Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The conversation went like this:

(my words in italics)
How's the baby doing?
He's good, he's amazing.
Is he sleeping?
Yeah, he sleeps good - I mean, he's still a baby and still up a lot, but he is pretty content.  Last night he gave me a 4 hour stretch.
Oh, and when that happens, we always get nervous that they stopped breathing and check on them... it's like 'you got some sleep, but I didn't'.
Well, I slept like a log, but I'm anxious like that all the time, not just at night.  Yesterday they told me he has a heart murmur and I got nervous...(interruption)
I was born with one, nothing to worry about
yeah, my pediatrician told me it was benign and I trust her so I feel okay about it now, but I still worry about if he's going to die sleeping in his swing...(interruption)
Because of a heart murmur?? (add totally confused tone of voice here)
No, just in general, I worry about him all the time.  After I had my baby die in my arms, it's hard not to.
Yeah, but that was different, she was a special situation.  He's whole and healthy so you have nothing to worry about, you need to just relax.
That's easy for you to say  (and I walked out as quickly as I could before I said anything I would regret)

Seriously?  It's acceptable to worry about your baby sleeping for 4 hours without experiencing a loss - BUT if you've lost an "unwhole" baby before then you should know that your new "whole" baby will be fine cause he has a head and therefore worrying about his well being is somehow more unfounded then the 1000's of other women, who have never lost a child, racing to their crib to check if their "whole" babies are still breathing when they first sleep for a long span of time.  UH HUH...  right, that makes sense.

I made it almost through the door before I was sobbing.  I stopped to talk to a friend who was in the lobby and this person came out to where we were.  Instead of saying sorry, this is what I got:

"I wasn't trying to hurt you with anything I said"
I know you weren't
"Well the way you turned on your heels and left, I got the impression I said something that offended you"
It's just that everybody thinks they know, but nobody really gets it  (Tears still flowing)
"Well, we might not get it but we're called to encourage each other and that's what I was trying to do"
and she turned and walked off.

OK,  first of all....doesn't matter what you were "trying" to do - obviously it wasn't "encouraging" to point out that Rachel wasn't whole or to dismiss my feelings and fears.  Just because her death was obviously coming doesn't mean that it makes no sense that I would worry more than normal now.  Babies who die from SIDS are "whole and healthy" - and it's nobody's fault that they die... you can't see it coming.  What do you say to those sweet mothers who have another baby and worry?  Or do you expect them not to either?  I suppose if they had "stronger faith" they wouldn't worry, right?   But the mother whose baby sleeps for 4 hours... oh yeah, that worry is 'called for' and acceptable.

Second of all, when you hurt someone, "I'm sorry" means a whole lot more than a bunch of lame excuses.  And if you really cared to encourage me, that's what would have been said when you realized that you did the exact opposite.  I'm sorry I hurt you rather than "I'm called to do this" with the attitude that I just took it wrong.  Jesus doesn't "call" anyone to be insensitive and uncompassionate.  Sorry, not from Him.  Nice try.

Third of all, my daughter was to "whole" and she wasn't a special "situation" she was my flesh and blood whom I love dearly and would give my life for.  I would like it if people could refer to her as such - not some "thing" that is over now.

Fourth - sometimes it's good to just admit that you don't know it all... that maybe you have NO freaking clue how something might feel for someone instead of ASSUMING you know and callously telling them how they should respond to such a situation.  AS. IF. YOU. KNOW.  - YOU DON'T.  You have NO CLUE.  And no matter how "right" or "accurate" or even "biblical" what you're saying is.... if you aren't concerned with how people feel, you should NOT ask them how they are doing.  And if you don't care how they FEEL, then don't play like you're trying to encourage them when what you're doing is trying to exhort at a totally inappropriate time.

And last but not least, DO NOT ASK ME HOW I AM EVER AGAIN.  From now on, that is a question I refuse to answer.  I honestly can't believe I was stupid enough to enter into that conversation to begin with.  but I won't make that mistake again.  And as a matter of fact, I'm done answering that question to anyone.

I left there and went to pick Isaiah up from school and someone said "Hi, how are you" and I said
"I've decided I'm not answering that question anymore" *smile*

I might sound (and look) crazy, but you know what?  Who cares??   I end up being the crazy one anyway cause everyone has their excuses and their opinion on my reactions - and I'M ALWAYS THE BAD GUY.  So I'm done.  Nobody really cares to *really* know anyway...  they want a "things are great" and if you have anything else to say, they are probably not even really listening cause they are already getting their spiritual answer ready to fire.  F- that.  I'm so sick of it.  Oh how I wish I was the kind of person who didn't mind putting on a plastic face for people.  Especially in a world - and even a church - where that is what people prefer.  It would be easier for everyone, I guess.

I might be telling you about this one conversation today - that has very obviously put me over the edge (I started off this part of my journey on the brink of a breakdown as it was...)  - but THIS IS MY LIFE.... MY CONSTANT INTERACTIONS....AND REALLY REALLY REALLY OLD.  It's everywhere... church, my in-laws, "friends", people out in public.... I'm so sick of it that I can't even find the word to properly describe it.  Digging a grave next to my daughter, jumping in and burying myself alive sounds better than having to endure one more heartless and judgemental conversation.  And since that's obviously not an option, I am done entertaining any more stupid conversations with people just to be polite.  Especially this week as I approach my girl's anniversary.   I'm done nodding and smiling.  done.

AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY I WANT TO BE ALONE??  Wow.  Yeah, can't imagine why I wouldn't want to deal with this s*#%.  As if I don't have enough things to cry about and deal with.  I think I have officially gotten completely over caring about people's opinions on what I do and how I handle this all.  And the day that you have to walk a mile in my shoes, we can reasses your opinion of me... and I'll probably get that apology that I should have received today - or last week - or last month - or last August.  Except I won't want it cause I'll already know how much your heart hurts. 
How am I??  I'm great!!!  How are you? *big FAKE smile*
Is that better??
So glad that makes you feel better.

Always in Our Hearts

I got a message from my friend Jenn that works at Options for Women.  She is the one heading the new Perinatal Hospice Program they used Rachel's 5K money towards.  She said they had the training for the doctors and medical community yesterday and it went well.  She said that Margery told them about Rachel and that some of them had a new perspective and had not really thought about it before.  I pray that they will be the ones that mothers like me come across in their journey through a fatal prenatal diagnosis.  What a blessing it will be to have people who understand and who treat them and their babies with dignity.  I also pray that the medical community will be more likely to direct them to Options where they will find the support and encouragement they so desperately need.  I can't believe all that has happened in less than one year since Rachel's birth....

So, Jenn is also making the cake for Rachel's birthday and she asked me what I wanted it to say.  I have spent days thinking and couldn't come up with anything.... it should be an easy answer on my daughter's 1st birthday, but it's not.  I had an idea this morning that maybe I should just write a verse on it since none of the normal stuff seemed to really "go".  I thought since flowers have always been Rachel's thing and Jenn's putting some on the cake, I should put a verse about flowers.  I googled and came up with Psalm 103

Verse 15 - As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field

Oh that's a good one, I thought... and then I continued on....

Verse 16 - the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

 so this is why it's important to not take bible verses out of context...  but all I can say is that when I read the 2nd half, I cried.  Remembers her no more.... ?  I hate that the day will one day come when I'm the only one who still remembers.  I hate that it has happened to some extent already.  I hate that the last year has gone by so fast when every single minute of it has been slow and painful.  I hate that I can't just write Happy Birthday and have it make sense.

I've decided I'll probably write "Always in Our Hearts"

And even that sucks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dancing in the Manna

The other day, in my post, I asked.... "Where is that hope now?"  I long to "feel" that overwhelming sense of peace that I had, even in my darkest moments with Rachel and shortly after her death.  I'm afraid I may be assuming that since so many people have moved on and wonder why I haven't stopped talking about Rachel yet - that maybe God feels the same way... maybe a "good Christian" would be so full of faith that they would be smiling by now -even if just in front of people.  Maybe since I'm still so sad, maybe I'm doing something wrong.... I see the looks, hear it in the "encouraging" comments.... maybe if I just trusted God more, I would be able to just say "My daughter died, Praise the Lord!"  And since I'm not there, and never will be, I start to wonder if God has forgotten me.  I wonder if I can possibly be glorifying Him when even Christians judge me for the fact that I am still heavy hearted for my girl - and I'm completely okay with that.

Well, my Hope (Jesus) is never changing.  I know that to be the absolute truth.  So that only leaves one answer - I've moved away, not Him.  Thankfully all of this writing, no matter how rough around the edges at times, does prove to be helpful in me working through some of the things that I probably wouldn't even know needed attention if I didn't write everything down.  I'm thankful for your patience and love for me as I do this.... being vulnerable like this actually really stinks - I don't believe it's a mistake that God has me using this blog as a way to continue to grow in Him through my trials.... but being in the limelight through the hardest days of my life has been very hard.  I know that most of you receive me without judgement, but the few times where that has not been the case have left some pretty deep wounds in my heart.  I pray that God has purpose even in them.

As I considered the fact that for the first time in this journey, I am struggling so much to trust God, the thing that keeps coming to mind is manna.

I told you about the magazine I found... in one of the articles -titled "Peace that passes all understanding" by Ed Welch - he says this in reference to Exodus 16:
   There are times when we will feel like destitute wanderers in the wilderness with little hope of food and water.  God will then give us manna at the time we need it.  He won't give us so much that we will have enough for tomorrow because then we would just start trusting in the manna rather than trusting Immanuel. (God with us). 
   God makes a promise.  He will give you manna - or grace - when you need it, but not before.  That means you will be anxious if you forecast the future because you are making your prediction based on the manna you have left over from today, and there is none.  What you don't factor into your prediction is that you will receive fresh grace when you need it.
Losing Rachel made me stronger - even though I have felt nothing by weakness since August 4, 2010.  Walking this road has given me the gift of wisdom, courage, determination, compassion - and I could go on and on.  That baby girl was truly a gift to me.  But the one thing that I have been left with, eating at my soul is fear - and it has been magnified in my journey with Asa.  The daily pain of this road has left me scared to death that I will have to face something like this again.  After Rachel's diagnosis, I had no idea how long it would hurt.  I probably used to buy into the "grieving takes 1 year" lie that so many people think is in that non-existent handbook for how to handle loss.  I'm kind of glad I didn't know.  I'm glad I thought that it would hurt most at first and then progressively get better.... cause it doesn't.  It's very up and down and totally unpredictable.  It's been a long, hard road.  But when I look back over the last year and a half....

I can see the manna that fell from heaven.  Just when I needed it.  The exact amount I needed.  In the exact form I was hungry for.  My God is the God Who Provides.

And so I have decided that in those moments, when I'm riddled with fear that Asa will be taken from me - or I'm avoiding a gathering because I just "can't handle" what comments or judgements I will have to endure - or I feel like I need to protect my heart since nobody else seems to.... When I feel all alone and unloved by detached  in-laws who judge me and busy friends.... I'm just going to say "manna".  And when I do, I'm going to remember every time along this path where my needs were met before I even knew I was hungry or thirsty.  You see, because when God says he is with us... Immanuel.... He means he is doing something.  He doesn't just sit there and watch his children fend for themselves.  And my experience tells me that I have no reason to doubt that He will always be there for me.

This week leading up to Rachel's birthday has been painful.  I can't believe it's been a year since I held my baby girl.  But today, I stopped at her PO Box.... and manna!  A whole bunch of cards for Rachel's birthday... from all over the state of NH, plus, NY, IN, MN....  We open that box to emptiness weekly and then today, just when my heart needed to know she hasn't been forgotten, I was overwhelmed by the cards we got.  As I opened each card and read them to everyone at the dinner table, I cried a lot.  Partly because I wish this wasn't my life, I wish she was still here - and partly because I'm so grateful to have all of your love.

We got home and there was a package on the steps...  I opened it up and my friend Michelle had sent this beautiful music box that plays "Amazing Grace" - I cried some more... Thanks, Michelle!

And in one of the envelopes, a blog reader Megan sent me this key chain....Thank you!
It says: "Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance"

And did my girl ever love to dance... she's still teaching me the steps. 
Thank You, Jesus, for today's manna.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Me & This Owl

Oh my gosh, the more I look at the photos that Erin Moore from Auntie Camera took of Asa, the more I want to put them ALL on here...  but tonight, I want to share just one...

Do you know what's special about this photo?  Well, besides the ridiculously cute baby in it?

This hat came in the mail the day I got home from the hospital with Asa.  It was made by one of my blog readers, Keileigh.  Now, as if the hat wasn't awesome enough... and the timing of receiving it wasn't just perfect...

Do you know what you can't tell by looking at this hat?  The same thing that you can't tell by looking at me....

There is a piece of Rachel on the inside.

Keileigh tied a little pink bow on the inside in memory of Rachel.  And so me & this owl have a couple things in common - we both really like being wrapped around Asa - and we both have Rachel's memory tucked away inside.  Thanks Keileigh!

OK, and so I lied... I have to share one more cause it goes along with this post too....and well, I just can't get enough of this kid.  This photo needs no explanation.  She's always there with me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Battle

Today I stepped out of my comfort zone and got myself to church.  I made the decision to go about 25 minutes before we had to be there.  I fully intended on hiding in the back and leaving promptly afterwards because I really just can't handle the stimulation that conversation after conversation brings.  And I knew everyone was going to want to talk about and see Asa.

Well, we got there a few minutes late and they have started to escort people to seats that are still available since it gets so packed, (as a courtesy so you're not searching for a place to sit) but we got put right up front.  They were the only open seats, so I'm assuming I was *supposed* to be there today.   I have not sat in the front row since Rachel's funeral and so the timing was difficult.  The Sunday before her birthday last year, the congregation prayed for us...  this year, they announced our new baby boy.  Trying to reconcile these two extremes in my heart is exhausting.  The pain mixed with joy is overwhelmingly complicated.  I cried a lot.

I was blessed by other people's efforts to help me balance the two though... I never checked the mail yesterday and on the way out this morning, saw that I got a gift card from my Aunt for Rachel's birthday.  Then within minutes of being at church, Nancy handed me a gift card for Rachel's birthday.  And I found a card at my seat with a gift card for Rachel's birthday and a gift for Asa from Willie & Cindy.  Sue came up and gave me a hug, then kissed her hand and placed it on Asa's head and then on Rachel's handprint.... People are remembering her with me and I so need that.  Thank you ♥

I wore Asa in his carrier - he loves to be on Mama's chest and I love being able to kiss him and tell him I love him every two minutes :o) (literally) We sang the "Revelation Song" and when we got to the verse that says:

Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightening rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be
To You the only wise King

As I was 'wearing' my rainbow baby - The living color that God has blessed me with - The name "wise King" stood out to me and God started to speak to my heart; bringing a few things that I had been reading this week all together.  The next song?  Mighty to Save.  I've mentioned this one many times for the one line that says that Jesus conquered the grave.  That Truth is the only reason I can go on after losing my baby girl... and every time I sing it, I thank God that she's not really left in that grave to rot away, but that she is truly with him in heaven. (I still HATE that her body is down there)  Today though, I claimed the other verses, too:

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

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

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.

Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

I'm going to be blunt here.  I've been FULL of fear, worry, anxiety where Asa is concerned. I'm convinced something is going to happen to him, that I'm not going to get to keep him, and I'm waiting for the ball to drop. I've refused to surrender to God's will because honestly, I'm having trouble trusting that I will like it.  (as if I get a choice) As a matter of fact, I have first hand knowledge that I won't always like it.... and with what I've been through, I'm not really believing that it's working together for my good either.  I just don't see it - and I'm really sick of people saying it to me.  One more mushy card going on and on about how much "God loves us" ("us" meaning themselves, too) and I might puke.  Not that I don't believe it, but when someone is hurting and you ignore that by using cliches, trying to sound super spiritual and avoiding the topic, it comes across as rather insincere at best.  Those cards go straight in the trash - which, for someone who keeps everything, might tell you how I feel about them.

blah blah blah, back to the point - which that was NOT it.  I hate this.  But that is a good example of another reason that I am limiting the number of people and who I am around... I seem to have no filter on the things I say and I hate it.  I'm just not in a good place.  Hormones - no sleep - new baby - grieving and Rachel's anniversary... need I say more?  Believe it or not, to some people, those aren't enough good reasons.... maybe those selfish people would be happier to know that it's probably in their best interest to not be around me so they aren't subjected to my mood swings and irrational thinking.

So let me tell you about the reading material that I "just happened" upon the other day.  It's a Table Talk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries and RC Sproul.  "Ironically" it has a picture of a tree and a sparrow on it (seen Asa's room??) and across it, it says: "Anxiety - and the sovereignty of God."  As I've read through some of this, I know that there is no mistake that I'm reading it at this time in my life.  I have a few things that I want to share, so I'll probably do a few posts this week on them. 

I guess the bottom line is that I can't afford to turn from God now.  I know there is a war waging for my soul and I would be stupid to let satan win.  My God is faithful.  He is with me.  He will not leave or forsake me.  I don't like the path He's allowed me to have to walk with Rachel, but I wasn't alone. 

I just had to stop to nurse Asa and as I did, the music on my blog played through...each song reminding me of a time throughout the last year - right now as I write, "Hallelujah, Your love is amazing" is playing - the song we picked to play on her birthday last year.  Where did I find the hope I had?  It was given to me by God.  Where is it now?  Cause right now, I'm pissed.  I picked Asa up to burp him, his body warm and squishy - why didn't God allow me to have these moments with Rachel?  I hold his perfectly formed head in my hand and sob... why couldn't He have formed her?  Why did He create me to be a nurturing mother and then take that role away from me? 

And so goes the battle - one I never saw coming.  Who am I to question God?  I have no place - or benefit - in being upset with the maker of heaven and earth....and yet I can't seem to escape it.  I hold this sweet baby boy that I am SO thankful for, who came straight from God Himself - and my heart screams at God "why couldn't I keep her?"  and I hate it.  I want to feel different.  I want to be content - but I miss her more than words can describe and my heart hurts more than I knew it ever could.  When will this let up?

I guess that blows the replacement theory right out the window - sorry to disappoint all who thought that Asa would fill Rachel's hole in my heart.  Instead the spot he filled only accentuated the emptiness of hers.

Lord, thank you that you take me as you find me - fears, failures, doubts....all my imperfections.  Thank you that your mercy and grace are new every morning - and are enough for me.  I surrender again to you Lord Jesus...You're all I have.  Fight this battle for me - please keep me close.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Isaiah's Birthday Party

Last year for Isaiah's birthday, I had a party planned.  But when I couldn't get myself out of bed that morning, my mom & sister came to my rescue and in a matter of a couple of hours, they picked up all the food & a cake and had my house cleaned and decorated so that Isaiah's party went as planned.

This year, with everything going on, we decided not to plan a party.  The nice thing about a growing family is that we're kind of a party all by ourselves :o)   We decided we would just do something together that Isaiah would enjoy - and of course, that meant bowling and eating cake.  Matt assured me that Isaiah wouldn't care about anything else.

So, I felt like the worst mother ever when Isaiah said to me in his little raspy voice at 7am.... "when are all the people coming over with presents?"  I just looked at Matt with the you said he wouldn't care look...  I felt really bad.  My kids have had one disappointment after another for almost 2 years now.  They handle them very well and make me so proud that they aren't spoiled brats demanding to have things they want.  However, as their mother, I want nothing more than to provide them with at least some of their 'wants' - and lately, I've been feeling super guilty about how I'm failing them in this area.  On Wednesday I had Isaiah crying that I hadn't brought him to school yet and he was going to miss it again, Des was upset that she was going to be late for her Thanksgiving party and Sam was screaming over everything because he's jealous of the baby.  And the bottom line?  I just couldn't pull it all together and so once again, my kids missed out because of me.

I fed Asa and asked Matt to watch him while I went upstairs to nap.  I haven't slept in my bed once since the week before Asa was born.  I climbed in and the second my head hit the pillow, I was out.  Des woke me up 3 hours later (the longest span of sleep I've had in forever!) telling me the baby was hungry.  I looked at the clock... 10am.  And so I did what any guilt stricken, exhausted, devoted Mama would do....  I pulled together a party for my boy.  Well, let me rephrase that... my mom & sister did :o)   I called them at 10:15 and at noon they were at my house and ready for a party.  We kept it simple, but Isaiah had people to sing to him, his cousins to play with, and extra presents to open.  Thanks Mom & Meg that I can always count on you.

Then we went bowling, which is an Aube favorite anyway... and he had a blast. 
And while Daddy and the kids bowled, Mama & Asa hung out and cuddled.  Asa slept through the entire outing!
And, as usual, Rachel made her presence known....the first number on the screen - 43.  She's always with us, no matter how far apart we are.

Happy 5th Birthday Isaiah Matthew.  I love you my little man.  I thank God for you every single day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Understanding My Heart

One week from tomorrow, it will be Rachel's 1st birthday.  I really can't believe it.  It feels like forever and seems like it was yesterday at the same time.  I hate that she was in my arms so long ago.  I hate that time keeps going.  I hate that I struggle to remember details about her and that my time with her was so short that there are things I didn't have time to burn into my memory.

Today is "Black Friday" and although I've never gone out shopping on this day before, my dad had planned to take the two older kids to his house for the day, and so I decided it was a good day to work on Christmas shopping.  My sister watched Sam for the first run, we came home so I could eat lunch and nurse Asa and then me, Sam & Asa went back out.  I cherished every moment with my 2 little boys at the store.  Asa loves my baby carrier and slept the whole time, totally content on my chest - where I could run my face on his soft head any time I wanted - and Sam pointed out (and touched!) every single toy in the store as he shouted "look at this Mama!" and then when I said "oh, that's cool.... stay with me"  He would yell "OK Mama!" and come trotting after me.  If he accidentally moved an item from it's original place, he would stay there until he could get it back just the way it was.  While we were out, we made our trip to the cemetery...

In the last 12 months, I have been at the cemetery every single Friday except two.  I've visited many other days as well, but Fridays revolve around my visit to sit at my girl's grave.  I have been blessed by others time and time again when I have arrived there to find that someone had visited and left me a little something.  I know of a few people who visit her weekly just like I do and that makes my heart smile - to know I'm not the only one still thinking of her.

Sometimes I just go and fix things up pretty and then leave...  others I sit and cry a while - and how I'm feeling on the way there, or even when I get there, doesn't seem to have anything to do with how I feel when I'm standing on top of that little rectangle of new grass. 

I hate feeling so powerless over my emotions and not knowing what to expect or how things will affect me. 

Last week, Asa & I came home from the hospital Thursday night.  Friday we went to visit Rachel, but it was freezing out, so I left him in the car.  Today was beautiful out - so I got Asa out of the car to tell him about his big sister.
It's a strange thing, kneeling at the very spot my precious baby girl's body is under while holding a baby just 10 days old.  I never in my whole life imagined I'd ever have to endure these types of moments, days, weeks, months, years... I thought of the words in the song that I moved to play first on my blog last night....

Last night I had a crazy dream

A wish was granted just for me
It could be for anything
I didnt ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished, for one more day with you

One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

First thing I'd do, is pray for time to crawl
I'd unplug the telephone
And keep the tv off
I'd hold you every second
Say a million I love you's
Thats what I'd do, with one more day with you

And I realized that all of the uninterrupted alone time I'm seeking....every unanswered phone call, email, or knock on the door....  is another moment I get with Asa.  It's another moment that hasn't been taken from me with him.  It's another moment to hold him, burn his every detail into my memory.... time is all I have and it will never be enough - and it may not be as long as I hope for.  It's the moments that were taken from me with Rachel.  The moments I'd do anything to have.  I don't want to miss them this time.

I had no idea how it would feel to hold him at Rachel's grave.  Last week was an incredibly difficult visit where I cried harder than I have in a while.  Today, sitting there, I held Asa a little tighter... loved him a little deeper.... and as I told him about his big sister Rachel and how much his Mama misses her, I cried a little and thanked God that he was alive and well.

But I walked away from that spot today understanding my heart a little better.  I could try to put it into words, but the people who don't get it, never will...and the ones who do, don't need me to.  As I've tried to make sense of these feelings I've had and my desire to be alone, I've wondered if I'm ever going to be my 'old self again' and if I was finally slipping into a depression.  I can't say I've got that totally ruled out, but I can say that I don't think depression is my reason for retreating right now.  It's hard for me to feel misunderstood or to not have approval from people.  I hate feeling pressure from people to do what they want me to - or judgement from people who think they know more about me than I do.  But I'm just going to have to get over that.  This is just another season I have to walk through and I suppose, just like from last August until now, when I get to the other side of this part of my trial, I'll know who loves me for me.  One thing I know for certain is that I won't ever regret cherishing these moments alone with my sweet baby.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hurting and Healing?

I'm having a hard time finding words for how I feel these days.  Everything is so complicated.  Grief over the loss of a child is hard.  The holidays are hard.  Coming home with a new baby is hard.  And together, they are kicking my butt.  I've tried a couple of times to write a post on how I'm feeling and failed, so I'm giving up trying to make this go in an order that makes sense and I'm just going to let it all out.  Bear with me if I'm all over the place...

I'm absolutely in love with Asa.  He's amazing.  He is the sweetest baby and almost always content (for now).  He loves to be with Mama almost as much as I love to be with him.  I have hardly shared him at all and don't intend to any time soon.  I can practically see him growing before my eyes because I hardly take my eyes off of him.  I love every little thing about him, even at 4 am with no sleep. 

I miss Rachel more than ever.  All this time during pregnancy I've been worried about my c-section scar tearing open and my uterus rupturing...  seems I was worried about the wrong scar.  Any part of my heart that had healed is newly torn open and it feels like the entire thing has ruptured.  It hurts so bad I'm not sure if I want to cry, puke or hit something.  I just want relief.

Rachel's birthday is approaching - one week from Saturday (don't forget to send the gift cards for the young mom we're sponsoring!!)  and as I go through each day with Asa, I can't help but think about Rachel.  When he turned 6 days old, all I could think was this is how long after Rachel's birthday that I had to bury her body in the ground.  I stared at his perfect little hands, feet, chubby cheeks and wondered why I couldn't keep her.

I am having serious anxiety that something is going to happen to Asa - and for the first time in a very long time, I'm struggling to trust God.  I guess as I was going through the stuff with Rachel, trusting him to take care of me was easy because I could see that He was. (and I had no other choice!) And I knew that he would take care of her too because she would be with him.  But in the end, my baby still died - my arms still were empty.  And so I look at this precious baby boy and as I fall deeper and deeper in love with him, the reality that God doesn't need my consent to take my baby from me scares me.  All the comments about Rachel's life serving such a bigger purpose for so many other people leaves me hoping that my sweet Asa has a much lower calling...  that God doesn't think anyone else needs to benefit from him.  Cause I happen to like him and call me selfish, but I'm kinda sick of being the one in pain so that "everyone else could benefit".  Actually, the fact that people think that is a reason for me to rejoice irritates me.  She's dead.  So happy for everyone else though! (insert sarcastic smiley face here)

Today as we ate our Thanksgiving meal, I remembered last year....

I had asked Des to take a picture of me & Rachel at her first Thanksgiving and as I handed her the camera across the table, I dropped it in the gravy!  But the camera was unharmed!  Then after we ate, I laid on the couch and recorded her kicking my belly as I talked to her.  Then we pulled out her vault and decorated it nice and pretty for her.... See her vault here  As I sat here today, burping my new baby at the dinner table, these things replayed in my mind...  how can she really be gone?  How did I make it through those days alive? 

Some people are thankful for their good paying jobs... their nice houses....their children's promising future... some are thankful for good friends and family.  Some people are thankful for their cute little dogs that greet them at the door when they get home at night (long story)

What am I thankful for today?  That I'm not decorating my baby's burial vault after dinner.  Yeah, Matt's job is good - especially that it's close since he's been walking to work for 2 weeks now (yes, even in snow) cause his car is crap - we have a nice home, we have everything we need.  I'm glad about it all...  but all of that could go down the drain and as long as I never have to decorate another vault for a child of mine, I'll be happy.

I heard this thing on the radio the other night about how to beat the holiday blues....  they mentioned how hard the holidays can be when you've lost someone.  These times tend to make it more evident that someone is missing.  She said it's important to realize that this year will be "different".  Different?  That's a nice way to put it I guess. 

We're having just a few select people over after the balloon release on Rachel's birthday.  Mostly the people who were at the hospital with us when she was born, minus a couple who haven't been around all year. I also added a few that have been my rocks throughout this year....but one thing was for sure, I needed to be surrounded by people who I trust with my heart because it's going to be a hard day for me.  I was filling in the Date, Time, Where info and as I saw myself write "1pm at the cemetery, 2 pm at our house"....  "different" didn't seem to really describe it.  My daughter's first birthday party is starting at a cold cemetery.  "Sucks"  is more accurate.

I've had lots of requests to "meet Asa" and I'm just not there.  I don't often answer my phone and my door has a nice sign saying "we'll let you know when we're ready for visitors" so that I can ignore the knocks (which I do - sorry!), but the truth is, I don't know if I'll ever be ready.  I have never wanted to be alone so bad in my whole life.  I used to think I was an extrovert.  Not right now I'm not.  I used to love to host parties and have people over... not these days.  I used to talk on the phone for long lengths of time and actually enjoy it.  I almost always regret the loss of energy I experience after such a conversation these days, minus talking to my mom or sister.  Having someone in my house for more than 15 mins is more than I can take and I've only let 2 people (mom & sister) hold my boy since I left the hospital.  And at the risk of sounding crazy - I don't plan to change any of this any time soon. 

In the next 5 weeks, I will celebrate Isaiah's 5th birthday, Rachel's 1st birthday, Christmas and also Rachel's due date, Desirae's 9th birthday and many of Asa's 'firsts' along the way, reminding me of all I'm missing with my girl.  I will cry.  I will smile.  I will rejoice and I will mourn.  I will probably upset some people (probably the same people who weren't happy with my decisions on these things last year either) and hopefully, along the way, I will bless some people.  But all I can do is my best and sometimes my best isn't good enough.

Before I had Asa, I had emailed my friend Melissa and expressed my concern over how in the world I was supposed to do this part of my journey.  I expected some of this, I just wasn't prepared for the depth of the pain.  She had recently had her rainbow baby and her relpy had me in tears then, but I totally get it now... she said...
"I can't tell you what to expect when you finally meet your sweet Asa. I can only speak from my experience. If having Asa is anything like having Sam....

When you meet him, you will love Asa even more than you do right now. (Yup, it will happen)
You will think of Rachel even more than you do now. (Yup, it is possible)
And when you bring him home you will hurt and you will heal all at the same time."
So here I am hurting - and hopefully somewhere deep down healing - on this never-ending jouney through the loss of my sweet girl to anencephaly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Opinions are like....

And my latest comment on my video of Rachel...

"why would you give birth just to have the poor child die? You knew it was going to. to go through all this in the name of God is disturbing, and turning tragedy into a spectacle of your faith is wrong. let the pregnancy be terminated, if God decides who lives and dies then he should have given the baby a brain in the first place so it could live. the only "miracle" is people like you are so delusional as to turn a tragedy into such exploitation to prove to the world you are "Godly" Matthew 23:12"

Yes, this crazy man/woman actually tried to use scripture to tell me that it was wrong to let my daughter live, saying that I was just trying to prove my 'godliness'. 

People are nuts.  And I guess I got my answer on her video.  I've made it "unlisted" which is supposed to mean that you can view it with the link (hopefully from my blog) and not on You Tube itself.  Someone want to try it out and let me know if it's working on my blog but not on You Tube?

I've had close to 1200 views this week alone on it and had decided that for all the people who watch and are touched by it, it was worth the few stupid comments I get, but at this point I feel like I need to protect her from other peoples' harsh judgement.  I'm glad that I don't hear these things and actually internalize them, (I know they are all wrong and just dumb) but right now - with how I've been feeling (a whole other post) and my hormones, I'd like to tell the guy where to stick it.  And yes, that was as nice of a way as I could possibly put that - you know, to prove how Godly I am, I didn't say what I really want to say about the loser with too much time on his hands. Besides the fact that he appears to be missing his brain and God has let him live... If I keep talking, you might hear the sailor in me come out, so I'm gonna stop there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rachel's Birthday Invitation - * New Posts Below*

I wrote a post regarding Rachel's birthday a couple weeks ago that I never posted, mostly because it felt like a big ball of negativity... my feelings are so raw and my emotions at an ultimate low in my grief right now. 

The short version is that I had been lamenting over how to celebrate her birthday, which happens to also be the day she died, while grieving so deeply.  Most people don't celebrate the day their children die - but for all of us who welcomed our babies and then had to let them go, it's more complicated.  The last thing I wanted was to try to plan something and be let down again by detached family and busy friends.  So I was at a point where I was thinking maybe I should skip it all together.

What I realized is that I was letting my fear of being hurt and being overwhelmed with sadness override my desire to do something for my girl.  It would be different if I didn't want to do something, but I do - and so that just isn't acceptable....  so I'm planning a party. 

My heart's desire is to keep giving to others in Rachel's honor - and so months ago, I started praying that the Lord would direct me in the right way to a pregnant woman who needed help that we could sponsor in Rachel's memory.  I had very specific requests - I wanted a woman, pregnant with a girl, who was due in December.  I thought we could have everyone bring a baby girl gift and then donate it to them.  I assumed I was going to have to call Community Action or something to find someone, but kept putting it off because that would most likely have to be anonymous and I wanted the receiver to know about Rachel and why we were doing this.  I also was afraid to commit to helping someone without knowing if others would be supportive of my idea because we are going to need the help of family and friends to make it possible.  Well, after months of being unsure which way to go - one day I went to the local gas station to get a coffee...

The woman there had been talking with me regularly when I would go in about my baby belly, but this one morning, she mentioned that her 21 year old daughter was pregnant too and due with a girl 5 weeks after me.  I told her I had recently lost a girl, she gave her condolences and I left.

I couldn't get this girl off my mind and I don't even know her.  I decided to bring her the shirt my mom had bought for my baby when I was first pregnant (she insisted I was having a girl) that was a girl shirt and said "Born in 2011".  I brought it in one morning and gave it to her with one of my blog cards (I made up business cards with my blog info on them after we got Rachel's diagnosis and Matt & I have handed out hundreds of them as we shared about our precious girl)  Well, she took one look at the card and started crying, came around the counter and gave me a hug and said "I didn't know that was you, your husband gave me one of these when you first found out and I've read your blog.  I don't know how you did that, you're so strong"  I always love the opportunity to say "no, I'm not, but my God is."

As the days past, I kept thinking about her daughter and it dawned on me that she must be due in December.  I wanted to talk to the woman from the gas station about sponsoring her, but it's an odd subject to bring up while paying for a coffee.  So, last Saturday, when the kids & I walked down to get a hot chocolate, I had been thinking that it was too bad I wouldn't see her that day since she only works week days.  I opened the door to go in, and there she was...buying a coffee!  So I told her what I wanted to do and she said her daughter could use the help....

And so that is what we're doing.  She is due on December 23 (Rachel's due date was the 25th) and is having a little girl.  I knew last Saturday when all the pieces came together, that this is exactly where God wants us to help this year.  I smiled the whole way home from the store cause I didn't even want to be out that morning ( I hadn't walked that far in MONTHS), but forced myself to make the trip - and God had something waiting for me there!

So,  I'm asking everyone to purchase gift cards from Target or Walmart and send them to us before Rachel's birthday (December 3) and on Rachel's birthday we will go out and buy however much we can with them for this young mom and her sweet daughter.  If you are able to send even $5 it will help.  I really want to bless this young family.

Lisa Borders - who has been doing the editing on Rachel's photos, helped me do an official invitation for this... (thanks, Lisa!)
If you are able to join us in sponsoring this family in Rachel's honor, we would appreciate it very much.  You can send gift cards to:

Baby Rachel's Legacy
PO Box 454
Rochester, NH 03866-0454

If you are in the area and would like to join us, we will also be doing a balloon release at her grave at 1pm on Saturday, December 3rd.  We would love to have you there with us if you can make it.  Contact me if you need directions.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Sweet Baby Asa

Erin Moore from Auntie Camera took some really cute photos of my really sweet boy today.  Thank you SO much Erin, this is such a blessing to my heart....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Just Want Her, Too.

This is harder than I expected.
Even with all my preparation and thinking about how it might play out;
How I might feel, what I might want.
There is something about holding this precious baby in my arms
That only makes my heart hurt more.

I went to Rachel's grave yesterday. 
A newly empty womb, Asa sleeping soundly in the van.
They cut a nearby tree down and it's even brighter of a spot than before
Her daisies that I left last week still standing strong and pretty.
Yet I cried harder than I have in a while standing there.
It felt heavier and darker than it has in a long time.

I had a sweet night with Asa last night.
He's nursing like a champ
and quietly woke me every 3 hours to nurse and then went right back to sleep.
Little coos and grunts making me smile
I snuggled his warm body and kissed his chubby cheeks.
He's home with me.
And yet my arms still feel like they are missing something.
I still feel so incomplete.

Flowers were delivered today.
The ones my Aunt sends after every baby, including Rachel.
Congratulations with love...
The daisies in the pretty bouquet threw me off
Still remembering this time last year receiving flowers as I got ready to meet Rachel.
And then surrounding her body with them at the hospital
A year of fresh daisies in my house
But this time they are for someone else.
I stood there and cried.
How can I not be able to separate them?
How can I not just bask in the joy of my new son?
Doesn't Asa deserve that?

He started crying and I sat to nurse him. 
I touched his soft hair and wondered why she couldn't have stayed.
I look at his hands, just a tiny bit bigger than hers.
In his cheeks and mouth, I see hers peeking out from under her hat.
And as each of these thoughts comes to mind and breaks my heart,
I feel guilty.

I don't know how to do this and I wish I didn't have to.
It feels like I wish I could have her instead
but that's not it. 
I love him more than life itself.
I just want her, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going Home

Originally, this post was just going to be to show you Asa's going home outfit.  I'll tell you about that first, and then share what happened along the way while finding the photos.

I had ordered a 3-6 month because I never buy my kids newborn sized stuff, but decided it was too big and ordered the smallest one they had, 0-3 month.  When I got him dressed to leave, I realized that once this thing is washed I'm going to be glad I have the big one too cause it probably won't fit anymore.  He was patient with me while I tried to get this over his head!  He also graduated to the size 1 diapers today - the newborn ones just weren't big enough for him.  Too bad I have an open pack here!

All set and waiting for Daddy to come pick us up!!
When Matt showed up to get us, he walked in the room and started crying.  I assumed it was because of Asa, since he usually has those moments with our new babies.  I asked why he was crying and all he could say was "I walked down the hall."  - He didn't need to explain.  I knew what hall he meant.  The hall we walked down without Rachel last year....  the hall that made the reality of the death of our baby girl impossible to ignore.  And walking up it to go pick up our new baby boy just 11 months later to bring him home, that reality was again impossible to ignore.  There are halls all over this hospital that serve as the same reminder...we didn't get to bring her home.  Not to our home anyway.

Tonight while going through my pictures from Asa's birth, I came across a picture that caught me a little off guard.  I'm on the phone asking for prayer for Asa because I was getting ready to push.... and on my belly, I have Rachel's blanket and teddy that I sleep with every night.  The truth is I slept with her blanket every night I was at the hospital just like I have every night since she left me. And while I cuddled with her new baby brother, her blanket was right there beside us.  I guess I didn't realize I was holding it in labor too.... but apparently I was.

This has been such a long hard road.  God, I miss her so much.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Late And a Little Early

Luke Smith from Living Proof Studios took some pregnancy photos for us and we got them back on Sunday.  I have a couple more that I really want to share, but I was having a hard time getting any of them to upload the day we got them and am now working from a different computer and don't have them on this one.  So, these are the two that I did get onto Blogger... I'll probably get the others on soon.

That's Rachel's hand mold in my right hand.  I wish her real hand was here touching my belly...

But it almost seems too late to be showing these now that we have this....

Asa in Rachel's Hand-Me-Downs

The kids meet their new brother

This has been a very long week.  Last Wednesday I spent the night in the hospital in early labor.  Thursday we came home and nothing happened again until Sunday, when  I had contractions all day long. Because I'm a VBAC, I'm not supposed to labor at home at all because of the risk of uterine rupture.  But since I had already wasted a day with a false alarm, I was hesitant to make the drive again.  So, after 9 hours of contractions 7 mins apart, we headed to the hospital.  When we got here, I still wasn't any further along.  This boy just didn't want to come out.  So, I spent the night.  They made it clear they thought I'd be going home in the morning - I made it clear I intended to have this boy :o)

After 21 hours of contractions 7 minutes apart, they decided to give me the lowest dose of pitocin there is.  This was a hard decision because pitocin isn't recommended for VBAC's because it's hard on your uterus and after my experience with Desirae and pitocin I swore I'd never do it again!  When I told the doctor that everything I had read said it wasn't a good idea she said to me "well, it's by no means what we routinely do, but honestly, you're so determined to have a VBAC I think we should.  Most women would have given up and had a c-section by now."  And then she reassured me that they would be watching Asa like a hawk and if he appeared to be in distress they would have a c-section done in 5 minutes. 

So at 2:30 on Monday, they started the pitocin and my labor was going amazingly well.  Matt had left to work that morning for a half a day and he got back before my pain level started to get difficult to bear.  The hardest part was that since I went in late Sunday night, I had only had 30 minutes of sleep in 24 hours when hard labor kicked in.  I was too tired to handle the pain.  I wanted to go without any pain meds because my delivery with Samuel was my best ever and I had nothing for pain and I attributed it to the fact that it was all natural.  Again, I was not sure what to do, but decided to get an epidural so I could hopefully sleep because they were telling me I had a long ways to go.  I got the epidural around 10pm and they checked me at midnight.

I was still only 4 cm's and he was still high up, so they broke my water.  They discovered at that point that he had meconium in the fluid (he had a bowel movement, which apparently is more common with babies close to their due date or later). They explained that if he aspirated it, he could get really sick and so they were going to have to have the NICU at the delivery. She said "you probably won't get to hold him when he's born and he may not cry and he could have trouble breathing..... but don't worry, it's common"

What? I fell apart. All the things I was looking forward to being different than Rachel's birth... a crying baby that could breathe well and I got to hold immediately... and no NICU. All my hopes were being taken from me before he was born. Too familiar of a feeling. I cried for a while and then called for prayer from a couple of friends that I had praying for me throughout my labor.  I knew I had to let go of those desires and just be concerned with his well being.  I decided in my heart that as long as he was okay, I didn't need to hold him right away or hear him cry.  I just needed him to live.

I managed to fall asleep for 2 1/2 hours.  Did I mention getting the epidural was the best decision I made?  They had put internal monitoring in for me and Asa so they could make sure they knew where his heart rate was at without question.  They came in at 3am and said they weren't sure what was going on with me, but my contractions just weren't looking strong enough to move him down and honestly, it sounded like I was headed for the OR.  She said she would check me to see....  and I was 10 cm's and ready to push!  So in 2 1/2 hrs, while sleeping, I went from 4 to 10!  My friend Kim who was my nurse when I had Rachel had said she could come in, but not before 3 am.  They asked if I wanted to start pushing or wait for Kim - I chose wait :o)  Kim got there around 3:30, and after they got everything ready, I started pushing.

I pushed for about 10 minutes in all, and at 4:04 am on November 15th (just a day early), we welcomed our 3rd son, Asa Francisco Aube, into the world.  He's a big boy - 8 ibs 15 oz and 21 1/2 in long. He has super chubby legs, wrists, cheeks.. he even has rolls on his back and neck!  He has a head full of hair, but it's much shorter than Rachel's was - and he looks a lot like her in his mouth area.  He's got all the Aube baby features and some that are just his own. I am head over heals in love.  And I think he likes me too :o)

Prayers were answered so specifically and God led me in every single decision I made all along the way to make this a good memory.  He removed my fears about having a VBAC as I labored and filled me with peace. He worked out all the details for Asa and for the kids at home while we were gone.  I'm so thankful for my friends, Millie & Michelle, and my mom who cared for my kids for days while we've been gone.  I'm still at the hospital from Sunday night.  Matt is home with them tonight cause he had to work today, but I've been away from them for 4 nights now and haven't had to worry about them.  They are so excited for me to bring the baby home tomorrow.

Being at this hospital was actually more healing than hard.  While I was walking during labor, I stopped in the room that I had Rachel in after delivery.  It didn't make me sad.  I thought about her and smiled knowing that in that room, I held a piece of heaven in my arms.  Many of the doctors and nurses that took care of me knew about and remembered Rachel and I got to see the doctor that delivered her again.  I found it so comforting to be able to say her name and not have to explain.  They would just smile with me knowingly.  She was so amazing and left such an impact on so many people.  I love that little girl so much.

My visions of holding Asa as soon as he came out didn't happen.  All my begging to hear a cry immediately, didn't happen.  My fears of having him on that NICU table surrounded by doctors and tubes going down his throat all came true.

But my baby boy is alive.

He's perfect.

He's really well behaved :o) 

And I am so thankful to my great God Who created him - just like He created Rachel - and Who loves them both more than I, in my humanness, ever could.  A love like that is hard to fathom.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Laughing Mess

Yesterday afternoon I slipped on a comb that was on the floor and practically did a split.  OK, I'm way too old and out of shape for that.  Within a half hour, I was in so much pain I could hardly walk.  I didn't know if it was an injury from the stinkin' comb or if Asa was just moving down.  I called the doctor, and his advice was drive back to Maine or go to the local ER, neither of which I was up for so I waited it out.   I slept on the couch cause I couldn't lift my feet enough to do the stairs.  I fully expected to wake up this morning in more pain, but I actually felt better... a lot better.

That should sound like good news, but what that said to me was that I probably wasn't in pain from slipping or it would still hurt, it must have been Asa getting lower and he must have gone back up!  Is this kid ever coming out??  I saw how comfy he looked in there and I'm beginning to wonder if he's just so smart that he knows it's better in there than out here.

By 8:30 this morning, I started crying.  It started because I bent down to clean another random place (been doing that a lot these days) and could NOT get back up.  Desirae had to help me.  Once the tears started, there was no stopping them.  I was still crying an hour later.  My thought process went like this:

I've never been this weak.  2 pregnancies in a row with extra weight has kicked my butt.  I can't even stand up on my own.  And I'm not having any contractions still.  What if he comes 10 days late?  How am I supposed to do everything I need to do?  What if the reason this isn't going anything like my other pregnancies and labors is because I'm supposed to have a c-section cause something's going to go wrong during my vbac? and on and on and on.....

It came time to go to church and I was still not showered and still crying over everything so I decided to stay home.  Matt took the kids and as he was on his way out, I tried to look for the Pledge so I could dust Rachel's Hope chest.  The tub of cleaning supplies was piled high in a huge mess.  Before I knew it, I had dumped the entire thing on the floor and started cleaning under the sink. He left saying "oh, honey" while looking at me with a concerned look.  We keep our trash under there (and I don't do trash) so I'm not sure it's ever been cleaned to the extent I cleaned it this morning.  But man, does it look good - and it smells good too!

I was definitely nesting today - cleaning and dusting and organizing and throwing out junk.  I am exhausted, but it feels great to have it done.  Unfortunately, through it all, I was still feeling really discouraged.  That's when I decided to open a package that has been waiting to be opened all week.

I ordered Sam a Shaun the Sheep doll for Christmas off Ebay- He loves Shaun the Sheep and if you haven't heard of it, I highly recommend you look it up... love that show.  The package came early this week, but it was shipped directly from China, which I wasn't expecting.  With all the hype about stuff coming from China, I got nervous to open it. (I know, it's silly)  and today, I decided to go for it. 

I opened it up and looked at it.  Shaun had a big fluffy white patch on his chin and a bald head.  I got irritated... that's not what he looks like.  and then I looked down and saw the tail coming out his stomach. I thought - oh my gosh, they obviously have no idea what Shaun looks like and they either sewed a boy part on him or his head on backwards - and I've apparently been ripped off.

And then I turned him around and flipped his head over....

I started cracking up.  I guess he was packed with his head in the wrong direction and so it wants to flop over backwards - but I stood here with my puffy eyes laughing out loud all alone.  See how dangerous pre-conceived notions are?  But that's okay because I totally needed that laugh this morning.  Even if I did look really crazy in the process.  I'm just thankful I figured it out before I complained to the seller - and that nobody was here to witness it :o)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Come, Lord Jesus, Come

I can only imagine how sad this world makes God.  My heart is grieving for Him this morning as I just had another rude comment on Rachel's video.  This time it was much more simple...
"So, that's a dead baby?"
I debated whether or not to respond.  I wasn't sure if it was an innocent comment that just had no tact or if he was just being mean.  I don't want a bunch of negativity on the comments under my girls video (so please resist the urge to go tell this guy off... I know it's hard - if you want to write something, please keep the focus on Rachel and her life)  but I decided to comment anyway and wrote:
"She is my daughter who lived for 43 minutes after birth and will live for eternity in heaven. No, she's not dead.

But I do wonder if your heart is alive asking such a blunt question with no tact? Or maybe your point was to be hurtful? If so, please leave me alone. If not, let me know and I'd love to share more about her amazing life and legacy with you."
That was about as nice as I could be.  And then I looked at his page on You Tube.  Wow.  The only video like Rachel's that he's watched is Rachel's.  The others all have to do with his wife "f-ing" other people.   So why is this sick man watching my video?  Why watch, why comment, why bother me??  He's sick.  And honestly, right now, I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it.  I'm wondering if I did the wrong thing making her video public?   Please pray for discernment on this one for me.  I want to share her life and feel like up until now, it's been a positive thing.  I'm not sure what's happening now.  I feel under attack by the enemy - of course right before I'm due to give birth....

We have been studying the story of Noah lately.  It's come up in history and been the topic of our family devotions for a few days now.  I picked the Ark for Rachel's playground because to us it signified how there is always blessing in doing the work that the Lord calls you to do, even if it doesn't make sense at the time.  Just like when Noah was building his ark in the middle of a desert, people thought he was crazy - there are so many people who thought me carrying my baby to term knowing she would die was crazy and made no sense.  The Ark also reminds me that God provides shelter and protection from the storm. 

But this morning I'm feeling a different angle on this story.... the reason God flooded the earth is because there was so much sin and people had turned so far from Him, that He was sorry he created them.  So he started over with people who had been devoted to him.

I'm ready to go jump on Rachel's ark and pray for another flood.  And if my heart is broken over this, I can only imagine how grieved the Holy Spirit is watching the people on this earth live so far from Him and follow the enemy so contently.

When I woke up this morning, I was in tears because my hip was killing me.  I feel like I'm 90 and it honestly scares me to get old cause I could hardly move.  But crying over my aching hip was easier than crying over my aching heart. 

Me & the kids are going for an early morning walk to the store to get hot chocolate - and hopefully move Asa down further in the birth canal :o)  But I'm going to leave all this crap behind and go enjoy my amazing children for a while.  I need the fresh air and the smiles.  Please pray for me, I'm really struggling as I wait for this boy to join us.  My hormones are all over the place, I miss Rachel like crazy, and with stuff like this happening, it's hard to stay positive.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come - we're ready whenever You are.....

Friday, November 11, 2011

What a Day It Will Be

We were able to have another peek at Asa yesterday.... He is absolutely adorable and he makes tons of facial expressions.  We saw him smile, frown, look like he just ate something that tasted bad... and my favorite....he stuck out his bottom lip like he was pouting!  I just kept saying "awww, he's so cute... oh, look at him... he's precious...."  I almost felt like I shouldn't know so much about him at this point.  The womb is referred to as a "secret place" in the bible - it almost seems wrong to look in there in such depth and to see his personality while he's still in my womb.  But I still loved every second of it.

The tech asked us if we knew if it was a boy or girl.  When we told her boy, she said "this is our first boy today, they've all been girls.  Matt said "we've had our two girls" and smiled at me...

Asa looks good and appears healthy.  They first estimated he was 9lbs 2 oz, but then after doing a couple more measurements and taking an average said 8lbs 6oz.  So hopefully he's coming soon cause every day he's packing on the chub! :o)  They can also be wrong up to a pound in either direction.  I LOVE chubby babies and like them big - but there are different thoughts on how big a baby should be for a VBAC.

I'm excited to meet him.  Can't wait to kiss his chubby cheeks and take him home.  What a day it will be. Please pray he'll come soon.

Matt's home today and we just all went to visit Rachel, which very rarely happens.  It was nice.  When we pulled up he complimented how nicely I've decorated her grave.  Definitely felt good to hear, especially from my husband :o)  We stood there looking at her stone and just marveled at how sparkly it is when the sun hits it.  I've never seen a stone like it and since it was shipped from India, we didn't see it before we ordered it so we really didn't know what it would look like, which had me anxious for months waiting for it.  The sparkles seem so fitting for a little girl (even though the stone is more adult-like) and make me think about the jewels on her crown in heaven.  I bet it's beautiful.  I bet, just like the stone, when I finally see her again and her crown in person, I will marvel at their beauty.  What a day it will be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


This is a comment I just received on my You Tube video of Rachel's birthday.  There have been well over 10,000 views and I have never seen a negative one - but this was a tough day to get it.

Mean person says:

"This is pathetic. I cannot believe you wasted health care dollars on this. Shame on you. May whatever god you believe in judge you and your family for parading this poor thing around."

My response:

"SHE is not a "poor thing" - SHE is my DAUGHTER and I was not parading her around, I was LOVING her, something you apparently have not experienced much of in your life to say such a horrible thing to a grieving mother about her child.  I'm not the one who should be ashamed. Watch something else if you don't like it."


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Change is Right Around the Corner

Had my 39 week check this afternoon.  I feel better this week than I did last week, so I wasn't surprised that there was only a little bit of progress made.  I'm now just a little over 1 cm dilated and still 80% effaced, but he's moved down a little.

I also want to thank you for your prayers because I feel completely at peace for my VBAC.  I was nervous for a long time, but realized that I have not been anxious about it lately at all.

Friday is the day I had originally thought it would be 11/11/11- and had asked you all to pray for :o)  But tomorrow is the day I kept feeling like it would be. (I've given my guess on the date, time and his sizes to my friend Lisa so that if I'm right, I have someone who can confirm it :o) )  But either way, I am all set for as soon as he is!!  I'd love to wake up tonight in labor!  As far as how I feel physically, it doesn't feel like I'm going any time soon though.

Although....yes, I'm about to let the hairdresser in me come out - usually right before I get my hair done, after weeks of saying "I can't stand my hair, I need to get it done", I have a really good hair day and start to second guess if I'm really ready to get my hair done or if I like it just the way it is.  It's my fear of change I guess - or at least my fear of not liking the change.  But it's always the thought I have the day before my appointment.

Well, driving home, Asa was moving all around.  I could feel his little feet through my belly.  And, even after the last two weeks of feeling like I'm totally ready to have him and completely done with being pregnant, I thought...  maybe I'm gonna miss being I really ready to have him?  I could enjoy another week of this.  And that's when it dawned on me, with thoughts like this....

Change is right around the corner....

And at the same time I'm going to miss having him in my belly, I'm going to LOVE having him in my arms.

PS - I miss Rachel.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Still Changing the World

Matt & I went to the Options for Women Banquet on Friday night.  It was nice to have a "date" - probably the last outing alone before Asa arrives.  I didn't feel like going at all, but I actually felt pretty good most of the night, other than the fact that my feet are so swollen that my shoes felt really tight. 

I was, as usual, surprised by the number of people who approached me about the fact that they read my blog.  I am always so blessed to hear them share how Rachel changed their lives and how they have shared her and my blog with others - almost always accompanied by tears.  It kind of stings at the same time cause these stories wouldn't exist without her death.  I'd rather have been sitting there holding her in my lap.  But there's really no room on my lap right now.  My heart has plenty of space for her (although I admit at times I wonder if I can really hold all of that love without exploding) and that's where she'll always be.

I was caught off guard when Margery started talking about a couple that she needed to thank.  I had no idea she was referring to us until she said Rachel's name.  I immediately started welling up in my eyes and within seconds, tears were flowing and my face was beat red.  (I'm assuming, because I was practically holding my breath and got really hot in my face, I didn't actually pull a mirror out to check :o) )  I was trying not to have a complete meltdown in front of 350 people.  funny, since I do it regularly on my blog!

She went on to talk about the new Perinatal Hospice Program they're starting.  She told them about the doctors and nurses that are coming to a training they are hosting on November 29 (just a few days before Rachel's first birthday!  I can hardly believe all the things that have happened because of her in just one year!) and how the doctors will be trained how to talk with women who receive a poor prenatal diagnosis and then refer them to Options so they can support them in carrying to term, or whenever God chooses to take the baby home.  She thanked us for doing Rachel's Race this summer (We donated $9,200 to them for the new program in Rachel's honor thanks to local businesses, friends and family!).

And then she said "And all because of one baby who lived for 43 minutes on this earth after birth"

My sweet Rachel Alice... I'm so honored to be your Mama.  I praise Jesus for giving me what I needed to accomplish what your life gave me the determination to do.... bless others in your honor and for His glory.  You're still changing the world.

A couple of pics from Friday:

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Daughter is Dead

I brought my girl 11 daisies today.  One for each month we've been apart.  I can't believe how fast the Fridays have passed by.

Yesterday was a tough day.  The 3rd of the month usually is.  But by late afternoon, I had completely fallen apart.  I'm so weary of the same old thing.  Being heartbroken and constantly misunderstood.  Frustration that nobody gets and pain that can't be explained.  Feelings that make no sense and the quick pat answers to 'fix' me.  The bitterness I feel after every failed attempt to express myself.  I hate it all.

My daughter is dead.

Before that was the case for me, I can't say I could come close to appreciating what that would do to a person, but I like to believe I am not one to dismiss someones' feelings when they confide in me.  I remember someone talking to me about their concern over their weight gain while they were pregnant (I was also pregnant with Rachel at the time and had much bigger problems) and my quick answer was "well, there's bigger things to worry about, you'll be fine" - makes sense right?  I mean after all, my baby was about to die and I would still have baby weight to lose - what did she have to worry about?  Wrong.  I sent her an email the next day apologizing for down playing her feelings.  I never want anyone to think that something that matters to them isn't worth being heard - no matter what could be worse. 

I'm not sure I have the energy to keep explaining these things to people.  And I HATE being made into someone's project no matter how pure the motives. 

I just need support.  The kind that doesn't add to my burdens.  The kind that doesn't come around in an attempt to change how I feel or make me look at things differently so they can feel like they've achieved something.  The kind that is motivated by a desire to serve God and not a way to meet needs that aren't mine, but theirs.

I don't even know what I need....  I can tell you an example of something that happened yesterday that WAS what I needed.  Maybe that will help.

My friend Harlee called and I was sobbing uncontrollably.  I almost didn't answer the phone, but I did.  She waiting for minutes in silence allowing me to cry.  She didn't ask me questions.  She didn't freak out like something was seriously wrong and demand an answer out of me.  She didn't give me that "oh boy, she's still crying" sigh or a pathetic "awww" that I'm so sick of hearing.  She knew.... My daughter is dead.  I started trying to explain what had me so upset and was probably making no sense.  She let me blab for 15 minutes and then offered insight that was helpful.  No quick pat answers that don't apply.  A thought out answer that actually made sense and helped me to understand a part of what was happening in my mind and heart. She didn't change the subject or tell me what I should or should not do.  I didn't get off the phone with a mapped out plan of what I was going to do over the next month to make everything better and help me cry less.  I didn't have a solution for each scenario.  What I had was understanding and empathy.

I'm not looking for people to fix me or solve my problems.  Actually, that just irritates me.  And it would irritate you too if you just lost a child. I'm not looking for someone to come up with a solution to everything that I talk about.  Sometimes I'm just thinking out loud - and almost all of the time, the things that I need to figure out, I NEED to do on my own with God.  So, while I long for human connection and understanding - I don't need solutions.  But I also don't want dead air on the other side of the phone (or staring at me) with a random uh-huh or sigh. And throwing in a 'positive' thought about the new baby coming doesn't help either.
Doesn't anyone understand why even the new baby is hard?  I mean, after all my writing... all my days of pouring my heart out and explaining myself.... does ANYONE get it??  Or is it just another thing that I should be viewing differently in your eyes?

Maybe I want too much.  Maybe I need too much.  Maybe I expect too much.  Maybe I just confide in the wrong people.  Maybe it's time to start my alone time that I was planning for after the baby.  Because I'm starting to realize that it all just seems to be adding sadness.  Maybe I'm better off alone.  Maybe I'm learning the hard way that the only One worth trusting with my heart is my God.

I'm so tired.  I'm emotional.  I'm hormonal.  I'm irritable.  And I have a lot of stuff going on.  Heavy stuff.  Stuff that a couple word answer will never solve and a lifetime of tears won't take away.

My daughter is dead. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When I Look Around...

My appt yesterday afternoon went well.  I'm 1 cm and 80% effaced, which could mean anything really.  I have always gone into labor early, but have never been dilated at all before going to the hospital so I wasn't expecting that. I'm hoping it means I'll have a baby this weekend, but I don't really think so.  I've been thinking it would be Saturday for a week or so now (the power of Desirae's suggestion of it being the 5th) but I honestly have a feeling this baby is going to have the birthday of 11-10-11.  If I'm still pregnant after that day, you may want to bring me some chocolate cause I'm gonna be depressed.  I'm SO ready to have him.  He is so low that I can hardly walk anymore and the anticipation of how everything will go is weighing on my mind.  Please just pray that my water won't break at home.  I have a long drive and a history of very fast deliveries once they break my water

Have I mentioned I love my friends?  When I got home from my appt yesterday, Michelle had cooked the chicken my mom bought me the other day AND washed my kitchen & mudroom floors!  I had a spurt of energy for a couple of days that I was hoping was going to last until Asa came, but today I am totally wiped out.  I think I'm going to define couch potato today - and thanks to my friend Millie, I can cause she is now driving the kids to and from gym class for me twice a week, today being one of them!

Today is the 3rd.... 11 months since I held my girl.  I feel like I should do something and have no idea what that is.  I can't believe it's been this long.  I debated going to the cemetery, but there's not much to be done there.  I look at the daisies on my counter...  11 months of fresh flowers.  I look at the pictures all over the house... 11 months of making her memory a part of our home.  I look at the baby stuff all set up for her little brother...  11 months with empty arms and an empty cradle. 

The hardest 11 months of my life.

Do I celebrate her birth?  Do I sit at her grave and mourn?  Do I stay home and just look around at her memories??  I usually just know what I want to do - and today I have no clue.  And nobody else remembers the 3rd at this point.  It's just another day to them.  If she was here, maybe I'd be sending out a picture of her taking her first steps.... but I have nothing new.  It's all the same.

When I look around, I see the joy of the expectation of a new baby boy intertwined with the sorrow of my baby girl gone too soon.  I smile and cry at both.  They are both amazing blessings in my life, just with two totally different roles.  One is not better than the other, just different. 

My heart has been very heavy for Rachel lately.  Someone asked me the other day if I cry a lot.  I said no, but I probably have a different definition of 'a lot' when it comes to crying.  Plus, it's an awkward question to answer - especially when people jump all over the need to fix me and suddenly act like I'm about to off myself if I say I'm not all better (by their standards- cause you know, I am coming up on a year when the magic switch goes off and grieving people become all better).  Although even back in July, at only 7 months out,  I was getting emails criticizing how often I cried - yes, from someone whose never lost a baby and actually hardly spent any time with me - but still, she was "worried".  Which in this case translates to "quick to be judgemental on little information" but that's a different story...

But yes, I cry every day.  Do I cry all day every day? no.  Do I cry multiple times a day? usually.  How long do I cry for?  as long as I need to. (is that ok?)  Sometimes that means a couple of tears fall and sometimes that means I can't stop for a while.  (I hope I'm not failing your 'is she in need of meds' test cause I don't want any)   Should I even have to answer such a question?  don't think so.  Am I depressed? nope.  I'm more depressed with the fact that I can't bend over or do anything for myself than the fact that I'm still missing my baby. (can you put my socks on for me? or at least make sure I don't walk out of the bathroom at Walmart with toilet paper hanging out of my pants again?)  Am I still grieving? deeply.  Will I ever be done?  doubt it.  Does that mean I'll never smile again? nope, from the day I found out about Rachel, I learned a lesson about life that I could not have learned any other way...Every minute is priceless.  I have experienced more true joy in my heart since last August than I have in my whole life.  God has truly blessed me - and our family - through my little girl.

And when I look around, 11 months later, I know that gift can never be taken from me.  She may be gone, other people may have moved on, but she is still so real in my life.  I may have sorrow, but I have experienced so much more undefiled love and joy.  Not the kind that depends on things going 'right' or 'perfect' in my life; those are fleeting.  The joy of the Lord is truly my Strength and Portion and is deep within my heart.

A sidenote on joy:  it doesn't necessarily look like people expect... lots of bubbly and smily people are miserable in their hearts. - and lots of people who cry are full of joy.  I've been on both sides and would take the latter any day.  You only see what people choose to share so don't judge a book by it's cover, mistake the ability to act happy as joy, or tears and solitude as a reason for intervention.  (Although a hug and prayer never hurt anyone.)

And as I prepare to welcome Rachel's little brother into our family just 11 months after the death of his sister, I will do so with a humble and joyful heart, knowing it's only because of my journey with Rachel that Asa even exists.

Miss you sweet girl.... every day of my life