Saturday, August 27, 2011

My "Psalms"

This is one of the posts that I had written and not posted, so it's from the beginning of the week... It was originally titled "Mansion Taste Test" but after adding to it below, that changed.
I woke up this morning to Desirae standing next to me.  With her sleepy face and voice, she said "If we were having a little girl, I would want to decorate her room by painting big fields with daisies on them."

I smiled and said "I bet that's what Rachel's room in heaven looks like" - except the picture I had in my mind wasn't of a bedroom, but an actual field of flowers.

Then Isaiah came in and got under the covers with me.  He looked up at the sign on the wall and said "why is that picture crooked?"  I said it's not and he said "yeah, when one side is closer to the candles and the other side isn't, that means it's crooked"

Sam woke up and just played in his room quietly enjoying his toys....

I wondered how Rachel would have woken up this morning... I wondered what would have been on her mind?  I wondered if she would be as focused on the decorations as Des and Isaiah were... or if she would have played quietly until she saw me walk past her door like Sam.  I wondered if she was running through that field with daisies in it....

And it got me thinking about her "room" in heaven.

In the Bible, Jesus says "In my Father's house there are many mansions (some versions say rooms or dwelling places).  I go to prepare a place for you.... and I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may also be where I am" (I'm paraphrasing). 

Is a "room" in heaven what we call a room here?  Is it a 10 x 12 space he decorates with curtains and cute blankets?  I doubt it.  Is a mansion in heaven a huge house with a 3 car garage and a swimming pool?  Don't think so.  I could be wrong, but I think in our human minds it's completely impossible to fathom what God has prepared for those who believe in Him.  And I think we put our human spin on things because that is what's familiar - but I think it's far off.  Try as we might, our limited ideas of an unlimited God and His creation will never reveal what we will experience there. 

I've had people tell me in an attempt to make me feel better about my daughter being dead - "just imagine a room with all your favorite things and colors - that's what Rachel has now - decorated just for her"  I don't think so.  I have a feeling in heaven, we're a lot less self-centered than that.  I bet we'll be so focused on God that we won't care about our favorite "things and colors".  I don't think God brings us to heaven with Him for our happiness, although we will experience it I'm sure.... I think He brings us there for His Glory and to bask in His holiness and to be with Him eternally.  Yeah, that will probably include some amazing colors....some beautiful things... maybe even a field with daisies...but I don't think that His main goal to give us things we want.  I think His main goal is to give us Himself.... a place to rest and abide where there is no trouble or pain.  I'd take that over a big house or a pretty room any day.

Now if I could just try to live more heavenly minded HERE.... like we're supposed to.  If I could only be more concerned with basking in God's holiness and bringing glory to Him and being with Him than my own happiness while I'm still on earth..... If I could be less concerned with the crooked picture on the wall and more concerned with how God wants to decorate my life; my heart. 

Then maybe even on earth, we could have a better idea of what our "mansions" will look like, feel like, be like when He takes us home.  Because I have a feeling they are way more than a room with 4 walls filled with our favorite things and some pretty colors - and I believe that even a taste of what's in store for us would bring us to our knees in awe.... Just a taste of Him....

Psalm 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

And this is my post from tonight....

That night I was feeling down, despite my best efforts to "think positively" and went out to my garden to cut some flowers for the house.  I keep fresh flowers at all times in here for Rachel and the ones I had in vases were all drooping.  The daisies in my garden all stopped blooming weeks ago, and as I went to cut some of my Black Eyed Susans, I noticed there was one little daisy budding out of nowhere.  It took me a couple days to remember to get out there and take a picture, but I finally did on Friday while cutting some more flowers for her grave.  By that time, it was fully bloomed for me.  Sam & I brought a bouquet down for her at our Friday visit.

So, as I re-read this post, I tried to figure out why I hadn't posted it... I mean, it sounds fine to me.  But it goes back to the fact that I have no tollerance for plastic smiles.  I know this post sounds positive, and I truly believe and take refuge in these words...but on a day to day basis, it's not always that easy - and I think that is why I didn't post it originally because I struggle so much in this area and am really heavy hearted lately, when everyone else expects me to be getting lighter. And although I felt like God had spoken this to my heart, I wasn't "there" yet.

After my last post, I got an email that someone decided to stop reading because it's not postive enough for her right now.  I went back and forth with God about this all day because the last thing I want is to not be helpful for others.  Matt was listening to a couple of sermons by John Piper and as I sat eating my lunch, I got my answer....

In one of them, he was talking about the Proverbs 31 woman - the one we're all supposed to strive to be like and it's almost certain we'll never quite make it... he said a lot of things about wisdom and faith and the last sentence was "It's fearlessness in the face of suffering".  I pondered those words.  Did I exhibit that while carrying Rachel?  I think so, as much as a human can.  I obviously still had fears related to her birth and my elective c-section and other choices I made, but I believe that God gave me the ability to face my suffering like I never could have without Him and I believe I glorified Him in that journey by sharing how I constantly looked to Him to hold me in my pain - and how He never failed to do so.

In the second one, he talked about believing that "God is enough" in the midst of suffering and loss.... and I know I do that as well because He is all I have and has carried me through every valley.  So, as I sat here trying to figure out if God wanted me to put aside whatever my hard moments might be and 'stay positive' for the benefit of others, I realized that it doesn't benefit anyone.  Not me, not you.  It's not real life and it says nothing about how great my God is to say that everything is fine.  All through the Psalms you see heavy hearts turn to God... the psalms start out begging for relief from the horrible pain and end saying "God is enough".  While this might be a long lonely valley for me, I know He is there and I know He is enough. 

All that said, I hear the wind and rain starting outside.  Hurricane Irene is here!  I guess I should go before the power beats me to it.  You should watch these short videos that I found so much hope and comfort in today - and reassurance that God doesn't expect me to be a robot without feelings - for me, for Him or for anyone else.  He made me the way I am, He gave me the emotions I have... all He wants is for me to see Him through them and I do.  I hope that it apparent even if some days I don't get to the end of the "Psalm" in one blog entry.... this is why I made my "disclosure", not to scare anyone away, but to say that I might not be able to bring everything around to "good" in one day (after all, I am human) - but I don't need to because God eventually will get me there, He always does.  I am still holding on to my Savior and trusting in His perfect plan for me and for Rachel.  (these are just a couple of minutes each)

When this next one was over, I turned to look at Matt and we both had tears in our eyes.... I pray that Jesus looks beautiful to all who have followed my journey with my girl.  He is beautiful to me - even without Rachel in my arms.  I may not have everything I want here - but I've got it all and more there....

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Feel Robbed

I realized as I was watching the video of the Baby Remembrance Ceremony at Rachel's walk that I completely forgot to include our 3rd baby that I miscarried.  At first I felt really guilty.... how could I forget that baby?  I have gone to the Angels Walk for Wishes in Strafford in order to hear that baby's name spoken, and we didn't even give him or her an official name, just "Baby Aube #3".  How could that baby not come to mind in all my planning for other peoples' babies??  In all my talk about miscarriage and infant loss, how did I forget my baby who at one point was the biggest loss I had ever experienced??  I was tempted to beat myself up over it.

I talked to a friend the other night who has lost many babies.... She has had early miscarriages, 2nd term miscarriages, and has held her full term baby as he unexpectedly left her arms and slipped into the arms of Jesus.  It was so comforting to hear that she knew where I was coming from.  thank you Jesus for giving me friends who really get me.  I hate the reasons we understand each other, but it was such a relief to hear her say that the baby she delivered and held until he died was different  than her miscarriages.  We were both being careful with our words as to not underestimate what we went through with our miscarriages, and we both agreed that at the time we had miscarriages it was the most pain we had ever felt and couldn't imagine anything harder.... but our full term babies were a completely different ball game.  As a mom, it can feel really wrong to say that out loud.

I remember when I was pregnant with Rachel and people would email me and say something like "I've only had a miscarriage, it doesn't compare to what you're going through" - I disagreed every single time; literally hundreds of times.  I knew the pain of a miscarriage and I knew that wasn't accurate... however, I only knew what I had experienced so far.  I knew the gut wrenching pain of having a baby ripped from my womb.  I knew how long and hard I cried and that I didn't sleep for nights on end.  I remembered saying it was the worst pain I had ever felt.  I remember the comments,,, "well, at least it happened now"...."there was probably something wrong with the baby anyway".... "you can have another one"....  and the list goes on and on. 

If you ever sent me an email telling me you had a miscarriage and couldn't imagine what I was going through, I can pretty much guarantee that I told you that I thought a miscarriage was harder... because that's what I believed.  I'm sure I said, "with a miscarriage it's all pain and no joy and at least with Rachel, I've had the joy of feeling her move and bonding with her longer and will be able to deliver her and I will have the joy of holding her in my arms".  This belief stemmed from the root of my pain with my miscarriage which was that I felt robbed.  I guess I didn't realize that I was going to feel robbed with Rachel too.... just much more so and for way longer.  There was no way to know and since what I had experienced with my miscarriage was so horrible, I didn't think this could be much worse, even though I was going through it myself.  It's just the way it is, until you really experience something for yourself, you have no idea how it feels.

After my miscarriage, I got pregnant with Samuel and immediately started to heal from the pain of losing the baby before him.  I guess I was naive in thinking that would happen getting pregnant again after Rachel.  And I've heard that expectation from so many others telling me how healing it will be for me to have another baby.  I'm guilty of saying the same thing to other baby loss mamas, even after I had lost Rachel, when I heard they were pregnant again.  All I knew was what I knew...  I knew what it felt like to carry a baby to term and watch her die and I was looking forward to getting pregnant again.  I didn't know how hard being pregnant again would be or the roller coaster of emotions that would come with it.  And so I said stupid things to people like "oh, come on, be excited!  I'm excited for you!" - boy do I eat those words every time someone judges me for not "rejoicing over my gift" (which by the way, I do daily, it just doesn't look like they think it should) or when people insist on switching the subject from Rachel to Asa on me even though I don't want to yet.

In the middle of writing this post, Matt & Isaiah started putting together Asa's crib.  Matt called me upstairs to tell him what needed to be taken out of Rachel's room and put in the attic.  I decided I would start emptying out her dresser.... the first drawer was no problem - all the newspaper articles and hundreds of cards that I got while pregnant.  I put them in a bin and planned to read them tomorrow before I put them into her hope chest downstairs.  OK, this is not so bad...  Then the second drawer - the ribbons from the first thing I made for her grave, the guest book from her funeral (which I filled out like most people would fill out a baby book) and all the left over programs...OK, I can handle this... then I pulled out the blanket from my pregnancy pics that I originally planned to bury with her but decided to keep.  I slept with it through my pregnancy and brought it everywhere with me thinking that she could be buried with something that had gone to all the special places I went with her.... Still alright... and under that was the receiving blanket that they first put her in (I forgot I even had it) and it had blood on it from her poor head....I started crying, but tried to keep going.... I opened up the last drawer to find all her clothes, a quilt that a friend made for her and her little blanket with a teddy bear head....And I was all done.  I tucked my head onto Matt's chest and just cried.... I had to put it all away for another day.

It's like I'm robbed multiple times a day.  I feel robbed when I wake up holding her empty blanket, when I get in the van and only load 3 kids, when someone asks me how many kids I have or how old they are, when I look around my house and see foot molds and pictures and try to imagine how big she would be now, when I pass each "first", when I realize how few people around me still care about her, each week when I go to the cemetery to visit her grave, in every shopping trip as I pass the baby isle, and in every conversation where the person I'm talking to is gloating over the baby they got to keep and I smile for them.  I felt robbed last week at church when our friends dedicated their beautiful baby boy....When I see someone nursing... I feel robbed when I'm trying to keep her memory alive and have to explain yet again, why I'm still sad.  I feel robbed when I open up any drawer in my house to find either a playground shirt with the big "43" on it, a 5K shirt with the word "Legacy" on it, or a drawer full of baby girl clothes that still have tags on them.  Every day of my life since her diagnosis has been painful without exception and it's been almost 13 months.  Some days the pain lasts longer than others, but they are all hard.  And as I laid in bed crying again in the early hours of the morning, all I could think was I just want to feel normal again....and that will never be.  I grieve the simplicity of my old life along with the loss of my girl.  My life as I knew it was torn from me last August and it's never coming back. This far exceeds anything I had to endure after my miscarriage, although I would have never believed it until even recently.

All that to say that I am not going to feel guilty for forgetting about my 3rd baby.  Not that he or she didn't matter to me or that it wasn't a huge loss - if you've had a miscarriage, you know that our babies do matter and it is a huge loss (and please know I'm not trying to diminish any of your pain) - but for me, it wasn't anything like losing Rachel and that's okay.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Disclosure on My Journey Through Anencephaly - Newer Posts Below

I've written a couple of posts recently that I haven't published.

I think the reason is because after I write them, I feel like I haven't done a good job expressing my heart in a way that will help anyone or even really give a good idea of where my heart truly is.  And, I'm afraid of being misunderstood or hurting someone. 

This has led me to question how long I plan to blog. The reason I blog has changed a couple of times since last August.  It started as a way to keep our friends and family aware of what was happening and over time changed to an unbelievable minsitry that God placed in my lap.  I had no idea the audience I would eventually have and how many people I would be blessed to help with mine and Rachel's story.

In one way, it sounds almost like a relief to stop blogging cause I guess it's getting harder to be honest since my honesty means sharing some anger and regrets.  For a long time, those weren't things that were in the forefront of my mind, although they existed, and I was always able to offset them with all the beauty that was coming from my pain as well.  Lately, I am not feeling a whole lot of beauty.  But, I feel like if I'm not completely honest and open, then blogging is pointless because I've never been into facades and hate it when other people put on a front.  I feel like such a downer and am worried that people will get tired of hearing about how much I hurt and miss Rachel.  But that's where I am at....still hurting and missing Rachel.

I've wondered how, when this blog has been the way that I have shared Rachel with the world as well as been able to minister to others, could I possibly feel okay with stopping?  The answer is for now, I can't.  I don't feel like God is calling me to stop at this point.

So I guess this is where I ask you to please be patient and gracious with me as I work through this part of my grieving process, that apparently just isn't going to be as pretty.  I want to be able to just write and not worry about using the 'right' words so that I can continue to work through this hard stuff.  But if I have to mull over every entry a million times to try not to offend anyone, I'll never finish them.  I have a lot of people to keep happy and that is a hard job in itself.

If you're still reading my blog after all this time, thank you.  It amazes me that anyone is interested in my daily ups and downs at all, never mind people I don't know.  Bear with me as I go through yet another valley in the spotlight, which is just a hard place to be.... and please forgive me in advance if I offend you while using this blog as a place to dump my negativity.  Sometimes the weight of responsibility that this blog brings me is a lot for me while I'm grieving.  I know God isn't going to leave me in this place, but trust He has me here for a purpose.  I pray that I can still bring glory to Him through it. 

Please know that, if I write a post that sounds heavy or raw, my many words here may only represent how I feel for a moment in a day and you need not worry.  Sometimes a moment feels like a lifetime and so that's how it may come across in my writing, but my lifetime is not defined by my moments.  I have a blessed life, a beautiful family, and many great people I can count on around me supporting me and loving me - but those are not the things I need to process right now.  If you are worried, please just pray for me.  The only thing worse than being judged is someone telling you they're doing it. (sometimes ignorance is bliss) I don't ask that you keep it to yourself because I am against hearing your opinion or because I'm in denial, but because it doesn't do anything but add to my pain, stress, and insecurity.  I need to be able to be where I'm at, so please let me.

That is my disclosure....hang on, it could be a bumpy ride....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


After I went to my prenatal exercise class tonight, I did what any normal pregnant woman would do when they get done exercising and went out for ice cream. :o)  Ok, it was frozen yougurt, but really good frozen yogurt.  I met an old friend there which was awesome...  the night seemed to be light and fun, it was really nice out, didn't hit a single red light the whole way there - things were going good.

She had to get going to pick up her son and so I got back in my van to finish mine before I left.  I turned the van on and within seconds was bawling in the parking lot of the ice cream shop....people all around...  The words of a Trisha Yearwood song cut straight through my heart:

And tell me now
How do I live without you
I want to know
How do I breathe without you
If you ever go
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I
How do I
O how do I live?
I was trying to keep eating my ice cream, but it was pointless, I could hardly breathe, never mind eat and swallow.  I started driving, which probably wasn't any better of an idea, but I just wanted to get home.  Long after the song was over, I kept hearing the words.... how do I breathe without you?...and crying.

I thought about all the times I've said that carrying to term would be "easier" than terminating a baby mid-pregnancy because of a fatal prenatal diagnosis....and I wondered have I been lying??  Am I crazy?  This can't be easier.... and immediately, I remembered that I never thought it would be easy - and I sure as heck didn't do this for myself.  I did it for my daughter and for my God and had I chosen to go the "easier" route for ME, I wouldn't be in any less pain.  There was no easy way out on this road. To think so is to believe a lie.  But I am honored to have served them both in this way and am thankful that I won't look back years from now with any regrets or "what if's"  I know I gave them both my all.  It just doesn't make it least not now, maybe the "easy" comes later?

I was only ten when my Nana died, but I clearly remember overhearing my mom talking to someone else about how her chest literally hurt from her grief; the weight of a broken heart.  I know that feeling, the one where it actually feels like your lungs are closing in on you...when the hurt isn't just emotional, but a real physical response to the pain.  Well tonight, after a beautiful drive and in the middle of yummy ice cream, I was there again....trying to breathe through my pain.  (and I thought that was just a technique for labor!) 

I made it home safely, after a long ride with clouded contacts and picked my ice cream back up to finish it off in the driveway before coming in.  Another song came on... Everything Good by Ashes Remain...

You are oxygen
On a late night drive
To clear my head when hope has passed me by
You are gravity
When I'm upside down
You help me find my way back to the ground
And this is why

You're everything good, everything true
When all the world is fading, You're everything new
You are my eyes, when I can't see
When all the world is broken, You will always be
Everything good

You are all I have, and all I need
And all I am is what You've made of me
And this is why

Somehow I don't believe that was a coincidence.  Somehow I know that I was meant to hear both of those songs... it could have something to do with the fact that if I started the car a minute later - or got out of the car a second sooner, (or didn't change the station half way home) I wouldn't have heard either one - or only one, which wouldn't have meant the same thing.  I might have had a less emotional ride, my "good" night might have lasted longer and I might not have a headache now.... but in the midst of these hard emotions, God was gently reminding me Who He IS.  He IS enough.  He IS my oxygen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rachel's Race Results!!

Well, we're still waiting on just one thing to know the final amount we donated to Options for Women in Rachel's honor is.... but it looks like our $8,000 estimate was under!  We are at a minimum of almost $9,200 and if one other thing goes through, we'll be at $9,900!  I never imagined back in December when Vanessa contacted me with the idea of doing a 5K for Rachel that this would come to be.  We spent months picking a name (seems like it was easy, but it totally wasn't!), figuring out who we would donate the proceeds to, and getting a course picked out and okay'd by the city and police.  By the time May rolled around, Vanessa had done a ton of work and it seemed like we had gotten nowhere cause there was still everything else to do! 

In June, we questioned if we could even pull it off this year and the question arose if we should postpone.  Being the crazy lady I am, I said no way.  I had already announced it at that point and when I tell my girl and everyone else I'm going to do something for her, there's no backing out in my book.  I'm so glad we kept going!  We had weekly meetings and people were in and out of them helping, but I want to take a minute to thank my main 3 girls... unfortunately one of them is missing here - she was busy doing someone else's job when we took this, hopefully one of the other photographers got a pic of her!!

On my left is Vanessa.... Vanessa came up with this idea and although I had never talked to her before, emailed me just weeks after Rachel's death to present it.  Thank you Vanessa for the months of preparation when I was still too raw to help at all, your love, your support, your friendship.  Thank you for always caring about my heart through this and knowing this wasn't all business for me.  Thank you for the way you love Rachel and never forget about her - for always telling me it's ok for me to want her to be acknowledged. Thank you for loving me just as I am, even in my low points and never judging me.  You are an amazing woman and I am honored to call you my friend. 

On my right is Michelle.... Michelle is a fellow baby loss mama who has lost 2 babies and followed my blog for months before we met.  She sent me a card after Rachel died and then contacted me when she read that I was doing a 5K and needed donations so that she could donate some artwork for the raffle.  She came to drop them off, stayed for our meeting and ended up leaving that night as the "Food Coordinator"!  She took care of all the details having to do with the food and totally relieved me of that responsibility.  In the process of her buying food and tinfoil for me, I have been blessed with a new friendship of a beautiful woman who loves God, is a dedicated friend, and has given me a shoulder to cry on as I have continued to miss my baby through this. 

The one missing from the picture is Nicole.... Nicole is my blog reader that goes to college in PA and loves to run.  We had been emailing for months and when I heard she was coming home for the summer, asked her if she wanted to help.   To be honest, I thought I was doing a good thing, reaching out to her and trying to help her feel a "part of".... I had NO IDEA what this young woman was capable of!  My word, I quickly realized that I wasn't the one helping anyone here!  She posted all the signs, got donations and took over any task I needed her to without hesitation and didn't fail me!  She loves my girl and has kept her as the center, sending me emails and cards to let me know that Rachel still matters to her.

I also want to thank our husbands - Donaldo (Vanessa's Husband) & Ian (Michelle's Husband) - Thank you for supporting your wives as they have supported me.  I know the 6 weeks leading up to the race were a sacrifice for you as well... thank you!  And to Matt, thank you for taking up all my responsibilities at home... the meals, the cleaning, the dishes, the kids... to allow me to put my all into Rachel while I've needed to.  He is my behind-the-scenes man who never seeks acknowledgement for it.  He did this all without complaint.  Our children are blessed to have you as their Daddy and I am so thankful you're mine.

While us 4 girls and our husbands (and Nicole's mom, Monique!) were the ones who pulled this day together, we couldn't have run the day without the other 40 people who came out to help us (including a couple women from Options) - from registration table, to food, to flaggers and set up and break down, this day took a lot of hands.  Thank you if you were a set of them!!!

And last, but first in my heart, Thank you to my amazing and faithful God, whose love and provision has never failed me or left me alone.  You are so good to me, God.

I will share a couple pictures now, but I'm waiting on some from another photographer who donated her time.  I also have the video below, which was donated by Lynne Valeri from Video Design Films.  Thank you Lynne, I'm so grateful to have this video, it's beautiful!!

And they're off!!

Police leading the race for us... they shut down Central Ave in Downtown Dover for Rachel's Race!

And the walkers take off.... in the front is Harlee & Kim (pushing Riley & Hattie), my two good friends who have been with me through it all.  They have yet to miss a thing where Rachel is concerned

Our Beautiful Children being troopers in the heat!
A few of the medals we had for winners.  The first man & first woman also got $100 PUMA gift cards!

The walkers went through the cemetery and stopped at Rachel's grave - this is why it was so important that her stone was put in just 2 days earlier!  I set up a journal and lots of people signed and left us notes.  Desirae said that when they went through (our friend Millie walked with her 3 kids, my 3 kids and our niece Jailyn!) that there was a LONG line at Rachel's grave :o) 
Nicole's signs :o)

So, here is the video from Rachel's Race!  Don't forget to pause the player way at the bottom of my blog so you can hear it!  I was waiting for a typo to be fixed before sharing it, but Options didn't know and posted it - so since it's already out there.... here you go!  The baby's name that is wrong is Lindsay Alice Groen (has no "June" on it)  sorry Laura, we'll fix it!  After we read all the baby's names, Steph Boardman sang "Yet I will praise You Lord", which is a song we also had a friend sing at Rachel's funeral...  We're still praising You Lord - even in our darkest valley...

For all the Mamas who couldn't be there... your babies were remembered and loved too.  I hope it makes you smile to hear their names being spoken states and countries away!  Feel free to share on your blogs too!

Baby Rachel's Legacy from VideoDesign Films on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Complicated Decorating

I woke up at 5am thinking about this idea I have for Asa's nursery.  My mind went from the paint colors and wall decor to my night in the hospital with Rachel.

And people wonder why being pregnant again isn't as easy as just being excited over my new bundle of joy...

I relived the night in my mind... my amazing nurses, the snow that fell softly outside the window...the peanut butter toast I ate while she laid on my lap and I stared at her good it felt to have her near me and prop her up with me just the way I have the other three on my first night with them, while Matt slept nearby on a visitor bed....the fact that they gave me 2 benedryl and I was still up most of the night because I just didn't want to miss a moment with her...the way the hours flew by no matter how much I wanted to slow them down.

And before I knew it, I was reliving the moment when I had to let the funeral home leave with her.  They were so amazing and picked her up in a moses basket, gave me all the time I needed to get her ready to go out into the cold world without me and promised to follow her Mama's instructions to not let her hat fall off ever.  I changed her into her "love to twirl" outfit, put her little cross necklace on her, got her all snuggled in the basket with her little lamb, kissed her sweet face, watched the door close behind them.... and she was gone...

So here I sit at 6am on a Sunday morning almost 9 months later and all I want to do is decorate my baby's room....but decorating has never been more complicated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Got to Hold Her

I've lost track of how many Fridays it's been since I last held my baby girl, but although the number fails me, the pain doesn't seem to slip my mind and it certainly doesn't leave my heart alone. 

I brought Sam to Rachel's playground for a little bit this morning.  We went down the slide together a couple times, went on the swings and played a tune on the music wall... it is a pretty amazing playground.  I brought my clippers and cut back her garden that has been without flowers for a while now.  It's still nice, just all green.  Sometimes I can hardly believe that the playground really is there because of her....that my small vision last September on vacation came to be much more than that in just a few short months after her birth and death. 

After we played, I stopped home and cut a bouquet of flowers from my garden and brought them to Rachel's grave.  Her stone is so nice.  The plant I bought her has gotten used to the temperature out there and was in full bloom again, really pretty.  I set up her vase and honestly, didn't feel much emotion there today.  I remember days and days of standing in that spot just crying my heart out to God and crying half way home because I had to leave her again.  Today, that didn't happen.  I wondered if it meant this was going to stop hurting so much, but I've been dealing with grief long enough to know that it doesn't work like that.  I'm sure I'll have my days.... but today, I had peace.  At least at the cemetery. 

When I got home, I had received some of the edited pictures of my girl that my friend Lisa (started off as a blog reader!) is working on for me.  I just sat here staring at Rachel and crying.  I can really hardly believe that my baby died... that she was born without the top of her head... that she still had big curls of hair.  She looks so pretty, and I'm excited to see more pictures that show that.  Unfortunately, our photographer from NILMDTS sent us the pictures just the way they were, without editing, because I was in a rush to get them for her funeral.  So although they are great photos, there are hundreds of them that I have not shared....mostly because of her coloring/lighting, and some because her hat had moved into a bad position and was either covering too much of her face, or not enough of her head.  I guess it's just hard to let go of the fact that some people will look at her pictures and pick her apart and I want to protect her from that.  There are also some characteristics of babies with anencephaly that I feared people would judge on her, like her folded ears, which I have now come to love and miss....

I wish I would have had more time to memorize her face in person.  I do it with the other three all the time and I realized that I was doing it today with Rachel, unfortunately when I felt my heart fill up with love for her as I was looking at her, I couldn't reach out and give her a hug.  I absolutely love to kiss my kids' noses... I know, it's odd, but it's my favorite and Rachel definitely had an Aube nose (they all have their Daddy's nose) and I kissed it a lot.... but I cried as I remembered that and the fact that as the hours passed by, hers became cold on my lips.

My friend was telling me that in a midwifery book she's reading, there is a true story about a baby born with anencephaly.  I believe it was in another country and the baby lived for a couple of days.  She said they referred to the baby as a holy one because they could sense how special the baby was.  I think that is the best memory I have with Rachel....the undeniable sense that I was holding a piece of heaven....that not everybody gets the privilege of being that close to God... that she was something truly special, irreplaceable, an amazing gift and fashioned by God for His eternal purposes alone. 

And I got to hold her.... and call myself her Mama....

I miss her so much.  She is worth every single tear and every ounce of pain. 

You can see her little curls in this picture in the middle of her forehead...
she had a TON of straight hair in the back, just like all her siblings.  I wanted to take the curls from the front, but didn't want to give her a bad haircut, so I clipped some from the back

I love this dress on her, thanks Mom for bringing her a birthday present ♥
Thanks, Lisa for taking the time to work on these photos... it means so much!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Heart Feels Heavy, But My God is Strong

I've started a few times trying to write and keep getting nowhere.  I feel like I'm doing pretty well lately emotionally, but my heart is still just heavy.  I can be in the middle of a happy day, happy times, making happy memories.... I can be in the middle of cleaning, cooking, driving, a family devotional....  I can be going to sleep, waking up, taking a shower, getting our stuff ready for the day....  everywhere I am, everywhere I go, everything I do.... my heart feels heavy.  I was going to tell you about the way I have dodged having to empty out Rachel's room 3 times this week or all the amazing things Isaiah has said this week about Rachel and Asa that just melt my heart (including tonight when he told me that Asa is dancing, just like Rachel)....  but none of it seems to be falling into the right words, at least for now. 

Matt & I were just sitting here talking and a song by Chris Rice came on our Pandora....  it's on my blog and I know I've blogged about it before, but the words were exactly what I needed right now.  When it ended, Matt looked at me and said "it's a perfect song for her, huh?"  and I just nodded with tears flowing down my cheeks.  It's a perfect song for her.... and for me.

So, even though my heart is heavy... the way is lonely.... the sky is dark and pours the rain....  I will come to Jesus, sing to Jesus, fall on Him, cry to Him....and someday, I'll be by Rachel's side dancing for Him.  Until then, I will live in His love and let Him hold my heavy heart.  He's the only One strong enough to lift it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Loud Goodbye

My kids have a daily tradition.  When Matt leaves in the morning, they stand in the door and yell as loud (and I mean LOUD) as they can with their little lungs "BYE, DADDY, BYE... I LOVE YOU!!"  Today only Sam was downstairs when Matt left for work and so he did his part.  Des & Isaiah were upstairs playing and as Matt rounded the corner (we live on a corner lot) I heard them start yelling from the upstairs window "BYE, WE LOVE YOU!" 

Cute, right?  I've often wondered how "cute" my neighbors think it is so early in the morning.  Some days, if Isaiah is in an extra energetic mood, he chases behind him on foot until the end of the block!  Today, as I heard these guys from upstairs,  I got the biggest smile.  I can imagine how loved Matt feels, but it melts my heart to hear them do this....  and at the end of the day, it does the same to hear them welcome him back... "DADDY'S HOME, DADDY'S HOME!!" as they run to greet him.  They immediately start telling him the most exciting parts of their day and he soaks it up without delay.  This morning I realized that they use the loudness in which they say hello and goodbye as a way to show him how much they love him. 

Last night my mom had talked about how right from the day of Rachel's diagnosis I had been determined to celebrate her life.  Originally, I was accused by others of being in denial... but I was never in denial.  I was in love with my baby and determined to protect her and the way people viewed her for the rest of my life.  And I still am.  My very first email to everyone when I shared the sad news said "please don't treat her as if she's already gone, when she is not" and I refused to listen to even prayers that suggested such.  I had a shower for her, a birthday cake the day she was born (even though she had already died, we sang and ate cake together), and I blogged about her every move so that nobody could deny her life was real and important....if only to me.

After she died, I had planned on doing the same thing.  I know I still celebrate her life - I do that every day.  But as much as I believed I would never allow her death to overshadow her life, it's just not possible.  She is gone.  I wondered why, if what I wanted was for people to only talk about her life while she was still with me, does it bother me now when any time I try to talk about my sadness over her death, people want to bring out the positive and find the silver lining for me?  I feel like I should be glad that they want to focus on her life - after all that is what I wanted for so long.

This morning it all made sense as I listened to my kids yell goodbye.  I've never needed anyone to help me look on the positive side where Rachel is concerned.  I am completely confident that I did that.  I know without the shadow of a doubt that I NEVER have overlooked one single positive thing that has come from my little girl's life and as a matter of fact, I've devoted myself to making sure other's saw it too....for her honor and God's glory.  And I don't believe I need help finding the positive that has come from her death either.  I see it all - and better than anyone else ever could.  But right now, I'm in the middle of my loud goodbye.  And I need people to allow me the freedom to do that without trying to pull me away and shut the door on me, even if they are doing so because they think it will make it less painful for me.

If I tried to stop my kids in the middle of yelling bye to Matt, they would be rather upset.  I know they will see him again, I know that they can't stand there all day, I know that it doesn't change the fact that he has to leave - but they are showing their love and devotion to him and they want the world (neighborhood) to know about it - even at 7am.  And so maybe this is a trait they get from me - the need to say goodbye.  Or maybe it's just a human trait.  One that you only understand if you're saying a final goodbye to someone you love more than life itself. 

It's funny cause we have some family who say goodbye more than 10 times before they actually leave.  We all laugh about it, but it's kind of similar.  Say goodbye... talk a little more... say goodbye again... talk more at the door....say goodbye again....move to the car.... say good bye again and get in the car and as they pull away, everyone waves until they are out of sight.

But I'm not supposed to have the same desire with my little girl?  Am I not supposed to want to say goodbye over and over and profess my love just one more time...loudly, so the whole world can hear - and maybe even chase her down the street??  A child dying is not the natural order of life and goes against everything in a mother's heart. Believe me, if it was you, you would not be satisfied with "well, at least positive things came out of it" or "you will see them again" or "you can have another one"....  no matter how much truth resides in those statements, they still dismiss the reality of the pain of saying goodbye for those who are grieving.

I stood in Rachel's room yesterday looking at her little dress, her bloodstained hat, and smelling her clothes and I wanted to just show them to everyone who has tried to make sense of this for me.  I wish when someone was quick to judge where they think I should be or anyone who thinks they'd handle it differently, I could give them a glimpse of my reality... not my words, not my explanations, not even in my tears... but to just look at her stuff, to hold her hand molds, to see and smell her clothes - to imagine they belonged to their own baby...while listening to the story of the day she was born and died in my arms and then to think about the day they gave birth to their son or daughter and just try to empathize - and then see if they still would be able to throw out the well-intended reasons and silver linings that I'm supposed to welcome.  I've tried for months to use my words to achieve what probably 10 minutes in her bedroom would do without much effort.    It may seem pointless, but I just yearn for people to understand me and know of the place she holds in my heart and always will. 

So, that's where I find myself these days...  shouting goodbye as loud as I can from where I'm at and hoping that it can convey even a portion of my love for her.  I may chase her down the street time and again, knowing full well I'll have to turn around and go back home without her and that there is no chance of going with her.... but one day.... when I get to my real home, I just know she's going to run to me and immediately start telling me of the most exciting things that have happened to her while we were apart and I will soak it up without delay. I can't wait to hear.....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

She Counts

I was having a great morning.  I slept great last night, woke up refreshed and felt light hearted.  I felt a little like my old self today and wondered if this was part of "it" getting "easier."  Church was awesome, both the worship and the message... and then after communion, I sat down and looked at the bulletin.

Inside it there was a "fun facts" section.  The first one on the list was there were "16 babies born this year".  The next one on the list was "16 gift baskets given out".  And since I never got a gift basket (our church does really nice baskets for new babies) it dawned on me that Rachel wasn't counted in the 16 babies born this year.

Now, I'm not in any way insinuating that anyone did this intentionally, I know that.  I'm not even saying I know for sure that I'm interpreting this right, since for all I know, they are counting from January.  But in my heart of hearts I just feel like Rachel didn't get counted.  That was hard enough, but the real hard part came following the service...

I was very obviously no longer light hearted.  "I'm not doing well" was all over my face and body language, which of course begs the question "how are you, you don't look good"  ugh.  I really wish people wouldn't ask that question just so they can "fix" my "problem."  Or better yet, I wish I would get smart enough to stop trying to make people understand my heart cause they never will.

After being probed to talk about why I looked down by a couple of people, I tried to explain what I had just seen and that my heart was broken over it and all I got was excuses and reasons it shouldn't bother me.   I was all done with my smile and nod routine today... it does bother me.  I hate the fact that she doesn't count.  She should still count.  I gave birth to a baby and I go to church there.  She should be in the numbers.  But she's not.  I walked outside and looked at her playground, covered in kids playing and laughing and thought "not one of the 16, huh?"  sigh.

To me, she counts.  To me, we are a family of 6.  To me, there were 17 babies born in our church this year, with just 16 gift baskets needed.  (maybe 17 babies born, 16 gift baskets given and 1 playground donated would have been more accurate)

But, if I've completely misunderstood that and they were counting since January or gave Rachel's basket to some other baby who wasn't counted in the numbers,  well... I still have feelings and pushing them aside to make sure I don't have a negative attitude is just plain hurtful.  My thoughts and feelings will NOT always be logical or grounded.  I wish that was the case.  I wish I could talk myself out of being sad and hurt.  But, all it would have taken was a hug and a "She counts" and my heart would have felt at least a little bit better.  It's really hard feeling completely misunderstood all the time.  Nobody hears my heart - they assume they know and are too busy telling me how it "really is" or how "nobody would do that intentionally" (as if I don't know that) to meet me where I'm at... however irrational that may be.

I wish I could just hide myself and my heart away in a place where I am free to be where I'm at and where people didn't expect so much of me all the time.  A place where I knew I was alone and so I never got disappointed with someone else making me feel that way.  My patience are wearing thin, my hormones are winding me up and pretty soon, I'm going to start saying things I regret.  I might be better off staying alone in my house for the next few months so I can count my girl as many times a day as I want and need without getting funny looks, input on "the grief process", judgement on my feelings, comments about how I look tired, worn out, huge, etc, etc (yes, people said all three of those to me today alone) ... or all the pat answers that I'm so tired of hearing, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

So much for "it" getting "easier".  Will this ever let up?  I don't have the energy it requires to please everyone around me right now... although, all that basically would require is pasting a smile on my face and not talking to anyone... maybe I'll try that.  Back to the smile and nod routine, I guess?  But just to be honest, while I'm smiling and nodding on my face, that's not what's happening in my heart... if that matters, then count her with me....say her name... tell me you understand.... say nothing and give me a hug... do anything but discount her or my feelings about her, please. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not Prepared

Matt is replacing the window in Asa's room today and needed some paint for the outside trim so I went to Walmart to grab some.  They had sale racks outside with baby clothes so I stopped at the rack that said $2. It's only recently that I have started to approach clothes racks with a smile on my face. I figured I probably don't need clothes for him right now, but for that price, how can I go wrong? 

Girl clothes can make me sigh anyway, but as soon as I walked up, the first thing I saw was a little onesie with pink hearts on it.... the same one Rachel is buried in.  I said to the kids, "this is the shirt Rachel is wearing" as I wondered to myself "did I buy two of these so I could keep one?  Should I get another one now to keep in her box so I always remember what she's wearing?  I don't think I have a picture of her in it"  I hesitated.... I looked at it for a second longer, and then peeked at the boy stuff, but my mind was so preoccupied with Rachel that I decided to just go in.

As I walked through the first set of doors, there was a woman putting her little girl (probably about the age Rachel would be now) in the cart and she was wearing the same little hearted onesie that just broke my heart outside.  Des noticed too and looked up at me to check my reaction.  "And there's the same shirt again" I said matter of factly, as I forged forward.

With my furrowed brow, I fought off my tears as we continued on with our mission....  paint for the new baby's bedroom window and a big tote to keep stuff for the 2nd annual Baby Rachel's Legacy 5K.  A couple minutes into the store, Des said with excitement, "hey Mama, there's someone wearing Rachel's shirt".  I turned expecting to find another little onesie...but it was someone who had come to Rachel's race wearing the event shirt.  I saw the words on the back "In Memory of Rachel Alice Aube, 43 minutes in our arms, always in our hearts."  I smiled that I'm not the only one seeing her memory on a shirt today, but at the same time, my heart felt the ache of the fact that she's not coming back.

I couldn't help but wonder how it would be if it was me putting my girl into the cart wearing that onesie.  What would life be like if I had no idea what it was like to walk this tightrope of joy and sorrow?  The days when a shirt was just a shirt and not a reminder that my daughter is dead.  The days when a shirt didn't make me cry.  The days when a sale rack only brought excitement.  The days when going to Walmart wasn't so complicated.   I knew long before I bought that shirt that my life was never going to be the same, but I wasn't prepared for the constant reminders that come at the most random moments and how difficult it would be to continue on with life after her death.

If I'm completely honest, even with all the time I had to "prepare", I wasn't prepared for any of this.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Defender of the Weak

It's another Friday without my girl...  I had a good day today - visited with an old friend, Heather, this morning and had lunch with my friend Bev from church (a belated birthday gift :o) )  then Sam & I went to Laconia Savings Bank where my friend Leslie works and they gave me another $325 that they raised for Rachel's Legacy donation to Options. (The money is still coming in!!)  We went to visit Rachel, but today it felt different being there.  There wasn't much for me to take care of now that she has this gorgeous stone.  I watered her plant and took the daisies that had died that were left there after her race and that was it.  It's a good feeling that her grave will look nice all the time now - but I wonder how long I will go every Friday to "visit" if there is nothing I need to do there.  I went every day for the first few weeks and then I knew that switching to every Friday felt right so I'm assuming if I need to make another change, I will know, but I'm okay if that time never comes.  If all I do is visit her once a week for the rest of my life, it's not as much as I'd like to do for her.  I wish I was chasing her around the house and putting gates up to keep her safe because she just started crawling.  I miss that girl so much....

Today is one year since I first stepped "foot" on Blogger.  One year of writing...  one year of helping people and unfortunately, one year of being subjected to the limelight of judgement.  But it's all been worth it.  Just under 100,000 visitors and 269,192 pageviews have been counted since 8/12/10.  I can hardly believe it.  I should have known that first day when I set up the blog and I wasn't even done yet (which goes against ever part of the perfectionist in me!) and Harlee & Kim had both already found it and signed up as followers, that God had bigger plans than I did with this - but wow, I never in my wildest dreams expected anything like what has happened... both good and bad.  Thank you for walking along side me through this past year.  It means more than you know.

On another note, I have a disclosure/request I guess I need to make again....  As I thought about whether or not I even wanted to waste time writing about this, the one thing I kept coming back to is that this blog, while on the internet, is still my space to write about my ups and downs of life after the loss of my baby.  That happens to include struggles that I have in day to day life - and will sometimes include other people.  I don't mention people by name or focus on their behavior.  My purpose ANY time I talk about something I'm dealing with is always to share my heart about it, how I'm struggling and how I'm seeing God provide for me through it.  If you don't agree with that statement, feel free to read the hundreds of previous posts and if you find a place where I do any of these things, let me know and I'll be glad to erase it.  Please though, don't get a lawyer and try to scare me into obedience to your control...  yes, this actually happened..... keep reading....

I made a commitment to always be real on my blog. Throughout my journey, I have worn my heart on my sleeve and been open about all my feelings, good and bad. Most people like this, some don't. But I'm never going to make everyone happy all the time and some people will never be happy... they like it that way.  I refuse to stop being real, knowing how many people it does help in order to humor a few unhappy people.  especially since you come to me and read this by your own free will.

Last week, I got a letter from a lawyer that someone had contacted in regards to my blog. (insert smiley face drooling here) saying I had made "derogatory statements" about his client and was demanded to erase them, even if indirect, or they would come after me for compensation.  (insert smiley face trying to get blood from a stone here)  Thankfully, besides the fact that I didn't make any derogatory statements about anyone, we live in America where freedom of speech is a right I have - But for the record, threats and scare tactics aren't nice or Christian-like, neither is getting a lawyer for something so inaccurate and baseless.

 I think the verse is "mourn with those who mourn" not "sue those who mourn" but I'm no scholar. (insert confused smiley face with funny eyebrows and a ? above head here) Thankfully, I've been too busy to even think about it all week, and God has helped me to not be angry about it or let it take up space in my mind and to instead have sympathy for this person. (please pray this will continue genuinely) He always provides for me and is my ultimate defender, bigger than any attorney on earth - and will one day judge everyone. For now, I'm trusting His word that this battle is not mine, but His.

But this leads me to my request - please - I'll say it again - if you are reading this blog with judgement, using it as a way to analyze me and what you think I need to do as far as my grief, or waiting for me to say the 'wrong' thing so you can talk bad about me and put me down (or sue me), PLEASE go get yourself a good book or something.  I'm sure you can find more suitable ways to keep yourself entertained.  Try a good Caramello or whatever your favorite chocolate is, it works for me.  Seriously, stop wasting your time - and mine - and just let it be.  There is no reason at all to read my journal entries if you either don't like me or are not supportive of what I'm doing here.  I can assure you if this is your attitude towards me and my girl, then I'm not writing for you anyway, so just hit the "x" in the upper right hand corner and loose the blog address. I say this will all due respect, of course...

With over 300 people a day reading this, I know that there are many more people supporting me than talking crap about me, but I'm just a mama with a dead baby who doesn't need or deserve the lack of grace and compassion.  And honestly, I don't get it... if I come across something, whether it's a book, a blog, or an article in a magazine and I find it either offensive or useless to read - I just don't read it.  It's such a simple solution.

On the other side of this coin, I got a card today from a friend I made through my blog telling me what a difference my journey with Rachel has made in her life, because of my willingness to be real - as well as a very precious comment from a reader on an older post, thanking me for being open and telling of how it has helped her to grieve the babies she has lost. I got one of the most beautiful cards for the anniversary of Rachel's diagnosis that I've ever seen from a friend who knows me completely and loves me just the same - and many many more blessings from people who are with me, not against me, on this hard road.  Thank you for your love and for your compassion.  Thank you for being Jesus' hands and feet to me this past year.

So, as usual, I come back to the fact that I cannot allow a bad apple to spoil my bunch... there are so many good things happening in my life because of my girl and what my God is doing through her.  These are the people I write for.  This is why I subject myself to the judgement and criticism of the few who have nothing better to do than harass and judge a grieving mother... 

I never started this blog to get support.  I certainly didn't think I'd get criticism and letters from lawyers, but I didn't do it for my benefit - and although I have found much more support here than I ever expected, it's come at a sacrifice as well. I started this as a way to tell people about Rachel...  a way to show what God was doing in us through her journey.  I started it so that other mamas like me would find a message of hope when they googled "anencephaly" the night after they had their sad ultrasound.  I started it so that Rachel could leave a legacy here on earth.  And that she has. 

If in the meantime, I have had to deal with drama and unwelcomed criticism during the hardest time in my life, it's still all been worth it to have people all over the world know about Rachel and her amazing God.  And I'm okay if I look completely human and fallible in the process.  I believe that is why people read this.  I never claimed to be perfect - just in love with my daughter and with my God, with a heart to help those walking this path.  I like to think I've done that.  I pray I can continue to despite satan's advances against me.  I feel too weak to withstand them, but when I am weak, then He is strong. 

Thank You Lord for being my rock during all the ups and downs this past year has brought.

"Everlasting God" by Chris Tomlin

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord (repeat)

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

When All Else Fails

This song has caught my attention a bunch of times, but today I realized why when I heard the story behind it on the radio.  Apparently he wrote this song after he & his wife found out at their ultrasound that their baby was going to "be born with a broken heart".   When I hear the verse "I make all things new" from Revelation, it reminds me of the coloring page that Des & I did last year on our vacation and she wrote that verse on it....that paper is buried with Rachel...  He makes everything new.

Today these lyrics sum up where I'm at.  People, places and things in this world will always let us down, but God won't.  During this journey, I have lost my faith in friends, doctors, family, and myself... but the only One who has not failed me is my God. 
I've struggled to know which way to go so many times in terms of my medical decisions... to trust God over the doctors.  I go up and down in my grief and hurt like I never knew was possible.  Sometimes I wish I could turn back time.  Sometimes I want to give up on everything.  My dreams for my daughter have slipped through my hands and I wish that my unanswered prayers had good explanations.  I've continuously had to surrender my life, my heart, my reputation, my fear, my children over to God and believe in HIM when all else fails.  To truly believe that I don't need all the answers... to know He keeps my weary heart alive.... Cause "in the middle of my broken dreams.... Redemption is here."

I'm trusting You God, one day at a time.

Pause my music way at the bottom and listen to this song.... 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Started my first prenatal water aerobics class last night.  I was worried about being around so many pregnant women and having to listen to what people who haven't lost babies this year talk about while pregnant.  But it wasn't bad.  I will say that when they had us go around the circle and say our names, how many kids we had and if we knew if we were having a boy or a girl, I felt a little out of place when all but one of them said it was their 1st baby.  The other girl was on her 3rd and when I said "this is my 5th baby" everyone gasped.  I went for the idea that "they must think I look too young to have 5 kids" :o) and not that they were thinking "AHHH - 5 KIDS!?" 

I had a couple of one on one conversations with people where I told them about Rachel after being asked how old my kids were.  I said it quickly and moved on... "and my 4th baby, Rachel, was born in December but she passed away - and so I feel like I've been pregnant forever...."  I just hate dropping the dead baby bomb and waiting for some type of awkward response, so I let them off the hook as quickly as possible and changed the subject for them.  I hope I didn't come across as indifferent.  I'm still learning as I go. 

I had an appt today at the new doctors.... ugh, I just don't know what to do.  I am driving all the way to this place so that I have the possibility of a VBAC, but I don't even know if I should try that.  This doctor doesn't speak good English, was abrasive in how she spoke to me and was very unhappy about all of my decisions as far as testing goes and let me know it.  I hate having to debate with doctors about my medical choices... she was treating me like a clueless young girl who has no idea what I'm saying no to.  I don't do the extra testing for a reason and it's a reason that I have happened to think through.  She also was insistent that I get the genetic counseling and a level 2 ultrasound.... ok, I would like the ultrasound, but the counseling would be to find out if, based on my family history, there is anything else I need to worry about - and well, I just don't need help coming up with things to worry about.  I do a fine job of that all on my own.  Plus, I don't have time for long, useless appt's.

So, after listening to her for 30 mins, I left scared to have a c-section, scared to have a VBAC, scared to carry through this pregnancy (she told me that I my scar could rupture just from being pregnant and about people who have had their scar tear open during pregnancy) and now I'm totally confused as to what to do as far as my doctor and where to deliver.  Before I even left there, I was crying in the bathroom.  I just kept trying to talk myself through it...  "you had a c-section for Rachel, you can do it for Asa... it will be fine"  But even though I've been through it before, I am still scared to death of getting cut open again.  Yeah, I did it for Rachel, but I knew it could be her life on the line... Any dangers were for me, not her.  There is a chance of danger for me with a VBAC, but also for my baby, which isn't a risk I'm willing to take.... I don't think.  I don't know what to do.  This is the first place who has said this to me.  Maine Med told me I would be fine, the place I was just going to said I would be fine.... and now this, I don't know who to believe and I don't like to make decisions based on fear... but my fears are so real and I don't want to have any regrets.  I'd go back to Maine Med, but just don't know how I would handle being there again.

I cried the whole way home cause I feel like I'm just floating around drifting from one place to another and getting nowhere.  I'm almost 7 months pregnant, I'd like to know where I'm going to for a doctor and where I'll deliver.  The other scary part is that they don't schedule a c-section until a week ahead of time, but I have yet to make it that close to my due date, I always go into labor early at least a week or two. 

I tried to fill my mind with the Truth - that God is in control... their statistics and opinions don't matter... and that God will protect me.  But I felt so discouraged that I'm in that place again, just like with Rachel, where I feel like none of my choices are ones I want.  Obviously this doesn't compare to that, but the feeling is the same - helpless.  Helpless over my well being and helpless over my baby's.  I guess it's not a horrible place to be - it's in this place that I realize how desperately I need God and where I have nothing I can do, but keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust Him.  Please pray that He will give me a clear answer on these things.

Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Slowing Down and Getting Ready

Today my pregnancy ticker dropped below 100 days left. I remember the day that happened with Rachel, it was a hard day - time just felt like it was flying and I didn't want to see those numbers drop.  Of course, on the bottom of the ticker it also says that "brain tissue is growing fast..."  It's hard not to be sad that it wasn't the case for Rachel at this point in my pregnancy with her.  We take these things for granted... they don't always happen the way the text book says they will.

My friend Cyndie sent me an email asking what we need for Asa earlier today.  Up until now, I've had a hard time wanting to plan for him.  I still struggle to believe he's coming home with me, it's hard to explain, but if you've given birth and left the hospital empty handed, you know what I mean.

A couple months back, I went to to see if they had kept my baby registry from my pregnancy with Rachel - and it was still there.  It was hard to look at all the pink things I had registered for (in hopes of a girl, we didn't know yet when I registered.) and to see the due date: December 25, 2010.  I went through and painfully removed all the pink and changed it to blue, not really knowing if the registry will even ever be used.  Changing the due date was also really hard.  That day I also looked a bit at baby room decor trying to find a bed set that went with Rachel's gray walls.  I found nothing.  Actually, that's not true, I found tons of stuff that was pink that went great with gray....  so I just stopped looking, it only made me sad.

Today, after Cyndie sent me a link to some cute bedding she found, I started to look around on line for an idea I had thought of a while back... and I actually felt myself getting excited to decorate his room.  So I guess it's safe to say that I'm starting to feel like I'm having another baby and not just pregnant again.  I miss the days when the two used to go hand in hand, but the reality is that they don't. 

I think now that the race is done, and I'm all done planning any more major events for the year... playgrounds and 5K's will have to wait for next year!.... I can rest in knowing that I have done more than I would have ever imagined I would do for Rachel in just 8 short months after her death...Actually, it's recommended that you have at least 9 months for a 5K alone, never mind a big playground too!!  But both have been a beautiful expression of my love for her, a witness of God's faithfulness to us - and also a complete success, thanks to God. 

When the playground was finished, I had a hard time with the down time that came afterwards.  This isn't happening this time, I actually feel really content with all I've accomplished with God's help for my girl.  And I think God has used these 7 months of straight-out planning and big events (and pregnancy) to actually get me to the place where I am so worn out that I'm excited to slow down and be still.

And so now, I will start my planning for Asa... as scary as that may seem...  and get ready to bring my baby home.  Please Lord, let me bring this baby home.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Baby Rachel's 1st Annual Walk/Run 5K.....

Was a complete and unbelievable success!!  We had 179 runners and walkers and over 200 people in the park with us.  We celebrated and remembered the babies we have lost and cried together too. 

If Rachel only knew.....  oh, how I wish she knew.   She is truly leaving a legacy of Hope.  Because of my sweet baby, and all of your support (THANK YOU!!!) we estimate over $8,000 that we will donate to Options for Women to get their Perinatal Hospice Program up and running and more!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.... 

Pictures, video and exact amount raised coming soon!  Stay tuned!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Till Death Do Us Part

I wrote this post last night but couldn't get the pics to upload so I waited to publish it.  I've had a super busy day today and it seems as though we're ready to go for tomorrow.  Please keep us in your prayers if you aren't coming and if you can make it, come down and celebrate Rachel with us!  I'll let you know how it goes soon!  I can't believe it's actually happening!!!


Well, I made it through today with few tears.  Just as I was getting ready to leave, I got the call that Rachel's stone was going to be set in an hour.  I dropped all the kids off, stopped at the greenhouse and headed over.  I asked the guy at the greenhouse what the best plant for a cemetery is cause Rachel's stone has a place to put a plant in it...  "Desert Rose"....  sounds appropriate for the day and the event.  It had little yellow flowers on it and I remembered last year when I came across the "crown of thorns" plant in Maine that I had said that the little yellow flowers reminded me of Rachel, without really knowing what I meant by that.  I guess because little yellow flowers seem so sweet and innocent.

I got up to the counter to pay and the woman (she knew I was there for a plant for my daughter's grave) asked me "Did she like yellow?"  I was caught of guard and just replied "she was a baby, so she didn't have a favorite color, but I think it was purple if I had to guess".  She just smiled....  I got in the van and started towards the cemetery...  would she have liked yellow?  maybe she liked yellow...  oh, God... did she like yellow?  and I just started crying.  It unreal the things that hit my heart.

I got there and within a few minutes I saw the truck heading in.  I've been waiting for this moment for 8 months.  And now that it was here, I didn't really know how I felt about it.  It was hard.  They loaded it off the truck and we watched (my mom, sister, niece & nephew came to see) as they pushed it over, made room for it and set it. 

It's absolutely beautiful.  The stone was shipped from India and as the guys were setting it, I heard them talking "you don't see stones like this very often, they're very of the nicest stones you can get".  I'll admit, it felt good to hear....

It took about an hour and a half to set it and then I was off to work with Amanda from DEC on the program for Rachel's 5K.  It looks AMAZING!  Wait until you see these things!  She is doing such a good job.  I'm so blessed.  I left there and came home to work on the raffle baskets and other random stuff.  I closed registration on the 5K at 102 people signed up!  I think we're going to have a great turnout since I know so many people who are planning to register the day of... which is just a day away now, I can't believe it!

Tonight my friend Jill came by.... we spent this night last year together too.  She brought me some flowers and helped me with the raffle baskets.  We ate some ice cream that Matt served up and talked a while... It was a nice night and I felt loved.

So back to the stone... as they were setting it, I was thinking about how strange it is to see my name and my husbands name on a headstone.  The vow we made "till death do us part" kept going through my mind.  A stone with our names on it and knowing that one day, one of us will be adding a second date for the other and we will be separated, is a harsh reality of sin in this world.  But I just kept thinking that death seems to make us part... but for believers, it only does temporarily. 

I also thought about that truth with Rachel.  Last Aug 4, I made a decision that I would love, honor, and cherish her till death do us part... and beyond... for the rest of my life as her mother and her as my daughter.  No matter what the cost or sacrifice I had to make.  I stood in the cemetery, watching them put a headstone above my baby girl, a year to the day after getting her diagnosis and couldn't believe all that has happened in a year.  But my love for her has never faltered....not while she was alive and not since she's been gone.  I will continue my faithfulness to her as I love her with an everlasting love knowing that death can't keep us apart for long.

I wanted her stone to be set MUCH sooner than this.  I wanted it back in May and have been waiting since.  He had said he would do it before the race, but I emailed him a couple weeks ago to see if he could do it last week...he ignored me (he did that quite often).  I got an email last week that he would do it some time this week and I had told Vanessa that I thought God was working it out for the anniversary of her diagnosis...and sure enough, I got the call at 9:15am.

so here it is... the pictures don't do it justice.  The actual stone is so pretty and sparkly.  I think it's quite fitting for my girl.

Dancing eternally in His love.... death can't keep us apart.