Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dear Jake (Happy Birthday Letter)

Dear Jake,

I cannot believe you are eight years old. It feels like just yesterday you were turning two and we were sending your binkies off into the sky!! You were such a sweet little buddy back then, with such a tender heart and the best giggle in the world! You still are a sweet little buddy, but you try to hide it behind a goofy, tough, cool kid now. ;) You still have a tender heart, and I have watched that grow into empathy for others, a sensitive spirit, and fiercely loyal attitude. You also still have the world's best laugh, though it's gotten a bit deeper and less giggly over the years!

You have shot up in height this year and now have a good three inches on your sister, which you are quite proud of. This year your reading "clicked", and since then, you've been reading everything in sight. You love to read things that make you laugh and adventures that "make you nervous". You have started writing your own comic book, and I can honestly say it is the most entertaining thing I have ever read!!! You have a hilarious imagination and way of putting things. You've also shown quite a talent for drawing, which goes nicely in your comic books. ;)

This year you played on your first basketball team, and although you say you like football better, you showed a real talent for it and we hope you continue to play! Your dad tells you over and over that you may not have the most talent for a sport, but you have a great attitude and willingness to learn, which makes you a "coach's dream". You work harder than any other player and take direction well, and we hope that sticks with you! I love to watch you play, and I looooove to see that embarrassed smile creep up on your lips when I cheer a little too loudly for your liking. ;)

I think the most important thing that happened to you this year is that you became a Big Brother!!! Not only did you become a big brother, but you got to name him! I remember how it happened. You were walking through the dining room and you said you came up with a name for the baby if it was a boy. You rattled off a ridiculously long name consisting of about seventeen names, and somewhere in there you stuck "Jones". Your dad and I looked at each other and said, "That's actually a pretty cool name!" I think even you were a little bit shocked that we actually named him that, and I can tell you're pretty stinkin' proud of yourself for coming up with it!

You are such an amazing big brother. No one can make Jones laugh like you can. When it has been awhile since you've held him, you tell me that you and Jones need some "Bro time", and you pick him up, take him away, and play with him or read to him or just hold him and try to make him laugh. You took losing your baby sister harder than even Eisley, and to this day you still have moments when I find you crying and holding your "Lilysaurus" and you tell me that you miss her. I know that losing her made you love and appreciate Jones so much more, and I know he can feel how much you adore him. I can't even begin to imagine how Jones is going to idolize you as you both get older. That is going to be a very big responsibility for you, always having someone watching you and wanting to be just like you. Try to remember how very much he loves you, and be very careful where you step, because Jones will be right behind you.

This year, I am praying that God brings you good friends, ones who are kind and make good choices and are nice to your sister (but not too nice...). ;) I am praying that you will gain confidence in the strengths God has given you, and not worry so much if Eisley is better at something. I am praying that God continues to become more and more real to you as you learn more about His Word and what it says. I am praying for your safety every day. I am praying God will help us be exactly who you need us to be. I am praying that you will make good choices.

I love you so much Jake Robert. You are my comic relief. You are the most caring little boy I know. You are a goofball. You are amazing. Your daddy and I are so proud of you, and so thankful the Lord blessed us with you eight years ago.

Happy Birthday Jakey!



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dear Eisley (Happy Birthday Letter)

Dear Eisley,

You turned eight years old this week! I can hardly believe I have two eight year olds, because I remember very clearly being eight years old myself! When I was eight years old, I loved playing mommy to my dolls, reading, writing in my diary, and playing make believe. You love doing all those things too! Except you are also veeeeeery girly, and love to play with Barbies, paint your nails, try new hairstyles, dress up and accessorize, shop, and take care of your baby brother. I always wanted my mom to have another baby when I was your age, and you love having one around just as much as I would have!

I am so thankful that God knew enough to send you to me eight years ago, because I don't know how I'd take care of these boys without you! You help me with so much, from making lunches to organizing Jonesy's laundry, but the thing I appreciate most about you is being able to talk with you. I pray all the time that God will keep growing our relationship and keep showing me how to love you the way you need to be loved. The other day I took you out for a Girls' Night, and you talked my ear right off. I sat in the front seat smiling to myself as you jabbered away about your friends, boys, and all kinds of other things. I love when you talk to me about everything and nothing. I hope you always keep talking to me!

You have grown up and changed a lot this year. Your reading has taken off, and this year I finally pulled down my old box of Babysitter's Club books for you. I don't know who was more excited about it, you or me! I spent hours and hours reading those books when I was just a little older than you, and it was so fun to get to pass them onto you! This year you also started piano and gymnastics. I wonder if you'll be doing either next year, but I hope you are! You absolutely love to write songs, so I think piano will be such a fun thing for you.

I think the most important thing that happened to you this year was finally becoming a big sister. You have been so close so many times, and it has broken my heart to watch you put that Big Sister shirt in the back of your closet over and over again. When I finally got to see you wear it and meet your baby brother, that was just one of the happiest moments of my life. You have been the most amazing big sister Jones ever could have asked for. You love on him every chance you get, and I know that you don't take him for granted one bit. Unlike most eight-year-olds, you know what it is like to lose a baby in your family, and how very precious they are. I'm so sorry for the hard lessons you have had to learn in your eight short years, but I am thankful you have learned them. Every time I see you squeeze Jones and tell him you love him so much you could just die, my heart melts!

This year, you and Jake agreed on a Monster themed glow-in-the-dark birthday! It was so much fun to plan and decorate for it! You guys had a blast, and I know it will be hard to top next year! You and Jake want to be a football player and a cheerleader for Halloween, and you want Jones to dress up like a little football. We all went as Mickey and Minnie Mouse for Disneyland's Halloween Party a few weeks ago, but Jake put his foot down and said he refuses to dress like Mickey in front of people he knows! ;) You were an adorable Minnie Mouse though, and it was so fun for me to see you having so much fun with your Mickey brothers. ;)

You are so smart, so sassy, and a joy to be around. You have gotten in trouble I think three times this year, and each time, you have begged for my forgiveness almost immediately. ;) You made a best friend, you became a big sister, you discovered your love of reading. You decided you want to redo your bedroom to something "more mature," and you began writing songs. You started gymnastics, piano lessons, and the second grade (though you're in third grade math, which I know you are very proud of!). You learned how to change a diaper and burp a baby, and have done more than your fair share this year! You are more beautiful each day, inside and out, and I am blessed beyond words to call you my daughter.

This next year, I am praying that God brings you good friends that love you and love Him. I am praying that God protects your little heart from the Mean Girls that are sure to pop up now and again. I am praying that you continue to learn more and more about Jesus and that you keep building a strong foundation of faith even now, at only eight years old. I am praying for your safety each day. I am praying that I will be just the kind of mommy you need.

I love you baby girl, and your daddy and I are so incredibly proud of the young lady you are becoming.

Happy Birthday Eisley Joy!



Monday, October 21, 2013

So I Guess This Is My Mommy Heart... (Guest Post by Becky Brimhall)

This is the first "guest post" I've put on the blog. It was written by a dear friend of mine...a sister...one who've I've grown closer to through our shared loss and grief. She so beautifully captures the emotions immediately following pregnancy loss, and I wanted to share it here so that as many people as possible can, even if just for a moment, walk in the shoes of a mother grieving her baby...

Thank you for your transparency, Becky.

As I sit over my bowl of soup, tears mixing with the carrots, I find myself looking for a way to get it out.  Really get it out.  It's like that moment when you know that the dam wants to break.  Needs to break.  But can't.  It's so hard to lose it, unless you can lose it completely.  And rarely do you find yourself in a situation that allows that kind of uninhibited freedom.  Nothing held back.  

My last loss was 3 days before Mother's Day.  And this one, a week shy of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  The irony is not lost on me.

I went to a park this morning and in an effort to have something tangible to hang on to- and subsequently let go of- I attempted to do something to honor that which is intangible.  Did I do it to make myself feel better?  To find the ever-elusive validation?  To cry?  To ponder?  To have people at the park stare at me like I was crazy?  To announce my most recent loss to the visible public?  To have an excuse to leave work for an hour?  To have some pictures to help explain things to do the future kids that I'm not sure I'm ever going to have?  To somehow try to capture a loss so deep within my being that words simply do not suffice?  I don't have an answer to that question.  Mostly what I have right now are questions without any answers.  Again?  Really?  Again?  Why us?  Why now?  Will it ever change?  Will it happen next time too?  Will there even be a next time?  Will I ever feel like a normal person again instead of a socially awkward misfit that just makes everyone else feel uncomfortable?  Will the darkness ever go away?  Will the grief ever subside?

I don't want to hear social cliches.  I know people mean well, but it doesn't help.  I'm sorry but it just doesn't.  And some days, it makes things worse.  Don't tell me it will all work out.  Don't ask me what we're going to do next.  I'm still just trying to get out of bed and go to work and feed the dogs and wash the dishes.  Don't tell me that at least I know I can get pregnant.  Don't tell me to just relax.  And please. If you have any kindness in your heart.  Do not tell me that this happens all the time and a friend of a friend of a sister of a brother of a cousin of a friend at work went through the "exact same thing" and 4 years later in the middle of their adoption, they were surprised and things worked out perfectly, just like they will for me.  I'm sorry for their difficult journey.  Whoever they are.  And for who or what they lost.  I really am.  There are many who are hurting, and my heart goes out to each one.  It really does.  But it's not exactly the same.  No two experiences are the same.  No two children are the same.  And no two losses are the same.  I don't need anyone to minimize the children I have lost, size, gender, or gestation aside.  Children.  My children.  That I was given.  And were then taken away.  Before I even had a chance to buy the first onesie.   

One very short week ago today, I spent nearly 48 hours under the covers.   Reruns of Cake Boss playing from sun up to sun down.  Shades drawn.  Pillows soaked.  Pain so deep that the Morphine might as well have been Gatorade.  I don't remember it being this hard last time.  Was it this hard last time?  The darkness.  It feels harder this time.  Darker.  Angrier.  And it settles in.  The little moments.  Of numbness.  Of guilt.  Of grief.  Of apathy.  Of fear.  Of confusion.  Of rage.  Of paralyzation.  Of sobbing to the point of vomit.  When exhaustion takes over.  And in those moments, it feels as though the darkness is here to stay.  And that everything I used to know is gone forever.  The carefree newlywed with the renewed hopes and dreams is no longer.  She dyes her hair.  And dyes it back again.  And then again.  And cuts it.  And then cuts a little more.  Gets the tattoo that she said she'd never get.  All the while grasping, reaching.  Feeble attempts to somehow shout out to the world that she isn't the same.  To make the outside match the inside.  

A friend texted me that day and said "I'm not going to ask how you are, but I am going to ask you what you're doing to survive today."  Breathe.  Only breathe.

And then the light.

The teeny.  Tiny.  Sliver.  Begins to pierce the pervading gloom.  Mostly seen in the kindness and gentleness of the man who has seen me at my worst.  Who has literally picked me up off the floor.  More than once.  Who hasn't left my side.  Who has a never-ending supply of patience.  Who has put his own plans aside.  Who has prayed over me.  Who has sat up in the hospital for hours on end.  Who has loved me at my ugliest.  At my weakest.  When I have nothing left to give in return.  In the darkest moments when no one can see.  Who has, figuratively and in his own way, day after day, wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down, and lovingly and selflessly washed my sad, broken, hurting feet.  Who has been a very real picture of what it is to love in sickness and in health.  For better or for worse.  And who has loved his (at times most unlovable) wife like Jesus does.  Who deserves a hug.  Some encouragement.  A night with the guys.  And a medal.  And the glimpses of light continue to pour in in the kind words of friends and family who offer simple words of love and support in a text, comment, or "like" even though this isn't their burden to bear and they are likely sick of me clogging up their Newsfeed with my balloons and pictures of baby feet.  Who give it their best effort to let me know that I'm not alone and that my little ones, no matter how brief their existences, are remembered.  Whose kindness is overwhelming.  There is no greater way to love a grieving mom without any children, than to simply acknowledge her loss.  You know who you are.  Today, especially, I thank you.

As for the women who are expecting?  Who are welcoming their newly arrived little ones into the world?  I love you.  And I love your babies.  I may miss your shower, mostly for fear of making a scene that would take away from your day.  And I may be a little distant at times.  But I love you.  And I rejoice with you.  I really.  Do.  

And so.  As the loss dates and the due dates begin to run together, I wonder just how I will ever find the shore.  And in some moments, I wonder if that shore even exists.  And I wonder if He's forgotten about me.  Because I feel so.  Abandoned.  Isolated.  Forgotten.  Devastated.  And Heartbroken.  And just when I seem to find dry land, I'm swept out to sea yet again.  Where are you?  Why have you left me here?  I'm so tired.  I'm so.  Tired.  And I don't know how much longer I can keep treading water.  You think too much of me.  You think too much of me, Lord.

Today I will ask for air.  And maybe in a few days, for Hope.  And maybe the day after that, for Joy.  And then for Gratitude.  And soon for Obedience.  And then for Glory to the One who deserves it.  In the midst of it all.  Because this is all just too painful to be for naught.

To my little ones:  You are a part of me that is missing.  The days, weeks, months, or years are inconsequential to me.  I will never let anyone minimize your value.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made.  Knit together by our Maker with a body, small as it may have been.  You have a soul and a name and a place in our family until we meet.  And I will always make sure that you are Remembered and thought of with Love, no matter the years that pass on.  Your mom loves you. <3

Psalm 13
How long, Lord?  Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; 
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise, 
for He has been good to me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

National Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Day

The blog has been silent for awhile, not because I lack things to say, but because I lack the time to write them! I have a lot of entries I want to write, and I even have some really exciting news to share (no, I am not pregnant), but I have been so incredibly busy that I just have not been able to keep up with the blog. I promise more is coming soon!

After I posted the breastfeeding blog entry, the blog absolutely blew up. I have had over two million hits since that entry went up, and let me tell you, I can (and probably will) write an entirely separate post on what happens when your blog goes viral. Oy.

But there are a couple of things I just couldn't let pass without talking about them here. First, my precious Jake and Eisley turned EIGHT years old today!!! How, how did that happen?!? It amazes me that it wasn't just last year that we sent their binkies off into the sky on their second birthday! It has truly flown by so quickly, but I am so blessed to have spent each moment I have with them. Happy birthday Jake and Eisley! I will post their "birthday letters" sometime next week.

Second, if you didn't already know, tomorrow is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Actually, the entire month of October is dedicated to Pregnancy and Infant Loss (though I believe we share the month with Down Syndrome Awareness and Breast Cancer Awareness).

Ever since the loss of my first pregnancy a few years ago, October has been a bittersweet month for me. I am so blessed to celebrate the babies I am loving and raising here on earth, while also missing the ones I love from a distance and miss every day. To be perfectly honest, every single day of my life is like that, but in October, the world misses them with me...

Since I didn't have the opportunity to write a new post on this special day and month that we honor the men and women who are grieving the children they have lost, I wanted to invite you to read what I posted last year. I hope you take the opportunity to read it and re-post it and honor this special day with us.

You can read the entry here...


I would also like to ask for one more thing.

One in four women have experienced pregnancy loss. One in four. Do you know four women? Then chances are, you know and love someone who has lost a baby. They might not grieve openly, or publicly, but I assure you, they do grieve. You might not even know about their loss, but I can say with certainty that everyone who is reading this knows and loves a woman who has experienced pregnancy loss. So with that being said, would you take this opportunity to openly acknowledge their loss?

How can you do that? I will leave that up to you. But I do want to encourage you that nothing you do to honor the loss your loved one has experienced will "open old wounds" or "remind them" of something sad they've forgotten. All it will do is remind them that they are loved, that their loss was real, that it was valid, and that it mattered.

So here I go...this is my open acknowledgement of the losses of my loved ones. These are the women, whom I love, who have grieved the loss of their baby or babies.

I love you. I'm so sorry we are in this club together that no one wants to join. One day, I will rejoice with you as we meet and gush over the children we are reunited with in heaven. What an awesome playgroup that will be...


And to the women I know and love who have never shared their experience with me, consider your name up there as well.

Your baby mattered. Your loss matters. And I remember with you...

For my own sweet babies, whom I carried for such a short time...I remember you, and I deeply feel your loss. I remember you, and I miss you.

Gracie, I miss you. You would have looked like Eisley, and wanted to be just like her. You were so wanted. You were our deepest hurt because we never, ever expected to lose you. You taught us to cherish every moment, and we still do.

Lily, my heart literally aches for you at times. You stole and broke our hearts the moment we laid eyes on you. You looked like Jake, and had perfect little feet, and that's all I will ever know about you, until I see you again. I miss you the most because I know what it was like to hold you, to know you, to realize what I was losing. I miss you. I miss you.

To my last little one...the one I barely had the chance to know about. You are no less loved, no less remembered. You will be the biggest surprise to us someday because you are the one we knew the least about. If I had to guess, I'd say you were a boy. Jake and Eisley call you "James". I never knew what to call you, because I blinked, and you were gone. I can't wait to meet you...

Thank you for remembering with me, and for honoring the losses of the smallest of blessings.