Saturday, December 5, 2015

3

I crawled in the back of the closet this morning and dug out my box.  Deep down I hoped that it would still smell like him.  The scarf I wore that night that caught hundreds of tears and now wrapped my sweet memories tight.  I hoped it would have the faintest smell of him.  It didn't.

I haven't looked through that box in a long while.  Probably a couple years.  I sat and read all the thoughtful words and prayers.  All the sweet words of encouragement.  Notes of how his life changed theirs.  It brings heartache and hope in the same breath.

It's been 3 years tomorrow.

This year has been a different year of grieving for me.  It seems each year brings a different wave of emotions and reactions.  This year I feel like I was able to take a deep breath and accept freedom.  Let go of the guilt.  Assess some resentment I had buried deep down.  And ask God some big questions - knowing that the answers may not come and may not be what I wanted to hear.  But sometimes they're even better.

The first year of grief I plowed through full steam ahead.  I was NOT going down in that pit.  I felt like if I moved and moved and moved I'd get through.  And I did.  I only allowed myself certain times of sitting in it and feeling it.  I resolved to be thankful, make new memories and find change.  We did all of those things.  And we did them well.  The second year was more of the same, with a lot of newness.  Newness that began to reap joy.  We moved into our house, we had a precious baby girl and life bloomed.  We still remembered him daily.  There were still very hard days and reminders but a new joy flooded our hearts.

This year Stella has continued to bring joy and hope in our hearts.  But something has changed in how I looked at my grief this year.  Personally I've been able to stop and ask God things in the darkest parts of my heart that I was scared to uncover before.  I read the book, "Soulkeeping," this year and it really allowed me to look at those places and have honest candid conversations with God.

I was never mad at God.  I've said before something in me wanted to be so angry in those first weeks.  I wanted to scream at Him and throw things and yell, "WHY?" But that's not what rose up in my heart.  I'm not mad now.  But this year I've asked God to reveal to me things I needed to hear.  I think I felt like if I stopped and wondered too much in that first year I would fall deep in that pit unable to get back out.  I was afraid if I asked God questions He'd respond in ways my soul couldn't handle.  If I let myself sit and smell the scarf, read the notes and look at his tiny handprint I would crumble.  I had little eyes watching and they couldn't see me crumble anymore.  People would tell me I was strong and inspiring so I figured I had to keep it up.  Chin. Up. Buttercup.  I put expectations on myself that others never would have. I'm not in anyway saying I regret how I walked that first year out.  I'm only saying that I've found more freedom in the process of grieving this year.

Once you take any wrong doings off of God and accept the process of grieving you find FREEDOM.  

That is my revelation this 3rd year of grief.

Soulkeeping challenges you to speak to your soul.  To ask God where He is in those hard times.  One day while thinking of that night 3 years ago when everything came crashing down I took a deep gulp and said, "God WHERE WERE YOU?"

As everything fell apart that afternoon I sat curled up in a chair in the corner of the hospital room watching as if it weren't my reality, gripping onto that scarf around my neck.  Mostly shaking my head no.  As things progressed I wanted to leave.  I didn't want to remember him this way and wanted to be anywhere but there.  The nurses began to ask me questions to which I just kept saying no.  Do you want to wait?   Do you want to hold him?  do you want to have people here?  do you want to take pictures?  No, no, no!  I didn't want any of it at all.  This wasn't what I'd chosen.  They explained what would happen and convinced me that of course I wanted to hold him.  Everyone gathered around, my rock of a husband by my side, and we were handed that sweet boy for the last time.  

"God WHERE WERE YOU?!?"

Immediately I heard God say, "I was right there."  I saw the sweetest most gentle image of my kind and compassionate savior with His arms wrapped around us weeping.

He is with us IN our grief.  In the moment, and in the moments and years after.  I don't believe He's asking me to "move on."  If anything I've asked that of myself, not my patient Father.  

He's ok with me sitting in my closet clinging to that scarf.

One of the sweet notes I read today was from a nurse that loved & cared for Gibson.  It read,
"Sometimes the tiniest of feet leave the biggest impression on your heart."


we miss you baby boy.




Thursday, October 15, 2015

Stella Wren is one.

I cried this morning (and every morning this week) as I nursed her.  Bittersweet thankful tears.  How in the world a year has flown by I do not know.  I still stare at her in shock.  Amazed that she's real and in my arms.  Amazed that she's SO beautiful.  Amazed by the miracle of life.  Amazed by God's goodness and love for us.

When you've witnessed every possible thing that can go wrong in a baby it's easier to stand in awe when things go right.

A year ago I was awakened in the night by a big surprise... a wonderful surprise.  I laid in bed the night before feeling like I could burst wondering how I could wait two more days to meet this babe.  And God said, "Ok, baby girl, Let's Go."

The tears and the joy in her delivery will never escape me.  And that was just the beginning of His restoration.

I didn't let her leave my side for a couple days.  I slept with her in my arms all night long in the hospital the first couple nights despite the looks of concern and offers to help from the nurses.  I brought her home and still slept with her in my arms for months.  (Even though I'm definitely not by nature into the whole co-sleeping business.)  Daniel joked that she might move out of our room around high school age.  (She's happily sleeping in her own room now.)

It just seemed like day after day she was pouring God's love on me in the most simple ways.  Through each milestone she's passed and each hurdle we've faced it's His goodness that's carried us.

I've mentioned before the oddity of experiencing extreme joy & extreme grief simultaneously.  There have been so many moments of that this year.  Shame sneaks up and guilt wants to rear its ugly head while I'm enjoy my beautiful healthy baby.  The loss is no less because of the gain of new life.  There's still hope in eternity in the joy of the present, even on days I'm longing for the past.  I'm ok with that and God's given me that freedom to feel those feelings - no apologies for when they come.

Stella has truly been a gift of God's redeeming love.  I can see it when Ryder stares at her and delights in her antics.  I can feel it when Paisley holds her and calls her sissy.  And I can see the fullness of it when she bounces on her knees and squeals, "Dadadadada!" when Daniel comes through the door.  It's in every reach, every touch of her hand and every babble she makes.  His goodness is here.

Yep, she's hit a crazy phase.  She's into EVERYthing.  She's a constant ball of energy.  She loves life and loves people and she's testing alllll the limits.  But even in that there's a joy that is indescribable.

I felt so robbed of so many things.  I felt such resentment for things that would never be.  But somehow He's given me those things a new.  In her.

Stella Wren, we love you more than all the stars in the sky.






Friday, August 21, 2015

Happy 3rd.

For some reason I feel closer to you when I'm here.

Not just because we brought your ashes here, but more so because the waves seem to drown out the noise of life.

They wash away the worries and busyness and bring me clearness of mind.  I can set my eyes on heaven. On Him - the finisher of my faith.  With whom you dwell.

I came here when I was broken. And I feel like this is the place where I began healing. 

I walked till I couldn't anymore. 
I rode in the rain and my tears and the rain became one. 
I sat in silence and let my thoughts and questions as numerous as the stars run wild.  
I clung to your daddy and found great peace with him. 
I heard the fatherly voice of God promise me I was going to make it... Promise me I could go home and be a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend again.
Promise me He is good and His love endures.


I miss you as much as the day you left and I celebrate you as much as the first time I laid eyes on you.  I see you in everyday life. In the eyes of your new sister. In the sound of her squeal. In your little blonde hair buddies here on earth.  In the way your siblings remember you. 
I miss you fiercely and work each day to hold on to the memories I have that sometimes seem ancient already.  I dusted off your picture on my nightstand the other day and whispered, "I love you," wondering if I should say it more.  If my soul needed to utter those words aloud more often to feel the gravity of it all.  

I can't believe you are 3 today.  How could the 3 months we had together suddenly vanish into 3 years?

Your brother told me last night as we stood in the sand that he was worried because babies couldn't take care of themselves and you'd be in heaven without me to take care of you.  I assured him you have the ultimate keeper... holding your hand and heart.  And mine as well.

I have this picture in my mind of you running into my arms the day we meet again.  Similar to when your brother and sister have been away from me for a bit.  They run to my arms with glee and delight.  I hold onto hope of that day with you.  Until then my little love... 


Happy 3rd Birthday.

You are so loved.





Thursday, April 23, 2015

Super Stella

Yesterday I drove my sweet perfectly-perfect 6 month old baby girl to Dell Children's Hospital. The same route I knew all too well.  I was mad...  at life, the devil, our earthly bodies. Just mad. I wanted to be sad and I wanted to be mournful of the days I was there with Gibson, but I just kept thinking I shouldn't be taking her here. This isn't how the story goes...

Monday morning we went into Stella's 6 month well-check at the pediatrician. She's the epitome of a healthy bouncing baby girl- 'The Gerber Baby,' as she's referred to by multiple strangers a day. I can't even begin to write how God has poured love over my heart and is healing all the little broken and shattered pieces in the past 6 month through this child (that's a whole other blog!)

Her well check went like most do: weigh, measure, do some tricks for the nurses...
The doctor began to look at the dreaded growth chart. Then she looked at Stella's head. On the chart Stella's head had jumped in size pretty rapidly. In the past two months she'd gone up a good percentage and was now well above 100 percentile compared to her weight & height both around average at 50 percentile. The doctor examined my baby's beautiful round (perfect but large ) head and I could see the concern growing. She rubbed on her soft spot on the top of her head and explained that it seemed to be protruding a bit. And like a ton of brick - or something much worse she said, "I'd like for you to take her to have a cranial ultra-sound done. I want to make sure there's no fluid in the ventricles of the brain."  She said it as if she didn't want to give me too much unnecessary knowledge yet. Little did she know there was wayyyyy more knowledge there than I'd ever hoped to have about hydrocephalus.

Keep in mind our pediatrician knows about Gibson, but had NO knowledge of his issues.

I was standing holding Stella at the time and I could feel it welling up in me. I slowly and quietly said, "I'm really trying not to panic here, but that was the first thing they found wrong with our baby boy that we lost."  At this point I think I rambled on about how they'd checked Stella's brain every 4 weeks in utero, this couldn't be, they found no genetic link...

I left the appointment like the cool, calm, collected mom I was supposed to be.  Except I had an order in my hand to go have something I never expected tested on my baby girl.  I sat in my car crying, so confused and afraid to even ask God why... again. I know the 'why' is never answered here.

So we made our appointment at Dell. The dread of going there and the anxiety of what could be revealed filled me for the next two days.

We prayed hard.
I fell asleep both nights with my hand on my baby's head and my heart and stomach in knots.

I didn't really want to tell it to the world (or broadcast to the social media world) until we had more details.

A sweet friend prayed the exact words I needed Monday afternoon on the phone for me: She said, "God I pray that you silence the lies."
I clung to that, knowing that my God is a redeemer, he has been faithful and He IS good. No matter what He would be good.

But if I'm being completely honest, as I drove to the appointment yesterday I said, God I don't WANT to be brave right now, I'm tired of being STRONG. I really just want to enjoy my healthy baby girl.

I found my place and sat in the car. Afraid to pray. Afraid to get out. The last thing I said was, "God, you have control over this sweet baby's brain. And devil, you have no place here. You've messed with the wrong momma, AGAIN."

The scan was quick and fairly simple. Since her soft spot is still open they were able to do it via ultrasound instead of an MRI/CAT scan. Stella laid there cooing sweetly.  It was less than 10 minutes and I KNEW they did not measure any pockets of fluid. I've seen what it looks like, I've seen the zoom in and measure bit, the confused technician, the look of worry masked with a comforting smile. I've been there when they went to get multiple backup technicians to hopefully see something different.

She simply said, "The doctor will call you, I don't see anything of concern."  I said, "You didn't measure any fluid did you???"  And she said, "No."

In the afternoon we got the call from the doctor that everything was PERFECTLY NORMAL.  There was NO fluid in her ventricles.

We are praising Jesus and thankful again for each moment we have with these healthy babies.

I'm still not sure what the point of all of this this week was. I'm not sure why the devil had a chance to scare me again or make our heart doubt for one minute God's faithfulness. But if anything it proved His goodness even more. He silenced the lies. 


As the song says, "You drown my fear in perfect love."


And we will rejoice in that with our sweet Super Stella.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Repent & be baptized because we are all in this together.

It was 11:05. Church started in exactly 10 mins. 

Considering it would take at very least 12 mins to get there if it weren't raining and I weren't standing in my pajamas with crazy hair, we were already going to be late. Daniel was already there and I was home- left in the battle of getting somewhere at a certain time with these 3 unpredictable and needy little people. And for some reason the oldest is usually my biggest battle.

I looked at my phone. I looked in the mirror. Should we just not go?!?  

I have to make a decision... Quick.
We'll go. It's harder to stay here sometimes I thought.  And so it began...

"Y'all!  Get your shoes on!  Ryder, when you're done go put Rocky up!  Paisley, come help me with Stella!"  Ryder appears, (clearly the battle has begun) "Can I record Star Wars Rebel?"  "No, turn it off, put your shoes on!  Do what I asked."  


Ryder appears again. Shoes on. Laces hanging everywhere.  I snap, "You can't go like that!  Fix your shoes!" "I can't," he says, "I don't know how to tie my shoes." (I know, I'm a horrible mom.)  He flops in front of me as I leaned down to tie them. "SIT UP.  How am I supposed to fix them when you flop like a toddler?!? Ugh, your breath smells awful, did you brush your teeth like I said??  Go get your toothbrush and do it down here so I can watch!"  The harsh words continue to fly off my tongue... "Why can't you act like the almost 7 yr old you are??  Why do you do this to ME on Sundays?!? We should just stay here and take naps!"  My voice gets louder. Stella cries on the bed... I throw my clothes on. Of course nothing fits. I've gotta get to the gym I think. Dang it, why did I eat that kolache for breakfast?!?  I need a salad for lunch... We've gotta get to church, so we can go to lunch...

Minutes pass.  He's still brushing his teeth, sobbing with each breath.  More bitter words fly. (Why can't he cooperate?!???)

We all somehow get dressed and head to the door and then I hear it in my heart...

"Repent to your son. Make the time. Choose what matters."

I send paisley in the rain to the car. I set Stella down and kneel down in front of him. "Buddy, I'm sorry I got upset with you.  I really am.  Can you forgive mommy?"  I can see the relief wash over his little fair face.  "Yes, mam," he says sweetly, (now he uses manners of course to twist the knife in my heart a little more).

We get in the car at 11:20. We're 5 mins late already and we've still gotta get there.

We get almost to church and Ryder says, "Mommy, can I go in big church with you?" (The social butterfly that he is never asks for that. Ever.)  "Sure, wanna stay for worship and then go to your class?"  Thinking well at least I'll get to go in worship before dropping them off.

We get there for the last couple songs of worship, including baptisms. People stood and sang, and cheered for the baptisms. As I sat in the back row, arms around my now calm children I leaned over and ask Ryder, "Do you know what they're doing?" I knew he did, but I wanted to ask what he was thinking in the moment. He said confidently, "They're getting baptized." I said, "Do you understand what that means?"  Without missing a beat, in the most calm & confident voice he said,

"It means they've met God."

Clearly I had no more words. I'd used them all just trying to get there. But some how, just somehow God's mercy had been poured out anyway and redeemed what seemed doomed as another awful Sunday morning getting to church.

We held each other close and sang, "For the Lord is good and His love endures, yes, the Lord is good forever..."



Last Wednesday I sat at a table with some moms and we discussed our biggest fears as moms, our personal pitfalls, the words we wished we hadn't said, our daily, "mom fails."  The constant fear of ruining our children is prevalent and ever weighing on our hearts.  But as I looked at these moms around me (each one I would confidently say is an AMAZING mom in every sense of the word!) I realized we all mess up ROYALLY. 


We just do. That's it. 

We're stressed out, exhausted, over-caffeinated humans that most of the time feel like a food-source, taxi, maid, life coach to irrational beings we created.  But somehow if we continue to meet with God, He is faithful. And His mercy is real. And His love endures.

I started painting a sign for my entry way today that I've been wanting in my house for a while that says, "We are ALL in this TOGETHER."  Because there are days I'll have to kneel in front of  that sign in my entry and in front of my child and repent- and that's ok too.  We're all in need of redemption.

Take heart Mommas. Xoxo.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Wonder of His Love

Today while I was cleaning lipstick off crystal glasses in the kitchen, baby in the floor in her bouncer gazing at me, tree lights glistening in the background my Christmas pandora music took a slight detour and threw in just a hint of Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  While wiping the last remnants of a sweet party with friends off the counter and floors I was reminded of that truth.  He is so faithful.  In the joy & the pain of the season.

Christmas is tricky with my emotions.  Especially this year for me.  The season is filled with such hard memories.  Such stark realities and thoughts run through my head while in the midst of celebrations.  A couple weeks ago was the 2 year mark.  2 years since I stroked his sweet cheeks and kissed his head and wept as I said goodbye.  However, this year has been such an amazing year of renewing.  Amazing rebirth, amazing NEW memories.  And how can I not give thanks?  Yet how can I not grieve?

It's so weird to feel distinct pain and extreme joy simultaneously.  On the 6th of December I mourned that loss all over again while gazing at my BEAUTIFUL new baby girl.  Sunday we sang a song about heaven... tears streaming I could picture him and long for that day when I get to see him, but somehow I choose and WANT to be present with my babies now.  And you know what?  That's ok.  God doesn't ever ask us not to grieve.  He asks us not to grieve as those that do without hope. 

Because we have a THRILL of HOPE. 

When He sent Jesus to be born in that manger God knew there would be pain ahead.  That's the crux of it.  There would be JOY in His birth, pain in His death, and HOPE in his resurrection.   

I looked for a card this year that said "The Wonders of His Love."  Because that's what we're in the midst of.  It doesn't make sense. 

But that's the wonder of it all.      

Merry Christmas.  May you feel that love this Christmas.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stella Wren

She's two weeks old today and I can't believe she's really in my arms.  I sit and stare at her and watch her sleep for hours.  It feels kind of like having my first all over again.  I don't want to miss a thing and I don't want to set her down.  I'm so grateful to have these sweet first moments with her at home.  I said multiple times in the hospital when nurses would ask about our other kids and I'd tell them about G, "It's just made this that much sweeter."

So before my mommy brain completely takes over I thought I'd write about the slightly unexpected and surprising 9 day early arrival of our little Stella Wren.

My "due date" was Friday October 24th, I was scheduled for a c-section (due to it being my 4th c-section) on Friday, October 17th- a week early, so we really didn't think she'd make an entrance before then.  There were other plans...

I went to bed on Tuesday night, the 14th with big plans for the next day.  We were two days out from baby day so I was going to get my oil changed, go to Costco & Trader Joes, get Ryder a hair cut, yadda yadda yadda... While getting ready for bed Tuesday night I said to Daniel, "I hope my water doesn't break in Costco! hahahaha.  I bet I wouldn't be the first though."  While going to sleep at about 11pm I SERIOUSLY thought how it's nice to have these things scheduled but there's something exciting about a baby coming on their own... but I wouldn't ever have that and that's ok.  Can't wait to meet this baby.... zzzzzzzz.

I woke up at 1:15am (thinking it was about 4 or 5).  I rolled over in bed and it hit me - something wasn't right.  As I stood up to get out of bed I realized my water had broken!  I yelled at Daniel, "My water broke - and I'm NOT kidding!"  He jumped up and ran around the bed and promptly knocked over the water on my night stand while grabbing my phone!  I called my dad - who hung up on me the first time.  I called the nurse line and waited for the Dr to call.  I frantically called and texted friends and tried to figure out what to do with our sleeping kids!  Before the Dr even called back my sweet friend Stephanie was at our door!  And Daniel was cleaning toilets (seriously) and I was, well, still dealing with the broken water situation... I warned Stephanie as she came in she may never want to have kids!  LOL.  When asked later why he was cleaning toilets he said, "Well, it was on the list of things that needed to be done before the baby came Friday!"  HAHA.  Love my man.

The on call Dr called and said come on in, but if I wanted my Dr to deliver (which I really did) we could try to hold off till morning.  And that would give our family a little time as well.  (And my friends to wake up and see that I was in labor!)  My dad drove through the night, threatening to finally turn to coffee.  Daniel's sister Rachel I'm pretty sure sped the whole way to Austin and everyone else planned their quick exit and headed this way.

We got checked into the hospital before 3am and they got me all hooked up to monitor the baby and my contractions.  Since I was having a c-section they didn't want to give me pain meds prematurely, so lucky me I got to really feel what laboring feels like for the next 6 hours.  Something crazy was going on that night because they'd checked in two other moms set to have c-sections on that Friday and all the operating rooms were booked until 8am.  So as long as I didn't progress too quickly that would be the time and my Dr would be there to do the surgery then.  So we waited...  (and contracted!)

They got me all set for surgery.  My IV had to be done 3 times and my spinal had to be done twice (!) but other than that things smoothly progressed and by about 9 it was show time!  "Let's have a Birthday Party!" is what my Dr always says.

Just before we went in I talked to the nurse about my past and the traumatic delivery I experienced the last time and expressed my desire to have the baby back with me as soon as possible.  Usually after a c-section you see the baby (VERY briefly) then the baby is taken to the nursery where all the adoring family can look on and watch it get its first bath and meet the world and the mom is laying on the operating table and in the recovery room.  The nurse said due to the construction in the hospital they'd started keeping the babies with the mom the whole time!  I was thrilled and wanted to start crying then... I might have.

The whole operation was everything and more than I'd prayed for.  Everyone in the operating room was so excited that we were having a surprise.  They told us they'd let dad announce the gender as soon as the doctor was ready.  So the surgery began and a few short minutes later it was time.  I heard my Dr say, "Ok, Dad..."  Daniel stood up looked over and said, "It's a GIRL."  I started crying immediately.  She started crying that good strong fresh new born cry that was everything I longed to hear.  The funniest part of this moment was that as soon as Daniel said that the Dr turned her over upside down and then Daniel said, "Or is it...???  Oh yeah, it's a girl"  We'll have fun telling her that one day! ;)

The nurses asked if I wanted them to immediately clean her off or if I wanted to have her all ooey gooey.  I said bring it on, I wanted her asap!  So they brought her straight over to us and she was so beautiful even in the mess!  She immediately quieted down when they put her next to my face.  It was so sweet and surreal.  I was almost worried because she got so calm.  The nurse, seeing my concern  said, "She's fine, I can see her breathing, she's just happy to be next to you."  In a few minutes they took her over to clean her off and weigh her, I could hear all the nurses saying how beautiful she was.  They told us she weighed 7 lbs 8 oz (more happy tears).  Then they asked if I'd like to have skin to skin time with her while they finished the operation.  Of course!  (Again this was NOTHNG like any of my previous experiences!)  So they laid her on my chest and we were in awe.  She was completely alert and aware, wide-eyed and beautiful.  It was one of the most precious moments of my life and I hope I never forget it...

We were in love.

They moved us to a recovery room for a while and agreed to let in anxious visitors one by one for the next couple hours, even allowing the kids to come in to meet her.  Daniel had gone out and told the party we'd had a girl.  Ryder really had his heart set on a boy, but the moment he saw her she had his heart.

We took a few hours getting to know her and looking at her before deciding on a name.  Of course we had a list of a few for each gender, but really weren't certain, going back and forth in the days leading up to it.

Stella meaning "Star" had been our first girl choice for a while and it seemed fitting.  I blogged a good while back about how you can see stars brighter in the dark and was reminded this week of that thought while gazing at little Stella.  God has truly sent her to shine brightly in our lives and we are so grateful for that light.  

Wren is an English name for "the little song bird."  The Druids called it the "prophetic bird," and the early Irish considered it the "magical bird." 

We've had a good couple weeks getting to know her.  She's sweet and snuggly.  She already smiles, and she loves her crazy siblings.  She sleeps... maybe a good bit in my arms and eats well and is gaining weight.  

Thank you to everyone for your love, prayers, kind words, support and HELP during this pregnancy, delivery, recovery, and now the adjusting to new life.  We are extremely blessed for sure.

I'm so excited to see how this little one fits into (and changes!) our little family.
Stella Wren we're so happy you're here, love.