Emotional Weekend (Triggers)

Saturday, April 26th marked 6 months since our baby died.  6 months since he nearly viewed this earth outside of my womb.  6 months since our lives were turned upside down.  However, Saturday was a good day.  My husband and I made eggs, bacon, and toast and enjoyed the morning together.  And later in the afternoon, after a good nap, we went on a long walk with the dogs.  We didn’t discuss the past 6 months or the sadness, but we remembered our baby and made it a point to have a happy day.

Sunday, the hospital held a perinatal memorial service.  On the way there, my husband said he hoped the service wasn’t too sad.  He doesn’t want to remember the sadness.  Part of me wanted to be mad at him but I understood.  I know how positive my husband is and how great he is at seeing the positive in things – that’s something I love about him and something that’s helped me so greatly through these last 6 months.

We walked into the hospital and at the same time multiple pregnant moms were walking out.  They must have just gotten done with a labor and delivery class.  Poor timing to have the perinatal service at the same time all these beautifully pregnant women are enjoying their upcoming bundles of joy.  It was okay though, it reminded me how happy and excited we were when we were in that class.

We walked down the hall and turned the corner to where the service was being held.  I wanted to break down.  I did everything to hold back tears.  We sat down among the other parents.  The couple behind us was all sniffles the whole service.  Right before service started, the tears came.  It felt so fresh again, like I was back 6 months ago.  I had to stop myself before it turned into an uncontrollable audible cry.  I was almost there.  I could feel that ugly loud cry about to come just like it did the days after Joshua passed.

The service was beautiful!  The hospital did such a great job remembering our babies and made it known how important they were in all of our lives.  Not just as parents, but our babies were important to the nurses, to the hospital, and to the world.  We had the opportunity to walk up and say the name of our babies.  I had my husband do it – I wasn’t strong enough.  Then we were able to plant a dahlia bulb in memory of our babies.  I love these flowers!  I had them in the floral arrangements at our wedding.  I can only hope I planted it the proper way so it grows (I do not have a green thumb).

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I couldn’t help but wonder everyone’s story.  How did their babies die?  Does anyone have the same story that we do?  Was anyone there at the same time we were?  I wanted to chat with others there, but I didn’t know what to say.  How do you strike up small talk at a perinatal service?  “How are you today?  Crumby weather, huh?”  I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say so my husband and I kept to ourselves.

There were so many pregnant moms again.  It was encouraging to see happiness again and new life where life had been taken away.  Happily I can say, one of those moms is me.  Not visible yet, only 8 weeks, but excited for the prospect of new life.  Excited for a sibling for Joshua.

We told my parents this weekend (we told my in-laws last weekend).  We recently got a new car and they hadn’t seen it yet, so we put the car seat in the back.  When they opened the door to the back seat, I told them I wanted to make sure the car seat fit since we’ll be needing it in December.  My parents started bawling.  My mom said that God was probably tired of hearing from her, begging for another grandbaby from us.

We are happy and scared, but more happy than scared.  I’m happy to be carrying new life.  A huge weight has been lifted from me.  Going through this process again brings back happy memories of Joshua, all the great times we had together.  But it also makes me sad to think that I’m going through this again so soon because Joshua is no longer here.

Here’s to hoping (and lots of praying) that these next 7 months go smoothly and we are able to take home our happy and healthy baby.

6 Months

Saturday, April 26th will mark the 6 month anniversary of Joshua’s birth and death.  It’s hard to imagine having a 6 month old baby right now.  As much as I want it and as much as I pictured my life differently 6 months ago, today I cannot picture it any differently than what it is now.  It makes me sad to think that I cannot picture my life with a 6 month old since that’s what I want so badly, but since I haven’t experienced it, I have no idea what it’d be like.

It’s been 6 months since we said hello and goodbye to our son.  6 months since our lives were turned upside down.  6 months since the best and worst day of my life.  6 months since I last saw his precious face and touched his soft skin.  6 months from when I thought the title of “mom” included late nights, spit ups, and dirty diapers to what it now means to me as mourning and loving someone who’s not here.

6 months down.  It feels like I’m recovering from an addiction when I say that.  6 months ago, I didn’t want to accept my “new life”.  This wasn’t how my life was supposed to go and I didn’t want to to be branded as the lady who’s baby died.  I didn’t want to leave the house because I felt everyone knew, like it was written across my forehead.  I didn’t want to be sad the rest of my life because a part of our family was missing.

These last 6 months seemed to have gone by in the blink of an eye.  Yet, 6 months seems lifetimes ago.  I’m not quite sure how I survived.  One day at a time.  One step at a time.  One tear at a time.  God has gotten me through the worst of it and I continue to lean on Him for strength.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

“Call to me and I will answer you.” Jeremiah 33:3

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

I know God is real and I know God is good, but there were times I didn’t believe it.  Even reading these verses sometimes makes me think “yeah right”.  The Bible says the Lord has plans to not harm us, but I feel like my life was harmed.  If God is so good, why did this happen to me?  If God is real, why didn’t he answer my prayers to revive my baby?  But I know God has a purpose for my life and for Joshua’s life.  I may not figure it out in this life, but I know that I will see Joshua again and I know I will one day be provided an answer to all the why’s.

6 months ago, I couldn’t tell you any answers to the why’s.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you any good that’s come out of my son dying.  But 6 month into my “new normal”, I can tell you that I’m stronger.  I’m a better wife, daughter, and friend.  I know life is precious and I don’t take it for granted.  I’m able to help others who have been through something similar and able to comfort those who have lost loved ones.  I don’t take crap from others, I know life is too short to do so.  I know I would have been a good mom to Joshua, but I know I will be an even better mom to our future children.

6 months later, I miss my son no less, I love him more, and I will continue to strive to remember him.  Love you Joshua!

Joshua’s Room

While I was preparing for Joshua to arrive, I would go into his room, open the cabinet and the closet and stare.  Then rearrange.  I think I rearranged the cabinet and closet more times than I could count.  When he passed, I did the same thing.  I put the things I didn’t need right now on higher shelves.  I put the diapers away that I had opened in preparation for a newborn.  I returned everything I had bought myself along with a few gifts (unopened diapers, pack n play, extra car seat base, breast pump, monitor, bath time items, and some books).  I wanted everything out that I could.  I’m glad it was only big things like those that I can re-purchase easily.  Things that might be a new style by the time our next baby would arrive.  Things I can even purchase after the next baby would arrive.  I have everything I need for a newborn.

It makes me happy to look at those items we purchased for Joshua.  They remind me of how happy I was to become a family of 3 (5 if you include our dogs).  The little clothes I bought for him and were given to us bring back happy memories.  In the beginning, I closed the door and didn’t want to look in his room.  I wanted to move out of our house, out of the state, and start a new life.  Today I’m happy to look at Joshua’s belongings.  His things remind me of happy days and of hope I have for that happiness in another baby.  Not one that will replace Joshua (because no one could), but one that will fill our family and fill a void I have in my heart and arms.

After a couple weeks, I was able to open the door to his nursery again.  His room looked empty.  Nothing on the walls, no baby, no crying, no mess for me to leave for days because I’m too tired and busy with a newborn.  I made it a point to complete the nursery.  I put up pictures of Joshua and the Joshua 1:9 verse that my husband gave to me for Christmas.  I painted the bookshelf that we were using in another room, and put it in place.  I purchased little stand to place by the rocking chair.  Even though I knew I wouldn’t need this room for another 9+ months, however long it took for God to bless us with another baby, it was comforting completing his room.

Here is a photo of Joshua’s room.  The room that our dogs still like to hang out in.  We like to think they know Joshua is still here with us, even though he never spent time in that room outside the womb.  This photo was taken on a very sunny day, by my phone, so not the best of quality.  And yes, there are stuffed animals in the bed to make it seem less empty.  By the time baby # 2 decides to come, those will be gone.

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Firsts

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Firsts.  Why can firsts be so terrible?  I thought firsts were supposed to be exciting but after we lost Joshua, I dreaded firsts.

The first Friday after we lost him – one week after going into labor.  The first Saturday – one week after he died.  For a good while I thought I may never enjoy the weekends again.  Friday and Saturday were just a reminder of his death and my sadness.

The first Halloween – he was supposed to be bundled in a cute costume.

The first 19th of the month – one month after I was due.  The first 26th – one month after he was born.

The first Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years.  All were just okay when I typically love these holidays.

The first extended family get together – I was supposed to be passing around a newborn.  I had so much anxiety about that day.

The first day back to work.

The first birthday I had – it wasn’t exciting.  I was supposed to be celebrating with my baby.  It was just a reminder that I’m one year older and no closer to having a baby in my arms.

Oh how I thought firsts would be different.  First smile, first laugh, first tooth, first walk, first birthday.  These are firsts I looked forward to with Joshua and still look forward to with our future children.  I feel like I’ve healed greatly and am more at peace with Joshua being gone, but it makes me sad to think of his firsts that we are missing out on.  He’s in Heaven dancing around, not sad about missing these firsts.  He has a better life and for that I am grateful.

Signs from my Baby

I’m not sure I totally believed in signs from those who have died until I experienced a death close to me.

Shortly after I went back to work, we were in the Polar Vortex of cold!  Wow, it was cold!  I was driving to work and saw a Sun Dog (two rainbows on either side of the sun).  It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.  The rainbow reminded me of Joshua.

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“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13

Rainbows remind me of God’s promise to us and His love for us.  This was the first rainbow I saw after Joshua died and it reminded me that there is still beauty in this world.  At that point I was feeling down, I was sad, and still angry at God; this rainbow reminded me that God still loved me.  I see Joshua in the beauty of rainbows now.

Another sign from Joshua was with this tiny foot key chain we received in our memory box that the hospital sent us home with.  I put the key chain with the October birthstone on my key ring as a reminder of my little boy.  About a month later, I found the pink birthstone in my pocket.  No longer on my key chain, but in my pocket.  I rarely put my keys in my pockets so I was surprised to find it here.  I put the birthstone back on my key chain thinking, thankfully it was in my pocket and I didn’t lose it.

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About a month later, the birthstone was gone again.  I was so bummed, I almost started crying.  This key chain was a symbol of my baby and I had lost part of it.  A few days later, I was getting out of my car when I looked down on the floor mat and there was the birthstone!  How was that possible?  How did it fall perfectly on the floor mat and not on the ground outside to be lost forever.  I didn’t take this as a fluke.  This was a sign from Joshua that he is still here with me, watching over me every day.