God’s Guarantee

I recently started following Joyce Meyer on Facebook.  I love seeing her encouraging words and feel that God is speaking directly to me through those words.  On Saturday she posted “God’s Guarantee”.  This one can relate to so many.

God's Guarantee

For me, the post could not have come at a better time.  God nudged me start following Joyce Meyer on Facebook on Saturday – over any other day – simply to see this post.  This post connected with me because she’s referencing Joshua, which happens to also be our baby’s name.

My husband gave me a frame with the Joshua 1:9 quote for Christmas and that verse rings true to me.  Do not be dismayed, do not be discouraged, for I am with you always.  Even in the midst of heartache when I feel alone, God is with me.  When I’m feeling discouraged, God tells me He’s by my side and I don’t need to feel down.

I can’t help but read the ending prayer over and over again.  I can truly feel God talking to me through this.

“Lord, of all the blessings in life, the greatest one I ask You for is that You will be with me as You were with Joshua.  I can do without a lot of things, but not without You.  Amen.”

I feel that God is speaking to me through this prayer, letting me know that our baby, Joshua, is okay.  Joshua is with God.  God loves Joshua.  God was with Joshua when he died and God is with me as I grieve.  And as I grieve, I must remember that I cannot get through this without God.

God is our strength to get us through any difficulty in life.

God is in Control

As I stare at my computer background image, it’s hard to imagine that those perfect little feet are my little boy’s.  It’s hard to imagine that something so perfect could be gone.  And it’s even hard to imagine that he was once here.  It hasn’t been long – nearly 4 months.  But it seems a lifetime ago that I was pregnant and gave birth.  However, the pain is still very real.

I follow Joyce Meyer on Facebook and this little message popped up the other day.

God is in Control

How I needed this on that day, and how I need this today…and every day.

I struggle to know that God is with me.

I struggle to allow God to be in control of my life.

I know both of these statements are true, but in the midst of heartache or trials in your life, it can be hard to accept.  I even struggle with it as I write this post.

If God is with me, why can’t I feel Him?  If God is with me, why’d He take my baby?  If God is with me, why am I not pregnant yet (we’re trying for our second)?

If God is in control, why’d He do this to me?  If God’s in control, why didn’t He answer my prayers to revive my baby?  If God is in control, why won’t He make me pregnant again (now!)?

Those questions hit me frequently.  And as I proof-read what I just wrote, it’s eye opening – how selfish it sounds.  Life isn’t about me.  Life is about God and His will.  It’s my will to have my baby back, it’s my will to be pregnant again, but is that God’s will?  If it was, my baby would be here and we wouldn’t be trying to have another right now.  God is in control, not me.  Oh, it’s so hard to give up control.

Watching Over Us

Love

 

Grief hits you at the most random times.  Yesterday I felt amazing.  I was happy with life and feeling blessed for Joshua’s life.  Then I was watching the Olympics and a P&G Moms commercial came on.  I love those commercials, but I started bawling.

Today I miss my baby.

This morning a friend posted a video on Facebook of her daughter laughing.  Her daughter is just 3 weeks younger than Joshua.  I couldn’t help but think, I wonder if he’d be laughing right now.  I wonder what his smile would look like.  One day I will know when we are reunited in Heaven.  Every day leading up to that I can only imagine what he would look like, smell like, be like.

We are a week shy of Joshua being born 4 months ago.  I wonder what it would be like with a 4 month old.  I wonder how my life would be different.  I wonder what he would be like and what milestones he would have accomplished by now.  Smiling, laughing, rolling over.

I believe in God.  I believe in a bright future.  And I have high hopes that one day I will be a mom of a living child.  One where I will enjoy all the smiles, laughter, and milestones.

I know God has a plan for my life and I know that Joshua was no fluke in that plan.  Joshua was planned.  Joshua’s life had purpose.  God blessed us with him for many reasons; some of which I don’t know of yet but hope to see down the road.  I feel blessed to have had Joshua in our lives.  Though today I am missing him, I know he his here.  Only the bereaved mamas can say that their children are with them at all times.  Living children leave the home to go to school, play with friends, go to college, get married – our children are with us every day of our lives watching over us.   

9 Things NOT to Say to a Bereaved Parent, and 8 Things to Say

Most people have the best intentions when they are trying to comfort you while you’re grieving.  I know that!  However, sometimes the words just don’t translate well.  If you said something like this to me, please know, I’m not upset that you said this!  I know your intentions were good!

You’ll be a great mom someday!  Guess what, I am a mom!  A great on at that!  Just because my baby didn’t come home from the hospital with me doesn’t mean I’m not a mom.  If a child died at age 6, does that mean that woman is no longer a mother?  I created this being, I carried him, and I will always be his mom!  

You’re a spring chicken, you’ll have more kids.  First off, I wanted this child!  More children cannot replace the one you’ve lost.  Just because I’m young or just because I can have more kids, doesn’t make me feel better about the one I lost.  Secondly, there’s no guarantee that I’ll have more kids.  You don’t know if it took a month, a year, or 5 rounds of IVF to have this child.

Something went wrong, babies don’t just die.  There was no explanation of my son’s death during labor.  Nothing went wrong, nothing could have been done differently.  And if something could have been done differently, I will never know because that’s not the reality of what happened and I refuse to dwell on the “what ifs”.

If something was wrong with him, it’s better it happened when it did than finding him in his crib a few days later.  Either scenario is awful, but I would have loved to have seen my baby alive and interacting with me.  Even if it was just for a few short days.

Are you going to sue the doctors?  I had a few people ask me this.  I thought it was such a silly questions and frankly, none of their business if we were planning to sue.  This is so irrelevant to the death of my child and felt more like a bit a gossip they wanted to spread if the answer was “yes”.

I know how you feel.  No one truly knows how you feel even if they’ve been in the same situation.  No death, no grief is equal.  Tread lightly when telling people you know how they feel, every situation is different.  However, it is comforting to know that people share similar grief.  I find comfort in knowing that I’m not in this alone.

I can’t imagine the pain you feel.  Please don’t imagine it, it’s awful!  And please don’t remind me how painful it is.

You’re so strong, I would never be that strong!  When life throws things like this at you, you have no choice.  And quite honestly, I feel weak, I cry at random things, and I yearn for my baby.  I don’t feel strong, nor do I feel the need to be strong.

Something similar happened to so and so, but their baby lived.  It is in no way comforting to know that something similar happened to someone else, but their baby lived and mine died.  If you have a similar story like this, please keep it to yourself.

Instead try letting the person know that you care for them and the person who died.

I’m sorry.  Period.

You’ve been in my prayers.  Some don’t like this because people have different religions, but to me, it felt good knowing that I was in people’s prayers.

I think of you often.  It was nice for me to know that people were thinking of me during this hard time in my life.

Can I see pictures?  This was the best for me!!  I only had 2 friends who actually asked to see photos.  Most of the time I was asking people if they wanted to see pictures.  I love showing pictures of my baby to people, I don’t get the opportunity to do that enough.  He’s perfect and I will never tire of showing people how cute he is or looking at them myself!

He is beautiful/precious/handsome/adorable/etc.  This hits me so hard when it is said to me!  Yes, people initially told me after I showed them pictures, but one friend did out of the blue.  It was about two months after Joshua died and we were out to eat with some friends and their baby.  I was oogling over their baby and said, “he’s so cute!”  And she immediately responded, “Joshua was beautiful too!”  She couldn’t have said anything more meaningful to me.

He was very special.  Thank you, I think so too!

I’m here.  Though this is usually a passive way of helping people, it’s nice to hear.

I remember.  People are there immediately following a death but it seems they quickly dive back into their busy lives.  To a bereaved parent, this can come across as forgetting the baby who has died.  Weeks, months, years down the road, mention the baby.  Say the baby’s name.  Remember key days and reach out.  You have no idea what an impact this makes!

Smiling After Loss

I remember the first time I laughed – a genuinely happy laugh – after Joshua died.  I stopped myself and immediately felt guilty for that moment of happiness.  I thought, what kind of bereaved mother laughs?  If I laugh, he’ll think I’m over him, that I’ve moved on.

There is no proper timeline to grief and sadness.  It hits you at the strangest moments.  It took a while for me to feel okay to smile again.  In the first weeks, I thought I might never smile again, I might never be happy again.  But as time went on, it was easier to smile and, in fact, it felt good to smile.  I thought, if I died, I wouldn’t want my mother to be this sad.  I’d want her to rejoice in my life and the good times we had together.  Joshua provided us with so much happiness the brief time he was with us and thinking of those times make me happy.

Smile let everyone know that today you are stronger than yesterday

I like to think of myself as a glass half full type of person.  I like to think I smile a lot.  But recently I wonder if I smile too much.  For example, at work, I always smile at people I pass in the halls or ask people how they are doing.  When I answer that same question with, “good” or “great”, sometimes I feel wrong answering that way.  I am good, and sometimes I even feel great, but there’s the underlying grief I still hold.  Do people think I’ve gotten over the death of my child too soon?  Do people think I’ve moved on forgotten about him?  The truth is, I will never stop grieving the death of my son.  I will never forget about him and the impact he has made on my life.

I need to move forward, I need to remember the happy times we had.  There are no guarantees in life – that I have learned in the past few months.  Joshua has taught me that I need to live life to the fullest and be happy with my surroundings.  I am so happy Joshua was in our lives.  The pain I have felt is due to the intense love we have for him.  For that, I wouldn’t change anything.  Of course I wish he was physically here with us, but I know he’s watching over us!  He is with us everyday – that makes me smile!

A Day of Love

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Valentine’s Day – a day of love, a day to express your love for someone, and a day for you to feel loved.

Today I celebrate my love for my husband, my son, and my dogs.  My heart bursts with love for you!!

Many mothers talk about how there is an instant love for your baby once you see him or her.  For me, that was immediately true.  I loved Joshua while he was growing inside me, but the moment he was in my arms, he stole my heart.  It was an instant, unconditional, forever love.  (To my husband, if he reads this, I love you more than words can express and I always will!  I don’t want you to feel left out.)

Though we only got 41 weeks with our baby, all of which were in my tummy, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I miss my son every day.  I wish he was in my arms.  But if I hadn’t gotten pregnant, I wouldn’t have experienced that love.  I wouldn’t have had him.  He has forever changed my outlook on life and love.  For that, I am grateful.

So on this day of love, though my baby isn’t in my arms, I can feel him.  He’s watching over me and I know he is aware of how much I love him – I tell him every day!

The Dreaded First Day of Work

I was lucky enough to take nearly my whole leave off.  I went back to work a couple weeks earlier than originally planned.  During my time off, between the crying and blank stares, I was feeling okay.  Still sad, but okay.  And by that, I mean I no longer cried all day long and had somewhat accepted what happened.

Then I had to go back to work.  Part of me was excited to see everyone and get back into a routine and the other part of me was paralyzed with fear.

Scared people would look at me with eyes of pity.

Scared I’d cry.

Scared people would ask me questions.

Scared people wouldn’t say anything at all.

Scared people didn’t know what happened.

All of those happened the moment I walked in the door.  I started bawling.  I felt so out of place.  The last time I was at work was a week before I had Joshua, awaiting my new arrival.  The last time I was at work, I was happy.

Going back to work was a huge step back in my progress to my “new normal”.

I was back to the grind within minutes.  The majority of people didn’t say more than “hi, nice to have you back”.  But there were some who truly cared.  You could see it in their eye when they asked, “how are you?” and said, “I haven’t stopped praying for you and your family since I heard”.  That meant more to me than they knew.

The ones I appreciated the most were those who came up to me and said more than a few brief sentences.  People told me they were sorry.  Somehow that one word felt so good.  Some told me that Joshua is a angel watching down on us (which I truly believe).  One even said, “think how special your son is that God wanted him right now”.  Thank you, he is special!

Then there are people who don’t know what to say so they don’t say anything at all.  I get it, I hardly know what to say myself.  And sadly, I’ve been that person before.  It hurts.  Saying nothing is way worse that saying something.  Even if you don’t have the words, say something.  Anything.  Acknowledge there was a loss, acknowledge there was a life.  I think people don’t say anything in part because they don’t want to make me sad.  But the truth is, I am sad.  Saying something is not going to make me more sad.  Saying something validates his life.  Makes him feel more real, more here.

It makes me happy to talk about my son.  I don’t get enough times that I get to talk about him since he’s no longer here.  I don’t get to talk about his milestones or how much fun we had over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a part of my life.  He was and will always be a huge part of my life.

With anyone going through some sort of loss…talk to them.  Talk about the person they lost.  Talk about their grief.  Talk about how you’re continually thinking of them or praying for them.  Most importantly, acknowledge the loss and how much that person meant to them.

Beginning of the Journey

I’m starting this blog to hopefully help someone along their journey of stillbirth.  And, in part, to help myself along my own journey of stillbirth.  After the unexpected stillbirth of my son in October, I was lost.  Hopeless.  Angry.  I frantically Googled “stillbirth blogs” and spent hours sobbing through others’ blogs.  I still do.  But during the days and weeks after his birth and death, the blogs gave me comfort.

Comfort in knowing that I’m truly not alone.

Comfort in seeing that people have gone through stillbirth and come out of it okay.

In the first weeks, I felt so alone.  None of my close friends had gone through stillbirth (thankfully) and tried their best to comfort me, but no one comforted me best than those who’d been through it.  There’s a bond you have with someone who has shared a similar situation with you, whether it’s bonding through a disease, an accomplishment, or death.  I had about a dozen coworkers, friends of friends, or family of friends who came to me in the days after we lost Joshua telling me how the same thing happened to them.

I had a perfect pregnancy.  Sure, I was sick in the beginning, but I loved it because I was pregnant.  There’s nothing I wanted more in life than to be a mom.  Since I was little, I knew that was my calling in life.  A mother.  A nurturer.  Someone my babes could count on to love and support them.

I wouldn’t complain about any sickness or pain because pregnancy was truly the happiest I’ve ever been.  People would ask me how I was feeling and I’d smile, “GREAT!”  Because I was happy, I was great!  Then my husband would look at me and tell people the truth, “you throw up every morning!”  Every kick, every hiccup was a warm welcome to the fact that I was growing my own child.  I could not wait until my little munchkin was in my arms.

The night before I was to be induced (one week after my due date), we went to the hospital in labor.  6 cm when we arrived.  The doctors told me I had about one hour per centimeter to go, so I geared up for another 4 hours of pain.  Then came the pushing.  I pushed for another 4 hours and at 5:38 AM my baby was born.  “It’s a BOY!!”  I’ll never forget that.  We didn’t find out the gender.  I was in a fog.  So happy the pushing was over, so happy the baby was here.  Then the baby nurses were calling the respiratory unit and trying to get his heart to start up again.  What was going on?  This wasn’t happening.  I prayed and prayed.  “God, bring him back.  God, please give the doctors the knowledge what to do.  God, please give us a miracle.”  After a half hour, the head nurse came to my side and told me, “there’s nothing more we can do, I’m so sorry”.

Somewhere between the last push and the outside world, our baby died.  Born into God’s arms instead of mine.  All in one day, I was the happiest and saddest of my life.  Looking at my baby made me so incredibly happy!  Joshua was mine, I made him.  He was perfect.  A perfect combination of my husband and myself.  And knowing he was gone made my world fall apart.  Knowing I had to leave him at the hospital instead of taking him home.  Knowing I was only holding his body instead of his whole self.

Our firstborn.  Our son.  The babe I only got to know inside of me for 41 weeks.  The perfect child whom I will meet again someday in Heaven.  Mommy loves you!