Everywhere

I feel like my brain, my life, my heart is kind of all over the place. Happy, sad, rejoicing, thankful, heartbroken and just dying to get the to beach one more time this summer. So… this post is kind of a reflection of that (minus the beach craving).

If I was honest, I would tell you I’ve wondered a lot (more than I’d like to admit) if she will be the only girl I ever have.

Is it alright to admit that thought makes my heart a little sad? Nothing will thrill me more than to bring home a healthy baby – boy or girl – but I feel like I missing something amazing by not getting to raise a girl with all the glitter and excitement that little girls tend to be surrounded by.

At the end of the day, I miss the daughter I had for a while.

If I was honest, I’d tell you something about Joseph becoming increasingly independent makes me starve for this little baby to be here even faster. To have a little one to nurture and hold a while. While Joseph loves to cuddle, these days he is good with just a brief hug and then he is ready to conquer the world with books, puzzles and toys all day long. He never tires :)

And if I was completely honest, I’d tell you this blog has changed drastically this year – in content and in quantity – and I am 100% okay with that. I read this post and this post recently and I felt like I was nodding in total agreement the entire time. I don’t write as often, but only because I want to come here when I truly have something to say. Even though at the end of the day (and in twenty years) this will just be a collection of random thoughts by another twenty seven year old mama + wife.

And if we were sitting on the couch, spilling our hearts over cold lemonade and chocolate chip cookies, I’d share that tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough. Tomorrow something big and amazing happens. You might remember, or you might not but I’ve mentioned a time or two that I was working on a project at Jenna’s hospital called The Wall of Hope, for the NICU floor.

Tomorrow, my friends, it goes live. Finally!!! :) There will be this little ceremony, a real unveiling. I have been working for months and months and months on this project with a few other team members, and it will all be worth it tomorrow! Just thinking about how powerful this wall of hope will be for families in the NICU brings tears to my eyes, because I know it would have done so much for us. I hope to share pictures as soon as humanly possible! :) I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to be a part of her hospital this way. No words, just tears of joy and gratitude.

Later this week, to celebrate the new look and theme of my subway art shop, I will be hosting a giveaway right here on my blog. I am so thrilled with the way it turned out! Be sure to visit by clicking on the link below.

-shop-

Why I Can Be Okay

I was sitting outside watching my son splash around in his baby pool yesterday afternoon after a long hiatus indoors. It’s been so hot here. Too hot. And any little trip nearly exhausts me, to the point that all I can do is lay down when I get back. Just when I think my energy’s back, it’s not. I keep telling Pete this baby’s kicking my butt.

I also went cold turkey on caffeine. I miss my iced teas! I don’t remember the caffeine-free diet last time being this hard. All I know is that I just can’t, or I won’t take that risk- whatever risk caffeine involves in pregnancy. I do remember my first Starbucks drink after Bubby was born though! Oh, and it was SO good. But the coffee didn’t sit well with his tummy, so that didn’t last long ;)

Anyway, this thought bumped me in the head yesterday. This thought that HOW in the WORLD can I be so okay somedays? I mean my daughter is dead. She is DEAD.

But the sky was so blue. And it was truly amazing. This pitiful instagram hardly does it justice. 

But the way I see it…

is if the sky never forgets what hue to cast into the mid afternoon to make that perfect sky blue

and the birds never forget to fly south in the winter…

and the butterflies always seem to find the food (whatever that might be)…

and the wild little rabbit that makes his appearance from time to time in our backyard can find everything he needs to survive in this suburb…

and the sun never forgets to set… and rise again each morning…

then surely… my daughter is more than okay. She is in the hands of the One who takes care of all those everyday things, and doesn’t have this untimely, forgetful brain of mine. I am convinced her new home is better than anything I could have given her.

I miss her, and I had dreams for her. So many dreams. But I can be okay today… because she is in the best hands ever.

 

I Saw Love on You.

For all the times I have felt lost…

For all the times I felt my heart break in a million pieces…

For all the times I wondered what life on the other side might be like…

For all the times the sun didn’t feel right shining so brightly after death could be so real…

For all the times emptiness haunted my steps…

For all the times color seemed to leave my world…

For all the times I questioned and got no answers…

I could see love all over you.

Dear Bubby… you have absolutely no idea how much I need you. Or maybe you do. But either way, I am so thankful to be your mama, and that moment that the nurse put you in my arms for those few minutes before taking you away… that is a moment I will never forget. A moment of many, many happy tears and answered prayers.

The Truth

The truth is I think about her more than anyone could even imagine. Unless, of course, you’ve been in these awful shoes.

I think about her all day, everyday. And you know, most of the time I think about her with a smile, or sort of with a glance-back half-smile thinking - what a gift she was.

But the other day I was in our closet, staring my clothes hanging in front of me, trying to find something to wear. The day was just about to start when my thoughts just got the best of me. I just remember being suddenly overwhelmed with her being gone.

I felt so utterly lost in that moment. I felt lost without her.

Wouldn’t any mother feel lost without one of her children?

I feel lost sometimes.

I have become an expert at surviving. I know what to say, to make you think I am doing GREAT. To make you feel not so awkward when I mention that one of my children died, or bring up something that one of my (now) dead children did, because God forbid I make you feel uncomfortable for talking about the most horrendous thing that has ever happened to me. Just saying. But in all honesty, I hate making someone feel awkward and like they wish they never asked a question or started the conversation. I know what not to say. And most of the time that is exactly what I do.

I sweep her under the rug, because she has become this painful reality that babies die.

But the truth is I think about her a lot.

And there are some days when I still wake up in total shock, that this is really life.

God knows it could be worse. A million times worse. But sometimes that empty feeling has a way of just swallowing me alive.

have a daughter. And I wish to God I could have known her better.

What her favorite shoes would have looked like.

Her dolls, would she have played with dolls? Or would she have been a tomboy?

How long would her hair have been now? And would it still be curly?

Would she have loved The Little Mermaid as much as I did?

What would she be saying, and talking about all day?

My heart is sad. And really, it’s okay that it’s sad. Lately it feels more comforting to be sad than happy because something about that sadness makes me feel strangely close to those days surrounding her life+death. The one thing I was afraid that this new pregnancy would do is take me further away from my first child, but if anything it reminds me so much of my pregnancy with her. So I welcome the heartache.

On a side note, when I bring up Jenna’s picture on our computer screen Bubby will say “Baby!”, and when I tell him her name, he can repeat her name pretty well. My heart aches just thinking of how I am going to try to explain who she is. I don’t think I’ll be able to get through it the first few times without being a blubbering mess!! He is starting to talk so much, and understand even more. I want to start soon, so that he’ll always know who this baby girl is.

Who knows, maybe he already does know. I’ve tried reading this book to him a couple of times when he was younger and I could barely get through the whole book. I like to think he knows more about her than I think he does.

Sky Lanterns and Baby Update

Oh goodness. How have I not seen Tangled before today? The whole lantern scene had me balling. It made me long to do something just like it for Jenna. But honestly her birthday is too far away, so I think I’m going to do something on her due date. The day that should have been surrounded by so much love, instead of so much emptiness.

That day usually doesn’t mean a whole lot to me now, three years out. It hurts. Actually it stings when I let myself dwell on it, but it’s not nearly as special as her birthday, and her death date.

Sky lanterns. I think we will be doing them on July 21. Instead of it being another stupid, empty reminder, I want to release a few up to Heaven in thanks. I am so thankful for her life. I have this board in my laundry room (of all rooms, I know), that says “Smile because she LIVED.”

I usually don’t think twice about it while I shuffle in laundry… possibly the worst and most hated chore around this house. But today I did. It made me smile for real.

So the lanterns will be an open smile. And honestly they are just so beautiful, I have to try them.

In other news, Baby is doing beautifully. We are definitely keeping the due date Feb 2, according to Dr. A. She has been so optimistic about this whole pregnancy, it makes me almost feel like a normal pregnant lady. I asked her if she was aiming for 36 weeks like she was with Bubby (complicated situation, you might remember if you have read this blog for a while). Her words… “we are going for the gold!”

Yessss!!!! That was like MUSIC to my ears. :)

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we waited and my body got to heal up. Now I am curious if she might let me have a VBAC. Hubby doesn’t think so, but I am at least going to ask. Something about not getting to have a child naturally makes me feel cheated (?) for lack of a better word. More than that though. Like I am the one that is cheating, getting out of the child birth experience. To some that might sounds crazy! It’s okay. I feel crazy for even thinking that, but I hear about all these natural birth experiences, and I want to feel that sort of accomplishment. Of course, more than ANYTHING I want a baby… safe and alive. So forgive me while I ramble about things that really are first world problems.

Safe & alive. Really, that is all I am praying and hoping for. The rest, well, it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I guess I just had to get it out.

Cocoon

Steph and I were joking about being in this cocoon, away from the internet. I promise you, these days I spend about a fraction of the time online that I used to. Somehow work is still going great. I think it’s promoting all of it that is suffering, but I won’t ever get these days back to grow this sweet baby, so I’m not sweating it a bit. Promoting the magazine, artwork, etc… it can be put on hold for this short while.

Not only that, but did I mention that potty training is in full swing? It’s a royal disaster, but we’re taking it one day at a time :) Oh, and you moms of boys- I am all ears. What worked/ didn’t work for you? We are on day #2 and I’m already pooped out. No pun intended.

And my sweet Jenna. Lately the skies have been filled with soft golden yellows. I miss the pink and purple ones. Those sunsets make me feel so close to her, and not seeing one in a while just makes my heart ache a little more. Maybe God is just mixing up those pink and purple paints right now. I’m sure one will come again soon enough.

In the morning we have our second doctor’s appointment. Dear God, please let me see or hear a heartbeat. The first time I heard my own baby’s heartbeat that pregnancy with Jenna became real. Tears rolled down my face. Life is such a beautiful gift, and we get to live it… everyday.

We were fortunate enough to see the heartbeat last time, but something about the days in between appointments are tough… especially the further away I get from that point of certainty. Ultimately, I’ve decided I was never intended to carry this load of worry. God knows it all. And I am feeling more keen on trusting him with this baby somehow. It is a little easier to trust that he will let this one make it. I don’t know. When I say it like that it sounds like he was somehow against Jenna making it, but I don’t know how else to put it. He let us take this sweet boy home, and watch him grow into this amazing two year old – full of sentences, adventure and mischief.

Something I took away from the retreat was that he really is for us.

Haven of Hope Retreat

I headed to the retreat with a lot of hesitation, anxiety and mixed emotions. I seriously almost changed my mind about going at all on Thursday. It was just a place I didn’t know I wanted to visit and be a part of with this new baby on the way. Sometimes when those tidal waves of grief hit you, they are not always easy to rise above. I am finding myself in a place distant from grief, and in some respects that bothers me, but mostly I know this is where I have to be, to give this little person every chance at life.

I have the rest of my life, however long or short that may be, to grieve Jenna. I keep reminding myself about that.

But I kept thinking about Susan and that she asked me to go. I made this magazine for loss mamas, and I felt like it was ultimate betrayal just saying I couldn’t go. And a little selfish of myself too. I prepared my heart for the next few days, as best I could.

On the drive up I listened to the silence of the early morning sunrise, and the road beneath my wheels. It was just me and God, and I told him I couldn’t do this without him. Have I mentioned that praying these days is hard? I am not sure why, it just is hard to find the words, and maybe even the faith that he really is listening.

I arrived in the small (population 90, yo) town of Round Top, Texas a little over an hour later. There was real peace there. I really admire and respect everything these beautiful ladies behind Haven of Hope do, to not only create this event and make it happen, but cover it in prayer so that it is a place where God can meet with us in a real way.

I was welcomed by a few ladies who were sitting on the front porch of this three story life-size dollhouse. It was still early and after small talk I found my friend Amy upstairs.

The retreat was packed with a full day of small group, speakers, testimonies, crafts and even some down time to just visit the little shops nearby or take a nap. Most of all, it meant a lot that they tucked time away in the schedule to just get the chance to bond with other loss mamas.

I had the chance to share Jenna and the magazine, but let me just say my speaking ‘skills’ need some work. Some people make it look effortless, and one day I hope to chunk that nervousness and stage fright out the door. I could have done better, but the truth is I got to share, and I do hope the ladies from the retreat decide to visit our website. There were mamas there who had lost from miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, child loss and even teenage and adult children. The heart break in the room was tremendous, and a little overwhelming. Humbling. It makes you wonder sometimes how we can even walk or breathe after such tragic losses.

Something I loved about the retreat was the focus on how we will never be the same, even though we have Christ. This is something that I struggle with, when it comes to certain people in my life. Several people have told me that they miss the old me or that they feel like a part of me died with Jenna. And honestly, after three years it is beyond frustrating to hear these things. But I’ve heard it more in the past 6 months or so than ever. It was somewhat validating for me, hearing it from a Christian perspective that it is OKAY that I won’t ever be the same.

I walked away from the retreat with not so much a heavy heart for myself, but for the new loss mamas. I wish a million times over that I could take this awful grief and pain from their lives, because I know the road that they have ahead. And it is anything but easy. I am grateful to Haven of Hope for creating the local community in hopes that these women may never feel alone.

For more information visit their website. It is so worth the trip, if you can make it :)

ps- you can read about last year’s retreat here