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.

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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.

Pregnancy After Loss {Part 4}: Was I hoping for a boy or a girl? (Word heavy blog post)

(You can read part 1 herepart 2 here, and part 3 here.)

This “Part 4” is where I feel the most fear and hesitation about sharing honestly but I also feel a desire to share my heart regarding this. It’s a question that comes up a lot and also I think an unspoken one among many and I really do want to share.

 Was I hoping for a boy or a girl?

Mustache or bows? :)

I really want to pause here before I write about my response. I want to say that if you’ve walked through the loss of a child and are reading this, PLEASE know that this post isn’t to say that how I felt is the only way to feel or that you were wrong in your feelings. Another reason I feel so hesitant to share also because I don’t want another momma who has lost a child to feel an ounce of guilt over what they/you may have/will feel. Even though we may walk the same path of losing a child, we all grieve and ache differently and have different desires and longings when it comes to pregnancy after loss. Okay, whew, how’s that for a disclaimer :)

From early on in this pregnancy I journaled my heart away and I will share a snit bit of my response to these very questions. Let’s rewind to the beginning of this pregnancy.

If you’ve ever been pregnant or have known a loved one who has been pregnant, you know that the moment the two little pink lines show up, they never shut up :) You/they are flooded with all kinds of emotion and the excitement pours out at any given moment when a new thought arrises; thoughts about a future with a baby, will it be a boy or girl, wondering what day they will be born, early or late, big or small, hair or bald, daddy’s nose or mommy’s, etc, etc, etc…

Newly pregnant with baby #3, I wasn’t able to enjoy these questions that arose within me as I did with my first two babies. Instead I was faced with a loads of fear and anxiety as I finally began to think of the future. Thinking of labor was out of the question due to fear and memouries from a stillbirth. Thinking of a life with another little one on the way, I just couldn’t. I had a hard time finding hope to believe this little one would make it into my arms healthy and alive, breathing.

When it came to the thought of gender of this little one… whew. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have hopes for one gender or the other in each of my pregnancies. In my pregnancy with Chase, I had thought it was a girl all while deep inside I had hoped it was a boy because I loved the idea of having my kids have an older brother as I never did. With Eisley, I just had a feeling from the beginning that she was our Eisley-girl. I wanted her to be and she was.

This time around I found myself in an entirely different place than with the first two pregnancies. I cried out to God in regards to this little one’s gender. (And here is where my fear sets in before I share my heart…) Here is a quote from my journal that I feel says what my heart felt the best (I edited out some more personal things, but this is the main portion I feel to share);

“…you know my heart, you know how I’m wired, you know me better than even I know myself…I know that you know what I need, even if it’s not what I would have thought….but my heart doesn’t feel ready for another girl. Not so soon after losing my Eisley-girl…. I feel like I would be replacing her, I know I wouldn’t ever do that intentionally but I know myself and I know I would struggle believing that lie. Everything that I had dreamt and hoped for my Eisley, I would struggle as maybe those same thoughts arose if this is another little girl. And they will, I mean, even just how different it is to dress a boy and a girl, they would arise…. Please hear my heart. I know that either way You will be with me, guiding me in healing, whether this little one is a boy or a girl. But please, hear my cry … my heart just doesn’t feel ready…”

Even though that sums up what I had felt, I want to share a little more extensively. From the beginning I had hoped with everything in my that this little one was a boy. As you read, I was terrified of what my heart and mind would do if we were pregnant with another girl so soon after losing Eisley. I will be having this baby just 14 months after we lost her. It felt too close for my heart. I know that Eisley and this baby are two totally different children, two different personalities, etc. I just knew that my heart and mind would struggle in feeling like I was replacing her. I know myself well enough to know that it would be a daily battle at least for a while.

I struggled immensely in deciding when to share our pregnancy with the “whole world”. Hence waiting 5 months, and even that was hard!

For one, I found myself struggling to believe in myself for this pregnancy, that I could carry to term and grow/nourish a baby. A part of my fear of sharing was fear of hearing people ask me if it was too soon after Eisley or if I’d be able to carry this baby full term, etc. I needed people to {believe} in me and in that we could do this. I was afraid of even the few responses, like that, that might come. (I’m thankful that I only ever had one response where I felt they weren’t happy for us but more fearful!)

I also wasn’t in an emotionally stable place (not that I am now ;)) to share. We decided to share with close friends and family right away, which was terrifying, but we immediately found ourselves surrounded with their joy, excitement and belief that this would be a healthy pregnancy. As we began to share, questions were brought to me that I didn’t know how to process. I realized that if we were to share with the “whole world” that many more questions would arise and I really wouldn’t be able to share where I was at. I didn’t know. I was in shock. Fear and anxiety had a strong grip on me and what I was able to feel during that time. I needed the time to “process” the best that I could. I found taking it one day at a time, even still, is the best medicine for me. God guided my heart in showing me that important “one day at a time” lesson when I was pregnant with Eisley. Not that I am a faithful do-er, but I try to remember that and it helps immensely.

Another huge reason for not sharing early on was due to fear of having my heart wounded. After we lost Eisley, I was incredibly stunned to find myself wounded by people I’d never imagined myself hurt by. I had an incredibly hard time being able to sort through what people intentions were when they shared something publicly or to me personally. It was (and occasionally is) a constant daily struggle.  I found distance creep into even some of my closest friendships. I lost friendships due to feeling abandoned and ultimately wounded in the time of our darkest season, but for the most part, I allowed distance between friendships and people because of my assumptions. God has brought a lot of healing to my heart and now I rarely struggle with bitterness anymore. But it’s taken time and I still feel the ache of the loss of those friends when I really think about it. All this to say, I wasn’t sure how much more hurt I could handle at that point, where I first found out we were pregnant. I was in an incredibly vulnerable state that I feared more pain. I feel much stronger now and am able to (for the most part) sort through what’s said, or not said, and let. it. go. 

Perhaps, though, my biggest reason for not sharing my pregnancy with everyone for months… I didn’t want to have people think or even say things that implied that I would be replacing Eisley with another baby. Especially if this baby would have been a girl. As I began to share our pregnancy with family and close friends, I found myself in tears after sharing more than standing in joy and belief. I didn’t want to hear how “redeeming” this pregnancy could/would be. I didn’t want to hear that people had hoped I was having a little girl, because it conflicted with what I had hoped and my reasonings, and so I would believe that ultimately people were saying to me “I hope you have a little girl! Wouldn’t that be so redeeming?!” Even when that was {not at all} what people were really saying. I struggle believing that if we shared with everyone, perhaps most would hope we’d have a little girl. In my heart, I ached at the thought that others might really think having another little girl would be redeeming when in fact I knew for myself, even though that might look to be like redemption, it would not be at all. It would never bring my Eisley back and in that way, it could never be redeeming. (I hope I’m making sense)

All of the above are the “reasons” for why, for the most part, I kept my mouth sealed tight, until we shared at our Mustache or Bows Party. As I shared all of these above struggles with one of my dearest friends, she suggested that maybe I wait to announce to everyone (like on social media) until after we’ve had the party and can share with the “whole world” that I was pregnant and it was a boy. That way it left very little room for my heart to feel wounded by responses of people hoping it was a girl for redemptive purposes. Even when that wasn’t what people meant or their intention, it was/would be hard to hear.

So a quick summary of what I felt when I first learned that baby #3 was a boy… well, first things first, I noticed before anyone told me! I have seen quite a few ultrasounds and I just noticed that it was a boy. I asked the ultrasound technician  if what I was seeing was little boy parts and she looked at me quite surprised and said, “Yes! I’m almost positive that what we’re seeing it outdoor plumbing.” :)

At 13 weeks pregnant I found out that I was having a little boy. My heart and mind felt relief. He had heard my cry and knew that this was what was best for my heart right now. I was also so thankful I found out so early in this pregnancy. That same week, I chose the perfect name for our boy and I can’t wait to share the name and the incredible meaning for him and for our family, in less than 10 weeks now!!! Boy S will have to do for now :)

Do I want a girl in the future? Yes I do. And I feel so strongly that we will have another little girl in our family but that time is not right now. I feel in my heart that when we do know that we are pregnant with another little girl, I will be as “ready” as one can be. I imagine that some of these same fears, struggles and lies will arise, but I also know that time will help my heart to heal and become ready for another precious baby girl.

Part 5 I’ll share what it was like to share the news at our gender reveal and also to the “whole world”.

5 months; the part where the shock wears off.

(5 months ago today, we held our precious baby girl, whispered our earthly goodbyes)

My fear of man keeps surfacing lately and I’ve really allowed myself to be so afraid of what everyone would think of where I am at in the “grieving process” (ugh) so I slowly find myself retreating from the truth of where I’m at when I share. I always hope to be real, raw and authentic but to also use wisdom in what I share and what I don’t (totally failed on that front more than once!)

All that to say, I really still want to share where I’m at. Okay, whoa, how’s that for a disclaimer ;)

Last Thursday, Ted got me out of the house, we went for coffee and then he took me to Hobby Lobby (which for me is relaxing haha). When time came to leave, I stood in line to pay for my few items and before me stood a momma with her baby girl. Her daughter looked to be around 5 maybe 6 months old. She had a cute little pink and brown monkey hat on and was chewing on a toy. I couldn’t stop staring… imaging… dreaming. I couldn’t help but think of my Eisley-girl. I teared up and tried to think of anything else to distract me from crying.

Then this Tuesday, I attended my first ever, mom’s group called “Moms 4 Moms” at my mom’s church. She has been asking me to go with her since this fall, but until now I haven’t had the desire or the strength. So I went, I did it! I actually had a really good time. It was so great for Chase to hang out with kiddos his own age and for me to be around other moms. I tried to prepare myself for the fact that there would probably be baby girls there (and there were many). I did pretty well when we arrived, but then when they asked about new visitors and asked my name and if I had any kids, I was taken back and didn’t really know what to say. I awkwardly answered, “I have a son, Chase, he’s 18-months-old”…. because I knew as soon as I spoke of her name, I would probably cry.

Holding it together sometimes just doesn’t seem possible unless I, I don’t want to say lie but I guess that’s what it is. Unless I withhold the whole story, the truth. But then I felt horrible because I also want people to know I have a daughter, my Eisley-girl. I do, I have a daughter, she’s just not here with me. When I face moments like that or when I seeing precious girls around the age Eisley should be, my heart breaks deeply, again. Over and over.

I find myself in this really dark and awful rut here and there. In the darkest parts of the “valley” where it feels like everything around me is crashing down and all hope is gone. Where the lies that I’ve failed her and that I’ll lose everyone I love, I begin to believe. Where the flashbacks and traumatic memouries haunt me. It is hard to get motivated, to have will power to do even the most basic things, on these days.

When I’m in this rut, it affects every area. I take care of Chase and his needs, but that’s it.  I can’t even find the strength to create something beautiful. Our house is also proof of this “rut”; piles of laundry, toys and books everywhere, dishes piled up, trashed bedroom, every thing is a huge mess.

My body is proof; my weight, my chewed fingernails, my hair from splitting my ends/yanking my ends off, the bags under my eyes, etc. I feel much older than my 23 years. Weary, worn down.

The enemy hounds me in every way possible, he has me questioning myself on “those” days where I’m so low, “Shouldn’t I be past this part in the “grieving process” yet?” and then the days where I am doing really well, still grieving but able to face life, I find myself battling guilt, “You didn’t even think of her once this morning. What is wrong with you?” “You haven’t cried in over two days.”

Sneaky, sneaky enemy. Wherever I’m at in my journey, he’s one step behind, trying to pull me down. Many would say that might not be so, but I tell you, in the darkest of the valley it’s true. He is one step behind you, constantly reaching for your ankle, to pull and drag you down. It really comes down to whether or not you allow that to happen. There have been countless times where I’ve believed the lies as truths and fallen, BUT let me just say, every. single. time….

I find {hope}. I think I know deep inside, even on “those” days, that there is hope. That I am not beyond repair. That there is promise and life and truth and healing meeting me where I am at, waiting for me to grab hold and begin to move forward.

To us this feels like the darker parts of the valley, the part where the shock wears off and the reality sets in full force.. I was telling a friend just the other day, that I really hate this place where I’m at because, honestly, I prefer the shock. For many, us losing Eisley was but a brief moment. For us, it is our life. In our life we will never had her here with us on earth. Never. She is gone. I really, really hate that this is our reality.

It all falls back to acceptance, again. I’ve talked about this before. Now that the shock has worn off, I really have to face this and … accept this.

As the shock wears off  and as I allow myself to really face the truth, I’ve found, that even though this (for me) is the most difficult part of our journey, I find myself healing. I cry even as I write this because I am slowly healing even though it doesn’t always feel like it. Even though sometimes I fight it because I don’t feel ready to heal completely and I’m far from being healed completly. I read this quote and this has helped me a lot because it’s something I’ve really struggled with since we’ve lost Eisley;

“Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there’s going to be an ache that won’t quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain.” Dr. Larry Crabb

When I first read this, I just cried. Yes. God really spoke to me through this very word and showed me that I can begin to heal and still feel this deep, unending ache. And the even though the enemy is one step behind me, my Heavenly Father is walking beside me, not taking away the ache, but supporting me in the middle of it. WHEW. He is. And most of the time, I realize that He has me, “Resting between His shoulders”, carrying me, carrying us, through the darkest parts of this valley.

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the ones the Lord loves rests between His shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

He carries our precious Eisley. And He carries us.

There is hope, forevermore and through every deep, dark valley and unending ache.

acceptance.

(photo taken during Eisley’s service)

Accept: to accommodate or reconcile oneself to: to accept the situation. (source)

Acceptance has been the hardest part. I think it’s what has caused this last month to be the hardest to walk through yet. I know we really have to face our reality in order to really begin moving forward, but to accept this… whew.

I feel like I go through the “grief cycle” many times throughout a day but the acceptance is the part that I still get caught up on. I could try to accept this, I don’t want to accept this.

It’s hard to accept or come to terms with what happened, with the bed rest, the hospital, the waiting, the hoping, the trauma, the birth…

I don’t want to accept that this was the first and last time we got to hold her in our arms.
 
I don’t want to accept the fact that I will never kiss her nose on a daily basis, or that Chase will never get to play with his baby sister, or that I will never get to see Eisley adore her daddy, or that I can’t dress her like me or watch her creativity blossom (I really felt she was a lot like me, I know it sounds odd, but I do). I don’t want to accept that our dreams with her are gone, or that we will never watch her grow to be a beautiful lady. I don’t want to accept that I won’t someday watch her walk down the aisle… etc, etc, etc, ETC. There is so much that I don’t want to accept. It’s seriously infinite.
 
I like the above quote, but suddenly realized it is more like INfinite disappointment then finite disappointment. Infinite is immeasurable. There is immeasurable disappointments and aches and there is also infinite hope. A hope that says no matter what we face, we can make it through the hardest, darkest day. Hope helps us breathe deeply, take that first step out of bed each morning, face the day, live… hope will help us to dream again eventually. We are clinging to hope, to Him. We must not lose infinite hope and we aren’t. We’re struggling and aching still, everyday and often.
 
 Four and a half months too many.
We miss you baby girl. 

Whew, I know this is really a downer of a post, but I want to stay true to where I’m at and honestly, to ask for your prayers.

I will share a not-so-down post next, with some fabulous finds to lift the mood.

pretty jewelry holder {a DIY}

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.” – St. Clement of Alexandra

Today despite everything in me that aches….I hoped. This is what I did with a bit of that hope.

I’ve needed something to hold my jewelry for some time now because hides away in little boxes in the bathroom. “Out of sight, out of mind”, which means I rarely remember that I have it. So today, I wandered into our crafting room and grabbed a few things to create this.

Supplies I used:

Frame, paint and brushes, hot glue gun, black lace, white lace/doily fabric, cardboard.

That’s it!

How to DIY:

First, I painted the frame (you know me) black :)

Hot glue the fabric to the cardboard and then glue it to the frame.

Cut the lace then braid it.

Glue it to the cardboard.

Wa-la! Handmade hanger! (The frame itself is plastic so this lace will do the job, if your frame is heavier, maybe consider another option?)

Pin and hang jewelry!!

I hope you’re inspired to {create}.

Most importantly I hope you’re inspired to keep hoping “despite_______”.

giveaways

A Crafty Soiree

The DIY Show Off

The “baby blues” without the baby.

Last night I decided to go off my sleeping pill because I figured since I was already exhausted and it was around 1 when we went to bed, it would work. I wish I could say I was able to sleep well without the sleeping aid. My problem is my mind won’t shut off. One minute I am replaying events then I am crying into my pillow and the next minute I find my heart pounding as I think about the day (that is coming soon) where we get the tests back to let us know what went wrong. I lie awake and feel like I am going crazy and literally can’t fall asleep.

Hence the Ambien. (I never thought I’d need a sleep aid to sleep and I was wrong. It’s hard for me that it’s gotten to this point but it helps right now. If you have a natural alternative please share.)

As I was talking to a friend of mine recently, she reminded me about the “baby blues” you go through after you have a baby. If you’ve had a baby (or are close to someone who has) you  probably know the dramatic hormonal changes that occurs when you go from being pregnant to not being pregnant. I know a lot of what I am going through is grief but I know my hormones are contributing as well. I have the “baby blues” without my baby in my arms.

The past few days have been really awful.  I feel so broken and some hours, I feel like too broken to move or function. I’ve also fought anger a lot the past week and I find it’s steadily gotten worse. Unfortuneltly, Ted’s felt the brunt of it. I know it’s deeper than the reasons that trigger my reactions.

This morning I woke (took the dogs out, changed and fed Chase) and sat in my favourite chair and journaled. I realized one of the reasons I am so upset, besides the obvious. This is another week without Eisley and to top it off, it’s also the week of my follow up appointment with Dr. Hill. The follow up appointment where typically I would bring baby with to show them off to the receptionist and nurses who’ve seen you prego for months. I know as soon as I walk in the clinic I will probably lose it. It’s going to bring back a lot of really good and really bad memouries.

Memouries of going in with a hopeful heart and leaving feeling broken and discouraged. Over and over again. Revisiting the place where we saw our little girl frequently yet heard things like “50/50 chance”, “failing placenta”, “little growth” or “no growth”, etc.

I actually cancelled the appointment last week and moved it to this week and almost did the same again but realized I am avoiding the inevitable. So now the appointment is at 2 pm (mst) tomorrow. Will you pray for me?

Another prayer request; (this might be TMI so if you happen to be a guy, you should stop) It’s been 5 weeks and my milk is finally… dwindling. The first two and a half weeks were the most painful (physically). Please pray for it to cease all together because it’s another constant reminder she is not here.

The part 5 weeks have been incredibly hard to walk through. This morning I remembered again, it’s not by my strength that I have to get through this. I don’t have the strength. It’s by His strength that we’re able to press on despite everything that is telling us to “give up”. He’s given us deep hope amidst our deepest sorrow.

Big changes ahead!

We had our appointment with the fetal medicine specialist today. Eisley’s amniotic fluid is measuring at 8.61 which is better than a week ago. The blood flow from the placenta to Eisley is still showing absent diastolic flow so we need to keep praying for that to change. Next Tuesday she will have another weight measurement (they do it every two weeks).

There are some very big changes coming up soon. I am currently 26 weeks and 3 days and they’ve been waiting for me to reach 28 weeks to make some changes. Starting next Tuesday, they will begin giving me steroid shots which should help her lung development and prep for a possible delivery. They will also give me an IV with magnesium sulfate which will help her neurological developement.

As for “when will they deliver?” that is still up in the air and depends on so many things. Until I transfer, we will not know. They may decide to deliver because of her small chances inside the womb or they may have me wait it out, week by week. I think we will know more when we move.

The reason for the transfer is that the NICU at the University Hospital in Aurora can handle babies under 2 lbs and they are better trained to take care of the smaller babies.

Here are some specific prayer requests;

  • Eisley to grow and be nourished until she must be born.
  • A smooth transfer to the new hospital.
  • That God would guide my new doctors, nurses and specialist in when to deliver, etc.
  • That my body would react well to the magnesium sulfate. Dr. Daye told me that most of the time the mother is uncomfortable, hot and weak.
  • I will be further away from my family and friends and will be getting new doctors/nurses/specialists, which will be hard.

I am encouraged that we will soon be taking more steps than just “waiting it out”! She is doing well considering everything she is going through. Please keep praying for a miracle… it’s already a miracle that she has made it this far, but I long to meet her and watch her grow up too. Please intercede for our daughter!