Monday, April 30, 2012

My Hour

This has been a very hard week.  I hate even saying it because, while I know you all think I share every detail of my life here, I don't...  and the things going on are not things I can or want to share - but what I've come to realize is how much every area of my life affects my grief. 

I hate to sound as if I've made no progress in healing, because I have. (contrary to popular belief)  I smile a lot more and catch myself laughing throughout the days.  I bet I think of her at least once every 5 minutes or more, but it doesn't always hurt as bad.  And actually - pain or no pain - I love to think about her.  I can hardly comprehend where I was last year at this time - but some will judge me regardless because that's just how people are.  Those are the people that were wondering when I was going to "move on" and "stop obsessing" 3 months after she died.  Those are the ones who thought of my new pregnancy as a way to fix me and were confused as to why it didn't. (because apparently being open about my pain and not hiding my tears is looked at as a bad thing by some).

But anyway.... Every extra stress makes everything feel heavier...  makes me miss her more and hate being a baby loss mother even more.  Actually, I wrote a post last night that I got interrupted in the middle of and never posted... and that is a good thing.  It was rough.

This is rough.

So, in the middle of all of this, life keeps going.  I sat at an intersection the other day and actually felt angry at the cars going by, completely oblivious to my daughter being dead. I'm so tired of how lonely this is.  But the thought that followed it was that I'm sure they all have their own struggles... their own diagnosis, their own loved ones dead.... their own feelings of betrayal and not being supported - and then I wondered if I would really switch if given the chance.... probably not.

Yesterday, I was holding Asa's hands and I sat him on the floor.  I decided to let go just to see if he could balance.... and he stayed up.  I started yelling out to everyone "He's sitting up!" and they all came running.  The kids gathered around, Matt grabbed the camera and we made a memory.  Asa's first time sitting up....

And while everyone was smiling and giggling, enjoying the blessing of a new baby....even was me alone that was wondering about Rachel.  Me alone whose heart was full of joy and such deep pain at the same time.  I still have moments where I can't believe I won't see her do any of this.  You'd think it would have fully sunk in by now. 

The other night Matt had laid Asa down in his cradle in the living room.  He must not have been able to find his blanket because when I walked in what I saw was the top of Asa's head and Rachel's pink blanket covering him as he slept soundly.  My stomach turned and my heart jumped in my chest.  It took me a minute to remember she was gone. 

What I wouldn't give to find it was all my imagination - just a dream....

I've been so thankful lately because Matt has been helping me with some of the footwork for Rachel's Race.  Last year was a different story and it was hard for many reasons.  But this year, I feel like we're a team which is so awesome.  It's been a long journey for us.  At first I thought I was just relieved to have things be getting done without me needing to get a sitter (I'm used to doing everything myself so it feels like such a lifted weight) - but I realized after I went to the bank the other day and cried for an hour after I left that this is SO emotional for me.  Having to stand in front of person after person and tell them about my dead daughter and a race we're putting on in her memory is just too much.  And if every donation we got required that kind of energy and time out of me emotionally.... I wouldn't be able to do it.  It just feels too real.

I walked around my house to check out my flowers, hoping it would uplift my spirit.... The forget-me-nots that bloomed so beautifully last year (that I didn't remember planting) I went to check on and they are barely coming up.  My daffodils didn't bloom at all.  The tulips I planted for Rachel are hardly coming up.  I got more and more sad as I looked around.  Matt noticed from the window and came out and held my hand and walked around with me and listened to me complain about how upset I was that these flowers were failing me.  But the one place that the tulips came up, turned out to be right in front of Rachel's bench. 
♥ One for each of our children ♥

I remember when Donna gave us the money to buy that bench for Rachel's grave because it was killing me that she didn't have a stone yet - and for months this was her stone... And ultimately, the feet on this bench is what made the grass on her grave come up in the shape of a heart.... She is strangely leaving her footprints everywhere.

A friend of mine is pregnant with her 2nd boy - which I think is awesome and so does she, but of course a lot of people assume that everyone wants a girl and a boy so some act as if she should be upset that it's not a girl. (they are wrong, brothers rock, but that's a different topic) As they were talking, I decided to give my two cents and said "My girls never bring me flowers" and then I CORRECTED MYSELF (totally mad at myself for this one) and said "Well, my one girl (meaning Desirae) never does, but my boys do all the time." 

But today, I'm wondering if I was right in the wrong way...  It does seem as though one of my girl's brings me flowers.  I told you she was precious.

Tonight at our family devotions, Matt was reading John 16.  I found myself feeling very disappointed because for the first time, I felt like a promise in the bible didn't count for me.  It says:

John 16:20-22

20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

I guess it makes sense if I just think about my alive babies.... but how can He compare his dying and us seeing him again to the pain of childbirth being forgotten as soon as you hold you baby and then let babies die in their mother's arms?  It's like my 'hour' never ended.... and excuse me while I sound like a child, but it isn't fair.  

I could picture myself laying there waiting for them to take her from my womb... I lifted my neck as far as the medicine would allow and gazed at the space just above the drape between me and her.  I couldn't wait to lay my eyes on this precious baby I had grown to love so much.  They lifted her over, still covered in vernix and my blood and my heart sank.  I knew I probably didn't have long.   Sure, I forgot the pain.  I went numb. . And I didn't care an ounce about the pain of my surgery until 6 days later on the night I buried my girl in the cold ground. 

And all at once, I felt the results of pushing through that physical pain to make the most of the days she was above the earth's surface with me.  Physically I hurt, but emotionally and mentally, I felt a piece of hell on earth. 

God, I miss her.

And so I weep, I lament, I wonder, I worry, I cry, I miss her like crazy and love her with the fiercest love.  But what about that part where after childbirth the anguish goes away?  Why not for me? 

Yet as I write this, I know the focus in that passage is supposed to be that when I see Him again in heaven...  when I see her again...  I WILL rejoice and no one will be able to take that from me.

Nothing.  Nobody.  At all.

My hour may be longer than that of others, but it's just an hour.

Yeah, so this post was all over the place.... and I cried a lot more than I thought I would when I sat down... and I suppose that's not a bad thing.

Unfortunately for me, nothing is different than when I started writing, except my make up is messed up.  But as much as some think I'm a mess because I still blab about my pain and my loss, I can honestly say for me, it's much scarier when I'm not sharing it.

So I'll keep plugging away... or should I say typing away... until my hour finally comes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For a Thousand Years

This song reminds me of when I was pregnant with my sweet girl... it was easier to be brave for her than it is for myself.  I wish I could go back... just one more day with her....Heaven feels so far away.

In parts of this song, I find myself drifting between what feels like my words to Rachel and what feels like God's words to me.

Love you sweet girl.  Yesterday, today, tomorrow.... for a thousand years....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rachel's Mail

Stopped at the post office today to check Rachel's PO Box...  Des came running out very excited with a package in her hands...  "The key they put in our box to open the package box was number 43!" she said...  And there was a beautiful package from April...  I looked and smiled when I saw Canada on the return address.  Rachel is loved across the world.  It's crazy.  Thanks April ♥ 

Yesterday Rachel got a beautiful card from Lisa too.... and today a message from a friend Sarah, who saw the rainbow I knew must have been 'somewhere'.  I cried at all of these gifts.  To see her name, to read words written from another's heart to her, to know I'm not the only one who thinks about her throughout the course of my day - and they bless me by letting me in on it.  They could just think of her, dismiss it or only be concerned with how it feels for them and just keep going, but they remember me in those moments and take time to tell me....I am so thankful....and very emotional....

I just miss her.  Thank you for loving her with me and loving me along the way.

I need it.

Rain and Sunsets

I had a really rough afternoon.  I cried a lot. I had something happen today that just left me really tired of having a dead baby.  I mean *really* tired. 

I was driving to work, puffy faced and still crying when, out of nowhere, it started raining.  The funny part is that the skies were still blue.  Again, my camera failed me, but if you look close, you can see the rain all over the windshield.  And it occurred to me that yes, there was rain right in front of me, but up ahead somewhere, blue skies... and more than that, I knew that even though I couldn't see it - there must have been a rainbow somewhere.  You just can't have this much rain and sun at the same time and NOT have a rainbow....  somewhere.

I was almost to work, which is right by where we have Rachel's Race, when I looked over and saw the field we meet in for the race.  My first thought was "I'm so sick of having a dead baby" and then I saw a girl standing on the corner, wearing a shirt from last year's race. *Timing is everything!*  I saw Rachel's little hands on the front and just knew.... there's more to it than a dead baby.

I went to work and when I got out, I was again crying.  I decided to head over to the cemetery since Rachel is buried just minutes from my work.  As I pulled into the cemetery, I saw the most beautiful sunset. 
Rachel's grave is straight ahead on the other side of this field.

I pulled around and the colors in the sky just kept getting more stunning.  It's like God was using the beauty in the sky to distract me from the ugliness of my day.  Most of the time when I go there after work hours, I see this little old man get out of his car a few rows behind Rachel.  I realized tonight that this man must go visit his (wife?) every day...  cemeteries hold such sorrow... such loyalty... such dedication...  and tonight... such beauty.

I got out and picked up a few of the pedals from her tulips that had fallen.... probably from the rain we had earlier this week.  The fragrance of her flowers and the flowers on the trees near by, mixed with the pretty sky had me in awe....  I took in a few deep breaths and got in the van to head home, knowing Asa would need to eat soon.  When I got in the van, the lyrics on the radio said "you'll be in my dreams tonight" -  I called Matt and immediately was bawling again.  As I drove out of the cemetery, I was so amazed at the scenery in the distance, I pulled over to take another picture - tears still streaming down my face.

What you can't see in these pictures, other than how rich the colors actually are, is the fact that in the distance there was the outline of mountains.  I have never noticed this or seen a sunset like this in all my days and nights visiting Rachel.  I got out to take this picture and said out loud "God, you have the most beautiful color pallet" 

And I truly felt like He was thinking of me... little old me.... when He drew this in the sky tonight. 

Maybe I'm just being self-centered though... I'm sure there were many other people who needed to see this tonight.  Or maybe He just loves me that much....  who knows.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Appointment

My appointment went well, I like the doctor, he seems to have a clue.  Now I'm waiting on blood work to come back and to have an ultrasound on my knees.  I think this guy will get to the bottom of this. He seems to be leading towards either Celiac Disease or Psoriatic Arthritis (an autoimmune disorder that apparently attacks the joints too - and I have psoriasis, so this makes sense...and these were both things that in my research seemed to be like my symptoms) we'll see.....Sadly, if I get treatment for this, I'll have to stop nursing... and then there is the complication of what would happen if I became pregnant again while on it.  I'm not sure I'm ready for this type of concern.   Pain stinks, but physical pain is a lot easier to bear than emotional pain - and losing another baby is NOT an option for me - especially because of a decision I made.

Since I have been told that I need to 'look at why I keep having kids' (as if I've done something wrong welcoming my children into this world) I will just say this for those of you who think I'm nuts for even considering another baby because you think I have enough - and I'm guessing most of you reading this don't think that, but just in case there is anyone reading who think they get a vote on my baby making... 

I believe wholeheartedly that children are a gift from God.  I believe that when our family is complete, He will let us know.  And I don't believe it is yet.  If that makes me crazy, well then, I guess I'm crazy.  (but please don't insinuate that it's unhealthy, it's biblical) The good news is that the 'crazier' I get, the easier it is to handle all these kids! :o)  So I guess that works out well.  Will I have 20 kids?  Hmmm....  doubt it, but if God wants me to, I will.  And if I do, I can't wait to see what Thanksgivings are like in our house 20 years from now!  What a blessing.  And on the flip side of this, if God chooses to not give us any more children, I trust him on that too.  What I do know is that my husband, who at one time was content with 2 kids, has already told me names he likes for future children.... and the other day at the dinner table, Desirae was telling me we still had a spot for "Hope".  I asked what she meant and she said "You know, our next girl." 

And so I have to just admit it, I'm not ready to make any decisions that make getting pregnant dangerous.  And yet, I don't know how to reconcile my convictions and desires with my pain and health concerns.  I'm going to need a lot of prayer on this one. 

I was talking to my sister on the way home and as we were talking about this,  I got really emotional.  Just as I started crying, this car passed - unfortunately my phone apparently takes really crappy pictures, but if you look, it's a dealer plate (they were on a test drive) and license plate is number "43" - I had to hang up so I could take this picture because I'm telling you, it gets pretty bizarre around here.... 

I have a little girl in my future...  I'm hoping another one on earth and really feel like God has been reassuring me of that, but if not... she's in heaven waiting for me.  I can't wait to hold her - she'll be whole and I'll be pain free. 

My New Diagnosis

So here is the short version - hind sight being 20/20...

A couple of months before I got pregnant with Rachel, I was extremely sick with severe digestion issues... and at 30 years old was debating purchasing depends.  sorry if that's too much info.  And I had already had 2 colonoscopies (my uncle died young from colon cancer) and an endoscopy.

My diagnosis: Irritable Bowel Syndrome - also known as a trash can diagnosis for the people they can't figure out. (in my opinion)

I got pregnant with Rachel and then Asa and haven't had any issues.

So then, a couple months after I had Asa, I decided I wanted to be able to run in Rachel's Race this year and started jogging on the treadmill at the gym.  5 days into it, I fractured my knee.  I've been disabled ever since.

So then after 2 months, I went to the bone doctor and told him my other knee was KILLING me.  He did an x-ray of both knees, the first one still wasn't healed and the other one showed nothing, but since I was in so much pain, he assumed I must have broken that one too and just didn't notice it because my right knee was so bad.

My new diagnosis: 2 broken knees and a little arthritis.

I was still in a ton of pain so I had my primary care do all sorts of blood work.  (yes, including Lyme) and they also ran a bone density test.  After tons of tests...

My new diagnosis:  Low vitamin D.  They said that it can be very painful so just take a supplement.  They also said in my arthritis panel, I had a positive, but it "wasn't enough to worry about".

2 months later, I'm in so much pain that I called them in tears.  I told her about 10 times that I think I have an autoimmune disorder.  She said they would put me on a med for my 'arthritis' - but of course, none of them are safe while nursing.  I said I would stop nursing if they were certain it would help me, but that I didn't want to guess at my diagnosis and stop nursing my baby if it wasn't going to work because it's the wrong diagnosis.  She said defensively "it's not a guess, you have arthritis, you tested positive".  But she offered to send me to a Rhuemetologist. 

A few days later, my sister (who has suffered from all these same things for years, but to a much greater extent) called and said she tested positive for a test called ANA. She said that I should ask them to test me because it tells if you have an autoimmune disorder - which is what I had been telling them I thought I had. 

So I call and they look at my chart and say "that is what we tested you for in Feb that you tested positive for"

Are you freakin' kidding me???  I don't know why these people get paid at all, never mind so much.  Apparently the ANA test is part of the arthritis screen so they just looked, saw a positive, and assumed it was arthritis.  ???

The new diagnosis:  And autoimmune disorder.  SURPRISE!  wow.  It wouldn't be so bad if they made you diagnose yourself if they would as least listen when you do!

So anyway, I'm on my way to the Rhuemetologist in a half hour.  And I am nervous.  For the first time in my life, I understand why my sister pushes these things off.  At least I think I do, maybe I'm different and she's just a procrastinator :o) -  but it dawned on me yesterday that as much as I hate not knowing what is going on with me and why I'm in so much pain.  I'm more afraid of a diagnosis.

I hate diagnosis's. Especially if they are ones that don't go away. 

The day I got Rachel's diagnosis was a life changing moment.  Never to be the same. 

My uncle Dale's diagnosis... changed my entire family's lives forever.

My sister's diagnosis....years of pain and struggle.

Friends and relatives... cancer, fatal birth defects, heart problems..... never. the. same.

I'm so sick of diagnosis days.  But they aren't going anywhere this side of heaven.  Please pray that the doctors will get to the bottom of this and that I get the proper treatment - and a treatment I'm comfortable with because the things I see other people have to use in order to feel just 'okay', scare the crap out of me.  And please continue to pray for my sister Meagan.

I'll keep you posted......

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Yesterday Went...

Yesterday was the day we scheduled for Rachel's Playground clean up.  The weather was calling for rain all week and we were wondering if we'd have to cancel.  I asked people to pray that the rain would hold off and I boldly stated that I was praying and refusing to believe the weather was going to stop us....  And wow.  I must admit, I was blown away by the blue skies!  I could hardly believe it wasn't even a bit overcast.  It was over 80 degrees, we all got sunburns and we got a ton of work done!  This morning I woke up to wet grounds and thanked God that He answered our prayers for yesterday.  It's supposed to rain for the most of the next two weeks!

It's times like these when I can't understand how I could ever doubt that I serve a God who is aware of the details in my life and cares for me.  I was so discouraged the day before.  Leading up to this day, I had encountered one issue after another and I was feeling completely unprepared and not very supported.  I had no idea how many people were coming, and to be honest, I was (and still am) disappointed that there weren't more people from our church there.  I'm so thankful for the people - both friends and people I had never met - who came out and helped.  I'm grateful for the heart they have for Rachel and that they haven't forgotten why the playground is there.

At the beginning of the day, I was overwhelmed with how many kids were there.  We ended up with a couple of the girls who came to help offering to sit with the kids and they kept them busy with balls and sidewalk chalk.  After we sealed the fence, benches, artwork and swings, we all started moving the new ground cover in.  At this point most of the adults who came had to leave - which brought about the biggest blessing of the day....the kids started shoveling it into the wheel barrel.  I couldn't believe how hard these little guys were working to care for the playground that they get to enjoy.  They might not understand that they enjoy it at the expense of my great loss, but they took pride in it - and that's more than I can say for a lot of adults who benefit from it.

When we built her playground last year, there was a rainbow at the end of the day.  With the expected rain, I thought for sure we'd see one...but you all were praying so hard, there was no rain to be found...however, Nikki bought a cupcake rainbow that we all enjoyed after lunch :o) 

There is still more to be done - the actual ark wood didn't get sealed - so I'll plan another day soon if you're able to come out....I'll keep you posted on the day...

My friend Kim (the nurse who helped deliver Rachel and Asa) came down from Maine to help.  At one point she said "The playground's beautiful - it's a lot bigger than it looks in the pictures."  I responded, "I know pictures are deceiving" and it sounded a whole lot like the conversation her & I had about Rachel, so I said "Kind of like Rachel".  We both smiled.  Both Rachel and her playground are bigger, more beautiful and mean more to me than any photo could ever show....and it's so nice to be with people who know....

I had one point when I cried.  I took a look from a distance and I was standing alone.  My shoulders sort of fell and all I could say was "I don't want this playground.  I want her."  It is an amazing playground.  I never expected it to remain so painful for me though.  It's very difficult to have my heart out there and little support from people who let their kids disrespect it.  I've been called 'unwelcoming' for wanting to have rules - like don't walk on the slide - but I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions.  (and what kid likes rules?  It's easier to just let them do what they want)

If they were the ones who spent days at a time maintaining it, then I'd say they should get a vote - but funny....none of them came to help - and I bet you'll never see them pulling a weed either.  They leave that stuff for me, the unwelcoming one.  And maybe expecting people to take pride in it, if nothing else but for the sake of it being a memorial, was expecting too much....I've been accused of doing that too...expecting too much.  Some days I wish I built it in my backyard (if I had one) and they could all still be looking at a spot of tick infested grass....because you know me...selfish Stacy.

So there's some pent up feelings for ya... sorry, this was not supposed to be a negative post....

By the time the day was over, I was exhausted and in a lot of pain (I'll update you on that soon), but I felt very God and by the people He has blessed me to know.  I learned another lesson in trusting God for the outcome and was very blessed by his provision.  And I learned, yet again, that some people might not be for me and Rachel - but man oh man , there are SO many who are.  And I have never had this many true friends in all my life.  I'm very very thankful for that.  And I love you all ♥

I uploaded pics for you - and then my friend Amanda sent me some she took so I uploaded the ones I wanted of those.  And I feel like I could cry...ok I am crying... telling you that when I went to the album, there guessed it, 43 of them.  I don't know if it's God?  Rachel?  But I do know it happens WAY too much to be a coincidence.  And I know it always happens when I need it most.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who came out to help.  You have no idea what it means to me and I am so grateful for your love.

P.S.  I just went back to edit the spacing I noticed was off after I posted this and saw that I posted it at 4:33 :o)

Friday, April 20, 2012

"I Love Fridays"

I woke up this morning, Asa snuggling his chubby warm cheek on mine, to the sound of the kids giggling in the kitchen and Matt saying "Mmmmm, that's a yummy orange."  I searched my mind for what day of the week it was and tried to recall what I had to do today...  nothing.  No homeschool, no commitments or appointments, no work tonight....just me and my family...and time with my girl.  The sun was shining and as I stretched, I thought to myself "I love Fridays."

Did I really say that?

In that moment I sensed that I must be healing...even if it still hurts.  It's almost as if I forget how bad it hurt when I first had to let go of her.  As if it was someone else.  I guess technically, it was. 

Every Friday, my friend Amanda goes with her family to visit my girl, too.  I actually didn't even know who she was the first time I found a gift from her there.  And for months I had no idea that she regularly visited Rachel.  I've actually been very blessed to find out that there are a few people who do....Donna goes on Saturdays, Peggy (who I've also never met...yet!) goes regularly, Ellen walks there often and helps tend to her things, and you all know Naomi shovels for me all winter (even after she just had a baby girl! Who, by the way I got to hold this week ♥)  Jill has been dropping by a lot and I know that there are probably more that I am not aware of.

And so although I stand there alone often, it feels a little less lonely.  I know there are people who care, who think of her - and me - and who see all the work I put into loving her there.  It's a blessing.

Today I got there when Amanda and her kids were there.  I never thought this is what I would be spending my time doing, but we hung out for close to 2 hours.  The kids ran around and kicked a ball around in the field while Amanda and I got a chance for some 'girl time' at my girl's grave.  At one point I looked around and our 9 kids were scattered everywhere and said "look at all our kids!" - I just felt so blessed.  Her son and Isaiah just kept putting dandelions on Rachel's grave - and they all loved Asa to pieces. 

The tulips I planted when I was 9 months pregnant with Asa have fully bloomed and the trees all around are covered in pretty flowers... pink & white everywhere...  the grass is green and new life surrounds us there.  And I have yet to lose Hope.

So while I never thought my life would ever involve so much time at a cemetery, I'm able to really see how rich my life is because of the little girl buried there...  I have never felt so loved in all my life...  I have never known God so intimately or how much He loves me.... I never truly understood what a blessing children are.... I never knew how much I was capable of...

I never expected to love Fridays.... but I think I do.

Thank You Jesus for your healing touch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This Saturday I have organized a maintenance day for Rachel's Playground.  We need to put the second coat of sealant on the entire structure and the fence (should have happened last year!) and spread some more ground cover. 
The forecast is calling for rain in the afternoon, which means time is not our friend and we will need to work very quickly to get it done.  I believe it can happen (yes, I've been accused of being an over-achiever before!) but if you aren't planning on coming and say, your plans got ruined cause of the rain... could you please come by and help?  The more people we have, the more likely it is we'll get what we need accomplished in half a day!  I mean, we did build the entire ark in 3 days - and the storm right in the middle didn't slow us down... but it did provide a pretty rainbow! :o)  We can do this!

So come out and help us get Rachel's Playground ready for another year of safe fun!!  Please!?
If due to weather we need to reschedule, I will post it here so everyone knows.
If you have a wheel barrel and/or rake, can you bring it?

Thank you SO much!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beauty in Weeds

Two years ago today, while at The Weekend to Remember conference in Portland, Maine, I found out I was pregnant with our 5th sweet Rachel Alice.

And tonight, we were out putting down some grass seed at dusk because that's the only time we can do anything with this many kids :o) - and 'somehow', I noticed this under my hosta plant leaves:

I know it's really just a weed.... but then again, some say Rachel was just a baby with anencephaly.

Yet still, I can't help but see the beauty hidden beneath what lies on the surface.  And I know that not everybody would look so deep.  But if you're paying close enough attention, there is beauty in 'weeds' everywhere.

Somehow I know that I'm not the one missing out.

God is so so good to me.  But oh, how I miss her.

I Nominate....

I just got the sweetest email from my friend Karla, who is one of the ladies helping me with Rachel's Race this year, telling me that she nominated me for an award. It says to "nominate a lady who undertakes acts of selflessness and generosity that -- in small and large ways -- change the world."  I was already in tears when I read that - regardless of whether or not I could even win - because to see that someone thinks this of me is humbling and such an honor.  But, if I was chosen as winner, my "cause" (Baby Rachel's Legacy) would get $10,000!  That would be UNREAL.  I could almost feel how amazing it would feel to give that away in Rachel's memory....

So, I just clicked the link  she sent me to see what they ask and when I got to the end, where they ask you to put a picture of the nominee if you have one, I wanted to put one of then I thought "Hey, I'll nominate Rachel... she changes the world" and then I wondered (and I'm talking it was a real part of my thought process)  if you have to be alive to win.... I suppose so, huh? 

It's those moments when I realize how harsh my reality is. 

I wouldn't have a shot at winning if I was up against my girl anyway....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life or Death?

I stopped at my bank today to talk to them about sponsoring Rachel's race again this year.  I introduced myself and said "I'm Rachel's Mother."  She knew who "Rachel" was....

I walked out to my car with the biggest smile and a skip in my step - people know who she is.

And as soon as I shut the van door, I started crying - they only know because she's dead.

There have been times when Desirae has thought we are 'famous'.  There are so many times (hundreds) that we're out and people approach us and tell us they read my blog or saw us in the paper....and I won't lie, I love it.  I LOVE knowing that she has touched so many people.  I'm so proud that her life hasn't gone unnoticed.

But some days I can't help but feel the underlying fact... It wouldn't have happened had she lived.  And I can't help but question if people were really as touched by her life as they were by her death?  Because as much as I tried to make the focus on the 43 minutes her heart beat outside my womb, It's only the 44th minute that makes us even count the first 43 of them.

On the way to the cemetery I heard an advertisement for a phone...the girl's life they were talking about was named Rachel.  In the last part it said  "Rachel's life just got better and that's something that makes her entire family happy."

And as I turned into the cemetery, I knew it was only because she died that she is better and that God has accomplished so much through her.  It's a high price for me, but as her mama....I am happy for her.  And any good mother would sacrifice whatever necessary for her children - even after they are dead. 

But I have to admit as I pulled in my driveway, still in tears, all I could think was "I'm so tired of having a dead baby"  It feels like a never ending road to heaven. So, as I start my fundraising for this year's race and find myself stuck between grief and joy as I continue to help my baby leave her legacy, I will hold my head high and know that yes, they remember her because she died... but she couldn't have died if she had never lived.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Got What I Wanted

There's a little girl at homeschool gym class that makes me smile... she's so cute and seems to be about the same age as Rachel should be... I don't ask her age cause I don't know if I could handle knowing 'for sure' that they are the same age. 

I watch her toddle around and I see her cute little teeth... and today she looked at me and gave me a giggle and a big 'hi'.... I thought to myself how much I'm missing - and then looked at her shirt... it had wings on the back and said "little angel" on the front.

Just today I saw a facebook message from a new blog reader that referred to Rachel as my 'little angel' and then there it was in black and white on a girl just her age.  Why?

I starred into my bowl of salad tonight after work as I thought about my girl... I miss her so much.  Without really thinking I blurted out "Rachel was the only time I got what I wanted"

Matt looked at me confused.  I had never really thought about it much or talked to him about it, although we both already know...  with Desirae, while I was pregnant, I wanted a boy.  Then with Isaiah, since I already had a girl I wanted another one...  With Sam, Isaiah had COMPLETELY scared me into thinking I couldn't handle another boy!! (they are not the same so it's been fine, but I thought I would lose my mind with two of them running around!)  I actually cried when I found out Sam was a boy (shame on me).  With Asa, because I had just lost my girl, I really wanted another one.  All four of my children here are the opposite of what I had asked for while pregnant.  But with Rachel....I wanted a girl, I asked for a girl,  I got a girl... but I didn't get to keep her.  That was the first thing I said after we were given her diagnosis.  The doctor handed me a box of tissues and walked out and as the door shut behind her I screamed "No, it's a girl...Not my girl, Matt!"

I wanted her so bad.  5 minutes was all I had with my girl before I knew she wouldn't stay.

I know nobody ever said life was fair.... but I have to say it... it just doesn't seem fair.

I've thought before how bad I would have felt had she been a boy, knowing how much I didn't want a boy... but I can't help but wonder why God would give me the desire of my heart, only to take her away.  And as much as I try to stay in the moment and love these sweet children with all that I am... I can't help but wonder if He ever will give me another girl. I think of the future (especially with how bad I'm doing physically right now) and I wonder if it will ever be possible... and if I ever am able to have another baby, if I will have another boy - or will he give me a girl I can keep?? Or another girl I have to let go??  And I wish I didn't care so much.  I know the only thing that really matters is that they are alive and with me.  I remember that every single time I'm blessed to hold my sweet baby Asa,  even at 3am right after I have just fallen back to sleep. I literally thank God for every breath he takes.  And I know that nobody will ever replace Rachel - not Asa, and not another girl. 

As I went through the list of our babies, explaining to Matt how I had desired the opposite of what I got each time, my heart wants to be satisfied with the fact that I got what I wanted in Rachel.  For her, I want to say "I got my girl and she is enough" - I don't ever want to say that she doesn't count... or that she isn't good enough.  Because she does count and she is good enough. But I look around at my walls...she's everywhere....except here.

It's hard to consider this 'getting what I wanted' - even though I did and will be forever grateful for the 43 minutes that I had with my warm baby in her pink blanket.  But I'd give anything to hear her babbling from her room tomorrow morning. When I open my eyes to the sound of the kids playing and that one voice is still missing, my heart notices... and aches for her.  Every minute of every day I miss her.  My girl.  My sweet precious girl.

Sweet Rachel, you were exactly what I wanted and more than I hoped for.  You were perfect... the closest to heaven I've ever been.  I love you, my girl.  I wanted you, I got you. I will hold you forever in my heart until I can again hold you in my arms. ♥

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Side of The Dance

If you haven't seen the movie Courageous yet and it matters to you, you may want to watch it first cause I'm about to give away some of it...

Another mom from gym class let me borrow her copy of the movie and warned me ahead of time that a couple in it loses their daughter... so knowing it was coming, I was able to figure out which couple it would be before it happened....

One of the dads was a very detached father and in one of the scenes, the daughter turns up the car radio and begs her Daddy to dance with her in the parking lot.  He looked around and said there were too many people, but that he'd watch her dance... and so she did.  She put her hands up and pretended to be slow dancing with him.

After she died, they show a scene where the mom & dad are in their room one night and he's crying and says "I should have danced with her.  Why didn't I dance with her?"  

I knew that question would be in the movie somewhere after seeing the first scene when he refused to dance - I even said the line in my head right before he said it in the movie, I knew it was coming - but the next scene in relation to this, I wasn't expecting....

He drove back to that parking lot and played that same song.  He got out of the car, and held his hands up and danced as if he was dancing with her.  And then he said the words that made me think of Rachel and be both glad and sad.... he said, "Please God, can you let her know I did my side of the dance?"

I am so thankful that I chose to dance with my girl while she was here.  She certainly had her own rhythm, but I did my best to keep in step... to move to the music of her beautiful twirl her around and show her off.... and just like every other love song ever made, when you're with the one you love it makes you smile and when you lose the one you love, it makes you cry.... but I'm so glad I didn't miss the dance.  I'm so thankful I didn't sit it out.  It's a dance I can't get back.

And so in that way, I heard that line and was grateful.

But then on the flip side, I couldn't help but realize... and I'm not sure I ever thought of this like this before... but just as he stood there dancing alone, desperate for his little girl to know, I wondered if Rachel knew.  I have often wondered what she is aware of since she has been in heaven, but rarely have I questioned what she knew when we were together.  I really believed back then that she felt my love.  She responded to me, she responded to certain foods, she danced like a ballerina night and day.... I sensed her spirit with me as much as I could sense it was gone before we knew she had died.

But for the first time in a long time, I sat there in tears wondering if she knew how I danced for her... Did she know how hard I fought for her?  How I refused to let people talk of her like she was a lost cause?  Did she know how much I love her?   That I would do anything for another moment with her in our love song?  Could she tell I was dancing in the rain for her? 

Please God, if she doesn't know, can You tell her I did my side of the dance? 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tears In A Bottle

Things have been extremely difficult around here lately.  Please pray for our family.

I came across this solar light in a bottle Thursday night and knew it was perfect... a reminder that I am never alone in this... no matter how alone I feel.  I attached the words of Psalm 56:8 to it.  And as I stood on my girl's grave on "Good Friday" (Thank you to whoever left her that beautiful flag!), the day felt anything but 'good'.  And I know Mary must have felt deep pain as she watched her precious, innocent child die too.

But it was only Friday... Sunday brings a different story.

There is hope in Jesus.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

16 Months Without My Christmas Baby

Today Rachel would be 16 months old.  I can hardly believe it.

This is one of my all time favorite ages... and I hate that I'm missing it.  Today I am grieving the loss of my dreams for my little girl.  I'm grieving things like tea time, cute teeth, playing with dolls.... I'm grieving not hearing her say "No, my do it myself!" and watching her toddle around in little dresses.

I've been watching Asa grow way too fast now for 4.5 months and I realized yesterday that part of the reason I want him to stay small is because the bigger he gets, the more I see how much I am missing with Rachel.  In my mind, she is still a little baby - and always will be - because that is how I knew her.  It's not until I see another baby who is her 'age' that I think of the possibility of her being that big.  And with each new thing that Asa does, it's impossible to not think about.

I hung the kids' new pictures on the wall last night and noticed that Asa and Rachel look a lot alike... more than I knew - and then I saw a red tint in his hair in the sunlight and thought "I bet she would have had red hair."  I just want to know these things about her.  I want to know who she would be, how she would sound, what she would do.  What she would look like.  I want to update her photo on the wall. I want more memories. 

I brought the new daisy solar lights that my mom sent to her down to her grave today.  That's the 4th time I've been there since Friday.  I miss her a lot lately.

It was a little bizarre today - I went to bring Asa for his shots and a girl in the waiting room randomly told me she is pregnant and had JUST found out right then.  And then she blurted out "The morning after pill didn't work."

Without thinking, I replied "That's good!" and although she didn't want to admit it, I think she is happy it didn't too.  I asked her a little about herself and was having trouble understanding why she didn't want a baby.  She is married, they both have good jobs, they live rent free, they already have another child... everything seems good - she told me everything is great.  Just bad timing.  Then she went on to tell me exactly 'how bad' the timing was.... She's due on December 22 and does not want a Christmas baby.  She told me of all the reasons she absolutely DOES NOT want a baby in December.  House taxes are due, Christmas, her husbands birthday... it's a bad month for a baby to be born.

I nodded, because I totally get that.  I told her how I felt that same way before.  And then I told her about a little girl named Rachel Alice - who was due on Christmas day.  I told her I hated the idea of having a baby in December until I found out she would die in December too. I told her today she would be 16 months old and how much I miss my Christmas baby.  I showed her pictures and encouraged her that her baby is a blessing and the timing will be just right.

As I walked out, I looked back and smiled and told her 'congratulations'.  She thanked me, unaware that I was on my way to the cemetery to visit a stone with my Christmas baby's name on it.

I hope tonight she's remembering our talk and celebrating the new life inside her.  I hope she gets to keep her 'badly timed' baby - but I must confess, I was a little jealous.

Just hand them a card...

I saw these cards on the Grief Watch site...  I wish I would have purchased these months ago!  They make them so you can hand them to someone who is hurting you unintentionally... sounds cheesy, but I bet it would have gotten the point across!   I'm blessed to say I have people in my life that do all these things and haven't given up on me ♥  And for the rest, I might just start handing these out!  They should add something like "Don't make this about you" too - that would be good.
You're Not Helping Cards
You're Not Helping Cards

Monday, April 2, 2012

Need to Cry

I woke up this morning to the sound of my kids playing around me.  I got up and had breakfast and sat to have a cup of coffee.  The song "I can only imagine" came on and before I knew it I was crying.  All I could do was wonder about her....

Surrounded by Your glory, what her heart feel?
Does she dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still?
Does she stand in Your presence or to her knees does she fall?
Does she sing hallelujah, is she able to speak at all?
I can only imagine....

I wondered about how many times my mom cried and us kids were oblivious to it...I always thought she never cried.  But today, my house was full... my kids, my husband...even my sister was here and God was the only one who knew I was in pain in my kitchen, my face soaked with tears.  And that's a regular thing around here.  Not just at night when everyone else is asleep, but during busy times in the day....I feel invisible....  this loss is so lonely some times.

Today we watched a bunch of people get baptized at church.  It's our Palm Sunday tradition to have baptisms.  I usually get really emotional watching people take this step in their faith, but today I felt detached. 

I went to the cemetery on Friday, but got there late and I was alone and I got freaked out in the dark so I just left.  I went back after work yesterday and planned to have a good cry, but I was on the phone with my friend Harlee having a light hearted conversation about our future dreams and so I continued talking and just got out and made sure everything was in order and then left.  Today, I couldn't get there quick enough....I just wanted to sit and cry....

They gave us palm leaves on the way out of church and a friend helped me make it into a cross for my girl.  We went last year and left one too, but we just tied it into a bow and stuck it in the ground - and unfortunately, I'm getting better at grave decorating....

I brought a few new decorations to put up for this special week leading up to Easter when Jesus died and rose again...

And just as I finally had time to cry, Matt started chatting it up with a guy walking by and we had company (yes, at her grave...sigh) until Asa started crying and I ended up in the van nursing him while Matt & the kids kicked a ball's very obvious that we aren't dealing with the same grief....again, so lonely.

My dad & step mom sent me some gift cards to Chili's as a 'congratulations' for my record being annulled (which was so thoughtful) so we used it today and got lunch.  We ordered the same thing we did on Sam's birthday, but without the discount.  It honestly didn't surprise me when it came to this:
Although I wasn't too happy when I got home and looked at it and saw that the over charged us by $6 - but I'm guessing that God was loving me even in that cause I felt like she was there with us....

Later, I went out to Walmart to get a few things and decided I'd get the kids Easter basket stuff.  I planned to get them each a kite and a book.  I knew I wanted to get Rachel a book cause the others can use it, but didn't think it made sense to get a kite for her.  I started looking at the books and within just a couple minutes, I had found the perfect one for all of them, including Rachel...

I didn't even need to read it to know it was 'the one' after my last post about her hands, but each page goes through a place the mama and baby girl will go together - and one of them says 'flying on the tails of rainbows' and it's a rainbow colored kite. ♥  And the last page says they will go everywhere together forever. ♥

Just like me & my girl.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that this shopping trip came to $43 too.  Seriously.

I'm so thankful that God continues to speak to me in these details.  I cannot begin to explain how much I need it, even still.  Cause while the rest of the world is either beyond Rachel's death - or even worse, still making this all about themselves - I'm still a mother with a hole in my heart that aches every minute of every day.  An invisible, brokenhearted, misunderstood, lonely, hurting mama who just wants my baby back....and still needs to cry about it.