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?

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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).

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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.

 

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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.

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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!”
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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.

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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.
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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!

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

3 years.

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember and remembering, {I keep a grip on hope.}

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning, how great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over) He’s all I’ve got left.”

Lamentations 3:19-24

eisleysbirthdayballoonrelease-53 years ago this morning we found ourselves in a place we’d never imagined. The morning our sweet and strong Eisley-girl passed away.

In some ways I can’t believe it’s been 3 years already. But honestly, it many ways, it feels like a lifetime since I held her in my arms, since we said our hellos and goodbyes.

We miss her so very much.

The ache, the ‘Eisley shaped hole’ still ever-present.

Even 3 years later, in remembering, it feels hard to breath. I sometimes still want to stomp my feet like a child, it just doesn’t seem fair. Or cry until I can’t anymore as if it would help ease the grief. Or veg out – like I did first thing this morning – to be completely honest. My boys woke super early. I walked to the living room, made them breakfast and then turned on a season of Project Runway. I didn’t want to think. I knew where my mind would go, and I was afraid of that.

That horrible morning still takes away my breath if I allow myself to think about it. The past few years I’ve found that I push Ted away, when this week comes around. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why until today. Even with all of my months of grief and trauma counseling, I still can’t fully “go there”, to that morning, to having my fears confirmed, to what it felt like to feel alone; to be away from Ted when I heard the news… How do we wrap our minds around this? I mean, can we? Do we even really want to? And add to that, our circumstances of that day which didn’t allow Ted to be with me when we lost her. I couldn’t even muster up the courage to call and tell him myself. Which I’ve forever regretted.

I realized today that when this anniversary of her death comes around, I want to push Ted away, shut him out. I was alone when I lost her and feel confused and alone even still, but that isn’t HIS fault. He is incredible; he practically became a single dad over night, while going to College and working full time. I mean, come on. Our circumstances just totally sucked, for lack of a better, non-profane word.

I realized today, I need to let him in. I need to let those who want in, in. Just because I was alone the morning of her death, doesn’t mean I have to be alone in grieving her. Ted was alone that day too. Most of our family and friends were alone too when they heard.

Eisley’s birthday is Tuesday September 17th and we will celebrate her life. I think on the 14th it will always be especially difficult and painful, because it was and in many ways, it still is. I think I need today and each September 14th to really just let it out, grieve and not hold back. This year I am not. The past two years I’ve forced this or that to happen and this year, I’m rolling with it. This morning I needed to veg. Now, I want to feel. Ted sent me off to a cafe to have time to myself. To journal and blog and do whatever I need to do. I am so thankful.

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(Chaseyboy on the 1st anniversary of her birthday. September 17, 2011)

I’ve been somewhat of an open book here on my blog, about the loss of Eisley and our journey through grief. I’ve come to accept that this is me. This is who I am and what I have felt has helped me process. And I just run with it. Thank you to those of you who’ve allowed me to just be me. Who haven’t judged me, or at least not to my face ;) Over the past 3 years, and in all my sharing, I’ve only ever heard two comments of negativity towards my sharing. Thank you for never shutting me down. Thank you for listening and caring.

Thank you mostly for remembering our sweet girl with us. We are forever grateful and honoured that she too touched and inspired your lives.

Much love.

Jami Joann

 

 

Beloved “Klo Klo”

kloeSummer 2010 a tiny little Morkie (Yorkie + Maltese) with cute, pointy little ears, entered our family. At the time, we were living with my grandparents. It was the same summer I was bedridden in my pregnancy with Eisley. My grandma named her Kloe and soon she was being called “Klo Klo” by 12-month-old Chaseyboy. She quickly became his best buddy, in fact during our 2 year stay in Fort Collins, she was his only friend. In fall 2010 my grandparents bought an even smaller Morkie named Ginger or “Gin Gin” according to Chase. The two pups brought so much joy and excitement to our lives, especially Chase’s! When we moved from my grandparents’s home into our own March of 2011, Chase was pretty dissapointed. He would wander the house calling out for “Klo Klo”, we even got him a stuffed animal puppy which he slept with for a while. We visited them often and each time since, Kloe and Chase run around the house, playing and wearing each other out.

KloeCollage_2Above: Chase’s first time meeting her and a two of him playing outside with her that fall 2010.KloeCollage_3KloeCollage_1April 16th we received a surprising call from my Grandma, telling us that Kloe had died. I have never in my life felt so emotional about an animal until that moment. Perhaps it was hearing my grandma cry as she shared or  my grandpa crying in the background or knowing that I had to tell Chaseyboy. It was all so quick too; Kloe had puppies just 3 weeks before. She had collapsed and by the time they took her in, they told my grandparents it was too late. She died of calcium deficiency and often there are no signs for it until it’s too late. They were devestated. Kloe and Ginger go everywhere with my grandparents… and I mean everywhere. Kloe was especially fond of my Grandparents; she was always the first into the car when she knew my Grandma was leaving or she would follow my Grandpa Willard around as though she was his shadow. At ball games, Kloe and Ginger would hop up into my Grandpa’s lap and fall asleep in his arms. Needless to say, she is dearly missed.

20130501-195751.jpg(Above: Chase and one of Kloe’s puppies)

Telling Chase was painful. I knew I needed to tell him because we were heading up to Fort Collins for a family garage sale we do, just one week after she passed away. I shared with him how Kloe had gotten sick and she passed away and went to be with Jesus (I don’t know if that is “correct” or right, but I sure hope she is!) His eyes actually filled with tears and he wiped them away embarrassed. I said, “It’s okay to cry, buddy…” and he responded with, “I’m not crying… water is falling out of my eyes!” I explained that it was tears and it was okay and natural to cry because he felt sad. We’ve had  A LOT of conversations about Kloe and her passing since. He brings it up often and most of the time ends with “Can we just not talk about this anymore?” Which is difficult and sad. I know it is his first real loss he has felt and I know his age also makes this difficult as well. He recently said to me, “Eisley and Klo Klo are with Jesus?” “Yes.” “But I don’t want her to be with Jesus!”  I didn’t really know what to say, but went with what I felt and said, “I don’t either, buddy.”

OH MY HEART…

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(Above: Klo Klo’s puppies)

After she passed away, my grandparents scrambled trying to figure out how to save her pups. Thankfully Kloe had given them a good start. My grandparents described that first week of teaching them to bottle feed as though they had 4 infants waking them 2-3 times a night for feedings and waking early again for more. Thankfully they were able to bottle feed and save Kloe’s puppies.

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20130502-123117.jpg20130501-205226.jpg20130501-195833.jpg20130501-195751.jpg20130501-195715.jpgJust a little post to document a bit of our journey with Kloe and how she impacted our lives. We sure miss Klo Klo and are so very thankful for the time we had with her. Thankful for her little “friendship” with Chaseyboy and how she helped teach him to be kind and sweet to animals :)

And of course, we are so thankful for her little pups.(This little guy pictured above was my favourite and I was thrilled to hear a friend of ours had bought him! What a perfect fit! I would have kept this little guy if it weren’t for our landlord not allowing pets – barely allowed our fish! And the fact that we’ve got a pretty big move happening in our near future – how’s that for vague and secret ;) More “soon”… )20130515-132101.jpg

My grandma sent me this photo and shared that they are keeping this little guy. A little piece of Kloe. New adventures with Samson and two little boys await :)

for her. for them. for me.

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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)
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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

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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.
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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.

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for her.
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for them.
620886_10152252958760727_15126740_o for me.

a {different} beautiful dream.

It’s a moment I will never forget, probably because it was one that would either scar a person for life, or move them to tears. It was the very first time I witnessed a birth, at the young age of 13. I was watching the kiddos of my mom’s friend while she labored away in their home. My mom was there and as the time of their daughter’s birth neared, they asked me if I would like to be in the room. I decided I did and I have never regretted that decision since. It was beautiful and I knew at the moment, that was what I hoped for some day. I always knew I wanted a family (being the eldest, I always did), but now I knew how I wanted to birth my children. In the peace of our home.

Years later, I was 24 weeks pregnant, I had a wonderful midwife and a beautiful birth story all planned out.  But they were telling me that I was Group B Strep positive and I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have the home birth I had always dreamt of (I later learned, you actually can be GBS + and still have a home birth, but thankfully He knew what we needed at the time). I was crushed. I mean, devesated. I balled and balled. Ted, who was never fully at peace with the idea of a home birth, finally felt peace and knew this was the best decision for us. Then, at almost 42 weeks they told me the likelihood of me having to have a c-section was great. Many factors that weren’t adding up. I felt like the biggest failure, frustrated with my body for being unable to have my baby naturally.

I won’t go into detail Chase’s birth story, if you’re really curious – just click here as I have written his birth story online once before. To sum it up, 42 hours of labor, 3.5 hours of pushing, making it all the way to 10cm only to have him get stuck and unable to fit and come out. I had him by c-section, totally exhausted and drugged up and unable to remember anything or hold him until a day later.

My perspective has greatly changed since we’ve lost Eisley. I have since realized, through our own life experience, that any birth story that is able to bring the baby to your arms, alive, is the really best birth story there is.

Words can’t express how incredibly thankful I am that I was able to have Eisley naturally (vaginally) 73 hours of labor later I met our sweet girl face to face. It wasn’t what I had dreamt when I thought of having a baby but I am so very thankful that I was able to hold my daughter, to see her precious face before we said goodbye, and because of that, I wouldn’t trade any of those 73 hours in for anything. (we just recently had the 2nd anniversaries or her death -september 14th and her birthday – september 17th. Blog post about those precious anniversaries, soon.)

I decided to schedule a c-section with Shailo. There was really no question in my mind. I knew I couldn’t go through another long labor that would potentially result in a c-section, again. And also, I felt a natural birth was too traumatic from going through what we had with Eisley just shy of 14 months before. So, in regards to a c-section, even though it was a dream lost – I was able to have two beautiful boys due to them. So very thankful we live in a day and age that it is possible.

I kind of digress, but I wanted to share a bit of my heart behind what I’m about what I am really blogging about. When I was pregnant with Chase, Eisley and Shailo I enjoyed looking through photographs of birth stories – home births, c-section births, hospital births… I was constantly moved to tears by them. In my pregnancy with Shailo I really felt that God gave me an incredible dream. I wanted to be a birth photographer. I wanted to capture “that moment” for another. You know, that one moment when the mother first meets their baby face to face. The moment when they birth their baby and he/she is placed on their chest. The incredible emotion, the overwhelming love… that moment. That specific moment was one that I was unable to have but I wanted to capture that for someone else.

And, the story beforehand and those precious moments afterwards. But especially the moment the momma (and daddy) first sees their little one.

The question, “How could you photograph…”that moment”… something you’ve never experienced yourself?” started to plague my mind. And while that makes total sense in a way, I had to battle that. I honestly think there will always be this yearning in my heart. Wondering what “that” moment would be like. And even without the experience of a home birth or a completely natural, un-medicated birth, I feel that yearning so strong that I am able to truly capture the moments I would believe to be beautiful – as if it were my birth story. What would I want captured?

Another thing that began to draw out insecurity from within me was knowing that I wasn’t a professional photographer, so how could I just jump right in. My wonderful hubby jumped on board with my dream and wanted to help me in any way possible. So he has been teaching me. :) I have a lot to learn but I can already see a change in the work that I do. And also, I don’t want to be a professional photographer, maybe not ever, right now I just know I want to understand the camera and how to best captures those moments for someone else.

So how do I begin?

I knew that I wanted to start with friends, but even with close friends… how do you ask something like that? “Hi, I’d like to photograph your birth story, what do ya think?” The first thought of many is most likely – “I don’t want …down there… photographed!” haha. Thankfully, I was spared that awkward conversation and just 3 weeks after I shared this dream with Ted (October 2011), a friend of mine called me. She asked if I would consider photographing the birth of their son, Seth. I literally got goosebumps and tears filled my eyes. I was honoured to shoot my first birth in April.

During the birth of my friend Brittany’s son, I was asked to shoot my second birth by another dear friend, Bethany. She was Brittany’s doula and a long time friend and inspiration of mine. The amazing thing is that when I had shared with Ted about my dream, I had told Ted that I wanted to ask Bethany when they got pregnant with their next baby. And not too long later, they shared they were pregnant with baby #7! On September 15th, just a few weeks ago, I shot my second birth – the beautiful birth of their 4th daughter; Lilyana Elaine.

I hope to share both birth stories here soon. Today I will be posting the birth story of Seth Tyrus Maxwell (with permission.)

I am hoping for more wonderful opportunities like the two I’ve had this year. So very thankful for this dream I believe He’s given me and can’t wait to see how He will use this and bless others with it! Possible overseas someday? We shall see!

I just wanted to share a little bit about the story behind this dream that I believe God’s birthed in me (pun intended ;)) Thanks for stopping by!

simultaneously.

i have realized something in the past few months and as it slowly but surely resonates with my heart and mind, i am finding freedom.

i am beginning to come to understand my simultaneously grieving yet, thankful heart. that it is really okay that they both exist. and that (for me) there cannot be guilt in this. i can’t really say i fully understand or comprehend this idea, but in my heart it resonates. it happens each and every day.

today is actually a good example of this very thing;

august 8th holds a fun new milestone as well as a precious memoury that we hold dear to our hearts.

today, Shailo is 9 months old, which is unbelievable to me! (photo taken today at his 9 month checkup)

it is also the anniversary of when we found out that our Eisley was a girl at our Pink or Blue party.

i’m reminded in dates and anniversaries, like today. and i’m reminded in the little every day moments. recently, i stood watching a moment happen at the Zoo and instantaneously felt full of both thankfulness and sorrow. thankful for what my eyes beheld before me in that second; my precious boys. sorrow in knowing their sister would never be apart of even the smallest moments like these.

both of these feelings, sometimes existing at the same time or sometimes one right after the other, it’s something that has burdened me and overwhelmed me with guilt until recently. but they no longer need to and it is this very idea that i have to let go. i have to quit trying to wrap my mind around it and just go with these feelings.

they are happening.

they are very real.

they are often and in my everyday.

i imagine that each and every one of us has come to know that life is oh so beautiful and oh so painful.

it is both bitter and sweet.

and while we will never truly understand how the two can really coincide, how they can often go hand in hand, i know that His grace, His mercy, His peace… they carry us through these moments.

i’m super sleepy and i really hope  that despite my inability to think straight, i was able to share what i really wanted to tonight. i guess i just wanted to share (publicly) with the hope that maybe in this blog post, in my sharing this vulnerable bit of my mind, maybe it could help someone.

i don’t have answers for why things happen. why often there is the bitter with the sweet. but i know that He carries us.

maybe we ought to let go of trying to comprehend all of this and feel what we need to feel.

maybe in this, we will find healing.

maybe if we let go, we will find a greater understanding of what it means to really live life – because we come to feel these very things.

yeah, that makes sense in my head, hope what i am trying to get out resonates in someone reading this now.

xoxo, jami

on the mend. whatever that looks like, that is.

i struggle with what i believe most momma’s struggle with and that is, doing things for ourselves. myself. me. i remember before i had Chase i wanted to be sure that i really focused on yes, being a momma, but also still being who i am too. what makes me, me. doing the things i love all while being his mother.

over the years – and through everything we’ve walked through in his “short” (almost) 3 years – i’ve really began to push that aside. it has {really} hit me recently though. it’s taking it’s toll on me. it’s another reason i decided to keep blogging. i’m a verbal processor, just in case you haven’t figured that out yet ;) and i need the time to process. like really process everything. and i do mean EVERY thing. i’m just wired that way. i often wish i wasn’t.

we recently moved  back to a city where we lived just 2 years ago. {So much} has happened and changed within our family and within us since we’ve moved. i kind of expected a lot out of this move and instead i found that my high expectations were crumbling as i watched the reality kind of set in. and oh so quickly. we are so different than we were when we lived down here. our lives were too. we’re in a completely and totally different place in almost every way than before. i didn’t expect to feel what i feel now.

when we left (YWAM) we still felt young, carefree and adventurous. we left feeling hopeful for a new season and where we felt God was leading us. it was a hard and difficult step to take leaving the (structured) ministry of YWAM and jumping into the (not so structured) ministry of being out here and pursuing our dreams, away from what we had known since graduating High School. we stepped out, rather naive to what we’d be facing. the reality hit us full force. ( i feel like it {still is}). we found out soon after leaving YWAM that we were pregnant with Eisley…

it’s hard to say that “everything went downhill from there” because even though that is true, we wouldn’t trade one minute of {any} of it. we had our beautiful baby girl and for that we could never be more thankful and never regret a moment. yet the reality is, everything did go “downhill” from there. after we lost her, i’ll never forget, around a month after losing her – we were living with my grandparents, broke as could be. we sifted through our things in storage and sold the items that we were using that could bring us in a little money to help with groceries and to pay for diapers. all while grieving and feeling confused (and at the time, still an incredible amount of shock). i remember sitting outside in the sunshine of autumn (thanks, Colorado for being so sunny year-round) and pulling Chase into my arms and just crying my heart out. it felt like it couldn’t possibly get any worse, but to be honest, it hasn’t felt much better (besides the awesome addition to our family! he blesses our hearts so very much!)

i really thought, 2 years from the time we left YWAM, that we’d be in a different place (in so many ways) than where we are now. like i said, we don’t regret anything, but it’s freaking hard out here. and then add to the mix… just everything… we sometimes joke (but are kind of looking at each other like, are you serious, yeah..confused haha) that we need to go back on staff so we can live off with support again. it’s not a bad thing, (please, please, please don’t assume that’s what i’m saying here) we just remember what life was like before and sometimes miss it.

i turned 25 in march. (i have completely avoided my 25 by 25 list, because it’s really too painful, more reminders) i hit my first official identity crisis. no, i am not exaggeratting. i thought many a times wondering, “who am i anymore?!” should i be admitting this to the “world”, maybe not, but i guess my way of thinking is that if you stop in to read my blog, you might care just a tiny bit about us/me.

i was sharing with a dear friend of mine – who has walked beside me literally every step of the way since 2005- about all of this (much more drama and tears while sharing face-to-face ;)). she encouraged me and had a thought and perspective that hadn’t had. during our time away, even though just 2 years, it seems like so much longer and now as we come back, it makes sense why there is this struggle within us. we have changed so much (which i know) while some of the surroundings and even people, have stayed the same. but also, more than that, during our time away, it was a constant fight for our daughter’s life, and our life and survival. now we are here and God has seriously provided us with a beautiful (temporary) home (sunshine galore here, thank you, Jesus!) Ted has a new job that is more uplifting (for the most part and obviously not his dream job) and now we are busy with things in life that are productive for us and our dreams, rather than just busy with survival mode.

and now that we are here, in this place where burdens that once were, seem a little lighter. it hits us. the reality of what we’ve gone through. the shock far gone, and the survival mode no longer on full speed. it hits us. and it’s hard and dark and icky and sucky and frankly, the overwhelming thoughts are hell. hell. hell. how do you even process certain things? … how?!

i know that, really, there is just so much to process and so little time to sit down and actually do that. it’s a matter of being intentional and setting aside time to do so. also, just learning to do this as we keep up with the busyness of life. we’ve realized lately the importance of taking care of ourselves, saying no to this or that so we can actually maybe even process some things. and sometimes maybe it’s just the opposite that we need, saying yes to this or that to get ourselves out of this funk. we’re trying to take this all step-by-step, little by little. in hopes to find a way and time for our hearts to begin mending.

here i am – yet again – admitting i’m (we’re) struggling, broken and confused but this time seeking peace for our family. peace for our broken hearts. peace all the way around. peace amidst this chaotic life.

thanks for listening. :)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

{Psalms 121}

an all-over-the-place post about nights and Chaseyboy

(this post has been in the works for a month now so even as i re-read some of this i can see how much God has really been working in my heart and mind – so very thankful that my eyes have been opened or whatever you want to call it…read on if you dare ;)… no but seriously, do because i want to hear from those who may have walked this road before us)

Chase is almost 3-years-old. 33 months to be exact. and there is something i have rarely (if ever, really) shared. definitely not on the blog – maybe you caught a glimpse of it in my post about the “ba-bas”  and even when sharing with close friends and family, i haven’t shared what nights with Chase are really like.

i don’t think i ever made the conscious decision to not be honest, i mean people who are around enough, know that Chase has “rough nights”. but within the last month as i’ve gained more perspective i’ve started to share honestly about what it’s really like. mostly to process it and try to understand it.

the perspective that i’m talking about – about our (my- not Ted’s but not his fault as he is seriously the deepest sleeper i know) nights with Chase –  is that what we are going through is {not} normal. it’s like my eyes have been opened to what’s really going on and maybe, if i’m being totally honest, i’m facing the reality of something i haven’t wanted to for far too long.  the reality. the truth.

sometimes, it’s feels easier to go through the motion of things than to really deal with the root cause, the deeper issues. or maybe it’s just that i don’t even know where to begin, or i’m afraid of what i’ll really learn if i allow myself to face everything honestly.

yeah, obviously i’m still sorting through all of my thoughts. i’m overwhelmed by them. and, i’m afraid to share. but i {need} to share. i {need} to hear from others who are/have walked this road before. because i am baffled. because it’s recently started to take it’s toll on me.

there isn’t really a “gist” i’m getting at. it’s actually bunch of things jumbled into one big mess. and we go through this every.single.night.

i am slightly afraid that people might say, “well you’ve brought this on yourself”. and maybe that’s partly true. i love co-sleeping. i read this or that for and against it before i had Chase and decided i’d just do what i felt was right for us in the moment. after we had him, i pulled him into bed around 2 months and until a month before Shailo was born, he was still in our bed.

now he is in his own toddler bed, beside our bed (really don’t want to get into the full answer of why he’s next to our bed…basically,  it’s a fear-based thing within me that i’m working through. and also, because of our nights with him.) so, yes, he’s in his own bed. and Shailo sleeps in his little bed beside ours and I pull him into bed around 5am every morning (i would co-sleep with him, like i did Chase but after losing Eisley, it’s again, another one of my fear-based things. freaks me out now.)

the truth about our nights is that they are sleepless, long and exhausting. i am going to share honestly with the hope that {someone} can say they’ve walked through this too and can help me. here goes.

Chase doesn’t sleep for more than an hour and a half at a time. he wakes me up either every hour or hour and a half. (edit (because this has been a draft for a few weeks now): Chase slept one night for a period of 4/5 hours and i slept so deeply that when i woke i felt i had overslept and could barely get out of bed. cra-zy awesome and also, more perspective that this isn’t normal.)

he wakes me and asks me to do things like to straighten his pillow case. to fix his blanket because it’s no longer the way he likes it to lay. he wakes me if his jammies are on weird, or the ankles slid up to high but he can’t {not} wear jammies because if he doesn’t, he itches his skin until he bleeds (eczema) so in a way, some things seem kind of hopeless although i know they probably aren’t.

he’s totally inconsolable if he asks for milk and doesn’t get it. part of that is because he’s half awake and mostly because it’s a {major} comfort thing. i tried water for a time and that worked a whopping two times. he was doing much better in this area but again it’s gotten worse. we go through a gallon a day – maybe a day and a half if we’re lucky.

(-kind of TMI- side note: because he drink so.much.milk i have totally put off potty training all together. in my brain, the way this has to work it to get him to stop drinking so much fluids daily first. then begin the training. he pees SO much as you can imagine a child his age would, going through a gallon of milk all by himself in one day. he also poops like a baby still. mushy poos, rarely solid. (how’s that for TMI) so our nights our putting a damper on even things like potty training and saving money in diapers and milk…)

i was lying awake one night, around 3 am and trying to wrap my mind around our nights and i felt so clearly God reminded me of the first night i had to leave Chase to be hospitalized for Eisley. i suddenly realized that this could be a huge factor in why he freaks out at night. why he is unconsolable and needs the comfort of milk.

he was (is) traumatized too.

my heart aches every day lately as i’ve really let that sink in. i’ve known for a {long} time now this is an area i need to face. since we lost Eisley, i’ve struggled with anger towards Chase for things that aren’t his fault. things that are totally out of his control and to be honest, my hearts knows a major part of why he struggles with sleep is because he’s traumatized. by what happened while i was on bed rest and suddenly unable to to the “normal” things with him anymore. traumatized because his mother – whom always slept with her arm wrapped tightly around him – suddenly left him (when i hospitalized for Eisley – which once i had her, was 1 month. 1 month away from Chase)

traumatized because the woman who was now back wasn’t the momma he knew -watching me come back home – a changed, confused, grief-consumed and broken momma, not the momma he’d known his whole life (he was just 14 months at the time). i sometimes feel like she’s gone. the carefree-light hearted-cheery-rarely angry-momma.

i felt so consumed by the loss of Eisley that i stopped taking care of him in the loving, natural way i had before. i felt angry at him at times because i wanted to just be left alone in my grief, and friends, i feel like i’ve traumatized my son. i know i have.

i love him so very deeply and my heart has been changed by the love i have for him. from the very first time i learned he was growing inside my womb. from the very first time i heard his heartbeat, felt his movements within and saw his little profile during an ultrasound. and from the moment i held him in my arms, it’s like i now stand watching my heart run around in him. in my memory of eisley. in shailo.

it’s this deep, unbelievable and inexplicable love.

and my eyes have been opened again to this beautiful boy before me, my firstborn love, my Chaseyboy. my first baby to claim a piece of my heart. i love him so much and i know i’ve hurt him so deeply in my actions. in my season(s) of coldness and depression.

i’ve prayed my heart out during our nights but have i really meant it beyond my own selfish desire for sleep of my own? until recently, i don’t think so. i’ve been so selfish and so consumed.

it’s eating away at me. lately i watch him run around and i’m in awe at him and who he is, again. i’m starting to see him the way i once did before, and not just through the eyes of a grieving, confused and broken momma. i still feel broken and confuse and somedays, consumed, but mostly i feel like God is showing me what is before me in the here and now, and how i can live my life with my two beautiful boys and husband and still carry on Eisley’s legacy. it’s okay to feel these waves of grief and sorrow all while intertwined with living a full and happy life here. what’s before me now.

 i am so blessed to call Chase Journey, son. my firstborn. whom from the very beginning his life has truly been quite a journey. so much has happened in his (almost) 3 years of life, it’s unbelievable.

 one night, i was lying in bed with him, reading books before bedtime and i decided to video him reading this book to send to his Grandma Anisa in Alaska. it was a book about construction vehicles and it was so cute. when i pushed play and watched it back, i felt kind of stunned. thanks to having a phone with video capability now, i can watch him now from a perspective that most would see him, not sure if that makes sense. you know, like as a mother or auntie or whatever, you are around the kiddo enough to understand them and how they say things, so while we understand them, others are like, what did they just say? i had that moment. and brain suddenly registered the reality as i listened to his young voice; Chase is still oh so little. my heart stung a bit at that reality. i treat him and expect more out of him as if he were so much older.

i actually goes through these “roller coaster” emotions when it comes to Chase and how i feel i have/haven’t treated him. they go hand in hand with the season i’m in, so in my seasons of feeling more hopeful i feel guilty in how i’ve treated him during my seasons of depression, fear and anxiety. it’s a really hard and draining battle within me but i want to face this.

i want to be clear that i have never ever hated Chase or anything like that. i have always loved him and i always will. i’ve struggled with knowing how to grieve the loss of one child and still really, truly care for my other children the way i can best.

i guess i just wanted to share and see if there may be anyone who has walked this path before and has wisdom for me. whether it be about the nights or about grieving the loss of another child while caring for your children here with you and if you get me and what i’m failing miserably at trying to share here.

please pray for us as we keep processing all of this. please pray that we can find a way to get through these nights and most importantly how to really understand and work through any trauma that Chase is going through.

thanks for reading. i often hit post and know that those who really stick through to the end here (hi, you :)) must really, seriously like me or something for sticking around long enough to go through the ups and downs of my emo processing here. thank you.

love,

jami