said, “Oh, I’m not done yet.” Looking back, I should have said, “I didn’t stop at two. They have three younger siblings in heaven.”

It is hard to know what to say. Most of the time I am torn between telling the truth and possibly ending up in tears in public, AGAIN, or keeping quiet and feeling like I’m disowning my children or fueling our society’s ridiculous pressure to keep miscarriage and stillbirth on the down low. Looking back, I can only think of one or two times that I spoke up about my loss and regretted it. One guy at our yard sale fundraiser actually laughed when I mentioned that I had a daughter in heaven. And the other time was when another pregnant woman (due around Lucy’s due date) told me to be happy that I didn’t have to be pregnant in the summer. I still have trouble letting that one go. But all of the other countless times that I have spoken up about my Lucy, Jude or Pax, I have been incredibly encouraged and I have often been a comfort to others. EVERY single time another woman has shared her story of baby loss with me I have been overwhelmingly grateful, humbled, and comforted. Why should this feel like such a lonely club when SO many other women are in the club with me? It shouldn’t.

I want to challenge you to speak up about your loss, your child or children. Of course some people prefer to grieve quietly and privately, which I think is wonderful too. But if you feel like you might want someone to know about your lost child, I say tell them. And if you have a niece, nephew, brother, sister, or grandchild that is in heaven, I want to challenge you to speak up as well. I long to hear my siblings acknowledge Lucy, to hear my parents and in laws speak her name, to see that others remember my daughter. I want her to be just as important to them as Liam and Asher are. This past spring Liam played soccer for the first time and to tell you the truth, I was terrified. I dreaded it for weeks ahead of time, because I knew there was a good chance that it would be crawling with triggers. I know a few families who have kids playing soccer as well and they have babies Lucy’s age. I was afraid of having to constantly be around pregnant bellies or baby girls. I remember walking out on the field with Liam and Asher in tow, feeling completely alone, sad and anxious. It felt like all the other families were whole, not missing anyone, like every woman got to keep her babies (which I know is not true, but it felt that way.) I often feel like an outsider. Well, one day near the beginning of the season it was extremely cold and I felt bad about taking little Asher outside for two hours in the freezing wind. My dad offered to take Liam to practice so I could stay home with Asher. Later after practice, my dad told me that he had started talking to one of the other parents on the sidelines. The man asked my dad about Liam and my dad said, “He’s my grandson. I have eight grandchildren on earth and three in heaven.” That led this other man to open up to my dad and he told him that he and his wife had lost twins at 22 weeks a few years ago. When my dad told me this I was shocked. I felt so overwhelmingly happy that he included my three babies with the eight on earth. I loved hearing that he acknowledged all of his grandchildren, that he is proud of ALL of them. I also felt like I WASN’T alone out there on the soccer field. Someone else knew how I felt, and that was such a comfort to me. I never was able to find out who my dad had been talking to, I think it was actually a parent from a different team, but I never felt alone again at any of the practices or games. I am so thankful my dad spoke up, even though the easier thing would have been to keep silent.

I think it is also important to speak up about our babies at home, around the other children (if there are siblings, or siblings to come.) I have a framed picture of Lucy’s footprints in each of the boy’s bedrooms so they see it every day and remember their little sister. A few weeks ago I was talking over the fence in the backyard to one of our neighbors, an eight year old boy. He had seen Lucy’s tree marker in our yard. It’s there temporarily until we can get it to her oak tree. Anyway, he asked who Lucy was and I told him it was our baby girl who had died last year. I was shocked when he asked, “Oh, well did she die before or after she came out of your belly?” I told him she died before she came out of my belly and he astounded me again by saying, without hesitation or embarrassment, “Oh, my mom had four babies who died in her belly before they came out.” Wow. FOUR! I never would have known if he had not said something. He seemed so comfortable talking about it too, which I loved. Apparently, his mom talks about her lost babies at home. Another person who spoke up and blessed me with his story was a random pizza delivery guy. Liam opened the door when he knocked. The delivery man was probably in his forties and was sweet to the boys, asking them what their names were. Liam said, “I’m Liam and this is my little brother Asher and I have a sister named Camille.” Liam and his cousin, Camille are very close and sometimes tell people they are siblings. Before I could correct him, the man said, “Oh that is sweet. I have a sister but I don’t know what her name is because she is in heaven. One day I will ask her what her name is when I get to heaven.” My mouth dropped right open. He told me his mother had had a stillborn baby girl before he was born and she had never told him what his sister’s name was. I told him that we had lost a baby girl too. I was so touched that this man would share his sister’s story with my kids and show them that they are not the only ones who have lost a sister.

A few months ago I heard this proverb-

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I think there is some real truth to that statement. If you have lost a baby, don’t feel like you have to stay silent. Your story might bless and encourage someone more than you know and your own sorrow might be lessened in the sharing. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

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I have a son…

I have a son.

He was born kicking and screaming on February 7th, 2009.

I loved him so much that day that I first met him.

I love him still, five years later.

I revel in him, I delight in him, I thank God for him.

My love has not lessened since I first met him on that cold February day five years ago.

He owns a piece of my heart.

 

I have a son.

He was born kicking and screaming on March 3rd, 2011.

I loved him so much that day that I first met him.

I love him still, three years later.

I revel in him, I delight in him, I thank God for him.

My love has not lessened since I first met him on that cold March day three years ago.

He owns a piece of my heart.

 

I have a daughter.

She was born completely still and silent on February 9th, 2013.

I loved her so much that day I first met her, that last day I ever saw her.

I love her still, one year later and I will until the day I die.

I miss her, I ache for her, I thank God for her.

My love has not lessened since I first met her on that cold February day one year ago.

She owns a piece of my heart.

 

Why are you adopting if you can’t afford it?

Someone asked me this question on my blog a few months ago. I think a lot of people wonder the same thing. Why are we adopting if we can’t afford it? I know that it bothers some people to see others asking for money. After we lost Lucy we were given the option of doing IVF. We still have the choice to do IVF and implant a kell negative embryo and have a normal pregnancy, but the cost is outrageous. I was shocked when we found out how much it would cost us. It was almost $500 just to go talk to the reproductive endocrinologist about our options (without any testing done.) Almost $500 for a conversation. Actually, all of our options after losing Lucy have been very expensive ones.

People who suffer with infertility issues are faced with this problem, and many of them don’t have any children at all. What if it cost you $20,000 just to have one shot at a pregnancy? People with money are not the only ones who deserve to be parents. It is heartbreaking to have to face infertility or baby loss, but the added financial strain is extremely difficult and adds to the stress of the loss.

We have always wanted to adopt, but haven’t pursued it before now because of the cost. After we lost Pax in October we asked God what He wanted us to do. We were so heartbroken and tired of losing babies. We felt like He was telling us to adopt. I pretended I didn’t hear Him. How could we possibly afford a $22,000 adoption? So we waited and prayed some more and God told us again that we were supposed to adopt a baby. It took about three months for me to finally decide to just trust Him and go for it. When we sent in our adoption application we had $100 in our adoption savings account! Talk about a leap of faith.

Now I am embarrassed when I look back and see how hesitant and fearful I was at first. I never doubted that God could provide the money for us, I was just too proud to do what it took to get the money. I am very independent and I don’t like asking people for help. I COULD NOT FATHOM even asking people for donations for our yard sale, let alone starting a Go Fund Me account. If it were up to me, I would not ask anyone for anything and I would keep most of our adoption process a secret and after we got our baby I would say, “Hey guys, we adopted this beautiful baby! Isn’t God good?”

But God’s way is better, even though it’s often harder. If our adoption story played out the way I wanted it to, we would have missed out on so much, and other people would have missed out too. And by the way, if your adoption story has worked out like I wanted ours to — completely self funded and private, there is nothing wrong with that at all. It is just not what God called us to do. God has taught me many lessons over the past six months since we started the adoption process. He has humbled me with His generosity and with the generosity of others. He has used the kindness of others to confirm that this is His will for us and that this baby is such a special gift. Here are some of my thoughts on adopting, even when you can’t afford it:

BEING ABLE TO AFFORD AN ADOPTION IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING ABLE TO AFFORD A CHILD

We can easily afford another child or two right now. The cost is spread out over a lifetime. We basically have everything we need for a baby besides the diapers and wipes. Affording an adoption is different because all of the money is required in a very short amount of time, and it is usually a VERY big chunk of money. Just because you can’t afford the adoption, it doesn’t mean that you can’t afford a child, and it doesn’t have to keep you from completing your family.

THE MONEY IS NOT FOR YOU, IT’S FOR YOUR BABY

Before I could muster up the courage (or rather humble myself enough) to ask people for donations, I read someone else’s blog discussing this very problem. She said that she struggled with the same thing and finally was able to ask others for help when she realized that the money she was asking people to donate was not for HER, it was for her baby. She felt like she would do anything for her child, so it became easier for her after that. I realized, YES, I am not asking people to give me money, I am asking them to help my baby, to help give our baby a beautiful life. And I will do anything for my children, even if it’s scary or extremely humbling.

LET GOD BLOW YOU AWAY WITH HIS GENEROSITY AND PROVISION

God wants us to depend on Him, every step of the way, and when we do, we are always glad that we did. I LOVE giving my kids gifts and seeing their eyes light up, and so does God. God has provided the EXACT amount of money in our adoption savings account for the very next step in our adoption process, EVERY TIME. He never gives us more or less, which I think is amazing. He is providing, but not so much that we can slack off and stop depending on Him. Right now we have exactly enough money for our next step forward in our adoption, nothing more. We will have to trust Him to provide the next step after that (which is an expensive one.) There is something so amazing about taking a leap of faith, asking God to provide and then seeing His provision. It is a tangible reminder of how much He loves us.

GOD’S PROVISION BECOMES A REALLY COOL PART OF YOUR BABY’S LIFE STORY

I can’t remember where I read it (somewhere online), but one woman had the opinion that you were doing your future child a disservice by asking other people to give you money for your adoption. She thought it would make your child feel “cheapened” somehow. I feel just the opposite. I can’t wait to tell my baby how SO many people loved her before she was even ours, before we even knew about her, that they gave money, time, prayers and donations to help us bring her home. I can’t wait to tell her how God laid everything out for us, how He prepared people’s hearts ahead of time to give to our adoption, how He did a miracle in providing all of our funds, and it was all for HER. I hope she feels loved and important and extremely valuable. It is more confirmation that God intentionally planned for this baby to be in our family, that she was meant to be a Weathersby. Our baby will start her life off with a really cool birth story, and it is all saturated with God’s love and goodness. When you trust God and let Him provide, you are giving your child an amazing piece to his or her life story that a lot of people don’t get to have.

DON’T MAKE MAJOR LIFE DECISIONS SOLELY BASED ON MONEY

This is something my grandfather always said. I know some people will probably disagree with this but we have found it to be good advice. Money is very important and affects almost every area of our lives, but it should not be the main deciding factor when making a big life decision. I doubt people on their death beds look back and say, “I’m so glad I invested that money, saved that money, worked so much.” I think most people surround themselves with their family, their siblings, parents, children, spouses or friends and say, “I love you so much. I am so thankful I got to spend my life with you. Remember when we __________________? That was so much fun! I’m thankful for you and I love you.” I think it’s also important to remember that you only have a certain season in your life when you can adopt. Time is not an unlimited resource. If the only thing holding you back from adopting a child is money, I think you should strongly reconsider.

IT ALLOWS OTHER PEOPLE TO PLAY A PART IN A BEAUTIFUL ADOPTION STORY

After we lost Lucy we were devastated and depressed. I have never felt so low in my life, like my own heart had stopped beating when hers did. I remember the first time I smiled after losing my baby. A family in our church was adopting two boys from Haiti. A few months before, they had asked if anyone had toddler boy clothes to donate to their boys. This family already had six girls, so they were pretty low on the baby boy clothes 🙂 We gave them some of Liam and Asher’s clothes. It was several days/weeks after Lucy died (I can’t remember exactly, it is still a blur) that I was brave/stupid enough to venture onto Facebook. I saw some pictures of the family’s trip to Haiti to meet their boys and there on my screen was this cute little boy in Haiti wearing Liam’s clothes.

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The biggest smile spread across my face and it felt so strange and wonderful because I hadn’t done it in so long. I had almost forgotten what it felt like. I know our donation was small, but it brought us incredible joy to be able to play a tiny part in helping those two sweet boys. Giving others the chance to be a part of your adoption story is an amazing gift, even if it is humbling for you. When you are too scared or proud to allow others to help you, you are not the only one who misses out.

So, if you are considering adoption and money is the only thing holding you back, I think you should really consider just GOING FOR IT! With a lot of prayer, hard work, humility, and a good support system, it is totally possible. I also strongly recommend you read “Adopt Without Debt, Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption” by Julie Gumm. I just got it on my Nook for $8 (I think it’s more expensive in print) and read almost the whole thing in one sitting. You can also check out their website for great advice and fundraising ideas. Your family size does NOT have to be determined by your fertility or your bank account, and as Julie Gumm says in her book, “The cost of adoption should never stand in the way of giving a child a family.”

Baby Pax’s Due Date

Today is our baby Pax’s due date. It is also Father’s Day and my Dad’s birthday, a loaded day, full of emotion. I was so excited to have a baby due on “Grandbarry’s” birthday, to have a fifth child. I always wanted five kids. Before I would commit to dating Josh I asked him if he wanted at least five kids and he said he did. I never could have imagined that one day, we would have five children together, except three of them would be born into heaven. Regardless, I am thankful for the five little people that God has given me to call my own. All of them are special, all of them are deeply loved and all of them had their days written out in God’s book before even one of them came to pass.

I always thought Pax was a boy, although I won’t know for sure until I get to heaven. I wonder how Pax is feeling today in heaven. I have a suspicion that he might be saying something like, “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to skip all the pain, darkness, sadness and sin, and letting me to come right to paradise. I am so blessed to be one of the lucky ones.” Who knows? Today might be a huge celebration for Pax in heaven. How beautiful that he never had to experience sin or pain, rejection, worry, loneliness, hunger or tiredness. I am glad that I never have to worry about the wellbeing of my babies who are not with me. I know they have been given a better life than the ones I got to keep with me.

Baby Pax,

I love you so much and I miss you every day. Your Daddy misses you too, especially today, on Father’s Day. You are our answer to prayer, and one day we will get to celebrate you like we hoped we could here on earth (but I know it will be so much better there.) Your big brother Liam prayed so many times for God to give Mommy “two lines” on her pregnancy test, and you are our beautiful answer to that prayer, our gift that we don’t get to unwrap until heaven. We can’t wait to meet you, to know who you are, and to let you show us around your amazing home. You were so wanted, you are so loved, and one day I’m going to cover you in kisses. I am so blessed and so proud to be your Mommy.

16 Months Without My Daughter

16 months ago we went in for Lucy’s second intrauterine blood transfusion, but instead, we helplessly watched her heart stop beating and a couple hours later we were inducing labor.

I have lived 16 months without my baby. It’s like going 16 months without food, or water or air or sunshine, but worse. Seriously, think about how it would feel for someone to say, “Ok, no more food. EVER.” The hunger would slowly build and the ache would set in and you would wonder, “How can I go another hour, another minute, without food? How can I go my whole life without food?” Everyone else has moved on, but I am still a Mommy living without my child. Sure, I am healing and finding some joy again, but that intense ache for my child is still there, always.

In January, Josh and I took a three day trip to Pensacola, FL to do our adoption training classes. We left our boys with my mom. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from them. I miss them when I’m not with them. I truly love being around them. Even if I’m away from my boys for more than two hours, I start to feel that ache of missing them. I love them so much (and I’m not a helicopter parent, I promise!) Josh and I enjoyed our time alone, but I noticed that the more I started missing Liam and Asher, the more uncomfortable and anxious I felt. I realized it was the same feeling I had missing Lucy, the only difference was that I knew I would be able to satiate the ache in a day or two. I started to have this frantic thought, “What if Liam or Asher dies before I can get back to them?” I really wondered if I would ever see them again. It was kind of ridiculous, but it happened with Lucy, so of course it could happen with Liam or Asher. Aching for Lucy, Liam and Asher all at once was almost too much for me.

I had been so excited about going to the beach and relaxing with Josh. The only free time we had was the last day after our classes were finished. We were going to go to the beach and then drive home to Tuscaloosa afterwards. Josh and I both missed the boys so much that we didn’t even want to go to the beach anymore. It sounded way more fun to drive straight home and snuggle our little guys. We skipped the beach. I quenched my ache for them and it felt amazing, because I COULD. But the longing for my girl remains and burns everyday.

16 months without Lucy.

16 months of milestones missed, of aching and tears.

16 months of being misunderstood and avoided, of being judged and hushed.

16 months of being comforted by some.

16 months of two instead of three.

16 months without pink in the house. No dresses or bows or baby dolls or long, pretty curls growing.

16 months without seeing Josh hold his baby girl, without seeing Asher be the big brother that he is.

This is a long, difficult journey.

The next time we had a meeting with our adoption agency, we took our boys with us (we also didn’t have a babysitter so we kind of had no choice.) It was so much fun with our little loves, with two less to miss, and even though it was cold, THIS time we went to the beach.

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We also went to Pump It Up, where we went down this slide so many times that I almost ripped my pants open and the boys still talk about it almost every day.

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Asher’s first time down alone. I love the look of terror on his face 🙂

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Shattered Dreams

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Our baby Pax’s due date is coming up on June 15th. I feel like there have been so many pregnancy/birth announcements lately and each one is painful, especially now so close to my own due date. A lot of these birth announcements are my answers to prayers for other people, and I am thankful for God’s goodness, but they are still reminders of my shattered dreams for my life. Each announcement usually takes me about two days of extreme sadness to accept and move on. I used to be frustrated with myself for feeling this way. I felt guilty and tried to fight it, but now I have learned to accept it as part of my grieving process and I just get through it and then move on. I am also painfully aware when I go out in public that my two sweet boys are probably someone else’s trigger, a reminder of their own shattered dreams. Lately, I have been working less while my students are on vacation, and Josh is home more to help with the boys, so I have more free time to think and remember my many losses.

Of course I am still mourning my Lucy every day. Yesterday I felt especially sad and was missing her so much. I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and I cried all the way there. I finally pulled it together enough to wipe off my face and clean up my smeared make-up, walk in and put on a fake smile for the other people in the waiting room. I decided to look at a magazine while I was waiting and when I picked it up I noticed the date on the front “July 2013.” It made my heart sink. Anything that has to do with July 2013 makes me instantly sad. I remember after losing Lucy I dreaded that month like the world was coming to an end in July. I remember I almost couldn’t eat or drink anything that had an expiration date of July 2013. Fourth of July decorations still make me feel sick to my stomach. That was the month I should have welcomed my sweet daughter and now I should be planning my girl’s first birthday party. I fought back the tears and quickly put the magazine back on the table. I reached for another one to try to distract myself and immediately noticed the date on the front “February 2013.” You have to be kidding me. That was the worst month of my life, the month I lost my baby and my hope of any more healthy pregnancies. I basically threw the magazine back on the table like it was contaminated with the plague. It was so hard to hold it together for the whole appointment. I cried as soon as I got back into the car. I still miss Lucy every minute of every day.

I am just realizing, though, how deep of a loss it was for me to lose my ability to have healthy pregnancies. I think most of my emotional focus over the past year and a half has been on mourning Lucy. Now I am feeling the deep pain of the fact that I will never be able to just get pregnant and have a live baby. Almost all of the women who lost babies last year now have big, round bellies stretching with the life of their rainbow babies (which is what I have prayed for them.) How wonderful and hopeful that must feel. I can’t even fathom how amazing that must be, to get to the age of viability, to feel your baby kicking every day, to feel your breasts swell in preparation for the baby that will come. All of that is lost for me, and I am still mourning it now.

Adoption is beautiful and full of hope, but it is not for the faint of heart. It means putting your hopes in God’s hands. It means you don’t get to have nine months of bonding with your baby before you meet them face to face. You have to wait for that paper to be signed before you can allow yourself to love freely and give your heart to the baby, because that is when she is actually yours to love. It is hard to wait and not know, to keep releasing your hope and giving it back to God. It is hard to trust Him with your new dreams when you trusted Him with your former dreams but now they lie shattered all around your feet. I often think about how hard it would be to go through a divorce and see your dreams for your marriage shattered. I think about how hard it would be to lose someone you love and have had with you for years, like your spouse, your sibling, your parents. Shattered dreams.

As I said in a previous post, I am currently reading “Shattered Dreams” by Larry Crabb. I had low expectations for this book since my friend randomly bought it for me from the Salvation Army and we both knew nothing about it. It has been surprisingly insightful and encouraging. If you are struggling with your own shattered dreams, I highly recommend you read this book. I’m still not even half way through it, but I’m learning so much. I’m learning that the dreams I had were good, but God has a plan for me here on earth that is better, and He has a life, waiting for me in heaven that is the BEST (and it’s sweet in a way that Lucy, Jude and Pax got to skip right to the BEST.) Sometimes my good dreams have to shatter in order for me to realize my deep need for God and to see His plan for me that’s better.

It’s harder to discover our desire for God when things go well. We may think we have, but more often all we’ve found is our desire to USE God, not to ENJOY Him. Shattered dreams are the truest blessings; they help us discover our true hope. But it can take a long, dark time to discover it.

-Larry Crabb

It is taking me a long, dark time to discover God’s truest blessing for my life and even when I stand here surrounded by the shards of my broken dreams for my life and for my children, He is working on my behalf. None of my pain will be wasted.

Dreams for good things may shatter, but our pain will always have a purpose. It will not go away, but it will do its work. It will stir an appetite for a higher purpose- the better hope of knowing God well enough now to love Him above everything else…and trust Him no matter what happens…We will not suffer in heaven. Every imaginable dream, everything from good parking spaces to good health, will come true. Pain will have no purpose then, so it will not be allowed….For now, while we still have such a hard time realizing that what’s good is not always best, suffering still has a function. As nothing else can, it moves us away from demanding what’s good…toward desiring what’s better…until heaven provides what’s best.

-Larry Crabb

Having Lucy alive and with me right now seems right and good, and it is. Being able to get pregnant easily and have live, breathing babies seems right and good, and it is. Healthy marriages, good jobs, siblings who are alive, they are all good and right. My instinct is to cling tightly to what is good and scream at God, “It’s GOOD, it’s RIGHT! If you are good you should let me have what is GOOD!” But it is only when my dreams for what is good shatter that I am able to see God’s dream for me, something even better. I know that God is saving the best for last. My story will end with the best. And for the mothers who lost babies, our stories will end with a beautiful beginning- the beginning of our eternity with our babies, and that is one of the few dreams that cannot be shattered.

Matthew 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.