Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's happened again...

Well, someone who was a few years younger than me in high school just lost twin boys last night.  It is just unbelievable how many people have to experience this pain.  I still don't know if I'm just more aware of it, or if it really is happening more.  This makes a grand total of five babies that have been stillborn (past 20 weeks) just in Monroe since we lost Harper.  I've also heard about two babies lost to SIDS, and a few miscarriages.  And its not even been five months....

I feel like more people I know are losing their babies than having living babies.  I just can't make sense of it.  Every time I hear of a loss I just lose the ability to function.  I walk around in a fog, feeling like I got punched in the gut.  I'm sure I will toss and turn all night. It has consumed my thoughts all day.  I hurt for those new families hurting for the first time, and I hurt for me all over again.

I know that these babies are bringing more awareness to pregnancy loss.  It happens and it happens a lot.  No one is immune.  I read somewhere once that stillbirth does not discriminate.  It doesn't care what race, religion or ethnicity you are.  It doesn't care how long you tried to get pregnant or how badly you wanted a baby.  It doesn't care how many weeks you put into taking care of your unborn baby.  It doesn't care how nicely your nursery is decorated or that the car seat is already installed in the car or that the bottles are already sterilized and in the cupboard.  Stillbirth doesn't care about your plans, hopes, and dreams.  It can happen to anyone.

And no one ever expects it to happen to them.  That is something that has bothered me from the beginning...I felt that people looked at me like somehow I knew I was going to lose Harper.  And that others assume its not going to happen to them.  Just because you pee on a stick and see a plus sign does not mean you are going to bring home a baby in 9 months.  Just because you feel kicks and hear your baby's heartbeat does not mean you are going to bring home a baby.  Just because you make it past 12 weeks, or 25 weeks, or 40 weeks does not mean you are going to bring home a baby.  I wish all pregnant women knew this.  Not so they would live in fear, but so they could be aware that this is something that happens and it can happen to anyone at any point in a seemingly healthy pregnancy. 

I hope that all of these precious babies not only bring awareness to other expectant parents but also to the medical community.  There has got to be a way to reduce these numbers.  I don't know how and I know modern medicine still has it's limitations...I just wish there was a way that more could be done to prevent stillbirth.  I wish there was a way to prevent so many people from experiencing a pain no words can describe...

Friday, December 24, 2010


I wanted to really make a note of the progress that I have made.  That was my original intention with the previous post.  But then before I got the chance to rethink my journey thus far, I slipped back a bit.

Here goes...

Initially I felt numb.  It's hard to describe that state of fogginess.  I understood what was happening, but I did not believe it was actually happening to me.  There were many moments during that day that I almost felt like I was watching the scenes from a movie.  Maybe it was the drugs they were giving me to help with the labor pains, but maybe it was just a coping mechanism.  I felt very removed from the situation.

Once I saw her I felt overwhelming sadness mixed in with the numb fogginess.  I cried more than I thought possible.  I didn't know what to do or how to feel.  Part of me just wanted to run away, part of me wanted to freeze time so I would never have to let her go.  I didn't know what to expect...I was scared of what she would look like...I didn't know if I wanted to hold her.  I was very guarded with my heart at first, but I was already so head-over-heals in love with her there was no real way to protect myself .

The next emotion I felt was brokenness.  They exact moment I had to lay her in her bassinet and walk away felt like she was being ripped from my arms.  Tears are welling in my eyes as I write this because that was the most painful moment of all.  I was the one who laid her down, but it felt like she was being forced out of my arms.  That was the last time I held her.  My heart broke in that moment.  And then I had to leave the Family Birth Center.  Without a baby.  That's just not natural.

The emotion following was aggravation/annoyance.  The nurse was trying to make small talk with me as we waited for Joel to pull up with the van.  She mentioned something about the weather and blah, blah, blah.  SHUT UP!  DO YOU REALIZE THAT MY BABY JUST DIED AND I AM GOING HOME EMPTY HANDED.  I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE WEATHER!  This is what my heart is screaming, but instead I just nod my head and will Joel to pull up.  I did not realize how often I would continue to have this feeling; even with the most well-meaning people.

That night I was relieved to be home.  Things somehow felt normal there.  It was me and my husband and my kids...just like the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.  She was never really part of our daily wasn't the whole "some one's missing at the dinner table" thing.  Denial set in.  I honestly thought I might wake up the next morning and feel normal.  Like it was all a bad dream, or just a bad day.  But the next morning felt anything but normal.  It was all so surreal.  Going to the funeral home to make arrangements when I should have still been at the hospital getting to know my new baby.  The next few days went on like that.  Just feeling so much like, "This is not really happening to me."  I was thankful for the business of planning funeral stuff though.  It kept my mind occupied.

After the memorial service was over I panicked.  Now what?  What am I going to do now?  How am I going to get through the next day?  It was all over.  We had buried her body and celebrated her short life.  Was I now supposed to carry on a normal life?  It was so overwhelming.  Joel was off work for another week and we tried to keep life as normal as possible for the kids.  We took a trip to the zoo and that was the first time I was confronted with my emotions when seeing newborn babies and pregnant women.  I felt like they were everywhere.  I saw a woman pick a tiny baby up out of a stroller.  Her legs were still curled in like she was still not used to life outside of her mother's womb.  My heart sank.  Then I saw another women sitting on a bench nursing her newborn baby.  Was this not supposed to be me right now?  What happened?  How did things go so wrong?  I did not want to be envious of women with babies...and that has proven to be a hard bridge to cross.

After Joel went back to work it was back to reality for me too.  I still had to take care of my two living children.  I felt as if I was going through the motions.  At first my children were my only source of joy, but by the time Joel went back to work I began getting frustrated with them.  The guilt set in big time.  I wanted to work on Harper's scrapbook and I would snap at them when they were demanding things from me.  I just wanted them to leave me alone.  It hurts so much to bring back these feelings.  I still loved my kids, but I needed time to grieve.  I did not know how to keep being a mom when I was hurting so much.  There were so many nights that I would tuck them in and I would look at them and think "What have I even done with you today?  Did I even talk to you or read to you?"  And then I would lay in my bed and cry.  The internal tug-of-war was exhausting.  I felt guilty for not being a good mom to them, but I didn't know what else to do at the time.  I needed to grieve Harper; I knew that.  It took a long time to find that balance of grief but still enjoying time with my children.  This is one area that I know I have made tons of progress.  I thought for sure I was going to miss out on their entire childhoods, or that they would somehow be forever scarred by the lack of emotion they received from me, but that phase was short-lived.

I also experienced a lot of joy when I thought about Harper.  I would look at her pictures over and over and just marvel at how beautiful she was.  I knew she was something special and I knew she had a great purpose even if she never took a breath of air.  I wanted everyone to know about her.  The cashier at Wal-Mart, the pharmacist at Shopko...any random stranger that glanced my way.  I wanted them all to know about my beautiful daughter in Heaven.  Most of the time I resisted the urge to tell everyone, but as time wears on I don't hold back as much.  I feel great relief when I talk about Harper.  Even if people don't really want to hear about her I want to talk about her...and so I share.  It makes me so much happier if I can talk about her, as apposed to situations where I don't feel like others really want to know.  Its kinda like the elephant in the room...I'd rather talk about her.

The next phase I experienced was the endless "why" questions.  I replayed my pregnancy over and over, trying to figure out what I missed or where things went wrong.  I thought somehow I had the capabilities to go back and do it all over.  "I should have been more vocal with my concerns."  "I should have demanded a NST (non-stress test)."  "I should have called the minute I realized she wasn't moving."  And on and on and on.  I would research things on-line and get myself even more worked up.  All of the would-a, should-a, could-a's became tormenting.  I had to just let it go.  That was when I did a lot of God-searching.  What did I really believe about God and his sovereignty?  Let it go...I knew he was in control.  I knew that from the beginning of time he knew there was going to be a little girl named Harper who would be born still in 2010.  He knew it all along...before he even created the heavens and the earth...HE KNEW.  And he was in control.  And as much as I wish I could turn back the hands of time...I can't.  As much as I replayed it, the outcome was always the same.  She is gone.  Nothing will bring her back.  I had to accept this and let it go.

This was the point when the denial faded and I was faced with the black-and-white reality.  I had a baby and my baby died.  I would say it over and over again.  Just to remind my self it was real.  I had a baby and my baby died.  That was when I knew I had to embrace the grieving process...I had to let myself feel the pain.  I think I had always relied on some false hope that somehow I could hurry up and grieve and get on with my life.  I now accepted the fact that this was something that was not ever going to go away.  For as long as I live there will always be a little girl named Harper who is missing from my life.  I will be one of those little old ladies on my death bed who says "Now I can go meet my baby."

I would have to say that the latest phase I have been dealing with is the one place I said I would never go.  But somehow it found me anyway.  ANGER/RESENTMENT/BITTERNESS.  I never wanted to deal with this uglier side of loss.  I didn't know I couldn't really control that though.  I feel like the closeness I felt with God in the beginning has started to diminish and then the anger creeps in.  And that scares me.  I don't want to be angry with God.  I don't want to question what he was thinking.  But it has happened anyway.  I'm not giving up on him and I know he's not giving up on me.  I still believe all of his promises are true, even I can't make any sense of them.  I long for that all-consuming presence again.  That feeling of being safe in his arms again.  I have to keep plugging forward in my relationship with him to get to that place again, and then I feel that the bitterness with subside. 

Its amazing when I look back at all I have been through in four and a half months.  The initial fog has lifted.  I'm not consumed by sadness anymore.  I enjoy my kids like I used too.  I'm dealing with my loss instead of denying it.  I am making progress...I have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time.  I'm sorry this is such a long post, but I had to do it for me.  I had to put in perspective where I've come from.  And how much God has carried me through.  I know he loves me.  I know his plans are good.  I trust him that he will continue to carry me through...through this rocky phase I am in...through the next leg of the journey...through the season of grief all the way to the season of dancing! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the season

This roller coaster ride called grieving is really getting old.  Just this morning I'm thinking about how far I've come in the process and then one little thing happens and sets me off again.  Its just tiring and a lot of work.  I've "worked" hard for the last four and a half months and I just can't imagine how much more work I'm going to have to do.

I want the grieving to be over, I want the pain to be gone.  I no longer feel guilty if I have a good day.  I know Harper is perfect and that she loves me.  She doesn't want me to hurt and she doesn't feel hurt if I want to enjoy my life.  I still have a life to live here...I don't want to spend so much time feeling hurt and lonely and broken.

I thought I was going to be okay for the holidays, but now I'm not so sure.  I just wish I could see some sort of light and the end of the tunnel; some small glimmer of hope that this season of grief will not last forever.

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 ~ There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.
I'm trying to be patient with myself...I know this takes time.  I'm trying to trust God and believe his word that this is only a season.  I want so badly to feel his hope, peace, love, and joy. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm moving forward

I'm feeling good today.  I'm actually excited about Christmas.  The kids are really getting into it this year.  I can't wait to see their excited faces Christmas morning as they tear open their gifts.  I'm glad I've gotten to this place, because a month ago I don't think I would have been able to feel this excitement.  I know its going to hurt to not have Harper here.  I still think about her constantly.  I've done so much to include her in our celebration this year and I hope these become lasting traditions so she will always be a part of our Christmas.  We took a small tree out to the cemetery and decorated it with pink balls and a big pink bow.  She has ornaments on our tree.  We have an angel that lights up so we can have the light on all day Christmas day to remember her.  I know that having these reminders of her will help me get through the day with more joy and peace.

I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have gone through this loss fifty years ago when women weren't allowed to see or hold their babies.  They were told to forget about it and have another baby.  We've come a long way since then.  Feeling like Harper's memory is alive and having ways to include her and remember her is so important for me to move forward in my life.  I would give anything to have her here this Christmas (and everyday) but I know that isn't possible.  I know it will hurt to celebrate the day without her, and thinking about "what could have been."  But really, its not any different than any other day.  I wish she was here everyday.  I hurt every day for her.  And I remember her everyday and include her in my life as much as possible.  I will carry Harper with me everyday for the rest of my life.

Christmas in Heaven
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
with tiny lights like Heaven's stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring
for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I can't tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas with our Savior face to face
I'll ask him to lift your spirit as I tell him of your love
so then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.
Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing
for I am spending Christmas in Heaven and I’m walking with the King.
~ by Wanda White
© Copyright 1999

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You're Gonna Miss This

It seems that every time I get on facebook someone is counting down the days until their baby is due. It always strikes a nerve with me...why are these people counting down the days until their baby dies? As if everyone who is pregnant is going to lose their child...

I guess the bigger issue is the fact that I did this myself. I impatiently counted down the weeks until Harper was due. I willed so much of my pregnancy with her away. The first 16 weeks I was so exhausted and nauseous. I couldn't wait for that to be over. Then around 5 months my hips and back started aching so bad. I couldn't sleep and then summer hit and I swelled up so bad. I was miserable for most of the nine months I was pregnant.

Each day that last week felt like an eternity. I cried because I was so tired of being pregnant; I just wanted it to be over. But now I realize what a gift that pregnancy was. Those were the only moments of Harper's life that she was alive and well...and I wished them away. I should have spent each moment enjoying each kick or hiccup, because that meant she was moving and growing. When I see my friends post their countdowns, it really just triggers guilt in myself, because those nine months were all I had with her. I wish I would have savored it...because now I certainly miss it.

*You'll have to pause the media player at the bottom if you want to hear this video*

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5th, 2009

One year ago today the test came back positive, and I fell in love.  I knew my life was about to change but I could have never imagined how much, or in this way.  If I knew how things were going to turn out I would have still gone through everything because I love her so much.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


One summer when I was about 10 and my sister was 5 we were at Magic Waters Water park.  We were in the big wave pool without our tubes because the waves were on break.  The water was still and we were splashing and enjoying the summer fun.  Then the whistle blows its warning and the waves start back up again.  We are out to far and Kim can't reach when the waves sweep over us.  I hold on to her, but I can't carry her and keep myself above the waves.  I can't let go of her, but I can't move forward either.  Each wave comes crashing over us and we struggle to make our way out of it.  Finally a lifeguard spots us and blows his whistle to stop the waves.  He jumps in to rescue us out of the pool.

I feel like that today, actually for the past few days.  Things were nice and calm.  I was having fun again, enjoying things again...and then the waves began to swallow me up, without the warning of a whistle blowing.  I'm struggling, trying to stay afloat, holding on to something so precious to me that I can't let it go.  I know if I let it go I will have better chances of getting out of the water, but how can I possibly let go?

And so I wait.  I wait for the waves to stop.  I wait for strong arms to come swoop me up out of the dangerous waters.  Where are you God?  Why are you letting me drown?  Why I am I so afraid?  Where is my hope?  Where is my faith?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The "old" Jen

Last night as I was giving the kids a bath, my husband looks at me and says, "You are such a mom now."  I told him I thought I had been a mom for over three years, but he said, "There's nothing left of the old Jen."  I suppose he's right, becoming a mother does change a person.  We no longer run out for tacos at 1 a.m. or sleep until noon.  My hair isn't blond anymore, and my middle is a little (maybe a lot) softer.  I think about me a lot less because I have two little people depending on me every day.

This conversation made me think though.  How much of this change is because I'm a mom, and how much more have I changed in the last 3 1/2 months.  I would consider the "old" Jen the person who existed before August 10, 2010.  ‎That day changed me more than the day I gave birth to Emmerson changed me.  I had wanted to be a mom for so long that I was ready to embrace motherhood.  I was in no way prepared to embrace grieving.

At the stillbirth support group meeting last week, we talked about the amount of time we knew our babies had passed away until the time we held them.   I was officially told that Harper had died at 4 a.m and by quarter to 9 I was holding her.  Less than five hours.  Twenty-four hours after I had heard her heartbeat and felt her kick.  And by 6 p.m. the same day I gave birth I was sitting in the same chair in my living room I had sat in at 9 p.m. the night before when I was pushing on my stomach trying to get Harper to move.  It all happened so fast.  That is just such a short amount of time to be prepared for such a loss.  But I am convinced that no amount of time would have been enough. 

One of my biggest regrets is how long it took me to bond with her after she was born.  I didn't know what to expect.  I didn't know what she would look like, or even if I wanted to hold her.  Of course after the final push I wanted her in my arms, and then I didn't want to let her go, but it was so hard for me to let myself love her.  As the day wore on and I spent more time holding her, the shock wore off a bit and I let my guard down.  I was able to cuddle her and kiss her and tell her how much I loved her.  But then it was time to let her go.  The small amount of time I had with her was so precious and I feel I wasted so much of it in shock.  That is the only reason I wish I would have had more time to prepare, but of course, how can I really know I would have been anymore prepared.

That day has forever changed me.  My heart is broken, a little piece missing forever.  But I think I can honestly say that August 10th changed me for the better.  I've learned so much about loving and letting go.  I feel more peace than I have ever felt.  I feel more purpose in my life and a meaning I would have never had without Harper.  My relationship with Christ has reached a new level.  I'm learning to trust and forgive.  This life is so short, just like my hours with Harper, and I don't want to have any regrets.  Grieving is hard and is certainly not a path I would have chosen, but God is faithful and he is developing me into the woman he wants me to be.

I suppose that's how life is...things happen in our lives that shape us into who we are.  Becoming a mom changed me.  Losing Harper changed me.  And knowing Christ has changed me...I am certainly not the "old" Jen anymore. 

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  Beautiful people do not just happen.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Friday, November 19, 2010

Someone's Always Going to be Missing

Emmerson's been bringing home these cute Thanksgiving crafts from Story Hour and preschool.  I know her teachers don't know any different, and really why would you include a dead baby on a three-year-old's art project?  But to me someone is missing.  I display Emmerson's projects proudly on the fridge, but it makes me realize how incomplete my family is, and always will be.

Of course I am thankful for the ones represented, and just as thankful for the one missing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Have Been Blessed

This is the Faces of Loss Monthly Writing Challenge:

It’s easy to focus on all the negative things that come from losing a baby, but have you discovered any ‘blessings in disguise’ throughout your journey? What can you find to be thankful for related to your loss?
This is such a great topic with Thanksgiving coming up.  Even in the midst of pain I still have so much to be thankful for.  I have been amazed with the "blessings" that have shown up in my life since losing Harper.  Most of those blessings have been people.  I have had so much support from people I didn't even know 3 months ago.  A couple of the nurses from the Family Birth Center and some women from the support group I attend have been so wonderful.  I know that these women are here to walk beside me in my grief journey and I believe these will be lasting frienships.  There is such a bond between women who share such a painful common bond.  Most of these women are probably not people I would have been friends with before, but because of our losses we know each others' brokeness in ways only we can understand.  I feel especially close to the nurses because they saw Harper, and held her and cried with me.  I feel like they "knew" her and so few people got that opportunity.

I have also found a great group of women in our local MOPS group, and even though most of them do not personally understand my pain, they still want to share in my journey and are always available to offer encouragement and support along the way.  They have blessed my life more than they know.  Harper's life has been so honored by this group of women.  I continue to receive cards, phone calls and encouraging words from some of these women and it helps give me strength to keeping going when at times I don't want to.

My family has also grown stronger through this.  Some relationships have really been strengthened, including my marriage.  I so understand how the loss of a child can tear apart a marriage, and once we were able to come to terms with each others unique ways of grieving, we have been able to grow closer.  Even my children, at such young ages, genuinely love their sister, even though they don't fully understand what happened.  They talk about her frequently and it warms my heart!

One of the biggest blessings has been seeing how Harper's life has impacted others.  I still get notes or messages from people letting me know how much Harper's life has meant to them.  They hug their kids a little tighter or don't stress about little things.  As a grieving mother, this is the only way I can accept that I had to go through something so painful...her life had meaning, and purpose.  She did not die in vain and she will never be forgotten.  It is so encouraging to hear from people how much my daughter has blessed their lives.

Of course the greatest blessing that has come from losing Harper is my relationship with God.  He has been my strength and comfort.  He has heard my cries and holds me in his arms.  When nothing makes sense, he gives me peace.  I just don't know how I could have ever grown so close to God without having gone through the worst nightmare of my life, or how I could have survived without him.  And because of Him I know I will see my little girl again.  I may have to live my lifetime without her here, but that will seem so insignificant when I am spending my eternity with her.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Official...

Well...its here.   There is something so final in seeing your child's name carved in granite.  She's gone....really, really, really gone.  She's never coming back...2 Sam. 12:23b "I will go to h(er) one day, but (s)he cannot return to me."

After getting quite the run-around from the monument place they did get it set the day before the deadline, however they "forgot" to put her picture on.  It's okay, we only paid an extra $300 to have her picture on the stone (I am being sarcastic)!  They should have it on this spring though.  I'm just glad they set the stone instead of waiting until spring to do that too.  As hard as it is to see her name, it's also helpful at the same time...its just another thing that makes her "real."  She has a name, she was a person, and she lives on forever in my heart.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Passage from Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie:

"Often, I see the body of Christ put so much into pursuing God for healing.  With great boldness and passion and persistence, we cry out to God, begging for physical healing.  And in these prayers, there is often a tiny P.S. added at the end where we say, "If it be your will."  But shouldn't we switch that around?  Shouldn't we cry out to God with boldness and passion and persistence in a prayer that says, "God, would you please accomplish your will?  Would you give me a willing heart to embrace your plan and your purpose?  Would you mold me into a vessel that you can use to accomplish what you have in mind?"  And then, perhaps, we could add a tiny P.S. that says, "If that includes healing, we will be grateful.""

Wow...I know I am guilty of this.  I know I prayed healing for Harper when we thought something was wrong with her kidneys.  But I am guilty of this in other areas of my life.  I pray to God all the time now to not let anything else "bad" happen to me.  I cannot bear the thought of losing one of my other children.  Part of me lives in fear now, because I didn't think something bad would ever happen to me, and it did, and now I wonder, what's next?  That is horrible and I know that is not how God wants me to be...he didn't give me a spirit of fear. How many times do we ask God to fulfill our plans and our will.  And then when he doesn't answer the way we want, it leaves us disappointed in Him.

This passage, to me, means that I have to give God "permission" to carry out his purpose in my life, not that he needs my permission, but like she said, to have "a willing heart to embrace your plan and your purpose."  God is not my puppet, available to answer my every prayer or make my life run safely and smoothly.  That's a hard pill to swallow.  Sometimes his plan and purpose hurts and I don't want to "embrace" it.  I know for me its letting go of control...I think somehow I am in control of my own life, but losing Harper has taught me that I have no control over what happens to me.  I have to give that control to God, and it is a constant struggle.  I feel like if I give the control to God that means I am giving him permission to take my life on paths I don't want to travel. 

But God never promised us that if we followed him our lives would be easy and without suffering.  He never promised us "smooth-sailing" through this journey called life.  He never promised us he would be our own magic genie, available to answer our every wish.  It's not about's all about Him. 

Matthew 16:24:  If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


When I was pregnant with Emmerson I was terrified I would lose her.  After two miscarriages I never thought I would have a baby.  After we heard her heartbeat at 6 weeks my doctor told me my chances of miscarriage were 5%, even with all of the bleeding I was experiencing.  After the first trimester my chances of losing her were 1%.  I'll never forget him telling me that it never is 0%, there is always a chance.  But of course I found comfort in the 99% chance that everything would be fine.  And everything was fine with Emmerson, and with Alton.  That 1% chance became a reality with Harper.  It wasn't something that happened to "other people," it happened to me.  A statistic is just a number until that number has a name...Harper Elizabeth Folgate.

I have decided that instead of placing my hope in the statistics of the world, I need to place my hope in the statistics of the Bible:

~There is a 100% chance we will face trials: 1 Peter 4:12, "...don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you."

~There is a 100% chance God loves me: Ephesians 3:18, "And may you have the power to long, how high, and how deep his love really is."  Jeremiah 31:3,"I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love."

~There is a 100% chance God is in control:  Isiah 14:27, "The Lord Almighty has spoken-who can change his plans?  When his hand moves, who can stop him?"

~There is a 100% chance God is constant: James 1:17b, "...he never changes or casts shifting shadows."

~There is a 100% chance God is good: Luke 18:19b, "Only God is truly good."

~There is a 100% chance God is faithful:  Josh 1:5b, "I will not fail you or abandon you."

~There is a 100% chance God is gracious: Romans 11:6b, "...God's wonderful kindness would not be what it really is-free and undeserved."

~There is a 100% chance God is sovereign: Job 36:22-23a, "Look, God is all-powerful.  Who is a teacher like him?  No one can tell him what to do."

~There is a 100% chance God is close: James 4:8, "Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you."

~There is a 100% chance God is just:  Duet. 32:4, "He is the Rock; his work is perfect.  Everything he does is just and fair."

~There is a 100% chance God will offer his peace:  John 14:27b, "The peace I (Jesus) give isn't like the peace the world gives."

~There is a 100% chance God will offer his comfort: 1 Cor. 3b-4a, "He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.  He comforts us in all our troubles..."

~There is a 100% chance God is trustworthy: Psalm 91:2, "He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him."

~There is a 100% chance God will offer his strength: Isiah 40:29b, "...he offers strength to the weak."

~There is a 100% chance God will give us rest: Matt. 11:28, "Come to me (Jesus), all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

~There is a 100% chance God cares:  1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you."

~There is a 100% chance God will show compassion:  Isiah 30:18a, "But the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion."

These are such simple truths about who God is and who he has offered to be to me.  I choose today to put my faith in who He is.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Hopes and Dreams

When someone you love dies, you not only lose their physical being; you lose your hopes and dreams for the future.  Halloween is not my favorite celebration by any means, but I know the kids enjoy carving pumpkins, dressing up and, of course, getting candy.  Halloween sort of marks the beginning of the holiday season...and this year I am a little nervous about how we will get through it all. 

I had found an adorable daisy costume at a garage sale this summer for $1 so of course I picked it up, but that is now just another 'could-have-been' in a plastic tote in the nursery closet.  Right along with the outfit she was supposed to wear for her fall pictures, and the piles of pink onesies and sleepers.  Maybe now a days we are "too" prepared for our babies.  In my grandparents' days they didn't even set up a crib or anything until they knew the baby was coming home.  I used to think this was an extremely morbid way to go about things, but I suppose my opinion on that has changed now. 

We were so prepared for Harper.  We knew she was going to be a girl, the nursery was painted and the bedding on the crib.  I even had a plaque with her name on it hanging on the wall.  The diapers were opened and neatly placed in a basket on the changing table.  Her diaper bag was packed with her 'coming-home' outfit and sitting by the door.  The bottles were sterilized and placed in the cupboard, even the car seat was securely buckled in the van.  We were ready to bring a baby home.  We were not ready to not bring a baby home.  And that was one of the hardest parts...coming home empty handed to a house that was ready to welcome a precious baby girl.

Some people can't touch the stuff, they just shut the door to the nursery and don't look back.  And our nursery door was shut for a couple weeks, but it drove me nuts just knowing what was behind that door.  And so I packed everything up, less than a month after she was born.  It was hard, I had to pack up every hope and dream I had for my little girl.  No first pictures, no first Halloween, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas. 
With the holidays fast approaching it also brings back last year and how I thought things were going to be this year.  Last November we decided we were ready to have another baby and the first week of December we found out I was pregnant.  We decided that since it was so close to Christmas we would wait to tell our families until our Christmas get-togethers.  I had the kids hand paint ornaments with their pictures on them and then I did a third ornament that said 'Baby #3 is on its way-8.9.10.'  We wrapped up the ornaments and gave them to our parents.  Everyone was very surprised and it was such an exciting, happy Christmas.  This year I am doing memorial ornaments.  And it will be a very bitter sweet season.  Remembering the past year when Harper's tiny life came into existence and the months that followed as she was alive and growing in my womb.  Enjoying our children and our families and the birth of our Savior is such an incredible celebration, but my heart will be a little heavier this year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Feels likes its happening all over again...

Today at MOPS we lifted another family up in prayer that is currently waiting to give birth to their 20 week old baby whose spirit has already gone to be with Jesus.  It just takes me right back.  My heart aches for this woman I don't know. It feels like its me all over again, laying in a hospital bed waiting to give birth to a baby I won't get to take home with me.  This is the fourth baby I have known about since I lost Harper, and every time its like its happening to me all over again.  I do not understand why this keeps happening.  I do not understand why it hurts me to my core every time.  Is this the way it will always be?  Everytime I hear of a loss, will it always take me right back to August 10th?  This was not an aspect of greiving that I was planning on. 

I know I have to keep leaning on God, now more than ever.  It seems that as things are getting "better" for those around me, its getting harder for me.  The "newness" of my loss has worn off and I am trying to find my way back in the real world again and its hard.  Really, really hard.  I take a couple steps forward and then things happen like today, and I get knocked down again. 

Please be praying for this family and the months of grieving that lie ahead of them, and please keep praying for me and my family too.  The pain does not just go away in a few days or weeks or months.  I know that I may look like I'm doing okay on the outside, but my hurt still runs deep.  Thank you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Its been hard to think of something to write about lately.  Things are the same.  I have good days, I have bad days.  I have good and bad moments in every day.  This weekend was hard.  I took a trip back to August 10th and its like I'm there all over again.  Sometimes I block that day and the events of that day from my memory, maybe its a coping mechanism.  But when my mind lets me go back there again it just reminds me how fresh and deep my wound still is.  I've been working on a new scrapbooking project and I find myself spending most of the time just staring at her pictures.  She was so beautiful and perfect, down to her cute little nose and teeny finger and toes.  I wish I could somehow lift her out of those pictures and hold her in my arms again.  Sometimes my arms physically ache to hold her.  Its hard to picture what she would be like now, almost 12 weeks old.  She would probably be cooing and smiling...maybe sleeping all night!?!  She'd probably be content to sit in her bouncy chair and be entertained by her busy big brother and sister.  As much as I sit and wonder what she would be doing and who she would become, I know that I will never know until Heaven.  And then I wonder if she knows what it would be like to be here.  Does she know how much I love her, does she know what it would be like to be a part of our family.  I hope so.  I did a little journaling in my scrapbook and on one page I wrote, "Lord, I waited to hold Harper on my lap and tell her about you, but since I never got the chance, will you please hold her on your lap and tell her about me?" I miss you so much baby girl...I long for the day I will finally meet you.  I praise God that you are perfect and happy and whole.  I don't know if this pain will ever go away, you have changed me forever.  I am a better person because I had the privilege of being your mother and I love you with all of my heart.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Desire~Jeremy Camp

This song has become so powerful to me lately. I feel my soul just crying out these lyrics. I'm excited to see where God is leading me...I want to be used by Him.

P.S.  You'll have to pause the media player at the bottom of the page :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

"I want to make much of you Jesus"

GriefShare has been instrumental in my grieving.  If anyone has ever lost someone they love I really recommend going to GriefShare.  It is not just a support group, it provides Biblical application to help you through your process of grieving.  Last night we talked about the "WHYS."  Why did this happen do me?  I struggled with this a lot after my first miscarriage.  I remember just searching for answers.  I thought because I had disobeyed God, and gotten pregnant before I was married, that he was punishing me.  I think I believed this for a long time.  I think my mind knew this wasn't true...I knew plenty of people that weren't married and had perfectly healthy pregnancies.  But in my heart I really felt that I was being punished.  There were many people that tried to be encouraging by telling me that now I could do so much more with my life, and I hated to hear that.  That doesn't make a grieving mother feel better, but it just confirmed to me that losing that baby was my punishment.  And instead of turning towards God, I fell further and further away.

I realize now that my faith was weak, and I didn't really know who God was.  Dealing with the loss of Harper has certainly not been easier because of my faith, but I have been able to receive God's comfort more than I could with my miscarriages.  I have asked questions.  I don't understand why God chose not to save her, but I haven't really experienced the "why me?" questions and I believe that is because I have a better understand of God's character.

GriefShare confirmed my beliefs last night.  I do not believe that God caused Harper die.  I do not believe that God is trying to teach me a lesson.  I do not believe that this was God's will or God's plan.  God's original plan was for us to live in a perfect world in perfect fellowship with him.  But because man disobeyed sin entered our world.  We live in a fallen world and we are all subject to pain and suffering.  No one will ever escape this life without dealing with some sort of heartache.  But that was not God's intention for us. 

To have faith is to believe that the Bible is true and the promises about God written in the Bible are real.  If we serve a loving God, how could I ever believe that he wanted my baby to die or he wanted me to hurt?  That just doesn't line up with who I believe God is.  I do believe that God is in absolute control and that nothing happens to us that isn't "Father-filtered."  He allowed Harper to die, but I believe God is compassionate and it hurts him to see one of his children in pain.

I also do not believe that "everything happens for a reason" except that everything that happens to us can be used for a reason...and that is to draw closer to God and bring honor to his name.  God may have allowed Harper to die, but I don't think he did it for a specific reason.  God allows us to go through hard times so we can grow in our faith.  If things always felt safe and comfortable, there would be no reason to really lean on God and trust him. 

I will never understand the whole reason that this happened to me and my family until Heaven.  And that's okay.  I don't have to have all of the answers, I just have to fall into the arms of the One who does.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Harper's Garden

I couldn't get all the photos uploaded on my last entry, but here are more pictures of Harper's Garden.  The bunnies have been eating all her plants, and the spirea isn't doing so well, but hopefully everything will grow back nicely in the spring!

 The other little stone says, "Those we hold in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever."

This is the tree that started it all.  My grandma gave me a tree that was 21 inches tall, just like Harper.

I've been feeling like the blog I posted yesterday was maybe a bit harsh.  At that moment I was overwhelmed with disappointment, but I guess that's normal.  Grieving is a roller coaster of emotions, and those who have never dealt with grief before may not understand those emotions.  When I feel disappointed by people its only because of my own expectations.  When I take a step back and really look at the situation, I know that people really do mean well.  They may be unsure of what to say, or uncomfortable and not say anything, and although that hurts I can't help but wonder what I would do if the situation was reversed.

One thing I can say though is that I meant what I said yesterday, and God is faithful.  He proves himself faithful daily, I just have to keep my eyes on him so I can receive his blessings.  And the blessings have FAR outweighed the disappointments!  For every person that has hurt me, God has placed another in my path that has encouraged me and lifted me up! 

God has been blessing me today!  Not only did I get another card in the mail (that's two days in a row!), but the women at MOPS touched my heart so deeply today!  I have never been so encouraged and loved on by a group of women in my life.  They want me to know that its okay for me to be hurting, they want to walk beside me and share my story of Harper and God's goodness!  They presented me with the most beautiful stone today for Harper's garden.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's waiting in the mail box?

Grief brings on an array of emotions.  My latest emotion has been disappointment.  I got Harper's "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth" certificate in the mail yesterday.  I was so disappointed to see that it is nothing more than a pretty piece of computer paper with her name, our names, her date and place of stillbirth and the state of WI Dept. of Human and Family Services stamp on it.  There is nothing official looking about it.  I could have made it myself (and done a nicer job).  It just makes me feel like society doesn't look at her like she's a real person.  And because of this whole certificate thing we weren't able to collect any life insurance money to cover funeral expenses.  She would have had to have a Certificate of Live Birth, but because she died before she was born she doesn't get one of those certificates, therefore the insurance company does not recognize her as ever being a living person, so therefore she is not deserving of a funeral or a burial.  I just don't get it!  It makes me so sad.  How are we supposed to feel like our loss is significant, when society so clearly minimizes it?

Then today I got a notice from the monument place saying that they had poured the foundation for Harper's headstone.  So immediately I load the kids up in the stroller and we head to the cemetery...only to find no cement slab.  I called the monument place and they were baffled.   The setter guy swears he poured the concrete for her foundation and drilled the holes for her shepherd's hook, but I'm standing there looking at nothing!  Apparently someone else got her foundation.  How crazy.  Sometimes dealing with the fact that my baby's body is buried in a public cemetery across town is hard enough to deal with and then these unexpected dilemmas occur and it just disappoints me further.

Hitting the two month mark has been sort of a milestone.  It has been the harsh reality that everyone's life is moving forward, even my own life is moving forward.  It sometimes feels like people have forgotten me.  The calls have almost stopped, same as the cards.  If your reading this please don't take this as me guilting you into calling or sending a card.  That's not the point...its just the reality of the circumstances.  There was going to be a day that this happened...its just the inevitable.  And initially I was disappointed with "people."  How could people move on when I was stuck.  But God has helped me to see that its not anyone's job to be my support or comfort or strength, except him.  People are going to disappoint me...we are human.  But He is faithful...he will not disappoint me.  I believe God uses people to boost my spirits and walk beside me in this journey.  I have been blessed with so many people that have been an encouragement to me and He has proved himself faithful.  Just as I am feeling like I'm all alone and no one cares I open the mailbox to a nice note from someone at church, just letting me know she is still praying for us daily.  And I know that people are still thinking about us and lifting us up in prayer, but I have learned that my strength and comfort can only come from God.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beauty for ashes

Isaiah 61

Good News for the Oppressed
 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
      for the Lord has anointed me
      to bring good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
      and to proclaim that captives will be released
      and prisoners will be freed.[a]
 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
      that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,[b]
      and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
 3 To all who mourn in Israel,[c]
      he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
   a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
      festive praise instead of despair.
   In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
      that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Well, today its been two months since I last felt Harper move, since I last heard her heartbeat.  She wasn't "born" until the 10th, but I know the 9th is the day she died.  In some ways I can't believe its been two months, but in other ways it feels like an eternity.  Grieving is hard.  Its physically and emotionally exhausting.  I'm so tired of grieving, I just want it to be over.  But I know that's not going to happen for awhile.  I think I am just getting used to this new way of life called grieving.  I don't like it but it has become almost normal for me now.  I still can't walk past her room without an ache in my heart.  I still can't stop thinking about her all the time.  I miss her just as much as I did eight weeks ago.  It's been hard to find beauty in this world, but yesterday while Emmerson was at preschool, Alton and I walked to the cemetery.  Usually when I take both kids we don't stay long because they run all over the place and I'm too busy trying to keep them off other people's stones.  But yesterday with just Alton it was so calm and peaceful.  We sat down on the ground right next to her.  The grass has pretty much grown back, but you can still tell where they buried her.  Alton sat on my lap and ate animal crackers and looked at ladybugs.  For the first time I could see beauty.  The trees were so bright and colorful and the sun was so warm.  The sky was so clear and blue.  I have never thought anything about a cemetery was beautiful, but yesterday my eyes were once again opened to the beauty of God's creation, sitting right next to the scar in the earth where my precious baby's body lies.  I haven't felt that close to her since I last held her in my arms.  I still can't believe she's not here.  I can't believe how much my heart aches to hold her.  I miss her every day.  In a world I have become so convinced is nothing but pain and ugliness, I'm so thankful God gave me that moment of peace and beauty in a place I least expected.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Identity

Last night at GriefShare we talked about not letting your loss define you.  Stillbirth is not my identity.  I'm really struggling with this because I do feel like my loss defines me and stillbirth is my identity.  The group leader reassured me this is okay because my loss is so fresh and new, but once I get "through" my grieving (this is different than getting "over" it...I will never get over it, but I pray that I will get through it.) I cannot let it become my identity.  My identity is in Christ.  I think right now I have multiple identities.  I am a child of God.  I am a grieving mother.  I am a mother of two healthy, energetic children.  I am a wife.  I am a daughter.  I am a sister.  I am a friend.  But right now my loss is in the forefront.  I feel my identity in that the most right now, and I am so glad to know that that's okay for now.  But it cannot be my primary identity forever.  I cannot define me forever.  I has changed me and I will never be the same, but my loss does not define me.  And I cannot use my loss for God's glory if I'm stuck in it.  More than anything I want Harper's life to mean something.  I want to grieve as healthy as I can and focus on using her life for good.  I have to give myself time to grieve, but I refuse to stay stuck in self-pity.  My beautiful baby girl deserves so much more than that!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Not my home

I once thought this world was a safe and secure place to live.  Things used to seem so certain to me, but lately nothing seems certain.  Nothing feels safe and secure in this world.  I don't understand why babies die, I don't understand why young fathers die or kids get molested.  I don't understand why money becomes more important than family or why I have to forgive someone who has never asked to be forgiven.  I just feel like there is this blanket of ugliness covering this world and right now I can't see past it.  I just want to take my kids and run to a safe place where we will no longer be subject to ugliness, but no such place exists here.  This place is not my home.  I don't want it to be my home.  I have never felt that way before, until now.  I have never felt more in my life the longing for a place with no more tears, pain, or suffering.  This world and its pleasures are fleeting, they will not last.  I long for the place that will satisfy my every need, where there is no more ugliness.  I long to be with my baby again, I long to have my family all together.   I have never felt more urgency than now to be praying for my kids and their relationships with Christ.  Our lives are just a vapor and then its over.  This life is too short to get caught up in the things of this world.  We are citizens of heaven.  I know I can't protect my kids from the junk of this world, I can't protect myself from it.  All I can do is try to instill in them the importance of eternity...and the hope of a better place.  I don't understand why God sent his son to this ugly place to die for me.  I don't deserve it, but he did it anyway and I'm so thankful he did.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grieving Sucks

There's really no better way to say it...grieving sucks.  I don't want to hurt anymore, I don't want to deal with the pain.  I want to feel normal again, but I know I will never be normal again.  A little piece of me died right along with Harper and I will never get that back.  She will always be missing.  She should have been here tonight for Alton's birthday party, but she wasn't.  And I survived.  I threw together a decent party for my little boy, even though a piece of me was missing.  Even more than the pain and the hurt, its the guilt I don't want to deal with.  It makes me feel terrible that I couldn't just be 100% happy for the party, its not fair to Alton.  My grief is robbing my kids of the mommy they once had, and I honestly don't think I'll ever be the that mommy again.  I know that I won't be grieving forever, and that joy will return to my life, some days I even feel it already.  But losing Harper has impacted me so deeply I know I will never be the same.  And as much as I want to be the same for my kids, I can't do anything to change it.  I love my kids with all of my heart, I would die for my kids.  And there are moments that feel normal.  We sat in the toy room tonight and played with Alton's new toys and it was one of those moments of joy, but she is still in the back of my mind.  I just have to believe that moments like that will come more and more often, but I don't know if there will ever be a day that she is not on my mind.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do you know how many hearts you have touched in seven short weeks?  Do you know how many lives you have blessed without ever breathing a breath of air?  Do you know how proud I am to be your mom?

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  Romans 8:28

God is using you baby girl.  He is using you in my life to tell others about His goodness.  How is it that I never really understood the GOODness of God until I had to endure the most tragic nightmare?  I miss you everyday.  I long for you so much it hurts.  I see the glory God is getting from your beautiful life and I find comfort in that.  I still wish I could have you here, but since you are not I will live my life to make sure that your memory stays alive and others will see the sovereignty of God through the testimony of your life!

Monday, September 27, 2010

James 1:17

I had my first appointment at Rockford Memorial Maternal Fetal Medicine at 28 weeks.  They did an u/s to look at Harper's kidney and the spot on her heart.  The doctor was not concerned about her heart, but the kidney was dilated to a level that was not normal.  He told us that often one problem is an underlying condition of an even bigger issue.  He started talking Down Syndrome with us.  I had not done the screening at 16 weeks and my clinic does not routinely do 12 week u/s so I was past the point of any of this testing.  Without this information he could not accurately tell us what our risk was of Harper having Down Syndrome, but apparently he felt he needed to let us know it was a possibility. As we got in the elevator to leave I looked at my husband and asked him if he felt better or worse.  I know I wasn't feeling very relived to find out that now there was another thing to add to our list of things to be concerned about.  As I sat at home that afternoon my images of Harper began to change.  I now was picturing her as a special needs baby.  In a way I had to mourn this possibility of having a baby who wasn't "normal."  It didn't change my love for her, but it changed the way I pictured the future with her.  Would she hit milestones like the other kids did?  Would she get picked on?  Would her brother and sister resent her?  Would she ever get married or have a family?  Would we have to take care of her even as an adult?  The questions tormented me.  I finally had to turn to God's word for some peace and James 1:17 immediately came to me: "Every good and perfect gift is from above."  Did I believe she was good and perfect?  Of course I did...God creates everyone in his own image doesn't he?  This verse became my life verse for Harper.  No matter what we found out when she was born she was good and perfect and a gift from God.  Of course I only imagined this in the context of her being a living baby who could possibly have special needs. 
Now I know it wasn't Down Syndrome.  But the verse remains her life verse.  Even though I didn't get to have her in my life as long as I had hoped, I still believe she was a good and perfect gift from my Heavenly Father. She has brought so much good to my life, she is completely perfect now in Heaven, and a gift is still a gift no matter how long God allowed you to have it....and I will continue to praise him for the gift he gave me.

Friday, September 24, 2010


We met with my doctor today for my 6 week postpartum checkup.  This was the first time we had seen him since the day Harper was born so I had a lot of anxiety and questions I needed answered.  I have never really blamed my doctor, but I have definetly had questions.  Well, I guess at first I blamed him because I thought Harper had died due to low amniotic fluid.  He had told me I could be induced a week early but then at 39 weeks he decided that since things were going well it would be better for me to go into labor on my own.  As I laid in the hospital waiting for Harper to be born I was angry and I thought if only he would have induced me early this wouldn't be happening.  But then she was born with the cord around her neck 5 times and a tight knot in it.  He said is was pretty obvious what had happened and there was sufficient amniotic fluid.  We decided not to do an autopsy.  August 10th was such a blur and I was too numb to ask any questions, or even know what questions to ask. But today I was prepared.  I asked God to go with us today and I know he was there.
I didn't really know what caused Harper to die, I know there was a knot and the cord was around her neck, but I didn't even really understand why this would make her die.  He said that her cord was much longer than normal and probably early on when she had more room she just was so active she got the cord all tangled up and got her self tangled in it.  Then as she grew and grew she ran out of room to get untangled.  The knot is ultimatly what killed her because when she dropped the knot got to tight and cut off her blood and oxygen supply.  He said it was a pretty sudden thing and that 20% of babies are born with the cord around their necks, even 5 times, and still live.  It was the knot that was the problem.  He said everything was perfect and the way it should have been, except for the length of the cord.  It is not considered a birth defect, it was just part of her genetic makeup, like some people are tall and some people are short.
He also assured us that there was no way of knowing this was going to happen.  The umbilical cord barely shows up in ultrasound (and I had a grand total of 10 u/s and nobody ever saw it, even the specialists in Rockford).  A non-stress test would only detect if something was wrong with the placenta, not the cord.  Her lack of movement could have been an indication of something being wrong, but not specifically that there was a knot in the cord.  And if it was a strong enough indication that something was wrong, and they would have induced me, the outcome would have still been the same.  She would have still dropped and the knot would have still tightened up, and she would have probably still died, because by the time the monitor would have indicated a drop in her heart rate and they would have rushed me off to the OR for a C-section, it would have probably been too late.
He also said they had no reason to believe that there was any correlation between her kidney and the knot.  I still believe the precautions we took with her kidney was just God's way of almost preparing us for this outcome.  We spent months praying for Harper and trusting God to take care of her.  No matter what He was in control.
I left the clinic today with a lot of peace.  I know there was nothing that could have been done to prevent this from happening.  It wasn't my fault or her fault or the doctors fault.  This sort of thing unfortunatly just happens, and it can happen to anyone.  The chances of this happening to me are the same as the chances of this happening to anyone...its the risk any woman takes when she decides to get pregnant. 
Harper was perfect.  It makes me sad that it was something as little as knot in her cord that took her life...I think I would almost feel better if it was some serious birth defect or something, but she was perfect and had all the potential to be a healthy, normal little girl.  I guess my biggest question still remains unanswered though, and this is why God chose not to save her, but I will never know that answer.  At least not here and now, but when I am reunited with my baby girl it will all make sense, but it won't even matter then because we will be together for eternity praising our Savior together.
Thank you to everyone who was thinking of us and praying for us today.  I am so at peace and appreciate all the prayers!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

ramblings of a mommy missing her baby

I think that God only allows us to feel so much pain and then he gives us a break from it.  When the pain comes it comes hard and hurts deeply.  It seems impossible to focus on anything but the pain.  Little things that aren't a big deal seem huge because the pain is so overwhelming to deal with it.  Emmerson had her first time out in preschool today and when her teacher told me it almost crushed me.  Why?  She gets time outs all the time at home.  I guess grieving just magnifies everything else happening in life.  I went to MOPs today, and although it is good for me to get out and be around other people I couldn't hear a word the speaker was saying because there were so many cooing babies.  That's all I could hear and all I could see.  They were everywhere.  I don't think I can be strong anymore or put on this face like its all okay.  I think that I have done that too much in the past six weeks and today it hurts so bad.  I don't think I have been leaning on my Savior, I have trying to be strong on my own.  I know God is here just waiting to embrace me and it is a constant struggle to accept that comfort, or to even know how. 
My sweet little Emmerson, even though she is already getting time out on her 4th day of preschool, is so sensistive and loving.  She knows I'm more down today than normal and you can see the concern on her face.  She didn't want me to wear my sunglasses because she wanted to be able to see my eyes, I guess to make sure I'm not crying.  I have to hold so much in because I don't want her to feel upset when I'm upset, but sometimes I just need to cry and let it all out.  Its so hard to know how to grieve and still be a good mommy. 
I miss Harper so much, every minute of every day.  Seeing all the babies today just made my heart ache more, wondering what it would be like to hold my cooing baby, look into her eyes, or rock her to sleep.  I will never know. 
I came across this quote from C.S. Lewis and I think it sums up the journey through grieving perfectly:

Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscapre.  As I've already noted, not every bend does.  Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of contry you thought you had left behind miles ago.  That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench.  But it isn't.  There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat.

I guess that's how I feel today.  Like I've already been here and I thought it was getting "better" but here it comes again. 

On a somewhat brighter note, I was not sure what to do with the kids Big Brother and Big Sister shirts they were supposed to wear to the hospital so I stuffed them and sewed them up so the kids now have pillows.  They love the pillows.  They know that these shirts are because Harper is their baby sister and they snuggle with them all the time!  It is so cute because they are not much into stuffed animals or pillows but its like they just know how special these pillows are.  They love Harper even though I know they don't understand what happened to her.  Its funny how accepting kids are.  When we told them I was pregnant and had a baby in my tummy, they were just like, "OK"  They just accepted it and didn't ask any questions.  We talked about Harper before she was born and they just accepted that too.  Harper had a room and clothes and toys and they knew it was all Harper's stuff, even though they didn't know who Harper was.  It amazes me what they understand at such a young age.  Then they got to see Harper and hold her, I'm sure they thought she was alive because we didn't tell them any different, but when we came home empty handed we told them Harper was in Heaven with Jesus.  Emmerson had a few questions about that and she still asks sometimes, but they still accepted it.  My heart aches to have all my kids together, to see them grow up together and share the bond of being siblings.  I wish this picture was of all three of them and not with stuffed pillows, but thats what I have to do to keep her memory alive.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My New Normal

I've been told that after you lose someone you love, life never goes back to normal.  You have a new normal.  This is my new normal:

  • It is normal to feel a constant feeling of guilt, guilt if I am too sad to play with my kids, and guilt if I am having fun enjoying my kids when I "should" be grieving
  • It is normal to feel cheated everytime I walk past my empty nursery
  • It is normal to not be elated for people who are bringing home new babies
  • It is normal to give the kids Kool-Aid for supper because I am too afraid to run to the store for milk in case I run into someone I know
  • It is normal to think about my baby from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep and dream about her all night long
  • It is normal to read everybook I can about stillbirth and spend hours online reading others' stories of loss
  • It is normal that the word "stillborn" has become part of my everyday vocabulary
  • It is normal if the floors need to be swept, the dishes need to be done, and the laundry is piled up and not even care
  • It is normal to check on the kids periodically through the night and put my hand on their chests just to make sure they are breathing
  • It is normal to start crying in public with no warning
  • It is normal to no longer answer, "Good, how are you?" when someone asks me how I'm doing
  • It is normal to visit the cemetary frequently to water her flower, because that is all I have of her to take care of
  • It is normal to have a least one thing written on the calendar for everyday so I don't have to sit at home and think for too long
  • It is normal to have questions for God, but run into his open arms when there are no answers for those questions
  • It is normal to find joy in picturing my little girl as perfect and whole, singing and dancing for Jesus, but feel pain at the same time because she's not here with me

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Story

I was always the little girl whose response to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was a mommy.
I never really knew what else I wanted to be (and I still don't), but the one thing I knew for sure was I was going to be a mommy. I wanted a house full of kids and married a man who wanted the same. Little did I realize that my plans are not always God's plans.
I first found out I was pregnant in November of 2000. I was only 19 years old and not in a very stable relationship, but I was so excited to think my dream of becoming a mom was already going to be coming true. My pregnancy was normal and my first doctors appointment was around eight weeks. They didn't listen for the baby's heartbeat because it was too soon to hear it on the Doppler but I was to return in four weeks.
The weekend before my next appointment I began to spot and called the doctor right away. They told me not to worry and just take it easy until my scheduled appointment. But the spotting got worse and then I began cramping. I went to the ER and had my first ultrasound. The doctor asked if I was sure about my due date because the baby was only measuring six weeks and I should have been close to 13 weeks. I knew my dates couldn't be that far off but they drew blood for an hcg count and told me to go home. The next day the cramping was much worse and I knew that I was losing the baby. I went back to the ER and they drew more blood and found that my levels were dropping.
I had a D&C and went home later that night. I was devastated to say the least. Many people told me it was for the best and as much as I hated to hear that I began to believe it. I was too young and in an unstable relationship, what business did I have having a baby? But the ache in my heart never went away and I knew I loved that baby as much as any mother could love a baby. Fast forward a few years, I grew up a lot after my first miscarriage.
I met my husband and found out we were expecting in June 2006. I was excited to be pregnant again. My heart had not stopped hurting from the miscarriage and I wanted a baby so badly. This time I started spotting around six weeks and just lost it. I knew for sure I was going to lose this baby too. I went in to the doctor for an u/s and to our surprise the doctor said he saw two sacs on the screen! Twins!

But our excitement was short lived. I had a clot in my uterus that the babies were attaching too and unless they were able to attach to a healthy part of my uterus the outcome wouldn't be good. I was to come back in a week for another u/s. A week later I was still spotting. The u/s didn't go well, but I was hanging on to any ounce of hope I could find. The doctor announced there was only one baby this time and we could see a tiny flicker of a heartbeat, but it wasn't even strong enough to be picked up with the vaginal u/s. I didn't even care...I saw that little bit of life in my child and I hung on to that with all I had. I didn't understand why they were only able to see one baby this week when last week they had seen two, but I just kept praying that the one they saw would keep growing.
I returned a few days later with as much optimism as I could muster but the doctor finally confirmed that there was no hope left. There was no heartbeat. Another D&C confirmed that there were two bags of water, so not only had a lost another baby, I had lost two. Three all together. I felt completely hopeless. I thought, "one miscarriage is normal, that happens to a lot of women, but two..."
I began to wonder if I would ever have a baby. I wondered why God would keep allowing this to happen to me. Miscarriage is a crazy thing, because there are no answers. Now I became determined. I was going to have a baby.
Three months later in October 2006 I became pregnant once again. I was a wreck the minute the test came back positive. I called the doctor and demanded an u/s even though they told me it was too early to pick up the heartbeat. I went anyway and sure enough there was no heartbeat. I came back a week later and the most wonderful thing happened...I heard my baby's heartbeat! Loud and strong...160 bpm! It was the most incredible thing I had ever experienced up to that point. A life was actually growing inside of me! A week later I began to spot. I couldn't believe this was happening to me AGAIN. Three times? But miracles do happen. I spotted the rest of my first trimester and did not lose the baby. I was on pins and needles the whole time, but I now have a healthy, beautiful 3 year old daughter! After so much pain and fear and worry and anxiety, God heard my prayer and blessed me with a the baby I had so longed for on July 16, 2007.
Six months later I found out I was pregnant again, turns out breastfeeding is not legit birth control! This time I was to busy (and tired) to worry much about my pregnancy, but everything was perfect. No spotting, no scares of any kind.
On October 3, 2008, after a fast and drug free delivery, not by choice! I welcomed my second baby into the world, a healthy little boy. I felt blessed beyond words. My dreams were coming true. It was so hard to remember the pain of the miscarriages when I was holding my two perfect babies, who were only 14 months apart. I thought the pain of the past was behind me, but like I said before, my plans are not God's plans. We waited a year this time before deciding we were ready for another.
December 5, 2009 I found out we were expecting again. I just assumed we would have another healthy, normal pregnancy and once we were out of the first trimester I had little to fear, or so I thought. I always had a nagging thought that something wasn't right about this pregnancy. Nothing was out of the ordinary, but something just felt wrong to me. Before our 20 week u/s I half-joking said to my sister I was afraid they were going to tell me the baby didn't have a brain or something. She just rolled her eyes at me...I have always been the worrier. But everything looked great at the u/s. We found out we were having another girl! The doctor did mention her right kidney was slightly dilated, but not to the point they were concerned. He left it up to me if I wanted to come back in 6 weeks for a follow up u/s. Of course I did, I wasn't taking any chances.
The next 6 weeks went by with little thought to the kidney. I went to the u/s not thinking much would have changed, but I was wrong. Her kidney was even more dilated and now they saw a "spot" on her heart. I was referred to a specialist to follow up with. I was crushed. I cried the whole way home. Two weeks later I met with the specialist where we had good news and bad news. The good news was the spot was just calcium deposits and they were not concerned, but the bad news was the kidney was even more dilated. The u/s tech also commented that the baby was so cooperative, she hardly moved during the scan. I had been noticing that this baby was much less active than the other two had been, but no one seemed too concerned about it.
We were to follow up with the specialist once a month to keep an eye on the kidney. There was nothing they could do about it until she was born, but they wanted to keep monitoring the amniotic fluid levels to make sure the baby was eliminating enough. We were told the worst case scenario she would have to have surgery after she was born. I was terrified to think of putting my newborn under the knife, but I tried really hard not to stress about it until we knew more. I decided to not see the specialist anymore because it was too much to see two different doctors and felt confident my OB could monitor the amniotic fluid just fine. So the rest of my pregnancy continued with u/s every other week until 36 weeks and then every week until the end. The fluid level was always great so there was little reason for concern. As my pregnancy progressed I felt more peaceful about things and just trusted God to take care of my little girl.

On my due date I went in for my last appointment. My OB striped my membranes and I heard my little girls heartbeat on the Doppler. She kicked at the doctor as he placed the probe on my stomach. This was the last time I remember feeling her kick and the last time I heard her heart beat. I went home praying I would go into labor. The summer heat was kicking my butt and I was so tired of being pregnant and chasing after two busy toddlers.
I had been contracting off and on for about three weeks so I was afraid I wouldn't know when I was actually in labor. I spent most of that day paying attention to my contractions but they never amounted to much. About 9 p.m. I realized that I hadn't noticed much movement since my appointment. I drank some orange juice and ate some fruit...still nothing. I pushed on my stomach and tried to wiggle her a bit...still nothing. My husband asked if we should call the doctor, but I said no, I was too tired to deal with it and wanted to go to bed. I think I knew that something was terribly wrong but I was in denial. I went to bed, but of course I could not sleep. Around midnight I was pretty sure I was in labor and around 3 am I told my husband it was time to go.
The whole ride to the hospital was silent. I just remember feeling so sad, when with the other two I felt excitement. I guess I just knew, but couldn't admit it to myself. We got checked right in and I changed into my gown and laid down on the bed so they could hook up the monitors. No heartbeat. Another nurse tried...nothing. Don't worry they said, we'll get the doctor in here with the u/s. I just looked at my husband and shook my head. Thirty minutes later the doctor was in. He kept asking lots of questions because he was not my regular OB. He said "I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat and no fluid around the baby." I screamed and covered my face with my hands. I just cried and cried, I don't even know how long. How could this be. I just had an u/s four days earlier and the fluid was fine. I just heard her heartbeat less than 24 hours earlier and everything was great. I just wanted to go home and crawl into my bed and pull the covers up over my head.
Then another contraction pulled me into reality. The first thing I said out loud was "So I still have to deliver the baby?" I felt so stupid after I said it, but I don't think anyone can ever imagine having to give birth to a dead baby. They got my epidural going and my parents and in-laws came to the hospital. We all just cried. Our pastor came and prayed with us.
At 8:48 a.m. Harper Elizabeth entered the world, but the only cries to be heard came from her parents and grandma. She had a knot in her umbilical cord and it was around her neck 5 times. She was 6 lbs. 11 oz. and 21 inches long. She was perfect and beautiful. The staff was wonderful.
We bathed her and dressed her and they took tons of pictures. We held her most of the day and our kids came to see her. My daughter held her and kissed her and told her she loved her. It makes me so sad. She was so excited to be a big sister again and she still doesn't understand why Harper isn't at home with us. How do you explain to a 3 year old and a 22 month old that their sister died before she was even born?
We left at 6 p.m. empty handed. I was broken. I thought I had felt enough pain with the miscarriages, but this was so much worse. So much pain. I sat in my overstuffed chair when we got home and realized that 24 hours earlier it still hadn't dawned on me that I hadn't felt her life can change in 24 hours!
Life is short, life is fragile, and there are no guarantees. I just have to cling to God and his promise to carry me through it. I still have lots of questions. I don't know if her being a less active baby was a sign. I don't know if her kidney had anything to do with the cord, but I do feel like that was God telling us that we needed to entrust her care to him. I thought my biggest fear was having to watch my baby go through surgery...I never imagined I would be planning her funeral and saying goodbye. Harper was a beautiful gift and I was so glad God chose me to be her mommy, if only for a moment.