Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve - Thankful for 2010

A few things about New Years Eve... 1.  It marks the anniversary (9 years ago!) of me & Matt's first date. :o)  2.  It marks the anniversary (3 years ago) of the day Alice died (Rachel's middle name is after her...a dear friend)  3. Today marks the 4 week anniversary of Rachel's birthday...

I can't believe 4 weeks have gone by already, and on the other hand I can't believe all the things I have had to do in the last 4 weeks....give birth, say goodbye to my girl, put on a funeral service, recover from major surgery, pull Christmas together for my other children, visit my baby at the cemetery, and even fend off some negativity from people who don't like how I have done all that. (it's unbelievable, but true)

What a month. 

Matt had the day off today and we went to see Rachel.  My mom had bought these pretty pink, heart shaped balloons that have Rachel's name and the year on them for her birthday party at the hospital - and they wouldn't let us use them...so we have them left over. Because of the snow, her name plate and things at her grave keep getting covered over, so I came up with the idea to use her name balloons to mark her spot throughout the winter. That way even if it snows, her name will still show.  I'm going to bring a new one each week so it stays in the air.  I can't wait to get her stone put in.  It's going to be beautiful...until then, I'll make the most of what I have.  I'm learning to be really good at that.


We went down today and when we got there, there was a note left for Rachel:


Elisha lives in PA and was visiting family in NH.  I am so thankful that she & her husband took the time to come visit and pray with my girl.  I was so blessed to see this... people remembering her... visiting her...  loving her...  it's awesome.

We wrote her name in the snow...

I also brought her some of the flowers Shannan sent us for Christmas. One for each week we've been without her.  I really impressed myself with this one... I used a funnel to hold the flowers up so they will live longer than laying them on the ground.  I filled the underneath with snow so they'll have something to drink :o)  Hopefully the wide bottom will keep them from falling over.  I patted down the snow around them too.

As I messed with the snow, I said "this is good snow for a snowman - we should make her one." and my amazing husband started rolling up snow bare handed.  He's such a good Daddy.  The kids got some sticks and made it's arms & nose... it was cute. 

                                             Almost as cute as our kids!  Not quite. :o) 

So, this morning at 10:27am, exactly 4 weeks to the minute since we welcomed our 4th child into this world, we were bringing balloons to her grave.  God has carried us in an amazing way.  While I was fixing the flowers up, I looked up at Matt in tears and cried "Does she know we're here...does she know we're doing this for her?"  He shrugged and said "I don't know"  We both just returned to what we were doing and we continued on...  what else can we do?  If she does know, I hope her heart is singing...if she doesn't know, well, at least mine is.

I went to my friend Heathers to get my hair cut tonight, picked up dinner on the way home and when I got here, Matt had the table set (including our wedding glasses) and a candle going... we ate together and hung out (Desirae is gone at her first New Years Party!  I can't believe how big she is!)  I'm now blogging and Matt is snuggled up on the couch next to me asleep.  Des is out with good friends we can trust and rely on and will be home after midnight, and although I thought I might need to be woken up when they got here, it's obvious my mother's heart will not rest until she's safe in her bed. :o)  Being a mom - the hardest job you'll ever love.

I love my life... the good and the bad.  It doesn't get much better than this.  For as hard as this year has been, I wouldn't change it for anything.  I am so thankful even for the trial.  It has made me a better person, brought Matt & I closer together and deepened our love, and made my children stronger.  Our family is better because of Rachel.  Who we were as individuals and together 10 months ago doesn't compare to what God has done in us through this. 

When we are weak, He is strong.  Oh, how weak we have been... and oh, how Strong he has shown himself.  Thank you Jesus for a journey of grief and joy in 2010.  Thank you for choosing me to carry Rachel.  Thank you for carrying me as I did.  I never thought I would truly be thankful for this road.  I remember writing in my first email announcing Rachel was sick "As much as we don't want to drink from this cup, we are surrendering to whatever God has for us in it"  Wow... the blessing of surrender.  Only a month out and I can truly say I am thankful... I might be saying it through tears, but I am.

May you have a blessed 2011, filled with the joy and peace that only the Lord can give.  We love you!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prayer Request for Rachel's Auntie

So, I'm feeling like a really bad sister for not posting this prayer request sooner... some of you know that my little sister...OK, she's almost 30 (yeah, that's right Meg...30) but she's still little to me.  Anyway, she has Crohn's Disease.  It has been really bad lately (technically for about 3 years, but who's counting) and she is in constant pain.  She is in the ER for the 2nd time in just over a week.  She is really sick and it never gets better.  She had an appt for an exam scheduled and it turned out to be the day of Rachel's service, so she canceled it. (and, of course, never told me about it)  Now she has to wait till the end of January.  Please pray for her healing...pray for the doctor's wisdom in her treatment...pray for her pain control...pray that God will give her endurance and energy for this never ending battle and that her Crohn's will go into remission.   thanks.  

The Painfully Real Club

I got the photos from Rachel's service back today.  Our friend Luke took them for us, and just like all his pictures, they are beautiful. (more coming soon) This photo was taken at the cemetery during Rachel's committal service... you would never know by looking at us, but this was the first time we ever met...
Ruth and her husband John have lost two boys to anencephaly.  She heard about Rachel and came to her service.  I was standing above Rachel's casket when Ruth approached me... and when she said "I know how hard this is for you"...  well, she really knew.  It's an "exclusive club", as they called it at the hospital.  Unless you have lost a child, it really is impossible to completely understand.  Today, she sent me an email and I wanted to share what she wrote. (you know how much I love analogies!)  Don't worry, I asked first.  You need not fear that if you send me an email, I'll blog it :o)  She wrote:

I remember reading the Velveteen Rabbit to my kids thinking how true the description was to what I was becoming;


"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him


Like the Velveteen Rabbit, becoming real for me has been a painful bittersweet process.... but I'll always love my boys.

What you have done for your girl Rachel is painful and yet you are becoming even more beautifully real - ( please pardon me for evaluating your growth after knowing you for such a short time - but you are beautiful in your sorrow). What you have done for your girl. Love, Ruth

Does "real" have to be so painful?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Footprints in the Snow

I have noticed that every time in the last few weeks that I have had a huge smile on my face, it is because these three beautiful blessings are bringing me joy. I am reminded of a quote from Kahlil Gibran:

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
I know how much joy she would have brought me... I know it because, even in 9 months and 43 minutes, the blessing of just knowing her melted my heart. I would love to watch her do the things that I get to see my other three do... I mean, seriously, look at them! They are awesome. Watch Sam - I almost think this could be America's Funniest Video material... I stopped it about 2 seconds too soon cause he climbed up on me and said "Cheese!"




I would give anything to watch her play with them...

Today I had to bring Isaiah for his 4 year check up. (shots!) He was brave and definitely deserved an ice cream when we were done! I got him & Des ice cream, Sam some nuggets (he's allergic to milk - poor boy) and me a coffee and we went to visit Rachel. Her grave was covered again with snow, so I got out my shovel... who would have ever thought that would become a permanent thing in my van?... and I started clearing off her tree and angel. The cemetery looked so pretty all fresh with snow. I felt like a good Mama, shoveling off her things as I told her over and over how much I love her... and then reality hit me... my baby is gone - and I started crying. Her spot is down in the back of the cemetery and I was pretty sure nobody could hear me, but I was also pretty sure I didn't care. I released my "proud Mama" stance and my shoulders dropped, my head hung down and the tears started flowing as I wept for my girl.

Isaiah, being his sweet self, got out of the van and asked why I was crying. I told him I miss Rachel and he asked if he could help me. I handed him the shovel and he started digging away the snow. We cleared her spot and got back in the van. He said "Rachel's so cute, it's too bad she can't ride in the van with us". I looked back as we were leaving and I could see my little boy's footprints in the snow, coming away from his little sister's grave. All I could think was it's just not fair...

My Healing Begins

I finally removed my "pregnancy ticker" that was on my blog counting the days until Rachel was born. It was hard to do... felt like part of letting go of my dreams for my baby. Now all that's left is the "since we said goodbye ticker" - counting the days since we had to let her go.


I had posted back in August about a plant I found while we were on vacation in Maine… If you don’t remember it, check the August post (listed on right side of blog) It was called “Bittersweet Crown of Thorns” after the name of the plant that I bought in Rachel’s honor. That was one of the many times throughout this journey that God has brought details together in such a way that I could not doubt his presence - and I SO needed it right then.

The plant was beautiful, with tiny yellow flowers on it - but had these huge thorns underneath all it’s beauty that I didn’t notice until I got up close. It was so symbolic of my journey with Rachel… such beauty, such pain… just like the crown of thorns that Jesus wore.

A few weeks after I wrote that post, my friend Anne who had lost her daughter Rose to anencephaly the year before, sent me another plant like it in the mail. This one had red flowers and was so full and pretty. I told her on the phone how I was worried I was going to kill it since I’m not really so great with plants. (I’m a wanna-be plant person.) The one I had bought on vacation was dying slowly and I couldn’t seem to fix it. All you could see at this point was it’s thorns. All the leaves had fallen off, along with the flowers.

1 week before Rachel was born, the red one starting wilting, too. When I came home from the hospital, each day I was pulling another 15-20 dead leaves off this plant. It’s flowers were all gone. It’s thorns were sticking out and that was all you could see. I was so upset… these were supposed to have their best blooms in the winter… they were supposed to bring a smile to my face in remembrance of Rachel… and they were failing miserably. Unfortunately, this was again symbolic of where I was at in my journey with Rachel… The beauty had faded and the pain of the thorns was all I could see. She was gone, my little flower and all I had left was my crown of thorns, the pain.

On Christmas eve as I prepared my heart to endure Christmas without my baby, I noticed my plants… Now I ask you, is God not amazing?? He knows I watch these plants like a hawk… He knows if he speaks to me in this way, I’ll hear him. He knows me and he meets me where I’m at. It’s unreal. I took one look at my plants and I knew…

God is going to heal my heart. The crown of thorns I’m surrounded by WILL turn into beauty. He will heal me from the inside out. This plant has been nothing but bare thorns for weeks - the hardest weeks of my entire life. The thorns in my journey with Rachel have been there all along, there’s no denying that. But they have never been the focus. They have been underneath the beauty. In the weeks after her death, no matter how hard I tried I was not going to be able to avoid them - nor would that be healthy for me to do or aid me in my healing. I have had to face them and even feel their prick. I have also had to keep watering them, even though they looked as though it was no use.

And now, as I put one foot in front of the other, my healing begins. It’s going to be a slow process, but my God is amazing. He will make leaves grow and flowers bloom until you have to look really closely to see the thorns.

This is my plant while we were on vacation in Sept... yes, I take pictures of everything.  (Jill, I was on the phone with you when I took this - trying to get care instructions!) God had spoken to me so loudly through it that I knew He wasn't done... just didn't know how much so.

This is it now.  It's been bare for so long (worse than this!!) and now has big leaves coming out the top.   I think when God is done, it will be even more beautiful than before.  Again, symbolic of my journey with Rachel


This is the one Anne gave me... it used to be SO full, really pretty...lots of flowers.  All that's left is one 1/2 dead flower at the top and thorns... but there are new buds on every stem!  I discovered this on Christmas Eve, right before Anne came over!  (such a "coincidence"!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

I've Started my Book!

Well, as you have requested... I have officially started my book!  I sat down this morning, before my computer crapped out for the day (It just came back on, I'm assuming because it's STILL snowing!! - did I say I was thirsty?) and I started going through my blog posts from August.  I figure I'll use my posts as my outline.... wow, that was emotional.  The past 5 months have been almost unbearable.  The pain is indescribable. 

As I read some of my words, I was reminded of how much I have been through.  I was brought back to the times when I didn't know the pain of the losing Rachel... only the pain of waiting for the loss, and that was extremely hard too.  I am such a different person now that I almost feel like I'm reading someone else's words...if that makes any sense.  All I can say is it's been a tough road.

Just weeks after we found out Rachel had anencephaly, it was on my heart to eventually write a book.  Since then, I have been told hundreds of times by so many people that I should write a book...  well, there's only one way to do that... start.  So, I'm starting and am asking for your prayers as I do. 

Back at the beginning of my journey, I found great comfort in reading the stories of other people who have been there - people who understood me like nobody else.  My heart's desire for this book is that Rachel's Legacy will continue to help people, to bring healing, to bring hope.  Her short life has changed mine forever.  Her beauty and His strength have revived my soul day after day as I have walked this path set before me... and I want to tell the world.  I want everyone to know that my daughter was amazing and our God is my refuge.

My goal is to continue to share the gift of Rachel's life and what our great God is capable of - to let her light shine...  This has been my purpose since August 4th.  This is my calling as Rachel's Mama... I pray that I don't let her down.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And then it Snowed...

We're getting a snow storm tonight... The night of Rachel's birthday it snowed. I remember being up in the middle of the night holding her, still surrounded by God's incomprehensible peace. I looked out the window and there was snow falling softly outside. I wish I never had to let her go... tonight the snow has just started. It looks similar out my window as it did that night. While the memory with my girl is a sweet one, it leaves my heart yearning to hold her again. My entire being feels heavy and I am praying for God to sustain me. God gave me two verses this morning, before the snow came and I understood why, that I'm clinging to tonight...

Let us acknowledge the Lord, let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear, he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Hosea 6:3

This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23

I didn't go to church this morning. I needed to just be home, plus Sam was at the ER all night again last night with Matt (poor boy) and he was better off home too, so we hang out here while Matt, Des & Isaiah went.

I just had Des reading me the verses above as I typed and Matt overheard us and came in...He told me they sang "that" song (written with the Hosea verse in mind) this morning at church. It says:

As Certain as the sun will rise, You'll come to us, As certain as the dawn appears. You'll come, let your Spirit fall as you respond to us... Spirit rain, flood into our thirsty hearts again.. You'll come, You'll come...


My soul is thirsty... He is the only One that can satisfy that thirst... and He promises me He will. Just another confirmation that God has his hand on our family... while they were at church singing the words, God gave me the verse here.... and then it snowed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Pretty Girl

This morning went really well with the kids.  Desirae is so sweet, she left me a note in my stocking with one of Rachel's blankets that said "I left Rachel's blanket in your stocking so you might feel a little better" - she's more thoughtful than some adults in our lives... I don't know what I would do without my children to keep me smiling.  They bring me so much joy.

Today was Rachel's due date.  Christmas will always remind me of her. She definitely was part of our day - she will be part of every day of my life for the rest of my life.  The day went better than could be expected, on the outside.  On the inside, it was tough for both me & Matt.  Our good friend, Donna showed up this morning with a basket of gifts for me and told me she was at Rachel's grave at midnight to visit when it turned Christmas.  It meant so much to know Rachel is loved and to know that people are visiting her - and that she was remembering the days that are important to us and why.  I asked if her tree was still lit up and she said it was... that made me happy.

I was so thankful that I saved some of the gifts we received in the mail for this morning.  We got a couple ornaments that I love...This one was special because it includes "baby Aube" and Rachel.  It's hard to believe that we have 5 children!  And always nice when somebody acknowledges that.  In a world where babies are all too often dismissed as "just a clump of cells", it can be awkward to celebrate a baby we never met, but it was no less our baby.  (I think we need to give that baby a name!) This ornament definitely made me smile.  I am so sad to say, that I have no idea who it's from...it got separated from the card and I thought I would remember and I don't!  My mind is not what it used to be right now.  It's frustrating. Can you let me know if you gave this to us? 

This one, well, I cried a lot... It's from our friend from Try-City Christian Academy, Mrs. Guptill...  They own Hampshire Pewter and sent us this beautiful ornament that is so meaningful - for more reasons than she (or anyone else) really understand.  I know that God was speaking to me through her in this ornament, reassuring me of the truth of Rachel's life.  If you have a chance, read my old post "Breathless" and that will probably sum it up.  I still don't dare to re-read that post.  I'm afraid I might start crying and never stop.  Some things I'm still avioding since falling apart at the seams would make it difficult to live.  I hope some day I don't feel so raw, but for now, it's just the way it is.  Anyway, Rachel definitely took our breath away...she was amazing.  She is amazing. It says "Rachel Alice, 43 Beautiful and Unforgetable Minutes (that's what I put on the programs at her service) You took our breath away - 12/3/10"  Yep, I cried.  Thank you Kathy.  We love you.

We went to the cemetery to visit Rachel and see her tree lit up at night.  It's hard to get a good picture of a tree with lights - I don't feel like this picture does it justice, but here's my best try - it was very dark by the time we got there.  As we drove off, I could see her little tree from a distance.  It felt so wrong leaving her there on Christmas...the day she was due... my heart broke again.  This is so hard.  I like to think it will get better with time.  I don't think it will ever get easy, just different.  As time goes on, I won't "move on", I'll just figure out how to be Rachel's mom in a different way.  I'd like to know why God would make me endure this... but I trust Him so I'm not going to ask.  Plus, then I might get mad at Him and I need Him now more than ever.


Merry Christmas Pretty Girl.  I miss you.


Time For Breakfast!

A friend of Kelly Roy's (Rachel's amazing photographer) just opened a new restaurant in Somersworth, NH.  She has been following our journey with Rachel and has graciously offered to to help us raise money to build Rachel's playground!  If you print something up from my blog, or the coupon below and bring it in with you to have breakfast any day, she will donate $1 per person with ad (everyone bring your own!) towards Rachel's Ark!  I thought this was extremely generous for a new business...  let's eat breakfast! :o)   She's at 43-45 Washington St in Somersworth and is open until 2 pm! 
If you have trouble reading this, let me know and I can email it to you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Should Have Known

Rachel would have been 3 weeks old today...  and today has been a hard, yet amazing day.

I woke up with the desire to get some sort of winter arrangement of flowers for her grave.  My friend Anne and her husband had stopped by last night (they and some friends all pitched in and bought our kids a bunch of presents for Christmas!) and were telling us about the one they got for their daughter Rose and I thought it sounded so nice. 

Kim came over for coffee this morning and went with me and Desirae to look for some...  I wasn't thrilled about any of the arrangements they had - none of them felt right.  Then Kim mentioned that she had brought a tree to her sister's spot one year and I knew that was what I wanted to do... on the way home, she suggested we stop at Care Pharmacy to look for something.  I thought it would be too expensive, (it usually is there) but gave it a shot.

We went in and I immediately saw this little tree sitting on the floor by itself.  It was the only one like it, I picked it up expecting it to cost too much... $4.99!  As we walked through the store, everything that I mentioned I would like to get for her tree, I found, and everything I picked up cost way less than I was expecting!  I even found a tiny string of battery operated lights for it - so on Christmas morning, my girl's spot will be lit up by her tree!  When all was said and done, it ended up costing less than what I would have paid for the arrangement I didn't like... and Kim offered to buy it for us.  I was so excited leaving that store...  I knew it was perfect for Rachel and I knew God had provided all those details - for my heart.

I got in the van and said to Kim..."I should have known God would give me joy today... I don't know why I ever doubted Him"

I came back home with the tree and we all decorated it.  I cried a million times today.  Painful tears, sobbing really.  But they are not the only kind I shed.  God gives me MANY tears of joy, happiness, gratitude - even today, especially today. 

First thing this morning, the flower shop pulled up and delivered a beautiful bouquet of daisies from our friends, Doug & Shannan...Then Kim came by with gifts, including one for Rachel...Then Kathy stopped by with a nice ham that she bought for us... My mom stopped by to drop off gifts, of course not excluding our girl (opening that one tomorrow!) ...We brought Rachel's tree to her and when we got there, there was a balloon and a present for her, all wrapped and addressed to her...  then we came home and there was an extremely thoughtful gift from Emily on our door knob waiting for us...  Kyla brought us a dinner...  and the list goes on and on and on...  And that was just today, never mind the weeks leading up to today.  We are so blessed - and Rachel has not been forgotten.  Thank you!  You all have NO IDEA how much this means to us.

Throughout the day, as each blessing warmed my heart and God's hand gently comforted my soul, I just kept thinking "I should have known He would do this... I should have known He'd give me joy... I should have known He would carry me.  He always does.  How could I ever doubt Him?"

Well, I do because I'm human.  I do because I'm sad and it feels like I always will be.  I do because I've never been through anything nearly as painful as this.  I do because I am not perfect. 

Thankfully He does these things for me, even in my doubt and disbelief,  because He is God, He's patient, He's compassionate, He loves me just how I am and where I'm at.  I am so undeserving of His love and so humbled to receive it.  If I am this amazed at how I can feel His love and presence here on earth, in all my humanness... I can only imagine what Rachel is experiencing right now.  wow.  She is spending her first Christmas with the King of kings.  I am so happy for her, even as my heart breaks over my loss... isn't that what being a mother is all about?


the present & balloon that was left for her from Donna

Her tree... you can't see the lights yet, but tonight
 they'll be shining bright!

"Baby's 1st Christmas" ornament - We have one just
like it that says her name here on our tree

her little stocking... her big one here is full this year
with gifts we got in the mail that we're waiting to
open until tomorrow... She will be part of our day for sure!

Jill gave us this last week...I had just told Matt the day
before how I wanted to get one that had
all our names on it... did I mention that God is interested
in our desires?? :o)

Merry Christmas!  Thank you for meeting me where I'm at and loving me along the hardest journey I've ever walked.  I said back in August "this year there will be 6 stocking here" and there are...  Thank you for celebrating her with me... thank you for everything.  I have never felt so loved, especially in the midst of something so hard, in all my life.  It doesn't take the pain away, but it sure helps.  We love you all.

*a little side note - my mom was out getting pizza tonight and someone she didn't know recognized her and asked if she was Rachel's grandmother...  this little girl is pretty popular :o)  That happened to me at Walmart a few days ago too.  So many people love her.  I'm so proud of her... some day I'll tell her in person.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rachel Has a Number!

What a roller coaster...  today we got Rachel's Social Security Card!  I've never been so blessed to get a SS card in the mail!  When we were at the hospital, the funeral home was there waiting patiently as we said goodbye to Rachel and a person from Medical Records came in to have me sign some papers.  As this woman explained everything to me, she said "you'll get her social security number in the mail".  I wasn't expecting Rachel to get one...  and I remember yelling out, through tears of happiness, "She's getting a number?!" and everyone in the room cheered.  It was such a happy moment for me...  my girl has a number.  Seems a foolish thing to be thankful for, but to me it meant she was being acknowledged as important. 

Someone emailed me and said "I'm sorry Christmas won't go away" - I think in my previous post, I gave you all the wrong impression.  It's not that I don't want Christmas...  I just don't want Christmas without Rachel.  There's nothing I can do about that... it's going to happen and my heart aches.  The post I put on about not wanting Christmas cards was a generalized statement because family members had sent Christmas & new years cards 2 days after Rachel's funeral.  If these "family" members had shown any concern for me (as Rachel's mother) or Rachel during my pregnancy or now, my feelings on their Christmas greetings would have been different - but they hadn't and still aren't.  I am having a hard time wanting to share Christmas with anyone who doesn't still acknowledge that Rachel is our daughter, that I am her mother, and that she still matters...  She is, I am, and she does.  I mean, she was born less than 3 weeks ago. This year has been long, hard and totally beautiful all at the same time.  I know some people look at it like Rachel was just the baby who was going to die, and now she's fulfilled her destiny, so let's move on to the next thing... but it's not happening.  Our trial is just beginning and it hurts.  There is no escaping that.  Christmas time or not.


Yesterday, because I had said that I wasn't ready to do any visiting, someone in Matt's family told me that this isn't about me...  yeah, I know, it's about Jesus.  And He's ok with me grieving - even if it means I don't do things perfectly or how other people think I "should".  Even if other people view that as selfish.  He knows my heart.  He knows all the details...

We have people sending us gifts and encouragement every day (literally) that are not even related to us that show how much they still have us & Rachel on their hearts.  Gifts that are for or include Rachel.  Thank you to all of you.  This has been so great for my heart right now. We are so grateful to have a family in Christ.  You have loved us unconditionally and without any expectations and we are so blessed to have you.  Words cannot express our gratitude. 

After the hardest week of my life...  dealing with unnecessary pressure and judgement from people who claim to care... trying to figure out what my "new normal" is... trying to figure out how to live my life without my newest baby... trying to just get through the grief of it all and hoping my heart will keep beating...

My girl has a number!  What a perfect Christmas gift for a mother with empty arms...  God's timing is always perfect.  He gave me just what I needed today.  In the midst of a time when I feel so protective over my daughter and her not being over looked...  I received the card that proves she was here, proves that she was alive... validates her place in this world.

I know that technically, I didn't need any of this to "prove" any of these things... but I have to admit, it sure felt good to see.  That was the best Christmas gift I have ever received.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Time to Grieve and a Time to Dance

One of the friends that the Lord has blessed me with through Rachel is Elisha.  Matt does auto glass, through Granite State Glass, for UPS where her dad works and Matt had told him about Rachel.  He sent his daughter my blog info and she has been one of my best supports through this journey.  I don't know her (technically - but I know her heart), but she has really loved me from a distance. (she lives in PA)  I have been so thankful for her care and compassion in my time of need.  I've mentioned before how people that "should" be there, haven't been, and that God has provided better friends than I thought I would ever have in the midst of my great trial... well, she is one of them - and technically a gift God gave me through my husband. :o)  He handed out cards to everyone with my blog info on it... put them EVERYWHERE for people to find... told everyone about his daughter.  Rachel would be proud of her Daddy - and he is proud of her.

So anyway, I got an email from Elisha the other day that brought a smile, along with tears...  when I was pregnant I had started reading the book of Ecclesiastes to Rachel.  I never finished it and I kinda regretted that.  I had no basis for picking that book, God just led me to it and when I got this email, it tied it together for me.  This is in her bible...she wrote Rachel's name to always remember her when she reads this verse.

This verse had never jumped out at me before.  I've read it many times, but obviously with a different reality, so when I wrote back I said...  "I know God uses all these details to remind me that He knows what's going on.  Rachel was a dancer...I'm sure she's dancing today." 

Elisha responded saying that she couldn't wait for me to get the gift that she had already sent me cause it fit into what we had been talking about.  God was definitely in the details.

Elisha's gift came yesterday...
  

A time to grieve and a time to dance...

This is my time to grieve... Rachel's time to dance.  I know I'll have my day for "dancing" and I know today isn't it.  I know that no amount of dancing on earth could bring the joy that dancing in heaven will... the thought of my girl twirling around with Jesus brings much comfort to my heart... one of the only things, other than Matt and my other children, that brings a smile to my face these days.  I felt her kicking and twirling for so long inside of me that I almost memorized her rhythm.  She was a dancer... I know she's dancing today.

I know you've seen this picture before, but this is at the funeral home... she's wearing her "love to twirl" outfit that she was buried in...  I miss her so much.  Can't wait to dance with her someday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reality Strikes Again

Got a letter from the funeral home today... didn't open it right away, was thinking it was a survey or something, which I was happy to fill out since Autumn Green was so great to deal with (if anything to do with a funeral can be great, Autumn Green is) When I finally got around to opening it, it was Rachel's death certificate.  

I had been putting together some pictures of her at the table - surrounded by my memories of her cute little hands, feet, and chubby cheeks, I opened the envelope only to read the worst words I have ever seen in writing...

Certificate of Death...  Rachel Alice Aube...  43 minutes...  Anencephaly

I haven't even received her birth certificate yet. 

I cried... hard...  for a long time.

My Inward Battle

I spent months trying to write a poem for Rachel... Nothing was coming to me.  I can usually write one out in one sitting, but I just had writers block, bad.  Being the determined person I am, I decided about a week before her birthday that I *was* going to write one if it killed me. 

The problem is that because my mind and heart were so torn, especially as her day approached, it was difficult to say anything that would articulate my overwhelming joy for my daughter and my deep sorrow for the fact that I was about to lose her, all in one.  Unfortunately, I don't think I did that.  But what I did get was a poem that shows my inward battle - truths vs feelings... the stuff that people tend to judge others on... 

You know, like what kind of Christian woman doesn't believe God's Word in her heart?  What kind of Christian woman puts up an argument against "logical, biblical truths" and questions God's plan?  What kind of Christian woman has a heart "selfish" enough to say "what about me"?

I know what kind of Christian woman does these things... One who loves Jesus with everything she is, lays all her sorrows at His feet where so many times before she has found great comfort and solace, It's a woman who believes God's plan is better than anything she could make up on her own.  This woman has been rescued from the gated of hell... on earth and in eternity, by faith in Christ alone.  She knows He's capable of anything, She loves Him more than could be said in words.

Can't be the same person, you say?  Doesn't seem to make sense?

This woman is me... and I'm a mother. 

A mother saying goodbye to her daughter.  A mother who tends to get a lot of "advice" from people who don't really get it, telling me all the truths that should somehow encourage me.  I do believe, wholeheartedly that they will...in time.  I believe that one day I will look back at this poem and will feel differently.  But I don't think it's going to get there from other people force feeding me "truth" in bad timing - or by me acting as if I don't have these feelings to begin with.  I try to always be real with people and to allow myself to be vulnerable in conversations.  I try to say how I'm really doing when someone asks... beginning to think that's a mistake.  I feel so fragile.  I'm hurting, my baby is gone and I'm still trying to be her mom and figure out what that means.  I need to protect her and to stand up for her.  I am following my calling as Rachel's Mama through.  She is part of our family now... And I'm not going to do this perfectly.  I'm trying.  The one thing I know for sure is that in those moments when I "selfishly" ask God "what about my heart?"  He loves me anyway.  He knew I was feeling it anyway.  and He will walk through this with me, being the one set of footprints, until I'm strong enough to walk again.  He accepts me where I'm at and loves me too much to leave me here... but he tends to be much more gentle than when people try to "fix" me - and His timing always perfect.  I'm claiming that for myself tonight.  He is gentle and He will lead me in perfect timing.  Might not be what everyone else thinks I should be doing, but I'm ok with that as long as God is.

So, without further adieu:


The Mind and Heart of a Mother

Searching down deep to try to explain
How I feel in my heart, to put words to the pain
My mind seems to know what it wants me to write,
But with each logical thought, my heart puts up a fight

My mind says “this is how God meant it to be”
My heart cries back “but what about me?”
My mind says “don’t worry, it will all be fine,
Just trust in the Lord and give it some time”

But with so much love and pain so deep
With empty arms, no baby to keep
You cannot reason with a mother’s heart
When she and her baby are torn apart

Answers of truth may help my mind,
But for my heart, there are no words you could find
Just 12 short inches from one to the other
But there are miles between
the mind and heart of a mother

by Stacy Aube
(If you use this poem, please don't change the contents and please credit my name...thank you!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Correction!

The perfectionist in me is really frustrated right now...  I hate this part of my personality.  I'm working on that. 

I just got a comment on a post I wrote a couple weeks ago...  I didn't remember what I had written, so I went back to re-read it and found a HUGE error.  ergh. 

I wrote about a verse that God gave me in the middle of the night at the hospital ( I was blessed to be snuggling with Rachel that night, but she had already passed away) and somehow, in my copy & pasting, I left out the main point of the post!  Please humor me and read it again. click
Here
It will make way more sense now...  (I left out the last line of verse 8 last time.)

Our 3rd Baby

Just noticed the date... December 18, 2008 was the day I was due with our 3rd baby, who we never got to hold.  On May 7,2008, I lost that baby to miscarriage and with the baby, went a piece of my heart.  I wish we knew if it was a girl or boy... I'd have liked to name him/her.  Someone wrote me and told me that Rachel's story helped her grieve her miscarriages and that this year, she was hanging ornaments up for them both.  I'm excited for her and the healing that God has brought about.  This is tough stuff ladies... unless you've lost a baby, you can try to, but will never fully know the pain.  And once you know it, you will never be the same.  I've also learned through both of my losses, that sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is sit quietly with them, ready to listen without advice, and then give her a big hug and a shoulder to cry on.  These are the things I have appreciated so much and have determined to do for others in the future. (I've also been blessed with a few good huggers... Mom, Kim & Dixie... they hug like they mean it and usually make me cry, but whatever. (Nancy too!) :o)  Matt said he got some great hugs from all three of you at Rachel's birthday too!  So, it is the general consensus. you're good and we love you. :o)

Please continue to share with us if you have experienced a loss...  we would love to be praying for you and we are so blessed by your stories and encouragement.  Love you.

(I guess it changed dates while I was writing this...it's December 19 now.  Another year gone by - and I should have been in bed a long time ago)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where's The Remote?

I was just looking through my old emails trying to find a poem I had written while I was pregnant, that I was considering sharing with all of you...  I came across an email I had sent out to the girls at church, in which I had attached that pregnancy announcement that I showed you a couple of days ago. (in one of my posts) I was trying to hold off telling people since it was early in my pregnancy with Rachel, (didn't know she was a girl yet) but I had gone to a woman's retreat with my church - where I was one of the speakers - and was really sick.  Ironically, the theme for the weekend was "Hope" and I was giving my testimony of how God brought me out of my alcoholism and drug addiction.  (I thought I had enough of a testimony before this...wow. Did God really think I needed to add to it?? )  Anyway,  Here's the email I sent in May 2010:

Hi girls,
Thought you might enjoy this....it was my original plan for telling everyone (the announcement card with poem)- but I was so sick at the retreat, I couldn't hide it!! Seems like God's always reminding me that my plans are not His plans. My family will get the "hard copies" but my Mom has already told them too - When I saw my Uncle Dale on the way to the retreat he said "So, you're pregnant again, huh?" So, I apparently didn't need to do these, although they were fun! Sorry it didn't scan better....not sure why, but too tired to try to figure it out. I think God's working on my perfectionism problem as well - and it is a problem.
TTFN!
Love,
Stacy
God's plans are not my plans...   deep breath. 

It's hard to look back to when I had only excitement over my pregnancy and not wish that I could go back there.  Back to the simpler days... the days when my heart didn't hurt so much.  My problems weren't real problems...  my struggles not like anything I know now.  She already had anencephaly, but ignorance was bliss.  My dance of grief and joy had not yet begun although the music was already playing...  I just didn't know it.

My sweet precious Rachel.  I am so sorry it couldn't be different...  sorry for me, not you.

On another note, my Uncle Dale was still here, out at the stores.  It was 3 months before he died and you wouldn't have known it looking at him.  You couldn't tell he was dying of cancer.  He had all his hair and was not skinny!  But he was dying slowly.  Looking at me, you'd never had known that I'd be burying a baby 5 months later... she was growing and kicking, but dying slowly.

Matt & I went to see Dale a few days before he died... he was now in a hospital bed in my grandparents living room.  I now knew about Rachel.  He was on a lot of medicine for his extreme amount of pain.  All of a sudden, he came to and when he saw me there, he said to me "you're beautiful Stace, I don't know how you did it, but I'm glad you did.  We're both going through hard times right now, but we'll be OK"

I'm not quite sure what he meant.  I guess in my heart I felt like he was saying he was glad I was carrying Rachel. 

Hind sight is not always 20/20 - sometimes there's still plenty of blurriness.  There are just some things I will never understand - and sometimes looking back only accentuates that.  I try to keep moving forward in trust... this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I wish life had a rewind button.  I can think of some moments that I would rewind to and pause... forever.

A Thankful Update on Rachel's Playground!

We have received another $270 in donations this week towards Rachel's Playground!  According to my records, which I need to double check with the church, we are down to needing $7430!  And that is before we have asked for any donations for material!  People have been blessing us in Rachel's honor and it warms my heart.  Most of the people we received money from are people we don't even know.  It's unbelievable.

We are so grateful that our children are seeing the body of Christ carry us through this difficult season.  They are seeing first hand how God provides through His people and how important it is to have a church family.   Our kids are seeing you love us and consistently being here for us. Thank you for loving us, not just with words, but with deeds.  We are so humbled by your support.  We got an anonymous check today for $500... said it wasn't for the playground, just for "whatever we needed."  And believe me, we need it.  As the phone rang to tell us this,  we were looking into snow blowers cause ours was at the shop and the guy was saying it wasn't worth fixing.  I'm not sure we're at a place to buy a new snow blower, but maybe we can fix it up.   If you know anything about snow blowers, maybe we could use some input on this one! (size, price, place to go?)  My point in sharing about that check, was that we just can't believe how we are being taken care of by you all.  I got 5 different gifts today.  2 in the mail (from "strangers"/new friends from the blog, from different states!), one on my door, and 2 that a friend dropped by with. All in pretty girl wrapping paper :o)  Rachel would have loved it. :o)  Dixie left with our laundry again after watching our kids so we could go out for a while. 

I started this post as a "quick" update about the playground, but it's not a quick thing to list all the ways we are being helped...  Thank you from the bottom of my heart...  thank you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dancing Away in My Love

2 weeks ago today I held my 4th child in my arms... today, we went as a family to visit her at the cemetery.  I have no choice but to go along with it.  No choice but to love her from here.  But what I wouldn't give to make it all different.

When we got there, it was dark again... having a hard time getting there before sundown.  We turned the van so we could see her grave and got out to read her a book.  The kids were all in their footie PJ's, which was good book reading attire.  Tonight we read "Hermie - A common caterpillar" by Max Lucado.  It's about a caterpillar that keeps coming upon other insects and after seeing something they had, that he didn't, would question God why He made him so "common".  God replied the same, gentle way each time saying "don't worry, I'm not finished with you yet, I'm giving you a heart like mine."

One night, Hermie surrendered his desires and said to God "You know, it's ok that I'm just a common caterpillar.  You love me,  and that makes me special."  The next morning when he woke up, He was no longer a caterpillar.  Then it says... "As Hermie flapped his new wings, he began to understand what God had been telling him.  He wasn't like the ant...or the snail...or the ladybug.  He was Hermie - a beautiful butterfly with a beautiful heart."

I was reminded of the verse that I clung to in the beginning of my pregnancy with Rachel... a verse on beauty -
Instead it should be that of the inner self.  The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. - 1 Peter 3:4
Rachel's life redefined beauty for me.  That verse used to be something I would read and try to believe, but living in a world that is so consumed with outward appearance and vanity, I would struggle to claim it as my truth.  I no longer have that struggle. 

Before I met her, I thought that I was going to struggle with what she looked like.  I was nervous that I would not be comfortable seeing her uncovered head.  But, when I looked at Rachel, I did not see any of the things that she was missing.  I did not see her color change from pink to blue.  I was blind to any imperfection.   I look at the pictures of me holding her without her hat on and am not phased by the top of her head not being there.  I am sad that it meant she couldn't stay with us, but I could have never loved her more.  She was beautiful.  She was perfect.  She was my girl.  She had a gentle and quiet spirit...  with a heart like God's. 

And since I've known her, mine has become more like His too.

She was the most beautiful thing I have ever had the honor of holding in my arms... and she is the most beautiful thing that I will ever have the blessing of carrying in my heart. 

She will be there always... dancing away in my love.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Somewhere Between 1 & 43 Minutes... Please?

Our friend Phil Yoder wrote a song for us and Kyla brought it to us the night before Rachel's birthday.  We listened to it with her and I cried.  This morning, Matt was out at Walmart with the kids and I was feeling ok.  I had done some good cleaning in the kitchen and felt good that I was cleaning my own house for once, since my mom has been taking care of us so often, and in between her doing my housework, I haven't accomplished much.  I organized a cabinet, got some clutter picked up and you could almost see all the counter tops again, when I came across the CD with Phil's song on it.  *To listen, you'll have to pause the music player at the bottom of the blog first*

videoI put it in and started listening...  and that was it.  I lost it.  I litterally colapsed onto the kitchen floor and sobbed for 30 mins straight.  My heart broke with each thought of sadness and with each thought of disappointment, I hit the floor and kicked my feet as if my pain was coming out of all my limbs.  I remember reading in the "I will carry you" book about her having bouts of anger and thinking that I would never feel that way...  I was wrong again.  I feel that way.  It was as if, as soon as my kids were all gone, I was able to grieve outwardly - and did I ever.

I love her so much.  I feel like my heart could explode.  I want to hold her... I want her to stay.  I have her hat that she wore when she was born sitting on my desk in front of me.  I can smell her.  I hope her scent never leaves it, but I doubt that is possible.  Memories will fade as the days go by...scents will fade, my visual memory will fade... but I'm not so sure my pain will fade. 

I find myself having moments throughout my day where I am painfully aware that this trial is not over...  I keep begging for someone to tell me it's not real.  I want to hear that this was all a bad dream and Rachel will be ours to keep - that I can snuggle with her tonight, instead of her empty blanket.  When I crawled into bed last night, I pulled her blanket close and smelled it and said to Matt "all I have left is this blanket..."  and I drifted off for another night of pill induced, broken hearted sleep begging God to help me.

My mom watched the kids today so Matt & I could go to my follow up appt to check my incision.  It was good to see Dr. Hunt again.  But it was really sad making the Portland trip without Rachel.  That was a first and I cried 1/2 the trip.  I used to feel her kick the whole way up and back. Grinning over her personality the whole way... she brought me so much joy, so many smiles.  Today, just as I said to Matt "this is our 1st trip without Rachel", I looked up and we were passing a salon (I'm a hairdresser) called "Rachel's Salon" - I think I might just go get a trim... Made me smile, as small of a thing as that was.  Maybe just enough of a reminder for me to realize that she is always with us.  She holds a piece of our hearts that will never belong to anyone else.  She is irreplaceable.

They had me fill out a paper that asks questions to see where you are at as far as postpartum depression.  One of the questions asks about if you feel like a failure to your family...  My mind instantly went back to the first moment I held Rachel and what I said to her...  I held her close and said "I'm so sorry pretty girl, I tried my hardest."  I felt like I had failed her.  But no matter what I did, how hard I tried, how well I planned, or how much I wanted it to be different, she was going to die in my arms.  I know this in my head.   My heart still wants an explanation.

Matt is really good about reminding me and telling others about how proud he is of the way I mothered Rachel.  It is so good for my heart to hear.  He told Amy tonight that nobody could have mothered her the way I did... that I lived it to the fullest with her - that I didn't fail her.  And yet, I can somehow still convince myself that there's something I should have done differently.  I try to off-set it with things like "God knew what I could handle and He planned it out accordingly"  it feels better for a second, and then the sting in my heart returns.

After we left Maine, we drove to Dover to visit our girl.  It will be nice when spring gets here - and when we can have her stone put in. And when it's not dark at 4:30.  We had to turn the headlights towards her grave.  I read her those Psalms from my post last night.  I like to tell her where I'm getting my comfort.  What kind of Mom would I be if I didn't share the bible with her? :o)  As if she's not fully aware, being with Jesus and all... :o)  So, I guess it's really for me.  But let's face it, moms, we all do things that are more for us than our kids... admit it!  I tell my kids that someday they will love the fact that they have 1000 pictures of themselves :o)  and they will... so will I :o)  Anyway, glad I'm finding some humor in the middle of my mess cause this has been a hard day.   

Please continue to pray for us and to pass us along to prayer chains.  Our journey is at a different place, but the hard part has only begun recently. 1 week ago since we buried her and tomorrow is 2 weeks since her birthday.   Matt will be going back to work next week and that is going to be a difficult transition for us.  And physically difficult since I'm not supposed to lift Samuel yet. The days have dragged and yet the time has flown by.  I wish I could reverse time and stop it right where it was...somewhere between 1-43 mins. and held it there... forever. 




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting on You, Lord

So, the Christmas cards have started rolling in... excuse me for a moment while I sound really ungrateful... I'm not into them. Especially the ones with no mention of Rachel. I am really not ready to move on. I LOVE Chirstmas. I LOVE Christ - and I am so looking forward to celebrating His birth this year. It is because of His birth that I can rest assured that Rachel is truly in that "better place" that everyone talks about. But two days after burying my daughter, I'm just not ready to have life go back to "normal" - "normal" will never exsist for us again, I realize that. But this is what I had said I was afraid of a couple of days ago... that life will return to normal for everyone else except me - the Christmas cards really just accentuate that. I feel like we need more than a week to transition from the loss of our daughter to the biggest celebration of the year. I went to open a couple of cards yesterday and today, thinking they would be sympathy cards or encouragement cards... something, anything that shows that people are aware of our loss and our sadness, and was caught off guard by "Merry Chirtmas" cards and "Have a Happy New Year" cards. I know it's this time of year... I know this is what everyone else is doing... but I'm still really sad. I'm still deeply grieving. Matt hasn't even gone back to work yet... we're just not ready to call things "normal". It's also going to be hard because Rachel's original due date was Christmas. From the moment we knew she was with us, Chirstmas 2010 was going to be especially significant. Here was the announcements we sent out back in May:

We will always have an extra stocking... we will be a family of 6 until we add another member and become 7. I am sorry to say that I think I was lying when I made up this litte rhyme...

I didn't mean it. I didn't mean that I only wished to make one request. I am so glad that she is filled with God's redeeming love, but I have MANY more requests... I want a girl... I want Rachel. I want her here with us. I want to fill her stocking, not just hang it and I want her to open it. I want to wrap her up a big empty box and watch her play in it. I want to hold her, to nurse her, to be awoken over and over every night cause she is crying. I want her to spit up on me and even have blow outs. I want to watch her grow. I want to buy cute girl clothes and dress her up in them. I want Desirae to have someone to share a room with. I want to listen to her babble and put her hair in pig tails. I want to devote my life to taking care of her along with the other three. I want to be so busy with 4 kids that I feel like I could die...

I want to be excited about Christmas cards. I'm just not.

Today, I cried on and off all afternoon. I just couldn't help it. I guess it's a new stage in my grief. I seem to be more sad today than I have been yet. I just miss her so much. I miss feeling her move. I hate that I have become a regular at the grave yard.

Along this journey, God has blessed me with some new friendships that have become such a blessing, one being with Emily. Today she came to get Des to bring her out for a class and when she got here I was crying. She didn't offer any wisdom, just prayed with me and told me she would continue praying and left. When they came back tonight, Des gave me a gift from her. It was a little "hope" sign that I had been eyeing when we went out last night and a card... again, not with her "wisdom", but comfort straight from God's Word. Verses that showed me she understood how heavy my heart was. The verses were so powerful for me tonight, I wanted to share them...

I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put thier trust in Him. - Psalm 40:1-3

But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer. You are my God, do not delay. - Psalm 40:17

I'm waiting on You, Lord.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Fragrant Offering

Rough day today.  I cried a lot.  We set up our tree and it was just one of many things that I will have to do that will make me realize all of the "firsts" I am going to miss with Rachel.  I want her here with us.

I drove myself to the cemetery tonight and that was a mistake.  I can see why they don't want me driving for a couple weeks.  I just couldn't let a day go by and not go visit.  I've been every day so far. 

Yesterday a friend at church had given me a present, so we went over and opened it at the cemetery with Rachel.  It was a beautiful scent warmer and the card had daisies on it. She wrote a couple of verses that talk about how knowing God is like a "fragrance" and about Him giving himself up for us as a "fragrant offering" - and then she wrote "In honor of sweet baby Rachel Alice Aube whose fragrance has touched countless thousands"  I was glad I was there with Rachel when I opened it...she was my little flower.  I have decided that I am going to keep fresh flowers in my house at all times as a symbol of what she is to me... a fragrant, rare, beautiful gift created by and cared for by God.  sigh.

Would I Use a Cammode? Depends...

Last night I spent hours in the ER - didn't get home until after 1 am - hadn't pooped in 13 days (sorry if this is too much info for you!)  This is the most painful thing I've experienced so far.  Unfortunately they didn't really do anything for me, except an x-ray and then sent me on my way with one of those laxative drinks.  I will say that as I sat there in my hospital gown, sitting on a cammode in the ER,  I was reassured that my husband loves me unconditionally :o)  And Des got a real kick out of the fact that I used a Depends last night, that's right, I slept in a diaper....  This is what I get for joking about getting some during my pregnancy.  I am hoping that some day this might be a funny story... and since I'm dumb enough to tell the whole world about it, I think there's a possibility there, but I'll admit that last night, this was like the hair that broke the camels back. 

I had said to Matt earlier in the day how thankful I was that I was not angry at all with God about Rachel.  At a time when I need Him most, it would really stink to be mad at Him.  On Saturday night, I only slept for 3 hours, even with medication.  I just have trouble shutting my mind off and I'm struggling to let the days go on without her.  Every day that goes by, is one more without my girl.  I hate it. 

But last night, as we called around trying to get a sitter for the other kids at 10pm and I was considering calling an ambulance to get me to the hospital cause I felt like I was about to give birth...  I was MAD at God.  I said "seriously, do I not have enough to deal with, God??  Do I need one more thing??  Have I not been through enough??"  I was P.O'd to put it nicely.  I really couldn't believe He was letting me have to endure yet another thing...  And I wish I could say that at the end of the night, He revealed to me some truth that gave me understanding that brought me comfort... but He didn't.  It was just another thing that stunk (no pun intended) that I had to go through.  Just something else He could have stopped and didn't.

But today, I woke up and checked my email.  I had a facebook message from someone in another state who I don't know telling me that her friend, who she had been witnessing to for 20 years and who was totally against God, had accepted Christ last night because "she wanted to know this God Who could make a woman losing her child have hope"

Back when I started this blog, I had hoped that God would accomplish such things through it.  I am so blessed to know that I was indeed following how God was leading me through it... and that Rachel's life will be part of others people's stories, not just mine, for years to come.

I'd sit in pain on a cammode in front of people any day for that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another Article

Rachel made the front page again!  The day before her service, the same reporter who wrote the article back in October, wrote a follow up.  We didn't know this one was coming either and it was such a gift since it was in the paper the same day as her obituary.  Here's the link:
http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101208/GJNEWS_01/712089907

A lot of it will sound familiar since he took all his info from my blog, but if you could pray for this man to be blessed, that would be great.  I think it is so awesome that he has taken the opportunity to put the name of the Lord on the front page.  Many people would shy away from that since well, you know, it's not popular...  But he was bold and I am so thankful for that.  I am so humbled to be a part of God's work through Rachel.  If you haven't read the first article, here's the link for that:
http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101028/GJNEWS_01/710289669
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Thankful for Completion

Another day without her... I'm still alive.  Shannan picked me up this am and drove me to Merrimack to a place where I'm having Rachel's flowers preserved.  They preserve them onto a tile, which I thought was cool.  I hope it comes out well.  I put her name, birthday and "43 beautiful minutes" on it and then the verse from Jeremiah "I have loved you with an everlasting love".  I also got a couple of little things made with her flowers, but they are going to be gifts so I can't tell you now...but I'm excited about it! :o)  I love giving gifts.

On the way home Shannan came to visit Rachel with me.  She gave me a few minutes by myself with her too.  I read to her and talked to her.  It doesn't feel as strange and I would have thought...it actually is coming pretty naturally to me.  My mother's love is blind.  She will always be my daughter and I will never have the relationship I would love to have with her, so I am taking the one I can get.  And still, every day, she is making me a better woman...the impact this little girl has had on my heart and countless others is overwhelming to me.  I am so honored to be part of her story.  I love her more than I could possible put into words. 

I also got an email from a friend today telling me that she went to visit Rachel.  It made me happy to know that she's getting visitors...  she said she told her what good parents she has - that made me & Matt smile too :o) 

I had decided months ago that on the memory box my sister is making me, I wanted the verse "I thank my God every time I think of you" phil.1:3. 

And some of you probably remember the post I wrote months ago about God bringing everything to completion??  If not, re-read it cause this post will make more sense if you do - here's the link: http://thegiftofrachelslife.blogspot.com/2010/09/he-brings-everything-to-completion.html

I knew that the bible said that God brings all things to completion.  The part I didn't realize until my visit with Rachel today, was that He says it in the same verses where He says "I thank my God every time I think of you".  I was unaware of where it said that - and I had no idea I was about to read it.  I also hadn't really thought about the fact that Rachel is complete now. (I know it sounds strange that it hasn't been a great comfort to me yet, but I guess I'm still working through any of this even being real right now - no, I'm not in denial)

So, there I am, freezing at the cemetery again... and I start reading to her...  I'm reading her these verses cause I want her to know that I am so thankful for her. That  I don't get crushed with sadness when I think of her, I do cry, and I am sad, but the joy in my heart far outweighs any of that stuff.  And it has since I first knew of her.  And Matt has always felt that way too... She is worthy of thankfulness for sure.  Anyway, if you're tracking with me, listen to what I read today and see if it hits you the same way it did me earlier, keeping in mind the previous post about completion...

Phil. 1:3-8
 I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,   being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (emphesis mine) 

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

My only question in the beginning... my only question now... "why couldn't He have just finished knitting her together in my womb?"  Why couldn't He have just completed her?

He did.  Just not here.  For me, that sucks.  For her, that's good news.  She's dancing away up there worshipping our Lord.  She's complete. She longs for nothing.  I long for her, but God can testify to that.  He is aware of my sufferings.  I hope she knows who I am when I see her again.  I'd love to hear her say "Mama".

As I got up to leave I said "see you tomorrow sweetheart" and got back in the car.  My heart was really heavy for the next couple of hours, but all things considered, I'm doing really well.  God is good - He's still carrying me... He'll know when to put me down.

while I was gone, Desirae was out enjoying a pretty serious English Tea Party.  There was a bunch of girls her age & older who got all dressed up with heels, long gloves, shawls and all and drank tea with sugar cubes and their pinky's out. :o)  she had a blast.  I'm so thankful for our great friends carrying us along as well.  Keeping the kids in mind and checking in constantly to see if they can help with them.  Tomorrow Des is going with some other friends and their 2 girls to see a musical at the Seacoast Rep. after church.  She's getting big.  All this girly stuff makes me wish we were able to keep Rachel even more.  Girl stuff is fun - and so much more so with more than one of them.  I'm glad she has so many friends to be with.  And I am praying that God will bless us with a sister for Desirae in the future.  If not, she's got all sorts of sisters in Christ.  Thank you for that!  And adoption has always been on my heart...and Matt mentioned it the other day.   We've talked a little about that and we're praying through it for now. 

What I really want is the impossible... I want Rachel.  I want this to all be a long, bad dream caused by eating the wrong food before bed and when I wake up, I'll be getting ready for my 19 week ultrasound, hoping to find out we're having another girl - and getting no bad news.

And then again, I don't want that at all.  I love Rachel with such an unconditional love, that it's almost as if she wouldn't be "my girl" if she didn't have anencephaly.  I love who she was...every inch of her...exactly the way she was created.  I was blind to what she was missing and in love with all she had...like Daddy's nose, Mama's mouth, and the same long black hair that all her siblings have had.  I miss her... oh, God, do I miss her... but I love her for just who she is.  I am determined to never let her be forgotten and am already planning her next two parties. :o)  She'll be here for them, and if I know her, she'll be dancing!