Four Years In Heaven

Oh my baby, how I miss you. Every day, every minute for these past four years I have ached for you. That chamber of my heart that is only Lucy shaped remains empty. I know how your biggest brother Liam feels in my arms, how your big brother Asher feels in my arms and how your baby sister Nora feels in my arms, but I don’t know how you feel and my arms ache for you. A mama’s arms belong around her babies. I wish you could be here to play with your little sister Nora, you would love her so much. Your absence in our family is felt every single day. I see the space where you should be that nobody else sees. I miss you.

I miss you.

It has been four years since Lucy’s heart stopped and mine was irreparably broken. It is a feat, surviving four whole years without your child. I feel like I should be awarded a medal just for still being here, four years later, without her. The beautiful thing about living this life with my God is that He has more for us on this earth than just surviving. The past four years have been the saddest and most difficult of my entire life, but they have also been the most beautiful, the most redemptive, and the most productive years of my life.

As most of you know, when Lucy died I was told I could not have any more babies. It felt like an extra cruel blow because of who God had created me to be. He made me very maternal from infancy. I have always been obsessed with babies. They were the best thing in the world to me. My undergraduate degree is in Early Childhood Education. I was told that a degree in Elementary Education would be more useful so I eventually agreed to go one more semester to also get my Elementary Ed degree, but all I really cared about was getting that Early Childhood degree because I just wanted to teach the babies. My whole life I waited and dreamed about having a baby of my own. I wanted to fast forward time until I held my baby in my arms for the first time. My greatest wish for my life was to have a big family; LOTS of babies. For God to allow my baby to die and then to leave me with a pregnancy condition that would repeat itself and make my pregnancies “fatal” seemed so cruel. It felt like a custom made attack, designed to destroy the most beloved part of who I was.

I couldn’t even look at babies after Lucy died, they physically nauseated me. During my counseling sessions I had therapy for PTSD and had to work through the most terrifying scenarios like, “You’re at the grocery store and suddenly a woman comes around the corner carrying a baby, what do you do?” I remember being on a flight only a couple months after losing Lucy and there was a baby next to me on the airplane. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Every sound she made caused a physical pain in my chest. I could not believe how agonizing this adorable baby next to me was. My pain originated from my deep love for babies, especially my love for my baby girl who had been killed by my own body, and the love I had for my future babies who would never exist because of anti-kell antibodies. Every baby I saw reminded me of my dead dreams for my family and my dead daughter. And if I’m truly honest, they represented the lie that for some reason God loved those other parents more than He loved me because their babies were alive. The parents of the baby next to me on the airplane seemed to sense my discomfort. They probably thought I was just one of those adults who gets irritated with loud babies on planes. If only they knew the truth.

If only I knew the truth, that God was not using my tragedies as a custom made weapon to destroy me. God was going to take my little Lucy’s life and my tragedies and He was going to fashion them into a custom made ministry just for me. And guess who God has me ministering to now? Women and their BABIES. Beautiful babies who are possibly in danger like Lucy was. Babies in Pakistan, babies in Canada, babies in Australia and Egypt, babies in the UK and the US, babies in Germany and Israel, Cambodia, Switzerland, Russia, France and even babies right here in Alabama. I get to help babies every single day and it is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. I get to encourage and empower women who have babies in the womb, women who have babies in heaven, women with babies waiting in their future, women with newborns and women with broken hearts. I love these women, and I desperately love their babies. God uses every single one of these parents who reaches out to me and He uses every single baby to restore a small piece of my broken heart and to restore my hope in Him.

Here I am four years later, and now I am able to look at a baby and see redemption, hope and the greatness of God. Oh the redemption that God has brought through these babies and their moms!

And so, without any more delay, here are some of the beautiful babies that have been helped through Lucy’s story and my blog. Thank you Jesus, for each one of these lives that has been touched by my Lucy’s.

COOPER cooper

CLAIREclaire

EVAeva

JESSA JADEjessa-jade

TYLERtyler

JACOBjacob

KRISTIAN (in heaven with Lucy) and MIKAHkristian-and-mikah

JULIA JOYjulia-joy

SAGE (in heaven with Lucy)sage

KETHRYNkethryn

ROSE with big brother and sister Logan and Havenrose-with-big-brother-and-sister-logan-and-haven

SHUA, ARI and MOSELLEshua-ari-and-moselle

LIAMliam

ELLIEellie

MILAmila

MATILDAmatilda

LUCY ANNElucy-anne

GABRIELLA GRACEgabriella-grace

OSCARoscar

WESLEY JAMESwesley-james

SKYLAR ROSEskylar-rose

AVAava

BRIANA ANNEbriana-anne

LANGSTONlangston

OWEN BLAKE (being born right now, on Lucy’s birthday!)owen-blake

HADRIANhadrian

BABY BOY ROBILLIARDrobilliard

ASAIAHasaiah

NYAHnyah

And of course, NORA JULIET who would not be here if it weren’t for Lucy

And this is baby Hudson, whose mom did not come across my blog until a few days after her son was stillborn this past December. This is why I push so hard to get Lucy’s story out into the world, because Hudson would be here today if only the doctors had provided the right monitoring and treatment. Lucy would probably be here today if she had been given the correct monitoring and treatment too. I will keep telling our story and fighting for the Hudsons and the Lucys who deserve to be here with us.

“I wish I had read your blog whilst pregnant because I would have had the knowledge I have now and possibly could have saved my baby Hudson who was born sleeping on 29th December 2016 due to Anti-K antibodies and having no close monitoring – I was totally unaware of what most of it all meant until I read your blog.”

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The love I feel for these babies is unreal. The very tragedy I thought would push babies out of my life has brought so many babies into my life that I have a deep affection for. They are my “yes” from God.

For anyone who feels like God has turned His back on you, for anyone who has suffered unimaginable loss and for those whose lives have not turned out the way they planned, just decide to trust God anyway. Because I am convinced that when there is great loss combined with great trust in God, miraculous things happen. Yes, even a one pound baby girl who never took a breath outside of the womb can leave a legacy that reaches throughout the world.

Happy fourth birthday in heaven, Lucy Dair. I am proud to be your mama. You were worth it all. Four years closer to having you forever. Despite all the pain and agony of waiting to have you, I absolutely love being your mama.

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Treasuring Up All These Things

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

This verse in Luke is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Mary had just given birth to her first child and a little while later a group of shepherds came running in, telling her about angels that had just visited them in the fields. The angels were praising Jesus, the same Jesus Mary had just given birth to. What must have been going through her head at that moment?

As 2016 draws to a close I realize that this year has been a year of treasuring up and pondering; like Mary did in her heart when the shepherds came rushing in after Jesus was born. I can only imagine how overwhelmed Mary was after going through labor and delivery, then facing these visitors and their message from God. Sometimes the weight of a moment is too much to take in right then. Sometimes God reveals things to us that we can’t possibly fathom. Sometimes the beauty and wonder of the moment deserves more than the time it’s given. Life is so fleeting. I often wish I could pause time to fully take in the wonder before me, chubby arms and legs, toddler sized proportions in nothing but a diaper, the sweet five year old love ballads to Mommy, the gentle kiss from biggest brother to tiniest sister. Since I can’t stop time I treasure up the moment and soak it in, ponder it in my heart, store it up to take out later and admire. My year has been full of these moments that I want to keep forever. Moments that point back to God and His goodness.

The moment when Mary stopped to treasure up all the things that were happening around her, to ponder the message God was sending her about her child, often reminds me of a day when I did the same but in very different circumstances. February 8th, 2013, the worst day of my life, when my daughter’s heart stopped and my body became a tomb, God made His radical promise to me, “I WILL REDEEM THIS.” I had no energy or clarity of mind to even attempt to grasp what the words meant, so I stored it up for later. Like Mary, who probably could not believe what was happening to her or how the path of her life had suddenly gone a completely different direction than expected, I struggled to take it all in. I was in shock. But God spoke over and over again, an audible voice in my head, “I WILL REDEEM IT.” And each time He spoke I took His promise like a treasure and stored it away to ponder later. Since that day, almost four years ago, I have contemplated the promise many times, turning it over in my mind. God promised to redeem my daughter Lucy’s death and all the loss and pain that came with it. But did He realize how much was lost on that day and all the days since then? That promise of redemption feels too large. It feels impossible. The first year or two after Lucy’s death I reached in and took that promise out in anger, wielding it like a weapon towards God, “You promised me! But you let more tragedy strike instead! Why would you make a promise you could never fulfill?” How could He possibly repay me for my daughter’s death? Over the years God has patiently and carefully crafted my story, moment by moment, using all the loss for good, mending broken places and making the barren wasteland fruitful. And yes, even redeeming parts of my Lucy loss that I thought would never be redeemed on earth.

This year especially I have seen the redemption He promised emerge more than ever. There have been countless moments of glory, beauty and joy that I never thought I would experience again on earth, too many to list here. Many of these moments involved my miracle baby Nora and many of these moments involved other women with high risk pregnancies who were looking for support. I treasure all these things up and praise God for them (especially my baby Nora!)

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There have been other moments this past year that felt surreal, heavy and empty at the same time because Lucy wasn’t in them:

The play date where all the babies have their preschool siblings along too but three year old Lucy is missing. I’m supposed to choke down my chicken nuggets and smile like everything is normal. I’m the only one who sees the empty space where she should be.

Folding up and putting away her empty stocking on Christmas Eve after the other three have been filled with toys and chocolate.

Telling her brothers that I am sorry, I don’t know what she would look like today and watching their hot tears stream down.

Suddenly realizing in the middle of an English lesson that the little girl I’m teaching is the exact age that Lucy would be today. Her big brown eyes staring up at me, her little laugh. Would Lucy look like that? I don’t even know what her laugh sounds like. I weep for my baby girl the entire drive home.

Over the course of this year God has been teaching me to pause right then and ponder the painful moment, gather it up and give it to God to be redeemed later. I’m learning to trust that He WILL redeem even that terrible moment. Every tear shed, every time the weight of grief feels too heavy to bear, every single thing I miss with Lucy will be redeemed, repaid and restored. God can redeem the deepest loss, even your loss. He can bring beauty from ashes, He can even heal parts of your heart that you thought were broken forever. Some things can never be mended until we get to heaven, but these things that He does redeem on earth are our foreshadowing of the glory and restoration to come.

If you are reading this I have prayed for you. I’ve prayed for your 2017, that God would bring about the most beautiful redemption in your life. I’ve prayed for your healing and for your joy, that God would give you the desires of your heart and would grant you the request of your lips. Be bold and ask Him for the thing you so desperately want. Gather up all of your hurts and hand them over to Him to be redeemed. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.

Psalm 126  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Lately

I have been so bad at regularly updating the blog these past few months! I have several posts written in my head that I really want to type out but I just cannot find the time to do it. Part of me feels guilty about this since I used to be so consistent with my blogging, but part of me also feels relieved that there have been no big tragedies in my life lately to blog about. I am busy with life, regular life with my three earth babies, and it is wonderful. I still feel like I’m trying to reintegrate back into “normal” life, except that it is a new normal. I still struggle with the fact that I will never be the person I was before anti-kell antibodies and before my daughter died. This adjustment to my new life feels very similar to when I move to a new country. It’s disorienting at first trying to understand a new culture, learn a new language, figure out a new transportation system, make new friends, find your way around a new city, etc. I’ve realized that it takes me at least a whole year in a new country to start feeling like I’m not just a visitor anymore, like I belong. I still feel like I don’t quite belong here even though she died three and a half years ago.

For the rest of my time here on earth my life will be divided into two parts…no, not even two parts, two completely different lives. There was my life before Lucy and there is my life after Lucy. It feels like I am just now figuring out how to make this new life work. I am feeling more confident finding my way around this new country. The culture shock is not as terrible now, but it still jolts me some days. Often, the cloud of sadness settles on me and overtakes everything. I can’t believe I’m missing her whole life. I can’t believe I have to actually go through the rest of my life not knowing my daughter, not interacting with her on a daily basis. Most of the time, though, I just feel thankful. I’m thankful for all that God has done for me. I’m thankful for the many ways He continually fulfills His promise to me that He made on the day Lucy died. He said He would redeem her death and my pain, and He is slowly doing that, day by day (this is one of the blog posts I need to write!)

I started working part time again teaching English to German families and I love it. It is so rewarding and fulfilling for me and the extra income is desperately needed. We finished paying off all of Nora’s medical bills, but we still have our credit card bill to pay off. Normally we don’t use our credit card at all unless there is an emergency but after we lost all of our savings on the “adoption” and I moved to Houston last year we had to use it on a regular basis. Hopefully we can now pay it off over the next year.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the fact that if I didn’t have anti-kell antibodies, we would have already been trying again for our next baby. We would have to get pregnant this month or next month if we wanted Nora to have a sibling two years younger than her. It hurts me to see Liam and Asher play and wrestle while Nora sits all alone on the sidelines, smiling sweetly at her brothers. She should have a three year old sister. I wish I could be pregnant right now with her little brother or sister. I don’t want her to be all alone without a sibling friend close in age. It is another loss that hurts me every day. We are not trying to conceive, by the way. Here is Nora playing with her stuffed animal friends on her little couch that she got for her birthday.

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Nora is now 14 months old and is still such a content, joyful baby. I love having a little girl in the house. She is so different from her brothers. She loves shoes, clothes and jewelry and tries to dress herself already. She is very maternal like I was when I was little. Her baby dolls and stuffed animals have all been rocked to sleep, bottle fed, kissed, patted, dressed, undressed, dressed again and even sung to. Nora loves talking and singing. Her favorite sentences are “I love you.” and “I like this.” I ask her, “Nora, who is your hero?” and she says, “Doc Mo” which is her version of Dr. Moise. Last night she was playing with her Daddy before bed and she pointed to her belly and said, “Tickle this.” She is finally walking all over the place and trying to keep up with her brothers. They are still obsessed with her. They think she’s hilarious and adorable and they can’t believe how soft her skin is. I often hear one of them say something like, “Mommy, Nora is so cute she’s making my eyes cry.” They are gentle around her and very protective of her. If one of them accidentally knocks her down or hurts her somehow, I always end up comforting the big brother more than I have to comfort Nora. She might cry for a minute but her brother will cry for half an hour and then feel guilty all day about how he knocked her over and hurt her. In these moments I feel extra thankful that she didn’t die in my womb. Her brothers would have been absolutely devastated. I’m so glad they didn’t have to go through that heartache again. Liam asks often about Scarlet and Lucy and he says on a regular basis, “What if we had been able to keep Lucy, Scarlet AND Nora? I would have loved that.” He just said it again this morning. Our lives are interwoven with grief and joy and “what might have beens” but they are anchored in the steadiness of God’s love and goodness. Our joy and our stability are found in Him and we are so thankful that He is unchanging. Here are a few pictures of Nora lately and a video from her first birthday that I forgot to post earlier.

 

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Nora and five year old Asher

When big brother “helps” Nora get a sip and almost drowns her instead. Ha!

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That time Nora loved the little chick so much she almost squeezed it to death.

Mommy and Nora

Nora feeds a baby goat at the barnyard.

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Feeding ducks with Liam.

That tiny ponytail!

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This morning she tried out the sandbox for the very first time and scooped shovels of sand onto her head.

 

Where Is Your Sting?

This is a heavy post. My grandfather is dying right now. He is 93 years old and he’s in a hospital bed in my old bedroom in my parents’ house down the street. We have been keeping vigil by his bedside for the past four or five days, never leaving him alone for more than a few minutes at a time. Days ago we thought that he surely wouldn’t last another day, another hour, but the body that has worked well for almost a century is not willing to give up so easily. It is heartbreaking to watch, emotionally draining and depressing. We know that he is going to heaven and that he has wanted to go to heaven ever since my grandmother died five years ago, but it is still painful to watch the transition. I keep thinking about Lucy and my three babies on earth. Liam, Asher and Nora will all die one day and I probably won’t be here to make sure their transition to heaven will be as comfortable as possible. This is a distressing thought. Will my babies be well loved in their last hours? Will they be scared? Will they be in pain? My Daddy-D, he is somebody’s baby boy, and that’s how we are treating him…the way we want our children to be treated when they die.

Nora and Daddy-D have had a special bond, especially these last few days. She loves sitting on his bed next to him, patting him and babbling at him, even saying his name. His face would light up when he saw her in the last few days that he was aware and still in control of his body.

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Daddy-D being silly with Nora


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Playing peekaboo with Daddy-D


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Nora gives love pats while my sister moistens and cleans Daddy-D’s mouth.

She played peekaboo with him, touched his nose, laid her head on him, and all I could think of was Lucy doing the same things with him soon, in heaven. How long until he goes from playing with my daughter Nora, to playing with my other daughter Lucy? Days? Hours? Minutes? And he will get to know her before I do, my own daughter. How do I process this?

As he has slowly deteriorated and faded, we have been speaking more about the people who are waiting for him in heaven. My mom encourages him, “Mama is waiting for you, Daddy! She can’t wait to see you!” He seems at peace most of the time. I have to mention Lucy…”And you will get to see Lucy soon, Daddy-D! Tell her…” What do I say? What kind of words can I send with him that can adequately convey my love to her, my ache for her, my inability to live without her here? There are no words in the English language powerful enough to express how I feel about her. “Tell her that Mommy loves her and misses her so much. Tell her about her sister and her brothers. Tell her how fun it was playing with her baby sister. I’m jealous that you get to go meet her.” The words are limp. Not enough. He can’t really move but his eyes fill with tears and the tears spill out the sides, running down his face. He tries to speak but we can’t understand what he wants to say.


As I watch my Daddy-D get closer and closer to his last breath I think of the verse-

1 Corinthians 15:55  Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

I know that Jesus conquered death, but these words don’t feel true because death seems so much bigger at the moment. Looming, mysterious, inescapable. None of us are getting out alive. I feel weighted down as he struggles to breathe. THIS is the best case scenario? One day, we will all be dead.

I ask God for His perspective, for His light to brighten our darkness. And He gives me thoughts that comfort: Death is inescapable, but for those who love God and believe in Him, it is only a tiny slice of time; a moment. It doesn’t define us, it isn’t the end, it is just a transition we all have to go through. For those of us who are left behind, death is a separation from the people we love, and that is why I hate it. For those who are dying or have already gone ahead, death is a link to the people we love, and that is why I appreciate it. Yes, death is real and it affects us all, but there is also SO MUCH LIFE. Daddy-D experienced so much life. He lived for 93 years! When my mom was a tiny girl he promised her that he would tell her he loved her every single day, and he did. He kissed her and doted on her and told her she was beautiful and she believed him. He loved his wife and his kids and his grandchildren well. He loved God and was faithful to Him. Daddy-D was a leader, a WWII veteran, a successful engineer and he LOVED giving advice. When we were younger he would say, “Look at my old, wrinkly face. Would you swap faces with me? No? What if I gave you ten dollars, would you trade faces with me then? No? What if I gave you a million dollars, would you trade faces with me then? No? Then you are a millionaire right now, at this very moment.” And I felt like a millionaire. He often reminded us, “Deciding to follow God is the most important decision of your life. Deciding who to marry is the second most important decision you will ever make.” I could write so much about his life, but the point is that he LIVED. And after his last breath, when his life here on earth comes to an end, there is more life. Everlasting life stretches out ahead of him. Thank you, Jesus for this gift. What if we could see death for what it really was? Just a thing we all have to get through, like puberty, or winter (or summer if you live here in Alabama.) It does not loom, it does not define us. THERE IS SO MUCH LIVING TO BE DONE, before death and after. Having this assurance brings the most amazing peace, even here in the valley of the shadow of death.

If Daddy-D could tell you one thing right now as his time on earth dwindles, I know he would ask, “Have you made the most important decision of your life?” Because that decision is what defines your eternity, and when you accept the free gift of life that Jesus offers, you rob death of it’s power.

Romans 10:9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

I love you Daddy-D. Give Lucy so many kisses for me.

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Ripples

“Mommy, do you want to die in an explosion so you can go to heaven and see Lucy?” Five year old Asher caught me completely off guard with his question. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry but his face was earnest and he really wanted to know. I told him I didn’t want to die in an explosion but I was excited about being with Lucy one day when I do eventually get to heaven.

Lucy’s death had such an immediate, violent impact on my life but the rippling effects are really hitting the boys now. Liam and Asher are suddenly old enough to comprehend that their little sister is dead and it is heartbreaking to watch them work it out in their minds. The boys are so obsessed with Nora and they love having their baby sister with them. I think they are just now understanding all of the beauty and wonder and love that they are missing without Lucy here. I found this drawing at the bottom of Liam’s backpack the other day.

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I asked him about it and he said it was a bad guy freezing the whole world and all the people died but Lucy (who is the tiny dot in the upper left hand corner) survived. Lucy survived. Our ultimate fantasy scenario. Liam also told me yesterday, “Mommy, I’m sad about a daydream I had where all the babies are trying to be alive, like all the babies in their mom’s bellies, and the ones who don’t win die but only the winner gets to be alive.” The boys have asked us about having another baby and we told them that if I had another baby in my belly we don’t know if that baby would live like Nora or die and go to heaven like Lucy. Asher asked me today how old Lucy is and I told him she is about 2, almost 3 years old. I hesitated, though, because I honestly don’t know how aging works in heaven. Would Lucy grow up, year by year like she would here? Or is she still a newborn waiting for me to get there so I can watch her grow up? Or is she an adult? If she were here on earth she would be turning 3 years old this summer. She would be exactly two years older than Nora, just like Liam is two years older than Asher. The boys always have a combination birthday party in February/March and I know Lucy and Nora would have had a combination birthday party every July. I hate that Nora doesn’t have her big sister here with her. Such a huge loss. The boys are so sad that Lucy isn’t here with them. Asher asked what she looks like now and I had to tell him I wasn’t sure. He looked so sad and asked if she looked just like Nora but had a different name and I told him I didn’t know. He said he wanted to be in an explosion so that he could go see what Lucy looks like. I know some of these thoughts seem morbid, but they are just a peek into five year old and seven year old minds trying to understand death. I hate that death is such a big part of our family and part of the boys’ childhoods.

Asher always includes Lucy in our family. He was very wounded this past Christmas when I didn’t hang a stocking up for Lucy. I promised him that next year we will hang a stocking up for both of his sisters. This is his latest family drawing:

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He is holding Nora and up in the sky is Lucy in her mansion in heaven. She is looking out of the window at us. He insisted that I hang the picture up on the wall above Nora’s crib because he drew it for her. Oh how my heart hurts when I think about telling Nora one day that she has a sister that she will never get to meet until she gets to heaven. Watching the boys deal with Lucy’s death now, three years later, is a reminder that this terrible tragedy that happened to us in 2013 isn’t just over, even though we are continuing to heal. The harsh reality is that the tragedy continues and the ripples continue to bruise us, to cut into our hearts, to reopen old wounds. There are facets of our loss, our life without Lucy, that have yet to impact us. One day when Nora gets older she will wish she had someone to play My Little Ponies with; a sister to tell secrets to and do each others hair and share clothes with.

It is hard to go through life without such a vital part of our family. It is hard for siblings to comprehend their sister being dead. Their sister will never be a part of our family here in the flesh. But goodness, she makes heaven so much sweeter and more tangible. When Asher builds things with Legos he often constructs a scenario here on earth and then one in heaven too. “Mommy, these guys are in their house having a meeting and this guy is in heaven.” Thanks to Lucy, heaven is a very real place to us. She has gifted us with an eternal perspective on life and a joyful anticipation of heaven. I used to dread the end of my life on earth. I feared death. It made me feel anxious and panicky. Now, I look forward to it; not in a suicidal way, but in a very sweet, excited way. I feel peace about dying and I can’t wait to get to heaven. The boys are excited about heaven too and they look forward to meeting their little sister and seeing the mansion that she lives in.

The rippling effect of our loss and heartache will continue to hit us throughout our lives. I know one day when all the 2013 babies start kindergarten I will have an intense ache in my heart…and when they graduate and when I know she should be in college and when I see a beautiful bride her age walk down the aisle and when I meet my grandchildren but none of them are Lucy’s…I will continue to be wounded again and again and so will her Daddy. As her brothers grow and understand more and more about this great gaping hole in our family, they will continue to be bruised as well. BUT these destructive ripples are confined to this earth. They will not follow us to heaven. They are harmless in light of eternity, and that is why I look forward to heaven so much. I just can’t wait to see my first girl and to see all of my children under one roof.

This Little Light of Mine

PSALM 22:10  WHEN I LEFT THE WOMB YOU CRADLED ME; SINCE THE MOMENT OF BIRTH YOU’VE BEEN MY GOD.

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Three years have passed since my baby Lucy went to heaven. It always seems a bit ironic to me that the worst day of my life was the best day of Lucy’s life. Since I haven’t experienced heaven yet myself, this is just a theory, but I imagine that for all of the citizens of heaven, the best day of their entire lives was the day they arrived. That was the day that their pain was erased, their bodies were healed, their sadness replaced with joy, their losses redeemed and their fear completely swallowed up by Love. From the slum to paradise. Such a sharp contrast. I’m trying to be happy for my baby today, but my heart aches from such a long separation. This day always brings back devastating memories of how she died and what we all went through on that day. A friend of mine recently lost her two year old daughter to cancer. She told me that some of the hardest daily things to deal with are the flashbacks. I know she didn’t mean that to be encouraging, she was just telling me how she was doing, but it has encouraged me so much. It reminded me that Lucy died ONCE. She experienced severe anemia, fetal hydrops, heart damage and death ONE TIME. It’s over and she is experiencing pure peace and joy right now. But over the past three years I have experienced her death over and over and over again in my head. Just the other night at Chickfila I saw a woman who had been pregnant the same time I was pregnant with Lucy. When I saw her healthy two year old run onto the playground it triggered so many terrible flashbacks and feelings. While she enjoyed watching her son play on the playground I saw Lucy dying all over again. I felt like my insides were being washed with the heaviest sadness that still lingers, several days later. But it is comforting to remember that the flashbacks are just flashbacks. No matter how real and painful they are to me, they are not happening to Lucy. She only experienced it ONCE and she will never experience it again. I’m clinging to that truth today. She is safe.

When I was pregnant with Nora several people warned me that going from two to three kids was a hard transition. But the truth is, I already went from two to three kids in 2013. When Lucy died she didn’t stop being my daughter and I didn’t stop being her mother. The most agonizing transition for me was going from having all of my children under one roof to having one in heaven. Even though Lucy lives in heaven, I have been parenting her these last three years, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I parent Lucy in a completely different way than I parent Liam, Asher and Nora.

What does it look like to parent a child who lives in heaven? For me, it means I grieve my daughter well. I acknowledge her life and her absence instead of pretending that she never existed. Even though her milestones are different from her brothers’ and sister’s, I celebrate them just like I celebrate my other children’s milestones. I appreciate life more and I empathize with others who are grieving. I allow Lucy to continue impacting the world through me. I ask God to use my pain and my loss for good. I try to honor Lucy by using her life and death to help other people. One way that God has been able to do this is through my blog. I never would have started this blog if it weren’t for Lucy, obviously. I wrote my first blog post shortly after we lost her and thought, “There is NO WAY I can share this private, painful part of my life with the world.” But God (and some faithful friends) urged me on. When I clicked “Publish” for the first time I literally felt like I was going to throw up, I was so nervous. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention, it makes me extremely uncomfortable. But isn’t that just part of being a parent? Doing hard things and sacrificing our own comfort for our children? Yes, I decided I could do that for Lucy and for God. And through this blog I have been able to let my little Lucy light shine. I am so proud of my baby girl. She only spent 20 weeks in the womb but she continues to impact the world even three years later. Did you know that because of Lucy, other babies have been saved? Broken hearts have been comforted and those who are weary have been encouraged to hope.

Today I want to brag about my baby Lucy. I get to show off my three earth children every day, whether it’s pictures on Facebook, smiling proudly when we are out in public together, telling their Daddy about something cute they did or celebrating their lives at their birthday parties every year. I wish I had better pictures of her but I didn’t have a camera with me at the time and I was in shock. I only took a few quick pictures with my cell phone. Here is my sweet, one pound Lucy.

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Only one pound but she touched so many lives. I want to share with all of you some of the stories from people she has helped, like baby Mack. Mack’s older sister died after being attacked in the womb by antibodies, like Lucy. His mom, Tiffany, found my blog and reached out to me when she was pregnant with her rainbow baby. I was able to get her the information she needed to fight for her baby Mack and I was able to connect her to the Facebook support group where she received even more support. Mack almost lost his life like his sister but he made it and is now completely over the antibodies and doing great!

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When I see babies like Mack it brings me so much joy. I get to watch God bring good out of my worst nightmare. Here are some other people who have been impacted by Lucy:

I learned about Kell with my first pregnancy but she wasn’t affected by it. When I got pregnant with my second child, I had a very strong feeling that she or he would be affected. I just had an intuition. Everyone told me NOT to search the Internet about this disease and that everything on the Internet would scare me. Every night I searched and searched trying to find some answers on what anti Kell was exactly because even my Drs didn’t have clear answers. Either way, I knew it was a scary thing. I searched high and low….I just wanted to find someone else who knew what I was going through. Even my own husband wasn’t interested in learning more about it. I felt very alone. Finally I came across a blog a about a little angel named Lucy and her mother Bethany who had these Kell antibodies as well. As I read more and more I had to find Bethany and ask her questions….I searched her name on Facebook and wasn’t sure if it was the correct Bethany, but I thought let me message her – what have I got to lose. A few weeks later, I got a message back after she found me in her “others folder”. We both realized we were a week apart in our pregnancies and we’re both having girls. She told me about a private Facebook group that was filled with other mothers who had the same antibodies and issues that we both faced. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy!
Throughout my pregnancy my family, friends, Drs said to stay away from the group because it will scare me or seeing depressing stuff would be bad. It did the EXACT opposite of that. These girls and Bethany in particular saved me, saved my sanity, and saved my daughter! I was so grateful to go through my pregnancy with people who understood ! I didn’t share my pregnancy with most people in my life because I wasn’t ready to explain the problems and complications I was going to have. My daughter was born 6 weeks early and needed 2 post birth transfusions after having 3 in utero. The ISO moms were there for me no matter what! I still pray for each of them and their babies every single day! Thank God for Lucy leading me to this group! Here’s a picture of me and my ISO baby- she is now a healthy 7 month old.- Amy Dell KochIMG_0701

 

For me, Bethany, you were MY savior during the most difficult part of my life. You helped me grieve and you also helped me feel not alone and not weird. I honestly don’t think I could have made it through some of my darkest days if it weren’t for you standing by (with an email). My husband always mentions you. I always felt that my Grace and your Lucy must be up there – watching over our pregnancies and our miracle babies. I am so thankful for what you did for me. I hope in some small way I have been there for you too. ~Callista Puchmeyer

 

You don’t know me (I live in Saskatchewan, Canada), but I stumbled on your blog a couple of years ago, when I lost my son, Elijah(June 22, 2013). I was 18 weeks pregnant. We don’t know for sure why he died, but we discovered last year that I have a uterine abnormality, called a partial uterine septum. It is essentially extra tissue at the top of the uterus that doesn’t have good blood flow. If that baby implants there, they can experience growth restriction, the placenta may not be receiving enough blood/nutrients etc., and eventually it can lead to death, preterm labour, or placental abruption. The suspicion is that that is what happened with Elijah. I just had the surgery to fix my uterus earlier this month, so hopefully someday in the future we will have a “take home baby” of our own. I long to have a pregnancy that ends in the birth of a healthy crying baby, instead of silence and grief. It has been a long, painful road of missing Elijah, struggling with infertility, struggling with anger and resentment, and struggling to be the lone infertile/childless couple in a very fertile church family and community.

So even though I don’t have a antibody problem, it was wonderful to me to stumble on a blog where someone else was voicing all the hurts and prayers that I myself was expressing…especially when I felt so isolated and alone. Even my close Christian friends didn’t really understand how the grief of a child gone to heaven could influence every part of my life for years to come. Even though many would agree that “a unborn baby is still a baby”, I don’t think (even Christian) society REALLY views it as being the same/similar to losing a child who was born alive, unless they experience it themselves. So people expect you to get better much more quickly, put your grief behind you, and so on. And I couldn’t. I still think of Elijah every day, many times a day. All the important date anniversary’s are hard, certain months of the year are hard, holidays are hard. Of course I feel much more joy in my life these days; I am not depressed any longer. I enjoy life. But I lost my Dad when I was 16, and my grief for Elijah is just as strong and has permanently changed who I am as a person. So many people don’t understand that! I really struggled with God (and still do at times) over this loss and our infertility, and I don’t usually feel free to express that out loud, because I feel like people are sort of like “still? Maybe you should see a doctor if you are still hung up on that?!” Ultimately my faith was strengthened through our experiences, as yours was.

Anyway, what I’m getting at in all that rambling, is that it really helped to read about how you also struggled with your faith, with the ‘why’s” and with continuing to miss Lucy and your other babies, even though you didn’t get a chance to know them. I was thankful for the scripture you quoted, and for seeing the process you worked through, and that God was working IN you, through all of it. It really helped. I check back on your blog often, to read about how you are making out with your dear Nora. 🙂 So happy for you guys! God is great. Even in the dark times.

So yes, Lucy definitely touched my life, and so did you! Absolutely. Many tears were shed over your blog, for you and also for our own situation. You are a blessing to me. 🙂 Thank you!

~Katie

 

Lucy’s story was the only thing I could find 3 years ago when I got pregnant with my first iso baby. That’s where all of my research started and eventually led me to the Facebook group so for that I’ll always be grateful! Even though I’m not as educated in this subject as other mamas anytime I find anyone who has been sensitized the first place I send them is to read your story so they can see that it can get bad but there is hope! And this is my baby Dante he is my kell+ baby and even though we didn’t need any intervention during pregnancy he has been affected since birth. He is 4 weeks now but still having problems with his bili levels. He is also off of oxygen and just starting to grow out of his newborn clothes and diapers! ~Nancy Mendoza

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I am not sure how I stumbled across your blog but I have been very touched by your story and your faith. I am very sorry for the loss of your precious daughter but am glad you have your three living children to dote on in this life. ~Vivian

 

I only wish I’d found you before Joey was born! You’ve helped me so much you’ll never know. To finally have found others who 100% understand what we went through is such a nice thing to come from something awful.
Here’s my anti-kell ‘baby’ dressed up as a Box Troll! ~Alison Brooks

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Your words on the blog got me through some tough days dealing with kell. I’m so grateful God used your story to help others. It’s been a blessing to see Nora’s story now that came out of Lucy’s life. Thank you for giving us all hope! ~Adria Whelan

 

I don’t have a picture for you to share but I am so thankful for finding your blog as we begin our journey with anti-Kell! You have been such a great resource for me already!!!    ~Nicole Gunderson

 

Greenleigh is due June 13, 2016. When I found out I was anti-k I came across your blog which led me to this group. It was nice knowing I wasn’t the only one in this situation and hearing all the possibilities of what could happen, both good and bad but especially the good because it gave hope. My first born is K positive but has a different father and my second child is negative since her father is negative and none of our future babies will be at risk thankfully. The hospital even mailed me a card to carry saying I’m anti-k in case I ever need a blood transfusion which is nice since that can be dangerous. You guys taught me a lot so when we didn’t have our answers it kept me positive and hopeful.         ~MaKayla PriceIMG_0698

 

Your blog is so amazing in so many ways! I felt so alone when I found out about KELL and I actually had nurses who told me to google the story of baby Lucy. After I lost Julia you were there for me and could relate and I’m grateful to you! I know our baby girls are playing up in heaven together! Happy birthday Lucy! ~Susan Marie

 

We were so blessed when we found your blog. We referred to you as Lucy’s mom in normal conversation at the supper table, with our coworkers and even with our Drs. Who knows what would have happened to our miracle Madon if we wouldn’t have found you. We can never thank you enough. ~Jillian Huber

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I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now. I first stumbled upon it after I had a miscarriage at 9 weeks on August 26, 2014. At the time I was feeling devastated (my husband and I had been trying for a while to get pregnant with our second), and your raw honesty really encouraged me through a very dark time. One thing I really appreciated about your posts was that I felt like you understood (through all of the stories you shared from others) that all pregnancy loss is difficult, whether it’s at 6 weeks or full term. The thing I heard the most from people after my miscarriage was that it was so common, which made me feel like my loss didn’t matter because so many women experience it. Reading your blog helped me to see that other women were just as devastated, but that there was hope to try again. The other area where you encouraged me was that you already had 2 children, and yet you really grieved over Lucy. Another insensitive comment from people was that I just needed to focus on my other daughter, when in reality I needed to focus on the one that I lost in order to grieve in a healthy way. Now, over a year later, I have my rainbow baby (born on August 28th, 2015). What a beautiful gift from God, but I do know that not everyone’s stories end so happily. I just wanted you to know that your strength through your many challenges (to put it lightly) has inspired me to keep going through my own.

~Vanya

 

I found Bethany through the ISO FB group. I had already been through 1 ISO pregnancy, resulting in my beautiful baby Shea. Luckily I found the group shortly after becoming pregnant with my second. I thought that after all that I dealt with having Shea. Induced at 37 weeks, a stay in NICU, phototherapy, not beng able to hold my new baby was bad. I was upset and it took time to learn how to deal with what happened. I was blind-sided at 30 weeks to discover that I had this antibody issue. Little did I know that that was absolutely easy (not nothing, as every journey has its challenges) compared to what I went through to get our second Rory here. I knew I wanted to try to have another after Shea but was terrified. Rory was a fighter from the start, he is 2 months younger than Nora. While I am blessed never to have a loss like Bethany went through with Lucy, I absolutely understand how these horrible events can happen to us ISO mums. Bethany’s pregnancy with Nora was similar to mine with Rory. She went through the IUTs and delivered before me and I used it as an inspiration of what was to come. I remember vividly reading the post of Nora’s birth story to myself and crying in fear and joy. I later read it to my husband with the same result. Rory arrived on September 25th, 2015. My warrior baby. Even his delivery was similar to Bethany’s with Nora. Scary for a while then quick, fast and I can’t believe this beautiful baby is here in my arms!!!! I had so many dark days, sleepless nights, times when I could not control my emotions or tears. Thank you Bethany for going on this journey with me and Rory. Thank you for sharing both Lucy and Nora with us. Thank you for being so open about your struggle and journey. Thank you for commenting on so many of my emotional posts with words of love. Thank you for taking something so tragic and seeing goodness all around. Thank you for being such a light in such a dark time in my life when I feared daily that I would lose my baby. Thank you for your strength, open heart and faith. ~Ainslie Treleaven

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After the loss of my son due to kell I did not know much about this antibody. On top of the grief I believed that I never would be able to have another living and healthy baby…then I researched and found your blog. You helped me so much with information, hope that it would be possible to have another baby and I found this great facebook group because of you! Lucy must be so proud of her amazing mummy and tell everybody in heaven how much you have done for other pregnant and “antibody-mums”. I cannot post a baby picture right now because I am only 18 weeks but I hopefully can as a belated birthday present for Lucy in May/June when baby is here. Thank you so much! ~Fee Munkler

 

Lucy has held a place in my heart from the first time you shared her with us through your blog. I grieved (though at the time in ignorance) with you and your family. I appreciated your honest wrestling and I was blessed by your continued reliance on God’s promises even when trust was hard.

Then when Dominic died, you reached out to me and became a safe harbor where I could rest when the storm threatened to overwhelm me. Almost twenty years my junior, you have taught me so much.

And now, I am encouraged to share my journey of losing an adult child because of your boldness.

Dominic was always so good with little kids. They loved him. I feel joy when I imagine them together waiting for us to join them.

I would NEVER wish the pain we carry on anyone. But you have shown me that it can be redeemed.

Love you dear one. May God continue to open doors of opportunity because of Lucy.

~Melanie

 

I was 9 weeks into my first pregnancy when I first heard the term “anti-kell.” Even being in the healthcare field, I was lost. My OB even admitted that I would probably know more about it than her by the time it was all over. So off to a MFM I went. It was very scary because NO ONE knew what I was talking about. The best information I could find online was from your blog. It was information that I could actually understand and process in a time of so much uncertainty. I am so thankful for your story and for your willingness to share something that is so personal because it has definitely touched so many lives! Grant was born on February 13th at 36 weeks due to anti-kell risks, slowed growth, and preeclampsia. He was 5 lbs, 4 oz and only delt with high bilirubin and some eating/breathing issues. Thank you for always being a source of support for so many! ~Lindsey Holtcamp-Koors

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I found you after my daughter was stillborn and my adoption plans fell flat. You reflected alot of things I felt but couldnt put into words, which I found very comforting. If you could survive, then maybe so would I. Your blog has also helped me know that it is okay for me to talk about and love my Sinza, just as much as you talk about and love your Lucy.

Happy 3rd heavenly Birthday, Lucy!  ~Celian

 

Your blog helped me navigate anti-k and really understand what was going on with my body and how to find the medical attention I needed… I was sensitized after I had my boys and have now had two healthy girls…

Thank you for your transparency and support.
I cannot imagine all you have been through. Thank you for sharing your story and educating so many people, so we know how to advocate for our babies. I’ve also been in touch with Dr. Moise who was very helpful in helping me communicate with my MFM on some things we didn’t agree on, early in my second sensitized pregnancy. ~Rebecca Ware

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I don’t even know how to state how much Lucy has given me. You and Lucy and God got me through my loss of Luke. I love knowing Luke had a sweet, pretty friend in heaven. Your wisdom, tears, frustrations and encouragement in her loss have mirrored and cushioned my own hurt. There are not strong enough words to even say it, friend, but you know. I love Lucy SO much. I wish she were here for the cake and presents too, but then I would not have found you. I would be missing a most precious friendship. And i know God is going to turn our ashes into crowns of beauty and all will feel right when we get to His kingdom. ~Sara

 

I am Lucy’s grandmother. Her death has been the very worst thing that has happened to me. She left a hole in our family which will never be filled on this earth.
On her third birthday, I would like to think about the gifts which she has given me.
* Heaven is sweeter and more real now. Lucy has a joy-filled life there with the Lord Jesus and some day I will join her. As the years go by, I realize that it is my true home, not earth.
*On the day that I saw Lucy, my heart was broken and I did not understand why this happened. But I did feel God’s help and strength. I know that he will always be there even in the middle of great pain, and this gives me courage for the future.
*I think that Lucy gave me a more compassionate heart. When someone tells me about her grief, I am more attentive and sad because I can feel some of her pain. When Bethany and I lived at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston last year, every child there had a life-threatening illness. It is a great comfort to another to enter into their sorrow with them and I often was able to do that. It was because of Lucy.
I am very thankful for our Lucy. She is a gift from God.
Just before Jesus died, he told his friends, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)
Someday the sorrow will be gone, and the joy will stay forever.

 

And the story that is most dear to my heart…the story about a miracle baby named Nora who only got the treatment she needed because her big sister died. Nora would not be alive if it weren’t for Lucy.

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Happy 3rd Heaven Birthday, my beautiful Lucy Dair. I will continue parenting you the best way I know how until I can scoop you up in my arms and mother you in person. I am so proud of you.

Three years closer to having you forever.

 

What You Can Get Lucy For Her Birthday

Lucy’s third heaven birthday is coming up at the beginning of February. I wonder what kind of presents we would be buying her if she had been born alive? I wish we were preparing to celebrate her third birthday like we are getting ready to celebrate Liam’s seventh birthday and Asher’s fifth birthday…with presents, cakes, parties, friends and family. What I really want is for her to just be here with me and for all the time I’ve missed with her to be made up. Obviously, these things can’t happen but there is something that YOU can get her for her birthday. I would love to see how her story has impacted you. It brings me so much joy and comfort when I realize that GOOD has come out of her death. I have a big favor to ask: If you have been impacted by Lucy’s story would you be willing to share that with me? If your baby has been helped by our experience with anti-kell antibodies, if you have been comforted in a time of mourning, if your faith has been strengthened, if you have been encouraged in your journey to build your family or if you have been impacted in some other way, could you email me at bethanysk55@yahoo.com and tell me about it? Or you can just leave your message in the comment section here. It doesn’t have to be long or well written, just a sentence or two telling how you have been encouraged. That would mean so much to me. I would love to honor Lucy by sharing your story here on her birthday. If you DON’T want your experience shared on my blog just specify it in your message. Let’s all come together and show the world that even the smallest babies and the shortest lives can have a BIG impact on the world. Thank you all ❤