Saturday, March 23, 2013

Coming Full Circle

This morning was amazing and I don't know that the words will fall right to really express how amazing it really was.  For the last several weeks the ladies of Oasis Women's Ministry at Discover Point Church have been purchasing items to donate to Rockdale Medical Center to give to families who suffer early and late term pregnancy loss or infant loss (some after a stay in the NICU).  We also collected preemie clothing for the babies who are released from the NICU.  We collected Bibles, copies of the book, "I Will Carry You" for late term losses, copies of the book "I'll Hold You in Heaven" for early and late term losses, and copies of "Symphony in the Dark" for those who lose a child shortly after birth, baby blankets, hats, booties, handprint/footprint kits, gift cards, journals, devotionals, spa socks, body wash, information about our church and our women's ministry, copies of my story of Noah and copies of my friend and her husband's story from a father's perspective.  It was amazing to see our ladies giving to this so sacrificially.

 This morning we met at the church at 10:00am to put individual bags together with the items.  We separated them into bags for early term losses, late term losses and NICU items. 

Then we headed to the hospital. When we arrived at the nurses station in labor and delivery, we were greeted by some AMAZING nurses! They were all SO excited about us coming and about the donations.

They took photos of us for their newsletter and then one of the nurses took us on a tour of the NICU.  We saw several of the tiniest babies I've ever seen in my life (one was just under 1 pound).  What a miracle each one of those precious little ones are! The facility is top notch and the people working in that NICU are true miracle workers.  I can't imagine how tough that job must be, but I'm so very thankful for what they do!

We were told that there was a family at the hospital who had just lost their twin girls at 22 weeks.  The doctor had spoken with the family and they had requested that we personally deliver a bag to them.  My friend Heather who has suffered a loss of her own came with me and we went to their hospital room.  There on the door was the sunset postcard...just like we had on our door when we lost Noah.  This helps anyone entering their room to know they have suffered a loss.  We hugged their necks and spent a little time sharing our stories with them and praying with them. We saw the tiny handprints and footprints of their precious babies on a card next to the bed.  I was able to get the email address of the mother so we can stay in touch.  Heather and I held it together until we walked out the door.  It was very tough, but I walked out of that room really feeling like I have come full circle.

I remember staring at the ceiling and beating my fists against the bed the moment we knew Noah was gone.  I couldn't understand what God was doing.  Would I give anything to have Noah back? Absolutely.  But I am so thankful that God's ways are bigger than our ways.  Being able to walk along side someone who is going through the anguish that I went through and being able to point them toward the grace, mercy and love of my Saviour???'s priceless.  It gives me purpose.

After meeting with the family, a sweet nurse named Jennifer took us to a room where they store all of the donations to give to families who lose a child.  I was so moved when Jennifer told me that we had come at the perfect time. She said,  "we don't have much at all and even just yesterday some of us went and bought just a few items because we run out of stuff so quickly!"  The fact that these nurses care enough to go out and spend their own money to give these families just a little bit of comfort is so humbling.

I know there are many of you who wanted to help with this project and it is never too late! This is something that is my very heartbeat and I hope to continue in this ministry.  I plan on taking more items around Noah's 4th birthday (July 7th), so please keep the donations coming! You may be surprised how many losses the hospital sees each week.  We asked for some specific items they are in need of and they said they need 4x6 picture frames and frames for ultrasound photos, more handprint/footprint kits, grief counseling  and group support literature, and books, Bibles, and other literature in Spanish.

Thank you so much to everyone who played a part in making this day happen! I feel so incredibly blessed to have been a part of it.  Thank you Oasis Women and Discover Point Church!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Risking the Rain

It's not often that we get rain around here without thunder and lightning to go with it, but the other day Ethan said, "Mommy! There is no lightning! I want to go play in the rain!" He grabbed his swim trunks, a bucket, and an umbrella and out he went. As I watched him play and I noticed him clinging to the umbrella, I thought about how much alike we are.  

I am a worrier.  I fear things that will most likely never happen.  I take extra precautions, I rarely take big risks, and I like to have a plan...I "cling to the umbrella".  I think we all tend to do this at times, but there is a difference between healthy planning, healthy precaution, and all out paranoia.  For someone who has realized her worst fear (the loss of a child), those fears have at times taken over my life.

Unfortunately, Ethan has already learned some of this from me.  But I don't want to be that mom.  I don't want to be the paranoid mom that never lets her child experience the adventure that comes with risk taking. I will have to lead by example and begin to undo some of the damage I've already done.

There is no adventure without risk, no joy without risk, no reward without risk, no love without fun without risk....

 But we're learning to let go of the umbrella...

It doesn't mean we won't fail, it doesn't mean we won't hurt, 
it doesn't mean we won't get drenched...

But there is something magical about the much to learn...

There will always be the temptation to pick the umbrella up again

But what freedom there is in taking a risk... totally surrendering to God's plan!!!

Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.

Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let not your hands be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well. 

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ella at 16 Months

 Sweet Ella Jane,

My, how you are growing up! You are a busy little girl and have a lot to say! Some of your newest words this month are...

"Trista" (yes, you LOVE Mrs. Trista! and I have a feeling baby Gwynn...or as you call her "bay-doll" is going to be one of your very best friends)
"Ian" (your cousin's name!)
"Pee-pee" (the good news is that you say this when you are wet....the bad news is you like to say it loudly in public)
You can say the ABC's even better now!
You are working on your animal names and noises...
"Owl" and "Hoo! Hoo!"
"Cow" and "Moo! Moo!"
"Duck" and "Quack Quack!"
You still can't say "Mamaw", but you are starting to say "Maw, Maw", so you are getting closer.
You have started to call your Daddy, "Daddy", even though he prefers "Da-da".  Ethan still calls him "Da-da" at age 6...but I don't know how much longer that will stay cute.  A teenager calling their dad "Da-da" might not get him any cool points with his friends.

You can now put your shape puzzle together by yourself.  What a big girl!
You are walking...practically running now, though you still sometimes prefer walking like a ballerina on your tiptoes.  You LOVE to dance....which I don't know that your Daddy is too happy about!

You love sitting on the potty which is great! But nothing is happening on the potty so far.  You just like to sit while I read to you. Your 2 newest favorite books..."Mr. Brown can Moo! Can you?" and "Go, Dog, Go" (mostly because it has 2 of your favorite words in it... "stop" and "go").

                     You have started to learn how to use a spoon/fork (otherwise known as a "spork")

Your favorite breakfast food....EGGS! Most of them end up all over your face...

 You spent some time playing with your cousin Ian this month and you two have so much fun together!

 You love to walk around carrying your purse, backpack and anything else you can find (bracelets, necklaces, etc.). You are so girly!

 I don't know why, but I had never given you a bubble bath until this month.  Now every time I give you a bath, you say, "BUBBLES!!!"

Cutting your 4 canine teeth all at once has taken the energy right out of you.  Last week you took 3 naps in one day! This was the third crashed right in the middle of the living room floor after dinner.

And when you are sleepy, you suck that thumb and find your belly button just like your big brother! 

Don't grow too fast, baby girl. Mommy wants to keep you little for a while!

Noah's 3rd Birthday & Visiting the hospital

This post is a little overdue, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and write.  Every year, Noah's birthday is difficult, but it gets a little less painful.  I hate to admit it, but on July 6th this year (which is the day we actually found out Noah was gone), I spent the day very angry.  I was kind of pouting I guess you could say.  David and I have struggled a lot with the whole idea of whether or not God really always has OUR best interest in mind or if it is really ultimately all for His kingdom.  Selfish thoughts, I know.  In my earthly mind, I think my best interest would be to have my son here...for Ethan to have a brother...for Ella to have 2 big brothers to watch out for her.  But who do I think I am that I have any right to be mad at the creator of the universe for not doing things MY way??? Still though...I was...and it was July 7th before I spoke up and told God I was mad (like he didn't already know), but I was trying my hardest to give it over to Him (again).

For the last month I have been putting together 3 baskets to take to the hospital where all of my children were born.  These baskets would be given to families who lost a baby (one that would actually be born and they would hold in their arms).  So many family members and friends offered to help with this and items started arriving at my house.  My mother made a baby blanket, booties, and a hat for each basket.  Then Kelly Gerken with Sufficient Grace Ministries very graciously donated 3 of her beautiful "Dreams of You" memory books and some pamphlets to put in the baskets.  These books are so amazing and so perfect for these kind of situations (as it is pretty much impossible to find an appropriate memory book for infant loss at a store). Another dear lady (Miranda) sent me several crocheted baby hats of all different sizes and colors.  I made a separate basket for these so that the nurses could give one to each mother who lost a baby and they could choose them depending on the size and gender of the baby.  My friend Katie made a donation to help with the baskets, my sister-in-law sent me 3 copies of Angie Smith's book, "I Will Carry You", another friend (Robin) donated Bibles, and I included some bookmarks with a verse on them and a journal. I wrote and printed out several letters for these mothers which included information about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (photography) and also printed several copies of Noah's story.  I found some beautiful baskets at Hobby Lobby that would hold everything.

On July 7th, Noah's birthday, we drove to the hospital where we met my nurse friend Amy and a few other nurses and gave them the baskets.  It really did my heart a lot of good to give back and hopefully encourage other families who suffer this type of tragedy.

And isn't it just like God to make things happen in His perfect timing? Little did I know that just 5 days later I would be at the hospital visiting our friends as they welcomed their baby into the world...and just around the corner was a family who had just found out that their little girl no longer had a heartbeat at 28 weeks gestation. My nurse friend let me know they were about to give this family one of the baskets and later she said she would like me to visit her.  On Friday I went back to the hospital and sat down with this mother and father and heard about their beautiful baby girl, Riley Beth.  This family has another daughter who is close to the same age Ethan was when we lost Noah.  The mother was excited about her daughter having a sister....I understood that feeling so well.  Ethan lost his brother.  We were both thankful that her daughter was young enough to not understand as you never want to see your child be truly devastated over something like this.  I am thankful she has a child to mother though.  When you go home empty-handed, it is slightly easier to deal with it when you at least have a child at home to hug just a bit tighter.  As I walked out of her room, I heard screams from the mother next door who was in labor at 35 weeks and had also found out her baby was gone.  Then next door to her, another one who had slipped away at 19 weeks.  Looks like we may need to put some more baskets together soon.  Thanks so much to all of you who helped with this project!

I made a few trips to Noah's grave on his birthday and on our last visit for the day, my brother and sister-in-law brought my nephew Ian out to visit for the first time.  Jason and Esther love Noah so much. I am very thankful for their understanding of our grief...and they have grieved with us...all the more since they've had Ian and really understand the weight of it all.

If you've never read Noah's story, you can read it HERE

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ella at 15 Months

2 posts in one day! Crazy huh?

I am a week late on this post...

Sweet Ella, you have reached a huge milestone that I just have to blog about! You are finally WALKING! On Monday, June 11th you decided it was time.  Nobody helped you, you just got up and walked across the room.  Then you spent the day showing off your new trick by walking circles around the house.  You are becoming more independent each day (something Mommy doesn't like very much!). Mamaw is here for the summer to help us out until school starts back.

You have added some new words to your vocabulary...
-You made the switch from "Mama" to "Mommy" while on vacation a few weeks ago and for now, it is your favorite word.  You say it like you are wanting my attention.  "Mommy?!?"  Then I say, "What, baby?"...and then you say it again, "Mommy?!?".  This goes on for a while, then you say a long phrase in your own little language like you are really telling me something.  I have no idea what you are saying, but you are so stinkin' cute!!!
Other new words:
-"Me" - if I'm sharing some food with you, you say "me" after I take a, "Ok mom, now it's my turn!"  You can seriously put away some food, little girl!
-"Eat" - Probably your second favorite word.  You realize now that when you say this word, we feed you.  You don't overuse it just yet, but when you are hungry, you shout it! EAT!!!!!!!
-"Shoes" - sounds like "Juice"
-"Ewwww" - when you have a dirty diaper
- "Two" - This is apparently your favorite number.  I often pick you up by saying, "One.....Two....Thrrrreeeeeeeeee" and then swing you around.  Now as soon as I say, "One" you say "Two".
_"Yo ho!" - You like to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates with Ethan and as soon as they start singing "Yo ho!", you shout it right back at the tv.  
-"Cheeto" - this is your brother's nickname. You still call him "bubba", but you like to yell "Cheeto".
-"So Pretty" -When Mamaw gets you dressed, she stands you up on the changing table and says, "How pretty!" ...same thing she did when I was little. You always reply "So Pitty". 
- "I Love" - you said this in response to me yesterday! I said, "I love you" and you said, "I love"....getting closer :o)

You still say "no no no" and "stop it" if you hear anyone raise their voice or if we are wrestling with your big brother.  You are pretty strict with us!

Your Mamaw has taught you how to play tea party.  You are just adorable setting up your dolls and animals and picking up a little teacup and "sipping" your tea.

You still won't say "Mamaw".  When we try to get you to say it, you say very clearly, "Papaw".  Oh well...there's always next month!  

You have had 8 teeth for a while (4 on top, 4 on bottom), but your 4 canine teeth are popping through all at the same time.  You want to chew on everything!

I have to say that so far, this is my favorite age for you.  You are so cute, your personality just shines, and I just love you so very much.  I am so thankful for you, sweet baby girl!!!!!!!

Letting Go of Regret

Every year as we approach Noah's birthday, my mind is flooded with the memories of the day we found out he was gone and the day of his birth.  Every detail plays out in my head like I'm watching a movie...but of someone else's life.  It's not so tangible anymore.  It feels somewhat like a dream and only when I look at his pictures (which I haven't done in quite a while) or hold his tiny blue hat in my hand does the reality of it come back to me.  He was here. There is so much proof of it...

On July 7th, Noah would be turning 3 years old.  But as each year passes by, I feel like I get a step further away from him.  I know time is healing and it's a good thing for me to not be in that fog of grief I was in for so long, but I just wish he was here.  I think about Ethan at age 3 and all the things he was learning at that time.  I can't help but wonder what Noah would be doing now....and what he would be getting into with his big brother and little sister.  I just....miss him. And that void is very real to me.

David and I visited a church in Ocala, Florida on the way home from our vacation a few weeks ago.  The pastor spoke about past regrets and things that we have held on to that we just have to give over to the Lord.  After the service, I told David that the thing that nags at me all the time is knowing that Noah was alive on Saturday, July 4th and that I have no memory of him moving on Sunday, July 5th.  And it was the evening of Monday, July 6th before we ever went to the hospital and found out he was gone.  Why was I not more concerned? Why didn't I go to the hospital sooner? Why wasn't I counting his kicks on Sunday? WHY?!? I have held onto that for long enough.  I am reading Angie Smith's new book, "What Women Fear" along with a couple of friends of mine.  In the first chapter of the book she talks about a woman who lost a child and had these same regrets that I have.  Why didn't she follow her instincts that were telling her something wasn't right? I know that God has brought this subject up to me twice this month for good reason...He wants me to let it go.

There are some significant (positive) things going on with me and my husband over the next month and it will be a time to really focus on my relationship with the Lord.  I'm hoping to use this time to really let go of some things that have burdened me for too long.  Guilt is not from the Lord.  I've got to give it over to Him. It's time to let go of regret.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 3:12-14