Sunday, November 23, 2008

Joy's Due Date

Today was suppose to be a happy day.
I was supposed to give birth to a beautiful, HEALTHY baby girl.
Our family of five was supposed to be complete.
This day came much sooner than today.
Nine weeks and six days sooner to be exact.
I should have been able to watch my husband give her a bath,
to watch our children's eyes light up at the sight of their new baby sister.
I should have been able to nurse her, change her diaper, and wipe spit-up off my shirt.
I had four months to get ready to not be able to do any of those things.
Four months to get used to the idea that instead of bringing our baby home
we would be burying her.
Four months to pray for a miracle.
Four months to cherish her while she was still alive.
Four months to not take any of it for granted.
Those four months were a gift.
A gift of life.
A gift of hope.
A gift of bonding.
30 weeks and 1 day you lived in my belly,
but you were born in the heart of Jesus since the beginning of time.
He knew your name even then.
He knew your purpose, He knew the plan.
He picked me to be your Mommy?
All the tears, all the heartache, all the pain, and all the emptiness was worth it.
It was worth it just to have you in my life.
I would do it all again with the same outcome,
just to be able to hold you.
Just to be with you, I would do it all again.

Today was Joy's due date. It is hard to think what might have been, what could have been, what should have been. The only thing is that God doesn't make mistakes. Although this should have been her due date it was never meant to be. Her birthday was always meant to be just as it was...Sept.15, 2008. It is still hard for me to accept this at times. But I do accept that God is a sovereign God and his ways are not my ways.

With thanksgiving approaching our Pastor was preaching today on being thankful. I have to admit that I was really challenged this morning to be thankful in my circumstance. I mean am I supposed to be thankful that my child died? Of course not! Something Pastor Mark said that resonated with me was..."If you can't be thankful in your circumstance, be thankful for who He is." I guess that is where I am.

Being an imperfect, selfish human it seems to be so natural to dwell on all the negatives. Instead of being at the hospital celebrating the birth of my newborn baby where people are supposed to come and visit us. I am visiting my child's grave site thinking about what I am missing out on. For me, a natural born complainer, I really have to fight against those thoughts. I have to be thankful on purpose. Though I wished Joy's life had a different outcome I can still be thankful for many things. After church I visited her grave site and I took that opportunity to thank the Lord for several things. I thanked him for Joy, I thanked him for choosing me to be her Mommy, I thanked him for carrying us and continuing to carry us through this storm, and I thanked him for the work he is doing in our lives and others through Joy and her story.

So many conflicting thoughts. The best way I can sum it up is in the lyrics to the first song you hear when you arrive on my site by Sanctus Real. "Whatever you're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace." That is the matter my crazy conflicting thoughts, no matter the pain, sorrow, and tears....there is peace! The kind of peace that can't be explained, it can only be experienced through Jesus Christ. The kind of peace where you have joy in spite of the sorrow, because it's the kind of joy that is deep down. It is God given and therefore cannot be taken away by circumstances.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Phantom Baby

Something I've experienced a few times since giving birth to Joy are kick-like sensations in my belly. I thought I was losing my mind to be honest with you. I just had one again the other day and it really got me thinking. I started drawing parallels between those sensations and phantom limbs. For those of you who don't know what a phantom limb is let me break it down for you Wikipedia style;

A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts.[1][2][3] Approximately 50 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful.[4] Phantom sensations may also occur after the removal of body parts other than the limbs, e.g. after amputation of the breast, extraction of a tooth (phantom tooth pain) or removal of an eye (phantom eye syndrome). The missing limb often feels shorter and may feel as if it is in a distorted and painful position. Occasionally, the pain can be made worse by stress, anxiety and weather changes. Phantom limb pain is usually intermittent. The frequency and intensity of attacks usually decline with time.[5]

Like I said, I haven't had these feelings often but for a split second afterwards I would think Joy was still inside me or that I was still pregnant. I said for a split second and then of course I know I'm not and that she is not still inside me. I find the similarity with phantom limbs intriguing. I know I'm not missing a limb, but I'm missing something/ someone to me that is so much more valuable than a limb....Joy. If you've read my blog you will know that the doctors told me all along that Joy was missing a right leg and in fact she was not. She was born with both legs and feet!

One of the main differences of course is that phantom limb sensations also involve physical pain. I am not in any physical pain, but there is no denying the emotional pain I am dealing with. I'm always drawing strange parallels between things. I say strange because I often think most people don't think the way I do or maybe they do and they are just too afraid to voice their thoughts for fear of being laughed at? Well you can laugh if you want. I thought myself very clever to come up with the term "Phantom Baby," but low and behold I am not the first. As I do with so many things......I "googled it." Apparently there are other people out there who have had these strange sensations. I couldn't find any of these women that were similar to me in the sense that they lost their child, but I really did not look that hard.

Aside from the sensation of being kicked from the inside. Limb or no limb. I will always be missing Joy and wishing she were here with me. She was not just a part of me for the 30 weeks I carried her, but she will be for the rest of my life. I will always have that pain of her death, but just like with phantom limbs "the frequency and intensity of attacks usually decline over time." Of course when you lose someone or experience something difficult people tell you something similar..."time heals all wounds."

Personally, I've never found any of these cliches to be helpful or comforting. My absolute least favorite one is...."God never gives you more than you can handle." Hogwash! Of course He does! This has all been more than I can handle on my own. It's God that has been carrying me through every step of the way. This has made me lean on Him like never before.

Joy's due date is quickly approaching.....this Sunday, Nov. 23. Please keep me in your prayers as this date draws near. At one point Nov. 23 was supposed to be a day of great happiness, but instead I'm anticipating it to be a difficult day, or at least an emotional one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Surfing the waves of grief

Don't be fooled by the title. To say I'm surfing the waves of grief may allude to the idea that I'm gliding with ease across these waves. However, I have never surfed before. In fact, I have never even considered surfing, not even for a second. The only thing I've done that remotely comes anywhere close to surfing was "trying" to ride a boogie board in Barbados. HA! Not quite the same thing! Needless to say that if I were to literally attempt to surf I would no doubt fall off. Come to think of it I don't know that I would be able to even stand on the thing. It looks pretty difficult.

Anyway, I suppose much of the same can be said for these waves of grief that come my way. Just like I have never literally surfed, I have never had to deal with grief from the loss of a loved one. Perhaps some people think this grief is not as bad because I didn't actually get to know Joy as one would get to know a person with whom they've had a relationship with. Honestly I cannot compare the two because I don't know that side of grief. All I know is that part of my grief is just that...not getting the chance to get to know her like I do with Elijah and Phoebe. I won't get the chance to see her grow.

I was up the other night with Phoebe, who was crying, just holding her in the chair in her room. I started thinking how I don't have this opportunity with Joy. As much as I really dreaded getting up in the middle of the night with Elijah and Phoebe as infants. I find myself missing that opportunity with Joy. How silly of me to take something like that for granted. I also started looking around Phoebe's bedroom and was quickly reminded how this was supposed to be Joy's room too. Right now Phoebe is still in a crib, but there is a big girl bed for her in there when she is ready for it. It looks like it is a bedroom for two, well except for the fact that the big girl bed has no mattress yet. It was supposed to be Phoebe and Joy's room. Joy is supposed to be in that crib and Phoebe is supposed to be in that bed. They were supposed to be sisters who were only 22 months apart. Instead, they were born 20 months apart, but Joy did not live. I grieve for my children and the sister they will never get to know in this lifetime.

When I found out I was pregnant I had secretly hoped for another girl. I thought how cool to have a sister so close in age. I probably thought this because I don't have a sister, but recognize the unique bond that a lot of sisters share. This is going to sound bad, but I also wanted a girl for convenience sake. Phoebe has the bigger bedroom and it would not be crammed to have another girl in there. Sure we could move rooms around if we had to, but the room was already decorated for a girl. Lastly, Phoebe was a much easier baby than Elijah was so I just assumed that if I had another girl it would be relatively easy if she turned out anything like her big sister.

Well, I partly got what I had hoped for...a girl, but of course we know that everything did not turn out the way we had anticipated. It's strange the things we take for granted. I certainly knew there were no guarantees with any pregnancy as I had experienced in Feb. 2006 with my miscarriage and subsequent D&C. I never had morning sickness with that baby, so once I started getting morning sickness with Joy I thought it would be smooth sailing...or should I say surfing?

As I get older and experience more I find myself so rudely reminded that in this life there are no guarantees. I know they say the only thing you can be assured of in this life is death and taxes. Blah, blah, blah. As much as that is partially true I would hope that wasn't it. Of course I don't believe that to be it...thank God! My trust, my hope, my faith is based upon the truth of Jesus Christ and who He is and what He has done through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

So many truths in this world change. What may be true one year may not be true the next. Science is ever further advancing, we are discovering more about so many things we once had no clue about, and on and on it goes. Textbooks become quickly outdated due to new and more information, but the word of God is never changing. It is always the same. Could you imagine waking up to discover that what you had known to be the truth one day was no longer true the next? Well, that never happens with Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen!

So back to the idea of this wave thing. So many people talk about grief coming in waves. I do find this to be the case. Some days I get caught off guard by things I see, things I hear and it all comes crashing down around me. Some days I can't believe all this has happened. Did I really have another baby? Did she really have so many physical things wrong with her? Did she really never take a breath? Did we really have to bury her? It still seems so surreal. Looking at her pictures confirms to me that she was here with us, we did get to enjoy her only for a brief time. Her life had significance. She did touch our lives and changed us forever.I know I had months to plan for this, months to grieve, months to pray for a miracle. I don't know that anything can prepare you for the end result. Perhaps some of the knowing has lessened the "blow" and shock of what happened, but I don't know that it lessens the grieving, lessens the heaviness of my empty arms and the hole in my heart. I know God is working on mending those things in my life.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite photos that were taken on Joy's birthday. I'll post some more this week. Thank you so much Jaclyn!