31 Weeks and 1 Day

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That’s how far along I was at my last appointment with Aj. It was September 12, 2013. It was a totally normal, routine appointment with my doctor. My blood pressure was perfect, and I was only up a couple of more pounds since my last appointment. I told my doctor I had started having braxton hicks contractions, my body was getting in some practice for the big day!! Lastly, she pulled out her pocket Doppler and found AJ’s heartbeat. He was moving all around…..such a busy little boy. And that was it, I scheduled my next appointment and headed to my Mother in Law’s house to pick up my 3 girls…….4 days later, I’d feel my little guy kick for the very last time.

20150112-201853-73133169.jpg I’m 31 weeks and 1 day pregnant with Baby E today……and honestly, I’m a mix of emotions. I’m excitedly optimistic, but completely nervous as I approach AJ’s loss date. Everything is going well thus far, and our little boy is measuring a little bit ahead, but…..I was at this same point last time with Aj.

Being a mommy to an angel baby, is sometimes a lonely road. It’s tough facing the reality that all pregnancies, even those that make it into the 3rd trimester, don’t guarantee a living baby. I struggle with expressing my emotions and fears, wondering if I’ll be misunderstood by those that haven’t walked this path of loss. I’m comforted by all the prayers and support….but sometimes the comments cut like a knife…..
Everything will be fine this time. Stop worrying, it’s not good for the baby. Trust God. You should use the faith that you say you have.

Enter Shame and Guilt.

I’m staring into the mirror, tears falling from my eyes. Is this really what they think? That I caused AJ’s death because I didn’t believe everything was going to be fine? Or because I worried too much?? Or maybe the reason Aj died was because I didn’t trust God enough or my faith wasn’t strong enough, so he punished me.

This rainbow pregnancy has been tough. Though I do wrestle with fear, it’s not due to my lack of trust in God. My faith is strong, stronger than ever and I trust in God and whatever plan He has for me and my family. His plan is only for good…..What I have embraced over the past 15 months is that my plan and definition of what’s good for me, doesn’t always match up with God’s plan. Sin in this world has caused death, destruction, and hard times….but God remains good no matter what situations we encounter.

This evening, as I sit and type this, I am so thankful. I’m thankful for the 32 weeks I spent with my Aj. I’m thankful for the rocky road of grief that God has held my hand through. I’m thankful for the dark moments, that God allowed his light to shine so
brightly through.I am thankful that what was meant to harm me, God has used to heal and strengthen broken pieces. I am thankful for Baby E who is kicking me in my ribs right now. I am thankful that I can profess that God is good all the time!!

To share or not to share?????

I’ve prided myself on being honest and transparent through out our journey of grief. I’ve been open about the negatives, anger, confusion, bitterness, and sadness. I’ve also shared the moments of hope, thankfulness, and growth. God has continuously showed up, and kept his grasp firmly upon me as I struggled to navigate the rough waters of grief…..every step of the way, God has been here.

Now, we find ourselves starting a new and scary portion of this journey. I’ve gone back and forth over the past few weeks, trying to figure out……should I share this news? Or should I sit in fear, anticipating terrible news?

Honestly, I’ve spent the last few weeks as a slave to fear. I’ve been worried, anxious, and full of doubt. I found myself preparing for something bad to happen, and even drafting a plan for dealing with the bad news. I just couldn’t picture things going well, and I didn’t want to get excited or too hopeful. I was also afraid to share the news with some family and friends, because I didn’t want to hear the negativity or judgements….especially if things didn’t go well this time. I confided in a few trustworthy people, and sought prayer from every prayer warrior I knew……and slowly the shell of fear started to crack. I was able to (slowly) release some of that overwhelming negativity, and start to embrace a bit more hope.

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I also started to focus on my Heavenly Father. Just as he has carried me through the last 10 months, I know with confidence, he will continue to do the same now, no matter what the outcome. All He asks is that I continue to trust and rely on his strength. And that, I will do wholeheartedly.

So, Anthony and I are excited to announce that we are expecting a baby Lilly.

20140727-174402-63842745.jpgYep, that little blob, has a heartbeat, and we are ecstatic. I know, that a lot of women shy away from sharing their early pregnancy news, but what Anthony and I have learned from our experiences with the twins, and Aj, is that there is never a “safe” time to share the news. So we are choosing to enjoy every moment that we have with this little miracle….so today, I am pregnant, and thankful.

10 months…..

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And my love is so BIG for my little boy. The time has snuck past so quickly, and here we are, just 2 short months until AJ’s 1st birthday. Wow, I miss him so much…we all do.

This journey has been rough. It’s still the toughest ever, and it is far from over. The hurt and grief from losing our boy hasn’t disappeared….we haven’t “gotten over” it. That would be impossible…..

We do not get over it
–We go through it

The pain goes away but the ache never does

Happiness and Joy do return — now they dance with my missing you

Glen Lord

In the first few days after Aj died, I couldn’t begin to imagine how we would be able to keep moving without him here. We had planned and prepared everything for his arrival. And so quickly, he was gone. We were left with an empty corner, which once held his bassinet, and a heart so broken I wasn’t sure it could be repaired…..but there in all my hurt, sadness, anger, and brokenness, was God. He was willing to take me in at my darkest hour, touch my heart, and comfort me with His love.

The last several months have been an honest testimony to the truth of God’s word.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalms 34:18

It is because of Him, and Him alone that I was saved from a different journey, into a darker place…..one that would have been full of crushing sadness, depression, loss of faith, and hopelessness. He is good!!

Today, as look back over the past 10 months, I am thankful. I’m thankful for the 8 months that Aj grew in my belly, and getting to know him as no one on earth ever will. I am thankful for all of my children, both in heaven and on earth. I am so blessed to be their mommy, and they mean the world to me. I am thankful for my husband. We are an unbreakable team! I am thankful for friends, family, and my church family, who have offered their prayers and support. And I’m thankful for opportunities that God has set into motion, that will allow his glory to be told through our story. Lastly, I am thankful for hope…..hope that doesn’t disappoint…hope that allows the sun to peek through the break in the clouds….

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(All images from google)

The spotlight

The goal of my blog has been to share my journey after loss with complete honesty. I have a strong faith in God, but of course I am still human :o) So I want to share one of my struggles that started days after losing Aj.

I’ve always been a very optimistic, happy person. I’ve had highs and lows in life, but I always took them in stride. My adult life had been good to me. I have a great husband, and my girls here on earth. God has blessed me far more than I deserved, and I have always been so grateful……

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

But losing the twins, and then losing Aj so suddenly left me feeling….confused. I was still grateful for all that I had been given, but I couldn’t make sense of all that had been taken from me. This left me wide open for an attack….wide open….

I can say with certainty, the enemy saw the opening. It was like he was holding a huge spotlight, and he would zoom
in on various triggers all of the time. It didn’t matter if I was just watching tv, getting on Facebook, reading a book, or running an errand……He made sure I saw something…..and in the early days of grieving, I was too deep in sadness to fight back.

I remember my first trip to Target after losing Aj. Satan had the spotlight shining bright!! He zoomed in on every pregnant woman, every bitty baby in a car seat, or infant snuggled up in a wrap on their mother’s chest. I stared at each of them, longingly….and completely green with envy. That should be me waddling around, getting a few things before Aj arrives. That should be Aj, cuddled closely in my ergo. I should be rocking Aj trying to get him to settle. I wanted Aj to still be safe in my belly, alive and kicking….or in my arms, alive and breathing. Why not me?? Honestly, that day felt like a form of torture to my already fragile spirit….and it didn’t end there. Everyday, everywhere, there was some reminder of my pregnancy that ended too soon, or the living newborn baby I didn’t have…..and the enemy highlighted every moment. I found myself drowning in the sea of baby envy and why me, clinging with all of my heart to the promises of God.

After an emotionally bad day, I said to Anthony, ” Everyone is pregnant or having babies. I’m happy for them but it feels like punishment for me, like pouring salt in my wounds.” And he simply said, “Someone is always going to be pregnant or having a baby. It is not about what is going on with them. It is about what’s going on with us.” And he was right. I had allowed the enemy to showcase all of the happy pregnancies and babies that God had blessed others with, and I felt like God had let me down, or was punishing me on purpose……Satan was hoping this would cause me to lose my faith…… my hope….. my trust in an always good and awesome God. I needed to stop focusing on the what ifs, should bes, and what others had, and shift my thoughts back on the One who loves me, and will never leave or forsake me.

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Tomorrow will be 153 days, 5 months since Aj was born. It’s still a struggle. The good days greatly out number the bad days, but the enemy continues to search for a way in…..a chance to damage my relationship with God…..But Satan, you won’t win!!!

Testing…

I’m sitting here, looking through my journal. I started it way back in January of 2011. The entries are sporadic and jumbled. I’ve got several bible verses written throughout, and list upon list of prayers I’ve offered for my family and friends, and the ways that God has answered them. One entry really stood out to me though. Strangely, it’s not dated. This is what I wrote:

This test I can’t pass!! What am I missing? God what are you trying to
show me? What are you trying to tell me?

I have no idea what I may have been going through at the moment I was writing that entry, but much of it is what I feel right now.

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AJ’s death, and the months that have followed, sometimes feel like a big string of tests that I can’t pass. I had to go through the heartbreak of hearing the doctor say, “I’m so sorry Sibyl”. I had to experience the excruciating pain of childbirth, minus the reward of a healthy living baby at the end. Afterwards I still had to endure the engorgement of my milk coming in, with no baby to feed, and the emotional ups and downs of the postpartum hormone changes. More testing….

The morning after AJ’s delivery, I had to find the right words to explain to my girls that their little brother will not be coming home, but will be living in heaven instead…testing

A couple days after Aj was born, I had to go with my husband to pick out an urn for my first born son, and then told a few days later that we needed a larger one to hold all of his ashes. Still testing….

Trying to find the balance between grieving properly, mothering my girls, loving my husband, and taking care of myself…dealing with the longing to hold a living newborn again….learning to forgive the hurtful comments…. releasing guilt over AJ’s death….finding hope again…

the list could go on and on as the test continues….

Almost 5 months later, I feel like I’m in the middle of the same big exams that I failed to study for. I am still completely unprepared. I continue striving for balance and spiritual growth. And I wait……for this season to end and my testing to be complete…..I wait for God to redeem all that has been lost……I wait for the clouds to break, and a rainbow to light up the sky.

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Ok, you can have it back!!!

I’ve totally been dropping the ball at this surrendering thing. Some of my old habits started to resurface….I’ve been trying to find a way to control life again. It started with the what ifs, followed by the maybe ifs and next thing I know, I’ve drafted a plan for how I’d like God to proceed. As if I hadn’t already learned……..and suddenly I found myself tense, stressed, and disappointed that God hadn’t moved according to my timing.

Looking back at the past almost 5 months, I found that though I’ve been deeply saddened, I was more at peace during the early times when I was trusting God to just make it through the day. I didn’t have the energy then to try and figure out the future, when I needed His help just to continue on as a mother for my girls and a wife to my husband. I had more hope……..I knew God was going to make the future bright.

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All my planning and directing has started to dull that shiny, bright future….as each day ticks by hope seems to slip a little further from my grasp. It seems Satan has found and zeroed in on my weak spot…….and I can’t have that!!!

So God here I am. Here are my worries and fears for the future wrapped with a pretty bow……you can have them back!! I’m going to my shelf to grab the box you gave me many years ago. You know, the one full of hope, love, peace, joy, blessings, and prosperity. I had it out a month or so ago, but I mistakenly put it away when I was busy planning the future. And just in case I forgot last time……thank you God for such an amazing gift!!

I also wanted to share a big milestone for me. I finally sat down and added some pictures and such to the baby book we started for Aj. Even though he isn’t here on earth, he is still my little boy. I felt he needed his own book just like his sisters. I love and miss you Aj.i look forward to the day that we will all be reunited.

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Why…

It’s been a little over a week since my last post. I’ve been writing in my journal, but I’ve had trouble deciding what I wanted to write and share here.

For several weeks, I’ve found myself struggling with the timing of AJ’s death, and the loss of the twins. I had the opportunity to be pregnant with friends and family (at least 5) during both of these pregnancies. It was great having someone to compare symptoms with, talk about baby gear, and complain about aches and pains. Most have gone on to have healthy happy babies (thank you God!!!) and others are preparing for the arrival of their little ones any moment now. I enjoy seeing pictures of their cute babies, and offering support whenever I can. I pray for safe labor and easy transitions for their families. I am so happy for all them……….but still, I’m so very sad and hurt for myself. It is hard for me to deny the 4 lb 8 oz, 18 1/2 inch chunk missing from my heart or the 7 wk 6 day size hole on the other side. It hurts, and time hasn’t healed those wounds. The longing to hold my crying newborn is still here. The desire for a growing baby bump hasn’t left. I find myself asking God why now? In the midst of so much life and so much joy around me, why did their lives have to end now?

I prayed about this, and begged God to give me and answer, so that my heart could have rest. I read my bible searching for a clue and poured my heart out all through out my journal. I remembered Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I highlighted it, underlined it, and read it 1000s of times and allowed to sink in. Then I accepted it. I accepted that I can’t understand why. God isn’t required to explain the whys to me, but I am instructed to trust and submit to him, and then he will lead me.

My spirit has found rest from the unanswered questions, but I still am struggling with trusting God with my future and the desires of my heart. For now, I am focused on submitting to God and allowing him to use me. I know that I have the opportunity to minster my children as I raise them to know and love God as I do, and have the opportunity to show God’s love to my husband each and everyday by loving, supporting, and praying for him. But I feel led to do a little more.

I believe very much in the power of prayer. Although I do struggle in praying for myself, I have no trouble praying effectively for others. If you need someone to stand in the gap for you, please let me know. I would very much like to pray for you.