Thursday, September 30, 2010

That's What Friends Are For?

I've definitely hit a low point.  I went today to get some art supplies to bring to the hospital when Rachel's born so that we can get footprints and handprints and other keepsakes.  I have found a ton of ideas on how to make memories out of the short time we'll have with her.  But I can't help but think footprints...handprints...memorabilia?  Is that what we're going to leave the hospital with??  Yay.  Can't wait.  I had someone tell me the other day how "great" this all was going to be.  It's going to be "perfect"  yeah, it's great & perfect.  I'm going to give birth to a baby and my biggest hope is that she'll die in my arms and not before she gets to them.  perfect.  great.  can't wait.  I have had people questioning me about the baby shower... it either doesn't make sense to them or their concerned with what I'll do with the money people donate, as if anyone ever gets questioned about how they use a pretty pink outfit that they receive at a shower. I get to throw my baby 2 parties in her entire life and one will be her funeral.  I don't need opinions and interrogations.
The hardest part is that it seems at a time in my life when I need understanding the most, people still come through nice & strong with their opinions - so sure that they know exactly what we need to be doing or how we need to look at our situation.  They would definitely handle it differently...There's always going to be know-it-alls, but to have people claim, first of all that they are our friends, but then that the problem here is that I am being too easily offended or overly sensitive it absolutely baffling.  friends?  love?  where is it?  We must have different definitions.   I am absolutely all out of tolerance for it all.  Am I sensitive? YES.  I am 7 months pregnant with a terminally ill baby.  Being pregnant is hard enough on a good day.  I don't need people critiquing me and talking about me at gatherings.  I need support.  Not idol talk and judgement.  I need real friends who actually listen when we say something hurt us, and maybe even apologize, but at the very least try not to do it again instead of insisting that it's got nothing to do with their actions.  Am I tired? YES I am.  I have 3 little kids, I'm homeschooling, I have constant appointments, I'm planning my baby's funeral, I don't get much sleep at night - and did I mention that I'm pregnant??  I am sorry if I'm not living up to other people's standards.  Maybe I wouldn't be so worn out and emotional if people would learn that not everything that crosses your mind needs to be said.  I'd actually like to crawl inside a hole and hide to be completely honest and it's not because my baby is going to die - it's because it's becoming easier and less painful to be ALONE!  Sorry if that sounds negative... never claimed to be perfect.  And no, I don't need medication... I need support.  And I need support from people who want to offer my definition of support, not theirs.  And if that's not possible, then I'd rather be left alone.  3 times on Sunday, I had people ask "is she still moving?"  This is not the normal "oh, do you feel your baby move a lot?"  this is a "is she still alive?"  Yes. She is still alive and I'm beginning to think that I should have never told anyone about this at all.  That was the doctor's recommendation.  Just don't tell anyone.  yeah, this is great.  It's perfect. I'm totally psyched about this plan.  can't wait.   I've come to the place where I just nod and smile and then go away to cry because nobody really wants to know if they've hurt me, they just want me to suck it up and give grace.  Well, I'm kinda out of grace and it's probably not coming back for a while.  Maybe you could fill in in the meantime?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

He brings everything to completion

I have been so blessed to not struggle with anger towards our circumstances.  I only had one time, the day after we found out that Rachel had anencephaly, that I demanded and answer from God in an angry way. 

We were leaving Maine Medical after we got our 2nd opinion.  As we pulled out of the parking garage, the song on the radio was talking about how God put the stars in the sky and He knows them by name.  I started crying and asked Him "YOU are the God Who hung the moon in the sky, You know all the stars by name, You make the sun rise and set and You can't finish making my baby?!"  Here is a journal entry from that day:
The same God Who makes the sun rise & set and hung the moon in the sky, created this precious baby girl in my womb - why won't He finish what He started??  My heart aches to hear this isn't real.  My poor baby.  I'm asking for a miracle Lord, please heal her, complete her.  let us keep her.  I don't want to hand her over - please don't make me God.  please.  I KNOW with everything that I am that You are able - please God show Your power - Your healing power and perform a miracle.  Please please please please.  I'm begging You. 
The next day, My friend lost her husband suddenly and again, my journal entry shows my disapproval:
I have no words to express my heart in this situation.  I can't believe it.  It feels like it's not real, just like what's happening with my baby.  Lord, God, why??  Why do You allow your daughters to go thru such horrible, painful things?  Why, if You're in control of everything, don't You stop it God?  I don't know what to do next... show me God and let Your mercy rain on us while Your glory shines through.
The next day, I decided to journal all the events leading up to that day so that I could remember how God provided during that time.  I knew I'd have moments where I'd need to remember how He loves me.  I wrote everything down from about 2 weeks prior to finding out about Rachel.  As my writing came to the present point in time, I realized how many things God had done through the days and weeks prior with the little details of our lives.  I finished the entry with these words:
Thank you Lord that You bring everything full circle, that You have used our suffering already and that You will always complete what You started. 
As I wrote it, I heard my answer...  I looked at Matt with tears and said
"It all makes sense..." 
"What?"  He asked.
"My question to God... He will complete her.  He completes everything.  He completed it on the cross, He will complete it when He comes back again - and He will complete Rachel.  Just not here."
And no sooner did I finish telling him that and Isaiah (our son who's 3years old) came into our bedroom...
"Mama, you don't need to cry"  he said.  "I asked Jesus to take the baby to heaven so her boo-boo won't hurt anymore"
"That's good" I said.  "Heaven is a good place"
"that's why you don't need to cry" he stated again, shrugging his shoulders and throwing his hands out to the side.
"But I'll miss her" I replied
"Well, Jesus will bring her back to you again.  There's no fire in heaven.  But there's light in Heaven - you just have to trust Jesus"
As I cried in amazement of how God just spoke to me through my son (and over the fact that Isaiah can articulate that truth to me)  I opened my journal again and wrote, Thank You for my son, God.  Thank You for Yours.

He'll bring her back to me... by eventually bringing me to her...

Completion.  He brings everything to completion. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not Easily Broken

We had a full five minutes of bliss, knowing we were having another girl, but not knowing something was wrong...  The ultrasound tech was going over the body parts with us and came to the umbilical cord.  She said "there are the three strands" (I never knew an umbilical cord was made of three strands.)

"A cord of three strands is not easily broken" I said to her as we smiled at the amazingly detailed way God created our bodies, still unaware of how much we'd be relying on that 3rd Strand just minutes later.

I tend to think of this verse as it is often used at weddings when talking about how vital it is to keep God in the center of your marriage.  The 3 "strands" are husband, wife & God.  Without that 3rd Strand, it is very difficult to keep your marriage together and strong, but with it (Him), you can endure anything.

Just as her umbilical cord being connected to me is Rachel's life line (and I find it no coincidence that God made it out of 3 strands, yet again reminding me Who is in control of life & death), God is my lifeline. Strong and enduring, keeping me going against all odds, as long as I'm connected to Him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Perfect Resume

We sang a hymn last week in church that I decided to learn on my guitar... I've found so much comfort in the lyrics, especially the last two verses. I want to share one specifically:
I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath,
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
There are a couple reasons...

First of all because He has been so good to me through this trial and I am completely dependant on Him, with complete security in knowing that He is absolutely capable, even though I am not, in getting me though this. The other reason is because I've never even let my kids go to a sitter that I wasn't completely sure was qualified to take care of them. Jesus will be taking care of my Rachel. Not only is He the only One I would trust to take my place for eternity, but I know He'll be better at it than I ever could be, because He is God. The fact that He is going to welcome her as His own makes me love Him even more.

We were talking about patience today at church and Isaiah had just peed his pants so he couldn't go down to the nursery and was talking non-stop, insisting that I needed to look at the screen on the back wall, no matter how many times I told him the same thing was on the front wall. He would yell and point "wook Mama, that's like where we went wast night" (they were showing a photo where "patience" was written in the sand and it reminded him of our pregnancy pictures) Then he was upset that it wasn't showing "Des-ray's hearts" - sounds cute, right? Yeah, not so much, I was irritated. I wanted him to be quiet and quit being...well, a 3 year old...

Well, God NEVER gets irritated. He is patient and long-suffering. He is loving all the time. He is all-knowing and wise. He can multi-task better than any woman and can be in 1000 places at once. He can listen to ALL His children at the same time. He never gives bad advise and He leads people to repentance with His kindness. I mean seriously, if you were interviewing people to take care of your baby, wouldn't this be the man you picked?? He's definitely the best One for the job. And the fact that He is willing, able and ready, makes my heart sing "If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus 'tis now!"

Rachel's Mourning

After church this morning, we went to look at a few cemeteries.  The second one we went to, we noticed there was a stone walkway down to a big monument that said "In Memory of God's Innocent Babies", so we got out to go look, figuring it was the baby area of the cemetery.  When we got up to it, the smaller stone read "Rachel's Mourning" and then had a verse from Jeremiah 31:15
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
When I got home I typed "Rachel's Mourning" into good ol' google and a bunch of pro-life sites came up...  If you haven't read how we got her name, it's on the side of the blog posts - and I've mentioned before how my heart's desire for years now has been for God to provide me a way to be able to do something to help with a pro-life cause...well, be careful of asking for what you want!  To find out that the name Rachel is used on memorial sites for babies who were aborted all over the world,  just brings the meaning of her name full circle for me.   I am just so thankful that God continues to cheer me on and let me know He is in, and has been in, every detail of my life and hers.

My reality check today though... I checked my email and saw the subject line "you're 27 weeks pregnant".  I signed up for a newsletter months ago and  I don't even dare to look at these emails anymore.  I don't want to read about all the things I should be doing at 27 weeks after I had just returned home from looking for a pretty cemetery and checking out headstones.   

Saturday, September 25, 2010

He's got it under control

So, the Lord never takes long to comfort me...  I have repeatedly found myself crying randomly today. At one point, I was putting Rachel's picture in a frame and couldn't help by ask "how can she just not have a scull?" as tears fell like rain all over my big belly.  My heart continues to break daily and especially with the things I had mentioned in my post earlier, I was feeling pretty sad. 

I have completely trusted God's plan in this from the first moment we knew...not as if that makes it easy because it doesn't, but it makes it bearable.  Lately, I've been getting more scared about how this will all play out.  I don't know what to expect...I've never had to watch a baby die before, let alone my baby that I just carried for nine months.  I don't know how she'll look or if she'll be gasping for breath.  I don't know how I'll feel or respond and I have prayed faithfully that God will fill me with the peace He gave me that first day, on the day Rachel is born.  It's hard not to run through how the day might look and the pain that will come with saying goodbye. 

I said earlier today that I hadn't heard loudly from God in a while - well, He fixed that tonight...

We were all doing our own things in the livingroom...Desirae ("Nurse Carol") was scheduling me a c-section and taking notes on "what condition my baby had" while Matt read on line and I worked on a project.  Then I heard him listening to an interview on a  video.  I heard something about golf, and accident and then, the part that got me, he said something to the effect of....
when that moment comes (moment of tragedy) you either believe or you don't - and if you question God's sovereignty (control over everything) you WILL struggle
You'll have to watch the video to get the full picture of what he was saying, but it was to me, a LOUD message from God to my heart.  It was as if He said "I have not left you, Trust in Me.  Do not be afraid, I will carry you and I will turn this into something beautiful.  My plan is perfect and I have your best in mind"   I have no other choice but to embrace this time with thankfulness that God is allowing me to carry this precious soul all the way to His arms.  And to see each blessing that comes as a result of my pain.  There are some things that are worth it - and God knows what they are.  He's already got that all under control.

Here is the link to the video -  it's only like 3 mins long, please take the time to watch it.  I hope it blesses you, giving you reassurance of God's love & presence in whatever your burdens may be right now, the way it just did me.

Waiting on the final masterpiece

Tough week.  I'm exhausted and emotional.  As each day passes, I know I'm closer to losing my baby.  I've been disappointed by some people close to me this week and I'm feeling let down.  I know that it's in these moments that God usually reminds me that He is the One I should be leaning on, but it's been a while since I've heard him loudly.  I know He is working on all the little details behind the scenes and one day soon, He'll reveal the masterpiece to me and it's beauty will be apparent, but for now, I'm feeling alone.  I guess alone is only a feeling though. 
Someone I know who had lost a baby unexpectedly a few days after birth had told me that the people she always thought would be there for her, were the ones who let her down and that she made new friends because of her trial that have become life long friends.  I can see that happening, and although I am so grateful for the new friendships I've made, it still hurts to not have the comfort I want from the familiar places.  I'm trying to trust God's plan and go with it, without resentment, but I've never liked change.  I guess I'm going to need to realize that none of this has anything to do with what I like.  That part of the picture is very obviously already painted.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tears of Unbelief

I have never had to balance such deep sorrow and beautiful joy at the same time.  Not on the same subject anyway. 

I will forever have the picture in my mind of that first day we found out that Rachel would not stay with us.  It is etched in my mind and will always be.  The Dr told us that she was "anencephalic" - things went into slow motion as I tried to make sense of what she was saying.  I had never heard of this.  She continued on to tell us that delivery could be really hard since she didn't have the top of her scull, and that the part of her brain that normally tells your body to go into labor wasn't there (see, we have no much for the idea of riding down bumpy roads to induce labor)  So she said I'd need to be induced and she could likely be breech.  Matt's first question was is the baby in any pain?  (he's such a good dad)  In my mind, I was thinking OK we're going to have a baby with severe disabilities...I can handle that, I've always had a heart for disabled children...and then I asked a question that I didn't really want an answer to... "is she going to live" and she said "these babies don't live". 

Matt & I both started crying such a painful cry.  We have never shared tears that deep before.  She handed me a box of tissues and left the room to give us privacy.  It was like a scene out of a scary movie.  I stomped my feet like a toddler having a tantrum and begged God to wake me from this nightmare.  Matt hugged me and tried to tell me it would be okay as I continued to hit the Dr's bed and cry out to God.  "No, no, not my baby girl...please God not my baby girl...  she's a little girl Matt.  I want her, no no no"....  until I fell back onto the bed and sobbed.  I can only imagine what that sounded like in the hallway.  It felt surreal.  It couldn't possibly be true.  This can't be happening to us.  

The Dr. came back in to tell us that we needed to go to Maine for a 2nd opinion and to talk about our options...  what options?  You know, if you want to terminate.  We immediately both said no.  She went on to say that the test I declined earlier in the pregnancy would have detected this. right, but it would have changed nothing for us.

You see, God had prepared us for this moment...  During my pregnancy with Sam, someone we knew decided to terminate a baby because the Dr's said it had down's syndrome.  I had stated my opinion about it to another friend and was told that there was no way I could know what I would do if I were in that situation. So that night, Matt & I talked at great lengths about where we stood on this topic...what if we got the diagnosis that a baby I was carrying had a disability, or worse, some fatal defect?  We were up till late in the night discussing how we felt so strongly that Dr's are not God, they are humans and humans are wrong all the time.  We talked about Who is in charge of life and death and we agreed that neither one of us thought there were any exceptions to this.

While we were at the ultrasound right before, I started to sense there was a problem and I squeezed Matt's hand.  He's usually much slower to worry and so I looked at him for reassurance...his eyes were closed and he was praying.  I knew right then, that my fears were coming true.  I had a strange feeling the whole pregnancy that something was wrong, but kept telling myself I was just nervous because I lost a baby before.  In that moment, I didn't know what to pray so I told God "whatever he is praying right now, Lord, hear his prayers please.  I pray along with him in whatever he is saying to you"  She gave us a couple of pictures and said "these are the ones I can give you"  I noticed right away she had left out the pictures of her head.  We walked out that door to go up to my Dr's apt (I had previously scheduled them back to back so Matt could go) and I said "this is what He was preparing me for" (all week God had answered every single prayer I sent His way.  He was loving me until I was overflowing with His love and I was not deserving, especially that week.)  Matt took my hand and said "I'm so glad we know where we stand on this" and we walked silently up to the Dr's office.  I looked at the pictures in the waiting room, everything looked normal...what's wrong with her head? It must be down's syndrome...  I'm fine with that.  I said "I don't care what's wrong with her or how it will change our lives, I just don't want her to die" - they called me in and that was it.  My baby was going to die. Our lives would forever be changed.  I had no control over this.  I couldn't just do all the "right" things and make it better.  My baby girl has a fatal birth defect. 

Why am I telling you this story now??  Because since that day I have been filled with the peace that passes understanding.  I know that can be a cliche term in a Christian circle, but I can honestly say this is the first time I have ever felt that.  I thought I knew what it was, I thought I had experienced it, but this was different.  I have had plenty of sad moments, but no anger about it.  No desire to turn from God or blame him.  No bitterness.  Complete trust in His plan.

Well, tonight was the first time that feeling that I felt in the office that day came back to me.  I haven't been feeling well and I had a sense that something was off, but again, thinking I was just paranoid because of the situation.  My friend who's a midwife and brings us dinner every Thursday, checked me while she was here.  I am measuring a little big and she said I feel full.  I knew this could happen, I know it happens to most people who have a baby with anencephaly, but just like I knew other people lost babies to fatal birth defects, I was hoping this was not going to be my story.  I also seemed to be sensitive to the pressure, which is not the norm for me.  I am so thankful for the verse in the bible that says
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26
Because right now, I have no idea what to pray, I can hardly stop crying.  Through tears of unbelief, I'm again stomping my feet saying  "Please God, not my baby girl."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Corner stores are everywhere!

Spent 3 hours at the ER again today with Sam...  breathing trouble again.  Isaiah's sick too, but not as bad.  Pray for my boys and especially for Sam.  Also, please pray for me that I won't get sick.  I've been feeling really ill all week and was worried something might be going wrong with the baby, but think I might just be fighting off what they have.  I hope that is all and I hope God protects me from getting worse... I'm really tired these days. 

It's been an emotional week for me.  A lot has happened, both good and bad.  That's life, I guess. 

Yesterday I overheard the kids playing and they were pretending that their baby died.  I've never been real big into the psychology stuff - you know, where you give kids dolls and watch them play to determine if they have a bad home life - but I'll admit, when I heard Isaiah say "don't worry Des-ray, I'll wake her up" and Des reply "She's not sleeping, she's dead" - my heart broke for my little ones.  I stopped to listen to see if they expanded on it, but nothing... just, "she's dead".  Then in the van tonight, Des started telling me that she always used to think that people were just buried without a casket.  But now that she's been to a funeral, she knows there's a casket.  I said, yeah I think that's better and she said "not really, their bodies' still rot."  What can you say to that??

The counselor at Maine Medical told me that I should not tell my kids that the baby is going to heaven and that it's a better place because that is how "we end up with child suicides"...  Right, I'm sure it makes kids feel much better to think that a body rotting in the ground is all there is.  (Have I shared how much I love the medical community?)  As if all child suicides happen because the kids want to go to heaven.  I'm pretty sure that is not the case.  I'm pretty sure it is because the pain of this world is so great, not because someone shared the hope of heaven with them.  But what do I know, she's the counselor... I think she's just trying to keep her clients coming back, and with advise like hers, she probably will.  I won't even get into some of the other bizarre things she said to me, but I'll tell you I cried for a long time when I got off the phone.

In the midst of my trials, I have seen God moving in ways that I had never expected. 

At the beginning of this journey, just 2 days after we got the news that would forever change our world, Des & I had gone to a corner store where the cashier was pregnant.  I had yet to experience the "when are you due, what are you having?" questions that every woman with a big belly gets at every counter for 6 months straight, and I was afraid of how it would hurt.  I got a little nervous as I approached the counter and saw her belly and I knew it was coming...

When are you due?
I'm sorry, that's awful.
no, we're happy about it  - (it was at this point that I knew the Lord was speaking for me)
Yeah, I'm due in October and I'm like ugh...  do you know what you're having?
yep, she's a little girl
I'm having a girl too and I told my boyfriend that this is it cuz we obviously ain't getting a boy
 If you've ever felt God speak for you, it's unbelievable.  Better than any drug I ever tried!  He gave me the grace & love to be able to say with happiness and a smile,
Yeah, we were REALLY excited that we are having a girl, we so wanted another girl, but unfortunately, she won't live long after birth
Oh my gosh, why?
She has a rare condition and, aside from a miracle, can't live outside my womb.  But we are going to make the most out of the time we have with her while she's here and we're really thankful that we have her.
She said "good luck" with a look of pity as we left, but I didn't feel bad for me.  I felt bad for her that she did not appreciate the life inside of her and what a blessing she was.  As Des & I walked to the car, I asked her if she knew why I had told the girl all that.  At that point, I didn't plan on telling people, I planned on faking my way through those conversations... which would never work for me cause I can't tell a lie to save my life... But at that moment, I knew I needed to share my baby and her story with everyone.  I told Des that I hoped that hearing about Rachel would help this girl to view her baby as the gift she is.  I also told her that just like I want each of my other kids to make the world a better place, I want Rachel to change our world too.

This week, I have received calls & emails from people all over the states, as well as around the world.  I have made new friends and heard story after story of people who have been encouraged by Rachel's story and God's grace. When I checked the blog today and saw a comment from Germany, I literally screamed with excitement.  And as I heard myself telling Des, through tears of gratitude, "People in Germany are praying for Rachel!"  I realized my baby is changing the world.  She has already reached more people and touched more hearts than I ever have, and most people ever will.  And it all started with God speaking for me at a corner store.

I stand in awe of my loving God, Who is the only One Who can turn mourning into dancing and make beauty out of pain.  Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bring The Rain...

I wanted to share these lyrics with you...(emphases mine)

Bring The Rain
by MercyMe

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain?
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Monday, September 20, 2010

Is That Your Final Answer?

Des & I went out to get her a couple of clothes today and we're also looking for Rachel.  Didn't have any luck for Rachel.  I have no idea what to buy.  I can't make my mind up about anything. I would pick something up and carry it around and end up putting it back where it came from.   I've been told to buy preemie sized clothes.  They all seem so small.  I've never had a little baby - none of them even wore newborn stuff.  I just don't really believe she will be that little, unless she comes early.  Des pointed out this cute little outfit and I said "I don't think Rachel will get that big" and she said "well, I think maybe she will" - and then I realized why it's so hard to look at the adorable clothes...

The first few days after we found out Rachel had anencephaly, every time Des would do something girly, I would think about the fact that Rachel might never do that.  She will never bake or sew, she won't swirl around in a dress or try to fix her own hair.  She won't complain about how brothers are pests and then miss them when they're gone. She won't grow so fast that it makes paying $15 for an outfit a waste. (yes, I'm cheap) She may never grow at all, outside my womb - although I pray she will.

I see these things that I would love to buy, with the anticipation of how cute my new baby will look in them, and I can't.  My bank account may prefer that, but it breaks my heart. 

In response to some of the attempts to encourage me, I need to say that I know there are some people who never get to buy girl clothes at all - and I know there are some people who never get to buy baby clothes at all.  I don't ever mean to sound like I am unaware of those trials or that I am not grateful for what I do have, however, it does not take my pain away.  There is no reasoning your pain away when you are planning your baby's arrival and funeral at the same time.  Just because someone else has a "harder" road, does not mean that losing my baby will be easy.  I am not the kind of person who feels better for myself if someone else has it worse off.  And I am not too self-absorbed to know that there are worse things that could happen.  I am very thankful to have this time with my girl and see it as the gift that it truly is...however difficult it may be.

I remember how people tried to comfort me after I lost our 3rd baby... "just be glad it happened now" - "it's better this way cause there must have been something wrong with the baby" -"you'll hold your baby in heaven"...  these words will never leave my mind.  I would nod my head and say "yeah, I know" while inside I was screaming - No, it's not better this way, it hurts no less, it was my baby that I want to hold now, not in heaven!  You cannot reason pain away.  The quick responses may sound logical, and Heaven sounds great, but to a mother here on far away.

So, what the heck am I talking about...oh yeah, clothes.  With all the cute choices...each one being a reminder of my shattered dream... how do I pick?  How much will I need?  What size do I buy?  Does it make sense to spend money on this stuff at all?

I settled on buying a little stuffed lamb they had at the counter...all of the proceeds go to helping kids with leukemia. 

 I thought it was perfect since her name means innocent lamb - but yet another I keep it when she goes or send it with her??  I knew I should have bought two!  Nothing is simple.  Every decision tough.  Finality at it's best - or should I say worst.

When I think of finality at it's best, I think of Jesus on the cross.  After He was bruised and beaten and nailed to the cross, as His blood poured from His body, He said "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  and right before He died, as He took His last breaths, He said "It is finished."  

What did He mean?  He meant that what was taking place was the exact reason we would never be forsaken by God - He meant that He had paid our debt for our sin in full.   It was this moment that will allow Rachel (and all babies & small children) to go to be with our Father when she dies - and our belief in this moment that will allow us to join her there later. 

Contrary to popular belief, heaven is not a wide open gate.  There is one, narrow path leading there.  What do you believe about this moment? 

Is that your final answer?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God Provides Again

Matt's been in desperate need of new work boots for weeks.  Just yesterday we were talking about the fact that we would need to get him some soon...and although neither of us had mentioned it to anyone, today we get out of church and there was an anonymous gift on the front seat in the van.  We opened it and, what do ya know, a brand new pair of work boots - and they fit perfectly.  Once again God provides through His people!  Thank you, whoever you are!

Time is Ticking Away

Sad to see my count down ticker has dropped below 100 - only 97 days to go till my due date.  Most people at this point are counting down with excitement and looking forward to the relief of the pregnancy being over...  pregnancy can be hard.  But as I watch those numbers drop, I realize how little time I have with my baby.  The days seem to be flying and there's nothing I can do about it.

Everyone's clock is we cherish them the way we should? 

We went to our 3rd funeral in 5 weeks on Friday, all while planning our baby's funeral.  Matt's Step-Grandfather died after a long battle with cancer.  It breaks my heart to watch people lose loved ones.  It is so hard to say goodbye to people you love.  The only thing harder, is saying goodbye to people you love and having regrets that you didn't do or say something you wanted to or should have.

You can't get time back.  That is one certain thing in this uncertain world.

I had two special things happen at this service...  Matt was a paul bearer and so I sat with his Uncle Ray.  I have only met him a couple of times before.  We let him know that Rachel has anencephaly, as he was unaware.  It was a Catholic Service and at the end they did communion and I did not go up.  Not because it necessarily makes sense to me, but because I know that the Catholic Church has certain requirements to receive communion there (as all churches should, just different) and I wanted to respect their wishes.  Uncle Ray went up and when he returned he took my hand and we sat hand in hand for the rest of the service.  It was a simple, yet profound, way to show his support of me. 

Then, at the gathering afterwards, there was a woman talking to Matt's Step mom, Lu, about her grandchildren who were there and talking about how cute they were.  Lu put her hand on my belly and proudly announced that "we are expecting another baby girl soon".  It was so encouraging to hear her excitement about Rachel and to be treated as any other pregnant mom.  I'm sure Rachel was soaking up the attention from her Memere. :o)

The woman asked when I was due and I told her Christmas - she said how the baby would never like it because her birthday would always be overshadowed by Christmas...  Nope. not this birthday.  Christmas and Easter are two very important celebrations in our home each year. However, I have never let Desirae's birthday be overshadowed by Christmas (she's right after) and Rachel's will never be either.  I will celebrate her birth right along with Christ's birth every year - eagerly awaiting the day I will see them both again!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Game of Life

When I was little, I used to love the "Game of Life" - my favorite part was putting the little pink & blue pegs in the car in the very beginning.  I always picked 2 pink (girls) and 2 blue (boys) - and then I would play the game trying to gain "success" through the career and home I could earn or win. (or however that worked)  I played that game a thousand times, and you know, I don't remember anything about what career opportunities there were or the homes I could live in or even if the game had play money or not...all I remember is that I always wanted a husband with 2 girls and 2 boys riding in my game piece with me. 

I was made to be a wife and a mom and I love every minute of it.  From a young age, that has been my hearts desire and just like in the game, I have never yearned for more.  I have an amazing husband who works hard to provide so that I can be home with my pink and blue pegs because his vision for the game of life is the same as mine.  And, although it's a ton of work loading them in the car, and I didn't originally want a mini-van, I can't think of anything I'd rather do.

I have one of my pink pegs won't be coming along for the ride.  I don't want to sound like a sore loser, but that's not the way the game is supposed to go.  I want 2 pink & 2 blue.  I don't want to leave a pink one at start.  And even if I'm given another pink peg down the road, I will always know there is a pink one missing.  There's no turning back - things will never be the same, I can't start over.  I wouldn't want to, I just wish rolling the dice from here wasn't so scary. 

Why is this game so hard?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can I Have My Right to Choose?

Okay, so I've decided I want to have a c-section...  I have prayerfully considered this for weeks and I keep coming to the same conclusion.  There is a much higher chance that Rachel will be born alive if I have a c-section.  I have NEVER wanted a c-section, that has always been my one fear going into labor.  I love giving birth (I know that sounds strange) but from the moment I had Desirae, I couldn't wait to do it again.  I know that having a c-section could potentially mean that I would never experience that again and that is hard for me.  I have been very careful to make sure that my decision is not based on fears and that I am not underestimating God's capabilities or knowledge of my needs.

The doctor's opinion has been "it doesn't make any sense to risk hurting yourself for a baby that isn't going to live anyway" (Maine Medical Dr)  and "we don't do elective c-sections for non-viable babies" (Garrison in Dover)  First of all, What Mother wouldn't risk her life for her baby???  Second of all, non-viable??  She is alive.  Her heart is beating, all her other organs are healthy and she has a soul...she is to viable.  Her life span here may not be long, but is it their goal to not give her a chance?  If a baby had a bad heart, wouldn't they try to save her? 

Here is my frustration - you may want to turn down the volume if you have children with you...
These same people offer "elective" abortions for perfectly "viable" babies every day...  They say that it's not necessary - neither is an abortion. If I decided right now that I'd rather kill my baby, they'd let me and would gladly perform, or send me somewhere to get, an unnecessary procedure.  They wouldn't be trying to scare me out of it with a list of potential risks to me.  There are tons of risks that come along with having an abortion, not the least of them that these women will have permanent scares on their hearts.  They claim that women should have the right to "choose", but who decides where that line is drawn?  They let people opt for c-sections all the time just because it is convenient with their work schedule or because they have company coming at a certain time.  Yet, they see NO VALUE in me desiring to hold my baby alive.  The Dr. at Caring Partners told me her advice would be to not monitor the baby's heart rate while I'm in labor so I wouldn't know if she's already dead during labor.

I don't know how I can go through labor and delivery feeling that it could be too much for Rachel to handle and that it could keep me from being able to meet her alive....  they also said that they do not perform emergency c-sections for these babies because they will die anyway.  Even if she is breech or in total distress ( which is a given since she doesn't have the top of her scull to make the way) they don't intervene.   OK, now someone tell me, are they God?  Do they know that Rachel can't/won't live for a few days, a couple of weeks or even a couple of months??  Can they say that for sure?  I don't think so.  They have their opinion, which they have made their reality - but they also said my Uncle would live 2 months to 2 years tops - and he was here over 3 years later.  I'm not into their opinions.  I want my CHOICE....   Hello, aren't I a woman?  Shouldn't I be able to CHOOSE what I do with MY body??  This is driving me nuts and I can't honestly say that I'm not getting angry about this one.  They ought to "practice what they preach" and put their opinions aside, just like they expect the Doctors who are against abortion to do. 

I need to find a hospital where the Doctors have a clue.  All I need is for one of them to decide they want to help me - just one - but they have to want to.  It seems like the entire medical field is pro-abortion. I am trusting that God will lead me to the right place and to the right Dr.  Pray that He does it quickly before I have to yell at someone.

I kind of feel like playing hardball... you know like when you're trying to potty train your toddler and realize that you have NO control over their urination.  You quickly find out who's in charge.

They think they can make me do what they want.  They also say I won't go into labor without being induced.  Go ahead and try to make me let you induce me.  I don't care, I'll stay pregnant - at least she's alive.  And quite frankly, I don't care if I sound like a toddler.  This isn't fair.  It actually doesn't even sound legal.  My baby has a medically necessary reason to be taken c-section, but they are refusing her the medical treatment she needs based on a guess of how long she'll live.  And it is only a guess.  The miracles of God are not considered in their statistics.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Unconditional Love

I have been truly blessed to be surrounded by people who are supportive of me carrying our daughter to term - I hear many stories where women find out their babies have anencephaly and have to listen to people tell them how much better it would be for everyone if they just got it over with and ended the baby's life - as if the journey through this isn't hard enough without people adding to it.  I think what those people mean is it would be easier for them.

I've had a few insensitive things said to me, but mostly things that are questioning me, my faith, or what I'm putting myself through.  Nobody has said anything to me yet that shouts "your baby is not valuable enough to sacrifice for." (except the doctors) I can only imagine how lonely that must be.  You can tell yourself all day long that other people's opinions are not important or that what they say is more about them than it is about you (which is almost always true) but it doesn't take the sting away.  When it comes to your baby, there is not much room for opinions.  Most moms understand this and try to be sensitive, although I have met a few who can dish it out but can't take it in.

Since the first day we found out Rachel had anencephaly, my (little) sister has been a rock for me. (she gets that from my mom) She is there when I need her and allows me space when I need that.  Since she was a small girl, her personality has always been laid back and she's not usually the one to jump in and take on a new project or challenge (unless it has to do with fixing my computer, in which case, she's always been my "go-to" person)  But she immediately bought herself a notebook and has kept track of everything I may need to even consider all the way up to the important things I can't forget.  She'll tell me of an idea she has and after a couple weeks of not hearing about it, I assume she's forgotten, only to talk to her and find out it's taken care of.  She has been a blessing all my life, but especially so in the last 6 weeks.  I got an email from her the other day that reminded me why I want Desirae to have a sister that she gets to keep so badly... Here is part of it...
Your story is already amazing and I cant wait to meet her. I was thinking earlier how excited I was for you to have her and to meet her and then it struck me, should I be so excited??? Why am I excited? Is it wrong for me to be happy about her birth? And then I think about the letter Jailyn wrote to her when I first found out you were pregnant. "Dear New Baby, You are the cutest new baby ever. I hope you are a girl" and I remember, I am excited because she is my niece, I love her because, well, how can I not? Jailyn totally looks beyond everything I have told her about Rachel and anencephaly and is just so excited to have another girl cousin whether she lives for a minute or a year. Why cant I look at it that way?
Jailyn is 6 years old.  Our kids are all very close and we love each others' children like they are our own.  I remember that note from the beginning of my pregnancy and am humbled by Jailyn's continued excitement over Rachel.  As adults, we look at the circumstances and add our own opinions and beliefs to it to make the "reality", which often isn't reality at all.  One of the teachers at Tri-City had said to me that Desirae would be a better woman when she grows up for having walked this path with us. It's funny that one of my first worries was how she would handle it and how this would affect her... I'm always worried about her delicate heart. But you know what? The kids seem to handle this with more grace than we do, but they definitely follow our lead.

I am so grateful to have a sister who takes her role as Auntie seriously and loves my children unconditionally - whether they are good or bad, whether they act like she wants them to or not, even if they put moon sand all over her carpet (yes, that happened today), healthy or sick, anencephaly or not.  I am so grateful that I have a sister who does not measure her love for my children by them being perfect in the world's eyes.  I am so grateful to have a sister who is excited to meet my new daughter - who wouldn't miss it for anything - and who is walking with me every step of the way reminding me how special my little girl is.  And I am so grateful for a sister who is obviously teaching her kids to do the same. 

You know, she's not a Christian (although I pray daily that we'll someday share my faith), but that sure sounds a lot like Jesus.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Gift to Us

We went Saturday evening to a beach in Kennebunk with Kelly Roy, who is a photographer and donates her time and talent through a group called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS).  They take photos for people who lose - or are awaiting the loss of - their baby.  My sister contacted her for me back when we first got Rachel's diagnosis.  Most people who are a part of NILMDTS are there because they have experienced a loss themselves.  I have found that with people who have lost a baby, there seems to be a quiet understanding that we share.  It's very comforting to be with people who truly get it.  So anyway, she put a "sneak peak" on her blog and I thought I'd share it.  You can see them here:  
We plan on having her there when Rachel arrives as well and feel so blessed by the time and love she is giving us...I'm telling you, this baby just keeps bringing us blessing after blessing!  I smile every day over a new gift that I have received because I am carrying this little miracle. Whether it is something tangible, a need met, a new friendship, or the chance to share her with the world... there is always a reason to praise!  I don't feel deserving of any of it. 

This is yet another way Rachel reminds me of Jesus...I don't deserve the blessings that come from knowing Him, His love or forgiveness, but I was chosen for it and am so glad I accepted it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not alone anymore

I woke up kind of discouraged with reality on Friday.  Rachel is getting very big, along with my belly.  She moves constantly and is a strong kicker.  I catch myself smiling and laughing at her personality only to have that thought followed with some sadness.  It's a weird place to be - stuck between joy & sorrow. 

So, I had a busy day planned - as always.  I was on my way to pick up something up from a friend and was driving a road I don't travel often now, but used to daily when I was in the midst of my addiction - the scenery brought me back in my mind and I found myself thanking God out loud for bringing me out of that misery and preparing my heart for this time.  I acknowledged to Him that I realize this is not a trial I probably would have avoided and I am so grateful that He revealed Himself to me and grew me in my faith before I had to deal with such a devastating loss.  I  cannot begin to imagine how I would handle this if I didn't have a relationship with God.

I stopped to see my friend, Harlee, at work.  She is due a week after me and is having a little girl.  Harlee and her husband, John, tried for 2 years to get pregnant with their son.  It was a long, difficult road that only someone who has struggled with "unexplained infertility" can understand.  Riley is now 19mos old and...surprise!  They are having another "trying" involved!  God is in control.  We were able to get a picture of our girls together and Rachel even kicked for Harlee. I love it when she shows off her dance moves. :o) 

When Harlee found out that she was finally pregnant the first time, it was on Mother's day, just a few days after I had lost our 3rd baby.  We saw each other shortly after that and cried together as we gave each other a big hug.  She was crying because she was sad for me and I was crying because I was happy for her.  At this visit there were no tears...just rejoicing in what God has done, but one day soon, we will be doing the same thing again.  Rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn.  I am so grateful that God gives me the ability to be genuinely happy for people even when I am sad and I pray He will continue to do that for me.

I left there and got back on Route 4 - I was reminded of my past, yet again, when I drove past a place they have designated for truck drivers to stop if they need to sleep.  I slept there many nights in my car when I was homeless because of my drug use.  It was winter and I would use the hand warmers that hunters use to keep from freezing.  I would put a few of them under a towel on my back seat to sleep on.  Here and there, I'd find a couch to sleep on or manage to get someone to pay for a room for me, but I did that for months.  All my "friends" were too busy getting high themselves to care.  What a dark, lonely place to be - for me and them.

I went to visit my friend Heather right after...the first real friend I made after I got sober.  We met in beauty school and have been friends ever since.  Rachel gave a kick for her too, which was really exciting.  It was special bonding for them :o) 

Meanwhile, I had friends from church taking care of my kids and home.  Kelly was here with Sam and Melissa came to bring dinner.  She also brought the other two kids to go apple picking and then came back and relieved Kelly so she could go home. Denise showed up in the middle of all of this with some groceries for us, including stuff that is allergen free for Sam.  I came home to happy kids, dinner made, a clean house, and food for meals this week.  Then Jill came over and we went together to look at another place for headstones for Corey & Rachel.  I have never felt so loved by so many people and I know that it is yet another way that God is caring for me...through His people.  He provides through you girls more than you know.  Right down to giving me a friend to shop for big expensive stones with - and a baby girl the same age as Rachel that when I see something in the store, and my heart breaks because I can't buy for Rachel, I have another special little girl who I can spoil a little. (with pink stuff!) :o)

On another note, I was so happy to be able to see my living room floor!  I always knew it was pretty under there!  Unfortunately, it was gone again by morning, but I was more motivated to get things in order and tried to make it look good again, which it did for about 3 minutes, and then the kids got up. (sound familiar moms?)  To everything there is a season - and this isn't the one for a clean house I guess.  Drives me nuts, but I'm learning to let go.  Someday when the kids are grown and gone, my house will be clean again - and I bet I'll be looking forward to the grandkids coming over to mess it up. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Field Trip

Jill & I went to a monument place in Rochester near the post office on Thursday....if you are ever shopping for a headstone and are even semi-emotionally invested in it, this is not the place you want to go. We spent well over an hour there and left with no real info. We couldn't get a straight answer on any of our questions, except that everything we wanted cost "more" - I was beginning to wonder if this woman had any idea what it was like to lose someone you love....that, and if she thought we were making it up or something. I'll admit, it's a hard story to buy...two young girls who happen to both need headstones and happen to be using the same cemetery. That and the fact that God has blessed us with the ability to laugh during some not so laughable times and we did have a couple of laughs together. Oh, and the fact that I was walking around talking to Rachel, which probably looked like I was talking to myself (I can't be the first client they've had who talks to themselves) I might have looked like I was on something - or just plain nuts... So, now that I say it like that, she probably thought we were full of it - working on a school project or something, who knows, but it was rough. She definitely was not taking us seriously. She had another lady walk in and dropped up like a bad habit (don't know where this term comes from since bad habits are not easy to drop, but whatever, she dropped us.) We just ended up walking out, after waiting for her to come back to us and realizing it wasn't going to happen. It was kind of discouraging to have someone be so indifferent during such a sensitive time, but we know that this is just God's way of shutting that door. We will probably see very clearly one day why that didn't work out. All I know is that it was a blessing to be doing it together. It would have been much worse alone. When we first got there, I said "who would've thought a year ago that we'd be picking out headstones together" - it's sad, but I am forever grateful for my friend who can walk with me in a way that nobody else can.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In the shadow of His wings

I went to WIC this morning and let the girls who work there all know that Rachel has anencephaly. Last week I had some cards made up with the blog address on it so that I can easily share our story and the strength we are finding in the shadows of God's wings.  I want the world to know how amazing my little girl is and how amazing our God is. 
Anyway, as I handed them out one by one, I was so blessed by the way these women responsed.  One woman asked what anencephaly was and if I was sure there was nothing that could be done.  When I explained it, she said nothing, gave me a big hug and cried with me and then told me "God is good and He is with you".  I'm not sure I've received a more simple and touching response from anyone so far.  She did not try to explain it for me or tell me why I should be okay with it.  It was exactly what I needed after the week I have had - It's been a tough one.  The next woman immediately smiled and asked if she could touch my belly and then offered to do a belly cast for just the cost of supplies and then, she too, gave me a big hug and cried with me.

As I was on my way out, I overheard someone talking about needing to get to Options for Women because they give her diapers to help her out.  My ears perked up because Options is near & dear to my heart.  I was not only blessed by being able to help this girl out, but I ended up being able to have a conversation with her about why I love Options for Women and how I feel about the "choice" the Dr's offered us when they diagnosed our baby.  I also gave her the card with the blog address so she will know why someone like me has a heart to help people.  And she too, gave me a big hug!  I was blessed with 3 great big hugs by women I know little or not at all - all because of my baby!  She brings me so many blessings.
Have you ever seen the movie A Bronx Tale?  I almost hate to bring it up cause it's been ages since I've watched it and it's kind of mean, but as a kid, we watched it over and over and over and over - and we know the movie by heart.  I was thinking of that line where Sonny tells Calogero that the worst thing in life is wasted talent.  I was talking to my sister about this today and I said that I planned on blogging that I disagree - she quickly replied that she wasn't sure it was a good idea to tell a gangster he's wrong, but I've got some Italian blood myself, so I ain't scared.  He's wrong.  The worst thing in life is wasted opportunity. (obviously next to not knowing God - which can also be considered a wasted opportunity if you feel the tug on your heart from Him and are ignoring it!!)

I drove home in tears of gratitude today that God is giving me the ability to see Him in this and to recognize that Rachel's life may not be what we think life is "supposed" to be - she might not live 100 years, but that there is opportunity in it. And I intend to make the most of it. I am not going to waste a chance to share the love of God with someone through this trial.  I am not going to miss my opportunity to teach her things ( I taught her how to shave her legs the other day in the shower) and to read to her (we're reading through Ecclesiastes together) to talk to her (I tell her the things we do throughout the day and how amazing her Daddy is), to sing to her (songs of praise), to rock her (every Sunday in church I rock her during worship).  I am not going to miss the opporunity to help her leave her mark in the world and to help her change hearts and show people Who God Is. 

He is good.  He is powerful.  He is awesome.  He is able.  He is in control.  He is love.  He is sovereign.

I am so thankful for the opporunity that He is giving me to make the most out of this baby girl's life.  He could have given her to anyone and He chose me.  I get the opportunity of knowing her and loving her in a way that no other human will ever know.  I get the opportunity to show her off to the world and to boast in what the Lord is doing through her.  He is giving me the opportunity to have no regrets - To love without abandon and to trust Him.  If it wasn't for Him, I'd be missing this all.  I would be curled up in a ball crying the time away, because without Him, I couldn't do this.  I would be too afraid to love because it would put me at risk of hurting more.  I would not see the opporunity that lies in this trial. 

The shadow of His wings are sheltering me and carrying me along. (kinda like drafting in racing!)  He is making the way and I stay close and follow His lead - and there, in that place alone, I can sing for joy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bitter sweet crown of thorns

We spent this last week in Maine, near Camden, on our much needed annual vacation.  We went last year and we had perfect weather all week long.  The week was so uplifting, when I came home, reality hit me like a ton of bricks. Everything was perfect right down to the s'mores and I wanted to stay there forever.  Just me, my family, and God's awesome creation.

This year, it was really hot, too hot to do most of the outdoors stuff we basked in last year. And too hot to use the woodstove - no s'mores! :o( The pond that the cottage is on had a high bacteria count and they were recommending nobody swim there - no swimming and no fishing!  This pond also happens to be where the cottage gets all of it's water...that's right, no showers all week.  90 degrees, 6 months pregnant and no showers for a week....  Minus the one sponge bath Des & I took and then we took turns washing our hair in a pan of water we boiled.  This was actually our 1st history lesson of the school year because we got to experience firsthand how the people used to do it in the "old days" :o) We had our challenges, but we got exactly what we needed up there (God always provides!) and I was never so glad to come home.  I love our home.  I think God was protecting me from the let down I experienced last year - another perspective thing.

Being up there was hard for me this year.  If I wasn't thinking about the baby, I was thinking of Corey (our friend who passed away the day after we found out about Rachel).  Corey, Jill and their girls vacation at the same cottage every year and had paid part of our way this year as a gift.

Our first morning there (before I knew all of the things that would go "wrong"- and before I knew there was about to be a hurricane!) I wrote these words in my journal:

We're at camp in Licolnville.  I never expected I would feel this sad.  Our trip last year was so uplifting, I expected to have that same feeling come flooding back...but I have this constant weight of sadness that follows me everywhere.  I can't escape it, my heart is broken. God, how do I do what I need to for my other kids while this dark cloud lingers waiting to pour on me?  I feel the impending loss and wonder how I'm supposed to do this.  Will the sun ever truly shine again?

I finished writing and decided to read some of the book I'm reading by Angie Smith.  She was talking about how even our Lord suffered here on earth.  I had underlined these words from her book:
"In every thorn in the crown they forced on His head, there is a truth I need to allow to settle on my brow.  We serve a God Who is aware of our suffering"

A couple of hours later, we decided to go into town.  We started down a hill towards the water to see the sailboats when I decided I had to pee...not the kids, me!  Rachel must have shifted onto my bladder!  So we turned back and went toward the public restroom.  As we were walking down that street, my eyes were drawn to a plant with little delicate yellow flowers on it.  I said that they reminded me of Rachel and went to see how much it cost...when I picked it up, the marker said "Crown of Thorns".  I was brought to tears by how loudly God speaks.  I have been begging Him to continue to remind me that He is with me - and does He ever!  The minute I read the name of that plant, I was brought back to what I had read a little while earlier.  He is aware of my suffering.  As I looked closer, I noticed that under the pretty flowers were big thorns that I had not noticed at first.  They were hidden underneath the delicate flowers that reminded me of my little angel.

The crown of thorns that Jesus wore was beautiful, not because of what it was, but because of Who He is.  Rachel is my crown...for now...and soon I will have to lay her down.  Not without the underlying thorns, it will be painful, but Jesus is aware - He knows, He wore his crown too.

I called Jill to ask her to look up how I should care for the plant since the people at the store had no info on it and had never heard of it before.  I wasn't sure if it needed water or not and I didn't want to kill it before I even got it home. She looked online and it said that this plant gives it most beautiful blooms in the winter...does that surprise you?  With how God has been moving, it didn't surprise either one of us - we figure it will probably be at it's best on December 26th - Corey & Jill's anniversary and also the day we're hoping to meet Rachel face to face - and possibly the day she'll meet Jesus face to face too.  When all my other flowers are buried beneath the snow, this plant will be showering us with blooms - at one of the saddest times in our lives.  A crown with thorns... always bitter sweet.

We decided to pack up early since hurricane Earle hit and it was a constant downpour all night long.  We got 1/2 way through packing when the rain stopped, the sun came out and the weather was suddenly perfect.  We decided we were too far into packing to turn back and that we would still head home.  A storm that was supposed to last for days, was over in hours - out of the blue and the sun was shining. 

Will the sun ever truly shine again??  I think so.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's all perspective

Does anyone else see the irony of the fact that I am due on Christmas day - the same day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus - who Mary carried willingly and proudly, knowing that He would be born to die??

I might also add that I wanted to avoid having a baby so close to Christmas - you know for the sake of convenience...We Americans are something if the blessing of a baby could EVER be inconvenient.  But we all do it - we "plan" our babies as if they are supposed to fit some perfect blueprint of what an American family looks like.  2.5 years apart with a huge house to accommodate their perceived needs of bigger & "better"...   

I thought God was teaching me a lesson about accepting His gifts when He gives them.  I mean, due on Christmas?  I really thought He was laughing up there the day I found out.  The one time I didn't want a baby - Christmas - and here I am due on Christmas day.  We had decided we would be open to the babies He gave us when He gave them - just not in December.  Are you laughing yet?  It sounds crazy.  We trust You God, just not in December??  Does that make any sense?

Well, let me tell you - my perspective has changed.  I want a Christmas baby more than I have ever wanted anything in my life.  I want a healthy, big, chunky Christmas baby who cries all night long and never sleeps.  I want a baby with colic, reflux, down syndrome - anything but a baby who has to die.  I bought a onesie shortly after we found out I was pregnant that said "All Mommy wants for Christmas is a silent night"  I HATE that shirt.  I don't want a silent night.  I want a crying baby.  I want to be up all night for months straight loving her, holding her, singing to her and rocking her with breastmilk all over my clothes.  I want to be seeing double from exhaustion and getting irritated with all the people who give you advice on how to make your baby sleep cause they know so much.  I want more than anything to be inconvenienced by her - for the rest of my life - even in December. I want her - oh dear God, please let me keep her.

I have wondered before how Mary did what she did so gracefully.  My guess is that she was being carried by her Father the whole way.  In the movie The Passion of the Christ - the part that made me cry the most was watching Mary cry at the feet of Jesus as He was dying.  I was a new mom then and remember relating to that part the most.... I now relate in a way I wish I didn't have to.  And all I can do is cry at the feet of Jesus.

I had a dream at about 3 months along of getting our ultrasound and finding out something was wrong. The Dr. told me the baby wasn't alive and I started screaming "but I really wanted a Christmas baby!" I remember telling Matt - and a few of you - how amazing I found it that God always changes my desires to meet His will.  I don't see that happening this time.  My only hope is that He will reveal to me the goodness He brings about through her life and that I will see her again in the next.  But please, don't remind me of that when I'm sad...