Monday, September 16, 2013

To the Mom...

It was late one night, I couldn't sleep;  I opened my laptop and before I knew it this post was written...

To the Mom whose heart is not yet complete, longing for that first positive pregnancy test:  I say to you, don't let anyone make you feel less than.  You are strong, and worth SO much more than you may know.  You are alive because God wants you to be and your life is unfinished.  Keep your chin up as you wait for a little one in your arms, try and be open to what road God is laying out in front of you because it may not look like the path you had initially envisioned.

To the Mom whose heart is broken from saying goodbye to your baby too soon: I say to you, you will survive.  As hard as it is to stop crying, one day the tears will dry up.  As hard as it is to get out of bed, you will find your foothold again.  You will NEVER forget your child, but find ways to mother them on this side of heaven.  You are a mom, and always will be a mom- don't ever let someone steal that from you.  And one day, you will smile again- and trust me it is ok to do so!

To the Mom whose heart is bursting at the seams from overflowing blessings: I say to you, relish in every moment with your child.  Don't take a single day for granted, because we aren't promised tomorrow.  Be thankful but humble, because you never know who around you wants desperately what you have.  Give yourself a break from time to time, because you can only be the best mom when you recharge your soul.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


     I have been asked over and over how I did what I did.  More specifically, I would be asked, "How did you plan the twins' memorial service?  How did you pick out their casket, the flowers, and the music that would play, and how did you make it through the service without sobbing uncontrollably?"  To be honest, my response was always the same. "The only thing I know is that God carried me through it all.  He didn't let my feet touch the ground until after their burial."
     It wasn't until after all of the "business" side of things were taken care of, did I allow myself to just sit, sob, grieve, and really feel what I had just experienced.  When you are in the thick of it, some crazy inner strength comes out and you do what you have to do to get by; and it isn't until the dust settles that your heart begins to feel the magnitude of what happened.  
     God knew that if He didn't carry me through those first days, there would be a chance that I would never regain the strength to stand again.  He didn't abandon me during my darkest hours, he lit up my face with a smile as I hugged family and friends at their memorial and burial.  I was able to make it through things that I never in a million years thought possible.  Things that are NOT supposed to happen.  Parents aren't supposed to bury their children, it disrupts the natural progression of society.  I shouldn't of had to pick out a tiny casket or songs that should have been played, but I did, we did, our family did.
     Over the past few weeks I have been struggling with more things that I shouldn't HAVE to do, but reality is this is where God has me.  I am forced to figure out things that don't come with a manual of any kind.
     God has blessed me with the MOST beautiful baby girl I could have ever dreamed of, and at some point will have to teach her about death, heaven, and her army of angels looking out for her from above.
As my daughter has gotten older, she now enjoys pointing to pictures and naming who is in them.  Last week, she pointed to a picture of Ferrari, me, and the twins from the day they were born.  She looked at the picture, looked back at me, and popped out her paci to say proudly, "baby."  My eyes teared up, and I nodded with a smile.  "Yes, that is your brother and sister, I explained."  Knowing full well that my one year old has no idea what that meant.  It stirred my heart, and I haven't been able to shake the feeling since.  I think about the twins and my other angels every single passing day, but I don't talk about them to her.  I am not keeping them from her, I just haven't found the right way to weave them in to our conversations.
     I started to worry about what she would think, how it would affect her, and if her adoption on top of it all would send her over the edge or if she would embrace it all as a part of her.  All I can do is pray that it makes her more understanding, more loving, and more sympathetic to others.  I can hope that it makes our family closer and that it doesn't drive us a part.  Someday, and I know that day will be here all too quickly, we will see her response.

     As for today, all I can do is continue to teach her about her brothers and sisters and paint her a beautiful picture of what Heaven will be like when we are all reunited together as one big family!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Tale of Permission

     Grief is not a cycle, it is not a wheel, or step by step process.  Grief, for you, looks very different than what it looks like to me.  God designed each of our fingerprints to be unique, and similarly He designed each of our journeys through grief in the same way.  No one should expect your grief to look like theirs.
     Now that being said, I am a firm believer in facing your grief and not sweeping it under the rug.  Ripping it off very much like a band aid.
     If you lose a child or lose your ability to conceive or carry a child, and then live your life as if it didn't happen, I promise you the grief will come out.  Wouldn't you rather be in control of when that grief makes an appearance?!?
     Unfortunately, I have heard moms express the inability to connect to a pregnancy or baby after the loss of a child because they never dealt with their previous loss.  A new baby won't replace the one that was lost, therefore once the new child is home the pain from the first loss is not removed it is just simply masked.
     I remember being in the depths of my pain and feeling bad for the emotions I was having.  It wasn't until someone game me permission to feel whatever I was feeling.  To acknowledge the emotions I was feeling, so that I would be able to work through them.  This validated where I was at, and assured me that what I was feeling was ok.  When you are able to move from one emotion to the next it is like layers of scars forming and your pain begins to heal.
     So if you are needing permission, here it is... Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you need to!

     What you are feeling is valid and quite normal.  Don't let someone who hasn't walked in your shoes tell you how to feel.  God gave you each and every emotion you feel.  Yes, even anger.  Just taking a glimpse at infertility you can be angry with yourself, your spouse, your body, your doctor, your blood work, the possibilities are endless.
Anger is the most common emotion people assume is wrong to feel, especially when it is aimed at God.  Anger is a huge step along the grief journey.  Anger may even come up more than once.  And it is ok, you are not crazy, you are not a bad person, you aren't even a bad Christian for being angry at God.  As long as we work through that anger and don't camp out there.  You become a stronger person when you can overcome an emotion like anger.  Before you know it, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
     You know the saying, time heals all wounds.  I was extremely skeptical of it's truth too, until I found myself having more good days than bad.  I hadn't miraculously gotten over all the pain of losing my children, but what had happened is some healing.  Through relationships, through reading, and through time spent with God.  Healing can and will come, but it does take effort.  It's not going to plop down in your lap.  You have to work through those emotions, as hard as they are to face.
    Grief may never be over, and it's pretty safe to say you will never forget it.  But, what we can move past is the extreme rawness.  The little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, becomes brighter and closer.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

An Irish Test of Faith

One year ago today, St. Patrick's Day 2012, prior to the corned beef and cabbage consumption...

    Ferrari, my brother & sister-in-law, and I huffed and puffed our way up Quartz Peak.  Our crazy 2500 foot climb was intense but SO worth it!  I am still not sure how they convinced me this hike was for beginners like me, because when I researched it later it was labeled... STRENUOUS.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, I even remember the clothes I was wearing.  I remember being able to talk to Ferrari about life and all that God had blessed us with.  We joked on the way up how with each twist and turn it looked like you were about to reach the top, but only to find you were another 10 minutes from the top.  We talked about how similar the hike seemed to our path leading to us becoming parents.  How when we would finally reach a good place- celebrating a positive pregnancy test or seeing our little one on an ultrasound, we would barely let out a sigh of relief... when we'd find ourselves benched on the sidelines, taking a water break and regrouping for the next quarter.
    So often, the end is in sight when God dramatically changes the path.  For us, that would be when God stopped our adoption process to give IVF a try, only to try it twice without a positive outcome.  Why on earth would He derail where we headed to give us more bad news?  The twists and turns in the path to parenthood seem to be never ending.  However, God was always there to supply a shady rock to sit on while we regrouped.
    See when we were on this hike a year ago, God had matched us with an amazing birth mother through our church; and we had just found out that we would be adopting her baby girl.  We felt on top of the world, exactly like when we finally reached Quartz Peak.  Atop this peak lies beautiful pure white stone, that sparkles under the warm Phoenix sun.  We sat atop the peak speechless and out of breath.  Taking in God's creation around us, and for the first time in a long time everything seemed PERFECT.  We were SO happy, and so excited to spend the next St. Patrick's Day with our beautiful daughter.
    I joked on our way down that this hike really would be the perfect representation of our battle towards parenthood and how it would make the perfect blog post.  Especially, how even on the way down there are twists and turns and times when you can see the finish but you have to go over every obstacle before you can finally say YOU DID IT!  At that point, Ferrari got very quiet, because he and I both knew he didn't want to be quoted in the blog... my hubby tends to be a man of few words when it comes to social media.
    Two days after our St. Patrick's Day hike, we would find out via ultrasound that the precious baby girl we were expecting in September had a pretty severe case of spina bifida.  Yet again, our world stopped.  Stunned doesn't quite explain what we felt, because in a way when you have been dealt the cards we have, you almost just expect SOMETHING to go wrong.  Just not this!
    We always knew adoption was risky.  We had been preparing our hearts just in case the birth parents decided to change their minds, or for if we miraculously conceived a biological child; but we hadn't really prepared for a diagnosis of this magnitude.  We spent two days praying and talking about what this would look like for our family, and ultimately decided this baby was not for us.  We were not the best family for her.
    I PROMISE you this is still THE hardest decision I have ever made in my life!  For once, a decision was in our hands, and we had to turn the opportunity to become her parents.  God had made it very clear to us that we were not equipped for this situation, yet another challenge He used to test our faith.

Have you ever wanted something so bad, that you ignore your gut feeling and make an impulse decision and later regret it?  I'm not talking about a hideous pair of shoes or ugly paint color in your bathroom.  I am talking about impulsively deciding which path to take in life, without prayerfully considering God's best for you.  If you are struggling with a decision, plead to God.  Cry out to Him, begging for guidance and for wisdom.  The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what you need to do.  Be open and willing to hear what He has to say; and no, His response probably won't be written in the newest US weekly magazine.  Open up the Bible and read His word.  This is most often THE hardest step for people, me included.
We are all on the mountain somewhere.  Some of us just beginning the hike up what might turn out to be a 2500 foot climb, others are exhausted taking a break half way to the top, a group are at the peak celebrating their hard work, while others have just made it to the bottom gearing up for the next hike.  Wherever you are, always remember the climb will make you stronger and more reliant on God.  Let Him guide you and the hike won't seem so lonely.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

The STILL Project

Life is crazy, hard, unfair, and above all unpredictable.  I have encountered more emotional pain and heartache in the past 5 years, than what I would have guessed I would go through in my whole life combined.  I grew weary and exhausted with all of the loss and disappointment.  BUT, somehow, it NEVER defeated me.  Somehow, there was always that one ray of light shining through the clouds that kept me going.  He NEVER let me go... ya, I'm sure at times, God was reaching down with both hands in order to keep me from drowning, but that's what He does for us when we can't keep our own head above water.
Currently, I am not going through any major struggles.  Which, honestly, just doesn't feel normal to me. I was so used to my survival mode, that at times it is literally hard for me to sit back and relax and revel in life's blessings.  Then reality smacks me in the face, when I hear story after story of people close to me, my family, or my friends that lose their child.  Why God?  Why them?  Why now?  Why so often?
We can sit and question every aspect of why He allows such awful heartache, but the truth is we may never understand why.  So what else can we do?
We can make it our mission to help others that have experienced this type of loss.  We can help them grieve, help them honor their child, and help them feel comfortable discussing their baby's life.  This type of loss is obviously not stopping anytime soon.  In fact statistics claim it is getting more common.  I realize for the general public it is SO out of their comfort zone to address, but come on, lets get real... If people can share their every waking moment and thought with their gazillion facebook friends and twitter followers, we can share about our children in heaven!  Help us get people talking about pregnancy and infant loss, instead of shuttering at the thought of it.

The STILL Project is a documentary being made about this very topic and the best thing we can do is support them!  Please visit their website, like them on facebook, and watch the trailer.  I CAN NOT WAIT for this movie to come out!!  I hope and pray it changes the way people handle the loss of a child!
We will never be able to control everything that happens in our lives, but what we CAN control is how we respond.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Room #334

     Yesterday Audie and I made a special delivery to Banner Good Samaritan Hospital.  I have been back there PLENTY of times since the birth of the twins for box deliveries, but never with my daughter in my arms.  It was QUITE a different feeling parking on the 3rd floor of the garage, and having to get her out of her car seat to bring inside with me.  I have a very special relationship with a few of the nurses there, and I will admit I felt a HUGE sense of pride walking through those doors with Audie on my hip and a HUGE smile on my face!  I couldn't wait for one in particular to meet her.
     Well, it turns out when we got there she had just stepped out of Labor & Delivery to transfer a patient to Postpartum.  Audie and I decided to wait for her by the ancillary desk.  Audie flashed her grin at every one that walked by, and MANY nurses stopped to say hi.  In true crazy hospital fashion, the elevator broke so the nurse we were trying to meet was taking quite a while getting back to Labor & Delivery.  So, we got comfortable and took a seat behind the desk.  It was then that I realized the room directly across from the desk was Room #334.
    That was MY room.  I watched as nurses and doctors went in and out of Room #334.  I saw them roll the infant cart over and leave it outside the door.  I knew the Mommy inside must be close to getting to meet her little one.  I couldn't help but think back to May 24, 2010.  I pictured all the family and friends huddled in the hallway, some sleeping on the floors just waiting for the twins arrival. It gave me a whole different perspective on that day.  I can remember feeling completely and utterly held by God, lifted up in thousands of prayers.  I had never personally felt those feelings before.  I like to tell people that I never felt my feet touch the floor until weeks later, once the twins' memorial service was over.  I can only remember bits and pieces of the conversations that happened inside my room, but I can't even imagine the conversations that my friends and family were having in that very hallway.
    I sat there day dreaming about what it would be like giving birth to a healthy baby.  I pictured all the same family and friends and so many more wanting to come meet the baby.  The conversations would be SO different.  I long for that day!  I'm not sure if it will ever come, but a girl can dream right :)
   When we picked up Audie Lynn from the hospital no one came with us, there was no time for that.  We got the call and she was ready to go home immediately.  We weren't there for her birth, we didn't get a room to celebrate with family and friends.  Adoption is different, plain and simple.  As an adoptive Mommy you do miss out on a lot that you would experience if you gave birth to your child.  With the loss of those experiences do come different emotions.  There are days when I grieve the loss of those special moments we missed out on.  The feelings are there, but they don't last long.  Audie will flash me a smile or say Mama and I move on to thanking God for the moments we have and will have with her.