Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When I Fell In Love

I wrote this Sunday morning, August 23 2015 as I was spending a weekend away with Jon. We were listening through the playlist that we played at James' funeral. Christina Perri's A Thousand Years started playing, and this post started to take shape. It took me a while to finish it, but the few people I've shared it with found it pretty powerful, so I thought I'd post it. I hope this helps everyone to get a small glimpse of what we've gone through. 



It's a curious thing to lose a child through full-term stillbirth. It's not until after the baby is dead that you realize that you have loved this baby since you were able to love at all. Your life has been leading up to this moment. You wanted that child since you could plan for your future. That baby was one of the first things on your list. And since that moment, not the moment of conception, or of getting a positive pregnancy test, but since you realized you wanted a baby, THAT'S when you fell in love. Years pass, and you love this baby that you'll have someday. You get married. You start trying for a baby. You seek medical intervention, and suddenly, you get your baby. And then that baby is inexplicably and irrevocably gone. And while your mind understands, your heart sure as hell doesn't. And at the funeral, you want to open his tiny coffin to see him one last time, or just grab the whole thing altogether and run, but you don't. Because even those acts of desperation, of lunacy, can't bring him back. But oh, how your body aches for him. Literally and figuratively. Arms ache to hold, lips to kiss, eyes to see, and heart to keep. But also your body is torn after the hardest labor of all: of giving birth to one you know is already gone. You dread having your milk come in, because it's another reminder of the baby that is gone. And then you're scared the milk will dry up, because it's one of the last reminders of the baby that is gone.

Weeks pass. All too soon it's a new calendar month, and you can't imagine how you're going to make it a whole month without him. And then Thanksgiving and Christmas come and go, and what used to be happy times are suddenly too much to bear. And then it's New Years, and you realize your baby will never live in this year, and unreasonably you're sad for this year, that it will never know your baby. Soon you've been without your baby for "twenty f****** weeks." And then the dreaded day when he has been dead longer than he was alive. Your birthday, new babies being born without major complications, Sundays, the 24th of each month, your original "due date:" all are foreboding and oppressive, yet are only the foothills to the mountain you must climb at the one year mark. A year to the day since you last felt your baby move. A year to the day your baby died. The day he should have turned one. But it's not just those days; they're all two-fold. Firstly because on that specific day something bad happened, but also because of what happened on that specific date.

This last year, nothing has been simple. Do I have the energy to clean the house; to make dinner; to brush my teeth? Is it worth getting dressed?   How do I stop getting mad at everything? It's an entirely new skill set, learning to cope through loss. How to be vulnerable to those whom you love and trust, when it hurts them as it helps all. How to be a parent on a technicality. No one wants that. How to be gracious and kind to those whose problems seem so petty now. Nothing is easy and it just gets harder.

This year I have seen the face of God. How can I not, since I have been camped at the foot of the cross? I have seen his love, and grace, and mercy, here in the "Valley of the Shadow of Death." By his help I am climbing this insurmountable summit. One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time, sometimes even one moment at a time.

And some day, I will cross to the other side with my arms stretched out, with a smile on my face, and I will see and hold my son for only the second time, and he will see and hold me for the first time, and we will gaze long and lovingly into each others' eyes. Oh, how I long for that day. 



I am sorry for the couple of swear words. I really feel as though they convey my feelings and emotions in a way I couldn't otherwise capture. The reason "twenty f****** weeks" is in quotations is because I wrote a [very angry] diary entry at that point, and there was quite a bit of harsh language, because I could not think of any other way to show my feelings. As a rule, I do not swear, but on occasion I find there is nothing else to say. So I do apologize. But twenty weeks was a hard place for me to be.

I also want to add that the one year anniversary was not nearly as hard as I anticipated, and I believe a lot of that is due to my family and their love and support. Last week we went to the cemetery and said good-bye again; we also wrote messages on balloons and released them into the sky. This was more symbolic and healing than I thought it would be. But I believe the sentiment I felt and expressed about the one-year mark can be applied to any year; any time. Whether it be two years, five years, ten years, or seventeen years, it is still a mountain to climb, and the longer I climb it, the steeper it will get.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

How I Can Be a Christian and Still Support Gay Marriage + A Caveat

I am going to try to write this succinctly, but still be clear. So let's see how it goes.

I am going to make a series of statements, and then I will do my best to explain them.

I am glad for the legalization of gay marriage. I think it is wrong to deny them that right. I disagree with it being on a federal level. I do not agree with a gay lifestyle, but I want them to be treated fairly. I believe that "marriage" as defined by God can be, and is, different than "marriage" as defined by the state.

First. I am glad for the legalization of marriage; and, I think it is wrong to deny them that right. Denying a human being of a right to something based on their sexual orientation is the same as denying someone a right based on their skin color. Or religion. Or what have you. To say that, because they aren't married, a "spouse" can't see a loved one in a hospital, or have the right to inherit an estate, because you denied them the right and the opportunity to become that spouse, is wrong. We have no right to deny someone something and then punish them for not being able to do it.

However, I disagree with it on a federal level. I believe our government is too big. It has too much control. I wish it was a state decision. Just like legalizing marijuana is a state decision. (Side note: I believe marijuana should be legalized in all states, as well.) I think it is our government's duty to inform us (or at least make the information available so that we can inform ourselves, such as labeling GMOs, as well as other things like that) but not to make decisions for us, such as mandating vaccines, etc. Now, I realize that the government is not MANDATING that gays get married, and I think you would agree with me that if they did, that, too, would be wrong. But that's not the issue here. The issue is that our federal government is too big, and the rights should have been left in the states' hands.

I do not agree with a gay lifestyle. I believe it goes against the teachings in the Bible, and I believe the Bible. I am a Bible-thumper, a Bible-believing Christian, a conservative... whatever you want to call me. I am not close-minded, or bigoted, or ignorant, or stupid. Not agreeing with their lifestyle choice does not mean that I want them to be treated as lesser humans. They still should be treated fairly. And that involves allowing them to get married, should they choose to do that.

How can I say all the above things while still being a Bible-thumper? I believe that marriage as defined by God is different than marriage as defined by the state. Marriage, as defined by the Bible, is between one man and one woman. It is a picture of Jesus, the bridegroom, and the Church, his bride. It is holy; it is sacred. It is a commitment. The federal definition of marriage is a piece of paper. It is a legal document. I agree that government should give that piece of paper to whatever two people want it. Personally, I believe that Jon and I got "married" twice. The first time was our "spiritual" or "religious" marriage. It was when we committed ourselves to each other. When we decided we were going to get married; when we said our vows and told each other we would love each other for the rest of our lives. The second "marriage" was when we signed the legal document, the legal marriage certificate. I believe that gays should be able to get married in the eyes of the state. I do not believe that qualifies as marriage in the eyes of God, because although they are committed to one another, they are not one man and one woman, as it says marriage is in the Bible.


It is not my intent in this post to to accuse, or condemn, or judge, anyone. My purpose is to explain my beliefs; to give my two cents. I am not trying to change anyone's opinion. I am trying to mitigate some of the anger and injustice that people feel, on both sides of this argument. If you don't agree with me, that's fine. But please, remain civil in your comments. No one appreciates or listens to or gives credence to someone who is being rude, calling names, or being mean. You will not changes someone's opinion by insulting them.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

If Wishes Were Horses...

I wish losing a child left visible scars. I wish that when people see me walking through the grocery store and I look mad, upset, or like I'm trying not to cry, that they won't judge me. That they wouldn't tell me to just smile, to cheer up, to have a great day. I wish the could look at me, and see my frown, and that they could be kind but not patronizing; that they could understand without me having to tell them, that MOST DAYS ARE NOT GREAT DAYS. Instead of me shoving down the hurt a little further, pretending I'm not just okay, but happy and care-free, that I could be myself and be... sad. Mad. Maybe a little bit insane. Buy my cookies, donuts and cake in peace. Because sometimes I can't. I can't cope. I can't be happy. I can't even pretend to be happy.

I just wish people could know, without me having to say.




I wish I had my James.




If wishes were horses, then beggars could ride.

Technically...

Mother's Day. Father's Day. Celebrating those who give their lives to the wonders they've created. 

What happens when those babies die? Particularly when it's the only child.


People are very quick to tell Jon and me that we're still parents. And while technically we agree, we don't, really.

You see, we don't want to be parents on a technicality. 

Yes, we had a baby. HAD. We are not parenting. We don't live our lives catering to a baby; we don't HAVE a baby.

I may be a mother, but I am not mothering.

Jon is a father. But he isn't fathering.

We are parents on a technicality. And that just sucks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

UPDATE TO 3 STEPS TO PEACE

[Typed Wednesday, June 3]

If you haven't read my "3 Steps to Peace" post yet, do so by clicking here.

If you HAVE read my "3 Steps to Peace" post, you know how I was late for my period, and was hoping I was pregnant.

I'm not.

I started spotting Sunday, it stopped early Monday, and then started up again late Monday night. Tuesday I had spotting on and off all day, and Wednesday my flow picked up a bit, to what I would consider my period, but it was lighter than typical and didn't last as long as usual. But given it was so late (almost a whole week!) and I'm never late, as well as some other factors, I am pretty sure it was a miscarriage. It's impossible to say for sure, however, because I never got a positive test. I asked the doctor, and she said it could have been a pregnancy, but that since I never got a positive test, something had interrupted the natural progression of the pregnancy and therefore there was nothing we could have done to prevent the miscarriage, if that's what it was.

Jon and I are treating it that way.

I am doing okay with that. I was proactive in talking with the doctor, and feel there is nothing I did wrong or any way I could have changed the outcome. And never getting a positive test makes it a little less real. Jon made the comment that if I had gotten a positive, and THEN we miscarried, it would have made it a lot harder. I agree. So over all, I'm not too upset about it, which may sound harsh, but I just don't have the energy right now.

We have since done a follicle study (ultrasound of eggs as they're getting ready to ovulate) and the doctor was very optimistic. We did an IUI that day, and are now in the "two week wait." I am not sure if I will update right away or not, once we know whether or not it was successful. Jon says he feels optimistic. I do not.

It's so hard, being on this end of infertility and then childloss. There are so many dynamics; so much emotion. Please pray for me.

3 Steps to Peace

[Written Saturday, May 16, 2015]


A few weeks ago I found this pin on Pinterest:



I never did look up the reference for myself, but I kind of took this to heart, although in a different order

I started praying. More. I feel that since James died, I have been praying so much, but so often it's asking God for what I want. Now, maybe I'm just slow, but I realized: Jesus, when he prayed, did not just pray for things he wanted, but for what GOD wanted. And, you know, some things he wanted. So instead of praying, "God, give me what I want now, because I'm tired of waiting and I just want what I want and I want it now;" (only slightly more maturely than a five-year-old...), I started just talking to God. Telling him about how hard I've been struggling; asking him for his help, praising him for what he's done for me and in my life. Asking for faith, because faith is a gift, and I have been very low on faith lately.

I started thanking him. I have been trying so hard to focus on thanking God for what I have, and trying not to focus on what I don't have. I think I mentioned it before. But I've kind of slipped away from that. Well, a few weeks ago, I remembered the orphanage that George Muller had back in like the 1800s or 1900s in Germany. Sometimes he didn't have breakfast for the orphans, but they would sit down anyway, and give thanks to God for what they did have--even to the point of thanking him for their breakfast, which was not there. Invariably, someone would stop by with food shortly after the prayer. Those children never went hungry. That lesson was important to me. I started thanking God for the children he would someday give me. This took a huge leap of faith for me. How can I be thankful for something I don't have, yet? How can I rest assured in God, in this, the biggest desire of my heart? But I did it anyway. I don't know if it was heartfelt at first. But God is so much bigger than our infertility issues. I prayed with the faith; the hope; the longing; the desire that God would answer.

And I [tried] to stop worrying. God has perfect timing. God is teaching me something. This is outside of my control. I've done all I can to get pregnant, and I have to give it to God. This one, too, is hard, and I'm still learning, still working on it. 

Jon and I have been waiting to do IUIs. We haven't had the money. We want to. I want to. But we did not have the means to pay for the procedure or to take out a loan. We had to wait, and to trust. I again thought of George Muller. He would receive monetary donations for the orphanage; usually people did not specify where the money was to go, so it would go to some certain fund, I don't remember what. (Feeding the kids, or clothing them, or some other necessary area like that.) But sometimes, people would put a specific purpose for the money. Now, George did not go out and advertise that he needed $27.43 for new school shoes for the children, but whenever he prayed, trusting that God would answer his prayer, he would get a donation for $27.43 "For School Shoes."* So I started praying. I told God that if he wanted us to be able to do IUIs, he was going to have to provide the money, because we didn't have it. And it wasn't just that we would be able to penny pinch for the money. He needed to provide the funds and explicitly say it was for the IUI. We did not tell any one this. The following week I was talking with my parents and they asked how much the IUI would cost, so I told them. They asked when we would do another, and I had to say we didn't have the money yet, but when we did we would do one. A few days later, my mom texted me to tell me she and my father had set aside some money for us to do an IUI.** God does, indeed, answer prayer.


This whole thing, the entire time I've been going through this adventure listed above, started just before I ovulated this last cycle. I ovulated on a Sunday, and we did not have the money to do an IUI, although I didn't tell anyone that. It was a week or 10 days after I ovulated that my mom said she'd pay for our next IUI. I am currently 13, almost 14 days past ovulation. I have never had a luteal phase longer than 11 days. Pregnancy tests so far have been negative, but I'm having a hard time not getting my hopes up. I think I'm pregnant. I want, so badly, to be pregnant. But even so, I am praying, thanking God for the children I will some day have. For the peace, the comfort, the hope, that God will give me the desire of my heart; that I just need to wait on his timing; learn the lessons he wants me to learn; fight the good fight; and keep the faith. 



My God is surely the sustainer--the sustainer of hope, of faith, of joy, of strength. Without him, I am nothing. He is my rock; he is my salvation. My salvation from sin, yes; my salvation from damnation, yes. Even more, right now, he is my salvation from sorrow, from desperation, and from pain. He is the reason I can say all these things, the reason I can still have joy in the midst of this heartache. He is.



Disclaimer: I did not have the paragraph about needing money for an IUI to pull on your heartstrings--or your purse strings. I simply wanted to tell it like it is--to give you a clear account of what I've been going through these last few weeks. I AM NOT ASKING FOR YOUR MONEY. I am asking you to see the goodness of God, and the fact that HE EXISTS AND IS INTERESTED AND INVOLVED IN OUR LIVES ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL. These posts are to bring glory to the Lord Most High.



*Not an actual example; one I made up to get the point across.
**Several days previously, I had mentioned that we wanted to do an IUI but that we might need help paying for it. But I didn't ask again; they brought it up. So, this might not be as "drastic" as George Muller's examples, but I still think it counts.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Just Say "No?"

I'm going to try to stay on topic today. I'm not very good at it.

Since James died, I've been asked several times by people who don't know my story if I have a family, or how many children I have, or if I have kids, etc. And I don't know what to say to them.

Most of the time, I find myself answering that no, no family, no kids, just my husband and me. Because to tell a random person who comes up to me while I'm working, asking questions that they don't really care to know the answer to, it's just depressing. And hard to say succinctly without sounding blunt. "Oh, I had one, but he was stillborn;" is not awesome conversation while handing someone a pound of coleslaw.

But there are other times I've said no when they asked if I had kids. Sitting next to a woman on a bench, talking, I said no. I think part of it is to protect myself. People pity those who have experienced that kind of loss. They try to say reassuring things, like, "well, you're young, you'll have another;" or "at least you can get pregnant." But those hurt just as much. I don't just want another baby, I want the one I lost. And we may NOT just be able to have another. We had to go through 3 years of infertility and an IUI to get James. And so far have undergone 2 more IUIs and waited 7 months "for another.". It's not as easy as it seems. Besides, just because we can theoretically have another baby does not make losing one better, easier or less important.

Even when I say 'no," though, people say hurtful things. "You're too young to have kids." "Wait a few years, you'll be glad you did," Lady, I knew I wanted kids early when I was 14. When I got married at 20, I wanted to start a family right away. I don't want to "be free" while I'm young; I want to give my energy and love to a baby now, while I have energy to give. I want to be a mother. Don't assume that because you regret having kids early, or think that kids are a burden, or that being in your 20s is an excuse to be immature and make mistakes that I believe that. Don't tell me to wait till I'm older, and have them as a second thought, as an "Oh, well, I've partied hard, but my body can't handle it any more... I know, I'll pop out a kid or two and be done with it." I don't agree with that. If you do, fine. But don't expect me to live my life by your ideals.

Sorry, I didn't mean to rant.

This post was supposed to be more about thinking through how I want to respond to people who ask questions. I don't want to deny James' existence. And if people want to know, I'm happy to tell them.

I was wearing my necklace (James' name and birthdate, and a picture of his footprints) at Target a few weeks ago. I had decided that if someone ever asked me how many kids I have, I would reply with something like, "One angel baby." Everyone knows what that means, right? And it's quick and not abrupt. Well, this woman asked me what my necklace was. I said it was my angel baby's name and footprints, and she replied, "Oh, how old is he now?" I said he had been stillborn in August. Even when I use the term "Angel Baby" some people don't get it... they should count themselves lucky to be unfamiliar with the term. Since then I have not used the phrase with strangers.

It's just hard. I feel like I lose no matter what. Either I bother people, they bother me, or we bother each other... there is no calm, un-upsetting way to explain what happened.

I still don't have an answer. I'm not sure what I'll say the next time someone brings up me having kids. I'm sure I'll just take it one situation at a time and roll with the punches. After all, I've already dealt with such a difficult thing. What's one more cutting remark?