Jul 17

3

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Mary Anna,

It was your 3rd birthday on Thursday, and today is the anniversary of the day that you went to heaven. Sometimes I don’t know which day is harder for me, or if it is the days leading up to your special the day and the days in between your birthday and today that I recollect on those short, yet long 4 days that we had with you. I fell asleep last night crying, because I was remembering the last moments that we had with you the night before you left this earth.

Baby girl, I wanted to write you this letter on your birthday, but I got really sick, and I just had a horrible day. A horrible day, because I physically felt as bad as I did emotionally.

We released 14 pink balloons and sang you to on your birthday. We will always celebrate your special day.

I have spent most of this week wondering what your voice would have sounded like. Your little brother talks ALL the time, and I think that he has the cutest little voice.

And now I look at your little sister, and can’t help but imagine how you would’ve grown and looked as you grew. She looks just like you, and it melts me.

My angel, I don’t know what to say or think, but that we miss you and love you deeply. You used to jump in my belly when I played music, and music still speaks to me. One of your daddy and my favorite bands came out with this new song this week, and it was fitting because it remind us of you.

I don’t want any relief

Cause I don’t wanna let you go right now.

Close my eyes and think of you

Go to sleep and dream of you

We don’t get to be here long.

Baby girl, I am glad that I don’t have to be here much longer without you. I am glad that life on earth is not it. You are the promise of heaven that points me to Jesus. You taught me how to long to be with Him. What a gift. You are my greatest treasure.

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I know you found the promise land

But I’m still here and I’m missing you.

Keep Walking.




Jul 11

Mad

I am just mad today.

Just flat mad.

I caught myself being mad at everyone in my life for no plain reason. Well, I mean the reason is that Mary Anna’s birthday and the anniversary of her death are all happening in the next 7 days, and I just dread all of them.

I have been stuck. I can’t print Mary Kathryn’s birth announcement. I can’t plan William’s 2nd birthday party. I just can’t.

Today after my heart was just cold at life, I decided to go on a run. Dan was on a bike ride while the babies were napping, so I greeted him at the door ready to go.

He said, “I think you need some fresh air, so go run…” I said, “bye”.

I started running during the hottest part of the day as fast as I possibly could. I am 5 weeks post partum, and I have very little stamina, but I just ran.

With this song on repeat.

baby, i’m not moving on, i’ll love you long after you’re gone

I ran fast.

and long after you’re gone, gone, gone

And faster.

for you, for you…

I remembered the way she looked the moment she was born, and how happy my heart was.

you’re my back bone, you’re my cornerstone, you’re my crutch when my legs stop moving

Hear little noises were in my ears, and my eyes could see only her eyes.

you’re the pulse that I’ve always needed

And I fell. I fell flat on my face. I scraped my knee, leg, both hands, and there was blood dripping off my finger.

like a drum baby don’t stop beating 

I stood up, and I started running again. Sobbing. I kept running.

like a drum, my heart never stops beating…

I ran until I could barely breathe.

for you

I was mad, because I just want her back. I want my Mary Anna in my arms, not in my memory.

baby, i’m not moving on, i’ll love you long after you’re gone

I opened the door, walked in, and burst into tears again. My sweet babies and hubs greeted me, and they were what I needed.

Grief hurts.

I showed D my wounds, and he tenderly said, “Somehow, this is just fitting karebear. I am sorry. But.. this would happen.”

I’m hurting literally and physically.

i’ll love you long after you’re gone, gone, gone. my sweet Mary Anna.

Keep Walking.




Jul 05

Strong

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To be honest, it used to, sometimes still does, annoy me when people say to me “you’re strong.” I guess it bothered me, because I felt like they indirectly were saying that I was strong enough to handle losing my baby, but they weren’t.

There truly is not a single person on earth that is strong enough to walk through heavy grief. Not one person.

I knew it would annoy me when that comment would be thrown around, but until this morning I could not put my finger on why it always got under my skin.

It’s rainy today…

We’re all tired from a fun-filled weekend at home with people that we love…

Mary Kathryn is napping…

William was watching the iPad like a good 21st century toddler…

And I sat down to read. Yep. Read the Bible.

I wish I could say that I did it fervently for hours daily, but I just don’t, but today it all made sense…

The end of today’s reading in New Morning Mercies by PDT said this:

Sometime in the next week, you’ll be confronted with your weakness; when you are, you’ll either work to convince yourself you’re strong or you’ll run to the One who is.

And that’s when it hit me. I am not strong. I am not any stronger than anyone else is. I just learned that the only way to find the strength to get up each day without my sweet girl here was to run to the One who is strong.

Not all stories of grief are as extreme as mine, but that truth is what Mary Anna helped me learn. That I truly don’t have to be strong or try to be strong anymore. And PDT says it better than I could again:

He calls you to mountains too big to climb so that in your inability, you will look to Him.

I hate when the calendar says July. I really do. It reminds me of the days of fear leading up to Mary Anna’s birth, it causes a pit in my stomach remembering how joyful I was the day that she was born and not knowing what was to come, it makes me want to crawl in a hole dreading the day that I held her while she was leaving me, and then it’s William’s birthday a few days later….

I mean come on… I am always filled with guilt, because planning a party for him is too much, yet I want to celebrate him. But dang. It’s all too close together.

I am not strong y’all. You aren’t either. But He is.

Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you-
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed
In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Exodus 15:11,13

Keep Walking.




Jun 27

Truth


I was getting my eyebrows waxed last week, and the girl was young and immature who was doing it, and she began talking about her baby boy. He is 3 months old, and she began jokingly telling me how he goes to daycare so that she can work, which I am not judging, but the next part is what got me. She laughed and said, “I mean it works out because when we get home, I feed him and throw him in the bed, and I really don’t have to deal with him.”

I kinda laid there baffled. Let her finish, and then I scurried out, because I had a rare 5 minutes without both babes.

I mean don’t get me wrong, staying at home is HARD. There are days that I feel like I am losing my mind, but it is a cherished calling to raise my babies.

There are moms who choose to work for various reasons, and I am not here to make a call on those things, but the attitude is what got me.

The whole “I don’t have to deal with him” line…

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or cus or just smack some sense into that girl, but instead I remained silent.

As my day goes along today, I realize how crazy these babies make life. It took me over an hour to go to the UPS store with a prepaid label, grab a smoothie, and pick up a gallon of milk. Like hello!

But this calling to be a parent or in my case, a mommy, is the highest calling from the Lord. Where have we gotten in our society that it’s funny to joke about not having to “deal with” our children.

Seriously.

We all think it at times, but my heart has been heavy since last Friday for that mentality in our culture.

I just pray as I take a deep breath during nap time that the Lord softens our selfish and self-indulging generation to cherish these lives and relish in the gift that HE has given us. To realize the responsibility as a parent to love and nurture these little adults and to stop looking at them as a hindrance to “our plans”.

My heart and mind isn’t always there, but thankfully my sweet Mary Anna has helped me cherish my two babies more and more, because I saw first hand what it was like to have to let one of my own go all too soon.

Soak up these years friends. If you’re a bit crazy or tired, then it’s okay… These babes are gone from our nests way too fast, and the world wants nothing more than to snatch them up and make them feel unworthy, so why don’t we use the time that we have to show them that they are worthy to be loved.

To be loved by the King of Kings.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, 

for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Luke 18:16

Version 2

These are the days to be cherished…

Keep Walking




Jun 11

June 3, 2016

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On June 3, I felt the Lord’s kindness to me.

To us.

It was real.

It was big.

It was at 2:30 a.m.

They handed me our sweetest little angel, Mary Kathryn, and I just couldn’t help but smile. My whole body was shaking, and there were tons of doctors and nurses around and lots of bright lights, but all I could do is focus on her little face.

She looked just like her big sister.

It was the sweetest and the hardest moment to hold her instantly, because I had never experienced that. Both Mary Anna and William were taken from me immediately at birth, so I was shocked when they handed her little body to me, and said “here mom!”.

I really didn’t process this moment until two days ago when my best friend and I briefly chatted, and all she said was, “Karebear, how are you emotionally?”. I started to softly cry, because I hadn’t really thought about myself since my mind had been on making sure William wasn’t feeling neglected and getting used to our tiniest new family member.

I took a deep breath, and said that I was finally happy. I began to just spill what was in my heart even though I honestly didn’t know what I was feeling until she asked me.

You see, I lost Mary Anna, got pregnant 3 months later, experienced all the “firsts” of a loss simultaneously with a new pregnancy, then we had William, and lots of other huge life events followed. Once we moved to Birmingham, I began counseling for the first time about the time that I found out I was pregnant again, and Dan had 3 jobs in about 6 months. It has been a whirlwind for 3 years now. And I have spent a lot of that time really numb.

As I held Mary Kathryn, I realized that the Lord was kind. I think that I had forgotten that. I have had really happy moments, and loved being Williams mommy, but I hadn’t felt the Lord’s kindness and truly enjoyed it in a loooooong time.

Holding her is painful. She is so much like her sister if not an identical clone. The first time she held my finger, I wept, because for a moment I thought she was Mary Anna. The first time I brushed her hair I wept, because they have the same hairline. My heart explodes and weeps constantly these days.

Yet somehow in the joy and sorrow, I feel the Lord being so truly kind to us. Our journey is not one to covet, and as someone told me not long after we gave our sweet girl back to the Lord, “You lost your innocence way too young.” And we did.

D and I notice it a lot with friends that we just look at things and feel differently than most people our age, because tragic things don’t often happen at 25 years old. We had barely filed our own taxes before we were making funeral arrangements for our baby girl. We were just babies ourselves.

We are still babies!

I woke up this morning tired, and I could hear W giggling down the hall. Dan was making omelets, and Mary Kathryn was ready to nurse. I grabbed her and walked down the hall realizing how sweet these days are. We are tired and not doing much, but we have been given a LIFE. A gift. Not to be taken for granted, but to cherish. We don’t cherish life these days enough.

So I’ll cry when I need to cry, and smile when I can smile, because in the midst of life’s ups and downs, the Lord is kind. Even when it doesn’t feel that way… He is Kind. He is good. He is King.

the steadfast Love of the Lord NEVER ceases

His mercies NEVER come to an end,

they are NEW every morning

great is YOUR faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23




May 31

Baby Watch

I’m shockingly still pregnant and waiting on baby girl #2. I wish I could say that I am patiently waiting, but the truth is that I am not a super patient person. So I am impatiently waiting. I don’t trust like I should, and I usually have a good plan that makes more sense to me than others plans, but the honest truth is that my plan hasn’t been working…

Mary Kathryn is a healthy baby girl, so I am grateful and overjoyed, but this emotional roller coaster called pregnancy is making my lack of patience run extra thin.

Yeah, I pretty much just left a message on Dan’s phone, because when he called to ask how I was at lunch, my response might have been “I mean will everyone stop asking me that… how the H*** am I supposed to know how I am anymore.” OOOPPS… bad response. Don’t worry, I humbly called back and apologized. I’m just raw and done right now… Done waiting…

Done.

The truth is that I love babies, but pregnancy is a turbulent and emotional thing for me. Last week, Dan could hear my wails from the bath tub, and he came rushing in to find me crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe. The following night, we both cried ourselves to sleep.

It’s just plain hard.

And I just wanna smack some people when I get comments like, “It’s all in God’s timing” or “She’s healthy so be thankful” or “You’ll hold her soon enough.” Blah. Blah. Blah. All true, but frankly not what I want to hear. Not what makes the pain of losing 3 babies bearable.

But… there is hope. The Lord continually breaks my heart of stone and reminds me of his goodness and kindness towards his children.

I wish your care was always easy, predictable, safe -
a cool drink
a soft pillow -
but you are too wise,
too loving,
too committed to your work of
transforming grace.
So your gracious care comes to me
in uncomfortable forms:
the redeeming care of
disappointment,
the unexpected 
trial,
suffering, loss.
These things don’t tell me you’re
cold-hearted,
absent,
uninvolved.
No, each is a sign of
zealous grace,
redeeming love.
I struggle to grasp how much you
care,
so I struggle to rest in that 
care.
You care enough to give me what I 
need,
not what I want.
You care enough to break my bones
in order
to recapture my heart.
- Paul David Tripp in New Morning Mercies

I sat on the couch with my big belly and my baby boy snuggled up on his “sissy”, and I read this, and I am reminded that my plan is flawed, and HIS plan is perfect.

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I struggle to trust and admit that, but it is so true.

Even in the pain and tears and waiting.

It is true. And good. And right. And for my good.

Keep Walking.




May 06

A letter

Dearest Friend,

I was just about to text you these things, and then I realized that there were more people out there feeling the same things that you must be feeling right now, so I sat down to write. You have/still do love me so well, and you’ve always listened to me, let me cry, and just let me be. You’re just solid. You always have been and always will be.

I miss you.

A lot.

I wish I could sit with you right now, but we’re far away from each other, and I hate that. You will act strong this weekend, and you’ll love your momma and your friends well, but I know deep down your heart is sad. And frankly I’m sad with you. I wish you were a momma right now, but you’re not, and dang, it’s just not fair. I don’t understand why your journey is so hard, and I wish I could make it easy for you.

You will be a momma, but ya know what, that’s not what you wanna hear right now. I get it.

The Mother’s Day after my miscarriages and after losing Mary Anna were miserable. I was thankful for my momma and for her role, but all I could think about was that I wanted to be a momma. Everything seemed miserable those weekends.

Now today, you love my William so much, and I am thankful for him, but I sit here with my sparkling water wishing that we could drink a latte and eat a blueberry muffin together and just cry, because my heart hurts. I miss Mary Anna, and I know you would let me feel crappy and you would miss her with me. And on the flip side I wanna feel crappy with you, because I want you to be pregnant and you have to endure this weekend and wait…. I know you’re tired of waiting. You should be.

Feel free my sweet, solid friend to be mad, frustrated, confused, and I know you won’t, but for the love just scream a cus word out loud! Don’t listen to other people’s stupid comments. Be free to feel and think what you need to. It’s okay.

You are worthy my friend.

And I love you.

And I don’t know why life has to be so hard, but I am thankful that in the hard times that we have each other.

Love always,
Kar




Apr 24

There’s Grace…

A lot of my writing hinges from the reality that there is so much that I wish people would have or will currently say to me or do for me or release me of. I was encouraged to write early on after losing Mary Anna, and I wrote more frequently back then due to the lack of a toddler hanging on my leg, and now my house is busy and messy and different than it was almost 3 years ago, but there’s still so much that I continue to learn.

I got to church this morning and realized that I had lipstick on my teeth, my dress had a stain on it that I forgot existed {should’ve given it to goodwill last time I wore it}, and my head just hurt. I’m basically 9 months pregnant, and I am just flat worn out. I debated being embarrassed about my nice stain, and then I figured I’d forget it. Thanks to a friend who recently gave me the book For the Love by Jen Hatmaker {get this book}, I have had a recent attitude of I just can’t do it all.

A lot of the last 3 years of my life have been spent battling guilt. Guilt because I….

should or should not be in counseling…

haven’t made this or that person feel comfortable enough in my grief…

should or should not have more kids this soon after losing a baby…

haven’t gone to this or that event..

need to be released.. wait need to do more…

told to walk away from a relationship…

being guilted because I walked away from a relationship

leave William more with a baby sitter and then feeling guilty because it’s too hard…

guilt, guilt, guilt.

We are just too hard on each other people… I mean really. I have felt more shunned and less love than I would care to admit. And yet, most of the time, I am left to feel like it’s my fault, because I have changed. Why yes, I have changed. I lost my daughter. I am not the same.

BUT I am not supposed to be.

As we sang this song in church today, I began to really listen to the words with my eyes closed, and I realized that I am not enough for most people, but I am enough for my Savior.

Yesterday we hung curtains in sweet Mary Kathryn’s nursery. They were the same curtains that we hung 3 years ago in Mary Anna’s nursery as we anticipated her life. William was riding the cozy coupe around and Dan was measuring to make sure they were perfect, and I stood there and began to weep.

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Guilt.

I felt so guilty trying to prepare for MK using MA’s stuff, yet I felt guilty for feeling guilty. D grabbed me and hugged me, and little W was making truck noises and babbling at our feet. There was mercy there in that moment.

So as I stood and sang these words:

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong and perfect plea,

A great High Priest whose name is “Love,”
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

When Satan tempts me to despair;
And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
….

I realized that there is a release from this guilt, and I just can’t do it all. I just can’t.

So we eagerly await our 3rd baby, and we process what we can and do what we can, and we just try our best to cling to each other. As we lay in bed last night, D asked me if I was okay. I quietly said, “I think so.” And he said, “You know, I don’t know how we are here or how we are having another baby and how we are making it. I really don’t. If it weren’t for Jesus, we wouldn’t be here Karebear.” I gave him a hug, and we went to sleep.

Thankfully that great High Priest is the reason we can Keep Walking.

Happy Sunday. Enjoy your people today. And take a nap. That’s what we’re doing….

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Keep Walking baby boy, Keep Walking.




Apr 11

Hallway

A friend texted me the other day and asked how I was, and she told me that she likes when I write, because it gives her a window into my heart. I told her that my computer had been in a closet for almost two months now, and I promised to write soon.

Well the computer is finally plugged in and working, so here I am…

We bought our first house after almost 7 years of marriage! Whew! It has been a whirlwind. We decided to buy a house that needed a little TLC, and after we moved in, we started a pretty major renovation. We thought that since Chip and Joanna Gaines seemed to do it so easily that we had this under control, but yeah not so much. Although, I am pretty sure that our version of “fixer upper” would’ve made for some good t.v.

For the past two months, we basically weren’t able to live in our house although all of our stuff was here, so we spent weeks and weeks going back and forth to my parents and eating out a lot, because we had no kitchen. All of this to say, we have learned a lot, we are in our house, and we would do it all again, but we would do it very differently next time. If there’s a next time!

So as I sit down to realize that my bank account was overdrawn, we have put too much on our credit card, my to do list is full of things that I can’t do very pregnant alone, and my head hurts, because I never finished my cup of coffee, I decided the best thing to do was just to start writing again…

I am due with our second baby girl so soon, and I am just a mess.

A true mess.

I realized a few weeks ago, that the hallway to our bedrooms makes me really sad. Every place that we have lived in has always had a “space” for Mary Anna, and now we fill up this hallway as we prepare for Mary Kathryn (p.s. that’s new baby girl’s name). Another baby girl. Another house where Mary Anna won’t live in. Another place to process that MAC is gone.

I stand in Mary Kathryn’s room, and it is a lot to take in. There is pink in our house again, and it is a lot for my heart to try to understand.

Last week our pastor called because he knew that we were paddling up-stream a lot these days, and he offered to come by and help me with some stuff around the house. He and a friend showed up, and put together MK’s crib, and moved tons of boxes into our kitchen, so that I could unpack them. We had been using the nursery as a storage room for everything that could not be put up due to the dust and holes in the ceiling that were caused by the renovation. So this room that is going to hold my newest little girl soon has just been hard and a true literal and physical disaster.

As I have slowly made my way through the boxes and started sorting baby things and getting more prepared for her, I have realized that each time I turn the corner to walk down our hallway that something is yet again missing. I feel overwhmeled with gratitude for this new life that is coming soon, but yet our house still has a huge hole. And it’s not in the ceiling anymore.

So I’ll just continue to try to tackle all of this. Day by day. Moment by moment.

D and I skipped away last weekend for a short babymoon, and we spent most of our time sitting by the water processing all that has been going on lately. We planned for the future, took a nap, ate way too much, and cried a good bit. Most of these emotions finally came out, and we both realized how hard it is to welcome a new life into our home.

William was the sweetest treasure after our loss, but it was truly a lot emotionally to process him living and Mary Anna dying. And you would think it would get easier, and honestly it just doesn’t.

So here’s to April. A new month. A new house. Hopefully not a new baby until May, but a new baby! And a new start for the Caldwell family.

I think I’ll do what I normally do about now and that is forget my epic to do list, and try to take a nap.

In the words of baby William: night night truck, night night dog dog, night night mama and dada, night night. night night.




Feb 18

Insomnia

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It’s 5:50 am.

I’ve debated lighting for the two bathrooms, whether or not I should put a fan in William’s new room, how many bar stools that I should order for the island, had a glass of milk, checked instagram, checked pinterest, deleted emails, and so on…. Oh, and minor detail, but there’s a batch of pumpkin bread in the oven too.

It’s safe to say that pregnant insomnia has struck again.

I am quite sure that I’ll have a headache by about 9 am, and be begging for nap time by about 10 am, but dang what do you do!

My head and heart have wrestled with so much lately. And after a conversation a few days ago with my best friend, I can’t quite shake her words of deep love for me.

She called to talk through how to love a friend who recently lost a baby, and the truth is that I need to take some lessons from her on how to love others, because she somehow without any deep loss herself, has come to the dark places with me and never left my side. We talked through a few practical things, hurt for her friends’ loss together ,and then she told me something that went a little like this:

Karebear, as we drove to her house last weekend, we just sat in silence, and I kept wondering, “God what are you doing…”, and all I could picture was the drive to Auburn after you loss Mary Anna, and the look on your face the first time that I saw you. I’ll never forget the look in your eyes and hugging you. And all I could think is how much that Mary Anna has changed me, and how much watching you has changed me, and somehow I know that God will do something through this…

Her voice was shaky, and she began to cry, and so did I. But the truth is that I’ve cried more as I have recapped her story and her love for me and her willingness to care that much. It’s reminded me of hearing her car drive up to my house after she without thinking twice jumped into it and drove hours and hours and hours to be there for me, and I honestly will never forget how she grabbed me and squeezed me and wept with me.

As I wrestle with hurt and feeling like I let relationships down with the changes in my life after losing my sweet baby, I can’t help but hear my sweet friends words over and over again…

God must be doing something through all of this.

I sat on that couch yesterday in my counselors office, and I told her my hurt and struggles, and she quietly reminded me that once you hit deep dark places of grief and loss that you can’t go back. You are different, and nothing will ever make you look at the world the way that you used to. For that, I am grateful.

Sweet Mary Anna,

I’ll never be able to thank you enough for changing my view of everything… of insomnia, of baking pumpkin bread at 5 am, at stupid house renovations, about loss and love and pain. I am tired and my tummy hurts from drinking milk to try to make me go back to sleep, and I know your little brother will be up all too soon, and yet all I can do is sit here in the dark and listen to the birds chirp and wish that I could sneak into your room and kiss you right now.Yet, I can’t, and somehow the way you have changed me gives me such great joy all at the same time. 

You saved me baby girl. You saved us all. We love you so much.

-your momma

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
Wait for the Lord!

parts of Psalm 27