Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bethany's gift

I had such a nice surprise yesterday. Bethany sent me this beautiful picture she drew of Isabel. Bethany has a blog I follow and is obviously a talented artist. You can see her work at http://www.sketchesbybethany.net/. A drawing like this would be a great gift for someone who is grieving or even for your own family to remember your own baby.

This is the note she sent along:

After hearing about your loss of Isabel, I wanted to do something for you...so I drew this picture of her for you. I hope that you will have comfort in this time of grief. This drawing isn't much, but it is the least I can do to try to help. I remember reading your blog while you were pregnant with her, and seeing you use beans to show what size she was at the time, and getting larger beans, and larger beans, and I thought it was so sweet, and such a good way to teach your children about the development of the baby. It really made me sad the other day when I heard that you had lost her. I know that regardless of how strong in faith you are, it still hurts, and I hope that you will be able to heal very quickly. You are being such an inspiration to others through this, and God is definitely using you to encourage others during their times of grief. I hope you won't mind the angel wing. Like you, I don't believe that babies become angels when they die, but in memorial drawings, I like to use Angel wings, because the portrait is instantly recognized as a memorial, and I think it reminds people that the baby is now in Heaven, with the angels.

Here are a couple of the pictures and text from my old blog that Bethany was talking about. It's sad to see them. It makes me think of my great joy at having another child. The anticipation of what the next year would hold. In this sesame seed picture, it was at this stage her kidneys should have been formed, but did not. Such a critical process. So miraculous. How could anyone doubt we were made by a loving God?

5 Weeks - Deep in your uterus your embryo is growing at a furious pace. At this point she's about the size of a sesame seed. She's now made up of three layers — the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm — that will later form her organs and tissues. The cells are forming for her major organs, including his kidneys and liver, and her neural tube is beginning to develop. This neural tube — from which your baby's brain, spinal cord, nerves, and backbone will sprout — develops in the top layer, called the ectoderm. This layer will also give rise to her skin, hair, nails, mammary and sweat glands, and tooth enamel. Her heart and circulatory system begin to form in the middle layer, or mesoderm. (This week, in fact, her tiny heart begins to divide into chambers and beat and pump blood.) The mesoderm will also form your baby's muscles, cartilage, bone, and subcutaneous (under skin) tissue. The third layer, or endoderm, will house her lungs, intestines, and rudimentary urinary system, as well as her thyroid, liver, and pancreas. In the meantime, the primitive placenta and umbilical cord, which deliver nourishment and oxygen to your baby, are already on the job.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know them full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
When I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Psalm 139: 13-17

6 Weeks: Your baby's heart is growing and dividing into the right and left chambers. But the most exciting part is that her tiny heart is now beating (at a speedy 100 to 130 beats a minute) and pumping blood throughout her body. The cells that will make up all of your baby's body parts and systems are dividing furiously as her body begins to take shape. Right now she's about the size of a small lentil bean (4 to 5 millimeters across).
It's so cute, after I took this picture, I showed the kids that our baby is this big. We were all saying, "Oh, baby" and petting the lentil bean with our finger saying "baby". My daughter wanted to see the baby. She would softly caress the 'baby'. Later she saw the bean sitting on the table and called out "Baby!" She wanted the baby to hold.

The box

My daughter pointed to the small lavendar box on top of my dresser.

"Dat Mama's box?"

"That's Isabel's box. Do you want to look inside?"

A sweet little face nods.

It was evening, my husband was with the boys. It was just her and I. I grabbed the box and plopped down on the bed. She scrambled up onto the bed and grinned with anticipation. She laid on her tummy, just like Mama. I slowly opened it up and took out a miniature, beautifully beaded bracelet with the name ISABEL spelled out. She happily put it on her little wrist.

I said, "Isabel was in Mama's tummy, but she died. Now she is in Heaven with Jesus. Remember?"

"Iabewl my sister."

Just hearing her say that brings tears.

She does have a sister. A sister she will not know on earth. I realize she is the only one whom I can freely talk with about Isabel. She doesn't know how painful it all is. She isn't afraid to ask questions or talk about her. She doesn't seem tramatized when I cry. She just matter-of-factly says "Mama sad." and nods knowingly

And speaking of my daughter, I'm so thankful to the Lord for His timing, His provision for this time. At least twice a day I have to sit in a quiet and sometimes darkened room and rock my daughter before her nap and before bedtime. It has been very comforting to be able to cuddle and hug someone, a little girl, my daughter while grieving the loss of my other daughter.

If I would have lost my third child, I wouldn't have had such a young person to cuddle with all the time. My youngest at that time was 5 years old. I've read that mothers whose babies die sometimes want to cuddle a stuffed animal, or some sort of object about the size of their baby. I think my daughter has helped me there.

Next I pull out a little clear box filled with white fluffy filler. Nestled inside it is a small image of a baby. I think it is the size of an actual 12 week old baby in the womb. She loved this. She took the baby out and cupped it in her little hands, hugged it and kissed it. She held it close and rocked it. She wanted me to rock 'her'. While I was rocking the baby, she said, "Blow on her tummy."

It hit me.

I could've sobbed.

Just thinking about all of those little rituals that Isabel and us were to miss out on. Because to her, that's what you do to babies you love, you blow raspberries on their tummy.

My good friend gave me this box shortly after Isabel died. She has had two miscarriages. She knew what things might help. When I first received them I really liked the bracelet, and I still do. It was so nice to have something with Isabel's name on it. For some reason, I think just something tangible to show it wasn't all just a dream. I wasn't sure what the point of having the little baby was. But now, I really like them both. I also like having them in a special box. My daughter LOVES to look at them.

And it's a special time when we can both stop and quietly and carefully examine the precious baby, who we refer to as "she" or "her" and think about our Isabel. I would someday like to try to make a necklace for me similar to the bracelet. I think I would like that. I've thought about going to the local bead shop and seeing if I could find some that match.

If you know of someone who has recently had a loss, and would like to give them something to remember their baby with, you can find them at Little Angels Online.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


When I was pregnant and anticipating a healthy baby, I bought this book on ebay. It's by Eloise Wilkin.

The story is about a little girl who, right before her mother and father bring a new baby home from the hospital, is given a baby doll. In the story, the little girl feeds her “baby” when Mommy feeds her baby; she changes her baby’s diapers when Mommy changes the baby; they take carriage rides together and tuck them into bed at the same time.

"We smile at our babies and talk to them. Mommy says this is the way our babies know they are the most wonderful babies in the world."

I was saving the book to give to her after 'the baby' (when she was still anonymous) was born. It still sits in the gift box. I haven't gotten it down because I don't think I could read it to her. There would be more tears.

It's all of these little things that we prepare for and anticipate that are painful to let go of.

I thought it would be such perfect timing. Our daughter is two and a half. She is just starting to like little dolls. She loves real babies. When she sees a real baby or holds one I have to fight back the tears. My heart hurts to think how much she would have loved to have her baby sister Isabel.

Picturing her in my mind holding her baby sister is tough.