Tuesday, May 31, 2011

4 Down 1 To Go

This bug has officially gone through all of us, except Des.  4 down 1 to go... Her belly was bothering her tonight, so I'm expecting another night of throw up - but there's always that chance that maybe she got this one before and it will pass her.  This started last Tuesday - it's been a full week of sickness around here.  I didn't get as outwardly (nice way of putting it) sick as everyone else, but I have been really nauseous for 3 days now.  I'm thankful for that because obviously it's better for the baby if I'm not vomiting and getting dehydrated, but I haven't been able to eat much at all since Sunday morning.  It seemed to go through everyone else quicker; like Isaiah, who two hours after waking up vomiting was asking for cheese cake!  Gotta love that kid. Please continue to pray for me -  I'm exhausted and it's getting old. 

Another baby gone too soon

My heart rejoices and breaks this morning. 

Tabitha, whose daughter had been diagnosed with anencephaly, found my blog a few months back and just gave birth to her precious baby girl early this morning.  I was sick all day so I didn't get the news until later this morning that she was going to have her.   Sophia Grace was born sleeping on May 31, 2011 at 12:21am.  I am so proud of Tabitha for giving her baby her all.  I'm sad because I know her pain and I can't take it away.  I'm rejoicing that she has another daughter and Rachel has another friend in heaven - and yet my tears haven't stopped flowing for another mama without her baby.

Please pray for this family as they walk the other side of this difficult journey.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

prayer request

please pray for me & my family.  I have been feeling off all day and just started throwing up.  I had really hoped that the rest of us were getting passed on the flu that Matt and Sam had, but I'm officially sick.  It took a  good 4-5 days for them to be able to eat again without getting sick.  I'm nervous that Des & Zay will get it and also not sure how I'm supposed to take care of these guys this week. I feel really bad that I went to church and spread my gross germs today... sorry.   I'm obviously also concerned about being this sick while pregnant.  please pray for us. thanks.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A day in the life of Rachel's Mama

I woke up this morning thinking maybe I would stop blogging... and by noon, I had already received a couple of emails that reminded me why I do this.  I must admit that so many days I wonder why any of you want to read any of this stuff.  Considering most of both of our families don't bother (never have) and many of you don't know us, it leaves me puzzled.  So here I go again with another day in the life of Rachel's Mama...

Thank you for caring.

First of all, we enjoyed a yummy (much needed) dinner and big plate of amazing cookies from a friend today - Thanks Ellen!  And you can tell she has a big family cause we had plenty left over! :o)

When we found out on Monday that Baby #6 is a boy, I was surprised by my excitement.  I thought that I would find myself sad at another lost hope... the hope of a sister for Desirae that we can keep.  But before I had even left the parking lot, I had thought up a bunch of reasons why it was a good thing... #1 being I wouldn't have to hear anyone say "at least you got another girl" (and you know it was bound to happen!)  or "oh, how perfect, 2 boys and 2 girls"  (knowing that I had 3 girls, not 2)  I also really love my boys... although today alone, Isaiah cut up our hose with scissors and poured a left over mop bucket down his heater!...  which opened the door for Des to tell us that Isaiah puts Sam's stuff down there all the time, like blocks and stuffed animals! (fire anyone?) His name means "the Lord is my salvation" and it is true for him and for me!!  I don't get him sometimes.  OK, so anyway, even though they are tough, I was excited about another Aube boy in our family.  How could I not be, I get to keep him...  I hope.

Today the next door neighbors had a yard sale.  I looked out and they had boxes and tables FULL of baby girl clothes - some with tags still on them.  Dresses, bathing suits, cute sweaters... I started to feel my disappointment.  We went out to look around and I tortured myself a little looking at the little shoes they had.  "these would fit her now" I said as I debated buying them just in case I ever have another girl.  And as I was looking at them, I overheard Matt say in another conversation "It's a boy... but that's not a surprise, out of all the Aubes, the only girls are my sister and Desirae."  He didn't even consider Rachel.

This happens often and I usually am good about just reminding him afterwards. My heart was already feeling it from my surroundings and I was so hurt I said "Did you forget Rachel in that count?"  And then I felt really bad as he tried to back track and explain that we have a dead daughter, too... 

And this leads me to the struggle that I know none of us ever talk about cause it's a fine line to walk, but losing a baby is hard on a marriage.  Usually I feel like our journey with Rachel has brought us closer and made us stronger - and it truly has.  But sometimes, our differences (albeit God-given) are hard to balance when emotions are raw.  The pain is so different for me and try as he might, he will never understand it. I'm grateful that he knows that.  I don't ever have a conversation with ANYONE about my kids and not count, or even think about, Rachel.... so to hear that happen for him again and again is hard for me.  I know it's not his intention to forget her, but it does show how different this is for me and him.  I had much more time to bond with her.  It's the blessing of being a mother... and in this case, it's a blessing that hurts.  I'm okay with that - I wouldn't trade places. *sigh*  But I think every grieving mother's biggest fear is that their child will be forgotten.  At least it's mine.  I just can't let it happen.

Another neighbor came over and wanted to show me her 3 week old grandson.  I held him and he was super cute and cuddly.  I did what I always do... put my finger in his hand and played with his toes.  Everyone's always saying how tiny Rachel was... and I know pictures can be hard to tell, but this baby's hands were the same size (at 3 weeks old) as hers... how do I know?  Cause I measured them on my tattoo :o)  She helped me press out his hand on Rachel's print :o)

There were a few pregnant women who came to shop... buying up all the cute pink stuff.  And I couldn't help but look at them and wonder if they have any worries.  I have had 3 other healthy children and yet the impact that my miscarriage and my pregnancy with Rachel had on me has overtaken my memory.  I don't remember what it was like to be pregnant and only excited.  I don't remember what it was like to be pregnant and feel like buying stuff and decorating was a wise move.  I don't remember what it was like to be planning on bringing home the baby I was carrying.  It all seems so far away and as I watched these girls, I wondered "what's a day like in their lives?"   I overheard one of them talking about their kids... "we have a girl and this one's a boy" as she touched her belly - and it didn't seem as though it was a hard question to answer or like she was leaving anyone out... or like either of them was going to be in the grave any time soon...  what's that like?  I wonder if I'll feel it at all with this little guy. 

I started looking at my 'pregnancy week by week' book to try to focus on him a little... everything I read sounds different now.  This week (go figure!) is the week they talk about all the defects you can pick up on a AFP test (which I have always declined) "like Anencephaly" it says.  Something I had thought I never heard of, but probably read it during the last two pregnancies and didn't think twice about. (you know, cause that would never happen to ME)  And when it says "your baby's eye lashes and eye brows have grown" I wonder how do they know?  I mean, at this point with Rachel, I was reading all these things about her that weren't true... like that she had the top of her head. 

I started reading to the kids about how big the baby was now and what's going on with him.  Isaiah looked at the picture they had of a baby at 15 weeks and said "the baby is dead and will be forever".  My heart broke again as I tried to explain something to him that I can hardly grasp myself...  "not all babies die". 

And so we keep putting one foot in front of the other as I try to navigate my way through my grief, my children's grief, my husband's grief,  babies, pregnancy (mine and others'), hormones and baby clothes. - There is nothing easy about it.  But it is what it is.... it's just another day in the life of Rachel's Mama.  A title I wear proudly and thank God for every day.

May Goodbyes

Thinking of Rachel's friends and their Mamas who had to say goodbye to their sweet babies in May.
Love you girls! ♥ 

Lyndsay Alice  ~ June 14, 2006 ~ May 16, 2008
Karinne Claire ~ May 10, 2010
Benjamin Jeremiah ~ May 31

May God's peace surround you as you smile over precious memories and mourn your difficult loss.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Time 2 Dance

Today make 24 weeks since Rachel came and went....

I am still not ready to count by months. Today was one of those hard days.  I had a decent morning, but was exhausted by noon cause I cleaned for 4 hours straight.  That was when the day starting falling apart on me...

I drove to bring Des to art class to find the school closed.  Sam started screaming and didn't stop for what felt like forever (and had multiple blow-outs that required baths because he is still sick).  I got to the cemetery and as I got out of the van, my MP3 player fell out on the ground.  I couldn't find it so I asked Des to look for it and I went over to Rachel's grave.  The foundation for her stone has been set and the hole was gone... the lilac tree behind her is in bloom... this visit was going much better than the last - until I tried to move her bench onto the cement and the leg broke off! 

Just as that happened, Des called to me to tell me she could see my MP3 player and it was getting wet.  I went and looked and it had somehow managed to slide over to the OTHER side of the van and land right where my AC was dripping.....  I got it out, dried it off and went back to Rachel's grave. 

I got the bench propped up on the leg (PLEASE don't sit on it if you go visit!!)  and went to move her vase of fake flowers and it literally crumbled in my hands, and when it did, there were all these worms and centipede things crawling though it and lots of mold.  It was awesome.  I got a bag from the car and packed it up.  This is about when I started to wonder why life is always so hard. 

I got it all set and looking pretty.  I was happy to see that the cemetery actually leaves out hoses by the faucets (there's one right near Rachel) and so I was able to water her grass seed.  Isaiah helped me...

Then I got to have yet another awkward conversation at the cemetery... one of the guys mowing came over to tell me he was sorry for my loss as he looked down at her tiny grave.  He went on to say how he has an 18 month old and his wife is due with their 2nd in 2 months and he can't imagine....  I just nodded and smiled and told him congratulations.  He drove away on his mower and I cried. 

I got back in the van and Sam started screaming again...  I came up with the bright idea that I would make him happy with a lolly pop and when I tried to pull the wrapper off, the stick came off instead.  ergh.  So I listened to him scream all the way home too. And I won't even get into the many issues with our "new" van.

Everything was going wrong...

Tonight the reality of the fact that so many people end their pregnancies when given a fatal prenatal diagnosis really hit home.  My heart aches to know this happens... not just for the babies, more so for the mamas.  It can't be an easier road.

But if I am honest, it's also sad to me cause in a way when people make this choice, it feels in my heart like they are saying that a baby like Rachel isn't as good as a healthy baby.  I know that is not the truth, but it is an underlying emotion that I think may have brought on many of my tears tonight.  I know how awesome she was... but there are many people who don't believe that about babies who have "defects".  I remember people asking if Rachel could really be considered a baby if she didn't have a brain. I can't convince anyone how great she was (only the people who met her truly know) or that they won't regret walking this path.  But I have never heard one single person say they wish they hadn't.  However, I have heard many who didn't carry to term share their regrets.  By the grace of God, I don't have any regrets.  It could have easily been me.  That is why my heart breaks for her.  It is such a scary place to be and we tend to rely on the doctor's opinion instead of God's.  Unfortunately, they don't know as much and aren't capable of as much as God.

This was weighing on my heart and as I was writing this post, Desirae handed me a package of candy "conversation" hearts.  The first one I took out said:

I have NEVER seen a candy heart with these words on it.  Of course I immediately thought of Rachel and how thankful I was for her dancing and mine through our time together.  But I also thought of the many others who are faced with that life-changing moment where we decide if we will sit it out - or dance.

I'm glad I didn't miss the dance.... even if the ride home is long and painful.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I saw a couple of picnic tables on the side of the road Tuesday and stopped to get the number. I called and asked if I could get two of them for Rachel's Playground. They had to make the size I wanted and so when he called yesterday and said they were ready, I was pleasantly surprised. They delivered them for me for only $20 more.

I met them at the playground and after we got them situated, I talked with the two guys for a few minutes. I told them about Rachel and the older man, probably in his 60's got all choked up, started to tear up and said "I know your pain, I lost one too". And that was all he could say. All I could do was nod in agreement and say "it's so hard".   His son was 33 when he died.

The loss of a child is only something you can understand if you have lost your own. A man more than twice my age, dropping off a picnic table to make a little money, found himself in tears at the thought of his son,  I'm sure he wasn't expecting that... I sure wasn't. I left with such a heavy heart for him. I wish I could take that pain away from every person who has known it. Sometimes in the middle of my grief over Rachel, I find myself grieving the fact that this happens to anyone.

At the retreat, A woman told me of a daughter she lost over 20 years ago with tears in her eyes.  A healthy baby girl who was born with the cord around her neck and never came home with them.  Nobody knows about it, she kept it in and kept going.  Another woman told me of her baby who she lost at 5 months along and what a devastating experience that was for them, again many years after the fact it was still so fresh.

I also got a call from a friend yesterday telling me that one of her friends just got a fatal prenatal diagnosis... their son has no scull or brain.  My heart broke at the thought of what yesterday meant for them.  A day that will be forever etched in their minds.  A date that will never be forgotten... the day their lives were forever changed by the pain of losing a child, even though they haven't lost him yet.  The uncertain path that could drive some to abortion.  As much as this journey has totally ripped my heart apart, I wanted nothing more than to be able to jump into her shoes and walk it for her.  My heart ached to be able to take the pain from her... and I don't even know her.  I cried and just said "please tell her I'll do whatever I can to support her".  I just didn't want her to feel alone... but that is inevitable. 

This is a condition that the doctors lead you to believe is uncommon...she lives up the street from me, Anne (Rose's mom) and Dorie (Ella's mom) both live a couple towns over.  That is 4 of us with the same diagnosis within 30 mins of each other.  It's not as uncommon as some would like us to think.  And on that note, I'm a little disappointed with Blogger that they still have not put "anencephaly" into their spell check.  Every time I type it, they say it's spelled wrong and the options I get for correct spelling are: Intensively, Unmercifully, Uncivilly... come on, Blogger... with all the blogs about anencphalic babies?

Tonight another friend of mine came to my door in tears after getting a bad report about her blood work and the effects it could have on the baby she is carrying.  I listened as best I could and tried to dig deep for an answer, but came up with nothing.  All I could say is I'll go with you to Maine Med if you want...  and I cried as I thought of my first trip to Maine Med on August 5th last year.  I watched her struggle to make sense of it as she cried.  I wanted to tell her it would be okay, that probably nothing was wrong... I wanted to tell her those tests are wrong all the time (which I did - cause they are!) and that they are wrong this time too.  But I didn't know that for sure.  All I could say is that any one of us at any point in our pregnancy or with our living children could lose them.  There is only one guarantee in this life and that is that God will be there through it all.

And so tonight, I was planning on posting all the info about the walk/run we're doing in August for Anencephaly Awareness.  (you may have noticed the tab I put on last night at the top) Part of what we will be doing that day is honoring all of YOUR babies who have left you too soon by name.  After my miscarriage in May 2008, I participated in a walk called "Angels Walk for Wishes" in Strafford, NH and they did this for us. (Their walk is in September if you are interested in that too!)  I found it very healing and so I want to do it for you.  My heart breaks to know the huge numbers of babies lost each year to miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death.  To know the great amount of different defects, conditions, accidents, and diseases that exist and take our babies from us every day - and the pain that comes with them. 

If you are able to join us at our first annual Baby Rachel's Legacy Walk/Run 5K , it would mean so much to us.  Please take a few minutes to check out the event website (by clicking the name above) and to pass it on to others as well.  Registration is open, so please sign up!   If you're too far away to come and have been affected by the loss of a child, please let us honor your baby by registering him/her on this site as well.  There is also a place to make a donation.  All proceeds will benefit Options for Women.  Their info is on the site as well.

I am confident that raising awareness of anencephaly, as well as miscarriage and infant loss will help the hearts already affected by it to heal a little more... and the hearts that will be affected by it to not feel so alone when they get that news.  It will be on the Saturday after August 4th, the day we first heard the word "anencephaly".  The day our plans for our baby changed from how I would decorate her room to what songs I would play at her funeral.  A day I will never forget... the day God picked me up and started carrying me.

If you're reading this after just hearing devastating news about the baby you're carrying... or if you just unexpectedly left the hospital without your baby...  I am so sorry.  I wish I could take your pain away.  I wish I could tell you it will get easier.  I wish you didn't have to go through this.  But please believe me when I say that you will be okay and that God WILL NOT leave your side.  And please email me if you need anything.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Few Things On Flowers

Home with a sick family today.  Sam's been throwing up since last night after dinner and Matt has joined him for the day - and all night.  Please pray that the rest of us will pass it by and that they will feel better soon.  Sam hasn't had anything to eat all day, has a fever and has been laying on the floor in and out of sleep, looking really out of it. Poor boy.
This is when he was feeling "good" :o(  I just kept finding him laying down on the floor in random places.

Matt came home last night with some flowers for me... a bunch of daisies and in the middle a "son flower" :o)  I was impressed with his thoughtfulness.

Last night I cut down the majority of my tulips.  I'm really disappointed... I waited all winter to see these bloom in hopes of them making me smile and all their (unblooming) presence did was make me more sad.  It has finally stopped raining after 2 weeks and they are falling apart.  So, I decided I'd get rid of them so I don't have to be reminded of yet another plan gone wrong.  Although they did smell really pretty.  There were a couple baby ones that were actually blooming with the sun today so we cut them and brought them inside...  At least I'll get a few smiles out of them before they wilt and won't have to worry about any more rain.  My "hope" vase seemed the perfect home for them.  And since they were the smallest ones, yet with the most beauty, I thought they represented my girl perfectly.

Last fall, me & Rachel did a LOT of work in the yard.  It made me feel good and I usually heard from God pretty clearly out there.  I moved a bunch of stuff around, but because of the winter I've had, I don't remember most of what I did.  And so as green started coming up through the ground a couple weeks ago, I wasn't sure what was what.  I saw this little thing growing and thought it was a weed.  I almost pulled it out, but decided to leave it.  I couldn't for the life of me remember what it might be, but I figured I could always pull it later.  WELL, now that it's finally stopped raining, I went out to find this pretty bunch of flowers!  I had forgotten that I planted a packet of "forget-me-nots" in Rachel's memory too.  They were seeds and I've never planted seeds before... I planted them in two places and only one came up, but they are beautiful. 

The sun was out all day and the breeze was nice... helped with my mood a lot.  And with all these flowers, how could I not smile a little?  I felt really good today for having a house full of throw up!!  At least I could air it out!  Let's hope tomorrow doesn't bring more sick people!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Good Job, Mama!"

I saw this on Karinne Claire's blog and had to share it with you...
Abigail Rae Phillips
This precious baby was born via c-section and has been with her parents for over a week!  She is beautiful and her family can definitely use your prayers!  You can read her story on the link above.

I commented to Kara (Karinne's Mama) that I find myself envious of stories like this... I am thankful that God gives me the grace to rejoice with the families who get more time with their babies.  But I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am very disappointed that I didn't get longer with my girl.  Thinking about how happy I am for this family and how what I had hoped for Rachel really was possible has really brought a lot of feelings to the surface again.  I am sure God us using this for my healing as well,  My thoughts are scattered, but here it is....

I remember when they said she wasn't making effort to breathe on her own... my first thought was I shouldn't have had a c-section.  I was laying there cut wide open for the chance of a few hours with her and it didn't happen.  I had to make the decision to stop giving her air and bring her to me to die.  She never even made it out of the operating room.  They cleaned me up, handed me my dead baby and I carried her proudly down the hall to meet everyone... 

I was talking with a friend yesterday about our babies and we both have things we feel guilty about. (part of being a mom, right?) The first thing I said when I held Rachel was "I'm sorry girl, I tried".  My heart was being ripped into pieces as I watched her die knowing there was nothing I could do for her...  but why would I feel guilty?  Why not proud for all I had done?  Well, I can tell you that after I have had each of my healthy babies, I have heard from MANY people "good job Mama!"  After each birth, the doctors and midwives tell you what an amazing job you've done bringing your baby into life... when you announce the baby's arrival, everyone says how good you did.  I never heard those words once.  From anyone.  It was sad and everyone knew it.  So as much as I know deep down it wasn't my fault, her life was in my hands and now she was dead.  I felt like I had let her down....like maybe I could have done more.

I asked my doctor when I was around 8 months along "what if she doesn't make it out of the OR?" and he said "oh, you'll have more time than that with her having a c-section"  And so in a way, I figured if a doctor who had said all along that she wouldn't live long enough for any of my efforts to matter would say I'd get more time than that, then he must be right.  Unfortunately, only God knows.  I'm not sure our best educated decisions can really do a thing to change His course for our lives.  All of us who carry these special babies do our very best for them.  We give them our all.  To any of you who didn't hear anyone say it at your baby's birth, I want to say "Good Job, Mama!"  Your baby knew your love to the fullest and now knows God's love to the fullest....no matter what the details of their birthday.  And the same holds true for all of you walking towards your baby's birthday praying for a miracle...your baby IS a miracle and you are doing great!  I know it's hard work.

I do believe that Rachel probably wouldn't have made it though a vaginal birth and so I know I should just be thankful that they allowed me to do the elective c-section and for my 43 minutes with her... but I would have given anything for a day... a week...  just a dash on her headstone.  I so wanted there to be two dates under her name.  I wanted to feel like she beat the odds.

And she didn't.  It just wasn't in the plan for her...  Why not her?  Why not us?  Well, the only truth I can go to on this one is that God knows exactly what I need and He knew that would be the best for my heart.  I rest in this knowing that I have a trustworthy God Who has never let me down...

And so I smile as I tell people... "she lived for 43 minutes"... They look at me as if to say "that's it?" and I nod and say she was a fighter with an amazing God.

But the truth is she did beat the odds.... 95% of these precious babies get aborted.  She proved to everyone who doubted,  that babies with anencephaly are STILL babies... and really cute ones at that!  She proved that they have personalities and are real people.  She proved that God knows what He's doing.  She proved that life is not measured by the number of breaths you take.  She proved that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

No amount of time was ever going to be enough.  43 minutes, 43 months, 43 years... Thank God heaven is for eternity and that by faith in Jesus, one day I'll meet her there.  Maybe that's why there is no dash on her stone....to remind me that her life didn't end here.  And maybe when I get there, I'll hear my Lord say to me "Good job, Mama".

Monday, May 23, 2011

Breathe Again

This morning I was blessed to have one of my "blog given" friends come over to help me clean. Dorie lost her daughter Ella to anencepahly over 7 years ago and found my blog on Ella's 7 year birthday. So, we did a lot of gabbing and some cleaning and my mudroom is SPOTLESS, including the closet! Thank you Dorie! She also has 2 other daughters and homeschools so our kids have as much in common as we do. She sat with the kids while I went to my appt...

On the way I heard the song "live like you were dying". As I listened I thought of how at the moment we got the news about Rachel I had two choices... I could go home and cry for the next 5 months, or I could do all the things I wouldn't want to miss with her and for her. I'm happy with my choice. As I drove I thought about how I would respond if this ultrasound brought sad news....would I be able to handle it again? Would I have the strength to love this baby to that measure...it took everything I had to do it for Rachel, could I muster it up again so soon? The words sank into my heart:

"Live Like You Were Dyin'"

He said I was in my early 40's,
With a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, lookin' at the x-rays,
Talkin' 'bout the options and talkin' 'bout sweet time.
Asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end.
How's it hit ya, when you get that kind of news.
Man what ya do.
And he says,

I went sky divin',
I went rocky mountain climbin',
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I've been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin'.

I thought about how I don't have any regrets with Rachel... at least none that were in my control... and I determined in heart that no matter what happened at this ultrasound, I was going to stay close to God and I would do the same thing I did for Rachel, if needed.

Matt was able to meet me there. They called me in and I could feel my mind starting to wander as I followed her back to the room. As I got on the table, she looked at me and said "breathe... I know you're nervous". I took a deep breath and laid back. Within a minute of her putting the wand on my belly, I could see our baby's head. Thank You Jesus.

I sit here today, a mother who until August 4, 2010 never understood the blessing of a baby's head....A mother who never fully thanked God for knitting my babies together so perfectly and intricately....A mother who took it all for granted all while convincing myself that wasn't the case... And today I know I have been completely changed forever. I cried at the sight of a round scull. Who would have ever thought it could hold such meaning? Only the ones who have laid on the table and not seen one there. I came home and showed Dorie and when she saw the round head, she cried too. Then she looked at me and said "now you can breathe".

I didn't realize I was holding my breath all this time, but I was. Today felt more like the way I usually feel when I see the two pink lines... less like I'm "just pregnant" and more like I'm going to actually have a baby... more like it makes sense to get his room ready... And yes, I said HIS. It's a boy!!  I wanted a girl so bad before Rachel and since I didn't get to keep her was wanting one now too, but I didn't feel any disappointment at the sight of his boy parts on the monitor... I was still too thankful for his round head! I did say something along the lines of "I better get some more caffeine in my house or something!" 3 boys?! The thought makes me want a nap! But I am SO anxious to hold this sweet baby in my arms, here him cry, listen to his voice, feel his breath on my cheek, cuddle with his warm (another detail I will never take for granted again) body, nurse him and take him home at the end of my hospital stay.  These are all things I missed with Rachel (except for holding her in my arms).  I pray that these gifts are in my future with this little one. 

We left and as I drove away, I had the biggest smile on my face.... my boy has his whole head... something a mother should never have to wonder - yet something that when a mother who is wondering hears, it somehow helps her to breathe again.

His little fist is near his chest... so cute.

He already knows how to wave :o)

Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news - Romans 10:14-15

Psalm 139:13-16

For You formed my inward parts;You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

This verse is talking about our new son, our precious Rachel, me... and you. He cares this deeply for all of us and has each of our lives already mapped out. The one thing I do not want to lose sight of when rejoicing over this baby is that Rachel was just as perfect in God's eyes (no matter how imperfect in the worlds eyes) and He had an amazing plan for her just the way she was. I do not want to think of this new healthy baby as a way that God has moved us past the sad reality of Rachel's condition and given us a baby the "way they should come", when in fact I love Rachel just the way she is for exactly who she is. This baby will never replace her or remove the pain of losing her, but I am so thankful for who he is, exactly how he is. And the truth is that we all take the way babies "come" for granted. It's much more complicated and nothing short of a miracle to give birth to a live baby. I pray we all remember that as we hold our sweet children close.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prayer for Tomorrow

The retreat went well... thank you for your prayers... more to come on that.

Please pray for me tomorrow (Monday), I have an ultrasound and am praying I'll have some good news to share tomorrow afternoon... I haven't convinced myself that being excited is a good idea yet, but I am hopeful that everything is going to be okay.  The emotions that come with this are too difficult for words....it's a whole new world that I wish I knew nothing of.  I think Matt should be able to meet me for this one, which will be good.  I'll let you know what happens....

Friday, May 20, 2011


23 weeks...  another Friday...  a full week of RAIN!!  I hate rain.  I miss my baby.

It's been raining all week and now my (Rachel's) tulips, which only had the chance to bloom for one afternoon, are falling apart.  They closed up on Sunday with the rain and never opened again cause we haven't had a bit of sun and all the pedals are falling to the ground now.  I'm super disappointed with that.  All I can think is that their chance to bloom got ripped from me too, just like my girl.  Only here briefly before the inevitable rain washed them away.

I went to visit Rachel today and as I approached, it looked like maybe they had put in the footing for her stone.  When I got closer I realized that it was actually a board across where the stone will go.  I picked it up expecting it to be cement under there and almost threw up when I saw what it was...

A deep, gross, wet hole about 3-4 feet deep with only a piece of plywood between the hole and Rachel's casket.  My Lord, why today?  I was on the phone with my friend Harlee when I got there and was instantly too distracted to even finish my sentence... and then I started crying and couldn't stop.  I'm guessing that they started to prepare for the footing before the rain and now the rain has prevented them from pouring cement.  But I had NO idea that they dug that deep or that close to her in order to put her stone in.  They had put a piece of plywood to block her casket and these boards going the other way to hold it in place (so the ground wouldn't cave in and her casket fall out) and there was like a foot of water from all this rain at the bottom.  The ground is ugly, it's dark, it's wet and there are bugs and my baby does not belong there.

I wanted to take the wood out, dig her up and bring her home...

And then I realized she's already home.

The words in the song on my blog that keep coming to my mind are: "we know the pain reminds this heart, that this is not our home"

I've never been more homesick than now....

Push pause on player below to listen

Please pray for me (& my sister) as we go to the woman's retreat this weekend with my church.  I'm really not into it at all.  (the fact that I haven't showered or packed yet and I'm supposed to leave in 15 mins is proof of that)  Hoping it will be a weekend of revival for my heart.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Few Requests From a Human in Need

The other night I finally got on my blog email to catch up and found another unhappy reader's email from last week.  It was at least in a nice tone, but unhappy with me none the less.

All I could do it cry.  I have spent hours... and days...  thinking about and praying about the concerns of these few people and I am at a loss.  I've re-read my posts and I'm not in denial, I know they are rough, because right now, I'm in a rough place.  But I am not sure they require such harsh judgement from people who are supposed to care about me. It's very discouraging.  I want to defend myself and the ways I've been misunderstood, I want to try to make people understand I'm grieving...and no matter how many times I tell myself Jesus didn't defend Himself, I still want to.  I am not going to though.  I'm just going to say I'm sorry.

I am truly sorry for any offense I have caused any of you.  I obviously never want to do that. 

So, hopefully we can leave that in the past and talk about moving forward...

What makes me sad is that the point of this blog, my journey with Rachel, has somehow turned into something it isn't for many people.  It seems that many think it's a place for them, not me. 

I am honored that so many people read my blog.  I am thrilled that you normally feel uplifted and encouraged through my words.  I am humbled that even in the deepest sorrow I will ever feel, I have been able to help others.  I am grateful that I have such a big audience and I know that it comes with responsibility.  But listen people, I am only human.  I am a human who started this blog because my daughter was going to die.  I am just a girl who had to watch my baby be born without the top of her head and die in my arms and  I am broken.  I need you more than you need me. I am sorry if I have let you down on what you believe the purpose for my blog is... but the real purpose is for me to have a place to work through my burdens - and hope that you will want to help me carry them.

I did not start this blog because I am some kind of spiritual giant who has so much to offer - or to even be the light I have been blessed to be.  I didn't start it so I could bring people to God (although I'm amazed that it has happened!)  I didn't start it for the Christian men and women sitting in church who already know God.

I started it because I didn't know what else to do. I started it for the girl like me who hears the doctor say "your baby is going to die" and doesn't know what to do either.  I started it for my baby. I started it to encourage people to choose life...even when it's only going to mean death.  I write because I need to.   I have never been one to talk well about my feelings... as I sat here crying uncontrollably last night, Matt sat next to me and neither of us spoke a word.  I cried for well over an hour a deep, heart wrenching cry, as he watched speechless and I could not even find ONE word to SAY to him about how I feel.  I can't do it... and I believe that is why God gave me the gift of writing.  It's healing for me.

The last 3 weeks have been my hardest yet.  I have started to wonder if I am getting to really be depressed and have struggled to want to participate in "life" these days.  Yesterday morning when I woke up, the first thought on my mind is "I wish I was dead - and not because I can't wait to get to heaven".  And I have continued to be taunted with these thoughts the past two days.  I'm so tired of this life, where not only does the God who can move the mountains allow my daughter to die, but the people who are supposed to mourn with me through it have left me to do it alone or are avoiding me, criticizing me and have no empathy for me.  And normally, when I'm having this hard of a time, I blog... A LOT.  Or I call people and talk... but after the way people have been treating me (or 'quietly' judging me) these past couple weeks, I don't want to do either.

I'm also at a point where I'm upset with God.  I have never experienced this before, for more than a moment at a time, since I've been a Christian... not even yet in my journey with Rachel... and it's scary to me.  And honestly without feeling close to God or the people who are supposed to be his hands and feet to me...  I just want to give up and if I didn't have kids, I already would have.

This blog is about MY journey with Rachel. My pain, my joy, my sorrow... God's strength and provision - and my daily life with all it's ups and downs. Often this will include situations that tore my heart out.  It's my blog and they are my feelings and if it's not uplifting enough for you or you think I'm dishonoring God with my honesty maybe there's another blog that would better suit your needs.  But if your care about mine, I need support and love (even in my imperfectness) ....and to hear that you and God love me and care for me and are there for me - not how I've disappointed you both. 

I wish that the original intent for this blog could have remained and that people would not put such high expectations on me when I am not really capable of living up to them right now... I'm not standing behind a pulpit, I'm a grieving (pregnant) mother.  I think I've done a pretty decent job in all these months of blogging through my grief to honor my God.  But I'm only human.  The only difference between me and you is that I can't lie about or be in denial about my failures because they are all written down for everyone to see. 

Please read my blog with a heart to love me.  Please remember it's my story with my daughter and the grief of losing her. Please don't put so much pressure on me for this to be a place other than that.  Please don't email me if you don't have anything nice to say.  At least you can choose whether or not you read this, emails are not something I can avoid.  And please, for heaven's sake, if you have a question about any of the things I write talk to ME... not anyone else. (email NOT preferred)  My blog is not endorsed by my church so please don't approach my/our pastor with your concerns either.  That is unless we're going to start asking him about everything everybody posts on their facebook or talks about in a less obvious setting too...let's play fair.  I understand there is a spotlight on me... please keep in mind that, that in itself is a heavy burden to bear and try not to make it worse for me.

I appreciate you all so much and pray that you hear my heart in this, which is really just desperate for your love and support... and too weak to handle any more pain.  Please pray for me as I walk this unending journey through the loss of my child.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What If?

I was getting the video camera out tonight to get it ready for Des' recital tomorrow.  I opened it up to see what tape was in it...

It said "Rachel" on it.

It was empty.

My initial thought was: "empty, just like my arms and her cradle"

One of my few regrets is that we didn't video tape anything since she wasn't alive most of the time we had her.  I wish so much I had video of me holding my daughter and I'm disappointed that we just tossed that idea out the window when she died.   But why tonight?  Why after the day I've had did it have to be tonight that I pull out the video camera for the first time in 5 1/2 months?!  *sigh*

All I could do was cry.  Then I finally checked my email and there was one from a blog friend, Lucka from Canada.  She sent me the song Blessings (playing on blog now) which I've posted before, but tonight... it meant more.  She sent me the email over a week ago and I just "happened" to check it right after I just "happened" to have my heart break over the empty video tape.  Tonight I'm begging God to show me the blessing in all my pain.  I'm just not feeling it these days.....

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Today was just plain hard

Today was just plain hard.  I'm sad.  I'm mad.  I'm irritable.  I'm impatient. 

I don't even think I'm going to be able to find words for how I actually feel right now.  I can't say I want to and I can't even say that I'm seeking God to help me with how I feel.

This past week combined with my grief and hormones has pretty much put me into overload....

I have no energy to keep up with the house work - and it's a disgusting mess around here.  I have been doing laundry literally ALL day and still am not done - and you can't even tell cause now it's just folded all over the messy house.  But soon it won't be, it'll all be in a big ball again since nobody will put them away and I just can't right now.  My kids have no concept of what it means to help around here.  Everything from the curtains to the floor to my bedroom are dirty and cluttered and I can't seem to get us out of this no matter how hard I try.  I haven't seen my counter top in months and am certain that there is important mail I'm missing since I have piles everywhere. On top of that, I still have playground stuff I'm doing (and trying to plan) and the back of Rachel's sign that I need to paint and can't without Matt's help since I'm pregnant - except Matt's super busy too so it just isn't happening.  I'm tired. I'm worn out.  I'm only one person.  I HATE living like this - it's not my style at all and quite honestly it drives me crazy.  It's gross. 

Matt's car was dead again this morning so when he came home (on his bike) he spent forever outside working on it while I had the kids all whining at me.  When he finally came in, I was about to run out to get some "fresh air" when we had a huge downpour!  "When it rains, it pours"  right?

Tomorrow Des & I have our music lessons and then she has a dance recital - and I have to drive us up there (1/2 hour away), then drive back to get Isaiah from school and Sam from home and then *back* up to her recital with the boys at nap time...  can't wait.  And I won't even get into the fact that I told Des to put her clothes that she has to wear to dance in a safe place so we wouldn't have to look for them and I've been listening to her complain and whine that she can't find them for close to 2 hours now - oh, and blame me cause I'm supposed to keep track of everything around here.  I really just want to clock out for a while.  But there's no such thing for a full time mama.  I'm burnt out.  It's been a LONG, HARD year. 

And at my prenatal visit last Monday, she said she would call me about a couple of things... one being when I'll have my ultrasound since I'm officially far enough along to see if my baby has a head... and she never did.  I called on Friday and still haven't gotten a call back.  The office visit took almost 2 hours so maybe they are just on a take-ten-times-longer-than-everyone-else kind of schedule.  But I would like to get this going... I'd like to know if I have a chance of bringing this baby home with me in November or not.  Should I get the crib out?  Buy stuff?  Pick names?   I guess I'd need all but the crib anyway, right? 

So, I guess I'm just a big ball of emotions - and unfortunately, contrary to what some think I should be feeling, the 'bad ones' are overtaking the good ones.  I'm pretty detached from our new baby right now and hate it.  I'm hoping that will change when I hear that (s)he has a head... but I can't promise that.   I am careful to take good care of him or her but that's about as far as it goes.  Today I rocked the baby like I used to with Rachel, just as an attempt at bonding and all I could do was think about Rachel.  And feel guilty about it.  I miss her. 

Today was just plain hard. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Fragrance After the Rain

Master Savior Jesus
Like a fragrance after the rain...
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There's just something about that name

These were words in a song we sang at church this morning and as I worshipped, God reminded me that He has a purpose in everything... even in the heartache of relationships gone bad.  I can see this in hind sight in almost every situation in my life, yet have a hard time recognizing it when the trouble is right in front of me.

I said to someone this morning that I think maybe the reason my grief seems to be harder these days is because it gets to be old after a while.  It starts to feel like a never ending road...and it is.  All I can think to compare it to is someone who has a chronic pain or a disease that will not ever go away.  You learn how to deal with it, but there isn't an area of your life that it doesn't touch, it's nothing anyone can help you with... and there is no end in sight.  That's how I feel...  discouraged about the long term journey. (As if the 'short term' journey hasn't been hard enough!)

Lately I have been dealing with some pretty big disappointments from people and I am forgetting that God will use EVERYTHING for my good.  I can already see in some instances how He has removed friendships that I used to cherish, and although extremely painful at that time, I can see how it changed the course of some major decisions I made that now I am so thankful for.  And so I sit here after this week where I just had three friendships forever changed and I'm tempted to be sad and angry about it.  And to a certain extent, I am, it feels like a huge loss.  But today, when I sang the words "like a fragrance after the rain" I was reminded about this truth...

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.  ~Isaiah 61:3

If after the rain all I have left is the fragrance of Jesus... That's all I need. 

It's raining like crazy today and all the kids were upset that it meant they couldn't play on Rachel's Playground.  As the kids were coming in for 2nd service children's church, one of the moms said to me "the playground is BEAUTIFUL... and it smells SO good!" 

Random right? :o)  I just smiled knowing what God has spoken to my heart about His fragrance just a little while before.  It was as if He was saying to me..."My daughter, I am still here.  I haven't gone anywhere... take a whiff"

I took a deep breath in through my nose.... a long exhale out my mouth... and I knew that I need to get back to basics.  He is with me.  He won't leave me.  He loves me.  When I feel alone, when everyone else abandons me, when others don't love me for who I am.  He never fails me.  Has never, will never.  And if I don't allow myself to get caught up in satan's advances, distracted by hurtful people and useless debates with people who aren't capable of loving me, I will be able to accomplish what He called me to in my journey through anencephaly with my precious daughter Rachel.

Honestly, she is too special to share with anyone who doesn't want to listen anyway.  If they don't want to hear about her and my heart for her, they don't deserve to know.  If they don't want to support Rachel's Mama as I grieve the loss of her, then they don't really love either of us. 

It's easy to forget that I am not fighting this battle.  The battle is HIS.  I feel like I need to almost daily, but I don't.  (I think most moms can relate to that feeling when it comes to your kids)   But nobody can deny that Jesus is woven through her story and His sweet aroma is everywhere.  Some day it will stop raining...and I am confident that the fragrance of Jesus will be there still, filling my soul with joy...even if my heart's still broken.

What Family and Friends Can Do

Guess what?  I got another email from the same person!  Apparently she doesn't get that right now isn't the best time to be doing this to me.  This email made me even more sad though cause she brought up a few times that other people feel the same as she does, which indicates to me that people have been talking about me behind my back and apparently don't like how I'm handling the loss of my daughter - as if it's up for discussion...  Funny that it's not acceptable to talk on a blog with no names but it is okay if you do it whispering with names. hmmm... maybe I'll just start gossiping quietly??  would that be more acceptable?? I know what my "counselor" did when a name was mentioned!
*deep sigh*  bottom line is that I really can't deal with this crap right now.  I shouldn't have to. And just so you can't say I didn't say so....  IF you are reading my blog in order to judge me or so you can get together with "others" and pretend to be helpless and just concerned about me, please don't.  If you don't like how I write, what I write, or how I'm dealing with my grief, please keep it to yourself and don't email me.  If you want to start your own blog and write about me, go ahead.  But pretty soon, I'm gonna start naming names cause I don't need the turmoil in my life... I have enough to deal with. And have you noticed that my daughter is DEAD??  give me a break and try putting your pride aside for a minute and thinking about how that might feel and whether or not YOU would want to be getting these types of emails at this time.  If you're doing this to me, whether I know about it or not, and are claiming that you just want to be there for me and I'm too hard to do that for then STOP TRYING cause some people, believe it or not, don't find me that hard to love.  And I really don't need friends like that any more than I want them.  I hope that takes some pressure off of you.  You can actually just leave me alone and all will be fine.  My guess is I won't even notice you're doing it cause you haven't been here for me anyway.  And at least that way you won't be able to justify talking crap about me to others. If you're reading this and you are offended, you might want to talk to God about why that is instead of sending me a mean email about it.  The people that aren't doing this to me are not going to feel the need to defend themselves.

I might again refer you to the "what family and friends can do" link on the left side of my blog.  Ironically, it happens to mention the same things that I keep trying to help people to understand - like:

-Don’t try to find something positive about their child’s death.
-Avoid giving advice unless you are asked.
-Check up on the parents. Their grief doesn't stop at the death of their baby, and they need to know that others are thinking of them.
-Listen to the parents when they want to talk about their baby and accept if they don’t.
-Don’t impose time limits on the parents’ grief. Grief cannot be governed by any clock or calendar. And be aware that they will always miss their child. 
-Being bereaved is not contagious; don’t shy away from the parents. They need you more than ever.
-Don’t tell them they will have other children. Children are not interchangeable. No other child will ever replace this baby.

Here is the link to the rest - there is even a specific section for "after time passes" check it out:
What Family and Friends Can Do

So, if you've been staying away from me and justifying it by blaming me for how I'm dealing with my grief or my criticism of your "naivety" - here you go - the rest of the world feels the same way about these topics.  It would hurt anybody.  I might be crazy enough to say it, but everyone would feel the same way.  It is called meeting someone where they are at.  Try it some time.  And just for the record, once someone tells you what they need (which I have done completely, honestly and openly since DAY 1) you cannot call it "naivety".  It's one thing to accidentally say something or do something that hurts and not mean it and when it's brought to your attention say you're sorry - but when you know it hurt someone and you make excuses and turn the blame on me and my blogging style... well, that is bull and THAT is what is devisive in the body of Christ.  I'm not sure why anyone would prefer that people keep quiet about what hurts them... that sounds pretty selfish to me.  We're supposed to care about how we affect others and not just because they will say something about it.

And I AM NOT PERFECT EITHER and WILL NOT do everything right!  If that excuse is good enough for you it's good enough for me.  I need grace too.

Now that I got that out, I am assuring you that this will be my LAST response to this ridiculous and hurtful behavior.  If I have to, I will block more email addresses like I had to do with an in-law. (which by the way, has made my life a lot better)  I cannot subject myself to this and actually cannot afford to with where I'm at emotionally right now.  I cannot allow anyone to get me this off focus and I won't any longer.  It's very obvious that I'm not being heard anyway and so it is a waste of my energy. 

Now I'll post what my original thoughts for today (which were much more helpful than this junk) were before I had to make the mistake of opening another email..... and following that up with the mistake of caring about it.... coming soon....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question

I've been thinking about this a lot lately....

There have been a number of times in the last couple of months that I have debated this, but more so lately.  Just in the last week or so, I've had a few things happen.   I got a poop cake email (read old post HERE if you don't know what I'm talking about) from someone telling me she was sorry that she hurt me, BUT that I needed to be mindful of her & others as I blog.  She wasn't happy with something I blogged that she had said to me (even though I didn't mention names) and when I wrote back to explain myself and told her I was feeling abandoned by the "friends" I had before Rachel, she wrote back and said that she was just going to pray for me from now on cause it was the best way to avoid further offense.  Totally missed my point.... I NEED my friends.  Although saying we'll pray is a good thing to do (and I need that too!), I feel it's often used as a cop-out to not have to subject themselves to my uncomfortable circumstance.  sigh.  (should I expect another email?)

Then I had someone in the middle of a disagreement say to me "just don't put this on your blog" and that was followed up by another email from someone else reiterating that they didn't want me to put it on my blog....I'm not quite sure why anyone thinks they can tell me what I can write, but they do it.

I've had lots of people tell me they aren't even reading it anymore, and some of our family and friends have never bothered to begin with.

I feel totally negative and am stuck in a really bad place as far as my grief goes and am not convinced I'm really benefiting anyone anyway...  My main purpose for starting this blog was so that when another mother who got the diagnosis of anencephaly went on line to google it, that she would find Rachel and the hope of Jesus.  And not only does my blog still not come up on a google search, but I don't feel like I can even portray "hope" right now cause I am just so heavy hearted. 

I never imagined I would have  220 followers (from over 90 countries!) and over 300 people a day reading this long after Rachel was born.  And I've argued points to myself like...  the followers keep going up, good emails are still come in, people tell me all the time that they find my writing helpful... I have been able to help some women carrying babies with anencephaly and they did find my blog on the internet "randomly" - maybe God does want me to continue....

But I'll be honest... I feel like throwing in the towel.  I just don't have the energy to try to please everyone and maybe I could if it was easier to do.  But I am so weary that the word doesn't begin to describe how drained I really am.  I am not the kind of person who can pretend I am something I'm not... or feel a way that I don't.  And I can't start faking it either.  I am me.  Some people appreciate that and some don't.  Some like me and some don't.

And so it brings me to my question... do I keep blogging? 

Well, Sunday after church, I told someone as I was walking outside that I was thinking I just wouldn't blog anymore and that I would just use that time to work on my book.  Sounded like a good idea to me and I was feeling almost relieved to just not have to worry about other people's judgement anymore.  Then I got out to Rachel's Playground and a girl I barely know came up to me holding her baby in his carrier.  She said she wanted to congratulate me on the new baby and gave me a hug.  Then she told me how often she thinks of me and how she has a friend who has lost a couple of babies and that she reads my blog too.  I asked her how old her baby was and found out that he was born just one week after Rachel.  Do you remember the post a long time ago when I told you that the first time I was saddened by a baby at church it was a boy and that really surprised me?  Well, it was him.  I had no idea that him & Rachel were so close in age, but apparently my Mama's heart knew.  She was due the day after me and we both had them 3 weeks early.  She cried as she told me that she felt so bad that I didn't have my baby and she did - and I cried as I told her that I'm happy that she has her baby and rubbed his toes through his socks :o)

So, this is a girl that I wouldn't have been having that conversation with if it wasn't for my blog.  There are MANY people I would not be blessed to know if I never started my blog.  Some of my best friends, I have received from God through my blog.  If not for my blog, I'd be left with all the people who I thought were friends before who disappeared on me.  Almost none of the people who I'm close with now that have helped me these past few months were people I even knew before my blog.  Because of my blog, I have processed all my emotions in my grief since day 1 and I truly believe it has been a literal life saver for me.  Because I was blogging my journey, we had people we had never met show up at Rachel's service and had almost 150 people there, which was something I really needed.  So, I know it's been helpful for me.

On Easter, I got to meet a woman who came to know the Lord through my journey with Rachel.  I have been blessed to be able to answer hundreds of emails with questions about my faith and Who Jesus is to me.  I have been able to encourage women younger and older than me in all different areas because they follow my blog.  I have helped people to know that you don't have to have it all together for Jesus to love you and that even when life is hard, He is worthy of our praise... So, I know it's building God's kingdom and that He is using me through it.

And if it wasn't for my blog, people would not know Rachel like they do.  I could have never shared her like I have without good old Blogger.  If I didn't put my heart on the line and risk people not liking me, there would not be people around the world saying Rachel Alice Aube (that's pronounced O-Bee :o) ) today.  She would have soon been forgotten and honestly, her playground wouldn't have been possible without the financial and emotional support that you all gave me.  So, I know my blog has accomplished what I had hoped for my little girl.

And when I look at all that, I ask myself  "how could I NOT blog?"  So, a few people might decide they don't like me.  That would happen anyway.  So, some people don't like how I'm grieving... oh well.  I pray they never have to be put in my shoes.  I'm never going to be able to make everybody happy.  I knew I was taking a huge risk letting my REAL self - all my joy, struggles, pain, fear, and even anger - be an open book for the world to read.  I never imagined it would bring me more pain, but I will say that the blessing has still far exceeded that.  And I guess it's a small price to pay for what I have received in return.  I have to remember who I'm doing this for.... and it's not the ones who like to sit back and criticize and have no empathy.  I'm doing this for the other Mamas who have lost or will lose their precious babies, for Rachel and for my God.  And as a result, God has blessed me as well.

Thank you to all of you who have been such great support and love for me.  I feel bad that I have not been very encouraging lately for you :o(  Please rest assured that even when I am sounding like I'm hanging by a thread, I am still completely confident in the strength of my God and know He is enough.  I think I'm officially dealing with the "anger stage" of grief.  I've struggled with how to handle my anger my entire life.  I guess I should just be thankful I'm not hitting anyone...There was a day not too long ago, I would be.  Thank you for your encouragement and your empathy as I make my way down this long, painful road.

More blogs to come!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Caramel Raining from Heaven

I LOVE Caramel... and so did Rachel :o)  I ate a lot caramel filled chocolate in my time with her - actually, to follow the Forest Gump theme, it was more like:
Caramel candy bars, caramel ice cream, caramel iced coffee, caramel candy, caramel topping on my caramel ice cream.  If I could fry caramel, I probably would.  And if I could have my own Caramel boat and name it Rachel, I would.

OK, so you probably get how much I like the caramel chocolates, right?

Let me continue (as I eat my Caramello - for real!)  After talking with a friend about my last post, I feel like I should clarify something.  I mention that I don't feel supported by my church family - and because what I'm able to share is minimal, that can sound a lot bigger than it is.  To be honest, it FEELS a lot bigger than it is.  And really, it's all stemming from one inappropriate action that I'm getting criticized for drawing attention to - and has prompted a few people to say things like "we/they have done so much for you and your family that you should be more thankful and gracious than this."  2 things - I can be upset about something inappropriate and still be thankful for everything else.  (I also know more about the situation than they think I do and so they 'don't understand' why I'm upset)  And the other thing is that lots of good works don't get anyone to heaven.  I don't need to show grace because of everything YOU have done for me, I need to show it cause of what JESUS has done for me.  And I DO.  I never realized we were to keep score like this and honestly if I knew these people were going to throw "everything they've done for me" in my face constantly, I would have never accepted their help to begin with.  That is not love.  And as Rachel's mother, it gets my mama bear hair standing straight up to hear people throwing her name around like she was a pain in the butt. 

Yesterday I was wishing I could pick Rachel's Playground up and bring it home with me.  I was so sad - I cried a lot.  We have really done a lot for the church and all the families in it as well and it's taken more from me than just my time and money.  It's taken a piece of my heart... and her playground no longer belongs to me, but to the church.  It's hard to let all that belonged to Rachel go into someone else's ownership, especially as they question my character along the way.  They seem to be missing my sacrafice while wanting to point out theirs.

But all that "coconut" aside, the truth is that I have an amazing church family.  Without them, Matt & I would pretty much be alone in this world (again, not counting my mom & sister who are always here for us)  But there are really only a handful of people who are not supporting me from church, problem being WHO those people are, not the number of them.  My heart is already broken and they just threw some salt on my wound so unfortunately, it stings more than it normally would. 

I have always struggled to not let a bad apple spoil my bunch.  I can tend to get discouraged and heavy hearted when things aren't going well with even one person.  To one extent, I'm glad my heart is sensitive to that and to another, it's feel like a major downfall of mine.  OOH, I just thought of another to add to my list... caramel apples!  mmm...

I guess I can forget sometimes that people who don't know the whole story may be upset that I would say such a thing about our church.  So, just in case any of you from church read that and were totally confused, I want you to know that I am SO grateful for you.  Matt & I were both in tears on Saturday, full of gratitude talking about how thankful we are for all of you.  We have not overlooked one single donation in Rachel's honor or one act of service from any of you, no matter how big or small.  However,  if you weren't confused by what I said (and not because I confided the details in you), well... do I need to say more? 

Back to caramel...  I may have had to endure a lot of coconut this year, but I've also had caramel raining from heaven on me.  I have had way more days with blessing than not.  I have felt loved many more times than unloved.  Even during the days immediately following Rachel's death, I almost daily had a flavor fill my mouth that left me saying "mmmm...caramel"  So PLEASE know that those days have not left my memory.  I have not forgotten any of the things that you all have done.  They are too close to my heart for that to ever happen. 

Today I went to Rachel's Playground to play and met some friends there.  I got there to find that Mark, who made every picket for Rachel's fence by HAND had come to add more to the bottom of the art panel section and it looks great.  He was also taking some measurements for another part that needed attention.  I had no idea people were even still working on it.  Then Andy from The Journey church showed up to take care of the scrap wood....  Then I went to pick up the other sign for Rachel's Playground.  The first one was $700 and this one was going to be $275 and that was a discounted price!  I called on the way to see if they took credit cards and she said "it's been paid for" - apparently one of my friends stopped in and took care of it.  I went to Rachel's grave and found a bunch of little twigs in the shape of a heart on her spot, along with container of gerber daisies and a cross flower decoration - AND the cemetery was mowing when I was there and left it there, they could totally throw it all away.  Then I looked down and saw that her grass is starting to grow. 

I've had lots of caramel today. 

I need to learn how to wash down the coconut with the caramel and keep going.  Until then, please be patient with me.  This grief stuff is way more difficult than I ever realized.  It's not just about being sad.  There is so much more to it than that and although everyone and their mother will tell you that it gets easier with time - that's a crock.  It seems to be getting harder before it gets easier if that is the case.  The funny thing is that according to everyone else, this week was supposed to be my best one yet - and it's been extremely difficult. 

And if God isn't so good to me, Matt JUST handed me card that came in the mail and it's from Learning Structures (the playground company)  He talks of how Rachel's life was short and yet has touched thousands of lives... and then he says:
"I am so proud to have both of you as friends.  We began this project thinking we were helping a family and community.  We ended the project and realized that we benefitted the most.  Thank you"
OK, so the company who donated close to $20,000 in services and materials and tons of their time that they could have been making money on another playground is thanking US?  I can't tell you what that does for my heart. I'm left speechless. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates...

On my post yesterday Leila commented: "I never know what I'm going to get when I log on and read about Stacy...I thank you for your willingness to let it all hang out"

And I laughed at the truth of that statement... cause the funny part is that I never know what I'm going to write!  And at the end of yesterday, I had serious second thoughts on hitting "publish"!  I know it appears to come easy to me to be real and sometimes it is, but there are just some things that I would rather hide away and not have to worry about being judged on.  I'm relieved to know that you (or at least the majority of you!) see this as a good thing!

The thought that came to mind when I read Leila's comment is Forest Gump.  I watched that movie a million times and know almost every line... and all I could think was "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get".

You know how we all love the boxes of chocolate that have the filling info on the bottom of the box??  And if you flip it over to find that there isn't a map to the good ones, you're never less than disappointed.  It's almost a guarantee that you're going to pick one you don't like and then have to decide: eat it anyway or put it back?"  depends if you're sharing the box and if anyone is looking....oh, and of course whether or not your husband is near by and you can pawn it off on him. 

Too bad life's box didn't come with a map on the back to which way is the yummiest.  Oh how I would love to know before I bite if it's going to taste good.  And what I wouldn't give to never have to bite into another coconut filled chocolate again for the rest of my life.  If we could look at a situation and know what we would find inside, it would be so much easier to make decisions in life... but we can't...  and so we close our eyes, bite and wait for the flavor to fill our mouths - and hope that it holds the taste that we are looking for.

This afternoon I brought the kids to swim lessons.  I've had some major disappointments today - from church issues to Rachel's headstone and  I really didn't want to be at swimming.  I usually go in with Sam and today I didn't feel like getting my bathing suit on so I sat on the sidelines. I was feeling pretty heavy hearted and up walks a mom with a baby in a stroller.  My first thought was "oh good, I'll have someone to chat with to pass the time".  She parked the stroller right next to me and  I peeked in... it was a baby girl.  My heart sank, but my face smiled.

"I like your tattoo" she said, pointing at my wrist. "Is it a real hand print?"
"oh, thanks, yeah,  it's my daughter's hand"  (Yummy chocolate... I love to talk about Rachel)
"How did they do that?  I mean, how did they get a hand print?"
Looking confused, I answered "it's a copy of her hand print"
"Yeah, but how did they get her to leave her hand open?  Babies' hands are usually curled tight."
"ummm...well... she didn't live - But I never thought of that, I guess you're right, their hands are usually curled." - my shoulders sinking into my chair.

I officially want to return today's box of chocolates.  Her hand print has always been my favorite thing. I have it permanently on my wrist and we put it on all the playground shirts.  I had no idea that it was proof of her lifeless body.  I had never realized that it should be very difficult to get a hand print - and we got dozens, literally.

My new company went on to talk about how she can get her baby's foot prints, showing me her cute little toes, but has not been able to get her hand print, holding up the little girl's hand to show me how it's curled tight.

My face probably couldn't hide my sadness.  I'm about 20 pounds overweight in body and about 100 in my heart.  It's getting hard to carry this weight around.  I feel like I have eaten coconut filled chocolates all day long....all year long, really.  I sat the rest of swim lessons watching the baby with the curled fists nurse.  I miss my baby.  So much so that it makes me wonder why I bother wasting my emotional energy on anything or anyone else.

I've spent more than half of the day totally upset in tears by this ridiculous email I got today and the other half crying over Rachel's stone and the email I got from them this afternoon.  I might just stop checking my email.  (note: if you've sent me an email to my RachelsMama address, I haven't been able to check it yet since after the playground build... not ignoring you!)  But I wonder, really, do I care about any of it?  Do I care if every single person at church misunderstands me and criticizes me?  Do I really care if they don't want to support me in this trial?  Do I care if they talk about me behind my back instead of calling me to see how I am?  Do I really care if the stone guy doesn't want to work with me to get her stone fixed without raking me through the coals financially?  Do I care if her stone isn't perfect?  Do I really care if that lady's baby has curled hands?  Does any of it really matter? 

None of it changes the chocolates I've been given. 

Nothing is bringing my baby back.  Even if my church family was supportive of me (I know, comes as a surprise), even if everybody was compassionate towards me, even if her stone was perfect... even if it was normal for babies to let you get their hand prints...

My Baby Girl is still gone... and I will never hold her again on this side of heaven.  I'm sorry, but with what I'm going through right now, I don't really care what anyone thinks about me.  I know where I stand with God.  I know who I am and what is worth standing up for.  I don't claim to do anything perfect.  But the same people who are always demanding grace out of me fail to give me any in return at a time when I'm in great need of it. (although if you ask them, they give me lots of it) I have more important things to do than try to get these people to see who I really am... like make it through my days with my broken heart.  So go ahead, call me ungracious and ungrateful.  I'm neither and God knows it.
Since I started writing this, I went and got out Rachel's hand & foot molds since I remember one of them being curled.  In the one we did, her hand is nice and curled.  The one we had the funeral home do, is straight and flat.  Apparently her hands held the "live baby" shape for quite a while after she died.  And I took advantage of every moment to slip my finger right in there... I would love to do it again.  I took a picture of her curled fist cause it made me feel better.  She had the cutest hands I've ever seen.

Sadly, her fingertips didn't come out on 3 of her fingers,
but she had my hands and her Daddy's feet.

I was looking at her foot molds and caught her booties on the shelf out of the corner of my eye.  These were the first things  I ever bought her after we found out she had anencephaly.  I wrote a post titled "girls love shoes" - I brought them to the hospital and forgot to put them on her.  When I realized it I was devastated.  I put them out next to her casket at her service, but my heart broke to know that I didn't have a second chance to try them on her.  I was going to bury them with her, but decided to keep them.  Tonight I decided to put her molds in them... and they fit just right.  As I went to take a picture, I noticed something I had not seen before... they have little daisies on them. And of course, hearts.  *sigh*

 Whenever I meet a new baby, I always touch their toes.  Tonight, I sat here sobbing rubbing my fingers over a hard mold of Rachel's toes in her booties and for a moment, I almost felt like I was touching her...

These are the moments worth my tears...

I was so sad that my chest actually hurt.  Matt came in and sat with me... he said "I can't understand your pain, I wish I could".  I appreciated his honesty, but you can see why this road is so lonely for a Mama...  I am sad to know that many of you reading this know what I mean.  I'm praying for all your hearts tonight.