Aug 21

July 17

 I woke up about 5 a.m. that day, which is quite unusual for me. Actually, I am not sure that I really ever truly went to sleep the night before, because I was dreading July 17th for so many reasons. It is quite odd for me not to sleep like a depressed teenager, not because I am depressed or a teenager, but because I just really like to sleep and require a lot of it.
Dan was on a crazy rotation for school that required him to work really long hours, and on this day he had to be at the hospital quite early. I was dreading him leaving before the sun rose up, because I knew that it meant that I would be alone, and I was sad for him that he had to work on the one year anniversary of our daughter going to heaven.

I sat with him while he ate his breakfast, helped him get his lunch together, and then he peeked outside as he got ready to leave for his day, and he told me to look at the sunrise. I never see the sun rise, because it is way too early for me, but today I needed to see this. It was stunning and made tears well up in my tired eyes.

There might be things more terrible even than losing someone you love by death.

-C.S. Lewis

I saw this quote recently and it made me think of July 17th, Mary Anna, and I agree and disagree with it all at the same time. In all reality though, there are a lot worse things that could have happened to our Mary Anna on July 17, 2013 than for her to be at the feet of Jesus. Actually, living is worse than eternity with the King of Kings, but my heart just does not see that every day.

The day was sad. I had an appointment at the same hospital that our baby girl passed away in, so I had to walk in and out of those same doors that I did that day a year before, and this time I had a baby boy in my belly, and it seemed to make the day even more complicated. I cried because I did not want to be away from D that day, and I cried on the way to the doctor, during the appointment and after. I cried because I was scared for William, missed Mary Anna, and the emotions of the two combined are more than I could handle.

That sunrise was for us that day. The pink eerie sky was on display for just for us. I just know it. I wonder if it was a glimpse into how beautiful that heaven is and what a celebration that they were having that day, because Mary Anna had been in the arms of the Giver and Taker of all life for a year. I miss her, and I yearn for baby William to know her like we do.

I am not sure each year what day will be worse. The annual arrival of her birthday or the day of her leaving us, and I am not sure this year which day was worse. It is just our journey that we call life, and it is part of our story.

Mary Anna is our story. And now baby William too.

“In the morning,

when I rise

 Give me Jesus.

You can have all this world,

Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,

Give me Jesus.

When I come to die,

Give me Jesus.

Just give me Jesus.”

-Jeremy Camp

Keep Walking.

Aug 20

Firsts

In loss it is all the “firsts” that are the worst, and that is what is happening for us these days. Today is Dan’s first day back to school, and the day has been harder than I imagined. I was invited to go have breakfast at a friend’s house with some other fellow stay at home moms, and of course, I was running late, had no clean clothes, and was super tired. I thought it was just going to be 3 people there, and so I threw on yoga pants, ran out the door and as I drove up, I realized there were a lot more cars in the driveway than I anticipated.
Since our church closed, most of our members have been attending another local church of the same denomination, and it has been so wonderful how welcoming this church has been towards all of us. Unfortunately, I have been in and out a lot lately due to the last few weeks of pregnancy and the early days of having a newborn, so I do not feel like I know many of the new ladies very well.
I debated reversing out of the driveway and not walking in because I was feeling so overwhelmed, but of course, another mom pulled in behind me blocking me in, so I had to go in. All the moms looked all cute in their sundresses and their sweet babies in precious outfits, and I looked down at my yoga pants, glasses, and my baby boy with an outfit on that is a little too big for him, and I almost lost it. I got myself together, went in, enjoyed my time, and then as I drove home with a crying baby, because I pushed his feeding time a little too long, I really did lose it.
“Rock of Ages” was playing in my car, and I realized that I was having too many “firsts” in one day. My husband was gone from me all day for the first time, my first gathering of ladies with babies who probably know about my Mary Anna, my first day at home completely alone, and of course, a total mom fail to show up at a breakfast looking so frazzled.
Rock of Ages… when the day seems long
 
I swung open the door at my house, spoke to my puppies, started to nurse my sweet William, and I really lost it.
The skies will wear out, but you remain the same…
 
Each moment with my baby boy is such a gift from the rock of ages, but each moment for the past month have reminded me of all the firsts that I missed with my baby girl. My heart aches, and I feel so exhausted.
Rock of ages, when in want or rest, my desperate need for such a Savior I confess
 
The first time …
that we held William.
that he held our hand.
that he had a bath.
that we put him in a car seat.
that he slept by our bed.
that other people actually got to hold him.
that he slept in the crib.
that we went on a walk.
that he took a nap in his swing.
that we went out to dinner.
that… that…. that…
To give me glory, you took the death and pain.
Rock of ages, my Offering.
The list will continue on and on as we experience our life with him in it now. Each moment is precious and beautiful, and we could not imagine it any other way, but it does not take away the pain. We feel annoyed having to ask for advice, because we should know these things already. He is a gift, and we feel so lucky that he was given to us, but it is quite the realization of how empty part of our home feels even more so now without our baby girl.
We just got back from the beach yesterday, so it was also the first time that we took our little buddy down to the most special place on earth to us. I sat by the waters edge, held him, and I told him all about his big sister.
Now write your mercy, on my heart and hands.
Rock of ages, in faith I stand.
This past month has been beautiful and very hard at the same time. So this my friends is where we are right now. We are a mess, but this is our life, and we are thankful each morning for another to love baby William.
Rock of ages, we give you praise.
 
Keep Walking.
Aug 08

Real Motherhood

As I walked up the stairs late Wednesday afternoon with tears slowly streaming down my face, I felt my anxiety rising. I heard sweet baby cries, bath water running, and a sweet daddy softly saying, “I promise it’s not that bad!”. As I rounded the corner into the nursery bathroom, I began to cry harder.

I heard the door beep which meant she was gone, and I went to the front window of our condo and watched my moms mini van drive away.
My mommy. 
My biggest fan.
Her prolonged newborn stay was gone, and it hit me. I was William’s mommy, and he was now my full responsibility. 
What?
The bath ended and I heard Dan say, “Mommy! Come save me!”. I went around the corner, grabbed the puppy dog towel, and snuggled my sweet angel. We walked into the nursery, and the sun was slowly starting to set, and when I saw his sweet face, I began to cry harder.

I looked at my sweet husband who has been such an amazing daddy to both of my babies, and I told him if Mary Anna died then why should anyone trust me with another baby?
The moment was here. The three of us were all in the nursery, and I had longed for this moment and feeling for over two years now, yet my insecurity was so high that I could barely take it. 
I see so much of Mary Anna in my sweet baby boy, and each moment is a joy, but a reminder of what we continue to miss with our angel. 
You see, he is here, healthy, and whole, but when I kiss his lips, I remember kissing my baby girls lips while her heart was stopping to beat. When I rub his head, I remember the way her hair felt in my fingers. His cry sounds just like hers, and he loves to hold my finger tightly just like Mary Anna did.

This journey is long and dark, yet redemptive and sweet at the same time. My mommy was my cheerleader, and even though we won’t keep her away long, her absence that night showed me the weight of the responsibility of a child. 
What a sweet gift that William is, but what a calling for the giver of life to entrust him with me. Dan and I are called to parent Mary Anna and William all the days that we are here on this earth, and that calling is big. 
Real big.
Each time I hear his little cry in the middle of the night, I have to fight the insecurities that rise within me. Losing Mary Anna has made me strong and weak.
Praise The Lord for my mommy, as she hugged me right before she left with tears in her eyes quietly said, “You can do this. I know it’s hard, and I miss her too, but you are a good mom.” And for my Dan who sat with me that evening and wept and rejoiced with me and told me in his own way that I could do it too.
Here’s to motherhood, the hardest but best job on the planet.
Aug 03

Welcome Little One

The Lord is faithful!
We happily introduce our son to the world.
William Daniel Caldwell
 July 25, 2014
7 pounds 4 ounces
20 inches long
8:09 p.m.

A complete joy.
As we began our journey of delivery, it was a little chaotic and unconventional, but who really knows what to expect when it comes to the actual birth of your child. Rarely do you hear of these delivery stories that back up Hollywood’s view of having a baby. We were stretched, drained, happy, and emotional, but thankfully we are home and enjoying soaking up every moment with our little buddy.
The adjustment physically has not been nearly as hard as it has been emotional. I think my biggest fear is that I would not attach to little William, because of my longing for Mary Anna to be here with us, but I have not struggled with that at all. My heart is so in love with him, but my heart is so sad with a huge hole that no one can fill.
There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.
- Blaise Pascal
Just like so many times I have tried to fill my heart with things that only God can fill, little William does not fill the void in my heart from my baby girl. I realized that each baby opens up a new space in your heart, and it does not mean that we do not love him fully, but he can only fill the “William- shaped hole”, but he cannot fill the hole in our hearts from our sweet baby girl.
Dan and I have spent many hours snuggling with our little W, but at the same time we have spent many hours weeping trying to understand why our sweet girl is not here with us. Our family has grown in numbers and in love, but the void still remains.
On the other hand, I feel more like myself than I have in over two years. Our journey to bring a baby home has been long and tiresome, and as I have waited and waited and waited, each day I felt less and less like me and more and more like I was just constantly trying to make everyone think I was happy. My arms ached to have a baby in them, and my heart was so confused at who I was and my role as wife and mother to a baby in heaven.
Now even though there’s still a missing smile in our home, my role as a mother seems more fulfilled and real. I am officially a stay at home mommy to a precious baby boy, and I finally feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
The Lord is faithful. He Remains. He is good. His love is real, deep, and wide. He has met us in our sorrow, and he continues to meet us in our joy.
This is what the Lord says- 
he who made a way through the sea,
 a path through the mighty waters, 
who drew out the chariots and horses 
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43 :16-19