We were taking down the Christmas tree and I asked Des to hand me all of Rachel's ornaments. She handed me one that said "Hope" and one that said "Faith". Neither one was Rachel's....but I couldn't help but feel guilty that those two words used to say "Rachel" to me and still do to my 9 year old (today's her birthday!) but I didn't feel the same. I forced a smile as she put them down in front of me. Faith, Hope....there's a word missing, I thought to myself... Love....where is Love??
December has been a terribly hard month for me and the last couple of weeks have been very dark. Rachel's anniversary, a new baby and Christmas all wore me out emotionally. My daily grind, homeschooling, and Asa's needs without much sleep have taken their toll mentally and physically. My grief over Rachel, fear of losing Asa and the wonderful email/comments I received from 'nice' people have all done it's job on me spiritually and relationally. And basically, for the first time in years, I was thinking if I didn't get some medication, I was not going to make it out of my pit alive.
That is where I was at when I walked into my 6 week appt the other day. I felt totally helpless, hopeless, useless... like a total failure. They asked "how are you feeling?" and I started weeping. As I filled out the 'depression assesment' and it asked me to rate questions like "I feel like I've failed my family" and "I feel like my family would be better off without me", I sobbed. I know it's not true... but I couldn't shake the 'feeling' that it was. I tried to explain to the doctor my concerns about medication, which range from my prior bad experiences to getting stuck on them for life to taking them while nursing. He just nodded and ignored me.
I left there feeling even more hopeless than when I went in. Their only solution was pills and a counselor. I've had bad experiences with both. What did I expect? Of course that would be what they had to offer... they are doctors. They believe in medicine.
I prayed about and obsessed over whether or not I would take the prescription. I decided I would wait until I could ask Asa's doctor her take on how that would affect him and his brain. My doctor said that a small amount in my milk is fine for him. I just do not buy into it... On Friday they told me that they used to let people take it while pregnant, 'but now they know' that it can cause heart problems in babies in utero, so they don't recommend that anymore.... and so I can't help but wonder, what will they know 10 years from now that they 'don't know now' about nursing on it? I'm all set with making my baby a guinea pig for their statistics. So, I decided that I would take the medicine and just switch him to formula. No sooner did I have the thought, my heart broke. I want to nurse him....but the medicine might make me feel better....isn't it selfish to keep nursing him if he will also be put on the meds when he's not the one depressed just because I want to nurse him? And what about if I got pregnant and didn't know it and my baby had a heart defect because of my decision? So, I just couldn't come to peace with any of my ideas. I still felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. I called the pediatrician on the way home. They were supposed to be open, but the answering machine came on saying they were closed. This is where God stepped in.....
Over the course of the last couple of days while I 'waited to talk to Asa's doctor', God has little by little shown me what I need to do. As of right now, it doesn't include medication. He reminded me that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, but HE's my rock. Which way am I facing? What's my focus?
I mentioned before that in the same day both my friends, Nat & Louise, recommended the same book to me....and I already explained all about the hearts and why that immediately got me to pull the book down off my shelf. The book is called "One Thousand Gifts - A dare to live fully right where you are". (I know a lot of my baby loss friends have already read it.) They both mentioned that they thought that the book might help me to focus on the 'Light' in my life. I made that a capital "L"....
So, I decided to read the book.
I started looking for the challenge on line and found the author's blog. Her words enveloped me. I couldn't stop reading. For the first time in weeks....months maybe.... I felt Hope. Maybe I could do this, I thought. Maybe I can feel better...maybe 'hopeless' doesn't have to be me.
I decided that I would accept the dare to live fully right where I am.
(I've never been known to back down from a dare) :o)
In my pain, in my heartache, in my loneliness, in all my disappointments... Isn't that what I JUST blogged about on New Year's Eve? That I don't want to miss my blessings while I'm living through my pain? It doesn't say 'a way to make the pain go away so you can be happy and live fully' - it says 'right where I am'.
Right where I am.
I have been debating for a while if I should continue blogging. I just feel like I have nothing to offer anymore and the last thing I want to do is discourage people with my heavy heart and lack of hope. As I read this woman's blog, I wondered if the hope that I was receiving through her words was similar to what my words about Rachel used to bring to people reading them....Spirit-filled.
I feel like at this point, my time and energy writing might be better spent working on my book. I haven't worked on it in months. I know that when it's complete it will have the ability of helping many people....baby loss mamas and many others as well. And since I don't feel like my blog is doing all that it used to, I think it's time to slow down on here in order to get going on my book. (Please pray for me to be consistent with writing so I can get it done!) I guess I've been waiting to 'feel better' so that "hope" comes across in my words in my book instead of despair and darkness.... but hope isn't something that can only exist when things are 'better'. As a matter of fact, Hope shines more brightly in hard places.... Hope shines right where I am. I hate that I've been missing it.
But I'm already seeing it more clearly.
I plan to blog on Fridays - and if there is another day that I feel led to share something specific... but my focus in my posts for a while is going to be my 1000 gifts. I am not sure if I'll just blog the ones from Rachel or general ones....but I know I need to start remembering all the good things that came from her life and my hard journey with her. It hasn't always felt this ugly and I don't want this to be how I remember her. (or how anyone else remembers her) It can't be. In the most heart-wrenching pain, she is still beautiful; breathtaking.
I'm leery of this idea because I don't want to come across like everything is perfect... or worse, like I'm trying to portray something that isn't accurate. There is nothing worse than a faker. Please know that I'm not doing this to make my naysayers happy or because I want to hide my pain, but rather to try to train my mind to recognize the blessings in this trial. If I wait until all my disappointments are gone to try to refocus on the gifts in my life, it's never going to happen. My daughter is dead and she's never coming back. Nothing will EVER take the sting of that away. Disappointment is officially part of who I am until the day God calls me home. So I'm starting....from right where I am....taking one thought at a time captive into obedience under Christ. And praying that as I do, my heart will slowly follow. If not to 'happiness' at least to joy in my sorrow.
So, that's the writing part... now here's another part....
I always feel better when I exercise regularly and I want to be able to run in Rachel's race this summer. But I'm so out of shape and weak. I've never been this muscle-less in my whole life - even my bones feel weak. I looked up the 'couch to 5K' plan on line and saw that the first day is just 20 minutes... walk 90 seconds, jog 60 seconds, repeat....
I wanted to go to the gym yesterday, but time got away from me. I was about to give up on starting that day....and then I looked outside - yeah, it's cold, but the sun was shining. I put on my running shoes and a head warmer and walked out my front door. I don't need the perfect setting to run....I don't have to be in shape to do this.... I can start small. I just need to do it. Just go....a minute at a time...from right where I am.
As I finished up day 1 of the plan, I thought maybe this is the next thing that I can 'do' for Rachel... maybe I can work on running in her race. (You know how I like to 'do' - please don't criticize me for this, I was like this long before Rachel. It's who I am. I'm a do-er) I felt so guilty as I had the thought; everything I've done for her so far has been at my expense. Maybe I should do something for her that benefits me... And maybe with each step I take....every mile I run...and with every goal met....I can look back and know that she was my inspiration. Even in my pain. She was the one who gave me a reason, while God gave me the strength.... Just like when I was pregnant with her.
Last night, I read more of Ann's blog. Apparently she names her years to give them a focus for growth. This year she has titled "The year of No Fear." I read through the post... her writing is unreal. Every word had me nodding my head in agreement. Her feelings so familiar. As if the timing of me finding her blog and starting her book again wasn't already perfect as far as MY life goes....I was brought to tears when I saw what she had named 2010... "The Year of YES" Let me explain....
After I had Rachel, I got an email from my now good friend Terri that had the subject line "Thank you for your YES!" I had asked her if I could blog it, but never did....I had so much to write about back then... In the email she wrote about all the things that have come to be because I said "yes" to God and "yes" to Rachel. She ended it with these words:
"Your Yes, Stacy, has had a profound effect on so many people including me. You had the right to choose this yes and you took it upon yourself. God knew you would. We all have a free will and God knew your will would be his. It’s always all about him and we all see that because of your YES!The fact that this was her 2010 name is what caught my attention, but the part that got me was that the post is all about a conversation she has with her daughter one snowy December morning....one in which she says "yes" to her daughter and to God - but she never explains what the question was....only that she said yes when it was likely that she would have said no.
From the very depth of my heart, thank you for your yes. Thank you for sharing your journey, yet another yes that God knew."
2010 was my year of YES too....and I'm so thankful it was.
I just know that God wants me to be hearing this message right now about the gifts He has given me. I know this is where he has me....and I trust that He has something amazing planned for me in it. I pray that this journey will bless your hearts as well as I share some of it....
Today I'm saying Yes to the dare.... the dare to live fully right where I am. To start this year without fear. I don't need to fear my anxiety, my grief, my pain, or leaving Rachel behind.
I'm going to be okay. One moment at a time. I won't be afraid. I'm going to do this; for me, for Rachel, for the rest of my family.... between my Rock and my hard place. And just like when I carried my precious daughter in my womb, I'm trusting that God will guide me... beyond the finite 'wisdom' of doctors and to His infinite Wisdom and Truth.
There, I will find His Love again. And by this time next year, I intend to have not only the 'Faith' and 'Hope' ornaments as part of Rachel's collection.... but I'll be adding 'Love' as well.
He Loves me right where I am.