Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to Expect When You're Expecting ... to not bring your baby home


Boy meets girl.  Boy falls in love with girl.  Boy asks girl to marry him.  Boy and girl enter into wedded bliss.  Boy and girl find out they are pregnant.  Boy and girl have a beautiful baby and bring baby home to live with and love forever.

That's the way it usually goes.  It's what we've come to expect as normal.  But not all stories end like this.  Sometimes a boy and a girl go to the hospital to have a baby and, instead of packing that precious bundle into the backseat in a carseat installed so carefully by a loving daddy, that boy and girl have to leave their baby's lifeless body in a hospital nursery cart and watch a detached nurse wheel her away.  It's just as awful as it sounds.

Knowing this, our impending future, is so tough.  It's a daily battle to live with the knowledge that your baby is going to die.  Here are some things you can expect when you're expecting ... to not bring your baby home.

Tears.  Buckets of them.  At times I've abandoned tissues and turned exclusively to dish towels or washcloths.  Truth.

No tears.  Because sometimes the reality is shockingly paralyzing.  And sometimes you're just sick of crying.

Inability to focus.  Or be motivated to focus.  Or be motivated to do ... anything.

Spacing out at times from life and conversations as your mind wanders to reality and wondering what it will look like.

Inability to think too far beyond that day.  

Feeling easily overwhelmed.

Feeling like your life is anything but normal.  And then feeling oddly disinterested in and disconnected from other people's seemingly normal lives.  

Netflix.  Just ... lots of netflix.  

Thinking and feeling every cynical thought regarding faith and suffering while simultaneously legitimately clinging to and believing in God's promises and being immensely thankful for them.  So strange.  

Wanting so much to talk about what you're going through.  And yet ... not.  Wanting people to ask and yet ... not.  It's so confusing.  Although I still do think speaking/asking is better than not.

Feeling uncomfortable around baby things - baby showers, baby stores, baby pictures on facebook.  After all, you won't be able to have a baby shower, pick out many baby items, or post pictures of your little one as they grow.  

If you have other children, feeling incredibly overprotective and concerned with their well-being.  

If it's happened to you before, a sense of dread for what you know is upcoming.  

Needing very much to connect with those kindred spirits who have been there or have overcome some type of significant life suffering.

A general underlying feeling of anxiety and irritability.  Because even if you're not actively thinking about your baby's death, somehow even your subconscious knows something's not right.

It's not easy, living with the reality that your unborn, moving, squirming baby will die before she has a chance to come home.  It hurts so deeply.  If you've never experienced this level of grief, please be patient and understanding to those who have or are currently grieving.  And if you have ... you know these things all too well.  

May God bless us all as we struggle through this life, living the sorrows or trying desperately to support those who are.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Prayers

Something was stirring in the invisible realm this past week.  The Lord was moving in the hearts of loved ones to pray for me.  I received many sweet texts from friends saying they were praying.  Another friend felt compelled to write a blog post requesting prayers for me.  A friend even texted me in the wee hours of the morning saying she wanted me to know, right then, that she was praying.  Amazing.  

I don't really know why, though.  I mean, last week was pretty uneventful and I felt pretty normal.  I had an appointment but it was fine.  That's why I feel pretty convinced that something was happening in the supernatural realm that we couldn't see.  So thank you so much to those that were praying.  One day in heaven I think I'll be pretty amazed for the Lord to tell me exactly what all those prayer warriors were battling.  Thank you so much.

While we're on the subject of prayer, I thought I might just share some of my heart and the things I've been praying for.  

First things first, a few updates.  It appears that Baby Kate has the identical condition that Evie did.  All the extra anomalies the doctors thought they saw at 20 weeks have been rescinded and the only thing that remains is the complete lack of a urinary system, and the lung and heart issues that result from that issue.  

Another update - the placenta previa is no longer an issue.  Apparently it moved as my uterus grew and so a c-section is no longer necessary.  This is very good news.  Avoiding abdominal surgery is always a goal of mine.  So, very thankful for that.

The most recent change in birth plan is that Baby Kate is breech.  And with basically no amniotic fluid around her, the chances of her turning are almost impossible.  Thankfully the doctors at my practice are comfortable with vaginal breech deliveries, it just presents a unique twist in the delivery process.  

So, prayer requests.  At least, the ones I can verbalize.  All too often my prayers are, "Lord, please just ... I don't know.  Just ... the best."

But, anyway, here are a few things I've been asking the Lord for.  Feel free to join me if you feel led.

For me to get to the hospital at a good time.  Not barely in time, like I did with Evie.  Especially because we'll live a bit further this time.

For kind and compassionate hospital staff.  And maybe the chance to show Jesus to them.

For me to recognize whether or not I should get an epidural.  I've never had one and am much more comfortable with the pain of childbirth than a gigantic needle going in my back.  And the unpredictability of side effects, especially given the sensitive circumstances.  But, considering the breech delivery, it might be a smart choice.  Please just pray for wisdom in that area.

For the kids to be able to meet Kate.  

For us to have some time with her alive.

For her passing to be peaceful.

For good, sweet memories.  And at least a few special photos.

Smooth labor and delivery and quick recovery so I don't have to stay in the hospital very long.

For wisdom/ideas about a memorial service.  So far I've got nothin'.

That I won't be too overwhelmed with other life circumstances.  We are set to move on September 12th - about three weeks before Kate's due date.  So, new house, new neighborhood, new neighbors, new surroundings and then ... tragedy.  Could be pretty overwhelming.  

Wisdom for how to handle Micah's emotions.  So far he's pretty matter-of-fact about it all and we encourage him to feel what he needs to feel and not feel bad if he feels totally ok.  But who knows what it will be like once Kate is actually gone.  Josh and I want to be supportive of whatever his little four-year-old heart needs.

And of course, we plead for a miracle.  But, ultimately, Thy will be done Lord.  Just give us the strength to endure once again.

Thank you friends.  Your support is invaluable. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Return and Rest

... in returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Stand in the way and see, and ask for old paths where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16


These have been my verses over the last several weeks - the ones on which my mind lands when it's been wandering a bit too much.  I feel like the Lord is speaking to me ... you've been through this before.  The truths that will carry you are already burned into your heart.  Return to what you know.  Rest in Me.  Tap into your quiet confidence, the confidence that knows I will get you through.  Onward, good soldier.  


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Heart Lessons for Hard Things: Psalm 139




It seems appropriate to post this on the three year anniversary of Evie's diagnosis.  A heart lesson that continues to carry me through this journey with baby Kate as well.  A heart lesson straight from the heart of the Creator and Author of our life stories. 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

The spring we found out we were pregnant with our second baby, four months before we learned of her fatal anomalies, I was helping to lead a Bible study for our youth group girls on redefining beauty as God sees it, not as the world sees it, and this passage was a topic of study for one of the chapters.  My heart took away two very important lessons from that study, lessons that have proved themselves time and time again in my journeys with my sweet baby girls.  

1. All of us, even in our brokenness, are fearfully and wonderfully made.
2. Each of us has a unique story that God wrote before time even began.

For you created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother's womb.  I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I know what the world says about my girls.  It says their lives are not important and it would be ok to dispose of them.  "Terminate the pregnancy" they say.  Because if you aren't able to survive outside the womb how could your life be worth anything?  But I know what the Lord says.  He knit my girls together in a specific way.  He designed them just a little bit differently than most.  He pieced all their parts together ... let's see, we'll put a cute little nose there.  And a pair of perfect lips right there.  And precious kissable cheeks there.  And the kidneys ... they'll be special.  Ah.  Perfect.  

I take great comfort in the fact that God calls my girls beautiful.  Wonderful.  Worthy of adoration.  In a world that says otherwise, God Himself whispers into my maternal heart.  They're perfect just how I made them.  Beautiful girls, both of them.

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

I see it like this.  A great Playwright is penning the greatest story of all time.  It spans millennia and involves every person who has ever lived.  Each person plays a special part, has a specific role and specific lines.  And, at some point, for some reason that only the Playwright can know (because He knows the end of the story, where it's all going to lead to, right?), He needed two small girls with lungs too small to keep them alive for long.  But they had (and have) their part.  And one played it perfectly, and the other will too.  

And somewhere in the story the Playwright needed another character.  A mommy who would cry tears upon tears for the girls and somehow show the world that love truly goes beyond the physical world.  He wrote this brokenness into the mommy's story for a specific reason too.  She's playing a very special role, even if she's not quite sure why or how to go about it.  But it's her story too.  

God's sovereignty is so evident in this passage of scripture.  It is that sovereignty that gives me so much comfort when life feels big and un-understandable and completely out of my control.  Someone is in control, and in control indeed.  And He says those broken pieces are beautiful and wonderful and He wrote them in there Himself.  No mistakes, no erasing.  Just beauty and wonder.  And perfection to the only One who knows what perfect really is. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

To Speak or Not to Speak ... That is the Question

Elephant in the room.  Awkward silence.  Call it what you may but you know what I'm talking about - those times when the air hangs thick with conversation that should be, held back by hesitation and uncertainty.  And there are certainly circumstances that lend themselves to more of these experiences than others.  Carrying a baby with a fatal diagnosis to term, for example ...

People often express to me, and maybe even more often to my family members whom they feel more comfortable asking, that they want to ask how I'm doing but are afraid to make me sad or "remind" me (could I forget?) of my current life situation.  I always tell them to just ask, it's totally fine.  But I realized recently there is more to this short, simple answer.  

In truth, the answer is complicated.  Could you trigger my tears that day by asking me how things are going?  Possibly.  Could you make my thoughts jump from focusing on my current task to the impending sadness up ahead?  Maybe.  Could you stumble over your words and end up crying yourself?  Yeah, that might happen too.  But the problem with the opposite - the problem with silence - is that it can communicate a lack of caring.  And that hurts.  

Truthfully, there is no easy answer here.  "Remind" them and make them cry, or don't mention anything and make them wonder if you care or ever think about the gravity of their situation.  I don't know.  But as for me, I might err on the side of showing someone I care and ask rather than not.  And, as it has before, I might leave that conversation feeling like a big dummy and wish I hadn't opened my mouth at all.  In that instance though I just pray, Lord you knew my heart going into that conversation.  Please allow them to have seen it too.   

Suffering is hard.  There is no easy answer about how to go about it.  There may even be times when the above advice is horribly wrong.  But the Bible says we are to weep with those who weep.  And Scripture is also pretty clear about showing our love for one another.  And you never know what sort of need you are meeting or what bridge you are building by just being brave enough to speak.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue ... Proverbs 18:21



What do you think?  If you've been in a difficult life spot would you give the same advice?

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Not-So Bright Side

Do you remember Pollyanna?  It's a story about a little girl who turned a town upside down with her "glad game" - her positive thinking and looking on the bright-side in any situation.  Even the grumpiest of grumpies in that town took to liking the little girl and were changed for the better.  Kind of like Footloose but ... no dancing.

So, the glad game.  I think the glad game is what Scripture would call thinking on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report (Philippians 4:8).  And let me be the first to stand up and say this sort of thinking is the only thing that brought me through my trial with Evie and the only thing that keeps me on track as I anticipate losing Kate - staying thankful and forcing my mind to focus on the good.  It's the very thing that keeps me from crossing over into really dark places.  It's crucial at times like this.  And I love Jesus down to the hemoglobules (that's a thing, right?) of my tiniest red blood cells and am thankful beyond thankful for His work on the cross and the promise of Heaven.  I believe it, I'm sold, my name is on the dotted line.  

But.

But sometimes I get really tired of pretending like the good and positive side is all there is.  Because, even after all the thanks and positivity, there is still a very real situation in which I will, once again, have to live life without a much-loved and much-wanted daughter.  It will really happen and I will really have to walk that path.  For real.

They say the first step in overcoming addiction is admitting you have a problem (Hello, my name is (blank) and I'm an alcoholic).  It's out there in the open, no question, and then you can move forward with progress and healing.  I feel like the same concept holds true for grief.

As Christians I think we can be discouraged from admitting the whole entire hard truth about hard things in life.  I don't think this is the way to go about it.  I think we need to call it like it is.  And then we can move fully forward to accepting the painful circumstance as part of our life story and specifically pray about how to live with that piece of our heart damaged.  When people say things like, "well at least you still have _______", or even "you know God is still in control", it feels dismissive of the actual part of you that actually has to deal with that thing.  It hurts.  And I know in my heart that can't be the entire answer.

So I say, call it like it is.  Admit the real problem.  Allow yourself to acknowledge what one blogger called, the "profound suckness" of your situation.  I'll go first ...

Hi, my name is Sarah.  I lost my daughter before she even had a chance to come home from the hospital.  In a few months I will be doing it again.  I will never have the joy and privilege of seeing these girls grow up in my home and parenting them with all the love in my heart.  Those thoughts make me want to scream and punch a hole in something.  And throw up.

There it is, the real, hard truth.  And I'm not afraid to admit it because I know God is big enough to handle that.  His power can completely carry me through the hard road ahead.  But I think a crucial step is being 100% honest about what that hard road is and how hard it is.

Friend, if you're struggling today, I encourage you to admit exactly the hard thing you are facing.  Let your sorrow last for the night.  And then make the choice to embrace the joy that comes with the morning.

I have come to believe that both are very necessary.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When the Q's Have No A's

My brain's a little befuddled lately.  Kind of whirlwindy ... lots of thoughts stirring around.  The trouble is, there are no real conclusions to my thoughts.  I'm just trying to sort through my mind and heart and make sense of what's going on right now.  Again.  If you want you can join me on this hamster wheel of futility.  Except, I like to think of it as earnest prayers and ponderings I would like the Lord to shed some light on.  So, in that respect, not as futile as it might seem.  Here are some of my Q's that, as of yet and maybe even in this life, have yet to be paired with an A.

Were we foolish to not investigate Evie's condition further?  We thought we were making an informed decision based on the best thoughts/suggestions from a few different health care professionals.  Did we reach the wrong conclusion?

If we had known what caused Evie's death and if there was a 25% chance another baby could be affected, would we have tried for Jocelyn?  I certainly wouldn't want to not have her.  Who else might we be missing out on by being bound by that statistic?

If we do have a 25% chance of another baby being affected (we'll know more after baby Kate passes away), what should we do?  I believe in acting in faith.  I believe in not living life in fear.  But I also know God speaks through things like this.  Could He be speaking something over our family with that percentage?  Or are we meant to step out in faith and try again?  Would that be faith or foolishness?

Is this happening again because I didn't learn something the first time around?  Did I miss something?  If so then please, for the love of all things bright and beautiful, let me learn it this time!!  Please.

Am I processing this the right way?  Do I have the right perspective?  I feel very matter-of-fact about this old new hard thing.  I feel very, this is your assignment, soldier, about it all.  Sir, yes sir.  Is that bad?

Is it ok that I didn't feel too surprised?  That I don't cry as much?  That I'm not hanging onto the hope of a miracle like I was last time?  Is my heart in the wrong place?

Is it ok that I still plead for this cup to pass?  Because that would be great.  And I would love a miracle.

Lord, am I doing this right?

Lord please guide me on this path once again.  Speak wisdom and truth into my heart.  Let me not look back onto this time with regret for the way I've acted or things I've said.  Be glorified in this place.

Here she is ... sweet baby Kate.  Head, eyes, nose, hand in front of her mouth <3

Please share ... what's your favorite remedy for dealing with the Q's that lack A's?