Mourning into Joy 

I have the honour of being a part of a series called mourning into joy stories started by Sharon McKeeman (@sharonmckeeman on instagram #mourningintojoystories). As I began to write, I realized that there was more I wanted to share than a few sentences on instagram hence this blog post. I feel like sharing my own process might help someone out there.

*Disclaimer, this post is super raw and real and deals a lot with loss, mess and mental illness. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, please feel free to avoid this post!*

WildExplorers_athome_-15

2017. We’ve now entered the 7th year since we lost our daughter Eisley. In some ways it definitely feels like it’s been years, and in others it feel as though it was just yesterday. Here is a bit of our journey and my own honest process through loss.

At 13 weeks pregnant I bled, they found a blood clot which ultimately killed 2/3 of my placenta by week 19. And so began our journey with our Eisley-girl. Nearly every day for months we were told that we would lose her (due to the lack of nourishment to her body). That we should abort her and get on with our lives. But she fought, she held on longer than they’d ever expected. So much longer that the day before she passed away they shared with us that they’d deemed her “viable” and they would deliver her the next Friday. While her potential death had been lingering in it minds for months, it was still a complete shock to our systems when she passed away. It felt unbelievable – she’d held on for so long (7 months). We were so close. We had prayed and believed with everything in us. Many around the world prayed for her. And yet there we were, suddenly thrown into a world of loss: deciding how to birth her (we choose induction and she came 3 days later), preparing to meet her only to say goodbye, planning arrangements for her body, a memorial service to honour her life… and then the years of grief that have followed since.

IMG_8597

At first, I felt peace. Along with many, many things and I let myself feel through them all. I thought I was grieving “well”, to be honest. And then year after year I noticed my heart growing harder, I realized my prayer life had died along with our sweet girl. I didn’t even know how to pray and even how to believe for the best anymore. I denied these things, of course. Until the ache and bitterness inside me seeped out. Into my marriage, my family, my friends. My dreams and desires had changed, even my beliefs shifted. 2015 was my toughest year – I found myself depressed beyond what I’d ever imagined. My marriage was falling apart due to distance I’d created. I felt angry and bitter at everything, especially with God.

823437_10152654868030727_1419159032_o
I found myself living defensively, afraid to be broken again – believing I couldn’t possibly live through anymore brokenness and I’d do my best to control all things to avoid this. Having control seemed like the place to be. It seemed safer than giving anyone or God the reigns, that much was certain. So I clenched my fists and held on. But what I found instead was I felt out of control trying to maintain control. I was always angry (still struggle with this bad habit), always defensive and overly protective, always building new walls, all while trying to appear as though I had it all together. Trying to show loss hadn’t broken me beyond repair, that God was still on the throne of my life, that having two healthy pregnancies after Eisley had “redeemed” many things. Yet beneath the hardened shell was a broken Jami who didn’t even know if she believed in God anymore, and she certainly didn’t believe the sayings she’d heard others speak over her to cover her grieving and broken heart. Beneath it all was a girl who felt she’d scarred her marriage, her children and her own life beyond repair. A girl who felt all hope was lost and constantly wondered how she’d carry on.
I hit rock bottom March 2015. I entered the new year pregnant yet lost the baby at 8 weeks. Less than a month later, our daughter Everly (almost 1) was hospitalized with RSV and it triggered memories of loss and I imagined the worst case scenario possible during the scary times with her. Though she was only in for 4 days and recovered well it triggered grief I’d shoved away and it all felt too much to handle. And to be completely honest, the best option I saw was to leave this world of pain and heartache. I walked my husband and family through hell on that terrible night in March, when I felt I couldn’t continue living the way I was.

WildExplorers_athome_-43
But Jesus met me in my brokeness. When I felt all hope was lost. He met me and I didn’t feel hopeless even though I didn’t know what was next. My husband and I started counseling. I got on medication for depression and anxiety. And we fought: for life, for restoration, for hope, for dreams.
By the time 2016 came I still felt broken though healing was happening. Ted had to move away to Alaska to provide for us as a family and I suddenly was thrown into parenting alone and actually two of my worst fears were combined: I felt so alone. And I felt judged and misunderstood by those around me.
It was unfair to place expectations on others to look after me, especially when I wasn’t honest with where I was really at emotionally/mentally. But I did. And guess what? I was wounded and expectations weren’t met. And I felt utterly alone – so alone in fact it felt physically painful.
And He met me again. Jesus, without any amount of phony sayings to get me through suffering, He just met me in my broken mess. I picture it like this: I’m sitting on the ground with huge glass mirrors shattered all around me. No one wants to come close because of the mess and the fear of being hurt themselves, but here comes this guy I’d rejected so much in the past few years. He didn’t care about the mess, the chance of being wounded… He cared about ME. In fact so much that He joined me in the thick of the mess and brokenness.

“In brokenness I see your face, the colour of your eyes and the taste of your ways.”

(I wrote this years ago and it’s so very true. I realized how close He really was. He’s in my suffering with me.)

Finals-14(September 17, 2013. Eisley’s 3rd birthday, and pregnant with our second daughter, Everly)

Suffering is so complex. And I still have my doubts, I still have questions, and still have no full answers but one thing I do believe with everything within me is that He meets me here. In this mess, in the suffering. He doesn’t shun me for asking the hard questions or for having doubt. He can handle me at my worst and is unashamed of me. He is not disappointed with me. He’s WITH me in my suffering.
Whatever you are going through currently or still processing from years and maybe decades past, HE is with you in your suffering. And anyone who tells you that you must have blind faith, and accept that He “gives and takes away”. Let it go. It isn’t true. He is a good and loving Father and He didn’t do “this” to you. (Seriously, go and watch the sermon on Job by Greg Boyd called Twisted Scripture – it wrecked me in the best way!)
People may not be able to handle you at your worst, but Jesus sure can. Go to Him, He will walk beside you until you find your feet and even then He stays put, helping you as you walk through this journey of loss, heartache and pain.

Through every ebb and flow of grief’s waves. Through every memory that still stings, through every present ache that exists.

He is with you, carrying you, holding you, crying with you…

He will be with you always.

562978_10151057143266989_130697073_n
He can turn your mourning into joy.

———————————–

Since the loss of our Eisley-girl, we have since welcomed two healthy pregnancies and babies into our family. While they do not take the place of our sweet girl or perfectly redeem what we’ve walked through, their precious lives have helped in our healing process. We are so grateful for who they are, and how much they’ve impacted our family!

Shailo Valour (5) – We were terrified during his pregnancy yet felt so strongly that he was everything we named him, Shailo (Shiloh) – God’s gift, a place of peace and rest and worship in a time of battle and Valour (Valor) meaning courage in the face of fear/battle, brave. He has truly, even from the womb, been our brave little gift from God in the midst of fear/anxiety/battle. Seriously, our lives are so much more full, exciting and adventurous with Shailo Valour in our lives.

And Everly Selah (almost 3) –  I remember crying out to Him one evening and journaling my heart out. There was a part of me that felt we would have another daughter someday, and I decided on that evening her name would be a reflection (of who He is to us, to her and who she is to Him) and a declaration that would mean “Forever Amen”. I knew that I wanted her name to declare that He is forever sovereign, good, loving, caring, worthy, etc, etc, etc… amen. We wanted to declare that even though we’ve walked through the darkest valley (for us) He is still all of the beautiful things we believed He was. Despite our suffering and loss, He was still good and caring. We were still His and He was still our Father who loved us. I decided I wanted our next girl’s name to mean forever… so I decided on Ever and added ‘ly’ to fit with our Eisley-girl’s name. Though she ins’t here with us on Earth, I still, very much so, wanted her to be apart of our family. Even when it comes to names. 

We are now 30 weeks pregnant with our 3rd son, and we are hopeful and believing he will be joining us come early March! 

When all we see is our mess, but He sees us.

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” -Mother Teresa

12694713_10153426711111989_4536754274534016780_oSince I’ve pulled my boys from there schools, I’ve returned to a slow paced and calm (ish) life. And I’ve had time to reflect and even look inward.  And OH how I’ve missed and needed this! 12716242_10153436427526989_6775363051451239941_o It’s different this time, for one, obviously Ted is gone that part is hard – but mostly because I just miss him. We all do.



12771553_10153444665221989_5198546652115345337_oBut I’m actually talking about a difference in me, in this season. I’ve found a newfound, or maybe I should say a renewing, of things I am passionate about. Things that bring me life. Even in how I mother. And ultimately all from going deep, remembering who I am at my core. 12747279_10153445374231989_8213789854029803742_o

Don’t get me wrong, it has been hard. And there have been many tears shed between my kids and I.  12622407_10153387077861989_6949008415152673507_oMany arguments, many a time where I’ve felt confused at how to help my kids where they are at. Many moments of lost tempers, patience and grace. 12496223_10153385164066989_4827455189661559232_oBut everyday I feel a new measure of grace and hope and perspective rise with the sun. Okay, woah cheesin’ big time… But guys it’s true! 12698624_10153417125386989_7483916795792617295_oAnd how beautiful and hopeful my life has felt as I’ve remembered this. 12695016_10153416311661989_5998714702086564629_oI mess up everyday in someway. And these 3 little faces peering up at me with such honest and pure unconditional love, and it reminds me of Jesus and his amazing grace and love for me. 12646860_10153409559161989_6676799095229820562_oJust like these precious souls, he doesn’t see my as my messes. 12615255_10153398453606989_5490379131347757456_o He sees ME. Who he’s created me to be. Sure the mess is there and we’ve got to organize, in a sense. Purge and get rid of what isn’t me. 12594038_10153385586471989_2059732738726609481_oAnd when I stop solely focusing so much on my own mess and failures, and listen, he helps me sift through all the mess and suddenly remember who I am, and recognize the girl beneath all of the things piled on me.  12694787_10153406307261989_6295064438992989985_oAnd I feel that happening, in this season. I’m ready, and he’s drawing out of me what he’s places inside of me. And to see that who I am, even in all my deep feeling ways, is beautiful and is useful.img_2437That I am not too much of this or too little of that. I’m not the lies I believe, or the words spoken over me.

 There are treasures inside of all of us. We often let all the pain and guilt and weight of the messes weigh us down so we can’t see that beauty within anymore.   And feel it’s hopeless to try to manage the mess anymore. (Have you ever seen an episode of Hoarders? I picture sometime like that. :)) but, friends…

He is forever faithful.
And loving.
And compassionate.
And kind.

He’s so faithful to work with us through whatever our mess may be. And however long it may take.

 This season has been painful, and difficult as I’ve decided to start facing my piles of pain, bitterness, rejection, loss, loneliness, selfishness, broken dreams, words spoken over me, parenting fails, etc … I could go on and on. Couldn’t we all?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Or we do the opposite and believe there is no mess, no fault in us. I’ve had seasons like that too. Where pride, or perhaps fear, get in the way and we put on a disguise (knowingly or unknowingly).

img_1637
I’m beginning to remember who I am at my core, discard who I’m not – the things I’ve picked up along the way that maybe are someone else but aren’t me, face the things I’ve done wrong, and love, love and love myself through this process. Which is something I’ve never really done. Maybe you haven’t either.

I’ve spent years pouring my life into helping others, which does bring me life! But often time I have ONLY poured into others. I’ve even tried to prove my love and worth to others. And only recently it hit me, to be honest I felt burnt out and too weighed down by trying to live solely taking care of others, that I realized I {NEED} to remember to nourish my own soul, too. I need to work through these painful messes. I love the quote you see above by Mother Teresa. And I agree but wonder, what if take it a step even further back…What is we started with ourselves and then the person nearest us, and go out from there! God can use us broken, I believe it and I’ve seen it, but I believe he wants to help us to remember who we are and that our brokenness doesn’t define us at our core. Is shapes us in certain ways, for sure.

 And we will have scars, hidden and exposed, I sometimes think of the more exposed scars as perhaps as a way to share our stories and help another not feel so alone. And the hidden ones that are maybe too personal or painful to share with anyone besides Jesus himself or a close few. (We all have our own personal measures on what we share of course!)

 I’m realizing it isn’t selfish to look inward and take time to remember who you are at your core. Who has he made you to be? What are the things he placed inside of YOU? Maybe things that are beautifully YOU but you’ve unknowingly shut them down because of what man has spoken over you? Or maybe you just haven’t taken time for yourself in a long, long time and you’re weary of the mess you’ve made/collected/picked up along the way? Whatever your “mess” is, it isn’t too much for our Creator, our Father, our Friend. Don’t lose hope. You’re not in this alone!

Take time for YOU. Do things that bring you life and rid yourself of the rest, even if temporarily or maybe forever. For me I’ve limited my interaction with the Facebook world and focused more on reading, journaling, listening to music and singing, and playing with my kids, getting out into nature often – gathering new freckles from the sunshine, spending time with my friends. I’m working on my emotional/mental state and attempting to work on my physical state as well – but that’s for another post ;)

Also blogging is something  I want to pick up again, hence this post.  12764652_10153453776456989_787978701691174019_o

What brings you life? What refreshes and renews you? What disguise have you tried to maintain, maybe even unknowingly? What lies are you believing? Has busyness become your norm that you’ve forgotten how to be still and dig deep?

Do something healthy for you today. Because a healthier you, equals a healthier outlook on life, a healthier and more genuine way we reach people and show them who Jesus is. (Speaking to myself here too of course!!)

Maybe it’s time we unmasked the disguised version of ourselves, faced our messes, purged the hell out of the piles, and maybe even shared our scars with the world and watch what happens. I think we’d be amazed!

I already feel this way and I’ve only just begun. How amazing is our Jesus, who can use us along the way of purging these messes – that he doesn’t wait until we’ve reached perfection!

How beautiful His loving kindness that when all we see are our messes, He sees US. And longs to show us what He sees.

 

Finding the beauty beneath.

(May 2014)

One year ago today we moved to Colorado Springs! And oh what a year it has been for our family! We spent time reflecting on the past year in “the Springs”, our new city and home – it has been uniquely beautiful, even though it wasn’t anything like we’d imagined.

Jesus has been seeking after my heart, pursuing me over and over again, meeting me where I’m at, in ways that might seem so small but are significant to me. Lately, it has been in nature, while being down on my knees, wrist deep in dirt, yanking up weeds, planting seeds and flowers…The last year has been a season of what reminds me a lot of weeding, actually. It has actually been THE hardest and the best year simultaneously. I touched on this a bit in one of my recent posts (click here to read) – We’ve moved, yet again, and found ourselves in the same place as before: broken, struggling, lonely, avoiding painful things and busying our lives in such a way we don’t have to face them.

Until, like weeds, these things have begun to suffocate us over the past almost 5 years since Eisley’s death. Taking over our lives so much so that it was hard to even see the beautiful things now hidden beneath the mess. It was beginning to be hard to remember they were even there anymore.

We’re currently walking through the thick of what springtime brings – figuratively and literally speaking;  sunshine and rainy days begin to be more and more frequent, flowers, buds and trees begin to blossom, and also these icky things called weeds begin to grow as well. IMG_7752

(The ‘before’ of part of our front yard)

It might sound odd, but weeding is one of my favourite things to do in springtime. It can be tedious, it is guaranteed to be messy, and is even painful at times but working hard removing the weed – digging deep, finding the root and digging it out completely, it’s truly rewarding. Even when you’ve finished just a small area, and step back to take a look at your work, it’s encouraging! You begin to notice the plants or flowers that have been hidden yet have still tried to make their way through the thick of the weeds.  IMG_7735

(Hard work pays off!)

It isn’t perfect and weeds are bound to pop up now and again, but what if we pulled them as they appeared, rather than avoid them? Imagine how much more beautiful and freeing that would be!

Have you ever noticed how the weeds you decided to avoid the spring/summer before seem to come back twice as big and hardy, and maybe even multiplied? This is the perfect picture of what the past (almost) 5 years have been like for us.  Gnarly weeds growing and taking over areas that were once full of life and beauty.

When we moved to The Springs, I had high expectations for what moving meant for us. Expectations of the busy life slowing to a more simpler, family centered life where we could find healing. I had these ideas of what it “should” look like and thought maybe, just maybe THIS will be the place we find healing, and truly begin to move forward and not backwards. Not long after the move I began to notice familiar patterns and again we were in a constant struggle, and yet another season of “too busy” to face things that need faced head on.

And to be honest, this fall, I crumbled.  And then we added more loss and more heartache in January with the loss of another baby (I should be 24 weeks now). And I just felt done with it all,  to the point of no return. The journey of seeking after healing after loss felt so hopeless when loss continues to pile up on us. And time slips away so fast we aren’t able to process, or perhaps choose not to because we just don’t know where to begin.

We hit rock bottom soon after Everly’s 1st birthday.  We were truly suffocating from the “weeds” and it was time to either face what needs to to be faces, or to allow them to suffocate us.

But this time we’ve chosen to face things head on. To dig deep and yank up those damn roots that have been growing deeper and larger each year! For once we’ve actually taken steps to move forward and OH HOW HEALING that alone has been.

I think we all some type of  “weed” in our lives that’s suffocating us, am I right? Maybe one’s we’ve avoided for so long, we can no longer see the beauty hiding beneath. Or perhaps they are small ones, just beginning to appear.

 Let’s dig them up, friends!IMG_7753

(Shailo showing me how tall the Iris has grown – it’s rare when he wants his picture taken or he’s actually looking at the camera haha)

Spring time is here, and I can’t wait to see the beauty that unfolds from our hard work!

Let’s Carry the Lee Family.

Our dear friends tragically lost their daughter yesterday. She was born 19 weeks early and lived for a few hours before she passed away. In this time many people who know them personally have asked how to help, so we’ve created a practical way for people to help financially using Go Fund Me (EVERY penny goes directly to them).  Even if you do not know them personally, would you consider giving? I decided to reach out to all of you, my sweet blog followers!

LetscarrytheleesPlease consider giving here and sharing this link on your own social media platforms?

Let’s rally together and carry the Lees in this time of deep sorrow.

#Letscarrythelees

Lessons at the Royal Gorge.

11083725_10155521152615727_815169804541689623_o

(The Royal Gorge – photo by Ted)

We’re facing some huge mountains and even deep valleys in our lives. (pun intended with this post, but I’m also quite serious) ‘The mountains’ being decisions we’re having to make and ‘the valleys’ representing the areas we have yet to face that we are afraid to, or “haven’t had time” to. We are weighed down by life’s punches and blows, the sudden ones and the old blows that still ache with each breath. Today, we just knew we had to get out – literally.  Where better to run to in Colorado than to the mountains? It’s always our favourite escape. We begin our trek usually not knowing where we are going – letting go of (almost) all control (which is why Ted drives in such circumstances), we drive until we decide where to go and what to do. More often than not, our kiddos fall asleep within the first 20-30 minutes, we roll our windows down to take in the fresh air and just listen to music.

After some time, one of the two of us speak the vulnerable, powerful words that carry so much…”I’m so sorry…”and reach for the other’s hand. Hot tears stream down our cheeks.

Here we are again, and again, and again.

So much pain and suffering shoved to the side, overlooked, or perhaps avoided, raising it’s ugly head in words spoken to one another. And life, oh life hasn’t been gracious to stop to say “Hey, it’s okay to grieve. Let’s talk. Let’s cry. Let’s scream. Let’s write. Let’s take time to heal.”

It’s been brutal. And boy, are we done.  But not done with LIFE and with LIVING. We are done with SUFFERING. Suffering, not just due to the losses we have had, but mainly the suffering due to the choices we’ve made along the way. Ones of avoidance, choices made to choose the busyness of life so not to feel and face the valleys, the deep and dark places that terrify us.

The first few months of this year have been incredibly painful, filled with sickness after sickness, hospitalization of Everly, and amidst all of that the loss of another baby (I would entering my 2nd trimester this week). From the outside looking in, we appear to be okay. And it makes sense why people around us have thought we’ve even moved on. Appearance… oh my. What a joke, am I right? How many times do we (you?) lie through your teeth “I’m doing good!”? We just keep pushing through and going and going and going. But is that strength? We know, we are anything but strong right now. We had given up just two weeks ago. We wanted to call it quits on everything. And those moments, our “rock bottom”, have led us to this moment here…

Now, we are making choices for our family that aren’t easy (the mountains) which don’t look anything like we’d imagined, or planned for. Or where we’d imagined. It actually might seem like a rather simple life, from the outside looking in. Or like we’ve given up on our dreams, our calling even. But we know this is not, and that this is the first time we are deliberate in choosing to face this “valley” that we haven’t fully faced, and that is no small or simple or weak thing. It is strong to decide this path, though it’s more painful and requires more faith (for us).

11077787_10155521152525727_3316309797572542585_o

(The Royal Gorge – photo by Ted)

I stood today and looked down into the depths of this gorge. And my stomach sank due to fear (especially with my kids near!) yet once I recognized how truly safe we were, the fear naturally dissolved and I began to see the beauty everywhere. There was beauty even in the depths where the river raged below. I almost gasped, it was so stunning. I suddenly realized it was no coincidence that we were there. I felt like this was a picture of where we are at: A picture of us, facing this gorge, this valley and feeling fear as we look down. Fear of falling and being unable to get back up, or worse. Fear of the unknown in facing the raging river. But from above I can see there is also beauty below. Though it will be difficult to crawl back into that valley and face these things, the beauty that will meet us amidst all of this pain and fear, is undeniably healing.

Now, if you had told me I would get this kind of an amazing picture, just even a week ago, I would have scoffed, honestly. I have put up some major barriers in my relationship with God in my search for answers. Searching for peace and understanding in every season of life and feeling as though I come up empty handed each time, or worse – suffering more loss. And that is painful and confusing. I want to be in a place where I can trust Him wholeheartedly, again. And with this picture, I feel like once I can do what He’s wanting us to do – to truly face this valley – our fear will begin dissolve, our trust will begin to build up again.

He’ll walk us through this valley. He will be with us.

And perhaps, for now, that is my answer. That He will be with us each step of the way.

(taken with my iphone)

 And for these little eyes that are watching, and looking into the gorge but not truly knowing what their momma and daddy are giong to be facing (and honestly, I don’t want them to fully know!)… I want to do this for all of us. I want to show them that though you will face these gorges, and have to walk through these valleys, you need to and you WILL come out alive.

We are more than conquerers with Him.

 We can do this.

However difficult and painful. However long it takes.IMG_4959

Time to face this valley.

//

I’ve written posts with talk of this kind of having hope to face this. Talk of facing giants and valleys and mountains and fears, etc, etc, etc… but this time we actually have steps in place to help us. Such as long term grief and marital counseling for this year. Which is a first, the longest stretch we did was almost 2 months, and it was our healthiest 2 months since the loss of Eisley. Grief and lingering sorrow have truly seeped into every area of our lives: health – we are both the most unhealthy we’ve ever been physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s seeped into our drive, our passions, into who we are and how we live.

I told Ted today, for the first time since Eisley passed away, I have felt it is time to move forward. I need to figure out how to say goodbye, which is something I haven’t been able to let go and to do yet. Almost 5 years later… I don’t know what this will look like, but I am ready to move forward and begin my trek through this valley.

Thankful that Jesus is walking before us.

Thank you for reading this novel. :)

-J

The part where I gave up.

Until 2014, I have prided myself in being “adaptive”.  5.5 years ago I had our first baby after what (at the time, before having lost a baby) I felt was the worst birth/labor ever., 14 months later we lost our Eisley-girl, 14 months after that the birth of our surprise/gift Shailo, 28 months later we had our sweet Everly!

Aside from having 4 BEAUTIFUL babies… we have moved 8 times, one of which was overseas (during my pregnancy with Everly) where I attended a counseling school. We have each had jobs simultaneously, or we have struggled along as Ted had worked his bum off. Add college for Ted for 3 of those years. Add unpredictable grief. Add all of life’s in betweens…

I felt I had (we had) taken the ebbs and flows of life pretty darn well …*pat pat pat*…

Until 2014… we entered 2014 having just moved back from Amsterdam to no home, nothing but a few boxes of memorabilia in storage. Our plans of moving to Alaska suddenly changed and we found ourselves living with family… again. (They are amazing thankfully, we were so blessed!) We had Everly just shy of 2 months into the new year, and that was INCREDIBLE. We added baby number 3 (4th baby, really. … will I ever be able to just be okay saying the number of kiddos that are with me? Probably not….) and Ted had to go back to work just a few days later. We also went through the process of finding and buying a home. Many  5 hour drives (round trip) to visit homes, and then finally at the end of May we moved and have since planted some roots.

We have a home…

And then it happened… the adaptive, roll-with-the-punches Jami snapped this fall. I have lost it.  I guess I had huge expectations that we would now have time to process the dark times of our life in a healthy way… FINALLY. And that we would have more time as a family period. But honestly, our life is so insanely busy right now, that we barely have had time to process everyday life let alone the really gnarly parts.

Also the whole “keeping the me in mommy…” I haven’t done but maybe 5 things for myself this fall, like blogging, it’s been way too long! Normally by the beginning of a new year I share a post with beautiful moments throughout our year and also a new word for our year. I’m really not in a place to do that right now. My positivity is really quenched. Maybe someday soon, or maybe this is as good as it is going to get this time around. And I’m okay with that…

This is just a season in our lives, one that I know I will look back on and be so grateful for A) making it out alive and B) I hope to make it out a stronger person … and as a stronger family. But I guess I’m kind of over the surviving and I really want to deal with the fact that we. have. lost our. child. Our Eisley-girl.. I want to STOP and just BE sometimes.

It’s ugly, it’s messy, it’s painful. I’m unbearably miserable to be around (Ted basically pushed me out the door to have time alone and to write).  I go to bed feeling guilty and I wake feeling overwhelmed…wondering how I can keep putting my family through this debilitating depression, anxiety and anger. I wish someone could shake me and scream “get ahold of yourself woman!” and I’d just simply snap out of it. But i know it’s not the simple.

I feel guilt and an ache inside when I look at my beautiful little girl as a smile brightens her face… this twinge of guilt knowing that if I continue down this path, I will look back someday, and even now, and realize what a precious time in her life that I just allowed myself to survive, instead of truly live, breathe and enjoy  these precious and fleeting moments, like I used to.

For the first time since I’ve been a mother, and particularly since we’ve lost Eisley, I have completely lost myself… even physically look in the mirror and I cannot believe my eyes. Not just the weight, but my actual eyes, seem different. You know that saying “Your eyes are the window to your soul” … it sounds dramatic but it’s almost like even my body has had enough of me trying to hold everything together over these years. It’s like screw being adaptive! Let’s face this! Every season of life we’ve entered, even when it felt impossible I always been this “I’ve got this” person and I just did it. I don’t even know how, i just thought “Well, I can’t give up” and I (we) made it.

I’ve shared briefly and vaguely on the blog about my struggle with depression. But never this transparent. Perhaps because of the stigma attached to mental illness. And even as I write that “mental illness”, I cringe. It’s like I feel I’m saying “I’m weak” but in reality I know just how strong I’ve had to be. Even when it doesn’t feel that way. I have seen MANY family and friends walk through depression and they are some of the strongest people I know.

I hide it because frankly I feel ashamed.. I feel like there is this Jami everyone thinks they know, but that’s a version of me I want people to see. But even that facade is beginning to crumble. I find myself less and less able to hide… especially in a community where you are around people all. of. the. time. I want to hide away in our home, but I actually can’t, like it’s not even a possibility due to our schedules. Which maybe is a blessing in disguise (no). But I want to just hide away from the world. I don’t want people to see me failing and falling apart. (Yet, here I am sharing! HA!)

This is a part of my journey and my process. It isn’t for attention or for people to feel sorry for me. This is just me. I want to write it out loud (and believe me this isn’t everything). I also want others who struggle with depression and anxiety and anger to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No one wants to share this part of themselves. We always want to share the parts we feel we have all together, or appear to have figured out. I have a deep respect for those who are humble and honest with where they are at. It is beautiful to come together in these difficult and dark valleys as well as the mountain top experiences as well.

I think we often fall trap to the lie that if we share these things people will run from us or worse, stay and say something christian cliche when all I want to do is scream Do you not know the same Jesus I do?! He walked through the messy, the gnarly. I know I feel weary of the runners and cliche words hence sharing very little until now. (Unfortunately I have been a runner or a cliche talking fool myself at times!)

I didn’t make a huge list of goals this year, like last year and the years before. I actually have made very few (and that was only with the encouragement of my girl Britt!)

This fall I started believing that I just can’t do this anymore and to be honest, ALL of the members of my family have felt that. Jami – the me, the wife, the friend, the momma, the homemaker, etc…. she’s given up.

But I can’t stay here… I want to start believing that I can again even when it feels like I can’t.

Yet, I also want to be real and honest with where I am at and work through the things I need to as they come and even the moments that have past and are the darkest.

And I want to be gentle with myself along the way (I’m the hardest on myself…)

I also want to do more of the things that are me and that I love and miss.

This is a declaration…

And I’m saying it with faith because I truly don’t know how to get back up from here… but I WILL.

blog_

For my wounded/confused/amazing husband, for my beautiful (probably traumatized) kiddos… for me.

Here’s to a year of BREAKTHROUGH …  here’s to 2015.

Sharing Eisley (on sharing child loss)

This week Chase asked me about Eisley… again. His curious mind, wondering and trying to process things he either vaguely remembers, or things he’s heard and seen. Pictures, memorabilia, even the breakdowns I’ve had (that I can’t say I’m overly proud of).

I remember before I had her as the fear of losing her became greater and greater, I struggled with wondering, do I tell my almost 14-month-old anything? I mean he wouldn’t even remember, right? I knew he wouldn’t understand but would he feel things?

While I was in labor with Eisley, I was given a nurse who had two stillborn babies,her first baby and her third. She had children between and after her losses and she shared with me that she and her husband had decided to tell her other children. They were a part of their family, and they would celebrate them each year.

But what would we do? And if I don’t share now while he was little, then when? Do I ever?

Then I had Eisley, and to be honest, I didn’t really have time to think things through… clearly, anyways. It was all kind of a blur, a fog…a nightmare.

I think I knew deep down, not sharing about her wasn’t really an option. I felt so close with her, and now I felt like a part of me was missing. How could I not share her?

And even the moments, like this week and and the weeks to come – where the haunting anniversaries arrive, memories resurface, pain feels raw all over again,… I don’t ever regret sharing her…

and I especially don’t regret sharing Eisley with Chase, and now Shailo and some day, Everly.

There is truly an Eisley-shaped hole in our family that not only are Ted and I learning to live with. But also our children. They don’t feel the magnitude of what we felt and feel, but they feel something. Chase remembers some things from that time, though he was little.

IMG_8346

And more than that, they too, are processing the questions that arise in them that their minds can’t wrap around. It’s funny, in a childlike way, he has had some of the same thoughts/questions I’ve had for my Heavenly Father.

Like this last week when he said to me, “I know Eisley is with Jesus… But I wish she could come here and stay in our new home with us.”

Oh my heart.

I found myself wanting to say something comforting like, “but she is in heaven with Jesus and I bet she has a super cool room!”

But I just couldn’t. Validation, Jami, it’s what helped you when you needed it most, “yeah, me too, buddy.”

“Well, we can pretend she’s here!” He said and pulled Everly’s little rocker into the hallway.

I didn’t really know what to do or to say. So I didn’t. I didn’t move the chair for hours. But when the house was quiet as all 3 kiddos napped and I spotted the sun shining perfectly on the little rocker. It just broke me. I fell to my knees, put my head down and wept on to the empty rocker.

Even in these painful moments and memories, I still don’t… And can’t… Regret sharing her with her siblings.

Or sharing her with you along the way.

I had this fear she’d be forgotten, like she’d never existed, when we first lost her.

I wanted people to know of the beautiful little girl we held for 45 minutes. I wanted people to know of who we felt she was and to remember how she impacted us and also those who prayed for her.

To not share who she was, who she is and how she impacted our lives, felt like an injustice. For her, and honestly, for myself too. I always desire authenticity, even here on my
Blog. It has helped my grieving immensely, to write about her life and my struggles since she passed, and how we are moving forward as life is speeding by.

I realized, almost four years later, the ache is still ever-present and though it seems different, it isn’t any easier to process. We are still learning how to live with this ache, with the questions that arise in ourselves and in our kids/

This week I have felt so thankful that we decided to share her life with our other kiddos. And that we don’t hide behind close doors with our grief (though at time, we do). That even though the sudden questions may take us aback, we address them.

I haven’t been proud of many moments in my grief these past four years, but this is an area I am very thankful we allowed.

That we accept this as a part of our lives and say it’s okay to grieve and to talk about her. To ask the questions that linger.

We are learning what it means to share her life, to grieve and rejoice, together. Though each grieves so very differently, it is together as a family. And for that, I am beyond thankful.

I wanted to close the doors on my emotions this year, for some reason that I can’t quite pinpoint. But Chaseyboy’s questions and that moment in the hallway broke me.

I’m thankful. So thankful, as we are less than two weeks away from anniversaries.

Thank you for reading my emo blog post. I guess I just want to be sure I keep sharing. That I don’t close the door to the blog world, too. I know this blog has touched so many grieving mommas. I want to say to you that it’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to share and to be heard and feel validated. Your child’s life happened, your loss happened. Speak it, cry it out, scream it out if needed. Be heard by at least one. I’m not saying you must write a blog in order to validate their life and your loss, but I just want to speak it out for you mommas, especially those who feel weak… don’t shut the doors to your grief, don’t fret that you will mess up your other kiddos if you cry in front of them.  It is okay to share, it might even help those around you too.

Sharing has helped in my healing. Sharing has helped in our family’s healing. It’s still painful, but it does helps.

Love,
J

 

The birth story of Everly Selah Davis.

The birth story of Everly Selah Davis.

Though this was my 4th birth, 3rd C-section and 2nd planned C-section… my nerves were still undone just a few hours before the scheduled birth of our precious little girl!

Saying goodbye to my kids, though obviously temporary, is still difficult and very bittersweet. I kissed my little guys and Ted and I headed out. “Next time you see momma, your baby sister will be here!”
Everly-0001

I have to mentally prepare myself as best I can before heading into the hospital: the sites, the smells, even some of the same nurses, etc. It is the hospital that I’ve had my best and my worst moments of my life in. The birth of our firstborn son July 18, 2009 and then the death and 3 day labor then birth of our first daughter September 17, 2010. Some have asked why we don’t switch hospitals and find different doctors. But the truth is… I trust our doctor and he’s been through the most difficult pregnancy and birth with us, I couldn’t ask for anyone else to help me deliver my babies.

This time around, I had a lot more peace than I did when I arrived to have Shailo, just 14 months after the loss of Eisley. I felt ready to have Everly. I felt ready to meet our little girl.

I checked in 2 hours prior to my surgery (as required) and soon began the poking and prodding. I was priding myself in the difference between 22-year-old me getting an IV put in when in labor with Chase and how well I was taking it a few years and a few babies later …”taking it like a champ”. However, before I could pat myself on the back too much, the nurse dug and dug around and I almost passed out. My world went gray and cloudy, noises sounded funny and I felt like I could literally hear each beat of my heart. They waved a strong scent in front of my nose and my eye popped open. I could hear my nurses LAUGHING… “That was the LOWEST I’ve ever seen anyone’s blood pressure fall without them passing out!”

Oh, gee, glad I could make you LAUGH. Haha! I came back around, somewhat glad for a temporary distraction to keep me from watching the hand tick on the clock in my hospital room. Has it been 2 hours yet? Ugh, 45 minutes (or so) to go. I haven’t been able to eat OR drink anything since 10pm the night before and I’m thirsty… so they feed me ice chips. Mmm. And then just when I think my throat couldn’t possibly get any more dry… they offer me a shot of the nastiest gunk… ironically to help ease the feelings of nausea that could come with meds and anitheisia they would soon give me.

Everly-0002Dr. Hill and the anesthesiologist gave Ted permission to photograph the birth! And this time they gave him even more free reign!
Everly-0003Everly-0004(when Ted showed me pics of the birth I saw this pic and it made me cry!)Everly-0005Preparing to stick a big ol’ needle in my spine. Everly-0006Everly-0007(THIS is Dr. Hill. He looks intense and has a super dry sense of humor, but let me tell ya, this man rocks. It kind of took me until we walked through pregnancy and bed rest with Eisley to see his heart, but I couldn’t ask for a better guy to deliver our babies!) Everly-0008The room is freezing, though at this point that is the last thing on my mind. Fear GRIPS me as I lay on the table waiting with baited breath, to hear her cry.
Everly-0009I look calm, but inside I’m anything but. Though it’s not painful, I can still feel them pushing and pulling. I literally feel like someone is sitting on my chest, I can’t breath which by now (remember, 3rd c-section!) I know this means Everly is on her way out!Everly-0011And then it happens. I hear her scream.

(I love these moments Ted captured.)

And then I breath and I cry with relief.

Everly-0012

Dr. Hill pops her head and body over the blue curtain that separates us, and I get my first peek at the beautiful life I’ve waited to see for months.

Welcome to the world, Sweet Ever!

Everly-0013Ignore the needle (Or perhaps I just pointed it out to you)… take in my face. OH MY HEART. Everly-0014Everly-0015Everly-0017Smaller than her brothers.
Everly-0019
They allow skin to skin in the operating room now (awesome, right?!) Although, and I’m still not sure why, I wasn’t able to do that. They sewed me up and I wasn’t able to hold her until I was in the recovery room. I was shaking and falling asleep (due to the meds) so it was probably for the best. When I did get to hold her, she nursed right away and did amazing! I didn’t want her to leave my arms. Everly-0020Proud daddy. Everly-0021We were so thankful they allowed my Mother-in-law Anisa to be in the room. She wasn’t allowed with Shailo and that was a bit devastating for her.
Everly-0022Everly-0023First official bath. The nurses kept commenting on how perfect her colouring was! Pink little lady!Everly-0024Meeting my dad, Grandpa Matt, who is head over heels for her.Everly-0026Meeting her brothers.Everly-0025

Proud brothers! Chase’s told Shailo, “I wish you could have a sister, Brother!” as he held her. Umm, buddy, you’ll be sharing her :)

Everly Selah’s birth day was one filled with excitement, joy and peace.

Words can’t express how thankful I am that our Father allowed another beautiful girl to be apart of the Davis clan. While she doesn’t replace Eisley in any way – they both hold such a special, unique place in this momma-heart of mine – He has already used Ever to help heal areas in my life that I didn’t think possible. We are so grateful for this precious little bundle!

Everly-0001

Now we’ve blinked and our sweet girl is 4 months old!

anchored in {hope}

This weekend I’ve had a bit of time to process and I was reflecting on this past year. I’m kind of in awe right now, actually. At the beginning of this year, I never would have imagined I’d be doing a counseling school in Amsterdam – to be honest, at that time, I couldn’t even imagine making it through another month the way I was. January was one of my darkest months – regarding my struggle with depression.. I had lost almost all hope. My sense of adventure, my dreams, etc gone. I broke down and burnt out, my family suffered immensely during this time.

Especially Ted, who was in school and working full time. He’d come home to wife who’d given up and given in to fear, depression and anxiety instead of choosing life, joy and hope amidst grief. Because of this debilitating depression, my lack of energy and motivation for life – even our marriage was suffering. My insecurity of how much I had changed since we lost Eisley, also came into play here as well. I was now his broken wife, my children’s broken momma. “I should be fine by now. Something is wrong with me, I must be broken beyond repair.”…

Our Godsend was Mark, a counselor who Ted and I began seeing in February. This was a huge and incredible step for us both. We even did EMDR ( eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy as well, to help deal with trauma we hadn’t been able to process from our pasts and from the loss of Eisley (for me in particular). This is when I first began to feel my veil of grief, lift. The beginning of healing.

I began dreaming again, for our family and remembering our hopes for the future. (Including the dream of continuing to grow our family – hence our current pregnancy :))

Now, being here and a part of this counseling school, I know He’s truly placed us here for this season. He wants to bring healing and transformation from the inside out, and He’s shown me how to live in this brokenness without feeling weighed down and lifeless. He’s shown me that even in the midst of sorrows in our lives His hope is present.

blogpost_november2013

I love this verse and the picture it brings. We have this HOPE as an ANCHOR for the soul.

No matter how mighty and powerful the storms are, we can be anchored in h o p e.

A hope that is firm and secure. His hope in us, never wavering amidst even the greatest of storms in our lives. This is what I feel He’s shown me over and over since we’ve been in Amsterdam. He’s shown me that even in the midst of the suffering in my own personal life from childhood to where I am now; this hope He is speaking of, it’s here; it’s a beautiful gift to us, His children. His heart aches with our aching hearts, He doesn’t want to see his children suffering and He offers us this hope that holds us secure (in Him). Whether it be from our mountain top experiences to the deepest, darkest valley. Offered to us in our greatest storms and in our calm and peaceful times.

We will still have our moments, in our human nature, where’ we forget we have this hope. Friday, was one of those, where I gave way to fear in my pregnancy. I allowed it to swallow me up for a few hours, before I yielded to this hope I’m talking about.

One thing i had really come to understand with this year is this: undeniably we have been changed by the loss of Eisley, but I – and Ted and I – are not broken beyond repair. We are forever changed in our own ways, some good and some not so good. We are working through the ugly parts, and learning to live with our brokenness as well. There will always be an ache when we think of precious Eisley-girl. I am accepting this as a part of who we are now…

…but I also feel like He’s showing me how to live with this. It’s really beautiful and precious to me that He’d choose to walk alongside us in our grieving and processing, and offer us His hope while feeling our suffering as well.

I guess what I’m getting at is this; His hope accepted is an anchor for our souls. I am incredibly thankful to know that no matter how great our storms, we are in Him, even when it feels like we might be drowning.

Friends, we have this hope, firm and secure.

for her. for them. for me.

253047_10151068114196989_678428207_n

This summer I began running – or really, jogging (I’m still so slow.) It was very therapeutic for me this summer as it was one of the most difficult summers in my life. I have written a bit about it here on the blog before. I was so proud to make it out of this summer and into fall. And now, into 2013 feeling much better and ready to face a new year. Eisley’s passing date and birthday this year was one I didn’t share on my blog. I guess I didn’t really know how to best convey my heart because honestly, I didn’t even know what was happening within me. I was a complete wreck this year, 2 years later. I can’t explain it and I guess if you’ve ever lost anyone, you’d understand that – there really sometimes isn’t a way to explain your grief.

To top it off I had thrown up walls with every person in my life (Ted too). I had two friends (nearby) that really continued to pursue me despite my walls and pushing away – my “funk” – or whatever you’d call it. They are the ones I asked to join me in a 5k I did, not because I didn’t still love my other friends or anything! But because it was, at the time, what I felt was best for me.377847_10151065744211989_890910759_nA verse of truth that I still cling to, especially in troubled times where truth is hard to remember. (a piece of a letter I wrote to E in the hospital)
225956_10151072251661989_803752062_n

This year, we had a simple picnic lunch on her birthday and did a balloon release. each year we write notes on pink balloons and release them. 267197_10151068118951989_1913800824_n  Chase was way more involved and understanding this year and that made our hearts both full and ache simultaneously. 380053_10151072238656989_1697785671_n

383372_10151072248991989_970283275_n

423677_10151068711211989_716222477_n

our family photo on Eisley’s birthday September 17, 2012

EisleysbirthdayfamilyphotoCollage2011 // 2012
426795_10151068722831989_1162516962_nwe went out to a local ice cream shop, Scrumptious, for Eisley’s birthday after the balloon release.
536210_10151069331876989_2101037177_n

I knew I wanted to run a 5k around Eisley’s birthday and last minute, I found one. The {PERFECT} one. Colour Me Rad. How incredibly fitting. The final stretch was PINK powder too which just made my heart so very happy and thankful, like it was truly a run in honour of her.

This run was so much more to me than words can describe. The physical victory was amazing – 3.2 miles (mostly ran, I was sick with a cough and strep throat – which at the time I didn’t know that!) – but more than anything, the significance of this run meant more than anything. I felt like it was a declaration – one in honour of Eisley and also as a declaration that I WILL keep going. That I can. That despite everything I am FEELING, I can do this. I can live.

201527_10152252960295727_576955782_o

for her.
131638_10152252970965727_1272981849_o

333721_10152252971155727_1957266157_o

for them.
620886_10152252958760727_15126740_o for me.