May 27

Breathe.

Can’t
Breathe.
Missing Mary Anna is not tolerable at this moment, and I literally can’t breathe.

My Mary Anna,

I should be preparing for your first birthday party in about 6 weeks, but instead I’m in your room and listening to your little cry over and over again, because I just need to hear your voice.  I finally decided to look through your hospital bag tonight, and it broke my heart. Literally. I feel like I lost you again, because it reminded me of preparing for you, having you, and having to let you go. Sometimes, even if you do not read these letters, it helps me to talk to you, and I just want you to know that I love you deeper than you will ever know. When I saw your little gowns, hats, books, blanket, and a few other things in your bag tonight, I could not breathe. I cried so hard that your daddy could hear me, and he and your puppy Marley came and helped me process all of your little things. Your daddy and I miss you so much.

Honestly baby girl, it scares me to pack a bag for your little brother, because I want him to come home, and after having to let you go, it seems unbearable to try to do this again. I packed your bag back like it was, took a few special things out to put in your baby book, and cried so hard over you that I hurt.

Your daddy is my rock. He is my strength, and he loves you and I so well. He lets me do whatever I need to do to feel close to you, and he holds me the whole time. We both lucked out baby girl. You got the best daddy that a girl could ask for. He kept telling me to Keep Walking, and so I am going to do that for you and for him.

We love you precious angel always and forever,
your mommy


May 22

I Drive Your Truck

As we clicked our remote last night to turn on the television to see if there was anything worthwhile to watch, we came across a concert where some country singers were honoring people in the military. The announcers began to tell the story behind one of country’s hottest songs now called, “I Drive Your Truck”, and then the singer along with a talented lady in the military began to sing it.

The song is about a solider in the Army that was killed in battle, and in an interview following his death, his dad said that he drives his son’s truck to feel close to him. As they began to sing, I burst into tears. Although I am a country music fan, I honestly assumed that the song was another typical song about a truck, field of grass, or a cold beer. Not the case.

I paused the show after hearing the meaning and listening to the song, and began to think of all the things that we do to try to hang onto our baby girl. You see, there are things that we cherish that most take for granted, because it is all we have.

The truth is that sometimes the things can feel awkward or silly, but it is how we cope.

For instance, on Mother’s Day, while most were snuggling with their babies and enjoying breakfast in bed, I felt at a true loss of how to deal with that day. Dan and I had a brunch on the beach, and honestly, it was a relief to just be with him near the beach and not know a single person.

Thankfully it’s not embarrassing for either one of us now for me to start hysterically crying in public, so once we ate and cried and ate a little bit more, we meandered down to the beach.
The hospital that we had Mary Anna at sends us cards and little things from time to time, and they had previously sent us this pack of rosemary to sprinkle on the grave. We were not quite familiar with this tradition if it is one, but for some reason, it seemed like maybe Mother’s Day would be a time to do this.
So, we stood by the water’s edge alone with no one as far as the eye could see, and we sprinkled it over our baby girl’s grave. We drove her truck. 

We did what we needed to do that day to feel close to our girl.
I was sharing this story with a friend today, and she began to tear up with me. She told me that Mary Anna taught her to appreciate the little things with her baby boy, and that now every night when she puts him down to bed, she breathes in the smell of his lotion. It hits her, because the smell of the lotion that we had in the hospital with MAC makes me feel close to her, and now she knows what a gift it is to have him and be able to put lotion on his little body every night.
It makes me grateful to have these moments to cherish her life, and to know the impact that our sweet angel has on others.
May 18

It Is Well…

Our lives have been crazy the past few weeks! We have a lot of dear people around us walking through some very tough things, and in the mean time some of them have been resolved and some not unfortunately. We had a precious babymoon away, and ever since we have been back, we have spent a lot of time at the hospital, playing catch up, loving on friends, and just trying to breathe every now and then.

I have noticed that as life gets really busy, I tend to get numb again, and I hate that feeling. Today, Sunday, has been a day of rest thankfully, and it hit me what’s been hard for me right now.

You see, everyday it is a struggle to wake up without Mary Anna here, but slowly we learn how to make it, but the thing is that there is a this constant feeling of grieving something new. It’s not just grieving her in our day to day life, but actually grieving every part of her.

Recently as we have watched our friends babies grow and new ones being born, I realize that I truly grieve the fact that I only know who Mary Anna was/is from the 4 short days that I had with her. I have no idea who she would have become, and it breaks my heart. Every time I see her, her face never changes or grows, it always stays the same. I recognize that some people do not even get what we got, so I know what a gift our time that we had with her was, but I still grieve a full life of being her mommy.

What would it have sounded like the first time that she said mommy?
Would she have fought bows in her hair or not?
What foods would she like or hate?
How tall would she have been?
Would she love her puppies as much as we do?
Would she be smart like her daddy or type A like her mommy?
What car would she have begged for when she turned 16?
What would the theme of her first birthday party been?

How do I fearlessly dream of being little W’s mom and a life with him, when we never got those moments with his sister?

I truly struggle in this balance of being so very close to having another baby, and still not fully knowing how to process all of this. I keep asking Dan how we do this, and he keeps saying, “I just don’t know…”.

The night before Mary Anna went to heaven, I remember waking up and screaming, “HOW DO WE LET HER GO?”, and the night after she went to heaven I remember screaming, “HOW DO WE DO THIS?”. My question has not changed.

How do we do this?

As we sang, “It is Well with My Soul” at church this morning, I wrote at the top of my bulletin, “It is Well… Is it?” Some days all of this is not well with my soul, but I pray as the Lord softens my heart to our new life with a baby girl in heaven that He makes all of this well with my soul.

May 09

Babymoon

As the semester came to a close, and D had about a week off before his last year of veterinary school began, we decided it was the perfect time to take a little babymoon. For those of you who haven’t heard this term, it’s a honeymoon before the baby comes! Like a push present, thankfully we have come up with all these terms these days, and I can’t deny my love for them all. An excuse for a vacation before baby, and a pretty gift for birthing a child, sounds alright to me!
Of course, naturally we chose to come to our favorite spot and spend sometime breathing and feeling close to our baby girl and prepare for baby W. Talk about a mix of emotions. We never got to take a babymoon last summer, because Mary Anna started showing signs that I needed to be on bed rest and her early arrival made it impossible for a babymoon.
As we arrived last night, our giddiness quickly turned somber. After a stroll on the beach, yummy dinner, and dessert, we snuggled in to watch the NFL draft on t.v., and the tears began as we recognized the pain behind our smiles. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, the first time I felt Mary Anna kick last year was on this special day at the beach, and somehow I am supposed to reconcile in my heart how to be a mommy to my baby girl in heaven and welcome W on my second Mother’s Day.
My favorite man held me as I said all of these things and reminded me that, “You know karebear, even though Mary Anna was so small, it is only fitting that we spread her ashes in the ocean, because it is a reminder of how big she is to us.” We remembered so vididly not even a year ago sitting by these waters anticipating her arrival, and then two months later spreading her ashes on the same waters edge. We talked about how the ocean is the only tombstone that we have for our girl, and it is so peaceful that we can stand at the vast waters edge and feel close to her. A little part of her is here with us.
So as we meander down to the water this morning and our chair guy gets our space all ready for us to lounge by the water for the day, I feel my heart growing angry. I want to stop everyone from smiling and laughing and explain to them that we are standing at our baby girls gravesite, and I need a little respect. The waves are nasty, the sun is hidden by rain clouds, and it reminds me of the day that we put her ashes into these same waters. It’s like The Lord knew that day and today that we couldn’t handle sun and calm waters, but we needed it to be indicative of how we were feeling. 
Messy, ugly, unpredictable, and not fair.
So as I prepare for this day that we celebrate called Mother’s Day, my heart aches. I want to celebrate my baby girl and my baby boy, but it all feels so wrong.
My heart goes out to all the women who have had miscarriages, buried their child, or yearn to be a mommy. I’ve been in all these places, and it makes Sunday a painful day. I’m thankful to be in a place where I am confident to just be free to be what I need to be and feel what I need to feel, and I challenge you to do the same if you are in the same position, and if you aren’t then let the ones around you feel how they need to feel. 
As my tears dried up, and I embraced these messy seas ahead and in my heart,  I take deep breath, and little W kicks, and I know that I am a mommy. A mommy to him and to sweet Mary Anna. 
Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all. May this weekend be filled with joy and sadness if that is what you need. It’s okay to just endure somtimes.

May 05

Fear

As I have spent the last few weeks in a fog, I feel like I am finally in a place to flush out what is going on in my head. It has be jarring at me at every corner, keeping me awake, making me feel numb, and giving me a writers block. I have wanted to sit down so many times at this computer and do what helps me and that’s write and cry, but the words just have not been there, because I have been overcome with FEAR.

It is real, and it is Satan’s playground.

I believe that the enemy gets you there and keeps you there as long as you are not willing to combat the fears with truth. That’s where I have been. There and not wanting to do the work to recognize what the truth is.

Last Sunday (over a week ago), I got to church, which is still a hard place for me to go, but it is even more a hard place since our church closed, and we are currently in the visiting phase. I do not want to visit, be a “newbie”, and deal with every other person asking me, “Is this your first baby?”. I want to scream and say, “NOOOOO, and I do not want to talk about it, because I do not know you and you do not know me.” Church for so long, even though it has been hard to sing and read the Word, has been a comfortable place with people that I trust that I can just loose it every Sunday. I have felt hard and unemotional lately- enter numbness again. Back to the point, so as the sermon began, the pastor read the title, “What are you afraid of?”.

HUH? Let me think a minute…

I am pretty sure that I am terrified, because I watched my baby die in my arms less than a year ago, and I am starting my third trimester today with another baby, and I wonder if I would have the strength to let him go too.

You sure you are ready for this one preacher man??

He goes on and reads a very special passage to D and I in Matthew 14. Refer here for the passage and why this is such a meaningful text to us.

As he began to read, tears began to fall and I saw her little name written at the top of page in my Bible. Mary Anna, I write this every time something reminds me of her in the Word. Reading her sweet name is like honey on my lips.

He used this story to recognize the reality of the disciples fear to trust Jesus in the storm. They feared, because they knew what could happen to them in this type of storm. They were fishermen, and they watched many people die in this very situation, and then Jesus has the nerve to tell Peter to step out of the boat. What! Was it not enough to just be on the boat period much less expect him to walk on water?

It hit me. We all fear. Fear is very real, but there is a different type of fear when you have actually experienced it.

I fear a lot of things that I have never fully experienced, but saying that I fear letting go of another baby is reality to me. I know exactly what it looks like, and it a paralyzing fear.

And as he finishes this sermon, he says that the way to combat fear is to know Jesus and know his name.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psalms 9:10
He left us with this question, “Where has fear robbed you?”. I thought to myself, I know that fear robs me everyday, so I wrote down, “In the middle of my fears, I am certain that Jesus is the Son of God.”
You see, I know who HE is, and I know his name, but I am too fearful to trust. I left with this truth, but continued to wrestle with my flesh and my stubbornness, and was not quite ready to surrender.
A few days later, a friend emailed me this sermon, I recommend listening to it when you have the time, and he talks about what…. drum roll…. FEAR! 
I got out my journal, and I began jotting down helpful tips of how not to ask “why?” in painful circumstances, but to ask “what?”. Again, it hit me that I want to know right now why I had to let Mary Anna go so early, and Jesus wants me to come to a place where I trust him and begin to ask him what he wants to do with me in the midst of all of this mess.
My heart knows that in 2014, we all want things fast, easy, and pain free. Unfortunately there are some churches that teach this type of gospel as well. There is no place in scripture that says that because we trust in Jesus that our journey will be pain free, but there is a promise of hope in our pain.
And in that podcast, the other preacher man says, “So do not be afraid, because when it happens, the Father will be there and the Father is simply enough… We have a choice to fear God or to fear everything else and to fear God means to trust.”
After all of this, you would think that I would come to a place where I could release my fears, but think again… Not this gal… So I continued on numb, fearful, and really beginning to be mad at God. I went to church yesterday, and guess what?
Our dear friend gave his last sermon before leaving for seminary, and he read from Philippians 1, and his second point was… ughh…. really… I thought we were friends…
do not be afraid.
And not only to not be afraid, but to know that you will suffer for Christ.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.
verse 29
Somehow, Jesus works the suffering for our good and shows us that our identity is not in our suffering, but it is in the one who will not leave us in our suffering.
So much of my identity now is in being the mom of a baby girl who is in heaven. This is who I am now, and I somehow have to humble before my King, release my fears, and let him be my identity. Fear is a lack of trust, and I am sick and tired of feeling this way, and I surrender somehow, someway to trust.
As I type this, I know that fear does not magically leave us friends. It is a daily struggle, and the reality of the hardness in your life will always be there until our King returns, but when he does, and I promise HE WILL, it will be a glorious day and worth it all. This is a painful and hard life, but I choose to find joy in what I can and slam the door in the face of the enemy.
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:13
Thank you for bearing with me as I rambled, and I will leave you with this song that a friend shared with me  that I have kept on repeat lately.
We must decrease.
You must increase.
We lift you high.
Keep Walking.