Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rise in the darkness



"Oh Lord be near us now 
Our heart grows faint
Broken tears flow down

In You is strength."

The song "Oh my child" from Nathan Clark George about losing a baby to miscarriage always makes me cry. I love his music.

You can hear part of the song by going to his site and clicking on the song under his Rise in the Darkness album.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Eating your greens

Unmet expectations. They will get you every time. It's in expecting perfection that make the bumps in the road so hard to take.

I have been wanting to get pregnant for awhile now and each month I am disappointed. This last month my feelings seemed to be hurt particularly more than usual. I saw the negative test and then jumped in the shower, fighting back the tears.

I prayed, "Lord, WHY?! If I were you and someone had to go through an entire pregnancy AND took tablespoons of cod liver oil and Berry Green (which tastes incredibly nasty!) through the whole thing and ended up having to bury her baby...I would let them get pregnant right away! Why?! I don't understand? I'm just so frustrated!!!"

Yes, it was a tantrum.

It was a dying to my hopes and dreams...again.

Maybe tantrums are just the sound your dreams make as they die.

They don't go down without a fight.

I had this incredibly frustrating realization that I am not in control of my life. No matter how much I want to make my life a certain way...I can't. We think we can, and sometimes God allows us the illusion that we can, but in that moment, I realized how completely powerless I truly am.

I felt like the Lord was showing me that the only reason I am frustrated and disappointed is that my life isn't working out "according to the plans I have for me". He also reminded me that when I give my kids something for dinner that they don't like or want, what they are really saying is that they don't like what I gave them. (Me!! Their loving mother who wants the world for them.)

One might even say they are frustrated with what I gave them. Much like I am frustrated with what God has given me.

He showed me that being frustrated and discontent is simply a nice way (or not so nice way) of complaining about what He (my Father who loves me and knows what is best) has given me.

I prayed and cried and asked the Lord, "Why???????? Wasn't losing Isabel enough?"

Immediately, I was reminded of a story Darlene Diebler Rose told. She was in a WWII Japanese prison camp, beaten regularly and starved, weighing just 60 pounds. While in solitary confinement, she was given rice with worms on top. She tried to pick them off, but it was impossible. She finally decided to eat them along with the rice and she could honestly thank her Heavenly Father for providing her with that food with a bit of protein as well. At one point she cried out to the Lord and begged him to make it stop. He told her "those I love, I chasten". He told her that if He had to take her through the fire several times, that is what He wanted to do, to make her like pure gold.

I looked up 'chasten' and found: "To rid of excess; refine or purify"

In my mind losing Isabel was so hard, and now that it was over, I thought the battle was over. We made it through, now it's time for a rest and possibly some blessing thrown in for good measure! But it seems that it's in the extended suffering that the Lord can really press us and mold us into something more. When we give up and die to our dreams. Die to being Lord of our own lives and thankfully eat what our wise and loving Father has served us, true contentment comes.

After that I read how the Lord answered Job's questioning as to why He had allowed such calamity to befall him and his household starting in Job 38:4 by saying "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding." God showed Job how big HE is and how small Job was. That helped put things in perspective for me. (Check sidebar for John Piper's audio on suffering)

LESSON: Trust God and his sovereignty over all things.
Sovereignty is the exclusive right to have control over an area of governance, people, or oneself

Q. Does our acceptance of God's sovereignty in our lives allow him sovereignty in our lives?

A. Peeshaw! He is. He reigns. Accept it, don't fight it.

APPLICATION: Be happy today.
Not just content, but honestly happy and extremely thankful for every day.

P.S. Lord, I'm working on it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The beginning of hopes and dreams


I was looking up some information about morning sickness for someone today. I found my journal from Isabel's pregnancy. It reminded me of the day I told my family I was pregnant with her. It was sad to read. We were so excited.

You only expect the picture-perfect life to happen to you. You never think anything bad will happen. We were pregnant and at that point, a pregnancy = a healthy baby and a lifetime of happiness right?

But that was the beginning of our Isabel. Our sweet little girl was with us then.

My journal follows:

First person I told: my 19 month old daughter

November 6, 2006

I just took the pregnancy test and found out I am pregnant. No one knows except for me and God. I am so excited and so thankful that the Lord is giving us another little life to love and share our lives with. I found out that I am 4 weeks pregnant and due July 14, 2007. I am on the computer ordering prenatal vitamins and gearing up for the possibility of morning sickness and also trying to counter that with supplements. I feel the milk thistle helped with T3’s pregnancy…we’ll see if it really did help or just a fluke.

I would like to tell Papa and the boys through a treasure hunt using a Casear Cipher code on my blog. We’ll see if I can do it.

So excited!!!

P.S. Cass got her braces off today too.


Here are the clues on my blog:

Understood Betsy Post:
"Fluffy cheeks are irresistible"
(go to fluffy cheeks post)

Fluffy Cheeks Post:
"Clear your calendar"(go to Calendars lists, and forms to go post)

Calendars lists, and forms to go post:
"Fam Fest"(Go to Treasures post)

Our Treasures: Reveal
"may have to wait. TFOUR due July 14 2007!"
We call our kids T1, T2, T3 & T4. This is short for Treasure #1, Treasure #2, etc.


Papa and the boys sat down at the computer to break the code. While they were working on it, Aunt L and Cass stopped by to show us Cass’s teeth without braces. I was glad, so they could be included in the news. A little before they figured it out, K dropped by too so we were all here to hear the news together. Papa wasn’t suspicious at all, until right toward the end he started looking at me in a funny, questioning way like “Is this…?”

November 9, 2006
Grandma and Grandpa Gary figured out the code so they know now. They are excited.

I am gearing up for the possibility of morning sickness. I’m really hopeful that it won’t be that bad with the supplements I’ve been taking.

November 25, 2006 – 7 weeks
I am now 7 weeks and still waiting for any sign of morning sickness. I guess I felt a little (teeny, tiny bit) queezy yesterday but that was it. I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe where I could actually be pregnant and still care for my family. It’s wonderful. I am also a twinge nervous as well. I know they say that if you have morning sickness it means it’s a healthy pregnancy, and sometimes when there is a miscarriage, there was no morning sickness. But I am taking all the supplements so I pray that that is the cause.

December 4, 2006 – 8 weeks
Feeling great still. I have very small twinges of questionable queasiness, but really nothing worth even speaking of. I am walking on air, this is amazing that a new life can be forming inside of me and I am not layed up on the couch or leaning over the toilet. Names I’m thinking about this week: Beatrice, Blythe



video

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This video is so refreshing and beautiful, I wanted to share it with you.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Brevity


It was somewhere between sunset and dusk as I sat at the computer on a very hot August night. I glanced outside at the evening sky. It was incredibly beautiful. Various shades of pink, purple, blues and grey. Breathtaking really.

I turned my attention back to the screen for a few brief minutes.

When I looked back, the difference was striking. Already the light had begun to fade. Night was closing in.

Immediately it made me think of Isabel's brief life.

A bursting forth and then a fading away.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Protection vs. isolation


One morning at the breakfast table while we were reading the Bible, Isabel came up. I had been feeling bad because no one talks to me about Isabel. This includes my immediate family. Whenever I do mention her, I get the deer-in-the-headlights look. Everyone stares at me in silence. Most of the time no one says anything. My middle son occasionally says things to try to comfort me like, "Well Mama, maybe you can have another baby that won't die next time."

"Yes son, that would be nice."

It really makes me chuckle, because his heart is so sincere in his attempt to comfort me. He has no clue how horrible what he is saying sounds. It makes perfect sense to him.

I told the kids that I know they feel like they can't talk about Isabel because they don't want me to be sad. My 8 year old concurred with this. One time my daughter mentioned Isabel and he told her not to talk about her because it might make Mama cry.

There's a fine line between protecting and isolating someone in grief. Right after Isabel died, there was a lot of 'shushing' of my middle son. I know my husband told him that if he wanted to talk about Isabel to talk to Papa because Mama was too sad. And I was. He would casually say very inappropriate things that were very hard to hear when the wound was so raw, in his innocence of course.

On this day, I told them that whether they talk about her or not, I will still be sad. But I wanted them to know that she was and is a part of our family. She will always be our daughter. She will forever be their sister. If we can never speak of her and include her as a part of our family, that would make me even sadder.

Then my 8 year old was able to express how he felt that day at the ultrasound, the day we first found out. He said, "We were so excited about our baby, telling T3 that she was going to have a baby sister, and then BOOM a huge cannon went off! A huge explosion."

I thought that was such a poignant way of explaining what happened emotionally to us that day. It was like a huge explosion. In fact, when I wrote about that first ultrasound, I likened it to a bomb being detonated. How funny that he could articulate it so well, so similarly to my post.

It's sad. The boys must feel a torn. They want to protect me so they keep these hard feelings bottled up inside.

Friday, August 8, 2008

One year later

As Isabel's birthday approached, it was really strange. I became very emotional at times, seemingly out of the blue, without really thinking that the year mark was coming up.

It was back to the sobbing-in-bed-at-night-in-the-dark type of crying, with the pillow over my face, trying not to wake my husband. I honestly don't understand it, but I suppose it's somewhat normal.

My husband and I weren't sure what we were supposed to do on her birthday. It's obviously not a happy occasion, she isn't one year old.

Instead it's one year of emptiness.

One year of bathing my daughter and seeing two little girls sitting in the tub.

One year of holding hands around the dinner table, picturing Isabel in the empty spot.

One year of making small talk with people about absolutely nothing important.

One year of feeling guilty about whatever it was I did in the early weeks of my pregnancy.

One year of fighting back tears.

One year of wrestling with God.



Here we are after Isabel's graveside service.

Not a good day.

Two of the kids were sick, it was extremely hot, my milk was coming in and we had just buried our daughter.

Approximately one year later on Isabel's birthday. My husband took me to a nice spanish restaurant we've always wanted to go to. It was a sober and sweet night. We hadn't been out together alone for ages, and now there was so much more between us.

Like soldiers who had gone through a bloody battle together, we had gone through that terrible experience clinging to each other. All of the doctor appointments, ultrasounds, the grim prognosis, the fear of facing the reality of giving birth to our daughter and then watching her die. The memories of all of that and that hellish night hung like a thick fog between us, all unspoken.

We knew.

We remembered and still hurt.

But the Lord had brought us through it.

In the end, we concluded that we were wrong. It shouldn't have just been us. Next year and all the years that follow, our whole family will dress up and go out together to acknowledge Isabel's birthday and honor her as a member of our family. To remember that one day we will see her in Heaven.

So what else have we been up to in the last year?

Papa took up running. He ran his first half marathon in June and is training for his first full marathon this fall. He's also lost about 45 pounds and looks great.

And me? I suppose I've knit my way through miles of yarn. These are some socks I knit for little Jewel. She is one of the new babies at church.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Faith that endures


The heart can only rest upon and enjoy the blessed truth of the absolute sovereignty of God as faith is in exercise. Faith is ever occupied with God. That is the character of it; that is what differentiates it from intellectual theology.

Faith endures "as seeing Him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27); endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heart-aches of life, by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind.

But so long as we are occupied with any other object than God Himself, there will be neither rest for the heart nor peace for the mind. But when we receive all that enters our lives as from His hand, then, no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings, whether in a hovel or prison-dungeon, or at a martyr's stake, we shall be enabled to say, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places" (Ps. 16:6).

But that is the language of faith, not of sight nor of sense.

But if instead of bowing to the testimony of Holy Writ, if instead of walking by faith, we follow the evidence of our eyes, and reason therefrom, we shall fall into a quagmire of virtual atheism.

Or, if we are regulated by the opinions and views of others, peace will be at an end.

Granted that there is much in this world of sin and suffering which appals and saddens us; granted that there is much in the providential dealings of God which startle and stagger us; that is no reason why we should unite with the unbelieving worldling who says, "If I were God, I would not allow this or tolerate that."

Better far, in the presense of bewildering mystery, to say with one of old, "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it" (Ps. 39:9). Scripture tells us that God's judgments are "unsearchable," and His ways "past finding out" (rom. 11:33).

It must be so if faith is to be tested, confidence in His wisdom and righteousness strengthened, and submission to His holy will fostered.


The above excerpt is from The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. It was first published in 1928. I love this book! I bought it used off ebay and it is packed with so much wisdom. I highly recommend it. You can print the entire book free online here or purchase the audio verision and listen while you do dishes. It's deep reading. I can't read much at one time. I have probably read over this portion (above) between 10 and 20 times.


This passage is so true, the only thing that has brought me comfort and peace is (as Pink puts it) recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!


How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!



For who has known the mind of the LORD?



Or who has become His counselor?



Or who has first given to Him



And it shall be repaid to him?



For of Him and through Him and to Him



are all things, to whom be glory forever.



Amen.



Romans 11:33-36



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Waiting to lose

One of the cornish cross chickens we are raising for meat was run over in the chicken tractor. Something happened to her leg, or wing or something. She can't walk, she just sits. We put her in a separate pen indoors, all by herself, because she wasn't able to get food or water in the pen with all the other chickens. We put the food and water right in front of her. She just sits there and eats and drinks, sort of. She's not growing, we find her in another part of the pen, she somehow she flapped herself into. Then we have to move her back to the food and water.

It's sad.

She's not growing, she looks bad. We've been trying to keep her growing until the butcher date next month but I just don't think she's going to make it. My husband and I were looking at her last night and discussing putting her down. Our daughter came into the pen area to look at the 'poor chicken', as she calls her.

Papa told her the chicken was going to die. I quickly looked at my husband as if to say, "Don't tell her that!"

Later in the kitchen, he asked me if I thought he shouldn't have been so blunt with her.

"No. We could just say after-the-fact that the chicken went away. She's only three, she wouldn't know or need to know. " Then I said, "It's just too sad to know something is going to die before it happens." And as soon as I said it I just wanted to break down right there. Sometimes I can't believe that that actually happened to us. But it wasn't a chicken. It was our daughter.

Aren't you glad you didn't know something bad was going to happen the day before it happened? How about 6 weeks before it happened? Because how could you cope or what would you do had you known?

It was terrible knowing that our baby would die.

I remember walking through the mall when I was almost 9 months pregnant, looking in the baby stores. To sales clerks and shoppers I looked like a pregnant mother searching for baby clothes.

And I was.

I was searching for a gown small enough to bury my baby in. The baby whose heart was beating inside me at that very moment. I was looking for grave clothes.

I wanted to scream out to the other happy pregnant mommies there shopping. They smiled knowingly at me as if we were on the same journey. We're all in the same club. We're almost through with our pregnancy. I wanted to tell them "NOOOOOOOOOO!! We're not on the same journey. You have your due date to look forward to but my baby is going to die!!!!"

Going through grocery store lines was very hard too. First of all, I'm pregnant. And nothing is more inviting to complete strangers to get into your business than a pregnant lady. Your stomach is free game...to anyone. They always say, "Oh, when are you due?"

I just didn't want to go out and be in front of strangers, because those normal, innocent questions would always come up. What do I do? How do I handle it? Do I lie? Do I break down? Because if I answered truthfully, there was no question...I was going to fall apart.

One day as I was going through the line, there was a young cashier, very upbeat and cheerful.

"Hi! (huge smile). How are you?"

That's what they always say. The dreaded..."How are you?". I tried to be nondescript, but I was more like Eeyore. I just couldn't make myself respond with the usual "Fine" answer that is expected and required. I just could NOT say it. I don't know what I said, I probably just mumbled. A pretend answer.

She didn't let me off the hook. "Come on, what could be so bad? If there was one thing you could change to make your day good, what would it be?"

Silence.

She seemed so proud of her happiness, almost daring me that things couldn't be all that bad, I was just grumpy to her. At least that is how it seemed to me.

I told the truth that day. I told her that nothing could make me feel better that day. My baby had no kidneys and was going to die after she was born.

I don't remember what she said after that. Probably nothing. It was like I slapped her in the face. And I wanted to slap her in the face for her innocent happiness. For treating me as if I had no reason to feel sad.

I wandered out of the store and drove home in tears.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Waiting your turn

I took this picture of my daughter today. She was watching the big kids play. She wanted to ride, but it went too fast for her. She stood off to the side and watched.

I thought it was sad.

As I looked at this picture, I saw myself, and probably every mother who has lost a baby. Watching other Mamas, whether it be at a baby shower, or in the grocery store pushing a cart around with a tiny newborn in it, is hard.

I remember for weeks after having Isabel, being fat, feeling sad, and seeing other new mommies. I wanted to ask them how old their baby was, swap stories with them, to tell them that I had just had a baby too. I went through everything they had, but there was no baby in my cart. To them, I was just a regular overweight gal, watching on the sidelines.

This is from one of my favorite books. It's called Welcome with Love. It's a children's picture book about home birth. In case you didn't know, I had our first three children at home and was planning on having Isabel at home too.

I bought this book for our daughter and all of us who were at the birth signed it to her and talked about the night she was born, sort of like a yearbook. It is a treasure to me. It has beautiful, colorful drawings and is tastefully done.

It was the pictures in this book where I first fell in love with the idea of handmade, colorful baby socks. To me they represent the hope of the baby who is expected. They are not your everyday socks that can be bought by thousands of other people at Target, they are one-of-a-kind, unique and handmade with love and anticipation of the little treasure who is coming.

I made a pair like these for a friend from church who is expecting baby Jewel. She loved these socks and told me she is going to put them on Jewel right after she is born.

I learned how to knit beyond scarves last year, after we received the news that Isabel would not live. I felt this obsessive compulsion to make her some special things from her Mama. I made these socks for her. *I* made them.

I can't tell you how it makes me feel to look at this picture. To see her little knee, her little leg, and her little feet being warmed by those special socks that I made for her, with her in mind. She has to know that she is special, she is loved and wanted.

She is ours.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bring the Rain

The following videos are about The Smith Family. Todd Smith is one of the singers in the Christian group Selah. Angie Smith has a blog called Bring the Rain where she has chronicled the pregnancy and short life of their daughter Audrey Caroline.

Please pray for the entire Smith family, just two months after they lost Audrey, their 10 wk old nephew, Luke suddenly died. I can't imagine.














I totally relate to what Angie said in this video about the fact that there is no such thing as a Plan B in God's world. It's only Plan B to us. And surrending to HIS plan is the hard part. Relinquishing our ideas about how life is going to turn out and accepting HIS plan.

Here is the letter Angie wrote to her daughter.





This video is of Audrey's birthday. I can't watch it without crying.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A story of hope

A recent acquaintance told me a remarkable story the other day. It is a true story and I think it will give many of you hope. Hope for that day when we will see our child again.

This person's brother and his brother's wife had a baby girl born prematurely and she passed away in the hospital shortly after being born.

Years pass.

Fast forward, now he is at his mother's bedside. She was dying. She had been in and out of consciousness.

Suddenly his mom's eyes brightened and she said,

"Oh, look who's here! They've come to take me!"

And she referred to her mother and her granddaughter who had died a few years earlier by name. She would look at the people in the room, then back to the mother and granddaughter as if they were all there together. (which they were I guess) but no one else could see them. She went back into her sleepy state and died a few days later.

Now, how did that make me feel?

I guess it just made it seem real for a minute. Sometimes it feels as if it was all a bad dream. But to think of being able to see Isabel again, in truth.

To be able to express feelings and emotions, to KNOW that she knows how we feel.

I don't really know how to express how it made me feel. But it was definitely a good feeling. That she belongs to us, to our family. That when my parents or siblings die, she might be there to greet them because she is a part of our family. That gives me hope.

Blossoms appear



Look! The winter is past.

The rain is over and gone.

Blossoms appear in the land.

The time of the songbird has arrived.

The cooing of the mourning dove is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2: 11-12


Some good friends of ours sent this rose to us shortly after we found out about Isabel. It has sat next to my sink for almost an entire year now. At first my mom took care of it, she put it in the bowl and watered it. Throughout the year, I would occasionally notice it and give it a drink. I wondered if it would live. I knew it needed to be planted, but it looked so small, I just didn't want to put it outside in the winter. So it sat by my sink, every...single...day.

A week or so ago the last leaf fell off the stem.

I was secretly glad.

It was dead.

I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore! But then the other day, I was shocked to see a new sprout (top picture). I was so surprised, I took a picture. And then it seems only a day or two later, this happened...

Giving a plant in memory of someone who has died is a great idea. It's good in the long term sense. But in the interim, during that initial period of intense grief, requiring someone to tend to anything other than the very basics also raises questions about whether the plant will survive or not.

With the plants we received from friends and family, there seemed to be a lot of pressure in my mind and heart for 'these' plants. Because they were associated with Isabel, it was almost as if they were Isabel. I had to take extra special care of them, I couldn't let them die, and yet I also felt no desire to care for them.

This was a problem.

I felt I had to plant them in the most perfect spot. Which increased the pressure for this decision and made me not want to commit to planting them anywhere because I couldn't decide where the 'right' spot would be. All this at the time when I cared the very least for such things. I had no desire to care for a plant. And in the heat of June, a potted plant sitting outside in the heat needs even more care to be kept alive. A few of them did die. At the time I really didn't care.

Did I mention that already?

I guess I am belaboring this point huh?


In hindsight, something that I would have appreciated (although I didn't know it at the time) would have been a work party, a group of people getting together to get the plants in the ground. It may seem weird but I really didn't want to see anyone either. I just didn't want to feel like people were wondering 'how' I was doing. I felt awful emotionally and physically. I was depressed, with good reason I guess. So if you ever have the opportunity to do this sort of thing for someone I would suggest that there be no pressure on the person to 'entertain' visitors or to be out in the midst of the planting party.

Another way to bless someone experiencing a loss is to mow their lawn. We spent a few days out of town for the funeral which was held in my hometown, a few hours away. When we came home and drove up to our house we found a nicely mowed lawn. Our neighbor's son had generously mowed our gigantic lawn. That simple act was such a blessing to us, especially my husband. I could feel his burden lift a little. That was one less thing for him to worry about.

I wouldn't say I feel like 'the winter is past', but with the arrival of spring along with the passing of time, I have a renewed energy and will to wield a shovel.

I finally made a decision and planted almost all of the plants we were given in honor of Isabel. I put the Peace rose bush and the Dogwood tree next to each other. The dogwood blooms pink blossoms (shown above) in June around the time of her birthday. In years to come, these thoughtful gifts will be a pleasant reminder of our precious pink blossom.

What about you?

What things helped minister to you the most?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Glory Baby



I saw this clip on The Flick Family Blog. It was written by the husband and wife team that make up Watermark after losing their baby through a miscarriage. You can see the lyrics to the song here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

His ways


For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55: 8-9



I have been reading the book of John to the kids while they eat breakfast. This morning we read chapter 18. The kids and I talked about the following verse and how it relates to our experience with Isabel:

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up they sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
John 18:11


None of us like pain. If we could, we would never get a cold, fall down and skin our knee, crash on our bike, and certainly not watch our baby die before our very eyes.

Jesus came with a purpose, to do the Father's will. As painful as He knew facing the cross would be, He rebuked Peter when he tried to defend Him from the guards that had come to take him there (to the cross) . He chose to drink the cup that His Father had chose for Him, because He knew His Father had a plan, a purpose for what He was asking Jesus to do.

As much as we wanted the Lord to save Isabel and us from losing her, He didn't. I believe that He didn't for a reason. As Isaiah 55 states, His ways are higher than our ways. As painful as life can sometimes be, I want to experience the life HE chose for me (us) rather than escape it, because I trust Him and His purposes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A hat for Natalie

Here is a tiny hat I made for a friend of mine. I made it for her daughter, Natalie. Natalie passed away almost 8 years ago. She weighed somewhere in the 1 pound range. She was only 24 weeks and she was a twin. Her sister lived, and is now almost 8 years old.

It may seem strange to many...why knit a hat for a baby who has been dead almost a decade?

Well, because at the time that my friend had her baby girls, and lost one of them, I didn't know how to knit. And I didn't understand her pain. But since losing Isabel, I regret that I didn't do more to acknowledge Natalie's life and her mother's pain.

The other weekend, I knew I would see Natalie's mother and something hit me. The idea that I wanted to knit a hat for Natalie. Mostly, for her mother. So she would have something tangible to touch and hold when she takes down the inevitable box of keepsakes.

And plus, every baby deserves to have at least one item made just for them.

I used some very soft yarn from a recycled sweater, it was 55% silk, 30% angora and 15% nylon. It had a nice halo. I used some pink baby alpaca leftover from Isabel's blanket as the brim. I made it very small. I wanted it to be the right size for her, had she lived. It turned out so sweet.

I felt a little strange giving it to her mom, but I explained and I think she understood. In fact, I'm sure she did.

Reflections

I found a discussion on abortion and Isabel came up in the comments section. I ended up leaving quite a long comment that I wanted to post:

I really wanted to comment about the question of why someone should carry a 'doomed' baby or a baby that the medical community has stated will die after birth.

I must admit that as soon as I found out that our baby would die shortly after her birth, I did want it to be over. The doctors told me I could go into labor anytime, or go to full term. There was so much grief. Grieving for an event that had not yet happened. Something that was for the most part, inevitable. I wanted her to be born ASAP, just to get it over with. There was that feeling, that I just wanted it to happen and be over. But we grieved, and we also had the rock solid belief that nothing was impossible for God.

The doctors told us there was no chance for her to live, and we assumed for the most part, that they were right.

But God.
There was always that sense of ...but God.

We knew without question that He had made Isabel. He could easily heal her before she was born. He could heal her after. Who can know the mind of God? No one. We would not dream of taking a chance to intervene and say "she's not going to live, therefore, let's kill her now in order to escape this situation we're in a little earlier." That was His place to decide when she would be born, how she would be born, and when she would die. Not ours.

Even though we never considered ending her life through an abortion or as the doctors offered to stop her heart with a saline solution and then induce labor, so I could give birth to only a dead baby, I have thought about it since.

An abortion would NOT have made the situation easier. It might seem that it would, but it would have only added to our sadness and guilt. The end result would have been WORSE. Instead of honoring our daughter's life (she WAS and IS our daughter, a PERSON, my children's sister, someone we had prayed for and hoped for), to just dispose of her as soon as we heard she was not 'viable' would have been discarding the thought of her as a person, as all of those things I put in parentheses above.


When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

- Isaiah 43:2



There is a sense that if we could just end whatever is causing us the immediate pain, then it would be better.

But it's a lie.

Of course I wanted to escape. But we were in the situation, there was no escape. It was time to deal with what was on our plate. God choose to walk with us through our tragedy, instead of whisking us out of it through a miracle. It is not my place to presume on God. He chose, and I accept His plan for not just my life, but so many others (my husband, my children, my parents, my mother-in-law, my sister, my niece & nephew and many others).

We see life on such a small scale.

He sees with eternal eyes.

We hear that a newborn baby has died and think it is such a 'shame'. What a waste of a life. But we just can't know what her life accomplished. I don't know and I don't honestly expect to until I am with Him.

But we will know someday in eternity what her life accomplished. In that day, we will be grateful to Him for His wisdom in working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Isabel is safe with Him. I wanted to experience life with her, but I will have to wait. We all will.

The bottomline is that I trust my God. As painful as it was, I don't want to escape His plan for me. I want to learn and change and grow into the woman He wants me to be. He is the potter, and I am the clay.


My life is but a weaving
between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,
and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent,
and shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the skillful Weaver's hand
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.

- Author Unknown

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Before

We were all so excited driving to the ultrasound. My husband had taken that Friday afternoon off. Our appointment wasn't until late afternoon, actually the last appointment of the day. It took a good hour and a half to get there, but it flew by because the kids were excited to be doing something different and I was excited about seeing our baby who would be born soon. Pregnancy is no picnic for me and I was counting down the weeks to the day I would get my prize, my treasure.


It was a beautiful, clear spring day. My daughter was wearing her brown cotton dress with the light blue shirt underneath. I loved that outfit.

It was before.

Before we knew.

We were on the cusp of knowing.

We were happy and innocent, thinking only the best of what could be. I see pictures and think, "That was before." or "That was right after we found out." I look at those smiling faces in the picture and feel bad for those people, because I know a secret that will change their lives, and they don't know it. At least, not yet.

All five of us crowded into the exam room with the doctor and the ultrasound equipment. Since it was a naturopathic doctor, he was free to share what he saw. Unfortunately, this time, it was ugly and he didn’t sugarcoat his comments for Isabel’s siblings.

“I don’t see any kidneys.”

I lay there frozen. What did he say? I waited for him to say something to make up for his last comment. It didn’t get any better.

"This is a severely abnormal baby."

I don’t think I will ever forget those words. They were ripping, tearing, searing words. He told us her condition was ‘incompatible with life’ and she would die shortly after birth. He couldn't say how long, I remember him saying "ten minutes".

As soon as we heard this news, I wanted to know the baby’s sex. I had never found out before, I had loved to be surprised at the birth. You see, I was old-fashioned. But now that was all foolishness for people in a perfect world. A world that we were no longer a part of. We had no time to waste.

He thought she was a girl, but it was hard to tell with no amniotic fluid. In my heart, I knew she was a girl.

We were ushered into a nearby birthing room, a box of kleenex shoved into my husband's hand. Our daughter twirled about the room in the most adorable way, completely unaware of the bomb that had just been detonated. The rest of us sat huddled together on a couch crying. My youngest son stared at his little sister tootling around the room and said “...she brings us so much joy. Imagine if she wasn’t here?”

Everything had changed. The date that I had looked forward to and longed for was now a day to dread. A day that we hoped would never have to come

We drove home through a veil of tears and in virtual silence.