Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Healing Balm

I'm not sure if I've blogged about this or not, but we decided long before Eden was born that we would not be having visitors for a while after I gave birth.  Mostly, this was because we've done this enough times to know that the first couple of weeks, rest and bonding time is crucial for healing and milk supply - and also sets us up for how the next few MONTHS will go - long after everyone else goes home.  We've done this enough times to know that visiting can be so draining and we're smart enough to know that 6 kids at home to take care of is no small task and rest would be necessary if I was going to be able to take it on.  So, despite some backlash, we set a boundary that many didn't like, but most were good about respecting.  Thank you for that.  It was a great help to us.

After Eden's scare on the 26th, I got even more serious about protecting her from germs and the drives to the hospital and back constantly really wore me out.  So once we were home for good, I didn't want to leave.

It got to be February and I still hadn't decorated or shoveled Rachel's grave and it was wearing on me.  I called my friend Ellen who lives near Rachel's cemetery and asked her if she would go with me to clean it up because it was getting dark and I don't like being there at night alone.  She did and so we went and took care of it, star gazed a bit, talked a lot,  and then I went to her house for awhile after.

She has a grandson she takes care of who was born on Rachel's birthday, same day, same year.  Since they live near Rachel's spot, I see them walking there often and have seen her a few times over the last 5 years pushing him in a stroller near Rachel's grave.  I always look and think that's how big she would be...

Ellen introduced him to me again and he very quickly responded "I love you Mrs. Aube!" which was the best thing I had heard all day. ♥  And, well, he was absolutely in love with Eden... and so when he asked to hold her, even though the only other person to hold her had been my mom (because she spent a night with us at the hospital when Eden got sent back to Maine), I couldn't say no.

He's far from looking like Rachel would... being a boy and all :)  But I could just imagine her holding her little sister and how in love she would be with her.  He was very honored to know he got to hold her first...

There are so many things along this journey with my sweet Christmas baby Eden Joy that I don't think I could have handled if I had another Christmas girl any sooner.  The timing of her arrival is just right for all these amazing moments to be moments that heal my heart just a little more each time.  Emotion comes at times when nobody else would guess it's that complicated in my heart - it's been that way all along - except more often now, the complication helps soothe the parts of my heart that would suddenly sting before without having any way of relief... It's as if Eden brought with her a healing balm for every sting, every sore spot on my heart or mind, every scar left from wounds being reopened... and just having her with me applies that heavenly balm to the exact place I'll need it, just when I do.  The pain still exists, the wounds and scars still there... I still fall apart at times.  But if there was ever a time when I felt that God was able to use the things that I'm experiencing with another child of mine to relieve some of the pain of what I'm missing with Rachel - it is now.  It is Eden Joy.  It has never been so...  this.... so... Perfect.  But it is now and I'm so, so thankful.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Here's My Heart

I think you all know that I've always homeschooled my kids...  and I have mentioned briefly that this past September, I put my two oldest in a Christian school - not because I really wanted to, but more because I felt like I needed to for a few reasons.  I was hoping it would bring me relief in the pressure I feel, but I just don't think that's possible with a family my size and with the ages of our children at the moment.  About a month ago, I put Sam in public school because I have felt for a few years now that he has special needs of some sort and this year, with the new baby coming, I wasn't able to give him my all and thought the public school system would have the resources to figure out what Sam needs.

And although I know all of this needed to happen this year - and I will always do what I feel best for my kids, even if it hurts my pride - I hate it.

Our homeschool is called Undivided Hearts Academy... I named it with the verse from Psalm 86:11 in mind... Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name....  In reference to our homeschool, this meant to me that we homeschool to learn HIS ways and that by learning His ways, we learn to rely on Him - and by relying on Him, we find that he is always faithful and we remain in Him and fear Him - and the Bible says that the beginning of WISDOM is the fear of the Lord.  And I homeschooled my kids so they would become wise.  Not just book smart.

Also in the heart of that name for me. was the idea that we would not be divided.  We would be together... together physically, but also on the same page spiritually. And even Rachel was one with us because in Christ nothing - not even death - can separate us.

Every day since September I have questioned my decision.  Every day I have regretted at least once that I wasn't able to make the vision I had for my family a reality for them... for us... for God...

This past few weeks I have really been seeking God on this.  I've talked to other homeschool moms of large families on how they did it - and even tested the waters with the kids on the topic of returning to homeschool next year, but I have asked God a million times what I should do.  I just don't want to have any regrets... The pros and cons list seems obvious - but there is a part of me that envisions next year being home with just Eden and fool myself into thinking that the ability to get my house clean and feel more "put together" or whatever would somehow fulfill me.  I've bought into some of the lies that I've heard along the way... the way the world/society wants us to feel... we aren't capable of teaching our kids... we aren't enough... I can't do right by them... that I am selling them short...

I can't say I won't mess up a hundred times a day.  But I can't say I don't with them IN school either.  All I know is that when they are all here, my heart feels right.  And when they aren't, it doesn't. I know that the things they come home telling me - almost every single day - are things that make my heart swell with concern for theirs.  I know that the one hope I had was that if we all had some time apart, our relationships would be better, is totally opposite of what has happened.  But on the flip side of that, I know that God sees what I can't and that He uses EVERYTHING.  I just need to trust Him when I don't know all the answers.

So today, all of my kids were sick - except Eden so far, thank God - They picked up this horrible cold that comes with high fevers and upper respiratory problems.  I spent the day cleaning, disinfecting, trying to get them to eat, and rotating Tylenol and Ibuprofen all day.  But they were all here and we were undivided... and we had an awesome day...  we connected.

A few weeks ago, I went out shopping on a night I was missing Rachel really bad and totally overwhelmed with Matt's work schedule leaving me home alone with all the responsibilities for 70 hours that week.  I picked up two Yankee Candles that were on sale to satisfy my attempt at retail therapy.  On the way to the checkout, I stopped to look at this "You are my sunshine" sign I saw and I dropped the "Sun and Sand" one and it shattered everywhere.  Everyone looked... and there I was - the exhausted, lonely, grieving mom... out late at night buying discount candles because the distance I feel within my family since Matt's new job started and the kids started school 6 weeks after that is excruciating and it was less painful to just be alone.

I was in my bathroom cleaning today and I had lit the other candle... I don't often light candles because with boys, it's not safe, but I was knee deep in laundry and cleaning pee off the toilet so I was in there awhile.  Like every other day, my mind was going over all the pros and cons of homeschool... how I could do this without failing them... wondering where on earth my confidence went with all of this...  praying that if I go ahead and do what I feel I'm supposed to do, rather than what sounds easier, that I won't mess them up forever - and really just trying to figure out if it's God telling me this - or just me having a hard time with my kids growing up....

I finished up (my bathroom looks *amazing* right now!) and went to blow out the candle and noticed a heart dancing around.  I did a double take to be sure I wasn't seeing things... I went to grab my camera, assuming it would be gone when I got back, but it  wasn't.  Sam came in and said "Hey look, there's a heart!" - we watched it together in awe - a moment I would have totally missed with him had he been in school today.

I don't know about you, but I've never seen a candle burn like that. This photo is not edited at all - except to add Rachel's name to it.  A heart?!  I watched it for quite awhile and as it separated and came back together, forming a perfect heart once more, I just wondered if I truly believe it when I say my God is faithful?  Do I believe it when I say He is more than enough?  Do I believe it when I say that Hope in Him anchors my soul?  Do I believe that if He calls me to something that He will equip me for it?  Do I believe He is still listening... still there... still working... even when I can't hear Him?  And do I trust Him enough to wait on Him?  Do I believe, that if God changes my role in the lives of my children, that even if it hurts, that He knows what He is doing?  Do I believe that He can cover all of my failures in their lives?

Today I read Proverbs 31 and was challenged by the verse that says she laughs at the days to come... in other words, she didn't fear the future. At all.  I want to be that part of the Proverbs 31 woman.  I want to pour myself into my home and the loves that fill it up so full and do everything I can to make this place a haven for them - to make sure they know that I love them and will take care of them...that they are safe with me... to show them how our Father in heaven loves us... without fear... and I don't think I can ever fully do that if I'm out of step with God's call on my life.

Now I need to just figure out if that call has changed... or if I'm just fighting it because somewhere deep down, I don't feel adequate for the position.  But I have this burning desire in my heart to be together - undivided - with God and with my children - here and in heaven.  I feel like I'm faking my way through this school bus mom role and my heart is just yearning for the old days... This doesn't feel like me.  It doesn't feel like what I was made to do....

I've been wandering, so uncertain of so much - and I just need more of God or I doubt anything will make sense any time soon.  I'm willing to do whatever He wants me to - I am just struggling to know what that is - in so many ways.

I stumbled upon this song tonight while looking for another song I heard on the radio.  I love Lauren Daigle... this song really got me - and of course the timing was perfect, as usual.

Here's my heart Lord, speak what is true.... drive out all the confusion and noise and speak clearly to me please... You're all I have - You're everything...  You are strong, sure, life, You endure. You are good. Always true.  You are light, breaking through...  You are more than enough... You are here, you are hope, love,grace...  Here's my heart, Lord... speak what is true...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sharing Her Blanket

I have a major case of writer's block... and usually only one hand to type with! lol.  Currently, I am sitting slightly reclined with Eden resting on my chest while I write this.

It's a beautiful thing to have "full hands"

I want to write so much - I want to tell you every detail of all the amazing things that have happened.  I want to share the special gifts I've gotten for Eden - and how Rachel was such a part of them all, even when people were unaware as they sent them.  And I want to write about every tear I have cried as I continue to miss Rachel in a very complicated and intimate way with Eden.  And I just don't have the time - or the words.

So, I'm just going to write about her blanket for now.

Her blanket, as most of you know, was an extremely hard part of my journey with Rachel.  I wanted the perfect one, but I wanted two of them so she could keep one and so could I.  I kept the one that I made that she was wrapped in at the hospital - and she is buried with an identical one that Des made.  And I have slept with this blanket every single night (except one when my sister & I stayed in Portland and I forgot it and I struggled to sleep without it) since she left me at the hospital.  I bring it everywhere with me.  It has been on every getaway, family vacation, and through every hard night with me.  It was also on my hospital bed for each of my 3 babies after her.

I often feel like a freak, 36 years old and sleeping with a blankie... I have thought a million times about how and when I will be able to stop sleeping with it.  I figured I can't use it forever...  and I wonder if I'm the only mom to do this for this amount of time.  I've tried to think of ways I could get out of the habit of sleeping with it that would be ok for my heart...

The last week of my pregnancy, I had brought it with me to one of the hospital trips and forgot to unpack it when I came home.  I remembered it, but for the first time ever, I was able to fall asleep without going to get it.

And then when Eden was born, I wrapped her in it... It's odd because picking out Eden's blanket was a huge, long process for me and really hard because I didn't know if she was a girl or boy.  And then all that, and I used Rachel's at her birth, without even thinking about it - it just came naturally.  I didn't even realize I did that until I saw the photos later.

After we got home, I would sleep with it when I slept without Eden, but that wasn't very often.  I just kept it above or beside us.  And then a little at a time, I found myself letting Eden use it.  It just so happens that Rachel's blanket is the perfect size and weight for a little girl....

This has been mostly healing for me.  But there are times, and they always catch me off guard, that just make me cry.  Today was one of them.

I pick Eden up and hold her tight and thank God through tears that she is here... I tell her I love her and then I'll hear myself say "I miss her so much."

And I do.  So much.  It never goes away.

I remember the day I bought the fabric for this blanket like it was yesterday.  I was in JoAnn's and it was PACKED.  I looked forever.  I think I was there at least 2 hours looking for fabric to make her a quilt.  I finally decided to use one that the top was already sewn into patches so that all I had to do was sew a back on it.  I stood in line with my huge belly, the rolls of fabric, and the hope sign that I put on my door the night before her birthday.

Waiting in a long line, with a huge belly, it was bound to happen....

People started asking me when I was due and what I was having.  It was only minutes before one guy made a comment about how horrible it was that I was due on Christmas and how he felt bad for the baby that her birthday would be at Christmas.  He said she wouldn't like it at all.  He said there was no worse time to have a baby - and everyone around me agreed.  Their useless chatter and laughter over their false idea of my daughter's fate had my head and heart hurting.  But they remained clueless.

It was one of the few times that I didn't tell someone about her diagnosis when I was asked so many questions.  I don't know why I stayed silent, but I think it was because I was on the verge of a total breakdown and I needed to buy that fabric.  I knew if I started talking, I might fall apart.  I knew if I told them, and fell apart, I would be in the spotlight while it happened.  I knew it was likely I'd leave before I made it thru the line with the fabric.  In my head, all I could think was "I'd give ANYTHING to be so "bothered" with a birthday at Christmas time...

And every once in a while, it hits me - I am.  I will be.

Eden is SO BEAUTIFUL.  She is just. so. pretty.  She is an amazingly easy and content baby.  She smiles ALL the time.  I'm blown away by the perfection God created in her.  She is awesome.  She also looks just like Rachel.  Of course, Rachel had the typical anencephaly type traits, like her eyes being puffed out, but when I look at Edens mouth, her lips, her cheeks... her hands and her feet... she looks *just* like Rachel.
keeping in mind that Eden is about 8-9 pounds heavier than Rachel was in this photo,
I still think the resemblance is amazing.
She has healed parts of my heart I didn't know existed.  She has been my sunshine during a very difficult and gray time in my life.  She has redefined the idea of a "rainbow baby for me".  Rather than her being the pretty thing that happened because the sun came out after the rain stopped, I see her as the very sunshine itself - creating rainbows for me through the rain and constantly putting me in a state of awe that both stops me in my tracks with its beauty - and makes me run for my camera!  LOL.  She is God's gift to me.  And I have no idea why He even sees me fit to care for such an amazing little human - 6 of them! - but I don't feel worthy of the blessing.

Over 5 years ago, I stood in line carrying the excruciating truth of the purpose for that fabric inside me. A month later, I buried my daughter in half of that fabric.  Every day since then, I've clung to the other half in her place.  Tonight, I am watching Rachel's little sister sleep wrapped in it.

What that combination does to me is hard to put into words.  All I know is that I am suddenly able to sleep without Rachel's blanket and it feels right to share it with Eden.  And I know I'm so very thankful to have another Christmas baby and I look forward to being able to celebrate each year we are given to spend with her - even at... no, *especially* at - Christmas time.