Friday, February 12, 2016

Sharing Her Blanket

I have a major case of writer's block... and usually only one hand to type with! lol.  Currently, I am sitting slightly reclined with Eden resting on my chest while I write this.

It's a beautiful thing to have "full hands"

I want to write so much - I want to tell you every detail of all the amazing things that have happened.  I want to share the special gifts I've gotten for Eden - and how Rachel was such a part of them all, even when people were unaware as they sent them.  And I want to write about every tear I have cried as I continue to miss Rachel in a very complicated and intimate way with Eden.  And I just don't have the time - or the words.

So, I'm just going to write about her blanket for now.

Her blanket, as most of you know, was an extremely hard part of my journey with Rachel.  I wanted the perfect one, but I wanted two of them so she could keep one and so could I.  I kept the one that I made that she was wrapped in at the hospital - and she is buried with an identical one that Des made.  And I have slept with this blanket every single night (except one when my sister & I stayed in Portland and I forgot it and I struggled to sleep without it) since she left me at the hospital.  I bring it everywhere with me.  It has been on every getaway, family vacation, and through every hard night with me.  It was also on my hospital bed for each of my 3 babies after her.

I often feel like a freak, 36 years old and sleeping with a blankie... I have thought a million times about how and when I will be able to stop sleeping with it.  I figured I can't use it forever...  and I wonder if I'm the only mom to do this for this amount of time.  I've tried to think of ways I could get out of the habit of sleeping with it that would be ok for my heart...

The last week of my pregnancy, I had brought it with me to one of the hospital trips and forgot to unpack it when I came home.  I remembered it, but for the first time ever, I was able to fall asleep without going to get it.

And then when Eden was born, I wrapped her in it... It's odd because picking out Eden's blanket was a huge, long process for me and really hard because I didn't know if she was a girl or boy.  And then all that, and I used Rachel's at her birth, without even thinking about it - it just came naturally.  I didn't even realize I did that until I saw the photos later.

After we got home, I would sleep with it when I slept without Eden, but that wasn't very often.  I just kept it above or beside us.  And then a little at a time, I found myself letting Eden use it.  It just so happens that Rachel's blanket is the perfect size and weight for a little girl....

This has been mostly healing for me.  But there are times, and they always catch me off guard, that just make me cry.  Today was one of them.

I pick Eden up and hold her tight and thank God through tears that she is here... I tell her I love her and then I'll hear myself say "I miss her so much."

And I do.  So much.  It never goes away.

I remember the day I bought the fabric for this blanket like it was yesterday.  I was in JoAnn's and it was PACKED.  I looked forever.  I think I was there at least 2 hours looking for fabric to make her a quilt.  I finally decided to use one that the top was already sewn into patches so that all I had to do was sew a back on it.  I stood in line with my huge belly, the rolls of fabric, and the hope sign that I put on my door the night before her birthday.

Waiting in a long line, with a huge belly, it was bound to happen....

People started asking me when I was due and what I was having.  It was only minutes before one guy made a comment about how horrible it was that I was due on Christmas and how he felt bad for the baby that her birthday would be at Christmas.  He said she wouldn't like it at all.  He said there was no worse time to have a baby - and everyone around me agreed.  Their useless chatter and laughter over their false idea of my daughter's fate had my head and heart hurting.  But they remained clueless.

It was one of the few times that I didn't tell someone about her diagnosis when I was asked so many questions.  I don't know why I stayed silent, but I think it was because I was on the verge of a total breakdown and I needed to buy that fabric.  I knew if I started talking, I might fall apart.  I knew if I told them, and fell apart, I would be in the spotlight while it happened.  I knew it was likely I'd leave before I made it thru the line with the fabric.  In my head, all I could think was "I'd give ANYTHING to be so "bothered" with a birthday at Christmas time...

And every once in a while, it hits me - I am.  I will be.

Eden is SO BEAUTIFUL.  She is just. so. pretty.  She is an amazingly easy and content baby.  She smiles ALL the time.  I'm blown away by the perfection God created in her.  She is awesome.  She also looks just like Rachel.  Of course, Rachel had the typical anencephaly type traits, like her eyes being puffed out, but when I look at Edens mouth, her lips, her cheeks... her hands and her feet... she looks *just* like Rachel.
keeping in mind that Eden is about 8-9 pounds heavier than Rachel was in this photo,
I still think the resemblance is amazing.
She has healed parts of my heart I didn't know existed.  She has been my sunshine during a very difficult and gray time in my life.  She has redefined the idea of a "rainbow baby for me".  Rather than her being the pretty thing that happened because the sun came out after the rain stopped, I see her as the very sunshine itself - creating rainbows for me through the rain and constantly putting me in a state of awe that both stops me in my tracks with its beauty - and makes me run for my camera!  LOL.  She is God's gift to me.  And I have no idea why He even sees me fit to care for such an amazing little human - 6 of them! - but I don't feel worthy of the blessing.

Over 5 years ago, I stood in line carrying the excruciating truth of the purpose for that fabric inside me. A month later, I buried my daughter in half of that fabric.  Every day since then, I've clung to the other half in her place.  Tonight, I am watching Rachel's little sister sleep wrapped in it.

What that combination does to me is hard to put into words.  All I know is that I am suddenly able to sleep without Rachel's blanket and it feels right to share it with Eden.  And I know I'm so very thankful to have another Christmas baby and I look forward to being able to celebrate each year we are given to spend with her - even at... no, *especially* at - Christmas time.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Our Pink Joy

I have SO much to share - God has been flooding me with love notes from heaven... but I just don't have time to sit down and write.  I'm realizing if I want it to happen, I'm going to have to learn how to cut things short - and I'm not good at that!

So, here is a short version of one of the things I've wanted to share since before Eden's birth...

I wrote a post on December 20 called Unspeakable Joy.  In it, I mention the Advent wreath candles and how the week of Rachel's birthday was the candle of Hope (which is purple, Rachel's color) and how on that Sunday, I was brought to tears over the realization that the candle that week (which was the week I was due) is the candle of Joy.  There are two very important details I left out of that post...

One: We knew long before I ever got pregnant that if we ever had another girl, her middle name would be Joy.

Two: After that day in church, I looked up the advent wreath and learned another amazing thing - the candle of Joy is the only PINK candle on the wreath!

My early days of pregnancy, I was pretty sure I was having a girl.  I kept my heart guarded though and tried to stay neutral.  Then at one of my later ultrasounds, the tech called the baby a "he" and I thought she had given it away.  I knew there was a chance that she didn't mean anything by it - that actually happened with Desirae too and I was surprised when she was a girl because I convinced myself they had given it away with the use of the word "he"!  

But that day in church, the reason I cried that I couldn't blog then, but can now is that when they said it was the candle of JOY, I looked at Matt and he said, with a tone as if we had been given an answer, "Emma" (which was our original girl name - that story coming soon too I hope!) and I cried because from that moment forward, I was pretty convinced it was a girl.  We even told the nurses all about this while I was walking the halls in labor... I was still amazingly surprised when she came and I finally KNEW she was a girl.  Watching the video of her birth, after you hear me thanking God that it was a girl and sobbing, you hear Matt say "wow, it's a girl... the pink advent candle..."

It was as if in that moment, we were not just recognizing, but also experiencing to a whole new level how much and how intimately God communicates with us.  How He hears and answers prayers.  How he CARES about the desires of our hearts and how perfect His timing is.  The way He weaved His story, Rachel's story, and Eden's story all together in so many ways makes me feel like I am literally holding a piece of heaven in my arms ...  and I think I truly am.

Reading more about the advent candles, I saw that many churches light a 5th candle - a white one - that is called the 'Christ candle".  It is lit on Christmas Eve and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.

On Christmas eve, Matt & I welcomed life into our world... we welcomed life given to us straight from God... we saw His light shine and felt His love pour over us in those precious, irreplaceable, sacred moments as I labored through the pain of childbirth and the nervous anticipation of parents who had already loved and lost... we saw a miracle with our own eyes and were overcome with emotion as she breathed her first breath and let out her first cry....

"It's a girl... Thank You God..."

"Wow, it's a girl... the pink advent candle..."

And as we were lost in that moment of amazement and wonder and thankfulness - all mixed with a touch of fear that we could still lose this precious gift at any moment - the world outside the hospital was preparing for Christmas Day...  The Christ candles were being lit.  The songs of Joy and of peace and of a baby being born were being sung.  Families were snuggling in for the night and preparing to shower their families with gifts the next morning...

We didn't have the candles, the music, the trees or the presents under them... we weren't even together with all our children. (we never are...)  But on Christmas Eve, we were in the midst of the miracle of all that we celebrate within those symbolic things.  We were living it - our hearts turned inside out as we experienced the hope, peace, JOY, love and Christ our Lord that are represented in the lighting of those candles.

We were given the best Christmas gift ever since Christ Himself.  Our pink Joy ♥

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Eden's First Visit

The plan was to stop at Rachel's grave on the way home from the hospital with Eden... we left on Christmas Day, but about 3 hours later than planned - because nothing with 5 kids goes 'as planned'.

We stopped on the way home to get hot chocolates at Cumbies since it was free for Christmas.  And everyone fell apart in the truck while Matt was inside getting them.  I wanted nothing more than to bring Rachel one - but I knew it wasn't a good idea to push that and so we just went straight home.

I was okay with that, but as the days have continued to fly by, I started to feel really bad that I hadn't checked on her stuff since her birthday - and it has been well over a month now...

So yesterday, me, Matt and Eden went for her first visit to her sister's grave.  I guess it's fitting that she would meet her sister before anyone else since we haven't had a visit other than this yet. ♥  As we got close, Matt questioned which exit it was again - I said "just think how many kids we have..." (exit 7) trying to give him a way to remember it... and I started to cry.  We have SEVEN kids.  "Some people never get to have one" I said.  We are so thankful for these seven blessings from God.  May we never take them for granted, here or in heaven.

We had to do a bit of shoveling and so after Matt shoveled out Rachel, I visited by myself for a bit while he took care of a couple of other graves nearby.  I needed that time.  I often am so task oriented in setting stuff up there that I don't slow down and really just *be* there.  I cried a little as I told her about her new sister.... I wish I could see them together....

When Matt was done, I got Eden out and brought her over to meet Rachel... I hate that.  "Meet Rachel"... it's a stone... but anyway...

It was an extremely strange feeling walking away from Rachel's grave holding a tiny little girl in my arms.  I've held two other babies there and did the same type of introducing and picture taking with each of them - but this was completely different.  It was hard.  It was amazing.  It was joy.  It was sorrow.  It was everything in between - all wrapped up in just a few short steps that only took a moment or two....  and that is about all I can say about that....

43 For the Ride

On the way to one of my blood pressure checks in Maine this past week, the song Blessings by Laura Story came on the radio.

I got lost in thought about Rachel and like the beginning of the song says... all the things we asked for... that we didn't get.

Sorrow fills my heart regularly, even still.  I miss my sweet Rachel Alice every single day.  I just have figured out ways to walk with my pain internally and not always allow it to flow out... out where others know.  But it's still there - thankfully it's been seasoned with lots of love from others, many days of heartache I thought would kill me that I made it through, and a million love notes from God to reassure me that no matter how alone I feel, I'm not.

This ride to Maine with my little Eden Joy was one of those love notes from God.  My blood pressure was still reading 187/101 even on 400 mg of meds 3 times a day and they were talking about needing to admit me in the hospital again so that they could give me IV meds to reduce my numbers.  I wanted to be home like you can't imagine.  All I wanted was to be home with my baby.

For MONTHS leading up to Eden's birth, the thermometer in my truck read 43 degrees at every appointment!   But the day after we came home with her, winter seemed to finally arrive and it got cold.  On my way to this appointment, it was only 23 degrees.

So, as I was driving and Laura Story's song came on, my mind went back to Rachel and all the hard, painful days.  A few lines into the song, just as it said "All the while, you hear each spoken need - you love us way too much to give us lesser things."

I looked out my window and the car next to me had this for a plate:

The 'disguise' of this 43 were not lost on me.  Rachel was absolutely a blessing in disguise - all of her - exactly who she was and every bit of her legacy she left behind - in me and through me.... and in and through all of you!

I went to my appointment and they said we could continue to monitor from home and that they would try to keep me out of the hospital as long as I was willing to come to appointments up there.  So then we were driving home and the song I Can Only Imagine came on....

I listened to the words and thought about the sweet reunion heaven will hold for me.  Knowing this earth is not my home, but instead just a place I'm passing through on my way to my real home in heaven with Jesus - The pain here reminds me that I will always thirst here because my until I get there, I will never be completely whole.  And Rachel has that.  Rachel IS that.  Completely whole.

I listened to the words and imagined her dancing around the feet of our Lord.  I'm not mad at Him for taking her from me... I'm just so thankful that when He did, He also received her to himself and cares for her there and much better than I could here.  She is safe and happy and full of JOY!

I was lost in thought - thought of falling to my knees at the awesome sight of my Lord... and thoughts of where Rachel will fit into that all... and no sooner did I have that thought and I saw this plate out my window....

I looked to my left, with a mouth full of a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich I shouldn't have been eating, and when I saw this plate, I *immediately* started to cry and laugh... and then cry like a baby... Just like I did back in April when I asked God if He would ever give me a little Christmas baby girl again that I could keep and saw the plate that said 43 between two letters.  Here I was driving with my living Christmas baby girl in the back and God continued to pour out his love in my language.

You can't make this stuff up....  

So on the way there, unsure of what was happening or what was ahead for me as far as a hospital stay or whatever - Blessings in Disguise played reminding me that even the very worst days and hardest nights are all used by God in my life and He holds it all in His hands... 

And on the way home, I dreamed of heaven and imagined what that day would be like - and the number was clear as could be... heaven will bring clarity on things that don't make sense here.  Heaven will reveal all the details in God's masterpiece that we didn't see.  Heaven will be amazing.
I got home from this appointment in a different place mentally as far as my health goes...  the fear I had on the way there had melted away as I was reminded  - yet again - that God has me.  He has this.  And nothing will happen outside of His will.  And anything that happens, He is big enough to carry my family through.  I went home and have spent the last week snuggled up with my baby and truly soaking it in without the fear that was plaguing me in the days before.  I feel like I have part of heaven here with me and part of me in heaven - and it's a beautifully complicated range of emotions, but I consider myself to be richly blessed by it all.  I'm so thankful God gives me 43's for my hard rides.  Especially the ones I must drive alone....

I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me

I Can Only Imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

It's a GIRL!!!

The last couple of weeks have been... intense.

Intense pain.  Intense love.  Intense fear.  Intense joy.  

I've got so much to write, I wish I could make blog posts happen with just the thought of it...  But one of the major changes over the last 5 years without Rachel is the fact that I have 3 more children than I did before she came and went.  I never imagined hours could get even shorter than they were back when I had just 3 kids here, but they have - and severely! 

So, I'm going to give the 'quick version' and get you up to speed and then hope I can go back and tell you some of the amazing ways God showed me He is still in every tiny detail in other posts.  I figure if I at least make that my plan, I won't feel like I need to squash it all into this post because that could get long!

We'll start with labor... I wasn't going into it!  On Wednesday the 23rd, my blood pressure spiked at home and I called the Dr, expecting them to just tell me to start my blood pressure meds back up.  I was a load of mixed emotions when the Dr said that I should come in for monitoring, but that they would likely induce me because the benefit of staying pregnant at this point in the game didn't outweigh the risks of the dangers for me and baby if my blood pressure stayed high or went higher, especially during labor.

I was scared to death because I've had two inductions before - Des and Asa - and they were horrible birth experiences.  Of course after how amazingly perfect Ezra's birth was, I was bound to be disappointed with this in comparison no matter what... but I had hoped for something much different than an induction because of my blood pressure.  

I called Matt and he came back home from work and we went up to Maine Med.  They watched me for a while and by that afternoon, we were waiting for a labor and delivery room to become available so we could start my induction.  Knowing how long inductions can take, especially since I was only 1 cm, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be home for Christmas... 

They started my induction (with a balloon and then the next day pitocin) at 7pm on the 23rd.  And on Christmas Eve at 3:28 pm, we welcomed our third little girl, Eden Joy Aube, into the world.  She was 9 lbs 4 oz and 20.5 inches long.  
After having a hard time finding a photographer I could afford, I borrowed a camera
and took some myself!  More to share soon!

I will never forget the moment she was born.  I don't think she was out 2 seconds when I looked to see what she was.  "It's a GIRL!!  It's a girl!  Thank You God!... thank You Jesus, it's a girl..." as I sobbed uncontrollably with joy and thankfulness.

As Desirae requested, we told nobody the gender until she could come meet the baby and be the first to find out - face to face... she said she didn't want to be disappointed on the way to the hospital if it was a boy, but knew once she was there she wouldn't care because babies are all cute.  So we waited until that night when my friend Mel brought the kids up to see us and meet the baby.  They all walked in and I said nothing, just showed them her wearing a hat with a bow on it... Des started laughing, then crying, then laughing, then crying... it had me and Matt both in tears.  It was amazing to see her reaction to what we all know has been her constant prayer with God too.  And since that moment, everything within her has appeared lighter.  I know this little sister was just what my big girl needed.  I'm so thankful that God has answered that request for her too.  Even more than for myself - I wanted Des to have a little sister she can dress up and drive to dance class (her ideas!) :)  I can't wait to see how they bond.  There is nothing like relationship between sisters ♥

Things got pretty crazy for a while from that moment on... from having trouble delivering my placenta, to me bleeding too much, to leaving the hospital a day early so I could be home Christmas night - and ending up in the local ER the next day because Eden stopped breathing... where the very misinformed Dr told us her blood work showed a major infection...which led to her being given 4 (failed) spinal taps and then her & I being transferred to Maine Med by ambulance where we spent another night (and thankfully my mom stayed with me because I was thoroughly EXHAUSTED and Matt had to be home with the kids so they wouldn't know anything was wrong) only to find out the next day that the ER Dr in Rochester had no clue what she was talking about and Eden's blood work numbers were NORMAL for her age - not normal for an adult, but she isn't an adult!  So we went through all of that and put our little girl though an enormous amount of pain for nothing.... Thank God I asked to go to Maine and not stay at Frisbie - I can only imagine what she would have endured if she stayed there.  They were about to start her on 'the heavy duty antibiotics' for her 'infection'. God protected her from that when Maine called and canceled the antibiotic until they could see her and do their own spinal tap - which as soon as we got there, they decided was not necessary right away!

And then a day after we got home, my blood pressure went through the roof and I've been back to Maine multiple times for that and am still not done dealing with it.

But as I sit here typing this, Eden is next to me, wrapped up in Rachel's blanket (which I didn't realize until I just looked through the pictures again, but we wrapped her in it at birth too ♥ and that wasn't planned - I just always have it on my bed when I deliver)  She is healthy and at her apt this week, was up to 10 lbs already.  I am feeling stronger and have set boundaries to allow myself as slow a pace as one person with 6 kids at home can have - I have hunkered down and am just enjoying time with my sweet little girl... time I desperately need for so many reasons.  And it's really helping in so many ways.  

And so I've had just one goal every day and that is to soak in the moments and not take them for granted.  I've been working to keep my days slow so that the other 5 kids see Eden as the blessing that I do and enjoy her arrival as much as me and Matt - which they won't if I am running myself ragged trying to keep everyone else happy and doing too much.  For the first time since I had just Des, my mind and emotions after birth are not just stable, but actually really good.  If only I knew then what I know now!  

Matt & I have had some sweet times together.  This has definitely been a time of bonding for us as well.  He's been an amazing help to me and watching him with his baby girl is precious.  I'm pretty sure this little girl is going to be spoiled.  Hopefully we don't spoil her rotten! lol.  But as I look back over the last 5 years and the last 2 of Rachel's younger siblings, I am so completely positive that this timing was absolutely perfect for us to welcome another little girl into our home.  God knew.  He knows me better than I know myself... and I'm so thankful for that... because what He gives is better than anything I could come up with myself.

It just took me over 3 hours to write this post with a couple of nursing sessions, diaper changes, a couple of snacks, interruptions from the big kids and my head just not working right.... and that is why I'm not blogging much!  Holy cow!  I have so much more to share and hopefully I'll get to it, but for now, she is here, she is awesome and I get to call her mine for a while ♥  Thank you Jesus. ♥

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Unspeakable Joy

Well, the 16th - and the 18th - came and went and I'm still pregnant!

On Friday night, I was having contractions for about 6 hours when we headed into the hospital just after midnight (Sat morning)...   It turned out to be a horrible experience because they checked me and I was still only 1cm.  They wanted to give me a couple of hours and recheck, but I asked if I could just go home so I could get some sleep.  They agreed until they noticed the baby's heart rate was too low... they had me move around and it was still too low... so they ordered an ultrasound and it was the longest ultrasound I've ever had - literally.  She stared at the screen, wiggling my belly, with a concerned look on her face for over 20 minutes before she called for a second set of eyes and said "I'm not seeing any movement or tone."

She got off the phone and said she didn't want me to worry... hmmm...  yeah, no problem lady.  Low heart rate, unable to see movement, thought I was in labor and I'm not, hadn't felt the baby move much all day - yeah, I'm not worried at all...

I just said "Well, I guess I'm in the right place for this to be happening..."  but inside all I could think was I should just schedule a c-section and get this baby out before I lose it....

They sent me home an hour later telling me everything was fine... I didn't really believe it, but what choice did I have?  Not much.

We got home and in bed around 5am, I had been up all night long.  The kids woke me up an hour later and I tried to sleep through their morning commotion and arguing.

I got up a few hours later and before long, between being exhausted and worried, I was in tears.  Matt's not usually overly good at making me feel better when I'm upset - especially if it's something he doesn't understand, but while we talked, I figured out that I was really worried about the chance of not being home on Christmas.  I didn't realize that it was weighing on me like it was until then, but he had just the right words for me.  He encouraged me that no matter when this baby comes, even if it's on Christmas, we will be together and the kids will be ok with however it goes.  If we have to wait a few days to do Christmas together, we will. (a huge bonus in not doing Santa)  And then he just told me to do whatever I needed to do for me for this weekend... to rest and enjoy the kids and our time off together... and to trust God with the rest.

So I ate breakfast and lounged around and slept on and off throughout the day - snuggled with the kids on the couch - and enjoyed the last moments of being pregnant and feeling this little one move around inside of me.  And it was exactly what I needed.

We went to church this morning, on time for the first time in I don't know how long... I felt so much better after taking time to rest and also in letting go of what I thought would be best for timing of this baby's arrival.  My mind and body just felt lighter.

I don't regret asking for specifics, even if I didn't get them... I did the same with Rachel and most of the things I asked for, God said "no".  I've learned that it doesn't mean He didn't hear or doesn't care, but rather that His ways are not our ways, yet they are always better.

I know I've talked about this before, but you all know that the word "HOPE" was Rachel's word... it was the constant theme of my time with - and now without - her.  And I've mentioned a few times that this baby's word has been "JOY".

I didn't realize it until the year after Rachel died when I was sitting in church the weekend of her birthday and they lit the first Advent candle, that the first candle of the Advent season is the candle of Hope.  I hadn't even considered how she would be born in the first week of Advent, but every year that has been a very special way to start December without her - as I remember her and her life and death, I'm also being reminded of the hope we have in Jesus and in eternity because of Him.

Today, because God didn't answer my prayer to have the baby last week, I was sitting in church when they lit the 3rd Advent candle of the season... the candle of Joy!  Matt & I just looked at each other and smiled - and I started to cry.  I knew at that very moment that I was supposed to be there today.  The songs, the message - it was all just what I needed to hear.

As we sang Chris Tomlin's Joy to the World...

Joy, unspeakable Joy
An overflowing well, no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable Joy
It rises in my soul, never lets me go

I rocked this baby and felt his/her twists and kicks and relished in how amazing it is that I have a life inside of me... and that (s)he can hear me singing those Christmas songs.  And for as much as this baby wasn't moving on Friday night, it made up for it today!

But at the end of the day, what I feel is total contentment and trust in whenever God sees best for this baby to arrive.  I have gotten so much prepared and have a few things I want to get done still, but mostly, my one and only goal is to let myself rest in God as I bask in the joy of being pregnant... the fact that I feel exceptionally good physically and mentally for being 39 weeks along...  feeling this baby move around and how I alone get this sacred time with him/her... knowing that when God says 'no' there is a reason and it's always a better one than any reason I am asking for... and believing wholeheartedly that whatever He does decide is right will be amazing and I get to be a part of it.

During today's service, I was so thankful I was there (I didn't think I would be because I was sure I'd have had the baby before today!)  and got to see and hear the things I did that only confirmed for me how safe I am in God's hands... I was so humbled.  So thankful.  So overwhelmed with emotion.  God is so good to me.

And I hate even trying to write about any of this because words don't do it justice and I almost feel like they take away from what actually happened in my heart today at church.  But as I was leaving today, a friend said she would be praying for the arrival of the baby and for me to have joy through it... and she knew none of the above...

I just responded with a smile and said "unspeakable joy" - and I think that sums it up...

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Almost Time!

I've been saying "I plan" on having this baby this Friday, the 18th - but that Wednesday would also be ok. And I might sound like I'm joking... but I'm really not!  LOL.

Of course you know I like to have babies on Fridays - I've had 4 of the 6 on Fridays so far and only Rachel's was scheduled by me... however, I do believe God knows what we need and Fridays work well for us pay wise for Matt to be with me.  This year, we have the kids school schedule added to the mix, which makes a Friday baby all the more convenient.

That said, this Friday is December 18, which is the day I was due with Silas, the baby I miscarried.  It is 9 days early, but I've had all of my babies except for Asa at least 7 days early - and they have all been close to 9 lbs.

A few weeks back, I started messing with numbers and realized that this Wednesday is 12-16-15 and if you add those together, it comes to 43 ♥  So I began saying I'd be happy with that day too.  

The reality is I will be thrilled with ANY day, time, way, situation I get as long as I don't have to say goodbye to this baby.  That said, I have some very specific prayer requests if you would remember me in prayer?  I know God could say 'no' to all of them and might, but I also know that my God is capable of all of this and so I'm going boldly before His throne and asking for His grace and mercy to help me in my time of need... 

So here we go....

I would love to go into labor in the early hours on Friday morning (or Wednesday if I don't make it that far) while Matt is still home so I don't have to chase him down at work (he can't carry his cell phone there).  Being a VBAC, I'm not supposed to labor at home and since this is my 7th baby and we have a long ride to the hospital, I won't stay long before I leave, but am hoping it's easy to get someone over to be with the kids.  I would like to be 5cm dilated upon arrival and to be able to have Kim (Rachel's nurse) there with me during labor and delivery.  I had an interesting experience with my epidural last time, so prayers for a safely placed epidural are needed.  I've been having breathing issues with my contractions - often I don't know I'm having one except that I can't breathe and then notice my belly is rock hard.  Please pray that I won't have trouble breathing through the real ones.  The way my contractions have been working also makes me super nauseous and I'm afraid I will throw up during labor, so please pray I won't get sick.  I would love to have Dr. Hunt for delivery (Rachel and Ezra both had her) and of course for a safe delivery, a healthy baby, and an easy transition with my hormones which always kick my butt.

Updated to add prayer requests...  Please pray that there are no complications with my brain aneurysm or my hernia.

I think that is all - no matter what, I'm due on the 27th which is just 13 days away so we are really close now...  I'm trying to get things done and it's not an easy task, especially with the added Christmas stuff to do.  But I think I'm doing alright.  It's just very hard physically at this point.  I'm ready to meet this little one... it's pretty much on my mind all day and night now.  I am having my 'nesting' splurge of energy, which is great for motivation, it just does nothing for my body's ability to accomplish it all!  But thankfully the baby won't have a clue that my house is a mess.  I'd be in trouble if baby's had opinions like adults do! lol - but all this baby will care about is snuggling and nursing and I can do both of those ♥  

I'm thankful for how God has prepared me for this time.  A few months ago, I was just detached, but He has gotten me ready and excited, just like he did with Rachel... and if He can do that with Rachel, I had no doubt He could do it with any other baby he gives me.  It's nice to be *in* it though and not waiting on it.  I still get nervous, that's just part of my life now... but I'm ok.  

I have another post or two I might try to get done before baby comes that have been on my heart for a while - if not, I guess the next one will be a gender reveal! :)  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lost and Found

I'm not sure if I blogged about it or just posted on Facebook about it, but back at the beginning of this pregnancy, Asa flushed my little silver daisy charm that said "hope" on it down the toilet.  It was the one I got at the woman's retreat where I gave my testimony of HOPE and also where I first told people I was pregnant with Rachel... it was the little token we used on my belly shots during my 25 week beach photos of Rachel's pregnancy.  It was super sentimental to me and I was really dumb to display it in the bathroom... but I literally looked at it every single day and thought about how much God loved me - how He had plucked me out of my addiction at such a young age and also how he had carried me while I carried Rachel.

When I realized it had been flushed, I plunged like crazy and stuck my hands as far down the toilet as I could trying to get it back.  I cried.  A lot.  I complained how things never go right.  I was so discouraged.  I can't remember everything going on at that moment in my life, but I know I was in a very rough place and that was the hair that broke the camels back.

On Wednesday, which was the anniversary of Rachel's funeral, I was having a hard morning, but was in a place of gratitude somehow... the toilet was backed up so I flushed and started to plunge and as I did, my mind wandered (as usual...) and I began thinking about Rachel's service.  I looked at the decor behind my toilet and saw the kids had been messing with it again and it brought my mind back to that little daisy charm that was flushed 9 months before...  I started thinking about HOPE and how I wanted to post a picture from her service on facebook, specifically the one of Matt & I worshipping during her service, and that I wanted to share that we praise Him no matter what because without him, we would be utterly lost.

And I kid you not, as I thought that, remembering how God gave us the faith to trust Him on that day, and was lost in appreciation of how God carried me through those hard days, I looked down, and there it was... the daisy HOPE charm!

Now, I'm not trying to over-spiritualize a clogged toilet... but this hit me hard.  I grabbed it and started cleaning it off and I couldn't help but cry.  December 9, 2010 was the hardest day of my life.  It was the day I left my baby's tiny body in the ground.  It was horrible and the night that followed it was even worse, as I sat here fighting myself to not go dig her up while I still could - fearing that someone else might and my heart ripping apart over how I couldn't care for her.  It was the most excruciating pain I've ever felt. EVER.  And on the anniversary of that day, I'm the only one who remembers or hurts from it.  Its mine to bear.  And I feel it each year.

But the crazy part of the entire thing that morning was that I was in such a good place for how hard my day was.  Nothing was going right and I was sad... but I was thinking about how much I needed God and how good He was to always be there for me at the moment that little charm revealed itself after all that time.

I couldn't help but think about if I felt that excited and that relieved to be 'reunited' with a little charm that's been covered in poop and pee for months - just imagine how unreal it will feel to be reunited with HER!  And that is my hope... that is what keeps me going... and on that day, 5 years after she was buried, God reminded me with a clogged toilet that it's only a matter of time.  When that charm was flushed, I thought it was gone forever and in a way, it was because it certainly didn't come back in the same pretty condition - but with Rachel, when I see her again, she won't be worse off, she'll be better off.  She will be whole.

So then remember in August how the night of the baby remembrance ceremony, I lost the memory card from the photos that my friend took for me?  Again, one of my lovely boys took it out of my computer and I couldn't find it.  I searched everywhere, but especially in my chair because that's where I had the computer.  And I finally had to accept it was gone. I honestly thought it was flushed down the toilet too since they had been doing that a lot this year.  I was so upset bc I wanted to make a nice video for the other moms and again was just so discouraged, feeling like nothing ever goes right...

Yesterday, we sold our living room furniture.  Again, changing things up for the baby.  Before the guy took the chair out, I tipped it on it's side to be sure there was nothing stuck in it and out fell a memory card... I knew right away it was *the* memory card... but seriously, I had already done that in August and so had Matt.  I tipped that chair, shook that chair, stuck my hands in it searching until they bled... and it was gone...  for a while.

The interesting thing is that the boys got a hold of my bag full of memory cards just recently and so I've been finding cards here and there for a week or two - and yet when I saw that one, I knew it was from the baby ceremony.  There was nothing special about it, just a plain 16 GB card... but I knew.

I'm not sure why sometimes God makes me wait like that... probably because I'm not very good at it and also probably a little bit to teach me how to let things go.  I was still able to remember God's goodness without that charm - and I was still able to make a beautiful video without that card because I had two people taking photos... but both destroyed me for a day or two.  I will say a day or two is a lot shorter than things used to bother me, so that's progress, but I would love to get to the place in life where I could care less about tangible things and rest more on knowing that I can't take those things with me anyhow and just focus on the things in my life that are eternal - which is caring for my relationship with God, for my husband, and for the little souls he has placed in our care.

As I prepare to meet this baby, waiting to know for sure I can take him or her home, after just celebrating and mourning Rachel's birthday, my heart has been overwhelmed with conflicting emotions.  I felt that God had confirmed for me early on in this pregnancy - before I even told anyone I was pregnant - that this baby would be okay.  But as one complication after another came up, I wondered if maybe he didn't mean here on earth it would be ok.  And so I haven't been able to just rest my mind for 9 long months and it's been so draining... and lonely.

But I think the timing of both of these things is just a loud reminder that even when I feel lost, he knows right where I am.  Even when I can't see the tangible proof that everything is ok, He is well aware of the details and will give me what I need, right when I need it.  You would think the way he saved me when I was lost and brought me into the light where I was found would be enough proof, but in my humanness, the little reminders on much smaller subjects are what keeps me remembering and I'm thankful for a God who will speak my language and not grow impatient with my continuous need to be reassured.  He is so, so good to me.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Rachel's birthday was hard...

We had done the baby shower for the other local family awaiting the arrival of their daughter Aerilyn who has anencephaly and was due on Rachel's birthday.  And although I invited my friends and family as a way of remembering Rachel as well, I honestly felt like it wasn't for her.  I think when I did the shower last year for the girl who was getting to keep her baby, I felt ok about making the day equally about Rachel - including a cake for Rachel and things of that sort.  But this shower was different.  They don't get to keep their little girl and I really just wanted the day to be all about her and them.  And in my heart, it was completely.  So, after it was over, I didn't feel like I had done my usual birthday for Rachel.  And since we also didn't deliver anything to the hospital this year, her birthday felt more like just another day - and that's the first time I've ever experienced that since she's been gone.  I know the people closest to me were thinking of her though and I'm *almost* to the place where that is enough for my heart - just not quite there.

I did a few things to represent Rachel there - I bought Rolos candy to put out, used the same basket for cards that we used at Rachel's shower (still decorated for her fall themed shower) and I bought 12 pink balloons and 3 star shaped balloons to symbolize the date that our girls share.

On the 3rd, I had SO much to do to get the decorating we usually do on her day accomplished that I felt like I ran around working my butt off all day long and being 9 months pregnant, I was exhausted half way through, but couldn't not finish it.  The older two were in school as well so we had to pick them up mid day and then deal with the usual homework and stuff.  I went to her PO Box and it was empty for the first time ever.  Our families don't acknowledge she was here or the pain I feel that she is gone except for my mom and sister (and that would be why they were the ones who got to meet her...)   Des made cupcakes that afternoon and we did sing to Rachel and put our Christmas tree up, but as night closed in, I got really sad.

I was starving to just sit down and *feel* all day long and I didn't have time.  The day before I had cried most of the day pretty heavily, so it's not like I hadn't shed a tear - so I don't know what I was hoping for or needing and that is the hardest part - often *I* don't even know what I want or need.  I just know it hurts and I just want relief from it and it seems like something should help that and if I figure out what it is, then the pain will let up...  but it doesn't.

Because I was such a wreck on the 2nd, Matt offered to take the day off for her birthday, which meant the world to me.  He was planning to work and I had planned to go it alone, but knowing he was willing to stay home and wanted to be with me for it was so good for my heart.  Plus, after doing all the work to get her grave set up and our yard decorated, I realized I would have never gotten it accomplished if I didn't have his help with the 3 little boys!  Being so pregnant really makes me much less capable of doing things I want to do and that's hard too...

So after everyone was in bed, I sat down and looked at my new arrangements in my living room... we have been moving stuff, selling stuff, changing things up to make room for the baby - and now the Christmas tree - and so my view from the couch was much different that night.  And I realized as I sat there, just how symbolic the entire scene in front of me was of how complicated my life is...

I have Rachel's hope chest - where I usually put out all her ornaments and can't because we don't have the piano so I had to consolidate what I could display.  Also, the boys managed to break one of my very first ornaments ever sent to me for Rachel and also one of my favorites before I even had them out of the box so they feel safer in her chest.  It looks pretty, it's just different.

Then we have our Christmas tree... it's time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior... it's time for gift giving, spending time with family, bringing joy to my kids and watching their faces light up with each gift they open... it used to be my absolute favorite time of year and filled with peace and joy and love and all the amazing things that come along with knowing the God is with us and He is so good....  And although I still know and BELIEVE that... my Christmases feel different.  They carry a little bit of sting that she isn't here - no matter which part of all the awesomeness I'm experiencing, it's there and I've come to accept it's just the way it's going to be.  It's still beautiful, it's just different.

And then we have the little dresser that I found on the side of the road back in the very beginning of my pregnancy that I finally recently painted and fixed up for our new Little E.  We have no room upstairs for this baby and so we have made space in a corner of our living room for his/her stuff and I'm doing my best to make it cute so I can feel good about it.  I do like it, it's just different.
Little E's "nursery" ♥
My friend Elisha showed up at Rachel's grave while we were there decorating on her birthday and gave me this Joy sign.  It matches the dresser perfectly and, of course, she didn't know that.  

But I looked at the three of these things together and I seriously sat there thinking about how crazy it is to have those three things all happening at the same time.  It was overload for my mind and heart to see memorial items for one baby, a evergreen tree symbolizing the eternal nature of our Lord who came as a baby, and then a little dresser full of baby clothes in hopes of bringing home another baby soon.  How does one person do all of this at the same time?  Polar opposites speaking loud and clear from both sides of my Christmas tree... emotions from every direction.  One minute I was answering someones message about Rachel and in the next minute, talking to someone else about a name or something they wanted to do for the new baby...

That night, it just overwhelmed me, but since then as I have walked past them daily, I think that in a way it's a good reminder of the hope I can have for both of my babies because of Jesus.  On one side I have the uncertain... will I bring this baby home?  And on the other, I have the certain... she is gone, but truly home...  And in the middle, I have the reminder that He is with me and He is enough for anything I go through.  

Preparing for this Christmas has been hard - in every way you can imagine.  Financially, mentally, emotionally and physically.  The kids being in school has turned an already busy time into a complete marathon of events and extras and I hate it.  There has been SO much change in our lives this past year, it's crazy.  New job, complicated and often scary pregnancy, the kids starting school outside our home, losing both my grandfathers, changes in the nonprofit... and I don't like change... I don't like different.

I could get disappointed that Christmas doesn't feel the way it used to - that I'm not capable of changing my emotions to fit the picture in my mind of how I like Christmas to be - or how so many expect people to be/feel/act at Christmas... or I can accept that God has given me a hard journey, a heavy cross, and a ton of blessings mixed in between -  and that yes, it's hard and yes, it hurts, and no, most people cannot comprehend and many will not acknowledge or even recognize any of that as they interact with me this Christmas - and I can thank Him for all of it because honestly, I know God in a deeper more personal way than I did when things were prettier, lighter, felt better... but my life wasn't better.  It wasn't more meaningful.  It was just different.  And as much as I miss the simpler days, I am glad things are different.  It's okay that different doesn't mean easier.

Taking care of her the only way I can for now...

Are they cute, or what?!

Missing my school kids

Me & Elisha
I changed the decorations this year.  I went with pink & purple because standing in walmart looking at the choices I said to Des, "Rachel would probably pick these this year..." and she agreed that a 5 year old would rather have girly colors.  I changed the stuff on her little tree on her hope chest for the first time since 2010 too and made it to match this one. ♥

Ezra & I read a book every day before nap called "Baby Born".  It's our favorite and it's about a baby born in the winter.  I have never talked to Ezra about Rachel while reading that book, but while we were decorating the tree, he picked up this ornament of Rachel, held it up and said "Baby Born!" A few minutes later, he did it again when he picked up a nativity scene ornament. ♥

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Can you play for me, Peanut?

The day Desirae was born, before they had even weighed her, my mom said "Oh, look at her long fingers, she's going to play piano!"  She doesn't really have long fingers and I'm not sure why I never forgot that, but it's one of the clearest memories from the day I became a mother.

Desirae took a year of piano lessons in 2009.  She picked it up quickly and loved it, so we continued... but the following year, I decided to pick up guitar lessons at the same place and for the next two years, we went together to our lessons and our home was full of beautiful, imperfect sounds.  The first year happened to be while I was pregnant with Rachel - and the next, the year after I lost her.

I almost forget that I was taking lessons with Rachel there with me, but I will randomly come across blog posts that mention me going to or starting my lessons again.  I only took a couple of weeks off after she died and went right back... I did the same with homeschooling... and honestly, knowing how I felt in my mind and heart back then, looking back, that seriously amazes me.

So, in 2010, after figuring out that Des indeed liked and wanted to play piano, we upgraded from her big keyboard and got a used piano that, even with all it's imperfections, made her and her mama smile... a lot.  I have absolutely relished in hearing my little girl play her songs.

Two years ago, she wanted to quit and being the mean mom I am who can see down the road better than she can, told her no.  It was part of her homeschool curriculum in my opinion.  She pushed through and that year, performed in a piano recital.  She hates playing in front of people so this was a big deal.  My whole family came to watch her and were all so impressed at how well she did... and my Grandpa was there and we went out to eat with him afterwards.  It was awesome.

This past year, she begged to quit.  She would hide in her room when the piano teacher showed up and she never practiced in between lessons.  I still forced her because deep down I knew she was meant to play piano... she has music in her.  She is gifted and I didn't want to let her just walk away from all her years of hard work.  But in June, when the lessons ended - so did the sounds of the piano in our home.  She didn't touch it again.

A couple of months ago, Desirae and Isaiah started school outside of our home.  This has been an incredibly difficult decision and transition for our family - and for as much as I hoped it would help my relationship with her by giving her space, it has done way more the opposite.  Our relationship hit an all time low, one I never thought I would ever see with us and it has stayed that way for weeks.  I have found myself daily wanting to pull her out and begging God to let me know if I made a mistake and if I am one day going to regret it - or if it will smooth out with time.  They are in a Christian school full of teachers I respect and trust - but I have yet to have peace about her being there and it's not changing...  being a mom is so freaking hard.

Recently, while trying to figure out where we were putting a new baby in our already very tight home, we decided it was time to give the piano away.  I second guessed it, but it just wasn't being used.  I asked Des if she thought she would use it anymore and she gave me a solid 'no'.  And since the baby is going to take up residence in our living room...  I posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted it.  And that night as I was confirming the plans for someone to come get it, I started to feel really sad about it...

I called to Des and as she turned to ask what I wanted, I couldn't speak... I motioned for her to come over to me and through a sudden onset of a flood of tears whispered "Can you play for me, Peanut?"

She looked at me and fell onto the couch and started to cry too.   Teenage girls are complicated.  But I totally get that....

I asked again... "Can you play me a song?  Do you remember how to play?"

She got up and without saying a word, pulled out a book and started to pluck slowly on the keys.  After getting frustrated, she put that book away and pulled out an older book... and slowly, she started to play... and slowly, the songs came back to her... and slowly, I watched her body change and it was as if a weight was lifted from her.

She is meant to play music... she needed that too.

I sat and listened and I couldn't stop crying.  I didn't totally know why, all I knew was that it wasn't something I was going to be able to stop.  I listened and cried as my big girl played for me for over an hour.

And when she was done, we sat and hugged for a few minutes and then watched a show together at 11pm, just because.

As I thought about my emotional breakdown after she went to bed, I realized a few things...  For one, we bought that piano while I was pregnant with Rachel.  I hadn't even thought of that, but it must have been in my memory deep down.  I remember telling my friend Jill that I was pregnant again after just showing her the piano we bought, which means we bought the piano in April or May of 2010.  That was the same day Isaiah disappeared on us and we had a neighborhood wide search happening, but that's a different story! lol.

I also remembered that I decorate that piano with Rachel's 1st Christmas tree each year... and that Desirae's music has lingered through our home during the most trying times of my entire life.  I realized that I myself have been far off from music, which is comfort to my soul as well.  I realized that the piano, and more specifically Desirae playing it, have been a consistent beautiful distraction to my pain... and I have dearly missed listening to her play.  Not only because it was relaxing and enjoyable for me, but because her deciding she no longer liked it was also a sign that she was growing up and that it wasn't going as I had imagined.... and has been way harder than I could prepare for.

I asked her if she wanted to keep it.  If I should tell the girl that we changed our minds.  I thought that perhaps I should get Rachel's hope chest out of my living room instead since Rachel is gone and Des isn't and Rachel doesn't care if I have her stuff displayed in my home.  I just wanted to do whatever this little girl needed...

She said to me "It's kind of strange that all this is coming up right now because today at glee club, I sat down and tried to play something and got really upset that I couldn't remember anything."

"Until your overly emotional mother asked you to play a song... ?"

"Yeah, until you asked me to play a song... now I don't want to stop playing..."

We talked about getting a big keyboard like she used to have... one with headphones and a pedal so she can play when the baby is sleeping.  And she is excited about that - so I'm happy with it.  I will miss the sound of a real piano filling our home - there's nothing like that - but as long as my girl is happy, I'm happy.

The next day, the original taker told me she couldn't make it and I was again faced with the option to back out.  I asked Des and we agreed that it was time to make a change so that the baby's stuff could fit cutely into our space.  Des is just like me on the interior design thing so she gets needing 'cute' - lol.  So I moved onto the next person able to get it quickly and yesterday afternoon, we cleared Rachel's photos from the top of it and emptied out her lesson books from the last 6 years and watched another family drive off with our piano... and it was ok.

We started setting up for the baby... which I don't tell her but it makes me nervous because if we do and the baby doesn't come home with us, that would kill me to have to move that stuff out... but I think it was the next step in our faith walk.

I'll have photos of the baby's corner in our living room later, but for now, I just wanted to share this one... I know words could never do justice to what was happening in my heart as I watched her play late that night, But I will forever be thankful for the way God worked in my home in that hour.  I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago now and hadn't posted it yet, but Des and I have been in a different place since this night.  I don't know how or why, but God is so, so good to us.

Monday, November 9, 2015

♥ Her 5th Birthday ♥

OK, so here's the scoop... 

Months ago, a friend at church told me of someone she knew who was carrying a baby with anencephaly.  Back in September, the woman who took my pregnancy photos and birth photos for Rachel, told me she had met a girl (who I didn't know was the same girl) that she was going to take photos for because her daughter had anencephaly and that she gave her my blog address.  A few weeks later, another friend mentioned she met a girl online and that she was due on December 3rd (Rachel's bday) with a little girl who has anencephaly and she also had sent her to my blog.  I still had no idea it was the same person.  All the pieces didn't come together until I contacted this girl to see if there was any way I could help her through our nonprofit or to support her.  When I realized it had been the same person all along, I knew this is where God wanted me to spread love this year in memory of Rachel.  But unlike my usual plans, I have only known this was something I could do for the last few days and December 3rd isn't far away.

And so this is the plan... to love on her and her family as they prepare to meet their little girl.  I know many people do not know how to attend a baby shower for a baby who will not live long.  I get it.  But please believe me when I say that showing up with a smile and a hug is more important than having the 'right' words or the 'right' gifts.  And honestly, I don't think this family is expecting or hoping for gifts anyway.  They just want to celebrate their daughter's LIFE while she is with them.  They are a military family and do not know many people in this area so have not had any kind of shower yet.  I'll admit, with what I have on my plate already, I felt crazy offering, but God wouldn't let me not... and so I'm diving in!  (and welcome anyone who wants to help!!) :)

PLEASE join us!!  I have created a facebook event page that is private in order to protect the privacy of the family, but anyone who is wanting to come and show support and celebrate this sweet little girl is welcome, so please contact me if you do!

If you can't come, but want to know how you can help them... They have told me that stars are symbolic for their daughter and I know that anything personalized (contact me for name) would be really special.  I also know that some of my favorite gifts at Rachel's celebration were ones that made it feel like things were 'normal' - like lotion or a Christmas ornament or blanket.  They also have another child, a boy, who is still little and I'm sure wouldn't mind some lovin'.   Please keep them in your prayers, now and as time goes on.

Our nonprofit is going to be helping with the urn for their daughter and covering the cost of the celebration.  I also have a memory box filled like we usually give to the hospital that I will give to her to help make memories in their time together.  So, if you want to help financially with those things, you can make a tax deductible donation to Baby Rachel's Legacy.  You can send a check or use the Paypal button on the side of my blog and just make a note what you want it used towards.  We will also be collecting a love offering for them to use in the weeks following their daughter's arrival and if you contact me, I can tell you how to give to them directly.  Our nonprofit cannot give cash to individuals so if you send it to Baby Rachel's Legacy, it will need to be used on items or services.  If you want to bless them with a monetary gift to use how they wish, it will need to go directly to them.

I'm honored that this family as allowed me to be a part of something so special.  I pray you will come and be a part too.  I had over 85 people come to Rachel's celebration and they were not all people I had met before - and it was an amazing comfort to my hurting heart.  And while this shower is for antoher little girl, there is no doubt that none of this would be on my heart to do if Rachel never came and went... but also if I wasn't loved so well by all of you while she was here.  So thank you for your love back in those days - and for all of you who have continued to follow along with my journey all these last 5 years.  For your patience and love and grace and mercy... and for always supporting me when I get another prompting from the Spirit!  I've said it before, but it's so, so true... I couldn't do any of it without you!

I'm excited to see what God has in store...  Rachel Alice Aube, Mama loves you ♥  I can't believe you'd be almost 5.  Miss you every minute of every day... until then...

Monday, November 2, 2015

The "Why"

After the many disappointments I've experienced this past year on the topic of Rachel... from people I trusted betraying me and strangers I don't know stealing and using Rachel's photos without permission on a video I would have never allowed her to be a part of... I had decided that I have seriously failed Rachel.

I decided I failed at protecting her.  I decided I failed at keeping her life beautiful.  I decided I failed at doing what moms are supposed to do - keeping her safe and out of harm's way.

I have spent months - since the whole thing happened with one of my board members in August - trying to figure out if this is really what God wants me to do.  And if so, how to do it when people are impossible to trust and my heart can't take any more pain.  I have prayed and waited and cried and waited and pushed it onto the back burner and had it come back only to push it away some more because I just don't. know. what. to. do.

This pregnancy being so difficult and emotion filled doesn't help at all and so I am currently thinking the best plan of action is to wait until after I have this baby, and also allow the huge changes that have taken place in my family time to settle down, before I make any decisions.  But my overall feeling is that I would be further along in my healing process if I didn't constantly have my wound being torn open again.... and it seems as time goes on, that's only more likely because these people seem to forget that I only know most of them because my daughter died.  And her death is still very real and very hard for me.  I'm still just a human enduring a loss too big to comprehend.  I'm still completely blinded by my grief at times and still a sinner in need of mercy and grace.  And I still very much need a lot of help in so many ways.  I'm just past the point time wise of where any of that is considered reasonable for anyone who hasn't walked in my shoes.

I'm pretty tired of "Rachel's Legacy" being referred to as an organization and not the memory of my baby girl because she is not an organization.  Her legacy is not a ministry.  I have an organization that I use to minister to others who walk this path - but Rachel's *legacy* is not that.  Rachel's legacy is about my very personal encounter with God during the most difficult days any mom could ever live... as I carried her to her death, buried her, and then mourned her young death and the gaping hole that leaves in my life and heart.

And I feel so often like I just fail more and more and that she (her memory) would be better off if I just stopped trying to keep it going.  I wonder at times if my fear of failing her is going to be what God eventually uses for me to give myself permission to stop worrying so much about the rest of the world and draw back into my little family - my first ministry - here on earth.  The truth is that my fear of failing her has been at the center of pretty much all I have done for the last 5 1/2 years... It's at the heart of all the beautiful things I've done and it's unfortunately at the heart of all the ugly things I've done.

I promised her while she was here that I would build her a playground... that I would bring awareness to her condition and be her voice to help people understand that she was worth it all.... that I would help other people walking the path that her & I walked together.... that I would do whatever it took to make doctors and the medical community see that babies with anencephaly deserve love and good care too.... and that I would never regret having her or forget her.  I promised her that she would always remain a part of our family and that her siblings now and to come would know about her.

And I know with all my heart I have fulfilled those promises to her.

I also told her that she made me a better mom... that I would always appreciate her siblings more because of her... that in every hug and kiss I gave them from the day I named her on, that she would be in every one of them...  I told her that the middle of the night needs they cried for would never again frustrate me or make me feel like I was being anything but blessed to be able to care for them.

And I can honestly say that all those things are true.

I know God will lead me in my next steps as I continue to wait and will prepare me along the way.  He always does.  It's funny though, I had plans on what I wanted to do this year for Rachel's birthday and started to feel like it wasn't right.  I started to question if being at the same hospital Rachel was born at, at exactly 37 weeks along again like I was when Rachel was born, to bring memory boxes to the labor & delivery floor, would be too much on my heart.  And with everything that has happened with 'friends' this year, and with how hard this pregnancy has been physically, emotionally, mentally... I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do any of it.  My shopping cart has been full with the items for the care packages for parents and siblings since August and I didn't ever have peace about clicking "order now".

Then a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from the hospital bereavement coordinator.  She said they are in the beginning stages of providing more support for the baby loss community and have some new things they want to do.  We talked for quite a while about all they have planned, which I'm really excited about.  She said that I have done such a great job memorializing Rachel and sharing her story that they wanted to know if I'd be interested in speaking at some of their support groups or meetings.  She said it wouldn't be for a while though - and finally, something felt right... I can't do much at this point in my life with all my kids being so little and just needing time with them... but in a year from now... ?  I just know God isn't done with Rachel yet.  It won't be in the same ways and honestly, that is a relief for me at this point in my life.  I've been craving a change but having no idea what that would look like or how to get there.

I just need to put my plans or expectations of myself or others aside and learn how to trust Him in it all... even in the hard stuff because He uses it ALL to guide me.... I look back over the last 6 months (and even the last 6 years!) and it has not been easy - but I can see His hand in even the most difficult things.  It's so hard to care about what He's doing for the future when the present hurts like crazy... but the big picture always reveals why even the most painful of things happens and the future outcome always proves that He knows best.  Some times we won't know the details of the 'why' on this side of heaven... but there always is one.

So, I planned to write absolutely none of that when I came on here!  I actually came just to share a comment I got tonight that reminded me that I have NOT failed Rachel... It was on the Truth About Anencephaly post I wrote in 2012 and when I get comments on that post, I am always nervous to open them.  Sometimes, depending on where I'm at emotionally, I will wait a day or two because people have said some mean things to me.  I opened this comment tonight and it was confirmation that sharing my heart here has not been in vain and that so many of my hopes have been made reality in the lives of others, especially the medical community, who will no doubt make a huge difference for those of us who leave the hospital without our babies.

This comment is a tangible seed of hope for me on this journey... it's proof that Rachel's life will be a gift in more ways than I will ever know, and hopefully even long after I'm gone.  I hope this beautiful lady becomes a nurse in the NICU, and I have a feeling that she *will* run into a baby like Rachel... I pray what she read here will make all the difference for the families she supports. With that and her heart to truly understand and help people,  I believe it will.  And that's what Rachel's Legacy is about.  This is the "why" that keeps me going....

This is what she wrote:

"Rachel is beautiful. You are both angels. I am currently studying to become a nurse and hope to work in the NICU one day. As I was sitting here reading my medical terminology book, I came across the term, "anencephaly," which was followed by a description that sounded too sad to be true. I thought, if I'm going to work in the NICU someday, I better read more about this and see some pictures to get an idea of what anencephaly is. I read a few articles, mostly containing definitions, pros and cons of aborting vs. carrying full term, and then I came across your blog. Your words drew me into your experience, and with each paragraph I felt I was sharing somewhat in your journey, crying, smiling (especially at Rachel's picture), and remember how important faith and God are. Thank you for your courage in giving Rachel life, and for writing and sharing your story. Rachel is a blessing to so many. Now I can have a better understanding and more empathy if I meet a baby like Rachel, whether someday my own or someone else's. Thank you and God Bless you and your family."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Permanently Broken

I hadn't been to Rachel's grave but maybe twice since August 4 and Matt hadn't been with me for a visit in I don't know how long.... so on the 3rd, we took a trip together, just him & I.  I had picked up a pretty mum plant for her and for our porch here that looked like little pink daisies.  The weather was decent, which was good because there was a lot to be done.  All of the stuff there was either dead or broken so we replaced the daisy lights and cleaned everything up.  The one good thing about 'things' is that they can be replaced or fixed.

I was brought down memory lane from when we picked her stone out.  I was 7 or 8 months pregnant and standing on the ground that would eventually hold her, talking to the monument guy about what we were hoping to get her for a stone...  It was late in the season for dandelions, but I looked down and there was a little yellow flower right where she would soon be buried.  The same thing happened on this visit. ♥

It's interesting, because I was due with Asa two weeks before Rachel's 1st birthday - and yet the dates lining up that time didn't seem to be as heavy on my heart as they are this time.  Maybe I was still in survival mode, being in my first year of grief, but for some reason, this pregnancy is bringing me serious flashbacks that didn't happen with Asa.  At times, I forget it's not her in me because everything feels so similar.  It makes the pain feel raw again in ways it hasn't in a long, long time.

I didn't know yet in these pictures that I had poly, but it's kind of obvious when I look at them now seeing as I was only 28 weeks here... 

So, I felt better, leaving her spot looking clean and loved... and here I am almost a month later and haven't been back once to take care of it... so I know it's looking yucky again and it's weighing on me.  I was going to go this morning, but I ended up coming back home because I needed to rest and car rides tend to put me in serious pain these days.

Continued prayer for my poly and pain levels and also for the baby's safe arrival are appreciated.  I also covet your prayers for my heart and mind.  These days are hard every year, but this year is feeling especially heavy as I await Rachel's youngest sibling's arrival... and I'm starting to get the feeling that year 5 just might have been a hard one anyway.  I'm missing so much with her. :(

I'm actually starting to wonder if it ever will be consistently easier.... I have moments of 'easy' but 'hard' always returns and honestly, I'm pretty tired of it.  I'm worn out from the hard.  I just want easy.... like life was like before I knew any of this pain.  I am tired of feeling so broken.. and even more tired of feeling like I can't be put back together.  Tired of knowing how impossible it is to replace her or to mend the places in my heart where her absence is felt.

I know I have seen great and amazing healing throughout the last 5 years and I'm thankful for that. God has been more than good to me and provided more than I deserve.  I just wasn't prepared for the permanently broken aspect of this journey.  It was easier to handle when I was naive enough to think it was temporary, like the rest of the world often believes about grief.  But it's not.  It's permanent.  I still believe it has a beautiful purpose in God's plan for my life... but I just wish I didn't have to endure it.