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 me...it'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 understand...how 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.