Blog Birthday!

One year ago I started this blog! One whole year. Wow, time flies. And how different my life is from a year ago! I write this as I lay on my couch with my baby on my belly sleeping (the best way for her to get in a long nap).

One year ago, I dreamt of starting a blog to get my feelings and emotions out. At that time in my life, it was hard to constantly discuss my grief with people who didn’t understand. And I felt I couldn’t constantly cry on my husband’s shoulder. He’s always been my rock but I felt I could talk about my grief all day and didn’t want that to drain our relationship. Through blogging, I quickly found a great group of other loss moms who knew exactly how I felt. At the time I started this blog, I didn’t know I would find those amazing women and didn’t realize how their stories would greatly impact my journey back to normalcy.

One year ago, I wasn’t yet pregnant again. I was still deep in grief and wondering if I would ever get pregnant again and have a living baby.

One year ago, I didn’t know that my blog would touch so many other lives. I’m amazed when I look today and see over 3500 views! I hope that my thoughts and emotions have been able to impact others in the ways that other blogs have touched my life. 3500 views may be piddly to other bloggers but I am in shock! I expected maybe a handful of people to read this.

Today, I’m a new person. I’m a mom to a living child who fills a huge void that was left in my heart when Joshua died. It will never be completely filled because Joshua still holds, and will always hold, a large chunk of my heart. My family, my friends, my blog, even strangers have helped me grieve and move forward into a much happier place than where I was a year ago.

Still, today I woke up thinking about Joshua and missing him no less than I did a year ago. I cried this morning thinking of him and how unfair it is that he’s not with me. How unfair it will always feel and how I will always miss him. That part never gets easier. I’ll always long for the baby boy I didn’t get to hold long enough and watch grow up.

I’ve spent some time re-reading my blog and seeing how far I’ve come. It brings back some painful memories but memories I wouldn’t want to let go of for they are part of my story. They are part of what makes me who I am.

I’m wondering what another year will bring. I can only hope to grow just as much as I did in this past year!

Is “Scared” the Right Word?

I’m scared.  Or am I?  I’m not sure that’s the right word.  I’m excited for this new pregnancy and excited to take a baby home, but will it happen?  I’m scared that it won’t.  I have to believe fully that we will bring this baby home, but I’m 0 for 1 so far.  What if it’s 0 for 2?  I guess that’s the risk we take trying for another child.

In my first pregnancy I was plagued with fear that I’d miscarry.  After the first trimester was over, that fear vanished.  I didn’t think my baby would die.  I feel the same way now, except, I know my baby could die at any time, not just in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

It feels odd going through these stages again.  It was just over a year ago that I went through it for the first time and still feels so fresh.  We had our first ultrasound at 6 weeks.  When I made the appointment the receptionist described it as making sure it was a “viable” pregnancy.  Viable?  You mean, this one could die too?  That was the wrong word to choose to describe why I’m having an ultrasound at 6 weeks.  The wrong word to use for someone who’s previous baby died.

When I went in for the ultrasound, the tech was so sweet.  She did our first ultrasound of Joshua at 7 weeks to verify the date.  She gave her condolences and was very positive the whole time.  When we walked out of the room, a nurse caught my eye.  She drew my blood so many times over the last pregnancy.  I had bonded with her right away because she was also pregnant and we had the same due date.  This time when I saw her, I wanted to hide.  She has a baby at home and I don’t.  What did she think when she saw me again?  Does she know?  It hurt to see her.  I’m happy she didn’t experience the same thing I did, but it hurt knowing that she has what I want.

Morning (all day, rather) sickness has hit me like a ton of bricks just like it did last time.  As miserable as I feel, I’m happy to feel crappy because it reminds me that I’m still pregnant.  It’s comforting to me to know that my hormones are making me feel out of wack because my hormones are busy supporting a life.  But still, I’m scared.  I tell myself that my last pregnancy was perfect and that this one will be too.  It was during labor when Joshua died.  So I’m changing labor.  I’m opting for a c-section this time if my doctor will approve.  We briefly discussed it during recovery in the hospital so I’m hoping we are still on the same page.  I don’t want to go through labor again.  I’m not strong enough.  Is my body not capable of handling labor?  Are my babies not strong enough to withstand that pressure?  I want to make the exit as easy for the baby as possible and if that means surgery for me, go for it.

I’m scared these next 7 months will drag on forever.  I was so busy planning when I was pregnant with Joshua.  Finding the perfect nursery items, buying cute gender-neutral clothes, researching and reviewing all the products before registering for them or buying them.  Now, the nursery is done, I have all the clothes I need, and I’ve already purchased the products I spent so much time researching.  What will I do these next 7 months?  My last pregnancy I was preparing for a baby, now I feel like I’m already prepared.  I wish I could fast forward to my due date, but then again I don’t.  I don’t want to miss out on the amazing things that happen in pregnancy.  The amazing things I hold onto so dearly about Joshua.  The kicks and turns and hiccups.  Feeling the baby’s personality and imagining our sweet life together.

I’m hoping the next 7 months fly by.  I cannot, will not, and downright refuse to be plagued with fear.  I must be positive.  I once read a quote from a book saying something along the lines of, if this baby were to die, I would want it to know how loved it was.  I have to do all of the things I did with Joshua.  I have to love.  I have to bond.  This baby will not know fear.  This baby will only know love.

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!

It’s Okay to Cry

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Crying seems so frequent these days.  I didn’t used to cry.  I didn’t share my feelings outside of the comfort of my close family and friends.  Now I feel like I have a story to share.  One that people may or may not want to hear, but that doesn’t matter to me.

I think I’ve cried more in the last 5 months than I have my entire life.  Writing that makes me sad.  Thinking about my sadness makes me more sad.  I don’t want to look back on my life and see how sad I was, but the reality is I’m going through what’s likely going to be the most tragic time in my life.

In the beginning I cried because I felt alone.  I cried because this wasn’t supposed to be my life.  It wasn’t the life I imagined.  I cried because I wanted my baby back.  I cried every time I told my story or people acknowledge Joshua.  I remember saying, “I’m so ready to be to the point where I can share my story without crying.  I’m ready to be able to tell someone I have a son without crying every time.”

Later I cried because I felt alone.  I cried because I didn’t want to accept this new life I was given. I felt like everyone around me was happy and had moved on with their lives.  I felt like people had already forgotten about Joshua.  My mom and a couple very close friends were the only ones who seemed to remember.  Some people never wanted to bring it up.  My in-laws never do and I feel awkward talking about Joshua with them.  My mom has been awesome.  She remembers big dates, like the 26th of each month or the date we told them we were pregnant, and lets me know she’s thinking about me on those days.  I have one friend who is also amazing!  She sent me a card every week for quite some time just to let me know she was thinking of me.  She called to check in and when we got together she made it a point to talk about Joshua.  She even told me one day that she was looking at his picture before we met up for coffee.  These little things validate his life.  My “situation” isn’t being swept under a rug.  I’m a mother who misses her son and would give anything for one more minute with him.

I used to think it was odd when I would see people chatting at a local coffee shop clearly upset and crying about something personal.  Now, I’m that girl!  I’ve learned it’s okay to cry in public.  I have no shame.  If someone wants to look at me a wonder what’s going on, that’s fine.  If someone wants to snicker at my tears, I’m okay with it.  Life is more important than what strangers think of your tears.  In the very early days, it was so nice to get out of the house and have a change of pace.  I was bound to cry no matter my surroundings, but I wanted to get out of the house rather than people coming to see me.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my amazing friends and family to help me through this time.  But above all, God.  Without my faith in God, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Philippians 4-13

God has comforted me.  Though sometimes I don’t feel Him every second of the day, He’s there.  He sends reminders when I can’t see Him (or refuse to see Him).

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18

He’s knows how I feel; He’s cried the same tears I’ve cried.  He knows all of our situations, no matter what they are, and He will comfort us.  We simply need to let Him in.  It may not always be easy to let Him in.  He may not reveal Himself to us in the moment we demand.  But He is there.  He wants us to come to Him in times of need and to rely on Him for all we need – each and every day.

What Happens After Childbirth (of a Stillborn Baby)

As prepared as I was for childbirth itself, I wasn’t as prepared for after childbirth of a stillborn baby.  After childbirth, I expected to be sore and tired, but I didn’t expect some things that stung a little more than I would have wished given my baby was born still.

When your milk comes in.  The hospital prepped me for this before I left.  They said to take ibuprofen, wear a sports bra, and ice.  What I did not know was that I’d wake up on day two looking like I had just gotten giant implants!  What a slap in the face.  Oh…and the pain to go along with that.  Ice and ibuprofen didn’t seem to help, but after a few days the pain subsided.  The physical pain was bad enough, but the emotional pain to go along with that is what tore me apart.  My body was responding well to feed my newborn, but what my body failed to realize was that I had no baby to feed.

Leaking.  People warned me how hard breastfeeding can be and if you’re not consistent, your milk will dry up.  Seeing as how I wasn’t breastfeeding one ounce, I figured I’d be dried up in a couple days.  That wasn’t the case for me.  I had what I assume was a great supply for at least a month.  Breastpads were my best friend.

More Leaking.  I didn’t realize that going through childbirth can cause some issues with incontinence.  It makes sense to me now, but going into it, I had no clue!  For the first few days I couldn’t tell when I had to use the restroom.  I typically forced myself to try every couple hours until I gained feeling back.  And always make sure you have an extra pair of pants around if you plan to cough, sneeze, or laugh!  There is no control!

Jiggly Belly.  For a while I went back and forth disliking my stomach and liking it.  I liked it because my stomach grew to carry my baby and I actually liked my three tiger marks under my belly button that I only noticed after giving birth.  But then again, I’m human, a woman, and can be self conscious.  The first few weeks, that belly is just out of control.  Little muscle tone – so much jiggle.  I was thankful for my maternity jeans well after I got home from the hospital.  And today I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight, yet it’s still hard to button my pre-pregnancy jeans.

Phantom Kicks.  I wasn’t prepped for what I learned are called “phantom kicks”.  When I got home from the hospital, I swear I still felt Joshua kicking me.  I Googled it and learned I wasn’t the only one who felt these kicks after giving birth.  During the first couple weeks, the kicks felt so real.  In the first few days those kicks made me feel pregnant again.  I’d perk up and thinking, the baby’s kicking, only to come back to the cruel reality that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.  Even to this day when my stomach twitches or grumbles, I think of Joshua.

Emails and Mail.  I was prepared for my milk to come in, but I wasn’t prepared to be inundated with emails and mail congratulating me on my new arrival.  I unsubscribed myself from a good majority of the emails telling me how big my baby was and the milestones he was supposed to be reaching.  I had looked forward to those weekly emails the 41 weeks I carried Joshua and to no longer share in that excitement was hard on me.  It seems like every day there is a new formula coupon in the mailbox or survey on my hospital experience.  For a while I wanted to pick up the phone and call every website that was sending me emails and every company sending me mail and scream at them, “don’t you know I lost my baby?  Stop sending these dreadful mailings!”  I still receive parenting and baby magazines.  I sigh whenever I receive these, but still end up reading them.  I enjoy learning about babies and parenting and know someday I’ll need those tips and techniques.

Do You Have Any Kids?

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I admit, I’ve asked this question way too much!  Sometimes I still do.  It seems like such an innocent question, but people don’t realize how badly it can hurt.

My husband and I were high school sweethearts (swoon, I know!).  I knew he was The One right away.  We dated all through college and got married right afterwards.  I wanted to be a young mom.  My mom was 31 when she had me and I when I was younger, I thought she was old.  I realize now that I was wrong!  I’m nearly that age now and don’t feel one ounce of “old” in me.

After a couple years of being married, I was ready to have kids….my husband wasn’t.  I spent a good 2 years waiting not-so-patiently until he was ready.  I was so incredibly excited when we set a date to start trying for a baby.  A month went by, then 6 months, then a year.  Just as I was about to visit the doctor to see if something was wrong, I found out I was pregnant!!!!  Tears of joy fell down my face when I told my husband!  Nine months went by and we had our beautiful baby!  The ending was not what we expected however, and we went home empty handed.

Way too many emotions went through my mind during that time.  From little things to big things.  I would say I developed a slight social anxiety.  Afraid people would ask me what happened.  Afraid people wouldn’t ask me what happened.  Afraid strangers would somehow know my child died and look at me in pity.  Afraid strangers would ask me how many kids I have and how would I answer that kind of question I always thought was so simple.

The first time someone asked me if I had the baby was at a wedding 2 months after Joshua died.  I ran into a girl in the bathroom who I saw a few months prior at the bachelorette party.

“Did you have the baby!?”

I answered, “yes”.

“Did you have a boy or a girl?”

“A boy.”

“Cute, what’d you name him?”

“Joshua”

“Aww, where is he tonight?  Is he here?”

That’s when the tears came and I told her that he had passed away during labor.  But for a those 30 second prior, it felt like he was still alive.  Someone was asking me about the baby who didn’t know the outcome and I could pretend for just a moment that he was still here.

Then the second time it happened we were out of town for another wedding about a month later.  The dreaded question happened three times in one day.  The first time, I had come back to the hotel room as it was being cleaned and the cleaning lady and I were making small talk.

“Do you have any kids?” she asked.

“One, do you?”

To my surprise, that was the extent of it.  She went on talking about her own kids and I didn’t have to explain one thing!  It felt so great to be able to honor Joshua by remembering him and including him our “count”.  I was lucky that day that she didn’t ask any follow up questions where I’d feel the need to explain that my baby died.

About an hour later I was on a walk with a friend’s girlfriend that I had just met that morning.  The boys all went golfing and the girls had an activity later in the day, but we had some time to waste, so she and I went for a walk on the beach.  After some small talk, she was asking how long my husband and I had been married.

“6 years.”

“Wow, that’s a long time.  Are you guys going to have kids?”

“Well, we actually just had a baby in October, but…”

“Oh that’s so exciting!”

“Well, he actually passed away at birth…..it was totally unexpected…..” and so starts the story.

It was good to open up to her.  She just listened.  I explained exactly what I wanted in as much or as little detail as I wanted.  Later that night I got the same question from another girl I had just met and I felt prepared from my earlier encounters that day.

That night, I sat on the bed and cried.  Such an innocent question was hurtful.  I had never thought of it that way.  When I’ve asked that question in the past I never thought maybe they are struggling to have a baby, maybe her husband’s not ready to have a baby and it’s a source of tension, maybe they had a miscarriage, maybe their child died.

I’m happy to count Joshua in our line up of kids (and future kids).  Right now, that’s the right decision for me.  Maybe one day it will change, maybe it won’t.  I feel I honor him by remembering him not just in my heart but with others.

Talking to God

I’ve been talking to God a lot lately.

And I’ve been trying to quiet myself enough to listen.

I can hear Him talking to me.  Whether it’s through a song, a verse, a pastor’s message, or something else – I can hear Him.  From God speaking to me, I feel more at peace with Joshua’s death.  I’m still sad; I always will be.  I still wonder what life would be like if he were here; I always will.  But lately, I’m more at peace.  I’m starting to feel more blessed for the time we had together, happier when I think of him, and able to hold back tears (sometimes) when I talk about him.

When I allow myself to listen when I ask God, “why me, why Joshua?”, I hear Him say, “because I love you”.  Now – I have no idea what that means.  Zero.  But I know God is protecting me and loving me along this journey.  In the same way I would do anything for Joshua, my child, God would do anything for me, His child.

I hear God answering my prayers for another child when I posted a prayer on the Prayer Works app a month ago and am still receiving notifications that people are praying for me.  Typically you receive notifications the same day the prayer is posted and maybe one or two afterwards.  However, for this particular prayer request for a new, healthy pregnancy and happy, healthy baby, I continue to receive notifications that people are praying for me.  I know this is God easing my mind, “it’s going to be okay, you will get pregnant again”.

I trust God.  It’s hard to give up control to God, but I trust His will and His way.  When fear strikes me that I will never become pregnant again, I trust that He is telling me that I will.  Although I want to be pregnant now, I feel Him telling me it’ll be soon.  Patience.  Trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

So tonight and for many more nights to come, as I sit in the rocker intended for rocking my baby, I will be rocking while I pray for God to bless us with a baby again.

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.