Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hormones + Grief = Messy

I am definitely feeling depressed this week.  I use the word carefully cause I'm still not in need of meds, no worries, but I feel down.  And although I am certain that makes perfect sense with what has happened in my life, I still hate it.  I think part of it is that I'm super overwhelmed with everything I have to do lately.  I have to stand at a table in the morning at church to try to recruit some more volunteers and I want to ditch out on it.  I actually can't wait until this is over.  It's just so much work and I'm still so sad.  I have had to keep going no matter what and I'm looking forward to the day things slow down... one week from today!

The bottom line is that no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I'm still grieving.  I'm grateful that God has given me the ability to be real with people as much as sometimes I wish I knew how to keep my mouth shut.  At least I know that there isn't crap boiling under the cover... it's all over the stove already!  What you see is what you get.  Sometimes it's messy.  And lately, I feel really messy. 

I've spent time trying to analyze how I feel and why... why am I more sad lately?  Why am I not excited about the playground?  Why do I not feel like talking to people? Why do I not want to get out of bed in the morning?  Why does it feel like Rachel just died?  Will I be happy about the playground after it's built or will it just make me sad?  What if it's just a HUGE reminder that she's gone?  Will I be happy about this baby after it's here or will it just be a reminder that Rachel's not?  And that is followed by guilt that I even think that way.  I could go on and on and on...  Here are the answers I've come up with.

1.  I'm grieving
2. I'm pregnant
3. I'm grieving and pregnant at the same time

Look, any time I've been pregnant I don't want to get up in the a.m. or talk to people.  It's called hormones.  I also have a history of losing my "filter" when I'm pregnant  (or after I have a baby, which was magnified after Rachel with the grief)  Meaning, there is no telling what I might say and so I usually try to stay away from people.  (it's me being nice) :o) My body has always responded to hormones in a pretty non-friendly way.

 The grief just does whatever it wants and I'm along for a bumpy ride... Out of nowhere I can start crying and that has happened a lot this week.  Today I looked at a picture of her and I could feel her in my arms... I burst into tears with a deep pain in my heart that would do anything to hold her again. I fear the day that I can't remember what that felt like.  Thinking about what could have been crushes me.  She would be smiling at me now and started to babble...the kids would be in love with her.

I don't believe that pregnancy and grieving were ever intended to go together.  To add that it's my baby I'm grieving adds a different dynamic because not long ago, that space belonged to Rachel.  It was all I knew of her.  I'm actually nervous for the first time I feel this little one kick.  I never in my whole life imagined I would say such a thing.  The very things that used to be what I looked forward to, now scare me.  (like Mother's Day)  My emotions are still so raw and my heart hurts so bad.  But the truth is, unless I was never to have another baby again, I was going to have to go through this... and whatever else might come along... there is no way around it, only through it.

And so I keep putting one foot in front of the other... one painful day at a time... trying to stay pliable to what God wants to do in me through this - and joining Him in using Rachel's story, our story,  in whatever way He has planned.  And while I do, I long for heaven like never before.  A place where there is no more pain, no more tears, no worries, no deadlines, no hormones or death and especially not the two together...

A place where there is Rachel. 

Memories of her are everywhere; Her playground, Her 'walk & run', The tulips we planted together.  Her memory is there,  but her... her perfect little body, the baby I long to hold... she is in heaven and no matter what I do, I will not see *her* again anywhere else.  And the places I do see her are just reminders that she isn't here.

My grandmother told me the first 100 years are the hardest, after that it gets easy.  I would only change one thing about her very wise statement... and that would be: if you believe in Jesus.  If not, I'd say that's backwards.

Friday, April 29, 2011

God has done many things

21 long, cold weeks without my girl.
The longest winter of my life. 
The harshest weather I've ever faced, on the outside and on the inside

And today, on Friday, we got our first bloom of spring.
This is the side of my house... hopefully the garden in the back yard will show it's color soon too, where I planted 120 of these with Rachel in her memory!

We went to Options For Women for an ultrasound today.  I woke up thinking about canceling the appt.  I just can't seem to get excited about an ultrasound anymore.  They will never be the same...

Baby looks like (s)he is doing good...and I saw a round head, I think. A couple more weeks and I should be able to get the 'final answer' from the doctor.  The heartbeat was 165 and baby was moving like crazy.  Apparently taking after Rachel in the gift of dancing.  I left and called Matt to tell him it went well, but didn't feel happy...I don't know, I guess I will only feel better when I'm holding this baby in my arms at home and it's alive.  It seems like every time something goes "right" with this baby, I grieve the ways that it went "wrong" with Rachel.  It's not that I'm not in love with this baby or excited that it appears to be healthy, because I am, but... well, unfortunately I can't explain something I don't understand myself.  It is what it is.

We left there and went to the cemetery to have a picnic at Rachel's grave.  There was an Easter basket awaiting us and I laughed when I saw Sam's egg...poor boy, but I am so grateful that people make accommodations for him.  It was from Denise & family and I'm going to make this basket Rachel's each year.  I didn't buy one because, as I stood at the store debating it, I decided it was foolish to spend money I don't have on something for a girl who will never see it and I just used an old plain one from home. And so my heart lit up when I saw this and realized that now I have one for her, and it's cute. :o)

Ours had candy that Sam couldn't have

It was so warm today - snowing last week, the 70's this week!  I basked in the sun for a few at her grave. The cemetery has been going regularly to add dirt to her grave to make sure it's level each time it settles again and today it had grass seed on it.  Hopefully it will start to cover over soon.  I can't believe how well they tend the grounds there, they don't miss a beat.  But just like everything else, it is sad to me that someday I may not remember exactly where she is buried.  She just keeps seeming further away.  I know this is going to sound morbid, but as I sat there with the kids today, I thought about how someday Matt & I will be buried there too (provided we don't lose any more children) and I thought about how the kids will be visiting my grave there and will have memories of being there with me as they grew up.  I hope that it brings them comfort when I'm gone and that God will meet them there the same way He has me.

Both Des & Isaiah have been praying fervently that "Mama's baby will come out safely" and at dinner tonight Desirae thanked God that He gave the baby a head.  I'm thankful too, but I miss the days when I didn't know a baby could be born without one.  One thing is for sure, I doubt I ever have to worry about my children where abortions are concerned.  I always wanted to do "more" for pro-life... I used to have Des help me with mailings to raise money to help save babies and help mothers to make decisions they wouldn't regret.  After I experienced what it was like to be pregnant in a less than perfect situation (I was in jail) and have Matt's sister and a few close friends tell me that having an abortion would be the only unselfish thing to do, (even offering to pay for it) I know why girls can easily get scared into it.  I told Desirae about abortions much younger than most people would, because I always wanted my kids to know how sacred life is... each and every one... and now I believe they do.  

Desirae fully understands that 95% of babies like Rachel get killed at a "Dr's office".   She knows that a lot of people don't believe that it's important to let God decide when babies live and die and she knows that a lot of people in the world don't think that Rachel mattered because she had nothing to offer us. Oh, how wrong they are!  An article I read the other day said that "these babies will never achieve personhood".  I wanted to puke.  Rachel was a person made in God's image.  She was a beautiful person with a beautiful soul.

Tonight Des said that God was good because he gave this baby a head and I asked her "so does that make Him 'not good' that He didn't give Rachel the top of hers?"  Her answer didn't sound like that of an 8 year old... she said "no, because He did many things with Rachel"  I asked like what... she said "like some people know Jesus now because of Rachel and He's making a big playground because of her"  I asked "what did He do for you through Rachel?" and she replied "He gave me a sister".  My sweet Desirae...she has no idea how amazing she is.

God has done many things with Rachel.  Too many to count.  He had each and every single one planned out before the creation of the universe.  Just imagine. 
The same is true for you and me.

Psalm 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Pause the music player at bottom of blog and listen to this song I heard today

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Still Broken

This week has been very emotional for me.  I'm excited about the playground, but really do feel like at any moment I could start crying and never stop.  Most of the time I don't have time to cry.  A million times a day I tear up, wipe them away and keep going. 

I am so busy with everything that my mind feels like mush.  I miss Rachel so much that my heart feels like a ton of bricks.  And I'm so tired and drained from new baby that just accomplishing taking care of my 3 little ones and homeschooling wipes me out, never mind trying to coordinate all the playground details and take care of the house.  So, I kinda feel like I'm going under.  Good thing we're building an ark. :o)

As we move further away from December 3 and closer to fun things like Rachel's playground, I am experiencing one of the things I knew would happen and was afraid of...  the time when everyone else moves on.  Life is back to normal for everyone else.  I can't tell you how many people in just the last week have told me that they "had followed my blog" (past tense) One lady said "that was so hard" (past tense again) I ask if they still are... nope.  They followed it cause they were caught up in the sad emotions of the reality of Rachel's condition, but they think the journey is done.  And for them it is.  I am SO grateful for all of you who continue to love me and support me even now.  The fact that anybody could even think that once Rachel was in the ground it was done hurts my heart. 

I do want to acknowledge a couple of people who have shown me that they haven't forgotten us this week.  For Easter, Amanda W. left a few bags on our porch FULL of stuff for the kids Easter baskets.  She even left Sam some allergen free candy (very thoughtful!) and she gave me a bag (I haven't had an Easter Basket in YEARS) and she gave Rachel one, which of course made me cry. 

The other thing that I'm so excited about is that Mary Knapp from Tri-City Christian Academy invited Des and Isaiah to come to their summer camp as a gift for a couple of days a week this summer.  I cannot tell you how much this is going to help me!  I can make all my Dr appt's and errands for the days they are gone and then when we're together the rest of the week, I will be more free to just hang out with them.  I won't be much fun this summer being so pregnant and they will still get to do lots of fun stuff. It's also going to give Sam & I time alone which we never get.  It is going to all around be a huge blessing to all of us as I prepare our home for another Aube baby - and gear up for another year of homeschool, hopefully with a baby in my arms.

I remember a day not so long ago that I was getting numerous cards in the mail for Rachel daily, tons of comments on my blog... a day when she wasn't old news.  This week, these two people reached out and let me know that they have not forgotten about me or Rachel and that they know my trial isn't over.

And it is so far from over. 

All the playground planning has turned losing Rachel into something exciting to many.  They stop me to talk about how great this all is and how exciting it is that we're building a playground... and it is great and exciting, but that is not my first emotion.  They rub my arm and smile and say things like "at least you're turning this into something positive"  *deep sigh*.  I am not turning this into anything. 

Rachel died.  That sucks. 
We're building a playground.  That is awesome. 

Two totally different things.  But I don't try to explain, I just smile and say things like "I'm really grateful that I have this to keep me busy right now".... and "God has been so good".  and that is about as much of an honest response as I can give.  I want to shake my head and tell them how much I still hurt... tell them how I wish I wasn't building a memorial playground... tell them how there is NO turning the loss of my girl into a positive.  Yes, God has done amazing things with her life.  Yes, I think He will continue to for a while to come... Yes, a memorial playground will be cool.  No, her death isn't a positive in my eyes.  Sorry if that sounds like a negative thing to say.  I will always wish it could have been different.  But just as I wrote in my first email ever telling friends and family what was happening:

Aug 5,2010
"....As much as we don't want to drink of this cup, we are surrendering to whatever He wants to do through this. Our desire during this time is that we can celebrate her life even in the midst of our sadness and cherish the time we have with her, however limited it may be, until we see her again in heaven...."

And so we continue to surrender, to love and to hope - in the midst of our sadness - as we await the day we'll see her again in heaven.  I will be doing this long after her playground is built.  And it hurts bad.  I am often in awe of the blessing that she has been and God's amazing grace that has carried me, but that doesn't remove my pain or mean my grief will be any less difficult.  In fact, this week, thinking about the playground has made me sad cause the only thing I can think of when I picture it all done is "I wish she was going to be playing on it" or "I'd still rather have Rachel".  My heart still just wants her.  I do what I do for her, not for me.  Everything I do to remember her is not because I need the reminder or because it takes the pain away- it's because as her mother I refuse to let the world forget she existed.  She was too amazing for that. 

I, on the other hand, will be in the same exact place after her playground is complete:
A mother with a broken heart missing my sweet baby. 
I'm not sure many people get that... God does.  And when it seems like no one in this whole world cares (which I know is just a feeling) all I have to do is call His name and He is there.  He gets it and He cares more than I know.

And 'ironically' I heard a song this morning that said just that and had me in tears, so I'm playing it for you now...

"And when they realized that the Lord had seen their misery and was deeply concerned for them,
they all bowed their heads and worshipped".
Exodus 4: 31 NLT

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Playground Meeting Schedule

We have another playground meeting tonight.  Last week we had a great turnout! Thank you! We start Rachel's Playground a week from today!  If you are planning on helping us and can make it to the meetings, please do!  Here are the ones we have left:

Tonight 6:30pm
Sunday 9:15am, between services
Wednesday 5/4 7:00-8:30 this one is MANDATORY for all team captains and coordinators but highly encouraged for everybody.  The more you understand how this process will work, the better off we are.  It will make things run MUCH more smoothly for the build days.  Please try to make it!

I can't believe we're almost there!!  I'm excited and yet find myself in tears daily over the fact that this is even needed.  Every detail that comes together reminds me that she is gone... and also loved.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Still Learning

I'm extremely tired these days.  Baby is taking everything I have.  I'm feeling weary, feels like I been pregnant forever (kinda have) and I have a ways to go (hopefully).  I just keep thinking about everything I need to do for the kids and for Rachel's Playground and all I want to do is lay down and sleep....partially because I'm so tired and partially because if I'm sleeping, I don't feel like I'm going to throw up. 

The funny thing is that I have what most people would probably consider pretty bad "morning" sickness (that lasts ALL day) but this is actually the easiest pregnancy I've had yet.  Normally I don't get a break from the blow-me-over-tiredness and the one-move-and-I-could-puke nausea for about 14 weeks.  This time, I usually feel pretty good from after I eat breakfast until around noon and then it hits.  I'm good with that, but I have to admit that I feel kind of discouraged with it.  I have 3 little ones, homeschooling, and 7 days till we start Rachel's Playground.  If it wasn't for her, I would have quit by now... and I wonder daily how I will get through the next week and a half.

Funny how even after all I have been through, I can still worry about how God will take care of me, isn't it?  I know He will carry me and help me do what I need to do... but in my humanness, I guess I'm still trying to figure out how to do it on my own.  I'll catch on someday. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

No Co-Pay Here

Do you remember a couple months back when I vaguely mentioned "my counselor who betrayed my trust"?
Well, just this week, I am realizing what a huge effect that had on me.  OK, so I didn't blog about it for the sake of being "good" but to be honest, after talking to a friend the other night and realizing how much it was still hurting me, I have officially decided that it is more important for me to heal from it than for me to hide her "mistake" (as she called it).  And since I am an outward processor...I'm sure you've picked up on that one!...  this is how I'm going to do it. 

Side note: this blog has been a life saver for me over these past 9 months - I don't think I would be where I am emotionally if it wasn't for all the baby loss Mamas that I have to talk to and the support I get from all of my readers.  Thank you!  And just having a place to do all my outward processing where I never have to wait for an awkward or hurtful response to my sometimes crazy feelings has been great as far as me not holding things in.  The last thing I want is to be still trying to work through this stuff 20 years from now.

That being said, when I first called the counselor - not because I thought I needed it but because the doctor was insisting I had depression (which I didn't) and a few people recommended her - I told her that I didn't think I needed a counselor.  She said "it would be good to have a safe place where you can talk about things"  I explained that I was not in any way a private person who has trouble talking about my feelings and I was not lacking support, but that there were some details of Rachel's birthday that I don't talk about in an attempt to protect her from peoples' judgment.  So I went.  I went 2 times. 

The second time I went, I told her about something hurtful that someone at church had said to me that week.  I said that I knew she didn't mean anything by it, but that her personality could just be abrasive.  She said "I know who you're talking about, It's ___ and she can be abrasive" (I had said her first name only) I honestly thought nothing of this.  I LOVE the girl who had hurt me and as not nice as that statement sounds (is), the focus of what I was saying really was that I knew she didn't mean anything by it, but that I was hurt.

I went in the third time and miss counselor tells me that she felt guilty after we met last and called the girl and told her that I was there and what had been said.  Yes, you heard me right... she CALLED HER AND TOLD HER.

I have also been accused of not being a trusting person... HMMM... can't imagine why.  I mean, minus that my entire childhood and early adulthood was filled with abandonment and disappointment from every man I ever knew,  but now I've got friends saying hurtful things while I grieve the loss of my baby and counselors doing what she called "just a small breech" and then claiming that this is normal behavior for a Christian community saying "in a secular community this wouldn't be acceptable, but in a Christian community, we all work together"... really?  If I wanted group counseling, I would have signed up for it.  But just for the record... It's not small and it's not normal.  And then she tried to tell me that it's the first time she had done it ("this never has happened before"), when she had, on 3 other occasions, done similar things to me; telling me personal information about others that she assumed I already knew.

So, I think blogging is much better than reporting her, how about you?  Although, I'll admit, I'm tempted.  Not only had I only told 2 people I was even going (not including this friend) and should be able to decide for myself who knows I'm going to counseling, but I should be able to talk about anything in counseling and not worry about it leaving the room, unless of course I was beating my kids.  Isn't that the law?  But hey, those laws don't apply to her.  And then she pulled the whole "will you forgive me" line... I'll call that the "God card".  I said yes but explained that I would not be coming back.  I told her that she said this would be a "safe place to talk about things" and it isn't. 

I really didn't tell anyone and pretty much just tried to forget about it, but what I have realized just this week is that this severely affected my relationships with everyone for the last couple months.  I'm just now starting to want to talk to people again.  If I had trust issues before, well... they just got worse.  I mean seriously, who can you trust??  The only One I've found so far is God.  I'm glad He's enough, but in my humanness, I want to be able to confide in and talk with others on a deeper level.  I want to be able to trust people too. And well, a counselor, I thought that was the reason you went there instead of invited Betty Lou out for coffee....

So, this leads me to the burden on my heart that I would love to talk to a counselor about in a "safe" and "confidential" environment, but actually think I might have better luck with the Internet cause at least I can decide what I want shared.... This is another one of those really hard things to write that I feel like I need to...

If you are carrying a baby with anencephaly right now, please do not let this scare you.  Rachel was the best and most amazing miracle that I have ever been blessed to be a part of and I would do it all over again, even knowing all the hard parts.  I don't say that cause it sounds good, I say it because it is true.  With every part of my being, I mean it.

That being said... I was trying to envision what it will be like to have this baby.  In my mind I was trying to convince myself that this baby will be ok and that it will be coming home with me.  (right now, I'm trying not to care if I sound weird)  As I thought about it, all I kept picturing was the moment that they took Rachel out of me and held her up for me to see. 

In the weeks and months leading up to her birth, I had fallen in love with her little face as I went to my weekly ultrasounds.  I had looked at many pictures of anencephalic babies and was familiar with the common characteristics that the babies had...but I always hoped that Rachel would look more like my other babies and less like an anencephalic baby.  And she did look like my other babies after I looked at her for a while and especially in her beautiful photos.  But the moment I first saw her, my initial reaction was not what I had hoped.  This is where I feel really bad....  I looked at her, took a deep breath and knew that she had every characteristic that I had feared.  My baby was very obviously never going to survive outside my womb and I didn't need a diagnosis from a doctor to tell me that when I looked at her.  There have been so many hard moments in this journey and that was one of them.  The video of her birth has been viewed by not one other person other than Matt & I and probably never will be.  My sister was there when she was born and other than that, nobody has seen her photos from right after birth.  To me, it's not her... it's her anencephaly. 

We had to take a picture of her head from the front and side for the Duke University Anencephaly Study we participated in and when I sent them over, I also sent a cute picture with her hat on because I needed them to see Rachel, not just her anencephaly.  They were VERY kind and replied back about her cute chubby cheeks and how they are following my blog.

And so here I am, trying to remember what it is like to give birth to a healthy baby and I can't.  It was in that moment that I realized that this has been a very traumatic experience for me.  Seeing my baby be born into this world - every other part of her body perfect, but without the top of her head, her eyes bulging and her ears bent in half was the deepest, most heart wrenching combination of grief and joy I have ever tried to balance.  And yet with God, I had peace.  Thank You, Jesus for that peace.

Minutes later, I was holding her and couldn't care less if she had her hat on... God held me in that time and helped me to live those 43 minutes to the fullest...  But oh man, the scar.

We went back to our room and I prepared her for the kids to meet her.  Our nurses, Kim and Michele were amazing (Thank you!!) and didn't appear at all uncomfortable helping us handle our precious baby who was no longer alive. (funny thing...I just accidentally wrote 'alice' there instead of 'alive'...)  but as the minutes passed, she got more and more blue.  I wanted to clean her up, especially her hair, but had a hard time cause I was nervous to be too rough with her.  I did my best, got her in her "love to twirl" outfit and we called in the kids. My family and our friends joined us after we got her dressed...  It was a very bittersweet day and my passion to make the most out of her life was what drove me in those hours... all the while, God's peace and love cradled me and protected my mind and heart.

Desirae would never admit it, but I saw the same thing happen to her... the initial reaction followed by shear unconditional love for her sister.  And God graced me with the ability to be able to tell them she was no longer with us - and  to be excited with my kids and smile with them about the cute little baby who left us too soon. 

Desirae has had her own journey with this as well... I've heard her conversations with other kids as they ask why her sister she explained that her head was missing.  I watched her face drop in fear when Rachel's hat fell off as she was holding her....and then watched her struggle with her strong desire to hold her again vs. her fear that her hat would fall off again.  She was so brave and full of so much love.  I've heard one of her friends shout out in the sanctuary at church "your baby was blue!" and we just smile and keep going... but it stings.  I will say that watching my sweet daughter at only 8 years old handle this in a better way than some adults in our lives makes me SO proud to be her mother.  She is one amazing little girl and I know that being Rachel's big sister was part of God's plan for her life.  I believe wholeheartedly that it was for the better....even though it hurts.

So there it is... I'm sure none of you actually thought that day was easy anyway, but I decided the day after she died that I was going to be very purposeful about what I shared because I knew that the details I concentrated on would be what stuck in my memory. (yes, I was planning for my elderly years!)  and I wanted to make sure that I remember the amazing love, joy, and peace that surrounded us that day.  And usually, that is what I remember.

But, I'm not sure how this is all going to feel when I give birth again.  I am definitely preparing myself for the fact that I will have some pretty tough emotions about Rachel that re-surface (if they ever fade before then).  It is funny how many people think that this baby will make me feel better... I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that is not correct.  I will be beside myself in joy if this baby is healthy and pink, but nothing... nobody... no baby could EVER make losing Rachel hurt less.  It won't speed it along. There is no cure for grief.  And as a matter of fact, I have a feeling that holding a new Aube baby will bring up a lot of the pain from what I missed with Rachel... and I think that is likely to continue through all the "firsts". 

And just for the record, you can call anyone you want and tell them about any of this... at least you didn't charge my insurance.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus Conquered the Grave!

Happy Easter! 

We had an amazing morning at church.  Worship was awesome, the building was packed (we have our Easter service at the High School cause we can't all fit in our church!), and we helped out this year with a new children's program (there's normally no childcare) and although we missed the sermon it was a ton of fun getting the kids excited about Jesus' resurrection....and it sure beat standing in the hallway with all the little ones that can't make it through the sermon with nothing to do, which is where I normally end up with my babies anyway.  I would have loved to be "stuck" in the hallway with Rachel this year...

Today my heart is filled with gratitude that Christ died for me.  Whenever I give my testimony (or think of it for that matter), I am always humbled to tears that He could love me... with all my fears and failures.  That I did all the things I did and that He still accepts me.  It's a hard concept to grasp .  I know everyone sins, but let's face it, some just seem worse than others and I know that there are people who would probably be scared to enter environments that I made myself very comfortable in and to be around people who I hung with. Never mind do the things I did.  I wonder how I made it out alive at times...I wonder how I managed to fit in since quite often I was scared too.  Jail was actually less scary in many ways.  But ultimately, until I found Christ as my Lord, I was in a jail of my own making and a prisoner to my sin - no matter where I was.

Today, as we sang songs about Jesus being the author of our salvation and conquering the grave, I thanked Him that He saved me and that the grave couldn't hold Him down.  I thanked Him that He conquered my sweet girl's grave too.  I have never disliked the word 'grave' more than I do now.  If that was all there was, I would probably die of a broken heart... but it's not.  She is dancing with Jesus in heaven today.

So, we have 13 more days until Rachel's Playground will be completed!  10 until we start!  I stopped by the church the other day to take a picture of the spot it's going since I'm a big fan of 'before & after' shots :o)

Here it is...

But when I did, I realized something that I always knew, but had not considered...  Do you see the little cabin in the woods?  That is one of the "cottages" from a yucky motel that is next to our church.  The thing I realized as I was posting this picture is that little cabin was the first place I ever got drunk. I was barely 13.  I also had another really bad thing happen to me that night that I can't share.  The party was loud and out of control, and the police got called.  When they showed up, I jumped out the back window (without my shoes) and ran though those woods and hid until they were gone... right where Rachel's playground will go.  At that point in my life, I had only stepped foot in a church about 3 times...and yet as I laid on the ground trying to stay out of the line of their flashlights, I knew it was a safe place to be.  Too bad it took me so many years to go inside.  It's also really too bad that I went back to the party, but that's another story.   I would have been better off getting arrested...

Right now all this barren land holds is a bad memory from my childhood.  In a couple of weeks, it will hold a big playground in honor of my girl... a symbol of Hope, love & courage... a symbol of God's provision through trials.   A symbol of how God carried me above the storm as I carried her to His arms.  And I don't believe it's a coincidence that He is turning this spot into something beautiful and God honoring - I didn't pick the spot, Joe from Learning Structures and Pastor Bernie did.  I was there and just nodded :o)  But I believe God knew I would eventually pick up on this detail... it's as if He's reminding me again that He is the only One Who can turn my ashes into beauty.

It's been a beautiful, hard journey.  But at least there is beauty.  My life before Christ held no true beauty.  But In Him, my heart rejoices.  Here are the lyrics to the song that had me in tears this morning...may they speak to your heart like they did mine.

Mighty to Save - Hillsong

Everyone needs compassion,
Love that's never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We're singing for the glory of the risen King...Jesus (x2)

My Saviour, you can move the mountains,
You are mighty to save,
You are mighty to save.
Forever, Author of Salvation,
You rose and conquered the grave,
Yes you conquered the grave

He took it all... every sin I've ever committed or will commit and He covered me with His precious blood. He did this so that My Father does not see me and my sin, but Him... without sin.  If you don't understand why you need to believe in Jesus to enter heaven, here it is...  God cannot be in the presence of sin.  That's us folks... we can't stand in His Holy presence the way we are, no matter how 'good' we try to be.  The only way to be with God is to be covered by the blood of Christ - and for that, you have to believe in Him.

Life will still be hard, trials will still come - life will still be uncertain.... but eternity... that will be certain.

Thank You God for Easter!

Oh, and I have to just say that I got to meet one of my blog friends this morning.. Eve came from RI to celebrate Easter here and I was so honored to meet her!  God used Rachel's story to reach her heart and I have a new sister in Christ!!  And so does Rachel ♥

Another Article about Rachel's Playground

There was another article in the paper the other day about Rachel's Playground that they wrote up after talking to Learning Structures (the playground company helping us) 
Click Here to Read 
It was printed on Friday....seems to happen a lot.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Good Friday

20 long weeks...  another Friday without my girl.  Yesterday was really nice out though and Des didn't have art since it's school vacation, so our time at Rachel's grave was not limited.  I was working on setting some flowers up on her bench so that the wind can't knock them over when a family who was visiting nearby approached us.

"I like your bench"  he said with a smile "I was the first one to put a bench here and now everyone has them."   He continued.  I looked up from what I was doing and said "that's cause they are a really good idea, but this actually isn't her stone...this is a temporary thing until her stone comes in....she was just born in December"  He stopped and looked down, realizing I said "born" and not "died" (I guess I still have a hard time letting her death be the focus) and as his eyes connected with the small rectangular spot without grass, his body took on a different stance.  He put his hand on his face and said "oh, that's tough",  his wife pulled on his arm and they walked away... He turned around a minute later and said "those bells over there sure do sound nice, I can't believe how the sound carries".  I guess bells are a more comfortable topic in a cemetery than a dead baby. The fact is, I had never noticed them before and even after he said it, couldn't hear what he was talking about... my mind was fixed on the little grave and my sweet baby who is buried there.

"Tough" - I guess that's a good word for it.  I went back to tying her flowers to rocks and the kids started running again, playing hide & seek behind headstones and hitting each other with fallen branches.  "Tough" must be short for what my new life is. I have yet to find one word that could describe what my heart feels.  I have written thousands of words and I still don't believe that my words could do the pain justice.  I also don't believe they could do my joy and gratitude in knowing Rachel justice. 

Yesterday was also Good Friday.  I sat on Rachel's bench reflecting on the death of my Lord...that Friday was a "tough" day for Him too.  But He carried His cross and gave his life for His Father's plan.  A plan to rescue all who believe in Him from a lifetime of separation from Him and an eternity in hell.  But on Good Friday, God's plan was never to leave Jesus there, but to have Him rise again on Sunday.  I thanked the Lord for so many things as I sat there... that her grave had dried up and my feet weren't sinking in... that Jesus died and arose again...that Rachel's soul didn't stay there with her body... and that God can make such beauty out of things that are so "tough".  I praised Him that Jesus was willing to do what He did and that He gave me the willingness and desire to do what I did.  I thanked God for Jesus and for Rachel.  This Easter, I think I will be rejoicing to a whole new level.  I could not have this assurance of Rachel being in a 'better place' if it wasn't for Jesus' resurrection on Easter all those years ago.  He's the only way.  My daughter's heart will be rejoicing that He conquered the mother's heart will be rejoicing that Rachel did too because of Him.  Thank You, Jesus.

Last night, we went to Kelly & Denise's to put our handprints on Rachel's fence. The fence came out awesome and then we did some fireworks together... thinking it might become an annual Good Friday celebration... I mean seriously, we celebrate Independence Day like that... I think Good Friday deserves some fireworks too!

Sam cried when we first put the paint on his hand and after he did the first flower, we asked if he wanted to do another one... through some pretty serious tears he whined "yesssss" and then he was excited about it.  Des rushed right through them so she could get back outside and Isaiah was VERY particular about which stems he put his hands on.  All in all, it went really smoothly with only a bit on paint on... you guessed it... Isaiah.
Samuel goes first!

Des didn't need any help...

Denise painting Isaiah's hands

"What? You don't like the color?" :o)

Mama & Daddy's turn!

OK, and as a total side note... right now as I write this... IT IS SNOWING OUTSIDE!! AND it is actually ACCUMULATING!!  I am seriously disappointed that God couldn't give me an early spring after the winter I've had, but never mind that... how about an "ON TIME" spring??  We will be building a playground in less than 2 weeks.... please pray for our weather!!

Have a blessed Easter with all the joy that the Lord gives!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Spent a while at Denise's tonight painting the fence for Rachel's Playground... it's going to be so cute.  We painted the background and stems - and one of these nights my family will all go over there and paint our handprints on it as flowers, just like we did with Rachel's vault.  This is all so bittersweet.  How I wish I was too busy taking care of my 4th baby to be out at night painting... and yet I am so proud to be working on such an amazing project for my little girl.  I'm also so thankful to have friends dedicated to helping me as well.  Denise also has in her garage a HUGE giraffe and elephant that she cut out and will be painting for the ark!  It's going to look awesome.  2 weeks from today we'll be starting it!  I can hardly believe it.  I'm getting really excited - and a bit nervous too. 

But just to make sure that I'm not bored after the playground is complete, I have officially... actually Vanessa has officially... scheduled the Baby Rachel's Legacy Walk & Run to be held in Dover on August 6th!  This is going to be an anencephaly awareness walk/run that we will do the weekend after August 4th to mark the anniversary of when we first got Rachel's diagnosis. Mark it on your calendar now!! I'm super excited about this too!  It will be a 5K and the walkers will go a different route than the runners, through the cemetery and past Rachel's grave. 

Like everything else, this is also going to hold some serious emotions for me.  I definitely think having all of these positive things come out of my suffering has helped me to work through my grief.  It doesn't remove it, but it gives me a purpose and lightens my heart.  I could very easily, even still, decide to just lay down and cry.  And I might never get back up.  But I truly believe that God has so much more planned for Rachel's Legacy... and I'm not going to let either one of them down.  So, this is the "secret project" I've mentioned in the past and once again am so thankful that I have a friend helping me make it happen.   We should have a website for it soon, so I'll keep you posted!

After Rachel's funeral, I remember asking "what do I do now?" and I've wondered if I would have the same feeling after the playground was done... but God's timing is always perfect because Vanessa & I first met to mark out the route in December. (remember the day I got my new coat?) :o) We have been waiting (and she has been going back & forth with the town) for months to get the approval on our route.  And we got it this week, just as the playground is finishing up!

I think after the walk, I'm going to take a break :o)  Maybe...  I can't make any guarantees... Just for the record, this wasn't my was Vanessa's!  She approached me (I had no idea who she was when I got the first email - even though she came to Rachel's funeral!) and said she wanted to help me do this... and not only was it a great idea, but I've also gained a great friend.  God is so good to me.  But I can't promise He won't send some other great new friend my way with another project for me to work on when this one is done!  And when it comes to Rachel, well, my answer has never been "no" - it's always been "I will". 

If she was here, I'd give her my all... and I will do the same, even though she's gone.

OH, another thing about the playground... if you are planning on coming, but have not contacted myself or Mary at my church - PLEASE do!!  We are very low on the number of volunteers we have signed up.  We need twice as many as we have definites on.  I know some people plan to just show up, but please for my sanity's sake, call Mary at 603-332-9689 (Grace Community Church) and let her know you plan to come. 

And on that note, you should also listen to WSEW 88.7 because Ron & Sharon Malone have put on a beautiful announcement for Rachel's Playground.  Thank you!!  Desirae's eyes lit up when she heard her little sister's name on the radio! 

OK, so I have been all over the place, but I think you get it... I have TON of really awesome stuff happening all for, and because of, my precious little girl, whose 43 minutes in our arms left more of an impact in this world than some people leave in decades of life.

I'm reminded of the words I wrote in my pregnancy journal in week 10 of Rachel's pregnancy, long before we had any idea she was not going to live.  My "Things you're wondering this week" answer was...

"Why am I so blessed to be your mother and why has God chosen me to be part of your creation?"

Why?  I'll never know...  Blessed, I am.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Florida to Reality

I should tell you about Florida before I get too far away from it!  Time is flying and I have sat down to work on this about 5 times in the last week and a half and never finish...

Our plane was delayed (both ways) and we found out after we arrived in Florida that Southwest had a major incident with a crack in one of their planes...thankfully not ours, but it was that same day so it slowed everything down.  The kids loved the plane and Samuel did great in his own seat.

Florida was amazing.  The weather was beautiful.  We left the snow behind and entered into high 80's low 90's nice and sunny weather.  Just what I needed after the long winter we've had.  We did a lot of traveling in our week there.  We flew into Orlando because we only had a $1000 credit (from other tickets) and had to buy Sam a ticket since he is 2 now - and it was much cheaper.  Our rental had unlimited miles and it was a good thing because the condo we were using (friends let us stay there) was 4 hours away!  Our rental by the way was a brand new 2011 Town & Country Van that was so nice.  We did not go to Disney, although Des was bummed about that.  But not only is it WAY too expensive, but we needed a real vacation and there is nothing relaxing about Disney!  We plan to go next time we go down when the boys are a little older.  This is a struggle of having Des so much older than the others - they are interested in different things and at totally different levels.  It's hard to please everyone right now.  I can see the benefit of having kids closer together.

I'll start with the first part of our trip... we stayed at Matt's Dad & Stepmom's for 2 nights in Spring Hill.  The kids had a blast and seemed to warm up to them quickly.  They did a bunch of swimming and hanging in the hot tub, which me & baby had to pass on. 

Isaiah hanging out with Pepere

Memere was helping him load his Pez dispenser - A VERY serious job!
Des loves hot tubs!
Sam's just waking up from nap

Cuddling after a swim

Leaving for Naples

They played the Wii with Pepere and Sam was really into it.  He was screaming in excitement. He is such a ham, he had us all cracking up.  I think he'll be a sports boy.

We packed back up and headed to Naples on Monday morning.  We got to the condo early afternoon and after checking the place out, headed straight for the pool.  Although some people live there year round, it is a resort and the place is amazing.  That first day the water was almost too warm!  There is a little movie theatre, an ice cream shop, a bistro and a gym all right near the unbelievable pool.  Every time we walked in, Sam would yell "waterfall!"

My feet :o)  Watching the kids play with Matt in the pool

Baby Aube is starting to make his/her debut -
That is probably why people think Sam wears a big brother shirt. :o(

There is someone missing in this family photo...

Des has turned into a little fish.  Most of the time we were in Florida, she was under water.  Her & her goggles became best friends and we couldn't get her to slow down.  Unfortunately, I don't have an underwater camera cause I really wasn't able to get a picture of her above water!  We also went to the ocean and were able to see a bunch of dolphins jumping up in the air.  It was so cool.  I was more excited than the kids were, I think!  The waves were really strong and easily knocked us over.  It was fun.

Swimming at Memere & Pepere's

Isaiah's highlight of the trip was definitely bowling.  At his turn he would chuck the ball down the lane, and turn around and yell "Yeesss! I did it" before he even knew what had happened and then would run back yelling "it's still my turn!"  He was really funny and so carefree.  It was a lot of fun watching him.  He did realize though that it was hard to score 179 like he did on the Wii.  He's also become very comfortable in the water and was trying out some of his new techniques from swim lessons :o)

For his birthday, Samuel got tickets from Donna for the whole family to go to the Naples Zoo.  He loved it.  He was very vocal the whole time.  He is starting to talk so well, I can hardly believe it. When I heard him in the other room counting to 20 and yelling "ready or not, I'm coming!" I was blown away.  My little boy is getting so big.  One thing about Samuel is that no matter where he goes, he makes friends... Every time I turned around, he was talking to someone (and sometimes borrowing their stuff!)

making friends at the zoo

Managed to get someone else's noodle from them...

This is fun!  I love Florida!!

We had very relaxing days that always consisted of swimming, laying in the sun and eating chocolate.  And usually consisted of a nap for Samuel and me (and sometimes Isaiah).  We loved the condo so much that we didn't even go out to eat, we bought groceries and ate in.  It was a much needed and (in my humble opinion) and well deserved break for all of us.  It's been a tough year. 

Oh, that sun feels good

She was there with us... (Des took this picture, isn't she sweet?)

Waiting for the waterfall to turn on!

We are so thankful for those who helped make this trip possible and for all the people I had here in NH working away on Rachel's Playground so that I didn't need to think about it.  The only thought I had about the playground the entire week was "it's going to be awesome!" 

The only problem with going to Florida, was having to come back.  Saturday morning, before we had to go, we went swimming for a couple hours.  I was laying in the hot sun and wanting to stay there forever, but it was time to go.  We left the condo at 1pm, drove 4 hours, had a delay on our flight and finally pulled into our driveway at 1:30am... climbed into bed at 2am and got up at 7am to get to church and announce Rachel's Playground Fundraiser!  I was immediately back to work.  And for some unknown reason, this house is a lot harder to keep clean and seems to make a lot more laundry than the one in FL! 

Reality is hard. I went to the cemetery that Sunday afternoon to visit since I missed Friday.  All the snow was gone again, but her flowers were still there.  Eventually they will take them if I don't move them.  I am not usually creeped out there, but there was a strange guy walking around wearing sunglasses and a black coat (it was almost dark) and he looked like he was on something, stumbling around. He was looking in the windows of the tombs and he just kept moving closer to me even though it was obvious I was visiting.  I got in my van and drove up to the top of the hill and I couldn't get myself to leave.  Rachel is in the ground and yet all I could think was "I'm not leaving my daughter here with this crazy guy"  I watched him from a distance and when he moved past her grave I went back down and sat there.  Apparently I wasn't the only one waiting for him to move away cause someone else got out of his car as soon as he was gone too.  But I cried so hard on the way home... my mother's instinct will not let up and the desire to protect even my baby in the ground is almost enough to totally consume me.  It's the most irrational feeling I've had so far...  and yet it makes perfect sense to me.  I mean, what kind of mother would leave her baby alone with a creepy drunk guy?  I wonder if I'll ever truly come to terms with the fact that she is be honest, I don't want to.  I want her here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Selective Hearing

Yesterday I went out to rake a bit in my yard and decided it was time to take down Rachel's Christmas lights.  I still haven't taken down the "hope" star that I hung on my door the day before her birthday... I just can't yet. 

Different subject: There is something that happens quite frequently in the Aube home...  the kids wake in the night and yell for Daddy.  Sometimes I wonder why they don't want Mama... and then I just thank God for two things, one being that I can stay in bed and the other being that I have a husband who will get out of bed to take care of the kids in the night.  Plus, I think the reason they don't yell Mama is cause I don't move very quickly when I'm asleep!  They're smart. :o)

I want to give you the background to what I'm about to try to explain...  I went out last Tues to sort yard sale stuff and my friend Mel picked me up.  When we got back, we sat in the driveway and talked for a while.  I saw Matt shut the lights off around 11pm and go to bed, but didn't think anything of it... until I tried to get in and the doors were locked.  I didn't have my keys cause I got a ride and so I started knocking... which turned to banging... which turned to the neighbors yelling at me 10 minutes later because I was "BEING LOUD!" when he still had not come to let me in.  I'm wanting to dump cold water on him at this point cause I can't for the life of me figure out why the neighbors can hear me and he can't...  we don't have a big house and I even went to the front door so that the sound would travel up the stairs.  By the time he came to the door, I was pretty upset.

So, this morning at 3:30 am, after I had gone to the bathroom (nightly trips now thanks to baby)  I heard Samuel softly say "Daddy" and before I could even register in my mind that he had said it, Matt leaped out of bed and was in their room in about 3 seconds flat.  But he can't hear me pounding on the door??  I questioned. (apparently still not over this)  and he came back with Samuel in his arms and gently laid him next to him and they both went back to sleep.  I, of course, was now wide awake and couldn't fall back asleep.  So over the next two hours, Isaiah woke up and the second his toe hit the floor, Matt sat to attention and diappeared into Isaiah's room.

Now, you should know this is not the first time this has ever happened... this is a daily thing in our house.  The boys wake up way too early and practically every day, I am awoken from a sound sleep and startled because Matt will jump out of bed, as if there's a bad guy in our house or a fire, all because he heard a soft shuffle and knew one of the boys was trying to make their way towards the stairs or was about to wake their brother up...  I just don't get it, sometimes I'm convinced he needs a hearing aid, but this type of stuff blows that theory right out of the water.  He can hear, just only when the kids call... even when he's asleep! 

This morning when I saw him come back to bed with Samuel, I couldn't help but compare it to our relationship with God.  When our Father in heaven hears one of his children call his name, he doesn't hesitate to run to us and provide what we need.  God responds this way for His children because that's what a Good Father does.  And He is good.  However, I don't believe He reacts the same way to the voice of a child that doesn't belong to Him.  And He knows who belongs to Him. I'm sure Matt wouldn't be leaping out of bed for the voice of someone else's child.  Heck, he can't hear me pounding on the door!  But somehow, he knows when one of his own moves in the night... somehow he can hear when they need him... somehow he knows when they are moving towards danger or disobedience.  And he is always right there... he doesn't miss a beat.

As I thought about this in the early hours of the morning, God reminded me again that He hears me... I don't have to bang, all I have to do is quietly whisper "Daddy" and there He is.  He knows when I'm in danger, He knows when I need to be carried to rest in His arms.  He knows when I'm moving towards disobedience.  And being the Good Father He is, He comes to my side and gives me what I need.  Sometimes He carries me in His arms, sometimes He disciplines me, sometimes He calms my fears... but He is always there.

As a woman who grew up without a Daddy in my life, I am so grateful that my children are learning what our amazing God is like through their earthly Daddy.  I've heard it said that children will come to know their God and His love by how their Dads treat them and love them and I know my children are getting an amazing example of Who God is.  He is far from perfect, but they never have to wonder if he'll be there... they never have to question if he loves them... they know that he takes their walk with God very seriously and they know that they can trust him.  If they grow up knowing that God loves them, will always be there and will never settle for a luke-warm relationship with them and that He is trustworthy... what more could I ask for?

And so, I guess I'm okay with taking a back seat for my kids... it's what mom's do, right?  Unfortunately for me, by the time they move out, he probably will need a hearing aid for he may never hear me knocking on the door or calling to him from the other room.  But my Father does... and He won't ever need a hearing aid.  As a matter of fact, with Him, I don't even need to say it out loud. 
I'm so grateful that I'm His child.

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that,
if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
1 John 5:14

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:7

Monday, April 18, 2011

"It" is Messy

"It" always seems to get me where I'm least expecting it.  Sometimes it's while I'm driving or at a stop light... sometimes it's when I'm eating lunch or doing dishes... sometimes it's when I am just waking up or late at night when I'm trying to go to sleep...sometimes it's when I see one of my other kids do something really precious or even when one of them does something that makes me afraid for their lives (that's usually Isaiah).  Sometimes it's when I think of the past and sometimes it's when I think of the future.  Sometimes it's when I look in the mirror.  I can't escape it no matter how much I want to and I can't control it no matter how much I try.  It doesn't always look the same so it can be hard to recognize. Sometimes I just don't see it coming.

Today "it" got me when I was cleaning up after dinner...  I started picking up stuff on the table so I could wash it and saw a big envelope from my old doctor.  I didn't recognize it and don't know how it got on the table so I opened it.  I looked through a page or two and then realized what it was.  It was Rachel's diagnosis in writing... my ultrasound reports from August 4th and 5th.  As I read down through all the check points (heart, lungs, kidneys, umbilical cord)  that they confirmed were all "normal" I smiled with a proud Mama smile... she was so strong,  I thought.  And then came the last one...

Report Summary: Absent fetal cranium, consistent with anencephaly.

This is obviously not new news... and yet it felt like the first time I had heard it.  I stood there with my wet rag still in hand and I started sobbing and within seconds my legs gave out and I had to sit down.  I cried and cried and cried some more...  and the table is still dirty hours later.

It got me again.... why can't it just leave me alone?

I take it back...

Well, I'm sad to say that I had the wrong number as my goal and we're actually still $438 off (only because at the same time I was figuring this out, one of you amazing readers donated another $200!  Thank you!!)  But anyway, I was off... plus Rachel's sign ended up costing $700 and we found out this week that we need to put in a french drain and I'm not even sure how much that costs, I think only a couple hundred.  So, we're still off approximately $1400.

I am confident that God is going to provide this.  He has yet to fail me where Rachel is concerned and, like I told my playground team today, I think He got the deal out of the trade.  Not that I don't love playgrounds or anything...

What a roller coaster this is!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Year Ago Today

One year ago today, I found out I was pregnant with Rachel.  Matt & I were away at a Marriage Conference in Portland (go figure...Portland)  That morning, they had the husbands go into one room and the wives into another for a special speaker for each.  I remember sitting there thinking, I'm not just one right now.  I'm not here alone.  And as the reality of the fact that we would never again be just a family of 5 set in, my heart grew with joy and excitement.

So today is Palm Sunday.  Ironically this day usually comes closer to the 9th or 10th, but this year it falls on a very special day.  Our Palm Sunday Service at church consists of a short sermon on what baptism is and why we do it and then dozens of people get baptised.  It's always an amazing day and today was no exception.  With each person who went under the water, we were reminded of Christ's death and resurrection... and what my heart longs to be reminded of every day since Rachel died... Jesus overcame the grave.  His and Rachel's.  That is a reason to rejoice!

I wasn't sad today for the reasons I thought I would be.  I thought about Rachel just as much as I always do; constantly.  But the reason my heart was heavier today was because there are so many people I love who don't believe in Jesus....and I can't do anything about it no matter how much I want to.  What do you do when you lose people you love and on top of it you don't know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are in heaven?  That's the only thing that brings me comfort with Rachel...  And so today more than grieving Rachel, I'm grieving what I want for my other loved ones and the fact that I can't give it to them.

At the end of church we finished up the last fundraiser for Rachel's Playground.  We still have a bunch of people who haven't returned their money and even still, we are now $175 over our goal!  This is great news because this week, we found out that we need to put in a french drain which wasn't factored in and that will help with that.  I am hoping that that if there are enough donations, the memorial sign will be able to be included.  I had originally planned on paying for it myself and so didn't include it in the total, but if it can be considered part of the project, that would be better since we are... well, broke.  I was trying to find a cooler way to say that, but it is what it is and I'm okay with that.  It's a small sacrifice to be with my kids. I'd give the rest of what we have to be with Rachel. We are poor where money is concerned, but rich in Christ.  And I know He'll provide Rachel's sign.  He hasn't failed me yet.

We decided today would be a perfect day to bring Rachel her new garden bench that Donna got for us.  I got it personalized with most of what will be on her actual headstone and when that comes in, we'll be able to move the bench here to our garden so that we have a special spot for Rachel here too.  It is absolutely beautiful.  We went to Rachel's grave and removed the other stuff that shouldn't be there anymore.  I have mixed feelings about moving forward in this...  to some degree it has been really good for me to have to care for her grave so much.  I want to nurture her so bad.  And there is a part of me that as much as it hurt, when I look at the pictures from our first trip or two to the cemetery,  I miss that she seemed closer then.  And God did too.  With each new step I take in this direction, both of them feel further away...

And still I somehow find the strength to take each step and make the most of it.  God is not as far away as He seems, He is always right there giving me what I need to continue to heal.  However long that may take.

I tucked the flowers underneath and put the solar light next to it
The grass is finally getting green!

I just had to at least leave the pinwheel...  Isn't Des pretty? 
I bet Rachel would have looked like her.

See the little bow on the ground?  That's my palm that I got at church today.
The kids wanted to tie it in a bow and leave it for their sister.
Well, I made it through the first of many anniversaries.  I know this day is obviously an easier one than her birthday will be, or the day we found out she had anencephaly, but it is still a day that forever changed my heart, my life and the world.  The day Rachel Alice Aube presented us with two pink lines.  The day God let us in on the miracle He was knitting together, perfectly, in my womb.  The day I started making plans for a baby and child that would never come to be.  The day my heart grew the extra space that can never be filled with anyone else but Rachel.  2010 held so many blessings that I will be left to grieve in 2011 and for years and years to come.  But I would do it all over again.  She is worth every ounce of heartache.

I miss you pretty girl....Keep dancing in His love.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rachel's Yard Sale!

Are you ready for this??!!

I wanted to give you the follow up for how the yard sale went. Last night at 6:30, Matt told me he had to work today.  I ended up meeting Megan there at 6am and went home to get the kids so Matt could leave for work and then went back with them around 9am.  They did great and Tara watched them out back for me.
We had people stopping at 6:05 am trying to shop!  I made them all wait (my marketing scheme to create a sense of urgency) :o)  and when we opened up, it was a mob scene for hours straight!  It was very cold today so I just looked up the temp so I could tell you and it was....♥43♥ degrees...  a good number in my book, but really cold for a yard sale!

Along with Megan & I were:  Karen, Donna, Denise, Sylvia, Amanda, Tara, Melissa S and Niki. We received a TON of great donations from people at Grace (our church) as well as the parents at Megan's Daycare Center, which is where we had the sale.
Me, Des, Isaiah, Donna & Megan

We made $765.10 today!! And that is not including the 15% that one of the Daycare parents will be giving us off the total orders she received on the "Thirty-One" bags she sells.  We are now just a few hundred away from what we need.  Praise God!

The rain held off and the day was a lot of fun. It was my pleasure to share and hear others share with people about why we were having the yard sale - and about the little girl who inspired me to hope. We had one lady buy $7 in items and gave us $100 and said keep the rest. Rachel's life continues to touch people's hearts in a way that brings healing to mine like no other.

Rachel's Display - We actually had quite a few donations
and some possible volunteers for the build day!
The cards in the front got mailed out to our entire congregation (475)
and to our family & friends

Everyone said this hat wouldn't sell, so Donna bought it...
When she left, she donated it back and it sold again!!

Amanda working the "register"

Des & Isaiah eating their hot dogs

This morning at 5:30 while I drove to start working, I thought to myself... There aren't many things that can get me out of bed at this time with a positive attitude.  I thought about how many things I have been able to do with and for Rachel.  The way just knowing her has given me a drive to accomplish so much in her honor.  I came over the hill and there was a pretty pink strip along the horizon.  Just like my girl... a little bit of pink on my horizon...  I looked away for a second and when I looked back, it was gone.  Just like my girl... here and gone before I knew it.  

Towards the end of the yard sale, I had Samuel stand in front of the table so I could take a picture.  As I snapped it I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before.  Samuel got his sweater as a Christmas present from Memere & Pepere Aube...  I have not once paid attention to what it says, but it happens to have a very important number on it...

Rachel's big brother, Sam :o)
(Sylvia in the background) 
I yelled out... Oh my gosh, his shirt says 43! and everyone stopped to look.  I always thought Rachel would live longer.  I never imagined I would be counting minutes...  but those 43 minutes changed the world forever.

I miss my baby.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who donated your items and especially your time to help make this yard sale a huge success! 

With Love & Endless Hope,
Stacy & Rachel ♥